Friday, October 15, 2010

I Won! Mercedes Won! We Won!

As some of you know I entered a writing contest put on by the City of Las Vegas for the 2010 Vegas Valley Book Festival being held downtown on Nov 3-7.

In fact, almost our whole writers group, The Illiterati, signed up to dominate the competition. And dominate we did.

The indomitable Mercedes M. Yardley and I tied for the $250 2nd place prize. (1st place winner was a guy we had all hit it off with before the contest, Kurt Rice so it feels like we kept the winneryness in the family.)

The judges were Andrew Kiraly of KNPR’s Desert Companion, Scott Dickensheets of the Las Vegas Sun, UNLV writing instructor and Schaeffer Fellow Alissa Nutting, and CityLife’s Mike Prevatt. Prizes were provided by the Vegas Valley Book Festival (thank you!) and my story “The Immortal Art of the Deal” will be published in Las Vegas CityLife magazine. (W00t!)

In addition I’ll be doing a reading of my story at the Vegas Valley Book Festival on Nov 6th at around 10:30am in the courtyard. I know you want to be there. I’m going to wear a cape. And add a few Bollywood dance scenes. It’ll be awesome.

But don’t forget, my fellow Illiterati critique partner, Mercedes M. Yardley also won. I decided to interview her, because every time I tried to interview myself I kept getting into fistfights and suing myself.

In order to get an interview with Mercedes I disguised myself as an intrepid journalist and caught her as she was walking into the Las Vegas Machine Gun store.


Intrepid Journalist: “Excuse me, Mercedes M. Yardley?”

Mercedes: “How did you find me? Where's my Mace? Security!”

*After the Mace has run its course and the interviewer’s eyes have stopped burning.*

Intrepid Journalist: “Ok, so Mercedes, I wanted to ask you a few questions about your surprise win at the Flash Fiction contest—and your surprise near defeat at the hands of Mason.”

Mercedes: “Well, it wasn’t near defeat. We tied. Which is awesome.”

Intrepid Mason: “Well, right. Ok. Let’s talk about you. This was a FLASH FICTION contest, limited to 500 words. I understand you have loads of experience with writing flash fiction. About how many pieces have you published?

Mercedes: “About 50 pieces. Fiction. Poetry. Nonfiction.”

Insipid Journalist: “Poetry. Like haikus?”

Mercedes *with a sharp look that threatens more Mace*: “No.” *A brief uncomfortable pause. Somewhere a dog barks, or something.* “Mason, seriously, what are you doing in that ridiculous outfit—?”

Incisor Jumblist: “Never mind that. What did you feel when we walked into the 5th street school auditorium where they were holding the contest? I felt, I mean… Mason reported that he felt like he was there to take the SAT’s all over again. Were you scared that Mason would lay the smackdown?”

Mercedes: “I was excited. Nothing gets my blood pumping like a challenge, and I was totally digging on the competitive vibe. And as for Mason? Have you seen his spindly arms? Sure, that guy can shred the guitar better than anybody I've seen, but you don't want that pantywaist to move your furniture. I wasn't afraid.”

Invader Jugglist, *looking down at his pants.* “So that’s why these underwear are so uncomfortable.”

Mercedes: “Oh, but you mean writing-wise? Maybe a little.”

*A brief interlude as Mason, I mean, interviewer does a little victory dance that involves the Pee-Wee Herman move repeated far too many times.*

Investigative Jabba-the-Huttist: “So, how much preparation did you undergo for the tie-breaker dance battle in the parkinglot?

Mercedes: “Well, I was pretty warmed up from jumping around the room and screaming, "Yeah! Finished! Booya!" after the writing contest was done. Besides that, I'd been singing "Eye of the Tiger" in my head during the entire competition, so I was pretty stoked. And who can beat this?”

*awesome dance move*

*Mason, I mean, journalist stares with wonder at the power and fractal nature of Mercedes’ dance moves.*

Implacable Burbleist: “It’s a wonder we didn’t open a time-warp nexus with our awesome dance skills. Well, back to the interview: What are some of the challenges and advantages of writing flash fic?”

Mercedes: “The challenges are that it's difficult to condense your story down to its very essence. It takes discipline to make every word count. Also, a lot of people don't take it seriously as an art form.

“But the advantages rock. Flash is great because you get to explore an idea quickly. It's satisfying to write something start-to-finish without it taking months or even years, like a novel. And it's great from a magazine's perspective because sometimes we need something short and sweet to take up a little space in the mag, and flash fits the bill. It's very versatile."

Insensitive Chupacabralist: “Wow, well there you have it. I want to thank you for taking the time to—“

Mercedes: “Hey, is that a giant wombat behind you?”

*Mason turns to look. Mercedes runs away*

[[end transmission]]

A HUGE thank you to Brian Rouff at Imagine Marketing for hosting the contest and providing a wealth of information for this blog post.

The Vegas Valley Book Festival - the largest literary event in Las Vegas - will take place Nov. 3-7. More than 100 authors participate in festival events, which include literary and art panel discussions, readings, book signings, workshops, poetry readings, spoken word performances, exhibitions and other special programs. Most events are free and open to the public.

The Vegas Valley Book Festival is produced by the City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute, Las Vegas Review-Journal, the local chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design; and Nevada Humanities, a festival founder.

For more information about the Vegas Valley Book Festival, call 702-229-5431 or visit


  1. ROCK ON, Instigator Zumbalist! Best. Interview. Ever.

    Oh, yeah, and congrats on winning, too. ;)


  2. Ha! I had NO IDEA you tied Merc for 2nd! She conveniently forgot to mention that on her blog. Wonder how that happened? :)

    Also, this interview deserves a WTF. So here you go: WTF?

    Nicely done, good sir. Congratulations!

    Also, I now want to go to the Machine Gun Store. We'll call it research. >:)

  3. Congrats, you bastard. I'll buy you a drink tonight.

  4. Congratulations to you both. And you guys are insane (but you know that).

  5. Yay! Congratulations to you both.

    The interview sounded so realistic.

  6. Congrats! That's awesome. A most excellent interview as well!! Will this be a regular feature on this blog then? ;)

  7. Yay! Congrats to you both. Now, where can we non-Vegas folks read these award winners?

  8. Congrats on your win! :)