Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Exploring Contest Mood Disorder

Contest mood disorder is defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood, referred to as mania brought on by contest results.

Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes or symptoms, or combined episodes in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time.

Depending on the number of contests entered these episodes which are normally separated by periods of normal mood, may rapidly alternate between mania and depression, this is also known as rapid cycling. Extreme manic episodes can sometimes lead to hallucinations and delusions.

Symptoms and Examples

Contest mania:

Contest Coordinator Sally Bliss calls to tell you not only did your entry take first place but the editor called it "charming" and she'd like the first three chapters immediately.

Dear Lord, all is well with the world and you are going to sell a book.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Contest depression:

Contest Coordinator Harriett Hardheart emails to tell you that you took Second Honorable Mention. (Honorable Mention?? There were three finalists and three places. How could there be an HM?)

And btw, she sends along the editor comments.

The word "flawed" jettisons from the screen and stabs you in the left eyeball.


You don't need that eyeball anyhow. It's not like you're a writer or anything.

Extreme contest mania:

A double whammy!! Perfect scores from the contest judges on the Chewed Pencil Contest for Unpublished Writers. you tear open the manila envelope that just arrived.


It's a request for a full from your DREAM AGENT who judged your first 25 pages in the Heaving Bosom. She even put little smiley faces on the manuscript pages. She loves you and your soon-to-be, New York Times best-selling manuscript.

You immediately quit your day job, go to the bank ---no you Snoopy Dance to the bank and withdraw your meager savings for a ticket to Paris to write the book of your heart.

C'est la Vive.

Rapid Cycling:

The combined phenomena of manic and depressive stages for a contest entrant.

Think up, down, up, down.

You finally have time to read the contest results sitting on your desk.

Judge ST (upid) 404 says, "Characters are without feeling."

Judge ST 88, "I love these characters. Especially the grandmother!!"

The postal carrier tosses the mail at your front porch and runs away.

Oh, look, the return address is that other DREAM AGENT who called you on the phone and requested the full of your new paranormal historical, Lord Demon Lover, after you won the prestigious Golden Harp.

"I apologize for keeping your manuscript for forty-five months. I was torn, but in the end didn't love it. Best of luck placing this elsewhere."

As you reach for a sharp instrument, you notice,


From the editor who requested your manuscript after judging the first five pages in the Opening Peek Contest.

Your heart leaps into your throat and your stomach roils (honest) as you read her email.

Dear Susan (my name is Tina!),

Regretfully, Kiss and Tell is not quite right for our line. The heroine is flat (no, no, no, she wears a 36 D!!) and your hero Ben (his name is Sam) lacks motivation.

Thank you for the opportunity to read Kiss and Tell.


Agnes Butterbaum, Editorial Assistant to the Editorial Assistant's Editorial Assistant

(Who? You submitted Kiss and Tell to Winifred Mupple, Senior Editor)


The phone rings and wouldn't you know it....'s your mother (insert mixed feelings here).

She loves your new manuscript but wonders if you can tone down the s-e-x.

You explain that it is an inspirational romance and there is no s-e-x.

Treatment Options:

Consume PRN.

May refill endlessly.


Anne Barton said...

Tina, you just make my day. This had me laughing all the way through. :) I know it's tongue in cheek, but there's SO much truth to it! Have you considered writing a non-fiction book about contests? I would definitely buy it.

P.S. - Major congrats to you on the Golden Acorn! :)
P.P.S. - What does PRN stand for?

Anne Barton said...

That should be "made" my day. :)

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...



Tina M. Russo said...

PRN = as needed.

Pass the whipped cream

Julie Lessman said...

MOVE OVER MARY CONNEALY ... Tina Radcliffe has just pinched your "funniest human being I know" crown!!

TEEENNNNNNNNNAA!!! Hilarious, side-splitting and sooooo true that it hurts! I agree with Anne -- this one made my day. Mmm ... means it's gonna be a good one! Thanks, sweetie.


Cat Schield said...

Okay, so what's your point?

Cat Schield said...

Oh wait-- now I get it. You were going for humor? I thought it was just a recap of my experiences. My bad.

Melanie Dickerson said...

LOL! Oh, Tina, now I have a name for it!!!!!!!!

Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for putting my feelings precisely into words! AND making me laugh! I didn't know that was possible.

Okay, just found out I DIDN'T final in a contest. Why is it that once you start finaling, you think you should final in EVERY contest you enter? Anyway, now I have no desire to see my scores and comments. But I know me. I'll look at them anyway. I can never resist. And I'll be P.O.'ed for an entire week thinking about the stinky comments. I'll wonder why all those judges who liked it in the past could have stopped holding their noses long enough to give me high scores?

Jessica said...


Gina Welborn said...

I'm offended.

Contest mood disorder is a serious subject and should not be treated in an obvious-sarcastic-humourous way. That it was leads me to believe the Writer of Said Derogatory Article was either intentionally oblivious to the deep emotional scars and troubles of the afflicted OR OR OR unintentionally oblivious because Writer Herself is among the afflicted.

Denial is one of the symptons the Writer failed to mention the afflicted have.

Not that I know anything about that, for I am not afflicted with any disorders, manic episodes, hallucinations, delusions, or elevated mood(s).

I had chocolate for breakfast.


Tina, you make me want to be a better me.

Tina M. Russo said...

I had zoloft for breakfast.

Tammy Doherty said...

so funny 'cause it's soooooo true!

Melanie - LOL! I just didnt' final, too and I'm feeling the exact same way as you :D And boy is it hard to work on current wip, thinking how bad "completed" wip must be and how much work I'm gonna have to make it readable.

Can I have a Mega-Double-Grande of that hot fudge sundae? Actually, I'd like to order a Reese's Pieces Sundae (from Friendly's) and keep 'em coming...that way my waistline can expand to make up for my shrinking self-esteem. Then my shorts, already a size larger than I want to be wearing, will no longer fit, my self-esteem will shrivel more and...

Tammy Doherty said...

But seriously...

Tina, you really should think about writing a book about writing. I loved your sabotage rules. And this one sure hit the nail on the head. You take what should be a real "downer" and turn it into something inspiring. I was at that "didn't final - again" low on the ride but after this humorous romp, I'm feeling like jumping back into the game.

Thank you!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Tammy said, that way my waistline can expand to make up for my shrinking self-esteem.

LOL! So THAT'S why I keep gaining weight!

Pam Hillman said...


Tina, where do you come up with this stuff?

Oh, from experience?

Got it.

Mary Connealy said...

First of all, Tina. I think you do our readers a disservice by softening up the truth so drastically.

Please be warned, it's FAR more traumatic AND far more thrilling than Tina has indicated.

And third (wait that may be second) I still don't know what PRN means...whipped cream? PWC?

But now I'm afraid to ask and since the hot fudge sundae looks great, I think I'll go drive 20 miles to the nearest Dairy Queen. I've been saving my annual banana split indulgence for just the right moment.

It's here.

Gina Welborn said...

Just in case anyone was wondering...

I alone know the winners of the Touched by Love long and short contemporary categories.

~former Golden Harp finalist and Winifred Mupple reject

Why is my word verification "ravioli"? (Phonetically, of course.)

Gina Welborn said...

With all Tina's talk of zoloft, I feel the need to share.

So far this year, my contest entries are 0-4. Granted, that's 0-2 with one manuscript and 0-2 with another. But still...not finaling is a tough pill to swallow.

On the positive side, I took the comments from MS#1's non-finaling scoresheets and made the story better. Of course, then my agent told me to cut it down to 75k, which made it a "page-turning" read to her. Had the entry finaled in either of those contests, I doubt I'd have done the word-count-cuttage.

Okay, I would have because she asked, and my agent is a real nice gal. But the cuttage would have been far harder were my judge not so brutal in their comments.

So I guess it pays to not final.


With MS#2, I haven't looked at the manuscript since I sent in the entries. Yet I did skimm over the scoresheets...and got an idea for a more dramatic opening that would instantly show the reader the brokenness of the "unsympathetic" heroine.

The big question is "Was the $50 I spent on entering unfinished MS#2 those two contests worth the feedback?"

I suppose.


Left this summer for my contesting is three more contests.

If MS#1 doesn't final in the contest I entered it, I doubt I'll enter it in another contest.

If MS#3 doesn't final in the contest I entered it, then I'll put that finished manuscript under the bed.

If MS#4 doesn't final, then that's no biggie because it's a contest virgin and an unfinished ms. The main purpose for entering it was for feedback.

MS#2 isn't entered in any more contests and I won't enter it in anymore until I finish the story this fall/winter.

Just this morning before I read Tina's post, I asked myself, "Self, would you be happy finaling in contests knowing that the finaling may not make you a better writer?"

Self answered a resounding no.

The lazy part of me wants to be published NOW.

The deeper part of me wants to become a better writer NOW. Too bad I can't tackle that mountain withouth having to climb it first.

Carla Capshaw said...

O my goodness! I started reading this just after I'd taken a big sip of Coke. My computer screen will never be the same again. lol

Tina, you're wonderful! :-)

Kimberli said...

OH MY GOSH that was hilarious! I wish I'd read that before I lost the one, two, three, uh a few contests this year.

Whatever your achievements (or lack thereof, which I can't believe), you're a great Blog poster. Gold Star Award for terrific humor.

Kit Wilkinson said...

Tina, Tina, Tina,

You are afflicted...just not sure with what :-)

Big hugs everyone...thanks for making me laugh.


Kate R said...

I love this entry.

But even though I help coordinate a contest and I judge them, I don't think they're going to work for every romance written.

I had a book get the lowest score in a contest. I mean THE LOWEST in the whole contest, not just the historical category. And I think it was a week after I got back the contest scores (did I mention I landed in the bottom third of the contest? It was one of those that sends out the whole spreadsheet), I got The Call from Kensington for the same manuscript.

I'd even learned to adjust the damn manuscripts to fit the scoring (having H/h meet first chapter etc). . .

--ex-contest hussy

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks ya'll for allowing me to use my perverse sense of humor to address the quirks of the industry.

Hey how about I sell a FICTION BOOK????

Debby Giusti said...

Tina! Thanks for brightening a dull night. Loved Mama being worried about sex in the inspy story!

Loved the rejection with the wrong name.

I once received a rejection that had a gob of crusty fried chicken stuck to the page. No joke. Guess she read it while eating dinner.

Erica Vetsch said...

Okay, this made my day. I'll be snickering about this for a long while.

Anonymous said...

Tina Marie,
This is your mother. I enjoyed your blob very much. I didn't know you were so humorous. Did you tell Ms. Winifred Mupple how much your teachers in school enjoyed all of your compositions? Anyway, I never get to talk to you anymore so I thought I would let you know that your father bought me a book at a new, cute little bookstore down the street called "Simply Edible." Now, isn't that a clever name? He said it is a fun genre for people our age called emotica, or exotica or something or another. Anyway, I'm going to start it tonight. Dad even said he wants to read it with me. Isn't that precious? Okay, well, bye-bye, dear.
Love, your mother

Melanie Dickerson said...

OMG! I am rolling in the floor!!! Stop it, Tina! You're hurting me!

Tina M. Russo said...

Okay. who is masquerading as my mother. My sister read it and nearly choked on her gum.

My mother is anti gadgets. She doesn't even own a typewriter.

That was truly, truly hilarious.

Big wink coming at cha.

Melanie Dickerson said...

That was the funniest thing ever, because I really thought it was your mother until the very end, until she said she and your father were going to read an exotica book together.

Anonymous said...

Tina Marie,
This is your mother again. I thought you should know that I can read everything you write about me on this blob. I am not anti gadgets. You should see what your father brought home with the book. Apparantly, this is an appliance store, as well. Isn't that convenient? Well, your father is calling again.....too-dah-loo!
Love, your mother

Tina M. Russo said...

Okay MOM, we call that T.M.I in writer land.

Does Dad know you are sharing this information?

Tina M. Russo said...

Melanie, my mom is so anti gadgets she tossed out the dishwasher when she bought her house and only recently got A/C.

My favorite threat is to tell her I am buying her a computer.


Mom's name is Tessie Jean, btw.

Melanie Dickerson said...

She sounds exactly like my mom. Only the name is different.

Camy Tang said...

ROFL!!!!! Tina and your mom! (I think it's Mary)

Anonymous said...

Tina Marie, Melanie Lou and Camy Sue,
You are all so darling. I feel like a celebrity! I'm not sure what TMI and ROFL means, but I will look it up in the back of my book. There is an appendice with pictures. It's very informative. Who ever knew that.......well, we will save that topic for another blob. Until Tina Marie's next humorous, mother

Pam Hillman said...

Of COURSE it's your mom, Tina. Who else knows your middle name?

Hi Tina's Mom! Tell us more about the darling little book your hubby bought. I sounds positively delicious!

Cheryl Wyatt said...


Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Teeenaaaa!!!!!!!! I'm dying laughing!!!

Thanks so much for cheering me up. :)

You are writing humorous manuscripts now aren't you?

YOu better be.


Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Cat, you're so funny, too!!