Well, I went back into the contest arena, but this time, I went as a judge--again. I feel a little more confident than the first time I judged, but it's still difficult to try to give constructive criticism without stepping on someone's dreams. If I could, I would tell the writers who were brave enough to enter to never give up, no matter where they are in the writing journey. Even if they don't final this time around, they're one step closer just by getting some feedback from people who aren't friends or family. But, instead, I give them as many positive comments as I can, mixed with some constructive criticisms that I hope are helpful and not hurtful.
Anyway, I'll do my best to encourage these brave writers to continue to create.