Earlier this fall, I submitted the first five pages of my most recent manuscript for young adults to the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest. As I entered this contest for the second year, I was not expecting to win or even be named a Finalist for that matter. My goal was to earn higher scores this time around. I also craved constructive criticism of my writing from industry professionals to help push me to the next level. I’m glad I was able to maintain realistic expectations because I didn’t win, and I wasn’t named a Finalist either. Congratulations to the 2016 winners! And I’d like to thank the individuals who agreed to judge the submissions.
When I received feedback from the three judges who evaluated my writing this year, I was pleased overall. My scores increased as compared to the marks I earned in 2015. Over the past year, I have practiced specific writing techniques, and I was excited to read the judges’ positive comments about these skills. I had achieved my goal, and two of the scoresheets boosted my confidence. However, the lowest of the three scores was lower than I wanted, and the associated comments bothered me until I spoke with a trusted friend. She reminded me I will never please all readers. I must learn what criticism to embrace and what I should acknowledge before moving forward.
In October, I joined a writers group that meets once a week. I continue to improve my craft by editing their work and listening to their critiques of my writing. After submitting a synopsis and the first three chapters of this YA manuscript to a literary agent, I’m excited to report the full manuscript has been requested. I will keep you posted. Merry Christmas! Wishing you the best in 2017.