I haven’t blogged in quite some time now due to the multitude of distractions that have taken place during the first half of the year. The first half 2010 has been filled with memorable times. Here’s a small sample of the welcome and not so welcome ones:
In January, I volunteered to do a big job for my writing organization, Panhandle Professional writers. I agreed to Chair the Frontiers in writing contest. I am already on the board of directors as the Publicity Chair, which meant that I would be heavily involved with advertising both the conference and the contest anyway. But I agreed to help because I needed the challenge. I was thrilled for the opportunity and I have enjoyed every minute of the process. It was a huge learning process for me as well as a huge task to undertake.
January began with my search for contest judges. Getting judges for the 15 categories—one each for the preliminary round. These judges were to determine which 6 entries were to continue to the next level. The 15 finals judges were then sent the entries and a new judging sheet to determine the top four ranking entries in their respective categories. Then, I had to select one more judge who took the first place winner in all 15 categories and determined which one received the honor of Best of Show.
At first glance, this might sound fairly easy. But it’s not. Professionals willing to read and judge in their prospective genres are not easy to find. Editors and agents for those 15 categories are also not easy to find. These are all very busy people whose time is precious and little. To find 31 individuals willing and generous enough to spare their time is difficult for a writing organization that is also a non-profit group with very little money or other resources to entice these people to work for free for you. I spent a lot of time writing emails, researching potential candidates and speaking with some by phone.
I was thrilled and impressed with the caliber of professionals who lent their time and expertise to our group and gave kind, thoughtful and valuable advice to the more than 150 contestants who entered their work.
Most of the contestants were new to writing and new to contests. The value of receiving this critique and acknowledgment of their efforts by professionals is incalculable for new writers. I know I was once one of them. Since I have not been published for money—ever—their advice is still as valuable to me today.
The awards ceremony for the contest was June 26, 2010, at the Frontiers in Writing conference. I was very excited to be presenting the awards although I do not like to speak in front of crowds. The experience was more than I expected and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was exhausted too.
June turned out to be the busiest month for me. It started with a trip to south Texas to see my beautiful niece get married. It was a lovely wedding and the couple had a picture-perfect ceremony in a garden setting. The event mostly took place in an air-conditioned garden room, but there was a lot of going in and out of the cool building such as the dancing that occurred outside.
You can quote me when I say, the next time I go to Houston it will only be in the dead of winter. I was drenched the entire evening and it did not rain!
The following day, I went with other family members to San Antonio to meet my new daughter-in-law, her family and my son and to spend some time with my two daughters who live in Waco and Austin. Since my son is in the Navy it was the only chance the family had for all of us to get together. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The following week, I attended a week-long, intensive writer’s workshop at West Texas A & M University in Canyon, Texas. I recommend the West Texas Writers’ Academy to anyone who writes. The caliber of instructors is excellent. It was very rewarding, I learned a lot, met some wonderful fellow writers and started a new YA horror novel that I’m very excited about.
The following weekend was the PPW, Frontiers in Writing Conference already discussed above. I recommend our Conferences to all, as well.
But that’s not all that happened.
I was home from the conference long enough to take off my shoes and eat an evening meal with my family before the biggest event of the month decided to happen.
My youngest daughter, due to give birth to her second child on July 29, decided, (or rather the baby did) that it was time to come into the world. So off to the hospital we went at about 8:00 that evening. He was born at 1:27 a.m. the next morning, June 27, 2010. Gavin Malak Dia weighed 5 pounds 4.8 ounces. Now normally that would be a good enough weight to get him going okay in life. But for a 5 week premature infant, it wasn’t enough to get him released to the regular nursery.
So for the past 9 days, my daughter and her three year old daughter, my husband, and I have spent sleepless nights and nervous days going back and forth to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to see the baby and watch his progress. Today, after a few minor setbacks, he will be coming home. He has gained most of his birth weight back and is progressing at a very normal rate now.
June was a rollercoaster ride for me; filled with frustration, joy, tears and rewards. It will long be the most memorable month in the most memorable half-year of my life. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings me.