Tag Archives: contests

Queen For A Day

Jay Crowned 2

By: Jay Duret

I am fascinated by reality TV. I love the cheesy gimmicks and the faux competitions. What is better than seeing alliances made and betrayed, secrets kept by shouting them out? I can’t get enough of the building tension as one contestant after another is sent home, banished, excommunicated, forever branded a loser.

I have studied reality TV. I know reality TV.

There are the Bachelor shows: the eligible good-looking dude chooses his babe; the eligible good-looking babe chooses her hottie. Then there is the twist: the big fat dude who has a skiddillion dollars chooses his babe. And the twist on the twist: the big fat dude who is supposed to have a skiddillion dollars doesn’t actually have any, so the babes he has been romancing are mortified when they find out that he is poor as well as disgusting and they have drooled over him on national TV for nothing.

And there are the warrior shows. The tribes left in the arctic, in the forest, in the swamp, in the desert. Always eating the same sickening bugs that you find in the arctic, the forest, the swamp, the desert. And for a twist, a whole show where people have to confront their fear of bugs, by, well, eating them, as by if swallowing gooey white maggoty writhing slithery slimy pustule coated grubs they’ll be better men or better women, not just sick to their chiseled stomachs.

And the quiz shows. For quiz shows you get the best excitement if the money keeps increasing until the contestants have so much that it is hideous and sickening when the lose and all their winnings are forfeit. Who doesn’t love that moment when it all comes crashing down?

While many think that reality programing began with The Real World and Survivor, the first reality television program was a daytime show from the 50’s called Queen for a Day. In that show, three or four contestants – I believe they were always women, which makes sense given the name of the show – competed to present stories of hardship to a live studio audience. Each contestant would regale the audience with the difficulties that she and her family had suffered: children with incurable diseases, job loss, bankruptcy, disfigurement, injuries too numerous to recall, failed marriages, parents sick and dying, you name it, the whole panoply of human pain and hardship.

Each contestant was given a block of time to tell her story. There was a host – a smarmy fellow named Jack Bailey – who helped the contestant choke out her tale of woe. Bailey was a known for his solicitousness. He was quick with a white handkerchief when tears appeared. A fine Wikipedia article on the show describes his approach beautifully:

Bailey began each interview gently, asking the contestant first about her life and family, and maintaining a positive and upbeat response no matter what she told him. For instance, when a woman said she had a crippled child, he would ask if her second child was “Okay.” On learning that the second child was not crippled, he might say, “Well, that’s good, you have one healthy child.”

 After each contestant had said their piece, the audience actually voted which of them had told the most piteous tale. As I remember it, though it was a long time ago and my recollection could be faulty, the voting was conducted by applause. Here is the scene: at the end of each show, all the contestants joined Jack Bailey on stage. He lined them up so they faced the audience. Then he approached the first and held his hand, palm down, over her head as if he were measuring her height. Signaled by that gesture, the audience applauded, and the intensity of the applause signified the degree of hardship that contestant had endured. The more applause, the sadder the story. Bailey then moved to the next contestant and repeated the process. There was a device – I swear this is true – called an “Applause-O-Meter” that purported to calibrate the level of applause each contestant received. The contestant with the highest score on the Applause-O-Meter – in other words, the contestant judged to have the endured the greatest misery – became Queen For A Day!

The crowning moment in each show was the crowning of the Queen. After the Applause-O-Meter had done its magic, a queenly robe, the kind with velvet and tufts of furry trim on the edges, appeared and was draped lovingly on her shoulders. The robes were drenched in royal red. The Queen then gentled herself into the luxurious comfort of a much-pillowed throne. A tiara – actually a full-on crown – was placed on her head. Her arms were filled with four dozen “coronation roses”.

And then there were the prizes! The prizes were not usually things that would alleviate, at least very directly, the suffering that had lead to the coronation. They were better! The prizes were toasters, dishwashers, sometimes a jeweled watch, always a washing machine and a year’s or a lifetime’s supply of household cleaners. Items for the laundry and the kitchen! The sort of things that a Queen would be needing after the magical day had run its dizzying course.

There was a lot of weeping on Queen for A Day. The contestants wept as they told of their difficult circumstances. The audience wept as they leaned in to hear of the contestants’ difficult circumstances. And, there were tears, for sure, when one lucky – well, unlucky – contestant was selected to receive the amazing gifts and prizes.

For all the weeping, Queen for the Day was a popular show. According to my research, the show was aired on radio and then television for 17 years – from 1947 through 1964. And thereafter, there were several, largely unsuccessful, attempts to revive the show. Indeed, those efforts continue to this day. As recently as 2011, a hustler with the difficult name of Michael Worstman, a former executive and producer with various entertainment enterprises, was trying to bring QFD to today’s audiences. He built a website devoted to promoting the concept. The site makes a strong case for the return of QFD. According to Mr. Worstman,

As a brand, Queen for a Day has worldwide recognition, stature and historical significance and is ideal for advertisers who desire to strongly connect with consumers. Queen For A Day is a relevant and seamless way to integrate appropriate lifestyle products into the show in support of ad campaigns and product launches. Consumers who see others becoming excited about a product or service can stimulate a desire to want it too. And in some cases, the gifts contestants receive can be life changing. And that’s powerful… 

I want to support the case for bringing back Queen for a Day. I love a good reality show – the cheesier the better as far as I am concerned – but I can’t do it. I can’t stomach the fact that some of the contestants lost. Sure they got consolation prizes, but how pathetic to have appeared in supplication before a national television audience parading your family’s pain and misery for all to wallow in, only to be judged by a jury of your peers not to have had it bad enough to merit the title of Queen For A Day. That was harsh.

I know, I know. This is real life; there is too much anguish out there. There just aren’t enough kitchen gadgets to assuage it all. That’s probably why the host ended each show with a bit of wistfulness: “This is Jack Bailey, wishing we could make every woman a queen, for every single day…” But I am sorry. That was the problem with Queen For A Day; they did not understand that reality TV shouldn’t be too real.

       * * *

Jay Duret is a San Francisco based writer and illustrator. His novel, Nine Digits, published by Second Wind Publishing, will be available in 2014. Jay welcomes feedback at jayduret@yahoo.com.

To experience the glory of QFD in its prime, click here and then click on the tab marked “voting”.





Filed under writing

Trailers For Sale or Rent by J J Dare

I have too many muse-inspired ideas for new books that stay ideas and never develop into writings. Over the past year, these ideas spring forth at least twice a week. It seems such a shame to waste them by letting them sit in bored solitude in a folder on my desktop.

Since I have an abundance of ideas and no true inclination to do anything with them, I’ve decided to find them new homes. I’m trying to figure how best to do this.

1. Ebay is always an option. A while back, a guy attempted to sell his soul online because he “didn’t need it anymore.” If the precious essence of a human can be sold at auction, the skinny beginnings of a book should fare well enough.

2. Donations. I could always donate my ideas to the less fortunate. I’m sure there are a few writers out there who would welcome fresh inspiration and developed characters. Would this be considered a charitable donation? I could use the tax write-off.

3. Craigslist might be a viable solution. Although I’ve never sold anything through this medium before, I know people who have. I’ll have to word the listing carefully since I don’t want any misunderstandings when I try to sell a “middle-aged police detective with a drinking problem, receding hairline and trust issues who leads a double-life as a hitman for the Church.” I will have to make sure it’s clear that this is an idea and not a “services for hire” listing.

4. A Writer’s Stand. Instead of a corner lemonade stand, I could set up a writer’s idea stand and sell my minor characters for cheap. Backgrounds and backstories would be extra, of course. I could sell small, medium or large characters for bargain prices.

5. I could sponsor a contest for a character prize. I’m a veteran sweeper (someone who enters sweepstakes and/or contests on a regular basis). I’ll have to check my state’s laws to make sure it is legal to sell a personality. I live in the South and if my neighbors can sell their snaggle-toothed, gator-wrestling selves to the History Channel, I think I have a shot at selling off excess written entities.

I’ll have to mull on this for a bit and see what solution would work best. Since I’ve never sold or donated an intangible item before, it will be new, exciting territory.

What do you suggest doing with stagnant ideas that have no hope of blossoming under your care? Do you recycle characters, trash them or sell them? Is $5 a good starting price? 😉

Trailers for sale or rent.
Rooms to let, fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets,
I ain’t got no cigarettes.
Ah, but, two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room.
I’m a man of means by no means
King of the road.

© Roger Miller

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

Facebook addiction


Filed under Humor, writing

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Autumn, the winner of the free ebook of Love Trumps Logic by Lucy Balch. Autumn, if you don’t receive it in the next few days, check your spam folder. If it’s not there, leave a message here. We want to make sure you receive the book!

For all of you who didn’t win the ebook, you still have a chance to win a signed print copy of Love Trumps Logic. You can find the rules here: Prizes and Giggles and Games, Oh Yes!

Lucy Balch’s release party is still going on. You can find all sorts of fun here: Help Us Celebrate the Release of Love Trumps Logic by Lucy Balch. If you love jigsaw puzzles, be sure to click on the photo of the Love Trumps Logic book cover we have a treat for you! Oh, heck — I’ll make it easy for you. Click here for the jigsaw puzzle.

Thank you, everyone for making the online book launch so much fun! Hope to see you here more often.


Filed under books, fun, writing

Help Us Celebrate the Release of Love Trumps Logic by Lucy Balch

Second Wind Publishing is proud to present our newest regency romance, Love Trumps Logic, by Lucy Balch:

When suitors are baffled by Miss Fiona’s scientific turn of mind, her mother tearfully predicts that her daughter will be doomed to spinsterhood—until Lord Henry comes along. Nicknamed “the Mad Scientist,” Henry appreciates Fiona’s mind as well as her face. Fiona thinks she’s found the perfect husband in Henry until notorious Lord Beaumont crashes through her neatly laid plans.

To celebrate, Lucy is sponsoring a contest to win a signed copy of Love Trumps Logic, along with a surprise love-inspired gift and a vial of Arnica (a homeopathic remedy for sore muscles). You can find the contest and the rules here: Prizes and Giggles and Games, Oh Yes! 

In addition, we are giving away a free ebook of Love Trumps Logic. All you have to do is go to Free Regency Ebook! and leave a comment. One lucky person, chosen at random, will win a copy of Lucy’s long awaited regency romance. Hurry! You only have two days to enter — Sunday February 28 and Monday March 1.

If you are not one of the lucky winners, we have a consolation prize for you. Just click on the photo of the cover of Love Trumps Logic and have fun!

And here’s more fun:
Read the first chapter of Love Trumps Logic by Lucy Balch
Find out more about the characters and read an excerpt of Love Trumps Logic by Lucy Balch
Read A Never-Before-Seen Interview with the Hero of Love Trumps Logic by Lucy Balch

Click here to buy: Love Trumps Logic by Lucy Balch


Filed under books, fun

And the Winners Are . . .

Thank you everyone who stopped by to participate in our new release party. The winners of the three ebooks are:

Kim C. — Backstop

Hurrie — Stormy Weather

Liza Quisisem  — A Gentleman Never Tells

Congratulations to the winners! For everyone else, there are free downloads at the Second Wind Website: Freebies

There is still a chance to win a signed copy of Backstop — J. Conrad Guest is sponsoring a contest, and all you have to do is write 200 words about your most memorable baseball date. You can find the information here: Backstop Launch Celebration

You also still have a chance to win a signed copy of A Gentleman Never Tells — Jerrica Knight Catania is offering a quiz for all you regency buffs. You can find the quiz here:  Regency Quiz and Giveaway!

And if storms are your thing, you can win a book and photos of stormy weather from Sherrie Hansen: Stormy Weather Contest – Check It Out!

And finally, there are puzzles for everyone. Just click on a cover and have fun!


Filed under books, fun, writing

Sweet release

Time to celebrate, people. Our book, One Too Many Blows To The Head, is out and burning up the Amazon charts. We also share the spotlight with two other excellent Second Wind thrillers, False World by JJ Dare and Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram. Below you read all about the myriad of ways to win a free copy of each of these books. Why would an independent publisher just give away books? Because we’re that confident you will be back for more.

For our book, it is at the stage where people are getting through it and I’ve gotten some very kind emails and personal comments calling it “very engrossing” and a “page turner”. Yes, I know people who speak like book reviewers apparently. Jennifer and I just did our third interview this month. The train is rolling down the tracks.

And yet in the middle of this momentum I am hopping off the train and catching a plane to China. We got our travel dates and consulate appointments to complete the adoption of our second daughter. Exciting news but it is hard to leave my new “baby” back here in the states all alone. Oh, we’re taking our first daughter – I’m talking about the book.

Good thing I have a co-parent across the country ready and able to care for the little one while I’m gone for three weeks. Jennifer will have to hold down the fort and keep the hype building on the book.

Once I’m back though – look out 2010! One Too Many Blows To The Head is only going to get bigger.

Here’s how to win free books:

I am having a Free ebook giveaway of the latest thrillers! Tell us an experience based on one of the new releases, and you might win that ebook. Click here for information.

J.B. Kohl invites you to “Tell Me About it. Maybe I’ll Give You A Book.” Write a 500 word short story about a flawed character. Click here for information.

JJ Dare is sponsoring a “False World” Story contest. All you have to come up with is 50 words. Click here for information.

If writing isn’t your thing, Pat Bertram is having a Treasure Hunt! Click here for information.

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Filed under writing

New Releases From Second Wind Publishing. Let’s Party!

SecondWind Publishing is pleased to announce the release of three new thrillers: One Too Many Blows To The Head, by J.B. Kohl and Eric Beetner, False World by JJ Dare, and Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram.

What is more exciting than three new releases from Second Wind Publishing, LLC? Four new contests!

Eric Beetner is having a Free ebook giveaway of the latest thrillers! Tell us an experience based on one of the new releases, and you might win that ebook. Click here for information.

J.B. Kohl invites you to “Tell Me About it. Maybe I’ll Give You A Book.” Write a 500 word short story about a flawed character. Click here for information.

JJ Dare is sponsoring a “False World” Story contest. All you have to come up with is 50 words. Click here for information.

If writing isn’t your thing, Pat Bertram is having a Treasure Hunt! Click here for information.

What is more exciting than four new contests or three new releases? Two great games to play! Click on the photo to find the game.

And what is more exciting than four new contests, three new releases, two great games to play? One free download! Click here to get a free download of the Second Wind Publishing Mystery Sampler ebook.

If you prefer to read online, click on one of the covers above to read the first chapter of the novel.


Filed under books, fun, writing


Twice in my life that I know of, I’ve had original creative material stolen by others.

Once I drew a cartoon of a peacock for a friend.  He knew I had been a caricaturist while I was in grad school and asked if I could create a certain image for him.  I didn’t ask him why he wanted it.  Imagine my surprise when the cartoon I drew ended up being printed on hundreds of t-shirts for a corporate event.  The really galling thing was that the t-shirt shop took credit for the design.  I thought long and hard about how to handle it, and finally just decided to forget about it.

A year or so later, I opened a monthly newsletter from another branch of the outfit I worked with and began to read a column written by a younger friend, a protégé of mine.  His column was word-for-word exactly what I had written the month before.  There was no attribution to me anywhere in the article.  Indeed he went to pains to make it appear he had written it.  Once again I wrestled with what to do about someone using my original material without my permission.  And once again, I chose to do nothing.

There was eventually a third occasion in which I encountered plagiarism—the attributing of creative work to oneself that is actually the work of another.  While I was researching my doctoral dissertation, reading mountains of books and articles—everything in print, it seemed—about one minute topic, I found a quote in a newly published thesis that I had read and annotated several weeks before in an old book.  I sat staring at that unattributed quote, wondering what would happen to the “scholar” who used it as his own creative work if I pointed out to the right people what he had done.  In the long run, partly because the thief’s dissertation was pretty lousy anyway, I did nothing.

This past week I’ve been revisiting those three experiences and asking myself if I did the right thing.  Not pointing out the use of my cartoon on the t-shirts probably cost me a couple hundred bucks at a time in my life when I could have used it.  Apart from that, those instances of plagiarism seemed to me to do no harm.

Last week, however, I encountered plagiarism again and this time it could not be ignored.  To make a long story short, it was brought to our attention that an individual had entered a short story in our Murder in the Wind anthology contest.  The story was quite excellent, a finalist for inclusion in the anthology.  The only problem was, the purported author had not written the story at all!  The story had been published by its true author on the internet.

When we discovered what had happened, we immediately 1) removed the story from the “visible” part of our blog (we’ve kept the illegal submission and accompanying emails should we ever need to document what happened); 2) apologized profusely to the true author; and 3) banned the person who submitted the story from submitting to or participating in any Second Wind process or contest.  This was a case where real personal and financial harm could have been done to the author and also to our new publishing company.  Had Second Wind published this story in one of our anthologies, in addition to the financial nightmare it would have created, there would have been a stigma associated with us indefinitely.

For these reasons, as the Publisher of Second Wind Publishing, LLC, I want to affirm it is our permanent operating policy that only original material can be submitted to Second Wind for publication or for inclusion in any of our contests or promotional events.  Should any person be found to have submitted plagiarized material, that person shall be banned permanently from participating in any Second Wind literary process or event.

There are so many wonderful, unpublished authors out there, so many delightful story ideas and possibilities yet to be created.  Why on earth would anybody take something that belongs to someone else and represent it as her or his own?  —Mike Simpson


Filed under books, Mike Simpson

Funny and Sweet – Time’s running out!

My friend Bearman is doing a great thing http://beartoons.com/2009/06/01/beartoonscharitydrive/

Not only is he a very entertaining cartoonist, but he’s also going to donate to the FreeStore FoodBank.

Bearman makes a good point, not just with his generosity but that a lot of people have lost their jobs and a lot of people are grateful they are still employed.

Thanks for everything, Bearman. I needed a good blog! Bearman is only doing the promotion for another week so jump over and help out.

Also, there’s only a week left for submissions to the Murder On the Wind contest.  This is your chance to enter to have a short story posted in a mystery anthology. Read the instructions and email your 5000 or less short mystery story to Tracy@secondwindpublishing.com

Thank you!


Filed under writing

Never take a dare?

            As a child I was warned never to take a dare and I thought I had learned that lesson pretty well.  When my playmates dared me to hop over fences that restrained bad dogs, when buddies dared me to race my ’68 Malibu down main street of the little Oklahoma town where I grew up, when college classmates dared me to try certain chemicals to “expand my consciousness,” I always refused those dares.

            Then, in the spring of 2008, decades after anyone had challenged me to do anything, along came a dare—and for the first time I wasn’t smart enough to refuse it.


Someone ought to do something!

            By way of explanation, let me say that I entered one of the famous novel contests on Gather.com.  I heard about the First Chapters Romance contest on the next-to-last day to receive entries.  It seemed simple enough: all I had to do was have a completed romance novel and to submit the first chapter of it.  Hey, it was free.  As it happened I had a novel that, if you closed one eye and held your mouth just right, you could pretend was a romance.  It wasn’t “traditional,” with a pure (and beautiful) heroine and a virtuous (and muscular) hero, but it was more of a romance than it was anything else.  I sent it in.

            The upside of the contest was that I got to read and interact with nearly 300 other writers who submitted the first chapters of their romance novels.  I was struck by the variety and quality of their work.  My novel, I quickly discovered, was not the only “non-traditional” entry.  In commenting on the first chapters of others and in responding to the comments made about mine, I began to make friends with a number of other writers.  I considered it an honor to be included by these romance folks, in part because I was often the only guy.

            A couple important realizations came to me during the FCR competition.  First, if your romance didn’t “fit the mold,” it wasn’t going very far in the contest.  After all, first prize (“only prize,” we were told) was a publishing contract.  The well-known publisher—who reserved the right, incidentally, not to publish any of the books—certainly was not interested in a manuscript that did not conform to the romance mold.  The second realization, that became even more onerous to me as the FCR progressed to its second round (twenty-five semi-finalists submitting their second chapters), was the recognition that only one of these authors was going to get published.  I had long since decided that more than a dozen of the writers in the contest were deserving of publication, most of whom had manuscripts that fit the traditional romantic mold quite well.  That only one writer would emerge as a published author did not seem fair to me (by way of complete disclosure, there were actually two publishing contracts awarded at the end of FCR).

            Just about the time the FCR ended, along came a second Gather.com competition, the FCC (First Chapters Crime—for mystery and detective novels).  I just happened to have one of those lying around as well.  So I entered the FCC.  My experience confirmed the two observations I made in the romance contest: genre publishers are only interested in books that fit their mold perfectly and there are plenty of quality books that fit the mold but never get published.

            From these observations, I began to see the whole publishing industry in a different way—or you might say I began to see it as it truly is for the first time.  At the risk of overstatement, I came to view the traditional publishing industry as a great, heavily fortified castle surrounded by a moat and abiding in the center of Literatureland.  At certain points around the moat there are drawbridges where the ordinary peasants of Literatureland may theoretically seek entrance to the castle, bearing their humble manuscripts.  These entry gates are manned diligently by a special group of guards called “agents”(surprise; turns out the agents may get paid by the writers, but they’re really working for the industry).  To gain admission to the craggy castle of Literatureland, one must bow down and surrender one’s cherished manuscript to a guard.  The guards, more often than not, will refuse the entreaty of the peasant and encourage the humble writer to go find another guard who’s having a better day.  Lot’s of writers go all the way around the castle and never find a guard who’s willing to deal with her or his manuscript.  It should be noted that, on those occasions when an author does find an agent who likes the manuscript enough to take it across the moat, there is no assurance the guard will actually be admitted into the castle with the manuscript.  Apart from getting a portion of whatever financial reward the peasant may receive from the nobility in the upper reaches of the castle, the main function of an agent is to provide an extra barrier to prevent publishers from actually having to deal with writers. Okay, that’s enough whining about Literatureland.


The Dare

             As I moved on through the first chapter contests, I continued to complain to my fellow writers about the difficulty quality writers have in getting a fair hearing and about the “homogenizing” effect of the industry.  Finally my friends got really tired of listening to my complaints and issued a dare: “Mike, if you don’t like the system works, then why don’t you start your own publishing company?”

            What was I thinking?  I took the dare.  At the end of May, 2008, Second Wind Publishing, LLC, came into being.  By the end of July, I had accepted a dozen and a half manuscripts.  By the end of September, the first batch of books was in print.  As we close in on the end of 2008, about seven or eight more are about to be published.

            You can find out about our brand new company and you can even submit one of those not-quite-traditional, previously-overlooked manuscripts you have lying around.  Just go to the website.  There aren’t any castles, moats or guards.


Mike Simpson, owner and frog prince of Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under books, fiction, Mike Simpson, musings, writing