Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Book Arts Bash Finalists

When Lydia broached the subject of running a writing competition for homeschoolers I was a little leery of the idea. However, her enthusiasm soon carried me away and before I knew it, I was, working along side her setting up The Book Arts Bash - An Exhibition Of Literary Arts.

I can't even begin to tell you how great it is to work on projects with her. My history is littered with projects where I've had many great ideas that have been shot down by others in the team who felt they were too different or too risky. Lydia is the total opposite to everyone with whom I have ever worked. If anything, I am the one who has to reign her in. It's so great working with someone who truly believes the sky is the limit.

The two of us really got ahead of ourselves when we tried to decide on categories for our homeschooling writing competition. After some brutal cutting we finally settled on a hundred categories. In retrospect we should have been more brutal with our cutting but we loved all the categories so we were unable to cut them down further.

I was totally in love with the picture book, pop-up book, drama and storytelling categories. So much so that I was convinced that we'd be inundated with entries in these categories. I was beyond excited when Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart agreed to judge the pop-up book category.

To say I was less than enthusiastic about the novel excerpt category was putting it mildly. I was convinced that no one would take the time or trouble to write so many words.

Talk about not knowing your market!! We had not one pop-up book entry and hundreds upon hundreds of novel excerpts. Who would have thunk it?

We, plus a team of other homeschoolers and educators, put in countless hours reading all the entries. It was beyond difficult to cut own each category to a mere three finalists. Sometimes we just could not do it and ended up sending a few more finalists to the judges. As you can see in the short story category, more than a few age groups have more than three finalists.

The most difficult age range to judge was the grades 7th-9th. The quality of writing in this age group is superb. We finally gave up trying to cut the novel entries down to the top three and settled on six.

While the goal of this writing competition was not to obtain contracts or book deals for our entrants, I harbor a not so secret wish, that one or two of our entrants will do just that. I am in awe of how well a some of our highschoolesr and middle schoolers write. Awed and humbled because I am not able to meet their standards.

I'm waiting with baited breathe until we hear back from the judges. We've asked them to all get back to us by 1 November, so watch this space. In the mean time, if you go to the Bash's website and look under each category, you will find the finalists.

Once the judges have sent us their critiques and ranking, we'll publish the final winners and excerpts on the website.

We've learned some good lessons from this first Bash. Our next one is slated for early 2010. Based on the entries we received this year, the next Bash is going to be for novel excerpts only. We'll create categories within this broad one. Categories like thrillers, sci-fi/fantasy (the most popular categories with the kids), historical fiction etc..

Another lesson we learned is that we have to ditch the paper and go digital. For the next Bash, entries will be submitted digitally. This will cut down mailing costs (paper is heavy and expensive to ship to judges).

1 comment:

Tammy said...

Oh my goodness, how funny to stumble across your blog today. My daughter, Katie S. entered this contest with a couple of poems. She's in the 7th-9th grade poem category.

By the way, we were so thrilled to find a writing contest for homeschoolers. My hat is off to you guys for creating this contest, all of the judges, and also to all of those brave kids who sent in their works.

Kudos all around. :)