…the smell of the crowd.

Or, why I love and hate contests.

I published as a result of a contest, when Dedication won the Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot and the final round judge asked me for a full. In fact Dedication has been a contest cow for much of its existence–it won the Best Regency category of the NJRW’s Golden Leaf contest a couple of weeks ago, to my delight. So contests have been good to me.

But I’ve never let them become too important in my life–I was smart enough as an unpubbed to realize that contests were their own thing. Here are my hard-earned nuggets of wisdom as a former unpubbed contest slut:

  1. It doesn’t matter how you place. Finaling is the most important thing.
  2. Editors will not care nearly as much about fonts, margins, or header styles as first-round contest judges do–they like legibility.
  3. It’s possible to do very well with a ms. in contests but not be able to sell it.
  4. Editors do not have nearly as rigid a view on what a romance is, should be, or can be, as contest judges.
  5. The stronger your voice, the more widely divergent your contest scores will be (hint: enter contests where the lowest score is discarded or is sent for contingency judging).
  6. It doesn’t matter if there’s a page missing in a final round entry. Honest!

All that said, I really urge any unpubbed writers to enter the Golden Heart. Once a finalist, always a finalist–you get on and off editors’ and agents’ desks fast (a mixed blessing) and you’ll make some good friends–Diane is one of my many 2003 GH finalist friends, aka The Wet Noodle Posse. That’s one way to crank up publisher interest in trads–particularly if you’re subverting the subgenre and going for the unexpected. Show them there’s life in the beast still–otherwise we may as well try to save unicorns.


Enter my contest all this month at roadtoromance.ca
DEDICATION~Winner, 2006 Golden Leaf Contest (Regency)