Sunday, July 22, 2018

More Than Bragging Rights

In the romance community, contest season is in full swing.

A lot of the RWA chapters like to tie their event to the big national conference, which takes place each year in July. I recently acted as a category coordinator for the Northeast Ohio chapter's contest, and judged some entries in the historical category, which is my wheelhouse.

The reason I give back to the romance writing community in this way is because of the great feedback I got, and still get, from entering contests and letting total strangers read my work. When I'm judging an entry, I point out the strengths of each author and pick a few things they need help with. It's the way I like to get feedback and I hope my suggestions are taken in the manner they're intended and the author strengthens her work as a result.

Being a category coordinator is a slightly different animal. I assigned judges for the various entries and checked the scoresheets when they were returned. I was looking for solid comments that could help the writer without demoralizing them. We've all heard stories about how so much negative feedback made people give up on writing altogether, and I didn't want anything like that to happen on my watch.

In addition to participating in this way, I still enter contests, even with 19 books under my belt. I appreciate the feedback from these strangers and usually find some nuggets I can use to enhance my work. My most recent entry was for a work-in-progress, entered into the Romance Through The Ages contest. After I entered the work, I realized my point of view character should be the hero rather than the heroine, since his part in the story is what makes the story different from other mail order bride books. I've changed the title and have been working on this manuscript ever since, changing it around, but the entry stood in the first version.

So what happened? I placed third in my category--Colonial/Civil War. But my hero, Jake, was nominated for the Legend award, for the hero most likely to become legendary, and he won!

So, even with no real feedback in the form of a scoresheet yet, I already have proof that Jake needs more screen time and the beginning of the story needs work. Revisions are next up on my queue, right after I get my Regency heroine out of the mess she's created for herself.

But, since bragging rights are part of the contest frenzy, here are my badges to show the results of the most recent contest. Huzzah!

And as some have already guessed, the hero, Jake Shelton, first appeared in one of the Cotillion books, Banking On Temperance. He was the one spurned when Temperance finally admitted her love for Basil Fitzpatrick. And, yes, my muse for him was Blake Shelton, while he was still married to Miranda Lambert. I'll never forgive him for his defection to Gwen Stefani, but obviously, as the recipient of the Legend award, his actions, both when Temperance spurned him, and now, in the WIP, are the stuff of legends.


  1. Congratulations! I have read all of your books (at least once) and am looking forward to this new one. I remember Jake and I'm glad that you found a good woman for him.

    1. Thanks, loyal follower. I hope you'll find Jake and Lillian's story compelling.