Historical Romance

Historical Romance with an Inspirational Touch

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Contests are crazy things. Right now I know a number of writers who are polishing for the Golden Heart. I entered that a long time ago and didn't do so well. Looking back at that manuscript now, it probably should have been in the bottom as far as scores go.

Isn't it interesting to look at your writing today compared to five years ago, three, or even one. This is a constant learning process. I know I am always learning more about the craft.

Recently I decided to try my luck again with contests. I do consider it luck because what if you are matched up with a judge who really doesn't like your genre (even though that judge probably chose to judge that genre because they like it). Or, they don't appreciate your voice as well as your critique partners, or tend to be harsher judges marking off 10 points for a missplaced comma (that was an exaggeration). Or worse, you find out you really suck and your critique partners are just too kind to tell you.

I've heard wonderful stories about feedback and scores and I've heard some where I have gone "huh?" because I had read the entry.

I am sure judging is not an easy task, not to mention it is volunteer and all of these judges give up their valuable time to read your entry. For that we should be thankful. I've thought about judging, but it kind of scares me. Am I really qualified? I am all about bolstering someone's confidence, but what if I need to critique, mark things that need fixing, etc. A bad score can be crushing and send that author to the kitchen to grab a glass of wine in one hand and bag of chocolate in the other before she heads back to her computer to e-mail her writing buddies about how horrible and unfair that judge was. I don't want to be that judge. I will admit, none of my critique partners have ever reacted so strongly (at least to my knowledge) when they don't final. There is a round of sympathy chocolate and glass or two of wine, but soon they are back to polish for the next contest or to query an agent.

So, not too long ago, I took a deep breath, filled out my entry form, click the paypal button and sent the entry on its way. Well, I finaled! I think my jaw dropped and I stammered through the phonecall giving me this good news. I honestly could not believe it. I knew this was a contest with great feedback and that is what I was hoping for. I certainly didn't expect to final. In fact, I've never finalled in outher manuscripts I've entered. So, now I sit and wait to find the outcome in December. After reading my scores and notes, I had the judges that are really good at bolstering an ego, not to mention they made great suggestions for the manscript. Valuable feedback indeed.

How do you feel about contests? Have you had good experiences? If you haven't ever entered one, what is holding you back? If have entered a lot, what has been your experience? Are there some you would enter again?


  1. well, competition does spur us on and not winning is difficult to take but necessary because we'll loose more than we win. Yes, I am submitting some poetry again to some contests...

  2. Good Luck, Lin. I am sure you will do great!

  3. Oooh Amy, Congrats! Way to go!

    I love this post. I actually judged a contest over the summer which I can't mention because we're supposed to stay anonymous. It was really fun when the writing was good, but it was torture when the writing wasn't. And you had to come up with really kind ways to point out the writer's flaws, because you are so aware how devastating your words can be.

    On the other hand, I've been a contestant in several contests. Sometimes I placed and sometimes won. The comments are the judges have been overwhelming positive in some cases, and some have been overly critical about prepositions and yes, the commas or lack of them.

    I do believe that contests are a great way to test the water and see if you're ready to be taking seriously by the industry. I always encourage people to go for it.

  4. Amy,

    Congratulations on the final. And aren't you being modest? Didn't 2 of your wips final? :)

    I swore off entering contests and thank goodness I didn't have to go back on my word. I do love judging contests, though. I don't score easier for beginning writers, but I am even more gentle in my feedback. I also end each entry with a personal message of encouragement.

    Good luck in the contest. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a request.

  5. Oh man, that's awesome!!! CONGRATS!!!

    And you should judge. The only qualification is to be a reader. :-) And to know a little about pov and pacing, but not expert stuff. I really enjoy judging.

    So which contest did you final in? Woohoo!

  6. I've only recently journeyed into the contest ring and the first few I received decent scores. This last one I am proud to say I finaled in the Hold Me, Thrill Me contest. So I'm really excited to see where I go from here. But I don't want to put too much stock in contests because they're just one or two people's opinions. It's really important to remember that. Believe in yourself and other's will believe too. Great post Amy and you deserved the final! Congrats!

  7. Shellie, I agree, contests are a great great way to test the water. I think the author just needs to make sure they've developed a touch skin before they wade into the water.

    Samantha, yes it was two, which was doubly shocking. I can't imagine you saying an unkind word to anyone, even if the submission was full of problems and I have no doubt those you judged were encouraged by your words.

    Jessica, thanks. Maybe I will judge someday. I know I should and I am glad you enjoy it. You are probably just as kind as Samantha.

  8. Melissa, you are right. I think the most important thing we can do is believe in ourselves. The rest should be a piece of cake after that, right? :)