The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:

I entered this contest 64 times between October 2005 and March 2006. One of my sentences earned a Dishonorable Mention.

When Debbie decided that Salt 'n' Pepper Beard was the most attractive pirate on the ship, she realized that choosing him was due to the advice of Sylvia, her new life coach, to be realistic about her own age and to open herself up to romance where it lay, unlike the troublesome past when she would have wished that only the younger pirates take advantage of her.

Another sentence I submitted was selected for the 2006 Grand Prize:

Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you’ve had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.

Both sentences were published in Scott Rice’s book, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, 2007, Friday Books, UK.

Grand Prize winners get to be part of the final team of Contest judges every year. Judging other people’s writing is not easy for me. Sometimes my favorites are the same as those of the other judges, and sometimes not at all. You can see the other Grand Prize sentences on the Bulwer-Lytton website, and many others in the following compilations. They are all out-of-print, but still frequently available from used book-sellers, and Amazon and eBay.

Bulwer covers

What is the prize for winning Bulwer-Lytton?  Broad Infamy.  I was interviewed by newspapers, California radio and TV stations, an Australian radio station, and BBC Radio (twice).  Just plug my name into Yahoo or Google and, even years later, from Sacramento to Finland, you can read the reviewers’ praise, faint praise, and disgust.  My favorite comment came from Scott Rice, creator/organizer of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.  Professor Rice was quoted as saying,

The judges were impressed by his appalling powers of invention.

For those of you who have visited the Bulwer-Lytton website and read all the compilations, but still can’t get enough B-W, here is a selection of my submissions that didn’t make the cut:



Berkeley professor Max Lundeberg just killed them in physics, amassing a small fortune enabling him to live his dream to be a private detective, and his first case started with an aging hippy, Seagull Klempski, hitting Max over the head, knocking him dizzy and thinking:  Gee, I thought my use of conflict resolution techniques had established a bond of trust between us, so when he said, “Look behind you!” I turned and everything went dark, dark like under a big rock, but if you tried to see how dark, and lifted the rock, you would let light in before you could see the dark, a perfect example of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, because, and then his face hit the pavement.

As I stepped out of Captain Jack’s Pirate Fish Grotto, the gurgling in my stomach said the free plastic pirate hat I was wearing didn’t compensate for the deep fried cardboard in a bun I had just eaten, but there was something fishy at Captain Jack’s, especially with the crew who worked there, because, despite their denials, their skull and cross bone earrings looked a lot like those worn by the bikers who had kidnapped my client’s daughter, and were now demanding a pirate’s ransom.



Federal Star Cruiser Pilot Rip Granite had always been afraid of the dark, and this weighed heavily on his mind as he steered his ship, F.S.C Salt Lake City, into the Black Hole.

Captain Brock Jaeger and a crew of ten launched from the restricted area at SeaTac Inter-Galactic, topped off the tanks on the back side of the moon, slipped past the Sun (at night, to keep the ship cool and let the crew sleep), veered wide of Jupiter (with its nasty head winds) and headed toward their destination, thus beginning what the crew thought would be a typical mission, but they did not know that Captain Jaeger had secret orders.



When Lavane Jackson entered the Oval Office he could see that, like the other times, he would be alone with the president, undoubtedly so that there would be no witnesses to the President ordering Jackson to undertake another impossible super secret mission against one of America’s many enemies, but he realized that this one would be worse than the others, because the President was crying and her mascara was running.



Squeak, rumble-rumble-rumble, squeak, rumble-rumble-rumble, squeak moaned the Robertsons’ buckboard as Blossom, their plow horse, pulled and clomped along the road from their humble homestead on toward the little town of Happy Pilgrim, where Mrs. Robertson would go to the general store for sugar and gingham cloth, the children would get hard candy, and Mr. Robertson would go to the saloon for a friendly sarsaparilla, but he couldn’t have known that Lash Fensterwald was already there, fresh out of the territorial prison, and drinking Redeye like he’d found water in the desert.



Dr. Brendan Yorkdale entered the room and moved quickly past the nurses to the operating table where he reached into the patient’s open chest cavity, moved some squiggly things aside, and massaged the heart skillfully until Mrs. Caruthers came back to life again, but rather than being pleased he was as concerned as before, not about the difficult brainiectomy he had to perform later that afternoon, but about what Dr. Smith had said earlier that morning on the golf course, about seeing Dr. Yorkdale’s wife, Caitlin, at the mall, with that new young eye, ear, and foot doctor, Tyler Redfern.

Her huge breasts landed on my chest like two whales throwing themselves up onto a beach, whales who no doubt had some inner ear or parasite problem causing them to lurch from the sea, which reminded me of my youth in Japan, where I observed women roll up their pant legs and wade into the surf to retrieve sea weed, which would be served later as a delicacy in restaurants, though I never liked it.



“Smellith goodith!” said Gromml to his mate, Flowerth, as he entered their humble hut and smelled the big slab of mutton in their fire pit, his hearty deep voice masking his fatigue from walking five hundred and twenty knerths, over hill and through valley, across stream, snow, and desert, in a futile search for better land for their clan, but that was enough for one day, and he had just enough strength left to exclaim “Make fire below my vessel, for Gromml soakith afore feast, soft one!”