The total count is a whopping 77, nearly the same as last year. That is amazing, since in mid-December, I think I had about two dozen, and only 2 for the ages 14-17. Now there are plenty of entries in each category to give the judges a good run for their money (well . . . I don't pay them, actually). They get a free contest book for all their trouble. I wish I could give them a Starbucks card or something, but this contest already costs me a bundle to put on, and I don't have any entry fees. It's more of a ministry, and God has blessed me with making enough money from the CCAdventures, etc. to host FUN things that encourage kids to write.
A number of parents (and you) have thanked me for putting it on . . . some kids who never write are excited to enter. Even if they do not place, they have learned some important lessons! One fan confessed she had never written a story before and this is her very first try. Wow! Those are great things to hear!
Another note: If you thought the stories last year were good (and they were!), this year's selections are just as good and some even better! I loved reading everyone's stories, even though my eyes got really tired. *pant pant*
This is a BLIND JUDGING. That means I had to take EACH of the 77 or so stories and make them all the same font, the same line spacing, and the same indents. I copied them into my contest template, which has the age category in the header, as well as an Entry #. That way the judges do not know your specific age or your name. This is the only fair way. But it is so much work because I see some of the strangest fonts sometimes. LOL And I was also very gracious to add a missing quotation mark here and there, or spell Mitch's name right (Mich to Mitch)--especially on the little kids' entries.
I am hoping to be able to announce the winners WAY before April 1, but it depends on how soon the judges get the stories back to me. I assure you, we do not want them to rush!
p.s. I'm also thinking of either including "2015" in the header on the book cover (2014-2015) or just call it the 2015 contest, since the winners are announced in 2015 and it's getting confusing since I extended the deadline. And next year I just might move the deadline to January 10 permanently. Any thoughts?