Contest Winner - Derinda Babcock

Contest Winners


Derinda Babcock

Winning Entry: COLD CASE

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Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW Contest winners. Today we’re celebrating Derinda Babcock who came in fourth place in the IFW Mystery First Pages Contest!

What contest was your winning entry submitted to?
IFW Mystery First Pages


How many writing contests have you entered?


Please give the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.
As Catherine Latham listens to her vitals monitor, she knows her time on earth is short. She’s had a good, long life but before she loses her battle with pneumonia, she needs to right a wrong. She asks her nurse to call for a homicide detective.

What inspired your winning entry?

I had a dream about the opening scene of Cold Case. The events in this dream weren’t disjointed and ridiculous like many of my dreams tend to be. Even in a part awake-part asleep state, I thought, “This would make a good opening scene to a novel.” When I got up, I wrote down what I remembered.


How has entering this contest helped your writing?
Entering the contest made me look at what I wrote with a critical eye. Since I could use only a maximum of 500 words, I had to examine each word to see what I needed and what I didn’t.


How did the critique in the Winners’ Workshop help you?
I thought about what Katie Davis said as she critiqued my story during the live webinar and decided I would change a few things to make sure the words I used actually described what I saw (breathing tube–not ventilator vs oxygen tube, detective vs policeman, etc.)


Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your “day job”?
My time is split between teaching a couple of students online, writing, and designing book covers, formatting their interiors, and creating ePubs for a publisher out of Plymouth, MA.


How long have you been writing?
10 years


What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
Good question. The first book in my second trilogy (historical) releases in June. I expect to finish this series before I work on anything else. Cold Case is on the “to work on” list after I finish all three books in a speculative series and three contemporary novellas.


Any fun plans for the prize money?
Fun? No. I’ll pay for writer-related expenses.


What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
Sometimes leaving what I’m working on for a few days before coming back to my story helps. Often, I work on other stories or ask myself questions about the characters or plot while I’m a captive audience, like when I’m riding in a car or mowing the pasture. You might be surprised how much mental writing you can get done.


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?
I’d go to King Bidgood’s yard sale (King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub–Audrey and Don Wood) and see if I could latch onto his bathtub. After all, this bathtub is big enough to stage a naval battle.


Why did you choose to enter an IFW writing contest?
The IFW Mystery First Pages contest caught my attention because the entry fee was nominal and the possibility for winning something more than a certificate and pat on the back held my attention. I liked the challenge of capturing readers’ interest with only 500 words and to write a story outside my usual genres. The way the live webinar was advertised generated excitement and stirred my curiosity.

Angela Calabrese Winners Circle

Angela Calabrese

Contest: Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book | 1st Place


May 3, 2024

Read More »

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