SHORT STORY CONTEST- A time to write: Grisham returns as judge and jury

John Grisham

You've read stories by John Grisham, but now he wants to read your story. Even though the world-renowned author of The Firm, A Time to Kill, and his recent non-fiction hit, The Innocent Man, has a new book called The Associate slated for publication later this month, 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

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

The grand-prize winner receives $700, second place $200, and third place, $100.

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 18. This year's Festival hotshots (besides you, of course) include another lawyer turned novelist, David Baldacci, Duke professor Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational (on the timely topic of behaviorial economics), as well as Big Stone Gap's top native novelist Adriana Trigiani, author of the upcoming Very Valentine.

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 one staple at the upper left corner, and 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 this 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!

Those whose stories withstand the steely scrutiny of Covesville's leading baseball booster will be notified by the end of the day Thursday, March 5.

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.