Photo by Wally Gobetz,

Last night I hit send on my fairy tale short story and sent it off to be critiqued. Maybe it will be selected as one of the short stories to make it into an anthology that will populate donated Kindles. Or maybe the judge will laugh at my writing and my idea and quote bits at cocktail parties as a big huge joke. But regardless of how it is received, I took a step towards being a real writer.

In truth, though, this is not the first thing I have submitted. I submitted a piece to a writing contest many, many years ago. And my short story was published. Only I was young and ignorant and, while they were supposed to pay me, they did not and I did not keep good track of the correspondence, so I was SOL. To rub salt in the wound, I couldn’t even get a copy of the published article.

Yesterday the fiance was asking me about the writing contest and like who would hold the rights to the work or how the work would be published, and, having learned from my mistakes many years ago, I was happy to actually knew the answers to his questions.

I don’t want to get all preachy and spout anti-trust sentiment, but if you decide to go down the writing contest road, be sure you know what you are getting yourself into. While I was happy to get published when I was in school, I should not have let the company shaft me on my fee. Also, had I done my research, I would have learned that they shafted other writers as well. No matter how desperate you are to be published, there are certain comprises you shouldn’t be willing to make. It is fine to have your work published for free, but only if that is the agreement you willingly enter into when you submit your work.

In short, writing contests are a great way to get your name out there and to practice your writing, but make sure you do your homework. And now to end things on a more positive note, here’s a link to the story I submitted, Once Upon a Cupcake.

P.S. Today is the Boston Marathon. I thought the photo of the finish line seemed fitting.