Once again, fellow writer friends and I are indulging in THE BET. Short version: we bet on how horses we choose will finish in the Kentucky Derby. Those who choose poorly are forced to write short stories with titles provided by those who choose wisely. We then post these stories for free on our respective websites for the world to enjoy (and/or mock us for losing). It’s a lot of fun and I can’t believe we’ve been doing it for seven years now.
As always at my side, I have the amazing Kimberly Pauley and the effervescent Catherine Ryan Hyde. The three of us have been doing this since the very beginning and every year brings a fun new set of twists and turns. New to our cadre this year is young David Oppegaard, a rakish scamp with mad story skills. The horses we’ve chosen are:
Here’s more information on past bets and links. Join in the fun on Twitter as we harangue each other, talk trash, and just have a generally good ole time in the weeks leading up to the Derby (set for Saturday, May 6, this year). If nothing else, send me good vibes so I win this year. I haven’t won in a while. It’s embarrassing. And I have titles I’m dying to assign to each of my fellow Bettors. Trust me, you want to read stories with the Evil TitlesTM I’ve selected.
So, if you don’t know the history of the Bet, I recommend catching up on these posts here, here, here, here, and here. These links will also take you to all other stories from the past that were written to satisfy the Bet.
Short version: I lost a Bet and had to write a short story based on a title given to me by Kimberly Pauley. This year, the title provided to me was “The Walking Cage.” Here is the story I wrote.
I need to up my game. I’m tired of losing the Bet. Next year will be my year. MARK MY WORDS WELL.
I will link to the story that Kimberly wrote (with a title provided by Catherine Ryan Hyde) once she posts it.
Here’s the gist: we place a friendly “wager” on the Kentucky Derby. We each pick a horse (not necessarily by their odds of winning but more based on some sort of personal connection we feel with the horse’s name). Whoever’s horse comes in ahead of all the other chosen horses (not necessarily win, place, or show, just besting the others) is the winner. This person then provides the person whose horse came in next with a title and that person must then write a short story using that title. The person who came in second then passes a different title on to the person who came in third and so on. You can learn about the origin of this bet here.
Last year, we had some new blood and were joined by David Lubar, who is sadly unable to participate again this year. But the four original betters are back and ready to provide the world with free short stories based on titles we have no say in whatsoever. It’s fun. And scary.
This year, Andrew Smith is offering a prize to the random Twitter person who picks a horse for him. This person will get a character named after them in Andrew’s story (if, in fact, Andrew loses the bet; he won one year). NOTE: This offer is true as of this writing. First come/first served. Once Andrew has his horse picked for him, this is no longer valid. Andrew’s horse has been chosen.
Here are links to the past short stories from our losers:
2014 2013 2012 2011 (This link from Kimberly is great in that it rounds up all the stories.)
Here’s to five years of mayhem with three writers I’m very fond of. Cheers!
OK, if you’ve been around these parts before, you know the basics. Every year, three other writers and I (Catherine Ryan Hyde, Kimberly Pauley, and Andrew Smith) place a wager on the Kentucky Derby. We each pick a horse and whoever’s horse comes in closest to first gets to supply the person whose horse comes next with a title from which they must write a short story. The person in second supplies a story title to the person who comes in third. Third place gives title to fourth and fourth doesn’t get to give anyone a title. To quote Nelson Muntz: “Ha ha!”
As the Derby approaches this weekend, we’ve added a new twist: a fifth player. Pun-ist extraordinaire David Lubar is joining our festive group. In the past, we’ve provided readers with three new short stories. This year we’ll offer FOUR. We post these stories on our respective web pages, free of charge for all to see. It’s a fun little writing exercise and, boy, should you hear the trash talk on Twitter leading up to the race. (OK, it’s not the BEST trash talk, but we try.)
The horses we chose this year are:
Catherine: California Chrome
David: Wicked Strong
Kimberly: We Miss Artie
Me: Dance with Fate
To learn more about past bets, check my previous posts here, here, and here. Links to last year’s winning (losing) stories can be found here. (Last year was an especially good year.) Tune into the Derby this weekend to see who comes out ahead and then check back in June for a fresh new batch of free fiction.
It’s that time of year: the Kentucky Derby! Can you feel the excitement in the air?
No? Me neither. All it means to me is that the Bet is on again!
Last year, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Kimberly Pauley, Andrew Smith and I made a little wager on the ponies. We took our cue from an article where Stephen King revealed he’d once lost a bet to his son and had to write a short story based on a title his son provided. So we set our own rules: Whoever’s horse came in closest to first got to supply the person whose horse came next with a title from which they had to write a short story. The person in second would supply a story title to the person who came in third. Third place gave a title to fourth and fourth didn’t get to give anyone a title. All stories had to be posted online for free so all the world would know the ignominy of the losers. (OK, it was really just to entertain readers.) I won and didn’t have to write one (which was good, as I was on a tight deadline and didn’t have time to breathe, let alone write a short story). I’m sad to report I don’t even remember the name of the horse that saved me from this arduous task.
I’m a bit behind (in all things, really) so I haven’t had much of a chance to talk about the Bet that I’m involved in. For a good account of how this went down, check out Catherine Ryan Hyde’s post about it here. The short version: three other writers (Catherine, Kimberly Pauley, and Andrew Smith) and I have a bet about the Kentucky Derby. The losers must each write a short story based on a title of the winners’ suggestion. (CRH explains it all very well.)
This came about because Stephen King had just published a short story in The Atlantic and an accompanying interview revealed that he wrote the story because he lost a bet with his son (and his son provided the title: “Herman Wouk is Still Alive”). I mused on Twitter how fun this might be and suddenly these three wonderfully nutty people took me up on creating such a bet.
I’m the first to admit: short stories are not my milieu. I adore reading short stories. I even dabble in writing them from time to time. But I find them to be very difficult for how my brain works. And I’m a bit out of practice. So I’m just a tad nervous.
Image from harlanellison.com
Harlan Ellison used to do something called “stories under glass.” He’d set up his typewriter in a store window and, right there under the watchful eye of spectators, produce a new short story based on a premise supplied by someone else. Once I believe he got a suggestion from Robin Williams. The one I recall vividly is when X-Files creator Chris Carter arrived with a sealed envelope. Inside was a card that read “The 102-year-old pregnant
corpse.” What amazed me about Ellison was that he didn’t even stop to think about it. He got the idea and immediately started typing. And as he finished pages, they were taped up in the window for all to see.
No editing. No changing. No nothing.
For the record, *I* will not be doing that, should I end up writing a short story. *I* will think long and hard before I start writing. *I* will change and edit and, most likely, fret over the whole thing. But, I will also try to enjoy working outside my level of comfort.
The horse I’ve chosen to win is called Dialed In. Fingers crossed.
The Bet started two years ago as a wager between myself, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Kimberly Pauley, and Andrew Smith. It was based on a story I read about Stephen King wagering on sports with his son where the loser had to write a short story from a title supplied by the winner. This sounded fun. So I put out the call on Twitter to see if other authors were interested and three brave souls stepped forward. We settled on betting on the Kentucky Derby.
No money changes hands. Only story titles. The losers spend the next month crafting stories around a title not of their own choosing while the winner gets to…I don’t know….gloat? (Some, like Catherine, think that the winner is a loser because they don’t have to write a story. The amount I agree with her is inversely proportional to how many deadlines I’m on at the time of the Derby.)
The horses selected this year are:
Catherine: It’s My Lucky Day
Kimberly: Fear the Kitten
We write the stories and then make them available for free. Links to previous short stories can be found here and here.
Check back after the Derby on May 3 for a list of the titles we’re inflicting on each other. Then give us a month for a new batch of stories. As always, it promises to be a hoot.
PS–All my writing friends have new books out (or about to be out). You should give them a gander:
I mean, there were two other losers too. But I lost the biggest. This is the second time I came in last. Which infuriates me because it means I can’t give an Evil Title to someone else. But I’m not bitter. Just, you know, vengeful. Next year will be my year. This I swear. Woe to ye who gets my Evil Title next year.
My title was given to me by the esteemed Catherine Ryan Hyde. That title was “Seize the Night.” (Because, see, the stupid losing horse I chose was Carpe Diem. Ha, ha, Catherine’s funny. True story: I had narrowed it down to two horses. Carpe Diem and American Pharaoh. I kid you not. That was my back-up horse. The one who, you know, went on to win the Triple Crown. But I’m not bitter.) Here is my short story.
This post will be updated as the others post their stories as well.
Oh, and all hail Kimberly Pauley, this year’s winner. Kimberly didn’t have to write a story. She knew better than to pick Carpe Diem. Actually, the first three horses she’d chosen all scrubbed and she made a last minute choice just minutes before the race started. And she won.
And I DIDN’T HAVE TO WRITE A STORY BECAUSE I AM THE WEINER!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
PS–Please send good thoughts to Andrew Smith, who was forced to evacuate with his family this past weekend when a wildfire in California got a little too close to his backyard. He reports all are fine, his house is okay, but things feel a bit wonky at the moment.