I know Sunny Frazier in a variety of capacities: as author, as marketing guru, as vocal advocate of writers everywhere. How would a writer like Sunny even pick a Moment to have Made It? Read on below…
It’s easy to get lost in the writing end of things and not really know for sure if you’ve “Made It.” My epiphany came very unexpectedly and threw me into a panic.
I was working on my first novel, FOOLS RUSH IN. My Sisters in Crime chapter decided to run a short story contest based on the historical eatery where we held our meetings.
It was my first attempt at a mystery short story. I didn’t have a computer, so I wrote the story in one sitting at my desk at the sheriff’s department narc unit (don’t tell the sheriff!). At the very last minute I changed the generic title to “A Tale of Two Sittings.”
Not only did I win the Dead Bird award, but I submitted the story to another contest and won the Persie trophy. Then I submitted it to Murderous Intent Magazine and won first place and $100.
Pure luck. So, I wrote more stories. Each one seemed to pick up an award. I was not encouraged, and told instead to concentrate on my novel.
At some point, people wanted to read these stories. Two writing friends and I compiled them into an anthology and titled it “Valley Fever: Where Murder Is Contagious.” We only printed up 1,000 copies of this prize-winning collection. The book is now a collector’s item in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
Still, I thought it was a fluke. People said I couldn’t make money in the short story market. I was getting nearly $100 per story in contest winnings. I was invited to be on panels at conferences. I was dubbed “The Contest Queen” by the Short Mystery Fiction Society. I had too many trophies to display, free passes at conferences and a list of writing credits that went to five full pages. I developed Guerrilla Writing, or How To Win Short Story Contests. I dress in Army camouflage and pass out dog tags to people who pass inspection.
At a signing on the Pacific coast, a woman stopped at our table and said, “Do you know Sunny Frazier, the one who wins all the writing awards?” Embarrassed, I shyly raised my hand and said, “Uh, that would be me.” It did not earn brownie points with the co-authors of the anthology.
But for me, the real “Made It” moment was when I received an award in the mail from Writers’ Digest informing me that I’d won third place out of 19,000 contest entries. I didn’t care that I hadn’t won first or second place. I knew I’d fought the odds and scratched out the beginnings of a career in one of the toughest markets. The win confirmed what people were trying to tell me—that I had that unique “something” that makes a writer stand out from the pack.
Sunny Frazier is the author of the Christy Bristol mystery series, which combines Sunny’s experience in law enforcement, astrology, and more than one element of danger. She is also acquisitions editor and founder of several imprints for Oak Tree Press. Visit her and learn more at http://www.sunnyfrazier.com