• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I’ve Done My Sentence But Committed No Crime

IS THIS LIKE A PUBLISHER’S SWEEPSTAKES SORT OF THING? Was I born yesterday? Do I have to write a check to get in? Wear pork chops around my neck to get the dog to play with me? Is this a gateway award that will lead to crack or oxycontin? Did I ever mention that I won a poetry prize in high school and there was an awards ceremony in Hartford and I wore a hunter green plaid skirt cut on the bias. Tell me about everything you’ve ever won or wanted to win. Badly.

Congratulations Betsy,

You’ve been selected as a nominee for our Top Writing Blogs Award!

The Top Writing Blogs Award was created to provide students with a collection of helpful and encouraging blogs from authors, publishers, book reviewers, writing experts, and talented bloggers. We have included nominees that will inspire and teach our student readers to find their writing style and improve their skills, whether the students are writing an essay for Composition 101 or starting their first novel.

eCollegeFinder, an established online education resource representing over 120 accredited online institutions, began hosting a series of Top Blogger Awards in early 2010. Our goal in hosting the awards is to enrich students while giving high-quality blogs the recognition they deserve. Award winners are listed on our site; you can view the awards we’ve given in the past at https://www.ecollegefinder.org/award-series.aspx.

To accept this honor, please confirm the following and provide us with the information we’re missing by replying to this email before January 17, 2011.

Also, we’d like to know in 2-4 Sentences each…

  • · How would you describe your blog to readers of our site?
  • · What advice can you offer students aiming to improve their writing acumen?

While not a requirement to win the award, we encourage you to create a student-targeted blog post to correspond with your answer to the latter question. If you compose a post directed towards our readers for the competition, please email us the URL so that we may link to it from our published list if you are chosen as a winner.

Thank you again for participating and I wish you luck in being named as one of the Top Writing Blogs for eCollegeFinder! Please let us know if you have any questions about the award series or if you have any colleagues that you’d like to nominate for the award as well. Hope to hear from you soon!


51 Responses

  1. “What advice can you offer students aiming to improve their writing acumen?”

    Well, don’t write like that is a good place to start.

    • Of course you remember the skirt…and no it is not a gateway drug. In the end, perhaps we get what we want by being most truly ourselves- in your case writing the bitter funny black in spite of it all and spite them all truth…just don’t ever say:
      It’s all good. There’s the phrase that currently drives me mad!

  2. This is an honor. My blog has been nominated, as have several of the most popular writing blogs I know. You don’t have anywhere near the traffic most nominees have, so they must be especially impressed with your content (or maybe your book.) No pork chops involved. If you don’t want to be included, just ignore the nomination.

  3. I love it that you remember the green skirt you wore to the awards ceremony.

    In the 4th grade, I won a prize for my drawing of the Liberty Bell. I flamed out pretty early.

  4. In 12th grade, I won a wooden case filled with tubes of oil paints, red sable brushes, and a bunch of other supplies for being the most promising artist in the class. I went to Syracuse University as a fine arts student where I discovered what being a small fish in a big pond meant.

  5. I won a poetry reciting contest in grade seven. I wrote the poem I recited. And it was in French. It was about a young man who is at a camp out when the police come to tell him that his best friend has been killed in a car crash. Based on a true story. I still remember the last line ‘Les larmes au yeux il chuchotte “adieu”” (With tears in his eyes he whispers goodbye). Then in grade ten I won first prize in the province for a short story called “The Seventh Grade”, this time in English, though oddly enough it is regularly still pirated in Chinese even 30 years later (http://www.docin.com/p-55486735.html). I won the Australian Writer’s Guild Monte Miller Award for Best Unproduced Screenplay, which is kind of like “Loser of the Year” Award. Oh and last year I won “Loser of the year”.

  6. The part that makes it so ultra-flattering is that it is from 120 accredited “on-line” universities. That would win me over for sure. Is there time for you to nominate me?

    I won’t say anything about the lottery Publisher’s Clearing House analogy since I love and respect you.

    I’ve won praise, compliments and a shit load of scholarships. To no avail. I also won a $140 beautiful wooden case filled with tubes of paint and brushes and stuff from Michael’s that is withering under my bed with other things. But I use the brushes frequently and take good care of them.

  7. Ok, I went to their site and I see the Top Foodie Awards, Top Financial Guru, and whatnot …. no writing anything.

    It’s nighttime and I’ve had wine, so what the hell do I know?

    I only ever wanted to win the Tether Ball championship in 6th grade — badly — but I was defeated by a wily, smart and tall Suzy Hahn. She had the best baby pigs at her house, that Suzy.

  8. What I did win:
    A free family portrait sitting. At the time our family consisted of me, my new husband and our lunatic mass-murdering (of every rodent, insect and bird within a two-mile radius) black cat. Not sure what we were thinking but we walked across town holding the cat to get to this photography studio. It was the first time we’d ever won anything and we were excited. Not surprisingly the cat/mini-jaguar wasn’t used to being carried through rush hour traffic or into a strip mall. By the time we got to our sitting, my husband’s nice white shirt was ripped to shreds and badly bloodied from the oft-sharpened and at-the-ready cat claws. The photographer was a little taken aback but nevertheless silently took our photo. But then it turned out that only the sitting was free. To actually get the photo cost three hundred bucks. At the time we were living on ramen noodles and Genessee cream ale so it was a no-go. I’m still disappointed. I want that photo.

    What I want to win, badly (in either order):
    1. the Pulitzer
    2. the lottery

    • The photographer was a lizard for not trying to work something out with you. If the picture is noticeably unusual, you might want to visit awkwardfamilyphotos.com. It could already be on display there.

      • Thanks, Tulasi-Priya. I did check out that website. Didn’t find my photo, but haven’t laughed that much for quite a while.

        Only after I posted that comment I realized that Betsy was probably talking about things we’ve won for our writing. That would be nada. I did come second in a spelling bee in sixth grade (I spelled attitude “additude” – dammit! I’m still kicking myself over that one). My most pivotal writing moment, though, wasn’t a prize but an A++ (2 pluses!) on a Melvillesque short story I wrote in eight grade about a girl sailor on a ship full of men (not as kinky as it sounds). And this from Mr. Rice, who was notorious for giving out big red D minuses. Next to my grade he wrote “Keep writing.” So I did.

  9. (i’ve entered my first chapter and a synopsis in a competition — a real competition, none of this buy an anthology, get a potmetal plaque crap — and i keep telling myself that all i want my chapter to do is place, just place, because i’d get free books and a free manuscript read and something to put in the CV paragraph of my query — and even if it doesn’t place, i still get synopsis practice out of it, which is a pretty big deal because writing those things frankly sucks — and this is all perfectly true… but i really, secretly want my chapter to win the whole damn thing even if i’m pretty sure it won’t because it’s one out of God Only Knows how many entries and who am i kidding here, but it still could… it still could…)

  10. All I ever really wanted was a nice little bus that I could make into a home that I could travel around in, living wherever I chose.
    My wife did not allow such frivolity. Or much else in fact…
    When we divorced she demanded my house, and pretty much everything else. I gave her everything she demanded.
    I now can’t afford to live in a house, so to make ends meet I had to buy a little bus, which I have fitted out as a nice little home, and I travel around in that, and live where I choose.
    By surrendering my assets, I won my freedom.

  11. The eCollegeFinder.com contest is an ill-conceived and poorly executed marketing gimmick cooked up by some joker looking for free content (i.e., access to your blog). They assume you – along with everyone else – will be thrilled with their “invitation.” The way the email reads, it does feel insulting – especially when they “wish you luck.”

    * * * * * * *

    Years ago, my sister Cindy won a live turkey in a raffle at Waterville Valley, a NH ski area. She couldn’t wait to get “Tom” home. Later that day, he was surrendered to a nearby restaurant. Cindy was not pleased.

    As a teenager, I won $400 in quarters at a slot machine in Las Vegas. Giddy, I raced out of the casino and into a store, where I purchased a $400 Gucci wallet. I kept that wallet for decades until it literally fell apart.

    Recently, I got sucked into a supermarket chain’s contest “Wish Big, Win Big.” For weeks now, I’ve been obsessively collecting stickers in order to win prizes ranging from $2 to $250,000. It’s tantalizing when you only need one more sticker to win a $50,000 automobile. With 64 stickers now, I only need a handful more, but I keep getting the same ones over and over. You only get stickers when you buy certain products, so last night I bought six cans of store brand yogurt (yuck!) and chicken broth. More duplicates. Clearly, it’s a scam. I’m going back to Trader Joe’s.

    • I would be so heartbroken with the turkey. It had a name!

      One day, everyone in my University won the lottery. People came downstairs to breakfast with a gleam in their eye. Until I asked them, did you win too?

      I won a (small but rewarding) prize for my novel and I keep going on about it. It’s the only prize relating to my writing I’ve ever won, except for coming runner up in a screenwriting prize when I was 17 or so – I won a messenger bag and tickets for my class to visit the cinema, where we saw Captain Corelli’s Mandolin with Nicholas Cage.

  12. I won prizes at school. I remember the tiered-frock my mother made with a drawstring neck, the espadrilles and rebellious earrings accompanying my sheer shock when I pipped Mei-Lin de S and won the main event.

    After that, Le Désert. I hope to win a short story competition this year. My hopes are pinned to my chest.

  13. I never won any prizes at school…too quiet, too small…but a few years back I won a Welsh Poetry Comp with my poem, Prayer for the Fallible. I was in heaven because it meant someone who knew what they were talking about liked my work and also because there was a £250 prize which was nice.
    I’d like to win the writing comp I’m about to enter, for first chapter and synopsis. (Poo to synopsis’~hate em) but the prize is £25,000 and a placing with a top English agent. Phew, I hope the dream comes true.
    I do a lot of dreaming. I’d also like to win Betsy’s love and admiration!
    (PS Not sure about the ‘award’ but then I was born cynical)

  14. I once won two free airline tickets which I somehow allowed myself to be talked into using for travel to the NHL All-star weekend. I’ve matured since that wasband. Anyway, I say good for you. It’s nice to win something right?

  15. When I was 19 I won a first class round-trip ticket from NY to LA. On the way out my seat mate was actor Richard Harris, who invited me up to the lounge for drinks. (Remember when 747s had a lounge?) His drunk brother pawed me and I left in a huff.

    As far as advice for student writers, I think this Dorothy Parker quote is apt:
    “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style.The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

    • Love that quote! Ironically, the only text book I ever loaned to a “friend” was Elements of Style and it was never returned. That person went on to become a psychiatrist. Hmmm.

  16. I was selected to recite a fable to my entire grammar school for a competition. There was a third, fifth and eight grader. I was the third grader. I didn’t win but I distinctly remember being delighted to get to the ending where the main character plucks out their eyes and throws them out someone. That part caught their attention and illicited a shreik but not the award. I was still so proud.

  17. I’ve always wanted to win an Oscar. And, yes, the speech has already been written and memorized.

  18. I have won some nice things – well, in school, I guess before the competition got really bad – but the award for getting a perfect score in some statewide “music adjudication” thing comes first to mind.

    I was going into 5th grade and had to play all alone on the grand piano in the high school auditorium! To an audience of one or two! My prize? Glory and fleeting self-esteem, sure, but the right to play the “Star Wars” theme song in the upcoming recital! The kicker? My mom had to shell out $3 for the sheet music.

    I may have told this story here before.

    My mother suggested that my piano teacher smelled “that way” because “she didn’t wash…” Memories.

  19. I won first prize in the Nature Center Art Contest when I was in 4th grade.

    And a poetry thing in college.

    And most recently, nothing. Except the Versatile Blogger award.

  20. I just remembered. I won an autographed copy of Betsy’s book. Also a Lambda award. And a pinwheel at a friend’s birthday party when I was seven.

  21. Congratulations! I was just thinking about you yesterday afternoon, and thought that if I had to describe your blog in one word, it would be “bracing.”

    I won an Internet plagiarism contest. I may have mentioned this before; it’s my one true claim to fame so far. And I won a college essay contest that came with a scholarship award of $200. But what it really came with was the look on my teacher’s face when he told me.

  22. “I’ve done my sentence.”


    I wrote one.

  23. I won the Literature award in Grade 8. Never saw it coming. I also won the Geography award that year. REALLY never saw that coming. And then in university I got call telling me I was on the Dean’s Honor List – never saw that coming either.

    I don’t care about awards. My strongest desire is to complete this re-write of my manuscript and secure an agent who believes in my work and me. Perhaps a hankering for awards will come later.

  24. Back when i was only painting, one of mine won the grand prize in a midwestern multi state painting competition. Money, newspaper article, judge’s glowing predictions. When I showed up at the opening all “here I am world”, they were shocked. Director said “we thought you were a man” walked away dissmissive and I spent the evening circling the food table nibbling on bad Brie wondering what I’d done wrong.

    • What awful, lousy people.

    • As for advice to the creative–don’t stop girls. Don’t you ever stop.

    • Jesus-Mary-and-Krishna, l’esprit de l’escalier is raging through my veins right now. You shoulda told them, “I am, I just like to dress up as a woman—wanna see my balls?” Or maybe go all Norman Mailer on them: poor your drink over the director’s head, insult his wife, up-end the hors d’oeuvre table. Then ask, “Is that man enough for you?” Oh, I hope you get good and famous, just so you can be on The View someday and tell the story of their mean stupidity.

    • OH MY BUDDHA- this really sucks.

  25. On this less-than-award-winning morning, I’m enjoying the stories of that moment of happy surprise, when one feels enveloped in a warm glow of specialness. Whether it’s recognition for one’s talent/effort or just blind luck, such a wonderful sensation holds a certain magic and charm.

    I’ll keep checking back, hoping some of that glitter transfers to me.

  26. Back when I was in college, when I still had hair and a hundred less wrinkles, I wrote for the school paper. The staff traveled up to a state conference and awards ceremony at Ball State (infamous dedication sign in the Ad Building lobby had the inscribed tag line, “Hung by the Balls”). Drunk, stoned, I was playing around on playground swings that couldn’t support my fat ass. The left chain broke, wrapped around my pinkie and snapped the bone. Ouch. I was the designated joint roller and even black and blue and swollen, I could still do my job. Just for that i should have won an award. I drank a lot of alcohol to numb the pain and at one point we were partying with some folks from another university and my friend Leland and I were hitting on the same woman. She was drunk, laughing, touching my knee a lot and kissing my finger to make it feel better (it hurt each time she touched it, but love is supposed to be about pain, right?). Things were looking good. Lee and I left to get some more beer, but when we returned, we couldn’t find the room again. I think maybe the woman’s boyfriend had something to do with that, but neither of us remembered the room number, either. The next day our motley, hungover and wasted crew cleaned up at the awards ceremony — photography, news story, layout and design, and I took home the award for best feature story. Just a piece of paper I no longer have, but the story was good and it was nice to receive the recognition and encouragement.
    These days I’m up for a prize from Publisher’s Clearing House (Sorry Virginia, I’m not above a cheap joke when the opportunity presents itself).

    • S’okay with me. That wasn’t the reference point, tho. Something in my blog last week. . .

      Every time my dad gets a notice that he is a winner, especially if it has a little metal key in it, he calls to share the good news. It makes me sad at this point.

      • He’s not alone. Many people truly believe someone will come up and hand them a million dollar check, keys to a new car or a lifetime supply of Viagra.

  27. In grade school I won a few writing/speaking prizes, the most notable one from the Optimist Club.

    I was my middle school spelling champ. I also won a penmanship award in second grade.

    I was the lead in almost every single theatrical production, musical or dramatic, from the moment I entered high school until I graduated. I was student council vice-president, but was ousted by the nuns when my math grades tanked.

    I was a semi-finalist (maybe a finalist, too, can’t recall now) in the Miss University of Miami pageant. Prior to that I was a winner in a couple of beauty pageants, the victories of which were really the result of bribes by my mother to pageants’ directors. I think Mom might have had something to do with my getting into the semifinals at UM too, but I’m not hiring a PI to find out.

    I won honorable mention in a Miami Herald Scary Story Contest in 1983. Struggling student, I paid someone ten bucks (big money for me at that time) to type the story up, since. I got a certificate and my name mentioned in the paper.

    I believed no man would ever want to marry me, but somehow it happened.

    Some of my greatest triumphs are negative in nature, things I maybe should have gotten, but didn’t: I could easily have been killed by men I’ve picked up, gotten AIDS, become a heroin addict or a blowsy barfly, committed suicide. Life is the greatest prize: I am a winner.

  28. At age four, I was chosen to lead the parade on the TV show Romper Room. My mother still tells the story of how instead of marching in a circle, I led the other children straight off the studio set, with the producer and cameramen scrambling to follow.

    In my high school senior year, I was voted best sense of humor and best party-giver. Oddly, neither of these academic accolades was accompanied by a full scholarship.

    I went on later in life to receive a few small writing awards, but don’t recall any of them being nearly as fun.

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