I like writing contests. I really like Twitter writing contest. These contest hone and sharpen my pitching skills, provide feedback, concrete deadlines, specific entry formatting, and most importantly, they are great places to meet other writers.
I recently made it into the agent round of a contest called Sun Versus Snow hosted by Michelle Hauck and Amy Trueblood. Writers submit their query letter and first 250 words of a submission-ready manuscript. The first 200 entries were accepted and then Michelle picked 15 entries for her Team Snow, while Amy picked 15 for her Team Sun. The entries were assigned to a mentor, who helped polish and shine the entries for an agent round. In the agent round, 15 literary agents will look through the entries and request additional pages if they are interested in the work.
Not only a fun contest, but an unbelievable opportunity for a writer to get their pitch in front of agent eyes.
To add a little more spice to the contest, both Amy and Michelle offered a free pass opportunity to bypass the initial selection process and leapfrog into the mentoring round. I was fortunate to win the free pass for Michelle’s Team Snow for writing a short piece on a winter memory. It was a shock to be selected, especially with an idiotic story about my juvenile delinquency days.
Below is the selected Free Pass story which made me a proud member of Team Snow for my middle grade fantasy entry about a secret ninja force of squirrels.
I am happy and thankful Michelle appreciates the stupidity of a bored, Bubba-lineman teenager. Above all else, I am happy and thankful there are writers like Michelle, Amy, and all the Sun Versus Snow mentors, who are willing to pay-it-forward. It is a wonderful community.
It snowed again. A snow day kind of snow. During the last snow a few weeks back, we’d invented a new game—a game for a group of big boy, lineman type, high school football players to chase the boredom of winter. The game? Drive through the rich, suburban neighborhoods after dark and run full speed into artfully crafted, young, urban professional snow sculptures built in pristine, well-manicured lawns, obliterating the snow figures into clouds of white powder. We weren’t bad kids; it’s just the winter blahs and the recent snowstorm have left few options for entertainment.
So there we were again after the second storm, the packed car stopped down the street from a corner lot. The only light on at the massive house was the dim glare of the porch light. I stepped from the car and pointed toward the yard where there stood a carbon copy of the snowman I had leveled the last time we visited. With a confident smile, I assumed my offensive lineman’s stance and quietly barked out a cadence. My column of exhaled breath illuminated in the light from a nearby street light as it drift away into the crisp, cold air.
A few giggles of anticipation from inside the car.
All went quiet.
I, a man-child, exploded from my stance. The snow flew behind me with each step I took. Faster and faster I approached the newly built, even more Norman Rockwell-ish version of a snowman. It was a giant of a snowman, at least eight feet tall, made from four huge balls of snow stacked on top of one another. Closer and closer, the target approached. Two steps from the snowman, I lowered to pancake block the snowman into oblivion.
I collided with the snowman with a dull, flat thud.
Instead of a beautiful white cloud of snow filling the sky, the air rapidly left my body as I bounced off the snowman and landed on my back in the deep snow. Gasping for air with the twinkling stars moved in circles above my head, I heard something strange—a child’s laugh from the direction of the front porch. I rolled my head and saw a small, pajama-clad boy high-fiving his bath-robed father just inside the threshold of their front door.
Finally able to inhale the sharp, cold air, I stood up and staggered in defeat back to the open car door. Pride wounded and body screaming in pain, I fell into the safety of the back seat as the young boy’s voice floated across the yard.
“Don’t mess wiff our snowmans, no more!”
The car exploded in laughter, save for one occupant. As I reached for the door handle, I caught one last look at the snowman. The street light reflected off its solid ice-encrusted surface, standing tall and proud, and smiling a wide, charcoal briquette smile at the beautiful, winter night.