Then, June 15th--the day finalists were to be announced--took its sweet time getting here. Impatience controlled me, urging me to count the weeks/days on my dry-erase calendar. I labeled the special day with a black marker, as if the slightest chance existed that I might forget. My writing friend and I traded emails and critiques, both of us preparing our books. I prayed for peace, and honestly, to not care if I didn't final. I prayed the Lord wouldn't let me be disappointed--whether I went forward in the contest or not.
As the 15th inched near, regret took over.
"You shouldn't have made a big deal out of this."
"There are plenty of people who can write better than you."
"You're not going to score above seven other semifinalists."
(Anyone else have a pessimistic inner self?)
So when the day showed up, I went to work like normal. Checked patient's vision like normal. Scanned their eyes like normal. Assisted the doctor like normal.
Except I checked my phone a total of 19,477 times. All before noon.
By the time I clocked out, no phone calls received, I'd shrugged off any hope. Nope, I hadn't finaled, but I'd find a way to get over myself and congratulate whoever did. I knew some folks on the semifinalist list, and I wanted them to win. Yet, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want my name on that list.
For some reason, the finalists were being announced later in the day, I discovered.
So I went home like normal. Cleaned the house. Rubbed the note off my dry-erase calendar. Drove to Walmart. Went home again a little defeated, mostly trying to forget the day had carried significance.
My phone's battery was nearly dead (I wasn't lying about checking it 20,000 times), so I plugged the thing up in the kitchen and trudged off to the bedroom to watch TV.
A little while later, I heard my ringtone singing. I darted off the bed and into the kitchen to see my husband handing me the phone. A unfamiliar number lit up the screen...
And I knew.
My grin exploded before I even heard the category coordinator's voice. For a girl who can't stand talking on the phone--yes, I will ignore your call and text you--I launched into that conversation without any apprehension. On my back deck (because no, I'm not going to stay in a room with someone and talk on the phone), I listened to the amazing news, all the while feeling a bit like a wasp could sting me and I wouldn't care. Which wasn't at all true. If a wasp had chosen that moment to land on me, I would've freaked, dropped the phone, and run squalling and bawling into the house.
Bugs scare me, okay.
I've told you this incredibly long story in order to share one thing: Thanks to the Lord's blessing, I am indeed a finalist in the romance category of the 2015 ACFW Genesis Contest.
This means a myriad of things, including the fact I need to buy a formal dress for the Awards Gala.
It also means I'll be hosting a multi-book giveaway soon! Yay for free books!
At this point, I honestly won't care if I don't win--well, not much. The experience at ACFW will be a major blessing no matter what.
Until then, I'm getting my latest novel polished (the one that finaled). Because opportunities like this aren't meant to be wasted, and I aim to do my part.