Good morning, Seekerville--Myra here. Please join me in welcoming today's guest blogger, Lacy Williams, winner of the 2009 ACFW Genesis in the Historical Romance category for her manuscript Marrying Miss Marshall.
My contest experiences have mostly been with ACFW’s Genesis contest, although I’ve entered a few others, too. After I joined ACFW in December 2006, some gals from my local chapter encouraged me to enter (the 2007 contest).
I did, and spent an anxious couple of months thinking that OF COURSE my entry would final. When the notification date arrived, I waited and waited for a phone call. None came. I thought maybe it was a mistake. Maybe they were running late in notifying the finalists. Then I got the judges’ scores back.
I was shocked. The scores were LOW!
For the next few days, I went through phases of anger, hurt, questioning myself, and thinking the judges just didn’t get my story. Then I went back and reread the comments. They were insightful. Accurate. Some were painful. But it was obvious that all of the judges hadn’t just ripped apart my story for fun. They’d spent time on it and were genuinely offering help so I could get better.
So I kept working. I joined two critique groups, attended writing workshops, read books on writing and studied fiction books I loved.
In 2008, I planned to enter again, this time with a different story. Before I sent my story off, I went back to that first entry to see if I could glean any nuggets of wisdom from the judges’ comments or my story itself.
I was shocked. That first story was AWFUL!
Boy, I’d learned a lot in one short year – my writing had come so far, and I was much better now. I was sure 2008 was my year to final or even win! I tried to keep my mind off of the contest while I waited for the notification date to come. No phone call. When my scoresheets came, I was disappointed, but knew that I would find helpful criticisms from the judges. And I did. My scores went up, but not enough to be a finalist.
I continued working. I found that my critique groups weren’t what I needed, so I quit them. I found my focus – historical romance. I kept attending writing workshops, and it was at one of these events that I found my critique partner, Denice. She is perfect for me – knows good writing, treats her own writing like a business, doesn’t choke my voice, and loves romance.
So the 2009 Genesis contest rolled around. My local chapter again encouraged me to enter. I did, with the same hope as always – that I would final. My day job was particularly busy around the time that finalists were supposed to be notified. I knew the date was coming, but when I got a voicemail that I was a finalist, well…
I was shocked!
And when my name was announced at the 2009 banquet as the winner in my category –
I was even more shocked!
I was so honored just to be a finalist. I knew several of the ladies who had finaled with me, and they were GOOD writers. I felt sure I wouldn’t win. But they announced MY name. I still can’t believe it, but now I just have to look at my plaque to remind myself.
Several things that I feel sure helped to achieve my win:
I never stopped learning, and I hope I never will. Sure, I thought about giving up after I read my first scoresheets. In this case, it’s probably a blessing that I’m so stubborn.
Having a critique partner who challenges me, knows me, encourages me. Based on her advice, my winning entry was actually a second version of the first chapter.
For the 2009 contest, I also utilized a small group of friends to read my contest entry and give me their honest feedback. These girls aren’t writers, but they enjoy reading a good book. And they gave me great insights about what was working and what was missing in my entry.
Lastly, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my writing journey is to learn to give it to God. Whatever it is I’m doing, whether it is writing, submitting, or waiting, I can’t do it without Him. It’s when I forget that fact that I feel the worst. When I consciously give Him control, I find a peace that I can never achieve on my own. And He takes care of me each and every time.
Thanks for inviting me to Seekerville to tell my story. God bless!
Lacy Williams is a wife and mom-to-be from Oklahoma. She writes historical romance with the tag-line "Happy Endings Guaranteed." Visit her website at www.lacyjwilliams.com.
Congratulations, Lacy, and thanks so much for being our guest today!