2012 contest: Grisham will look for savvy short stories

2011 was yet another busy year for John Grisham. Not only did the master of the legal thrill produce The Litigators, but he also managed to release his second Theodore Boone young adult novel: The Abduction.

And now he wants to see what you can do. He has again accepted the challenge of wielding a gavel in the literary world by judging the Hook's annual short story contest.

Prizes and such
The idea that one of the world's top-selling authors wants to read your work should be incentive enough to enter, but wait, there's also the $1,000 in cash prizes.

The grand-prize winner receives $550, second place $275, and third place $175.

Next comes the fame. The grand prize-winning story will be published in the Hook in late March when lots of literary types are in town for the Virginia Festival of the Book.


In addition, all three winners will be officially saluted at the opening event of this year's Festival on Wednesday, March 21.


This year's Festival hotshots–- besides you, if you win!–- include historian Ed Ayers, Grundy native Lee Smith, Ian Fleming's successor Jeffery Deaver, and NBA icon Jerry West (along with his co-author, Charlottesville's own Jonathan Coleman).

The Rules
• We're looking for short stories under 3,500 words that have not been published either in print or electronically. (Any that exceed the word count will be discarded and your fee refunded.)
• All manuscripts must be typed in 12 pt. or larger font on 8 1/2" x 11" paper.
• All manuscripts must be be accompanied by a cover sheet containing the author's name, address, phone, email, and word count clumped within a match-book-size area on the cover sheet so we can temporarily hide your name during the judging. (Entries with your name in a header or footer on each page will be discarded and your fee refunded.)
• Bind the cover sheet and story with at least one staple at the upper left corner.
• By entering, you give the Hook permission to use your name, story, and even your smiling face in our pages and on our website.
• Who can enter: Anyone– professionals and amateur– can win, and everyone retains rights to re-publish the story in other places after it has run in the Hook.
However, entrants must live in Central Virginia, which we define as Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Orange, Madison, Louisa, Greene, Nelson, Fluvanna, and even Buckingham and Augusta.
• In keeping with this newspaper's name, make sure your story "hooks" us from the first page, and please make sure it offers conflict, dialogue, action, and resolution. Mr. Grisham will not read essays, memoirs, and mere slices of life. Nor will he read any cover letters. He judges the stories blind, so he will never see your name– unless you win, of course!
• Please check your manuscript for errors; we can't accept hand-corrected copies.
• No emailed or faxed entries!
• There is a limit of two (2) manuscripts per author. Please enclose your entry fee of $5 for one entry or $10 for two entries (with cash, checks, and money orders accepted). Any fees received exceeding the $1,000 prize-money will be donated to Grisham's baseball park.

Those whose stories withstand the steely scrutiny of the guy who created kid lawyer Theodore Boone will be notified by the end of the day Thursday, March 8.


February 7 update:

The short story contest deadline has passed!

So it's too late to enter the Hook's short story contest in 2012.

To those who entered: Thanks!


Has any smart computer geek run an analysis, based on Mr. Grisham's past winning picks, where his tastes in short stories reside ?

I love this contest, but I would also love to see a separate contest for essay/memoir entries. Those can be so powerful and moving....both a joy to write and to read! How about it?