Welcome to Wiser Now’s weekly email blast which reflects my eclectic interests and, I hope, yours. July is Color Your World Month and in honor of the purple prose of author Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the winners of whose namesake writing contest are soon to be announced, purple is my color of choice for the week. You may know the phrase, “It was a dark and stormy might,” from Snoopy in the Peanuts comic strip, but the origin is older, longer, and sillier. Just to be clear, if we say someone’s language is blue, it means he uses vulgar words to excess. But if we say he writes in purple prose, it means he uses overblown and unnecessary, often ridiculous, descriptive phrases. Exactly my kind of funny.

I hope you find these offerings fun, and perhaps even useful, and welcome your feedback. ( And if you haven’t yet pressed the subscribe button so this newsletter doesn’t go to spam, please do so now.

The Quirky Quote
If you want to make a statement, wear purple.  ~ Baron Davis

The Quirky Facts
Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) was a more widely read author in his time than Charles Dickens and you know him for lines like, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” But the annual Edward Bulwer-Lytton Contest sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University since 1982 is the yearly recipient of thousands (really) of entries that parody the purple prose with which he opened his novel Paul Clifford:
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

This whimsical literary competition challenges entrants to compose a single opening sentence for the worst possible novel – in other words, purple prose. The only real rule is that the sentence must be original and unpublished. Learn more at

The Quirky Observations
A compilation of 20+ years of winning entries are posted on the contest website ( and fall into more than a dozen categories including grand prize overall (winner gets bragging rights, nothing more) adventure, crime/detective, fantasy and horror, historical fiction, romance, vile puns and westerns. There is a winner in each category, and several “Dishonorable Mentions.” Here are a few samples from 2020, but I urge you to check out the website for many more smiles:

2020 Crime/Detective Dishonorable Mention
She sauntered into his smoke-filled office with legs that, although they didn't go quite all the way to heaven, definitely went high enough for him to see she was a giraffe. ~ Jarrett Dement, Eau Claire, WI

Historical Fiction Winner
When Sir John of York fought in the crusades, he killed many Saracens with great dispatch, and was likened unto a whirling dervish of steel and Christian might—minus the dizziness from constantly spinning in a circle, and the fact that he was on a horse that couldn't do that.  ~ Edward Covolo, Menlo Park, CA

Romance Dishonorable Mention
Gasping for breath as she lay in the dew-laden lakeside grass, Rifka Lieberman's chest heaved with rising passion as Saul Cohen approached with the inhaler she had left behind at the assisted living facility.  ~ Leo Gordon, Los Angeles, CA

Vile Puns Winner
As the passing of Keith Richards was announced on the evening news, just as had been done with Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood before him, Jorge gazed at the television in his Tijuana home and felt a sickening knot form in his stomach, for he realized that finally, after all the albums, concert tours, and era-defining cultural impact, the Rolling Stones would gather no más. ~ Aaron Cabe, Hillsboro, OR

Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mention 
The gentle, rhythmic sound of water lapping at the metal hull of the boat transported Phillip back to a simpler time of marshmallow campfires and magical summers at the lake until, upon waking, he came to realize it was only the sound of the Roomba vacuuming robot which had short-circuited and was running repeatedly into the baseboard heat register. ~ Tony Buccella, Allegany, NY​ 

The Shameless Request
Now that WNW is an award-winning publication, we think even more people will be interested in it. Please share it, and if you represent an organization that would like a customized version, send me a note at

The Quiz
I decided another way to have fun with prose was to ask you to match the book title to the author with the most appropriate name.

1. The Accused ___
2. At The Eleventh Hour ___
3. Continental Breakfast ___
4. The Commuter ___
5. The Decline of Civilization ___
       a. Helena Handcart ___
       b. Jocelyn Train ___
       c. Justin Time ___
       d. Roland Coffy ___
       e. Watts E. Dunn ___

6. The Debtor ___
7. Don't Give Up ___
8. Drafts ___
9. Fitted Carpets ___
10. Frankenstein Meets Dracula ___
       a. Horace Tory ___
       b. Isadora Jarr ___
       c. Owen Munny ___
       d. Percy Vere ___
       e. Walter Wall ___

The Question
Have you ever written for publication or entered a writing contest? Did you win? What would be an appropriate title for a book you might write?
Share your thoughts and knowledge – including with me, if you feel inclined.

The Resources

Answers to the Quiz
1. e   2. c   3. d   4. b   5. a   6.c   7.d   8.b   9.c   10.a  
My multiple goals are to amuse and inspire you, to share what I and people whom I admire are doing, to stimulate your curiosity and spur you to action. I hope you enjoyed this offering. You can access previous issues here. We welcome your feedback. (
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Copyright (c) 2021 Kathy Laurenhue | All rights reserved.

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