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. How was I to know
    “Turn left in 500 feet”
    Was last year’s update?

  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. At the gates of hell
    The voice tells me I have reached
    My destination

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

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

  6. Shooting Through escape rooms – Australia – Felicity Banks is the creator of Shooting Through: the escape room that comes to you. She also writes novels (The Antipodean Queen Australian Steampunk Trilogy, and the Rahana trilogy of kids, starting with "The Monster Apprentice"), interactive fiction, and the "Murder in the Mail" and "Magic in the Mail" art-filled immersive tales.
    Louise Curtis

    Explosive heartburn:
    Ours is not to reason why
    Ours is just to die.

    Louise Curtis

  7. Dave H – I can see Canada from my house – Aging dad, electronics nerd, embedded software developer. (I'm the guy who makes your microwave blink 12:00.)
    Dave H

    “Name?” “Merkel.” “Merkin?”
    “Merkel. Merkin‘s GPS
    set his hair aflame.”

  8. Aluminum foil
    blocks government mind probes, but
    not Martian death rays.

  9. janbca – I'm a 30 year old mom, wife, laundress, cook, maid, chauffeur, tutor, seamstress, daughter, friend, playmate, personal shopper, editor and executive assistant. In my downtime (lol) I like to read, watch tv and enjoy the outdoors.
    Anna Creech

    A river was met
    when the gps said to
    turn left at the light

  10. 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 )

  11. 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.

  12. 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! ;) )

  13. Clare Golding – My favorite word is eleemosynary; it means generosity of spirt. I give that. I hope for it return. Especially should you read a message from me with typos and missing or reversed words. When the creative spirits called me to be a writer, they decided the path should be rocky. She/her, YA writer, anti-racist, mom, immigrant, Nerdfighter, former Hollywood-ite, recovering middle school teacher, dyslexic. Commonword Prize shortlist and Yeovil Novel Prize 2018. Represented by Catherine Pellegrino at Marjac London.

    Monkeys with LASERS!
    Oh how I did not want these
    To be my last wor…

  14. I always hated
    the voice of my GPS…
    now I’ll go haunt her.

  15. A. belzebuth with
    lasers and breading assert
    I taste like chicken.

  16. Dave Smith – Nerd of various flavors in no particular order: Ducks, Mariners, Harry Potter, Lost, Science Fiction, Fantasy, the law, reading, blogs, and whatever else I like to do on my free time. DFTBA.
    Dave Smith

    Where the fuck am I?
    Jump off the cliff, GPS?
    Really? Well, okay–AAAAHHH!!!!

  17. Wings erupt from trees
    My own personal dead end
    Thanks a lot, Tom-Tom

  18. revelationandchange – I like long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, and - oh, wait, wrong profile. Sometimes girly, sometimes nerdy, and usually sarcastic. A little bit serious, a little bit goofy, always optimistic. Sappy commercials make me cry, and I laugh louder and longer than anyone else. I strive to be happy, kind, and a friend to everyone. Basically, I'm awesome. "Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and hope. A 'you can do it' when things are tough." --Richard M. DeVos
    Stephanie Kropp

    The spider monkeys gnaw
    I’m losing a lot of blood
    It kind of tickles

  19. Spider monkeys with lasers
    Ha ha never laughed so hard
    Now not so funny

  20. procrastigator – Montréal, Québec – Jeune langagier récemment diplômé, amateur de jeux vidéos et de lecture, interessé par la politique, athée.
    Loïc Haméon

    It said: Walk 50 meters
    But how should I have known that
    A spacesuit was needed

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

    (silly relativity & GPS directions!!)

  22. 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?

  23. daisyleelemon – I felt like I needed a place to share my geeky girl life, and encourage others to do the same. My heroes: if you can name the three characters that make up my name, you win the game.
    S. Thomas

    The last word I hear before
    lasers slice me up

  24. Ignore all warnings!
    Rebel against all labels!
    Now I can’t see shit.

  25. “Spider monkey chow:
    Nuts, fruits, insects.” Really? Then
    Is my spleen desert?

  26. 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”.

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. George E. Mitchell – Seabeck, WA – I've been working in the software industry since 1991. Over that time, I've learned a lot about technical people and had a good deal of success working with them and managing them. LinkedIn: <a href=""></a>

    Damn you, Magellan.
    “Left turn on spider monkeys”?!?
    I hope I die well.

  30. George E. Mitchell – Seabeck, WA – I've been working in the software industry since 1991. Over that time, I've learned a lot about technical people and had a good deal of success working with them and managing them. LinkedIn: <a href=""></a>

    Whoops, should have included my last name. It’s “Mitchell”.

  31. 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?

  32. 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.)

  33. Oh my sweet monkey,
    Lasers can not substitute
    For our space heaters

  34. Darkhorse3010 – Just here to post the random thoughts that plague my life and pop out of my mouth at the most inauspicious moments. As some who know me say I have a tendency to drop comments and thoughts that would make someone with Attention Deficit Disorder sound normal. Also have an annoying (according to others once again) habit of being able to tell what TV show or Movie is playing from a very small and random viewing of said show; maybe that’s my Super Power…

    GPS wrong turn
    Spider Monkeys with Lasers
    Now I’m up in smoke

  35. amandageddon – She is a slacker of the highest order, a geek of not so much, went back to school to become an even bigger geek and possibly get paid for it. She loves it when a plan comes together.

    Laser helps combust
    Monkeys, but how did they get
    the control box… crap.

  36. alfvaen – I am everywhere, including here. I spend most of my free time playing The Sims 2, and I've decided to try blogging about it. With pictures. We'll see how that goes.

    “Turn right on dirt road.
    In three point five miles–” Just then,
    The car sank in lake.

  37. 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. )

  38. Spider Monkey knew
    with infinite precision
    where to aim the beam.

  39. chrisrebman – This is where I'll post my daily rants and raves, bits of news I thought were interesting, and even a story now and then. This is the place to find out how I am, what I am up to, and even maybe what I think on a variety of topics.

    Exploding with flame,
    That will show those laser-armed
    Spider monkey twits!

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

  41. Erbo – Second Life Resident, EVE Online capsuleer, virtual community maven, software engineer, computer geek, SF fan, conservative, cat lover. Also, The Game.

    Tied down, laser on,
    “Mister Bond, expect to die…”
    Not the crotch first! Please!

  42. No one can pronounce
    Either of my two last names.
    Therefore, I won’t play.

    -by Angeline LeLeux-Bajzek

  43. 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.

  44. A bright light ahead
    I don’t recall tunnel?
    Train! Damn this G. P…*CRASH*

  45. Rii the Wordsmith – An aspiring author, artist, avid consumer of storytelling medium, gamer, psychologist (insomuch as one with her bachelor's is a psychologist), wife, mother, DM, Christian, a friend to many, and, most importantly, an evil overlord.
    Leigh Averett

    Buying groceries
    Standing in line to check out
    …I feel weird. KA-BOOM!

  46. Rii the Wordsmith – An aspiring author, artist, avid consumer of storytelling medium, gamer, psychologist (insomuch as one with her bachelor's is a psychologist), wife, mother, DM, Christian, a friend to many, and, most importantly, an evil overlord.
    Leigh Averett

    By the way – I personally would cry if the character was NOT ingested by voles.

  47. Lasers lead astray.
    Lost in self-immolation.
    Spider Monkey doom.

  48. 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.

  49. An infinity
    of monkeys dropping on me.
    Damn! Damn you, Shakespeare!

  50. Surprise cliff-face.
    Spring blooms can’t cushion my fall.
    Not a bridge at all.

  51. shineanthology – Jetse de Vries is a technical specialist for a propulsion company, and used to travel the world for this. Of late, due to the increased time both his story writing and several future editing projects are taking up, he's trying to settle into a desk job by giving both the company’s own specialists and customers training courses. He was part of the Interzone editorial team from March 2004 until September 2008. His non-fiction articles, reviews, essays and interviews have appeared in Interzone, The Fix, New York Review of Science Fiction, Focus, and others. He writes SF since 1999, and had his first story published in November 2003. His stories have appeared in about two dozen publications on both sides of the Atlantic, and include Amityville House of Pancakes, vol. 1, JPPN 2, Nemonymous 4, Northwest Passages: A Cascadian Anthology, DeathGrip: Exit Laughing, HUB Magazine #2, Clarkesworld Magazine, SF Waxes Philosophical, Postscripts 14 and Flurb, amongst others. They're upcoming in the A Mosque Among the Stars anthology (slated for September 2008) and another, yet-to-be-named anthology in 2009. Jetse has a blog at:

    Combustion my ass
    Laser-fried spider monkeys
    Stole my GPS

  52. (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.

  53. It was all their fault.
    My corpse rots in the jungle.
    Stupid damn monkeys!

  54. How to make him bark?
    Spontaneously combust,
    The he will go “Wooooooooff!”

  55. 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.

  56. 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!

  57. Monkeys with lasers?
    AND crap directions? AND fire?
    That did not end well.

  58. pennlynn – I'm just me, and I'm also someone who has been cursed by being born with a facial difference and I struggle with this every day!! I'm hoping those who find this blog will be apart of my journey as I go though this life.

    Human Combustion
    Killed me as sure as lasers,
    Can’t eat bacon now.

  59. Bart Leahy – Orlando, FL – Freelance instructional design, proposal, and aerospace engineering technical writer and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
    Bart L

    I made the wrong turn;
    the armed monkeys awaited
    and fired. Damn GPS.

  60. Tony Noland – near Philadelphia, PA – Tony Noland is a writer, blogger and poet in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. He takes his writing seriously, but has somehow gotten a reputation as a funny guy. Most of his work is science fiction, literary fiction and magical realism. Tony is active on Twitter as @TonyNoland, and you can find his fiction at his writing blog Landless,
    Tony Noland

    They were right: lasers
    don’t kill people – it’s the mad
    scientists with them.

  61. crotchetyoldfan – The Crotchety Old Fan is Steve Davidson, also know as Rimworlder on many SF forums. Steve maintains the Rim Worlds Concordance project which is devoted to the works of A. Bertram Chandler and his most enduring character - Commodore John Grimes of the Rim Worlds Naval Reserve. Grimes is science fiction’s original ‘Horatio Hornblower of Space’. More information about Chandler, Grimes and the Rim Worlds can be found at Steve also maintains a visual index of volume 1, number 1 pulp science fiction magazines on the same website and is a devoted collector of the same. ‘I’m an ‘old’ SF fan, which you can take whichever way you like, as I love the old masters (Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, E.F. Russell, Piper, Cordwainer Smith) and I’m well beyond the age you’re not supposed to trust anymore’. This blog is devoted to an investigation of the growing divide between ‘old’ - or ‘classic’ science fiction and the moderan literary genre that is currently sold under the same name. Steve has also begun writing reviews for, expects to be doing the same for, and is contributing various non-fiction pieces to various other websites, all of them concerned with science fiction of one stripe or another. Early in 2008 he became completely disappointed with the SciFi Channel and created The Classic Science Fiction Channel website that gathers links to public domain radio, television, film and literary properties. Steve had a successful non-fiction writing career - writing articles and books dealing primarily with the paintball industry (Four books and several hundred articles including editorializing, product reviews, sports reporting, educational and more) - which he has since given up in favor of blogging and fiction. (Leaving the paintball industry after 25 years.) One final book on this subjected is scheduled to be released in early 2009 (A Parent's Guide To Paintball). Current work on fiction includes several completed novellettes/novellas curently in submission hell and various chapters of three novels. Freely distributed current work - including several chapters of a science fiction/paintball novel and a pulp/comic book/fairy tale mashup can be found on his website.
    steve davidson

    How am I now Krook?
    Bubbling fat, flames to ashes
    My future so Bleak

  62. 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!

  63. The voice commands me:
    Turn left now, exit, one mile.
    Starlight Cliff; Life’s exit.

  64. Jeanne – I'm a reader, a writer, a mother, a wife, an ailurophile, a Writing Center Director, and a PhD in English Literature (specializing in Rhetoric and Composition and literature of the Eighteenth Century).

    Anger. A red face
    Steam escaping from the ears
    Suddenly, I flare

  65. 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?