Thursday, May 5, 2016

Seekerville Welcomes The Blurb Queen

 Hi, I'm Cathryn Cade, aka The Blurb Queen.

I want to thank Tina Radcliffe so much for inviting me to guest blog here. I’m honored to be in Seekerville.

I also write romance … but over the last few years, whenever a fellow author has shared struggles with the ad copy or blurb for their story, I wanted to jump in and help trim, mold and shape. I love writing blurbs!

And yes, I see you shaking your head in amazed disbelief. I totally get that—I've an author friend who loves writing synopses, another who excels at query letters. I salute all of you who do well at these. 

Me? No, just no.

But blurbing is my kind of chocolate. It's a new challenge with every book!

Can I, in a few sentences, make you eager to 

- live vicariously through my heroine?
- sigh over my hero, if romance?
- grow spiritually and emotionally with my characters?
- learn how my characters experience a crisis of faith and with God's help, triumph?
- immerse yourself in the locale & inhabitants where my story unfolds? 
- travel back into your favorite time in history and experience how it colors the problems & triumphs of characters?

Yes, depending on the genre, a well-written blurb can do all these things. Maybe not all in the same one. But a good blurb will touch on a combination of story facets. 

 A good blurb is NOT a mini-synopsis. A blurb is AD COPY.

In other words, you don't want to tell the reader about your book, you want to make the reader buy your book. The point is to show the reader in as few words as possible, 
'Hey! Look at this--if you read this book, you are guaranteed a certain experience.' 
So first, you deduce what experience the reader wants from your genre of fiction. And you probably know this instinctively and use it to write your stories, but here we’re drilling down to the components so we can break them out.

In Christian romance, sweet romance, our readers want a heroine, a hero, a knotty, believable problem or wound for each of them, and then we want the two thrown into a situation that will not only force them to grow spiritually and emotionally to succeed, and give them that black moment when all seems lost, but we want them to finally learn that the other person is God's choice for them to spend the rest of their life growing with, and we want them to triumph in some way. 

And although we don't want sex, we do still want a sense of the romantic tension between the protagonists. Tension between protagonists sells. And again, I know you know that, but we’re going to bring that out in the blurb, to hook the reader.

** If you write historical fiction, the reader also wants to know immediately the time period, so they can read on or move on. 

And I did say the specific is terrific, didn't I? Let's get to it.

A good blurb will have

The Tagline - an over-arching hook 


The Tiny Blurb – this is something I do for my clients. It’s a very short blurb that really sums up the characters & their problem. Amazon now gives us that tiny little place beside the book cover, and then readers must click ‘read more’ if they want the rest of your blurb. It can stand alone, or work with the full blurb as an introduction.

The Body of Blurb

  •    The character by first & last name, what they do/occupation and how they feel/the start of their emotional story journey. And if you have 2 POV characters, they’ll each get this.
  •     Next, what's happened in the past that’s influencing the way they live now? 
  •     For a later book in a series, what’s happened in the last book(s) to cause internal or external conflict? 
  •     The complication - What's going on so they must act? 
  •     Setting - Tie it in with the story conflict.
  •     Selling paragraph - This is where you can say 'if you like A Certain Author you'll love this book', or ask questions 'Can these characters win out against whatever they're battling?' and make it an actual question. 
  •    Call to Action - This sounds simplistic, but this is where you poke the reader and say 'Do it!'
 And now … time for a sample.

Here’s the blurb for Tina Radcliffe’s re-issue of The Rosetti Curse, a sweet romantic comedy.

The Rosetti Curse
Author: Tina Radcliffe


Tagline: A Romantic Comedy of Italian Proportions …
Can a widow determined never to re-marry and a cop who's been engaged too often find love together? Or will an old curse keep them apart? 


A Romantic Comedy of Italian Proportions …

Can a widow determined never to re-marry and a cop who's been engaged too often find love together? Or will an old curse keep them apart?

She's done with marriage …
A curse has widowed three generations of Tessa Rosetti's family. And she may look good in black, but after surviving a husband, she's not going there again. 

Back in Silver Ridge, Colorado, she'll attend her mother's second wedding, help at the family bakery, but no romance! Until she finds her first love, Riley, bleeding on her front doorstep. He always did make her want to bend the rules--and all grown up, he's more attractive than ever.

He's through with romance …
Thomas Riley went from local bad boy to California cop. He's back to settle his grandma's estate, and to escape the media frenzy over his latest failed engagement, this time to a Hollywood starlet. 

But he discovers someone is cooking up more than biscotti at Tessa’s stepfather's cookie factory. Riley won't let her investigate alone--not with danger looming. He's impressed with her courage, intrigued by her spirit, and more attracted every hour.

Can this couple find a way to a shared future before the last cookie crumbles?


Find out if old curses are made to be broken--get your copy of The Rosetti Curse today!

The good news is, if you want to learn to blurb your own books, you can. I did … although I’ll confess that as I learn more about writing blurbs, I’ve gone back and redone several of mine … more than a few times.

Go ahead, Seekers and Villagers, Be Brave! Post a Blurb You’ve Written. We’re all here to learn, right?

If you do not want to write your own, but now see how important they are … well, that’s where I come in! 

Contact me @
                      @  Contact Form on my website
Also on you’ll find my Prices, Portfolio, & Referrals by satisfied clients!

You can visit me on Facebook
                                &    Twitter

Cathryn Cade
Aka The Blurb Queen

We've got a $25 Amazon gift card up for grabs today. Leave a comment, and/or leave a blurb and you are in. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Royal Decree of the Day!   Everyone who shares a blurb of theirs or another author shall be entered in an additional drawing for a Seeker book of choice. E or print. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

7 Secrets to Writing While Stressed

By Barbara White Daille

Hello, Seekers! I’m so happy to be back to visit with y’all again. My contributions to the community table are an Apple Spice Coffeecake and Chocolate-Chip Croissants. I always love the menu here, especially when there are items that double as dessert.

Dessert is not only my favorite meal, but desserts spelled backward is…our topic for today.

In roughly the thirty days before I began drafting this post, my personal life took a nosedive. We needed to leave the state for a week-long trip for a family funeral, spent a day in a hospital Emergency Room, and dealt with a family member’s illness and the doctor visits, follow-up appointments, and medical testing that went along with it. During this time, I was working on two complete novels and one proposal, each with its own deadline. While this doesn’t make me an expert in stress, it definitely gives me a good understanding of what it’s like to experience the symptoms.

Here’s a clip of a woman under a different kind of stress, thanks to the ex-husband who has just reappeared in her life. This is from my upcoming book in The Hitching Post Hotel series, Cowboy in Charge:

Layne did the best she could with toothbrush and mouthwash and comb, but it wasn’t much. And it was quick.
The symptoms she had been battling for two days now had gotten worse instead of better, and the short time on her feet showed her just how shaky this flu had left her. She gave thanks that when she had gone to answer the door, she hadn’t been holding the baby.
The last thing she remembered before passing out was the look of alarm on Jason’s face. When she had come to, she found herself cradled like a baby herself in his arms. She had fainted for only a second, he assured her. Still, ignoring her protests, he carried her into the small living room and deposited her on the couch.
Moments later, her stomach had heaved and she had bolted and here she was now, hiding in her bathroom the way she and her friends had hidden in the girls’ room at school when they wanted to exchange gossip about the boys.
The only boy she’d ever had eyes for was Jason.

We all deal with stress at one time or another. Here are some secrets—or suggestions, if you prefer—for ways to get your work done while you’re under the gun. These secrets can work just as well for non-writers, too. Also, they’re numbered for clarity but are in no particular order. I tell you this because if you’re like me, you’ll stress over wanting to do the “steps” in the proper sequence!

1) Play with your process.

When under stress, consider making changes to your writing process. (Note:  if the idea alone sends your blood pressure up, skip immediately to another suggestion.)

If you write in the afternoon, try sneaking the pages in early in the morning, before the day hits you and the stress level rises. If you usually do a comprehensive bio for every character in your book, do interviews with just the main characters instead and go from there.

Pantsers might need to give their tired brains the safety net of an outline, no matter how rough. Plotters who normally plan every scene down to the very last detail may find their brains are too scattered to follow their strict process. They may have better luck winging it, at least for a few pages at a time.

2) Be kind to yourself.

This is a no-brainer, especially on those days when you feel you have no brain cells left. Sleep more, eat well, give your body time to relax. Stretch, meditate, take breaks from the computer. Listen to the music of your choice, curl up with a good book, or take your baby or puppy for a walk in the park. Do whatever works to help you unwind.

3) Shake up your schedule.

When you’re under stress, it’s okay to mix things up and even to let some things slide. Have scrambled eggs for dinner one night instead of making the usual meat-veg-potatoes meal. Hit the snooze button once, or maybe twice, and get a few extra minutes of sleep. Skip the trip to the gym one day and jog around the block. While you’re at it, stop to smell the roses.

4) Use your writing time as an escape.

This is a tough one for many of us. As it is, we feel guilty that our writing takes time away from the family/pets/carpool/problems/fill-in-the-blank. And now I’m asking you to use that time deliberately as an escape? You bet I am.

Diving into a work-in-progress will help take your mind off your troubles. If you’re on deadline, whether self-imposed or for a publisher, writing—even a paragraph or two a day, if that’s all you can manage—will keep your head in the story. Watching those page numbers go up lets you see you’re getting closer to your goal. And as you increase your page count, you’ll decrease your stress…in the moment and down the road.

5) Use your experiences as fodder for your book.

Any stressful situation has the potential to be tweaked to fit a scene in a story. An angry phone call to lodge a consumer complaint can translate to an explosive scene with a troublesome teenaged son or daughter. Being pulled over by a state trooper for speeding might spark an idea for a heroine being followed by a stalker.

6) Mine your emotions.

I’m not saying we should whip out a notebook at a wake, but the emotions we feel in that situation could very well be appropriate for a heroine who is losing a parent to cancer. Having to make a speech yourself could provide just the case of nerves you need for your hero who is preparing to ask for a raise.

7) Reward yourself.

While being kind to yourself includes mostly no-cost options, if you have the extra cash to give yourself rewards, go for it. You deserve it. A massage or a yoga class literally, physically, can relieve stress. A movie can act as a mini-vacation for your mind. A new dress—or business planner—may lift your spirits and will still be around long after your stress is gone. Fresh roses or that cup of gourmet coffee are considered aromatherapy!


In this clip from the opening of one of my books, A Rancher’s Pride, I made life extra-stressful for my hero:

Everything looked familiar, except the child sitting on one of the couches.
A beautiful little girl.
The daughter he’d always hoped for, the start of the family he’d never had.
He shook his head. Pipe dreams, for sure. Ronnie had never told a true story in her life. This child couldn’t be his.
The girl’s eyes shone in the light from the table lamp beside the couch. Silver-gray eyes surrounded by dark lashes, a perfect match to his own.
His throat tightened. He felt frozen in place.
She gave him a shy smile.
He’d seen that half-twisted grin in plenty of his own childhood pictures. Not impossible after all. The child was his.
 “Hello.”  The word came out in a croak. He hadn’t the first idea of what to say and went for the standard opening line. “What’s your name?”
Mom moved up to stand behind him and rested her hand on his arm. “Her name’s Becky,” she told him. “But she can’t hear you, Sam. She’s deaf.”


I hope you find the examples and suggestions above helpful.

Have any of these ideas worked for you in the past?  Do you have any other suggestions for us?  Answer one of these questions to get your name in a drawing for one of my books!

The winner will receive her/his choice of an autographed print copy of A Rancher’s Pride or The Cowboy’s Little Surprise, book one in The Hitching Post Hotel series. (US mailing addresses, please.)  One of the villagers here at Seekerville will draw and announce the winner’s name.

About the Author:
Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom.
A larger print reissue of A Rancher’s Pride, book one in Barbara’s popular Flagman’s Folly series, releases in June exclusively from Harlequin. The next book in The Hitching Post Hotel series is Cowboy in Charge, debuting in July 2016, with other books in the series to follow. At the end of 2016, she begins a new sweet romance series for Entangled Bliss.
You can find more info about Barbara and her books at the following locations:

From the cover of Cowboy in Charge, July 2016

Single mom Layne Slater thought she'd seen the last of Jason McAndry when he chose the rodeo over her and their unborn son. Now Jason's back in Cowboy Creek and just as handsome as ever. But Layne can't give in to those feelings again. She has to protect her children…and her heart. 
Jason wants to try to make up for the pain he caused when he left. The least he can do is help Layne while he's home. Before long, Jason realizes he's finally ready to be the husband, father and man his family deserves. But can Jason prove to Layne that this time, their love is forever?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May Contest Update

 Welcome to the May Contest Update, where we inspire,
 nag & you get neat giveaways! 
Leave a comment today for a chance to 
win Alicia Rasley's Conflict Without Combat (ebook) 
for a couple of writers, 
  and a surprise bag of books for one reader. 
Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

The Duel on the Delta 2016 “Cover Me Contest." Deadline May 7.

 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award “NERFA.” Deadline May 25.

 Heart of Excellence Reader's Choice. Deadline May 31. Digital Only.

Aspen Gold Readers Choice. Deadline June 1. 

I Heart Indie. Deadline June 1. 
National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award “NERFA. ”Deadline May 25. - See more at:

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Deadline June 30.

 STAR Crossed Covers Contest. Deadline June 30.

The Tara. Deadline May 25. Now open. The TARA Contest is open to unpublished writers and published authors of novel length fiction. The author does not have to be a member of Romance Writers of America® (RWA) to enter the TARA Contest; however, the entry must be the author's original work of novel length, unpublished, and not contracted at the time of the contest deadline. Entries previously published in any format visible to the public such as on a website (including blogs), as an eBook, mass-market copy, self-published, etc., or works in the process of publication with the intention of being released through any venues at any time prior to October 1st of this TARA Contest year, will not be accepted. Up to the first 25 pages.Per the request of our editor judges listed below, all finalists must submit a synopsis with their entry.**

Category (also known as Series Contemporary)-Liz Pelletier -Entangled Publishing
Contemporary Single Title -Gabrielle Keck -Avon / Harper Collins
Specialized-(Paranormal, Futuristic, Fantasy, Time Travel)-Cat Clyne-Sourcebooks, Inc.
Historical - Brenda Chin-Imajinn Books
Inspirational-Raela Schoeherr-Bethany House **
Romantic Suspense -Alison Dasho-Montlake Publishing
Women’s Fiction- Junessa Viloria-Ballantine Bantam Dell

Colorado Gold. Deadline June 1. Enter the first 4000 words of your manuscript and a 750 word synopsis. Unpublished authors only.

Action/Thriller (Judge: Peter Joseph of St. Martin's Press)
Mystery/Suspense (Judge: Amy Stapp of Tor Books)
Romance ( Judge: Elizabeth Poteet of St. Martin's Press)
Speculative Fiction (Judge: Diana Pho from Tor Books)
Young Adult/Middle Grade (Judge:Shannon Hassan of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency)
Mainstream and Other Genres (Judge: Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management)

Lone Star. Deadline June 5. Competition is opened to published and unpublished authors. Entry consists of the first 5,000 words of your manuscript.**

Piya Campana,Editor Harlequin  
Cindy Davis-Editor, Wildrose Press
Victoria Lowe- agent, The Bent Agency


Char Chaffin- Editor, Soulmate Publishing
Allison Byers-Editor, WildRose Press
3rd judge TBA


Brenda Chin-Editorial Director, Imajinn Books
Debbie Gilbreath- Editor, Soulmate Publishing
3rd judge TBA


Raela Schoenherr, Acquisition Editor, Bethany Books
Nicola Martinez, Editor Pelican Books
 3rd Judge TBA

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE/INTRIGUE:     Tara Gelsomino, Editor Crimson Romance
2nd TBA
3rd TBA


Alycia Tornetta, Associate Editor, Entangled
2nd TBA
3rd TBA


Alicia Condon, Editor, Kensington Books
2nd TBA
3rd TBA

Ignite the Flame. Opens for entries June 1 and deadline June 30. ***Entry must be from an unpublished completed manuscript in book-length fiction (minimum of 40,000 words).Submit up to 15 pages maximum. Enter the scene of your unpublished manuscript when your hero and heroine first meet (or reunite after a period of time) and experience that first spark of attraction.

Contemporary: Elle Keck, Editor, Harper Collins
Erotic: Christine Klocek-Lim, Acquiring Editor, Evernight Publishing
Historical: Tara Gelsomino, Executive Editor, Crimson Romance
**Inspirational: Emily Rodmell, Editor, Harlequin, Love Inspired
Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic/Time Travel: Tahra Seplowin, Editor, Harlequin, HQN
Romantic Suspense: Megha Parekh, Editor, Grand Central
Young Adult/New Adult: Liz Pelletier, CEO & Publisher, Entangled

Pages From the Heart-Published Division Deadline June 30. ** Eligibility: The writer is contracted or published, but the entry itself must not be contracted or published as of June 30, 2016. Self-published authors are welcome.  Submission Consists of: No more than 6000 words/ first 25 pages.
Short Contemporary
Editor: Elle Keck, Editorial Assistant, Avon Books
Editor: Carly Silver, Editor, Harlequin

Long contemporary
Agent: Courtney Miller-Callahan, Handspun Literary Agency
Editor: Meredith Rich, Editor, Bloomsbury Spark

Romantic Suspense
Editor: Caroline Acebo, Assistant Editor, Grand Central Publishing
Editor: Allison Lyons, Editor, Harlequin Intrigue

Editor: Deborah Gilbert, Editor, Soulmate Publishing
Editor: Erin Molta, Senior Editor, Entangled Publishing

Paranormal/Fantasy/Time Travel
Agent: Jennie Goloboy, Red Sofa Literary Agency
Editor: Elizabeth May, Editorial Assistant, Kensington Publishing

Young Adult
Editor: Alysia Tornetta, Editorial Director, Entangled Publishing
Editor: Sarah Blumenstock, Editorial Assistant, Berkley/NAL

Agent: Michelle Grajkowski, Three Seas Literary Agency
Editor: Nicola Martinez, Editor-In-Chief, Pelican Ventures Book Group

Hero Of Our Heart Award:
Agent: Stacy Donaghy, Donaghy Literary Agency
Editor: Elizabeth Poteet, St. Martin’s Press

Pages From the Heart-Unpublished Division Deadline June 30. Submission Consists of: No more than 6000 words/ first 25 pages. Unpublished authors only.

 Unpublished Division:
Long contemporary
Agent: Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Agency
Editor: Alexandra Sehulster, Assistant Editor, St. Martin’s Press

Short contemporary
Agent: Scott Eagan, Greyhaus Literary Agency
Editor: Patience Bloom, Senior Editor, Harlequin

Agent: Jessica Watterson, Sandra Dijkstra Agency
Editor: Janet Clementz, Editor, Soulmate Publishing

Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford agency
Editor: Carly Silver, Editor, Harlequin Intrigue

Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary agency
Editor: Kayla King, Assistant Editor, Harlequin Nocturne

Young Adult
Agent: Linda Scalissi, Three Seas Literary Agency
Editor: Alycia Tornetta, Editor, Entangled Publishing

*** Inspirational
Agent: Nicole Resciniti, The Seymour Agency
Editor: Raela Schoenherr, Bethany House

 Linda Howard Award of Excellence.  Deadline June 30. Contest is open to unpublished and published authors. Published authors may submit only unpublished, non-contracted manuscripts that will remain unpublished until the contest has concluded.Entry consists of the first 5,000 words. Finalists have 7 days to submit a synopsis.


Short/Long Contemporary Romance
Final Judges:
Single Title - Alicia Condon, Editorial Director, Kensington Publishing
Series - Pamela Harty, VP of Sales/Literary Agent, The Knight Agency

Historical Romance
Final Judge: Patricia Nelson, Literary Agent, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Paranormal/Futuristic/Fantasy Romance
Final Judge: Ansley Blackstock, Acquisitions Editor & Author Development Liaison, Liquid Silver Books

Young Adult Romance
Final Judge: Michelle Grajkowski, Literary Agent, Three Seas Literary Agency

Romantic Sensual and Sizzling
Final Judge: Cheryl Yeko, Award Winning Author & Senior Acquisitions Editor, Soul Mate Publishing

The Write Magic
For Southern Magic members only
Final Judge: Kristy Hunter, Submissions Coordinator & Associate Agent, The Knight Agency

May Mini-con with Donald Maass: The Fire in Fiction. Sponsored by Colorado Romance Writers (CRW) Denver, Colorado  Fee: $85–100.00 Date: May 21, 2016
Featured Speaker: Donald Maass, President of the Donald Maass Literary Agency and author of Fire in Fiction, Writing the Breakout Novel, The Breakout Novelist, and Writing 21st Century Fiction. Conference Features: In this full-day hands-on master class, New York agent Donald Maass works from his book, Fire in Fiction, and reveals how master novelists make every book great—and shares how conference participants can use the same techniques of greatness in their current manuscripts. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop for all fiction writers. Participants should bring a WIP and writing materials. Continental breakfast, lunch, and beverages provided.
If you can't afford a writer conference, do consider this workshop. It will change your life.

Do you live in Missouri? Then here's an opportunity! Michael Hauge’s Story Mastery Sponsored by the Missouri Romance Writers of America Location: Drury Hotel, 1118 Central Park Drive, O’Fallon, IL 62269 (18 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri.)
Cost: Story Mastery $85, Advanced Class $300. Date: May 14, 2016 and May 15, 2016. Description: On May 14, speaker Michael Hauge presents an all-day event with an optional advanced workshop on May 15. He is a story expert, author, and lecturer who works with writers, filmmakers, marketers, attorneys, and public speakers around the world. 

 WOW. Women on Writing SPRING 2016 FLASH FICTION CONTEST WITH GUEST JUDGE LEIGH EISENMAN OF HSG AGENCY. Do you need some writing inspiration? Contests are a great way to spark your creativity, and you may even win a prize! Get your best work together and consider entering the WOW! quarterly flash fiction contest with guest judge, literary agent Leigh Eisenman of HSG Agency. Stop by the contest page, download the pdf guidelines, and read all about Leigh's preferences. The Spring Contest is open to all genres of fiction between 250 - 750 words. Only 300 stories are accepted, so enter early to ensure your spot in the contest. Deadline: May 31, 2016. Details here.
Enter the Golden Donut Short Story Contest. Deadline July 1, 2016. The contest winner receives the prestigious Golden Donut Award AND and free registration to any 2017 WPA-hosted event! The Writers’ Police Academy is pleased to continue the Golden Donut short story contest in 2016. The rules are simple—write a story about the photograph above using exactly 200 words, including the title (each story must include an original title). The image in the photograph MUST be the main subject of the story. We will not provide clues as to the subject matter of the image, or where the shot was taken. That is for you and your imagination to decide. Remember, though, what you see in the image absolutely MUST be the MAIN subject of your tale.

Angels, Miracles, Cats, Dogs, Canada and more... The Chicken Soup upcoming topic line up can be found here.

Another terrific paying market for your short fiction is Splickety Magazine. Check out the guidelines here.

ACFW Virginia  Short Story Contest. Opens June 1, 2016. Deadline June 30, 2016. The theme is Christmas. Entry consists of an original 4,000 – 6,000 word short story. Entries must not have been previously published in any form. You do not have to be a member of ACFW to enter. Details here.

Interested in selling to Woman's World Magazine? Details for submission can be found in the February Edition of the Contest Update here.

 Contests. Contests! Come enter a CONTEST!!!Megan: Before you go and wrinkle your nose, hear me out. Please, I brought imaginary tea and cookies if it would help?

You: You’re telling me that you want me to willingly allow someone to not only see the words I’ve loved, laughed, and labored over for the past weeks. Months. Years even. But allow them the opportunity to rip my story and me to shreds. And pay them to do it? Yeah, no. No thanks.

Megan smiles and holds up the imaginary plate of goodies, tilting it at just the right angle so the sunlight sparkles across the sugary tops. “Here try the polka dotted ones, they’re my favorite. Sooo…Once upon a time, I entered my very first contest. I’d never had a critique partner, so I knew I needed someone else to look at my stuff. When I received my scores back, they were horrible, no good, very, very awfully-bad. And at the time I felt like a complete failure, wondering what in the world I was doing writing.

You eye the square iced cookie and frown. “You’re not doing very well with this whole persuasive go-forth-and-enter-a-contest thing.”

Megan holds up a finger: “Ahh, but all stories have a beginning, and who doesn’t love an underdog? Plus, I’m just laying the ground work to prove that if I can enter a contest, you can too. Another treat? The chocolate ones are scrumptious. Remember they’re imaginary so you can have as many as you want without any negative side effects.”

You plop two sugars into your tea and grab the mentioned chocolate. “Just get to the facts.”

Megan rubs her hands together. “Facts. Okay. Let’s call them Megan’s Top Reasons to be Brave and Enter a Contest List.”

Deadlines. When I know manuscript x has to be finished by date y it keeps me focused, productive, and continuing forward in this long writing journey. Contest entry deadlines also cut back on honing my already professional procrastination skills. It’s a win-win.

Feedback. Yes, sometimes the critique you receive may make you want to cry. Sometimes it’s even horribly off base. However, most of the time if applied correctly, it can strengthen your manuscript.

Thicker Skin. Not everyone in the world will be all sunshine and roses about what you write, how you write, or even why you write. Hearing criticism about your work will help prepare you for those possible one star reviews that may come in the future. (Which could only mean that you are published! Yeah!!!)

Encouragement. God has used a finalist placement or even a smiley face given by a judge on one simple sentence of my entry to keep me going. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a little boost of confidence, a ‘sign’ if you will, to prove to me that what I’m doing is worth it.

Platform Building. Oh, no. Wait. Don’t go! You haven’t tried the dipped peanut butter yummies yet… As much as I’d love to remove this phrase from my writing life. I can’t. May I suggest that contests allow your writing, your voice, your name to get out there. Connections are important, and I’ve made several because of my contest entries. And double bonus, if you final, you can use that in your bio, your query, and even on your website. 

Agents/Editors: If your entry makes it to a higher level, your work may land on a desk of a very ‘important person.’ Talk about a big opportunity. Like huge! Before you say, I’ll never make it that far. Let me encourage you. Yes, it took me several attempts to get a manuscript to move on in a contest. But I used my scores and feedback each time like a continual writing education course. I dug into my manuscript and slowly reaped the benefits. Do I always move on in every contest I enter now? No, I sure don’t. But that’s okay. I figure out what I can learn, and then I set my eyes on the future.

Prizes: Winning cash or getting a free critique is a pretty sweet deal. Seriously.

Decisions. In the end, no matter what, your writings are yours. If you enter no one will make you change your plot simply because judge 24902100.5 told you to. Should you set aside your pride and consider it, maybe. Especially if more than one judge suggested it. But can I let you in on a secret? Contest Judges are in fact….human. Who knew? They are people just like me and you who have good and bad days. Combine that with how subjective writing can be and sometimes the worst case scenario happens, like someone being told to give up and never write again. If you get this advice, you have my permission to IGNORE IT! Please. Or better yet, use it as fuel to learn more, and grow in your writing. In all honesty, judges are there to try and help you, not ruin your day, life, or writing career.

Free. If a writing contest is free… what in the world is stopping you??? And no, I won’t accept excuses like: “well, it’s not in a genre I’ve ever done.” If an idea appears…Try it. I’d never written a Historical or in 3rd person before I entered Love Inspired Manuscript Matchmakers and I moved on to the next stage, where I got valuable insight from an editor. (And I might add this is a perfect example of: never say never.

Now, I’m not saying go all crazy and enter every single contest you see.

You stir your tea and ask, “Then what are you saying?”

Megan: Plan and budget.
Figure out what you need from a contest. Do you already have an agent? Then chances are you don’t want to enter one that only has agents as ending judges. If you need feedback, find one that offers authors as first round judges. If your hook is on page four, you probably don’t want a contest where you only enter the first three pages…

Contests are rewarding. They help you figure out your strengths and sharpen your weaknesses. Don’t let the fear of failure keep your stories locked away. Or don’t let a few actual failures keep you from pressing on to tomorrow. Your words may be exactly what the world’s waiting for.

I’ve got my pompoms, tissues, and chocolate. I think we’re ready for another contest. It’s time to be brave.

  • MCRW’s 2014 Melody of Love Contest, 1st place, New Adult Category.
  • RWA FHL 2015 Touched by Love Award, 2nd place, Short Contemporary Category.
  • NTRWA 2015 Great Expectation, 2nd place, Inspirational Category.
  • 2015 ACFW’s Genesis finalist, YA Category.
  • Love Inspired 2016 Historical Manuscript Matchmakers, Betrothal Stage.

Megan Besing once thought books were only for education and Bible studies. However, now she can be caught hiding by her kitchen cabinets, squeezing in just one more chapter before dinner. She’s represent by Jessica Kirkland, The Blythe Daniel Agency, and when Megan isn’t writing she’s reviewing books over at Straight Off the Page. 

The Hoosier state is home, along with her husband, their children, a cat, and some chickens. Megan loves the beach, adores happily-ever-afters, and drinks way too many Vanilla Cokes. Learn more about her at

That's it! Now go forth and contest!


Today's Contest Update was brought to you by Tina Radcliffe. Check out her January release from Love Inspired, Rocky Mountain Reunion 

 **Indicates an excellent opportunity!! And they don't come along every day! Open doors are for walking through. No guts, no glory. No risk, no reward!