And the Winner is....

 Two weeks ago, I stunned the world of the easily stunned by announcing a bold new contest here on the blog, by which one lucky reader would win a custom-made wand right out of my book All the Paths of Shadow.

Here's the wand, in case you were stranded on a tropical island sans your smartphone when I started the giveaway:

The press went wild. Vast tracts of the internet lit up suddenly with frantic traffic, only to quickly go dark under the unbearable load of emails, posts, and tweets by my threes of loyal fans.  Economies were threatened. Global trade ground nearly to a halt. Sales of wand-dusting supplies and display cases suitable for the presentation of wands surged, if by surged one means increased by an amount so small you'd need a battery of electron microscopes and a talented psychic medium to just to see a hint of it.

Entries poured in.  My ISP even called me, although honestly that wasn't my ISP and was a wrong number anyway.

Fig. 1. Fans Restless As Evening Progresses

Late last night, surrounded by unruly mobs and, oddly enough, the entire cast of One Tree Hill, I printed each name on a precisely-cut rectangle of watermarked 80% cotton paper.  When the last of the innumerable names was lovingly transcribed (an event which miraculously coincided with the depletion of the local beer supply), the names were added to a hand-crafted Fair Trade approved 100% reclaimed upcycled locally-grown vintage folk art container (sometimes referred to as an 'old coffee can' by less sophisticated persons) and shaken vigorously by blindfolded members of the Academy of Film Sciences.

Fig. 2. Close Friends and Special Fans Gather.

The container was then sealed in the presence of my legal counsel (i.e., my dog Thor) before being whisked to the official drawing ceremony, which was moved at the last moment to the work-table downstairs due to legal counsel's unfortunate ingestion of leftover baked beans an hour earlier.  Once the air was cleared, with assistance from a fan, five lit candles, and liberal dispensing of Febreeze Garden Sensations, I took center stage and prepared the audience for the event.

Fig. 2 part B. That's me with the halo. Do I rock a robe or what?

Of course, there were preliminaries to conduct.  The London Philharmonic Orchestra was on hand, to debut composer John Williams' new symphony 'Frank's Wand Giveaway, and I Get Paid in Advance, Right?' in honor of the event. Madonna, after her warm-up act at the Super Bowl, then performed as the Blue Angels roared by overhead and a massive fireworks display lit up the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Fig. 3. Opening Ceremony Fireworks light up the entire Solar System.

Finally, in the wee hours, the time to select the winner of the First Annual Wand Giveaway approached.  After dismissing the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who served as honor guard for the collected names during the festivities, I allowed my co-hosts Morgan Freeman and a hastily reincarnated Marilyn Monroe to open the lid.

Fig. 4. The Winner is Selected as Mankind looks on.

A hush fell over the crowd. Even the churning of the mighty aircraft carrier USS Enterprise's nuclear turbines fell silent, as I reached inside, and slowly if not majestically selected a random slip of paper and held it up in the heart of a dozen blazing spotlights.

Confetti flew. Flashbulbs popped by the million. The moment had arrived.

As an estimated thirteen billion people held their collective breath, I unfolded the paper, and, in a reverent whisper, I read the name.

Fig. 5. Yeah, so this one doesn't really fit. You try to find this many public domain images and see how you do.

But if you missed all that, and shame on you, I'm going to repeat it here...

Maria S., you have won!

Yes, Maria S., you are the winner, which you already know because I emailed you.  But act surprised anyway when CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, and all the other reporters show up your door.  I'd really appreciate it if you could fake a faint, because that go probably go viral and frankly I could use the sales (hello, that's a hint, people, what do I have to do? Click here or I may start crying.).

I'd like to stop and extend a serious and heartfelt thank you to all the people who entered.  Because that lets me know that A) someone out there actually reads these demented rants of mine, and B) See A.  so thanks, folks!  I'll be running another contest soon, so I wish you guys all the best next time.

Maria, your wand is on its way, or will be tomorrow.  I hope you enjoy it, and remember, if anyone in your vicinity should spontaneously grow gills or find that their hair is slowly turning into straw, I'm sure there's a logical explanation that doesn't involve any legal or financial liability on my part.

I'd ask my legal counsel for details, but someone fed him chili, and he'll be the center of his own green-tinted Forbidden Zone until sometime tomorrow...