Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Won March's Prompt Contest!

I am so excited!

Every month, Love Inspired author Cheryl Wyatt aka Squirrel, sponsors a prompt contest on her blog at http://scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com/ and for the past 3 months, I sent in my entry. And waited.

And I won for March!

So, what's a Prompt contest? Well, Cheryl wants to encourage other writers so she helps us get our stories started. That's why sometimes I refer to it as a 'story starter' contest. Although story might be a misnomer because it only has to be a scene in a story and not a short story per se.

At the beginning of each month, Cheryl will post an entry on her blog listing 10 words that must be used in your story. She'll also list 3 'prompt' lines. You have to pick 1 of these lines to start your story.

For this month, Cheryl has posted the following words and prompts:

April Prompt Words
1. sill
2. seal
3. SEAL
4. Navy
5. train
6. base
7. bass
8. basket
9. story
10. storey

April Scene Starter Sentences:
“That’s the worst excuse for a pushup I’ve ever seen.”
“Whadda ya mean you can’t breathe?”
“We’ve got a situation.”

Can you write a scene without going over 500 words (computer count) using the words and a line from above? Try it and then email it to Cheryl. You might even win!

Go to Cheryl's blog for more info.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

From NaNo to The Genesis Contest and Beyond...

"If it means anything, I would've requested a full manuscript based on these chapters and would expect you to deliver on it, ..."
Oh wow! They're talking about my writing. They like it! They really like it! Sally Fields, I finally know how you feel because those words were written by a judge (a freelance editor and acquisitions reader),who liked Charley's Saint - my last Nov NaNo project. Let me tell you the story:

Last Nov I decided to sign up for National Novel Writing Month on the eharl site. It entailed the attempt to write a complete 55,000 word novel in 30 days. That's approx 1833 words per day.
I wrote Charley's Saint during this month. I finished on Nov 28th with 57,238 words and 256 pages. Mission accomplished, right? But that was only the beginning. The dreadful...uh...fun part was next...the revisions and the tweaking. I found a critique partner and sent the chapters to her and revised it and tweaked it somemore. And then I put it away for a bit.

Before I get carried away, I would like to thank all my friends on the NaNo thread for their tips, hugs and support. You guys are great!

So, during the last week of Feb, my inner voice was asking why I wasn't entering it in the Genesis Contest sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers. But, it costs money, I told myself. Yes, but you get real feedback, my inner voice responded. So I looked over the rules and whatnots and yes, every entry was guaranteed scores/comments from 3 judges. And the fee was only $30 per entry. Now I don't know about you, but I don't know anywhere I can get a ‘critique' from a professional in the publishing business for 30 bucks let alone 3 of them!

With the deadline only a week away, I pulled out Charley's Saint and poured over it once more. Did I have the guts to enter it? I knew I had a lot of eharl friends over on the NaNo thread who'd expressed interest in reading the completed ms just from my daily reports and ‘best lines'.
But I needed to know if I actually had what it takes to write a good novel. So, I tweaked Charley's Saint some more and then entered it in the contemporary category. And there were still a few days before the deadline.

But wait! I had started a historical romance during my writing group's Book in a Week in Jan 08. It was over a third complete. Did I have the ability to write a realistic novel set in the American Old West? Or would it sound like it was written by a transplanted person from the 21st century?

So, I pulled up my project, An Outlaw for the Lady, and started working on it. Unfortunately, I didn't have the benefit of a critique partner at this time so I was on my own. I read, researched and revised. Read and revised again, repeatedly, trying for that moment when my inner voice said, ‘That's it!' And it finally happened 2 days before the deadline. I probably should have waited anothr day and then looked it over once more but I was worried about computer problems, power failures etc, so I sent it in.

Then settled down to wait. Knowing that I wouldn't win, but praying that I'd final. I mean they pick 5 finalists in each category...surely one of those spots was saved for me, right?

Wrong! The results came out 3 nights ago and neither of my entries had finaled. Drat!

2 nights ago I rec'd the judges' scores & comments for An Outlaw for a Lady. It was hard to open those attachments but I'm glad I did. Although one judge didn't like it and gave me a below avg score, the other 2 were above avg with an overall score of above avg. Okay, so I passed. Whew!

But it was the feedback that I needed! The judges' scores and comments show me exactly where my strengths and weaknesses are.

And even on the sheet with the lowest score, the judge commented, "I see instant conflict including a spiritual battle." And "I'm hearing a strong western voice with a certain authenticity..."

I needed to hear comments like those especially from a judge who didn't think my writing was as strong as it should be. All the judges used ‘track changes' on the word document so I could see where I need to work on the ms. This is great!

Mind you, when I read the scores and comments to my hubby his mouth turned into a thin white line and his eyebrows touched his nose. I actually thought he was going to jump up and rant, "How dare they!" :-)

Last night the results for Charley's Saint came in. It was harder to look at these because I hadn't thought I could tweak it any more. Boy, was I naïve!

But I rec'd above average scores. I am so pleased with the results. I am also awed by those that did final in the Genesis Contest.

For Charley's Saint, I think the best compliment came from the judge that said, "If it means anything, I would've requested a full manuscript based on these chapters and would expect you to deliver on it..."

... it's like I can now say when I get published and not if I get published, ya know?

Friday, April 4, 2008

I am a Wreader!

Local wreader (writer/reader), Anita Mae, went undercover Thursday night to find out if the rumours were actually true. Were Harlequin Medicals to be found on the shelves of Regina bookstores?

In disguise (wearing her red knit shirt instead of her periwinkle one), Anita walked briskly through the main doors of Chapters, the biggest bookstore in the Queen City. Forcing her eyes to remain focused on the back corner, she refused to look at the non-Harlequin books trying to tempt her money from her purse. Three quarters of the way back, she made a left wheel toward the dais which covers 25% of the store. Lumbering....uh...springing up the steps with a light step, she crossed the varnished wood floor to the Harlequin display. Hmmm. Not a Medical in sight. After mere minutes, she pulled her eyes from the Blaze covers. Spotting the Harlequin flyer, she grabbed it. After all, her mission here was accomplished and hubby was waiting in the van. She had the required info so she should go back...hmmm....

On the bottom of page 4 was a photo and blurb about The Desert Lord's Baby - Book 1 in the Silhouette Desire Throne Of Judar series by Olivia Gates. Although Anita isn't an SD reader, her last book review says she was blown away by Oliva's book Radical Cure.

Knowing she should leave, Anita's eyes shifted - she ooohed at the Love Inspired Historicals gracing the opposite page. A movement to the right caught her eye. Two men with HQNs in hand were watching with wary faces. Ignoring them, she burrowed back into the flyer, wondering if the Harlequin people knew they printed the same book cover twice on the same page. No wait - it was a picture puzzle! After a swift glance over her shoulder to see if her hubby was approaching, Anita's eyes fly between the photos, trying to spot the differences between The Road to Love in red lettering and The Road to Love in blue. Hmmm. Only six. She could spot only six. In frustration, she flipped the page deciding to look for the other 2 differences back in the van.

On the next page, a ‘buy 4, save $2‘ coupon for Harlequin Americans caught her eye...okay, definitely worth keeping...

With a sense of urgency, she flipped through the remaining pages knowing time was of the essence if she wanted hubby to drive her anywhere else, but as she closed the flyer, her eyes fell to the bottom right of the last page and before she could comprehend what she was looking at, she'd spotted the final 2 differences in the book cover puzzle. She folded the flyer and slid it into her back pocket. Drat! She might've been walking quickly back down the steps and through the store but her mind was on The Road to Love.

Back at the van, she warded off hubby's questions by asking what he wanted...not needed...in the electronics dept at the next stop - Walmart, just across the parking lot. Hubby took the boys one way while Anita headed to the book aisle. Hmmm. No Medicals. She was beginning to wish she hadn't told the medical thread on the eharl site that she'd spotted Medicals in Regina a couples weeks ago. Now she'd have some groveling to do when she reported back in...

Thirty mins later, she dragged her menfolk out of the store saying they had to pick up dd from music lessons. Once in van, though, Anita asked hubby if he'd mind stopping at the Book and Briar Patch...after all, it was on the way. So, a few blocks up, he drove into their lot. Anita's cell phone beeped as hubby was pulling up to the door - dd was ready to be picked up..oops...saying she'd be right back, Anita charged into the store, typing a 2-handed text msg back to dd as she marched straight to the back wall...straight towards Starbuck's. She could see the patrons sitting in the light diminished room. The smell of cappuccino permeated her senses, but she was on a mission and wouldn't be deterred. Just when you thought she'd give in to temptation, she veered right to the Harlequin display stand. Her eyes flew over the books, while her hand spun the circular stand. Nope. No Medicals here either. She sighed.

Two hours later, Anita, still in sleuthing mode, walked into SuperStore to check out their looooong book aisle. Lots of Harlequins here. Displayed at an angle, Anita's eyes skimmed the covers and bindings as she looked for the distinctive peacock blue covers. And she found one. There, mixed in with a half dozen other leftovers...ummm...books that hadn't sold from the past couple months, was one blue binding. Anita slid it out and placed it in front of the others. There. Maybe someone would see it now...

Hmmm...so the rumors were true...the Medicals were only on the shelves for a short time...where they successful? Will they be brought back? Is the only way to get them through subscription? Only time will tell.

With her mission accomplished, Anita headed over to Pharmacy to refill her prescription of blood pressure meds. With April's book challenge being It's Raining Men, she's gonna need all the help she can get...