The best part? I received feedback from two published authors on my entry. They both provided me with great insights on plot points and formatting. And, I'll be receiving feedback from a literary agent as one of the prizes.
One of the things I've learned about trying to publish a book is that feedback is the most important gift you can receive. When I attended the COFW writer's retreat earlier this year, I was so proud of the first chapter I brought to share with the critique group. It started with a long narrative where my character spoke directly to the reader and shared her background. The critique group at the retreat helped me understand how I needed to change the opening to be more active. I needed to do more showing and less telling.
When I entered the Cleveland Rocks contest and won second place I received two pages of feedback from the agent who judged the contest. She helped me see that the book needed more sizzle up front in terms of the romance. She provided additional feedback about showing versus telling.
Using her feedback I once again rewrote the opening chapter of the book and then entered in the Ignite the Flame contest, which is all about showing the sizzle in the romance.
I'm so grateful for the amazing feedback I've received. My next step? Finish polishing the book and start writing the query letter.
Meanwhile, I've got an exciting new story idea that's keeping me up nights scribbling notes.