Hook Mr. Grisham: By writing a great short story

news-grishamConvince him (with your story) that you're the next big thing.
FILE PHOTO BY TOM DALY

2010 was a busy year for John Grisham. Not only did he come out with another legal thriller, The Confession, but he also found the time to write a novel for young adults, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer.

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 $250, and third place $150.

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 16. This year's Festival hotshots–- besides you!–- include Kathryn Stockett (author of the bestseller The Help), Kathy Reichs (whose books inspired the Fox series The Bones), David Shenk (author of The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ is Wrong), and PBS mainstay (as well as prolific novelist) Jim Lehrer.

The Rules
• All manuscripts must be typed in 12 pt. or larger font, double-spaced, on 8 1/2" x 11" paper.
• All manuscripts must be bound with at least one staple at the upper left corner and must 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.
• 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.
• By entering, you give the Hook permission to use your name, story, and even your smiling face in our pages and on our website. A new rule we started last year is that 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 does not want to read essays, memoirs, and slices of life. He will not read cover letters. In fact, he judges the stories blind, so he will not ever see your name (unless you win, of course).
• 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.
• 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. Any fees received exceeding the $1,000 prize-money will be donated to Grisham's ball park.

Deadline
5pm, Tuesday, February 1. We are very strict and don't care about postmarks; the manuscript must be in the Hook newsroom by that time and date.

Mail or carry your entry and fee to:
Short Story Contest
The Hook
100 Second St. NW
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(Questions? Call 434-295-8700 x 236)

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 3.

25 comments

@jeezlouise Please troll elsewhere.

Take a look in the mirror, and ask yourself, "Who is posting whiny political rants on a story about an apolitical writing contest?"

Sharon, my guess would be that the local weekly and the local author doing the judging might want to have a local writer win.

Thank you, guys for all the pearls of wisdom. so far I've learned that liberals whine as opposed to other-than-liberals; I should worry about my $5 fee ending up in Perriello's pocket; it is wrong that a local magazine make a contest for local writers; people follow a contest even when they don't like the sponsors or the judge. I was confusET (pronouncet with a spik agcent)now I'm enlightet!
But, as Mark Twain said, "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."

I was sad to see that entry this year was limited to counties near Charlottesville. What is the reason for this change?

Maybe I'll write a story about a rape in Charlottesville .... oh, that's right .... he's probably already seen my website and knows the Accused.....

Sorry, above I was speaking of Grisham's newest book, The Confession.

A recent review on amazon.com convinced me to pick this book up....

"I am an avid reader and have read countless legal thrillers over the years. As a retired Federal Judge with 24 years of experience, I can tell you that you will never find a more realistic portrait of how the legal system works and, more importantly, how often it does not. Run do not walk to your bookstore and grab this one. You won't be sorry."

550+250+150 =950
So, who gets the other fifty dollars?

It would be a lovely to have one very important piece of information; what forms of payment are accepted and to whom should we make them out to?

I missed last year opportunity, but this year I'm game. Question: Does the story has to be a legal thriller? Is it open to other genres?
Mercedes

@Michael- please make your check payable to: Forest Lodge LLC. Thank you.

I have a great story: A man, let's call him Ned, was in the forest near his home in the mountains, hunting. Times were hard and he needed what he brought home from the hunt to feed his family. Ned sees a deer or possibly an elk through a clearing and fires! He misses the animal but notices that his bullet has found another mark. Bubbling up from the depths is a black, gummy substance that at first confuses Ned. He has never seen this type of substance in this setting. It appears to be oil!
Well, after a whirlwind of activity involving lawyers, oil companies and kinfolk, Ned heeds advice and packs his family and his new found wealth and departs for a new life elsewhere. After much deliberation and stress Ned has decided that California, specifically Beverly Hills is the place they ought to be. He has heard about things like "swimming pools" and wants to be a part of a place so different than what he is used to. Ned places a large portion of his considerable wealth in a local bank and begins what will turn out to be a rocky but often amusing business relationship with the bank manager.
The End of Part 1.

surly and old- that's the short story! $50- SHORT! Start writing!

Oh my, this is my first opportunity of searching contact info for Mr. Grisham. For the last 3-4 years I have been in the utmost situation and swore over and over that reality is stranger than fiction. People that know my story cannot believe it including the lawyers involved!! They say my situation should have been resolved years ago or at the very least within a REASONABLE TIME FRAME. I have been one of those people that could write stories about my life but truly this one in particular is right up YOUR alley. (Reminds me lot of The Testament except this is different and a TRUE story). I have been wanting to share this with Mr. Grisham but not for winning a contest, but merely because I believe this is worth publishing and would permit him to do so. It involves my 93 year old husband's inheritance from his parents and what should have been divided equally between him, his 97 yr old brother (with no children), his older sister (now deceased but with 7 children) and younger 88 yr old brother. My husband has 5 children by his first wife (deceased) and now another with me. Oh what a tangled web we weave. It is about land, money, greed, legal rights, 6 different lawyers. and years of disputes. I would not have taken the time to write if I did not think this was truly a chart topper. PLEASE CONTACT!!

@jeezlouise...Everyone hugged and the world was a better place.

Guess they did have that warm fuzzy feeling for a bit....

ââ?¬Å?Who is posting whiny political rants on a story about an apolitical writing contest?”

I see you are a fiction type of guy.

Title: Yes We Can!

Everyone hugged and the world was a better place.

The End.

"Deadline: 5pm, Tuesday, February 1."

I think a little more advance notice would have been nice. This should have been posted back in December.

My entry.

Title: Perception vs Reality

Liberals whine. Liberals really do whine.

The End.

Because obviously Grisham is great at picking winners...

(as he stands in front of a Hillary for President backdrop)

@surly and old- the remaining $50 goes to Tom Perriello.

Austro- $50 to Perriello? Why? Do we owe him?

Al- apolitical? Look at the backdrop in the picture of Mr. Grisham

Hawes???

"Authoress January 4th, 2011 | 3:55 pm

It would be a lovely to have one very important piece of information; what forms of payment are accepted and to whom should we make them out to?"

Ha! The rest of our money's going there anyway, right?

Cash and checks payable to the Hook will be fine.--hawes

2011 Hook Short Story Contest rules:

make sure your story ââ?¬Å?hooks” us from the first page, and please make sure it offers conflict, dialogue, action, and resolution. Mr. Grisham does not want to read essays, memoirs, and slices of life.

2010 Hook Short Story Contest results:

Judge Grisham described her winning story, "Pockets," as a "gritty slice of life."

http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2011/01/04/hook-mr-grisham-by-...

http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2010/03/18/Fiction-shortstory2010%20c...