Become a Character in My Latest Book: A Contest

So, I’m busily writing away on my newest book, the one that should be out sometime in 2012. And I just wrote a character whose name is currently “Lieutenant Merkel,” for no good reason than because for that second I was thinking about Germany. But I don’t really like the name for the character, so I figured, hey, why not have a contest, the winner of which will get to have his or her name replace that of Merkel’s?

Why not indeed.

So, a contest! The winner of which will have his or her name replace that of Merkel’s. Now, before you enter, here’s what you need to know:

1. Merkel/You is a bit player, but of generally good character;
2. Merkel/You may or may not live to see the end of the story. Because if someone has to die, I need to work with what I have on hand.

So you need to be cool with the fact there’s a chance I might kill “you” off. But if I have to I’ll try to have it be, like, heroic and all. But no promises. If it makes sense for the story to have you ingested by voles, I’ll be doing that. Because, hey, man. I’m an artist.

To acclimate yourself to the concept of death, that will be the theme of the contest.

For the contest, write a haiku from the point of view of some who is either about to die or has just died, from one (or more!) of the following:

1. A spider monkey or monkeys;
3. Poor GPS directions
4. And, of course, Spontaneous Human Combustion.

So, for example:

I’m really amazed
Who knew that spider monkeys
Enjoy human snacks?


Did you know humans
Smell like bacon when they fry?
Just found out myself!

Got it? Excellent.


1. One haiku per person. So make it good.

2. “Haiku” in this case means a poem in 5/7/5 syllable configuration. You don’t need to make a seasonal reference.

3. All entries have to be in by 11:59:59pm Eastern, Sunday, January 16, 2011.

4. If you win, the name used will be your last name. The person using your name may or may not be of your own sex/nationality/creed/sexual predilections, etc. You won’t be able to substitute anyone else’s name.

And there you are. Drop your entries in the comment thread.

Good luck!

776 Comments on “Become a Character in My Latest Book: A Contest”

  1. Required obvious usage of all components:

    Damn spider monkeys;
    Their GPS has led us
    Into lasers – foom!

  2. lasers in the dark
    hunting for their human prey

    This totally made my day! It has been Inaugural Haiku Week in my second grade classroom this week. Glad to see i’m teaching the kiddos useful life skills.

  3. Happens quite often
    Not reported widely
    Little green globule.

    – with apologies to “This Is Spinal Tap”

  4. Final Communication from the Purported Victim of Spontaneous Human Combustion:

    Help! Exit blocked by
    A frackin’ monkey firefight
    With LASER pistols!

  5. Turn right, proceed, stop.
    Obstacle. Laser charred monkeys.
    Reverse, turn, turn..aaaaaah!

  6. That fire in my pants?
    It wasn’t because of you . . .
    But that’s what you’ll say.

  7. Plonge dans le laser
    Regarde tes tripes s’embraser
    Te voilà cramé

    (This a perfect valid entry as the rules nerver said the haiku has to be in English. ;p )

  8. Spider monkey’s GPS
    guided me to laser trap
    and I exploded

    Does GPS count as 3 syllables? I was hoping I’d qualify because of Darby’s Rangers in WWII, and I was killed off in an active shooter exercise by the county police. I took multiple soap pellets in the back by a squad of officers.

  9. Lights come up brightly
    Count down for intro and *flash*!!!
    Damn you, Spinal Tap!!!

    (Gee, all to be that red-shirted Security guy that gets killed in John’s new novel! ;) )

  10. Laser fried retinas
    Tom-Tom says this path is safe
    Say, what’s that rustling?

  11. I never grasped how
    simple coherent light isnt
    When in my spleen

    Happy 50th anniversary of the laser

  12. The box said ‘turn right’,
    But not ‘into a brick wall’.
    No refunds for ghosts.

  13. “Hot enough for you?”
    Fat man squints and mops his brow.
    Won’t he be surprised.

  14. Invasion. Now time
    wrong turns to meters off and
    our missiles find me —

    (silly relativity & GPS directions!!)

  15. Spider monkey quips to monkeys
    Your poor GPS directions deserve
    Lasers or Spontaneous Monkey Combustion

  16. Reposting this, as it seems to have eaten the first one:

    Spider monkeys do
    Shoot lasers, in Germany.
    Damn GPS. Poof!

  17. The light finds my pod
    And punctures my canopy
    Motes in the atmo

    I’m going to play against the other entries, and do something (hopefully) non-humorous. :) Is it tacky that this is inspired by a story I’m writing?

  18. Left? (re-) Right? Straight? Wait,
    is that (-cal-cu-) monstrous huge
    death pit real? (-la-)

  19. Dashing young soldier —
    Where’s that red light coming from?
    There goes my left arm.

  20. Magic rocks be damned….
    This can’t be worth the payoff!
    *Poof* goes my tushie

    I love haiku…thanks for the contest. My last name is “Tilden”.

  21. spider monkeys eyes
    beams of hate heat my body
    wrong turn, i explode

    (Matthew Caffrey)

  22. How will you know people are telling the truth about their last name if they don’t enter it here? My last name could be Crapwhistle for all you know

  23. “Glo•bal” the screen says,
    “Ther•mo•nu•cle•ar War” -pause-
    “Do you want to play?”

  24. rapture approaches
    a wave of decimation
    myself tenth in line

    faithless normally
    my ending here a result
    of ill direction

    (outdated phone maps
    apparently unaware
    of monkey cult march)

    stuck in foot traffic
    while worshipers incandesce
    in well-spaced flashes

    i mark the pattern
    and witness the burning of
    every tenth face

    gridlock confines me
    panic absent, i now wait
    curious to see

    if in the moment
    i’ll see the monkey-god’s hand
    holding a laser

  25. Okay, so I’m not the first (or forty-first) to try to use all components…


    Monkeys fired lasers
    Bad GPS made them miss
    So why do I fry?

  26. This is just to say
    Spider monkeys have eaten
    Plums and me. So sweet.

    If Georgmi, whose surname I share, wins, I shall still have the potential pleasure of seeing a Mitchell red-shirted. (Likewise for Georgmi if I win.)

  27. LIDAR plane crashing
    Blessed are the mapmakers
    Dead of multipath

    Why yes, I am a surveyor.

  28. I brought bananas
    when you cried: “spider monkeys!”
    – not anti-venom.

    (And, out of contest, a GPS-tanka:

    Up-up, down, down then
    left right twice B&A, Start?
    I do believed you,
    Oh, machine, but there is no
    cheatcode for the Grand Canyon. )

  29. Push that red button
    and pew pew go the lasers
    swiftly, the end comes

    (Too many Mimiron attempts? Perhaps.)

  30. shit that is supposed to be “Sans” not “San”
    Alas, too much Scotch.
    Glinlivet, I must admit
    More than two. or three.

  31. There is a (dead) soap opera character with my exact name and spelling. It makes vanity Google searches difficult.

  32. Call Mythbusters, stat!
    Human combustion’s real and
    I smell delicious

    If you should choose me as the winner I’m going to have to insist that my character die before the end. Preferably in some horrible and perverted way.

    Awesome contest. Thanks.

  33. Personally, I like #357 so far. But here’s my entry:

    Anger like the heat
    of a hundred million suns —
    GPS cliff death.

    Best contest ever, btw.

  34. My wife runs lasers,
    So I married her for love.
    She got a target.

    [true-ish story – my wife is a laser physicist]

  35. My blood soaks the street.
    My GPS told me “left”,
    it should have been “right”.

  36. “Turn left in one mile,”
    said the spider monkey’s voice.
    Make the turn, and- ZOT.

  37. (Not an entry; just a comment)

    OOOHHH! I so want to win this one! “Lieutenant Whybird” in a Scalzi novel would be like the coolest thing ever! The name is from a pair of saxon words: Wy=War, Berd=Bright – so like ‘illustrious warrior” or something. Or maybe “Fightin’ with Lasers” :)

    Sadly, Haiku is one of my least favourite poetic forms to write, but I will try. It may take me a day or so, but I will try.

  38. OK, I didn’t spend a whole day on it, but hopefully this is good:

    Ironically, I,
    With a name that means “War Bright”,
    Lost the laser fight.

  39. Damn, in my previous post i didn’t realise the repetition in “death” and “deadly”… Please, ignore it and consider the following one instead:

    Hidden death you bring
    Laser, coherent light beam
    Mankind lethal sting!

  40. Entry: LASERS

    Light monotonic
    Cohesion interrupted
    Red mist of brain goo

    Bonus extra haiku, because I’m bored at work:

    Never trust monkeys!
    Oh Grandfather, why did I
    Doubt your sage advice?

    Turn left. No! turn right!
    Tiny map and grating voice—
    Sends me off a cliff!

    Getting hot in here
    You feel hot? No? I feel hot.
    Flee! I’m on FIRE!

  41. I saw the monkey
    he fixed my tomtom but then
    he went Pew pew pew!

    P.S., can it be my first name instead of my last name?

  42. Gah. Let’s try that again:

    Blinded, I mistake
    Ape Lincoln for Abe. The damned
    dirties set me alight.

  43. Vibrate molecules
    To evade Grodd’s death ray.
    What?…Landsat feedbaaaAAAK!

    Replaces earlier entry by ZBBM.

  44. Replaces more recent entry by ZBBM that was full of fail but not full of syllables.

    Vibrate molecules
    Grodd’s death ray passes through me.
    What?…Landsat feedbaaaAAAK!

  45. like mind
    photon losing

    I did this one with 5/7/5 mora rather than counting English syllables

  46. Stuck in laser trap
    Curse the monkeys who sold me
    This damn Tom-Tom… FWOOOOOSH!

    (The last word is the sound of someone going up in flames thus, I have used all 4 things mentioned in mine)

  47. Because my boyfriend’s GPS is now 3 years out of date:

    I told you, “Update!”
    Because I really don’t like
    The drop-off ahead.

  48. Woke up a monkey;
    Not quite what I had in mind.
    That recruiter’s dead.

    Okay, so I chose a less literal, transcendental death; an Old Man’s War gone horribly wrong, if you will. After all, the future will be stranger than we know. I like the idea of character death by gross incompetence. That way you’re not only forcing your winner to come to terms with existential angst, but also issues of identity and ego as well (grin). Say, isn’t death by voles Kevorkian’s first choice (yes, I’ve seen his art as too)?

  49. Question: Can it be my maiden name? It’s so much cooler than my married name.

    Turn left, the voice said.
    Alas there was a large river
    between hire and there.

  50. Not a haiku, but submitted for your approval regardless:

    Jiggery pokery
    Ateles belzebuth
    Lasered the satellites
    This won’t end well

    We should have realized
    Give them an inch and they’ll
    Send you to hell

  51. Today’s experiment
    4-D GPS Testing
    Ana, Up, Kata

    I am lost in time
    Spider-monkeys block my path
    Tom-Tom says turn left

    My nemesis precedes.
    His simians await me
    Escape to the sea!

    Laser-guided sharks
    Superior to monkeys
    I explode in sur—

  52. Brandon killed me once
    Goradel burnt to a crisp
    When the world ended

    (mistborn books)

  53. “Turn left now.” “Bien
    Venidos a Iquacu”
    How did they miss this?

    This needs explanation. Iguacu is the 11th biggest waterfall in the world. It has Less water, but is twice as wide as Niagara Falls. I thought it apropos as I´m living in Paraguay for 2 years. It´s technically in Brazil, but I figure it counts since I´m living about 2 hours away, and the name is in Guarani (means big water), which is pretty much exclusively spoken in Paraguay.

    On an unrelated note, thank you for making your site one of the few that is less than a living hell for an effectively worse than dial-up connection.

  54. “Turn left now.” “Bien
    Venidos a Iguacu.”
    How did they miss this?

    This needs explanation. Iguacu is the 11th largest waterfall in the world. It has less water per second than Niagara Falls, but is twice the width. I felt it was apropos as I´m living in Paraguay for 2 years. Technically, it´s in Brazil, but I figure it´s close enough as I only live 2 hours away, and it´s name is in Guarani (means big water), which is pretty much exclusively spoken in Paraguay.

    On an unrelated note, thank you for making your site one of the few which is less than a living hell to view on a connection effectively worse than dial-up.

  55. Just realized I added on extra word and I didn’t mean to! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, I know I can’t re-submit but here: (just in case!)

    There’s no more bacon
    Traitor monkeys took it all
    I’ll see them in Hell


    Death-Monkeys stalk me.

    Tom-Tom fails to guide my steps.

    Flames claim my body!

  57. One thing left to me
    Gripping him like a limpet
    I burst into flames

    Nothing says heroic like gastropoda.

  58. errr

    A smoldering love
    Is not a romantic tale
    if the flames are real

    will my Haiku mail be graded too?

  59. Oh dang. 5-7-5? Can I recalibrate?

    In bright red Mustangs
    tourists using GPS
    lost in Paradise.

  60. Hmm, lasers or spontaneous combustion?

    Chased by monkeys,
    missed the turn to find my end
    thru a sparky flare.

  61. Sign Above Laser:
    “Dead End – Go Back!” They Were Right.
    GPS Was Wrong.

    Cool contest, though a fe more themes for the death would have been cool :).

  62. GPS-guided
    monkey poo missiles!? LASER
    MALFUNCTION. Oh, shi-

    Expectations low.
    Haven’t written a haiku
    since grade six. Oh well.

    David Merkel should
    win. His haiku made me LOL.
    Poetic justice.

  63. T’was my first haiku
    Me, confused and excited
    Misspelled my last name

    #657 – last name: Roy-MacHabée, not Riy-MacHabee …

  64. A stitch in time saves
    (flay the skin and flense the flesh)
    AARGH!! Spider…Monkeys…

  65. Monkeys with Lasers!
    Turn left? Recalculating….
    OOPS! Turn Right! Flame out……

  66. Stop, spider monkeys!
    I gave you life – and now this!
    Why, my pretties, why?


    P.S. John, I know it would take forever and a half to do, but I’d love to see which of the four modes of death was most popular… Of course, I’d say spider monkeys, but then I might be a bit biased.

  67. A bilingual haiku that matches the syllable count in both languages:


    isha no saru
    dokugumo saru no?
    zannen ne…

    The doctor’s monkeys:
    Poisonous spider monkeys?
    How unfortunate…

    Now we shall see whether the form can handle posting in Asian characters (if not, that’s why I included the romanized version).

  68. Never taunt The Witch.
    “Monkeys might fly out of my–”
    They do. Wings, claws. Twice.

  69. Right Turn in one mile
    I obey and turn that way
    Damn, the bridge is out.

    Have fun reading these, I did. Thanks

  70. Check out this haiku:

    Brightly shining, red
    Steaming and smoking, burning
    Lasers sear my flesh

  71. The snow is melted
    Where my sat-nav has led me
    Ack! Guard lasers kill!

    Note the seasonal reference and the use of kill! as a kireji, also part of the haiku tradition :)

  72. Go straight thru the lights
    The voice said, while the screen showed
    Light traffic — choo choo!

  73. note: #736 was my original attempt. After I submitted, an error popped up, so I wrote it again, and re-submitted. Now, #738 needs to be deleted. I’m a klutz, what can I say? Delete it, or I will call the spider monkeys to use their lasers, or might find your coordinates on my GPS. If you don’t use my name, I will purposely die of flames. just kidding. just kidding.

  74. John, you will need two
    Glasses of fine cabernet
    Before you start judging

    And may the gods take pity on your brain…

  75. Ugh. I can’t count to 5.

    OK take two.

    J.D. Oliver
    Know my name – that’s all I ask
    Lasers from SPACE? Dicks.

  76. When she said, “You’re hot.”
    I thought she meant ‘attractive’,
    Not ‘combusting’. Damn.