by Abbey Hester
Listen. This is L.A. We know a lot of you are starving artists. You’re trying to make ends meet while also following your dreams. It’s hard out there for a pim… writer. So we got to thinking. What could we do to help?
We had this idea for a Story Lotto. A crowd-sourced competition where storytellers would enter for a chance to win some well-deserved rent money. We found some celebrity judges (Bill Brochtrup, Meredith Baxter, Bob Carlson, Amber Benson) to attract the masses. We got a hilarious MC (Lauren Weedman) to keep the audience on their toes. We booked comedic superhero Rachel Bloom to play us some tunes while the judges were deliberating.
Then we scrounged up some great sponsors (Urban Radish, Bella Sol, Fresh ‘N Nova, Angel City Brewery, & Madport Wine Lounge) so that we could donate all of the evening’s profit to the First Prize storyteller. Story Lotto was a go!
Story Lotto Judges & MC: Amber Benson (Buffy), Bob Carlson (NPR), Lauren Weedman (HBO’s Looking), Bill Brochtrup (NYPD Blue), and Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
After receiving over 120 story submissions (!) we finally narrowed it down and the top 10 finalists got up in front of a packed house at The Hub LA and told their stories. And let me just tell you something. Those finalists were good. Congrats to Ali MacLean, Aydrea Walden, Brandon Burkhart, Gisele Nett, Hillary Buckholtz, Leilani Zee, Lorinda Toledo, Michael Kass, Simone DeBlasio, & Susan Lowry for some really excellent storytelling.
And at the end of the night, the grand prize winner of $1,650 was Hillary Buckholtz. Our second and third place winners, Gisele Nett & Susan Lowry respectively, each went home with a free Writing Pad class!
If you’re among the brave starving artists in LA and want your shot at the mic, you’re in luck. We’ve got another Story Lotto coming up in August!! Check it out.
We recently sat down with Hillary to chat about her grand Story Lotto success.
1. Congrats on winning Story Lotto! What thoughts went through your head when we called your name?
It was magical. I was so thrilled. I cannot recall ever winning any kind of contest like this before in my life. Winning. I get it now. It feels goooooood.
2. Your story was absolutely hilarious. Can you fill in our readers on the basics of the story? Do you have a method for telling an engaging story?
When I was in 4th grade I had a big crush on a boy named Jason. I found his phone number, and started calling his house and hanging up. Calling and hanging up on him (and his family) became a very habitual thing for me. It was the late 80s, before Caller ID or ‘*69’. His family was understandably very disturbed by the calls. It must have been traumatic, because they involved the police, who put a trace on the calls, which were all coming from my family’s number. Whoops! My parents confronted me about it, but took it all in stride. My mom sort of laughed it off. She called me “little miss Fatal Attraction”, and we never talked about it again. Until now! I never formally apologized to Jason or his family, but we still have many mutual friends and are friends on Facebook – he friended me!
3. What’s it like being Facebook friends with Jason after all these years?
It’s cool. He is a nice, good person; based on his FB pics, he’s doing great!
4. You were so comfortable up on that stage. Was this your first storytelling experience?
I’ve done some storytelling and stand-up. I did stand-up pretty steadily for a few years. I think doing stand-up is probably the thing that’s made me the most comfortable on stage.
5. What is your writing process?
Procrastination, fear, worry, television, doubt, iPhone notes. Once I hit on something I really want to write about, or once I have a deadline for something, I usually email one or more of my three older siblings to let them know I’m going to write something. They are all accomplished writers and great people. Then I procrastinate some more. I’d say my writing process is 5% writing, 70% procrastination, 25% emailing my siblings.
6. This storytelling competition was sponsored by Writing Pad. Have you taken any classes at Writing Pad and how did they help improve your writing or storytelling?
I took an essay workshop with Natasha Vargas-Cooper that was awesome. She’s super hands-on, both with editing and helping you find a good home for your story.
Thanks for stopping by to chat, Hillary. And congrats on your big win!