|The Winding Road in front of Pam's House|
Do you enter a lot of writing contests? Have you ever wondered about some of your weird reactions to contest scores but have been too embarrassed to share them with friends and family because…well, you know, it’s just weird! lol
Having entered hundreds of contests before receiving my first contract, I put together the 12 stages of the Writing Contest Journey. See if you relate to some of these.
Stage 1: You enter your first contest. You’re absolutely terrified, hoping for a kernel of encouragement that you MIGHT have a tiny bit of writing talent.
Stage 2: You survive your first couple of contests and throw your hat in the ring a few more times. Still terrified, but you’ve used every bit of advice from the first few contests and are hoping to up your scores. Here is the time where you have to research POV, GMC, head-hopping, clichés, scene and sequel, sagging middles, black moments. Ack!!!
Stage 3: But you persevere and move forward for another round. The mechanics (punctuation/grammar) are much better, so now you can now concentrate on cliches and craft.
Stage 4: You still don’t know why one judge dings you for a cliché and the other one doesn’t, or why one judge loves your heroine, but the other thinks she’s too stupid to live, but your scores are better (most of the time) and you’ve got a pretty good handle on POV. Now you really have contest fever, and you’re dreaming of a finalist slot, but you’re still not sure if you’re ready yet.
|The fenced in "lane" behind Pam's house going toward the hay field.|
Stage 5: Finally, you snag a finalist slot!!! But was it a fluke? Can you do it again? With that first finalist slot, you’re just thrilled to final. If there are 4 finalists, you know you’re not ready to win (what would you DO if an editor asked for a complete????), but you’d rather not end up #4 either. 2nd or 3rd place would be perfect.
Stage 6: You are a star! You finalled in a writing contest. You’ve proved to yourself and the publishing world that you can write. It’s just a matter of weeks (or the next contest) where big name agent or editor discovers you. Then one of your manuscripts that has already finalled and/or won in a couple of contests crashes and burns and comes in dead last in a field of 52. You’re a has-been before you had a chance to be. Sigh.
|The old Natchez Trace north of Natchez, MS. Wagons and travelers|
wore this trail down over hundreds of years.
Stage 7: This is where you get serious. You get a little bit mad at how hard this is, how subjective, and you get a lot hardheaded. This is where you decide to fish or cut bait. All these thoughts run through your mind as you’re shredding your latest masterpiece. Breaking in is too hard! There’s too much to learn! But there’s something there that makes you want to try for one more rung of the publishing ladder. So you do. After all, that manuscript just won 3 contests. By this time, you’ve developed some writing buddies who can help pull you through this stage.
Stage 8: You pull up your big girl panties, grit your teeth and declare you’re going out there again. You’ve realized this is BUSINESS, not just fun-and-games, and that it is subjective, and everyone isn’t going to like what you do, but you’ve got enough feedback under your belt to know that SOME people do like what you do, and that’s enough to keep you going.
Stage 9: Now you get strategic. You develop a plan. You figure out which genre you’re most passionate about, you figure out what houses you’re best suited for, you figure out which of the half-dozen manuscripts you’re working on are the best you’ve got, and you run with that. Here you start finalling and winning more and more contests.
Stage 10: You’ve got a lot of contests under your belt, maybe even signed with an agent. Editors are requesting your stuff. Here, you’re likely to cut down on the number of contests you enter, just entering the big ones like the Golden Heart and the Genesis, and maybe a couple just because a certain editor or agent is judging. If you have an agent to send your stuff out, entering lots and lots of contests isn’t as critical.
Stage 11: You’re still in contest mode, but you’re very selective, and you only enter your absolute BEST work. It’s not exactly smart to enter a half-baked idea that MIGHT get in front of that editor who’s already got one of your best stories sitting on his or her desk.
Stage 12: Well, since these stages were about entering CONTESTS, I guess this is the last stage. At some point, an editor is going to pick up the phone and call you or your agent and offer a contract, and when you accept, you are ineligible to enter contests for the unpublished. And you enter a whole new set of stages as a published author.
Like the hero’s journey, these stages can be reversed, you can go through the same stage more than once, and you might even skip some of them, but for most of us, they’re probably much the same. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you make it to stage 12, the odds of you crossing the bridge to publication are pretty high.
When Pam saw the list of proposed titles for the 12 Brides of Christmas series, she jumped on The Evergreen Bride as her title. “I knew immediately the story would be set in my home state of Mississippi, which is an evergreen state. We rarely have snow and even in the middle of winter, we still have a lot of greenery,” thus the heroine’s dream to see a white Christmas with her own eyes.
|Pam's mother-in-law's bridge to nowhere. lol Actually, it goes to a|
delightful island in the middle of their pond. Great fishing
spot and her yard is filled with gorgeous flowers and photo opps.
Have you read The Evergreen Bride yet? If so, the world would love to know what you think. Click here to review it on Amazon...and if you haven't read it, well...