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Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Tracy Brody!

Today we’re welcoming another Mermaid, Tracy Brody, already a Golden Heart winner last year, who’s a DOUBLE finalist this year, in two different categories!!

2015-10-17 CRW Glam Party -cropTracy Brody lives in North Carolina with her husband and teenage daughter and has a son that shows up for a few weeks between college semesters and internships to let her feed him and do his laundry.

Though she followed her father’s advice and studied business, she continued to indulge her creative side with various crafts and scrapbooking until her overactive imagination dreamed up a story line that she wrote as a spec movie script. Being a housewife in NC with no ties to Hollywood, she eventually took friends’ suggestion to turn her script into a book and began writing romances. She joined RWA and Carolina Romance Writers in 2010. She loves walking in her neighborhood or, even better, being at the beach talking to herself as she plots books and scenes. She’s represented by Helen Brietweiser of Cornerstone Literary.

Her 2015 Golden Heart winner, A SHOT WORTH TAKING, is actually the second book in her series of single title romances featuring the Bad Karma Special Ops team whose love lives are as dangerous as their missions. This year, both the first and third books in the series are finalists—which means all three of her completed manuscripts have finaled in the Golden Heart!!

Here’s the blurb for THE SNIPER’S SECOND SHOT – Contemporary Romance:

Sergeant Mack Hanlon thought he could beat the odds, despite knowing that a Special Ops career and a stable, successful marriage don’t go together as smoothly as peanut butter and jelly or even guns and ammunition. His wife left him and the Army life, but when Mack meets Black Hawk pilot Kristie Donovan, he believes he’s found a woman who can support him and his career choice. However, he soon finds he’s battling more than regulations prohibiting romantic relationship between the ranks.

After losing one husband in combat, Kristie’s sworn she’ll never fall for another man in his dangerous profession. Mack’s persistence and charm in pursuing her are accomplishing his mission to win Kristie’s heart until his ex-wife threatens to expose their relationship if Mack won’t let her move out of state with their girls. Kristie ends their forbidden romance to protect their careers and keep Mack from losing contact with his daughters. But, after insurgents bring down Kristie’s aircraft and take the crew hostage, Mack’s team rushes to rescue Kristie and her crew. If he can save her, he still has to find a way to give them both a second shot at love.

And here’s the blurb for IN THE WRONG SIGHTS – Romantic Suspense.

A patient’s deathbed confession landed nurse Cassidy O’Shea in witness protection. However, her unauthorized trip to Fort Bragg for her ex-stepfather’s funeral necessitates putting her under temporary protective custody after learning he’s been murdered. The Marshal Service turns to her late stepfather’s friends, the Army Bad Karma team, to keep her safe.

A dedicated soldier, AJ Rozanski is supposed to be protecting Cassidy, not falling for his former mentor’s stepdaughter. But her acceptance of his career choice is a refreshing change from his parent’s disapproval of his military service and his ex-fiancée’s inability to handle his erratic deployments.

Cassidy going back into Witness Protection puts an end to their hopes for something beyond a few days and romantic nights together—until an assassin locates her and she flees to AJ and the Bad Karma team. Can they give her back her life—and a future with AJ?

Awesome stuff!!! And both very suspenseful! I’m sure these will be out in readers’ hands before very long!!

Okay, everybody–time to gather around in our super-secret Ruby bunker for a chat with Tracy Brody. (No bad guys allowed!!….um, unless they look like Tom Hiddleston and are eminently redeemable!! In which case, join us!!)

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Welcome, Tracy!! Lovely to have you back here with the Rubies!

Okay, so ALL THREE of your completed books so far have finaled in the Golden Heart, and the one that finaled last year actually WON. That’s incredibly impressive!! Did this come out of nowhere, or did you have experiences with contests before that? (Inquiring minds want to know.)

I’m a bit of a contest veteran, actually. I’d entered a few contests early on with RWA – when I didn’t know how much I didn’t know.  🙂 Some of the early feedback pinpointed areas I needed to improve in. Things like point of view, eliminating passive writing, establishing character’s goals, motivation and conflict, showing instead of telling, comma usage, et cetera and etc. I took classes and later entered a new WIP in the Golden Pen to see if my writing had improved. I was happily shocked when I finaled and kept working on learning craft.

I missed the Golden Heart finals in 2014 by one point. As most of the ladies in my critique group were not writing a lot, I felt bad asking them to keep critiquing for me. So in 2014, I entered a number of chapter contests for fresh feedback to see what I still needed to master. I developed a reputation as a contest queen (or whore depending on who you asked.) That year I think I entered eight different contests, entering both manuscripts in two of them. I had four misses but placed first in six contests.

Even after the wins in 2014, I almost didn’t enter the Golden Heart for 2015. I was very methodical in picking which contests to enter based on the submission size, the score sheet for judging, number of judges, whether they dropped a score, who the final round judges were. The Golden Heart didn’t tick the right boxes for getting feedback and in front of agent and editor judges I wanted. But, I decided to give it one more shot.

Clearly, a shot worth taking!! (Sorry, sorry…couldn’t resist the title pun.) You must have been excited that it finaled.

I’m thrilled it did! The Golden Heart is unlike any other contest I’d entered. With its reputation, it’s great affirmation to final and brings the perks of priority registrations for pitch appointments at convention – not just the year you’re a finalist. It’s a great credential to list when you query (and I got very quick requests.) Then there’s the networking opportunities, getting to shop for fancy dresses, and feeling a little like a celebrity. But the biggest difference was the sisterhood that developed among the finalists. Just being a finalist was a win and we worked to help and encourage each other. While I’d really hoped not to be eligible for the Golden Heart this year, since I hadn’t accepted an offer yet, I decided to enter again because of the friendships I formed with other finalists.

With your track record, I’m betting you won’t be eligible to enter Golden Heart again as of this time next year—but you may just have a second (or third!!) shiny heart pendant to add to your collection. So, I’m curious: your two finalists this year are part of the same series, but are nominated in two different categories, Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense. What’s the story behind that?

Several of the 2015 finalists had entered several manuscripts that year, and a few said it was the one they didn’t expect to final that did. While I tend to be a last minute kinda gal, I got IN THE WRONG SIGHTS (third in my series) submitted for the Golden Heart with a few days to spare. I kept thinking about the first in my series, which I’d entered in the GH back in 2011. It hadn’t finaled (hadn’t even come close then), but I’d revised it, and thought why not give it a shot. But it’s not as suspenseful, especially in the opening. (I was still learning how my series needed to be consistent in genre.) So the Friday before the GH deadline, I emailed my agent to say I was going to enter it and asked which category she thought I should put it in. I started doing an editing pass over the weekend. I only beat the deadline thanks to one of my awesome ’15 GH Dragonfly sisters saying, “Tracy, you know the deadline is 5 PM—not midnight?” Yeeps! I uploaded THE SNIPER’S SECOND SHOT with 10 minutes to spare and went with my gut to enter it in the contemporary category. My agent emailed a few hours later saying to enter it in romantic suspense. Ooops. My bad – I’m still learning, but it worked out despite the strong competition in that category. And having the first book of my series, that has undergone so many rewrites, changes, and edits, final is really special.

I love that you’re so open about having to learn to become the writer you are! I’m a teacher in my other life, and I always tell my students that screwing up and trying again is essential to growth…whether you’re a writer or Steph Curry. (And I’ll confess, my very first writing contest entry was a 35-page opening chapter. The judges very lovingly smacked some sense into me, and I quickly got to work on the dynamics of pacing.) But, in the short term, criticism can sting, can’t it?

While I’ve had friends who made the finals, even won, the first time they entered a writing contest, that’s not my story. We’ve probably all heard stories of mean judges and crazy comments and widely ranging scores. You learn to accept how subjective judging can be. Feedback can make you reach for a bottle of wine or make you dance.

Well, I’m sure you’re doing a lot of dancing these days!! Speaking of good times, are you going to Nationals?

Heck yes!! I get to see many of my wonderful friends from the 2015 GH class (am even rooming with two of them!) and meet new finalists. And I get to buy fancy dresses. Yes, plural. Last year I bought six dresses, returned four, and rebought one on sale – all for under $150 total. I’m about on that same track now. Still trying to decide between three, including one I didn’t wear from last year.

LOL! I’ll be looking forward to the fashion show!! (And everybody’s fabulous shoes!!) Before we go, do you have a question for our readers to get the conversation rolling today?

I’d love to hear your best or worst contest story. The good. The bad. The laughable comments from a judge. Feedback that made you cry or gave you that “ah, ha!” moment. Here’s your opportunity to let us commiserate or celebrate with you.

As a thank you for reading and responding, I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card and a pair of patriotic handmade red, white (okay, really they’re crystal) and blue earrings to two commenters. Thanks for stopping by and your support! Hope you all have the opportunity to fall in love with my Bad Karma heroes and their loves.

Bravo TeamAnd as a little reward for all, here’s a scrapbook collage of my Bad Karma Team for your viewing enjoyment.

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Connect with Tracy Brody online:

Twitter: @BadKarmaWriter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

110 responses to “Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Tracy Brody!”

  1. Elizabeth King says:

    Hey Tracey
    All three of your books have been Golden Heart finalists?! Wow, clearly you are doing something very right and I’m sure you won’t be eligible next year!
    You’re so right about how subjective judging can be – one of my GH finalist manuscripts was also a finalist in another contest where I got the lowest mark I’ve ever received in a contest – based on the feedback given, there was nothing I got right!
    Different strokes for different folks I guess, and I do appreciate the time anyone puts in as a judge – even if they might not choose my entry as the winner!
    Good luck this year, and looking forward to meeting you in San Diego.

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    • Tracy Brodys says:

      Elizabeth, looking forward to meeting you and CONGRATS to you on also being a double finalist in this year’s GH. With judging being so subjective, having two make the finalist is a huge “Wow!” moment since we writers often have doubts. As for that judge that didn’t seem to like anything in your story, say “Not my intended audience. Next!” and don’t sweat it.
      Here’s to neither of us being eligible to be in the Golden Heart next year.

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  2. Sarah Andre says:

    Tracy, you’re a freaking GODDESS. I did NOT know the story behind your double final and just snorted coffee through my nose. What poor agents have to put up with. 🙂

    Looking VERY forward to hearing all 3 sold in an auction!

    Worst contest story: I entered my relatively-sweet 3 chapters (of the book under my bed) into a contest in 2005 and finaled. The first round judges and later, the final round judges all complimented the story but mentioned it could use more sizzle. Years later (seriously, years) I found out that particular contest, Passionate Ink, was an erotica contest. I’m still stupefied that I finaled. There must have only been 3 entries. 🙂

    Best of luck in SD, and have fun during the Lit Signing!!! Will miss you-

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    • Tracy Brodys says:

      OMG, Sarah, you made me snort my protein shake reading about your Passionate Ink final! lol I entered the wrong category in my first contest. I was writing a story set in current day (contemporary) and it was first in a series so I entered Contemporary series, right? Wrong. Why don’t they call it Category romance? I got so dinged for not having the cute meet in the first 2 pages of my Single Title romance. At least I got other good feedback – but so did not final.

      Thanks for the goddess comment (yeah, right) but when it hit me two days after “the call” that all three of my completed manuscripts in the series had finaled in THE Golden Heart, I had trouble sleeping.

      Will miss you in San Diego too! Maybe I’ll pretend I’m Kristan’s author attendant this year in your place. 😉

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Hee!! I love it!! You must have gotten the sexual tension right, even if they didn’t act on it.

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  3. Brynn Kelly says:

    LOL about the dresses. Your annual search for awards frocks is practically a Ritagh tradition. It’s not June unless Tracy is trying on dresses! So very cool that your whole series are GH finalists/winners. I’ll be cheering you on from afar!

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    • Tracy Brodys says:

      Brynn, if I waited until June, maybe I’m buy fewer dresses. At least I’ve decided which to wear. I think. If daughter gets it hemmed. And I don’t look for anything else.
      Thanks for the congrats and wish you were going to make it in from New Zealand again this year. Maybe next year DECEPTION ISLAND will be a RITA finalist and you’ll HAVE to come. Congrats on all the great reviews it’s getting.

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  4. Susanna Malcolm says:

    Congrats on this year and last year, and may you be ineligible next year. This is the first contest I’ve ever entered, and I’m only bringing one dress to SD, though I’ve been thinking that maybe a back up wouldn’t hurt. See you in SD!

    1+
    • Tracy Brodys says:

      So you’re one of those crazy talented, I-finaled-the-first-time-I-entered phenomenons. 😉 I’m not jealous (much) because of all I learned along the way to become a better writer than I was (thankfully!) Everyone’s journey is different and I find it’s better not to compare yourself but we can all achieve our publishing dreams if we keep learning and don’t give up!
      Look forward to seeing you in San Diego in your beautiful gown(s) – yes, bring or buy a second. I’m thinking hubby will have to take me on a cruise so I can wear them all. He just doesn’t know that plan yet.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      LOL! With your track record, no doubt that one dress will be a winner!

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  5. Kimberley O'Malley says:

    WooHoo!!! Nicely done, Tracy!! It’s nice to know that your hard work is paying off. You are an inspiration for newbies like me!! Good luck next month!!!

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    • Tracy Brodys says:

      Thanks for the congrats and stopping by, Kimberley. Appreciate the home chapter support. That support and encouragement to help newbies (we all were once) get inspired is a great thing about RWA and the chapters, like Carolina Romance writers, and I do remember the “wow” moment when published author Regina Jeffers came and introduced herself to newbie me at my first CRW meeting. It’s a great community and I’m glad we’ve both found it and met.

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  6. Hey, Tracy, I readily recall our first meeting back at CRW. I am proud to say I was one of the first to befriend you there, and I remain a “cheerleader” for your many successes. You go girl!!!

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Trust me, I remember you coming over and introducing yourself to me at that first meeting too, Regina. I so appreciated it and it made an impression. Thanks for all your support on this journey and I’ll take all the cheering you’ll offer! Hugs,

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  7. Jen Gilroy says:

    Congrats, Tracy. I’ll be cheering you on virtually next month. Can’t wait to see which dress you choose!

    I’ve had both good and bad experiences on the contest circuit. The funniest, though, was when a judge took exception to the name of a dog in my manuscript and highlighted it (at length!) in their comments.

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Jen, wish you could be in San Diego, but I’ll keep you and English Rose in my prayers and hopefully next year we’ll be together and celebrating your releases! Squee!

      Too funny. They must have had a real aversion to the name to continually highlight it. Now I HAVE to know, what was the dog’s name?

      2+
      • Tracy Brody says:

        For inquiring minds (like mind) Jen told me the dog’s name the judge hated was Sam. Yeah, I’m scratching my head figuring out how that can be so off putting.

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  8. Tracey Amey says:

    Tracy, thanks for sharing your experience in contests. Like you, I think they can be a valuable tool in honing your writing skills.

    My most laughable contest comment was when I used the phrase “Needs must when the devil drives,” an old phrase and perfect for my historical. The judge wrote that she thought I left some words out of the sentence.

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Tracey, thanks for stopping by and sharing. That’s why I look things up when I’m judging and don’t judge historical – or I could be “that” judge. I’ve had to tone down my military jargon so readers and judges don’t go what the heck is FARP? It’s the acronym for Forward Arming and Refueling Point and only the aviation guys use it. While I’m a little cocky that I know it, I decided not to use it in my book. 😉

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  9. Seana Kelly says:

    Great interview, Tracy! Congratulations on your double final!! I’m sure you’ll look lovely in whichever dress you choose😊. I’ve received some pretty hateful comments over the years from contest judges, but some of the best feedback was from the Golden Pen contest. The GP was put on by The Golden Network (an RWA chapter of Golden Heart finalists and winners). Their comments were supportive, and insightful about what needed to change. Yes, I’ve had judges telling I should stop writing and take classes, but the TGN judges were a positive highlight in my contest career. 👍🏻

    1+
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Seana, I’m SO glad you didn’t listen to the mean judges who said to stop writing. You obviously have talent and a strong voice based on your contest successes. It’s better to be on both ends of the spectrum than in the middle with “meh.” The Golden Pen was first contest I ever finaled in and with many of the judges being past Golden Heart finalists, think they’ve mastered the art of constructive criticism and are looking to build writers up, rather than tear them down. Yay for that! When you’re published (and I have no doubt that day will come) you can hope the judges who may the hateful comments will see that you took the high road, persevered and succeeded! Go, Seana!

      1+
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Ugh!!! Judges who tell writers to stop writing should be thrown in a nasty dungeon somewhere.

      Would a tennis coach tell a newbie player to stop playing just because they’ve hit a few balls into the net???

      Great writers may be born with the spark of talent, but only hard work and perseverance turn them into published authors.

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  10. Melanie Novak says:

    Congratulations Tracy! I agree with many of the others that your track record speaks very clearly that you’re doing something right. I hope to see these books in print soon. If I saw them at Barnes and Noble, I’d probably just go ahead and buy all of them based on your blurb. Good stuff!

    1+
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Aw, thanks. I think I love you. Sure it was the blurbs and not the collage of my swoon worthy muses? Can’t believe no one’s commented on them yet. Fingers crossed we’ll find the right editor soon and get them on the shelves so you can read them.

      Look forward to meeting you in San Diego.

      1+
  11. Mimi Milan says:

    Hmmm. Best/worst contest story. The best is when A Rebel in Jericho won the Cover the Words contest for best Historical Western. The worst? When I got high scores from published authors, but the lowest of the low from someone who was just starting her writing career. It disqualified my book by a few measly points.

    1+
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Mimi, I can so relate to the better scores being from the published judges. The newbies can be harsh, though the toughest seem to be the middle of journey judges who’ve learned “the rules” and give you low scores if you break the rules and grade your work like you’re at the published (edited by professionals) level. And that is why I (*Contest Queen Tip here!) chose to enter contests where they drop the lowest score.

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  12. Sharon Wray says:

    Congratulations, Tracy! I love hearing other writers’ stories. I know well the trauma of contests but I also know that they can make a difference when querying.
    The worst contest feedback I ever got was when a published author took my entry and rewrote it completely adding in all sorts of things–including new characters–that made no sense. While I was annoyed, I was more shocked and surprised that the contest coordinator allowed the judge to completely rewrite the entire thing and send it back to me. It was very strange and I never entered that contest again.

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Wow, a published author rewrote and added characters! She must have liked a lot about your story and writing to spend that kind of time, but sounds like she thought she knew better, despite the fact it was YOUR story. Well, it was BEFORE her rewrites. Maybe you should add a dog to the story and give it that character’s name. (Oops, did I really suggest that. Okay, I tend to be snarky and sarcastic and was thinking of Jen Gilroy’s judge who hated the dog’s name.)
      If I were a contest coordinator, I think we could end up with a long list of you-are-banned-from-judging-until-you-learn-to-be-helpful list of names. Dang, hope I’m not on one of those lists somewhere.

      1+
  13. I actually did a workshop with three other Contest Queens, and the horror stories section was the most popular part! People who “contest” love to commiserate over the things they’ve had an East German Judge tell them.

    Though I’ve taken a three year break from contests, I dipped my toe back in recently with my latest WIP. One judge told me she absolutely loved my title, and another urged me to change it because it sucked.

    I let it bug me for about five minutes, and then I moved on. One opinion is just that — one opinion.

    1+
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Commiserating about judging is healing. Why I thought I’d ask that question. I just know I have to be careful not to let myself become negative though – in justifying my response to their comments (oh, so easy to do) or making it sound like contests aren’t valuable, because the right feedback from judges can give you that “ah, ha!” moment to improve your writing. But I will confess that I signed a thank you note to one judge with Danke – in a slightly veiled reference to being the East German judge.

      1+
  14. Tracy Brody says:

    Okay, so just noticed that somehow added an S to Brody on my post replies. So much for editing! I’m Brody and now my picture will show up. My bad. So embarrassed.

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Or maybe you’ll just have to look at the picture at the top. So not a techie but thought I’d signed in.

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  15. Ness Harper says:

    Tracy, well deserved accolades for all your efforts in making yourself a better writer. I appreciated your advice on the contest scene and entered several more after talking with you.
    The worst contest feedback was from a judge for the Daphne, my first contest experience. A judge gave me a top score, but there was no useful information in her critique. I was pleased she enjoyed the entry, but she didn’t give me anything to work with.

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Ness, I don’t what you mean! The high/perfect scores are great confidence builders, but I want the FEEDBACK. Tell me what you loved. I’d rather have the 78 and feedback to improve than the ego stroke of a 100 with no words behind it. Guess that’s what we need as writers – words.
      Keep at it and maybe we’ll be reading your Golden Heart spotlight on the Ruby’s blog in the near future.

      1+
  16. Great post, Tracy! I’m echoing others when I say it’s just a matter of time that you get snapped up!

    I’ve had so many interesting comments from contests, I’m not sure I can single out the best or worst. One that will forever stand out though was the judge who ripped everything apart and then in her comments said, “Superbly talented, incredibly skilled writer. If not published yet, I have no doubt that you soon will be. These pages reek of future success for its author.”

    Go figure.

    1+
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Thanks, Arlene. Trying to be patient and get the right deal is tough, but better than settling. Kinda like dating and marriage.
      OMG, did you wonder it the judge pasted in the wrong comments or forget to take her meds that day? I mean, I’d be shaking my head until I was dizzy. Hold on to the compliment part because I’ve read your manuscript and agree with the “Superbly talented, incredibly skilled writer. If not published yet, I have no doubt that you soon will be. These pages reek of future success for its author.”

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    • Arlene, she probably took the time to rip it apart just because it was so good and you were worth her time to edit. She might not have done as much for the less talented entrants. 😀

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  17. McCall Hoyle says:

    Tracy,

    Love the post, love the blurbs, love everything. Can’t wait to meet in person and celebrate in SD!

    I love contests for the economical/authentic feedback. I’ve been fortunate to receive a lot of valuable feedback that resonated. I’ve received lots of encouragement. So when I got the first really mean-for-no-reason judge I was a bit taken aback. As a teacher, I always try to find at least one brag to go with the constructive comments I provide. Well, this judge was not of that philosophy. And she said it very bluntly–I never give positive feedback. Huh. That kind of defeats the purpose of most chapters and contests–to foster and grow new writers. Anyway, I kind of hope whoever he/she is that he/she quit judging because people like that can crush delicate writers’ spirits.

    XOXO!

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Aw, thanks for the compliments and can’t wait to meet you too, McCall.
      I agree that for a judge to say they never give positive feedback is wrong. We need to hear the good and the bad. She can always temper it by saying something like “I know it may seem I’m being really nitpicky, but it’s only because your writing is so strong, and you are so close, that I am pointing out little things that may help you get that offer. Best of luck.” How would she like it if people only posted negative reviews on her books online. NOT! Every contest I’ve judged encourages the judges to find SOMETHING to compliment. She needs to go to judge training 101 or be banned.

      1+
  18. Mia Sosa says:

    Congrats, Tracy! So excited for your double final, and as I’ve told you before, I can’t wait to have your books in my hands. Soon, lady, soon!

    As for contest feedback, I’ve received the good, the bad, and the ugly. My favorite comment was from a published author who said she had no doubt my story would be published someday. The manuscript I’d entered is still unpublished, but the judge’s encouraging comments made my day.

    See you in San Diego!

    Hugs,
    Mia

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Mia, I so look forward to the day my books are in your hot little hands, or on your e-reader.
      That is a great compliment and I’ve told several judges hearing that really made my day too. And I love when I read an entry and can tell the writer that. Great when they write a thank you so I can follow them to eventually buy their book.

      Another Contest Queen Tip: write judges a thank you, even if you disagree with their feedback/score – you can gain a fan or maybe subtly tell them you thought their scores were unduly low considering their comments. Yeah, I did tell a judge that – and that I was thrilled to be a double finalist in that contest too. Won in RS and Contemporary with books 1 & 2 in my series. They might not have become a fan but maybe, just maybe, they became a better, more helpful judge.

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  19. Congratulations, my friend!! Nicely done. I remember last year when you thought you were not going to win, and you did!!!! Cheering for you this year.
    Maria Elena

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Yes, my friend, you had more confidence that I would win than I did considering the other finalists who had stronger track records with prior GH finals, agents, & a contract. Appreciate the cheerleading support. Will I see you & Victoria in San Diego?

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  20. Having had the pleasure of reading some of your work, I can vouch that every success you’ve had is much deserved! Will be cheering you on again this year!!!
    ~Roxann~

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Roxann, and I so appreciate your feedback and friendship and cheering. Can picture you watching the live stream with cupcakes and diet Coke, though I wish you were going to be there with me & Becke.

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  21. So happy for you, Tracy! Wish I could be there to shout and hoot when they call your name!!

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Diana, Appreciate your confidence. So are you able to get the live stream while on your safari? 😉 Hate you won’t be there to chug wine and go to dinners. You are part of what made being a GH finalist so special. The friendships are more meaningful than a necklace. Hugs!

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  22. Michele Arris says:

    Tracy, great post. I really enjoyed reading about your writing journey. Can’t wait to see you in San Diego and to see which dress was the lucky winner this year💃🏽. Thank you for sharing a part of your wonderful story with us.

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Michele, (hint) you picked the right dancing gal. At least I think that’s the dress I’m wearing. And at the risk of repeating what I just said to Diana, YOU are a huge part of the best thing about being a GH finalist. Love you and am so glad the contest brought us together. That my friend, is THE win.

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  23. Sara Portman says:

    Congratulations again on your double final and can’t wait for San Diego! I echo all the comments here that you are destined to be ineligible come next year’s deadline!

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Can’t wait for the huge Dragonfly reunion in San Diego and excited to be rooming with you and Arlene. Loving all the encouragement (yeah, maybe a little pressure too) regarding not being eligible again. I know my time will come. I have a great agent working with me and the new manuscript hit her in box today.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hugs!

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  24. Elle Mason says:

    Love that you shared your contest experiences. And I couldn’t be happier to hear you are up for a few more wins at that! I’m confident, we won’t be seeing you as a finalist next year. Time to go for RITA!

    My worst contest story? I don’t really have one. The crit I’ve received has only helped me make my writing stronger.

    And the best? Being a Golden Heart finalist last year. The sisterhood we’ve created is beyond special to me. Viva the dragonflies!

    *Can’t wait to see your dress (and special purse…haha)on awards night. Wish I could be there in person.

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Elle, that is the great thing about contests, and I am so glad you’ve had good experiences getting feedback to improve.

      You’re a delight, but, ah, I know what purse you’re talking about and it ain’t happening. No need to buy and send it to me either. LOL

      Viva la Dragonfly sisterhood. We’ll see you in Orlando or maybe at a writing retreat.

      0
  25. Hi Tracy, congratulations on your double final! Three manuscripts and three finals is pretty impressive. I’m like you and entered the Golden Heart with only a few minutes to spare. Thrilled we both did.

    Glad to learn you’ve narrowed the dress choice down to three, though I know that number might change. You’ll look lovely in whichever one you choose. Hugs!

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      It is thanks to the Dragonflies that I entered the 2nd one at all. When “The Call” came in, I was waiting to hear which manuscript. Was not expecting it when she so casually said, “Oh, and you’re a double finalist.” It’s a good thing I’d pulled the car over and parked in my friend’s neighborhood when I heard that.

      Okay, so I looked at dresses online last week after one of the 2016 GH gals was “helpful” in sharing a site to check. Happy to say I didn’t order any. I think I’m good.

      0
  26. Tracy, your story shows how dedication, humility and perseverance pays off!

    I’ve never been too much of a contest queen/whore. Thankfully I’ve had great crit partners along the way who have provided sound and insightful feedback.

    Though I’ll say that when I’m starting a book I’ll enter a few contests to get a broader range of feedback. I find it ironically funny when one or two say one thing, then one or two say the opposite. That’s when I go with my gut and trust my crit partners. 🙂

    Can’t wait to see your fashion show in San Diego! I’ll be cheering you on!

    Hugs, Pris

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Y’all do know I’m not changing gowns between categories, right? LOL I may be overdressed at the Daphne’s so I get to wear two though.

      While I was afraid of “overdoing” it entering contests, I hear of people entering a dozen and think – “Okay, I’m not so bad.” And with latest WIP, that “is it working” feedback is why I entered it in Orange Rose last year. Winning in RS told me it was and I even got a request (my first) from a final round judge. Course I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’ve entered it in a few more contests now to get the high of finaling. 😀

      Look forward to seeing you in San Diego for sure! You’re friendship is a big blessing coming out of finaling last year. Hugs!

      0
  27. Nancy Coiner says:

    Great story, Tracy, and I can’t wait until your books start coming out! Not only do I want to read them, but I want them for my daughter-in-law, who was did helicopter maintainance in Iraq! You looked stunning last year up there on stage, being given a hug by Queen Nora herself — I’m sure the new dresses will be at least as gorgeous!

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Nancy,
      I didn’t know that about your DIL! What unit what she with? What aircraft? I get kinda excited about Army aircraft. Tell her thanks for her service.
      Thanks for the compliments. The green dress did coordinate with Queen Nora’s red – whew! I so wanted red myself. And squee–to be able to brag that Nora “Freakin'” Roberts was waiting backstage for me. She was so gracious and friendly too.

      0
  28. Maria Powers says:

    So happy for you Tracy! Happier still to have shared the 2015 experience with you.

    The only thing I will say about contests, is that I’ve never finaled in any contest but the Golden Heart. When I get three judges I always have two that love it and one that hates it and me and thinks that I cannot write at all to the point that the two who love it, give me top scores for grammar and the one who hates it gives me low scores and recommends that I take remedial grammar courses. I learned early on that my voice and vision are very strong and many people love it but the people who don’t, really don’t.

    Judging, requests, offers are all completely subjective. Find your audience. Find your people. The only failure is quitting.

    I can’t wait to see you in San Diego~

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Maria, good thing with agents and editors, it only takes ONE to love your voice and story and be a match. But did I mention Contest Queen Tip – enter contests with 3 (or more) first round judges where they drop the lowest score.

      Agree 114% that only failure is quitting. (The 114% is quirky character trait from book 3.)

      Looking forward to seeing you in San Diego, too! Wish all our Dragonfly sisters could be there.

      1+
  29. Carrie Padgett says:

    Wow, Tracy! Great tale of persistence and hard work!
    My best contest news is (of course) a 2014 GH final. The –maybe not the worst, but definitely head-scratching moment– came in judges feedback. One said, “love the heroine and her job. Really fresh and different.” The next judge said, “hate that heroine and her job. It’s way overdone. Do better, be fresh and original.” After I reread both to be sure I didn’t misunderstand, I just shrugged and moved on. Didn’t change the heroine though. I’m looking forward to San Diego, Tracy. Good luck!

    1+
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Carrie, Thanks for stopping by. Definitely been hard work — I was a business major and had to relearn lots of grammar rules and that commas are my friends. Still learning as I know I do not know it all. Just blessed with an overactive imagination and gift of storytelling.

      That polar opposite feedback can be frustrating. If something doesn’t feel right, I won’t change. I look for more than one person to say “this doesn’t work for me” before I’ll revise. It could be that judge just read a book with similarities so it didn’t feel fresh and different to her. But, in this business, are there any ideas or occupations that are totally original left? Sounds like you’ve managed to tell a great story in a great way.

      See you in San Diego!

      0
  30. Congratulations, Tracy! I’ll be cheering you on from home this year, but hopefully I will see you at Nationals next year. One of my favorite memories of you is sitting with you last year at the RITA/Golden Heart awards ceremony and you brining brownies for us to snack on. Good luck this year!

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Ah, yes, my famous “Freakin’ Awesome Brownies.” Sent in dozens of military care packages and happily shared with my Dragonfly sisters since I was a little distraught they weren’t serving us dessert at the awards. No NYC cheesecake – just not fair. I am thrilled with your success and look forward to seeing you at a future RWA or event and will miss you this year. You were such a great planner with that dinner and showing us the sights. I just get people lost with my being directionally challenged.

      0
  31. Hey Tracy,

    Congrats again! The books (and I love writing plural, here) sound wonderful. Looking forward to seeing you in San Diego.

    As I mentioned to Mermaids, I’m taking a hiatus on contests, but I love them. GH final is the best (GH win was good, too:), but the best thing about contests is feedback. Most judges are so committed to providing their best possible insights to whatever work they are judging. I am judge coordinator for WRW’s Marlene, and each year I am floored by the work the volunteer judges put into a contest. So, yes. I do enjoy a contest!

    Best of luck in 2016 GH!

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Denny, I can’t wait until my books – plural – are out there. 🙂 Understand the hiatus. I haven’t entered last year’s GH winner in anything else – ’cause it won the GH. But several months of no contests was hard, so I put the new manuscript out in a few because I know I get too close to my story and characters and can miss things.

      I applaud all the judges who volunteer and give so much time to read and comment and the people that coordinate contests to give writers the opportunity to enter and learn. It’s a real plus of RWA.

      See you in San Diego!

      0
  32. Melonie says:

    Hey Tracy, those are some serious credentials you’re racking up and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing your Bad Karma boys (and girls) on the shelves soon. My years of coaching speech team have helped prepare me to take contest feedback with a grain of salt (salt that still stings in the wound though). There are so many factors outside the writer’s control, so many subjective elements that may not even have anything to do with your writing that can affect your score (the judge had a really crappy day, or the judge hates “fill-in-the-blank” – so I look for what is consistent, and chuck the rest. What bothers me most are point grinches…a judge who will write “I loved this!” and then give my entry a 6 out of 10 or something. Whaaa?

    Looking forward to swimming in all conference fun with you and our fellow Mermaids next month!

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Melonie, credentials are nice and saying I’m a GH finalist carried more clout that I even imagined and helped me find the right match with an agent. You are SO right. Look for feedback that is consistent. Everything is just one person’s opinion. Doesn’t have to be right — or wrong. Just their opinion.

      Yes, there are those judges who can’t find it in their heart to give a perfect score in a category and justify it with – I caught 3 comma errors in your 30 page entry. Sorry, I’ll never be perfect, I just try my darndest! <– is that spelled right or am I going to get dinged for that?

      0
  33. Marnee Blake says:

    Tracy!! *waves frantically*

    Congrats again, my Dragonfly sister. I’m super excited for you and looking forward to celebrating with you in San Diego.

    My worst contest moment…
    When I finaled in my first contest almost ten years ago, I was super excited to get in front of the final round judges. The author was a very well-known author and I really was hoping she’d give me some good feedback.

    She did give me some feedback. She told me that I should toss my entire plot and that she hated my hero.

    I was heartbroken. Honestly, thinking back from so many years now, I’ll admit she was probably right. But, then, I was devastated.

    It worked out in the end, though. 🙂

    Can’t wait to see you in San Diego!!

    2+
  34. Tracy Brody says:

    Waving madly back at you, Marnee! I’ll be whooping and hollering for you in the RITAs. I mean, WOW!!

    Ouch. Can hurt to hear. I still remember my sisters reading my first book (that one that needs a total rewrite now that I know things like POV and GMC and active writing) and one saying she loved the heroine in a particular scene and the other writing that it made her hate my heroine. Funny thing is, I would have expected their reactions to be switched.
    At least you persevered, were willing to look at your work from her viewpoint (maybe down the road) and didn’t let her steal your dream. You go, girlfriend!
    See you in a few weeks. Shall we meet in the elevator again? 😉

    1+
  35. Diane Holiday says:

    Wow! I had no idea you had been in so many contests! Awesome that you have such wins and finals in your resume. I loved the blurbs on your books and can see why you are in the Golden Heart finals. Can’t wait to meet you in person. Mermaids forever!
    Diane Holiday

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Diane, I have a number of wins in well respected contests, but still shooting for the grand prize – seeing my babies in print.
      Thanks for saying you love my blurbs. I’d rather write a full-length novel than a synopsis or blurb!

      Can’t wait to meet you too!

      0
  36. Tracy, I loved reading about your contest experiences. And after reading your blurbs, I can’t wait to read these stories. They sound awesome!

    After winning a Maggie in 2015, a friend in my local chapter insisted I enter the GH. Although I won the Maggie with a different story, it gave me the courage to enter.

    Looking forward to meeting in person in SD!

    2+
  37. Tracy Brody says:

    Carrie, I just hope you’ll think they are as awesome as they sound. 😉 Great to have friends that encourage you to take the leap and have it turn out so well.

    Look forward to meeting you in less than 4 weeks.

    1+
  38. Tracy, I always love hearing great contest stories, especially about the Golden Heart. I tend to be particular about the contests I enter, too. I’m so thrilled to final in the GH again with you this year and… see you in SD!!

    1+
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Tosha, it is great to have so many Dragonflies also in this Mermaid group! Just shows our writing is getting even stronger and soon we’ll be bumped out of eligibility and onto the shelves and e-readers! Can I get an amen!
      Hugs! See you soon!

      0
  39. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks so much for being with us today, Tracy! I love hearing all the cringe-worthy contest stories….(shared suffering is suffering cut in half, or something like that).

    I’ll stop back in the morning to announce your two winners!

    0
  40. Great contest stories! Thanks for sharing Congratulations for double finaling. Can’t wait to see you in SD!

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Thanks for stopping in Diana! Trust me, I did hold back on some of the stories – good and bad. I’ve had a few judges I’ve “threatened” to hug or kiss on the cheek for their kind words or taking time to help me understand their input to help me. I love when judges who like my writing out themselves after I write thank you notes. While typically anonymous, it’s cool to become asquainted – even friends.

      1+
  41. Jeanne says:

    I entered Demons Don’t in 5 contests last year. I finaled in all of them but that was only because they threw out the lowest score. Most people loved the humor and my hapless, demon hero but there was always at least one who was like “yeah, this is just too weird.” And that’s okay. Part of my contest takeaway was realizng not everyone is my audience. Good luck on July 16th. I’m looking forward to bragging that I know the first triple GH winner!

    2+
  42. Tracy Brody says:

    Jeanne – You get it. We’re never going to appeal to everyone – and that is okay!!
    No point making yourself crazy or detract from your writing and voice making it generic enough to not get that “this isn’t for me” response from some.
    Triple winner? Well, I’d have to make earrings out of the other two necklaces then. I’m just thrilled that the judges loved by other babies and I get to enjoy this experience again with some of the same people and a new mix of new and awesome ladies.

    0
  43. Nicole Hohmann says:

    Hi Tracy,
    So impressed by your triple GH nominations for all your manuscripts. Wow. And no wonder, they sound intriguing and fun. Good luck and can’t wait to meet you in person!
    Nicole

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Thanks, Nicole. I admit I’m pumped about all three being Golden Heart finalists – but it didn’t happen overnight. I’m still learning and it’s taken time to get confident in my voice. Looking forward to meeting you in person too!

      0
  44. Hi Tracy!

    So sorry I missed the party yesterday! A very busy day for me.

    I LOVE action-filled romantic suspense, and it sounds like I’d gobble up your series (and your collage of the Bad Karma team—YUM!).

    My most happy-dance-inducing contest comment was being compared to Julie Garwood. I love her medieval historicals and when I wrote my own historical set in the Highlands, her work was my inspiration.

    The worst comment was also laughable, so it gave me a good story to tell my writing friends. I tend to write funny, and i had one judge tell me that I needed to revise because a certain part in my book was coming across as funny and historicals weren’t supposed to be funny. Yup. That happened.

    The last thing I want to say is that I agree how subjective contests can be. I judged the contemporary category this year, and there was one manuscript I absolutely ADORED that didn’t make it. What? How could everyone not have found it as hilarious as I did? Maybe someone figured contemporaries weren’t supposed to be funny…

    I’m soooo looking forward to seeing you in San Diego!!

    0
    • Tracy Brody says:

      Alison, OOooh! That comparison to a great author you love would be worth doing a happy dance.

      Historicals can’t be funny? What the heck? I don’t think a sense of humor is a modern invention. I think all books should have humor and some suspense. <– said by the writer who likes to say "God gave me a sense of humor, so I figure use it or lose it."

      I had one I judged this year I thought would final that didn't too. But I had last year's GH manuscript win in 4 contests and not even final in 3 others. Luck of the draw in getting judges that connect with your story — especially if they judge a genre they don't read in. I found overall the entries I had this year were the strongest batch in all the years I judged. Good luck for me on reading or maybe a sign of how great the RWA community is in helping each other grow and excel.

      1+
  45. Elisa Beatty says:

    And the two contest winners are Ness Harper and Sara Portman!

    I’ll put Tracy in touch with both of you! Congrats!

    1+
  46. Tracy Brody says:

    Congratulations, Ness & Sara!

    The support and comments from everyone who stopped by made me feel like a winner as well.

    HUGE thanks to Elisa for her fabulous job hosting and to the Ruby’s for the opportunity to mix and mingle and share stories!

    1+

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