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I did NOT prepare myself mentally for this. Moments before, I asked my husband to tell me the advantages of not winning. He went, “you might expect things to progress too quickly from now on” – to which I replied, “NOT ENCOURAGING ENOUGH!” 🙂

As you can tell, I was a nervous wreck. The most wonderful thing about the conference – which is to know there are so many people feeling the same way you do – became the toughest. How could I hope to win when someone out there wanted it just as much? Loved their novel just as much? It’s like signing up your baby for a beauty pageant – EVERY mom thinks they’re winning.

My friend (amazing author and AWESOME mentor) Betsy St. Amant told me I looked shell-shocked lol. During dinner, I felt like I was at the edge of a very, very steep roller coaster railway (that moment when you’re about to dive in). I knew that, whether I won or lost, the next emotion I’d feel would be STRONG.

When they were about to announce the winner, my heart pounded faster and I told myself, “Calm down, they’re NOT gonna call you, you won’t have to go up there, so you have nothing to fear.” Then, a second later, they went: “Anne Prado with Through The Needle.” I think I inhaled every ounce of air available in that room, so it’s a wonder there are any survivals.

How could they expect me to win AND have strength in my legs to walk aaall the way to the stage, up the stairs, and then speak to about 700 people?? I wish I’d been so much more polished than I was. But every time I’d tried thinking of something witty beforehand, I feared that it wouldn’t happen and I’d end up disappointed I couldn’t say what I’d planned.

Well, I guess I should have! Let it now be known: preparing for the best is a GOOD thing. Because yeah, there’s the chance you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re not, you’ll be able to just enjoy the moment instead of hyperventilating in sheer panic.

I didn’t say much – just that God is amazing, then thanked my husband for taking the kids so I could write (and so I could attend the conference), did a shout-out for Betsy St. Amant‘s awesome critique and editing business, and thanked my family and friends for believing I was a writer even before I did.

And before you think this was a pure cloud-nine moment, let me tell you – I felt AWKWARD all the way through. Like somebody would tell me to sit down, and that I’d heard it wrong. I’ve seen myself as a wannabe writer for so long that to have such an amazing public recognition like that felt like living in a dream. I felt unworthy, and unsure of what to do with it.

Now that my nerves have finally calmed down (over 24 hours later), I know exactly what to do with it – display it on my living room, but of course. And then try to BELIEVE I’m a writer, at last. I’ve always believed in my novel so much, so why not do the same thing for myself?