First, I want to thank everyone so much for trusting me with their words. I received 88 submissions from 88 very brave writers, which gave me a lot of amazing options, and a lot of hours fretting that I could only pick three. As I mentioned on Twitter, it's like being handed a box of 90 chocolates.
I will be sending feedback to most everyone who subbed to me, but in the interest of taking my time and doing it right, you might not hear back until January. You will not receive a response if you were chosen as someone else's mentee or alternate - apologies for that, but please accept a huge smile and a handshake from me right now, because I'm so very glad to see you move on!
Remember that this business is highly subjective. That sucks, but it also doesn't, because some of you just need to find the right person - you're doing everything right. There were a lot of solid submissions that I could see someone falling in love with, but that weren't quite a match for me. Heck, I'll admit right now that I could never get into Hunger Games (though I do enjoy the movies). Should Ms. Collins have stopped writing because I passed on it? I think you know the answer to that.
I also want to impress on you how quickly things can change, and how this contest is a stepping stone, not a barrier. This time last year, I was sitting exactly where you were, chewing-my-sleeves-off anxious to hear back from the mentors I'd so carefully selected. I'd been polishing my manuscript for months. I had a query that was getting a thumbs up from everyone who critiqued it. A freelance editor had raved about my latest revision, and I had a few contests under my belt, so I knew how to prepare. I was so ready for it to be "my time."
I was about to find out I didn't make it. It stung, yes. Rejection always does. But I had some positive feedback from the mentors I'd subbed to and a growing feeling in my gut that this story, as much as I loved it, wasn't "the one."
I shelved the manuscript. I went back to an idea I'd played around with the year before. I finished it. I entered another contest. I ... well, I lost that contest. But I went back and ripped my first chapter to shreds, and the next contest I entered, I won not only an place among the finalists, but my amazing agent who sold me to a Big Five dream house.
This could be your story in a year.
Don't give up.