Unbound Worlds Writing Contest–the winners!



Richard Gropp of Issaquah, Washington, is the grand prize winner of the Unbound Worlds Writing Contest, which received just under 700 qualifying manuscripts. Gropp will receive a full edit of his manuscript from Betsy Mitchell, Editor in Chief of Del Rey, plus a selection of Del Rey and Spectra titles.

The winning submission is titled Bad Glass. Richard Gropp told Unbound Worlds he’d been working on it for three years when the contest came along. It’s his second finished manuscript; the first one—a cyberpunk detective novel—he was unable to sell and decided to write another story “out of passion” rather than try to write to the market. The result was Bad Glass, about a young photographer who travels to the barricaded city of Spokane, Washington, in hopes of gaining attention for his work by photographing the bizarre incidents occurring there. No one knows why people seem to vanish from the city, or why some eyewitnesses report strange manifestations while other onlookers see nothing. “Part of the reason we chose Bad Glass is that it has a creepiness factor to it that Richard handles very well,” said Betsy Mitchell, Editor in Chief of Del Rey, who will edit the manuscript. “There are scenes in the manuscript that will stick in my memory for a long time.”

What does the title Bad Glass refer to? Says Gropp: “In photography, the term ‘good glass’ is a term used to describe high-quality camera lenses. Through those lenses, everything appears clear and bright, without flaw or distortion. Bad glass would be … well, not good glass.” Gropp recently made his first sale, a short story which will be published in Daily Science Fiction. A former bookstore clerk, he now writes fulltime.

The three runners-up, who will each receive $250 worth of Del Rey/Spectra books, are:
Timothy J. McFadden of Canton, Ohio, whose Forge Valley is about a group of adventurers who travel back in time to assist George Washington’s Continental Army; Marian Crane of Phoenix, Arizona, whose science fiction novel Blackfire features strong worldbuilding and a fascinating alien race; and Reyna Thera Lorele of Nashville, Tennessee, whose sociological science fiction novel Holder’s Clay is about two peoples who once shared a common ancestry yet have become so ideologically separate that they see each other almost as aliens.

  • Congrats to the winners!!

  • ken davis

    Congratulations, everyone!

    Your novels all sound very cool, and very deserving.

    Thanks Suvudu for running this contest – such a great opportunity!

  • Congratulations!

  • Michael Levy

    Excellent contest and congrats to the winners!

  • Renée

    Thank you Betsy and Suvudu for the opportunity. I’m hoping this will be an annual event. And, congratulations to the winners.

  • BTCG

    Congratulations to the winners! And a great big shoutout to the staff of Suvudu and especially Betsy Mitchell, who risked a great productivity hit to her staff in order to bring out the best in the rest of us!

    Here’s another request to make this an annual contest.

    Bill Patterson

  • Marian Crane

    I’m honored and stunned to have been a part of this contest, given the sheer number of entries.
    My thanks go out to Betsy Mitchell and the staff who stepped up to the plate and read all of our submissions.

  • Jon Holtgrefe

    Congratulations to Mr. Gropp, you novel definitely sounds very interesting and to the runners up as well.

    I would like to thank the Betsy Mitchell, Suvudu, and Del Ray for putting on this contest and for getting through 700 submissions in just 2 months. I would also like that thank you for posting what you were looking for when evaluating the submissions, I think reading that definitely made me more conscious as a writer. Before this contest I was just planning on putting what I had written out there after finishing school and seeing what would happen but this contest and your comments about what you look for made me realize some of the things I still need to work on in my novel.

    It is perhaps delusional of me but I still like what I submitted a lot but I would like to thank you for really opening my eyes to what I still need to work on and improve before I embark into the world of trying to get published.

    Congratulations and Thank you once more.

  • Keith Yatsuhashi

    Congratulations to the winners. Bad Glass sounds GREAT! I can’t wait to read it!

  • Congrats to everyone!

  • Thanks, everyone! This is exciting.

  • Richard Gropp

    Thanks for all of your congratulations! And a _million billion_ thanks to Betsy and everyone busting their butts at Del Rey/Spectra over the last couple of months. Contests like this are a godsend for unagented/aspiring writers, and everyone involved should be sainted and followed down the streets by throngs of adoring fans.

    I hope to get the chance to read all of the winners’ books. They all sound great – such a wide variety of subjects and themes!

    And, yes, Marian – honored and stunned. That about describes it. 🙂

  • Congratulations, Richard. And to all of the entrants.

  • Betsy Mitchell

    To Renee, BTCG, and everyone else who asks whether this will become an annual event, all I can say is AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH. I wish we could, but it took so much time!!! I hope we’ll repeat the contest at some time in the future, but I have no timeframe to announce for now.

  • Ressa

    1st things 1st: CONGRATS to the winner & runners up! I’m very happy for all of you, what an amazing opportunity!

    2nd: Thank you to this site for the contest. Also amazing & very generous!

    Hopefully it will be an annual event, that would be awesome!

  • Oh well… thanks for the chance to submit. Here’s to better luck next time.

  • Flo Stahly

    Congrats to all of the winners. And Thank you to Betsy and her staff at Del Rey Spectra for the effort. Timothy J McFadden is my brother and our family is proud of this acknowledgement of his talent.

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