If you’re like me, it’s not often that you find something genuinely exciting in your email inbox. But yesterday I received a real gem, and I’m eager to share it with you. So I hope you’ll join me for a moment in a little cyberspace happy dance.
The email was from Diana Chrisman Smith. The first line grabbed my attention right away: “Congratulations! You are one of the winners in the ISFHWE Excellence-in-Writing competition for 2012.”
Did I read that right? I quickly read the rest and downloaded the attached list of winners, and sure enough, under the “Columns” category, there was my name. Not once, but twice. I had won first and second place in the category!
Woo-hoo! After re-reading it a few times to let it soak in, I had to jump up and tell somebody. My daughter was the only one home, and to her credit, she was genuinely happy for me. She even put the list on the refrigerator door with a magnet. And if that’s not a sure sign of a Very Important Paper, I don’t know what is.
So now I’m proud to share the news with you, too. My winning entries are:
First place: A Big Game for the Big Day
This story is one of my personal favorites. It tells the tale of my grandparents’ elopement on the day of the OSU-Michigan football game in 1935, some of it in my grandmother’s own words. It was published on November 1, 2011 for the Carnival of Genealogy, and you can read it here.
Second place: Newel King, 91st Ohio Volunteer Infantry
This post has received more views than any other I’ve written. It recaps the experiences of my great-great-great grandfather in the Civil War, as pieced together from a numerous records and historical accounts. It was published on April 10, 2011 for Bill West’s Civil War Challenge, and you can read it here.
All of this had its start at the NGS Family History Conference in Cincinnati in May. I’ve been a member of the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors for about a year, so I stopped by the booth to pick up the ribbon for my badge. There were a few other people there too, and Diana, who was staffing the booth, encouraged us all to enter the Excellence-in-Writing contest. The deadline was fast approaching, and I mentioned that I didn’t have time to write a new article specifically for the contest. But she told me that individual blog posts are eligible for entry under “Columns,” and I could use anything published in 2011. Hmmm. Something to think about.
So a week later, I looked through my posts from last year and found two that I felt did a good job of telling a family history story. I thought if I submitted them, it would be valuable to get the judge’s remarks back. I sent the entries in and pretty much put the whole thing out of my mind, until the email arrived yesterday.
I’d like to say thank you to ISFHWE for this honor, and for the support they offer to family history writers. I’d also like to thank my family, who doesn’t think it too terribly strange that I like to spend my days digging up clues to our family’s past (or if they do, they hide it well). And most of all I’d like to thank you, my much-appreciated readers, for your time and the comments you leave that show you’re interested and engaged. More than anything else, that encourages me to keep writing.