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rone1It’s here!

My coveted RONE award has arrived safely. With my name engraved and everything! Wow! I’m floating on air … again.

It came just before we left for our latest trip. If you look closely at the bottom edge of the award, you can see it’s shaped like a book. How cool is that? I’ve commissioned the hubby to make me a stand for the award since it feels like it could be a bit top-heavy standing on the narrow bottom edge. While he makes the stand, I’ll be gazing at a photo I’m hanging on the front edge of my computer desk. After all, it’s too cool to be an award-winning author and not enjoy the rewards. I smile every time I see this picture.

I’m a big fan of contests. They’re great for unpubbed writers to get honest feedback your spouse, parents, children, or siblings probably wouldn’t give you. I often judge contests as a way to pay back for all the times other writers have read my stuff. But I have to admit that this contest took me by surprise. I didn’t realize my 5-star review on Ind’tale would net me a contest entry, nor did I know that there would be a fan-based element to the contest. That was a real shocker and a nail biter. I had no idea who was going to vote for me and did not expect to make it into the final round. Thanks guys for all your support!

Unlike the Publishers Clearing House contests where your chances of winning are zilch to none (I’ve entered that contest for decades and won nothing … ever), writing contests are not dependent on the luck of the draw. You, and the quality of your writing and your story, are what matters in writing contests. Yes, there’s always the chance of getting a judge who doesn’t get your book, but a good judge will try to overlook that. Like our readers, writing contest judges are looking for a well-written book that hooks them from the beginning, keeps their interest, makes them love and root for the characters, and has a satisfying ending. A nice package all neatly wrapped up.

Some of the things contest judges (and editors, I might add) don’t want to see are:

  • Your first draft
  • Head hopping
  • Too much back story
  • Passive voice
  • A poorly edited manuscript
  • Misspelled words
  • Bad grammar
  • Information dumps that stop the story
  • Weasel words (Words that you repeat often, and we all have our favorites, trust me.)
  • Too-stupid-to-live heroes and heroines

And the list goes on….

Next time you wonder if entering a writing contest is worth it, remember this: even if you don’t get the top prize, you’ll get the experience of polishing your work and some honest feedback from other writers and readers who love the same things you do … a great story.

Do you enter contests? Have you ever been a winner or placed second or third? How have contests helped your writing?