NEW YORK, NY, November 15, 2011 – Christmas came early for aspiring author Darlene Panzera: just in time for the holidays, Panzera learned that a veritable angel, in the form of #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber, has selected Darlene’s novella, “The Bet,” to be published in the July 2012 edition of Macomber’s heartwarming book, Family Affair. Darlene is one of hundreds of unpublished authors who participated in Avon Books’ “Make Your Dreams Come True” writing contest, offering all those who participated the chance to win a golden ticket – the chance to be published alongside one of the most important authors in modern literature.
Avon vice president and executive editor Lucia Macro was tasked with selecting the top three entries for Macomber to judge. The choice was difficult: all of the entries were excellent and eminently worthy of publication. Macro says, “Each time I started reading one of the submissions, I felt like I was opening a present. And, believe me, making the decision for the final three wasn’t easy. I was truly impressed by the quality of so many of the stories, and that’s a testament to the talented writers who took the chance and entered.”
The finalists included “The Bet” by Panzera; “Miss Chance” by Cheryl Johnson and “Where There’s Smoke” by Amy Mullins. The manuscripts were delivered anonymously to Macomber, who read them without knowing who the entrants were, and what stories they wrote. The bestselling author says that she selected “The Bet” because it seemed like a good companion to her own story, Family Affair. Macomber says, “I read ‘The Bet’ with delight and found myself smiling at this classic romance many times. It was a pleasure to read; light-hearted and uplifting. The author shows a great deal of promise and I expect to see many more stories come from her.”
To Panzera, entering in this contest was truly a bet that paid off. In addition to winning a $500 cash prize, the opportunity to have her story on bookshelves (and e-bookshelves), packaged with a beloved Macomber tale, is something she’d never even dreamed would happen to her. Panzera, who graduated from the Writer’s Digest Advanced Novel Writing School and The Christian Writer’s Guild apprentice writing program, says that she spent six years trying to get her manuscripts published. “The dream to be a published author has been there inside me for a lifetime. When I found out I won Debbie Macomber’s “Make Your Dreams Come True” contest I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t!” Panzera will admit, like most aspiring authors, that her family has had more than their share of burnt dinners while she struggled to find the right words to put on paper. But, like Macomber, Panzera takes faith in hard work and perseverance. “If you work hard to improve your craft, connect with other writers, and believe in yourself, dreams can come true.” For more information about this fresh new voice, visit her website, www.darlenepanzera.com.
In talking about the results of the “Make Your Dream Come True” writing contest, an unparalleled opportunity generously afforded by Debbie Macomber to aspiring authors looking to break into publishing, Macro concludes, “This has been such a delightful experience for us here at Avon Books. Congratulations to the finalists and thank you so much to everyone who took the time to enter. And a special personal thank you to Debbie Macomber. I truly appreciate her gracious and always-generous support for ‘unknown’ talent.”
The paperback and e-book edition of Family Affair (ISBN 9780061997136: $6.99; on-sale 6/26/12), which includes “The Bet,” will be available everywhere books are sold July 2012 from Avon Books.