Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Welcome Genesis Winner Carla Stewart!
I'm proud to introduce my dear friend Carla Stewart, 2007 Genesis Winner in the Historical Fiction category! Please welcome her to Seekerville!
Thank you so much for having me on Seekerville.
I love the thrill of competition. Being first. Not athletics, of course. Board games, yes. Writing competitions, YES! I didn’t even know about writing contests when I went to my first writers’ conference six years ago. During the awards luncheon, my eyes misted over as the winners in each category were announced. My heart burned with, Next year, that will be me.
Man, I went gung-ho in the following months. Writing, praying, stewing over my lone entry. I entered my short story (I wasn’t up to novel length prose yet), and found out a month or so later that I was a finalist. Of course, I didn’t expect to win, but at this particular contest, they called all ten finalists to the front and went through all the runners up before getting to the actual third place, second place, etc. As name after name was called, I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. “First place with Sand Plum Summer . . . “ My heart stopped. I’d won! Me?? Oh my goodness. The thrill of winning that first contest gave me affirmation and encouragement to keep writing, and before I knew it, I’d become a contest junkie—a few wins, some near misses, and many failures.
Then I discovered ACFW and their contest—the Genesis. I knew from attending their 2006 conference that it was a biggy. Undaunted, I prepared and entered two manuscripts for the 2007 contest. The finalists would be notified no later than June 1. I kept busy with my crit group, my new WIP, and tried not to think about it. Then, almost two weeks ahead of schedule, I got THE CALL. I had finaled in the Historical Fiction category with A Dandelion Day.
Here’s the deal. I knew I had zero chance of winning this thing. For starters, it was the historical category. My story takes place in 1958. That’s historical? Well, it was according to the contest guidelines, but I felt like it was a bit of a stretch that I would even be considered. The finals judges (bless their dear hearts) were both editors from very conservative houses, and my story was about shock treatments and a mom who commits suicide, so I didn’t think they would particularly like it.
So, I went off to the ACFW conference, proud just to wear the pale blue “finalist” ribbon on my name badge and take in the conference. I didn’t prepare a speech, because I had no chance of winning. Bad choice. On the night of the awards banquet, I sat by my good buddy, Myra, holding my breath, somewhat curious about whether or not I was fourth or fifth place. When my name was announced as the first place winner, it took Myra and a couple of others at my table to propel me toward the front of the ballroom. Magically, my feet waltzed onto the stage, where Brandilyn Collins smiled, handed me my award, and asked me to say a few words. Uh-oh.
I should have been more prepared. When the applause stopped, the room got very still. Again, I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me, but I knew it wouldn’t. I took a deep breath, willed my body to stop shaking, and drawing from the few bits of acting experience I’ve had, I looked at the sea of faces before me and said something. I don’t remember what. I know the song “Holy Ground” had been running through my head all day, and I think I said something about that. It truly did feel like Holy ground to be with more than 500 Christian authors as we gave God the glory. And that’s indeed where all the glory goes. I’m just a goofy author stumbling through and am privileged to be able to pursue my dream of writing. Once in a while, I even get a glimpse of heaven and get to accept an award. Who can argue with that?
Reliving these moments has been fun. Thanks again for letting me ramble here. My final thoughts—you can’t win if you don’t enter. And, if you final in a contest, PREPARE A SPEECH ☺
Carla’s Website: www.carlastewart.com
Carla’s Writing Café: www.carlastewart.blogspot.com