Today’s guest blog post comes from Ron Rauss, an author, illustrator, and published photographer. Ron lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and son. He was announced as the 2010 Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories New Author Contest Grand Prize winner in March 2011 and will have his first picture book “Can I Just Take A Nap?” published by Simon and Schuster in 2012.
Last October I received an extra treat with my Halloween goodies. Not just another chocolate bar or bag of candy corn, this treat came in the form of a phone call from General Mills letting me know that I had won the grand prize in the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories New Author Contest. I remember thinking that someone must be playing a Halloween trick on me, I loved my story but could it really be the big winner? It was no trick; Can I just Take a Nap? (a story inspired by my son Aiden) was chosen from over 8,000 contest entries and the manuscript would be reviewed by Simon & Schuster. Wow, does it get any better than that?
Believe me when I tell you that it does. In mid December I received another special call; this time it was from an editor with S & S and an early Christmas present, a publishing deal for my story. What a wonderful way to end 2010 and bring in a new year.
Six months later the excitement of the big win has not worn off and I still have to pinch myself now and then to make sure it’s not all a dream. The only negative is that I have to wait until next spring for the best part. That’s when my book will debut in paperback free inside millions of boxes of Cheerios®, giving kids all over the country the opportunity to enjoy the book before the hardcover edition ever hits the bookstores. It’s the part of the contest that is really special and reminds me why I started writing for children in the first place. I write to make children happy, I write for the smiles, and because of First Book and General Mills Can I Just Take a Nap? will be responsible for millions of smiles in 2012 (I have my fingers crossed!). That’s what I call an overwhelming success.
There are many ways for authors to judge whether their books are successful or not. Sales figures, critic reviews and literary awards are just a few. These things are all nice and they can give writers the validation needed to create day to day in a world filled with constant rejection. But in the grand scheme of things these numbers, opinions and medals are secondary to the enjoyment and wonder of a child. All the other things are just icing on the cake. With the Spoonfuls of Stories contest you can have the best of both worlds, helping get books to kids who need them while fulfilling your dreams of becoming a published, award winning author. Not to mention the pride of being associated with a wonderful organization like First Book whose main goal is to get new books to schools and programs that serve low-income children.
The contest is open for submissions now at spoonfulsofstoriescontest.com, but only until July 15th. So put on your creative thinking caps and get to work, your story could be the reason for millions of smiles in 2013 and the biggest will belong to you.