Tag Archives: writing contests

Why Enter a Writing Contest? (Guest Post)

Image by 6689062 from Pixabay

Why Enter a Writing Contest

by Steph Beth Nickel

Of course, if we enter a writing contest, we hope to win a cash prize—at least get an honourable mention.

But what if that doesn’t happen—especially if there’s a significant entrants’ fee?

Recently I entered a contest because the organization running the contest needed more entries in a few categories.

True confession…

Did I hope to at least win a prize equivalent to the entrants’ fee? Absolutely!

Was I disappointed that this didn’t happen? Briefly.

Did I gain something far more valuable? Without a doubt!

This particular contest included numerical scores and comments regarding several areas (formatting, POV, setting, etc.). I found the scores encouraging (for the most part) and the comments insightful.

Many of the negative comments verified things I already suspected and came as no surprise—although, let’s be honest, negative comments can be discouraging at first. We have to process the discouragement and then consider how to apply those insights that we feel will indeed make our writing better.

We also have to analyze the positive comments and press into them in our writing to make sure we further develop the skills we already possess.

So, the truth is that I’m glad I didn’t win a cash prize. If I had, I may not have paid as much attention to the judge’s comments—and my future work would not have benefited.

Here are 13 tips regarding writers’ contests:

  1. Make sure the organization holding the contest is legitimate.
  2. Read all the details carefully, including the fine print.
  3. Find out if there are benefits beyond a cash prize. (i.e.: judge’s comments for all entrants)
  4. Determine why you want to enter the contest and how you’ll likely feel if you don’t win a cash prize.
  5. Choose the category/categories you want to enter.
  6. Read the requirements carefully and follow all instructions to the letter.
  7. Write the best piece you can.
  8. If there’s time to put your entry away for a time and then go back to it, do so. We often see things we’d like to rework when we review our work objectively.
  9. Send off the entry (and submission fee) and get back to writing. Sometimes you won’t hear the results for quite some time.
  10. If you do receive the judge’s comments, whether you win a prize or not, read them carefully.
  11. After considering which observations and recommendations will make your writing better, make note of them and put them into practice.
  12. If there are comments you don’t agree with (which there likely will be), don’t set them aside indefinitely. Revisit them after you’ve had a chance to process your initial emotions and thoughts.
  13. And if you win—CELEBRATE!

What are your thoughts on entering a writing contest?

Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

As an editor, Steph Beth Nickel has the honour of coming alongside writers to help them polish their work. As the coauthor of Paralympian Deb Willows’s memoirs, Steph has been blessed to work with this amazing woman. And as a future self-published author, with the Lord’s help, Steph has taken brave steps toward publication.

If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at stephbethnickelediting@gmail.com.

You’re invited to visit her website: http://stephbethnickeleditor.com/.

You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

More Kudos for A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

A Second Cup of Hot Apple CiderPositive reviews and reader comments started appearing soon after the release of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider last year. You can read some of them on the Hot Apple Cider Anthologies website (follow the links above).

I didn’t do a review because I have a story in it—didn’t seem proper, even though I really enjoyed the other selections and would love to tell you how great they are. There’s something for everyone, though: true life, fiction, poetry, spoken word, allegory/parable, serious, reflective, humour and more.

The reviews and author appearances continue (37 of us across Canada) and now that the book has been out long enough to be considered for awards, those are starting to show up too.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider was named 2012 Book of the Year in the gift book category by the CSPA (Christian Small Publishers’ Association).

My story, “The Road Trip That Wasn’t,” received first place in InScribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship’s 2011-2012 members-only contest for published work. You can read an excerpt here.

Expect to see a lot of Second Cup selections on the short-lists for the Canadian Christian Writing Awards later this spring.

Canada’s Top Christian Writing Awards for 2011

On June 15, 2011, The Word Guild will present the Canadian Christian Writing Awards for work published during 2010. Contest Administrator Jane Twohey reports a record 260 submissions in the 35 award categories that include non-fiction books, novels, articles, columns, blogs, poems, and song lyrics.

Some of the books up for awards have been reviewed on this blog (see category list on the right-hand side of this page) and I’m pleased to have met many of the finalists through The Word Guild, Write! Canada and InScribe. Check out the complete shortlist of finalists for The Word Guild 2010 Writing Awards.

Finalists are distributed across eight provinces. British Columbia writers account for 8 finalist placements; Alberta 6; Saskatchewan 6; Manitoba 7; Ontario 51; Quebec 1; New Brunswick 2 and Nova Scotia 2. Canadians living in the U.S. and Africa are also represented among the finalists. Each winner will be presented with a cash prize, a certificate and a specially designed lapel pin to mark his or her achievement.

The judges looked for underlying evidence that the writer’s Christian worldview informed and influenced the writing. Entries were judged according to excellence of writing; impact (the inspirational or informational value); fulfillment of stated purpose; suitability to target audience; originality and freshness of style.

The awards are sponsored by The Word Guild, a national association with the mandate of connecting, developing and promoting Canadian writers and editors who are Christian. Formerly known as The God Uses Ink Awards, these writing prizes have been awarded annually since 1988. The Word Guild assumed responsibility for the awards in 2002, revamping and expanding the program from its original eight categories to the current 35.

The Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Awards gala in Toronto is open to the general public. (Get more details here.)

[Adapted from the original press release from The Word Guild.]

Writing Contests

The Word Guild sponsors contests for published and unpublished Canadian writers who are Christian.

Unpublished? Check out the God Uses Ink contest, which could win you free registration to the 2011 Write! Canada conference (well worth attending!). This year’s topic is “Changing the World with Words,” and the submission deadline is January 14, 2011. That gives you plenty of time to write, rewrite, and polish!

Published? In articles, short stories, book-length, blogs, etc? Check out The Word Guild Awards page for details on categories, submission process etc. Submission deadlines: first round: postmarked no later than November 15, 2010 (any work published between January 1 and September 30, 2010) and second round:  postmarked no later than January 15, 2011 (for work published October through December, 2010).

Writing Contest

InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship has announced details of its annual fall contest.

This year there are four categories:

  • Poetry – free verse – maximum 40 lines
  • Short story for adults – maximum 1,500 words
  • Devotional – maximum 500 words
  • Essay to theme – This year’s theme is: “What the Lord Requires” (Micah 6:8) – maximum 1,500 words

Entries must be postmarked by August 21, 2009. See InScribe’s Fall Contest page for rules and entry information.

Check out the InScribe home page for links to writing tips and information on the Fall Contest, featuring speakers Bonnie Grove and Kathleen Gibson, with Barbara Mitchell and Marilyn Hahn. InScribe’s Fall Conference will be held in Edmonton, Canada, September 25-26, 2009.

2008 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award

Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Dautrement of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, winner of this year’s Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for his historical novel, The Golden Conquest.

Although my contemporary novel manuscript, Praying for the Enemy, didn’t win, it was encouraging to hear that all of us short-listed were considered to have publishable manuscripts. So the hunt goes on! [Edited: Want to know what happened with Praying for the Enemy? In 2013, it became Heaven’s Prey, published first by Choose NOW Publishing, and re-issued as a second edition in 2014 by Janet Sketchley after the publisher closed its fiction line.]

I want to say a special thank you to Larry Willard of Castle Quay Books and to The Word Guild for working together to offer this contest each year. In a time when it’s hard for first-time authors to break into book-length print, an opportunity like this is invaluable. This is especially true in Canada, particularly for Christian fiction, because there aren’t a lot of publishing options. (Government subsidies for a faith-based publisher? Not likely to happen.)

So thank you to Castle Quay books for investing in the future of Canadian authors who are Christian, and congratulations to Dr. Kevin Dautrement for a well-deserved award.