Every October, East Texas Baptist University holds a writers conference in Marshall, Texas, and I try to attend as frequently as I can. Look who I ran into this year! Sandwiched between me and fellow author, Lynn Hobbs, is the beautiful and famous Sally Stuart!
Sally flew from Oregon to teach about markets open to us Christian authors. I learned about writing for the periodical market in her Early Bird session and realized how much I’d missed from her Market Guide because I’d limited myself to looking at book publishers. She doesn’t own the guide anymore, of course; Jerry Jenkins has it now. But Sally is still very much in the know, and I fully intend to put to use what I learned from her.
Marketing gurus often tell us to write for the magazines our potential audience reads to help get our names out there. I never considered this seriously because I didn’t think I had much to offer. That’s because I was restricting myself to the thought of writing for the western magazines–and I know excruciatingly little about ranching and horses. What goes into my novels is meticulously researched, not based on personal knowledge. But if I extend the definition of who my reader is, I have a wide range of magazines I could contribute to. So, high on my list of things to do this week is to buy the 2014 Market Guide (or should I wait till 2015?) and get to work.
I learned so many wonderful snippets from the other classes, too. This year, I concentrated on the nonfiction writing courses. A couple of the classes were just overviews, not as in depth as I would like, but I still gleaned some things I didn’t know and could use later.
When I first arrived at the conference, friend Bill Keith told me he liked my short story, “Slider” which I’d submitted to the contest. I was glad he did, but didn’t realize at the time he was one of the contest judges. He asked if I would be at the opening ceremonies banquet, and while I calmly told him I would, inside my heart skipped a beat. My story must’ve placed! Not too shabby for a first-time short story entry–and not too shabby considering I hadn’t written a short story since I was around 16.
At the banquet, he caught my attention and asked how to spell my name. As I told him, I noticed he had a stack of winners certificates on the table in front of him, which confirmed that I had at least placed. I got a bit breathless, I have to admit.
I sat with friends from my writers group from The Woodlands, Texas, members of Writers on the Storm, and chatted, ate a wonderful chicken dinner, listened to opening speeches, all the while thinking, Wow. I placed!
Then Bill started announcing the winners. Acquaintance and poet Linda Burklin took first and second place in the Poetry category. Fellow WOTS member, Alice Thomas, won second place in the Personal Essay category. I don’t remember who took third in the Short Story category–I was talking to someone at the table (no big surprise), and I don’t remember who took second, but I realized my name hadn’t been called either time. Could it be . . . ?
Yes! First place in the Short Story category went to Linda Zezack–Zeezick—Yezak! I took hold of my first place certificate and discovered the reason Bill needed to know how to spell my last name: the first place certificate for the Short Story category had poet Linda Burklin’s name on it. Bill had scratched it out and penned mine in its place. It is now being corrected and will be sent soon.
“But, wait!” Bill said. “Stand where you are!”
Then he talked to the crowd. “The grand prize of the 2014 ETBU Writers Contest goes to Linda Yeezack for her short story, ‘Slider’!”
Do you think I cared that he mispronounced my name again?