Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Contest results!

Your entries were terrifyingly good. I knew it was going to be tough when I saw the number of entries, and that was confirmed by the shrieks of dismay heard from Barbara Poelle when she realized she couldn't choose them all!

Barbara Poelle on Monday morning

Fortunately DeathKitten, her companion in crime, was able to swoop in, electronically speaking, to offer aid and comfort.

DeathKitten swooping in

Without further ado, here are the entries selected from the contest:

Points for Humor:

Lightning flashes. Lights go off. Bottle knocks glass and there’s an evil laugh…from a witch, ghost or deadly bartender.

Lights come on. And the table’s different…a body’s on it (with no decay), surrounded by bottles, glasses, candy wrappers.

H.R. points at B.P.

B.P. points at H.R.

Both point at J.R. on the unforsaken tablecloth (“unforsaken,” because B.P. retrieved the liquor-stained cloth from H.R.’s Goodwill donations bag).

H.R.: “But we cut her off.”

B.P., glassy-eyed: “We knew another shot would slay her.”

Terror transforms their (otherwise beautiful) faces. They scream, “Who (vodka) shot J.R.?!”

Lightning flashes. Lights flicker. An insalubrious shark laughs.

Honorable Mention for Humor:

The tall ghost ripped off his sheets. Whipped out a deadly knife. The insalubrious witch to his right shrieked. A zombie in full decay dropped his beer and ran for the door.

"Janet and Barbara are my babes, Clooney," the huge man said in a low voice.

George looked up from his copy of UNFORSAKEN and patted the knees of the hot literary agents on either side of him: Janet dressed as a slutty angel and Barbara as a succubus.

He smiled. "Reacher, let's make a deal. We don't slay each other and maybe we can do a double date."

Recognition for being unique:
Feaky Snucker

Ghost seeks love to slay his loneliness. You want to feel unforsaken, and are open to being watched while you sleep. He enjoys the scent of flowers in decay, and walks on insalubrious beaches. Deadly witch need not apply.

BIG PROPS for insinuating that Root and I are drunk and pantsless in a HoJo somewhere at any given moment, not to mention an amazing play on words with wan hoarse open slay:

(** one of the four lucky random winners of the book prizes!)


Three witches drank a loathsome brew-
One muttered ultimatums, too:

“Tis nearly now All Hallow’s Eve
and Reid’s got something up her sleeve-
Photos from a dank hotel
of Holly Root and Babs Poelle,
casting spells and drinking shots,
while dishabille, and sans culottes.”

“A contest’s what I’d fancy most
to honor Late October’s ghost,
A deadly process, undertaken,
that my blog be unforsaken.
And YOU, my entrapped sentries
will be challenging all entries...”

“Eye of newt and murray decay
in a wan, hoarse, open slay...”


“Oh don’t look so lugubrious, gals-
It’s really insalubrious, pals!”

Recognition for being politically topical

“Come on, sound it out. You can do it,” the young teacher said.
“In-sa-lube-re-us,” the nervous student said.
“Very, very good, Quenita” the teacher said.
And so it went each school day. The teacher attempted to slay deadly ignorance one child at a time.
A ghost of a smile appeared on her lips as she wished once again she could be a powerful witch that could end societal decay with a simple spell. The smile faded. There was no magic to be found. The truth was that she felt unforsaken. Her Governor, Chris Christie, thought she was a union thug.

Points for using another client title in the story (Murder Most Persuasive):

The Precinct House Squad

"Which babe?"

"The near witch."

"No witches here, idiot. This is ghost country. They'd slay a witch who showed her insalubrious mug here."

"Insalubrious? You're never going to get laid if you use those godforsaken words."

"Proper English must remain unforsaken. Chicks find erudite fellows deadly cool."

"Yeah, good luck with that. I'm going after the leggy blonde with tooth decay and nasal wart. Long as we don't kiss, bedding her would be murder most persuasive."

"So? Did you score with the witch?"

"Nah, she wasn't a witch. Babe was an underage Irish zombie dolled up for Halloween."

2 YAs I (Barbara) would Totally read:
(1)  Jared X

She slides into the crawlspace beneath the school lunchroom. The building’s underbelly is grimy, insalubrious. From here she’ll see its approach. Her blade is ready, her left arm painstakingly trained to deliver deadly force. Her lifelong mission, unfulfilled but unforsaken, is to slay it. Something moves in the woods.

Cartoon ghosts and witches adorn the windows above. October cheerfulness masks the terror of That Thing’s palate for human young.
Now it slithers out from the decay of fallen leaves, more imposing than last time. She springs. Years of futility dissolve with a single thrust and dying squeal. Later, she exhales.

(2) kathleenliz
Diane’s mom watched her slay an apple with a Popsicle stick before handing her the phone. “It’s Jackie.”

“Ugh. I don’t want to talk to that b-witch.”

“Well the bwitch wants to remind you to bring something sweet to her ‘Unforsaken Halloween Bash’. I’ll be upstairs.”

Diane opened an unlabeled bottle. It smelled like decay and almonds.

“Jackie?” She said, “Of course I’m coming to your party.”

Tipping the bottle of cyanide into melted caramel, Diane stirred it twice, dunked the skewered fruit into the deadly mixture, and plopped it onto a platter shaped like a ghost.

“I’m bringing desert.”

These are the semi-finalists:

Laurie Dennison

Neil lights the cigarette for her. “Another insalubrious habit.”

Muriel stretches forward, a ghost of the girl she was, and inhales. “An unforsaken habit, anyway. Trying to slay zombies proved more deadly.”

“Have you lost any more?” he eyes her arm beneath the sheet, weighing which transgression would get him fired faster, her age or her condition.

“Two. The decay’s accelerating.” The bites on her wrist burn; she loses her pinkie. “Make that three.”

“Alma Potter in Comparative Religion, they say she’s a witch. Maybe,”

“You need your hearing checked, Professor. They say Dr. Potter’s a bitch.”

Phil Hall

She lies decayed in the ground, that old crone, that horrid enchantress, and the world is better for it. Decades had passed since I came to slay her, and now it is her ghost that called to me demanding my presence, summoning me to where she insalubriously festers. I, alone, buried her and knew where her bones rotted and how her blood pooled; and here, in this unforsaken hollow, it was also only I who would learn her most deadly secret: I had killed the wrong witch.

The snitching spirit demanded recompense--her sister's soul in place of her own.


Her insalubrious confectionery concoctions so dazzled the palate, many thought her a culinary witch. The truth was stranger; her sweets were savvy subterfuge for godhood maintained through gulping ghosts. To avoid slaying her dwindling devotees, she used unforsaken invocations to hasten decay in those who devoured her shop's deadly delicacies. Crispy cookies carried off a month, tasty truffles took two, and a single slice of red velvet stole a year. Interviewed after the murderous masquerade was exposed, one long-time customer said they would still purchase the poisonous pastries. He opined that they were "good enough to die for".

Patty Blount

Mother clutched my hand and climbed the steps. She couldn't see the lady on the porch.

I could.

Gray skin. Cloudy eyes. She smelled like dirt and decay. Mother smiled once. "It's okay." She tugged me along.

"She lies, child." The ghost whispered through rotting teeth in bloody gums. "She means to slay you."

I shrieked.

The door opened. Mother shoved me inside. "She is unforsaken!" She ran, screaming, gripping her skirts. The ghost lady followed in deadly pursuit.

"Hush." A new voice whispered. "The living are insalubrious for witches but the dead are not. Welcome."

I smiled.

(**one of the four lucky random winners of the book prizes!)

The insalubrious smell of decay hits my nose before I reach the circle of stones. Some deadly witch’s ritual had definitely occurred here. I close my eyes and can almost hear echoes of chanting as someone had prepared to slay their sacrifices in the once unforsaken forest. Kneeling next to a decomposing corpse, I scan its ghost pale face. Footsteps crunch on the dead leaves behind me, but before I can turn, icy fingers wrap around my throat. A knife slices my abdomen. Blood oozes onto the forest floor, and I realize these bodies weren’t the Halloween sacrifice. I am.

jan  the one @3:38pm (there are two jans!)

Until the neighbors found old man Krembly wandering disheveled and bloodied through their backyard that night, no one believed that his house was haunted. People thought he was insane.

“But the floorboards creak and the windows rattle all night,” he insisted.

He claimed that some sort of witch or ghost—something grim and ghastly—had terrorized him more than once. Finally his unforsaken crusade to be free of it drove him to use deadly force, to slay it and leave it to decay.

A pot of dead rats simmering on the stove posed a most insalubrious discovery the next morning.

Greta is Erikasbuddy

A ghost of the midnight bells fills the air. The witching hour is upon us like a severed hand that is hard to escape. The decaying moon hangs heavy in the sky. Her sickly unforsaken light touches my skin.Burning me. Branding me.

It's happening. That deadly curse I've been blessed with. Slaying my INSALUBRIOUS thoughts with it's bite. I scream at them, “Run.” But they never believe me. Always insisting I’m crying wolf.

I can feel it coming. My hands, my eyes, the back of my mouth. And once again, I cry, “Wolf”. Why don’t they believe me?

Michael Seese

"So, a witch, a werewolf, and a ghost walk into a bar. And the werewolf says, am I hairy, or is it hot in here?"

Uproarious laughter.

I had sworn off doing stand-up for the zombie crowd. But a few Benjamins waved under my nose, and they were unforsaken. The pay was good, though the audiences could be dead. And in varying states of decay. If they don't kill you, the deadly, insalubrious air of the club will.

"You guys slay me. Take my life, please..." As they began their trudge to the stage, I thought, Bad choice of words.

Michelle Levy

My hand grazed the ghost of white lace that fell over the window, parting it just far enough to peek out. The unforsaken yard appeared to be free of its usual deadly inhabitants: the large black raven and that witch if a squirrel.

I regretted leaving my shoes behind, but there was no turning back now. The cold, damp, insalubrious, decaying leaves stuck to my bare feet as I scurried across the yard.

When I reached the metal coffin, I pulled it open and peeked inside.

It was there, waiting like an assassin to slay my hope… Another form rejection.


Paul knelt by the gelatinous mess. “Male, unusual state of decay owing to—"

“You can tell it’s male?” Martinez looked back at the remains.

The M.E. pointed to a clump. “Guy’s family stones. Some places, that kind of thing’s considered good eats. Guess not in Austin, Texas.”

The cop looked a ghostly shade of pale. “What is with this unforsaken town? Every freakin’ year someone pulls a Hannibal.”

Paul nodded. “Who knew trick-or-treating was so deadly for the college set?” Or that this campus could continue to churn out such tasty witches, goblins and demon-slayers. Still, he’d never acquire a taste for albondigas.

*Disclaimer - I've lived in Austin and, from what I recall, man-eating is kept to a bare minimum. I can’t speak for other parts of Texas - they do tend to go wild up around Dallas.

The witch is a snitch.

This phrase had been playing through the unforsaken's mind for the past three days. It pushed him toward his goal. To kill the witch, slay the snitch. Witches were deadly, but unforsaken didn't mind. Their brains and bodies were an insalubrious place, their only thought to please their masters.

This particular unforsaken was in the early stages of his decay, which is why he had been chosen to slay the witch. A few more days and he would be a ghost like the rest, but for now, he trudged forward.

The witch is a snitch.

The old schoolhouse stood alone yet unforsaken, the scent of decay a mere whisper in these cold, deadly woods. Only on Halloween did children ever venture there, searching for the ghost that guarded the threshold, her long, slender fingers poised to slay any intruder who disturbed her classroom.

On this particular Halloween, a small child knocked on the charred red door, and when it opened, a witch with a warped, spindly wand appeared. Enraged, she thrust it forward.

“Insalubrious!” she cried.

The little girl looked down. “My candy,” she whimpered.

She was the last to venture there on Halloween night.

 Ali Trotta
“Insalubrious,” Mick muttered, as he tried opening the crypt door.

“Do you mean inconceivable?”

“Get back, witch!” he shouted.

“Stop quoting from The Princess Bride. You’re a ghost. You can’t open doors, so give up,” I reminded, rolling my eyes.

“Well, you’re decaying,” he retorted childishly. “And it’s your fault we’re in this unforsaken place!”

“Don’t you mean godforsaken?” I quipped, giving him a deadly stare. “For the last time, it wasn’t my fault. We were slayed by the slayer.”

“That Buffy chick? She’s a myth.”

“Said the ghost!”

If our couples counselor were here, she’d have a field day.

Colin Smith
Gemma gave her mother a deadly look.
"I'm not wearing that--the others'll slay me!"
"You're already dead," her mother grinned.
"I'm a vampire, mom, not a ghost. I can feel pain."
"Who's the young man?"
"Lloyd Finklebaum," Gemma smiled.
"Isn't his mother a witch? She's the chef at Insalubrious."
"Which witch?" Gemma said. Her mother frowned. That joke reeked of decay.
The doorbell rang. Gemma pulled the discarded garment over her head and ran for the door.
"Don't be late," her mother called after her. "You're not too old to be unforsaken, you know!"

 Papillon crew
I accepted the foamy beer with a wave as I sneezed into my witch’s robes. Sick on Hallowe’en – my luck slays me. I pushed back into the party, my watering eyes travelling over the deadly and the unforsaken, the chaste and the lace-clad.

A cool hand slipped into mine. “Enjoying your insalubrious brew?”

I turned to a smiling, blood-splattered ghost. I leaned in, but froze as I caught a whiff of decay. Not makeup, then.

I swung my distinctly un-witchy axe and her zombie head rolled away. I blew my nose. Stuck working on Hallowe’en.

I needed another insalubrious brew.

She was a witch. I was a ghost. You'd think that combination would be deadly for a marriage, but our vows remained unforsaken. Our obsession with children was a bit insalubrious, but our baby was born immortal. We named her for optimism, a bastion against her parent's decay. Alone among the undead, we know for certain that nothing can slay Hope.

Becke Davis
I ask you, how hard can it be to slay a ghost?

It’s basic Witch 101, should have been a no-brainer. Take an unforsaken tomb, a deadly spell with your standard cobwebs, newt’s eye and warty toad, and faster than you can say “insalubrious zombie” Bad Ghostie vanishes into the ether.

How was I to know a little wart decay would bung up the whole process? Now I’ve got slimy, leech-like thingies crawling out of the primordial slime and clogging my drains, and the ghost is laughing his ethereal ass off.

Where are the freaking Ghostbusters when you need them?

Some old Southern families have history. Mine had ghosts, deadly curses, and a legend of a witch looking for long overdue revenge.
In New Orleans, Halloween is a tawdry celebration and I frolicked as Creole music poured from bars. I encouraged imaginary knights to slay purple dragons; green fairies weren’t just in your drinks and storybook heroines showed their most insalubrious sides.
That’s when I saw her.
I ran like mad.
She found me there, cowering in an alley. Death and decay surrounded her as she cackled loudly.
One block away was safety. Laughter. Life.
But here I was unforsaken.

(** one of the four lucky random winners of the book prizes!)

Goes Bump in the Night

A witch in decay as darkness would fall
and I, a scared child, gave a pitiful call.

‘Neath covers I’d stay as a ghost slithered near
and nightmarish screams I’d constantly hear.

Through cold deadly mists I’d shudder to see—
insalubrious vampires eager to slay only me.

Unforsaken have blessings; not me in my plight
of gathering things going bump in the night.

Exited childhood— though younger than most
selling drugs my career path; also my boast.

Fear only me, not those creatures of fright
I’m now the thing that goes bump in the night.

 Cynthia Ivers
“Get me out of this unforsaken place!” The actress let out a timid cry.
“Cut. That’s God-forsaken and your screaming wasn’t deadly enough. Ok, quiet on the set. Roll-em.”
“Please don’t hurt me. Keep your ghostly hands off my decaying dress.”
“Cut. That’s DKNY dress. Go on.”
“I’m not the slayer you seek. I’m just a model from Green Witch Village.”
“Cut. That’s Greenwich Village. The movie’s called Halloween in Manhattan - never mind. Now, this next line’s tough.”
“You’re going to eat me? You can’t, I’m insalubrious.”
“Cut. Perfect. How did you….?”
“All models know that word.” She smiled.

 (** one of the four lucky random winners of the book prizes!)
The witch would take my soul by touching my nose with her black fingernail. It approached…. But an unseen barrier blocked her crooked, warty finger.
“You must be an author,” she shrieked. “I hate Writer’s Block!”
“Give up, Insalubrious. You can’t take Unforsaken.”
“You must stay until you answer three riddles. Take DEADLY, drop two letters, insert one, form a spooky word.”
3,900 possibilities…. “DECAY.”
“Hell! Again: Drop three, add two.”
4,680 possibilities…. “SLAY.”
“Hell! Spooky word with alphabetical letters?”
My nightmare ended.
The moral of the story: a sleep-deprived writer shouldn’t drink and overdose on Halloween candy!

Pumpkin stared at the ghastly witch and ghost, their cloaks tattered and torn, as they lifted Pumpkin up toward the midnight sky. He desperately tried to slay their deadly plot but was thwarted by a lack of limbs. Pumpkin glimpsed the pavement rushing towards him as he soared through the biting October air.

In one crushing moment, Pumpkin lay smashed against the insalubrious path populated by diminutive villains. As his pointed teeth began to wither and curl in decay, Pumpkin realized their small stature masked an unforsaken evil that boils to the surface only one night a year.

And here are the four finalists!


They camp in the park, amidst the decay of junk food wrappers and the great unwashed. Insalubrious conditions, even for a ghost.

“The latest poll numbers are deadly. The witches get 99% of the press. Salem is like the Disneyland of the unforsaken. They’ve got the Crucible on Broadway, their plight under the lights of the Great White Way. Even Shakespeare with his double, double, toil and trouble. Meanwhile, our poster boy is Caspar; it’s downright embarrassing. They’re going to slay us on CNN.”

She waves a poster high: WE ARE THE 1%.

“What does that even mean?” he sighs.


Clouds slay any moonlight, but frolic continues. Bright faces of the unforsaken – made more vibrant by their pursuit of insalubrious treasures – continue by the decay of the stone bridge.

We meet under it.

“My name is Elizabeth and I’m a ghost.”

“Hello, Elizabeth.” The chorus of voices sounds.

“I’ve been a ghost for 322 years. This is my first meeting.”

There’s some cheering. It’s a lively – well, deadly – crowd.

“How did you die?” The calm wisdom in Phil’s gaze belies his childish face.

“Drowned as a witch.”

An old lady apparition snorts. “Like we really need another one of those.”


Mrs. Nieman was a witch, I was sure of it. Still, I followed the scent of fresh gingerbread into the black forest. The underlying, insalubrious stench of decay did not dissuade me, nor did the legends of ghosts of lost children I heard from the townsfolk. The old lady was deadly as a poisoned apple, they said, and she baked with them too. I said I would find her unforsaken cottage, with its frosting trim and candied glass, and I would slay her. I lied. The gingerbread melted on my tongue like spun sugar, and death was almost as sweet.

Swift Scribbler

I squeeze her throat. She squeals and scrambles, clawing at my hand. I tighten until she stops struggling, then loosen.

She gasps. “Do you know who I am?”

“I care not.” I run my nails over her sagging cheek. The rasp shivers down both our spines. “I slay the forsaken, the unforsaken, the queens and the paupers.”

“I’m a witch!”

“I turn witches to ghosts,” I breathe and she trembles.

“Who are you?”

“The deadly tick-tock of the clock, the countdown to decay.” I lean in and whisper, “The unstoppable insalubriousness of age.”

I steal a kiss.

And a life.

And the winner of the 30-page critique by Barbara "Take No Prisoners" Poelle is Sheribomb!

All the winners need to email me to claim their prizes: janet @ fineprintlit dot com

Congratulations to everyone who entered!


Ali Trotta said...

This contest was so much fun!

Congrats to the winner(s)!!

Great job to everyone who entered. There were so many amazing entries.

Becke Davis said...

These are FABULOUS! And the top four just knocked me out. Still giggling over the 1%.

Bpoelle said...

Oh my GOSH, it was soooo hard to pick. We absolutely needed the tie breaking vote. You guys blew me away! And please know I laughed EVERY SINGLE TIME the word insalubrious appeared. Every. Single. Time.

Anita said...

What fun! Congrats to the winner! And thanks, B.P., H.R., and J.R. for the contest!

Sarah McCanless said...

Congrats to sheribomb and all the winners! The variety and creativity of entries just blew me away.

This contest was a blast!

sheribomb said...

Thanks so much for choosing my story! This totally made my day. :) After entering this contest and seeing all the great entries, I thought I had no chance. Congratulations to all the other winners, finalists and entrants for writing such fantastic stories!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations winners. :) It was a fun contest.

jan said...

Congratulations Sheribomb! I loved your entry, too! I'm always amazed at what can happen given 24 hours and 100 words to work with. Thanks, FinePrint Lit!

SBJones said...

Congratulations all. It was a fun contest.

Eileen said...

Another great contest. Thank you! I've put "insalubrious" into my everyday vocabulary rotation. And yes, I giggle every time I say it.

Rachel Green said...

Fabulous! Well done all!

Feaky Snucker said...


*skips merrily around*

There were so many amazing entries, congrats to everyone for coming up with little bits of humour which we all devoured greedily. I know I did!

Daisy Bateman said...

Congrats to all the winners!

And, if I may, I'd like to offer a peanut-gallery honorable mention to my personal favorite: Sarah B's story of revenge, falconry and Hitchcock movies.

AngiNicole said...

Thanks so much! This contest was great fun! Congrats to the winner!!!

Unknown said...

I would totally read Kathleenliz's story lol I want to know the rest of it!

These were all so great! Congrats to the winnders!

jjdebenedictis said...

Yay, winners, finalists and semi-finalists! These are all great, and I was happy to see so many of my favourites popping up on this post!

SwiftScribbler said...

Congratulations Sheribomb--I loved it! Thanks for yet another fun contest,Janet, being a finalist really made my day.

Calorie Bombshell said...

Loved, loved this contest. I'm flattered to be one of the semi-finalists and thought the winning entry was deliciously wicked.

Adrienne said...

Congrats to Sheribomb and all the winners! Amazing stories! Honing my vocabulary words for the next contest.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations sheribomb! I'm so grateful to be a semi-finalist! With the myriad of excellent entries, I couldn't imagine being a judge. Looking forward to the next contest!

Colin Smith said...

WHAT?? I made the Semi-Finalists list??!! I was sure with all the amazing talent on display I wouldn't get a second look. I'm so honored!! And it goes without saying that the Finalists and Winner were totally deserving. Well Done!!

jesse said...


Unknown said...

Oh how fantastic! I just loved all the entries so this was truly a treat. Thank you to the three lovely ladies who put this all together and made it possible, B.P., H.R., and J.R. Also, a warm thank you to all the other contenders!

Unknown said...

This was a great contest. All the entries were so much fun to read! I'm honored to be a finalist.

Congrats to Sheribomb. Fantastic story!

Sheila JG said...

Congratulations to all! These were so much fun to read. Thank you JR, HR, and BP!

Cynicman said...

That was a blast. What's next?

Phil Hall said...

I was soooooooo close! :)

Sarah B said...

Awesome contest. And thanks for liking me Daisy. :) Though I must say Sherribomb was totally deserving.

E.Maree said...

So many amazing entries! Congrats to everyone features, I could never have picked a winner.

Unknown said...

Talk about stiff competition - these writers deserve props for their creativity. I bet Barbara had a tough time choosing - whew! :)