Welcome to the RPLA Showcase
Each year at the Royal Palm Literary Award Banquet, authors experience the joy of earning accolades for all the hard work that is often done in the privacy of the home with little to no recognition. Our goal is to showcase the best of the best at the 2015 Royal Palm Literary Awards and provide First Place winners with a well-deserved spotlight. Not only are we recognizing extraordinary talent, but we’re giving readers an opportunity to sample excerpts from the winning stories.
2015 Unpublished Young Adult/New Adult
Cow in the Doorway by Gino Bardi
Gino Bardi won First Place in the Unpublished Young Adult/New Adult category. In Cow in the Doorway, Tony’s goals for his freshman year were simple: escape the draft, get high, find a girlfriend. But then his life happened.
Click the link to read a sample:
Q & A with Gino Bardi
Q: Where do you get your story ideas?
A: Almost all my ideas in this novel or short stories come from things that actually happened. But only the ‘inciting incidents’—the ‘party starters’ happened. From that point on, I make almost everything up. Very rarely does a riveting party starter evolve into a terrific actual party. So I wonder, ‘How SHOULD that situation have turned out? What would have made it more interesting or tragic, or whatever?’ Then I fill in the blanks. When people tell me I have a good imagination, I reply, “I have a good memory.” Of course my wife would disagree with that as she finds my car keys in the freezer or my wallet on the bathroom sink.
Q: Anything in particular about your award-winning RPLA entry that you’d like to share?
A: Some readers see this as a funny story and others see it as a sad story. I didn’t set out to write either one. After a while, the characters developed lives of their own, and the funny ones behaved in funny ways and sad situations progressed to inevitable sad conclusions. I kept writing and tried not to steer the story in either direction. After a lot of rewriting and cleanup, I stuffed about twenty percent of the story into a box and didn’t use it (I don’t actually throw anything away, if you could see my office you would totally believe that.) The story ended the only way it could unless I changed the genre to ‘anything goes sci-fi’. The resolution was logical and inescapable. But I couldn’t leave it that way. It needed a twist, an ‘ah ha!’ right at the very end. When I figured out a believable way to do this I knew immediately: That’s the end of the story. The words, ‘The End’ are there just because I really wanted to write them! Not because they were needed.
Q: Who do you credit with inspiring your writing?
A: Almost everything I read inspires my writing, for good or bad. I also watch a lot of TV and movies and never miss the funnies in the morning paper. Everything helps me to learn how to tell a story, which is an on-going process. For mentors, I have to credit my major professor in college, Jim McConkey, a wonderful man and writer. The Cow in the Doorway would not have been if not for Dr. David Edmonds, the leader of the Tarpon Springs Fiction Writers. He encouraged me to write this story about two years ago, as soon as I told him some of the details of the inciting incident. It was his idea to enter it in RPLA, which I did, minutes after writing, “The End.”
Q: Any tips for new writers?
A: The obvious one, “Keep writing.” What I mean is this: if you have a story to tell, just keep writing. Think of Dory in “Finding Nemo,” the fish who advised, ‘Just keep swimming.” Do not stop and rewrite your first chapter or any chapter—unless you have a better idea and it no longer applies. Write the story all the way to the end. Write the whole thing as quickly as you can, while it’s fresh in your mind, while you’re inspired and jazzed by it. Don’t spend two years writing your first draft. Write it in a few months. You won’t know how it ends until it ends! Only then do you go back and rewrite. Rewrite as much as it takes, maybe every single page. Put the plot (the story) first and foremost. When you have that out and on paper, go back and fix everything else. If you write a pointless, confusing story in a beautiful way, you will end up with a beautifully written, pointless and confusing story. The world has enough of those.
Join a writers’ group and actually attend it. If you don’t like the group, find another one. Then write and read as often as you can. Do NOT take every bit of criticism as the gospel truth; chances are much of it will be useless or downright wrong. But if five people tell you “It’s confusing.” Or “I don’t like the main character and I don’t care what happens to him.” Or “Sorry, I fell asleep while you were reading,” take it to heart, there is truth in what they say. But remember it’s YOUR story, you are the ‘great decider.’ If your heart is in it, keep going. Critics are sometimes wrong.