Decisions, Decisions -- Why Did You Have To Make It So Hard? (In a Good Way)

Last night, Kamy, Debbie, Amanda, and I were on the phone for hours (yes, hours) debating the merits of each and every entry. We were incredibly moved by what you shared with us—your lives, your brilliant writing, and your shining enthusiasm. We wanted to call you, laugh and cry with you, email you, even hug you.

THANK YOU for entering this contest, and for reminding us why She Writes exists.

We narrowed down the list to eighteen finalists, each of whom has a strong, compelling, and promising entry. It was hard to come up with this short list—there were so many wonderful writers to consider. But we took every facet of every entry into account: whether the project could support a full-length book, or was better suited to a magazine article, whether it had a chance in this challenged market, and whether the excerpts and the pitches were evenly balanced (there were some fascinating premises with lesser excerpts, and some beautiful excerpts that weren’t supported by a narrative arc).

In the end, we are most passionate about the following entrants, listed here in alphabetical order by first name. Congratulations to our 18 finalists, whose entries will now go to our illustrious judges: Valerie Boyd, Erin Hosier, Betsy Lerner, Brooke Warner, and Alissa Quart. (For bios, click here.)

Not all of you had titles yet (no worries!), but for those who shared them with us, we are including them here.

Allison Landa, Running Into

Allison Stevens, Untitled

Alyssa Brennan, Alice in Vodkaland

Amy Campbell, A World Away

Amy Risher, I Will Bring You Home

Dana Campbell, Baby Brains

Elena Schwolsky-Fitch, Patchwork Journey

Honeysmoke, Raising Simone and Nadia

Jasmina Nogo, Untitled

Jean Ellen Whatley, Imperfect Lives

Nicole McLean, My Fabulous Boobies

Rebekah Spicuglia: I'm NOT a Deadbeat Dad

Sally Kohn, The Antidote

Sandy Kuntz, A Glass Half Shattered

Tamiko and Teruko Nimura, The Wake

Victoria Hudson, Weekend Warrior, Citizen Soldier

Wilson Diehl, Not Quite What I Expected

Xian Horn, Late Bloomer

Each of the women on this list has a story to tell and the writing chops with which to tell it. Huge congratulations to our finalists -- the winner will be announced, as promised, on September 7th at 1PM EST.

For the 273 of you who didn't make the cut, first remember how STIFF this competition was (291 entries, all from passionate, talented women) and second, don’t despair. Because if you choose to finish what you have started, and complete a book proposal ready to submit to agents and editors, She Writes will be with you every step of the way. How?

The prize of the Passion Project
is the gift of knowledge and support, something we believe wholeheartedly in sharing. And after we announce our winner, every member of She Writes will be privy to each step the winner takes with the help of our experts, and can follow along, if she likes, to complete a book proposal of her own.

You’ll look over Christina Baker Kline’s shoulder as she helps the winner craft a dynamite proposal. Erin Hosier will show the winner (and you) how to polish a query letter. You’ll listen in as Sarah Wilson coaches the winner in building a winning marketing proposal for her book. You’ll follow along as Courtney E. Martin and Twanna Hines show the winner how to make her presence known via blogging and social media. You’ll learn from Sharon Avnon how to create a website that maximizes visits. And Amanda Johnson Moon and I will help you understand the art of revision as we edit the winner’s proposal and sample chapters. Not only that, but life coach Rebecca Rodskog will share highlights of her weekly coaching sessions with the winner!

Perhaps most wonderfully of all, the support network you have already begun to form with your fellow Passion entrants will be there for you, as will the team at She Writes, to help you realize your passion and complete your proposals. For those of you who didn't apply, but who would like to work on a nonfiction proposal, I feel sure the Passion entrants will embrace your efforts with open arms, too. From the way they have rallied around each other, it's clear to us that that's just the kind of women they are. She Writers, through and through.

Lastly -- stay tuned for EXCERPTS from our finalists' entries, so you can all see what we saw over these past weeks.

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Comment by Victoria A. Hudson on September 7, 2010 at 10:40pm
Been traveling and just now found out I made it so far - thanks for the opportunity!
Comment by Xian Horn on August 30, 2010 at 10:34am
So excited! Thank you for the opportunity and support SheWriters!! Looking forward to seeing everyone's amazing work :D Tough decisions ahead!
Comment by Alyssa Brennan on August 29, 2010 at 2:36pm
Writing can be such a lonely business; it's wonderful to know that someone is listening. I feel grateful, empowered and motivated to keep pursuing this idea of writing. Thank you, SheWrites!
Comment by Teresa Conner on August 26, 2010 at 9:46am
Congrats ladies!!
Comment by Elena Schwolsky on August 25, 2010 at 1:19pm
It's the "day after" and I am still feeling so grateful to have my work and my voice recognized in this amazing way. Thanks to the "She Writes" community for all of the thoughtful reflections and encouragement. I have been working to tell this story for almost ten years and this definitely moves me forward with greater confidence. Congratulations to all of us for getting up each day and working to find the right words!
Comment by Jean Ellen Whatley on August 25, 2010 at 12:10pm
As all of us can attest, any validation is GOOD validation, and the mother's milk which sustains this oft times lonely and sometimes ridiculed pursuit! Congrats to all my sister colleagues as we keep hope alive! For now, my nose is back to the day-job grindstone of scintillating video scripts, including such sexy words as "synergy," "global networks," and let's not forget, "teamwork." Come tonight, I'm slammin' the Starbucks and burning the midnight oil, writing the good stuff. Thanks for the encouragement!
Comment by Jasmina Nogo on August 25, 2010 at 8:49am
Congratulations to you all! I wish all could win because all look so interesting and inspiring. I can't wait to read some of the excerpts... what a wonderful community.
Comment by Leigh Nannini-Rivas on August 25, 2010 at 7:37am
Congrats ladies. The titles are so intriguing. I can't wait to follow you all on your journeys.
Comment by Sherrice Thomas on August 24, 2010 at 8:53pm
Congratulations, ladies!
Comment by Kamy Wicoff on August 24, 2010 at 5:49pm
It's so wonderful to see all the encouraging words here, and Brooke's wise invitation to all to join the Passion group. It took me four years to get a manuscript in shape to even begin shopping to agents, and a year after that to get a contract. What really matters is that I wrote a book that I'm still proud of. One thing I want to share -- after two years of writing, and trying to figure out what the heck my book was supposed to be, I went to an adviser in despair and said, "How do people DO this?" He looked at me and said one word: "stamina." So true of so many things in life, I've found. But if it's a marathon, it's good to have friends and supporters stationed along the way, handing you water and fresh oranges. And that's what She Writes is all about. Showing up, and cheering, too.

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