Thursday, January 7, 2010

The 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award, a high-profile contest with many, many cogs

I'm excited to introduce Donnell Ann Bell as our guest to Seekerville. Donnell is known all over the writing world for her humor, grace and the ability to draw the best out of anyone she meets. 2010 ushers in her eighth year of service with the Daphne. Don't hesitate to ask questions of Donnell...she's offering an extra special surprise....

Good morning, Seekerville, and thanks for inviting me here to talk about The 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Hosted by the RWA®’s Kiss of Death Chapter, this contest is very near and dear to me. One, because it involves my favorite genres, mystery and romantic suspense, and, two, it honors the legendary Suspense Author Daphne du Maurier.

Now, I’d like a show of hands, because as a contest coordinator, I come complete with an omniscient viewpoint. Thus, I can see all of you out there. How many of you fabulous Seekerville blog readers think I coordinate this contest all by myself?

That many? Wow! I would love to take all the credit for the growth of this mystery and romantic suspense contest, but the truth is, I have help – enormous, qualified and distinguished assistance. So, today I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce them. The truth is there’s a reason for the Daphne’s success, and I’m just a cog in a process that makes this contest click year after year.


(The published contest, divided into sub genres of: Mainstream Mystery, Single Title Romantic Mystery/Suspense, Category (Series) Romantic/Mystery Suspense, Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense, Historical Romantic Mystery/Suspense and Paranormal Romantic Mystery/Suspense. Open to published authors who have a 2009 copyrighted mystery or romantic suspense novel, The Daphne Published contest levels the playing field. It is open to self-published, e-published, traditional presses and vanity press authors. Of course the books must be bound, and you would do well to make your product look as professional as possible, but non-traditional published authors have done extremely well in the Daphne published contest.)

Kelly Ann Riley and Caroline Dunsheath are the longest-standing members on the Daphne committee. They work tirelessly January through July, in which Kelly receives the published books and distributes them, while Cee is in charge of training, coordinating and handling the score sheets for the published side of this competition.

About Kelly Ann Riley: Penning stories at an early age, Kelly Ann, received special recognition for her short stories. Later, she became a reporter and editor for her high school newspaper. After earning a B.S. in Clinical Nutrition and a MBA, she worked for years as a Registered Dietitian and Director of Nutritional Services, but never gave up her first love of writing. Before she was published, she finaled and placed in numerous writing contests, including winning first place in the Daphne du Maurier Contest and Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart competition.

Kelly Ann is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and RWA's Mystery/Suspense (KOD) and Inspirational (FHL) chapters. She's been a Published Coordinator for KOD's Daphne du Maurier contest since 2002. She enjoys working with the Daphne committee and interacting with the authors who enter the contest. It's always exciting when the finalists are determined and then announcing the winners at RWA’s National conference.

Kelly’s first published novel, which won the Golden Heart in 2009 for Best Inspirational manuscript will be released by Steeple Hill as a Love Inspired Suspense in July 2010 with the title "Firestorm." She is also contracted to write a Guidepost Patchwork Mystery novel for Christmas 2010.

Kelly lives in Alabama where she writes her novels and enjoys many adventures as a youth leader in her church, wife to an engineer, and mother to two wonderful teens. You can contact her through her website at

About Caroline Dunsheath: Cee has been involved with the Daphne since it evolved from a one-page, then a three-page contest [to its present day form]. As an entrant, judge and later a coordinator (originally Unpublished, and now in her third year as Co-coordinator of the Published Division), Cee never fails to be impressed with the breadth of talent on both sides of the score sheet. The competition stiffens every year as the Daphne’s reputation draws the best in mystery and suspense. But our judges are so amazing, giving such great feedback, that she believes even the nonfinaling entries “win” big.

Volunteering for a chapter contest is daunting, especially one that attracts a large number of entries, but Cee credits a committee filled with talented, selfless, and seemingly tireless members as the secret to the Daphne’s success and the reason the job hasn’t driven her insane (that, and having a super-productive best friend who lets her rant about late scores, lousy math and the lack of a 25th hour in a day, as a partner!)

Sanity challenged or not, she still whole-heartedly encourages writers to become a part of their chapters’ contests. It’s not only rewarding, it’s a gold mine of inspiration, motivation and on-the-job training. “I feel as though I’ve gotten a non-accredited Master’s degree in writing by judging, submitting for judging and seeing how other writers judge. There’s something to be learned in every step of the process.”

When not volunteering, Cee puts her contest-garnered education to use writing paranormal suspense. She is represented by Kelly L. Mortimer of Mortimer Literary Agency, whom she met via cell phone at Death by Chocolate, when her manuscript “SEEDS” took first place in the Daphne.


The Unpublished side of the Daphne (now 100 percent electronic) is also divided into sub genres of : Mainstream Mystery, Single Title Romantic Mystery/Suspense, Category (Series) Romantic/Mystery Suspense, Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense, Historical Romantic Mystery/Suspense and Paranormal (PTTF) Romantic Mystery/Suspense. The coordinators of these sub-genres are amazingly talented not only in coordinating the Daphne but in their professional lives. Read on:

Mainstream Mystery/Suspense Coordinator Joelle Charbonneau. Now in her second year with the Daphne, Joelle brings to this committee her tenacity, networking savvy and contagious gregariousness.

About Joelle Charbonneu. Joelle is a storyteller at heart. She has performed in a variety of operas, musical theatre and children’s theatre productions across the Chicagoland area. In addition to her stage work, Joelle has also performed with several bands and worked as a solo performer. While Joelle is happy to perform for an audience, she is equally delighted to teach private voice lessons and use her experience from the stage to create compelling characters in her mysteries. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and toddler son while penning the third book in her soon to be released mystery series. Her first comedic mystery, Skating Around the Law, will be released in the fall of 2010 by St. Martin's Minotaur. To learn more, visit Joelle at her website

Single Title Coordinator and Co-Judge Coordinator Brooke Wills. What Brooke doesn’t say in her bio is that she’s a contest finalist in her own right and she brings the same dogged exactness in being a controller to the Daphne.

About Brooke Wills: Brooke is a financial controller by day and so far a controller by night. Her interests include reading, writing, gardening and cooking. This is her fourth year with the Daphne contest, this year coordinating the Single Title, Unpublished category and helping with judges’ training. In addition, Brooke is treasurer for RWA’s Chick-Lit chapter. The Daphne contest is great because it’s not just for RWA members, but also for mystery writers in general. There is so much hope in each entry, and the feedback provided by the Daphne judges is such a huge part of the contest.

Category (Series) Coordinator Elizabeth Pina Elizabeth Pina wears so many hats it’s amazing she has hair. When she’s not helping others, she’s winning numerous contests and publishing her wonderful work. Elizabeth returns to the Daphne for her second year.

About Elizabeth Pina: A native Brit and long-time Texan, mother-of-four Elizabeth Pina lives not far from Houston. Her youngest is now a senior in high school, but Elizabeth is constantly busy with livestock, show dogs, and full-time employment. Whenever there's a spare moment, you’ll find her happily ensconced behind her laptop. She's a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, and various local and on-line chapters of each, including the Kiss of Death where she coordinates the Lethal Ladies critique group. Elizabeth credits (or blames) her success on contests, and would like to help others achieve their goal of publication in the same way. She considers KOD a wonderful community and support group, and enjoys working with Donnell and the other coordinators to make the Daphne a success.

Inspirational & Historical Romantic Suspense Coordinator Jen McAndrews If you want something done, give it to a busy person. Also, in her second year, I’m amazed she didn’t shoot the Overall Coordinator for giving her two sub-genres. What’s more O.C. is still alive, AND Jen returned (of her own free will) for a second year to take on the same two sub-genres again.

About Jen McAndrews: Jen has built a career in legal and academic publishing. She is currently working as a markup specialist with a high profile science publisher, where her duties include troubleshooting, project management, and new technology development. A mystery- and romance-writing member of RWA since 2003, Jen has served in numerous roles within local and online chapters, but coordinating the Daphne is a unique treat that allows her to experience all the thrills, fun, and excitement of one of the most prestigious contests in the RWA. And if that's not enough, working with the rest of the committee is an absolute highlight of the year!

Paranormal (PTTF) Coordinator Connie Gillam brings to the Daphne a level of calm and an equal level of professionalism. What this 2008 Golden Heart finalist doesn’t mention is that she’s coordinated other contests as well and that her own compelling work is steadily rising to the top.

About Connie Gillam: After many years in the medical profession, Connie decided to pursue her love of writing and found a home with Romance Writers of America. Because her novels always contain an element of suspense, the Kiss of Death specialty interest chapter was a natural fit. This will be her third year coordinating the Paranormal category of the Daphne. The contest always attracts such excellent manuscripts, and she likes to watch the cream rise to the top. It's interesting to see the finaling manuscripts win in other contests and ultimately the Golden Heart.

A transplanted Midwesterner, Connie Gillam resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her family. You can read more about Connie at

Daphne Advisor Jean Willett Without Jean Willett, there would be no Daphne du Maurier Award. Former KOD co-president, Jean was instrumental in obtaining permission from the du Maurier estate to use the name Daphne du Maurier. Every year, Jean orders the beautiful bookmarks that go to our first place sub-genre winners and the incredible bronze scroll plaque which goes to our published Daphne Winner, and an aluminum scroll plaque which goes to our unpublished Daphne Winner.

About Jean Willett: When Jean isn’t penning her mystery and thrillers, she finds time to advise the Kiss of Death Chapter’s board, lead the Golden Heart Network as its 2010 president. A winner or finalist in numerous contests, Jean has won such prestigious competitions as The Maggie, Colorado Gold and was a finalist in The Golden Heart.

So now my secret is out. I hope now you can understand why the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense is such a well-oiled machine. Thanks Seekerville for allowing me to get this off my chest. I am but a cog in the wheel, but so proud and privileged to be affiliated with the above people as well as the Kiss of Death Chapter that hosts a contest in support of the mystery and romantic suspense genre.

The Daphne opens its contest doors on January 15, 2010. Check out: for more information.

Overall Daphne Coordinator Donnell Ann Bell has served on the Daphne Committee since 2002, serving in most every capacity to learn what it takes to run this high-powered contest. She is a multiple contest finalist and contest winner, including a final in the 2007 Golden Heart. Check out her website at:

For those who comment or ask questions about the Daphne, Seekerville will draw one name for a free admission to either the Unpublished or the Published Contest. Make sure you include your email address with your comment!!


Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

how am i the first to comment? must be something to do with being on east coast time! i'll leave out a few bagels...cream cheese and jam in the fridge for the morning...and coffee's ready to percolate, too.

thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into those who give of their time to do these contests. i'm definitely going to enter!

The Character Therapist

Helen Gray said...


I've been looking forward to this post all week.

Thanks for the inside peek into the workings of the Daphne contest.

I'm sure there are many of us preparing entries for you.


Camy Tang said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Donnell! I'm so excited because I get to actually enter the pubbed Daphne side this year with my first romantic suspense! Woohoo! And I always enjoyed judging the unpubbed Daphne in years past.

Debra E Marvin said...

I told myself I wasn't going to enter anything but the Genesis this year. (why am I telling you people this?) But maybe 'third time's the charm' with the Daphne?

I'm glad you got to blow your horn about all the coordinators. It's a huge job and it takes writers away from their own writing, to serve other writers. I was a coordinator for my RWA chapter for a few years (Way back) and I know that coordinators do it for the honest hope that they are helping a writer along the journey (that and no one else raised their hand to volunteer!)

So thank you to you Donnell, as well as Kelly (waving to Kelly), Caroline, Joelle, Brooke, Elizabeth, Jen, Connie and Jean.

Wow Jean--what an amazing accomplishment! I am such a du Maurier fan.

Thanks for the bagels Jeannie!

Donnell said...

Good morning, Seekerville blog followers: Okay, I've gathered my coffee, and poured it into my favorite mug given me by my daughter when I was in Seattle. It's so nice to see everybody up at the crack of dawn. How many are freezing like me?

Jeannie, I'm delighted you're planning to enter. I think you'll get a lot from it. Most people do.

Helen, good morning. All week? We won't tell the coordinators. They'll think they're rock stars and then expect me to pay them. :) I'm so glad I got to tell you about them. Aren't they awesome?

Camy, hi there! You have been the Daphne secret weapon on so many occasions. Judging, and last year, when the market went south and our Inspirational Final Round Judge was downsized :(, Camy was among those who saved the day. I can't wait to see how you do in the Daphne. We already know you're an extraordinary author!

Debra, I don't want to duly influence you (okay, I do), The Genesis is an outstanding contest, but I'll be crossing my finger that the third time is a charm with the Daphne. And about Daphne du Maurier, the more I learn about the lady, the more I admire her.

Did someone say bagels???? ;)

Donnell said...

Just had to share, if you haven't had a chance to read Seekerville's Tina Russo and her blog on Contest Mood Disorder, it's well worth a drop by. I'm sorry I missed the original day of posting because it's sooo true and hysterical ;)

Audra Harders said...

Good morning Donnell and welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for sharing the inner workings of The Daphne!

The Daphne operates so seamlessly, it's easy to forget there are many VOLUNTEERS that make that possible.

And how exciting is your awards ceremony!! Who wouldn't want to go to a Death By Chocolate party, LOL!

Chocolate is all well and good, but it is January and my thermometer outside is proclaiming a whopping minus 20 degrees. I've got fresh cinnamon rolls out of the over to place next to Jeannie's bagels, and I've a pot of hot chocolate and water for tea...

I do believe a huge pot of chili is in order for lunch time. Make sure you come back for a bowl : )

Donnell said...

Wow, that cold, Audra? It's one here. Stay warm and I'd love some of that chili at lunch! Thanks for having us here today!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good morning Donnell, Welcome to Seekerville,

Having just finished up helping to coordinate a contest, I can truly appreciate all you and your helpers do. And your contest is prestigious so congratulations on a job well done.

The contest name alone interests me. Daphne du Maurier was one of the first authors I fell in love with as a child (Forget Nancy Drew, I was always sneaking my mother's books)

Thanks for the bagels and Audra, the cinnamon rolls are yummy. I'll whip up some cornbread to go with the chili.

Sandra Leesmith said...

PS Thanks for offering the free admission prize to our followers. I think that is a special gift.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Donnell! I coordinated Opening Gambit, my RWA chapter's contest for a couple of years. I know how much work these contests are! Thanks for giving Seekerville followers a chance to win an entry to The 2010 Daphne!

The cinnamon rolls are fabulous, Audra! Did your d/h make them?


Donnell said...

Sandra, how generous to help with your contest. Cee mentioned how much people gain in doing so. It's easy to complain about lousy judges, scores and how a contest is run. But that old saying about walk a mile in his moccasins? Truly applies, particularly when it surrounds hardworking volunteers, trying to help others, would you agree?

Daphne du Maurier is a perfect role model for our contest in my opinion. She was truly misunderstood and unrecognized by her peers -- I love her words.... If her agent called to tell her not one book had sold, the critics would be nice for once. Rebecca was listed #4 on the best selling list in 1938. Of those four, Rebecca is the only one still in print today ;) Oh my, I do go on and on....

Donnell said...

Good morning, Janet. See there. Good things come to giving people. Well done on coordinating your contest. Oh, and Audra, you didn't tell me your DH made them ;)

Melanie Atkins said...

Wow! Reading this makes me more and more impressed with the Daphne contest. I plan to enter the pubbed contest and have my books ready to send. ; )

Donnell said...

Melanie, as someone who has Skeleton Bayou on her TBR list, I think you stand an excellent chance. I love the Bayou setting -- so different from my Colorado World. Good luck!

Lisa Karon Richardson said...

I definitely want to enter this year. Last year was the first time I really started making the rounds of the contest circuit and I missed the Daphne. But now I have a new ms to put through its hoops. Can I just say that if you haven't entered any contests it's a great way to get some objective feedback on your work that will help you to polish it up for querying agents and editors. Finaling would be a fantastic bonus!

Donnell said...

Lisa: The Daphne is an excellent place to put your entry "through the hoops." Our judges are encouraged to give feedback, and with four judges, the lowest score dropped, that's a lot of feedback. I wish you good luck in the contest!

magolla said...

Good morning, Donnell!

My cold bowl of cereal is sitting like a lump in my stomach after reading to the cinnamon rolls discussion.

I don't know if I'll enter this year, but I'll be happy to be a judge again. The Daphne is hard to judge because the quality of the submissions is awesome!

I do have a paranormal that I could enter, but I don't know if the mystery aspect comes into play early enough for the contest.

Will you be posting score sheets online? I'd hate to enter only to discover I'd put my story at a disadvantage from the get-to.

Thanks for the behind the scenes info.


Audra Harders said...

Yes, indeed! Cinnamon rolls compliments of hubby who is wandering around the house with NOTHING to do b/c the weather is so frigid!!

Sandra, after judging for the CWOW contest, I'm impressed with all the cooridation that made this first time contest go smoothly! Great job!

I co-coordinated the Heart of the Rockies and Award of Excellence a long time ago (emphasis on LONG). Lots of work. Contest coordinators are really such unsung heros.

On this frigid morning, let's limber up those typing fingers and give them a hand!!!

Annette said...

Good morning, Donnell! I know as well as anyone, how much work you put into this. But I also know the importance of "the team." What a a wonderful introduction you've given them.

I'm debating about entering the Daphne again this year. I guess if I win the drawing, that will make the decision for me, won't it?!

Now, either way, I have to get back to work on revising my opening chapter.

Donnell said...

Good morning, Margaret. Don't make me come to Oklahoma and get that paranormal out of the drawer. You know I can do it LOL .... goes back to that omniscient ability nonsense ;) The score sheets are already on line for your perusal. Which brings up an excellent point.

REVIEW THE SCORE SHEETS... They tell you upfront what the judges are looking for and how you can show your entry in the best light.

Good luck and thanks for bringing up an important point.

Donnell said...

Ah, thanks Audra, and why is it when I visit this blog I get soooo hungry ;)

Annette, thanks for commenting! That all important first chapter. I hope with four judges, it helps you determine what works and what doesn't. I've read your work and I'm biased.

Yep, with entries such as Annette, the competition will be truly stiff. Good luck!

Edie Ramer said...

Thanks to all the coordinators. I was a coordinator once for the Fab Five and know how much work it is. And I didn't have any problems with judges, including the wonderful final judge for my category. I appreciate all of you.

Cindy Carroll said...

I judge contests all the time. And I love judging the Daphne pubbed every year. But I don't ususally enter contests. I'm planning on entering this one because it has such a great reputation. Thank you for all you and your coordinators do.

Donnell said...

Edie and Cindy, thank you! I hope you have phenomenal success!

See a pattern here, by getting involved (judging, coordinating) you do learn a whole lot, recognize trends in the market and more. Plus you meet such nice people!

Thanks for commenting!

Merissa said...

Thanks for all the great information Donnell! I am a recent member of KOD, and was so sad to have missed the deadline on the Daphne unpublished last year. Thanks to you, this year I have plenty of prior notice, so thank you!
The glimpse into how the contest works was very interesting.
Merissa Murray

Donnell said...

Merissa, welcome and I can't wait to see how you do in the contest. I hope you'll let me know your thoughts afterward, and consider judging. (not the sub-genre you're entering of course). It's a great way to see what works and what doesn't in our own writing. Sometimes we're just too close to it, ya know???

Melanie Dickerson said...

Cool! Just saw my friend, Kelly Ann Riley! She's a wonderful gal and has her first book coming out this year with Love Inspired Suspense. Yay, Kelly! She lives about 30 minutes from me.

The snow is coming down pretty hard here in Alabama. It's not really sticking to the ground yet, but they're saying we could get up to 2 inches. The superintendent called off school today. Where else can a kid get out of school when there's only THE THREAT of UP TO 2 inches of snow? Only in Alabama.

Yep, it's a snow day in north Alabama. Eat your heart out, south Texas. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot about the game tonight. :-)

Julie Lessman said...

Hey Donnell, welcome to Seekerville -- it's a pleasure to have you here!

I am always amazed at the number of dedicated and talented people it takes to run a contest, and honestly, contest coordinators are some of the people I admire the most in this industry because they step up to the plate and give of their time and expertise to help the rest of us hone our craft and get our feet wet.

I've judged my fair share of contests, but it's the coordinators who, in my opinion, really deserve the applause and accolades. So, thank you -- to you, your colleagues and all the coordinators out there who work tirelessly on our behalf to provide some truly excellent contests. I, for one, greatly appreciate all that you do!


Melanie Dickerson said...

And please don't enter me in the drawing. I'll be disqualified (Hahahahaha laughing hysterically) and I don't really write mystery/suspense, but I think this is a great contest and well worth entering!

Tina Pinson said...

Thanks for visiting today Donnell and introducing the team. Not to mention the insight to the Daphne's inner workings.
My question which I'm sure is on the site, but hey, you're here, is this
If your story is contracted but not published, would that be entered as published or unpublished. If the story isexpected to release before final judging pubbed or none pubbed entry?

Peg said...

Thanks for all you do to make the contest possible, Donnell! I plan to enter this year for the first time.

C P said...

Hi Donnell!

My 26 degrees sounds positively balmy, but one of those cinnamon rolls would be pretty awesome.

Thanks to all the coordinators for the behind the scenes work that makes the contest happen.

I'm gonna tell another secret - Donnell also judges in the Daphne. Two years ago she replied to my 'judge thank you' note, telling me how much she enjoyed my story. Just another example of how above and beyond she goes to inspire people.

Thanks - {{big hug}}

Jan Buck said...

Morning,Donnell! Freezing and snowy in the Midwest today. Good morning for coffee and flannel pj's. Thanks for the insight on the Daphne - looking forward to the 15th!

Donnell said...

Arghh.... see what happens when you go take a shower LOL.

Melanie and Julie, it's my pleasure. I guess the truth is I'm a busy body ... okay, the kinder version is I want to help people get published and this helps me as well. I appreciate your kind thoughts very much and allowing me to talk about the Daphne on Seekerville. So pleased to read about all your successes.

Kathleen L. said...

Here's a (stupid) question for you. ; )
Does the mystery category include crime fiction, or does it have to have a strong romantic thread? I don't write in these genres, but I think this might suit a friend of mine's ms.
Thanks, Donnell!

Kathleen L. said...

oh! and I LOVE your bulldog. hubby wants one so bad! : )

Donnell said...

Tina: Thanks for commenting. I'm copying your question here so I can reply:

My question which I'm sure is on the site, but hey, you're here, is this
If your story is contracted but not published, would that be entered as published or unpublished. If the story is expected to release before final judging pubbed or none pubbed entry?

Unfortunately because you're already under contract, you can't enter unpublished. The rules say... Open to any noncontracted author. The good news is you're under contract, and we hope that you will enter the Published Daphne next year.

If you have any questions or you need further clarification, please contact me at

And again congratulations.

Donnell said...

Kathleen: there are no stupid questions... only the ones I ask :) And thanks for the compliment on Coach. He's my dear friend's English bull dog and a sweetie. He got ran over by a man who was doing Christmas decorations a couple of years ago, and we were really worried about him... The good news is he made a full recovery.

But we were talking about the Daphne. I digress. If your crime fiction entry contains a mystery (which I assume it does), it might do very well in the mainstream mystery category (because the romance is optional). You don't mention if you're published or unpublished, and if I can clarify, please e-mail me at Our judges are very savvy and their first requirement as a judge is that they must love mystery and suspense. In my opinion... A crime fiction novel might be right up their alley ;)

Anne Marie Becker said...

Hi, Donnell!

It's so good to "see" you and the committee again. I had the honor of working with you all last year on the Daphne, and though circumstances this year are keeping me from helping out, I can add that you all are a fabulous group of women. Oh, and the contest is one of the best out there, too! I encourage anyone who's writing suspense or mystery to enter.

Anne Marie

Carolyn Wright said...

I knew the Daphne Contest took lots of work, but I didn't realize how many people were involved. Impressive.

I was toying with the idea of entering this year. Maybe, I'll get my nerve up and just do it.


Carolyn Wright said...

I knew the Daphne Contest took lots of work, but I didn't realize how many people were involved. Impressive.

I was toying with the idea of entering this year. Maybe, I'll get my nerve up and just do it.


Audra Harders said...

Great questions for Donnell! The Daphne is one of the most prestigeous contests around.

So Donnell, if someone submits their entry to the wrong category, do you change it for them or is it disqualified?

Donnell said...

Cathy aka CP, hi there! Another astounding author in the works, which keeps me humble because there's so much talent out there. Thanks for posting, Cathy. So great to see you and you're having a heat wave ;)!!!

Peg, I wish you much success in the contest!!! Good luck!

Carolyn Wright said...

Sorry about posting the same message twice. My FiOs is disconnecting and reconnecting and has done so all morning. I thought it didn't go through so I sent it again. Sorry about that.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey Donnell! Great to have you here. I'm thankful for the Daphne most of all because that's how I met you.


Mary Connealy said...

Donnell, thanks for being on Seekerville today.
The Daphne is a top flight contest. I'd encourage anyone who's in the right genre to enter.
I entered the Daphne a few times as an unpubbed author. Don't remember having much success there. But that's all part of getting tough.

Donnell said...

Jan, thanks for commenting, and I wish you the best in the contest!

Peg, I hope you have a fantastic contest experience in the Daphne. Please contact me afterward with your thoughts. I care.

Donnell said...

Anne Marie. We miss you this year, but totally understood why you had to step down ;) Your life is not your own this year... But fantastic things are happening for you, Ms. Golden Heart WINNER. Thanks very much for being there last year and advising us this year. Anne Marie was an awesome judge coordinator.

I keep stressing this pattern, everyone. Good things happen to those who help their fellow writers ;)

Donnell said...

Carolyn: Get up that nerve. I know it takes a lot to get our babies out there. And I think we've all been told their ugly (insert wink here). But that's how you get better, and who knows your baby might be the Gerber baby ;) Good luck!

Donnell said...

Audra, re your question about disqualification from entering the wrong category.

Our coordinators are among the best out there. They look at these entries when they come in and do their utmost to make sure the entrant is in the right category. But the entrant does bear some of this responsibility. The score sheets are posted on the website

My strong advice to our entrants is to study them. Sometimes these subgenres cross. We've had people enter vampire stories in Single Title; we've had historical entries in mainstream, and we do contact people and let them know they might do better in another genre.

Here's where the Mainstream category comes into play because we don't have to have romance in those entries.

Ultimately it's up to the entrant, and off the top of my head, I can only recall one DQ but that was because the entrant had entered a straight romance with absolutely no romance.

If you don't have mystery or romantic suspense in your work, this is not the contest for you.

Great question, Audra, thanks for asking!

Donnell said...

Cheryl: thank you! I've enjoyed our association and friendship immensely. And I was privileged to judge Cheryl's manuscripts a time or two before she pubbed. Fanastic author. Thanks for the kind words.

Mary: You and me both on entering ;) I was allowed to enter the one year I wasn't overall coordinator. I came a couple of points from finaling, but didn't. We often have entrants go on to final in other contests and/or publish. Contests are so subjective and as you are clear evidence, ma'am, it doesn't stop you from reaching that brass ring.

Well done, and thanks for the welcome!

Tina Pinson said...

Thanks Donnell,
It's always good to clarify as some contests say if you're under contract you're not really published yet.

Next question, because you've had so few...
if the story you want to submit is unpublished but you are a published writer can you enter that story as unpublished or does the pubbed or none depend solely on the writer.

Dale said...

Hi Donnell,

I have to second you comment about the more involved you become in contests the more of an interest you have in entering. I had such a great experience last year that I plan to enter again!

Nancy Adams said...

Hi Donnell,

I just wanted to say how helpful the Daphne contest has been to me over the last few years as an unpublished mystery writer. The critiques are so incredibly helpful and have spurred me on to countless revisions in that quest to make my manuscripts the best they can possibly be. The encouragement and helpful tips I've received from the anonymous judges over the years have lifted me up when I felt like my writing would never measure up. Earlier on I never realized I could write and find out the judges' names and thank them in person. So I hope some of those past judges will read this now and know how much I appreciate the time and effort and sheer generous-heartedness that went into so many critiques.

Am I entering again this year? You bet!

Thanks so very, very, much, Donnell, and everyone else who makes the Daphnes possible!

Nancy Adams

Donnell said...

Tina: Excellent question. We set the Daphne up with the Unpublished Contest and the Published Contest with those explicit designations for a reason. So the answer is no, a published author cannot submit an unpublished work to the Daphne Unpublished portion of the contest.

Contests like the Suzannah are allowing this, so if you're published and want to submit your unpublished work that stellar contest is an option.

My feeling is this, and so far the KOD board has agreed with me--a published author has had the benefit of editors and copy editors, and training that takes them to the next level, while an unpublished author has not experienced this attention to detail or these benefits.

In my opinion, there needs to be at least one contest out there that respects the clear delineations between Unpublished and Published. And for that reason, we keep the differences clearly defined. I hope that makes sense. Thanks for asking.

Donnell said...

Dale, I can't tell you how delighted to hear that you'll be entering again. Another unpublished author to watch for. Thanks for posting ;)

Nancy, I think my head might explode from all this praise. Now where did I put my pin cushion. I am delighted to know that the Daphne's training and our recruitment of conscientious judges who know their craft have helped you. I can't wait to see how you do. These are exciting times! Thanks for stopping by.

Krista said...

Thanks for sharing the inside scoop about everyone. Running a contest is a lot of work, and we writers are very grateful!

My Christmas book that will be out in December includes an easy bread machine recipe for cinnamon rolls, so I've been spoiled lately -- hey, someone has to taste test them, right?

~ Krista Davis
The Diva Takes the Cake
The Diva Paints the Town (coming in February)

Project Journal said...

Hi Donnell!
I don't really write(I'm only a senior in high school), but this is super cool to hear the behind the scenes stuff. Even though I don't write in contests, I will definitely be the Seekerville cheerleader for those that DO enter(THAT would be a site to see!!!!) : )

Thanks for taking the time to come and inform Seekerville!
P.S. Tina, I don't know if you saw my comment on yesterdays post last night. I had a quick question if you could lemme know your email or email me at hccelie[at]gmail[dot]com. Thanks!!

Pepper Basham said...

Hi Donnell,
Welcome to Seekerville.
What a comprehensive list of coordinators! Wow! I just started judging contests this year and it's a lot of time to judge, I can't imagine how much MORE work it must be to coordinate.

Quick question: I know I should probably 'know' this, but what makes a novel a 'suspense' in particular? like - romantic suspense obviously has 'romance' in it - but how suspenseful does it have to be to fall in that category?
Sorry if I completely botched that question.
I'm going to go have another oreo truffle right now to get my mind back in order ;-) said...

Hey Donnell...I've judged several contests, including the Daphne last year. Thanks for the insight into how it works from the inside out. I am planning on entering myself this year.


Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Donnell! Welcome! We're so glad you joined us today.

Great work on the contest. You and other have been so dedicated. Such a fantastic contest!

Donnell said...

Project Journal: I'll just call you PJ; how's that. I take it you're a reader, and that's awesome. Keep up the good work and thanks for supporting your favorite authors.

Donnell said...

Hi, Pepper, thank you. Coordinating is a lot of organizational skills, judging is using your understanding of craft and the mystery and romantic suspense genre and other skill sets.

Re, the question what makes a novel a suspense, a romantic suspense etc. that is really a subjective question. In a romantic suspense (particularly category)the suspense and the romance drive the story equally. There is conflict between the h/h as much as the suspense and twists and turns that drive the suspense plot. In a romantic suspense the reader wonders how these two will ever end up together, the black moment in which we think all is lost, its eventual resolution, which results in a happily ever after.

Whereas in a straight suspense a problem or dangerous crisis escalates with one or more protagonists working together or separately to foil an antagonist, a ticking clock if you will, until again we have a black moment where supposedly all is lost, the resolution and the eventual (hopefully) satisfying ending. It does not necessarily have to have a happily ever after in a straight suspense and/or mystery. Ig usually does have a satisfying resolution in which the good guy gets the bad guy.

I have just give you a totally simplistic explanation. If you are really interesting in learning about these genres and subgenres, consider judging and taking the Daphne's training. It's quite comprehensive as we go over every score sheet.

Again, this is very simplistic ;) and a rushed explanation.

Donnell said...

Thanks very much Missy for the kudos and for having us here to talk about the Daphne.

Donnell said...

Joni, that's excellent that you're entering! I hope I can still count on you to judge (but not the subgenre you're entering of course). Good luck!

Donnell said...

Krista, you snuck in there, didn't see you. You're welcome. Your books look intriguing. ~ Congrats!

Elizabeth Pina said...

Hi, everyone, what fun reading all these comments! It loks like we'll have a banner year for entries.

Anyone that knows Donnell is aware of how hard she works, and how wonderful she is to work with. She makes coordinating the Daphne so much easier!

I can't wait to see everyone in Nashville!

Donnell said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I might say the same about you as far as hardworking. What a nice picture you took and a great cover, I hope you're excited! I can't wait to read it!

kellyannriley said...

Hi Everyone,

Just popping by to thank Donnell for a great blog about the contest committee. I wanted to add that Donnell is a wonderful coordinator--dedicated and a joy to work with.

The Daphne contest will always have a special place in my heart. Not only have I enjoyed working on the published side of the contest, but the Daphne contest for unpublished writers was the first contest I ever finaled in, and the contest where I finaled the most over the years before getting a contract. You get feedback and a chance to get read by editors and agents. I'd recommend it to any serious, aspiring RS and mystery writers.


Pam Hillman said...

Wow! I never knew so many people put so much time into the Daphne. No wonder the contest has such a stellar reputation for picking exceptional authors.

Thanks for all you ladies do!

Audra Harders said...

Wow, what a day! Thanks Donnell for visiting Seekerville and explaining the mysteries that are, well, Mysteries and Suspense : )

Everyone who left a comment or questions will be eligible for the drawing. Check back when we announce the recipient of the free entry for the Daphne du Maurier!

Stay warm everyone!

Joelle Charbonneau said...

I want to add my thanks to Donnell for being a great coordinator. She is always there with an encouraging word and a brilliant idea. Thanks Donnell for helping make the Daphne a great contest to enter and to volunteer for.

I've entered the Daphne Unpub several times and have to admit being a little sad that I can't this time...even if the reason is fabulous. I always love hearing what our judges have to say.

I look forward to working with our incredible judges and to getting sensational entries. Good luck to everyone.

Krista said...

Thanks, Donnell! They're not romances, but they are mysteries! I have a lot of fun writing them.

~ Krista

Donnell said...

Pop out and look who comes along. Kelly and Joelle, thanks for the kind thoughts. You make my job easy. Thanks for stopping by!

Pam, I told you, I have a lot of help and that's what makes this contest great.

Krista, sounds like you ought to enter mainstream to me ;)

Thanks Seekerville for inviting us to talk about the Daphne today, and to my Colorado buddy Audra Harders, thank you for the wonderful breakfast and chili for lunch..... I'm stuffed!

I'll be looking forward to hearing who wins the free admittance to the Daphne.


Sandy said...

What a great group you have working on the wonderful Daphne du Maurier contest.

I have a book that is only e-published. Would I be allowed to enter my book in the published category? It will be out in print March 1st.

Thank you for your answer.

Donnell said...

Thank you, Sandy. We do allow e-books. But not in the e-format. They must be bound and printed in the format per the instructions on Any questions contact me at Gnight!

Cee Dunsheath said...

Wow! It's Daphne time! And it's wonderful to see so many people getting excited about entering. The enthusiasm's contagious.

I can promise you all that Donnell's simply as wonderful as she seems. It does take a lot of people to run this contest - and we are well and truly blessed to have a bunch with the work ethic of pack mules and an equally necessary sense of humor-- but having someone so caring and conscientious at the helm makes all the difference.

Thanks, Donnell, for all you do. And thanks to Seekerville for an opportunity to showcase a contest with a heart as big as our Overall Coordinator's :)


Sandy said...

Thank you, Donnell.