Friday, November 6, 2009

In Jay Asher's Footsteps

Last fall when my eyes were blurry from staring at my computer too long, I started thumbing through my 2009 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. Not just hypnotically staring at the names of editors and agents I hoped to someday work with, but actually reading those Insider Reports about first time authors.



One that caught my attention was about Jay Asher. Heard of him? Yeah. I thought so. To be perfectly honest, I haven't read his book, Thirteen Reasons Why. But the interview with him fascinated me because one of his strategies for getting the attention of editors and agents was to enter contests. He wanted his manuscript to be an award winner so that people reading his queries would have one more reason to see value in his writing.

I figured if the strategy worked for him, it might work for me. I entered SECRET OF UNDINE in the Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest and surprised myself by winning third place. It hasn't earned me a contract. Yet. But I'm working on it :D

I bring this up because the deadline to enter the 2010 contest is really close. And this year, they've got some amazing judges. Rachelle Gardner. Donald Maass. That got your attention, didn't it? You can see the full lineup of judges and learn more about the contest from the Pikes Peak Writers website.

I paid extra for the critiques and it was SO worth the money. I got more than 10 pages of in-depth analysis of what did and didn't work in my story along with encouraging comments about my writing. The people who run the conference and the contest are incredibly friendly and the conference was just plain wonderful. It was a great experience for me. (Yat-Yee Chong, another contest winner I hung out with last year, has a great two-part interview on her blog with contest coordinator Dawn Miller.)

I don't know if it's contest season or what, but I found two other contests with November deadlines as well. So here's the scoop on all of them.

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The Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest has categories for just about every genre: Childrens, YA, Historical Fiction, Mainstream, Mystery, Romance, SF/F/Horror, and Short Story. The deadline to enter is November 15. Download the brochure to find out more.


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If you're writing for Young Adults but the thought of a query makes you quail, try the Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest, hosted by Serendipity Literary Agency, in collaboration with Sourcebooks and Gotham Writers' Workshop.

The contest is open to writers 13 years of age or older. Entrants will be judged solely on the title and the first 250 words of their YA novel—no additional material will be accepted. You can submit your entry November 1-30.

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Wordhustler is running the Literary Storm Novel Contest. Submit the first 50 pages of your novel and Literary Agent Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary will be the official judge.

This one costs $10 to enter, but you can enter YA or adult novels. The deadline is November 20.

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So what are you waiting for? Get your entries in! It worked for Jay Asher. It might work for you :)

14 comments:

Shelli said...

you are so close - keep going! ;)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I've entered/applied for 12 contests and grants over the years. This past spring, I won first place for a novel excpert at a local writing conference. This led to a excerpt in Lousiana Literature magazine.

Including my win and publication helped strengthen my query, brought me full requests, and landed me with an agent.

Keep up the good work. It's smart to look for exposure this way, especially when there is opportunity to learn along the way. Keep us posted on your progress!

Kim Baise said...

Good Luck Sherri! i'll wish on a star for you :)

Lisa and Laura said...

Sherrie thanks for those links! I am always so impressed by writers who enter and win contests. It's such a huge accomplishment!

And I'm with the others, it's only a matter of time, my friend.

Kelly said...

Congrats on the third place!
Thanks for the heads up on the contests. I agree it's a way to get good feedback, get you writing, and/or get your name out there!
I just entered Wow! Women on Writing's flash fiction contest! Deadline is Nov 30.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Congratulations on winning third place! That's awesome. And entering contests is good advice. Thanks for passing it on!

Tess said...

Why not? We should use every possible weapon in our arsonal, right? Any approach that gets attention is a good approach.

and - good luck on the contests :)

Kelly H-Y said...

Great information and advice!

Susan R. Mills said...

Good for you. I'm thinking of entering a contest or two. Thanks for the references.

Sharon Mayhew said...

Good Luck, Sherrie! I haven't read the article about Jay, but will. His book is super!

Thanks for the contest notifications.

My first story was published in Knowonder magazine last month. It has a contest for the top three stories each month, do you think that is worth noting in a query?

Anita said...

I have a hard time entering contests because I am such a sore loser! Are you going to PPWC again in 2010? We definately need to meet, if you are.

Barrie said...

Thanks for sharing the links. I passed them on to a few other people. Hey, you're doing nano, right? Good luck!!!

Stephanie Faris said...

When I was writing romance, I entered RWA chapter contests all the time. It was a great way to get your ms. out there because often the finalists were judged by agents and editors. I highly recommend it...but you need a really strong attention-grabbing first chapter generally. The book of mine that finaled in all of them, for instance, was one involving a male stripper.

Pam Calvert said...

Good luck with everything and congrats!!!

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