Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Prairie Chick and Contests

I've been trying to complete Silent Keeper as well as work on some contest entries. If you follow my blog, you'll have noticed I haven't entered any contests since the spring. That's about to change. But today, I'm supposed to be writing tomorrow's Prairie Chick post except I haven't a clear idea what to write. Actually...maybe I'll write about entering contests. What could I write? Let's see:

I could write about the reasons for entering a contest, which for me is two-fold; the feedback and the exposure to editors. Take this contest entry I'm working on:

When You Least Expect It (When) is an inspirational. It was a finalist in that category in this year's Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest and although it wasn’t requested by final judge (an editor), I did receive excellent feedback from the first round judges.

So, I’m revising it and will try again. I’d like to enter it in the Southern Heat contest which has 2 final judges—an editor and an agent. That’s too good to pass up. Usually there’s only an editor for the final judge. The Southern Heat contest has 2 categories I can enter When in: Inspirational and Contemporary series. Because it’s an inspirational, I should enter it in the inspirational category, right?

Maybe not.

Remember my ms Charley’s Saint? I wrote it as an inspirational, but both times it’s been a finalist in regular contemporary categories. Final judges are not required to give comments, however one nice editor wrote to me that it was entered in the appropriate category but needed more sizzle. I don’t know if she said that because she sees many entries that don’t fit the category or if she wanted to reassure me the inspirational elements were okay for a contemporary series. Either way, I really appreciated her comment.

Now here’s the thing with When – although it has the 3 way relationship between the Hero, heroine, and God which all inspirations require, the ‘God’ aspect isn’t as pronounced as in some of my other books. So, it could do well in the Contemporary category. I just haven’t entered it in one yet. What a choice.

To help me decide, I looked at the next contest I want to enter: Finally a Bride (FAB). This contest is very special because you can’t enter unless you’ve finaled but never placed first. Yup, that’s me. You know the old saying, ‘Always a bride, never a bridesmaid’. So because both When and Charley’s Saint have finaled, I can enter them in FAB. But, who are the final judges? None other than the same editors who are judging the Southern Heat contest. Well, one is the same and the other one judged Charley’s Saint once before. If she didn’t request it last time, it doesn’t make sense to enter it where she’s the final judge.

Here’s what I’m going to do:
- Enter When in the Contemporary Series category of Southern Heat
- Enter When in the Inspirational category of Finally a Bride
- Enter Charley’s Saint in the Contemporary Series of Finally a Bride

But what about the sizzle? Well, I’m going to add some to Charley’s Saint for the Contemp category and tone it down (yes, that was the judges opinion) for the inspy category for When.

How will I add sizzle? Well according to that one judge in the last paragraph, it doesn't have much to alter. However, here’s some changes I’m making to my main characters:
- looking at each other with a higher level of intensity (awareness)
- thinking about hugging and kissing (carnal thoughts)
- expressing pleasure in each other’s physical attributes

The above changes won’t take away from the inspirational story, however they show a sexten level you don’t find in inspy books (unless they’re from established and accepted authors). Since I write for both the secular and inspirational market, this isn’t a big deal for me. And before anyone gets all excited about this, the mss will still abide by my ‘closed door’ and ‘no sex before marriage’ rules. I’m not talking about going against my principles, just turning up the heat a bit.

Why would I change my manuscripts like this? Well, this may be my only chance to enter the Finally a Bride contest. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So, what do you think? Would you change a manuscript to suit a contest? Do you have any ideas to up the sexten without being overly blatant? Do you have any questions about contests you’d like answered?

Wow, I think I just wrote tomorrow’s blogpost. Except I can’t post this until tomorrow or it wouldn’t be fair to the Chicks. Maybe I’ll post it later on tonight… Shhhh


  1. Yeah, see, I never enter contests. It's a gamble of someone else's opinion I don't want to take. Besides, I'm not subbing to other authors. I'm subbing to the publishing house and sometimes that have different needs and expectations for a story.

  2. How do you find all these contests? I agree that the feedback is valuable. Although it reminds me of having teeth drilled, without novocaine.
    I love to look at the rest of the Inky blogs... you all give me such great and varied ideas I wonder why I ever have blogger block!
    Blessings, sister Inky!
    I'm adding myself as a follower!

  3. Hey Kel, I know but you're already a pubbed author so you have credibility. I don't think you use CP's either which I do.

    I don't want my ms to be sitting in there doing nothing and then only getting back a rejection without feedback.

    I want it to be working while it sits there. I want to be guaranteed that someone took the time to read it and give me back suggestions for improvement.

    When I sub it to an editor and just receive a form R back, it's like a total waste of my time and effort. No thank you.

    But I do keep track of the publishers I want to work with and what they want. Thank you, internet.

    And thank you Kel, for stating your opinion. It's always appreciated one way or another. :)

  4. Good luck with the contests! I think you've got great perspective regarding what you're entering where. I'm learning to watch what I enter (to pay attention to the judges, etc) and then, when I get the results, to chew the meat and spit out the bones. I'm taking a break from entering for a while. Still recovering, oops, I mean pondering the last round.

    See you in Inkville! Blessings!

  5. Hey Niki, nice to see you here.

    As for the contests, I belong to the Contest Alert Yahoo Group:
    I get the daily digest of what contests are coming up, which ones are extended, which ones are lacking entries and who won, etc. It also gives help about contests.

    And then Steph Smith runs this invaluable site which she keeps current:

    And of course, there's Seekerville at which always starts the month out with current contests. Plus, Tina gives her advice as to which she feels are the best ones for the money, etc.

    I appreciate you jumping in as a follower. Thank you.

  6. Hey Susanne, yes, I took a break for awhile, too although I've never been a junkie about them. Only entered 6 or so total. But these 2 were pressing on my heart, so what could I do?

    Oh, and congrats for finaling in the Touched by Love contest. 3rd place is fantastic!

    Niki too. (I hope she reads this)

    Actually, I think half the Inkies beat me out of that contest. Just wasn't my time for that one, I guess. But I'm happy for the rest of you. :)

    Thanks for the visit.

  7. Anita, that makes perfect sense to me. Sounds like you really use the contests. I know a few people who pour everything into the pages they submit, but not the rest of the book. Their goal is to win, not improve.

    I realize you aren't like that anyway but you are very well thought out and driven to improving your craft. Your method sounds brilliant. Blessings as you continue to submit.


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