Sunday, January 27, 2013

Shout out to Writing Contests!

This week, on my Facebook page, I posted a couple of notices I received on writing contests.  Back in my Community College days (in the 1980s), I submitted a short story I’d written for my Creative Writing class to the school’s annual literary contest.  I won the contest, recognition at graduation, and fifty dollars!  The acknowledgement, more than the money, really made me feel like an author.

In 2011, A Family of Love (also known as my current WIP) under the pen name, Angela Raye, was a runner up in Hudson Valley RWA’s Hook, Line, and Sinker Contest.   Even now, I can’t decide what was the bigger thrill, opening the envelope with Hudson Valley’s certificate or seeing “Angela Raye” printed in RWA’s Romance Writer’s Report.

Writing contests, even if not producing a win, generate feedback.  Two years ago, I entered various aspects of Magic Moment in several of the contests offered by RWA chapters.   No, I didn’t win, my scores were “decent,” but I eagerly digested every line of feedback.  One comment caught my eye and preyed on my mind.  My hero, Chase, wasn’t likeable until the end of the third chapter.  I know from my own leisurely reading, if I don’t like a hero or heroine in the first few pages, I’m not reading the book. 
So, with that one comment, I decided “Chase” needed a bit of an overhaul.

I put Magic Moment aside, worked on another project, then went back, reread, and started revising.   Shortly afterwards, I sent the manuscript off to Crimson Romance and the rest is history.
I often think if I hadn’t gotten that particular feedback, I might not be looking at the published copy of Magic Moment on my bookshelf.

And, the oddly enough, I don’t even know who this wonderful critic/judge is to offer my appreciation.  But, if she (or he) is reading this post right now, “thank you!”

For more information on the contests I posted, check out my Facebook page –  http://www.facebook.com/authorangela

16 comments:

  1. Angela, I like contests, too, most of the time. I actually won a review by an agent in the Brenda Novak Juvenile Diabetes auction a few years back. That feedback led me to make some changes to You Belong To Me (Marlie Bridges) that gave me the courage to self-publish.

    Good feedback is priceless!

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    1. "Priceless" is a great word to use. Thanks so much for passing on the conference/contests tidbits, and all you do for our online RWA chapter.

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  2. Great post! Contests played a big part in my early writing. I'm thankful to all of the writers who sacraficed their writing/family time to read my entries. I've judged before and I know that it's not an easy job when you try so hard to be helpful. I think my experience with various contests have played a big part in my upcoming debut.

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    1. Hi, Jennifer,

      Thank you for volunteering your time to judge. Sometimes, we forget that judges volunteer their time and the only payment is a "thank you." And, thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  3. I've not done well in contests (yet), but I have found value in most judges' comments. Writing is not an easy craft. I look at contests now as getting my homework graded. Definitely worth loving.

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    1. Hi, Ana,

      "Getting homework graded" is a great perspective. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  4. Thanks for the info on contests. Over the years, I've done just about everything from entering to judging to running the contests. I love the feedback and regret that I don't always thank those people immediately who have devoted so much time to helping me. So some people will be getting thanks months from now, but I will get to it.

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    1. Hi, Marion,

      You're very welcome on the info. So much work goes in to running a contest. Many thanks to you, and all the other contest coordinators out there. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  5. Thanks for a great post, Angela! Contests certainly have their ups and downs. For me, at first I entered them to gauge whether I actually had any talent (you know, to have someone other than my mother say it was good ;) Also, I find I learn as much from judging as I do from entering. I've had some success with RWA contests, but most recently from blog contests (I cannot recommend Brenda Drake enough!)

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    1. Hi, Rachael,

      This post has certainly generated lots of conversation -- between the comments here and the emails I've recevied. But, Rachael, you gave me my "sweet" chuckle for the day with your comment about our mothers saying what we write is good.

      Thanks so much for checking out the post.

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    1. This deleted comment was me, everyone, forgetting how to spell.

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  7. Hi Angela, Great post! I also think contest are a good way of getting feedback. Sometimes it's not the feedback you want to hear, and other times it makes you smile for days.

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    1. Hi, Renee,

      What matters is that the feedback is helpful. Thanks for reading my post!

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  8. Hey Angela, good for you that you took the judge's comments so constructively! I've had a few good takeaways from contests, too, though no wins. :)

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    1. Hi, Misty,

      Keep at it...you're too good not to. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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