Closing up the ABNA posts, the grand prize winner, TIMEBOUND author, Rysa Walker, has the final word(s):
The ABNA experience as a whole was a bit surreal. My family says that I'm a pessimist. I prefer the word "realist," but I'll admit I'd rather expect the worst and be happily surprised if things go better than anticipated. I entered the contest hoping to get the Publisher's Weekly review at the Quarterfinals stage and really hadn't thought much beyond that. And now, nearly a month after returning from Seattle, the fact that Timebound is the grand prize winner is still sinking in.
It was a fantastic trip from beginning to end. My sister Donna went with me to Seattle, since my two youngest kids were in the middle of end-of-grade testing and would never, ever have forgiven us if both parents ran off and left them behind. Thanks to the wonders of Skype, however, they were able to watch as the winner was announced, so they were as close to "being there" as possible.
Two highlights of the trip were meeting my publishing team at Skyscape and getting to know the other finalists. I was delighted to discover that the people I'll be working with on Timebound share my love of young adult literature and books in general. And the fact that the books by all five finalists will be published this autumn is exciting, because after reading the excerpts online during the contest and chatting with all of them in Seattle, I'm very much looking forward to reading all of these books in their entirety.
I also found geek nirvana in Seattle—the EMP Museum is host to the "Icons of Science Fiction" and "Fantasy" exhibits, with a Dalek, Robby the Robot, tons of Trek, Star Wars, and other sci-fi memorabilia and items from Harry Potter and The Princess Bride, all under one roof. Fortunately, my sister tolerates my geeky side and was willing to tag along and take pictures.
Winning the grand prize means major changes.
The biggest, by far, is that I've resigned my teaching job and will be writing full time for the next year. I've just finished grading my last term paper for the year, which makes me a very happy camper. My goal is to finish the first of the sequels to Timebound over the next few months. After writing only in my "spare time" for the past several years, writing every day seems like an unimaginable luxury and something that would have been impossible without winning the ABNA.
I'll close with some advice for any writers who may be reading this – don't give up!
I entered the ABNA contest last year and didn't make it past the first round.
It would have been really easy to ignore the little voice in my head whispering "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." But the voice sounded a lot like my grandmother, and she was almost always right. I listened – and I'm so very glad that I did.