Contests, Paths, and My Deep Dark Brain

June 2, 2010 at 6:00 pm (Events, Random Thoughts)

So I’ve told you about how I entered the Golden Heart this year (and didn’t final), but I had to share with you my scores. From five judges who worked with a 1-9 scale, I received two 8’s, a 7.4, a 7 and a 4.8 for a composite of 35.2, putting me firmly in the second quarter for my lovely story, BROKEN. Now, I’m totally chuffed about the first four, and almost wish that last score would have scored lower so I could have gotten a golden “standard deviation” score, but alas–it was not to be. The thing is, I’m totally thrilled about those scores. I got two 8’s! And another two in the 7 range! In my opinion, I think those people would have kept reading, maybe even been enticed to *buy* a copy of my book. To me, that just rocks.

On the other side of the spectrum, I didn’t final in a regional contest I thought I had a pretty good chance at. I can’t remember my scores because quite honestly, once I hear they really weren’t that thrilled with my story, I don’t look at the scores or comments. (I may have thick skin, but it’s sensitive thick skin…) True, I’ve kept the score sheets and could look at what I got, but it just doesn’t sound that fun to me, ya know?

But the best part is, not only did I final in the Washington Romance Writer’s Marlene Contest, I WON!!! (Pictures of my certificate and lovely pendant I received as my prize for winning.) Since I’ve been writing for about as long as Justin Beiber’s been alive, finally getting the validation of the call where I finaled was truly wonderful, but getting that email telling me I’d won was a feeling I’d never had.

I know–some of you may be thinking, “But Pam, what about when your wonderful new agent called/emailed you? Wasn’t that as good or better of a feeling?”

Yes, it was, but I’ll let you in on a little secret–there’s still a part of me that doesn’t believe it. In the deep dark murk of my brain, a little voice is telling me it’s not that hard to set up a fake email account and phone number, and how do I really know Barbara likes me? I think I’ll do better with this once I meet her IRL at Orlando, but until then I think there’s a little part of me still preparing for a small Christmas.

So yes, when I got that email telling me I’d won the Marlenes, it was a validation. A validation of the path I’ve been on for the past 13+ years, and of my voice and my skill, and of the knowledge that I am truly on the right path and it is leading me to A Good Place.

No, make that A Great Place.

So here’s my lesson to all that care to listen: Enter contests, don’t enter contests–do whatever makes you happy. But don’t pin too much on finaling or winning or anything else, because writing (and reading) is subjective and what one person thinks is awful, another person thinks is awesome, and I am here to tell you, it only takes one person thinking you’re awesome to make that next huge step. So have fun with your writing and swing wide and aim for that next huge step and think about how amazing it’s going to feel when it happens to you.

Trust me–it’s worth it.


  1. coffeegirl88 said,

    Let me tell you, your positive energy, the whole “it’s a GREAT year” thing is absolutely contagious. I entered a contest on a whim, didn’t even think twice about it. Didn’t get picked for the second round, but I don’t care because it got my off my lazy writer butt and I’m writing for the first time in a month.

    You are so on the right path and I’m cheering for you all they way baby! Wiffers rock!!

  2. Heather Snow said,

    Woohoo!!! So excited for you! And I’m here to tell you, contests are fabulous but they are also subjective. I am a mirror opposite of you. I finaled in the Golden Heart but missed the Marlene with an even better version of the same manuscript. C’est la vie! And you, miss, have snagged a wonderful agent. Great things are in your future, and I will be proud to say I knew you when…

    Congratulation again!

  3. Pamela Cayne said,

    Coffee–HOORAY FOR YOU!!!! I am so happy for you to be writing again and I know your June challenge is just going to rock it hard, y’all! Woot!!! (Go Wiffers!) 😀

    Heather–Isn’t it just crazy? And you won the Chicago Fire and Ice which I sooooo wanted to place in! And your Golden Heart final, and what I’m sure is soon going to be your agent announcement, and all the great things after that! And I’ll get to say I knew you when, too! 🙂

  4. Robin said,

    You. Rock. You’re not dreaming. You’re awesome! And all of your dreams are going to come true, I just know it. Congratulations on your Marlene win!! Fantastic! *pom pom swish*
    Thanks for sharing your contest experiences ~ it does remind us to stay positive and enjoy the writing no matter what.


  5. Marilyn Brant said,

    That is a GORGEOUS pendant and certificate, Pam…and your Marlene win is so well deserved…but you’re right. We win some, we lose some–and every time it just reinforces the subjectivity of this game. I think if we end up drawing in more readers than we turn away, we’ve done well. Congrats to you!!!! 🙂

  6. Karen said,

    Awesome news – all of it.
    Contests are hard on the psyche.
    Glad a good one came through for you (and those Golden Heart scores are pretty sweet too – I was told that one low score means you have ‘voice’).

  7. Rick Moore said,

    What a fantastic attitude you have!

  8. Pamela Cayne said,

    Thanks, Rick! Sometimes it’s all we have, isn’t it?

    And thanks to Robin, Marilyn, and Karen–I think I dived too far into my June writing challenge and got blinders to everything else. You all know I love you, right? 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s