Write some Shakespearean verse for a chance to win an iPod

“Double, double toil and trouble …”

Before it became a standard witch cliché, Shakespeare’s witches in Macbeth branded the famous phrase above—so, what else might they have said, off the record?

In her suspense novels, Jennifer Lee Carrell blends elements from the bard’s classics with contemporary murder and mystery centered around a Shakespearean scholar and director. In the wake of the release of her latest, Haunt Me Still, Carrell is hosting a contest on her Facebook page inviting readers to channel Shakespeare’s famous paranormals and write a book-related verse of their signature witch-speak (which, as Carrell notes, should run four to eight lines, and involves “rhyming chants more akin to nursery rhyme jingles than high-flown poetry”).

The first-prize winner is set to take home a 32 GB iPod Touch, a signed hardcover of Haunt Me Still, and a digital download of the audiobook—and the deadline for it all has been extended until Friday. For more details about what Carrell is looking for, and to check out the entries or post your own, click here.

A regular Promptly prompt follows below.

Happy Wednesday—and good luck on the witch hunt.

* * *

Report Card Chaos


free to take the following prompt home or post a
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.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

Write your most memorable report card story. Or, alternately, write a story about a character who has failed an unfailable class.


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4 thoughts on “Write some Shakespearean verse for a chance to win an iPod

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  2. Courtney Terry

    (This is slightly autobiographical.)

    Chad’s "Learning Problem"

    It’s two in the afternoon. Chad Chandler, who had a fairly carb-loaded lunch, is resting quietly in the crook of his arm. His teacher thinks he’s reading along in his history book. The student next to him is laughing at the sight of Chad drooling on his desk.

    A loud crackle interrupts the teacher’s monotone reading on the Louisiana Purchase. “Chad Chandler, Please report to the office.”

    Chad jerks awake. The sudden movement garners more attention than the incredibly loud and unexpected noise of the classroom speaker. If Chad’s neighbor had been drinking anything, it would have come straight out of his nose.

    Everyone is already looking at Chad when he smiles confidently and slams his book shut. The realization that he had been drooling hits him the moment he removes his books from his desk, but he waits until he gets to the hallway before he wipes his chin. He walks nonchalantly, yawning all the way to the office, but the look on Chad’s face changes when he walks into the school counselor’s conference room. His mother is waiting for him.

    Chad declares, “I don’t know what this is about. I didn’t do anything. I promise.”

    A couple of teachers, the principal, and an unknown woman in a suit enter the room. Everyone says hello, settles into an office chair, and commences shuffling paper according to rank. Chad and his mom have no paper, and the principal has an inch-high stack. The unknown official trumps the paper shuffling completely. She opens a laptop and starts clicking.

    The principal takes the lead. “I guess I’ll begin the meeting. Chad, Mrs. Chandler, I’d like to introduce you to Mrs. Tracy Wall. She is the School Psychologist, but we share her with three other middle schools in the district, so we don’t see her a lot around here.”

    Mrs. Chandler replies, “It’s nice to meet you.” The look on her face is complete confusion. She’s not sure yet if it will be “nice” to meet her or not.

    The principal continues. “Well, we are having this meeting because we need to discuss Chad’s report card. As you know, the last report card of the year indicates whether a student passes or fails a class. We are sorry to say it, but Chad, you have failed eighth grade reading.”

    Chad’s mother looks disappointed, but not surprised. She seems a bit relieved, actually.

    Mrs. Wall chimes in. “You are going to need summer school to catch up, but first we need to do some evaluations to see if there is a learning problem that we can work on for next year.”

    “A learning problem?” Chad’s mother jumps up. “Are you kidding me?”

    Suddenly, another announcement interrupts the atmosphere around Chad.

    “This is Mrs. Butcher, the school newspaper advisor. I’d like the congratulate Chad Chandler. He has won a national writing award and has been invited to Columbia University in New York City to accept it in person. We’re very proud of you Chad.”

  3. Mark James

    Oh . . . wow. . . I thought the prompt said unfailable TEST

    Imagine a place where people live in the past because they always know the future; nothing comes as a surprise. Now, add enough technology to put a man on the moon, shuttle him to Mars for vacation, and get him blue ice from Pluto.

    It’s not like New Worldians can see decades into the future. You know how you can see cars coming when you’re crossing the street? It’s like that.

    Calvin didn’t know how long ago the trial had been. The jury had sentenced him to life on New World. Nothing about it seemed like a prison to him. Good food, good women; the place even had free beer.

    All that good got on Calvin’s nerves in less than a month. He went looking for something, anything that wouldn’t be so damn good, so nice, so perfect. He heard about The Dome.

    Back when New World was first colonized, they built giant domes so people could breathe. But after a couple years, it was like the planet knew what humans needed, and the air started changing and by the time the second wave of colonists came, they didn’t need the domes. But the first one, the biggest one, was still there.

    The word about The Dome was you lived real life in there; knew everything there was to know. All you had to do to get in was pass a test. Calvin figured, in a place this nice, he’d pass any test without more than two thoughts going through his head.

    Calvin walked up to the arched doorway of The Dome. For miles and miles over his head, The Dome’s skin looked like cream colored canvas reaching up to the blue sky.

    From all around him came a voice, soft and deep, like it was rising up through the ground. “The test begins,” it said.

    The voice was silent after that, so Calvin said, “I’m ready.”

    “Do you live?” And Calvin could have sworn he felt a soft vibration in the ground under his feet.

    What kind of question was that? Yeah, sure he lived, every second he wasn’t dying. Right?

    He caught a shadow in the sky from the corner of his eye, and that was impossible because on New World, there were never clouds; rain never fell from the perfect sky. Ever. And how the hell could that be, Calvin thought. How’d the plants grow?

    He had never questioned that before today, when he’d seen The Dome, heard the voice.

    Then he understood. He’d never woken up from Cold Sleep, never landed on the planet, never set foot on New World.

    “No,” he said. “I’m dreaming.”

    “Yes,” the voice said, “and your knowledge is your failure.”

    The Dome faded away to a transparent ghost of itself, then nothing.

    And Calvin laughed. New World was the ultimate prison planet. A world that fed off human dreams. His body was in a capsule in Cold Sleep, trapped in orbit, but his mind was here, feeding New World, living in a dream he couldn’t ever wake up from.

    He was inside The Dome; forever.


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