Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Writing Olympics!

As everyone on the planet knows, the Summer Olympics are underway.

I didn't see the opening ceremonies. From what I've managed to piece together from assorted tweets and bits of Facebook postings, the Olympics opened with Doctor Who and Mary Poppins joining forces to defeat James Bond. Or the Queen. Frankly I'm a bit fuzzy on that bit, although I do think the same little old lady who stared Hitler down back in the day could probably shove Mary Poppins' umbrella in an entirely undignified spot.

You may have surmised that the Olympics hold little interest for me. And you'd be right, because at the risk of posting heresy, it all boils down to people running, people chasing balls, or people running while chasing balls. They don't have cheerleaders. I can't even pretend interest in any sporting event that lacks cheerleaders.

No, if the Olympic committee wants my viewership -- and let's face facts, they lie awake at night hatching plots to get it -- they'll have to include events that appeal to me, Frank the writer.

And that will have the happy benefit of attracting my surly circle of fellow writers, many of whom last saw the outdoors (or even an image of the outdoors) the last time they changed houses.

So here is my list of suggested Olympic Events for Writers. Olympic Committee Members may direct their checks and adoration to my email address.


1) The Fifty-Yard Coffee and Sandwich Run -- Look, if we had time to prepare real food we'd be cookbook authors. But we've got people to kill, worlds to ravage, forgotten subplots to tie up. Check bread for mold, smear one slice with peanut butter (if any), smear the other with whatever we can scrape out of the jam jar, nuke seven-hour old coffee, balance the cup, saucer, and sandwich in one hand while running through a darkened room toward the dim glow of a flat panel display. That's our life. So make it an event -- with a timer, horns, and of course a couple of dogs running underfoot. Oh, and make the coffee an unstable, explosive fluid. We've got ratings to worry about.

2)  The Just A Quick Email Check Relay -- This one will be a hit. Put two computer workstations one hundred yards apart. One station is set up for word processing, no net, nothing else. The other station, one hundred yards distant, is equipped to check Twitter, Facebook, email, Fark, Cracked, and various other sites. Authletes (that's my word for 'author athletes', and I get $1500 PER WORD, Olympic Committee) must compose a brilliant paragraph of prose, race to the social media station, and return within an allotted and ever-shrinking time. Naturally a few authletes will die trying to beat the buzzer after a marathon session of defending their paragraphs from critics on Twitter, but hey, this is the big time.

3) Query Letter Hide N Seek -- Fiendishly simple, yet endlessly entertaining. A fit young runner is handed a blank sheet of paper in the middle of a circle of authors. When the pistol sounds, the runner chooses any author at random and dashes toward him or her. If the runner manages to touch the author with the blank paper, that author MUST sit down and, in one pass, create the perfect query letter, or be lampooned mercilessly by a panel of New York literary agents.

4) Rejection Selection -- A modern-day reboot of a gory Roman favorite. Authors are placed into the arena. Each author may defend themselves only with the printed copy of their current work in progress. From the stands high above, editors and first readers take aim with finely-honed harpoons, while Strunk & White's timeless classic 'The Elements of Style' is read aloud over loudspeakers. The last author standing is awarded a gift basket filled with moist towelettes and a complementary copy of the current 'Writer's Market.'

5) The Dangling Participle of Death -- Authors and their grammar skills are put to the ultimate test within this maze of boobytraps and deadly machines.  At every turn, authors must use state-of-the-art graphic displays to correctly diagram complex sentences. Once the sentence is diagrammed, a door opens -- but is it the door to freedom, or death? Was that a gerund? Was that a dependent clause? Do you feel lucky, punk?
Correct answers lead the way to the next sentence. Incorrect answers result in amusing but gruesome spectacles. Don't you wish you'd paid more attention to Mrs. Fitzgiggens now, Mister All Knowing Author?

Add some of those events, and I'll watch. Otherwise, I'll stick to reruns of South Park.


  1. Good gawd, you had me twisting with laughter! :D I'd watch this if I had to sell a finger on the black market to get tickets.

    Thanks, Frank! You totally made my day. ;)

  2. Yay! Someone else who's fed up with the Olympics. Right now in the UK, admitting you hate sport is pretty much being considered as an open request to be burned alive. So I can be at home here. Thanks for the excellent laugh!

  3. Glad you both liked it! I admit I was worried, posting even a gentle poke at the Olympics. Luckily, aside from a beating I received at lunch from a mod of enraged Badminton players, I've emerged unscathed :)

  4. LMAO! Your next book? ;^)

    I actually am enjoying some of it, gymnastics being my favorite.


  5. I like figure skating myself. Watching it, not doing it. I'd break half a dozen bones stepping out on the ice.