Winner Winner Chicken Dinner | Author Denise Grover Swank Winner Winner Chicken Dinner | Author Denise Grover Swank
Denise Grover Swank

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Only in my world could a phrase so ridiculous sound pretentious.

Last fall I entered The Beacon, a writing contest for unpublished authors that’s sponsored by First Coast Romance Writers. I entered CHOSEN, my paranormal thriller (Paranormal)  and TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES, my soft mystery with a touch of paranormal (Mainstream.)  Toward the end of November, I found out that both manuscripts (judges read the first two chapters) had both finaled in their categories. The judges for the contest offered exceptional feedback and allowed me a week to make any changes and send back for the final judges.

On Friday, I received an email telling me that I won in my category. Which one?

I won both.

*falls down and dies*

You have to understand, when I entered the contest, I did it for feedback.  I hoped to get some unbiased opinions on my manuscripts For the feedback from the first round judges alone, the comments were worth every penny of the thirty dollar entrance fee.* CHOSEN had few suggestions but positive feedback (especially when the judge has no idea who you are) is an ego booster. It’s also uplifting for someone like me who has critique partners who write beautifully and have few red marks littering  their pages. One begins to question their own writing skill when theirs comes back with more.

So, it’s fair to say, I entered this contest with the hope of simply finaling. Winning was a fantasy.

When I opened the email and found out I won both (complete and total shock since I know TWENTY-EIGHT has some issues,) I was so excited it took me a good five minutes before I realized the judge for CHOSEN requested the full. (A benefit to finaling in a contest is it guarantees that your pages will be read by an agent or editor.) I was a complete and utter basket case.**

**Is it okay to admit that?

What’s this all mean? Nothing really. I get two certificates announcing my first place rankings and a request for my manuscript that may or may not turn into anything. But just as important is the validation I received as a writer. On the days I read my words and bang my head into the wall in agony from the pure suckiness filling my page, I have two certificates telling me that I’m capable of better. Telling me that I have a real profession, published or not.

I’m a writer.

*I entered TWENTY-EIGHT in another contest and received absolutely terrible feedback, so buyer beware.

What I’m listening to: Lifehouse, From Where You Are. It’s on the playlist of my current MS TORN. I’m wearing out my iTunes copy of this CD– Smoke & Mirrors. Is that possible?

Categories: Fiction Writing
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Trish McCallan
Trish McCallan
13 years ago

Congrats on the wins and the request!

Yep, contests can help to validate yourself as a writer. Sometimes it’s so hard to judge whether your work really has what it takes to make it in this business. Particularly if you have CPs who are gifted, and you’re comparing yourself to them all the time. LOL

Now anytime you have doubts you can haul out the judges’ score sheets, and the email notifying you that you won and received a request.

Good luck with the Berkley Editor.

Trisha Leigh
Trisha Leigh
13 years ago

I couldn’t be happier if I’d won myself. Both manuscripts are deserving of all the praise they get – and soooooo much more. I probably don’t tell you how awesome you are enough, but you. are. an. awesome. writer.

Totezzzzz girlfriend.

Eisley Jacobs
Eisley Jacobs
13 years ago

Yes yes yes!!!!!!!!!

*Happy Dancing*

As Trisha said, both are awesome and totally deserved it!!!!!!

Jonathon Arntson
Jonathon Arntson
13 years ago

So cool! Nice work.

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