A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

01 February 2013

The Best at Being "The Worst"...and Proud of It!

Well, seems it's that time of year again...the dreaded deadline looming ahead like so many ravenous vultures...like so many you lose count - even if you have one of those fancy hand-held metal clicker things that can be punched to 999 before it resets back to zero...then I guess you have to mentally remember that it spun around one whole time already, kinda like when you're dealing out cards and the phone rings and interrupts you midway and you forget who gets the next card, so you just start all over again because someone probably looked at your cards while you were gone anyway. Yep, the 15th of April is fast approaching and soon everyone will be asking each other, "Did you get it in on time? Did you get your entry in?"

"What the heck is she saying??" you might have asked yourself...and what about vultures? Is she talking about the IRS? Accountants? Huh...cards??? "Nay", say I...I'm talking about 'The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest' also referred to as the 'It was a dark and stormy night' competition. You might have read about it when I won the Grand Prize in 2003. Oh, c'mon...it was on the front page of the Montgomery Advertiser...surely you couldn't have forgotten that? Well, okay...maybe you did. Sigh. Let me then enlighten and elucidate...

You see that long sentence I started my blog off with? The one that goes on and on and on and on. Well, that was intentional..and not just because I am a bad writer (oh, keep the remarks to yourselves) but because I was, at least in 2003, proclaimed as the BEST at being the worst. I won the dubious distinction of writing the worst opening line to a fictional novel...and that opening sentence, above, is a little bit like what you'll see in the competition. Need a better, er...um...worse...example? Here is my winning entry:

They had but one last remaining night together, so they embraced each other as tightly as that two-flavor entwined string cheese that is orange and yellowish-white, the orange probably being a bland Cheddar and the white . . . Mozzarella, although it could possibly be Provolone or just plain American, as it really doesn't taste distinctly dissimilar from the orange, yet they would have you believe it does by coloring it differently.

The rules can be found on their home page...but they are relatively simple. Write the opening line for a fictional novel...make it bad...but make it enjoyably bad. Longer is not necessarily better, but it seems they do tend to favour longer entries...but be careful on your punctuation...there's only so many words you can string together before it gets too monotonous. Monotonous doesn't cut it...badly well written does.

So, do you have what it takes to make the cut? Cut might not be the best choice of words...don't cut...but rather elaborate. Can you write famously bad...to get 14 minutes of fame? All forms of glory can be headed your way...I was interviewed on CNN Live (yes, in the daytime)...and a bunch of other radio/tv stations from California to Australia...I showed up on over 7000 hits on Google...more than Alex Trebek; less than Mel Gibson...my name and entry was in newpapers, literally from Albania to Zimbabwe...I even made the front page of USA Today. In a nutshell, I loved it...can you tell? Okay, so Letterman never called...and Conan O'Brien's people said I probably couldn't fill up six minutes of airtime. Uh huh...right. And Craig Ferguson wasn't around yet...what a pity. But I do try my best to get the word out to people who might not necessarily know about the contest because it really was both a fun experience and an honour to be chosen. Thank you again, Scott Rice.

(Professor Scott Rice, of San Jose University, is the originator of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest which has been running continually since 1982.)

Originally published 4 April 2006.

This post is part of Nicky and Mike’s "30 Minus 2 Days of Writing" challenge.  (Yes, I know - another 30 days of me begging for people to read my blog...but, dammit, I really want the nasty salty licorice prize...so if I come in 2nd, I think I win it; you can be instrumental in getting me to win and gag on it.  Hell, there'll probably be a blog involved...ooops...spoke too soon probably.) Anyway, today’s topic is "Cheesy". Please check out "We Work For Cheese" for a list of the other participants. 


  1. Your award-winning entry is tastelessly brilliant, Mariann! I wish I'd thought of it....


  2. Hell, I kinda liked it. And now I'm all hungry. Damn you!

  3. Well, it was fun winning - and I can say it for the rest of my life. It's kinda like my whole string cheese theory. :)

  4. I have to admit, that opening sentence of yours gave me pause, and I started to worry about what I had gotten into when I had to re-read it a few times in order to understand the rhythm. That was entertaining. Well played.

  5. Most times the stuff in my head flops out differently than people possibly understand. I could call you up and read it for you if you'd like, tho...because I know how it's supposed to go. ;)

  6. Boy that was some cheesy embrace, not to mention entry. I'm really impressed. But I always write famously bad. Not unlike a hunk of fuzzy green cheese that's bee left out on the counter for a week...

  7. Hmmmm, maybe I should give it a shot. I can write badly - as I'm sure everyone can attest to...

  8. That is awesome! You know, writing "bad" on purpose is very very hard... making you an excellent writer!

  9. You got to get your entries in - it'll be fun! Just go to the link I provided - you can do it! :)

  10. I'm a bit cheesed by how good this one was. :)