Contest Winner

Diane Merz - Winners Circle

Diane Merz

Winning Entry: RUBY TUESDAY

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Welcome to the Winners Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW Contest winners. Today our hearty congratulations go to Diane Merz for finishing in First Place in our IFW Thriller First Pages Contest with her entry RUBY TUESDAY!

What contest was your winning entry submitted to?

Thriller First Pages

How many writing contests have you entered?


What was the title of your entry and what inspired it?

Title: Ruby Tuesday

The character, Ruby, inspired me to write her story. In reality, the streets are hard, riddled with danger, and a person may be forced to do things they never believed they would do, just to survive. These stories are out there. I wanted to write about a character that struggles through that fight, but overcomes some of those hurdles. Is that impossible in real life? I don’t know. But I wanted Ruby to try. I wanted a hero.

How has entering this contest helped your writing?
By entering this contest, it has helped my writing by learning what is working and what is not. It has also added to my confidence that I am on the right track with my story. Listening to the critiques gave me valuable information that I will use in the future.

How did the critique in the Winners Workshop help you?
The critique in the Winners Workshop was helpful to hear what the reader was thinking in trying to figure out the next steps in the story. It gave me ideas on how to fill in some gaps in my story line, and it also gave me inspiration to keep going.

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your “day job”?

IFW complete logo lg

I am not a full time writer but I would love to be. Two years ago, I retired as a physical therapist assistant, and I’m finally finding time to finish those many stories I have put in the drawer. While my life has become busier than ever—in a  good way—I try to set aside time to grow my stories.

How long have you been writing?
I have poems and stories that I’ve written as early as elementary school. It’s something I’ve always loved to do.

What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
I will continue to edit the story with the workshop critique in mind. I have the story written in third person and I am in the midst of changing it to first person because I found it to be a more exciting read.

Any fun plans for the prize money?
The prize money will go toward future writing workshops, conferences, and contests. I hope to grow the pot as I progress.

What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
When I feel discouraged or blocked, I change tack. I will work on research, or work on another story, or sometimes, I just let it go, because when you free your mind, it discovers all sorts of possibilities.

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 would go to Alec Ramsay’s yard sale and buy his horse, The Black Stallion. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have that horse?! As a child, this was a favorite book series. I am a horse lover from birth!

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

I am a graduate of the ICL magazine writing course, and the ICL book writing course. I garnered valuable information from those courses and it set me on the right track in my writing. The fact that I could write, and then receive critique and information on how I could improve my writing, gave me the tools to write with more knowledge and confidence.


Will you be our next contest winner? Discover our current writing contests here!

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