The Finalist

beauty pageants, blog, finalistA long long time ago, in a land now distant and far removed, girls vied to be finalists in their communities.

Finalists in what, you ask?

According to long ago records recently unearthed, these young women fought for recognition by standing in front of large crowds in long fancy dresses. They paraded up and down in front of an audience of their peers …. and their peers’ parents … competing in poise, talent, and who wore their smiles the pageants, writing, blogging, finalist

I knew one of these girls. She disliked the contest enormously, but she honored her parents by being selected as a finalist. Her smile was more grimace than grin. But if she was a winner, the money she’d receive could help in her goal to attend college, to write the stories in her head, to succeed in words, not womanly ways.

Now, it’s a different time, a different place, and this woman’s wishes to be a finalist in words are finally fulfilled.

illustrated children's book, picture book,

Hardbound. For ages 3 to 93. Amazon.

Her illustrated children’s book, Birds of Paradise, is an award-winning FINALIST!  The story was written from her heart and accomplished thanks to the dedication and smiley can-do attitude of her coterie of talented, supportive colleagues.

No long dresses required. 

The poise of her pen on paper created Bert and Bessie, two wayward, lonely birds who find friendship and hope by believing in the value of each other. 

internal book awards, finalist, illustrated children's bookBirds of Paradise is the Award Winning Finalist in the Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction category of the 2018 International Book Awards. 


Birds of Paradise, illustrated children's book

© Shelley Steinle

As Bessie would say – WHOOPEE!

149 thoughts on “The Finalist

  1. Hi Pam,

    congratulations on your award, you deserve it. That girl is similar to me because I do not like the competition either,rewards and all the fuss about it 🙂

    • You are so right, Ben. I think most of us writers are not in it for any competition, but just to share our words. But of course in this day and age, an award helps spread the news about our words a bit faster! 😁

  2. Pingback: Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – Teri Polen, Marina Osipova and Amy M. Reade | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  3. This is such a sweet book of love and understanding. In these times, books such as this one are vitally important for our children. Congratulations, Ms. Pam, your time has come, my dear! Easty

  4. I know Bert and Bessie are clapping their wings together in admiration that THE FINALIST actually TOLD their stories! “Thank goodness,” Bert whispered to Bessie, “I knew she would come to more than a finalist in the end.”

  5. That is all well and good, but lemme see that smile!

    Ugh, the above line made me want to throw up in my mouth a little. Sorry!

    And congratulations to you, my friend! Any and all accolades you receive are well-deserved.

    On a related note, would you be interested in appearing in my blog’s “Waffles with Writers” series?

  6. Congratulations, Pam. How very exciting. And how great that many of those ancient rites of passage have been replaced. Though, had life evolved in the other direction, I’d have enjoyed seeing the burly macho types strutting their stuff.

    • Ahh, how time changes us. innocence turns to wisdom, poise turns to true confidence. Or at least, one hopes so. 🙂 Many thanks for your beautiful comments – every week, Balroop. xo

  7. Congrats! Woo Hoo!
    No, wait ~> WHOOPEE!!

    On a side note, we went to the Dump parade in Kennebunkport Maine one summer . . . one float revealed the winner of the coveted Miss Dump pageant award. :mrgreen:

    • So glad you sent me this magnificent link. Kennebunkport is quite a town; I try and visit it every summer if possible. Their take on Miss Dumpy is perfect and knocks flat the whole premise of a beauty pageant in a clever and fun way. Hurrah for the Miss Dumpys of Kennebunkport. I wish they could reinstitute that fine trashy parade. 🙂

  8. I know to get your book at Amazon. Will do. Congrats again! Going to Book Club Today and share the NEWS! Love Jeanette

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. Congratulations Pam to your book award. Beautiful book and a beautiful young woman who won the first prize.😊🌹 .

    The cover on the book is also so beautiful.

    • As a successful author yourself, Darlene (and I don’t count myself as a successful author like you, but a happy one nonetheless), you know how hard we work to get our work read. These kinds of validations certainly help. Thank you for ALL of your support. xo

    • Really, I don’t think I could have won the award for Birds of Paradise without the seven years of blogging, in which I met so many others: writers/bloggers/thinkers/doers/philosophers/ who have all inspired me in some way. You are one of those!

    • We all know (the longer we work at it – whatever “it” is) that to succeed, we need to just keep on plugging away. That’s the persistence, which can only be accomplished with some talent and lots of hard work. This award is a beautiful blip in my determination to keep on plugging away with each of my stories – fiction and children’s – in hopes of entertaining readers in some way. xo

  10. This is the kind of finalist I’d like to be!! Huge congratulations to you, Pam and richly deserved! I am so happy for you – whoopee indeed!! 😀😀 Amazing what you can do with the poise of the pen! Hugs xxx

    • There are so many terrific stories out there that don’t even get read besides not getting validated, Cheryl. As a creative writing teacher I am always amazed at the talent that is hidden within many of us. So when a bit of validation occurs, it can send us over the moon. 🌙 🌝

  11. Pam that is incredible! Many congratulations on the book nomination! As to the other finalist well I can see that you would be a winner there too but can understand you had much bigger plans for your future. Bravo to you for making your dreams come true.

    • I love the way you put things, Sue. I don’t know if I can ever explain how unattractive I felt back in those days when I was supposed to parade my youthful self. Finding my stride in my stories made all the difference in the world to me. I just found out that yesterday was my seventh anniversary of blogging! So glad that you are one of the bloggers I have discovered over these blogging years. ❤️

      • I’m very glad to Pam! Your writing inspires me to try harder and to improve. I’ve never considered myself a writer, just a storyteller. Having such a community of support and encouragement over the past 5 years has been extraordinary. Congrats on 7 years! Wishing you and us your readers many more.

  12. Congratulations, Pam. That’s wonderful!

    I also participated in one of those contests in order to earn money for college. I earned the same amount as I would have if I had worked in the frozen food plant (back-breaking work) and more than I would have picking strawberries or cucumbers (other back-breaking jobs I had when I was younger).

    • Ohhh, thank you for sharing your contest years with me here. Somehow doesn’t feel right that we could make more money walking in long dresses compared to picking strawberries that all could enjoy. I think it would be interesting for bloggers to share early-on jobs they struggled through. I’ll never forget the year I cooked and waitressed at an old school golf country club. Yikes! Lots of rear end pinches but I did learn how to make a good French toast. 😏

  13. Congratulations!!! What an incredible honor! You must be over the moon. And no bikini required either haha. OK, sorry, I couldn’t resist. That gold sticker ought to do well for your book!!!

    • Thanks Molly. My smile is beaming along with the new gold medallion on the cover of my book. 🌝 How many years have you been blogging now? Your blogs always put a smile on my face-you are a great humorist.

      • Thank you, Pam. I have been blogging since 2015. It has been slow building an audience, but I’ve been chugging along publishing something each week. And I’ve met some terrific, talented people along the way – like you!

          • I have had my ups and downs while I’ve plugged along, Pam. Mostly ups and I always do better when I practice patience and dispense with comparison. Remembering my mission is to help people see the lighter side of life keeps me going, and knowing you enjoy my posts is just the encouragement I need!

  14. Absolutely thrilled to read this! And how slyly you introduced the fact of your success. I look back on those beauty contests with sorrow. Like your example (who could that be?) my brilliant cousin entered and won Miss for reasons of her own. It was her parents’ idea when eczema forced her to give up nursing, which she adored. And one thing led to another: tv and doco work, then journalism. It’s never quite black and white, is it?

    • Never black and white, for sure. I have an amazing friend who in her younger years went on to be a Miss _______ (a state that I won’t reveal). It helped her pay for college and she became a professional in the medical field. She couldn’t have done it without the beauty awards, yet for decades, she’s kept this part of her history an embarrassing secret. I felt the same way, but hey, look what we women have overcome, right? :-0 Cheers to your cousin.

      • That’s so interesting. The various Miss NZ contests continue without much publicity and they seem to usually include students and young professionals hoping for a financial boost. Good for them! In the #metoo era it’s a safer bet.

  15. Very pleased for you Pam, well done. Fingers crossed.

    Here in our far-distant island they’ve done away with electing a Miss Battle for our annual Battle of Flowers. Apart from anything else, young ladies are no interested in entering.

    • A wonderful thing – the ladies refusing to pose in long dresses! Of course, the idea of becoming Miss “Battle” is rather ….. non-inspirational also. But I bet the annual Battle for Flowers event is beautiful.

    • You applauded this book from the very beginning Norah. Your encouragement has always meant so much. I’m kind of chuckling about the sales going rocket high. What I’d really like to see is the reaction of my local bookstore, who would not sell the book because it was not published by a “mainstream publisher.“ I would like to see the look on that manager’s face now. 🤓

  16. Pam, what wonderful news!!!! Congratulations on this honor! Am sure that receiving this award is more gratifying than winning the “pageant” would be. How very exciting and what an honor! Well done. Bert would be very proud of Bessie for having her nest recognized as a finalist, no doubt.

    Peta & Ben

    • I feel pretty secure in the belief that my young granddaughter (now 9) will never be pushed to gain any kind of award except academic as she grows into herself. She helped me “edit” this book on the last draft, so my wish is that she’ll be encouraged more toward writing contests. 🙂

    • I believe in cross-genre writers, Ann. I write romantic suspense novels AND children’s books. Who knows? I may try sci fi/fantasy sometime too. 🙂 Many thanks for the kudos. xo

      • Good for you for not being tied to only one genre. I just finished a fabulous adult mystery by an author who had previously only written YA books. And I agree with Pat McKissack, a successful children’s author, who once said something along the lines of “writing for children is one of the most important things you can do!”

        • Wow, that certainly makes me feel good. And I have to agree. If a children’s book inspires children to read, and helps increase their imagination, and guides them in learning empathy for all creatures great and small, well, that is literature’s most important task and pleasure. ❤

  17. Applause, applause – what a wonderful reflection of your craft and talent Pam. Congratulations – I hope you and Shelley are celebrating this nomination:)

    • Shelley called me screaming (happy excited screams) when she heard the news. Illustrators/artists get little (award) feedback on their art work, so this is a highlight to her career.

  18. I’m SO proud of you, Pam!

    This week I heard that someone is trying to do away with the swimsuit competition in the Miss America Contest. I see your inner beauty back in the day even if you had to compromise by displaying your (lovely) outer self.

    Again, congratulations on this honor!

    • Ohhhh, thank you thank you thank you Marian. Your praise means more than you can know. Thinking of you with love during this difficult time of your life right now. 💜🌹

  19. Congratulations and I am so happy for you, you deserve this . I will go to our local book store and order some copies and tell them what a great book it is.

  20. Congratulations – quite an honor. Whoopee! indeed.
    And on that other topic, recent news tells me that Miss America is doing away with their swimsuit competition AND most likely the evening gown competition. They’re going to focus on talent – imagine that!

    • Imagine that – decades too late, but glad it’s finally happening. Gawd, thinking back what women had to go through to be acknowledged. But now, we women can dance and sing and write to our hearts content, based on the content of our work, not our bodies.

  21. What a wonderful thing to happen to a beautiful woman and her little
    birds!!!! Congratulations!!!! You are flying with those wings!!!!

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