A few weeks ago, I got an email that said I was a finalist in the FiW 2008 writing contest. I screamed, jumped up and down like a five year old, and called my critique partner. She's really the only reason I submitted anything to the contest.
More time went by and she and I went to the conference. There were a lot of amazing people there. I got to meet editors and publishers and authors and realized that they are people just like me. I'm not completely over my fear of rejection (I know, everyone gets rejected, but still...), but I'm not terrified anymore. Let me set the scene for the awards luncheon.
My critique partner and I are sitting with an editor/publisher (a little nervous-making), we are eating bar-b-que (and I'm certain I'm going to slosh the greasy mess all over my clothes, and I was wearing light colors too, imagine that!).
There are a few hundred people in the room, and the president of PPW comes to the podium. She thanks us all for being there, and knows we are anxious to get to the awards. So, she reaches over and grabs the first envelope off the table. She announces the category, the judge.... and someone reminds her that there is a guest speaker. The tension level in the room spikes.
We make it through what seems to be the longest speech ever, and then the awards resume. Now, when I found out that my critique partner and I both finaled, I was pretty worried that we were going to be competing in the same category, but she finaled in Mainstream, and I'm a Romance girl (Well, I thought I was anyway.)
Finally we get to the mainstream category and my critique buddy wins. I want to jump up and down and scream and yell for her, but I manage to hang on to a shade of decorum. Category after category follows. I can't sit still in my chair. My knee bounces. I click my pen over and over. Finally, the romance category. And the finalists are... And Honorable mention is.... And third place is..... (I can literally feel my blood pressure rising. My eyeballs are going to explode out of my head, I know it.) And second place is.... And finally, the winner of the Romance category is Crystal Phares with Broken Rules.
I sat there like an idiot for a full ten seconds before my critique partner pushed me and I realized I had to go and accept my award. Reality had shifted for me, and I knew I was in an alternate universe.
I shook the appropriate hands, said thank you, and made it back to my chair without crying or falling down (a bonus in my life). After all was said and done, she and I sprinted to my car and immediately pulled out our cell phones. We both tried to be cool about it, sitting in this nice hotel's parking lot in a 400 degree car, both of us panting from exertion, heat and excitement and we call our husbands.
"Hey baby, how was the conference?" Mine sweet, sweet hubby asks.
"It was good. Met a lot of really great people, got some good advice."
"How was the awards lunch?"
"It was bar-b-que." My voice is quavering at this point and I want to tell him so bad that I'm ready to just yell it.
"You won didn't you?" He knows me WAY too well.
"I did! So did Alex* (I changed her name to protect the innocent involved!)" I practically screamed into the phone.
"Congrats! I knew you would win." He KNEW I would win? How? Did he pay off the judges?
See, my hubby is one of those people who believes in others. He has read maybe 3,000 words of the 65,000 I have written, but he knows it will work out. I want it too bad. And he wants it for me.
So, all in all, the 2008 Frontiers in Writing Conference was a HUGE success in my mind. Thanks to all the people who gave me great advice, and to all my friends and loved ones who have stood behind me! You're the greatest!