Not everyone may know, but our group is sponsored by The Florida Writer’s Association, an organization whose motto is “writers helping writers”. I attended their annual conference last weekend and was struck, yet again, by what an amazing and warm group of people they are.
One of the highlights of the conference is the Royal Palm Literary Awards which are given out on Saturday. I was pleased to have my own novel, Birds Of A Feather, place 3rd in the Fantasy category. I had entered the previous year as well, but didn’t even make it as a semi-finalist. That submission was at the beginning of my “I’m going to get serious about writing” decision, before I’d found a critique group, gone to any conferences, and had only touched the surface of what I needed to learn to advance my writing craft. It’s nice to have validation that my skills have improved so much since then. Even the version of my novel as it is now, is, I’m sure, significantly better than what I submitted for the contest, so many months ago.
I think that entering the RPLA competition is a very good way to get honest, useful, feedback about your writing. Last year’s rubrics (I don’t have this year’s yet), pointed out some problems in my story that had never occurred to me. I knew what *I* meant, after all. It’s also one of the cheapest contests I know of that provides feedback on such large amounts of your work (the whole manuscript if you make it past the first two judges).
If you have a finished, or mostly finished story, or if you will have one by spring (Nanowrimo, anyone?), you should consider planning to enter this contest. They have a large array of categories, for both fiction and non-fiction, published and not-yet-published, flash fiction to full-length novels, and screenplays. The contest fee is lowest if you enter early (unfortunately, I always end up entering late).
The guidelines aren’t up for next year yet, but that’s no reason to wait to work on your submission. Nor is there a reason to wait until January 1st to make entering it a goal for next year. So pick up your pens, pencils, or keyboards, and start working on those stories!*
*Unless you write fantasy, because I don’t need any more competition (just kidding).