Awards, Benefits of writing, local author

An Honor That Really Matters To Me

Winner - 2016 Most Happening Author in Bucks County

There are many contests and competitions out there you can enter if you’re an author. Many of them are very tempting, and they’re usually expensive to enter and the odds are so great against one winning. Every once in a while, I’ll enter one of my books in one of those for independent “indie” publishers, but I’ve never entered one just as an author.

So imagine my surprise last year, when I looked in my inbox to find a post telling me I’d won one!

Of course at first, I thought it was just another spam scam, looking for money or to hack into my email account. But no, it was legit. Turns out there’s this area events-focused magazine—Bucks Happening that holds an annual “best of” type contest for any number of categories ranging from “Most Happening Nightspot” to “Most Happening Artist.” Because I live in Bucks County, PA—an area with a long history of embracing and nurturing the arts—there was even a “Most Happening Author” category, and that’s the one I won

So, big deal, right? Well…kinda, yeah. Because first of all, I didn’t even know about this contest. Second of all, I didn’t know I’d been nominated. And most of all, because this isn’t a thing where the hosting publication nominates you for its own self-promotional reasons; you get nominated by someone in the reading public. In short, someone who’d read my book actually thought enough of it to nominate me for this honor. And that, my friends, is the kind of thing an author lives for.

Sure, you can look on it as a flimsy popularity contest of sorts, and I suppose to some extent, that’s true. But since I’ve never spent one second of my life thinking of myself as a “popular” person, I choose instead to see this as recognition bestowed by someone who thought enough of my work to earn me the honor, with no reflection on themselves because it was done anonymously.

I’ll take that every time, and gratefully!

So, as nominations are again open for this year’s Most Happening List, I reflect on how thrilled I was to receive last year’s honor, and take this opportunity to say thanks to that person who nominated me, and to all those who voted and helped me win. I appreciate everyone who’s ever read my work, and hope you all enjoyed it and will take a look when my next book comes out.

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Benefits of writing, Craft, Inspiration, local author, writers conference

Recharging Those Batteries

Since the economic meltdown of 2008, I’m probably not alone in saying it hasn’t been the best of times for writers and marketers and publishers — all of which I am, and that’s how I make my living. Still, I make it a point to find the means to attend at least one writers’ conference a year if at all possible.

I worked so hard to be able to call myself a writer, not so much for what it means to others as to believe it myself. I come from a family of writers, so it’s kind of in my genes, I guess. But being able to make a living this way is hard for pretty much anyone, unless you’ve reached those dizzying heights of bestsellerdom. And even then, there’s no guarantee the party will go on forever.

So we do what we have to do to be able to write, and for me, one of those things is recharging my writing “batteries” each year. I belong to several writing organizations, all of which offer great conferences. I usually find myself having to choose between them, so I try to rotate among them from year to year.

This year, I not only got to attend, but to present, at one of the finest regional writers’ conferences I’ve experienced: The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group conference, “The Write Stuff.” And what a delight it was!

Not only were my sessions a blast, with engaged, interested audiences and fantastic questions, but I also got to attend a few sessions myself. My favorite, I must admit, was author Kathryn Craft‘s “Writing That Matters.” This seminar fed my writer’s soul in a way that I haven’t experienced in a while, and led me to finally purchase her newest novel, The Art of Falling.

The Art of Falling, by Kathryn Craft

I just finished that today — reluctantly, I’ll admit; as I neared the end, I had been rationing pages because I didn’t want it to be over. It turned out to be more than a book: It made my head explode with a simple yet profound insight on a personal struggle I’ve been facing; insight that’s been much sought and badly needed. I closed the book with tears of gratitude in my eyes. This…THIS is what writing is all about, folks.

Aside from the fantastic reading it provided, The Art of Falling reminded me of the powerful nature of truly engaging, compelling writing. Often, we as authors get so wrapped up in the work of it, the technique of it, the pickety-pickety nature of the writing and publishing process, that it’s easy to forget that what we’re doing is nearly always a labor of love, and that there was some reason that drove us to do it in the first place.

That reason differs with each person, but I daresay they all have one thing in common: We want our writing to leave a mark on our readers.

I left The Write Stuff having enjoyed the company of other serious writers, having spent time with delightful people such as keynote speaker Hank Phillippi Ryan (whom I was so happy to sit next to at the book fair—what a fantastic human being!) and the wonderful event organizers who worked their butts off to make the event the success that it was.

I floated on a cloud all the way home, reminded of why I write, and how lucky I am to be surrounded by so much real talent here in my little corner of Pennsylvania.