Book Trivia Night a Smash Success

Last Monday night at Break Billiards & Bar in Astoria, the Newtown Literary staff pulled off its first trivia night fundraiser. With 60 trivia participants in teams of four to six, it was an even greater turnout than we had imagined possible.

When we began brainstorming how to “Save Newtown” a couple months ago, the journal’s coffers were nearly empty. We needed to come up with a fundraiser that would enable us to print the upcoming Speculative Poetry & Prose issue—or else resign ourselves to publishing Issue #5 as an eBook only. Our hope was to raise at least $500, with the limitation that we could not pay anything up front to book space.

The idea for a trivia night was brought up as an opportunity to allow us to raise much-needed funds and to engage the community with a fun event. Melanie Sooter (now the journal’s official Events Coordinator) offered to take the reigns in organizing, with assistance from nonprofit board members Karyn Slutsky and Aida Zilelian, Blog Editor Laura Grow-Nyberg, Editorial Review Board member Linda Fisher, Prose Editor Jeff Brandt (hey, that’s me!), and of course Tim Fredrick, the journal’s founder and Editor.

We packed Break Billiards & Bar.

Fast-forward to November 10. Trivia participants began filling the room even before the posted 7 p.m. time, and by the 7:30 p.m. start time, with tables packed from front to back, it was clear we had a great night ahead of us. After playing four rounds of trivia on the topics of Classics, Young Adult Fiction, Film Adaptations, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy, we had a four-way tie. It took the fifth round on Banned Books to narrow the field to two teams.

“Mulligans” and raffle tickets

After the winner of the raffle prize (two tickets to any show at the Secret Theatre in LIC) was announced, we proceeded to the Lightning Round between the two final teams, with no mulligans (i.e., stickers teams could buy to undo incorrect answers) allowed. The theme was “After Dark,” and host Richard Jeffrey Newman entertained a full house in reading questions with an erotic bent, including one where participants had to guess whether a line of dialogue had come from Christian Grey or Pepe Le Pew.

Host Richard Jeffrey Newman.

When the dust cleared, the Boundless Tales team was the last standing. While splitting up the assorted prizes valued at more than $350, the team graciously offered the $100 AMEX gift card back to the journal.

All said and done, the event was a huge success. With roughly $750 raised, we ended up making 50 percent more than our goal, officially making trivia night Newtown Literary’s top fundraising event in its history. But more than that, it was a chance for dozens of people to get together, drink brews, and talk books on a Monday night.

Don’t be too surprised if we organize more of these in the years to come!

Astoria Bookshop, one of our generous sponsors.

In addition to thanking Break Bar & Billiards for giving us the space, and Richard Jeffrey Newman for being an entertaining host, we’d like to once again thank our sponsors: The Astoria Bookshop, Astoria Coffee, Lockwood, Enigma Bookstore, Wine Stop NYC, Karyn Slutsky, and Queens Paideia School.

Many thanks to Jeff Brandt for writing this excellent recap.


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