Back in the mists of time I did an interactive interview and chat for Bitten By Books. The prizes included a poem and a story written to specs given by the winners. (Within limits. See the bottom of this post for details or check out the video interview and text chat at the BBB site.)
I wrote the poem "Roksana" for Rose last November. This is what she'd said: "Ok, protagonist's name is Roksana, and the ability she has is shape shifting to any animal. Roksana loves paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Chocolate is her life." Rose mentioned that she was from Uzbekistan, and told me a bit about what is important to her. I tried to bear all this in mind while crafting the poem, which turned out to be about a were snow leopard. It was great fun to write it and to be in touch with the delightful Rose.
Elisa took longer to decide what she wanted her story to be about. (I can relate! I took much longer to figure out how to write it!) She came up with this: " Based on the types of things you have in your repertoire, I think a story that touches on the process of a character finding his/her path in life would be great. I think most of us ask ourselves every now and again, “What is my purpose? Surely, I was meant to do something!” It’d be great to see this question answered by a divine someone in this character’s life. Be it a fairy, goddess, grocery clerk, you name it. Does that make sense? Actually, it would be pretty neat if the person directing people to their “right paths” was someone you’d least expect. Like that grocery store clerk, or perhaps the homeless man you pass by at the corner every week. Or a bus driver."
Elisa hasn't yet seen her story. I have a little editing left to do on it. But it is not quite what she or I probably expected, based on her notes. The thing that I stumbled on was the "purpose in life". I have a hard time with that concept; I don't believe we have a single purpose, a single path that will suit or fulfill or be best for us. But I do believe we get knocked off any good path at times and people, situations, unorchestrated epiphanies can bring us to a new awareness that will help us get onto a path worth following. That is what I ended up writing about in "Posture of the Infinite", which features a woman who remembers countless past incarnations, and is a human for the first time.
Both of these writing projects were challenges for me and I loved that about them. My contact with Rose and Elisa was a great pleasure, too. I wondered if I was biting off more than I could chew by offering these prizes, but I am very glad I took the chance. I hope Rose and Elisa are, too! I regret the long delay in delivering Elisa's story--after my dad's death I lost all feeling for writing for several months--but I'm glad I got to ponder it long enough that I finally came up with something I think is worth giving her.
Prize 1: A story written for You. You choose the genre and the time period. Tell me up to three things about the protagonist (a name, an ability, something she hates or something she likes – it’s up to you) and I will do the rest. Or you can choose a theme - say, art and the paranormal or alien shopping or whatever you’re curious about, and I’ll come up with the character, etc. Or you can leave it all up to me. In any case, tell me a little about yourself and what you like or what is important to you, and I will bear that in mind as I write. The publishing rights remain with me, but the story is dedicated to you and you see it first. I’ll send you a signed printout when it’s done. Heck, if you like I’ll call and read it to you. Plus you will receive a personalized signed copy of Finding Creatures & Other Stories. (Note: writing a story takes time! This won’t come instantly but it’ll get there soon enough.)
Prize 2: A personalized signed copy of Finding Creatures & Other Stories plus a poem in the genre of your choice. Choose one element of the poem and I’ll do the rest. See Prize 1 above for details.