Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Leg Lamp - A.K.A. 1 word in 50 is a big deal

So, a several months ago (5/27) while I was going through my standard list of writing blogs hoping for the sparkling jewel of information that would help launch my writing career, I came across this post (http://litsoup.blogspot.com/2009/05/f-competition.html):

F&SF Competition
Jenny Rae Rappaport

I am about to run out the door to meetings and BEA stuff, but my lovely client, Carol Pinchefsky, has requested that I post this. Carol is one of the contest editors at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and informs me that you have TWO days left to enter this. Follow the instructions below!

COMPETITION #78: THE SECRET HISTORY OF F&SF Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, originally titled The Magazine of Fantasy, was founded in 1949 by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas…or was it?

Describe, in 50 words or less, the secret origins of F&SF. Alternate histories, imagined conversations, and science-fictional (or magical) twists on the truth are more than welcome. Another welcomed element: funny.

Example: Shirley Jackson and Theodore Sturgeon leave a little basket on the doorstep of Anthony Boucher with a tear-stained note: “Please take care of our baby. Raise it as if it were your own.”

You have six chances to rewrite history before midnight EST, May 28th. Send your entries to carol@cybrid.net. Please remember to include your telephone number and snail-mail address. PRIZES: First prize will receive a sub- scription to F&SF good for the next sixty years along with a copy of The Diamond Jubilee. Second prize will receive advance reading copies of three forthcoming novels. Any runners-up will receive one-year subscriptions to F&SF. Results of Competition 78 will appear in the Oct/Nov. 2009 issue. Judges are the editors of F&SF, and their decision is final. All entries become the property of F&SF.

I thought I’d toss my hat in the ring and quickly realized writing something witty in only fifty words was really hard. It reminded me of ‘A River Runs Through It’ where little Norman is repeatedly sent back to rewrite what he’d written in half the space. After several hours and many revisions, I had my six submissions ready and I fired them off.

A week later, I received the following email:

Hi, Daniel.

And the winner is...you.

Mazel tov. You've just won 60 years of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine.

Thanks for making us laugh.

Sincerely, Carol Pinchefsky
Editor, F&SF magazine

> 3. “The tea on the right enhances your appeal to women. The
> tea on the left will help you create a tome of the science fiction and
> fantasy canon,” the old gypsy cackled before disappearing into the
> night.
> Francis turned to Anthony.
> “Was that her right or our right?”
> Daniel Geilman
(My winning submission next to the >s)

What a happy, happy day! I had won something! Not by luck, not by chance, but by the sweat of my creative brow, I had won something. True, it was for a magazine I’d never heard of before entering the contest and with the way print media is heading, when I am 90 the magazine will probably not be around anymore but the fact of the matter is - I had won. This is my leg lamp – all due to my ‘mind power’.

Weeks of dopey smiles and personal pride passed as I waited for the Oct/Nov issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine to arrive so I could show family and friends that I had actually accomplished something with writing. My name would be in print and no matter how small and unread as it might be, I would have something to put on my query letters as a writing credit.

So, the magazine (that is actually more like a paperback book) arrived and I found the page with the winning entries to read to my oblivious children and ‘worshipping’ wife.

I said, reading aloud –

“ ‘Congratulations to Daniel Geilman, who wins 60 years of bragging rights to go with his 60-year subscription.

First Prize:

“The tea on the right enhances your appeal to women. The tea on the left will help you create a tome of the science fiction and fantasy,” the old gypsy cackled before disappearing into the night.
Francis turned to Anthony.
“Was that her right or our right?
” ‘

That doesn’t sound right, does it, Anna? What’s wrong with it? Did I leave something out?….NOOOOO! They left out ‘canon’. They left a word out!”

It’s been several weeks now and it still hurts. I have 60 years of a free magazine and 60 years of bragging rights but to anybody taking the time to read page 319 of the Oct/Nov 2009 edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction, I look like an idiot. So, my name is in print and I have something, howbeit small and inconsequential, to put as a writing credit on my query letters to agents but should I use it?

I know mistakes happen and I bear no ill will towards the nice people at Fantasy & Science Fiction but come on!

My leg lamp came with gout and diabetes-blackened toes.


  1. it's ok dan-o. i think a leg with gout is much more interesting than a healthy leg anyway. i say you shout from the hilltops that you have been published. (besides, no one ever reads back issues.)

  2. Oh, humility. Why must you taste so bitter?

    So sorry, brother.

  3. Who really likes cannons anyways? They're so loud. Maybe you should have just stuck with tomes. They're quieter. :)