Reposting this from my writing blog:
So out of nowhere, I've suddenly become embroiled in not one, but three writing contests. I had wanted to enter Secession Island in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest this year, but it is still nowhere near finished, so I decided to skip the contest yet again this year. Then, over the weekend, I decided that if I couldn't enter Secession Island, I might as well at least enter something else I've written. I don't really have any hopes of one of my other novels winning the contest (or even making it through the first round), but figured, what have I got to lose? Initially, I planned to do a quick edit of Lunatics and Lycanthropy and submit that, since I've gotten no feedback on it yet. When I didn't get around to looking at it until yesterday afternoon, I realized that wasn't going to happen. Which left me with old faithful: Norfanger Plantation. I am SO SO sick of this book by now, but I took one more quick look at it, did some reformatting, and selected an excerpt. Then I had to come up with a "pitch." I wasn't really sure what to do with this, but after some help from a friend and fellow writer, I concocted something that was based loosely on the book description I'd already written up for Amazon. (Actually, when I got done, I thought the pitch sounded pretty good - I only wish the novel itself were as well-written!) The entry period opened at 12 am this morning. Since they will close the competition after they receive 5,000 entries per category (or Feb. 6, whichever comes first), I was unsure whether I needed to submit it right at midnight or whether I actually had two weeks to submit. I decided not to risk it and set the alarm for 12 am. There were of course technical difficulties with my submission - ie, the formatting getting all messed up on my excerpt and me having to go through and read through the whole thing, manually fixing the formatting until 12:45 am. Good times. But in the end, I got everything turned in. I honestly believe I will not even make it through the first round. This is a fun novel, but it's not my greatest writing by a long stretch. I don't really see it being something Penguin publishers are interested in, but either way, I think it will be a good thing for me to get the experience.
Also this past weekend, I submitted a brand-new short-short entitled "Unipolar," that I wrote specifically for round six of NPR's Three-Minute Fiction contest. Another writer friend had given me the head's up on this one. The only guidelines for this entry were that it had to be a fictional story under 600 words and include one character telling a joke and one character crying. Writing within such a strict word limit was a huge challenge for me. I tend to be super wordy - for example, Secession Island is already probably well over 300 pages with no end in sight. I decided this would be a good exercise for me though, and managed to churn something out and turn it in. It ended up being a pretty dark and uncharacteristic type story for me, but I felt very good about the writing, so we will see.
And the third and final competition I've got my eye on is taking submissions until the beginning of March. Which will give me a bit of a breather (thank goodness), although I've already started working on my submission. The contest is called Bad Austen, and the task is to write an 800-word parody of a scene, language, or character from the works of Jane Austen. I really think they made this contest just for me. I was kind of bummed about the word limit, since I have two entire novels that would qualify otherwise, but I've already come up with an idea for something new and I'm having tons of fun with it.
It's been exhausting trying to get these submissions ready last-minute, so I'm going to try to do better about keeping my eye out for more writing contests and preparing for them well in advance. It's been really good for me to get back into writing, and to have some very specific direction in my writing.