So much to say

The problem with only blogging twice a week is I have to save things up!

1 – Take this from Publisher’s Weekly back in September – Last week’s announcement of the Sobol Awards—in which online submissions from unpublished fiction writers compete (for an $85 fee) for thousands of dollars in prizes and literary representation with Sobol Literary Enterprises, the contest’s sponsor—has sparked debate in the agents’ and writers’ communities.
“The question is if it is a reading fee or an entrance fee, and if that poses a conflict. It is something to discuss, but I am not sure if this is crossing a line,” said Gail Hochman, speaking as an agent at Brandt and Hochman, not in her capacity as president of the Association of Authors Representatives. “The principals of this contest are well-credentialed and honorable, and I don’t think this award wants to take advantage of writers. But it’s a hybrid and it raises questions.”

The Sobol Award will accept up to 50,000 entries, which will be evaluated by tiers of readers who will winnow the field down to 50, to be judged by a panel of authors. Every work will get at least two evaluations. Sobol will agent the manuscripts that win and award 10 cash prizes. Sobol CEO Gur Shomron said the awards will help discover works that fall through the cracks in the current system. Among those working at Sobol are movie producer Sue Pollock; Brigitte Weeks, formerly of Bookspan; Laurie Rippon, formerly with HarperCollins; and Neil Baldwin, formerly with the National Book Foundation.

Yeah well. This week the Sobol Awards were cancelledDear Sobol Writers: We regret to inform you that we did not receive a sufficient number of entries for the Sobol Award, and we decided to cancel the contest. No further manuscript submissions will be accepted. All writers who have submitted manuscripts will receive full refund of their entry fee ($85) and our copies of the manuscripts will be destroyed and deleted from our system.
We wish you success in your writing career and thank you for sharing your work with us. The Sobol Award Staff.

Hmmm. Is it a trend? Does everybody get their money back, and if so, are the organisers of such awards stupid?

In the UK we had the MCNA award, about which I blogged a few times and which also folded its tents before making its £18,000 award to a novelist. People paid a lot less, about £12 rather than $85 but even so there must be something severely wrong with the business model for such awards if they’re not a scam, and so far I think the jury is still out on both these cases.

2 – Then there’s lasers. I’ve been editing a stack of SF this past month and people, lasers do not do what you think they do! Okay, with TV lasers a thin red line emerges and cuts a hole in a solid steel bulkhead and then is used to extract a bullet from somebody’s skull but that’s TV. On TV a six cylinder handgun can fire forty bullets without reloading but none of them will penetrate a tin sheriff’s badge. Equally, women never emerge from a car crash looking like car crash victims and (to get back to SF) all aliens can breathe an oxygen atmosphere, despite our never having found another oxygen bearing planet. For science fiction on the printed page you have to WORK HARDER. You must at least know what a laser is, and most writers seem not to. Bleah. I’m adding to my list of stories that cannot be accepted: dead dog stories, coffee shop romance stories, laser stories.

3 – finally, my year so far. Ren was first out of the blocks, with a story accepted at the Late Late Show, two articles on writing placed last week, and yesterday Kay got her act into gear and had a story accepted at Libbon. Which just leaves Carmel to get a piece accepted for each of my personas to have started January with a paying acceptance.

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