ABC’s of Writing, Matilda Butler, Post #11
The Backstory of a Memoir Writing Contest
As you may know, Kendra and I decided to announce our 11 memoir writing contests for 2011 in January. Our first contest, which ended January 31, featured Valentine’s Day stories. We described the contest by mentioning the Best Valentine’s Day and the Worst Valentine’s Day. I don’t know about Kendra, but I was naive in what I expected to get and how many.
What I expected. I must admit that I thought we’d get a series of hearts and lace stories with fancy chocolates thrown in. But, of course, the full range of stories came in, as well they should. Valentine’s Day can be dark as well as light.
How many I expected. This was our first contest of 2011 and we didn’t get it announced until the second week of the month. In addition to the limited time, the subject matter was also more limited than most of our previous contests. So I wasn’t sure how many entries we would receive. Some came in early in the month and then tons (is that a legitimate measure of email stories?) arrived as the deadline approached. The last one came in shortly before midnight on January 31. Since I’m on the west coast, I could accept it. And yes, I was still up working so I saw it the minute it arrived.
Kendra and I, after reading and re-reading the stories, decided to place them into four categories. We found it too hard to not let the content of the story influence our feelings. So letting stories complete within a category seemed the fair thing to do. Once we’d done that, we choose the best one within the category and then decided if some of the others deserved honorable mentions. Our four categories became:
Worst Valentine’s Day
Worst Valentine’s Day Eventually Becoming Positive (Might Take Many Years)
Best Valentine’s Day
Most Humorous Valentine’s Day (In Retrospect, If Not at the Time)
When to Publish?
The next issue became one of publication date. We had already announced that we’d publish the winning story on Valentine’s Day. But when we had multiple winners, we had to figure out what to do. Normally, we would publish the additional winners in one of our regular ScrapMoir blog days — every other Thursday. However, we now had four first place winners, one for each category plus some honorable mentions.
Our Valentine’s Day ReadAThon is Born
Kendra and I decided to publish the winning stories, one per hour, on Valentine’s Day. The first one will be published at 7am PST and will continue through 5pm when the last one is published.
We hope you’ll visit our site frequently today to read these award-winning stories. Normally, I would add the specific link or links, but the stories have not been published at the time that I am posting this blog. I will update this post later in the week with the complete set of links to all the stories. I’m on the road right now and won’t be settled again until February 16.
In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the stories. As always, your comments to the award-winning authors is greatly appreciated.
I can give you the names of the authors, but not their times of publication nor whether they won a first place or an honorable mention. There needs to be a little bit of a surprise here.
E. Loreen Flory
Nancy Julien Kopp
Sophia van Buren
We invite you to submit your story for our February 2011 memoir writing contest. Here’s the link to this next contest.
Remember, if you are trying to build an audience for your writing, entering contests is a way to create your personal brand.