Right now I'm sitting here staring in horror at a letter. I found i tucked in among today's 20 or so entries in the magazine's summer short fiction contest. It's an innocent enough letter; the writer simply wants me to substitute the word "pool" for "poll" on page 3, last paragraph, first line of his short story entry.

The letter doesn't disappear, no matter how long I look at it, so I finally decide to put it away in a folder cleverly labeled Contest. The short story must be somewhere among the hundreds of entries we've received, but I don't know where. Maybe if the letter writer wins he'll remind me about the typo.

Under the letter is a contest entry that's 23 pages long. This seems excessive to me, especially when I explained at the beginning of the contest that a reader counted the words of one year's winner and called to complain that it was a several words over the 1,500 limit. (My computer now counts the words for me.)

Still, a remarkable number of entries have come in properly typed, double-spaced, the right number of words and well written besides. I'm in the process of making the first cut; then I'll turn a manageable number of stories over to this year's judges. ** Look for the winners and honorable mentions in our Aug. 11 issue, and if you're one of the contestants, good luck.

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