Thursday, February 04, 2010

What To Say When You Final

After being the contest coordinator for the Linda Howard Award of Excellence for four years out of five, I've heard all types of responses to the news of being a finalist or winner.

Some responses are frustrating. Like when I've called to tell someone they finaled and I hear "What contest did you say this was? What was the name of my entry?" Gee, that tells me they've entered and probably finaled in too many contests. I can promise you when it comes to the ones I enter, I know when they're to call, which manuscript I've sent in, and what version. Yes. I do maintain a spreadsheet. I'm a little OCD about that.

Other times you call and get their voicemail. I guess I could leave a message for them to call me back, but they would already know the reason I'm calling (if they're not like the one I mentioned above) and some probably wouldn't even return my call. So I leave a voicemail and hope they're the type to listen to it over and over again, so excited they finaled. Well anyway, that's what I did one time when I receive a voicemail like that.

Then you have the ones who have obviously finaled over and over again and they say "That's nice. Thank you," all in a calm businesslike voice. By then I imagine my hands around their neck and shaking.

On occasion I get one who's excited but says the wrong thing like "I'm shocked!" Okay. I understand this might be your first one. Or maybe you just slammed together the entry at the last minute and never expected it to final. Come on people. I'm now rechecking the score as you say for the third time, "I'm shocked!" Have I made a mistake? Did I add the scores wrong? If you're excited about finaling or winning, don't say you're shocked. Think positive and say, "That's wonderful!" Miracles do happen. Miracles are wonderful. So be sure to say so.

That leads into good things to say. The one I usually say during the rare times I get a call about finaling is "That's the best news I've heard in a long time!" And that's after I squeal. I know how hard that coordinator worked and I can tell you she gets as happy and excited as you do when you act thrilled. I know I get as giggly as the finalist. I've been told by one coordinator I'm her contest's favorite finalist because of my reaction. They feel appreciated and they'll remember you in a good way. I promise.

What type of finalist are you? Or would you be?


Jeanie said...

I'm the type of finalist who is so dim she gives the contest coordinator her work e-mail instead of her home address, and then sits at home singing the 'I Suck' song the whole weekend, because people are posting on the loops that they've finaled and I did not. Dragging myself out of my quicksand of misery, I check the list of finalists on the webpage to see if anyone I know has finaled . . . and skim right over my pen name, because, well, because I'm DIM! Only on my second visit to the site does it penetrate that my name is on the list and I have finaled after all! Happy dance and squeals and elation to follow. That's the kind of finalist I am.

Callie James said...

That still makes me laugh, Jeanie (as I continue singing the "I suck" song).

The first contest I entered I finaled, and yes ... my first reaction was "holy cow" and my second reaction was "awesome!"

I used to final in contests a lot more, which makes me wonder if those helpful comments were helpful. What the heck?

Christine said...

I've finaled twice in contests. Each time I was so happy--it validated my writing. When I finaled in the MAGGIES, I was dripping wet and had only a towel between my body and the receiver :)

Paula said...

I was entering several contests toward the end of my time as an unpublished writer, and I was finaling in something like half of them. Maybe more. I'll have to pull out the spreadsheet (you're not alone, Carla) and see. But anyway, I think I tended toward the businesslike at that point, not because I wasn't excited--I was--but because I stutter on the phone anyway, and if I start to gush, it's that much worse. So for the sake of the poor coordinators trying to talk to me, I tried to stay calm and professional. I like to tell myself I was practicing for The Call, but the truth is, I was just trying really hard not to babble and stutter.

Carla Swafford said...

Ah, Jeanie, you finaled in more than one contest. What about the others?

Carla Swafford said...

You go, girl! Awesome is a great word for a coordinator to hear, Callie.

Carla Swafford said...

Well, that's something you'll never forget, Christine.

Carla Swafford said...

See! I knew that's why they acted so business like...finalling so many times. But preparing for THE CALL, I hadn't thought about, Paula. Well, that says something about me, heh?

The stuttering and babbling is what I do too. I stuttered badly when was a kid and it appears to becoming back, especially whenever I'm under stress.

I remember all the cakes and flowers I brought for you. LOL!

Jeanie said...

Carla, Much squealing going on, I can tell you. I don't think I will ever get blase about finaling. Too much rejection in the past. I'm like the ugly duckling that turned into a swan!

M.V.Freeman said...

I would be grateful!