AHHHHH – I Made It to the Final Round

OMGAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

HOLY COW! I did it. I advanced to the 3rd and final round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge!!!! I woke up this morning to the amazing news. And. I. Can’t. Believe. It!

Hmmm…are you sure about this decision, Judges? You’ve never liked me, and now you’ve liked TWO of my stories!

You sure judgesHA! Wow…Just, wow!

Well, as you can see, I’m crazy excited about this. When I entered the Short Story Challenge last winter, my goal was to make it to round 2. I never–EVER–believed I could make it to round 3. It wasn’t even a possibility in my mind. Almost 1,000 writers entered this contest, and only 40 make it to the last round. 40! That’s the top 4%!

Oh man, deep breath.

Deep BreathI’m sure by this point you’re all wondering why my face is painted in these pics. Well, some of us competitors decided to have some fun and become Writing Warriors before the results for round 2 were announced. We dolled up our faces with whatever lipstick, eyeliner, or face paint we could find, and then posted our pics on the competition’s forum. It was a great way to show our support for one another, have some laughs, and encourage/cheer on those writers lucky enough to advance to the final round.

Good luckSo, speaking of the final round: we only get 24-hours to write a 1,500 word story. Unlike the first two rounds, we won’t have a genre assigned to us. We get to pick whichever one we want. Thank. God. The genre is always the thing that scares the bejeezus out of me (rom-com, comedy, political satire…shudder). I’ll definitely be planning on writing a suspense or horror. Those are, by far, my favorite/strongest genres. And at this stage of the game, you gotta stick with what you’re good at.

My biggest challenge this next round will definitely be the time limit. It usually takes me 24-hours just to write a semi-solid draft. So, I won’t have a second to waste. Which means I’ll likely be up most of night Friday (when the 3rd round kicks off) working my booty off, and writing like a maniac all day Saturday…Ugh, I already have an ulcer and headache thinking about it.

But, I’m a fighter, and I plan to battle through it.

So, let’s do this Round 3. Let’s dance!

Whatever, Lets do thisGood luck to all those advancing to the final round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. We can do this!

If you’d like to read my round 1 and round 2 stories, here you go!

Round 1: Chasing Monsters

(Assignment: 2,500 words, 8 days, suspense, wedding, chef) 

Round 2: Over the Edge

(Assignment: 2,000 words, 3 days, mystery, debt, tour guide) 

Friday Funny and a touch of success

Hey, would ya look at that? It’s Friday! Time for a happy dance.

My week went pretty well–much better than last week. I’ll admit I didn’t get any writing done, but that’s because I was participating in the second (and best) part of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge: reading all the amazing entries. On Tuesday, the forum on the competition’s website opened up, so many competitors, including myself, posted our stories for others to read, enjoy, and critique. Thankfully, work was super calm this week, so I was able to read, enjoy, and critique many of them. Like, over 40!…Yeah, my eyes are starting to hurt, lol.

In addition to reading stories, I received terrific feedback for my own, Chasing Monsters. So far, the general consensus has been positive! I think that calls for another happy dance 😉

Here are just a few comments people have made:

That was an incredibly suspenseful and horrifying story…”

Wow.  THAT was one of the best short stories I’ve ever…

Wow Jen!!! What a story!!! You had me right on the edge of my seat from start to finish!”

I LOVED this story.”

I wanted to let you know I am still thinking about/cringing over your story a day later. Can’t think of higher praise for a suspense story.”

Very Guillermo del Toro-esque and I mean that as a compliment.”

Wow – an espresso coffee hit of a child’s tale! (Laced with rum!)

Love your writing! This was like a modern Grimm tale!

Okay, one more happy dance? Yeah?

Success! Thank. God!

Honestly, I didn’t expect this positive response for Chasing Monsters. I was so, so, soooo nervous and “ugh” about it. Why? Well, mostly because the subject matter was so dark and intense. I’d originally plotted a different twist in my story, but when I approached that twist, my characters yanked me in a different direction–a scary, grim, uncomfortable direction. I was also anxious because I genuinely struggled with writing this story (details here), and the more I struggle with writing something, the more likely it’s horrible and needs be tossed out.

I’m glad I didn’t.

And I’m glad I trusted my characters and followed them down the bumpy, twisty path they led me.

In addition to the positive feedback, I’ve also received some awesome constructive criticisms that will definitely help me improve Chasing Monsters should I ever decide to go back and revise it…Will I do that? I don’t know. People have asked me to, but to be honest, this was the hardest story I’ve ever written. It emotionally destroyed me last week and took me to dark places I never want to revisit…But, then again, I do tend to torture myself, so maybe… 😉

Anyways, in honor of my small but sweet success this week, I’ve dedicated today’s Friday Funny to my characters from Chasing Monsters.

0ace93e64f2504ec6a77f2f63ad29552Thank you to everyone who has read Chasing Monsters. I won’t know for over a month how I officially did in the first round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Despite the positive response from readers, I’m still not holding my breath. Judging for this contest is 100% unpredictable.

How was your week? Read any good books? Make progress with your own writing? Tell me, tell me!

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

Done and Done – Round 1 Short Story Challenge 2014

Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Chasing Monsters – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge Entry

A True Thursday Treasure – Hermione is born