What Contests Mean to Us

We’ve all probably considered entering one at some point in our lives.  Contests.  Competitions where someone objectively (we hope) judges something we’ve created, like a secret chili or ribs recipe, handiwork of our art, or a restoration job on that classic car.  We yearn to enter.  But something holds us back.

I can tell you what held me back – VALIDATION.  Or rather, the fear that no one would validate my hard work.  My characters are my close, intimate friends, and their stories are my babies.  What if people thought they were – GASP – ugly???

The big ‘what-if’ stops so many of us.  It’s difficult to separate your creative work from your own self.  In your mind, this translates into “What if they don’t like ME?”

And the Winner is...

 

Or at least, that’s how it is for me.  You’re probably more evolved than I am.  (You’re not?  THANK YOU!)

At the end of last year, I released Love’s Touch of Justice and the reader feedback I received was super-positive.  They liked the characters, the story, the suspense, the romance.  They liked it all.  So I pulled up my big girl panties and entered the book in numerous contests for romantic suspense.

I focused on contests judged first by readers, because ultimately, what they think carries the most importance to me.  I write for my readers first, and then for myself.  Since readers have so many great books to choose from today, it’s doubly important to have them notice you – or rather, ME.

The jury isn’t in on all of the contests yet.  I have to admit, though, that when the finalists for the first few were announced and “Justice wasn’t among them, I felt deflated.  Why do I spend months of my life on a book, only to have it passed over?

My sensible side argues every finalist or winner deserved it and there are lots of wonderful books out there.  Just like many people can create the perfect tang on their moist juicy ribs or the fine, shiny details on that classic renovation.  We live in an age when people have amazing skills, and they share them – through contests.  We’re all great.  (Repeat that mantra a few hundred times and you might just make yourself believe it.)

Then, this past Monday, when I was thinking that perhaps I’d please more people as a big box store greeter, I received an email letting me know I am a finalist – finally!  Thank you, Virginia Romance Writers’ HOLT Medallion award reader-judges.  You helped me hit the keyboard with renewed vigor.

holt-finalist

Validation.  That’s what I needed, and it arrived when I needed it most.  This news was made all the sweeter by finding out they had many, many entries and scores were close.

And Justice made it.

What’s held you back when it comes time to compete?  How have you overcome those challenges?  Will the next time be easier?  (I ask this last question for completely selfish education!)