First, at the risk of piling on, congratulations to Jackie on her McCavity award. This is a huge achievement and a distinguished award. Now we have at least two award-winning authors in our naked lot. Some years ago, Paul’s Florida-based fiction earned the John D. MacDonald Award—not to be confused with the McDonald’s Award, which is given only to franchise authors who keep churning out novels even after they are dead. Yay, team!
But wait. Maybe I’m on to something with this McDonald’s thing. Lest the world think we writers take ourselves too seriously, I think Jackie and Paul would (perhaps) agree that every serious and prestigious award should be matched by at least one silly and not so prestigious award. So, here’s a proposal. Naked Authors should start the annual “McDonald’s Award in Fiction,” the prize going to the best new work published under the name of a dead franchise author. Any nominees? Harold Robbins' "Heat of Passion" comes to mind. Any suggestions on the prize?
In other news . . .
This week is homecoming at my alma mater, the University of Florida in Gainesville. I’m not going. My wife is a graduate of rival Florida State, and she couldn’t care less that the Gator football team is battling for a national championship. It means nothing to her that this homecoming opponent is not the usual serving of East New Mexico State School for Retired Nuns, which UF usually trounces 72-0. It is ninth-ranked LSU against fourth-ranked Florida, which should be a great game. Oh well. I have my memories. See, a million years ago (1980), I was the “General Chairman” of UF’s homecoming celebration, which is a big deal at UF. Gator Growl, a spectacular pep rally in Florida Field the night before the game, has always featured a big name entertainer, such as Bob Hope, Robin Williams, or Bill Cosby. My year, it was George Burns. (Years later, I discovered that my agent got his start in the entertainment industry doing publicity work for George Burns—coincidence?)
I haven’t gotten back to UF much over the years, but I’m starting to reconnect. Part of that is because the alumni affairs office seems to think that I’m rich and famous enough to pay for a new auditorium, or maybe even a football stadium. I assure them that I’m not, and they assure me that they won’t stop asking. If only they knew how much private middle school tuition was these days. (You’d die if I told you).
Some day I do hope to repay the university in some way. Part of the reason ties directly to my writing, in the person of Sid Homan, an English professor at the University of Florida. For two years I was one of six students in a university of over 30,000 students who was lucky enough to participate in Sid's honors program for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. We wrote at least two papers each week, and Sid would select one to read to the class. It was the first time I'd ever heard anyone read my work aloud. It's amazing how embarrassing a bad sentence can be when you actually have to hear someone else trip over it. To this day, I never publish a sentence I've written without reading it first—aloud.
Except for my naked author blogs. I don’t read them aloud. In fact, I don’t read them at all. I do this with my eyes closed. Damn, I’m good. Thanks, Sid.