Past Tournament of Writers champ publishes novel

By Alisha Siebers, Executive Director, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center

Super Tournament of Writers champion Christine Webb, who won the Tournament’s Judges’ Choice Grand Prize in 2015, 2019, and 2021, has just had her novel, “The Art of Insanity”, published by Peachtree Publishing Company.

“The Art of Insanity” is a fun and nuanced story of Natalie, a high school senior who has been selected to present her art work at a prestigious show like ArtPrize, but who is also learning to cope with bipolar disorder. Christine explains in her preface, “I have made my best effort to present the illnesses and disorders in this book with nuance and in a way that respects and honors the characters dealing with them, just as the people who deal with these things in real life deserve honor and respect.”

The story of Christine Webb’s journey to publishing her novel shows the same kind of grit and resilience seen in her character Natalie. The entire process, from conception to publication, took six years. Her participation in The Tournament of Writers was a part of that process. Christine’s first win in 2015 boosted her confidence and helped her realize “somebody besides my mom thinks I’m a good writer.”

Before ‘The Art of Insanity”, Christine wrote other “practice” manuscripts that never saw the light of day. She also created short stories and writes a blog for fun.

She started the journey to publication by finishing her manuscript: Agents won’t consider taking a writer until a novel is complete. Then, the slog to find an agent began. Christine had friends who submitted over 100 pitches until they found agents, so she knew it would be a long haul to find a match. She used the Writer’s Market Book and online sources such as Twitter pitch competitions and #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) to find an agent and was rejected 70 times before she posted a summary on Twitter and was picked up by her current agent. At each rejection, Christine would hold on to her hope and try again, thinking, “What if this next person is the one who says yes?” She has learned that “the whole publishing industry runs on hope.”

Once she found an agent, though, the challenges continued as the agent searched for an editor at a traditional publishing house. The book was close to being picked up by an editor several times, but there are many steps to getting accepted. Usually, the manuscript must pass through several checkpoints such as moving from an editor to the editor’s acquisition team, and then through a marketing team. The book could be dropped at any step in a publishing house’s process.

Once she contracted with Peachtree, Christine explains that her book evolved and became much better with the guidance from the publishing professionals. Her agent and editor had great ideas about how her audiences might experience her book. A whole team backed up her novel, from the artist who designed the cover to sensitivity readers and specialists, who reviewed Christine’s representation of bipolar disorder. If you’d like to read “The Art of Insanity”, it’s available on line at sites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or you can purchase it locally at This is a Bookstore in Kalamazoo.

What has Christine learned about publishing novels over the last six years? Her first message is that not all authors publish with a traditional publisher. There are many ways you can consider yourself an author: Enter local competitions like the Tournament of Writers, self-publish, or even write just for yourself. She learned that “the traditional publication route is a difficult track and if you get caught up in the business side and if that’s your only goal, you can lose the joy of writing.” She advised “if you haven’t gotten your break, you have either not found the right agent or editor, or you’re not a good enough writer yet. The only way to get through either of those roadblocks is to keep writing.”

If you would like to see your own writing published, enter the Tournament of Writers which is now open and receiving entries until February 28th. The Tournament encourages and promotes our local writers with a competition that is open to both new and seasoned writers of all ages. In addition to celebrating writers with cash prizes, the competition also provides constructive and encouraging feedback from judges to help participants gain insights from thoughtful readers. Every entry received for the Tournament of Writers is published in our annual “Small Town Anthology”, which participants receive for free. The anthology is also available for purchase through our website.

This competition accepts submissions in the genres of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Judges award prizes within each genre, separated by the following age divisions: Youth (through 8th grade), Young Adult: (9th grade – age 25), Adult: (26-50), and Senior (51-plus). The cost to enter the Tournament is $20 for all divisions except the Youth Division, which is $10. From the top winners of all of the divisions and genres, the judges choose a grand prize winner to win the entire Tournament. This year we will be offering an additional grand prize: The Gilbert and Ivy Youth Writers Award, a $100 prize to the best piece submitted in the Youth division.

We will conclude the Tournament with a book signing party to celebrate the courage and creativity of our local writers. Everyone is welcome to attend our celebration on April 6 at 6 p.m. at R & R Weddings and Events.

For more information about the Tournament of Writers, or to enter the Tournament, visit the VCAC website:

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