Contest Winner

ICL Contest Winner Amanda Flinn

Amanda Flinn

Winning Entry: Let’s Get Outside

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Welcome to the Winners Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW Contest winners. Today we’re celebrating Amanda Flinn whose entry Let’s Get Outside earned Fourth Place in the Great Outdoor Picture Book Contest!

Amanda Flinn photoWhat contest was your winning entry submitted to?

Great Outdoor Picture Book

How many writing contests have you entered?

With ICL – 2, but I have also entered several contests through Serious Writer – probably 8.

Please give the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.
Let’s Get Outside! is a rhyming picture book filled with outdoor adventure. From sunrise to sunset, children will relate to playing baseball, fishing, hiking, skipping rocks, splashing in water, and enjoying every single bit of summer fun!

What inspired your winning entry?
As a mom of three boys, our summers have always been jampacked with adventure. I thought back to activities my children enjoyed when they were younger and included many of them in this book!

How has entering this contest helped your writing?
Entering contests helps me write to a theme, be concise in my word choice, and work toward a deadline. Winning a contest affirms my decision to keep going, to keep writing. Winning THIS contest was an extra special blessing, as it’s the first manuscript I’ve written since my mom unexpectedly died in April. It’s a spot of joy in the middle of a dark and lonely season.

How did the critique in the Winners’ Workshop help you?
The critique from Lori was great! She addressed the need for more syllables/beats in the fourth stanza of each couplet, similar to the feedback I had received from my personal critique group. Looks like I’ll be revising that part soon! She also suggested a slight twist that I hadn’t thought of at the end! It’s a great idea. I had used one of her manuscripts in a past workshop to teach on twist/surprise endings. I should have known she would say that:)

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your “day job”?
Yes. I am a full-time writer. I manage Kingdom Edge Magazine, an online Christian writing platform, and write freelance for my local newspaper and several magazines. I teach local writing workshops as well.

How long have you been writing?
My whole life. But seriously since 2017.

What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
I plan to revise this piece and write a killer query letter (or 20). Then I will do my best to find a home for her.

Any fun plans for the prize money?
More books and more contests!

What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
My best tip would be to write something terrible, but I often don’t take my own advice. Writing something terrible at least gets your butt in the chair and your fingers typing. Something is better than nothing. But most of the time, I edit and revise as I go, which doesn’t allow for terrible first drafts.

My second tip would be to get up and take a walk. I typically follow this advice. Walking (without AirPods) tends to clear my head and lend to inspiration. You have to actually live life, and move beyond your keyboard, to write about it.

Third, don’t be so hard on yourself.

If you could go to the yard sale of any character in the history of children’s literature, whose would you go to, and what would you buy?

Tough question. Maybe Ramona Quimby. Maybe Cordoruy. But really, I’d be happy to visit anyone’s yard sale as long as they had an extensive and varied book collection!

Anything you’d like to share about your ICL experience?

I love entering contests sponsored by the Institute of Children’s Literature. The contests are affordable and always well-organized. The hosts are professional and offer great feedback on the winning manuscripts. I plan to enter many more in the future!


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