Last night was the awards banquet for the annual Royal Palm Literary Awards. This is the biggest of the competitions run by the Florida Writers Association, and the winners are always announced at their major annual conference. Participants submit three copies of the first fifty pages of a complete short story, poem, essay, or novel in a variety of categories. If the first three judges give the piece enough critique points, you make it to the finals and submit the entire manuscript to a fourth judge. The tallied points determine honorable mention, second, and first place winners.
Last year I made the finals, but didn't win an award. I will say, however, that the critique sheets I got back from the contest were helpful in making revisions.
This year I won first place! (I guess all the revisions paid off.)
The banquet was held at a very nice hotel in Lake Mary, Florida. They even had a red carpet for the winners to walk down in order to receive their awards. I will confess that as they called honorable mention and second place I really didn't think I had a chance. I knew some of my competition, one of whom had beaten me last year.
When they DID call the title of my novel, I actually didn't recognize it. My husband was cheering beside me, and I couldn't figure out why. The reason was because they used the novel's full name, which is AGENCY FILES--ASSASSIN'S NIGHTMARE. AGENCY FILES is the title of the series, and ASSASSIN'S NIGHTMARE is the title of the individual book in the series. I haven't heard it referred to that way out loud. Everyone just calls it ASSASSIN, or ASSASSIN'S NIGHTMARE, so it took a few seconds for me to realize they had called for me! Pretty funny, actually.
At least I managed to make it down the carpet without tripping or anything. We sat in the very back of the hall, so I had the longest walk. I collected my trophy (very pretty, an open book with the name of the award, the year, my name, first place, and the name of the book engraved on it). Then I had to pose for multiple pictures, and a big group shot with all the winners at the end of the evening which will go on the Florida Writers Association website.
Lots of fun!