I interrupt my stream of one-paragraph blurbs about the stories in my collection Transcendent Guide to Corporate America with the news that the book has been shortlisted for the Mary Roberts Rinehart Fiction Contest. So my chances have gone from one in a thousand to one in 20 and now one in 10. If I win I get published and go to a book fair in Virginia where I'll appear with contest judge Porochista Khakpour on C-SPAN, or so I've been told. 

I'm in the middle of reading the wonderful and hilarious Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem and with that running around my head the word "shortlisted" sounds like something you don't want to be if you run around with the wrong crowd in Brooklyn or Jersey. But I'm very glad to be shortlisted in this case. They called it "this eccentric collection." If they said it, it must be so.

Here's something about Mary Roberts Rinehart.