An excerpt from my middle-grade/young adult novel, Ever This Day, is currently posted on the Tuscany Press Prize Blog. It received an encouraging response from the judge/reader. Stop by, check it out, and maybe even say something nice about it. While you’re there, read some of the other submissions, too. There’s some beautiful writing, and it’s sort of thrilling to me that, even if it’s not immediately apparent, all of the stories have themes related to Catholicism. For me, it affirms the beautiful diversity that DOES still thrive within Catholicism, despite attempts to make it into a unilateral religion. And the blog proves that Catholic imaginations are rich indeed! (I could write a whole blog post about ways I think growing up Catholic fuels creative expression, but I think I’ll save that for another day.)
For today, I only want to briefly comment on the Tuscany Prize judging process. I’ll admit that I was quite surprised to learn that entries to the contest were going to be posted on a prize blog. I wondered about the intent — would reader responses play a part in the judges’ decisions? What about confidentiality or “blind” judging? Was it just a way to beef up blog content?
But now that the excerpts are posted, I can see the value in a judging process that involves sharing submissions. For one, it’s incredibly affirming as a participant to see that a judge actually read and thought about my manuscript. And I like the transparency of seeing “what I’m up against.” It humanizes the whole process. When I see the talent and creativity and love that have gone into each submission, I feel much less of a “me vs. them” mentality. I feel less suspicious of the judging process, less resentful of an eventual winner if it isn’t me. I can see that there are a lot of deserving stories, and I’m okay with that. And fostering this kind of open-heartedness in the midst of competition demonstrates that Tuscany Press is emerging as a publisher that may live the very best of Catholic virtue.