Winners' Circle: Erika MacNeil

June 12, 2020

Welcome to the Winners' Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW Contest winners. Today we're celebrating Erika MacNeil whose entry Flashpoint came in First Place in our YA Fantasy First Pages contest!

What contest was your winning entry submitted to?
2019 YA Fantasy First Pages Contest

How many writing contests have you entered?
20

Please give the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.
FLASHPOINT
A young Deviant sacrifices her secret location in order to protect the human she loves.

What inspired your winning entry?
This was originally an entry for a flash fiction contest, whose prompt was “a perfect moment in time."

How has entering this contest helped your writing?
I’ve revisited two other sci-fi pieces I’ve done in the past and realized they are also a part of this larger story I’ve been constructing in my mind, unbeknownst to my consciousness.

How did the critique in the Winners' Workshop help you?
Revision is the most challenging aspect of the writing process for me. It helped me focus on what I need to notice and dig deeper.

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your "day job"?
I’m an elementary school teacher-librarian.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was 10.

What will you do with your piece now that it's been recognized?
I have 6 years left until I retire. So I’d like to expand on this work and turn it into a full novel. This was the prologue; I have the first couple chapters published in an anthology and I wrote the last chapter first, for another contest a few years ago.

Any fun plans for the prize money?

Pay off debt. Very boring.

What do you do when you're feeling discourage or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?

I find attending workshops and retreats to be the most helpful in finding my voice again, among fellow writers. Creativity is not a fruitful when operating from a vacuum. Feedback is the most powerful fuel.

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?
My son learned to read chapter books independently after I read Harry Potter aloud to him, so that world is precious to me. I would go to Hermione’s yard sale and convince her to sell me her Time-Turner in exchange for freeing the Death Eaters’ house elves by giving them all my mismatched socks.

What do you like about ICL and our opportunities for writers?
I was thrilled to receive ICL’s recognition of a piece I loved for which I could not find a home. It arrived during a particularly dark time in my life and I am grateful for the ray of sunshine I was afforded. Much gratitude for the nod and the boost.

Are you our next contest winner? There's $1,300 of prize money up for grabs! Check out our current contests on our Contests Page.

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