***Invite a friend and drop in at University Bookstore Bellevue for my Author Event, Monday, July 19, 6:30 p.m. Homemade lemon snaps for all comers!***
Got the results for the 2010 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest some weeks ago and am just now overcoming my summer laziness to blog about them. This year I sent in three entries: excerpts and synopses of MBC, my YA in-vitro-twins book, and my children's book MIA AND THE MAGIC CUPCAKES. Like any contest entrant, I pictured myself a Triple Crown Winner, borne aloft on the shoulders of less fortunate writers. As it turns out, only MIA was chosen as a Finalist, winners TBA at the conference.
I guess I might have known from my experience with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest that there's no pleasing everyone. Or even two people in a row, which is how many people critiqued each entry. Take, for example, MBC. I sent in an excerpt of an earlier draft last year and fielded scores of 84 and 87 out of 100, with some suggestions for improvement, which I heeded. So I figured when I sent in the revised excerpt this year, it would be met with love love love. And so it might have, had the judges been consistent from year to year. This time MBC scored 64(!) and 45(!!) and drew comments such as, "Pacing seems a bit rough. Cass's year of mourning goes by too fast"--you mean one sentence was too fast? I should have had two, maybe?--"...Maybe there's a later chapter that deals with her mourning in more detail?" Or objecting to Joanie saying she was "a mere 27," instead of saying she was "only 27."
Had I gotten such scores last year, they would probably have demolished me and prevented me from ever forking over the $$$ to put out MBC myself. But now, a year and 1000-copies-sold later, I shrugged, stuffed the review forms back in the envelope, and moved on to my next entry.
Don't know if I've talked much here about the in-vitro twins YA story. Basically a girl who was adopted as an in vitro embryo gets shipped off to a boarding school in California where she falls in with her biological family and gets tangled up with her in-vitro-twin brother. The first reviewer LOVED it. Gave it a 98/100 and a "Great job with this story! I'm looking forward to reading the book one day!" Yippee! Headed for the Finals, right??? Whoa, Cowboy. Not so fast. The second reviewer scored it 74/100 and sniffed, "Plot is convoluted and not believable. Too many strange circumstances and coincidences." S/he did concede that "the main character is well-drawn," but the "shaky premises" did the story in, as a whole. But--but--! Those shaky premises were what the first reviewer called "interesting and--yikes!--something new."
What conclusions am I to draw from these results? Clearly MBC should have been stuffed in a drawer, never to see the light of day, and the YA novel should be finished, maybe, but will provoke love-it-or-hate-it responses. Or maybe it all just means I should keep on keeping on. Write what I write and let those who like my writing read it. Simple as that.
In any case, off I go to the writers conference next week. Or, at least, to whichever portions I can catch in between children's swim practices and meets, a Mariners-Red-Sox game, the Farmers Market, and such. Here's hoping I run into the folks who like me and avoid the ones who don't!