Almost two years ago, I searched the web for a writing workshop and found TheNextBigWriter. I was hesitant at first, worried about the whole credit system, but when they announced they were having a contest for members I decided to go for it. I entered last year's contest with my first novel The Evolution of Janie. I didn't win, but I got something much more valuable - an amazing group of writers and readers that helped me develop my skills and make drastic improvements to my story.
This year the Strongest Start Contest came around again, and I entered both The Evolution of Janie and Songbird. I wavered on where to put Janie. The paranormal aspects of it made me want to go for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category, but at the last minute (okay, I had about a day to go) I moved it to the Romance category, because to me that is ultimately what it is. Thank God I did!
Both novels made it to the finals in the Romance category and The Evolution of Janie won!
It was one of those moments when I was uncontrollably doing the "Oh, Yeah!" dance in the livingroom while still in pajamas. My two-year-old even joined in :) There was a moment when I thought how sweet it would have been to win the main category, but having read the novel Priscilla the Great by Sybil Nelson the thought quickly passed and I realized how lucky I was the powers that be (Sol) decided to split into categories.
I don't know if I'd mention winning this contest in a query letter, but I now have a voice inside of me saying - Someone liked this. Someone voted for it.
Swift on the heels of my success came the inevitable fall. Only an hour after finding out I'd won, I got the first rejection from my new round of queries. I have to say though it was a little easier to take knowing that I'd just won.
On my iPod:
Where I Started by Wide Mouth Mason