Wednesday, February 20, 2008

James Jones: Novel Contest, Controversial Author

If you’re an unpublished novelist who doesn’t know about this contest, you should. The entry fee is a bit steep, but winning this, or even getting into the finals, is a great way to get some attention (i.e. agent) for your novel-in-progress. (And note that linked stories are acceptable, too.) The deadline is March 1, so better get cracking!

My manuscript for Pears on a Willow Tree made it to the round of finalists…but then it got accepted for publication, so I had to withdraw it from the competition…which was okay with me!

Vaguely related and possibly distracting side notes: Don’t you just have to love the beach scene from the movie of James Jones' novel, From Here to Eternity?! I read this in an interesting history of the making of the movie:

“At first, they kissed on the beach standing up, and it was Lancaster's idea for the love scene to be played horizontally in the surf. Their embrace was filmed at Halona Cove on the eastern end of Oahu and the location became a highlight of island tours for many years. The clinch has been endlessly parodied since its appearance. The MPAA banned photos of the kiss with the surf washing over Lancaster and Kerr as too erotic. Many prints had shortened versions of the scene because projectionists would cut out frames as souvenirs.”

Apparently, at the time, the novel was quite controversial in language and content, viewed as unfilmable. James Jones was more rugged than uber-rugged Norman Mailer! (same source):

“In paperback, Eternity is a densely packed 950 pages, much longer than any popular novel these days. It is not hard to understand why it was considered almost impossible to adapt. The writing is raw for its time, both in its language and the depiction of sex. There was a lot of squabbling with [editor Maxwell] Perkins over how many uses of the "f-" and "sh-" words could be permitted in the repressive atmosphere of the 1950s. Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, a combat novel, uses the curiously muted "fug" instead of the actual "f" word, used copiously in Eternity.”

Now that you’re totally revved up, here’s the contest announcement:

The 16th Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship will be awarded to an American author of a first novel-in-progress, in 2008, by the James Jones Literary Society. Novellas and collections of closely linked short stories may also be considered for the competition.

The award is intended to honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture exemplified by the late James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity and other prose narratives of distinction. Jones himself was the recipient of aid from many supporters as a young writer and his family, friends, and admirers have established this award of $10,000 to continue the tradition in his name. Two runner up awards of $750 each will also be given by the Jones Literary Society.

Judges: Kaylie Jones, his daughter and a novelist; J. Michael Lennon, one of his biographers; and Bonnie Culver, Director of Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Eligibility: The competition is open to United States citizens who have not previously published a novel. Manuscripts may be submitted for publication simultaneously, but the Society must be notified of acceptance elsewhere. Officers of the James Jones Society are not eligible for the award.

Entry Fee: A $25 check/money order, payable to Wilkes University, not to James Jones First Novel Fellowship, must accompany each entry.

Manuscript Guidelines: A two-page (maximum) outline of the entire novel and the first 50 pages of the novel-in-progress are to be submitted.

The manuscript must be typed and double-spaced; outline may be single-spaced. Name, address, telephone number and e-mail address (if available) should be on the title page, but nowhere else on the manuscript. Pages should be numbered.

If a manuscript is selected for the final round, the author will be asked to send another copy of the originally submitted first 50 pages plus pages 51-100. Submissions will be acknowledged only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped postcard. No manuscripts will be returned. Failure to comply with manuscript guidelines may disqualify entries.

For a copy of the press release on the winners, please submit a SASE (to the address listed in the next paragraph) marked "Winners 2008 Contest." The press release will be available in late Fall 2008.

Timetable: Entries are to be sent to the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, c/o M.A./M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Wilkes University, 84 West South Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766, and postmarked no later than March 1, 2008.

The winner will be notified on or about September 1, 2008. The first-prize winner must accept the award at the James Jones Literary Society Conference held each fall, usually in early November. Transportation funding will be provided. An excerpt from the winning manuscript will be published in Provincetown Arts (July 2009.)

For more info:


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.