Friday, April 11, 2008

Time for a Little Contest Post-Mortem

It's time!
Time to confess.
Time to get it off your chest.
Then time to bury it.
My confession: The last three contests I entered I didn't final in. Nope. Not even close. Never mentioned it in public. Humiliated.
Truth is when you've had significant positive results in contests you get a bit cocky and expect to final every time. That is so NOT pc to admit.
But I'm admitting it.
The really ugly truth is this is a competitive business. You know all those great suggestions you gave newbie authors when you judged a contest? Well the smart ones, the savvy ones...they took your advice, my advice. And they are running right behind us.
So if you want to keep on top of your game, published or have to continue to grow as a writer. You have to go to conferences, take online workshops, read, and generally live life.
We've had a lot of Genesis post-mortem around here. Wait til the non finaling Golden Heart results come back. OUCH!!
Contests are a 'crap-shoot' in that at any given time, you can have any given judge, who has any given set of pre existing conditions from: PMS to an aversion to the time period your book was set in or a mortal enemy named Jessica...btw the name of your heroine...
But, as we all know, contests are a huge training ground most of the time. They provide a cold read when we need it, a kick in the pants when we need it and a challenge to take our writing to the next level.
So it's Friday. As we gear up for another week of courting our dreams, lets lay our contest
frustrations on the ground, and bury them.
Be honest.
What's twisting your boxers?
Get it off your chest and we'll move on.
Oh, yeah, one more thing for me to lay on the ground before I move on.
Pissy thank you notes. Come on. If you are going to judge bash, have the smarts not to mail the note.
Happy Friday!


  1. Tina. Are you speaking to moi?

    Yep, I have had my share of judges who just didn't get my writing (to put it kindly). I think I'm finally learning to let the less-than-stellar critiques slide on by, though. And it took long enough!

    What truly, truly helps is having some understanding friends to whom I can vent.

    And may I remind our visitors, ALWAYS vent in private. ALWAYS use discretion when airing your contest or editorial frustrations. The publishing world is a lot smaller than you might think.

    Nobody needs to be burning their bridges off Unpubbed Island.

  2. I'll brave the confession process.

    My entry didn't final in the Genesis. I wavered between fuming and whining. How could those judges not recognize the brilliance of my story? Grrr.

    Fortunately, you Tina, smacked sense into me.

    I woke up the next morning realizing my perspective was all off. I was focusing on me and my plans and not God and His.

    Examining my three scoresheets, I realized some things.

    1) Two out of three judges loved my story, and the one who didn't wrote in a totally non-romancy genre. Readers are just as subjective as judges. Face it and move on.

    2) Judging comments aren't always spot on. One judge said my hero was a strong character, the other said he could be strengthened. And the third judge (the one who didn't like the story) said nothing. I assumed she thought he was fine as is. Do I tweak or not tweak him? Hmm. (Actually I tweaked the scene because my agent asked me to.)

    3) Judging comments are sometimes spot on. All three judges mentioned my second scene was a either slow or skimmable. I cut three pages from it.

    4) Just because your entry doesn't final doesn't mean it's poorly written. do I say this?

    Okay, I'm coordinaing the long and short contemporary category of FHL's Touched by Love contest. Last night when I was assiging judges to the entries, I felt burdened. Major burden. All it takes is one judge to keep a deserving entry from finaling.

    What if my random assigning of judges causing that to happen? Not saying I want the less well written entries to get bad judges. NO, NOT AT ALL.

    So I stopped for a moment and prayed that the right entries would get the right judges who will give the entrants advice to help them strengthen their writing and encourage them in their pursuit of publication.

    That's why I remind myself that judging is a crap shoot. No matter how spectacular your entry is, it has to fall into the hands of the right judges who will connect with it. So say a prayer for your entry and for the categry coordinator.

    5) Even though the overall comments from my judges didn't give me a lot of things to work on improving, the little tweeks and one major cut was worth the entry fee.

    On a side note, I hate number score (except 5s) with no comments. Even if you give a four, tell me why. Were all my scenes weak on sensory details or just one? What grammatical errors did I have (point out at least a few)? The latter really irked me with the judge who didn't like my entry. She gave me a 3 on grammar. The other two gave me 5s.

    6) I should never again enter a contest where Mindy Obenhaus is the coordinator for my category. I'm oh for two now.

    But I've figured a solution.

    Adam and Eve cursed mankind, so God required a blood sacrifice. Mindy is my bad luck charm. To break this curse, I decided to sacrifice a gerbil. Mindy, though, was distraught about the cute little thing losing its life. So I compromised and offered to sacrifice our family cat instead. Mindy's good with that. Now wonder I like her.

    I'll let you know how the sacrificing goes.

    BTW, I did send each of my judges a note. To the one gal who didn't like my entry, I said...

    I'm sorry my story didn't connect with you. Nevertheless, you comment about xxx wise and I have made the appropriate changes.

    But that's not what I really wanted to say.

    Pissy thank you notes don't glorify God or represent you well.

    Not sending a thank you doesn't glorify God or represent you well either.

    Just phrase it graciously.

  3. Amen,Myra.

    Check out our stats. (Blue box on the right of the main page)

    For every person who posts, they say there are 75 lurkers.

    Never give your vent a name.

  4. If you hurt a cat, I will have to come after you, Gina. And I will immediately return all those TBL entries you asked me to judge. So there.

  5. Whoa, Tina! Interesting about the stats! Just checked them out. Didn't realize how detailed they were! Did you notice we've had visitors from South Africa and several European countries?

  6. And this reminded me of a contest I judged and the author killed a cat.

    Well, I'm a farm girl. We tend to treat people like people out here, and animals like animals. Generally speaking, it's a tough world for small animals and my outlook is, cats have litters because it takes that many to grow a couple to adult hood and replace mama and papa who got run over because they decided it was a good idea to climb into the engine of a warm car.

    But that's not my point.

    My point is, in the entry I told the was a good book, despite the cat...don't kill a cat. Are you MAD!!!!

    You can't kill a cat in a book.

    Although Camster did have a child swallow a hamster in hers, similar and yet different. And I read on, though my insides were rather wiggled and jiggled.
    A tiny, "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly..." moment for me.

    So don't kill a cat.

    And let me add that, I really do try, when I judge, to be helpful.
    I do.
    I may not be.
    And often after I return the entries I'll open them back up and agonize over whether I was too hard or too easy.


    Terrible job judging a contest.

  7. I had a time too, when I expected to final in every contest I entered. I'm familiar with that feeling when the calls go out and I don't get one.

    Indignant. :)

  8. Oh man, Tina, did I need THIS today! I got a BIG "pet" peeve I need to take for a walk!

    This is a crazy world -- we're all busy, right? But you still want to reach out, because, geez Louise, we're all Christians and the whole "divine connections" thing, right? (Just knew that blog would end up biting me in the butt ...)

    Anyway, the burr under my saddle today is new writers who ask for your help (after they have guilted you with a compliment so you can't say no!). It's nothing much, they say, all they want is for you to look at their query, proposal, prologue, first chapter, grocery list, whatever, and just give them your opinion and maybe some tips.

    So you do, and being the anal human being you are (yes, I will confess that it takes me 2-3 hours to judge a Genesis entry despite Camy's warnings not to exceed 30 minutes to an hour), you give them your all. I mean you teach them in the first two paragraphs (yes, this really happened!) almost EVERYTHING you learned through 4 years of hard-won contests and rejections. Then you praise them for what you liked in their piece and you tell them you will pray they make it.

    And then you never hear another word from them. Not "thank you," not "kiss my butt," not "your opinion sucks pondwater." NOTHING. Just silence and the roar of your 1/4 Irish temper echoing in your ears.

    Grrrrrrr ...

    But ... I'm over it now. Praying for the ungrateful wretch and moving on. Gee, I feel better! Thanks, Tina.


  9. Oh, my!!! Julie, a spew alert was warranted with that!

    But yes. It is good to spill and then bury it, forever.

    I feel better too. :)

  10. Rejection hurts. Always! Even when we say it doesn't. So I loved your honest thoughts today, Tina.

    My two cents? Finaling in a contest does not necessarily mean we're the best writer or that our story will sell. Sometimes the person who doesn't final . . . the person with the unique style and unusual voice is the one the editor will snatch up in a nanosecond.

  11. Talk about honest posts! You ladies are doing a lot of teaching here today. I guess bottom line is the growing process is not easy. None of us likes criticism even when it helps us.

    Thank you notes...just common thankfulness for those who reach out to you (Julie) now shame on folks who can't be gracious enough to say thank you. It's obvious the judges aren't having much fun either.

    VERY INTERESTING to see both sides of this process!! Thanks for sharing!

    My vent? Well, hubby and I are trying to teach some classes on a volunteer basis and getting the response of a stump. Just blank stares and folks leaving the room without saying so much as "excuse me" - talk about RUDE!! Now that is getting on our nerves!!

    Vent over.

    Have a great weekend!


  12. Julie, put it behind you. I bet for every new writer who doesn't say thank you, there are hundreds who would.

    I think I will refer to the phenomenon of not finaling, after one has had much success in contests, as the Doolittle effect. If you're a big American Idol fan, as am I, you were besides yourself last year when the best singer in the competition, Melinda Doolittle, did not win. Nope, didn't even make the final two.

    She was robbed. She was stunned, and I'm betting she had a good cry. Behind closed doors.

    Did her loss take away from her ability to sing the lights out? Nope. Does it mean all hopes for a successful singing career for her were washed down the drain? Nope.

    Sometimes judges get it right; sometimes judges get it wrong.

    Now, until one has had much success, it simply means not good enough...yet.

  13. I love that, Pat. The Doolittle Effect.

    I am guilty of only watching Idol at the end of each season. BUT yeeeeeaaah, you are correct.

    And thanks for pointing out that bit of wisdom

  14. Oh, Tina.

    What have you done???

    Thrown down the gauntlet and planted the danged confessional in front of me, knowing I'm Catholic.



    All right. Here it is:

    I not only did not final in the GH, I did not final f-o-u-r times.



    This year. One year. The only year I've ever entered.

    (If you listen closely, the sound of a failing jet engine fills the room as I crash and burn before each and every one of you...)

    There I was, with my game plan in hand, hedging my bets with an extra couple of inspy entries, just wanting to write that GH Finalist in my cover letters.


    Nope. All three entries in that category were multi-contest winning and/or finaling entries, and they were worthy in their own right, but I crashed and burned worse than Maverick and Goose in the opening bar scene of Top Gun...


    Up in smoke. Possibly a world record of failure at the GH level in one attempt because who ELSE would spend that kind of money and time to send off four entries that didn't have a chance, right????

    To top it off, two days later I found out I came in (two entries this time) and tied MYSELF for fourth in the Winter Rose...

    And missed finaling by 1/3 of a point.

    .33 stood between me and getting two fun, new, laugh-a-minute stories on a Superromance desk.

    Talk about smackdown.

    Oy vay.

    Since I don't have results back from either contest, (and GH is just numbers, anyway, according to my friends, because this chickie-chickie-baby had NEVER entered it before, and still managed to die in infamy... So much for the idea of 'buying' a resume, huh?)

    We're back to crapshoot. I know that. Knew it then. Just figured the odds were in my favor, but that's okay.

    If it doesn't kill you, it'll only make you stronger...

    How many times did I say that to soccer players and track/cross-country athletes????


    Taste of my own medicine, and it don't taste all that palatable, dagnabbit!

    But here's the thing:

    A couple of those works did very well in two other winter contests this year, garnering me two requests from different editors in the past couple of months, so:


    That life don't come with no guarantees, darlin', and only the strong survive.

    And since the reading public will respond in similar fashion, I'm okay with disparate judging. It's never about the win with me. Not ever, and this was the same precept I used raising my kids.

    Do your best. Congratulate those around you. If your best garners you first place, well and good. If not, practice more. Work harder. Do your best, then walk away and be satisfied with that.

    For contests it's about landing a spot on an editor's desk once you get to that level, and taking it on the chin with a firm lower lip (no pouting, and whining should be done only in private)before you get to that level. Learn, learn, learn.

    But I thank God every day that I've got this group around to laugh at me and with me, to smack me when I'm a jerk, and hold my hand when I'm down.

    Then they smack me. We don't have a high tolerance for "DOWN" around here.



  15. Pat, that is the perfect analogy.

    Girls, we have to steal that phrase, 'kay, claim it as our own???

    Oh, all right, we can't do that because Patricia is an honorary Seeker since she has the guts to not only stop by, she jumps right into the sandbox, bare tootsies and all.

    You nailed it, kiddo.


  16. To say the same thing Ruthy said with, ahem, much fewer words . . .

    One of my Genesis entries that just, um, did NOT go over well with one judge is the exact same manuscript that one of my dream editors asked to TAKE AWAY WITH HER from Mount Hermon.

  17. I'll tell you, Tina, this blog is a lifesaver today!! Kisses and hugs to you for presenting such a wonderful formum!

    KIM SAID: My vent? Well, hubby and I are trying to teach some classes on a volunteer basis and getting the response of a stump. Just blank stares and folks leaving the room without saying so much as "excuse me" - talk about RUDE!! Now that is getting on our nerves!!

    LOL!! "The response of a stump." Oh, Kim, don't even get me started on that!! Just had my VERY FIRST speaking engagement at my old high school this week -- to a junior/senior creative writing class. Felt like I was in one of those concrete sculpture places along Hwy 66, you know the ones that sell statues and birdbaths galore? Talk about stone-cold reception -- turns your blood cold right along with it. I feel for ya, kid! :)

    Sometimes judges get it right; sometimes judges get it wrong.

    Wow, "The Doolittle Effect" -- perfect term for it, Tina! And Patricia, you are soooo right.

    And Thanks, Patricia. I'm putting it behind me now, I promise ...


  18. Julie!! You spoke to a group of (gulp) teenagers??? I bow to you, woman. You are bravery personified. You are just lucky they didn't throw spitwads.

  19. Not that I have anything against teenagers. I am grandmother to one. It's just that they can be THE toughest audience.

  20. Throw candy at them, Julie. It works pretty well, even with teenagers.
    Anyone who asks a question or answers a question gets a Starburst thrown to them. Livens things up.

  21. Yeah, Myra, I am brave, aren't I? (Puffing up chest here.)

    No, no spitwads, just very few smiles (only one, to be exact) and an air of frigidity that was so cold, it could have iced a hot flash on a menopausal woman!!

    But, it's a Catholic school run by nuns, so things did warm up when I confessed to dressing up like a nun to go see Gone With the Wind at a complimentary showing for the religious community. when I told 'em the high school nuns saw me there, I actually got some smiles, so the room finally began to slooooowly thaw ...

    And, Mare, I didn't throw candy, but I did bring along a free book to give away in a drawing for anybody who asked a question. I thought I was dead in the water when I asked "who likes to write and hopes to write for a living someday" and only two girls out of 30 raised their hands. Gulp.

    It all turned out okay because apparently teenage girls like the concept of a love triangle between rival sisters and a bad boy. Even got to tell them my testimony, if you can believe that, so all was not lost!!!

  22. Okay, I'll only mentally kill the cat.

    But I doubt that'll be enough to break my unlucky charm and the curse that comes with it.

    Ruthy, sorry about the GH bomb. That had to hurt. I guess I won't feel to bad about my $50 loss off of a disqualification.

    On a side note....

    Be cautious about entering your story in one contest that overlaps another...especially if it's the first time you've entered the story in a contest.

    If I had entered my Genesis story in the Touched by Love and not made any changes, then I'd be setting myself up for failure. Now that I've gotten my Genesis results back, I can make the necessary changes that significant hurt my score.

    The good thing is there's six months before the next GH contest. That's three months to enter a contest, get results, make changes, and enter another contest to repeat the process. By the time the GH rolls around, one can have two (possibly three) rounds of contest to help polish the manscript for the Golden Heart.

  23. Big hug to Ruthy.

    Pass the carmel macchiato --extra carmel and cream on top.

  24. Gina said, "Be cautious about entering your story in one contest that overlaps another...especially if it's the first time you've entered the story in a contest."

    I only wish I'd have known that when I entered. First, I didn't know the Genesis was THE Genesis. My scores were okay for a first time story, and I got an excellent suggestion from a judge who took the time to figure something out that I know took her a while to do. (And yes, I did send thank you's). Between that and fixing the too early back story stuff that Mary pointed out the other day, I know I'll get comments back from the next judges that will probably mirror these.

    Oh well, we live and learn, and I have a lot to learn.

    Gina, instead of mentally killing the cat, you could you hang a picture of it up and shoot darts at it.

  25. Oh, I forgot that the judge was afraid my amputation scene was too gory for CBA. I thought, "It's the Civil War! I don't think it was bloodless." I understand what she was saying, but are there really readers who are that easily put off by blood?

  26. And speaking of thank you' do I send a thank you note to the judges? (What? You, Kimberli?) Oh yeah. Despite the results, I appreciate the time they spent reading my entry and making comments. I asked my coordinator, but I haven't heard back. Methinks she's either busy returning entries or belting back non-alcoholic beverages after the deluge she no doubt received from non-finalist contestants.

    I am in no way indicating us non-finalists are poor losers--I mean, poor future winners (there, Ruth, now don't throw a coconut at me.) Merely inquisitive.

    Help is appreciated.

  27. Kim, I don't throw coconuts. It's just so... unseemly. Not ladylike. You know.

    I have other, more insidious, snarky ways of getting your attention.


    Julie, I spoke at a Bible school last year, to their creative writing class, and had a wonderful time. Like Mary, I threw candy, and that's a great ice breaker with young adults and teens.

    And I encouraged them (through the instructor) to bring in writing samples to let me see them, then gave out my e-mail so that they could chat with me in private about writing, etc. and several actually took me up on it, sending me stuff. It was a three-hour class, so I had time to joke, be silly, talk, get ver klempt, you name it.

    Glad you did it, kid. Next time will be easier.

    I use candy with adult talks, too. Keeps them from throwing rotten tomatoes at me. I mean, come on, they might ruin one of my best Wal-Mart special tops!!! Can't have that.


  28. Lorna,
    i remember reading one of Gilbert Morris's house of winslow books early on and he has a scalping. I handled it with a oh yuck and shudder but I appreciated that it was what happened and it was only the front part which he explained about. but i had friends who couldn't read that book or they skipped chapters cos of it.
    For the civil war I would be doing the oh boy thing again but I would read it cos I am interested in that era and its not like I am seeing it.

    On the subject of cats im glad its imaginary cos im a cat person who wants one so bad but its Mum or a cat. (dont tell mum but there are days the cat wins hands down)
    patiently waiting for the neighbours can get a new cat that will decided it loves me more and let me love it and let them feed it.

    on a side side note mum comes home today in a few hours. so that will be good but scary when she has her bad nights. they put her on new meds which I pray will work.
    (i also booked her into respite for July but will tell her later)

  29. I think someone threw a coconut at me i have a bruise on my forehead
    (oh thats right it was a horse riding helmet ontop of a underlay for the bed i had to make at work still ot sure why it was where on top where i couldn't see it and get hit!)
    but maybe it was friends with Ruthy's coconut

  30. GREAT post Tina!

    And it's totally true about judging being subjective. And guess what--editors and agents are, too. Every house my manuscript was sent to rejected it. I was lucky because one editor agreed to read it a second time. Well, she liked it after that second go through. Go figure. It's now published as ONLY UNI.

    So a judge didn't like your entry? Kick a few cabinets, cull what useful info you can from the judge (because there's always at least something useful once the pain ebbs away) and make your entry even better. I'm almost surprised to admit that I'm grateful to the one judge who thought SUSHI FOR ONE sucked rotten eggs because I took her brutal comments and made the entry more palatable to a wider audience, which hopefully included a romance reader like herself.

    About the hamster--it was the hamster possessed by a demon so don't feel all that sorry for it.

    Debby is absolutely right, not finaling does not mean you're not a good writer. None of my published books ever finaled in a contest (the finaling ones are still unpubbed). So not finaling does not mean your writing is not publishable. On the contrary.

    Kim, I can totally relate to the "response like a stump." My high school kids at youth group respond like that ALL THE TIME. Sigh.

    Kimberli, in the email you got with your judged entries should be instructions on how to send thank you notes.

  31. Thanks for the wise words Camy.

    Every now and then I need a reminder that my msc is being judged NOT ME.

  32. I sent my (hopefully) non p**** thank you notes to the Genesis category coordinators and asked them to forward them.

    I have felt like writing snarky thank-you notes in the past but tried to err on the side of bland.

    But, even though it was more fun to be stepped on by a milk cow (takes them awhile to realize that squishy thing under their hoof is a person's foot)than to read some of the comments, I learned a lot that way.

    Finally, in my head I know that contests are subjective. My own darlign children's 4-H calves have stood dead last and next to last in their classes due to a judge who was blind in one eye and couldn't see out of the other. And my folks' artwork can win awards in one show and get kicked out of the next.

    Art shows can be bad. If there's open judging, the judge walks through and looks at all the pictures and critiques as he/she goes. And they don't just say, "Um, no ..." they get specific!

    So, I know all this in my head but in my heart -- I want to WIN, darn it.

    I'm happy that my scores this year were my personal best :-)

  33. Oops. Thanks, Camy. I thought I had paid closer attention to that. I guess I was too anxious to see the feedback.

    Thanks for the great posts, comments, and advice. Y'all are terrific.

  34. Gina said, "Be cautious about entering your story in one contest that overlaps another...especially if it's the first time you've entered the story in a contest."

    You know this came to me last night in the dark of night. I'd forgotten until now.

    To me, the premiere contests for Christian fiction are the TBL and the Genesis, mainly because they're categorized.

    I mean others are more presigious but they're weird because someone's long historical is against a contemporary Women's Fiction and a short, sweet romance. So very strange to judge.

    It's a shame they're on top of each other. Do you think ACFW could change their conference to January?

    Or could FHL announce their winners in January but give some kind of ... ceremony to the winnders at RWA?

    It'd be nice if you could enter one, get the comments back, revise, then enter the next.

  35. Tina, excellent post. It takes courage to admit contest results aren't always what you'd hoped, especially when entering multiple times. So hats off to you ladies for your courage. We've all had contests we try to forget. It's a comfort to know others have experienced the same.

    Often those low scoring judges have often been the best teaching tools for me. I've been fortunate that way. Maybe because I've used contests to get fresh eyes for a new manuscript. Then entered it again after I'd thought about the judges' comments and made the changes. Then I'd enter after the whole book was written, usually in major contests like the Golden Heart. Not to say it doesn't hurt when I didn't final or got bad scores, but most of the time I saw the judge's point.

    But not always.

    I remember one judge who wanted me to put the opening in the heroine's pov, which is more typical. But when I'd done that readers hated my hero. By starting in his pov, the reader got a glimpse of this guy's suffering. That he'd been driven almost to insanity. So the way he reacts to the heroine makes sense in his head and doesn't seem as cruel to the reader. But I didn't get a chance to explain. :-) Judging is subjective and when we're used to being finalists, it's tough to get whacked when we'd hoped to win, especially when we had mighty good reasons for what we did.

    Maybe poor scores are preparing us for the love/hate response to our books one day. I dread bad reviews. I'm afraid I'll buy into it and lose my confidence. I always regret stuff. I wish I'd not done this or that, sadly when it's too late to impact the book. Having that rubbed in my face is going to hurt. But I've decided pain is part of writing. The best way to handle it is to whine to Seekers.

    Julie, proud of you for speaking to teenagers. Glad you were able to bring them to life and to give your testimony.

    Gina, I love that you prayed while matching up judges and entries. That's just awesome. We need more contest coordinators like you.


  36. Great post, Tina! I really had to laugh. I had a judge comment once that she'd just judged three contest entries where the heroine's name was Jessica (mine was too, of course). And she seemed really irritated about it. I think she counted points off!


  37. Yeah, I agree Mary. Finaling or winning in the Genesis seems anticlimatic as they just call your name and it's over. It should have more pomp and circumstance.

    At least with the GH you get a neato pin and get to feel like a princess for a bit.

  38. Guys and gals, I want you to try a dessert pastry I just made for my daughter's upcoming shower...

    We had practice baking night tonight, trying out new recipes with the girls. On Monday I'll let you try the raspberry whipped cream filled sponge cake roll...

    These are "Mini-Mi-Sus", tiny versions of Tira-Mi-Su on individual lady fingers. I think they're amazing for a tea party shower, don't you? Here, Tina, try some amaretto coffee with yours, it's perfect.

    I've written thank you notes and torn them up. I've written letters and torn them up.

    But I felt better for having written them, LOL!

    Writing mean, opinionated stuff (don't stick out your tongues at me or hike those brows Seekers, I mean REAL mean, opinionated stuff, not just having some fun snarkisms) is not cool, smart or ever in your favor.

    Don't do it.

    Bite your tongue, chaw on your lower lip, take a walk, take a swim, take a pill, just don't do it.

    End of lecture.


  39. The Yankees won.

    Ah, now my day is complete. And Jeter was there, on the bench, still nursing a strained hamstring, but there.

    If you Southern and Midwestern gals don't know who Derek Jeter is, google him.

    Oh. My. Stars.

    A friend gave us box seat tickets for a game last summer. Right down in the first deck, third base side, where I had A-Rod and Jeter right in front of me.

    And I was wearing a really cute Chaps shirt and shorts, so I'm pretty sure they noticed me out of the 54,000 plus sell-out crowd.


    Mr. Baseball.

    Oh, that's right, we were talking contest eulogies, right, and no one said a thing about green eyes and toasted caramel skin tones.


    Off track.


  40. I want some of that cake bad, Ruthy. You KNOW I've been dieting and this seems to be a vulnerable moment. One of those moments when I might consider driving an hour to a 24 walmart, eating a dozen of their glazed donuts, then driving home.

    Ivan's a heavy sleeper. I could get a way with it.

  41. "The Yankees won."

    *southern drawl*
    Now, Miss Ruth, there's no need to once again rub in the fact the Yankees won. Though we southerners remember those who fell for the sake of the glorious cause, we pride ourselves on our manners, which insists we must contend with Yankees for the sake of perfectly good tourist dollars. I promise you, we KNOW they won.

    Goodness, what will you say next? "Let them eat cake"?

    (Oh dear, someone direct me back to my seat in the lurker aisle before I get myself in trouble ;o)

  42. Phooey, I wish I could have gotten in on this one sooner. I feel like I'm too late (and it's past my bedtime). But yes, Tina, I so totally relate. You of all people know how wonderful my entry-that-won-the-Gotcha is! And it got smacked down big time by that Premier-Christian-Writers-Contest that shall remain nameless. I'm still reeling. Questioning if I should even finish the story, even though I only have around 5,000 more words to go. Questioning if I should even keep writing historicals anymore. I mean, if I'm as horrible as that person said, I don't deserve to protest that yes, I did do my research, and very thoroughly, thank you. Oh, so you think my writing lacks authenticity, is superficial, my conflict is contrived and my characters are not believable. Well, I'm OBVIOUSLY wasting my time! Yes, I apologize PROFUSELY for wasting yours! Please forgive me. I'm so glad I spent $30 to find that out so that I can STOP!

    You know, I feel so much better!!! Thanks so much, Tina! This is fun.

  43. Mary you may have to fight me cos i want that cake toooooooo
    i know reading here when hungry is bad but i still do it.
    ok the bacon is calling.
    (mums not coming home she got a virus in hospital!)

    oh i have to go google I know who the yankies are I beleive i am a mets fan (will need to check in with my friend Jana to make sure thats who i follow)
    but will google Derek Jeter

    I would get all excited over my Aussie Rules team who play tomorrow but the way we play its better to just pretend to forget about it for a bit.(go Tigers)

  44. And Julie, I think you are a wonderful person for helping dolty writers (like me) and you deserve much more than a simple thank you. I'll be in St. Louis soon, and I'm gonna bring you a huge--whataya like? Chocolate cake? Turtle cake! Those are awesome. Or maybe something southern like pecan pie. I can make anything. Just let me know!

    I love you!

  45. Okay, the little mini cakes are too die for, I'm not going to lie and pretend you're NOT missing something marvelous. I'm actually donating them to a funeral luncheon today, so it was a handy evening to do a baking party.

    Mary, diets are wonderful and terrible, but I'm sooooo in your corner. Seriously. You go, girl.

    Melanie, I'm dying laughing here, not at you, girl, but with you!

    Aw, babycakes, I'm glad you vented. Because I generally sign my name, I used to envision huge sales on voodoo dolls with frizzy hair and big teeth after each and every contest I judged, entrants in search of Ruthy-like dolls to stick pins into, LOL!!!

    We sink or swim in this business, but in Seekerville, we don't allow drownings. Uh, uh.

    Ventings, yes.

    But no fatalities.

    And Kimberli, let me bow to the insensitive clod I am since I love Southern cooking (our last shower theme was a Southern Barbecue, complete with cowboy hats, and really kickin' boots), Southern movies, Southern stories, Southern women, (Karen White, amazing GRW Southern author is guest blogging for us in a few days, on the 15th...) and of course, Southern gentlemen, let me assure you that this Yankee appreciates you and everything magnolia you represent, dahling.

    But in baseball...

    I'm a pinstripe girl.



  46. MELANIE!!!! You're coming to St. Loo???? We just HAVE to do lunch or breakfast ... or cake!! Did you know Mary is coming too? Yep -- 4/27 to 5/1, so PLEASE say you're coming over those dates so we can have a party!!

    And bite your tongue, woman! "Dolty" NEVER would nor NEVER could describe a talented and wonderful gal like you ... the judge who slammed you, maybe ... but not you, my friend.

    Love ya right back!

  47. I guess I should have said, I have a feeling I'll be coming to St. Louis some day soon, or something like that. I'm impulsive. Who knows, I may drive up there. Nah, I really can't do that. But hubby is talking about putting in for a transfer (rolling my eyes) so I could be moving who-knows-where. Georgia or S. Carolina more than likely--if anywhere. I never thought we'd be here in Huntsville this long (9 years) and now it's hard to imagine leaving.

    Well, I'm just glad I vented last night. Now I never have to think about that thing that I vented about again.

  48. Ruthy, the mini cakes sound yummy. Yeah, I know Jeter thanks to you. I'm sure that hunk noticed you sitting in that box seat. Lucky lady.

    I don't like baseball. Sorry. But I do love good seats. At a Cincinnati Red's winter practice game, I got in close proxmity, I started to say very close, but that conjurs up a far different image--to Red's pitcher, Bronson Arroyo. Blond, long hair, has a band. Really cute.

    Gina, don't doubt yourself. Finish the book. I love historicals.

    I'm reading Francine River's Redeeming Love. I can't put it down. Loads of head hopping, but it's a wonderful, disturbing book. It amazes me that all the harsh truth was published. Julie, have you read it? I suspect everyone has but me.

    Hugs, Janet

  49. Ruthy, if we laugh, others laugh with us. If we cry, they scrunch up their faces and cross to the other side of the street. Or something like that.

  50. Oh, Janet, I LOOOOOVE that book, Redeeming Love. I almost didn't read it, because the beginning is so disturbing, but it is just one of the best books ever.

  51. Ah, Cincinnati Reds, now you're talking. However, my experience with the Big Red Machine was afternoons at Riverfront Stadium watching Johnny Bench (let's see if I can remember this) "hit one for you long and deep, and Joe Morgan stealing second base in his sleep." I lost interest after the second strike. Sad. I miss it.

    (Yes, Ruth, I confess. I grew up on the edge of the north and then lived my adult life in the south. My father is southern as are his people, so I'm a GRIT by nature. My previous comment was just in jest.)

    Slipping back into Google Reader Lurker Mode now. Let's see if I can stay there. Y'all are just too interesting.

  52. Hi everyone,

    This is a test blog to see if I'm capable of such a thing!

    My name is Susan Mason. I am a Golden Heart finalist in the inspirational category and have been invited to join a blog (here I believe) at the end of April. So this is a test run, so to speak.

    About contests, they are kind of like a trial run at the real publishing world, aren't they? Some people love our writing, others hate it. You can't please everyone - ever! So take what you can from the criticism and assume it's given in the right spirit. Use it to improve yourself or simply ignore it and move on. And have faith that someone, somewhere will get what you're about.

    Wishing you all wonderful things in your journey. Talk to you later!

    Sue Mason
    "Wyndermere House" 2008 Golden Heart finalist (had to add that!)

  53. Melanie ... bummer. Don't toy with me like that ...

    Janet, YES, I read Redeeming Love YEARS ago and fell in love with Inspirational Romance because of it!! That book is the pinnacle Inspy Romance, in my opinion, head-hopping or no.

    Susan, WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE and CONGRATS on the GH!! Looking forward to your blog here at the end of the month.


  54. Congrats on finaling in the GH, Susan! It's easy for me to say that since I didn't enter the GH!

    I'm sorry, Julie. I guess it was just wanting it so much I imagined it was real. I do that some times. Well, all the time.

    Blogger is being so mean to me today! They keep making me fill out my username and password! What's up with that?

    Melanie Dickerson,
    who's ready for my DH to move me to St. Louis. Or somewhere that has an ACFW chapter.

  55. Susan!!!

    Way to are now a technoguru. Congrats to you.

    And welcome to Seekerville.

    GH congrats also.

  56. Kimberli! Janet! OMGosh -- someone else remembers The Big Red Machine?

    Let me tell ya, I feel like I'm unfaithful since I married a Cubs fan, gave birth to Cubs fans and am almost sort of a Cubs fan.

    But I still have my Cincinnati Reds hat :-)

    Melanie, that was one person's opinion. But boy, it sure hurts. I feel your pain

  57. Welcome, Susan. Congratulations on the Golden Heart Inspirational final!


  58. Ann, my husband is a Cubs fan, too. I'm neither Reds nor Cubs really. Maybe because I have horrid memories of playing softball. My best friend and I were always chosen last. I was afraid of the ball and couldn't hit so the captains had their reasons. I often wonder why Sandy and I played when we were always humiliated. As I think about it, only the nerdy girls didn't play. So we were trying to appear cool and making a mess of it. These were my Junior High years.


  59. Gina! You are so dead meat! I'll bet Myra would disagree with you. She probably LOVES me.

  60. To kill me, Mindy, ya gotta catch me first.

    UnluckyCharmCurseSacrifice Update: The cat is still alive. For another day at least. Physically I have not touched her. Mentally...

    On a side note, my 1-yr-old has learned to meow like a cat in...umm, a female cat flirting with a boy cat. Of all the skills for her to have.

    Susan, WELCOME!!! And congrats on the GH final. Just last weekish I was thinking I ought to hunt down this year's inspy finalists and offer my congrats. I got as far as "thinking." But then why go to all the effort when Tina can do the work for me and bring y'all over here.

    Ohp. There goes the baby meoooowing again. Wow, she sounds realistic. The poor dog is going nutso looking for the cat.

  61. Like Gina, out of my three judges two loved and one hated my entry.

    Here's my 'thing'. I can live with a two (or in this case a line of them), I can even learn to embrace the two. But could you please tell me what you disliked so much that warranted the two?

    Having a scoresheet that reads "Dialogue: Average" doesn't offer me anything constructive with which to improve my dialogue. What was average about it? The flow? The pacing? Did it not make sense? The actual basement score isn't nearly as bad as not really knowing the why behind it.

    The only other thing is this. Even if you get an entry that you hate, that sucks you of your will to live, even if the terrible writer is your equivalent of the American Idol auditionee with the voice that could strip paint, they are still a person. And someone, somewhere, who may also be having a really bad day, is going to have to open your comments and read them.

    In terms of thank you notes. I sent all of mine thanks. I would even go so far as to say that the judge who hated my entry deserved it most as reading it was plainly such a horrible experience for her that she no doubt wishes she could get that hour of her life back! :)

    Having said all of this I quite like my 36 point differential. It reminds me that, no matter how great a writer you are (and I'm not claiming to be one), there will always be some people who just won't like what/how you write. That's life.

    And hey, since Julie got an Amazon one star for one of the most compelling and well written books I've ever read, I consider myself in great company :)


    P.S. I read Camy's hamster scene on a plane and laughed so hard the passenger next to me wanted to know what I was reading so I guess it's each to their own on the animal sacrifice front

  62. Oh Kara, thanks for posting.

    I agree. You can slice me to ribbons but do me the courtesy of telling me what I did that deserved that low score, so I can grow as a writer.

  63. Hi, Karen! I look forward to having you with us tomorrow. I'm so glad Stalker Fan Ruthy got you on here. :) But be sure to protect your tiara. She might try to snatch it.

    Colleen! So good to see you, too! Thanks for stopping by. Colleen is part of a fun blog--Girls Write Out. So check it out!

    It's great to see some familiar faces, too. I love reading all the comments.

    Mary--a lockdown car??!!! Seriously, if laughter makes us younger, then once I've been around you for a few more years, I'll end up twenty years old again. Not a bad prospect--twenty-year-old body with the wisdome and experience of a 46-year-old. :)


  64. Gina! I can't believe he has second degree burns! I hope he heals quickly. (Of course he will, you know kids. He'll be well before you've gotten over the trauma.)

  65. Okay, I logged onto Seekerville to read Janet's post but the title of this one sucked me in! I've been in the post-mortem blues stage since getting my Genesis results. Actually, since getting some score sheets last fall, but we won't go there (hee hee)

    Anyway, I'm glad to see so many of you had 2 judges that loved your entry and one that hated it. I got the same results. One judge, unpublished, absolutely loved my entry. And I'm grateful, oh so grateful, for that fantabulous score. The 2nd judge, my middle-of-the-road score, gave some helpful pointers but mostly I liked her score. Judge 3 - probably Mary or Ruthy;-) - had some real tough comments. I hated them all. Until I read them again. Now I've accepted that at least one or two might be right.

    I'm glad I stumbled onto Tina's post. It's really helped put it all into perspective. Thanks!

  66. I wanted to add this, too.

    On Sunday the 6th (before Genesis results) my pastor's sermon was titled 'Rejection Hurts.' Hmmm, is that you Lord? Were you talking to me? Must've been...this past Sunday, the sermon was 'Rejection Hurts, Acceptance Heals.'

    Not finally in every contest since my TBL final last year hurts. Reading all the comments here, I finally accept that just because the entry doesn't final doesn't mean it isn't good. And just because one judge is obviously clueless...okay, I'm still working on accepting that low score.

    Thanks again, Tina, and everyone else at Seekerville.

  67. I may be a day late, but a big hug coming atcha Tammy!!!