Contest: Best Newspaper Narratives

From George Getschow at UNT:

Have you submitted your narrative to Mayborn’s third annual The Best American Newspaper Narrative writing contest?

In an effort to foster narrative nonfiction storytelling, The Dallas Morning News and The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference are inviting submissions of the best narrative nonfiction published in a daily U.S. newspaper or a U.S. newspaper website in 2014. I hope you’ll be submitting what you consider your best narrative to this year’s contest. Deadline is June 1.

Writers and editors can submit one to five narratives, including narratives that are part of a series. The Best American Newspaper Writing Contest jurors will select three winners and three runners-up. Jurors will weigh everything from the originality of the idea to the strength of the storytelling to the quality of the research.

Our first place winner will receive $5,000 and free registration to attend the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference July 17-19, 2015 in Grapevine, Texas; our second place winner will receive $2,000; and our third place winner will receive $1,000

For information and to register, to go:

The three winning narratives, along with the runners-up and notable narratives, will be published by the University of North Texas Press/Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism in both a print and e-book called The Best American Newspaper Narratives, Vol. 3  

 UNT Press will release Best American Newspaper Narratives, Vol. 2, June 2015.

The Ghosts I Run With

Matt Tullis: “Creech.”

The name escaped my lips somewhere in the third mile of a five-mile run. It was a name I had been trying to think of, off-and-on, for the better part of a decade, the last name of my nurse Janet from Viking Street in Orrville, Ohio.

Janet brought me sausage biscuits from McDonald’s just about every morning because it was the only thing I would eat. She was typically my nurse on first shift. She had short brown hair and was about the same age as my mom, and so she felt very motherly to me.

Those things I could remember, but not her last name. Until now.

She died sometime after my initial 70-day residency at Akron Children’s Hospital, which started on Jan. 3, 1991, but during my more than two years of chemotherapy and radiation as an outpatient, time spent eradicating all the leukemic cells in my 15-to-17-year-old body. She died of cancer after years of caring for kids with cancer.

Surviving A Hike

Kevin Koczwara: A sense of dread has hung over Jason Spare’s life.

Spare’s father was 33 years old when he had his first heart attack. It almost killed him. Spare’s mother had breast cancer and complications related to the chemotherapy haunted her. They both died in their late 50s.

“I always had in the back of my mind a sense of mortality and urgency in life from being in that kind of situation so early on,” Spare says.

Spare, 46, looks worried. He’s digging through his stuff and reorganizing his backpack on the cold concrete floor of an ancient feeling ski lodge. He’s getting ready for what will be the hardest thing he has ever done: a 50-mile, 36-hour hike through the wilderness of Vermont in the middle of January. The hike, which will follow the Long Trail over the state’s highest mountains, is called Extremus.

The Rookie And The Zetas

Joe Tone: It was a matter of seconds, closer to six than seven, before what was happening became obvious, the colt masked in pink kicking up clouds of red on its way into the lead. It was late November, 2009. This race, the Texas Classic Futurity, was among the last of the year at Lone Star Park, the last chance to watch the 2-year-olds run. The last chance at a payday: $1.1 million up for grabs, a half million to the winning owner.

All eyes were on that horse in pink. The muscular sorrel colt, with a white racing stripe tracing the bridge of its nose, had first edged into the lead several weeks earlier, catching many in the crowd off guard. It had never raced in the United States, let alone placed. But it won that first race, and the next, and the next, and by the time it burst from the gates of the Classic, it was the odds-on favorite.

“Tempting Dash has been invincible!” the announcer bellowed as the horse cruised to the finish line, winning by three lengths and breaking its own track record. “Untouchable!”

Tempting Dash bounced along the track, 4-0, a future lucrative stud preening for his eventual suitors. Down in the winner’s circle, a family gathered around the horse’s owner, which only fueled the bleacher chatter. When the horse had first raced that fall, it was owned by a guy well known in racing circles. But since then it had been quietly sold to José Treviño Morales, the stocky, jocular man who was down there with Tempting Dash.

A few of the old-timers were suspicious. But for the most part, they just didn’t know anything about Treviño. He was, to them, like Tempting Dash a few weeks earlier, a mysterious newcomer, totally unknown but coming on fast.