20 May 2011

The Results Are In

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.


  1. Coolness! Go Megan!

    And remember, if the chick who placed first is involved in a sex scandal, you get the tiara, right?

    It's fantastic that you got helpful feedback. I'm not brave enough to even ENTER those contests. I'd cry a lot.


  2. OMG!!! I'm so happy for you. I'm always proud of you so that's secondary but I'm also so proud of your self introspection. Is that redundant? Way to go Honey now onward to finish the book.


  3. NICE, Megan!! 2nd place is nothing to sneeze at, especially your first time out. And the amount of feedback you got is awesome.

    Now how about some chapters? I'm pretty sure I'm behind on the latest progress.

    Enjoy the glow of success today~

  4. As Eliza Dushku said so eloquently to Kirsten Dunst in the classic film, Bring It On, "Second place? Hell yeah!!!" Like the brilliant Rancho Carne cheerleading squad, you've beaten a very large field of competition. It's time to jump up and down, while screaming and cheering! (What? You haven't seen that movie a dozen times?!)

    I think it's stunning that you've come so far as a writer in such a short time. You shouldn't be "okay with second place" you should be bursting with pride at this huge accomplishment. Seriously, you amaze me. And God bless those judges for providing such a wealth of thoughtful feedback.

    But if I can throw in my unsolicited two cents - I'd say to enjoy the comments, absorb the advice that makes sense to you, but avoid incorporating any more changes at this point. You've been so courageous to take on all of this feedback and risk (I don't think that I could have done it), but maybe it's time to block out those voices for a while and just go back to listening to Sibby, Clay and Mave. All of that awesome, generous advice will be available when it's time to fine tune. In the meantime, just keep doing this thing that you do so damn well!

  5. @Janet: I'm getting into my cheerleading jacket right now.

    "2,4,6,8, what do we appreciate? The contradictory viewpoints of contest judges!"

    That doesn't exactly flow. But that was the funniest part of reading the thoughts yesterday, when the two judges disagreed about POV. So, what I took away from that was:

    1. Stop entering contests, for now. I'm still waiting on two more results, and that'll keep me going for the rest of the year.

    2. Keep writing. The judges only read thirty pages of the novel, which is not a truly accurate representation. It may need to be tightened, but I know what I'm aiming for, and I'm comfortable with that.

    3. I still don't understand dangling participles.

    So, onward!

  6. Woot!! Go Megan! Also, loving the "for now." Get on down with yo' bad self.

  7. Yay! That's very awesome. Congratulations!

  8. Actually, I think that judge, as fabulous as her feedback is, may not fully understand dangling participles. But I may not fully understand them myself, so I am not the best judge. (By the way, that judge deserves a tiara of her own. If I knew who she was, I would send one myself. They were all wonderful, but she really "brought it," as the Kirsten Dunst would say.) One of these days we will have to get Maccabee to gives us a ruling on the participle comment. He is my lifetime, final judge on all things grammatical.

    By the way, Silver Medal is freakin' fantastic in this and nearly any other context. I am amazed at your talent and further amazed by the insight of the contest judges.

  9. That's amazing! Now, keep writing, because you're keeping us waiting. ;)

  10. Woot toot a root toot! Toot!

  11. Megan, 2nd place is great! Congratulations! I look forward to reading more of your book. Have you given yourself a deadline for finishing? If it will help you, feel free to send Four and Five over to my house more often. Okay, I must admit these play dates will help me too, as my Only requires less of my attention when he has friends over.

  12. @mickey: Well, if it will help YOU...then I'm sure I could ship them over! My deadline to finish is the end of summer. Pray for me.


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