For Notre Dame alumnus Jim King, a long-awaited dream came true last May when he received an unexpected call from Amazon on a train ride into New York City. King, a member of the Class of 1977, was one of three finalists for the second annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, an international competition seeking the “next popular novel.” He would later be selected as the grand prize winner out of more than 6,500 manuscript entries.“I got a call one day from a guy from Amazon and he told me that I was one of three finalists,” King said. “Of course I just wanted to scream because I [have been] trying to get a novel published ever since I graduated from Notre Dame in 1977.”As the winner of the competition, King landed a $25,000 publishing contract with The Viking Press to publish his novel, “Bill Warrington’s Last Chance.” The novel is due for release in August.“The total number of manuscripts was around 6,500 and I had entered the contest almost on a lark,” King said. “I almost forgot about it because I didn’t think I stood a chance to win.”The panel that reviewed the top three manuscripts included “Secret Life of Bees” author Sue Monk Kidd, “Alphabet Mystery Series” author Sue Grafton, literary agent Barney Karpfinger and Penguin Press Vice President and Editor-in-Chief Eamon Dolan.King’s novel is the story of a man, Bill Warrington, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, although King never explicitly mentions the disease in the book. Warrington is trying to reconnect with his three adult children who want nothing to do with him.“The main character was inspired by a neighbor of mine who had lost his wife shortly before I met him,” King said. “Over the years the house he built with his own hands was falling apart around him.”In the novel, Warrington decides the only way to bring his family back together is to kidnap his 15-year-old granddaughter April, who dreams of becoming a rock star. The two of them take off across America. Warrington forces his children to come together and talk to one another in order to locate April and him.“The book is about a man trying to bring the family together before it’s too late,” King said. The novel took King about a year and a half to write. He began writing the novel in a masters program he had entered after nearly 30 years of being away from school.“I found out about [the contest] on an agent’s blog and decided to investigate it and found out I was a day or two from missing the deadline,” King said. “I put together a pitch, description and manuscript and sent it in.” “Bill Warrington’s Last Chance” was already complete when King spotted the contest. King had previously written two novels that were not published. Winning the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award was truly King’s “first chance.”“I majored in American Studies. [Professor] Elizabeth Christman, who recently passed away, really encouraged me. She was confident that one day, I would have a novel published,” King said. King is currently a freelance corporate writer but hopes his breakthrough novel will lead him into a career of fiction writing.“I’ve already started on another novel, and I’m hoping this is beginning of a different kind of writing career,” he said. King tells aspiring writers getting published may take awhile, but the key to success is just to keep trying.“It helps to be a stubborn Irishman — which I am. It may take you awhile but keep writing, keep submitting, and don’t give up on the dream.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving us all trapped inside during self-isolation and quarantine, it can be difficult to stay sane. That’s why I’m here to provide you with some sports you can do at home to stay active and keep yourself occupied with the days getting longer and longer.Just a disclaimer before I begin — a few of these sports were made up on the fly and may be illegal and/or physically harmful depending on who you are. Please stay safe and take care of yourself and others. Now let’s get to it.Football: Projecting selections of Badgers in 2020 NFL DraftThe University of Wisconsin football team finished 2019 with a 10-4 (7-2 Big Ten) record, winning the Big Ten West Read…Trash Basketball — Trash basketball is one of the most self-explanatory games to exist for those of you stuck at home. It is also one of the easiest to play, as it requires few materials and few rules.While you can use basically any material for the ball, I suggest crumpled up paper or paper towel wrapped in duct tape to provide more weight and to make the ball more aerodynamic.Simply make your ball, get a trash can — preferably one without garbage — and shoot away. Another perk of this game is you can play by yourself or compete with friends and family. For a twist on the classic game, add a fan to make the game more difficult.Men’s Basketball: Looking back on Wisconsin’s roller-coaster seasonThe University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s 2019-20 season was a rollercoaster in the truest sense of the word. While Read…Video Games — Last week, we provided you with a few sports video games to try at home. While NCAA Football 14, Wii Sports and Rocket League are among the best sports games around, there are also plenty of other options.For those feeling nostalgic, like myself, I would recommend MVP Baseball 2005 and Madden NFL 2004, two games that shaped my love for sports video games.For those who enjoy new video games, I would recommend MLB The Show 20 and NBA 2K20.Lastly, for those who want to try something new but not too difficult, I would recommend any of the Backyard Sports Series and NBA Jam.Sports video games to try during quarantineThere’s simply no way around it, it’s a tough time to be a sports fan. All large gatherings necessary for Read…Drinking/betting games — Most people, especially college students, enjoy betting on sports. Or, for those who don’t have money to blow on betting, playing drinking games relating to sports.Unfortunately, there almost no live sports in the world at this point in time, so instead we must resort to betting and playing drinking games with something else. But what?I’ll give you two options — video games and the news.Video games are the more obvious choice, as many people have already been showcasing video game bets on NBA 2K20 and Madden NFL 2020. Either way, you can bet with your friends on games you play or just run a simulation to add some excitement to the matchups.The news, which can seem depressing and monotonous during these difficult times, may seem like an odd choice for betting or playing drinking games. But hear me out.Choose a word, any word, and either bet on how many times that word will be blurted during the newscast or drink every time you hear the word. If you’re feeling risky with drinking, I challenge you to do this with either “COVID” or “coronavirus.” I guarantee you’ll be wasted by the end of an hour-long newscast.Men’s Basketball: Constructing Wisconsin’s team for 21st centuryWhile the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team was robbed of a potential deep NCAA Tournament run in the 2019-2020 Read…Beer Curling — My favorite and probably the most creative sport I could come up with — beer curling.So curling is a Winter Olympic sport for those of you who are unaware, and it is fairly similar to shuffleboard. If you don’t know how to play, click here to watch a tutorial.Once you understand standard curling, beer curling is pretty self-explanatory. You just need a long table, such as the one you use for beer pong — another great game by the way — and six or eight cans of beer or another beverage of choice.You can play individually or in teams of two, and you can play to whatever score you’d like. At the end, you can make the losers drink or you can all join in on the fun and drink together.All of these sports and games are great to play while trapped at home, whether it be with friends, roommates or family you’re stuck with in quarantine. Just remember to keep it legal, stay safe and have lots of fun.