Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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  • RSS April’s Blog: A Writer’s Journey

    • Celebrating the Church Year
      by guest author, Jessica SnellThe Lord is always with us. We are never out of His presence, never hidden from His eyes.But it’s hard for us to remember that.Where He is omniscient, and never sleeps, never slumbers, we are distracted and busy and fallible. Though He is always mindful of us, it is hard for us to keep our thoughts constantly turned towards Him. […]
      noreply@blogger.com (April Gardner)
  • RSS Barn Door Book Loft

    • Featuring Critical Condition by Richard L. Mabry (Doc)
      Back Cover Blurb:It was supposed to be a quiet dinner party with her colleagues. Not the scene of a murder.But the murder of a stranger on her front lawn is only the first in a string of events that have Dr. Shannon Frasier’s life teetering on the edge of chaos: She’s unable to make the deeper commitment her boyfriend deserves. Her sister shows up at Shannon […]
    • An Interview With Texas Author Richard L. Mabry
      Welcome Doc Mabry, we are so thrilled to have you here with us today. I hope you don't mind that I used a photo of your book signing with a different book. I felt our readers need to know you have published many books.And now we want to know more about your novel Critical Condition. What can you tell us about the story behind this book? Most of my books […]
    • Interviewing Christian Author V.B. Tenery
      Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Virginia. We are glad to have you here with us today.Question: Is there a story behind your book Works of Darkness?I wanted this story to show the consequences of not taking responsibility for ones actions, and the consequence of failing to do so. Question: What started you on your writing journey? I’ve always been an avid […]
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    • March New Releases Clash
      While we tally the scores for the 2014 Olympia, Clash of the Titles's annual contest for pre-published writers, have a look at these spectacular new releases, hand-picked just for you. After you've chosen your favorite, let us know which it is by casting your vote in the survey box below.We wish our contestants all the best!Mandy will risk everythi […]
    • Permanent Resident at the Purse Table, a COTT Feature
      “Keisha’s debut novel is a sweet reminder of the redeeming power of love, along with a dose of drama between good friends! Her characters are so relatable because they’re imperfect people who’ve made some serious mistakes—just like the rest of us!”-Michelle Stimpson,nNational Bestselling AuthorAbout the book:If you’re size six, you dance. If you’re Ava Alexa […]
    • Escape to Ireland in "Londonderry Dreaming"
       "If you need one of those “Ahh…” moments, consider taking a trip with Keith and Naomi and read Londonderry Dreaming"--Sandy Ardoin, Romance Author and BloggerAbout Londonderry Dreaming:Acclaimed New York artist, Naomi Boyd, and music therapist, Keith Wilson, loved one another five years ago, until her grandfather with his influence over Naomi sepa […]
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    • A Bubble Gum God
      "Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God..." [...]
    • Spring's Tease
      April is here. It's supposed to be spring. Well, it was supposed to be spring in March but not much has been in evidence. We've endured a tough COLD winter. Now the weather is supposed to warm. Crocus, tulips, daffodils and such are to be poking their heads out of the ground. For every one springlike day we have been getting four to five cold winte […]
    • Seeing The Life - Chapters 1-2
      I'm working fast and furious on my next book, Seeing The Life. My goal is to have it finished by the 15th and the release date is June 7. I truly feel God's hand in this work more than any other. The life of Jesus is well known and studied by, hopefully, all Christians. It places a huge burden on me to make sure things are correct not only in his l […]
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    • Book Review: For Such a Time by Kate Breslin
      For Such a TimeBy Kate BreslinBethany HouseApril 1, 2014ISBN: 978-0764211607Print $14.99E-book $9.99Publication Date: April 1, 2014 Buy the Book:Barnes and NobleAmazonSee  my interview with the Author HERE for more about this special book.From the publisher:Powerful Retelling of the Story of EstherIn 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels a […]
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      The Ginseng ConspiracyBy Susan BernhardtEbook 5.95MuseItUp PublishingJanuary 2014  Amazon Barnes and Noble MuseItUp About the Book:On her way to attend a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town, witnesses the murder of a local professor. When the official coroner's report rules the cause of death to be accidental and the community accepts the j […]
    • Women's Expo starts next week April 17!
      Thursday, April 17, 2014, time 1-4 PM CT location www.BibleStudyExpo.comHere's a taste of what you can expect:1 PM CT - Lisa Bevere starts off our Expo with the story behind her book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero  1:15 CT - Dr. Jackie Roese will share the story behind Inhabit: A Study on the Holy Spirit. 1:30 CT - Kathy Howard w […]
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    • BOOK REVIEW: GOING ONCE BY SHARON SALA
      Nola Landry barely survives a flood in her small Louisiana town by clinging to a tree on higher ground. While hidden in its branches, she witnesses the brutal killing of three neighbors who are shot by a man in uniform in a boat. After being rescued, and losing her home, she is rescued by three FBI agents who have come to town to track a serial killer nickna […]
    • Book Release and Author Spotlight: Paula Mowrey, Legacy & Love
      Today I am featuring author Paula Mowery who has just released her first solo fiction book, Legacy and Love.Paula  is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. I […]
    • Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
      Every now and then a book comes along that will stick with you for the rest of your life. For me Unbrokenis one of them. The story is based on a true story about the life of Louis Zamperini.  Zamperini, the son poor Italian immigrants, grew up in California and was a wild child on the path to serious delinquency when his older brother Pete finally managed to […]
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    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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The Importance…or Not…of Winning

Posted by JoAnn Durgin on March 30, 2011

Ever get tired of hearing the old adage, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game?” Yeah, sure. Tell that to the kid who just lost the game because he missed a fly ball over his head. Tell that to the NBA star who misses the last opportunity for the three-pointer to win the championship, the NFL player who fumbles the ball in the Super Bowl or the MLB player who watches in horror as the ball rolls between his legs while the opposing team scores the winning run in the World Series. Everyone loves a winner. Reporters and fans swarm around the actor holding the gleaming Oscar in his or her hand while the other four nominees huddle together commiserating or drowning their sorrows. But ask most people a few months later, and they’ll probably scratch their heads trying to remember who won. Another adage: fame is fleeting.  So is winning. But if you can reach the winner’s circle for even a moment, it’s nice. Real nice. But it’s not the most important thing. Read on, my friends.

Have you ever won anything, no matter how big or small? Remember as a kid, the thrill of inserting a coin in a gumball machine and getting a cheap, plastic ring or maybe a toy if you could get that claw thing positioned just right? Have you ever glimpsed the unmistakable pride on a man’s face (young or old) who bested some arcade game at a local or state fair and won an overstuffed, absolutely humongous, garish purple or pink bear – but more importantly, the admiration and affection of the woman hanging on his arm? Yep, ask that guy about winning. It’s the best thing going.

When we first moved to Boston, on our first trip to the local grocery store, we signed up to win Celtics tickets. Why not? Barely in Beantown a week, and we got a call telling us we’d won. Along with about 50 other families in the grocery chain’s family section in the nosebleed section of the Fleet Center. But we didn’t care. Hey, we were big winners! So, off we went, plunking down our hard-earned $30 to park in downtown Boston for a few hours one evening (we wised up after that and always took the train into the city). But we didn’t care and had an absolute blast!

On a whim, a few years ago, my two teenage daughters convinced me to enter a contest with a major, weekly tabloid magazine. Sure, why not? What were the odds we’d actually win? I never gamble (for one thing, I wouldn’t know how), and my husband and I were probably among the few who spent a March Madness weekend in Las Vegas  and never gambled a penny. But can you guess what happened? I was so skeptical of the e-mail telling me I’d won the contest that I called the main office number of the magazine’s publisher to confirm it. Then I asked one of the attorneys I worked with at the time to please go over the release with a magnifying glass for the smallest of the fine print to make sure I wasn’t signing away my firstborn. Never pays to be too careful with these things.

Of course, you don’t think about having to pay taxes on winnings, but that prize box was supposedly worth over $1,600. Wow. We were initially lured to the contest with the promise of expensive sunglasses, a Bluetooth headset and all kinds of fabulous items. But even though we got none of what was promised in that “Tony Awards” prize (the same items supposedly given to the Tony Awards nominees and presenters that year), I was absolutely delighted when I discovered a very nifty laptop computer case nestled inside that huge gift box (didn’t matter that I didn’t personally own a laptop at the time). Quickly claiming that particular prize as mine (the girls took all the sweaters, jeans, purses, perfumes, jewelry and assorted oddities), I was puzzled when I pulled out a black, fur-lined pouch. I assumed it was for housing the laptop since the outer, wildly-patterned orange bag was much larger. Hmm… Well, when we searched for this genuine, Italian-made item online, imagine my surprise to discover it was, in reality, a designer diaper bag worth $600. That pouch? Well, turns out it could be untied and was actually a changing pad. Well, okay then. Julia Roberts carried an identical one, you know. So, off I went to work for at least three months with a huge grin and that diaper bag proudly strapped over my shoulder. No one but me knew what it really was. It still looked really cool, and I’d won it!

Okay, it’s time to talk about writers’ contests, and the importance…or not…of winning. Or the next best thing – being named a finalist. Ask former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson about being a finalist. Not such a bad deal. Until I joined the ACFW and a few other writers’ groups, I’d never entered a writing contest in my life. How important are they to a writer’s career? What do you win? Of course, they vary as to prizes. Most are for the prestige of it all. This blog isn’t about all the different contests available because I’m sure most of you can tell me more about them than I can. Many writers post opportunities and contests on their blogs, and that’s a great service to other published and unpublished writers. I would encourage you to enter as many writing contests as you want because it’s a terrific way to get good, constructive feedback and critiques, perhaps make new writer friends and earn that all-important name recognition.

What I can do best is relay my personal experience with writing contests. First, I entered a Flash Fiction contest. I won third place. That spurred me on to enter a second one. I won first place. Two contests later, I’d placed twice again. Maybe I’m done with Flash Fiction – not that I’ve mastered it. I figure four-out-of-four’s not bad and maybe it’s time to hang up those particular shoes. But it was fun and challenging. Why? Because I’m brevity-challenged (go figure), and forcing me to write a story, complete with all five senses, in 300 words or less is a definite challenge. It’s a great exercise – try it.

I entered the ACFW Genesis contest last year for the first time. Oh, the horror stories I’d heard about the harsh judging (you usually get one high, one middle and one low, I’d been warned). It was scary, but I did it, and I’m glad I did. Sure, it’s humbling to get the scoresheets back. I don’t drink, either, but one of them severely tempted me. But you take a deep breath, pray about it, deal with it and get on with it. Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give aspiring writers is to remember that what you write is subjective. And, perhaps most importantly, it prepares you for what’s to come in the so-called “real” world of publishing. Some people are going to love what you write, others not so much. But you need to write the stories the Lord gives you, make it the best it can be, and put it out there. You’ll never know unless you try. In my case, I made a dear friend of one of the judges in the Genesis contest last year, who later became one of my roommates at the ACFW conference in Indy. The way I look at it, the Lord blessed me through the Genesis, but not in the way I hoped or expected. In a much better, more long-term and ultimately rewarding way.

The same story that didn’t final in Genesis earned me a place in the finals of the Romance Writers of America/Faith Hope and Love contest, another very well-respected contest. How important was this contest final to my writing career? Honestly, I’m not sure. In a wonderful development, I received my first book contract on the first of May last year. By the time I went to the FHL awards in Orlando in July, I was already knee-deep in edits for Awakening. But I made some great new friends and enjoyed it immensely. I know the contest final looks very nice on the writing resume, and my RWA final is listed on the back cover of Awakening. But I still don’t have an agent. I’m biding on my time on that one. I know the Lord has the “right” one for me, in His timing. 

Shortly before its release, I was thrilled to win the Clash of the Titles (COTT) Best Back Cover Copy Blurb contest for Awakening. I encourage you to enter this contest since there are challenges for unpublished and published as well as self-published authors. It’s another way to gain that all-important visibility from Christian authors, readers and industry insiders. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’ve entered my book in only one other contest this year. I’m trying not to have high hopes, and you never know what’ll happen because it’s all subjective. And there’s reportedly a record number of entries. But you know how it is. You send everything in, you hope, and you pray. And then you wait. Get used to it since waiting is in large part what publishing is about. Move on to something else. Try to do something every day related to furthering your writing career…no matter how big or small. And then maybe, just maybe, you’ll get that wonderful call, e-mail or communication telling you that you’re a finalist! But even if you’re not, please take heart. The Lord has a plan, a purpose, a reason, and you will most definitely be blessed…one way or another. And that, my friends, is what’s so exciting about this journey. Just wait to see what will happen!!

I Corinthians 9:24: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives  the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

Blessings until next time! 

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2 Responses to “The Importance…or Not…of Winning”

  1. Great post, JoAnn and so true! Sometimes the blessings we receive when we “enter the arena” are not the obvious ones—but often a greater gift that God has for us. The important thing is to strive for that perfection with humility and pray that our efforts will bless others as well. And praying that God guides each of us in the journey of writing that HE desires. Thanks for the post!

  2. Linda Yezak said

    The Genesis contest is a terrific way to get insight into how well you’re doing as an author, when the judges are kind enough to leave comments. I’m a two-time finalist. Some of the comments were upsetting, but once my wounds healed and my pity party was over, I realized that most of the comments and scores were encouraging and helpful.

    For writers, I would recommend entering contests. There is no better way to gauge your improvement!

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