NORMAN — Sonia Gensler remembers winning first place in the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation annual contest — it was almost as exciting as receiving the Oklahoma Book Award in the juvenile category for “The Revenant” (Knopf , 2011).
Entering the contest was a significant early step of her writer’s journey.
“I didn’t win anything the first couple of years I entered, but the contest helped me take my writing more seriously. It gave me a deadline and a tangible goal for revision that was a little less daunting than submitting to an agent or editor,” Gensler said.
Aside from the boost to her ego and feedback from Oklahoma Writers Federation, Incorporated (OWFI) contest judges, winning the contest also gave her an award to mention in query letters to agents.
“I won the young adult fiction category in 2008, and within the year I had an agent for that manuscript. Sadly, it didn’t sell (to a publisher), but my next manuscript did,” Gensler said.
That next manuscript became “The Revenant.” In addition to the Oklahoma Book Award, it also was named on the ABC New Voices Extended List in 2011 and won the Parent’s Choice Silver Award in 2012. Gensler’s next book , “The Dark Between,” is due out from Knopf in 2013.
In the past, all entries have been submitted by mail, but this year, entrants will have the option of submitting their manuscripts electronically. Gensler said this change reflects a shift in the publishing industry in recent years.
The OWFI contest is open and entries will be accepted until Feb. 1. Categories include all genres of fiction, for children and adult readers, as well as non-fiction, poetry and screenwriting. Awards are announced at the annual OWFI conference, set for May 2-4 at the Embassy Suites in Norman.
For more information, visit owfi.org.