March 28, 2012

The Golden Ticket, Part 1

I was asked to do something I probably should have done already--write about my experience as an ABNA contestant and finalist--but now is a lovely time of year too, don't you think?

Everyone wants to win the contest, but the reality is most of us won’t. Only two people get to do this. The rest of us just get varying degrees of close. Me, I was lucky enough to get about as close as you can. Someone commented that being a finalist was not a golden ticket to success, and that got me thinking. Actually, in a way, being a finalist is a bit like getting a golden ticket. All the ticket gave Charlie and the others was a chance, an invitation into the factory. Only one kid walked out with the keys to it. So what happens to the rest?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. What I’m going to start with is before. At the beginning, because I was also asked to give my advice to those entering. So here goes, my ABNA story:

It all started with a challenge to myself, because my husband randomly asked me one day why I’d never written a book and I told him I didn’t think I could finish one. About a day later, I couldn’t get that answer out of my head. Really, Cara? That’s all the try you’re going to give it? So I set out to prove myself wrong.

I did.

Entering ABNA became a motivator and a deadline. I made it with moments to spare, but the good news is it doesn’t matter if you enter on the first day or in the last few minutes. So my first piece of advice (which you can all use next year, I suppose) is:

Don’t be afraid to enter. Use it as a motivator. Plus, it’s free. Free! If the deadline is coming and you’re not sure your manuscript is exactly where you want it to be, enter anyway. You have nothing to lose.

Next: Round and round. Follow this story with the golden ticket tag.
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