Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Contest Experiences with "The Frasier"

I have entered very few contests in the years I have been writing, mainly because I wanted to learn my craft before jumping in head first into a shallow pool, which is what it felt like when I entered such “big” name contests like the Genesis.

But don’t take this as me against contests, I’m not. In fact I want to share with you a contest I entered last year and found extremely helpful to not only my knowledge on the subject of the writing craft, but also encouraging to my future in writing.

Last year, Susan May Warren launched her first annual writing contest with My Book Therapy, called The Frasier. There were no genre restrictions, just craft. The first 1500 words of your story and a 500 word synopsis that would be judged solely on craft, voice, mechanics, etc. I didn’t hesitate, I just entered.

And was extremely thankful.

I didn’t place, didn’t even final, but when I opened that email from The Frasier coordinators I was handed gold. So often when you get a contest result back, it’s still dripping the blood of your story and you are left with the aggravating task of figuring out what in the world this judge meant.

The first think I saw was a message written by Susan. I still have that email. And it is just as encouraging then as it is now. The truth of the matter is, you can’t take everything a judge says is "wrong" and apply it at once and certainly not the moment you read the comments. It can’t be helped, contests are going to be subjective, but what I loved so much about the Frasier is it has a “wholesome” feel—I guess I could say. Their goal is to help unpublished “Voices” become published “Voices” and to do that, you have to learn the craft. You have to know what you are doing wrong.

This contest doesn’t just point what is wrong with your work and then expect you to go fix it, they point out strengths and weaknesses, you can feel that they are really taking the time to be tough, but understanding of the journey you are on. Their comments are constructive. And one of things I loved the most is that though they told me the things I needed to work on, they make marks directly on my manuscript, you can see exactly what they are referring to. And then at the very end they say what they liked best about your work. The question last year was, “ what is your favorite line in the excerpt?”

What a boost!

The Frasier goes beyond just mere fix-it mentality, they give constructive criticism and praise with comments that actually inspired me to get back down and work on my WIP—even when it came to the hard work I had to do to get better.

I plan on entering The Frasier this year, hoping it will be an improvement over last year’s excerpt I sent in. :-)

It’s exciting to think of the possibilities and the strengths that have been added and the weaknesses that most likely need more work.

For negatives there were positives, for every remark the judges made about my craft, they did in a way that didn’t carry the sting of rejection and hopelessness. Susan has trained her judges, they know what to look for and treated me as I am I sure they would want to be treated.

Go ahead, enter, I think you will be pleased, no matter the outcome.

Do you have any other questions for me about my experience with The Frasier? Please feel free to comment, I always reply!


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I've been toying with entering the Frasier, but hesitate because of what they look for in the entry. The word count for what you send in is small and I KNOW I don't have all the elements they are looking at in those first few words. I would definitely love feedback like you are talking about though. I love Susan May Warren's books on writing, because they have really helped me plot out my newest story. I'm still mulling the idea over...we shall see. :)

Angie Dicken said...

I have only heard of Book Therapy and this contest from you...Book Therapy sounds like a wonderful place to learn as a writer. I checked out their website a while back, and for some reason thought I needed to attend a retreat to join! Don't even ask how I thought that! I am waiting for my membership to be approved now. Thanks for the inspiration.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I had never heard of the Frasier before. I tend not to contest shop, but when I read someone's positive review of a contest, I think about it.
Entering the Genesis forced me to finish chapters, stay up late to polish and shine my work the best I could. I realize this are things I should have been doing, but the contest provided incentive.
Now you've pointed out the Frasier which would help me in new ways. I'll check out the site.
Thanks Casey for telling us about the Frasier

Casey said...

SHERRINDA, it's tough thinking of what they want and then trying to figure out if YOU have it, I know. :)But you would be surprised how many pages are 1500 words, about half of the Genesis, but I think I'm pleased with what the judges will get from me. Whether it goes anywhere...:)

ANGIE, lol, that's funny. When I joined I thought I was already a part of the group because I got the emails. Don't ask me why either! :) I'm glad you joined, look me up when you get in. :)

Casey said...

MARY, I don't "contest shop" either and truth be told this one and the Genesis are one of the few I have entered, but I was so impressed last year, I'm actually looking forward to doing it this year. :)

Beth K. Vogt said...

I entered the Frasier last year--and I finaled! (Quite an unexpected surprise.) I posted about my experience on the MBT Ponderers blog
The feedback was so good, just as Edie said in her post. And finaling led to some great interaction with editors at ACFW. I provide a link to Susie's checklist on my blog post.

Casey said...

BETH, I saw that last year and was excited for you!! I am reminded each time I see you're lovely smile here on our blog. :) That is awesome about the interaction with editors, I won't lie and say that isn't a temptation for me, but now I'm just happy to know I'll grow from this contest. :) Thanks for posting for us! :)

Julia M. Reffner said...


I was actually planning to enter this and was working on polishing, but it was at the expense of finishing my rough draft. My energies are now on finishing my rough. I have a chunk I want to send on to you when you have the time (warning: its very rough).

Casey said...

JULIA, sometimes are energies and priorities have to be redirected, so I hope your rough draft comes together for you. :) And sure, if you want to send it, feel free. :)

Jenn said...

Casey, thanks for posting! I've been debating about entering this year since I haven't finished the manuscript yet, but I think you've convinced me to at least try. :)

Pepper said...

Great post, Case!
I've never heard of the Frasier, but to get that kind of individual review is wonderful!

Pepper said...

btw, sorry I'm late
Just got in from teaching
Looooong day

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I hadn't heard of The Frasier before now but it sounds like a wonderful contest, definitely worth entering. I'll have to check it out. I'd love to enter more but somehow I get so selective or feel like my work won't fit what they're judging. I will have to really pray about new opportunities and see where it takes me. Thanks for this information!

Casey said...

JENN, I'm glad to hear that. :) I definitely think this one of those rare contests that writers of almost any level can benefit. :)

PEPPER, no worries! And yes, to have that kind of attention is great in a contest!

CINDY,I agree. I don't enter every contest that comes along either (due to finances and my work needs more WORK lol!), but I agree, I also want to enter contests with Christian judges so they understand where I am coming from and going.

Thanks for stopping by!

Kenneth said...

Did you have your manuscript finished before you entered? Even just a rough draft? I'm considering entering, but only have about 8500 words written. What do you think?

Casey said...

Kenneth, I did have a rough draft semi-completed.

That's a complicated answer! Ha! Let me try this: I had a story, but my ending was recently sent to the scrap pile before I sent in my entry. I know people have submitted stories that aren't completed yet and I think it is a matter of preference on the part of the author.

YOu just have to consider: if you make it to the final round and the editor or agent wants more after the contest is over, will you able to give it to them?

Hope that was helpful! :)