Contests, Contests, Contests

This week at our local RWA chapter meeting, Dawn Temple gave a talk on spit-polishing contest entries.  Dawn is a published member of the Houston Bay Area chapter, with two titles out from Silhouette Special Editions (To Have and To Hold and Moonlight and Mistletoe), and a one-time contest queen and Golden Heart® Finalist.  As part of her plan to move into single titles, she’s back on the contest circuit, and once again doing well.

I’m not the contest queen Dawn was before she sold her first book, but I’ve been on and off the circuit for quite a few years, placing in contests with four different manuscripts, winning a few here and there, and not placing at all in even more.  I’ve learned a lot from entering contests, and not just about writing.  I’ve learned, over and over again, that even the best manuscript can be blown out of the water by one judge who just doesn’t like it/get it/relate to it at all.  Frustrating, but no different, except in scale, from the wildly divergent reviews published titles receive on Amazon or anywhere else.

I’ve learned even more from judging contests.  It is so much easier to spot the problems, and to suggest repairs, in someone else’s manuscript.  But once you’ve done that, hopefully you’ve learned to catch the same errors in your own work.  As a fringe benefit, I’ve become long-distance friends with several writers I’ve met through contest judging.

We are fortunate in the romance community to have so many contests available to us.  And, let’s be honest, to have contest income to support our chapter activities.  I tell my critique partners, none of whom write romance, that I enter to get my manuscript in front of agents and editors, and that’s true, but there’s also a lot of ego involved.  That lovely period between the posting of the finalists and the announcement of the winner (and possibly a request for a submission) is especially enjoyable, one of those times when anything seems possible.

Right now I’m basking in the glow of the Golden Heart® finals myself.  And this time I truly don’t care about winning.  Making the finalist list is so exciting, so validating, that it’s enough by itself.  It has already given me the push to start this web site, to register a domain name, to send off some queries, and most of all, to make that pilgrimage to my first National Conference in June.

And, no, I haven’t picked out a gown for the awards ceremony yet.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joan Reeves
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 10:12:14

    Hello, Kay!

    Again let me tell you how happy I am over your being a Golden Heart finalist. I just know great things are in store for you.

    Nice website too.

    Joan Reeves



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