Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Reason I Judge Writing Contests by Juliana Aragon Fatula


Dear Reader,

I have been asked to judge writing contests and I always accept and this year I'm reading three books and judging the three finalists for the chance to be the winner for this year's award in... I can't tell you the name of the contest or the genre or the names of the finalists but soon after the ceremony I will announce the winner in my blog. It's a secret until then. 

my chicana garden poppies 2020

The reason I accept the task of reading books and judging for awards is simple. It makes me a better writer. I read the finalists' books and determine what made them so good. I learn how to write award winning books. 

Mind you, I don't write to win awards, or fame, or money. They are nice perks but the reason I write is I'd go crazy if I didn't tell my stories. I love to perform on stage and I love telling stories to an audience, but I love reading stories even more. I get lost in a good book and all my troubles fall away. 

my chicana aspen grove fall 2016ish

I was reading a book and it was so juicy and tantalizing and my husband asked me a question and I closed the book, gave him the look, and opened the book and continued reading. Don't disturb me when I'm reading. If I want to have a conversation with you, I'll close my book and listen to what you have to say, if its important I'll put my book away, but if you interrupt me for a question like have you seen my car key, glasses, wallet, hammer... Watchale. 

my living room before the remodel of 2021 new kitchen new paint

So I'm reading this book and it's so good I make a sandwich and continue reading. I read all day and into the night and the next day and the next night it's midnight and I have to finish the book or I won't be able to sleep. So I read the book in two days and I'm ready to take on the world. I've got the story in my head and I'm evaluating why I couldn't put it down and stop reading. I read for enjoyment but sometimes I read to learn. When I read for enjoyment, it takes me away from reality and into the story and I escape into the words on the page and my imagination. It keeps me sane.

my bridging borders students in a group hug my favorite photo 2019

I'm not being paid to write reviews or judge writing contests. Maybe someday I will get paid, but that's not why I do it. I enjoy it and it makes me grow as a writer. I learn from other writers how to be a better writer. I've been told by my mentors why bother to write if it's not going to be a great book. Don't write a good book. Write a great book. And that is what I strive to do. To write a great story and leave my mark in literary history as a writer who gave my best. 

Santa Cruz, Cali authors Aimee Medina Carr and Juliana Aragon Fatula

So if you see me in a bookstore, library, book bar and I'm reading, give me a nod and keep moving. I'm not really there. It's an illusion. I'm lost in my book and don't want to be anywhere else. If I judge a book you've written and you win the contest, just know that I chose your book because you are the best and your story is not good, it's great. 

my favorite photo by investigative journalist/photographer, Tracy Harmon
location Red Canyon in Southern Colorado 

coleus and roses from mi chicana garden 2020


  1. Lovely post, Juliana. Your words "I enjoy it and it makes me grow as a writer" apply to much of the reading we all do as writers.

  2. We have to mentor and pay it forward to other writers, this is your way. Those authors are in good hands. I especially love your photos this post!

  3. Juliana, I love it that a characteristic of a great book is being able to lose yourself in it and not put it down--even to think of it after you've finished reading. Great post!

  4. The writers of the works that you're judging are lucky to have such a devoted reader. And it's such a bonus that while you give up your time to help them, you're learning something, too.

  5. I agree with you that every time you judge (even without compensation), you learn.... which is more valuable than any compensation. Congrats on paying it forward....and benefitting from it. Oh, and if I see you, I'll walk by very quietly.