No, this isn't the post when I finally reveal that I'm a man, an accomplished ventriloquist and a double-jointed jazz singer. I'm saving that one for 2013.

What I sometimes struggle with explaining to my friends and family members who aren't members of the Romance Writers of America or aren't spending their free time writing novels and trying to get published is how things work with competitions and contests.

For example, I'm one of the sixty selected entrants in Miss Snark's First Victim's Baker's Dozen Agent Auction. Yeah, say that fast three times. What that means is on between 11:00 am on December 4 and 11:00 am on December 5, fifteen literary agents will have the opportunity to "bid" (request a number of pages to read) on my entry.

Last year, 2/3 of entrants received bids from 5 pages to a full manuscript. So the odds may not be in my favour. It's not like it's a voting contest where the popular entries get picked; it's up to each agent's personal taste, what he/she thinks and what he/she is looking for at the time.

What's ironic about the whole thing is that I didn't expect to get in.

There were two entry days for the young adult/middle grade manuscripts, each allowing 150 entrants to register. On both of those mornings I was scheduled for client meetings until noon, so I worried about getting to a computer in time to be in the running. I even considered dragging my laptop with me, feigning a stomach ailment and finding a Wi-Fi hotspot nearby.

Then my practical side kicked in, and I decided to leave it up to fate. I saved my entry in an email so I could access it and enter without having to open up a Word document.

On the first entry day, the 150 spots filled in 22 MINUTES. Seriously. I knew I'd be out of the running for sure.

On the second entry day, my client meeting ended early. We got back to the office just before 1 pm and I decided to check the site. The entry button was still active! With trembling fingers I filled out the forms, paid the entry fee and hit send. My confirmation listed me as entry 122 for that day.

That's when I started to panic. What if I the two judges selected my entry? My work would be out there for people to see. And critique. What if people didn't get it? What if people laughed out loud at how ridiculous my words are, or grumbled about how annoying my protagonist is, or rolled their eyes at how base and simplistic my word choices are?

Yeah, I have issues.

Then I thought about not getting in. Not making the cut. And that didn't bother me as much somehow. I continued asking the Magic 8 Ball if my entry would be selected, and it kept telling me No or Reply Hazy, Try Again. So I accepted that I wouldn't be accepted.

When Miss Snark's First Victim announced that there were 286 young adult/middle grade entries, my heart sank a little. There were only 35 spots available. I tucked my hope back into the closet and focused on completing the first draft of my current novel. (Which I did, yeah me!)

November 19 was the day the selected entrants would be contacted.

I was contacted.

I'm in the 2013 Baker's Dozen!

My log line (kind of like a short pitch for your novel) and the first 250 words of the book would be up for critique and, for a 24-hour period, available for agents to bid on.

At first, I didn't want to tell anybody. I was terrified. Heck, I still am. Come Wednesday morning, I could be one of the writers whose work doesn't inspire a single bid.

And a big part of me is okay with that. Why? Because I've already won. Out of all those entries, I'm lucky enough to be part of the few who made it into the next round. To me, that's huge. Yes, having my work out there is terrifying, but it's a necessary part of being a writer.

I'm in the company ofsome truly awesome authors. If you have some time to spare, I invite you to visit the site and read them.

And no, I'm not going to say which one is mine. I've said too much already.

Now how about you? What have you ever done to put yourself out there?

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