Recently, as many of you know, Michelle Hauck (@michelle4laughs) and Amy Trueblood (@atrueblood5) hosted an online query and first page contest called Sun Vs. Snow. What follows is my emotional rollercoaster ride during the event:
DISBELIEF: I enter a lot of contests, and I learn so much from every one. I have become a very good novel pitcher, but this contest was different. There were going to be mentors helping the selected entries to polish their entries for an agent round. The morning that the results went live, I was at work, where I have no access to blogs or even a cell signal. At 8:30 I ran out to my car with my phone and saw, much to my shock and surprise, my entry had been selected as one of 15 on #teamsun!
PRIDE: I wasn’t able to load the blog page on my little device completely, so while the results went up at 8:00 in the morning, I didn’t really know much until after I got home from work. As soon as I got home, I read my entry, along with the other 29 selected submissions. I was in great company! The quality of the other submissions, ranging from Picture Books to Middle Grade, all the way up to Adult, was so good! As I read through them, I began to pick out stories that I was very anxious to see on store shelves.
SELF-DOUBT: It seemed that just as soon as I felt proud of myself, my morale sunk. Was I up to the task of revisions? I began to get feedback from so many mentors, and I read through each one with great anticipation. Nearly every mentor’s comment revolved around the same thing: My query letter was too long. But wait! I had gotten some results with that query! But then I thought about how these were the published authors (or soon to be) and they obviously knew something that I didn’t. But I kept going back to my original query, because…well, it was my comfort query.
TRUST: I got to a point with the mentor comments where I really asked myself, “What do you have to lose?” Each of the comments said the same thing. I decided to stretch my comfort zone a little, pull up my big girl pants, and give it a try. I only had a few days to work at it, and I had been given this wonderful opportunity to learn from these people. I would have been crazy not to give it a whirl. So I did.
EMPOWERMENT: Once I opened my mind, I found that I could focus new ideas: New angles to highlight. More powerful words to use in my query. I whittled and worked at that beast of a query letter until it was concise, but with just enough information to keep the reader interested. I finally was ready to hit “send”.
PEACE: Finally I had come to terms with stepping away from my little room of comfort.
ANXIOUSNESS: So here I am tonight, working out this little blog post about my rollercoaster ride through Sun vs. Snow. And I am anxious beyond belief, because tomorrow at 10:00 in the morning EST, our revisions go live on the blog for agents to peruse and possibly make requests. I have no idea how it will work out for my entry, #teamsun #12, Words In The Windowsill-NA Historical. I want the best for my book, and as a writer, I have learned so much, largely because I worked through the emotions of the contest.
If anyone would like to read the revised submissions, they will go live on February 1, 2014, 10:00 a.m. EST. My entry, as part of #teamsun, will be here: chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com
The #teamsnow entries can be found here: michelle4laughs.blogspot.com
Only agents will be able to make comments on the blogs, but if you would like to cheer on the authors, go to Twitter and use the hashtag #sunvssnow. There are some amazing writers out there, and it has been a thrill and an honor to work with them throughout this contest. I wish them all the best.