F.J. Dagg–You’ve been THORNED

Literati! I am so pleeeeeezed to announce an avante gard entry by F.J. Dagg, author of Lowlands of Heaven (available on Amazon). The story of Mary and her lamb has never been told with such attention to word. It begs the question, did former story tellers attempt to pull the wool over our eyes? F. …

Literati!

I am so pleeeeeezed to announce an avante gard entry by F.J. Dagg, author of Lowlands of Heaven (available on Amazon).

The story of Mary and her lamb has never been told with such attention to word. It begs the question, did former story tellers attempt to pull the wool over our eyes? F. J. tells the story in a clear, concise style, leaving mutton to chance.

 

James also sent the story with an explanation, which I have gratuitously posted entirely without his consent!  James, you have joined the ranks of the honored, included (twice) Peggy Dobbs, for whom this contest was created.

I suppose I don’t have to post it. I swear, it’s not too late.  OOPS! F.J. Dagg–YOU HAVE BEEN THORNED!

Hey, Thorn,

Here’s my first, um, entry. Contains the phrase (you have to read the whole thing), and is exactly 750…words. Thing is, I’m submitting it only as an entry in the drawing part of the contest, and not the merit part. Why? It’s my gentle, good-natured, tweak-of-your-nose protest against the contest’s random selection aspect.

Assuming I correctly understand the process, here’s a hypothetical: let’s say you receive 50 entries and five of them are drop-dead finalist material based on their merits–all are equally well-done. You agonize over the choice and eventually narrow it down to three. Then you randomly draw three names out the hat (or the bull scrotum–did it go to Moscow with you?) Let’s say my entry attached here is one of the three drawn randomly. The two of the original five excellent stories that didn’t make it to the finals just got royally screwed. My example here is extreme, but it illustrates the fact that objectively poorer stories (I’m sure you’ll agree that at some point of divergence of quality, it’s possible to judge objectively) can easily edge better ones out of the running. The random selection part takes the whole thing out of the realm of a contest and turns it into a lottery. Personally, if I wanted to gamble, I’d spend a dollar on a lottery ticket, because I spend a lot more than a dollar’s worth of effort on writing a story–which is why you haven’t seen me here for a while. (My absence dates to the time you introduced the random selection component.) A final thought: random selection might make sense for choosing among the original five above that tied on merit–it would eliminate the chance of selecting something less deserving. Anyway, my two cents…

I don’t really expect you to post this entry (and think it would be a disservice to your readers to do so), but hey, it’s your show and I’m sure you’ve done stranger things! 😉  I do have a couple of serious entries in the works and will submit them after a bit of polishing. As to the randomness vis a vis my “real” stories to come, well, it’s your house, your rules, and my decision to enter–so, by submitting I accept your rules for this one.

All that said, it’s good to be back in the playhouse, and here’s wishing you all the best in your new place.

Warm regards,
James

AND SO… Literati, here is F.J. Dagg’s entry, sheepish though it may be, into our contest:

Mary

by F.J. Dagg

Mary word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word wordHad word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word

A word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word

Little word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word

Lamb word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word

word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word

word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word

word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word

word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word

word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word word. I swear it’s not too late.

29 comments

  1. Doesn’t the writer trying to get his or her feet wet deserve an undo shot–if in fact it is being offered? There are two sides to this. The generousity I have felt in my own level of endeavor I will never forget.

    • Mac Eagan says:

      I can see both sides of this debate. But (and this suggestion is really more for James than for you, Mike) rather than look at five qualified entries being reduced to three, with two random entries replacing two qualified stories, one could also view it as the best three entries were chosen and then two more were added. In other words, no stories were “cut out” of the opportunity to be finalists.
      I am not sure that there ever is a specific number that can in fairness be used to select finalists. If three, why not five? If five, why not seven? If seven, why not ten?
      We come here either to compete, to offer up our works for commentary/criticism/review, or to find something good to read. I agree with James that competitors (and, I think, readers) would be better served if all of the finalists were deemed the best of what was offered. I agree with you, Mike, that those seeking guidance are better served if their story is randomly included in the finals so that they can offer up something else for commentary. And, since Thorn never tells who was chosen on merit and who came in on chance and circumstance (or, for that matter, how “merit” is determined), it can give the writer encouragement to keep writing. After all, why NOT believe one’s story was chosen on merit? And with such enthusiasm, another story is turned out, a little better than the last one, with suggestions to be offered on how to improve even more.

      • FJDagg says:

        Thanks, Mike and Mac, for your comments. To clarify, I’m all for beginning, emerging–whatever word you like–writers having a forum. Thorn does provide such a forum here and my hat’s off to him for working hard to do it. My objection though, is to the illogical blending of the concepts of “workshop” and “contest.” If it’s a salon, or a workshop, or a writers’ lounge, call it that and let everyone haul out their stuff for everyone else to read and critique. But leave it at that and don’t attempt to designate “finalists,” or “winners.” But if it’s a contest, let it be a contest (and not a salon, workshop, etc., etc.). Let’s respect the meaning of the word, “Contest,” and have finalists and winners judged according to a consistent standard.

  2. FJDagg says:

    Thorn, Thorn, Thorn…I’m shocked that
    you, of all men, the very Guardian of the Word, so abuse such atmospheric…no, stratospheric
    poetry. When the poet flies so high as to negate language, “content,”
    I believe the run of the masses call it, the editor is constrained to pay
    close…no, exquisitely focused attention, to…form. The concatenation of the first two
    paragraphs here buries the second word–the verb! the verb!–of the first
    verse. It is to weep…

    • Mac Eagan says:

      I just watched a documentary on PBS about the Smothers Brothers and their battle against censorship. Thorn is very careful NOT to censor the stories that are submitted for inclusion on his site, so that is not the point/comparison I make in bringing the Brothers up.
      This is more in consideration of the WAY Tommy Smothers fought back – following the rules and breaking them at the same time. I think you and Tommy would get along very well.

    • Mac Eagan says:

      As far as the formatting issues you mention, I am fairly sure none of that was intentional. I have viewed this page on two different browsers and both of them have the same issues: the run-on paragraphs you cite above, and also a change in font size from the concatenated paragraphs to the remainder of the story, err, entry.
      I have seen these issues before on this site. My guess would be that either Bronwyn or Candace (the new interns) walked by as he was preparing your entry for uploading and, being Thorn, he got distracted.
      You may be pleased to know I saw the buried word and your artistically expressed political statement was not lost on me.

      • FJDagg says:

        Mac, I think your theory about Thorn’s being distracted by Bronwyn or Candace makes perfect sense. I congratulate you, too, on your fine discernment that allowed you to perceive the subtle but powerful political message in my story, err, entry.

  3. Ken Weene says:

    Every word has its kernel of meaning; is it not up to us as readers to find that kernel in each one? Why that reminds me of a nursery rhyme.
    You stick in your thumb
    get pricked by a Thorn
    and say boy do I feel dumb.

  4. Parisianne Modert says:

    I’m on FJs side in this debate. If my writing submissions aren’t among the top six by merit in your opinion Thorn, please don’t thrown my name in a hat. If it isn’t, I shouldn’t win anyway and I would never want to replace someone who honestly belongs in the finals more than I do in your opinion. With that said, it is true that it is your contest with your rules. What I hope for most is that you attract writers who will wish to publish with you and make A Word With You Press a financial as well as literary success story. I adore that you shoot from the hip FJ (the J stands for James…ummm) and speak your mind as much as I look forward to your puns and clever insertions Thorn (thorn me anytime – feel fleeced while being on the lamb in Idaho?). So I look forward to your other two entries FJ and your continued humour and generosity Thorn. ‘Now I want all of you reading this to go to your parents’ wallets and pull out all that yucky, dirty green paper and mail it to’ (Soupy Sales reference) Mary Lamb at School Play Ground c/o of Thorn @ A Word With You Press. If you do your parents and you wool be much happier although it is against the rules. I swear it’s not too late, so enter offen and mark your envelopes in c/o of head master Thorn who has been fleeced in the past, but is growing again, so he wool be ready for a Moscow winter.

    • FJDagg says:

      Thanks for your support, Parisianne! And, if you’d be so kind as to overlook the tardiness of my reply, I’d be grateful. (Old age’s memory tricks are sometimes a blessing…but other times, not.)

  5. FJDagg says:

    By the way, if it’s not crystal clear from the context of my email to Thorn (above), please know that this submission was made with my tongue firmly jammed in my cheek, I hereby go on record as withdrawing “Mary” from consideration, including the random drawing. Also, following Parisianne’s good example, I ask that any other submission of mine be excluded from the drawing should it not be chosen as a merit finalist.

      • Parisianne Modert says:

        Alright, point well made Thorn, but consider the business side of the equation. One author who can sell books is worth more than 49 which might write well, but will lose money. Yes, you promote self-publishing, but (there always is a butt…I mean but) don’t you get an itsy-bitsy part of the profits when a book sells into more editions than a limited one-time pressing or almost nobody electronically? If not…lawyer time may be? If it were my publishing business, that one writer would be my focus; although what if you gave a contest and got five of them or dare I say six? What if I for instance suddenly caught on as something other than a plague? Many of us have a backlog of works just waiting to get polished up pretty from the days we were learning our craft. I know I do. Once an author becomes popular and in demand…cash registers!!! So I appreciate the opportunity to increase my skill and I did work very hard as a finalist last time (I’m imagining my name being pulled out of a bull testicule – ew!!!, but yet I felt I delivered at the time as well as I could (I still arrogently believe mine was the second best story in the finals behind Gary Clark’s) Whatever the case…I hope people who are publishing and selling will do so at A Word With You Press rather than elsewhere. There’s a lot of talent on this site in every competition. So choose as you might, but I’d like to see you thrive and prosper as well as your own novels (including “Almost Avalon” here). You have a good friends here who would agree with me on this one. Still you are the editor-in-chips I mean chief so do what you have to do. We’ll still love you and respect you.

  6. thorn
    thorn says:

    I have entered the debate but from the back of the bus. Go back to the carousel and click”interns stoop to billy holders level.”

  7. Stars Fall On My Heart
    Stars Fall On My Heart says:

    You know what? If there’s room on the awesome boat with James and Parisianne, count me in <3 PLEASE don't put my name in the bull sack…or at least just don't let it hang over my head again ;____;

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Stephanie. Let’s say as an example that any of us reach the finals. How do we know whether we were considered among the three best or a lesser value having the luck of the draw? My suggestion is this: The number of finalist is based not in the need for a certian number of finalists, but by top shelf merit only. If there are two, three, four, five or even ten so be it and let the finals include all of them. If there is a clear winner of the first round list them as the person to better. They deserve the recognition and encourage them by offering them a contract to publish with you. May be the prize overall should be a publishing contract rather than money and/or a statue. If no one is deemed worthy of higher publication, then tell us how we have failed with constructive critiques for those coming the closest to being worthy. So far the stories have been amazing to me and I am not easily impressed. Regardless of rules or what to call this competition with humorous and constructive bantering, I am honoured to be in the company of such talent. To use Stephanie’s symbolism…this is a cruise I am loving. Some of the people I value most in life are aboard, so let’s rock those waves together as the crazy, alternative family that we are.

      • Stars Fall On My Heart
        Stars Fall On My Heart says:

        Admittedly, the few times I was ever a finalist–as well as the once I was the winner!–I did ponder whether I was there on merit versus chance. Perhaps it’s selfish pride, but I always hoped that all those times I was on the list was for merit than chance, but I may never know. While I would definitely agree with having finalists based on merit only, I also totally understand why Thorn does what he does. Whenever I joined other contests, I was lucky if the people running them even SAW my work, let alone read them. The contests weren’t like Thorn’s because I never even SAW the other contestants’ works. I never knew what I was up against or what I could learn from the others. I don’t even know if I ever got or had a chance in those contests. In those contests, it seems that the same people every year get to pick and choose the winners. The same old standards, and possibly, the same kind of stories get chosen each year. What kind of chances are those?

        On the playground, it’s more than that. We know each other. We learn from each other. While everyone has their individual talents, we’re all equal because we’re irreplaceable. The chance drawing gives people a chance they probably won’t get on those other contests. It gives them a chance to give it everything they have. It gives them a chance to do something different and to grow as a writer. And it also prevents popularity contests; we celebrate EVERYONE’S strengths instead of falling into the trap of only praising one or a few. Even if you get pulled on a chance, you STILL have to work for the title of champion because you’re going to be expected to turn in another entry. The chance to be a finalist might be merit or fate; but the chance to be the winner is work.

        So I stand by my decision to keep my name out of the ball sack, but I also stand by the current rules of our contests. I rocked the boat one way, now I’m rocking it to the other. Let the boat drift where it will.

        And Thorn, if you get a headache from all the rocking, you have two interns at your disposal now ROFL

        • FJDagg says:

          Good point, Stephanie, about the finalists having to write to another prompt. I had kind of lost sight of that and it does tend to mitigate the “lottery” effect I objected to. Keep rockin’ the boat!

          • thorn
            thorn says:

            James. Due to wardrobe malfunction my entry into this debate is on another blob–oops–blog! Wander over to the post that reads “interns stoop to billy holders level.” i will get to the office tomorrow pm and try to put the text back over here.

        • Mac Eagan says:

          Thank you, Stefanie, for pointing out the finalists have to win the write-off to be declared the official winner.
          There can be great difficulty in choosing winners without alienating those that need improvement – especially in a society that has been conditioning people for a couple of generations now to believe everyone is a winner. I think Thorn’s mix of merit and chance allows him to do that quite well.
          There are really only about three rules that are enforceable in any contest on this site:
          1. Use the prompt as directed.
          2. Meet the word-count requirement.
          3. Turn in your story by the deadline.
          After that, everything only exists inside Thorn’s little noggin. Writing, as a form of storytelling, is an artistic expression and as such will not affect all people the same way. There are times I have suspected that Thorn granted “merit” or used “chance” as a means of including consistently good writers as finalists, even if their story was not the best of the bunch in a particular contest. I have also seen Thorn “bend” the three rules on behalf of what he considers an exceptionally meritorious story in all other regards. I don’t object to that as I see it as Thorn expressing his confidence and faith in another person’s abilities. Thorn knows we all like to win, but he also knows how important it is for everyone to also have fun. I think he has done a great job of moderating his site to accomplish both goals.
          And in case anyone is wondering, I will take a “random chance” entry into the finalists any day of the week.

  8. Diane Cresswell says:

    This is supremely most excellent and I’m laughing with tears in my eyes. I know Peggy is enjoying this one. If the choosing becomes a point of issue…why not put the choices – not limited to three but more into the ‘bag’ and draw from those entries. The the three or more then can be clued in and write another story that places them into the winner category. My 2cents POV.

  9. Mike Casper says:

    FJ, I get ya. But I see this entire writing contest thing as a way to be creative, meet other writers and maybe win some fun prize. Separating the wheat from the chaff is always difficult but that’s why our impervious leader draws his mid six figure payday. I recall a contest prior to the ‘great website hack’ not too long ago where there were three epic entries and two run of the mill stories chosen at random. But each writer’s FINALS entry was better than their initial entry. Clearly, being chosen had elevated their creativity and honed their skills just a wee bit. Isn’t that what competition is all about?

  10. I suppose it is time for the
    Thornicator to enter the debate. the premise of James argument is in
    tirely incorrect. The winner of the contest is NOT chosen by random
    selection. Before I thorntificate, these are the mechanics of the
    process: all entries get posted if they follow the parameters of the
    contest. however no entries are posted that are overtly pornographic or
    denigrate any class of people with the exception of editors.
    I’d
    then select three stories that I consider the best..Ahhh! But there’s
    the rub! My own tastes are entirely subjective. having a majority of our
    readers agree with my tastes does not make them less subjective, only
    more popular. Who the hell am i to judge?
    So I select another three
    stories randomly. I physically write the names of each contestant and
    entry and put them in the bowl scrotum or hat and draw three names. I
    announce the finalists And m. Careful not to indicate if they were
    chosen on merit( meaning they conform to my particular prejudices
    regarding what is good literature) or randomly. I don’t want a finalist
    feeling disadvantaged by thinking they are part of the finals only by
    chance. the truth is that many many stories could easily be considered
    the best of the batch. as you know I only accept bribes to get into the
    finals. by then create an entirely new prompts to which the finalists
    must write and compete. at that point I turn the contest over to some
    other process or judge to determine what is “the best”. A tradition has
    evolved by which the winner of one contest becomes the judge for the
    next contest. This gives everyone of you the very real possibility of
    accepting bribes from a grateful literati.
    It is extremely important
    to recognize That on several occasions The winner of the contest was
    actually a finalist who was chosen randomly. And of course I will never
    reveal who those winners were. I also believe that there is among us a
    shared objection to traditional publishing Whereby publishers became a
    filter deciding what is good or bad literature and what should be
    published. A Word with You Press is like an occupy mainstream movement.
    We will not let our values dictate what is publish worthy simply because
    we are in a relative position of power to do so. It is a writer’s duty
    to be opinionated. It is my duty not to be.
    One final note: over the
    lifetime of this site I have received writing from the same people that
    to my subjective tadte has been mediocre. But sometimes( more often than
    I can recall) that same writer will find their stride and deliver
    something that is absolutely breathtaking. our job, yours and mine, is
    to encourage that opportunity for everyone and then stand back and watch
    the magic

  11. Guest says:

    This submission was/is a CAGE HAPPENING. This contest is also not a democracy (at least that wasn’t in @55deff03924a10cd2ac5046a12c11f0c:disqus’s contest rule guidelines). I don’t know where I stand in the “debate”. But I think this submission is sarcastic, flippant, tongue-in-cheek, and HIGHLY entertaining IF ONLY FOR YOU GUYS COMMENTS!!!!

  12. This submission was/is a CAGE HAPPENING. This contest is also not a democracy (at least that wasn’t in AWwYP’s contest rule guidelines).

    I don’t know where I stand in the “debate”.

    But I think this submission is sarcastic, flippant, tongue-in-cheek, and HIGHLY entertaining IF ONLY FOR YOU GUYS COMMENTS!!!!

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