The Weird Week in Writing: Parents take Twilight to the next level, Tyra Banks banks on YA fantasy, and rejection letters amaze

Freaky Friday—the latest from the weird and wonderful world of writing this week (followed, as always, by a weekend prompt):

“Dracula” is too old fashioned: Twilight-inspired monikers top the latest list of the most popular baby names in America.

Move over, Damon Wayans: Tyra Banks becomes the latest celebrity to score a book deal with three installments of the YA fantasy series Modelland. Expect Intoxibellas.

Breakfast at Truman’s: Now you can own legendary In Cold Blood scribe Truman Capote’s Brooklyn mansion. (For a slick 18 million.)

“I have a policy of not giving away locks of my hair”: Check out eight spectacularly odd missives from Bill Shapiro’s Other People’s Rejection Letters. (And we’re curious: How do yours square up? What’s the worst you’ve gotten?)
Read ‘em if you got ‘em: A German publisher has refurbed cigarette machines to satisfy cravings for local literature.

Victorian Justice: In this video, the Brontë Sisters Power Dolls take on the 19th-century Publishing Man. Complete with Super Disguise Mustaches. And boomerangs.

(Image via)

* * *

WRITING PROMPT: A Man Walks Into a Bar…

free to take the following prompt home or post your
response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail it to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

In London, you might drink tea. In Munich, beer. In Louisville, a mint julep. When you visit your spouse’s hometown, however, you discover they prefer a different sort of traditional libation.


Top 101 Websites for Writers. An entire feature package on genres, from
romance to YA to blended forms. An interview with Bird by Bird scribe
Anne Lamott. How to write from anywhere. Click

here to check the May/June 2010 issue of WD out!

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6 thoughts on “The Weird Week in Writing: Parents take Twilight to the next level, Tyra Banks banks on YA fantasy, and rejection letters amaze

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  3. Sharon Hargett

    Ah, the ambiance. Dim lights, whinny music, and air you could, well, let’s just say iron lungs should be served with the drinks.

    Jim leans toward me, near falling off his bar stool, and slurs, “Ya hear da one ‘bout …”

    “Yes,” I snap at Jim while pushing him upright again, “about a thousand times.”

    “…de guy…”

    I swivel on my stool, turning my back to him. “Oh, shut up,” I mumble.

    “…who waaauuuks…”

    Whipping around, pushing the air between us back in his general direction, I yell, “Stop, already!”

    “…inta a bar…” He’s sliding my way again.

    “Geesh,” I say, leaning my shoulder against his. “Alright already, get it over with.”

    “Wha’?” Jim asks, confused.

    “The guy,” I lean slightly toward him, “the bar,” I say while rolling my right hand, trying to reel in the joke. “You know, the guy walks in…”

    “Where?” Jim whips his head around, his eyes unable to keep up. “I di’n’t see ‘im.” Then he slides below the horizon of the bar puddling himself at my feet.

    “O.K. then,” I say to Jim. Jauntily I grab my beer, lean back against the bar, and start, “So, a man walks into a bar…”

  4. CJill Friend

    A Jesus man walked into a Bar and sat down. He ordered a vodka and said, “I’m sick of this kamikaze bullshit.” The Bartender looked at him and poured him a shot. Ain’t That America belted out from the jukebox. Jesus man slammed down his shot glass and said, “Bartender, I think I’ll have another.” The Bartender looked at him and poured him another shot.

    Jesus man lit his cigarette, and the guy next to him asked him for one. Jesus man said, “Take three, my friend, and tell me your name.”
    “Name is Blame. Can I buy you another shot?”

    Jesus man heard the music change to Love Hurts and said, “Yes, Blame, you can.”

  5. Mark James

    Zac, I loved the rejection letters. The reference to "formidable internet skills" on the "Return to Sender" was priceless.

    My wife was born in November, a cool month in Jamaica, and every year since we’d been married, we come back. Every year, I try not to think of the trip back home, of how it exhausts her a little more, how she looks a little more uprooted from the land where she was been born.

    Now, getting off the plane, I watched her touch her round belly, and rest her hand there for a while, as if she were telling our baby that this was where her people came from.

    The drive down the narrow dirt road was a detour away from the tourist hotels, to a place where paved roads were tomorrow’s unborn dream.

    They were waiting for us at the low wooden gate. Her cousins and aunts rushed out to meet her, and in some strange way that island women have, they crowded around her, hugged her, kissed her with such soft touches that I didn’t feel our baby was in danger of being crushed.

    Her family tolerated my white skin the way a Christian family would take in an inveterate drunk after his confession of addiction. The men were more accepting than the women. I had my own crowd around me, their smooth hands on me, pulling me away with a slow patience, talking in easy rhythms, cadences people seemed to learn when they grew up on an island where the beach was cold if the water wasn’t above eighty degrees.

    I went with the men and sat out in back of the house, on planks of wood that made a makeshift porch. Beyond us, ocean waves came and went. Even though the youngest children only saw me once a year, they didn’t forget the white man who came in the winter. They climbed on me, touched my skin, babbled at me in Patois, and tangled their small fingers in my hair, lifting it off my shoulders like it was some strange treasure they’d pulled out of the ocean.

    The men told them to go, but I let them stay. I liked their unembarrassed embraces, the way they looked at my blue eyes, how they pressed their noses to mine and fluttered their lashes. They fought over who could sit on my lap, and each year I gave in and sat on the uneven wooden planks, and let them surround me like my personal royal guard.

    The men sitting at the table played dominoes, slamming them down on the splintered wood, calling out words I didn’t understand. The ones waiting their turn to play asked me questions about America, about football, about HBO. While small brown hands smoothed their way through my hair, and little bodies on unsteady feet walked around me, I answered the men’s questions, rescued my diamond stud earring before little hands brought it to an innocent mouth for a taste, and in between, I looked out at the ocean.

    Tonight we’d build a fire on the sand. And deep into the night, when the stars were so bright, they could have been ancient Gods peering down at us, a bottle of Rum for The Dead would pass from mouth to mouth. Men and women would drink, spit into the flames and call the dead. This year, with my baby daughter months from opening her eyes for the first time, I’d drink too, spit into the fire, and meet the spirits of my wife’s land.

    Mark James

  6. Julie

    A man walks into a bar, knowing he shouldn’t.

    He hesitated for a second as the voices continued to argue.

    (italics)"Turn around, and go home. Think of Jeni and the kids. You promised them a movie tonight. Remember Shrek?”

    “Don’t listen to that drivel. You know you want a drink. You had a rough day at work and you need to unwind.”(close italics)

    “Quiet,” he muttered. “Both of you! Just shut up already.”

    Nodding at the one old man sitting in the gloom at a table to his left, he sat on a stool at the end of the bar. The bartender finished wiping a glass, then looked at him.

    “What‘ll it be, buddy?”

    “Whiskey, straight up.”

    “Comin’ right up.”

    The small glass with the golden liquid slid to a halt in front of him. He reached for it, anticipating, but stopped.

    (italics)“Last chance! You drink that and your marriage is in big trouble. The kids have gotten used to your broken promises, but Jeni expects more from you.”

    “Oh, give it a rest, already! You need this drink, Davey, so go ahead, pick it up. Down it. Bottoms up!“(close italics)

    Shaking his head to chase away the voices, he grabbed the drink, but stopped again.

    “Whatsa matter, buddy? Somethin’ wrong?” The bartender was standing in front of him, leaning on the bar.

    “Huh? Oh, no, nothin’ wrong. Just thinkin’ is all.” He stared at the golden liquid, so close . . .

    “Oh, OK.” The bartender shoved off and wandered over to wait on a new customer, an older lady who’d tried unsuccessfully to look young. “What’ll it be, Gloria? Good to see you, honey.”

    (italics)“Is that what you want for yourself? To be known by name in a bar? How long will that take? Put the drink down and go home.

    “HEY! Shut up! Ol’ Davey here needs to make his own decisions. And right now, he wants the drink.”(close italics)

    Dave sat unmoving, the drink in hand, halfway to his face. Unbidden, an image of Jeni appeared before him. It was the Jeni he’d met in college. She was standing, smiling at him, her long golden hair blowing in the breeze. Oh, that sweet smile that he loved so much – and never saw any more. He sighed, blowing the image away.

    The drink inched its way closer. But, still he couldn’t toss it down.

    Then, a third voice spoke.

    (italics)“Daddy, I love you.”(close italics) The voice was his precious daughter, Emma.

    (italics)“Daddy, I love you.”(close italics) The voice was fading. (italics)“Daddy, I love . . . “(close italics)

    The drink fell from Dave’s fingers, the golden liquid spilling onto the bar. Quickly, he slapped some cash on the bar and made for the door.

    Moments later, he opened his front door. The kids looked up in surprise. He quickly scooped both of them up, smothering them in kisses while they laughed and giggled.

    Over their heads, Jeni . . . with that wonderful smile that lit up her face. He was home.