Sunday, June 20, 2010

Writer in the Window: The Challenge

The challenge was to create an original short story in an hour. The audience would shout out six words that you would find in the old west, and I had to incorporate them into an original short story on the spot. When time was up, I had to read what I had...finished or not...good or not. I've done them before with mixed results. This time, however, it had to be a kid-friendly story, which meant I had to write a western with no gunfights, cussing, or whiskey.

Now, watching a grown man type on a laptop for an hour is not as riveting as you might think for kids, so while I did my thing, there was a cartoonist named Jonathan Burrello who entertained our pint-sized audience until I could finish. Barnes and Noble along with the City of West Covina sponsored and hosted the event and gave away raffle prizes every fifteen minutes. This event kicks off six months of writing and photo contests sponsored by West Covina and judged by yours truly.

In the end, I created a tale fit for the kids, read it for them and got a rousing round of applause from them and the scattered grown-ups in the room. I like my little tale. I think I am going to ask the cartoonist if he would be interested in bringing "The Adventures of the Two-Cookie Kid" to life in pictures and perhaps seek publication for it. A kid's book...from me...who'd have thunk it?



Monday, June 14, 2010

Writer in the Window series!

I am appearing Thursday evening at Barnes and Noble in West covina from 7-9:30pm for the latest in my Writer in the Window series!

For those who don't know, I have accepted a number of challenges from bookstores and events to create on-the-spot short stories based on suggestions from the audience.

People shout out things you would find in a western and I then have two hours to create a story using all those elements. Most times I am able to finish with a fairly cohesive story, which is then read to the crowd. A few times I have failed, but must still read the work to the crowd!

It is called Writer in the Window, because at the first event for the Gene Autry Center, they literally put me in the window of the museum store, like a monkey at the zoo. People even tapped on the window!

So come on out for a fun evening! There will be raffles, activities for the kids, and even a movie! See if you can stump me...and support the arts!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Short Story Contest!

Creative Writing Contest

The City of West Covina’s Community Services Department is proud to partner with Bill Wilbur on a photography and creative writing contest, spanning several months. Mr. Wilbur is an artist and published author; his most recent western-themed novel is Saragosa, written for his father.

In an effort to recognize more local artists, Mr. Wilbur will assist the City with a large-scale photo and creative writing contest over the next several months. Now’s your chance to have your own work reviewed by a professional writer and photographer! For participation rules read below or call (626) 939-8430.

West Covina Artist
Creative Writing Contest
For information, call (626) 939-8430.

The City extends an open invitation for West Covina residents to participate in an on-going creative writing contest for youth and adults. Each month the contest writing prompts will be posted (see prompts below), and winners will be selected. Judges will include local artist Bill Wilbur and members of the West Covina City Council. Both amateur and professional writers are welcome to participate.

Winning contestants will receive a certificate of recognition from the West Covina City Council. Entries must be submitted in PDF format and sent to; see contest rules for details.

June: Youth Writing Prompt
Ages 10-17

Tommy Noonan was late. Dusk was creeping along Main Street toward the spot where it crossed Hamilton Parkway and left the town behind. The night echoed with the fading sounds of a summer day as Tommy duck walked the last few feet and pushed his way deep into the bushes. The guys were already there.

June: Adult Writing Prompt
Ages 18+

Bobbi Singer never really wanted to be a hero. In fact, she’d never really wanted to be anything.

No purchase or payment necessary to enter or win

Entry Eligibility
To enter, you must be a West Covina resident capable of proving residency (utility bill/license etc), and age if necessary. The writing entry must open with the exact words from the writing prompt, according to the month of submission, and submitted by the last day of the corresponding month. All entries must be submitted as a PDF file.

Writer / Copyright
Entries must be submitted by the original writer. Do not submit a story by someone other than yourself. You must be the sole owner and creator of the story. Your submission of the story and entry form is your guarantee that you are the writer and copyright holder of the entry.

Number of Entries
An individual may submit only one story per writing prompt, per monthly contest-according to the appropriate age category.

Creative Writing Restrictions
Stories must be appropriate for posting on a public government website. Obscene, provocative or otherwise questionable content will not be considered. The City of West Covina retains sole discretion as to what constitutes inappropriate content.

Ownership / Use Rights
Writers retain the copyright to their story. By entering the contest, writers agree to have their submitted entry used in City publications, including the City’s website without any fee or other form of compensation, and agree that the City may make and retain copies of the entry for archival purposes. Stories will be credited to the writer named in the entry form. Entries (including non-winning entries) may be selected for use in City publications/website at the City’s discretion. In the event that ownership of any story submitted to the City of West Covina is contested in any manner, the City retains the discretion to disqualify that entry and discontinue use of the story.

How to Enter
Creative Writing entries must be submitted in PDF format, and emailed to Each entry must include the full name, age, address, and telephone number for the individual responsible for writing the story, as well as the name of the story. Applicants needs to submit their entry under the appropriate category: Youth (ages 10-17, 1000 words or less) or Adult (ages 18+, 2000 words or less). The category of submission is meant to correspond with the age of the writer. The writer’s name should appear on every page of the submission. All work must be the original work written by the applicant. Should work be discovered as a copy or contain plagiarized materials, applicant/writer will be disqualified.

Entries will be judged on the basis of creativity, writing quality, and effectiveness in conveying the monthly writing prompt of the contest category. The panel will judge the entries and all contest decisions are final. Entries that fail to comply with the Official Contest Rules will be disqualified. The panel will include published author Bill Wilbur and members of the West Covina City Council or their designees.

Judges will select one winning creative writing submission, per age category, for each of the monthly contests. At the discretion of the panel, one or more honorable mention winners may be selected. Winners will be notified approximately 2-3 weeks after the contest deadline by phone and email using the information collected in the submission. No financial compensation is provided to winners.

Additional Terms and Conditions
The City of West Covina (the City) is not responsible for computer system, hardware, software, or program malfunctions or other errors, failures, or delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human or technical in nature. Furthermore, the City is not responsible for: (i) lost, misdirected, misplaced, illegible, unintelligible, incomplete, or late entries or (ii) any act, failure to act, or delay regarding the transmitting or processing of entries. The City reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel or suspend all or any portion of this contest without notice if factors beyond the City’s control, including technical difficulties, disrupt or corrupt the fair or secure administration or operation of the contest. Void where prohibited. The City is entitled to interpret these rules as needed and its decisions are final. The City reserves the right to disqualify any entrant that the City has reason to believe is not the original work of entrant, or does not otherwise meet the contest rules. If a winner is disqualified or determined to be ineligible, an alternate winner will be selected using the same judging process/criteria described above. Alternate winners are subject to all requirements set forth in these Official Rules.

By participating in the contest, you agree to release and hold harmless the City and its employees, officers, affiliates, agents, and advertising and promotional agencies from any and all damages, injuries, claims, causes of actions, or losses of any kind resulting from your participation in this contest, including infringement of intellectual property rights. The City and its employees, officers, affiliates, agents, and advertising and promotional agencies assume no responsibility or liability for any damages, injuries, claims, causes of actions, or losses of any kind arising in whole or in part from this contest.