Why Does the East German Judge Hate Me? or Standard Deviation as it Relates to the Golden Heart

I owe my 2009 Golden Heart Final to my mom and math.

I owe my mom because last fall I was… well, momentarily impoverished. Down on my luck. Poor. (I mean REALLY poor. Post-market-crash, self-employed-with-a-dearth-of-clients, poor.) I barely had enough for groceries, much less my Golden Heart entry fee.  And then the International Bank of Mom gave me a Golden Heart Loan (to be paid back after I make my first million, by the way).  If not for my mom, I wouldn’t be here with the rest of the sisterhood.  So, THANKS Mom! For that, and for always being one of my biggest fans.

So mom helped me get in the game, but Math pushed me to the top.

I love Math.

In fact, had I won the golden heart, my acceptance speech would have started with a tribute to my HS Math teacher, Mrs. Wildermuth … something like, “I wish my high school Calculus teacher were here. She told my mom I’d never get anywhere if I kept reading Romance Novels in class…. (wait for audience laughter)…Seriously, when was the last time YOU did a quadratic equation?!”  (Okay, so that wasn’t really a tribute… but Mrs. Wildermuth had a pretty good sense of humor and she probably would have gotten a chuckle out of it.)

But don’t get me wrong, my love of math doesn’t really, extend to the sort of math Mrs. Wildermuth would be proud of. I mean I haven’t balanced my checkbook since The Year of Our Lord (mumble mumble). After all, that’s what online banking is for.  And it’s a really REALLY good thing my BlackBerry has a calculator in it for those moments when the chalkboard in my brain isn’t up to “carry the one + five + seven, take away three… ” etc.

What I mean is that I love math that I can use to make a point. Or to encourage me that I’m on the right track.  Here’s an example:  I had myself convinced that I had a 5/8ths chance to win the Golden Heart based on the following math equation.

2/8 + 3/8 = LIZ WINS!

Explanation: I was a double finalist (in the same category) with 8 total finalists.  Plus, 3 of our 8 manuscripts (including mine) were requested by one of the final round judges.  Solid math! I was a sure thing, right? As it turns out, not so much… but the math kept me sane during the conference, so it was still helpful.

I have been a Golden Heart finalist on four occasions: Once in 2004, once in 2005 and twice in 2009. On two of those occasions, I received my first-round scores back after the conference only to find out that while I was universally adored by four of the judges, the dreaded East German Judge™ HATED me. I don’t mean she didn’t find my stories to be “her cup of tea”. I mean, she HATED ME WITH THE FIERY PASSION OF A THOUSAND BURNING SUNS. My scores for LOVE & OREOS this year were 8.8, 8.8, 8.5, 8.2 and 3.7.

The first time, however, it was something like four 9s and a 2.


I’ve never given a score that low. (And I’ve read some GH manuscripts that were so bad, I suspected that English was not the author’s first language.)

Ahh. But I was saved by Standard Deviation.

“WHAT IS STANDARD DEVIATION?”, you might be asking. Or you might not.  You may be saying in a breathy voice not unlike Marilyn Monroe’s, “Math is so hard!”

If you are the former, then I shall explain.  (If you are the latter… drop down a few paragraphs—past the number thingies.)

According to a Standard Deviation is: a measure of dispersion in a frequency distribution, equal to the square root of the mean of the squares of the deviations from the arithmetic mean of the distribution.

Which is a convoluted way of asking “What’s ‘Normal’ and what’s ‘Outside of Normal’?

To find out what’s normal, we need to take the average. Using my LOVE & OREOS entry as the example, the average of my scores was:

(8.8 + 8.8 + 8.5 + 8.2 + 3.7) ÷ 5 = 7.6

To calculate the standard deviation, first we need to find the difference between each data point (or each score) and the mean (or average of the group which we found above) and then square the result:

(8.8 – 7.6)2 = 1.22 = 1.44
(8.8 – 7.6) 2 = 1.22 = 1.44
(8.5 – 7.6) 2 = .92 = .81
(8.2 – 7.6) 2 = .62 = .36
(3.7 – 7.6) 2 = -3.92 = 15.21

Next, we need to take the average of these values and then take the square root to get the standard deviation.

(1.44 + 1.44 + .81 +.36 + 15.21) ÷ 5 = 3.852
And the square root of 3.852 = 1.962

So anything that is 1.962 over or under the average of 7.6 – Which 3.7 certainly is – is outside standard deviation.

Then (as if this hasn’t gotten complicated enough already), RWA averages all five scores together to give you the “fifth” score and drops the lowest.

Clear as mud, right? If not, bee-bop on over to Wikipedia, for more information on Standard Deviation.  Far more than I ever wanted to know, to be honest.  (Sorry Mrs. Wildermuth!)

So there you have it.  I have Math and Mom (and possibly Mrs. Wildermuth) to thank for two of my four Golden Heart finals.

“What’s your point?” you may be asking. You may not be. In which case, skip down to the bottom and begin with the commenting already. Back to my point(s). I have several of them.

1)      Not every judge is going to like a manuscript. (Even if it is as brilliant as I’m sure yours is.)

2)      RWA has seen fit to help those out who’ve been hit by the wrath of the dreaded East German judge by implementing standard deviation.

3)      A major discrepancy giving you four great scores and one bad score probably indicates that you have a very strong voice. Clearly, that bad score was given with a great deal of passion. Inspiring passion is an important skill in a writer. (Even if that passion is of the hatred variety.)

4)      The chance for all the good of finaling in the Golden Heart more than makes up for the possibility that someone will hate your baby.

5)      You will never win if you don’t enter your manuscript.

And finally…

6)      Mrs. Wildermuth wasn’t incorrect in stating I’d never get anywhere in MATH if I didn’t stop reading romance novels in class, as I just tried to do a quadratic equation and the closest I came to the solution for the problem was [quadratic equation]+[liz]= #FAIL.  (Sorry, Mrs. Wildermuth!)

Has the fear of the “East German Judge” (either in a contest or in some other aspect of your life) ever kept you from reaching for something with a big payoff? Did you regret it?

I will be giving away a first chapter critique (up to 25 pages) or a fabulous Ruby Slippered Sisterhood mug to one lucky commenter.

94 responses to “Why Does the East German Judge Hate Me? or Standard Deviation as it Relates to the Golden Heart”

  1. Jenn says:

    Liz, great post–even though its taken me two tries to understand the math! 🙂

    I’ve never stayed out of a contest for fear a judge would hate me… Though I also have gotten a 2 before in the GH (a 2!) Which goes to bear out the wisest observation I’ve ever heard about the GH: its sometimes a fluke if you don’t final, but its never a fluke if you do. 🙂

    • Jenn — Your wise observation is so true. What I didn’t say in this post (and perhaps should have) is that both of my finaling manuscripts (LOVE & OREOS and LIGHTS… CAMERA… MARRIAGE!) were older had been around the Golden Heart block on a few occasions. They’d always received respectable scores, but this year, I drew the right judges. (You know, except for that notable East German Judge.)

    • Diana Layne says:

      Seriously, I had to read the math stuff twice too. smile.

  2. Thank you, Liz! I never really understood that standard deviation thing. Great post. Thank heavens for SD and moms:)

  3. Nadia Lee says:

    I’ve never stayed out of contests, etc. because of someone not liking my ms. I can’t please everyone, so I don’t even try. 🙂

    I used to be more insecure when younger though.

  4. Jeannie Lin says:

    Thanks for the explanation Liz. In my case, the East German judges helped me refine my manuscript, but boy do the comments sting sometimes.

    Right before entering the Golden Heart, I Googled all things Golden Heart to know more about it. Some brave finalists would post their scores to give an idea of what it took to final. I figured since Liz was brave enough to show hers, I’d do the same. Butterfly Swords: 8.5, 4, 8.5, 9, 8

    The moral of the story is you need four judges to LOVE your entry. Also, the scores are not carried through to the final round.

    • Jeannie–a really great point! Who WINS the Golden Heart is entirely based upon the final-round editor judges, upon whom the East German judge has no influence! Thanks for sharing your scores!

  5. Tonya Kappes says:

    Wow Liz you have worked on that upside down, right side up, backwards, flipped, forwards and any other way around the 360 degree spectrum. It’s way to early for me to even comprehend the math…errr…ex teacher too!
    Anyways, I am sorry about the disappointment, but your writing rocks and you ARE going to get pubbed soon!!

  6. Those I-hate-your-strong-voice judges seem to be everywhere. You wonder if they have a personal interest in the outcome of the contest. If they do, shame on them.

    It seems all but one time I entered the GH, I had one of these judges. Forunately, this time the other four judges loved me.

    • Autumn–thanks for stopping by! You make an interesting point. I would be really curious to see how many of us made it into the finals due to a standard deviation adjustment!

  7. Amy Talley says:

    Doesn’t keep me out…I’m a hard head. Plus opening those scores is a little like Christmas. Oooh, a nice bracelet…ooh, a cute sweater…oh, a pair of socks. I can’t get enough of what people think of my work, even if it’s a “oh, really?”

    But I agree with Vivi: sometimes a bad judge helps you cement what you do like about your writing.

    The GH is a crapshoot, but I think the payoff is worth the chance.

  8. Katrina says:

    Ah the dreaded East German judge. I had one of those in the last contest I entered – I got a 3 from her and the others gave me 8.8 and 8.9. You gotta wonder, a bad day, blind, not enough coffee?? Thanks for explaining the math; it was actually really easy to understand!

    • Katrina–Thanks for stopping by! And thanks for saying it was easy to understand. (I had to go back and reread it several times just to confirm *I* understood it :D) Some people are just cranky. I don’t know why.

  9. Fear has never pushed me away from entering a contest. My math is different: Husband received no paycheck=no contest! LOL I’ve still got time and things could improve by the middle of October. We’ll see.

    • Victoria — Good luck with scraping together the $$ for the GH. Definitely worth it! But I understand that sometimes crazy things like mortgage payments and utilities have to come first.

    • Think what a great inspirational story that would make when you do final. “My husband was out of work (which, BTW was sort of how I, personally got a scholarship to go to DC), we couldn’t pay our bills or feed our children, but I found that extra $50 in (A)the pocket of my coat (B)blowing down the street, carried by the wind (C)my husband sold a vital organ, and I won. Sold my book for $$$$ (yes, it happens – not to me, but it happens) and lived happily ever after.”

  10. June says:

    Liz, I loved your post. Not that I understood the math, but hey, I’m one of “those” people. You know the ones who break out in a sweat when the “M” word is even used. I’ll make my hubby read this and then explain it to me. Not that you aren’t a good teacher, but he knows how to “speak June”. LOL.
    Be sure to thank your mom for us because without her we wouldn’t have met you. And, I’m not just saying that because of the awesome site you’ve created for us. Mom’s are great!

    • June — thanks for stopping by. “Those people” are important too. (Imagine a world where everyone “got” math. Very analytical. It would be like walking through a room filled with engineers all the time. (shudder). Not that there’s anything wrong with engineers. :D) I suspect my mom will show up here today at some point:D But I’ll let her know! Thanks.

  11. Lorie Langdon says:

    Liz, Thanks for the insight! The one contest which I have entered gave me so much contradicting feedback that I swore off contests for over a year! (i.e. one judge would love a particular sentence and rave about it while the next judge condemned said sentence as ‘purple prose’.)
    I’ve just now started to get back into the contest game after speaking with many who have had the same experience but have found ways to sort through the feedback and use it despite glaring contradictions.
    So, no, I will not allow the “East German Judge” to scare me off this year, especially now that I know about standard deviation! ;D

    • Lorie–there’s always one. 😀 And I always tell myself that who ever that judge is, she must be a deeply unhappy person — especially when she’s bleeding all over your contest entry with vitriolic “You have broken the rules! You should do THIS instead,” and especially when she’s trying to obliterate my voice. That makes me cranky. 😀 Thanks for stopping by!

    • Shea Berkley says:

      When I first started writing, the same thing happened to me. I was so freaked out by the disparaging scores, I got confused and quit contests. I still don’t enter many for differing reasons, but that crazy judge always gives me a pause. I do like to think those who give their time to judge are doing so because they want to help others improve, and when the comments get ugly I just think, “Poor thing was having a hard day and couldn’t pull it together.”

      Unlike many, I love it when I get an entry back that is hemorraging red ink. Feed back is priceless, even when it’s not positive. Anything to make me a stronger, better writer is game.

  12. Shea Berkley says:

    Oh my gosh, Liz. I am NOT a math person. I’ve never understood the deviation thingie, but you’ve made it clearer. Thank God for RWA and its ability to save our butts from the subversive actions of the authoritarian control freak better known as the East German Judge. I always have one. Always.

    We do have a choice. We can either give in to their low-score terrorism and give up, or we can rise above, take the challenge and write the best danged book we can. And when we final, cackle with justified pride that we have achieved a goal they fought unjustly to keep from us. Muah-ha-ha!

    • Shea–I’m glad the explanation helped. And yes. I have to admit, I kinda giggled to myself after I got my scores at the reaction of that particular judge… wondering if she was in the audience seeing my big ol’ picture up on the jumbotron. (That may not be very nice of me… but then, I never claimed to be all that nice :D)

  13. Oh, Liz–I absolutely HATE math. I’m fine with arithmetic. I add, subtract, multiply, and divide without any problem. But I cannot, for the life of me, solve an equation, quadratic or otherwise. However, despite my algebra phobia, I mostly understood what you explained. Thank you for making a difficult subject clear.

  14. Shoshana Brown says:

    Great post, Liz! Is it weird that I still have the quadratic formula memorized, 15 years after the last time I used it? 🙂

    • Shoshana — only a little. 😉 But we still love you anyway. I used to do lots and lots of math. (My degree was in biology, and I needed the math to get through the chemistry.) Of course, that’s a degree that is being rather sadly underused. But I wouldn’t change what I do now for anything.

  15. Holy moly!

    I had no idea it was that complex, Liz. I’m pretty good at math too, but I’ve never had (gasp) stats! Nope, never. This stuff fascinates me.

    Thanks so much for explaining it so clearly!
    Great post!

  16. #3 of your point list gives an interesting twist. I think it’d be quite easy to just write off the lowest score and say that judge doesn’t know what she’s talking about -everyone else loved me! Yea said judge vcan give an entry a low score, but in the end isn’t that (one of the) reasons why we write? To get a reaction, not just hear a reader go ‘meh, it’s neither here or there’

    Kinda similar (only with author/readeres instead of author/judge)…
    I read somewhere where an author noted that getting mail from irritated readers was like getting a love letter of sorts. When asked why, she said readers may not have liked how the plot turned or where some characters ended up, but the fact that they were so enflamed to sit down and actually contact her, the author, to share their disapointment,etc is what made her know these readers cared enough about her books/characters to warrant them expressing their emotions.

    Hmm, I’m sure I’ve bungled it up/someone could retell the story more eloquently, but nevertheless, it was really touching and gave a different perspective on viewpoints regarding the same matter. 🙂

    • Rosalind, inspiring passion (even of the vitriolic variety) is better than inspiring a yawn any day! Thanks for visiting!

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I think Eloisa James has said something of that variety… or maybe I’m thinking of her talking about letters from readers who were mad she made them cry and cry…..

  17. (Take two)

    Holy moly, Liz! I had no idea this stuff was so complicated. I”m pretty good at math but I’ve never had a stats class. This stuff is fascinating.

    Thanks for clearing this up. I have kind of an OT question: Why the trademark after East German Judge? And does it have anything to do with the Olympics? lol


  18. Jenn! says:

    Liz, I DID skip past the numbers thingies. My eyes glaze over at the WORD math. Quadratic what? HA! Spelling…that’s what I’m good at. Ha!

    Great post Liz! And Kudos to mom and Ms. Wildermuth!


  19. Elisa Beatty says:

    Making math funny…that’s impressive! Thanks, Liz, for ‘splaining.

    • Glad you thought so. I realized *my* eyes were glazing toward the end of the math section on the re-read. But alas, it’s information that most people don’t know about and I’m here to inform. (or at least to temporarily pretend to be an egghead.)

  20. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    Darned East German judge always brings prejudice and preference to the table. Some of them bring jealousy and envy along, as well. Without comments, a la the GH, there is no way to know which arrived with your particualar judge. The chapter contests, however, allow sour grapes and personal preferences to show, and a discerning read usually reveals the truth no matter how carefully worded the commentary.

    Because my story opens in the midst of a battle, I have been “gently reminded” that romance is written for women by a judge or two—like I haven’t a clue. Of course, without this particular battle there is no story, but, apparently, that minor fact has no bearing. I’m guessing these are judges that prefer the sweetness and light romances.

    Another time, a judge decimated my story (score wise) and then had the audacity to telll me she’d tried writing in my era once and, thus, understood the difficulty so had to give me credit for trying. She then recommended I buy her book—light a contemporary. (Never gonna happen, darlin’.) Thank goodness the other judges opened their comments with “WOW.”

    Thanks for the math lesson. Hate math. Married an engineer. Like Laurie, I can do arithmatic, but hex-a- whatchamacallit? (Sounds rather like incanting a curse—which it is to me!) Not hardly.

    • Gwynlyn — Thanks for dropping by. You’re right. At least with the chapter contests, you can tell WHY someone hated you. With the GH it’s just an unknown hatred, no reasoning whatsoever. (Which is kind of annoying, really!) Condescension never makes the harsh criticism go down easier, either… Nor does shameless self-promotion!

    • Jeannie Lin says:

      Judges bring in so many of their own prejudices! But it’s good to see that if the writing is strong, then a well told story will find it’s day in the sun regardless.

      I, for one, LOVE a good battle. 🙂

  21. Laurie DeSalvo says:

    Great post, Liz! Gotta love Moms. They’re always there just when you need them (and sometimes when you don’t!).

  22. KAK says:

    Es tut mir leit, Liz. /jk

    I love the grumpy belligerent judges as long as they include comments; otherwise, they’re kinda like a burning bag of poo on your ms or that one reviewer on Amazon that insists on giving your book a one star amid a sea of fours and fives. Since GH drops the lowest score so the EDJ’s lack of morning Kirsh doesn’t penalize me, I can pretend to be mature enough to say “Prost” to her.

  23. Kim Law says:

    Liz…yay, a math post!!!! Yep, I’m a math geek. Don’t know if I ever told you all that but I actually got my degree in math. Not that I could remember ANYTHING about standard deviation before now! I find it really interesting how many people who write romance are either math or computer people. OK, sorry, that was totally off topic.

    On topic…the East German Judge…ugh!!!! She loves to get my manuscripts, just loves to. And as I told our GH loop, she found me in the GH too! But thanks to standard deviation that’s ok. Actually, it’s more than ok. A couple years ago I mentioned to a writer friend of mine that I always seem to have someone completely love my writing and someone who would like to send the pages to a fiery death. This friend informed me that likely meant I had a strong voice. Really? Freaking cool! I had been striving for strong voice but had no idea if I was there! So since then, even though I temporarily get a little bent out of shape and imagine nasty, horrible things happening to the East German Judge, I also smile and know that I’m still affecting people. And afterall, that is what we’re all trying to do. So I say, bring it on, East German, give me all you got! 🙂

    Oh…you had a question. No. No way have I ever let East German keep me from entering! How can I ever hope to win if I don’t enter?

    • Kim — A fellow geek. (hooray!) I knew you were good people! 😀 And I really do believe that if you’ve got mostly high and low scores (and few in between) then that is a good indication that you are a good writer with a strong voice. And yay for not letting the East German judge from keeping you down!

  24. My inner math geek is squeeing right now. As a chemistry major, I’ve always loved all things math. It’s either right or it’s wrong…there is no in between. Which is SO different from writing, where right and wrong is judged by how something resonates with someone. And because of that, I often have to remind myself of point #1.

    Great post, Liz! 🙂

    • Love that the math worked for someone! I wasn’t sure whether or not to include it — but decided the details needed to be shared. In college, I loved organic chem as it related to biology. The chemistry that looked a lot like physics?! Not so much. 😀

  25. Kristi says:

    The East German judge got ahold of my very first MS in the very first contest I ever entered. And it was almost a year before I dared enter a second (well, last year’s GH notwithstanding, because I entered both the GH and the chapter contest simultaneously and didn’t see the dreaded EGJ until it was too late). My scores were something like 70, 65, and 30.


    I had a similar thing happen in our local in-chapter 1st page contest–out of a possible score of 12, my scores were like 12, 11, 11, and 6. Unfortunately, the 12 though my hero was a serial killer.


    I’m learning, though. And still exceedingly timid about entering contests. And since my current WIP is in a chapter contest, and I won’t see any results for most of a month, I’m not sure yet about entering this year’s GH. Because I’m afraid that the East German judge is the only one giving me an honest opinion 🙁

    • Kristi — Rarely do judges NOT give an honest opinion. I would be willing to wager that you have a strong voice. It appeals to some, and not to others. Look at a few others with “strong voices”. JR Ward comes to mind. If you’ve read her, you either love her or hate her, and do so passionately. (I personally love her, but her voice is *so* strong, I do understand why her BDB series not everyone’s cup of tea!) Don’t be timid! You can’t win if you refuse to play the game! Good luck!

  26. Eileen says:

    This little theatre major went scrolling riiiight down past the “math thingies,” but it’s good-to-know information and I appreciate you explaining it for those who *can* wrap their brains around it. 🙂

  27. Anne Barton says:

    Liz, your example is worth a thousand words . . . or equations. Thanks for the explanation.

    What’s interesting is that in some ways you’re BETTER off having an East German judge that scores you WAY low than a judge who gives you a mediocre score. In the case of the former, standard deviation could save you, but in the case of the latter, you might be out of luck.

    • Jeannie Lin says:

      This is very good point! In contests, it’s better to have one judge hate you so you fall into standard deviation and possible discrepancy judging than have judges who are lukewarm and score you with something too low to final, but too high to call into question.

    • Anne — you’re right. In the case of the first time this happened to me, I had two manuscripts in the same category. The second manuscript had one mediocre score (rather than hideous score) and it didn’t final… but the one with the really bad score did. But the first manuscript actually had higher overall scores. It’s kind of crazy. But I think if we took a poll, we’d be surprised by the number of 2009 GH’ers who are here thanks to SD!

  28. Elise Hayes says:

    Liz, I love your way of reading the East German judge as a positive thing–a sign that your writing “voice” is strong enough to inspire passion, whether of the positive or negative sort-

  29. Ami Weaver says:

    OMG, yes. More times than I can count, including the GH a couple of years ago where I missed it by a hair. And a 2. LOL. Nearly every single contest I enter I get one EGJ who hates me. I go for those now that drop the lowest score. 🙂 Still, I agree that it’s a measure of voice and I’m weirdly honored to have inspired that kind of passion in someone. 😉

  30. Ami Weaver says:

    Actually, I didn’t answer the question correctly. No it doesn’t keep me from entering anything, even though I expect the EGJ to show up. I skim her comments, roll my eyes if necessary, and move on. Sometimes I’ve gotten good feedback from the EGJ, but not often.

  31. Diana Layne says:

    I’m a masochist, so what the hell, I keep entering. 🙂

    But you know, I’ve been judging GH almost since the beginning of the contest (and if I remember right, the first year I did it we *could* write comments on the entries.) It’s always been my understanding, that personal preferences aside, we’re supposed to judge whether the manuscript is publishable as is. Not whether we like the story or would buy it or not. There’s even instructions in the rules now that if the subject matter pushes your buttons and you don’t think you can be fair, to contact RWA.

    Of course, who wants to admit to any personal bias? I mean, how many people are really that true to themselves? And so someone inevitably ends up with that EGJ.

    And until someone mentioned it, I never even considered a judge might give a low score to help out a friend entered in the same category. That is so off my radar, it’s hard to believe, but I guess it is possible that it does happen.

    At least RWA does what it can to counter for those freaky judges and it looks like we’ve all had them. But I consider it practice for those one star’s I’ll be getting on Amazon. 🙂

    • Diana — I’m sure you’ll rarely if ever get a 1 Star on Amazon 😀 And yes, I’m sure that people think they’re doing *someone* a favor by judging ridiculously low. (But I’m not entirely sure whom.)

  32. Liz – I’ll take your word for it with the math — my brain snapped after the first row of calculations. I’ve had this with contest scores, although never to this extreme. One judge will give me a perfect score, another will go low, and then a discrepancy judge gets added to the mix. With contests, sometimes the low-scoring judges give really useful comments, which makes it easier to survive the ensuing attack of Imposter Syndrome.

    In your case, I wouldn’t worry about that one judge. There are people who don’t like Jenny Crusie’s books, or Suzanne Brockmann’s, or Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ — I’m not one of those people, but the point is, readers/editors/agents/judges all have different taste.

    Maybe you just caught that judge on a bad day. She might have caught her husband dunking Oreos with his secretary — you never know!

  33. That’s a good point, Becke. Even well-respected, multi-published authors have readers who love them and readers who just don’t like their voices.

    When I receive a rejection, I remind myself of that – not everyone will connect with my voice, but one day I’ll find that one editor who believes in me and thinks I’m worth a shot.

    And “Dunking Oreos with his secretary” – ha! That’s great. (Well, not so great for that editor/agent/judge, but I love the phrasing.) 🙂

    • It’s true. There are authors that others think are the bees knees and I’m like… “eh. I just don’t get the appeal.” And authors whom I love (and whom I’d throw someone under a bus to get an advanced copy of their book) who friends go, “yeah. Not a fan!” So taste is subjective. Not news to anyone. 🙂

  34. Liz,

    I had an East German judge this time, too. My first one. But damn, someone must have done something to her the day she judged it. Thanks for the explanation 🙂

  35. I loved the standard deviation explanation – I had forgotten it in lo these twenty years. I had a net positive experience from a bad judge in a contest. My two scores were so far apart I received a discrepancy judge – thus an extra set of comments for the same entry fee. At least that’s how I chose to look at it. Eventually.

    • “At least that’s how I chose to look at it. Eventually.”

      Anna — Ha! Sometimes, that’s all you can do! And sometimes (at least when you’re getting feedback) the EGJ will have something relevant to say that will give you the tools to give your manuscript a boost! Welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

  36. Rita says:

    Love this. Next time someone asks why the EGJ doesn’t like them I have the answer.

  37. Oh no — not math! There’s a reason I chose to work with words for a living! 😀

    But seriously … you did a good job explaining the seemingly incomprehensible. I think I have a handle on stndard deviation now.

  38. Tina Joyce says:

    Great job with the explanation, Liz. I always wondered how that worked. I’ve been forced to learn a ton about Math by helping my two daughters with their Algebra/Physics homework. Somehow I don’t think that’s quite what my teachers meant when they said I’d end up using quadratic and slope intercept formulas someday. I now have a kind of grudging respect for all things Math (respect…not adoration).

    Thanks for making the process so easy to understand!

  39. Dara says:

    LOL, I still don’t really get all the standard deviation talk after reading that over 😛 But it makes *slightly* more sense now.

    I know every time a chapter of mine is up for critique in my crit group, I’m always thinking the worst. I’m always fearful and thinking it’s utter crap, that I shouldn’t be writing, etc. But then I realize it’s fear talking and I shouldn’t listen to it. No one said this writing thing would be easy and I’ve learned to (start) growing a thick skin. It’s the only way to make it for I will receive many, MANY more rejections.

    Gosh, I really want to enter the Golden Heart now…not sure that I’ll be anywhere close to done with my story by the time of the deadline though 🙂

  40. Shelley says:

    Great post, Liz. Though I admit I had to skim over the math (my lack of math knowledge is frightening, really) you definitely made me smile. Thank you!

    I guess some people can’t help but be snarky. I received a reader letter in the mail on Saturday. (hooray!) in a beautiful card (how sweet!) that was first sent to my editor at Avon (wow! I bet those editors were impressed!) telling me all about the gramatical error on page 172, second paragraph.

    hope you enter that GH again, final, and get to say that acceptance speech in Nashville.

    • Shelley — Thanks for stopping by! I will definitely be entering again. (In fact, I’ll be entering a positively ridiculous number of manuscripts, if I have the $$, haven’t sold by then and can get the older ones polished up in time!)

  41. Wow, that’s genius, Liz! Can you help me with my household accounting? I’m not known for my maths (that’s what we call it down here) skills. Sorry about that East German judge. No one, especially you, deserves a score that low.

    • Vanessa — Thanks for the encouragement on the EGJ… as for your household accounting, I’m going to recommend that you seek someone who’s accounting practices are far more regimented than my own. (Seriously, it’s a miracle and a half that I’ve never been audited!)

  42. […] and almost wish that last score would have scored lower so I could have gotten a golden “standard deviation” score, but alas–it was not to be. The thing is, I’m totally thrilled about those […]


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