Last week, at a peak of procrastination, I entered a little contest on an excellent literary agent’s blog. The goal was to write a Halloween-themed story of 100 words or less incorporating the following words: unforsaken, ghost, deadly, decay, witch, slay and (bonus word) insalubrious. I took a little time and wrote the following story, which is exactly 100 words:
Mrs. Nieman was a witch, I was sure of it. Still, I followed the scent of fresh gingerbread into the black forest. The underlying, insalubrious stench of decay did not dissuade me, nor did the legends of ghosts of lost children I heard from the townsfolk. The old lady was deadly as a poisoned apple, they said, and she baked with them too. I said I would find her unforsaken cottage, with its frosting trim and candied glass, and I would slay her. I lied. The gingerbread melted on my tongue like spun sugar, and death was almost as sweet.
When I entered the contest, there were almost 100 entries (there were 177 by the end of it). Lots of them looked good, so I figured I had no chance. Still, when I saw on Twitter that the contest results were posted, I went ahead and checked. There were so many honorable mentions, so I scrolled through all of them wondering whether I placed at all. It took till I got to the bottom to find my name, where I found out that I WON! How awesome! This seriously made my day.
The prize for winning is a 30-page manuscript review by another fantastic literary agent, which is a totally awesome prize and one of the reasons why I was inclined to enter the contest in the first place. But when that agent contacted me, she requested the sample pages, my query and a synopsis. I hadn’t gotten to the query-writing phase of this project yet, so I asked for more time. Now, I have until November 7th to get these materials ready, so I’m working on them now.
I thought the query would be the hard part, but it’s the synopsis that’s killing me. It’s also making my project stronger because I’m thinking of how the plot goes down in the novel. I was never very good at sticking to an outline and this is the closest I’ve gotten to an accurate one yet. Now I just have to make it coherent, accurate, interesting and fun to read — how hard can that be?
Anyway, what a great prize! I can’t wait to get my critique. Yay!