I am H*I*G*H*L*Y competitive. I think it's genetic. My father and three brothers were all very competitive, and I see that tendency in the next generation of my family, too.
I'm so freaking competitive that I even compete against myself. The Sudoku program I have on my computer keeps a record of my best scores at each level of difficulty. My average completion time on the level I was working on this morning is between 7:14 and 8:11 minutes. Once I hit 8:11 on the clock, I stopped the puzzle. What was the point of continuing? I'd already lost.
I know. It's sick.
This brings me to the subject of writing contests. I entered my first one (a RWA-sponsored event) in the spring of 2005. It was NOT an auspicious beginning. Because I had no experience with writing contests, I didn't check to be sure that the judges in my category (erotic romance) would all be writers in that genre. They weren't. As the result, I got a feedback sheet from a judge who said she was "offended" by my entry.
Offended! Did I mention this was the first erotic romance I had ever written? It's a miracle I ever picked up the pen to try again.
Fortunately, I had just taken a class with writer Jan Springer, who told me to ignore that feedback and keep writing. So I did.
I entered four more contests that year--two RWA and two non-RWA. Won two first place finishes and two second place finishes with three different stories.
One of the contests I won in 2005 was the Romance Junkies contest. Since then, I've become good friends with Cat Brown, who owns the RJ website. We've come full circle because, this year, I'll be helping to judge the RJ contest. Go here to read about it. Chris Keeslar of Dorchester is the final judge and a Palm TX (with keyboard) is the grand prize.
I'm firmly convinced that the RJ contest was one of the things that led to my signing with my agent a few months later.
I wrote a post back on September 27, 2006 called "To Contest Or Not To Contest." In it, I listed four reasons why a writer should consider entering a contest:
4) Networking Potential
Of the four, the only reason that ever mattered to me was #4, the opportunity to get my work in front of an editor or agent who was judging the competition.
The RJ contest hit all four buttons for me. If you write romance, I highly recommend it. And check out the Romance Junkies website here while you're at it.
You can read my old post on contests here.
Later today, I'll write about another online contest.