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ENTRY

"Murder Makes the Magazine"
February 7, 2009

The late John Updike and I collaborated on a book. It's true and it's a great conversation starter although it's not as great as it sounds. We never met, and the "book" was a promotion in the early days of Amazon.com when all they sold was books instead of every product available in the known universe.

The promotion worked like this: John Updike started the book with a title and a couple of paragraphs. Each day, anyone could submit the next section of the book. The "editors" at Amazon would select the winning entry--the winner got a cool grand.

And, more importantly, the honor of collaborating with John Updike!

I think there were thirty or forty winners out of the five - seven thousand entries each day. I won early on, I think it was the third day. The title was "Murder Makes the Magazine". The story started out about a frumpy, middle-aged magazine editor, having an identity crisis--pure Updike kind of stuff. The story was moving along kind of slowly in my opinion, so I thought it needed spicing up. And what better way to do it than introduce a previous (and kinky) fling between the editor and the magazine publisher.

Pure Updike.

The only problem was, I came up with this idea only a few minutes before the 6:00 a.m. deadline. And surely if I could come up with the idea of a messy affair, then someone else would too. I dashed off my couple of hundred words and hit send at 5:59 a.m.

A few hours later I was a thousand dollars richer and had a great add to my bio. Interestingly, a friend of mine won a couple of days later; amazing because of the sheer number of entrants each day. I was interviewed in several media outlets about the competition, mainly because I'd so narrowly squeaked under the wire (and possibly because I added sex to the storyline).

There was talk about printing and selling the book but that never happened. Actually the whole story was rather forgettable, despite John Updike's beginning and ending.

COMMENTS

Number of comments: 3
click here to add a comment

Lee Witte
I submitted several entries to the contest. Drove me crazy 'cause I always thought mine was better than the one selected. (Except yours, of course!!)

Jo Reed
5 bucks a word. Not bad! What did Updike make...500?

Todd
I read he was paid ten grand for his contribution, so I guess that's about twenty dollars a word.

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