Well, to be honest and accurate, I did refuse. Look, I thought, my readers are the hot-shot writers: let them do the creating and the writing. Not me. I am too ...er...busy.
Flash fiction. A very short story, up to 100 words, which most gorgeously, elegantly, poignantly, creatively, wittily or movingly (or any combination thereof) includes three ingredients in any proportion or combination: chocolate, fear and the written word. Any genre, any age-range.
Deadline: midday, British time, on October 21st. That's 21st, NOT 31st...
The method: by email - NOT comment box - with your name and address (which will only be sent to Hotel C if you're one of the winners and will not be kept by me after that) to: email@example.com. Please put "HALLOWEEN HOTEL CHOCOLAT COMP" in the subject line of the email.
A rule: each writer may enter up to two entries.
A point of info: each writer retains copyright, but must allow me to post any of the winning entries, duly credited, on my blog on Oct 31st.
The judgement: to be delivered by me, in consultation with a ghoulish fiend - sorry, I mean friend - in time for you to claim your Halloween chocolate prize by the appropriate date.
Dastardly proviso 1: these Halloween gift chocolates can only be sent to a UK address... SORRY! Of course, writers from other countries may enter, and nominate a UK recipient, who will no doubt be endlessly grateful. You get the glory and they get the chocolate. Tough call... [Edited to add: following Marisa's generous / devious offer, please do not nominate your intended recipient until you've been told you've won!]
Devious proviso 2: please (if you haven't already) join this blog as a follower if you possibly can - it's free and has no downside. It does not mean that I send you things. It helps me to know that you're out there and I'm not just whistling in the wind.
Obvious warning: follow those submission guidelines, consummate professionals that you are.
Please also comment below as normal, for example to tell me how much you will love me if you win. (I am always open to bribes, despite the interference of some US organisation which calls itself the FTC, which wants to stop such things amongst bloggers. At least I am open about my bribability.)
But, most importantly, take this as a serious writing task: ask not how much Halloween gift chocolate you might win but how beautiful your words might be.
Hang on: don't you feel sorry for me, not being able to win this scrummy prize myself? Weep not, because the gorgeous people at Hotel Chocolat have said that I deserve some Halloween chocolate too. Me! Hooray for asking and receiving!
I don't know how to spell the sound that has just come from my mouth. I am like Homer Simpson contemplating his fifth burger. I am like an oyster-lover about to prise open the juicest oyster in the Southern Seas. Or wherever oysters grow most succulently. I am in anticipatory chocolate heaven.
I love Hotel Chocolat. (Obviously). You have to try it. There's even a catalogue and home delivery and everything - crikey, you don't even have to get out of bed!
Write, damn it, write and dream - and if you're an idiot who doesn't like chocolate, do it for the glory of the writing.
And now, I must calm down. Thank you, lovely Hotel Chocolat people.
Btw, do you think there's really a Hotel Chocolat? Could I stay there? Would it be a case of "you can stay there any time you want, but you can never leave?" (And are the Eagles now going to sue me for breach of copyright or is that "fair use"? Would I care as long as I had chocolate?)