In my last post, I mentioned I had entered my novel, Stella’s Plea, in a publishing contest. Two weeks ago, I received the email notification announcing the winners, one for fiction and another for non-fiction. No, I didn’t win but I asked people to rejoice with me just the same. Why?
I was shortlisted. But not only was my name in the shortlist, it was at the top of it. At first, I wasn’t sure what that meant. Were the names in a random order? They were not alphabetical, nor were the book titles. In that moment, I joked about it and simply chose to believe I would have won if there had been two fiction winners. Shortly afterward, I received another email confirming the reason my name was at the top: I was the first runner-up.
To some, getting this close to winning might feel like a disappointment or even a failure. The first reaction might be to give up; with thoughts like: “I tried, and didn’t win, let’s try something else.”
In my case, it was . . . hard to describe. I tend to be a perfectionist, and it seems like things are never good enough until someone tells me to leave it alone, it’s fine. Since Stella’s Plea is my first novel, in my mind it just wasn’t good enough to make it that far. I certainly didn’t expect to win. I know; why bother entering with that kind of attitude??? The saying “there’s always room for improvement” comes to mind.
But I did make it this far, though not on my own. It’s thanks to the encouragement and support of so many people. I could have given up when I didn’t win last year’s contest, but I had my heart set on doing something with this story and people encouraged me to stick with it. I entered the same (revised) story in the same contest a second time. I admit I never realized how many edits go into this, but it was well worth it. I would do it all over if I had to because there is so much to gain.
Back in April, Stella MacLean edited/critiqued my full manuscript. I made several changes and sent it in to the contest. While waiting for the contest results, I decided I needed a new set of eyes to go over these changes because mine just didn’t pick up all the typos which the spell-checker doesn’t pick up either, grammatical errors (my French tends to kick in when I least expect it and there are English expressions I don’t use properly), etc. Lee Carey, another author I met recently, became that new set of eyes, and worked with me for about 4 weeks.
Writing has become a wonderful journey, one that’s far from done, because now, it’s time to publish Stella’s Plea. Until now, the question was whether to self-publish as an e-book; or go with the original idea, a paperback with Steeple Hill (Love Inspired Suspense Series). The thought of having my very own paperback in my hand is a yearning I can’t shake. But, I vowed if I didn’t win, I would self-pub it. I hummed and hawed long enough about it, I have made my decision. I’m going with Amazon (which will mean saving trees).
When I think of all I’ve gained. . . the wonderful authors I’ve met, published and aspiring, face to face and online, the great conferences I’ve attended, the fun I’ve had, all that I’ve learned . . . Humm. . . Bottom line: I may not have won the publishing contest but in the end, I still came out a winner. Now that’s positive attitude.
Note: Since the writing of this post, I’ve had to remove the excerpt. And the book is no longer available on Smashwords but on Amazon only.