And The Winners Were...
One of the most exciting parts of my job as Red Room's editor this year was to work on our four contests. From posting the contest announcements and seeing our community's enthusiasm for friendly competition, to reading the entries and having the enviable (but tough!) job of determining the winners, I got to see the best in our authors and members. Sincere thanks to everyone who had fun participating!
Here's a review of the four contests—we look forward to doing more in the months ahead.
–Huntington W. Sharp, Editor, Red Room
Summer Book Giveaway. The challenge was to write an account of a memorable summer reading experience. Each of the five winners will receive fourteen bestselling books, provided by Hachette Book Group, USA.
A summer in the ‘70s spent in working on a boat off the coast of Yugoslavia was the backdrop as Ben Campbell discovers the very American Centennial by James Michener in his essay Refusal Was Not An Option.
Housewarming Party. Red Room is your online home, and what better way to celebrate a new home than to throw a housewarming party? Authors and members competed to see how many visitors they could attract to their Red Room pages during June and July 2008, and the three authors and three members who received the most visits won. Ingenious homemade videos, Facebook campaigns, email blasts...our community did it all. The secret to our winners' success, though, was creating and sharing contributions of consistently high quality, especially blog essays, but also photos and other types of content.
Grand Prize: University of California, Berkeley, writing and public-speaking instructor Ericka Lutz (left; author of seven nonfiction books including On the Go with Baby and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stepparenting) and aspiring young-adult novelist Jennifer Gibbons (right) won a spectacular evening of luxury in San Francisco. They started with a fabulous multi-course dinner at restaurant Michael Mina(winner of two Michelin stars) with two superstar Red Room authors: San Francisco Chronicle Executive Vice President and Editor-at-Large Phil Bronstein, who was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from the Philippines in the 1980s; and Terry McMillan, author of several #1 New York Times-bestselling novels, two of which (Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back) were made into hit Hollywood movies. Red Room founder and CEO Ivory Madison (author of the just-released Huntress: Year One six-part miniseries from DC Comics) joined the festivities as well. The grand prize also included a one-night stay provided by the luxurious Westin St. Francishotel. (Read Ericka and Jennifer's accounts of the evening here and here.)
By the way, Jennifer's writing talent and skill at attracting visitors have led us to make a new rule for future concurrent contests to allow only one winner at a time.
Second Prize: Writing and literature instructor and novelist Jessica Barksdale Inclán (left; author of Being With Him, Believe In Me, and more) and journalist, screenwriter, and playwright Lynn Liccardo (right) won $250.00 worth of books by Red Room authors purchased from legendary independent bookseller and literary community advocate Book Passage,and the right to have two each of their favorite supported causes featured on Red Room's homepage during the month to come.
Third Prize: Ellen R. Sheeley (author of Reclaiming Honor in Jordan: A National Public Opinion Survey on "Honor" Killings) and prolific Red Room member Dennis Shay won literary kitchen accessories from Kitchen Sink Dramas,including a bistro apron with Oscar Wilde's quote, "After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations," and a set of six tea towels featuring excerpts from stories by Kate Chopin, O Henry, D.H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Oscar Wilde, and Saki. Approximate value of US$200.00.
Hispanic Heritage Month Reading Contest
Hispanic Heritage Month ran from September 15th to October 15th, 2008. Red Room celebrated with its own Hispanic Heritage Month Reading Contest. The challenge was to tell Red Room about your most memorable experience reading a book by a Latin American or U.S. Hispanic/Latino author. The Prize: The winners got eight bestselling novels on Hispanic/Latino subjects from Hachette Books USA.
The Winners, with the stories they chose:
This Great Depression-era book for kids opened Red Room author Ruth Paget's eyes to "the struggles and possibilities available to the farmworkers" of Monterey County, California, where she lives.
Another protagonist named Esperanza helped Red Room member Theresa Shaffer take pride in herself.
Meeting Luís Valdez helped Red Room author Steve Hauk understand the playwright/activist's guardedness and passion.
Red Room member Marian Veverka says this novel is about a lot more than the life of a waitress; rather, its "quality of self" gives the book a "quality of transcendence."
National Novel Writing Month Contest
Mary Menacho was among hundreds of Red Room authors and members who competed in November's NaNoWriMo, completing a 50,000-word draft and submitting it for recognition. "Wrimos," as contest entrants are called, form a community of writers who encourage each other, commiserate a bit, and exult in their success when they accomplish their writing goals. Whether you're a published author or aspire to be one, NaNoWriMo is a great way to finish your project with the support of thousands of others.
Red Room was proud to cosponsor this year's NaNoWriMo, and we decided to add an extra incentive to Red Roomers to finish their drafts. Our contest involved blogging about the experience, finishing and submitting a draft according to NaNoWriMo's rules, and then being drawn at random to win a three-hour manuscript review and a one-hour coaching session with Red Room Founder and CEO Ivory Madison. The prize is "priceless" because Ivory no longer does book coaching. When she did, she would've charged at least $2,000 for this service. Now she only does coaching for good causes.
Red Room's contest winner, Mary Menacho of San Jose, California, was chosen at random from the hundreds of Red Room members and authors who won NaNoWriMo. Here's what she says about writing: "Writing is, for me, an act of hope. The sounds of vowels around the grit of consonants delights my ear and entices word play. Words are nets, small nets to hold imagination." It will be great to see how Mary parlays the completion of her draft with Ivory's coaching into taking her writing to the next stage, and we wish her the best!
Please check out the many blog entries posted to Red Room about 2008's NaNoWriMo, and look for Red Room to continue supporting writers next November and throughout the year!