This summer, I submitted a new short story, “Variable,” for the How Stuff Works writing contest. Of the 104 valid submissions, “Variable” was selected as one of the sixteen stories to go head-to-head in a bracket-style competition. It’s naturally my hope that you’ll all go and vote for “Variable,” but really — you should just go and check out the stories and vote for whichever you feel is best.

Here’s the link:

Many thanks for those who take the time to vote!

Ah, there is nothing like a random contest win to brighten a day!

Today, I won a Twitter contest over on Unshelved to design a vampire trap. The contest is a promotion for 32 Fangs, an upcoming vampire novel by David Wellington.

Because I had fun, and because Amanda got into it to and provided some hilarious entries herself, I’ve decided to round them up here for posterity. Check out the other winners and runners-up at the link above, otherwise, enjoy these, which were our entries:

1. Midnight marathon past the vamp nest, all runners hydrated thoroughly with holy water. (Winner.)

2. Vampires still gotta bathe. Have Father O’Helsing bless the reservoir supplying the water to Vamptown.

3. Play G Tom Mac’s “Cry Little Sister” at a carnival. Slayers standby. It is to vamps what “Shave and a Haircut” is to Toons. (My favorite of mine.)

4. Though my girlfriend says, “If it was a man vamp, a bloody booby. What’s better than that? Bloody boobies that’re hydrogen bombs.”

5. Girlfriend also recommends: “A trail of bloody tampons … leading to Kevin McAllister’s house.” (Contest judge gave this a nod as the grossest entry in a direct message. I think it’s obviously the best of all of these and am very proud of my girlfriend for being so disgustingly funny.)

Originally written for a contest on Janet Reid’s blog. Requirements were the five words above (allegiance, risk, choice, sequel, and destroy) and that it be 100-words-or-less. I lost. Winners and finalists here. My entry below (guessing that clunky second sentence knocked me out of contention, but I still contend it’s grammatically accurate).

* * *

She smelled like peppermint, like things sticky-wet, when we went to the room. Our shared allegiance to risk a dangerous choice led us to the door. Craving a fresh sequel to destroy our stale marriages, we moved with naïve excitement toward a second act we hoped would be better than the first.

We were drunk.

In front of the bed, she crossed her arms. Her dress dropped. I wanted to hit pause, spare us the disappointment of subsequent frames, the dimming of the flare of blinding promise.

But we fell predictably together and, later, slept unspooled in the usual gloom.