2006 Purple Prose Parody Contest Summary and WinnerDabney Grinnan2017-06-23T08:29:05-04:00
2006 Purple Prose Parody Contest – The Results Are In!
The results of our tenth (and final) Purple Prose Parody Contest are in! Most of you know that I nearly cancelled the contest last year, but was convinced by your feedback to keep it around to reach the decade mark. Special focus in this year’s contest was to have been purple prose parodies based on the classics of literature, and many of the fifteen submissions did parody classic novels and plays. In the end, we received three hilarious parodies of Shakespeare (two for Romeo and Juliet and a third for Macbeth), one poking gentle fun at my favorite “silly old bear,” another that took on George Orwell, and one which parodied Mark Twain. There was even one entry that tackled Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Eyre, and Anna Karenina in one fell swoop.
Not only were literary classics parodied, so were romance authors including Lisa Kleypas and J.R. Ward. Wider parodies, of entire sub-genres including the Regency-set Historical, the Western, and Romantica, were also submitted. What set this year’s crop of fifteen entries apart from previous years is that far fewer actual parodied purple prose. There was at least one brilliant aspect to each entry, but because the contest has morphed into a genre parody as opposed to a purple prose parody, my decision to make this year its last year seems wise.
Before announcing the winner, I’d like to hit upon what made each entry special, and to thank all the brave and creative individuals who participated this year. You’re terrific!
Author Emma Gads’ A Worthy Hero popped many romance novel convention – including why heroes must be hunky – in a very humorous manner. Here’s a snippet that a fellow author pointed out in her vote for Gads’ entry:
“Okay, there’s just one thing,” she said as he reached for her. “I’m a virgin.”
His arm fell again. He gave her a confused look. “Why?”
Rachel thought about it for a while. “You know, I’m not really sure.”
Long-time AAR reader Marianne McA did something I’d have thought impossible; while Winnie the Pooh has beenTao-ized, has there ever been a naughty Pooh parody before? After Tigger informs Pooh that Kanga doesn’t appreciate that bouncing is what Tiggers do best, Pooh suggests they build an Erogenous trap. Pooh believes the Erogenous is “a kind of duck that lives very far away” and Kanga is sad without hers…she hasn’t had it since she lives with Roo’s dad. If Tigger is to stay with her and take his Strengthening Medicine, he must find Kanga’s Erogenous. Lucky for them all, Christopher Robin helps him find it and while Tigger and Kanga have their HEA, Pooh thinks about the new song he’ll have to sing, and ponders:
“An Erogenous is a duck,
That you need to find before you…”
And he thought it was a Great Pity that ‘duck’ did not ryhme with ‘bounce’.
If-you-blinked-you-missed-him-as-an-AAR-reviewer Larry Rogers did not receive nearly the amount of attention for his The Wild, the Innocent, and the Bow Street Shuffle, which owes a whole lot more to bestselling author Lisa Kleypas than to Bruce Springsteen, as I felt it did. It’s clear that Rogers adores Kleypas creation Derek Craven as much as other readers of European Historicals, or he could not have created Samuel Scoffin, a gaming hell owner with a broken nose, crooked teeth, and “skin potted all over with smallpox scars” who had been “born beneath the rotting floor-boards of a grave-robbing prostitute’s humble outhouse”. Matchmaking friends, twins, virgins, whores, too stupid to live idealism, compromising positions, the dopey look in the eyes of happily married previous rakes, long-lost titles, and sex crazed virgins who will “want it every night” after marriage…all make their appearance in this hilarious entry, which earned my vote as this year’s best, although, like with many others, that decision was not at all easy.
Cindy Wiser’s oh-so-sly The Monday Night Book Club paid homage to three beloved heroines from classic literature – Lizzy Bennett, Jane Eyre, and Anna Karenina, who have a cross-era book club and are currently reading How To Snag a Secret Sheik. This week Jane’s hostessing, and has made kidney pie, eel pie, and pie pie for her friends. Perhaps my favorite snippet from this entry was this one:
Jane spoke first, “The Big Mis wouldn’t have been so bad alone, but when the author tacked on a Big Secret as well, that was too much. How can a loving, caring relationship be built on secrets?”
Anna looked up from her bout of weeping once more to ask, bitterly, “How’s the crazy wife in the attic these days, Jane dear?”
And then, at the end, they share their greatest fears, beginning with Anna:
“The support of my friends was the only thing getting me through the nightmares, and now I’ve lost that too. Do you have any vodka?”
“What nightmares, dear?”
“I have a deadly fear of trains.”
Jane nodded with understanding and confided, “Orphanages.”
Elizabeth shuddered and whispered, “Officers.”
Two of this year’s entries paid homage to J.R. Ward and her fantastically successfull Black Dagger Brotherhood – The Red Stiletto Sisterhood by jmc, and Lynda Tisdell’s The Lover’s Flame: Awakened and Eternal. Just yesterday we had a staff discussion of the over-the-top names Ward chose for members of her Brotherhood; jmc tackled that first thing with her submission’s opening paragraph: “I am Beyotch, fiercest of the Vampire, member of the Red Stiletto Sisterhood With my band of warrior-priestess sisters – Whench, Skankh, Harhpie, Tsukabus, and Piszed-offe — I protect our shrinking population.” Protect them from what, you may ask? Why, the waning attention of vampire males, who always seem to fall for mere mortal women, leaving her sisters “unmated, unbonded and unbearably horny”.
The name issue was also a focus in Tisdell’s entry; the new name of Angwish’s adopted brother is Aannoyyyancce. But rather than being a vampire, Angwish, a were-llama who invented the Chia-Pet, is in search of his perfect other half, as is his brother. Ward’s brotherhood may be heavily into hip hop, but Aannoyyyancce, with his unnatural attraction to the music of Cole Porter and the Gershwin brothers, laments, “They’re writing songs of love, but not for me.” Some may consider the were-llamas a bit on the fastidious side…others may call them gay, but they’d be wrong. Just because Angwish longs for a woman to “run his Savile suits to the dry-cleansers, hand-wash his cashmere socks, dust the priceless Hummels in his spacious three-room apartment in the Dakota, shop for his organic fruits and vegetables at NoChemicalsForUs, [and] re-grout the bathroom tile,” he can’t wait to have her in his bed.
Wickedly Good – a Chick Lit version of MacBeth written by Laurel Osterkamp – Nana Massie’s Romeo and Juliet Wear Prada, and a Regency version of The Romance of Romeo and Juliet by Elizabeth V. were our three Shakespearean entries. Each of these entries were clearly penned by readers extremely familiar with the source material, and both R&J parodies were written in verse. Osterkamp’s submission is set in a NYC publishing house, with three young women all named after witches. Wendy, the size twelve narrator who doesn’t get along with her mother, explains: “Helga lives up to her name by being hideous in both looks and personality. Sabrina could be Melissa Joan Hart’s evil twin. And me, well, I’m Wendy the good little witch. Except I’m not so little, and I’m a good girl gone bad.” They all work for Cawdor publishing, of course, for the yummy Mr. Mac, who needs their help in locating the owner of diary, who would be embarrased if it falls into the wrong hands, partly because “there’s no name, only the initials – B.J.”
As for Massie’s submission, here’s why an author chose it as her favorite:
My only love sprung from my only hate!
He’s a member of Hanson?
No, my other only hate.
The Montagues, dammit.[…]
I hold you, lords and lady, in contempt
An error ’tis which people here are dead.
If this childrearing was your best attempt,
I think perhaps you never should have bred.
For never was a story Darwinesque
Like this of Romeo and Juliet.
And Elizabeth V’s Regency version of R&J , things heat up quite a bit…here are some prime purple morsels for your enjoyment:
Sweet girl, so sweet. You can’t know what you ask.
No matter, though. We’ll start your first lesson.
But we should not complete this course tonight.
Stop here in this alcove. Come close, look up,
That’s right, press your proud peaks against my chest.
Now let me taste those sweet, sweet lips, and then
Maybe our tongues can mate, as I’ve dreamt of…
[and shortly thereafter] Romeo:
A tragedy, I could and should prevent.
For now, pretend only we two exist.
Come here, sit down, let’s put this bench to use.
No on my lap, I want to hold you close.
We’ll stoke our passion to a fire-y blaze.
I’ll touch you to make your love juices flow.
Varina Martindale’s Western homage, Brassy Belle’s Breakout (first in a trilogy!), took on picnic auctions, marriage to save the family ranch, silly names – Idie Claire and Virgil Villayne – and the small-mindedness often found in small western towns as regards whores, supposed whores, half-breeds, and more. Another sub-genre homage was Karen Franks’ Application for Employment as Romance Novel Heroine. While it did not parody purple prose, it did poke gentle fun at just about all conventions found in historicals. Here is a sampling of questions from Frank’s application:
4. Your father is/was a (please circle one): [Royalty] [Nobleman] [Vicar] [Unknown]
5. a. If you circled “Royalty” or “Nobleman” as to your father, please place a check next to the most appropriate statement (otherwise, skip to “5b”):
___My father was cold and distant and died when I was young; my guardian controls my every move;
___My father is cold and distant; he controls my every move;
___My father was kind and loving, but died when I was young; my guardian controls my every move;
___My father is kind and loving, and just wants to make sure I’m taken care of, even if he does try to control my every move;
___I never knew my father as he died tragically before I was born;
5.b.f you circled “Unknown” as to your father, please circle the reason: [Orphaned] [Bastard] [Amnesia]
i. If you circled “orphaned” please place a check by those responsible for raising you:
___I grew up on the streets and lived by my wits
8.a. If you are a Widow, Spinster, or are Abandoned, how do you support yourself?
___I’m a governess;
___I’m a paid companion;
___I am currently a governess/paid companion, but I’ve saved some money and would like to go into trade;
___I have a secret avocation that no one knows about but which will be the ruination of me if I am ever discovered;
___Don’t be a nodcock–I’m an heiress;
9. Why do you want to be a Heroine in a romance novel?
___I want to experience true love at least once in my life before I cock up my toes;
___I made a cake of myself as a paid companion, and now none of the Ton will employ me;
___being a governess to high-born but ill-behaved children makes me want to cosh their little heads with my reticule;
___I am rather a bluestocking and I fear it’s the only way I will ever find a handsome, virile, and rich nobleman who will be enchanted with my hoydenish ways and willing to put up with my cheekiness;
Two entries based on classic – yet not romantic – literature were Emilie Conroy’s A Tumble in the Hay, a send up of Animal Farm, and AAR pollster LinnieGayl’s homage to Huckleberry Finn, The Blue Line To Love. Conroy’s parody hooks up Old Benjamin, the elderly donkey relatively unchanged after the animals’ rebellion, with Molly, the narcissistic horse who in Orwell’s story escaped the farm. The opening of this short submission is my favorite part:
In the barn the air hung thick in tremulous anticipation. The haystack stood in salute to forbidden love. Then, Mollie’s nervous eating habit seized her violently, and she began to take tiny nibbles from that golden love tribute.
Surely Napoleon’s black piggy eyes had witnessed the mad carmine haze of passionate wanting. Not even that pig could mistake Mollie’s bug-eyed longing glances at Benjamin. Maybe the others on Animal Farm thought Benjamin was nothing but an ass, but to Mollie, he was a stallion of manliness.
In LinnieGayl’s homage, well, I’ll let this reader sum up why she thought it was funniest: It was the only one that made me laugh, the others were…er, awright. This one had it all, heart shaped nether cheeks, violet eyes and SEALS, I mean, what good romance doesn’t have a SEAL team in it somewhere. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if some dastardly villain broke into the compartment so the hero could take him down with a paper clip ala MacGyver.
Kate Rothwell writes historical romance…as Summer Devon she writes Romantica, and her send up of that sub-genre tickled my funny bone. Entitled Generic Erotic Romance, she hit upon just about every convention readers of erotic romance have come to expect, from the aching, moistness, longing, wanting to be filled, to the hero who growls “Mine!”, to creaming, screaming, groaning and lusting, to tightness and anal sex, she doesn’t miss a thing, and though short, this is another entry that I believe didn’t get the credit it deserved.
And finally, Lauren Young’s Love and Domino’s, which transformed the act of eating a pizza into an altogether lustful experience for Dan and Grace. I’ve read it several times now, and I’m still not sure which cheek my tongue is in:
Dan sucked the goodness through his lips, fully aware that Grace was enjoying this, but knew that she wasn’t done just yet-not until her timers popped through the sheer nightie and she was gooey on the inside.
Dan then peeled off the rest of the cheese from his piece and nestled it in his mouth. Grace could feel her breathing become chopped like garlic, but not as smelly, as Dan leaned forward, pressing the cheese-flesh against her lips and his meat-lovers’ special against her oven of femininity. Grace’s hunger escalated as she partook in more of Dan’s basil-flavored lips. Her eyes widened like dough bubbles in an oven as his meat-lovers’ special roasted inside her, sizzling and growing. It wasn’t long before the passion timer went, “Ding!” and Dan and Grace were shaken like mozzerella over a fresh pizza pie and drawing breaths harder than day-old crusts.
Thirteen of the fifteen entries received at least one vote. Emilie Conroy’s Animal Farm send up earned the third highest number of votes, which surprised me even though she followed this year’s guidelines perfectly. Less surprising was Romeo and Juliet Wear Prada’s second place finish. While my own personal favorite, as usual, did not win, I am always able to see precisely why each winning entry actually wins, although it often takes voter comments to show me the light.
This year was no different – the entry was creative, funny, and did what a parody is supposed to do, although in this case sans the purple prose. So, who won our tenth and final Purple Prose Parody Contest?
And the winner is…
Karen Franks, for her Application for Employment as Romance Novel Heroine. Congratulations, Karen, and when I return from my vacation early next month, I’ll contact Cafe Press and order the prize package you see above.