Ghost Stories, Writing Contests, and Sad Puppets

I would just like to say that the above might be the best title I’ve ever given anything in the history of forever.

Today we have some cool news.

Wisconsin Life Flash-Fiction Ghost Story Contest

The folks at Wisconsin Public Radio sweet-talked me into judging a writing contest for them. And by “sweet-talked,” I mean they pretty much just asked me and I agreed. I have a bit of a weak spot for ghost stories.

Some points of interest:

  • You don’t have to live in Wisconsin to participate.
  • The contest deadline is October 7th.
  • Stories must be 600 words or less.
  • Winners will be read on Wisconsin Life. Maybe by me.

All the other details you can find over here on their website.

Though I do feel compelled to mention one other thing.

Please note that Flash Fiction refers to the brevity of the piece of writing. As in, it’s something so short you can read it in a flash.

It is not (and I can’t stress this enough) something you *wrote* in a flash. These stories should have some polish on them. If you’ve only got 600 words, you better make them count.

I’m looking forward to seeing what y’all come up with….

Since we’re talking about writing, I should probably put up a link to the second episode of Story Board that we recorded a couple weeks ago.

We talked about what makes characters tick with our lovely and talented guests: Amber Benson, Bradley Beaulieu, and Mary Robinette-Kowal.

And if that weren’t enough, we ended up with a surprise guest star at the end of the show….

If my background looks different there, it’s because I was in Seattle, mooching a computer off Shawn Speakman, who runs The Signed Page.

I think it turned out pretty well, despite the fact that I’d just done two conventions and three events in five days. Plus I suck at at making things work on a Mac. The lack of a second mouse button freaks me out….

We’ll be having another episode of Story Board in just a week or so on October 2nd at 8:00 PM Pacific time. I’ll be home in Wisconsin for this one, and we have another all-star line-up ready to talk stories.

Hope to see you there….


This entry was posted in contests, my rockstar life, the craft of writing, The Story Board. By Pat42 Responses


  1. SteveRogers
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    So excited for the next episode of The Story Board, Sir Rothfuss the Bearded. Glad you guys are doing that show. :)

    • Rcurry97
      Posted October 5, 2012 at 1:02 AM | Permalink

      Is there anywhere where we can find these episodes recorded?

  2. Karaminxe
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    Ohmygoshyes. I was just planning on writing a ‘spooky’ short story to submit to the Scholastic contest.

    Wait, erm, must the stories in the WLFFGS contest be unique?

  3. Posted September 26, 2012 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    The Contest is open only to individual legal residents of the fifty United States.

    Discrimination everywhere ;-)

    • Kerensky287
      Posted September 26, 2012 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

      Man, what! I didn’t even realize that!

      Pat. Dude. Sir Rothfuss. Lord, uh, king… beard. Face.

      You gotta start another writing contest.

      For like, Worldbuilders or whatever. And open it up to people outside of the US.

      The grand prize is that people get to have Patrick Rothfuss say their story is pretty cool.

      • Jiyuu
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 12:36 AM | Permalink

        Keren, that is a great idea!

        I second that and offer a further suggestion that a number of winners be selected for a compilation book which is to be sold exclusively by Worldbuilders. I mean, I’ve only been following this blog this year but I already know very well of the intelligence and creativity of my fellow followers. Not to mention generosity.

        So yeah, Pat, maybe after you do the Wisconsin contest you can do one for Worldbuilders.

        • Kerensky287
          Posted September 28, 2012 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

          I wasn’t offering it as a serious suggestion; just judging a contest is a lot of work, let alone setting one up and running the entire thing. I mean, look at the photo contest! Judging ten thousand story entries is gonna be more exhausting than judging ten thousand pictures, let me tell you.

          If a contest like that were to happen, I’d definitely run up a submission. But I’d rather not crankify an author I look up to, and frankly (selfishly) I’d rather Pat spend his every waking hour writing and editing Book 3 than spend his every waking hour reading fan-submissions to a nonessential contest.

          Hypothetically speaking.

          • Jiyuu
            Posted September 30, 2012 at 9:35 PM | Permalink

            Oh, definitely. I agree with you there. Judging a contest is a lot of hard work. And its not like Pat has a lot of free time to spare with all the things he’s got going.

            I’m sure Pat knows that whatever suggestions we throw around here are simply ideas. Whether or not he chooses to use our suggestion is entirely up to his consideration. Its his time, anyway.

          • samanthaahtnamas
            Posted October 18, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

            i agree and disagree. hes gotta have something enteraining to do if the writers block decides to parade around and interrupt its good for the imagination.most writers love to read.

  4. He without a clever name
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    Indeed, that be a mighty title.

    I love Gaiman’s title Fragile Things. It also has my favorite short ghost story in it.

    In closing…sad puppets are creepy.

    • He without a clever name
      Posted September 26, 2012 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

      Unless it’s a muppet. It’s impossible for a muppet to be creepy.

      • Kerensky287
        Posted September 26, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Permalink
        • DrFood
          Posted September 26, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Permalink


      • Little My
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

        I have to differ. I used to have nightmares about them when I was a kid. I enjoyed the show, but somehow had nightmares now and then. Especially Janice (sp?) in the band, who never opens her eyes and has stringy hair? Little bit creepy.

  5. jayh
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    Well, I long ago retired my dreams of becoming an author, but this is kind of tempting. So, I was wondering, how long is a story of 600 words? To put things in perspective, the rules of the contest contain approximately 1700 words.

  6. Posted September 26, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    Loved the Story Board session – invaluable information that really helps me put my work under more discerning scrutiny, avoid some pitfalls and apply some of your collective wisdom to my efforts.

    Thanks to all the participants for the time and effort they give freely, very much appreciated.

  7. adam.7oews
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    Did you post a notice for the second episode of storyboard? I didn’t know you did another one since I don’t use g+. If the number of concurrent viewers matter than it would be cool if you would announce it on your blog a day or whatever ahead of time so I could watch it live. Thanks.

    • Amanda
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 8:12 AM | Permalink

      The episodes are always the first Tuesday of the month at 10 pm Central Time (11 Eastern, 9 Mountain, 8 Pacific).

      Pat posts a link on his Facebook page when it’s about to start for folks to watch live, and if you’re subscribed to Geek and Sundry on YouTube the link will just pop up in your YouTube subscription list. So there are places for you to keep an eye out, if any of that helps.

      • Posted September 30, 2012 at 1:43 AM | Permalink

        Yeah. What she said.

        • Posted October 1, 2012 at 6:30 AM | Permalink

          Though if you’re not on G+ I don’t think you *can* watch it live….

  8. RoseTyler
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Permalink

    Do ghost stories need to include actual ghosts, or are we operating under a broader definition?

  9. duke7883
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

    I read this blog and initially wrote off the idea of the story contest. I’m not much of a writer. Then I sat at my computer thinking about it for a moment and had the most wonderful idea for a story. Pounded it out pretty quickly, around 350 words. Simply wonderful concept, but I’m the sort of guy who has to polish things over about forty times before it become legible. I use the same words over and over again in back to back sentences. It makes me mad. Anyway, thanks for encouraging us non-writers to dive in every once and awhile.

  10. itsjusthim
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    So after watching Story Board I posted on facebook asking if anyone else had noticed that Shadow is Black. One of my friends pointed out that his race was brought up close to the beginning Page 12 “What are you? A spic? A gypsy?”
    “Not that I know of, sir. Maybe”
    “Maybe you got n****r blood in you. You got N****r blood in you, Shadow?”
    I feel a bit like an idiot now for just disregarding that throughout the entire boot both times I read it

    • itsjusthim
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

      Just thought I’d share

  11. TayLyee
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    What? I missed Story Board? I kept an eye out on the blog and the google + profile but didn’t see anything. . .

    Where am I supposed to look? I don’t want to miss the next one. Help?

    • IvoryDoom
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

      It’s probably best to follow Geek and Sundry and Patrick Rothfuss on G+

      I’ve been getting my links from G&S a little earlier. Make sure you go on at the correct time and date it should be there to just click on and let you in.

      But if you miss it, you can always go over to YouTube and type in The Story Board, it’s posted up on a youtube pretty much as soon as it’s over.

      • TayLyee
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

        Thanks! Going to G+ and following now! :D

  12. IvoryDoom
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    I have been wanting to pick up Brad’s books ever since I watched this episode. Really gotta get that done. He has great ratings on Goodreads and seemed like a very interesting world he made up.

    Thanks for the Introduction!

  13. cromotocciano
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

    What a shame. I was willing to submit an entry. I read the rules and it turned out I must live in one of the fifty-something states.

    Topic change. Do you know who will be in the next Story Board as a guest or will we have to wait?

  14. lykashii
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:50 PM | Permalink

    I don’t want to seem like I’m pestering.. however speaking of contests has reminded me about the photo contest, any news on that Pat ? :) x

    • lykashii
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

      Not sure why I put an ‘x’ there and I can’t seem to get rid of it

      • Kerensky287
        Posted September 28, 2012 at 6:36 PM | Permalink


  15. JFSOCC
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 6:24 PM | Permalink

    It’s a bit of a shame that as a non-US resident I can’t participate. I’ve never written anything serious before and I kind of enjoyed making a story that I felt didn’t totally suck for once.

    wasn’t a ghost story anyway, but it was scary (I hope.)

  16. Posted September 28, 2012 at 9:41 PM | Permalink

    Ghost story sent – just stoked that Pat gets to read my efforts -even without a golden ticket in my hand! I believe Mr. Rothfuss will wade through more than his fair share of spookiness, hope it’s not like overdosing on candy corn.

  17. Andrew Bedoy
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 11:14 PM | Permalink

    it sucks that you have to be 18 :/

  18. Luke444
    Posted September 29, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

    Talking about female anti-heroes. The book that came to mind was The Queen’s Bastard by C.E. Murphy. The main character makes morally atypical decisions through out the book even as her motivation for her actions changed from loyalty to selfish. But you still want her to succeed just to know what her next move will be.

  19. spiritus mundi
    Posted September 30, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

    Wish I had been able to be online for the live show. Great disussion again. I recall reaing about a haracter building technique used by Gene Wolfe (one of my other favorite writers, in which he wrote a passage with each of his major characters telling a joke. He published the examples for hit Book if the New Sun series and I always thought it was a fabulous exerise – what people find humorous informs so much of human interaction.

  20. rappy7
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    Why is it only open to people in the States? There’s not even a prize. I’m in Canada and want to participate. Can you please throw your weight around and change this? Deadline’s tomorrow. Thanks.

  21. samanthaahtnamas
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

    i was wondering if you could hold a personal contest where your fans send in a short story about a character or imaginary heroine of their own imagination could win a place in one of your prize just getting it out there for the world to see. Since i read your first book i have started writing my own. I didn’t realize the commitment it takes to create your own world until i started.
    I got the name of the wind from the town library when i was sixteen years old and ive read it at least 5 times since .It’s the best book ive read my whole life hands down no exagerration, no butt smhoozing NADA. The expanse of emotion that you are made to feel from mere words is enough reason on its own. If a book can produce laughter, tears, grins , and sighs over unspoken love thats the book I want to read. When written words invoke a true primal emotion a feeling of loss, or triumph.It’s what makes books great and timeless. Builduing characters are the bones of a story, what makes it translate to a reader. Books are some peoples only escape from a life they wish to hide. And even if it’s a no go just know that your work is an inspiration.
    Sincerely Samantha B.

  22. Pao4la
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:30 PM | Permalink

    Hi Pat.
    Maybe you never read this (I know you are a busy guy). But this is the first time I hear you talk, and I feel obligated to tell you (I’m flushing right now) that you have a sexy voice.Uff. I want to erase that.
    Howdy from Mexico, (sorry if I made mistakes)
    Saludos, Pao
    PS. Your books are my favorite.

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