We have some very exciting news to share with everyone, regarding our oldest daughter! Several months ago while reading the local newspaper one morning, I came across a tiny article mentioning a writing contest. I thought it would be fun for my daughter to enter it. The contest was called the Florida Blue Young Authors Contest and it was open to all middle schoolers (grades 6-8) from two different counties in our area. We live in a HUGE school district, and so I figured there would be a ton of children entering. My daughter loves reading and writing, and so we went to the website we were directed to in the newspaper article to find out all the requirements, deadlines, etc...
At first, we were a bit concerned because the contest called for the student to write an original story about our city and include a landmark or special place for each letter of the alphabet. I immediately started questioning in my mind "what on earth could possibly start with the letter X around here?" In addition, the story had to rhyme. Last of all, she only had a few weeks to complete it, revise the story and submit it. Our daughter loves a challenge though and she went right to work. There were some days where she would spend up to five hours researching special places, trying to get the rhyming just right, and writing and re-writing over and over again. Sometimes I had to tell her to just get up and walk away for a while. The words will come to you.
Now you have to understand, this contest was a lot of work and there would be only one winner. It was either all or nothing! The winner of this contest would have their story actually made into a book and published by the Books By Kids Foundation. The illustrations for the book will be created by patients from our local children's hospital, and all proceeds will go to them. And since groups of up to 25 children could enter as one, under the guidance of their teacher, I thought our daughter may be at a slight disadvantage. Was I ever wrong!!!
She finally completed her story and after I read it several times to check for any spelling or structural errors, I knew she had the winning entry. I know that sounds bold to say, but I truly did... Still, just because I knew it didn't mean the judges did!
Several weeks went by and then one afternoon last week, I received the phone call- our 13 year old won! I actually screamed because I was so happy for her. But there was even more to be excited about! Not only is her book being published, she won tickets to all sorts of museums, attractions, etc... and I won an iPad for being her facilitator as well as a weekend getaway with my husband at a very nice hotel!
The public announcement regarding the winner of the contest was made at the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game last weekend. It was so thrilling for all of us! Here is our daughter, waiting for her big moment. I imagine it must have been a bit scary to be standing there in the player box, in front of all those people. But she handled it so well. So much better than I would have...
Finally- here she is being announced to the world. I wanted to cry when I saw her up there on the jumbo screen, and as I listened to the speaker talk about her accomplishments, I not only cheered for her but for homeschoolers everywhere. She competed against entire classrooms of children, yet won all on her own. And when they said she was a 7th grade homeschooler, we were so proud and I imagined all the homeschool families everywhere feeling victorious right along side her. So, be on the lookout for her book Tampa Bay From A to Z, which will be out hopefully in May of this year. To learn more about the Books By Kids foundation, go to http://www.booksbykids.com/