Writer, Storyteller, Seanchaí


Today I did something crazy. I don’t often – people who know me will tell you I’m not spontaneous. But I was today. 

I entered SFPBO9. 

SFPBO stands for Self-Published Fantasy Book Off. (9 because this is the ninth year.) Essentially, three hundred fantasy books enter and are divided up among ten book bloggers, who whittle them down to one favorite. Those ten favorites go on to another round where each blogger rates them and the highest rating wins.

Sounds simple. And it is. It’s also absolutely terrifying.

I read some of the authors I’m up against. I have a ton of respect for several others that I haven’t read. It’s easy to wonder what I’m doing among them.

I hadn’t planned to enter, not really. I was sitting with the submission form open, and I’d filled it in, but I was still waffling. Should I enter? Who would like it? I imagined a worst-case scenario that Marisa tells me is utterly ridiculous. (She’s right, too.) Still waffling. Last year it took nine hours to fill all the spots. I was at twenty minutes after submissions had opened. And I clicked submit, almost without intending to.

It’s good I did. Had I waited for nine hours, I would never have gotten in since the whole competition filled in 41 minutes.

Why did I enter? I don’t know that I can win, and that’s not imposter syndrome or false modesty or fishing for compliments. I know what I write, and it’s not for everyone. It’s also not what everyone imagines for fantasy.

I’ve said before that I don’t know how to do goals. I really don’t. I understand them, but I don’t know how to do them. But I do understand challenges. And entering SPFBO is a challenge, a chance to spread my wings and fly a little farther than I have before. 

A challenge asks something of me, something on the edge of impossible, but always achievable. The challenge here is to take advantage of the possibilities this offers. Also to finish Book 2. (Which works well with my other challenge – to write 500,000 words by December 31. Which I am extremely far behind on, but that’s okay.)

So was it crazy? Maybe a little. Maybe I was doing what I do best as a writer: trusting my subconscious knew what was going on, just as I would during a story. We’ll have to see.

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