Friday, January 23, 2009

The Last Friday Challenge

There, bet that got your attention. Yes, it's true; this is the last Friday Challenge here in the Ranting Room. As of January 30, the Friday Challenge is moving to its new home. There are lots more changes in the works, too, and I'll be explaining them as best I can over the next few days.

But for tonight, let's focus on the short term. HaloScan seems to be working again, so I'd like to direct your attention to the 1/16/09 Friday Challenge, which as you may remember was to come up with a Friday Challenge. (Making it a Friday Challenge to come up with a Friday Challenge was Henry's idea, so of course, he can't win, 'cause if he did we believe he would instantly undergo some kind of recursive implosion thing and cease to exist, leaving behind only a tiny pucker in the fabric of periodic space-time to mark the place where he once stood. And we like Henry too much to permit this to happen.)

All the proposed Friday Challenges can be found in the comments attached to the 1/16/09 post, which I, using my amazing Site Owner powers, now cause to appear here. Voila!

As you read through the comments, bear in mind that you are not only selecting the Challenge you would most like to see presented, but also the person to be presenting and judging it! For that is the Special Secret Bonus Prize hinted at in the original post: whoever is selected as the winner will be allowed to post and be the primary judge of the resulting entries!

(Don't worry; we'll help you, if you feel you need help, and the prizes will still be supplied by K&B Booksellers.)

Does this sound like fun, or what? Yes, I know, at first blush, mostly like "or what," but trust me, it'll be fun, once you get into it. So even if you didn't post an entry in this challenge, kindly read, comment on, and vote for your favorites. The lucky sap winner will be announced on Sunday.

Fair Warning: as with making maple syrup, sometimes you need a lot of saps. Heh heh heh....

As for this week's Friday Challenge: one of the questions that has come up repeatedly in the four years I've been running The Ranting Room is this: Hey Bethke, for someone who talks such a good game, why don't you just bite the bullet, write a big fat fantasy brick, and make some real money?

The sad truth is, I can't. I have tried, many times. I understand that pseudo-Medieval fantasy, not science fiction, is where the market is really at these days. I appreciate how loyal the fans of fantasy are. I have seen how writing a really successful and seemingly endless series of big, fat, fantasy novels can put the kids through college and allow you to retire to your own private island. Believe me, I have tried to do it. Repeatedly.

But every time I try, I can never get more than about four pages into the story before my characters start to notice that neither indoor plumbing nor dental hygiene have been invented yet, and then I end up writing something like this:
As Sir Epididymis squirmed on his rude straw bed and sought warmth in the tattered rags of his old saddle-blanket, he caught a glimpse of the rising harvest moon through the stable window, and once again the vision of that jaundiced, pock-marked orb reminded him of his lost love, fair Princess Gwenrowundelwynne, she of the twelve teeth. Oh, happy the legions of lice who dwelt in the forest of those greasy golden tresses!

His view of beautiful Luna was eclipsed by the short and stubby form of the farmer, who like many of the peasants in North Umborgringlugrand had the gift of understanding the language of the animals.

"Sorry, guv," the farmer said, as he leaned in through the window. "I'll 'ave to ask you to move to the sty. The 'orses are complainin' about 'ow you smell."
That's this week's challenge: what happens next? I'll spot you a few more words, if you need them:
The next morning...
Well? What happens next?

As always, we're playing by the slowly sublimating rules of the Friday Challenge, and playing for whatever is behind Door #2. The deadline for entries is midnight Central time, Thursday, January 29. The entries received will be listed on the new Friday Challenge website on Friday, 1/30/09.

So I 'spose I'd better get that site finished up and running before then, eh? 'Scuse me, I gotta go hang some more sheetrock.