I didn't sleep hardly at all last night. Not sure if it were nerves or strange-place-itis or what, but I was wakened by every little noise and then could never get back to sleep. I remember seeing the clock at 10:40 (when I first turned off the TV), 11:10, 12:40, 1:31, 3:42, 5:01, 5:58, and 7:50. The alarm was set for 8:00.
So, in the final analysis (and to steal a modern media cliche)...
Fee to enter contest: $44
To buy the huge box of self-adhesive envelopes required by contest (because Staples doesn't sell them in smaller quantities): $18.44
Two dinners @ awards banquet: $39.90
Hotel for two nights: $119.85
Rental car for two days (plus insurance): $73.51
Super Shuttle to the airport (plus tip): $25.96
Two round-trip fares: $247.70
Plus souvenirs and miscellaneous expenses... and
Winning a major writing award: Priceless
The commentary on my manuscript also made me very happy, since most of it boiled down to "needs polish," which, really, is what I'd expect from a first draft, anyway. I can't help but think that if I'd submitted a FINISHED final draft I could have done better. The judges also make a mistake in assuming one character is the protagonist when he's not; but from just the little clip (first 20 double-spaced pages), it was an honest mistake given he is at odds with the heroine at that point. I was told I have a fresh take on the genre, my dialogue is crisp and realistic, my style is pleasing and polished, and best of all (to me), Sean Patrick is well-developed, interesting, and likeable (and oh, am I "like my characters, like me" sort!).
All in all, very satisfying experience. Perhaps this will keep me entering the danged things (instead of being afraid of 'em!).