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A few months back, I wrote my very first screenplay. Based on the premise of a “casual” home invasion, House Guests is a suspense/thriller and therefore an abrupt departure from the young adult fantasy novels I’d written up to that point. Still, the story felt compelling and wanted to be told as a screenplay, not a novel. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I took on the task of learning how to write a script, discovering all the various format, structure, and storytelling nuances of how they differ from novels. The task was tedious but rewarding, with the clear sense that my writing skills improved as a result (truly its own reward!).

When I finished, I decided to submit House Guests for a few awards, just to see how it might do. I didn’t place in any of the early competitions, but with every feedback, I made some edits, tweaked a few scenes, and sent it off again for consideration. Once again, I got no response. The weeks turned into months. Deadlines passed. Maybe it was time to start focusing on my novels again?

Then I got this email a few days ago:

“Subject: Congratulations, you are a SEMI FINALIST! Hello, It has come to our attention that some of you didn’t receive an email announcing your status as a Semi Finalist in our contest which closed on April 28th. Below is the email that you should have received (just in case!). We’re excited to announce that your screenplay placed as a Semi Finalist in this season’s Chicago Screenplay Awards. This season brought us over 1,200 screenplays and if you earned a Semi Finalist placement, you were in the top 10% of submissions!”

I realize I didn’t win, but it still feels good to know that my efforts yielded something worthwhile. it took three months to find out, but knowing that the script was well received gives me hope and encouragement to write more in the future.