Monday, March 28, 2011

Contest Results

Okay, here we go. After much deliberation, these are the Prize Winners of the First Pop Lit Story Opening Contest:

FIRST PRIZE: Anthony Jones for “The Diadem.”

First Prize is the Elvis 3-dvd set.


Second Prize is the cd reading of J.D. Salinger’s “Teddy” from

THIRD PRIZE: Tom Hendricks for “3.”

Third Prize is a copy of the very rare "Pop Literary Gazette,” which came out in 1998.


All three winning entries fit the contest requirement of being a good opening to a story—the hook, the lead-in, is all.

The typo in “3” was enough to bump it to third, in my estimation.

That left the tiebreaker between the other two. For me, “The Diadem” was just a tad tighter in execution. But I could’ve flipped a coin and not done wrong.

(I have a rough idea who “XXXXXXXX” is. If he’s not tracked down, then awards will be adjusted accordingly—Len Kuntz will move up to Third.)

I’d like the thank the three judges for doing a fine job—and all the entrants as well. There was much very good from which to choose.



Lynn Alexander:

Hello, Everyone. Glad to participate with you guys in this fun contest. I am glad to see some familiar faces in the entries!
I am not sure if I am supposed to send my top three to all, but here we go:
1. Tom Hendricks (my favorite)
2. David Biddle
3. Wred Fright

Now I asked if we should include comments or explanations, and I am willing to discuss/debate my reasons if anyone is interested.
In summary:
-I think that these three entries had a minimal amount of spelling/grammar mistakes, they were pretty clean.
-I could actually see these three entries as "openers", as a launching point, a foundation on which to build a longer work.
-In general, the openers were diverse, and interesting. Some just did not suck me in at all. But for the most part, good effort.

-Tom Hendricks' entry was simple, but had an element of poetry, it was broad and gave me the sense of a panoramic about to close in soon on characters and settings about to unfold. I think he got it, and delivered.
He did not feel the need to rush into details, the way some others did. His opening was easing, coaxing, prodding.
Some of the others felt like a rush to throw shit, like an eviction... not welcoming, not establishing a zone at all.

David Biddle's entry had an element of quirkiness that gave me the sense that a longer work could expand on the setting he established, and the suggestion of sex to come was a good hook.
It was a bit of a yawn yuppie read, with some of the trademarks of the chick-lit so many are going for.. but that IS an important market right now. And this is "pop lit" so I let go of my distaste for the style and on the merit of an opener, I ranked it second.

Wred Fright is obviously a friend of the crowd, and I did not want to give him more sway- but his entry was funny. The reason that I ranked it third is because I don't think the tone and gimmick is sustainable.

I could see Wred Fright doing a collection of similar stories, in which this would be one. But I don't see a long work coming from it without some re-thinks.


Allie Dresser:

Glas by XXXXXX -- this was so well done that I found myself writing multiple continuation storylines in my head to this opener.  I could see it as a TV show script, a movie, or a good book.
Storm Lake by Len Kuntz -- Smoothly and professionally written as though he plucked a book off his shelf and typed out the first paragraph.  Tons of depth, background, emotion, and struggle. This is the kind of book that would be in Oprah's Book Club.

Bob's Escape by msandidge -- A true starter: it sucks the reader right into the scene, it creates tension, sets up a plot, and makes the reader wonder what the escape is and what the hell the place is. Nicely done for under 200 words.
There were others that I enjoyed, but were more self-contained shorts than starters as required by contest rules.  A couple of the scifi oriented ones had promise, but were not as well written.

Thanks so much for the inclusion. I had fun reading these.  I always love Lynn's perspective and her comments made me go back and take a second look at several of them.  If for any reason the above picks don't qualify due to anonymity, let me know and I'll nominate another.


Frank Marcopolos:

1.) The Diadem by Anthony Jones

2.) Untitled by John Bobst

3.) Storm Lake by Len Kuntz

My only criterion was: does this opening make me care about the story and want to read more? My 3 picks did that the best, in my opinion, obviously.

I know that the criterion is somewhat vague, but I believe that in this deconstructionist culture, the creation of literature should still have some sense of the mysterious to it.


Winners, please contact me via this blog’s email! I need mailing addresses to mail out your prizes. (I have Tom Hendricks email—not the other two.)

Thanks! And thanks again to all who participated.


  1. FYI: I'll be announcing a new competition, of sorts, at this blog within the next day or two. Namely, the All-Time American Writer Tournament.
    Brackets; 64 contestants, every American writer eligible from Washington Irving on, sixteen seeds-- just setting the thing up should be great fun.
    Stay tuned for more info about this. . . .

  2. Congrats Tom, Anthony, and XXX. Thanks for hosting it King Wenclas, it was fun!

  3. Thanks.
    Btw, "XXXX" turns out to be Pablo D'Stair, quite a small press figure, the major force right now behind Brown Paper Publishing, a pioneer in innovative thinking when it comes to publishing and promoting new literature. The "Glas" was a tip-off to his identity which I was able to follow up. I hope he doesn't too much mind being outed.
    Regarding his participation: it's interesting how nearly every entrant was in his/her own way an accomplished writer. It seems that using an open process led to a kind of self-selection, where only the best and most confident entered. This applies even to Anthony, who turns out to be, amazingly, only 20 years old but already something of a pro.
    The entrants came from a wide variety of sources. Hendricks has been a major figure in the zine underground for decades, usually promoting others. As with Pablo, his entering the contest himself came as something of a surprise.
    We had a very capable writer from the HTML Giant crowd enter, which might be the polar opposite of Hendricks' writing background.
    For me, it all worked out great, because this was in a small way a talent search-- a device to see if there are writers out there able to connect with an audience. The answer is a resounding "Yes!"
    (I've been tinkering with plans for a new-style bookshop to replace the inefficient big box chains. I'm still a long, long way from implementing the plan, so don't anyone hold their breath. . . .)

  4. I'd like to run these top picks in a Gloom Cupboard edition if you all don't mind too much.

  5. Not at all! Do we need to clear it with the writers? Let me know and I'll gladly follow-up with them.

  6. Thank you everyone for letting me play along, it was a lot of fun to read the story openers and it was a good idea.

  7. Karl, Thanks for the opportunity to be of service.