I woke extremely early this morning, knowing the results of the Christmas in July contest would be posted today. I still had about an hour to kill before the anticipated hour arrived and then, BOOM! It was up! My eyes scurried down the winners on both blog sites…
I didn’t make it.
I waited for the stabbing pain of sadness to hit me square in the chest, but it never did. Instead, a more subtle shift in mood passed over me, more like mild disappointment. Maybe I was starting to develop that thicker hide of skin required of writers in order to survive the querying and critiquing process. That’s about the time I noticed that I had received an honorable mention. One of the hosts, Ruth Lauren Stevens, explained how difficult making the final cuts had been and said of the honorable mentions,”I don’t know if it helps but I want all the people on the list to know that I wavered A LOT over this first set of mentions.” I was in this first set of ten she was talking about.
That was nice and it took some of the sting out of losing. I made sure to thank the hosts for the honorable mention and went about my day. I then got a response from both of them that made me start to feel even better and really look at my honorable mention and how well I’d done in a different light.
Here they are:
Did you get that?
Great query. Great! Query!
Someone had finally said I had a great query!
My. Query. Had. Improved. FINALLY!
Holy crap! Then I started to think about the number of entries. There had been 356. Only 30 entries were chosen. An additional 41 received an honorable mention. Even if I hadn’t made the cut, I’d done better than 300+ entrants. That is quite an accomplishment. Then I started getting congratulations tweets from other writers on my honorable mention and saw several posts congratulating the winners AND the honorable mentions. I thought, hey! That’s me!
A fellow honorable mentioner(?) pointed out that it was fate. She said that if we were involved in this contest as winners, we wouldn’t be actively submitting to agents and might miss an even better opportunity. Getting this close and not winning would only light a fire under our butts and encourage us to get out there and start submitting even harder while the others were hung up in the contest.
It is a more positive way of looking at the situation, I admit. It also explains how I feel at the end of this day; completely charged up and ready to hit the querying trail. I no longer fear/despise/loathe the query. Bring on the submissions! Butt fire lit!
As a bonus for following me, and because I’ve had some requests to do so, I’m posting my query that doesn’t suck here. It’s quite a difference from the last time I posted one. Enjoy!
CHRISTMAS IN JULY CONTEST ENTRY:
The life Sara Peterson knows ends when she climbs the ladder to her sister’s bedroom and witnesses an unimaginable scene. She finds herself exiled from home, surrounded by deviants and sociopaths, while trying to convince those in charge that she’s not crazy.
Sara is admitted to Whispering Sands treatment center as an alcoholic runaway to protect a secret that’s not her own. She’s a straight talker but no believes her when she says she doesn’t need to be there. It’s like a convicted felon claiming they’re innocent. Abandoned in the middle of a strange, violent world with too many bizarre rules to learn and assigned a suicidal roomie who wants to rip everybody’s face off, Sara must find a way out. Never a rule breaker on the outside, she can’t stop breaking rules on the inside, especially when she meets Matt, the only one she trusts with the real reason she’s there. Stolen moments with Matt in secret places are Sara’s only refuge from the craziness and may save her dwindling sanity. Even if Sara does manage to escape her hopeless situation, her future is uncertain. One thing she does know, she can never go back home.
INSTITUTIONALIZED; I’M NOT CRAZY is a young adult novel complete at 86,000 words. I have worked in the mental health field directly with adolescents in psychiatric facilities similar to the one described in my book. This manuscript won first place in the YA category in the 2012 Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. annual contest. I am also an active member of the Oklahoma SCBWI. Thank you for taking the time to consider my book. I look forward to hearing from you.
First 500 Words:
That last rum and Coke was a big mistake. I gripped the aluminum ladder. The world swirled around me. I burped and the sickly sweet smell made me gag. Mom would be so proud. I giggled at the thought, letting loose with one hand and swaying a little.
“Damn it, Sara, hold on with both hands up there,” Dylan called from below.
“Shhh,” I held a finger up to my lips and looked down at my date. “I got this.” I adjusted the plastic crown that slid to the side of my head. I smoothed down the fly-away toile of the dress I borrowed from my sister Sam, straightened my shoulders, and started climbing. Man, is this thing wobbly. I started giggling again. I tried to choke it off, but ended up snorting instead. That only made me laugh harder.
“C’mon! You’re gonna wake up your parents.”
I sighed. Dylan was getting tiresome. He’d been awesome at the Spring Fling dance. He’d told me that I was beautiful and the kissing – oh, my God. I could’ve done that all night. My heel slipped on the metal rung.
“Ahhh!” I hugged the cold metal. It felt soothing on my cheek. Everything was spinning.
“Shit!” Dylan said. “Are you all right?”
“Mmm, hmm.” I clung to the flimsy ladder, still swaying. “Gimme a minute.” Looking up, I could see my sister’s light was on. She’d called me freaking out. I didn’t know why. So, I was out after curfew. No one else had noticed.
“C’mon, Sara,” Dylan said. “Do I need to come get you down?”
“I’m alllllll riiiight.” The spinning had slowed. Still there was no way I was gonna make it up any further with my heels on.
“Look out below!” I kicked off my obnoxious shoes.
“Nice.” Dylan mumbled.
I laughed and then started climbing again. He was so serious. I hadn’t noticed earlier. I’d been focused on other things. Like how strong his hands were when he’d held me and how I felt all tingly when he kissed me right on the dance floor – in front of everyone. And me just a sophomore. So surreal.
I made it to the top. I hitched up my dress, swung my leg over the railing, and climbed onto the deck. When I stood up, I knocked into the ladder. I caught it just before it banged against the house. Dylan swore below. I muffled a laugh.
The rough wood prickled my bare feet. I maneuvered between deck chairs to avoid the squeaky boards. I crept up to Sam’s window. It would be fun to scare her. She was always jumping out at me from behind closet doors or around corners. Now it was her turn. I stifled more giggles. She’d left her window cracked. For someone so perfect, she was pretty good at this sneaking around stuff. I could just see through a part in her curtain.
I peeked in and froze. My dad was there. Shit!
Have an excellent weekend. Good Luck to those who made the cut! And to those who didn’t, keep on revising, we’ll get there!