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We’ll Get ‘Em Next Year, a Day for Consolation (and Prizes!)

Nooooooooooooo!!!! How did this happen? How did the universe get things so WRONNNNG???!!

Your manuscript is a marvel: everyone who reads it laughs and weeps and begs for the sequel, your psychic aunt’s been dreaming of the title atop the NYT Bestseller List, and even your literary-snob best friend read it in one big gulp and says it’s the best thing she’s read in years. It had Golden Heart finalist written all freakin’ OVER it.

But the phone didn’t ring on March 26.

!@%#*&!!!!!!

Well. we’re here for you today with shoulders to cry on and free rein to rant and rave and cry and scream and curse and do whatever else you have to do to let it allllll out, baby!

(If a little Chumbawumba would help, click here.)

We’ve also got chocolate and other awesome prizes because we know how bummed out you are, and we love you.

We’re also here to remind you of what a crapshoot the Golden Heart is.

Out of more than a thousand manuscripts entered, only 10% can final. If you’ve been hanging with the Rubies for awhile, you’ve heard us talk repeatedly , about how many manuscripts get stuck in the bottom quarter of GH scoring one year, then go on to final the next year—and even win. And also plenty of manuscripts final one year, then don’t get out of the bottom quarter the next.

It’s called subjectivity, and there’s no avoiding it. (Check out two-time Golden Heart winner Laurie Kellogg‘s words of wisdom on this subject here).

Remember, four of your five judges could LOVE your story, but one says “meh,” and you’re out of the finals. This is hardly a failure: in real life, having four of five readers loving your book would have you outselling Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and the Twilight books combined.

And MOST published romance writers with brilliant, best-selling careers NEVER, EVER finaled in the Golden Heart at all. (Some, like Allison Brennan, even admit they tried—and failed. Yeah, that really hurt our Allison. I’m sure she still weeps over it every day.)

The Golden Heart is a great launch pad—but it’s not the only one.

Hey, just look at the list of 2012 Rita nominations. Lots of great books on there. But did you see Julia Quinn? Did you see Kristan Higgins? Victoria Dahl? Lisa Kleypas? Meredith Duran? Jill Shalvis? Gena Showalter? Julie James? Marjorie Liu? NORA freakin’ ROBERTS?

Does that mean their books this year sucked, and they should give up trying to be authors and toss their laptops out the window and take up a career in dry cleaning instead? Um, no. Of course not. Those writers and their books from last year are truly awesome. (Have you read Kristan Higgins’ Until There Was You?? Sooooo good. Soooooooooo good.) It’s just the way the voting goes sometimes.

Sing along with Gloria Gaynor: “I WILL SURVIVE!”

More than anything today, we’re here to kick your butt and say SUCK IT UP NOW, SWEETHEART, because there’s one way and one way only to get yourself published. And it’s NOT the Golden Heart, or any other prize or commendation you may win. It’s BICHOK: butt in chair, hands on keyboard.

Get writing. Keep submitting to publishers. No excuses.

Do that, and your day will come. We’re the Rubies, and we know what we’re talking about!

Leave a comment below (as mopey or furious or self-pitying as you like, as long as you swear to commit to a concrete writing goal for afterwards) and be in the running for one of these spirit-lifting prizes, which we’ll be awarding to random commenters throughout the day:

-A copy of The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Kantor (donated by Amanda Brice, author of Codename: Dancer and Pointe of No Return).

-a $10 Barnes and Noble e-gift card (donated by Ruby Sister Kate Parker)

-a copy of Kelly Fitzpatrick‘s Dodging Cupid

-a query letter critique from Ruby Sister Rita Henuber, author of Under Fire

-a critique by Cynthia Justlin (author of  Her Own Best Enemy and Intrusion) of the 1st 25 pages of a manuscript (any genre but erotica)

-winner’s choice of any of Vivi Andrews’ books (check ’em out at viviandrews.com)

-a box of chocolates and a critique of 1st three chapters and synopsis (RS or Historical) by Diana Layne, author of The Good Daughter.

-critique of the 1st 25 pages of any genre by Laurie Kellogg, author of The Memory of You (which hit #383 on the Paid list in the Kindle Store today!!!).

-a $15 Starbucks gift card and winner’s choice of one of Liz Talley‘s books.

-a 50-page critique by Jamie Michele, plus an e-copy of Alexandra Solokoff’s Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Writers II.

-choice of any of the following books by Lindsey Brookes: Hero of Her Heart, Capturing the Cowboy’s Heart, or A Little Bit of Sugar (PDF download).

-choice of any erotic romance listed on Amazon by McKenna Chase (PDF download).

-Box of chocolates from See’s Candies (donated by Elisa Beatty).

Pretty sweet, eh? Remember, we love you! Keep working, and you’re going to make it!!! We’re always here to help!

171 responses to “We’ll Get ‘Em Next Year, a Day for Consolation (and Prizes!)”

  1. Yeah, I know. I’m up too late again. The graphics are awesome, Elisa.

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  2. Logically, I hear you about the GH (and any contest, really) being a crapshoot. That doesn’t make it hurt any less.

    NOT finaling this year after doing it last year sucked — big time — and had me questioning … well, pretty much everything.

    But thanks to an email from my CP and encouragement from no less than the wonderful (and wonderfully funny) Heidi Betts, I’m getting over my pity party for one and getting back down to work.

    Still trying to rewrite my ending so I can submit this new, improved story and get on with improving some of my other ones.

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    • You can do it Arlene! I imagine that does have its own brand of pain–to not repeat and to have all those questions come up. Chase them away! Here’s to you being ineligible next year 😉 You can do it!!!!

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    • You can do it, Arlene. Go for that ineligibility!

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    • Hope Ramsay says:

      Arlene,

      I firmly believe that this is all a learning process. You keep those hands on the keyboard, now you hear? The contests are fun, but in the end they are meaningless. The only thing that counts is writing a great book and seeing it into the hands of the readers. The five people who judged your book, while I’m sure they are very nice aspiring or published authors, are not in a position to buy your book. Only an editor is, and the fastest way to an editor’s desk is to finish the book, submit it around, and pitch it at ever conference you can afford to attend.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I soooo hear you about the logic-not-taking-away-the-hurt thing.

      I’ll say right up front here that the entry that finaled for me this year DID NOT FINAL THE PREVIOUS TWO YEARS.

      Last year I did the whole “oh, dear, am I not good enough, should I quit writing?” thing (for a few days anyway), but I got back in the saddle, did some more revising (and got busy with new projects). Am I a better writer this year? Well, in some ways, just because I’ve been working hard. But I also got lucky.

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    • {{Hugs}} Arlene. We’ll commiserate at Starbucks soon. 🙂 That self-doubt part of the writer’s cycle sucks. I’m trying to view it as “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” and I’ll come through this brick wall with a new attitude and renewed energy. (And now I’m picturing the big Kool-Aid guy bursting through a wall. Great. LOL)

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    • Keep going girl. You are quite talented!!!

      You will get pub’d.

      Now get back to work. I’m waiting for some pages to read. *G*

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    • Arlene, the first time I finaled I didn’t even know the call date and was in Dubai for horse races. When the second book I wrote finaled the next year, I began to think the GH was a pretty easy thing to do. Not! Then the third year I didn’t final I was so disappointed, I sat down and wrote a third book between April and July–probably my best one yet.

      If I had been a finalist that year, I doubt I would have even started a new book. Finaling is such a high that it’s hard to think about anything but all the stuff that goes with it.

      But you now have a bonus three months to write! And that’s what’s so important–putting out good books. Listen to Gloria Gaynor a few more times and then do what you already know you’re good at–writing.

      It takes a good book to final in the GH but not all good books will final.

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    • Aw, Arlene, I hear you, hon. That has to hurt, but I have to say, it doesn’t mean anything. Period. Not about your writing. Not about how well you will do in the long run. Not about your career. You are hanging in there and that is what will make you successful.

      Big hugs, you! ~D~

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    • Thanks, everyone. I’m feeling MUCH better today. Now that I’m done with the pity party, I’m at Starbucks, working away.

      Jenn, those pages WILL be on their way.

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    • Arlene, I didn’t get a call either. I got two in 2004, and then one in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, & 2011 each. But I entered in 2005, 2008, and this year, and NOTHING. There’s so much luck involved, you can’t let your ego get tangled up in it.

      And here’s the proof that not getting a call means nothing about your ability as a writer:

      My book hit #31 on Amazon’s Top 100 Contemporary Romances yesterday. It’s up to 62 now, but that’s still not too shabby for a author who DIDN’T get a call from RWA on Monday.

      You know you’re a good writer, so go write!

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  3. Awesome post Elisa! I think the GH let down gets easier each year–this was my fifth year trying. The first year was the hardest in terms of picking myself up from. I’m really curious to see my scores this year though, because for one of my two entries it was try number four (hope springs eternal). The first year, I was very close to finaling. The second, with ZERO MS changes, I was in the bottom quarter. The third try landed back in the middle of the pack. I sent it out one last time this year b/c I revised it for a series of full requests that didn’t pan out.

    But onwards. My goal for next year to either be ineligible or to have three new entries. This year’s disappointment is really tempered by the great feeling of having completed another WIP’s draft between the GH close and now. I’ve also recently revised my other GH entry after taking a few months off from it. And honestly, I see now why it didn’t final. I’ve wanted a GH final since I learned about the contest in 2005, and I’m not going to give up hope that 2013 may be my year. I want this so badly. But adding the “or ineligible” part helps too. Because that’s what REALLY matters–selling books. And luckily, the same thing gets me closer to both goals: opening the WIP every darn day. Doing *something* related to writing every darn day. Just. Keep. Writing.

    If the GH was anyone’s first try at a contest, I really urge you to think about smaller contests to warm up for next year. Not just because the feedback is awesome, but because it helps you build up a thicker skin. After my first GH contest disappointment, I became a bit of a contest junkie, but I think seeing how random a contest final can be has helped me over the years to gain some perspective. Just. Keep. Writing.

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    • Hope Ramsay says:

      Annabeth,

      I wrote for more than 20 years before making my first sale. And while my first sale came about a year after finaling in the 2009 Golden Heart, the book that made the sale was a perennial Golden Heart loser. (I can now say it’s a RITA loser too). It’s not a good contest book.

      However, not to brag but only to make a point about what is important, this loser sold a four book contract that is about to become a 7 book contract. And this “loser” spent 9 weeks on the Bookscan best seller list so that the words “Bestselling Author” can now be applied in front of my name. 🙂

      Don’t get sucked into the contests. They are fun, and the GH is worthy of the pursuit. But the way to successful PUBLISHING, is to write the book of your heart, make it as good as you possibly can (it will never be perfect) and then submit the heck out of it. My loser of a book that made me a best seller was rejected by all but one of the big New York publishers. And the point is, it only takes one editor to buy your book. To final in the GH you have to impress 5 judges none of whom have the ability to actually purchase your manuscript.

      Keep that in mind.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Thanks, Annabeth, for sharing your experience. Really, truly, there are LOTS of people who report exactly the same thing with an unrevised manuscript scoring very, very differently in different years.

      Honestly, the GH crapshoot mirrors EVERYTHING about the publishing business. Almost any published writer you talk to can tell you about all the years of rejection letters they had to wade through before they found that ONE editor who grabbed hold of the project.

      No one can survive this business without PATIENCE, TENACITY, and an ability to shrug and say, “Oh, well, this particular judge/agent/editor/reader just didn’t get me…but the next one might.”

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I’m distributing a few of our prizes at about noon using numbers chosen by random.org.

      Annabeth, you’ve won the $10 Barnes and Noble gift card!!

      I’ll pass along your info to the donor later today, and she’ll contact you!

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    • Hugs, Annabeth. I didn’t final either. And I think you are right, the more you enter the GH, the easier the let down gets. *G* I’ve entered for years and haven’t final. In fact, I almost didn’t enter this year but some friends kept telling me that if you don’t play, you can’t win. So I gave it a shot.

      Love your positive attitude and that you have another WIP to cushion the disappointment. Onward and upward.

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  4. Oh and I wanted to add that this is also my fourth year judging GH and I’ve never once had a MS I judged final. And every year, I have at least one MS in the stack that I really, truly believe should final. So take heart when you see the widely varying scores–someone really did *love* your MS and is disappointed along with you. I judged this year and had such a strong group. Was stunned none of them finaled. And I’ll be looking for several to hit the shelves in the next few years as I really wanted to see what happens next–so don’t stop pursuing a story just because you didn’t final!

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    • You know, I thought the same thing. This was my second year judging, and I had a couple of great final-worthy entries. (I even gave one of them a 9, just to make sure my score didn’t knock it out of the running.) I was surprised when none of mine made the list.

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      • Arlene and Annabeth, two of the mss I judged were cracking good entries, so I gave them both 9s. I was so disappointed to see they hadn’t made the finals. When the authors get their scores, I hope they see look at those 9s, know that they were loved, and aim for GH ineligibility. 🙂

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        I had a couple of great ones too, neither of which made the finals.

        Tells you how hard it is to make it through the eye of this particular needle.

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      • Same experience — I judged two excellent GH entries that I gave near-perfect scores, neither of which made the finals. *shakes fist at the East German Judge*

        Either that category was just astoundingly tough this year, or I’d chalk it up to subjectivity. *shakes fist at subjectivity*

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        • Elisa Beatty says:

          Yes…let’s all shake our fists at subjectivity!!

          Though, of course, it’s also subjectivity that ultimately gives writers their devoted fans….so maybe we can also buy subjectivity a drink later.

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    • Gillian says:

      Really good point! I was so surprised that none I judged made the finals. A couple were simply amazing–I hope they keep pursuing publication.

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    • I had two in my panel this year. I gave them 9s, and they are not on the list.

      Last year, I had a finalist on my panel (by a Ruby, it turned out) and one other I felt should have finaled, which I scored accordingly. One made it, the other didn’t.

      It is, indeed, a crapshoot, which makes me doubly thankful to have finaled last year myself.

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  5. Gillian says:

    My dh, Mr. Logic, said “Have you made a list of everything you have accomplished since you started writing? Like a business plan update? This is just a blip.” And yeah, actually writing it out does help. So do lots and lots of writer friends.

    Really want to see my scores now. I entered once and got everything from a 8.7 to 4.3–and the 4.3 person also marked my story Not A Romance. Seriously. They had me going back and re-reading my entry to see if I’d forgotten to include my hero or something. 🙂

    Definitely can’t please everyone all the time. 😉

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    • Hope Ramsay says:

      Ha! Got you beat. I got a 1 on a manuscript I entered one year. I entered it in Paranormal, knowing that it was probably more of a Romantic Elements. But since it was set on an alien world I figured I’d go with Paranormal. So this judge slammed me by giving me a 1. Oddly this 1 put the manuscript in discrepancy judging and the other scores were quite high. This manuscript probably got the best GH score ever, even though I had a 1. It did not final, though, which tells you something about what a crap shoot it all is.

      And that’s one other thing — don’t take your scores seriously. Honestly, after a few years I quit looking at them.

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      • Kate Parker says:

        Hope and I both belong to the WRW, which runs the Marlene contest each year. I entered one of my non-GH finaling historicals this year just to see how it would do. It almost finaled, which is nice since one of the judges told me “This is a thriller, not a romance.” And the lady is right! Sometimes you get a wake-up call in a contest. Too bad we can’t make comments on our GH judged mss.

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        • Kelley Bowen says:

          Didn’t know you guys were in WRW. My new story is a Marlene finalist so I’m considering attending your conference this year…now, I’ve got even more incentive.

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          • Amanda Brice says:

            Congrats on being a Marlene finalist! it’s a very difficult contest to crack!

            (We have several Rubies in WRW. I’m the pres! And besides Kate and Hope, Ruby sisters Sally Eggert, Elise Hayes, and Anne Barton are also members. I hope I’m not forgetting anyone!)

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          • Kelley Bowen says:

            Wow, Amanda. Even more incentive to go! Hope I can make it. I’d love to *actually* meet everyone. 🙂 Kelley

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Gillian, maybe your hero reminded the judge of a rat bastard ex, pushing the book into the horror category? 😉

      Having your book be named a finalist in any writing contest is great validation, but depends on an epic alignment of taste, subjectivity, and luck: which preliminary round judges were randomly selected to read your book? Do they like your voice? Did you use a trope that they love/hate? Are your love scenes too hot, too cold, or just right? Does your runaway enthusiasm for em-dashes annoy them to high heaven?

      It’s a crapshoot, all in the luck of the draw. The piece of the process we have control over is the writing, so let’s get back to it!

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    • Kelley Bowen says:

      Gillian, your DH sounds a bit like mine. It’s great to have the support—even when it’s so darned logical!

      Your comments about going back to see if you’d cut out your hero made me laugh (so thank you.)

      Let’s get ’em next year. 🙂 Kelley

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        It really is amazing what people miss….

        Readers are imperfect. We can’t take it personally.

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        Kelley-you’re the winner of a critique by Cynthia Justlin (author of Her Own Best Enemy and Intrusion) of the 1st 25 pages of a manuscript (any genre but erotica.

        I’ll give her your contact info later today!

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        • Kelley Bowen says:

          Wow, Elisa! Thank you. That’s fantastic news…talk about creating lemonade 🙂 What a fantastic opportunity. Thanks to all of you and to Cynthia! Kelley

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    • Amanda Brice says:

      I finaled in 2008 with PARTY LIKE IT’S 1899. The 1st round judges gave it a 9, a 9, an 8.9, an 8.8…and a 2.5

      Yes, a 2.5. Fortunately it was so far out of the margun of error that it was thrown out and replaced with the average of my other scores, which was another 8.9. So I finaled.

      The next year I entered PARTY again, plus CODENAME: DANCER. I finaled with CODENAME, but not PARTY (which I thought was the better entry).

      After having received such awesome scores from the 1st round judges the year before (and 1 crappy score), PARTY got all “meh” scores that year — averaging right around 6.5. For the exact same manuscript!!!

      Show it just goes to show what a crapshoot it is!

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      • Did you change the title the 2nd year, Amanda. I’ve found a lot of judges are tougher on a manuscript they’ve seen become a finalist before. I don’t think they necessarily do it consciously. I think they simply approach it with a “Let’s see what was so great about this one” attitude. Everyone know when they’ve heard rave reviews about something, they always end up being more critical because they expect great things.

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    • Hubby has a great idea, Gillian! It’s so easy to forget how far we’ve come.

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  6. Hope Ramsay says:

    I think I’m the first published author here who didn’t final in the RITAs this year. I’m not particularly upset. I’m in very good company this year. And, also, it’s important to understand that the RITA nominations are based on the opinions of five other romance writers.

    And while it’s nice to have the admiration of my peers, I’m way more interested in the admiration of my readers. And here’s the thing — readers don’t judge the RITA — and editors don’t judge the first round of the Golden Heart.

    So I suggest that if you didn’t final on Monday, you do what I’m going to do today just as soon as I post this comment — I’m going to refill my coffee cup, sit down at my keyboard. . . and write. I have future readers out there and the only way to find them is to write books they want to read.

    Congratulations to anyone who entered the Golden Heart this year. You have achieved an important milestone — you’ve finished at least one manuscript and you put it out there. Now, rededicate yourself to writing and, more important, to getting your work into the hands of the people who actually have the ability to buy your book — whether they be agents or editors, or directly to readers through indie publishing.

    Readers are the most important thing — always.

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    • Rita Henuber says:

      I didn’t get a nomination either. In Romantic Suspense didn’t expect it. But you only get to enter in the First Book cat once so I entered. I am blown away by the names NOT in the catagory. Zowie.

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      • Tamara Hogan says:

        No nomination here, either, and I honestly didn’t expect one. But a writer has only one opportunity in her entire career to have a book be eligible for RITA’s Best First Book category. Simply entering the contest was an important professional milestone for me.

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      • Me too, Rita. (Or me, neither? LOL) Didn’t get a nomination, and wasn’t overly hopeful, but that First Book category was too tempting to resist. 😉

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    • Amanda Brice says:

      Not that I would have expected to final (of course not!), but I couldn’t even enter the RITA. 🙁

      (And I think you got robbed, btw.)

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        You both got robbed!!!

        Hope because a fabulous book didn’t get the nod (though I know it’s only a matter of time for Hope!!!)

        And Amanda because RWA still hasn’t figure out how to handle e-pubbed books in the Rita. Also a matter of time, no doubt–but frustrating.

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    • Liz Talley says:

      Well, me neither and i entered three! But I knew it was a long shot. When you look at category, the finalists are pretty well known, often reviewed and very much established as tips in their line (withy the exception of one or two) so I don’t feel so bad. Plus, it’s a huge category. I’d love to know how many books were entered in that one. Would probably make me feel even better. I’m good and will be back at it next week. Now, I’m off to the pool!

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    • I think you were ALL robbed.

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  7. Kelley Bowen says:

    Well, lovely ladies, thanks for being here because I confess I’m disappointed. Last year was my first tussle with the GH and though I didn’t final, I got four 8-9 scores. I also got one darn middling score that kicked me to the curb. Because the story has done so well in other contests and with requests, I had real hope this year. Damn all that hope! It made Monday a real heartbreaker for me.

    Of course, the GH isn’t the only road to success, I know, but I love the idea of being part of a GH class. I think the Rubies is such an amazing group, I guess I want to be part of something so special. But who knows? Like Scarlett, maybe my (golden) heart belongs in Atlanta.

    I’m at the beach now (I know, don’t feel too sad for me) but when I get back to the Burgh, I’m going to recommit. ‘Til then, I’ll be clicking my flip flops thinking about how tomorrow really is another day.

    In happier news, I judged a finalist this year so I’ll be cheering the entry and author on as she chases a win! It was a great story.

    And congrats again to everyone who finaled (GH and Ritas)…Enjoy every, every minute. And everyone else, let’s get ’em next year 😉
    Kelley

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Third time’s the charm, Kelley!!

      And if you’re doing well in contests generally, you’re definitely on to something!!

      Get out there submitting and things will move for you!

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      • Kelley Bowen says:

        Third time’s a charm…I’ll have to remember that. Thanks, Elisa, you’re a doll.

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    • Kelley, I hear you on the disappointment. It truly sucks. And I think I entered 3 or 4 years before I finaled. Keep writing and you’ll get to where you’re supposed to be…with or without a GH group. You’ve always got us! 🙂

      I love your attitude about just getting back in there and getting to work, and supporting the people who finaled, because while this year’s GH isn’t a part of your journey, there are other parts to enjoy…

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      • Kelley Bowen says:

        Anne Marie, that’s one of the sweetest comments I’ve heard today—thank you, and it IS great to be a Ruby Loyalist. You ladies are lovely.

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    • Hugs on not finalling, I was right there with you. But don’t let it get you down. I’ve read some of your stuff. You are VERY talented. Just keep going and following your dreams. You’ll get there. *G*

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    • ((((hug)))) I want to be part of a “class” too. So darn badly. Here’s to hoping we’re both part of the 2013 class. Or ineligible. PAN is a pretty nifty group to get to join too 😛

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    • You show ’em all and go sell that book, Kelley. Four high eights and nines says it’s probably a damn good read.

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      • Kelley Bowen says:

        Thanks, Laurie. It means a lot to hear you say that. Truly. I’m gonna hit that darn keyboard pretty hard when I get back home. ‘Til then, thanks for the words of encouragement. And congrats on the AWESOME sales figures. I’m looking forward to getting your next story on my Kindle soon. Kelley

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  8. Kate Parker says:

    Today is the second day until next year’s Golden Heart finalists are announced. That makes today a really good time to decide if you’re going to enter next year, or if you want to work on being ineligible, or both. And that means getting back into the chair, hands on the home row, and beginning again. Repeat this process tomorrow, and the next day, and sooner or later you’ll make your goal.

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  9. I just wanted to chime in. This is my third year entering the contest with this manuscript. First year, top quarter. Second year, bottom half. This year, finaled. And the manuscript I think is stronger didn’t final.

    A friend who judges for a different contest (different genre) told me a couple of years ago something that really stuck: if you final, it means something, because that many readers thought highly of your writing. If you don’t final, it really doesn’t mean much. Really really doesn’t. How many times have you heard a good friend, someone whose judgment you respect, say she didn’t like a book you loved? Happens. All. The. Time. All it means is that you didn’t get a mix of judges that were in sync with your work.

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    • Rita Henuber says:

      EGG ZACKERLY! Remember this is the opinion of five people.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Yes, yes, yes, Talia!!!

      Given how hard it is to please FIVE picky romance readers, I do think manuscripts that final must be really, really strong.

      But it’s also quite possible that equally strong or even stronger manuscript just didn’t luck out this year.

      Re-submit!!!!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Hi, Talia!

      I’m distributing some of the prizes around noon using numbers chosen by random.org.

      You’re the winner of a copy of Kelly Fitzpatrick‘s Dodging Cupid. Kelly’s writing would lift anyone’s spirits!

      I’ll be passing along your contact info to her later today!

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  10. You guys are truly the best! Such a great support for the sisterhood of writers. I honestly was not disappointed because you know what? For the first time, I submitted my MS to the contest. And that to me was a win! Don’t know where 2012 will take me. But if I’m still unpublished by the deadline, I’m entering again. That’s for sure! Thanks again, Rubies!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Finishing a book is a HUGE accomplishment. It’s THE accomplishment.

      Now jump on to the next one, and keep going! That’s the only true road to publication.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Congrats, Magda!

      You’re the winner of your choice of any of the following books by Lindsey Brookes: Hero of Her Heart, Capturing the Cowboy’s Heart, or A Little Bit of Sugar (PDF download).

      I’ll put Lindsey in touch with you.

      0
  11. Good morning, Rubies and Ruby Fans! I always take a week’s vacation around the day of the calls so I can either celebrate or mourn without having the stress of dealing with the day job. I finaled the first two years I entered and have not finaled the last three. And two of those years I had a judge give me a 5 which is THE most effective way to knock an entry out of the running.

    So, now that I have consumed lots of chocolate (and and entire jumbo barbecue sandwich from the Hog Rock Cafe!) I am ready to gird my loins and finish my current manuscript, query the heck out of it and start my next book. I hope to have either made myself ineligible for next year by selling a book OR I plan to have two NEW books to enter. Masochistic? Perhaps. Stubborn? You bet your ruby slippers, I am! Quitting? Not on your life!

    I’ve been watching some inspiration films since Monday afternoon. This morning I’m watching 300. (which is inspiring in more ways than one. Two words. Gerard Butler!)

    So my admonishment to myself and all of my fellow non-finalists?

    WRITERS !!! COME BACK WITH YOUR NEXT BOOK! OR ON IT !!!

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  12. Anna says:

    First year entering and no final. Not a shocker. This was the first contest I’ve entered in years. I took a long break from contests because I was getting such weird feedback and it wasn’t helping me grow and strengthen my writing. One judge would give me top marks and the second would give me middling and it would go to a discrepancy judge who would give me middling marks. None of the criticism ever overlapped. It was very confusing.

    Not the end of the world. I’ll give the GH one more year if I’m still eligible by the time deadline rolls around this year (because I have great CPs now and I have so many good things in the cooker that *I* am excited about), but after that, I’m well and truly done. It’s a lot of money for what it is (a total crapshoot) and there are many other roads to publication. It would be nice to final, of course, I’d be super happy. Also, you don’t get much back for the money. Just a number! As a judge, I love being able to give a single number and not spend a lot more time writing out my thoughts on how and why I arrived at that score. As an entrant, I kind of wish I could have those thoughts.

    One of the things I have to work on this year is polishing and revising. I have a bad tendency to finish something and move onto the next thing I’m excited about. I don’t know why, but i feel outright guilty when I’m not producing *new* material. What is with that? New isn’t query-able. Polished and strong is.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Great CPs are worth their weight in gold!

      And you’re absolutely right that contests will only get you so far. Work on that polishing!

      0
    • I’m taking Margie Lawson’s Deep editing course right now and it’s really changed my approach to editing. I took a year off from the GH circus a few years back, and I used that $$ to enter a smaller contest with much better feedback and to take two online courses. Your plan sounds great.

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  13. Totally making me laugh out loud (which I need). But seriously, I was proud of myself for taking the leap and entering the RWA GH the first time. But now that I have put my feet in the water – you bet I’ll be back next year – and who knows – maybe even in the RITAs – although that would be a fast climb since I’m pre-published. But never know, right! Again, thanks for all the good humor here – it does help:).

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  14. I didn’t final in the GH–again. After so many years of not finalling, I must say that I wasn’t crushed. I kinda of expected it, but a little part hoped this year might be different. It helped to be a few ms’s away from it.

    BUT yesterday I was notified that my non-finallng GH entry was chosen by Harlequin as one of their five finalists for the “So You Think You Can Write” Contest.

    So when God closes a door, he opens a window. Don’t give up on your dreams or your stories. Sometimes your dream is just waiting for you right around the corner.

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    • GREAT news on the So You Think You Can Write finals, Jennifer!!! So excited for you! And as my CP, Kat Cantrell, won SYTYCW this year, I know awesome things come of out it! Good luck to you!

      0
    • Rita Henuber says:

      I am jumping up and down cheering for you. Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful.

      0
    • That’s my super-talented CP.

      I honestly think I wouldn’t have been quite so disappointed had that stupid “blocked” call not gotten my hopes up after I’d resigned myself to not finaling this year.

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    • Amanda Brice says:

      Whoohoo! Kat Cantrell (a regular Ruby reader) won SYTYCW this year and sold two books as a result! So good luck!

      0
      • I’m thrilled for Kat. And there are a couple of other ladies who sold via the SYTYCW contest and one of them is Ami Weaver, who is a friend of mine. Am so happy for her. And she finalled in the GH. The girl is on fire. *G*

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    • SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      This is your year. I can feel it. You’ll be ineligible very, very soon.

      I agree–I’ve been at this for so long, I wasn’t surprised not to final. But you are such an inspiration to me. I just keep going. Keep tilting at the windmill.

      YOU ARE AWESOME!

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    • Kelley Bowen says:

      Fantastic, fantastic news!!! You know my fingers will be crossed for you….it’s coming your way…I’m sure of it!
      Kelley

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      • Thank you! I’ll definitely take any and all luck. I’m actually still in shock. My life long dream has been to become a HQ author and at last I took a leap forward. Now I can only hope to write up to their standards.

        Still have my fingers crossed for your sub’s to HQ. You’ll have to drop me a line when you get back to the Burgh and let me know how it’s going.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      So fabulous, Jennifer!!

      You are definitely on the verge!!

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  15. Fantastic post, Elisa!!!! I love your no excuses attitude. BICHOK indeed!!!!

    As a huge fan of Galaxy Quest, my advice to everyone is:

    NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER!

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  16. Hugs and commiserations to all those who waited for a call and didn’t get one. Give yourself a couple days to brood and then get back to writing. The best way to conquer the blues is to immerse yourself in another story! Make those GH judges sorry that they didn’t pick you!

    I don’t know. The revenge angle always worked for me. LOL. Maybe I’m just vindictive like that. 🙂

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  17. JM Kelley says:

    I didn’t final in the GH list. Waaaaaah. There. My official pout has been recorded;)

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  18. That great list you made of books that didn’t make the finals? I could add ten—in my category alone! As thankful and excited as I am that my book made it, I know darn well that I got very, very lucky, and made a hit with the judges that I got. (Well that and Sherry Thomas didn’t have a book come out in 2011- Whew.) But my favorite book of 2011, Julie Anne Long’s “WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE” wasn’t there. And as a reader that deeply disappointed me. Same with Meredith Duran, Suzanne Enoch …. oh, the list goes on and on.

    So I heartily agree with Elisa’s sentiments and advice. The real prize is that finished manuscript. If you were waiting for some GH news to do something with it, think again. You can either work on and make better, or you can be sending out to editors. I’m a firm believer than no manuscript should sit under the bed. If you’ve developed your craft since you first wrote it, take it out and spiff it up. Then send it off.

    But keep writing!!!

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    • Amanda Brice says:

      There are tons of great books that didn’t make the cut. Gwen Hayes’ FALLING UNDER (in YA), C.C. Hunter’s BORN AT MIDNIGHT (in YA), Kristen Painter’s House of Comarre trilogy…the list goes on.

      Not to mention Jeannie Lin’s THE DRAGON AND THE PEARL, any of Liz Talley’s Supers, Hope Ramsay’s Last Chance books…

      To say nothing of the countless wonderful indie books that aren’t even eligible.

      It’s such a crapshoot. But I’m so glad you finaled!!!!!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, gosh yes–Julie Anne Long!!

      Though I do love every book on that list!!!

      0
  19. Marcie R says:

    I didn’t get to read all the comments but here is my opinion – and no I didn’t enter because contests are not for me – but I’ve heard editors say that winning the GH or finalling is great, but doing either does not guarantee a sell.
    I’ve seen names listed a few times over the years and have yet to see a pubbed book by that person.
    My theory is sure it’s great to enter and get other’s opinions on your story, but in the end it won’t get you sold.

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  20. Carla says:

    Okay, I have to know. Did Hope Ramsay write the part to the left of the Gloria Gaynor pic? It sounds so like her. 🙂

    Me, I’m okay this year. In years past I’ve collapsed into a quivering heap whose arm reaches up just far enough to snag the bottle of tequila off the kitchen counter. This year, one of my friends finaled and she’s an awesome person (and a fantabulous writer) who truly deserves good things to come to her, so I couldn’t be happier if it had been me finaling.

    Me? Maybe next year. Or maybe next year I won’t be eligible. I’m shooting for that last one. 🙂

    Hold the phone. Nora didn’t get nominated this year? ‘Scuse me while I duck the flying pigs. What happened?! Lady, c’mon over; we’ll cry on each other’s shoulders. I’ve got enough wine to last us a week. 🙂

    0
  21. Great post, Elisa. My 2011 finalist didn’t make the cut in 2010, and my previous 2x finalist, didn’t make the cut in 2011 (got the dreaded Kiss of Death 6 from one judge), so it’s all very subjective. Hard lesson, but worth learning. We also need to keep in mind, many GH judges are other entrants, and those who read and write our genre can not judge it. With historicals, that often means the judge is clueless to the eras specifics which can undermine an otherwise excellent entry.

    So many variables. A waste of time to bemoan them. As long as people are people and those people are judges, subjectivity will exist, and we must accept that.

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  22. Lynn Cahoon says:

    Although I’m sad I didn’t final, I really believe there are so many great entries, not every great entry can final. (I’ve read several YA entries in different contests that I thought should have won and didn’t even final.)

    I just hope my scores are good. Or reasonable. (Mainly because I LOVE the story I sent.)

    I won’t be entering next year since I’ve sold two ms this last month. But I’ll be watching for the winners! Good luck to everyone who finalled.

    0
    • Kate Parker says:

      You sold two mss? Terrific. That’s way better than finaling in the Golden Heart. Congrats.

      0
      • Lynn Cahoon says:

        Thanks Kate. They are both e-pub sales. I’m excited and already on a steep learning curve. 🙂

        0
    • Kelley Bowen says:

      Lynn,
      You’re right about a lot of great entries this year and I’m thrilled to see one of the entries I read final. Even more thrilled by your success…I know I’ve said this before but you deserve ALL of it. Kelley

      0
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Lynn!! Congrats on the sales!!

      0
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Congrats, Lynn!

      You’re the winner of a 50-page critique by Jamie Michele, plus an e-copy of Alexandra Solokoff’s Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Writers II.

      I’ll put Jamie in touch with you!

      0
  23. Beth says:

    While I was disappointed, I won’t be eligible next year because I sold my novella just after the deadline to enter the GH.

    And today, I subbed to HQN. Onward!

    Beth

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  24. Vivi Andrews says:

    I entered two manuscripts in the 2009 GH. One won, the other was in the bottom half of scores in its category. The Golden Heart winner? Gathering dust on a shelf in my office. The one that tanked? Sold that same year, selected as Best Book of 2010 by a popular review site and still selling well for me.

    So yeah. Finaling is great, but sometimes not finaling is just as sweet in the end. Keep on subbing, y’all.

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  25. Patti Macdonald says:

    Big hugs to everyone who entered! I contemplated it this year for the first time, but knew my manuscripts weren’t ready yet. (YET being the operative word here.)Best of luck to everyone next year!!

    Next year, I’ll be partying along with y’all – either in celebration or commiseration. This is my public declaration that I’m entering at least one manuscript in the Golden Heart in the fall.

    I’ll be in the sprints! I’ve got a lot of editing ahead of me.

    Plus I’m looking forward to meeting some of you at Nationals!

    ~BIG HUGS~
    Patti 🙂

    0
    • That’s the spirit. And I’ll hold you to your declaration, so get your rear in gear. If I’m eligible, book three of my series will be entered, too, so we may get to party together!!!!

      0
      • Patti Macdonald says:

        LOL,Gwyn. I know you’ll hold me to it. I bet you’ll hold my feet to the fire too! So back to the BIC HOK before you can catch me.

        0
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Great attitude, Patti!

      Keep it up in the sprints! I hope to see you there soon.

      0
    • Elise Hayes says:

      You’ve made it public now, Patti, so we’ll hold your feet to the fire next fall, come submission time!

      0
  26. Nan Dixon says:

    Having finaled in 2010 and 2011 – I’m going to miss the fun of the GH ride – but I’ve got plenty of irons in the fire. [Right now I’m prepping a submission for an editor through a contest.]

    I will miss the lovely pink ribbon at Nationals and getting superior tables at the award ceremony. Maybe I can sell before Nationals. What color is that ribbon?

    0
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Go, go, go, Nan!! Contests have more than proven you’re a fabulous writer. Publication can’t be too far away!!

      0
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Hope you get that lovely FIRST BOOK ribbon, whatever color it is (yellow?).

      In the meantime, you’re the winner of your choice of Vivi Andrew’s fun and wonderful books. Check ’em out at viviandrews.com.

      I’ll put Vivi in touch with you.

      0
  27. I think disappointed GH hopefuls need to remember that the scores you receive in the next four to six weeks, should tell you something. If you missed scoring a forty by a few tenths of a point, you can consider your book to be in pretty good shape. SUBMIT the darn thing and stop worrying about why one of the judges only gave it a seven.

    If you received consistent scores, whether high or low, it’s probably a fair assessment of your work. If you’re not getting a few scores in the eights and nines, you probably need to hone your craft some more.

    If your scores are all over the place, it could mean you have a strong voice or an element in the story that pushes some reader’s buttons.

    I’ll be releasing a surrogate mother story late this year that a lot of people love but which makes others uncomfortable because the heroine ends up with her ex-brother-in-law. Just because you have a strong voice or elements that bother some readers, doesn’t mean there isn’t an audience who’ll love your work.

    I can think of several NYT bestselling writers who I simply don’t care for their style or voice. Obviously, lots of people love those authors or they wouldn’t be selling so well.

    Believe in your work, get unbiased opinions of it (which those GH scores can be), and if you determine that you’ve written a solid story with good mechanics, dialogue, pacing, etc. then get out there and submit your book!

    Pep talk over!

    0
    • Kelley Bowen says:

      Good advice. Thanks for today, everyone. Goodnight!

      0
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      That’s amazingly wise advice, Laurie!!!

      0
    • YES. Laurie’s advice is right on the money. I can also say that the first year I did GH and I was so crushed, the smartest thing I did was to ask around for which chapter contests gave the best feedback. I entered two of them for less than the cost of one GH entry and got feedback to see why my scores were so low. If your scores are way lower than you hoped across the board, feedback either from a critique group (or bid on one of the Brenda Novak or other charity auction ones!) or from another contest can really help.

      0
  28. Elise Hayes says:

    I have a different kind of pity party to throw. I totally missed entering this year’s GH *because I forgot that you had to register several weeks before the final due date for the actual submissions.* Bang head on keyboard. (It’s not like I haven’t done this before!!)

    There I was in late November, merrily planning to enter, getting my submission ready about a week before the submission deadline, when I looked up the technical details for the manuscript…and realized I’d missed the registration date. Doh.

    So…next year, I’m in, if I haven’t sold by then. Of course, I’m hoping for the latter…

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  29. Not my first non-final year, but the first after my 2010 GH final (didn’t enter last year), which made it both harder and easier. Harder because I knew it was possible for me to final, so my expectations, if not my hopes, were higher; easier because I’ve already had the GH experience. Don’t think a second go-’round could ever be as great as the first (hi, Unsinkables!), so my new goal/daydream is not to be eligible for the 2013 GH and final in the first book category of the 2014 Rita!

    0
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Waving right back at you, Unsinkable!!! I finaled in 2009 and 2010, then didn’t in 2011, and it was definitely a bummer.

      Can’t wait to root for you at the 2014 Rita Award ceremony!!! go, go, go!!!

      0
  30. I spent half an hour trying to explain to my dh about the subjectivity of the process and how I wasn’t upset not to be a finalist since I would still get scores and comments that would help me to make my MS better. And there’s always next year…or the year after that.

    He spent the half hour trying to figure out how to standardize the process. Poor dear. He means well.

    Anyhow, the next time I submit, I hope it will be for a Rita with a published book!

    0
    • You don’t get any comments. Just numbers. Which totally sucks. Because my “8” may be the same as another judge’s “6” and a third’s “9.” You’ll get a list with 5 numbers between 1 & 9. See Laurie Kellogg’s great comment above for trying to make sense of the numbers. I really, really wish they would have a blank for us to give some amount of feedback or standardize what each number means. I had an entry this year which had the most amazing, high concept plot I’ve seen in four years of judging–but it was mired in 30 pages of backstory. A number alone doesn’t explain my delight and joy in that entry & the relatively easy fix. 🙁

      There a number of awesome contests out there which give you pages and pages of feedback–I’ve had awesome feedback from Great Expectations, Emerald City Opener, Golden Rose, Golden Pen, Linda Howard Contest, and TARA contests among others.

      0
  31. Joanne says:

    I really appreciate all the encouragement on this site. I didn’t receive a call, either, :(, but I’m beginning a new project, staying positive, and looking forwar.

    0

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