Sunday, June 7, 2015

My Heartfelt Query Kombat Journey

There's this totally amazing contest that comes around once a year. It's called Query Kombat and I could go on and on over all the details about it but I'm an impatient person and you need to hear about my journey so just click here for more information about how the contest works. 

Anyway, flash back to before the contest. I was so excited about it coming up. I kept going back and forth between what I want to submit but nothing was good enough. Plus the adult romantic suspense I wrote had already been a part of SVS. So I sat down and did something I'd never had or thought I would do before. I wrote a picture book.



I know. I'm still shocked too. I always figured that I couldn't write anything other than YA and up but one day as I was sitting in my bed staring into space and trying to draw upon my magical writing powers (which sadly don't always work) when I suddenly remembered the story my mom used to tell me about when my dad died. I was only about five at the time so I don't remember much. I think I was sad for a while but as a kid I got over stuff quickly and he wasn't around a lot so I just went about my merry way. But Mom took it really hard and according to her I helped her snap out of it. So SMILE, MOMMY is in dedication to my Mom and what she went through and I also wanted my PB to provide a message to kids in learning how to help and comfort others around them who maybe grieving and sad.

What's even crazier is that I made the story into a rhyme.



Yup. I did. I didn't know I had that in me either but it was like as soon as the story formed in my head, the words just tumbled out and I had no say in the matter.

So after painstakingly reviewing it over and over. And over a thousand more times, I let it simmer. Then reviewed. And wash, rinse repeat. Before I knew it, May 22 had arrived. It was time to submit to Query Kombat. I agonized over it while I was at work. Submit. Don't submit. Had those proverbial butterflies boxing around my stomach. And then since I had to get back to work, I took the plunge and submitted and then after mentally shrieking at what the heck I'd just done, I went back to work.

Flash forward to May 30. I'm in my room, stalking the Query Kombat feed on Twitter and Michelle's blog because they mentioned they were releasing the picks early. Every few seconds my hands seemed to make their way to the refresh button. And then I saw it. "My Query Kombat Team for 2015". I sat up a little straighter and breezed by the other entries (sorry guys! I couldn't help it) until I made it to the PB section. And there it was, the first listed under PB, "Lila's Smiling Quest."




Now as I already mentioned, I was apart of Michelle's team for Sun vs. Snow. I won't go into many details about being chosen that day but I'll just say that there was some dancing and elevators involved. Captured your attention? (Click here for that very interesting journey). Unfortunately for Query Kombat, there weren't any elevators around at the time but there sure was a lot of dancing. I jumped around so much and shrieked, probably irritating the people downstairs in the process. But I was excited. My PB -my first ever PB I might add -had got chosen. Out of 245 entries, I was one of the 64 and it was such an honor. Especially to be chosen by Michelle not once. But twice on two different entries, telling me that my writing wasn't as horrible as I thought.

Soon I learned about my opponent: The Impressionistic Cow and quickly read their entry. I remember thinking "Crap. I've lost" because it was so good but I tried to remain positive. I repeatedly refreshed the page as I waited for comments and for the judges to show. They didn't until the second day (what a long first day that was). Meanwhile, I read the comments left for me. Most were the same and told me that it was a little heavy for a picture book or that I should change the object of the mother's grief. Some told me they could relate and they liked it and my writing was beautiful. (I really liked those comments, lol). But mostly I was just so glad to hear what people had to say about it as every comment brought me excitement in wanting to know how they saw it.

Towards the end of the deadline, I was being defeated 5-0 which kind of depressed me. I knew that I shouldn't have been comparing but I was starting to feel like my writing wasn't good. My silly writer insecurities were trying to creep in and unfortunately I was letting it. But in the end, I managed to go from 5-0 to 4-2 (as one of the judges votes weren't counted) and that brought a smile to my face. Not the judge's vote not counting part but that two judges voted for me. Sure I still was creamed but it wasn't as bad as having a unanimous vote where all the judges were saying 'we like someone else's work more than yours'. I was still sad but I was okay with the outcome.

So the next day, as soon as I woke up I grabbed my phone -unable to rid myself of the habit that had been forming since QK began. I checked Twitter and found a bunch of notification messages. I read them and was so touched by the message. It said "To the author of Lila's Smiling Quest. Your PB is heartwarming and is much needed." They then go on to say how they hope to own this PB. Even now just thinking about it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. No one has ever told me something like this before. That my writing was needed. I'd heard what I'd written was nice, funny, sweet or interesting but never needed. I almost cried when I read that because that was exactly what I was trying to express when I wrote it. I was hoping it'd be a comfort to those who truly needed it and it was so heart-warming to hear that it was. So to that person who wrote that to me, thank you so much. I needed your words as well. And thank you to Michelle, SC and Mike for this incredible journey and for the lesson I learned from it.


Words really are a powerful thing and I hope my writing will continue to touch others.