Contest Updates

It was a good news/not-so-good news kind of a day. First, Together is Enough placed second in the contemporary category of the 2012 Golden Claddagh. While I didn’t get a request for a full manuscript, I did get some very helpful feedback from an industry insider. I have some concerns about how likeable — or more specifically, how relatable — the heroine is. Also, the hero needs a better secondary story-line. Finally, the middle of the manuscript is a mess. (Not that the editor mentioned that, because she didn’t see the full thing; I just know it is.)

The not-so-good news is that I didn’t final in The Rebecca. I don’t have the commentary back yet, but I’m hopeful that there will be good notes. I’m not devastated or surprised in the least.

Overall, I feel very happy about both results. I’ve been writing fiction for about 10 months now. I have one project drafted and two substantially drafted. While I have a long way to go, there are things about my writing to which readers respond positively. I have so much to learn, but I feel good about my progress.

I’m not sure how to move forward, however. I still need to finish my two works in progress, but in terms of revision, I don’t know what to do next with Together is Enough. While there are identifiable problems with it (see above), I think the biggest issue may be that it’s too insider-y. Even if it was written perfectly, which it obviously isn’t, I don’t know if it has much commercial appeal. Whereas my current projects seem more universal. I need to think about it some more, but given the constraints on my fiction writing time, there may be other, better uses of my time.

In other news, I desperately need to find critique partners and I haven’t the slightest idea how to do so.

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Final, Final, Final

I’m shocked and astonished and overwhelmed to share with you that my contemporary, Together is Enough, is a 2012 Golden Claddagh finalist! You can read about the entire thing here if you want.

I couldn’t have been more surprised to get the email. But I’ve discovered that this is where the real work begins. My first-round judges gave such generous, insightful, and constructive comments. They taught me so much about this manuscript and the writing process in general. I feel like a lifetime of reading fiction was surprisingly poor preparation for writing it. I have so much to learn that it’s humbling.

Now I’m deep in revisions to resubmit for the final round. I’m focusing on the three P’s: pacing, plot, and passive writing.

When we get bad feedback or when we’re rejected, we tell ourselves that it’s only one person’s opinion, that we learn from critique (whether the comments are warranted or not), and that at some level, we write not for accolades or appreciation but because there are things within us that just need to be expressed. If that commentary is true when we do poorly, it’s also true when we do well.

I couldn’t be more excited to have some positive feedback (tempered with much, much helpful criticism), but more than that, I know that I have a long way to go.

Please Like Me!

So once I finished that first manuscript, like that very instant, I proofread the first 30 pages. I walked away, I made some tea, and then I proofread them again. Then I submitted it in the Golden Claddagh.

Okay now, don’t laugh. I never claimed to be smart or insightful. Musings. Aspiring writer. Remember?

When I read back over my manuscript a few weeks later, it was clear what an enormous mistake that was. First because I missed errors and second because it simply wasn’t ready, at all.

After my initial attempts at editing, though, I entered it in two more contests: The Rebecca and the Indiana Golden Opportunity. What can I say? It turns out that I’m a contest junkie.

Look, I have no illusions about winning. I feel my inadequacy deep in my bones. But I want some feedback, specifically from people who don’t know and therefore love me and from people who know a thing or two about the romance genre.

In retrospect, The Maggie might have been a better choice than The Rebecca because it provides more feedback but thems the breaks.

From my perspective, and I haven’t received any feedback yet so this the rosy side, contests can serve several functions. Prestige if you win. Important readers if you final. Impartial feedback. A vortex that consumes time and money. I have no illusions about the first two and I’d like to avoid the last. So for this calendar year, I think I’m done with contests. The Golden Heart isn’t for me this go round.*

I know that when I get tough reader’s reports, I’m going to feel a little differently. But you can’t learn from what you don’t do. So if you go into them with realistic expectations, I think — I hope — that contests can enrich an aspiring writer’s journey.

* Though I reserve the right to change my mind if I final in any of the three that I’ve entered. Hey, we all have those dreams!