A reason to celebrate: my story won the RWA Little Gems Diamond contest

Uluwatu in Bali

I did it. I proved I can write.

In January I entered my short story Bali Sunset in the Romance Writers of Australia contest Little Gems. Each year a different gem is chosen to feature in the stories. In 2012 the gem was the diamond.

This isn’t the first time Bali Sunset has done the Little Gems rounds. I wrote it in late 2010 and entered it in 2011 when the gem was the garnet.

I loved the story and believed it was a winner. So, too, did two out of the three 2011 judges, who awarded me full marks. But, as is the usual for me, one judge didn’t like aspects of the story. She thought my hero was a doormat and couldn’t understand why my heroine would hang around in a loveless marriage. This judge dragged my full marks down so the story didn’t even make the cut.

Fair enough. Contests are like that. You have to cop the good with the bad. I was upset but confident that my story had the right stuff.

I took the low-scoring judge’s comments on board but I didn’t give up on Bali Sunset. I knew it was, if not a winner, worthy of a place in the annual Little Gems anthology, which comprises the 14 top-scoring stories.

I tweaked the story and gave my heroine more of a reason for her compromised marriage. I didn’t touch my hero because I loved him just the way he was.

Of course I changed the gem from a garnet to a diamond and worked it into the story in another context.

When the email arrived in my inbox from the contest coordinator last week my heart dropped. I’m used to not placing in contests but I knew I’d be devastated if Bali Sunset failed the second time around.

The email started with: Congratulations! Your Little Gems entry “Bali Sunset” has gained first place in the RWA 2012 Little Gems Diamond Contest and will be published in the Anthology…

I stared at the email for at least five minutes – I must have read it a dozen times. Then I called my partner into the room to confirm that I had won – not lost.

A week later I still can’t believeĀ  it.

Does this mean I can write or was I just lucky to have three sympathetic high-scoring judges?

I guess I’ll have to keep writing to find out.