Friday, September 11, 2009

And the Finalists are . . .

We are delighted to announce the 6 finalists in our exclusive Audience-with-an-Agent contest. We were pleased with the participation of both American and Canadian authors, representing a variety of genres, and loved poring through the chapters and synopses -- to play the role of agent and editor for a brief time. It was difficult to choose the 6 finalists, and we took our responsibility very seriously. We thank you all for your entries and wish you the best in your writing endeavors.
We also thank agent extraordinaire Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Agency, who will read the finalists' submissions. This is an incredible opportunity for unpublished authors, and we thank Wendy and Janet Grant for their participation in this contest. Janet will read the finalists' entries in our next Audience-with-an-Agent contest set for the spring of 2010. So get your manuscripts ready and watch our NovelMatters blog for contest information.
And now, the finalists are (in alphabetical order) ...

Broken Arches, Jean Knight Pace

Disenchanted, Janet Ursel

Kindred, Lori Benton

The Remarkable Love of Tony Campello, Connie Brzowski

The Watchman, V.B. Tenery

When Valleys Bloom Again, P.J. Davis

We offer our heartiest congratulations to each of our finalists!

And now a word from Wendy ~
I have the distinct honor to be guest blogger on Novel Matters today in celebration of the closing of the Novel Matters Audience-with-an-Agent competition. Soon I will be receiving the final entries.
Let me say a few words about contests first. There are many who refuse to compete -- whether it is in a baseball game, a beauty pageant or a writing competition. They'd argue that competition is fundamentally damaging. Yeah, well ... good luck with that. We live in a world with competition for almost any valuable spot. If you want to become an actor, an athlete, a musician or even an astronaut you're going to be up against stiff competition. The same with that job you're hoping to land. If life were simpler maybe competition wouldn't be necessary, but the reality is that if you are seeking to be published, the competition is intense.
By sending your work to a writing contest you're saying, "I'm ready for the competition. Put my work up against my fellow writers' work and let's see how it fares." Bravo! That's the kind of attitude it takes to compete in this industry. And guess what? It's exactly what happens when your published book comes out. It goes to the bookstore shelf with all other books that made the cut and begins to compete for those few book dollars in the reader's wallet.
It goes without saying that judging a writer's work is subjective. It's not like grading an algebra test. One story may take a grand prize from one judge and not even make the cut with another. The same thing happens with reviewers after you are published. That's why, when you are starting out, you want to get your work in front of as many eyes as possible.
For those of you who entered and did not final: You are still winners. The bloggers of Novel Matters are some of the finest writers in our industry. They are influential and well connected. They've read your work and they'll be watching you. It's part of getting your name and your work out there. When you are published you'll find that they will be amazing cheerleaders for you. The competition was tough, but you offered your work for critical review. Huzzah!
For those of you who made the final cut: Congratulations. I look forward to reading your work. I'm going to treat myself to a venti Starbucks and set an afternoon aside to read your entries. I hope I'll be able to give you some valuable (albeit subjective) comments.
And if among the entries I see something I just can't put down -- something that seems commercially viable, told with a compelling voice -- I'm going to ask for more. Representation is based on far more than just a winning entry, of course. For me it's about a combination of the book and the writer. We represent writers for a whole career so it's akin to falling in love for a lifetime. I love what Henry Blackaby recommended in Experiencing God -- you look for where God's already at work and you come alongside. That's my philosophy for signing a new client. If I see God already at work in your writing and in your life, I want to be on your team.
So congratulations to everyone who entered. I'm honored to be part of the process. May God continue to bless the work of your hands.


Nichole Osborn said...

Congratulations to all of the finalists!:0) To those of us that didn't final, we have until the spring to improve and grow. Let's get to it!:0)

Anonymous said...

Nichole, you're absolutely right. You (and anyone else who didn't final) are welcome to polish up your manuscript and resubmit in the spring, or submit a new manuscript altogether. Thank you for participating. In the end it really was a difficult decision to narrow down the entries to 6 finalists. We look forward to our next contest and hope you will participate.

Bonnie Grove said...

I love that attitude, Nichole. So much about this industry is determination - at every level.

People who stick with it (like you are), are people who see their book on store shelves!

I loved what Wendy said about the healthy aspects of competition, and while it is too easy to feel deflated when one doesn't come out first, there is so much good that comes from the effort to make it to first.

It can't be overstated how difficult it was to come up with this short list. It was a privilege to be entrusted with everyone's work and hopes. We took it very seriously.

I know all of us at Novel Matters are excited about the possibilities not just for these six manuscripts - but for the future entries and writers who will enter the Spring 2010 Audience with An Agent Contest - where six more unpublished authors will win a reading by Janet Kobobal Grant!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

congrats to the winners! Wendy, I hope you enjoy reading them all.

Where Romance Meets Therapy

Janet said...

Yes! Yes! *punches fist in air*

Oh, was somebody watching? Ahem.

Thank you. Seriously. I go through times when I think I'm delusional to believe I can write, so this is a great boost.

Thanks again, and God bless.

Kathleen Popa said...

I look forward to seeing more from all our entrants. Nichole, thanks for saying what you did - the thing that makes writing so rewarding is the improving and growing part. I'm delighted to share our finalists' work with premier literary agent Wendy Lawton. What fun it will be to see what good things may come of this and future contests.

Melinda Walker said...

Kudos to all the finalists!!

Just wanted to say, as well, how much I appreciate the opportunity you all gave us to put our work out there and all the effort that went into the contest.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Wendy.

Nikole Hahn said...

I never refuse to enter any contest, but for a long time I wondered if contests were worth the time and effort. Thanks for the in depth answer, Wendy. Now I understand it better.

Lisa Karon Richardson said...

Congrats to all the winners! AND a huge thank you to the Ladies of Novel Matters and Wendy Lawton for giving so much time and effort to this contest. What a great opportunity.

Lori Benton said...

What wonderful news to wake up to this morning. Thank you for this opportunity (and for picking my entry!!!!!).

I like what Wendy had to say about entering contests, and how the competition in many respects continues on for writers throughout their career--which is a healthy thing if come at with the right attitude, as it is in other fields.

Bonnie, that's so true. Hanging in there and trying again, and again, is key. I've been at this going on twenty years, but I never intend to quit.

Christina Tarabochia said...

Yes, congrats to all the finalists. I have no doubt that the Novel Matters ladies picked well. :)

I stumbled upon Lori Benton's writing a few months ago on her blog and was instantly swept up by her voice and the real drama of the scene. Assuming that the other entries are similarly qualified, Wendy's going to have a fabulous afternoon!

Bonnie Grove said...

Hey! We are running a surprise Twitter book draw for new followers of Novel Matters!
Patti Hill is giving out a book to the 100th person who follows Novel Matters today!

Tell you what, to sweeten the pot - I'll send out a copy of Talking to the Dead to the next followers after 100 - today only!

wendy Lawton said...

You are all so right-- I am going to have a wonderful afternoon reading.

So many agents gripe about the hard parts of the job but don't be fooled-- we have the best job in the world. Just imagine getting paid to read with the possibility of finding that writer you just can't stop thinking about.

And even when the verdict is "not quite there yet" we get to watch and wait as the writers we've already spotted grow.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Congratulations to all of the finalists! And thank you to the writers at Novel Matters for your encouraging email. This was a great opportunity and I'm so thankful that I found the contest in time to enter! Most importantly, I'm really thankful for this blog!

Have a great weekend!

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

I want to express my appreciation also to all the writers here at Novel Matters and to Wendy for this opportunity to enter a chapter from my novel. This was my first time finalling in a writing contest. Only after getting a professional edit and then entering another contest in the spring and getting more feedback did I feel I might have a chance in this fabulous contest. I'm thankful to God and to all of you for selecting me, too. Over the months I've read so much here in all your posts that's encouraged me and kept me current on the publishing industry. For those going to ACFW Conference may you be blessed by being there.

Bonnie Leon said...

This is very cool! I can't wait to see what comes of your reading. I happen to have a friend among the finalists. :-)

Grace and peace to you,


Connie Brzowski said...

I've been trying to post a comment since this morning and it keeps coming out all wrong. Can't stop grinning-- and babbling. Lots of babbling.

So honored! And that name right below mine? My wonderful crit partner, Virginia. There is much squealing today in Texas and many exclamation points flying about.

Thank you so much!

Katie Ganshert said...

Congrats finalists! And thanks for the contest and the opportunity. I look forward to trying againt his spring. :)

Bonnie Way aka the Koala Mom said...

Congrats to all the finalists! I wish I'd had a novel manuscript ready to submit... maybe for the next contest. Thanks, Wendy, for the encouraging comments!

Carla Gade said...

Caongratulations to all the winners! How wonderful! It will be great to watch these upcoming voices. Wendy's insights were great. said...

In honor of everything you all do I've given you all The Lemonade Award over at my blog at