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Contest Time! & Weekly Wrap: Group Effort

By Posted on 34 4 m read 1.9K views

It’s been too long since I’ve run a contest. And, since I just finished my novel and sent it off to those who requested it, I thought today would be a good day to give out a prize.

Okay, take a look at the photo:

First person to guess this upcoming LitPark guest wins a day on my blog. I can either interview you, or you and I can discuss together how to feature you and the project of your choice.

Here are the rules:
1. One person, one vote.
2. If you have prior knowledge of my guests, please don’t vote or comment.
3. I will only count votes that appear in the Comments section here (no emailing, calling or MySpacing me).

Good luck, and have fun!


It was neat to see your responses to the question of the week regarding collaboration on artistic projects. In general, it seems that those of you who can stand to collaborate with others enjoy creating something that extends beyond your own imagination or skills. And as someone mentioned, when one of you gets stuck, you can ask the other to jump in.

Interestingly enough, most of you who mentioned that you’re doing a collaborative project with another writer or artist also mentioned that you have not finished that project. Hmmm, I found that very curious. It was also interesting to hear that working together on a project does not satisfy that fire of doing the hard and private work of your own novels or memoirs.

Monkeybicycle, Issue 4

I was about to come here and say that I’ve never done a collaborative project. Certainly, as an editor, I’ve worked on stories and manuscripts that needed so many rounds of editing, it felt like a collaboration. But just as I was about to say I’ve never done such a project myself, I got the following email:

Looking for an exciting, and yet still sobering, book to read? Well then look no further! Issue four of Monkeybicycle is about to hit the bookstores and it’s just what the doctor ordered. With a killer lineup that includes the huge list of names below–and then some–this is going to be our best issue yet! Preorder it today. And check out these contributors if you’re still not sure:

John Leary, Susan Henderson, Sean Carman, Todd Zuniga, Bob Arter, Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Samantha Hunt, Shauna McKenna, Ryan Boudinot, John Warner, Steve Gillis, Tom Jackson, Steve Almond, Terry Bain, Scott Southwick and many more. Get it now!

I’d forgotten about this project entirely. Maybe because this giant collaboration happened so many years ago – I guess Monkeybicycle just now got the funding to print it. And if any of you want literary magazines to stay afloat, let me just encourage you to subscribe to one or two a year.

The collaboration was the wild idea of my friend, the super-fabulous McSweeney’s writer, John Leary. (His Christmas letter cracked me up more than any book written in the past decade.) So Leary came to me and said, “Do you want to be a part of a collaborative writing project about robots and baseball?” And I said, “Oh, Jesus, no. Robots and baseball? I’d rather shoot myself.”

This was the same response I had when someone asked me if I wanted to write political satire as dictionary definitions. Obviously, I’m easily persuaded.

So this turned out to be a fun thing. I don’t know one thing about baseball, so I ended up writing about a town that was in a financial depression, and the hope and the mess that was created in the town when some baseball-robot thingie picked their town for some big Stanley-Cup type playoff. Leary and the others helped me when I got stuck with the baseball bits. I was writing the story around the same time Green-Hand Henderson got pecked near the eye by a rooster, so that went into the story, too. It’ll be fun to go back and read the stories, and it’s heartwarming to know how many of these writers have since gotten book deals.

I understand all of the reasons people have for not collaborating. It’s so fun to stay in your pajamas and be a hermit and listen to the stories that want to gnaw their way out of your head. But I’ll say that a collaboration gets you to create something outside of your safe zone, and that’s an amazing experience. As always, thanks to those of you who answered the Question of the Week: Simon Haynes, Lance Reynald, amy, Bass Reeves, Aurelio, Robin Slick, girlgrey, Aimee, Jesse Lee, Brent Robison, Carolyn Burns Bass, patry, Julie Ann Shapiro, Jennifer McMahon, tao, Sarah R. Roundell, Bruce Hoppe, Jason Boog (great to see you at KGB, Jason!), Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Gail Siegel, mikel k poet, gayle brandeis, and Jonathan Evison.

And thank you to my talented, generous (and too cute to believe) guests this week, Enrico Casarosa, Ronnie Del Carmen, and Brian McEntee! It’s an honor and pleasure.


Have a great weekend everyone. And don’t forget to stop by tomorrow and see who Lance is chatting up.

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What do you think?

  • Simon Haynes
    January 19, 2007

    I have absolutely no idea! I’ll have to keep checking back to see who it is.

  • Ellen Meister
    January 19, 2007

    hrm. Can you give us a hint? Is this guy British? (Something about that sweater says England to me … or Scotland.) If it is, I might have a guess.

  • tao
    January 19, 2007

    i guess richard ford

  • Simon Haynes
    January 19, 2007

    I have to guess someone, so I’ll say James Spring. (Only because you posted his pic last week…)

  • amy
    January 19, 2007

    I have no clue who the photo might be, but mega-congrats on finishing the novel! I hope there’s some champagne in your future.

  • Frances O'Brien
    January 19, 2007

    Is it a happy, little Stephen King?

  • Mary Ellen Preece
    January 19, 2007

    Susan I really think it is you. Too many facial resemblances.
    I think it is a little girl because of the permanent creases in the pant legs. Just a cute sweet little girl.

  • Ellen Meister
    January 19, 2007

    Mary Ellen … lol. I think the crease in the pants is because they’re wool–another hint to me that this little boy is British. In the U.S., if it’s cold enough for wool, we put our kids in coats. The Brits are much tougher about the chill.

  • LaurenBaratz-Logsted
    January 19, 2007

    It’s not me, is it? (Kidding.) Mark Bastable, maybe?

  • Marcy Dermansky
    January 19, 2007

    Hey Susan-

    That is wonderful, wonderful news about finishing your novel.


    I have no idea about the little boy on the swing…

  • Aurelio
    January 19, 2007

    I might already know because of something you mentioned to me, so I better not guess.

    I’m so glad you finished your novel, Susan! Yah-hooooo!!! We’ll be toasting your completion tonight! Congratulations! (Now I have to hurry up and finish mine.)

    Also, isn’t doing this blog a kind of collaborative effort at times? I think it counts.

  • n.l. belardes
    January 19, 2007

    That is definitely Kathryn Hepburn.

  • Susan Henderson
    January 19, 2007

    No winner yet!!!

    Ellen – I’m not giving any hints at all. I enjoy all the wrong guesses too much! (Thank you for the FUN lunch last week!)

    tao – Hi, Tao! Nope, not Richard Ford, though I’d love to have him as a guest.

    Simon – Not James Spring, but I’d get a kick out of seeing him on a swing.

    amy – Thank you! I celebrated early with ice cream!

    Frances – It’s not a little, happy Stephen King, though I would love to see his happy little baby photos.

    Mary Ellen – Are you calling me cute and sweet? I am now a fan for life. The photo’s not me, though. My baby photos look remarkably like the little Bindy Crocodile Hunter girl.

    Lauren – Oh Lauren with all her books on Long Island turned outward, I’m sorry, it’s not Mark.

    Marcy – Thank you. That means so much to me. I sobbed like a baby when I finished.

    Aurelio – I’m afraid you’re barred from guessing. We gossip too much. (Also, thank you. Now get back to yours.)

    n.l. – Isn’t she dead? I’m not that good at rounding up guests.

  • Daryl
    January 19, 2007

    Those eyes are unmistakable. I saw them in a dream recently. The little boy in the photo MUST be Neil Gaiman.

  • Susan Henderson
    January 19, 2007


  • Susan Henderson
    January 19, 2007

    Daryl – You dream of Neil Gaiman, too? I peeked at your webpage and I’m a huge Madcap Laughs fan, so I already know we’re going to have fun. I’ll email you the moment I get one little assignment finished.

    And for anyone who doesn’t know Neil Gaiman’s work, click here:

  • Terry Bain
    January 19, 2007

    Neil Gaiman? Nice. I’ll definitely be visiting this here web thingie one or two more times.

    Also, how come I didn’t get the Monkeybicycle email? Humph. You know, I was just thinking about this project the other day, wondering, “when the heck is that baseball/robots thing coming out?” When I couldn’t find any info, I figured the answer was “never.” So. Good news all ’round. I’ll have to start thinking about world peace soon. “When will that world peace thing be happening?”

    Maybe never.


  • Carolyn Burns Bass
    January 19, 2007

    A haiku for Susan in celebration of completing her novel:

    Ink on white paper
    Lines pregnant with a story
    Now forever told.

    I am so happy for you. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

    And I can’t wait until Monday to play with Neil Gaiman at the park. Have a stellar weekend, Sue-baby Henderson.

  • Robin Slick
    January 19, 2007

    Of course I knew it was Neil Gaiman right away (oh god, he’s even gorgeous as a little boy) but I figured, correctly, that I’d be disqualified. But I’m really stoked for the winner!

    Susan, I am so thrilled for you. Like Carolyn, I cannot wait to hear what comes next…it’s going to be major, that’s a given.

  • Jason Boog
    January 19, 2007

    Thanks for the note, Susan. It was great meeting you finally too. I’m pretty excited about your upcoming guest too. Most of all, congratulations on the novel. That’s a big, big step.

  • Mary Ellen Preece
    January 19, 2007

    So sorry Susan. So much for my intuitiveness. If you looked like Steve Erwin’s little girl then you were sweet and cute.
    Congrats on your book!

  • Gail Siegel
    January 19, 2007

    You finished your novel! Excellent! I hope those who asked to read it are editors and agents and publishers. Good luck.

  • Aimee
    January 19, 2007

    I would have never guessed the right answer anyway! But congrats on finishing your book!

  • Julie Ann Shapiro
    January 19, 2007

    I think it’s your brother or a cousin.

  • Julie Ann Shapiro
    January 19, 2007

    Ooops! I just saw that you revealed who it is. Congratulations on completing your novel. I’m in the tale end of revisions on mine and going through the ups and downs of collaboration with the studio on that other project. No doubt, when this thing is done they’ll be a good story to tell.

  • Myfanwy Collins
    January 20, 2007

    Cute baby!

    Congratulations on your novel!!!

  • kim teeple
    January 20, 2007

    I know I know!!!!

    It’’s..oh and he’s an awfully handsome grown-up’s NEIL GAIMAN! Did I get it right?

  • kim teeple
    January 20, 2007

    Awwww shoot! I hurried to the bottom to answer the question and darn-it, I didn’t read all the comments and rats! someone beat me to it. well, at least I go down on record for saying he’s a goodlookin’ guy! HA! now he knows I think he’s cute.

  • Susan Henderson
    January 21, 2007

    Terry – If I get any other emails from them, I’ll forward them to you.

    Carolyn – He won’t be here just yet. We’re still waiting on one last thing, but I promise it will be worth the wait.

    Robin – Aw, you’re sweet. I hope you’re right.

    Jason – Thank you. It feels so good to be finished with it, I can’t even tell you.

    Mary Ellen – Thank you!

    Gail – Editors and publishers. Fingers crossed.

    Aimee – Thanks!

    Julie – Good luck in the homestretch!

    Myf – Yes, he’s a way cute baby. And then he got cuter!

    Kim – He is beautiful, that’s for sure.

  • Pia
    January 23, 2007

    What a cutie! With a Weeble center of gravity on that swing.

  • Pia
    January 23, 2007

    Tipping a glass to you for finishing a novel and sending it OUT OUT OUT!

  • Susan Henderson
    January 25, 2007

    Pia – Thank you. You’ve probably done more for my writing and getting me to stick with it than anyone.

    Okay, guys, my mom took that comment to heart about me and Bindy, the Crocodile girl, being long lost twins. She went a little photo shop crazy, and now here we are – you’ll have to just wonder who is who:

  • […] A while back, I ran a contest, using one of Neil Gaiman’s baby photos, and said the first person to guess who it was would win an interview with me. […]

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