What Does Winning a Writing Contest & Love Have in Common?

A three-way tie the email read. “The first time in the contest history.” The news startled me in a good way. I really won a publishing contract? My Young Adult novel, STRONG WOMEN GROW HERE, will be published in Spring 2023?

After the exhale, I read the whole message. Usually, there are two winners: One for the Adult category and the other for YA. This year there are two YA winners, and I’m one of them.

When the shock wore off, I thought about how winning a writing/publishing contest and love share commonalities in feelings:

1- You’re giddy: like OMG, is this happening? Oh yes, I’ve waited so long for this! (Would you believe 2014)? Giggle, giggle. Stars in the eyes. Happy dance and hugs all around.

2-You have uh-oh moments: There’s hesitation one second and the desire to leap the next. Can I do this? Will this last? What if I fail? What if I succeed?

3-You want to share the news: There’s posting to your social media, calls from friends, and celebrations. You want to share with strangers but don’t because you don’t want to be that annoying person. But inside, you’re smiling.

4-You want a commitment: In love, there are the actions you seek. In writing, it’s the publishing contract. To what, exactly, am I committing? There’s a give and take in both areas and a whole lot of faith.

5-You’re so vulnerable: Will readers (my lover) care? Will people in my past (or lover) think the novel is about them? Will readers buy the book?

I’m sure there will be more emotions as I travel through this new experience. But for now, I’ll revel in the positive vibes and ready myself for the journey.

Here are a few specifics about the novel:

The blurb:

Juana, a naïve sixteen-year-old immigrant, flees her abusive American ‘husband’ and is arrested for his death. Convicted of manslaughter, she is incarcerated and must navigate the prison culture of staff rules, gangs, and violence. When a slight on a gang leader results in an attack, Juana cultivates a garden in the prison backyard to avoid others, but difficulties arise.

When her mother-in-law files for custody of Juana’s baby, she has to fight to uncover additional evidence of her alleged crime and appeal her case or risk losing her child.

The Twitter Pitch:


When 16 yo Mexican immigrant & abuse survivor is imprisoned for the suspected murder of her “husband,” she must prove her innocence while navigating prison, gangs, and depression or face deportation and be forced to surrender her child.

The Storyboard (On Pinterest): STRONG WOMEN GROW HERE

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them below.

8 thoughts on “What Does Winning a Writing Contest & Love Have in Common?”

    1. Hi, Ellen, thanks a bunch. My WordPress has been wonky, so I haven’t been able to read the blogs I follow. I miss your humor, so I signed up for your newsletter to avoid missing one again. I love the pop-up (which is extremely rare for me to say).


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