Contest Winner

Nicki Jacobsmeyer Winners Circle

Nicki Jacobsmeyer



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Welcome to the Winners Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW Contest winners. Today we celebrate with Nicki Jacobsmeyer whose narrative nonfiction picture book manuscript Rise of an Underdog came in 3rd place in our ICL Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book Contest! Congrats, Nicki!

Nicki JacobsmeyerWhat contest was your winning entry submitted to?

ICL Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book

How many writing contests have you entered?


Please give  the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.

RISE OF AN UNDERDOG is a picture book about Togo, the unknown hero of The Great Serum Race of Nome, Alaska in 1925. When a deadly epidemic spreads through the arctic village of Nome, sled dogs become the only viable means of transportation. A race against time, Alaska calls on their top sled dog, Togo. While Togo and his team run the farthest and hardest part of the race to deliver the life-saving serum, the love and thrill of the run is reward enough for them.

Togo was tough, tenacious, and triumphant although his human didn’t always see him this way. But a sled dog is determined to prove himself—and Togo was born a sled dog.

What inspired your winning entry? 

With family in Alaska, I’ve been fascinated with the Iditarod Dog Sled Race and its history. I visited Alaska as a child and again with my own children, and sled dogs and the race reflect the spirit of the people and land. When I dug into history, I found the story of this underdog whose perseverance and determination changed the lives of many in Nome. I knew then that Togo’s story needed to be honored and shared with children.

How has entering this contest helped your writing?
Entering this contest has validated my writing and reminded me that taking risks and being vulnerable can open up a world of possibilities.

How did the critique in the Winners Workshop help you?
The critique allowed me to get a fresh perspective on what is and is not working in my manuscript. Hearing your story read aloud by a new reader is beneficial to the author in so many ways.

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

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Besides writing, I’m a stay-at-home mom and Way-Word Writers Co-Host and Partner.

How long have you been writing?

10 years

What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
My agent and I parted ways amicably in fall of 2023. I’m planning on querying agents again and feel more confident that this winning piece can be part of my submission packet.

Any fun plans for the prize money?
I plan on investing it back into my writing by taking a class. Oh, and chocolate. As writers, we need to celebrate EVERY win, big and small.

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 take a field trip to a museum and let my mind wonder and play. Usually, I leave with some ideas I’ve written in my notebook. If nothing else, I feel inspired to get back to the page and create.

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?

Hands down, I would visit Curious George’s yard sale and snatch up a notebook. I love how his curious nature propels him to learn new things and record them to share with others.


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