I entered some writing contests in January. You may recall that my mother gave me The Guide to Literary Agents at Christmas. After flipping through the index, I decided to join the Romance Writers of America. It was a small gesture that made me feel committed to my writing. When I visited the RWA website, I discovered that the various chapters across the nation sponsor writing contests. I read the descriptions and requirements of each contest, and decided to enter three: Cleveland Rocks, the Winter Rose, and Between the Sheets.
Cleveland Rocks judged my first 6000 words, and Winter Rose my first chapter. Between the Sheets was my favorite, because I had to submit a love scene. Let me tell you, gentle readers, I labored long and hard on that scene. I had many discussions with my de facto editor, Janet, and my sister, Erin, who had to call me from the Safeway parking lot, for privacy. I dare say, it's sexy. Perhaps even hot. I giggled when I sent it off.
While visiting Mom, I got an email from Cleveland Rocks. It informed me that I wasn't a finalist, but my comment sheets were attached. I took a deep breath, and opened the file. The two judges were very complimentary, and insightful. Both said they would have kept reading! I was giddy with delight.
When my plane touched down in Newark, I turned on my phone, and saw I had a voicemail from Texas. I listened to the nice woman with the charming accent explain that I am a Winter Rose finalist! Wait, that makes me sound like a beauty contestant. Rather, my entry, "Big Sky," is a finalist! I really wanted to whoop, but I'm not big on public yakking, so I mad-texted instead, first to the Captain, then Mom, Janet, and June, my de facto agent. When I got home, I saw Two, asked about his week, and then said, "Okay, enough about you. Guess what happened to me??!!" I smiled for a solid day, as I made everyone look at my name in print on the Yellow Rose website.
I'm not going to lie, and say it doesn't matter if I win or lose. It would be fantastic to win. But, to paraphrase the Academy Award nominees, just getting to the final is a prize, because someone from Harlequin will read my submission. And I am unafraid. Letting June and Janet read my first draft was more nerve-wracking than this. They read A LOT of romance. They know much, much more than I do about what makes a satisfying novel. When they gave me their seal of approval, I felt like I could compete, even if I do still think they grade me on a curve. Writing my first sex scene was even more excruciating. It took me days and days to get up the nerve to let it be read. By comparison, having strangers critique me is cake.
I have entered two more contests since I submitted to those first three. I realize I'm in danger of being labeled a contest slut, but I don't care. This is my first book. Tart me up, and ship me out! I want all those kind, talented judges to read what I've written, and tell me what they think. Some will like it, some won't, and I'm okay with the results.
There are many writers with more talent and skill than I possess right now. More than anyone else, I am competing with myself, because I want to get better at my craft. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, especially in the last four months, and I can't wait to do more. Maybe it was the vacation, or the arrival of Spring, but I am in a particularly optimistic mood. I want to stride forth, armed with a fertile imagination and a fearless soul!
I haven't heard from the Between the Sheets folks. I think they lost my entry, because they posted the finalists and I haven't received my comments. It's too bad, because it was a really good sex scene. Even the Captain agreed, and he's hardly my target demographic. Oh well. Time to re-apply the lipstick, hike up the skirt, and slink on over to the next contest. I'm a cheap date.