I call it “The Pen” (cue the pyrotechnics because we hardly ever get a theme song and pyrotechnics at our poetry readings)
The judges are an eclectic representation of style and genres:
- Leah Durham
- David Sedaris
- Stephen King
- Amanda Hocking
The contestants were many and varied, but to save time, here are the final five:
- Brad – a mid list author who’s last two publishers shelved his Dungeons and Dragons series under the DIY section in every brick and mortar store in the country.
- Amber – our cute, bubbly Teen author who naturally talented even though she’s written nothing more than poetry and song lyrics before entering “the Pen”.
- Mary Beth – the most mature contestant, has been the president of her writing club five times, yet never published beyond the group’s own anthology.
- Sybil – who is looking for a comeback after her re- tread of her last paranormal romance series as ebooks tanked.
- Susan and Mark – the only writing team still speaking to each other in person. They write mystery novels but their indie publisher just went bankrupt, lost the storage contract and their sales are not high enough for them to be picked up by any other publisher.
Last night the contestants read passages of their work written after a grueling week of coaching and revision with their coach. The production value was high involving smoke machines, projections of odd gears and rain drops and sparkly stuff.
- Amber employed a large Greek Chorus for her re-imagining of the Iliad.
- Brad brought out a bongo ensemble to play while he read his work, Howling. He also distributed marijuana to all the judges in the hopes it would help.
- Mary Beth stole the audience’s heart with her rhymed rondeau dedicated to Sprinkles, her Chihuahua.
(all rights are reserved by the production company).
American voted for their favorite author by downloading the full work from Smashwords at .05 cents each. (All income is divided between the show sponsors and Mark Corker)
The writer who earns $100 first, wins the grand prize.
Highlights of the feedback from the coaches after last night:
- Leah Durham – “Susan and Mark, it seems like you were struggling to hit that metaphor, ease off, let it speak for you.”
- David Sedaris – “Sybil, you had the room, that was a prefect sentence. The best double parallelism we’ve seen all night. But you need to be funnier, you know, I’m funny.”
- Amanda Hocking – “Amber, don’t be afraid of those compound sentences, just breath into them, and take that pause at the semi colon. Although I don’t think compound sentences earned any author much money.”
- Stephen King – “Mary Beth, I can’t believe the dog died, that was so moving – I know I’m not the only one here crying.”
Of course, we need lame, behind-the-scene interviews with the strung out contestants, here are the most publishable comments:
- “Amber’s style is so natural, I had a lot of red-line editing to do before tonight, but I think I’m ready.”
- “I know I’m only 16, but my family is really supportive.”
- “I’m just going out there and read my work and hope American votes for me.”
- “I can’t believe she used the dog story. It was a cheap shot. I wish I thought of it.”
And the Winner is . . .
Amber, who apparently knows more people who are familiar with the complexities of downloads.
Amber was offered a publishing contract with “The Pen” sponsor, Penguin Books. But after weeks hanging out with the other contestants, Amber opted instead for a million dollars up front and took a lucrative speaking engagement offered by Author Solutions that is in no way influenced by the sponsor.
We wish Amber the best, because like winning the Pulitzer, she will forever be introduced as “Winner of “The Pen”” before her name. It’s quite an honor.
You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or newsletter – please include this entire statement, “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from Newbie to Known visit http://www.yourbookstartshere.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary consultation.”