I’ve always had mixed feelings about writing contests. On the one hand, there’s that fantasy about winning, with almost all the validation you’d ever want. On the other, there’s the reality of not winning, which leaves you grumbling that the judges are stupid because your work surely is prize-worthy.
In my day job there are a lot of awards contests for which my day-job writing is eligible. But I haven’t entered any of those contests in many years. Once you get a long losing streak, you start worrying about breaking records for losing.
But a novel is different. A novel you love like a child. It is perfect, worthy of accolades, right?
So this week I entered The Murder Plague in the Royal Palm Literary Awards competition, the contest of the Florida Writers Association. I’m feeling really good about my chances even though all rational thought suggests otherwise. Florida’s the fourth-most populous state in the country. There must be thousands of wanna-be writers, hundreds who are actually pretty good and dozens who are, in fact, world-class. But The Murder Plague is my baby. It’s so cute. Who wouldn’t love it?
The Royal Palm has an unpublished novels grouping. That cuts it down. Then there is the specific literary genre category. That was a tough choice. Is Then Murder Plague a suspense novel? Science fiction? Urban fantasy? Guessing wrong comes with a risk: the rules specifically state that a novel deemed to be entered in the wrong category will be disqualified.
I went with science fiction. The story has science. It has fiction. It’s not full of aliens and spaceships, so judges still might dismiss it. But then I’d just surmise that they are stupid.