Voyage YA’s First Chapters Contest for Women Writers
Several months ago, I began working on a story about a family of Black women with magical powers. At the time I had no idea where the story was going, and then it started to take on a life of its’ own. I fell in love with the characters I had created, and after sharing my work with my writing group I was convinced that this was a story that needed to be told…
Honestly, I am a poet at heart, and it can sometimes be hard for me to think of words outside of prose. I have literally been telling myself and the world that a fiction novel was in the making for years now. I would somehow find the motivation to make it to the finish line. Then I would query agents, and ultimately have my story sold to a major publisher, and then poof New York Times Best-Seller. Lofty goal, I know. Well, during these last three and a half years life kept on happening and I put my original manuscript on the backburner. Had it not been for the community my friend Ashley and I created on Clubhouse; I probably would have put the entire idea of finishing any novel out to pasture. The Black women who consistently showed up and encouraged me during our writing workshops gave me the courage to keep writing despite everything else going on in the world. I wrote paragraph after paragraph about these magical women, until I found myself truly inspired by them.
Then one day, I happened upon a post on Instagram from Voyage YA Journal announcing the winners of a writing contest they had recently held. That post led me to their website where I was blown away with the number of opportunities available for writers to submit their work. There was a contest for women writers that still had some time before submissions closed. I read the rules and discovered that the contest was being judged by an author that I absolutely loved. I had never written anything in the vein of young adult fiction, but then I remembered that the main characters in the story I had been working on were teenagers. These magical ass Black teenagers whom I had come to know, and love fit the criteria for me to enter them into this contest. After some major deliberations I decided to upload the equivalent of a first chapter to this contest, and thus began the waiting game.
My mind was a million miles away when I received an email from Voyage saying that the winners of the contest had been decided. Although I was not a finalist my story had been longlisted for the award. Longlisted? I had no idea what that meant. I knew it wasn’t first, second, nor third place, but what did it mean? Unfortunately, Google wasn’t much help, nor was the input of my two smartest friends, so I turned to Twitter for answers and the writing community did not let me down. (Can’t believe I just wrote that, but that really is the place to be for inspiring authors looking to go the traditional publishing route.) Although I did not win the grand prize nor make it to the final round, my story was given strong consideration. I had made the longlist and my name would be included amongst the winners of this contest whose stories made an impact on the judge. I was blown away once I figured out what it meant, and then I had to be quiet and not tell anyone.
Well today the cat is finally out the bag and I can share my excitement with everyone. My story has potential! It impressed someone whose opinion really matters to me. A New York Times Best-selling author read about my characters and thought that my story had potential!!! And that truly means the world to me. It’s so easy to lose hope as a creative, especially with so much doom and gloom going on in the world. Between the pandemic, grief and now a potential world war, creative endeavors can sometimes take a backseat to more pressing matters. But this news has reignited a flame within in me. I am proud to have made it to the long list in my first attempt at entering a writing contest. And now I have a young adult fiction novel to finish.
Many congratulations to the winners and everyone who was brave enough to give life to their characters and share them with the world. To see the complete list including the top winners and finalist please visit the Voyage YA Journal website.
As for me, I am excited to continue this quest with some restored hope, plus confirmation that I am on the right track! My heart is filled with gratitude.