Scarlett Fever

gone with the wind, self-publishing, writing  I woke up early this morning thinking about contests. Writing contests, beauty contests, spelling contests, I even wondered if there’s such a thing as sleeping contests, like who can best shut off their mind at 4 a.m. and NOT think about things like…contests.

Suddenly I realize why contest are on my (sleeping) mind. One of my blog supporters (we read each other’s blogs and learn about our writing pursuits, our love of shoo fly pie, and our propensity to be pranksters) suggested that now that I’ve published a book, I should do a “reading.”

The nightmares began. For heaven’s sake, I wrote the book, I edited the book, I published the book, I (briefly) promoted the book. Now I have to stand up in front of a group of strangers (or worse, friends), and read sections of my book to them?

I’m generally fearless when given a challenge, but my past races back to me, causing shivers and shakes.

Reading out loud.

Beauty contests.


beauty contests, self-publishing, writing, e-book, junior miss pagaent

I was in the Miss Junior Miss pageant way back when (and for reasons of vanity, I will not mention when the ‘when’ was). My high school compatriots voted me in, despite my pleas to not, in any way, even consider writing my name in their little slot of who should represent Pitman High. Unfortunately the tally had come down to Mary (the prettiest), Diane (the wittiest), or me (the dark horse), and next thing I knew, I was galloping along to practice my ‘talent’ for the county’s Miss Junior Miss Pageant. (Yup, that’s me, top row center.)

TALENT? Reading was the only talent I possessed at age 17.

Gone with the Wind, Melanie or Scarlett? self-publishing

Melanie? or Scarlett?

My favorite book back then was Gone with the Wind. I wished I was Scarlett, but I was worried that I was really Melanie. So, the light bulb flickered in my 17-year-old brain. Yes! I would be Scarlett, up on that stage. That would be my talent – acting out the ‘hunger’ scene in plantation clothes and with a lilting Southern accent (note to self: if born and raised in NJ, no way, no how will you perfect a lilting Southern accent within one month).

But I was young back then, as we are wont to be when we’re 17 (yes, wont is a real word), and I borrowed an old 1800s (tattered) dress and I practiced in front of the drama teacher and I found myself in front of hundreds of smirking teens and their parents (they were all rooting for the girl at their high school) stumbling along in Scarlett’s words:“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me….If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

Gone with the Wind, self-publishing, I memorized the entire scene. I scraped the old wooden auditorium floor as if it was a dried-up garden, and I shed real tears. I don’t think I humiliated myself, but I may have. I do know that afterwards, I swore that as God was my witness, I would never ever be part of a contest, or a beauty pageant, again.

But now, I’m a published writer, and we writers are supposed to ‘do readings,’ and offer contests of free books to grow our sales. Otherwise, our books will just blow like the wind, far afield and unfound by readers.

We’re supposed to promote, promote, promote, giving up our writing so others will buy our books.

Well, yes, that makes sense. How else will readers know our work is out there?

But you know what? For now, I’m going to hunker down at my computer and just write.

Sales of my book? I’ll worry about that later.

As Scarlett so famously says, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

What about you? Do you have what I call “Scarlett Fever”? Fear of contests… fear of promoting yourself?

Or do you have a trick to make it all easy and…fearless.

13 thoughts on “Scarlett Fever

  1. Number 1 – just to get it out of the way – love the pic of you in what I’m sure was the Pitman Grove Review! And, all of you were pretty, but I would say truly you were the prettiest! I did the Miss Pitman contest one year and was a finalist and Miss Congeniality, but like you, reading was my only talent and it doesn’t translate well to the PHS auditorium….and the fire co guys I represented were so nice, gave me gifts ( i still love the carved ivory rose earrings) and called me for several years after and begged me to do it again, but it was a once and done experience for me!
    And now, people send me contest forms for me to submit my pics. That’s not why I take pics…I do it for my own pleasure and share them on fb only because of the friends who genuinely seem to get pleasure from them. People send me warnings about “stealing” my work if I don’t copyright my pics and are shocked when the thought doesn’t bother me…
    My advice: write to your heart’s content. Do what YOU want and feel comfortable doing! We’ve reached an age where we have that right.
    xxoo, Carla


    • Oh, what fun to relive those memories. I actually remember those ivory rose earrings (I can see them in my mind!). Did the experience give you Scarlett Fever? If you were ‘once and done,’ I’d say so. Thank you for your sage advice – love it.(and your photos are INCREDIBLE).


  2. Wait. I enjoy shoo fly pie. AND I wondered when you were going to do a reading. Did I cause you all this anxiety?

    Ahem. Sorry about that.

    By the way for a “dark horse” beauty contestant, you sure are purty.


  3. I love the picture of you in the pageant – what an absolute stunner 😉

    I don’t like ‘putting myself out there’ and when I have my book-launches I usually get someone else to do the reading because I know I’ll skip words and maybe mumble (my greatest fear!)


  4. What an enjoyable post! When I got into “writing seriously” I was entering contests all over the place. And then I realized how bad my writing was at the time (it’s better now, way better). I don’t like contests. Though I did my share of Color Guard contests in H.S. Full of worry, full of depression if we didn’t win, full of work work work to make it better. Promoting a book must be like a competition – you are competing against about a million other writers. Oy. I feel for ya. I’ll be there later this year. Tip – guest blog with me and get your name out there more. 🙂


    • Well, you and I are ‘color guard’ survivors. Amazing. And I happily and gladly accept your invitation to guest blog. Once I stop hyperventilating. Glad you’re soon joining the ranks of the published. It’s fun!…. Really!


  5. I say do what you love…and do it for YOU. That’s my motto lately. Keep on with your fabulous writing (so we can look forward to another book!) and have Morgan Freeman do your readings for you. Why not, he’s into everything these days!


    • Ahh, yes, Morgan Freeman would be good for the male parts. I was thinking Julia Roberts for Meredith’s voice? :+)
      I LOVED your photos of Great Meadow on your blog – brought me right back there.


  6. Pingback: Every Great Novel | Gone With the Wind still hasn't Gone out of style!

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