Writing Contest Honorable Mention

January 19, 2015

Back in July 2014, I finished a short story for the first time in several years, and I began submitting it to some well-known professional and semi-professional short story markets. After a few rejections and some “close but no thanks” responses at some of the most competitive venues, I decided on a whim to enter the Writers of the Future Contest.

app-e2bf3e4e7b485b2eceda22f4d0833d4cThis is an international contest run on a quarterly basis and limited to authors with a few professional short fiction sales and no novel sales. Professional authors with very recognizable names judge the entries. Now entering its 32nd year, the contest has stirred a bit of controversy in the past, but well-known and respected authors of fantasy and science fiction stand by its legitimacy, and no one can deny that many of its winners go on to successful careers.

I recently found out that I received an honorable mention for the fourth quarter of the contest’s 31st year. Now, while there’s a handful of finalists and semi-finalists each quarter, there are typically quite a few more honorable mentions. I’m part of a pool of 140-odd honorable mention recipients from the fourth quarter, so I’m not sure if this is even an accomplishment.

That said, I’ve read that they receive thousands of entries each quarter from around the world. On the list of finalists, semi-finalists, and honorable mentions for this quarter alone, I noticed submissions not only from most (if not all) of the United States but also Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. That’s a broad range of competition. Looks like I’m the only one from Wisconsin to “place” this quarter, so there’s that. And I do get a certificate in the mail!

I’ve since sent my tale, “A Bowl of Echoes,” on to another market, so we’ll see where that goes. Another tale is in the works.


Home Alone: A Holiday Beating

December 11, 2014

I just finished watching Home Alone, always one of my go-to movies for this time of year. I think this film hit theaters when I was around 11, and it’s a holiday classic to a lot of people my age.

Pesci burning

Pesci burning up in Home Alone.

Since I’ve seen it dozens of times, I’ve probably been desensitized to the utter horror the two thieves (played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) have to go through in McCaulay Culkin’s sadistic little fun house. This time around, to regain some perspective, I decided to catalog all of the painful incidents. Here they are — all 23 of them — in chronological order, along with which poor soul has to suffer through each. It wasn’t easy to keep up with the steady stream of violence. Enjoy.

  1. BB to the balls (Pesci)
  2. BB to the noggin (Stern)
  3. Slip on concrete steps, back plant (Pesci)
  4. Slip on concrete steps, painful downward slide (Stern)
  5. Slip on door threshold, lands on concrete, crowbar to noggin (Stern)
  6. Slip on concrete steps, back plant (repeat) (Pesci)
  7. Clothes iron descends laundry chute straight to waiting noggin (Stern)
  8. Hand branded by scalding hot door handle (Pesci)
  9. Nail through bare foot on basement stairs (Stern)
  10. Blow torch to the noggin (Pesci)
  11. Slip on door threshold, lands on concrete, maybe crowbar to noggin? (hard to say if this is an exact repeat because it happens off camera) (Stern)
  12. Crazy-glued and feathered via Saranwrap and fan (Pesci)
  13. Broken ornaments embedded in bare feet (Stern)
  14. Slip on Micromachines, back plant on wooden floor (Both)
  15. Paint bucket to face (Stern)
  16. Paint bucket to face, loses gold tooth! (Pesci)
  17. Trip wire, full front flip onto back in hallway (Pesci)
  18. Tarantula to the face (Stern)
  19. Crow bar to chest (Stern’s failed attempt to kill tarantula) (Pesci)
  20. Crow bar to the arm multiple times (Pesci’s retaliation) (Stern)
  21. Rope to tree house cut, death-defying swing that ends with body plant into brick wall of house (Both)
  22. Snow shovel to back of the head (courtesy old man Marley) (Stern)
  23. Snow shovel to face (courtesy old man Marley) (Pesci)

Amazing Stories

February 13, 2014

Amazing Stories Amazing Stories was a television anthology series developed by Steven Spielberg that featured tales of fantasy, science fiction, and horror and ran from 1985 – 1987.  It was graced by some pretty well-known writers, such as Richard Matheson (I am Legend, A Stir of Echoes); a host of even better-known directors, such as Spielberg himself, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorcese, and Robert Zemeckis; and a gaggle of famous 80s actors, like John Lithgow, Charlie Sheen, Kevin Costner, Gregory Hines, James Cromwell, Mark Hamill, Jeffrey Jones, Jon Cryer, Christina Applegate, Christopher Lloyd, that guy who played the jerk Troy in The Goonies…the list goes on.

I remember watching these episodes as a young kid, and some of them stuck with me over the years, particularly “No Day at the Beach,” a rather dark study of heroism set during the invasion of Normandy and featuring a then-likeable Sheen.  I was extremely pleased to see that both seasons of the show have been made available on Netflix streaming.  Now my treadmill runs in this cold winter weather will seem to go just a little faster with the warm glow of 80s nostalgia working its magic.


Book Review: The Scroll of Years by Chris Willrich

October 20, 2013

Book cover: The Scroll of Years, by Chris Willrich

I’ve been reading Chris Willrich’s short fiction for years, and I particularly enjoy his Gaunt and Bone stories. Their lyricism and whimsy seem to fill a void in a fantasy fiction landscape marked by dark, gritty realism. I love dark, gritty realism, but I can only take so much.

I’ve long been hoping that some gutsy publisher would buck the trend and print a compilation of Willrich’s Gaunt and Bone tales to sprinkle some dreamlike fable amidst our worldly fantasy fiction. Instead, this Gaunt and Bone novel arrives.  Even better.  The fantasy fiction shelves need to be stocked with more books like this one.

Willrich injects The Scroll of Years with the same gorgeous prose of his short fiction but still manages to move the story along at a steady clip. It rises to a pulse-pounding pace in delightfully entertaining moments of action and at times slows to a trickle to allow the reader to ponder a bit of philosophy. But it never stalls.  The landscape—described in precise, exquisite detail—is a character in itself (literally and figuratively), and the dialogue is witty and insightful. Through all of this, Willrich weaves his signature threads of antithesis and paradox. There’s enough depth and beauty here to make subsequent readings just as entertaining as the first.

Book Cover The Silk Map by Chris Willrich

He packs this all into about 260 pages, which is impressive, but this may have detracted from the overall story a bit only because it prevents the inclusion of more background about the characters. Gaunt and Bone, and some of the secondary characters as well, have fascinating pasts that readers can only glimpse. This is at once tantalizing and frustrating. Readers well acquainted with Gaunt and Bone will not be deterred, but those meeting the characters for the first time may miss out a little on what makes them so compelling.

I do hope this absence will urge them to read the next installment, The Silk Map, to learn more. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy (and I’m still holding out hope for that Gaunt and Bone short story compilation).


Author Page at Amazon.com

August 14, 2013

Looks like I have an official Author Page up and running at Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/hawkins

Another cool thing I discovered the other day is that a couple of my stories made it into the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.


Facelift for Return of the Sword

August 10, 2013

It appears that Return of the Sword, a Rogue Blades anthology one of my stories was published in a while back, has an all-new look. The revamped cover, still featuring artwork by Johnney Perkins, looks great. I’m guessing it’s still selling well.

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Gaunt and Bone Novel Arrives in September

May 9, 2013

Book cover: The Scroll of Years, by Chris Willrich

This is news I have been waiting a long time to hear. Chris Willrich has taken his characters Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone on an adventure beyond the short form, where they’ve been entertaining readers since 2002, and into the uncharted territory of a novel entitled The Scroll of Years, to be published by Pyr in September.

This is sure to be superb. Willrich writes some of the most beautiful prose I’ve seen in the fantasy genre, and his characters are unique and compelling.


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