I don't know what other writing contests are like, but I can't imagine one that could top the ABNA Grand Prize: a publishing contract with Penguin Books. As if that wasn't awesome enough, get a load of the awards event:
Tuesday, May 26: My wife and I checked into the Crowne Plaza, Times Square, and were given a room on 33rd floor. We had a beautiful view of Times Square and the Manhattan skyline. We could even see both the East River and the Hudson. Our rep from Amazon greeted us with a bag of goodies--including several books, spending moola, and a Kindle 2! Incredible. That evening, we were taken to a private restaurant in Greenwich Village. After a nice little Happy Hour, the other two finalists -- Brandi Lynn Ryder and Ian Gibson, both extremely friendly, interesting, and talented writers -- and I were interviewed, on video, by a panel of editors from Penguin and Amazon. Watch for the video on www.amazon.com/abna sometime next week. We were then treated to a delicious dinner of... I forget. But it was great. Around 10 pm, they got tired of listening to the writers pontificate, so they put us in cabs and sent us back to Times Square.
Wednesday, May 26: After a sleepless night, it was time to head down to Battery Park for the announcement of the winner. We got to experience morning rush hour in Manhattan from the inside of a Kamikaze yellow cab. The restaurant had a beautiful view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The announcement was to be made at 9am. I was amazed at how slowly the time passed from 8:30, when we arrived, to 9:00. I can't really describe how I felt when they announced me as a winner. I made a short acceptance speech. Somewhere in there I got a laugh, but I'm not sure if it was something I said or the vacant I-can't-believe-this look that was, no doubt, frozen on my face. Later that day, I visited the Penguin offices down on Hudson Street. There, I met "my editors," the publisher, and the publicist. An incredibly friendly group of professionals.
Friday, May 29: Got a free pass to BEA. Spent the day meeting other folks from Penguin and taking in BookExpo America at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center. Another great day.
What can I say? Every aspect of the awards event was handled with complete professionalism. We were treated like kings every step of the way.
And the Grand Prize? Jackpot!