Thursday, April 23, 2009

Did Narrative Mag Fix Fict Contest?

I got an anonymous tip to check out this aptly-titled post:  "Did Tom Jenks and Carol Edgarian, Editors of Narrative Magazine, Fix the 2008 First-Person Story Contest for Friend Gina Oschner?"  The question is already 8-months old, but the answer is ever green.  My mother-in-law would say that they are too attractive to be cheats, but commenters on the original post  (from the blog Arts and Palaver) have a lively debate.  What's your opinion?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is mostly old news. Everybody can see from the winners' bios that prize recipients are picked with one eye peaking through the blindfold. And the reading fee to overhead ratio is $o high, there'$ no doubt about their motive$.

What I thought was interesting was the tidbit about Tom Jenks's side business. Man! What writer is stupid enough to pay that much? If I understand this correctly, the writer doesn't get any guaranteed contacts, she just gets a lukewarm promise that Jenks will ring up his contacts? For $5000? And he throws in some line edits.

Fools and their money...

rmellis said...

So many things here should have been done differently...

1. An outside "guest judge" should have judged the contest.
2. All entries should be anonymous.
3. Friends/clients/students of the editors should be disqualified.
4. A writer who has won other contests and/or had some publishing success should not enter contests -- leave them for the unknowns.
5. Writers/editors should not sell their contacts or even their expertise to hopeful writers. And hopeful writers should never, ever pay for access or favors.

CAPS MAN! said...

THIS IS WEIRD TOO. I'VE COPIED THE FINAL COMMENT BELOW.
http://www.wetasphalt.com/?q=node/311

HOPE YOU GUYS AND GIRLS AND THIRD-GENDERED FOLK CAN OPEN THAT. BUT IF YOU CAN'T HERE IS WHAT ANON SAID.

I submitted last year to Narrative's Love Story Contest. Didn't win or place, but Tom Jenks was kind enough to respond to my email inquiry which questioned the propriety of informing entrants - using spam email - that they had not won or placed.

Tom Jenks was also kind in taking the time to look again at my entry, this time in the light of providing editing services, which by the way were plainly offered at his portion of the website. I was shocked though at the size of the retainer he wanted to help me with my 60,000 word novella: $10,000.00.

I respectfully declined but walked away from the experiance wondering how someone could lawfully use their position at a non-profit corporation, and at its expense, to promote for profit activities. It could be that he was going to donate his fees to the company but that was never mentioned or even suggested.

paul d said...

Makes me miss Foetry.

Anonymous said...

I've had experience with these jokers as well. Each has published one book, long ago, that went nowhere. Now they're making a living off of struggling writers. Nice.

Anonymous said...

Everybody knows the score about this. But what about the famous writers who are frequent contributors? They probably don't pay the fees everybody else does. How much do they get paid? How do they feel about these ethics?

T. Coraghessan Boyle is one of them. Also David Bottoms (wonder about Five Points. Aren't they known to give zero comments just a tiny slip, also not even bothering to keep the guidelines link working on their site? How open are they to over the transom submissions?). Who else? Richard Bausch, Rick Bass. They are all frequent contributors. Don't they care about their reputations? I, for one, would love to know what they have to say about this.

Anonymous said...

On the Narrative website, Jenks has a link to his very old Ploughshares story (supposedly nominated for a Pushcart too!) and it is gawdawful. I think Narrative is the brainchild of two very mediocre writers who are just plain savvy businesspeople.

I'm with anon 9:11, those famous writers who sell their B stories and headshots to the website should be ashamed.

Edgarian and Jenks are taking $20 reading fees from witless authors, when they have no damn intention of reading anything. I won't go so far as to say those 2 are scum, they have mouths to feed and bills to pay like everyone else. But I wonder if they go to bed every night with an uneasy feeling in their stomachs.

Elizabeth Brody said...

My name is Elizabeth Brody and I created the blog post you are referring to. Together with WebdelSol.Com I plan to form a political activist group (so to speak) to bring the activities of Narrative Magazine and it's con editors to a screeching halt. If you are interested in taking part, please write me at brody.elizabeth@gmail.com

Thank you.

This behavior is utterly unethical and perhaps illegal for a non-profit to engage in.

Liz

Anonymous said...

Come on. This is a business. You can't 'stop' a business. If suckers want to pay twenty dollars for a submission, they can. And some of the winners in the past contests have been unknowns and really good. Gripe all you want, but get over it. Or, alternatively, get real specific over why a Not-For-Profit can't offer private consulting on the side. 'Perhaps illegal' doesn't cut it.

Anonymous said...

If there is real evidence that they collect reading fees with no intention of selecting a winner from among the anonymous subs, then they could be charged with doing something illegal. Unfortunately, all the evidence is circumstantial. All the winners just happen to be well connected. Chalk it up to coincidence, or they could say that everyone else sucks. They are untouchable.

Why are people still giving them money?

I'm glad theses "F*** Narrative" type threads don't die. More people need to be aware of this scam.

Dave Clapper said...

And there's a follow-up: Writer-Author Janet Burroway Reveals Professional Relationship With Tom Jenks Prior to Her Big 2009 Contest Win

Elizabeth Brody said...

Janet Burroway has admitted her connection to Jenks and Edgarian prior to winning the Winter 2009 Story contest. Post on A&P.

Liz

Single Platter said...

I read over Janet Burroway's supposed "admission," and it's thin stuff. Tangential, at best.

Poo-Poo Platter said...

An admission is an admission. What's this "thin stuff" and "tangential" judgment? From the post, it seems clear that the Narrative folks knew her and her work, which presents a conflict of interest at the time when she entered the contest. I hold nothing against contests that are run fairly, even contests with fees (although, personally, I will not enter fee-based contests.) But there's mounting evidence that Narrative is fixing the results for the gain of the magazine, Edgarian, and Jenks.

As more experienced writers, we should call out (pr)editors who prey on the less experienced among us. What Narrative is doing is immoral and unethical. I applaud Ms. Brody for her efforts.

sparking said...

I'm confused about the attack on Janet Burroway, seems to me she was answering the questions openly. If some of you commenting are indeed also writers, you would know that paths cross here and there, but that 'friendship' isn't something you would consider yourself to have with everyone you encounter. If Jenks is up to no good then root it out, but I don't see why Burroway, who seems to have taken the time to reply openly when asked, is being demonised?
Pah! ah well, each to their own, but as a struggling writer myself, I find that if there's corruption on the road to publication it's unlikely to fall at the feet of the actual artist who put in the creative work. Oh and entering competitions and the like is par for the course, as is not winning, there's no place for sour grapes or you're just going to eat yourself up with your envy.

Anonymous said...

they fixed it