American Eagle Book Awards

Literary Excellence

Now accepting fiction & memoirs

Grand Prize

Our 2019 Winner, YOU WISH by Mark Scott Piper​​

Mark’s bookshelves are overflowing. Among his favorites are Christopher Moore, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen Crane, William Faulkner, Tony Hillerman, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Anne Lamott—all of whom successfully conspire to keep him humble.

Mark has written four novels, three screenplays and more than 16 short stories. His debut novel, You Wish, has been published and is now available in
paperback, Kindle, and NOOK versions. You can find You Wish on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

His stories have appeared in Short Story America, The California Writers Club Literary Review, and online literary magazines including, Scrutiny, Writing Raw, Animal, Slurve, ShatterColors Literary Review, and others. In addition, two of his short stories have recently been Honorable Mention selections in Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction contests.

You can contact him at: [email protected]

An interview with Mark:

Q. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
In early drafts, I sometimes choose character and place names that are puns. It adds a bit of fun to the writing process. Of course, the majority of those puns don’t make it to the final draft. There’s a fine line between fun and over the top.
Q. Where did you get your idea for this book?
In the early stages of creating You Wish I asked myself three questions: What if someone were actually granted three wishes in today’s society? What if that person were forced to make the final wish with the whole world watching, expecting a wish that would benefit them personally and improve the world at large? And, finally, what should the final wish be? That last one is not as easy to answer as you might think.
Q. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
When I’m not writing I’m usually rewriting or editing. The process never stops. I’m also a caregiver for someone who is disabled. For many years I played competitive softball, but I don’t have the legs for it anymore. Now my recreational activity is mostly taking a nap each day.
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
My family and friends have been very supportive for the most part. My partner has always encouraged my quest to be a published, recognized author. It doesn’t hurt that she’s also an excellent, unrelenting editor.
Q. What is your writing schedule?
I’m up each morning at five a.m. and my routine usually finds me at the computer shortly thereafter. Most of my work for a day gets done before eight in the morning, although if I’m in the middle of a project, I’ve been known to keep going (with minimal interruption) until later into the evening.
Q. What advice do you have for new writers?
Write all the time. Even if you only manage a paragraph, you’ve still accomplished something. If you get stuck in a plot hole or you can’t figure out how a scene should end, skip over it and keep going. You can always rewrite it and possibly discover better ways to say it when you edit.

Get humble in a hurry. When you start writing fiction, you may have a sense you’re good at it, and you might be right. But even if you are an accomplished writer, you’ll learn that your best work needs a lot of polishing, editing, and more rewriting than you ever thought possible. Then get an editor you trust and listen to him or her, however hard that might be.

Every author needs a benevolent editor.

Don’t throw away anything that’s been edited out of your current project. Save it in a separate file. You never know when you might find a place to use it later or in a different story.

The internet offers a wealth of information. Use it. If you’re not sure about the accuracy of a detail, look it up and fix it. It’s best not to do research when you’re writing your first draft, but don’t neglect the task during editing or rewriting. Readers will notice.
Q. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your book?
I learned that I’m not likely ever to be able to write a novel that fits comfortably in a traditional genre. For instance, You Wish features a fourteen-year-old protagonist, but it’s not strictly a YA novel. It’s a composite. It’s also a coming-of-age tale, it’s magical realism, and it’s social satire.

I also learned that adapting from a screenplay is not the easiest way to create a novel. By its nature, a screenplay is a bare bones version of a story, all dialogue, stage directions and scene suggestions. The decision to tell that story as a novel gave me the freedom to delve into the nuances of Jake’s evolving character in the midst of the chaotic world around him. That changed things. A lot. As a novel, I could take the story way beyond addressing the “what if” questions.
Q. What do you think makes a good story?
Characters who you can relate to, in a plot that moves you on from chapter to chapter, and a writing style that is engaging and feels honest. It should also have a nice beginning, middle and a satisfying end, but these are sometimes negotiable. With short stories, some of these elements might be less dominant, but any novel needs them all.

Q. What are you working on now?
I am editing one of my three other novel manuscripts in preparation to presenting it a chapter at a time to critique groups. I’m also redoing some of my short stories and sending them out to journals. And I’m always trying out new story ideas.
Q. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a big-league baseball player. I had some early success toward that goal, but I discovered in graduate school that writing is even more satisfying, and it comes with fewer injuries.

Imagine you are granted three wishes—and your second wish is captured by a television news crew and broadcast across the globe. Now the whole world knows you can wish for absolutely anything, and it will come true. Now imagine you’re fourteen years old...

Jake Parker is about to finish the freshman year of what’s shaping up to be a mediocre high school career. He’s a late bloomer. His family is living hand-to-mouth. 

And worst of all, he’s a nobody—until he discovers an ancient ship’s lantern. With everyone on the planet watching to see what Jake’s final wish will be, he becomes an instant media darling, and his social status at school skyrockets. That’s the good news.

The bad news is pressure is bearing down on Jake from family, public opinion, the media, government agents, and crooked politicians as he struggles to come up with a final wish that will truly help mankind. But if he’s going to pull that off, he has to outsmart them all.od news.

Mark has been writing professionally his entire adult life. He is a longtime freelance writer and video director/producer. Mark holds a PhD in English from the University of Oregon, and he taught literature and writing at the college level for several years. He is a member of the California Writers Club, Redwood Writers.

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