Several months ago I entered the Frasier Contest with the first 1500 words and a synopsis of my romantic suspense The Road to Nowhere. Due to nerves and fear (why do they generally go hand in hand?), I waited until the last possible moment to send it off into cyberspace. After I hit enter, I spent several minutes fighting nausea. I finally came to realize it was a done deal. I couldn't take it back. Deal with it. Now all I had to do was wait for the results to be announced on June 1.
Starting early morning on June 1, I checked my email too many times a day to keep count. Finally it came through - the list of finalists. I scanned through the six names, not at all surprised to find my name didn't make the list.
Congratulations to the 2011 Frasier Finalists!
Jennifer Tiszai "Under Blueberry Skies"
Casey Herringshaw "Releasing Yesterday"
Marcie Gribbin "The Town Crier's Daughter"
Debbie Archer "Etched"
Andrea Nell "Saving Savannah"
Shelly Dippel "Flying Light"
What did surprise me was the note below that list of outstanding writers.
And to the distinguished Bronze Medalists!
Marie Wells Coutu
Christine L. Long
What?! My name was right in the middle of the list! Wahooooo!! I have to admit, my first reaction wasn't elation. I've been involved with groups who honored the winners and gave everyone else a consolation prize. I hate that. But I soon discovered there were over 100 entries submitted. It wasn't a consolation prize. The judges believed the Bronze Medalists have talent as writers. Okay, that's when I teared up. I'm honored and humbled to be among those listed as Bronze Medalists.
The next email I received had the following note:
"Publishing is a tough business, and at My Book Therapy, we are all about encouragement. So, we designed the Frasier Contest to empower authors as they strengthen their craft, and award merit to those who are continually improving. Therefore, while there are only 6 finalists to the Frasier Award this year, there are a number of entries whose writing showed great promise and merit. And, even though your entry didn’t final, your entry showed solid writing craft, and made it to the second round of judging. Well done!
"As a result, you will receive the MBT distinction for writing excellence and a 15% discount on any MBT Writing Conference for 2011-2012. (a $50+ value). Your name will be included in the MBT Frasier Ad in the ACFW Booklet, and you’ll be recognized at the MBT Pizza Party and Frasier Award ceremony, at the ACFW Conference ."
Wahoo! I cried again. Now all I was waiting for was the critique, the part that makes grown writers crawl under their desk and refuse to never write again. Okay, that's a bit over-dramatic, but sometimes close to the truth. Today I received the feedback. Four files, two from first-round judges and two from second round judges. Biting my lower lip, I clicked on the first one. I began reading through the information and started breathing again. Here's the scoring break down:
5: Mastered the skill, ready for publication
4: Strong skills in this area, continue to tighten and hone these skills.
3: Average skills – Author’s skill need work.
2: Weak skill – Author needs to strengthen their grasp on the fundamentals.
1: Poor skills in this area. Author needs to spend time relearning this concept.
Here's how they rated my work:
Judge 1 First Round - average score 4.73
Judge 2 First Round - average score 4.03
Judge 1 Second Round - average score 3.75
Judge 2 Second Round - average score 4.8
I'm flabbergasted to say the least! Now I just need some time to apply the comments to my book. The funniest part is the diversity of the comments. One judge said she hated a certain phrase. A different judge cited that same phrase as her favorite. What I need to do is lay them all out side by side and find the common threads. But that will have to wait until school's out. For now, I just keep smiling, basking in the glow that professionals believe my work is good.
Thank you, Susan May Warren, for starting My Book Therapy and the Frasier Contest. Thank you to all the anonymous judges for your expert advice. Thank you for the much needed encouragement to keep on writing.