Friday, April 04, 2008

Kathleen says: You Can't Win If You Don't Enter


News flash!
I did not win the HGTV Dream House. I entered, and I didn't win. I never win anything. From where the sun now stands, I will not waste another precious moment entering contests.

"You can't win if you don't enter" is the current contest motto. We Boomers are first generation tube babies--TV, not test (unless you're talking test pattern). So we know contests. We go back to "The Price Is Right" in black and white. It was one of my parents' faves. (Did you know there's a Bill Cullen fan site? He's been dead since 1990, in case you were wondering.) Back then there was a grand prize for the folks at home--a Newww House!--and people sent in their bids (closest without going over) on postcards. Enter as often as you like. Daddy used to say that somebody had to win, and he always sent in a couple of post cards. He had the same philosophy about Publisher's Clearing House. What have you got to lose besides a stamp?

Nowadays it doesn't even cost a stamp. You could spend all day entering sweepstakes online. I suspect some people do. The ubiquitous author web site contest is, we truly believe, one way to bring in visitors and ultimately get people to try our books. We figure that discovering a new author is the true prize for our guests.

Daddy never won the Grand Prize, but he stuck to his contest philosophy and stuck on a lot of stamps. A little optimism never hurts, right? Daddy was a pilot--20-20 vision--but a little cock-eyed in the optimism department. A true romantic. So I got to thinking: his daughter--chip off the ol' block--says she never wins anything. Is this really true? I think part of my E-Bay addiction (I've all but kicked the habit, thanks be to the 12 steps) was that I kept "winning" auctions. But I NEVER win any of those raffles, drawings, sweepstakes . . . do I?

Well, I searched the house today, and I re-discovered some winnings. The Arthur Amiotte print is a biggie. I taught with Arthur years ago, and his prints are sold in the Mount Rushmore gift shop. He has a painting in the National Gallery. He donated the print to the senior class (back when I was teaching) and I won. I'm sure I didn't buy too many tickets. (I'm cheap.) Clyde won the gorgeous Ojibwa basket in a raffle many years ago. And my granddaughter won Paul, the anatomically correct boy baby, in a grand-opening toy store drawing.

So, see, Kathleen? Stop whining. Plus, you've got your Parade of Ladies. We've been talking about the RITA contest lately, and I've always felt that it's part lottery, part award. It's a contest--you can't win unless you enter--but it's judged. The lottery part comes in drawing the right judges. We all know there's a certain amount of luck involved. So I say, when you're a finalist, you're a winner. For the 20th anniversary (2001) RWA decided to inaugurate the Rita pin--silver for finalist, gold for winner--and they gave them retroactively that year. Nora got so many, she wore them on a Girl Scout-style sash, but the rest of us pinned them to our nametags. Mine are still there. (The silver ones do tarnish.) I'm very proud of each one, but the gold one is special. It stands for the grand prize, forged in the same foundry that produces Oscar. The big girl's plume broke off--be careful, Helen; it's fragile--but otherwise, she still glistens. On the right side of the picture is my Golden Heart, awarded 1983, different from the modern version.

Oh, and on the left for contrast is my usual kind of prize: I won the pearls in an oyster drawing at the Maui Dive Shop. Then I had to pay to have the shop make them into earrings on the spot.

You can't win this prize--an autographed copy of 2006 RITA finalist RIDE A PAINTED PONY (prequel to MYSTIC HORSEMAN (link goes to my web site))--unless you enter by posting a comment here before midnight CDT Sunday April 6. But you won't pay a penny if I draw your name from the posts made to this blog. All you'll have to do is trust me with your home address. I promise not to call on you. And I swear I'll get your prize into the mail in a timely manner.

Are you a contest junkie? Can you pass up a prize drawing box without filling out an entry and stuffing it in the slot? Do you enter raffles "just to make a donation"? What's the best prize you ever won? And what about those contest scams? Any words to the wise?

P.S. I've just entered the HGTV Green Home Giveaway. I have a good feeling about this one.

27 comments:

wolfpackgirl said...

I do like to enter contests, but generally only if I like the prize. To me, there is no point entering if you don't want the prize. I'd rather save my chance of winning for something I'd like to win.
The best/biggest contest prize I've won would probably be 4 tickets to a Hurricanes (our NHL team) game.

flip said...

I got into sweeping backwards. I was thrilled to find authors and publishers giving away books online. I am a book slut. Looking for book giveaways led to sweepstakes. I am now a sweeper. It is an addiction. My biggest prize was a trip to the Baseball HOF to play baseball with Nolan Ryan. Southwest has this contest ever year and they treat the contest winners like gold. My fellow winners were great and came from all walks of life.
The second best prize was a trip to LA. Received a stylist for a few hours, money for a new dress and shoes, money for dinner, a manicure, makeup and hair, and an evening at a celebrity fundraiser. I spend $200 bucks on a pair of shoes and it made me woozy. Thank goodness it wasn't my hard earned money! I love the shoes. They are killer.

My favorite overall prize is still books.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Wolfpackgirl, I hear your "save my chance of winning for something else" notion. Aren't we funny? Like we get 3 wishes from the genie. "No, I'm not going to put in for the makeup kit because I might get it instead of the dream house."

Kathleen Eagle said...

Wow, flip, you're living proof that real people DO win. A sweeper, huh? Hmm, maybe there's a book here. If flip doesn't take it, I've got dibbies, you guys!

Love you for putting books at the top of your wish list, flip!

Betina Krahn said...

Okay, Eagle. . . you an' me. . . in the alley! I'm entering that Green House give-away and I'm due some contest winning karma. I'll see your good feeling and raise you some penny candles at church!

Heh. Anyway, my big contest win was one that had to have some help. I entered a drawing at the IMAX at the Zoo. . . sponsored by Kendall Jackson Wines. There was some mix-up about whether you had to be there to win or not and they drew my name, but I wasn't there. So after a small kerfuffle, I was awarded the main prize: a trip for two to San Fransisco and Sonoma and the Kendall-Jackson Wineries! I ended up taking my sister and we had a great time. The St. Francis Hotel in SF is amazing!

To this day, I can't pass Kendall-Jackson display in the supermarket without remembering the great time we had. And if I need wine for anything, I try to buy Kendall-Jackson. Mostly.

Michele Hauf said...

Hmm, not a contest junkie by any means, but I will by the occasional PowerBall Ticket. But this is my theory on that: The hubby buys Powerball every weeks. But, he buys it with a friend, so if he wins, he's giving half to the friend. Not his wife, no. The Friend. So, I figure if I'm going to get rich with the lottery, it'll only be with MY winning ticket. SIgh...

I entered the RITA with my very first book back in the late 90s. My scores ranged from 2 to 9, and everything in between. It shocked me so much, I didn't enter again. Until this year. The anticipation of getting the call was sort of fun, though, I must admit. Perhaps i'll give it a go again next year.

Christie Ridgway said...

I'm going to start entering more contests hearing of all these great prizes. I rarely win anything. You know how there are some people who just seem to be winners? There's a mother-and-two-daughters group of authors at my RWA chapter and they =always= win the raffles at our meetings.

The last thing I "won" were some good seats at the horse races in Del Mar this upcoming summer. It was at a silent auction and I put my bid in and then was impatient so I just paid the "Buy it Now" price and took them home. Still a good deal, though.

MEC said...

I enter contests if I like the prize - lots of book ones. The best one was a contest that Harlequin ran a while back for Diana Palmer - along with autographed books and a denim jacket, the prize included an hour long conversation with her!

lois greiman said...

I'm not a contest junkie. Cuz generally I think I have too much stuff already.

But it was reaslly cool winning the Lavyrle Spencer award...I didn't evenknow there was such an award. So it was a double suprise.

tetewa said...

I love to enter contests, in fact I just received today in the mail an autographed copy of One With the Shadows by Susan Squires. Never can have enough books to read!

CrystalGB said...

I love contests. I love anything I win. It is such a thrill to get packages in the mail.
The most expensive thing I have ever won is a pair of sneakers.

Kathleen Eagle said...

But the thing is, Lois, the MFW LaVyrle Spencer Award is not a contest. It's an award. You didn't have to enter to win. You won because you've been a wonderful mentor to the members of MFW. So you've got some contest prizes coming. Enter for trips. After the jungle adventure, you could probably handle one of those California wine country tours. Betina is our example on this one--you gotta fight for your right to party!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Christie, we have a drawing at chapter meetings, too. Come to think of it, I keep hearing the same names called. But the deal is, you have to make your writing goal to win. I have to get back to work on my goal setting skills.

Melissa said...

I like to enter contests to win ARCs...or books. But I'm so not the gal that go through fairs and such filling out slips to win windows and free weekends, and cars...lol, I'm such a skeptic. I just don't believe in something for nothing. Even with authors it's to get you on the mailing list, and to hook on your books, right? But since I LOVE to read, I but into it 100%. I guess it's what you're willing to give to get back? I like getting books almost better than anything...that's my Publisher's Clearinghouse Prize!! I'd die if someone came to my house and said "you've won a solid year of ARC's from publisher X"...it'd be like winning the lottery!!

Linda said...

Hmm. This has got me thinking about my attitude toward winning. When we buy those expensive tickets for a dream home (for example), I don't really expect to win. I do think of it as a donation. Perhaps if I really believed we could win, I would attract it to me.

I love entering contests for books. I've won a few of those and I get as excited as a kid at Christmas when the book arrives. Probably the best gift I've won was a $25 GC to Amazon which I immediately spent on pre-ordering two books by the author from whom I won the GC.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Little tale about filling out "contest" forms at the state fair. Our dear daughter entered us in one of those vacation contests at the fair once, and when they called to tell her she'd won, it almost killed me when she came to me, all excited about her surprise for us, saying they wanted a credit card #. It was one of those "free" plane tickets with restrictions, "free" hotel with restrictions, and the credit card was for "add-ons and upgrades." I told her to get the phone number and hang up so we could talk about it. On the other end they're pressuring for the credit card. No longer was it killing me because I was ready to kill the caller. This was before you could research the scam instantly n the net and show the dd the dirty rotten truth. It's so unfair to do this, especially to a kid. Since then she hears horror stories about people who fell for this stuff and forwards them to me and says "so glad we didn't go there, but Ohhh, it makes me mad!"

Elizabeth is one lady these people should beware of angering nowadays. She doesn't put up with any guff.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Thanks, Linda! Now we have proof positive that gift certificates to Amazon make great prizes.

Keri Ford said...

Been to Maui Dive Shop and bought a sweatshirt. Is there only one of those?

Anyway, contests. I enter if I like the prize and if I have time to fill out the dilly-ma-bob. Raffles are the same way, too.

The prizes can vary...I might be googling this HGTV thing (I noticed you didn't link it :O). I am also known to not tell anybody about a contest if I really want it. *insert evil laugh* But I never win anyway, bad karma, you think?

ps. I have Painted Pony, so don't enter me here!

Jane said...

I'm definitely a contest junkie. ARCs, gc and books are most coveted. One of the best prizes I won through a raffle was a clock radio when I was in elementary school. I treasure all prizes, whether they're bookmarks or pens.

Kathleen Eagle said...

There you go, Keri--I added the link. If you win, plug my book during your acceptance speech.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Kathleen, like wolfpackgirl, I'm a contest junkie if the prize is appealing. Books and GCs are always enticing in my book! :) And sometimes I'll do those fundraising raffles because then it's a donation ;) Haven't won any of those though... The best prize I've ever won has been an Amazon GC--woohoo! More books! ;)

Good luck on the HGTV Green Home Giveaway! I'll be looking for your name on the winners' list!

Jennifer said...

I have to admit, that I'm a contest junkie. It's hard for me to pass them up. Well, book contests. I can pass up random other ones - like Publishers Clearinghouse, which I am convinced is not real :P. Sometimes, I win. It's so very exciting! I entered writerspace author contests for 4 years, and never won a thing. Still haven't, through them, but I have been lucky in some other blog contests, thank goodness. I was about to give up! As a student, I can't really afford books, so author contests are a great opportunity.

Melissa said...

There are some really fun contests out there...I love the scavenger hunts, and lol, the read the first chapters...those usually have me buying the book before I could win it anyway, because I have NO patience.
And GC's are GREAT prizes!!

Carol Burge said...

I'm not a contest junkie, and I never entered and/or won anything until last summer. I started entering drawing and leaving blog comments when there was a contest, and guess what? I started winning! Man, I was on a winning streak all summer and it was great, but then it fizzled out. I've slowed down and only enter occasionally.

Guess you can't win them all! :)

flip said...

Just got back home from the dancing competition in Burley Idaho (the 9 year old is the competitive dancer, now there is a story.) I had a cool new t-shirt waiting from courtesy of Lori Foster. If anyone is curious, I use www.online-sweepstakes.com to find online sweeps. It warns of the scams.

limecello said...

I used to win a lot of things as a kid - reading competitions, trivia, coloring contests - guessing things... hehe, but I guess I had to do something for them. Now, there are some contests that require varying levels of effort - I never win any of the huge ones like the dream home give away- though I devotedly entered every day for one of them :P. The same with a shoe give away. I have won some books though, finally, after 4 years of trying with no results, which makes me very happy.

KimW said...

I love to enter contests, but only for prizes I want. I just don't enter for the sake of entering. If I think I'm going to get spam or phone calls, I don't enter those "slip the paper into the box" drawings. lol I won a dishwasher and a year's worth of maid service a few years back from cutting out a entry form in the Sunday coupon section of the paper. I mostly enter book related contests because I love to read and a person can never have too many books. :)