Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Subliminal Subtext Contest Winners!

This was fun! I was surprised and delighted with the entries you all came up with. I may have to periodically try a “trust the reader” exercise like this. I think it was a good way to measure how much it’s safe to leave out in a scene and how much a reader can pick up from subtle clues. Unfortunately, this particular scene isn’t part of any larger story, but I suppose one day it may become just that.

I had to laugh because the immediate recognition or non-recognition of the medallion and The Big Book lends itself to interpretation with regard to the stories of the guessers and/or those close to them. Not that a person couldn’t pick this kind of insight up purely through research as Carleen Brice did when she wrote Orange Mint and Honey, but that’s usually not the case.

The actual story for the scene in question is not nearly as fascinating as what some of you came up with, but here it is.

Dick and Jeanne’s only son has just been sentenced to a long prison term. At Jeanne’s insistence, the couple spent money they didn’t have in order to secure an attorney for their son. Dick is a recovering alcoholic and has been in A.A. for quite some time. During those years, Jeanne has abstained from alcohol in order to support Dick’s recovery. Dick was still drinking when their son was very young and there has always been some unspoken resentment on Jeanne’s part and a suspicion that their son’s problems with drug abuse and in general are related to those early years. Their son, like most drug addicts is highly manipulative and his mother is especially vulnerable to this. Dick harbors a great deal of resentment toward Jeanne because as a recovering substance abuser, he believes Jeanne has enabled their son. He believes that had she made him take accountability for his actions and not continually rescued him, he might not have ended up in prison. The prison sentence is a long one, so they’ve cleaned out their son’s room to dispose of his belongings, which show evidence of his drug abuse right in their home. When the phone rings the first time, it is their son calling from prison, probably to ask for money and for additional legal help. It was confusing to some, but when my phone rings, if I press the off button, it will silence the ringing during that call, but not turn the phone completely off (comes in handy when those evening telemarketing calls start coming in). During dinner, they both knew it was their son calling and Dick silenced the ringer, although Jeanne had a very difficult time not taking her son’s call. Dick deals with this additional stress and the threat it poses to his sobriety through A.A. When Jeanne takes the first drink right in front of Dick, it is an unspoken “eff you” to him. When the phone rings a second time, it’s their son calling again because he knows eventually, his mother will answer. Dick knows this too as he walks out the door.

I like that people picked up on the sounds of the plows going by. I remember writing them during the free write, but I didn’t have a concrete reason for doing it. They probably do mean something within the context of this, but the truth is that even I don’t know what.

Since there were so many great entries, I decided to pick three names, but before I announce the names, let me tell you the two I wish I'd written.

Larramie's - In part because it was so extreme. This entry in particular actually made me gasp, mainly because of all the people in the world that I know, in the real and the virtual worlds, Larramie is the most optimistic and will always choose a happy ending. I almost fell over when I saw she'd subjected on of my characters to lethal injection. Larramie, you are full of surprises!

Billy's - Just because I thought the idea of a body being under the street being plowed was awesome. I need to ratchet my dark side up a notch!

And the three winners are:



Anonymous (if you want to truly remain anonymous, just leave a comment and I'll pick another name, otherwise please email me).

I'm copying the spirit of Bernita and Shauna's Pay it Forward Contests somewhat. Just email me with your choice of a selection of the latest release (or the book of your choice if they’ve published more than one) from one of the following author/bloggers:

Carleen Brice
Karen DeGroot Carter
Therese Fowler
Patry Francis
Charles Gramlich
William "Billy" Hammett
Timothy Hallinan
Bernita Harris
Judy Merrill Larsen

If you're one of my blog friends and you've published something that I can order on Amazon and I've missed it, please email me and let me know.


In the spirit of paying it forward, or if you've already read these books (Judy, I'll bet you've read most of them) or have something you're dying to read that's also on Amazon (preferably a debut novel), just let me know.

Please email your choice and your mailing address to: lisa at and thank you all for playing!


Sustenance Scout said...

I was fascinated by your run-down and then came to the end of this post and wow! what a nice surprise to see my name listed with all these amazing authors. "Thanks" is such an inept word sometimes, but thanks!! K.

Charles Gramlich said...

Congrats to the winners. Thanks for the explanation. Cool.

Patti said...

me? whoa...

and i liked reading the explanation after the fact.

Melissa Marsh said...

I still liked this piece, Lisa, and I think it would make a great short story with a little fine-tuning.

Larramie said...

LOL Lisa, the excerpt felt so dark and depressing, I simply decided to pile on some more! Also I didn't understand about the "off button," so why not "off" the son? LOL

And, of course, your explanation made perfect sense. This was fun!

kristenspina said...

I want one of those phones.

Bernita said...

How nice of you to include me on your list!

Carleen Brice said...

Thanks Lisa! Smooches!!

Lisa said...

Karen, You are very welcome.

Charles, I'd like to try something like this again sometime. I really enjoyed the way everyone read the piece.

Patti, Yep you!

Melissa, I may try expanding it into something like that. It's depressing enough to be a short story ;)

Larramie, I literally laughed out loud when I read your comment -- not because it was funny but because it was such a shock coming from you!

Kristen, I'll bet your phone already does it. Next time it's ringing and you don't want to answer it, just press "off". It still goes to voicemail and it still rings at the base on mine.

Bernita, Well of course I included you!

Carleen, Awww! Thank you.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

How fun . . . I'm a winner and my book is one offered as a prize! Thanks so much, Lisa.

Billy said...

This was really fun, Lisa! I have been checking back because this was also suspenseful. I'm glad you liked my bizarro interpretation. I've read too much Stephen King perhaps! Congrats to the winners!

...I'm just sorry no one was murdered -:)))

Lisa said...

Judy, AND you're getting a convertible -- you ought to buy a lottery ticket ;)

Billy, I'm actually kind of sorry everybody lived myself -- but I'm a quick study. I'm already imagining sinister endings for...all of them!!!

I pulled out a short story I'd drafted up a couple of years ago. I wrote it from the POV of the younger brother of a character much like the missing son in this scene. Apparently I have unresolved issues that I need to work out -- oh, and people do die in that story ;)))

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon

Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf