In Praise of Contests
It’s very hard for new writers to find something that helps them build confidence. I was lucky enough to have a published author as a friend, and she became my mentor. She offered encouragement when I needed it, but she also gave me a quick kick in the pants when I needed that, too. Her feedback was invaluable to me, but I wanted to spread my wings. She encouraged me to enter one of the many RWA chapter writing contests.
I hit the finals in the third contest I entered, and from that moment on, I became a “Contest Diva.” I targeted good contests, polished my stories, and entered them for two years. Making the finals was always a rush, and I loved being able to brag that I finaled six different manuscripts in fifteen contests. But what I got that was more important to me was feedback.
The hard work put in by my contest judges to give me helpful suggestions and good advice helped me become a better writer. While I might not have been thrilled about all their comments, the majority were helpful and constructive, and my books are better because of these dedicated judges.
About the time I figured my contest days were over, I decided to try my hand at published contests. My first book, Turning Thirty-Twelve, was named a finalist in the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence Contest, Mainstream Category. It’s just hard for me to walk away from something as fulfilling as writing contests.