So I lost the contest that I entered.
But I knew that already.
The finalists’ list was published a month ago and Annie Spruce wasn’t on it.
What I didn’t know though, was that the judges for the 1,300+ book entries were going to provide each contestant feedback on their book.
As one of the country’s top-rated contests for indie authors, having feedback from THESE judges…
So when the unexpected email slid into the inbox while I puttered around online…
…and the subject line said JUDGING FORMS…
…I had to send the kids out of the room.
In one of the judge’s opinions, our gal Annie Spruce didn’t do so hot in the cover design segment.
The colors on the cover were too dull for a survival story, the comment read.
Another comment said some of the photos were too dark.
And this is my first official report card on the book and my friends love it and my kids love it and my people love it, but this…
…this is JUDGE FEEDBACK and I read it quietly and then I go back and read all six pages again and then I bit my lip and I choked a little.
Because I wasn’t prepared for this part.
Amidst the scores of sixes and sevens and eights, there it is…
…a two-sheet set from the judges in the Inspirational Category and there they all are, nines and tens and then…
“Enjoyable book with a heart-warming story.”
“Lovely story. Positive values.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed this little book. The writer has done a lovely job of telling a sweet, heartwarming, charming story…I would definitely encourage this author to keep writing. She has a gift for storytelling.”
And I felt silly sitting there because by this time my husband had come in and was reading over my shoulder but here they came anyway, hot surprising tears and I cried like I cried when I came out of surgery last year and there he was in the recovery room and he gave me a beautiful new pair of earrings all wrapped up in a pretty box with a shiny ribbon around it and a sweet little poem attached to it that I still carry in my purse.
And I cried like I cried the first time I ever wrote words from my heart that I didn’t know had been long in the making and were caressed and kissed tenderly by years and children and love and God.
And I cried like I’m crying right now just thinking of it all over again because Annie Spruce didn’t win diddly squat in the contest but she won my heart and she won our family’s love and she won my daughter’s trust in the Lord and because of that…
…that judge gave me all nines and tens.
I can change the cover someday if I want to.
I can run another punctuation edit if I have to.
But that judge gave me what I needed to hear.
My writing is solid.
My words are true.
This high-school graduate knows when a soul needs a good story that the thing to do is just to sit down and put it down.
And to bring all that love and all those kisses and all that gentle whispering from the One who created the heart that pumps it out.
That judge told me that when God puts a story in you, you have a job to share it with the world and when you do…
…it’s a beautiful thing.
That judge told me just what my cherished teacher told me all those years ago.
Share the good.
When you’ve been given…it’s up to you to share.
My name isn’t on that winner’s list.
Neither is Annie’s.
But today, we… me, and my dog…
…we’re kinda like winners.