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Last Wednesday, the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) announced the nominees of their Regular Categories for their Annual Writing Competition. The DWAA, formed in 1935, continues to support and reward writers, bloggers and authors who capture the essence of the human-canine bond on so many levels.

This year, for the first time ever, winners of Regular Categories, and those of the Special Awards category, will be announced before the DWAA Banquet in New York City held this year on the evening of February 10th. So, many of my fellow nominees, and DWAA members, will be excitedly watching on Wednesday, December 13th, at 7:00pm (EST) on the DWAA Facebook and Twitter sites as the results roll in!

Yes, I said fellow-nominees, because for the third year in a row, I was thrilled to discover that my writing had garnered notice. In 2015, my biography of DWAA Co-Founder, Will Judy, was nominated in the Reference Book category and last year I was honored with three nominations, taking home a Maxwell in the Short Fiction category and The North Shore Animal League America Award for my blog post on the topic of Spay and Neuter.

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Teddy models the Maxwell: A very Sirius occasion!

This year, I’ve been nominated in the Short Fiction category for my short story On the Scent of Life about the personal struggle of a Cadaver dog handler, and for a guest blog post titled Fostering Ginger. Special Awards are “super secret” with no nominations, just that “And the winner is” moment! No matter the outcome, I’m honored to be nominated among such talented colleagues and wish all nominees the best.

Also last Wednesday, just after these announcements were made, I tuned into a webinar to reunite with fellow students and instructors from the Middle Grade Mastery course I’d enjoyed this past spring. The MGM course is one of many classes offered by Mira Reisberg of the Children’s Book Academy, and was co-taught by author Hillary Homzie. During the MGM course, I revised a Middle Grade novel with the personal input and one-on-one editorial guidance of Mira and enjoyed critique groups with fellow-writers from around the world, many who have remained in my Writing Universe.

During this hourlong gathering, those in attendance spoke about their journeys in securing agent representation and their submissions and subsequent review by editors. Mira and Hillary offered helpful insight to get us unstuck if we’re in a rut and suggested ways we can improve our chances of making 2018 a success for our projects.

Hillary reminded us to be mindful of our time by restricting time spent watching TV (sorry binge watchers) or on Social Media. She rightfully pointed out that even by writing one or two paragraphs a day, we are heading toward completion be it a Picture Book or a 45,000 word MG Novel. I also liked her reminder that when we’re unsure of where our character and plot are going, to stop and interview our characters to fully flush them out.

Mira encouraged us to mine our imaginations for all the possibilities and outcomes of a plot by asking the simple question, “So, what’s your premise?” It’s a deceivingly simple question, but one should be able to let an audience know the essence and purpose of your book in just a few sentences enticing readers to want to know more.

I’ve met many aspiring writers who feel that they don’t need writing instruction because they think all you need to do is think up a story and sit down at the keyboard. That’s a great start, but there’s so much more to it. Even with a gripping, well-executed manuscript, it isn’t easy to engage overworked literary agents and editors, or small presses and The Big Five publishers.

Part of the appeal of the MGM course, and others offered by the CBA, are that they include the involvement of some well-established agents and editors. Scholarships are also available and some students even receive a Golden Ticket from a participating agent, or editor, with an invaluable invitation to submit a Full Manuscript for serious consideration! The CBA courses use Facebook as their meeting base, so if you do take a course, be advised you’ll need to set up an account to participate.

My MGM project has endured many revisions, title changes and winding paths, but with each turn, it becomes a stronger story and I’m hopeful that it will find the right home in the coming year, embracing the mantra that it will land on “the right desk, at the right time”. While there is no course to find the exact moment of that winning combination, taking writing courses like those offered by CBA just might make that match a reality.

For the entire list of DWAA Writer’s Competition Nominees:

https://dogwriters.org/2017-nominees/

For more information on the Children’s Book Academy visit:

http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/

For a free webinar and Scholarship info: https://wj168-366180.pages.infusionsoft.net/

Work hard and practice Enlightened Persistence. To be continued!

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