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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Amazon BreakDOWN Award

Thank you, Amazon.

Thank you for showing me what a stooge I am.

Amazon does this contest every year called the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. ABNA, for those in the know. It's for all the millions of cold novelists left shivering outside of traditional publishing. You got a novel, you say? Well, be one of the first 5000 to enter and you could win a publishing contract and a $15,000 advance.

15 large, folks.

15 big.

Like most writers, I'm not after the money even though I would spend it with a smile. I'm more interested in jump-starting my (for the most part) unknown work. You know, something to get the freight train of money rolling. (Okay, I want the money.)

Last year, my novel The Discovery of Socket Greeny made it to the quarterfinals. This year, though, this year I was going all the way. The Annihilation of Foreverland is off to a great start with great reviews. I wasn't worried about the first round, from 5000 entries to 1000. In fact, I was so confident that the voice in my head sounded a little like Thurston Howell, III.

I just need to get this EASY first round out of the way. It's almost a waste of my time to search the list but, you know, just to see my name. It's going to be much harder when I get to the second and third round--

No name.

I checked it again. And again. Again.

I read all the names, all 5000, just in case it wasn't in order. Then I checked all the novel titles, in case they mixed my name up with someone else. Then I checked a different list, in case they put me in the wrong contest.

Total times reading the list: 12.

This includes the time I checked it two days later. That was yesterday.

I guess that means I'm out.

Friday, February 24, 2012

When the Candyhouse is Rocking

My sister-in-law's family is uber-athletic.

Three kids that eat, sleep and breathe baseball, softball and football. Their rooms are decorated with fatheads of Albert Pujols and shelves of shiny, metal awards. They throw like polished athletes. They own two state championships and only one of them is old enough to drive.

Two. State. Championships. And they're not driving.


We're the artsy-fartsy family. We dance, write, design, skateboard and ride horses. We've hit no homeruns, scored zero touchdowns, and never struck out. Our shelves have never seen a trophy. But we can make one mean candyhouse.

We were challenged to a gingerbread house contest. Two families. Two kits. Add any materials you want, as long as they're edible.

You have 90 minutes.



A State Champion.

Left: Pretzel horse with broccoli pasture and chocolate chip dookie
Center: Fruit rollup halfpipe and pretzel stick framing
Right: Graham cracker outhouse with chocolate "filling"
Corners of house: Lifesaver rainbarrels and pretzel stick firewood
Roof: Broccoli green roof with MMs
 Starburst sidewalk
Broccoli shrubbery

Pretzel wood floor
MM dance floor
Candy cane "exercise" pole.

A trophy, at last.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Two mustaches. One Plane.

I was 22. That was the first time I flew in a plane.

As the jet ascended into the clouds, I had a thought. I need to jump.

Two months later, I talk a buddy into parachuting with me. We spend most of a Saturday learning how to jump and what to expect. Most of that time we're signing documents that clear their ass. In case something went wrong, it was our fault. Not the instructors.

So me and my buddy, each with our cheesy 22 year old mustaches, climb into a small plane with a Jump Master. We have on jumpsuits and helmets. The Jump Master wears shorts and flip-flops. At 3000 feet, we jump out of a perfectly good plane. My buddy goes first.

When the door opens, he turns the color of bleached snow and moves like rigor mortis. It takes a steady hand from the Jump Master to get him out on the wing. He stands just outside the door and looks back.

And then, whooosh.

I go next. This insanity is my idea. I put my foot on the small platform, slightly wider than  my boot. I grab the strut beneath the wing. And, like I was instructed after signing my life away, I step off the platform so that I'm dangling from the wing. I look back at the Jump Master.

Thumbs up.


The static line crashes my chute open. And I'm drifting. Thousands of feet above the ground. I can see for miles.

Slowly, I fall.

Fall to the ground.

If only I could fall that gracefully every moment of my life.