Tuesday 13 October 2009


Look, I know: I'm a tart. I'm easy. Throw me chocolate and I'm yours. I don't much mind if your chocolate is shaped like ghouls or witches, little devils or a cabbage. But, taste-wise, I have my standards: it can't just be any chocolate. So, when the divinely luxurious Hotel Chocolat people offered me TEN Boo Boxes as a Halloween gift so that I could come up with a competition that combined Halloween (that's the BOO bit) with chocolate and writing, how could I refuse?

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.

So, here's your task:

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: writingtutor@hotmail.co.uk. 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?)


Nicola Morgan said...

Hmmm, it's remarkable how many new blog followers I gained in the last ten minutes. You cheap people, you!

Catherine Hughes said...

I was already an ardent follower, winner of the abject sycophancy prize, and all-round regular commentator...

Not that I'm trying to engender any bias in my favour, of course!

100 words is harder than 1000!

Ok, I'm writing. Really, I am....

Nicola Morgan said...

Oh, certainly 100 words is much harder! (It's also a lot easier to read).

Catherine Hughes said...

Chocolate, fear, writing....

It really never was going to be easy, was it?!

Brain is now in overdrive and inspiration has taken its strike elsewhere. But we have time.... No doubt it will come to me in a dream!!

Mame said...

I am afraid to write about chocolate, as I may never stop.

(Did I win?)

HelenMWalters said...

I think a hotel made all of chocolate may be a little melty ... but hey, who cares.

Great comp!

Juliet Boyd said...

If there was a Hotel Chocolat it would have to be somewhere cool, otherwise it would become Lake Chocolat. Mmmm, swimming in chocolate - now there's a thought!

Nicola Morgan said...

Aimee - probably not, but it was a nice try! (And of course, you would need to send it to the right email address...)

Marisa Birns said...

Well, I live across the pond so no chocolate for me. *sighs with glumness*

And I really don't know anyone over there--with a proper address, anyway.

So. I'm game to try this, this very hard assignment AND

I've decided that if chocolate were to be awarded to me, then I would designate the lovely, talented, and very friendly Nicola Morgan to receive the prize. To do with it as she so desired.

Trying very hard to win points.

No. Really. I'm not.

Just trying to find a sweet bribery...er...solution to my not living over there (sob).

Marshall Buckley said...

I promise that, should I win, I will stop stalking you.

And, as a bonus, you would have my address, so you could either:
(1) Stalk Me
(2) Issue a restraining order

Now, just need some inspiration. If only I had some chocolate to help. Or wine, yes, that would do too.

Nicola Morgan said...

Now marisa, that's very sweet of you and what i am about to say is the hardest thing i've ever said: oh, no, I couldn't possibly. [Arghhhhhhhhh]

I think what we'll have to say (and I'll edit the rules to insert this) is that if you are a foreign entrant, you shouldn't nominate your recipient until you've been told you've won! (And I will promise absolutely not to let Marisa's suggestion influence me - arghhhhh again - or to donate it to someone else, like my agent. God, this is painful!)

Unknown said...

This has made me think about 55 word stories. You start with a sentence of ten words, then nine, then eight then... you get the idea. Or you start with one.. then two, then three... its brain wreckingly fun. I might just have to try it here.. starting with a slightly longer first sentence. :D

PS: I'm not a UK resident, so obviously I don't sell out for chocolate... not me. not ever! :P

fairyhedgehog said...

I can do this. For chocolate, I can do this. For chocolate, I can do anything.

If I subscribe now am I going to be called cheap? I may be inexpensive but never cheap.

By the way, I'd like to thank writtenwyrdd for pointing me towards this chocolate, I mean blog.

Kate said...

I can't wait to read these - good luck all Kate x

Simon Kewin said...

Do you like chocolate then? You should have mentioned it!

By the way isn't it "you can check out any time you like/but you can never leave"?

Mame said...

I was just yanking your chain and trying to be a horrible influence. But I really am afraid to write about chocolate, because I may never stop.

Flixton Mum said...

Well, as I was was the one who kindly pointed out to you that it is in fact Chocolate Week you should already know that I worship you etc etc.

I could withhold all future knowledge of gorgeous weeks from you until such a time as you deliver me chocolates, but I am far too scared of you for that.

I am already a follower and have followed you to twittersphere, and unlike Catherine I am trying to engender bias this way.

Catherine Hughes said...

OK, entry number one (there may or may not be a number two - eeek, that doesn't sound right!) is winging it's way to you. I had some trouble sending, but I think it has now successfully dispatched; please forgive me if you get duplicate emails!

Must really now try and sleep on this and see if I can come up with another idea.

Fun, fun, fun. Will you publish all the entries? I for one would love to read them all!

Barb said...

A house made of chocolate - Hansel and Gretel meets Willy Wonka. It would work so much better than gingerbread!

Thanks for a great contest.

Nicola Morgan said...

Simon - trust a man to point out that mistake! I'm useless with details like that; should have got my husband to check.

fairyhedghog - welcome, and no I am sure you are not cheap. I am very glad to see you here and thank you to writtenwyrdd

Marshall - yes, wine might have that effect but it's not on offer.

Everyone else - please stop messing around and just get writing. You writers, you're all talk.

And by the way, I've just had an email from someone who is 12 years old asking if she can enter, and I've said yes, of course, so now you have competition. Come on, you can't let her win, can you???

Tania Hershman said...

OK, I have to know - how do writers get Hotel Chocolat to get in touch with them and offer FREE chocolate? How? How? (And yes, I signed up to follow your blog, just because you asked me to. I am so obedient.). Ok going to win some chocolate now.

Jen Campbell said...

I have sent you chocolate previously, need a bribe again? ;) Argh, this sounds like a very tricky task. I shall get my thinking cap on.

Thank you for arranging this competition; you are too good to us! xx

Jen Campbell said...

*I. Damn it, the thought of chocolate is already playing with my words. I must put chocolate out of my mind and concentrate on lexis.

JaneF said...

Turns out it’s not as hard as I thought to become a follower. Religious movements could learn a lot from this blog. (I think it was the little chocolate skulls that swung it for me.)

catdownunder said...

Bribery, corruption as well - all in 100 words?

laughingwolf said...

ok, i'll bite... erm... write, but lost most of my contacts in ol blighty, years ago, when we left a common board for other lands :(

bubblecow said...

Just sent out a tweet pointing people in this direction. Words for chocolate is a winning combination.

Catherine Hughes said...

Second entry is away - it came to me as I fell asleep last night!

How many entries have you had so far??

Rachel Green said...

I've entered :)

Marshall Buckley said...

Only 100 words is tough... but first entry sent.

Jan said...

This was so much fun to try that I'm sending an entry even though I'm not officially on the follow list. I'm really sorry, Nicola, but it wants me to sign up for a google account first. I'll understand if that disqualifies. Will you write one of your own to post along with the winners? That would be fun :)

Jayne said...

Just seen this - fab idea! Am hard at work (which doesn't just mean am a scary boss), and hope to come up with something by midday Wednesday. Or maybe two somethings - it's chocolate! And rather nice chocolate at that... :)

Cathie Hartigan said...

Can't resist any longer in spite of d**t (rude word, shouldn't even hint at it here). Hotel Chocolat too good, but a hundred words... Hmm. Tricky.