No, not more test results. Contest results! I checked my email this afternoon, and there was a message from the contest coordinator for the Winter Rose writing contest. My phone only prints some of the message, so it read, "Dear Megan: I'm pleased to announce that your entry, BIG SKY, has placed..." I was standing in the driveway and I thought, "Holy shit, I won!" I quickly opened the email, and saw "SECOND in the CONTEMPORARY SINGLE TITLE of the Winter Rose contest!" And I've gotta say, I was disappointed. I wanted to win. But honestly, I know I didn't deserve to. The novel isn't finished. It needs work. And that is why I entered it-for the judge's comments. For those alone, it was worth the entry fee.
Three kind readers took the time to critique my submission. All of them scored it, and wrote comments in the manuscript. I haven't even fully reviewed those yet, but I did read the score sheets, and they were extremely helpful. The first judge was incredibly detailed, so much so that she (I'm just assuming her gender) corrected some of my punctuation. We all think she must be an editor, because she had marked up my manuscript with color-coded highlighted sections that denoted different issues.
I would have been overwhelmed, but she gave me the highest score, and genuinely loved everything about the book except for one major issue. This she emphasized, repeatedly, with many exclamation points attached. I don't disagree with her; in fact, she's going to get a big ole' thank you note, for taking so much time out of her life to help me make my novel better. I will send notes to all the judges, including Margo Lipshultz from Harlequin, who read all the finalists' entries in my category. For thirty-five dollars, I got the sum of all their knowledge, and more encouragement than criticism.
As I read the comments to June and Janet, I found myself disagreeing with some of their points. I think this is good. It proves I have confidence in my story, even if the execution can be improved. Ms. Lipshultz finished her note to me with this:
"Then again, fiction is so subjective that this might just be my own reaction, so please take this feedback with a grain of salt."
Not everyone will like my novel. That's why it's so important for me to keep writing the story I love. I'm okay with second place. For now.