Back in September, we started with 131 contestants. We are about to go to 9.
It's been a long and twisted road - that, for 5 of you is about to come to an end. Tomorrow morning that post will go up and you will know your fate.
But before we get to that, there is something to celebrate. No, not just all of your hard work or the fact that we are here together.
We are here to celebrate the Gatekeepers.
For those who have never encountered them before, or for those who may have forgotten - The Gatekeepers is what I call a hand-selected group of judges that I bring in once per season.
These aren't just random people. Some are long time Idol supporters and former contestants.
Some are strangers to these parts, who had little, to no, idea that LJ Idol was even a thing before I invited them to become a judge this week.
What they have in common is that they are folks that I admire and trust their opinions, who were willing to take the time out of their lives to sit down, read your entries and let me know what they thought. I tried to get a cross-section of literary tastes and levels of experience, to keep the playing field as level as possible, and they certainly did not disappoint. As has become customary in Season 11, voting was all over the place!
Some gave me detailed constructive feedback to share with you. Some gave me a couple brief things to share with a couple folks. Most just sent me a list of names. All of them gave me votes, and that's what is important. :)
Seriously though, I put out the call - and these people answered. I can't begin to explain what, from this side of the internet, that feels like. It's extremely flattering, and more than a little humbling to have folks willing to do that.
So I hope, regardless of what the outcome is, that you take the time to thank them for everything they have done for us over this past week. For reading the entries and helping make some really difficult decisions.
Now comes the fun part - the reveal.
Your Gatekeepers for Season 11 were: Anita DeRouen
- Director of Writing and Teaching at Milsaps College in Mississippi. She does "Prof to Go" work through her blog: https://anitaderouen.com/tutoring-editing-services/ spydielives
- Spydie is one of Idol's most long-term and loyal contestants/supporters/friends. If you've been here for any length of time, you know her and know how strict her judging criteria was. sra33
- One of Idol's biggest cheerleaders. If Spydie was going to rake you over the coals, I knew Sammy-Jo was going to look for the best in everyone. She designed the logo for this season, took the pictures for my engagement a long time ago, and oh yeah, in her spare time has worked on graphic animation for nearly every Marvel and Disney live action movie that has come out for the past 5 years or so. Robbie Dorman
- Writer and podcast host. All around great guy. http://robbiedorman.com/
for more information. His 5th novel is available for pre-order https://www.amazon.com/War-Halloween-Robbie-Dorman-ebook/dp/B08C9GSYVL sarcasmoqueen
- Do I really have to introduce her? She hasn't been gone *that* long? You know her, you love her. I did ask everyone is they had anything to promote. This was her answer: "I WOULD like to wish that everyone in LJ Idol land is staying safe, staying healthy, and WEARING MASKS IN PUBLIC!! I'm hoping that Covid will be a distant memory by early 2021, and the only way that can happen is if we all do our part." I'm pretty sure everyone else also wants you to stay safe, and wear a mask in public. But she said it first. So she gets credit!joeymichaels
- Winner of LJ Idol: Friends and Rivals mini season. Servant of cats. suesniffsglue
- Winner of LJ Idol: Season 9. Servant of a baby.
(Seriously though, you know these two. You know how amazing they are) tigrkttn
- Is someone else I don't have to introduce. Based on the number of votes that she ended up receiving for the Spirit of Idol, you remember what she meant to this season quite well. There was actually a point where I thought she was going to end up winning it. Which would have been the first time someone who was already eliminated would have taken that prize. That says a lot about how folks feel about her. But what you might NOT know is that she's a professional editor! Shadowcat Editing
(www.shadowcatediting.com) is currently accepting new clients and welcomes authors writing in any genre, particularly romance, LGBTQ, and suspense/crime thrillers. Sign up for my mailing list to be first in line for my upcoming Virtual Critique Groups!Jonah
- I'll be honest. This is one of the picks I'm the most proud of for this season, and there's a lot of these folks worth being excited about. Why? Because I spent my time searching for talented writers around the globe, and this one happened to be right under my nose. I'm his Uncle! Which is only the second time I've ever brought in a family member. (the other was Cynthia) He's not yet willing to share his work with the world. But I agree with his creative writing professor that he's good enough to start putting his stuff out into the world. I'm positive that as soon as he wants to be published, he will be. I asked him to help for the most selfish reason of all, I wanted an excuse to share what I do here. He's never seen it before, and was impressed by it (and all of you!) I thought it might inspire him. So, thank you everyone, and let's hope I'll be posting links to where you can read his work soon! (It goes without saying that he has great taste in general. So I figured that, and his writing skill, actually made him perfect for the job!) talon
- If you know who he is, you know he was the last one to submit his votes. :) If you don't, then that joke doesn't make sense. I'm not even sure I can put into words what he's meant to Idol over the years. Huge supporter. Former finalist! Friend. Kaare
- She's a really great friend with terrific taste. There are times when you just get a feeling good feeling about someone. That happened instantly, and I knew really early on that at some point I was going to ask her to be a Gatekeeper. I'm just lucky she said "Yes." She's a teacher in Southern CA and if you get really, really lucky maybe your kids can have her as a mentor someday. Allison K. Williams
- You know her as the winner of LJ Idol Season 8. The world knows her from various projects such as www.idowords.net (which has her bio for those interested!) I noticed this upcoming writers retreat, that hopefully will still be happening in October! http://www.rebirthyourbook.com/retreats/tuscany.html
"My book, Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to Book comes out March 2021 from Woodhall Press. I also post mini-essays and writing adventures on Instagram, @guerillamemoir and would love to see Idol-ers there!" Antonio Mazarro
- Another great podcast host who is part of the RHAP empire. He's covered some great shows and always has amazing insights. I asked if there was anything he specifically wanted me to highlight. He said to just plug the site "https://postshowrecaps.com/
" and to let you know "Everyone should watch Mr. Robot and The Leftovers and there will be podcasts waiting for them when they do. :)" Which, yes, you definitely should be watching those shows! Post Show Recaps, in general, has great coverage of scripted television. If you are looking for something to do, I highly suggest a deep dive. tamaraland
- A few things you might not know about her, even if you are a long time Idol supporter: (1) She took time away from a CDC web meeting to read your entries. So yes, the spikes just might be your fault. ;) (2) She is "currently working under contract on an as yet untitled non-fiction book about death rituals and how their disruption in disasters and outbreaks and how well governments handle death impacts public perception and cooperation." So a little light-reading. :) Erik Button
-His name might not be familiar to you. But his band Dollar Signs was the inspiration for the topic "I'm the Usain Bolt of Running From My Problems!" Yes, you can thank him for that amazing line. But you can blame me for assigning it to you! :) His lyrics are absolutely incredible, and if for some reason you haven't checked them out yet, you need to do so! Check out their music on Bandcamp! https://dollarsigns.bandcamp.com/
He is also currently hosting a great Open Mic series over on Facebook that you should definitely check out: Facebook.com/eveningmuseclt[Bad username: Uselesstinreliac]
- They aren't as long-time of an Idol staple as some of the others. But seriously, if you missed their work earlier this season (or in Season 10) you should definitely go check it out. IMO, they are one lucky break and a Real Life schedule not tripping them up, from making a deep run into a season in the near future. Vanessa Jean Speckman
- Kick Ass Human Being. Artist. Poet. She's completely amazing. Her poetry album is now available https://callmerita.bandcamp.com/
I knew her as an artist first, and was really blown away when I heard her poetry for the first time. She is truly multi-talented. I can't wait to see what she is going to do next! You may have seen her art recently on tour with Frank Turner, or on album covers. You can find her some of her art for yourself at https://www.etsy.com/shop/VanessaJeanSpeckman
or just follow her on Instagram @vanessajeanspeckman David Dondero
- NPR has called him one of "The 10 best living songwriters." He's modest so he will be the first to tell you that it gives folks the wrong idea about his music. I feel both facts are worth noting. He's the guy you go to see perform and look around, realizing how many other musicians that you go to see are there in the audience. You can listen to his music and hear for yourself why he's so beloved - https://daviddondero1.bandcamp.com/
or take it to the next level and support his Patreon https://patreon.com/davedondero
Idol trivia - his song Rothko Chapel is where I got the Charlie Parker quote that was used as a topic this season! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMLlp_7yNNc
and finally, last but certainly not least - although definitely last in getting her results in due to a family emergency - rattsu
! She made a couple cameos in seasons 8, 9 and Exhibit A. But if you were around for Seasons 6 and 7 you definitely remember her work! If you weren't, you can check it out in her interactive fiction: https://www.choiceofgames.com/user-contributed/fallen-hero-rebirth/https://store.steampowered.com/app/800620/Fallen_Hero_Rebirth/
as well as Breaks, the comic she's been working on, the second volume of which has just been released: https://www.amazon.com/Breaks-Two-Emma-Vieceli/dp/190803033X
(the first volume can be found: https://www.amazon.com/Breaks-One-Emma-Vieceli/dp/1908030216
Thank you to all of our Gatekeepers! I truly appreciate the time and effort you put into making this difficult decision.
This is just a little project happening in a fringe corner of the internet. But I like to think that we have something really special here. Thank you for being a part of it.