Friday, January 4, 2013

The Best of the Archives: Pimp Your Contest Entry

(This post first appeared in Seekerville March 20, 2009.)

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed pimping your manuscript here in Seekerville. Be sure to check out some past articles, as I won’t be covering what has been already mentioned in these archived posts.

11/7/07 Staging Your Manuscript by Tina Radcliffe
5/8/08 Pimp Your Prose by Ruth Logan Herne


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The opinions expressed herein or statements made in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the other Seekers. The actual facts expressed here belong to everybody. The distinction is yours to draw. This post is meant for educational purposes only. Any resemblance to real manuscripts, living or dead is purely coincidental. Furthermore, the individual letters, words, and punctuation marks involved in the making of this article had no options, and should not be held accountable for the writer's statements. No contest score sheets were harmed or named during the making of this disclaimer. Still further, the author is not accountable for any damage caused by the application of this information to any manuscript existing or nonexistent. All contest score sheets used in the production were strictly borrowed without permission. This space (____________) intentionally left blank.

Should you pimp your manuscript for a contest? Is the Pope Ca--I mean, yes, ask any diva. There are tricks to the trade,all's fair in love and romance writing, and today we share a few of those tricks, which really are simple common sense. The mistake many writers make is thinking that entering a contest is just that. No, it involves strategy. Pimping your manuscript is strategizing.

Can you afford to throw away a contest entry fee? Neither can I. In any given contest you've got more than the final judge to impress. You first must pass the inspection of the contest coordinator. Then you must dazzle up to as many as five first round judges and with some contests, second round judges. Then you have one chance to make a good first impression on the final editor or agent judge.

Pimping For Beginners:

1. Read the rules. All contests are not created equal.

  • at least 1 inch margins on all four sides
  • 12 point Courier New, 12 or 14 point Times New Roman
  • 25 lines per page
  • header with title and contest category in upper left (no font mentioned)
  • 24-25 lines per page--with the exception of the last page of a chapter or the first page of each chapter which MUST start one-third way down a new page
  • Unjustified text, aligned left
  • 1 inch margins (doesn't mention top or bottom)
  • The chapter may be printed or typed in either standard manuscript format or faux galley format
  • Manuscripts should have unjustified right margins

  • Typed in an easily read font that is acceptable for submission to publishing houses
  • Notes from contest coordinators:
    Entrants who do not comply with the above rules of XX contest will be contacted and given until the contest deadline to correct the infraction. (Off with their heads!)

    Manuscript format is not a judged component of the XX contest. Judges may or may not point out formatting issues to an entrant, but no points are deducted for perceived infractions. (Dude, I'm not your mother!)

    Obviously if you need to pimp your manuscript you want to find a contest that is pimping friendly. Pimping friendly means they use words like: industry standard or publishing standard without the tedious details. With these contests unless you really make your pimping noticeable you are going to be able to fly under the radar.

    If you simply cannot cut or trim your contest entry to meet the guidelines and you need all the available space you can get then try changing your format or your font enough to get the space you need but not enough to cause an INFRACTION!

    Warning. Save a copy of your manuscript pages before you dabbled as a back up.

    Then go into the format area and the page set up area of your document and play with everything until your finished product stays within the rules and gets you the space you need.

    You can play with space between letters, space between sentences, gutters, and point size. Be bold, mess with everything. Don't forget to play with the font and spacing on your header too. If you don't know where these areas are in your version of Word then use the handy dandy help tool. Mac users you are on your own.

    2. Read the score sheets.

    If you think you don't need to read them, you are wrong.

    By the way, if score sheets are not available on the contest web site, ask the coordinator to send you a copy.

    One caveat-there are several contests out there which do not release score sheets and/or do not use them. Often these contests utilize strictly published authors and are comparable to being published and having a reader review you. Don't enter these contests unless you are consistently finaling in other contests. You will be frustrated as you will receive little or no feedback.

    That said, do not wait until you get your manuscript back to find out you just wasted your time and money on a contest with a score sheet Nora Roberts couldn't have pleased.

    Are the questions broad based or are they intended to assist the judge and the entrant?

    For example, this section of scoring from a contest for category romances (remember category romances vary from Harlequin Romance to Supers) gives the opportunity to score from 1 to 5 in these areas . The total for this section is 20 points. That is huge. Can you pimp your manuscript to get those twenty points? Sure, this one is very pimpable.

    • Do the heroine & hero meet early in the book and is the attraction between the two believable?
    • Can you determine the internal conflict for both H & H?
    • Can you determine the external conflict for both H & H?
    • Is there sufficient ground work to support their physical attraction and emotional relationship?
    In this next contest it might be very difficult to get the entire five points in this category question as it is so broad. And five points can make you a finalist...or not.

    Is there believable Internal conflict?
    Is there believable External conflict?
    Is the plot original or told with skill and a fresh twist?

    It is much more difficult to pimp your manuscript in contests with broad or vague questions. This is about as vague, broad and subjective as you can get.

    Evaluate the Subjectivity of a Contest.

    One popular contest bases 30% of their judging on subjective items. They list the section this way: Emotional Reader Reaction: (30%)

    So if you write a book with a topic that is sensitive or your hero starts out as really unlikable, the best you can hope for if you get the wrong judge is a 70. That won't put you on a final judges desk.

    Points, Points, Points!!

    It is not just the questions on the score sheet that are important. The points allocated for each section is hugely important. Check out how many areas are lumped into one scoring area.

    Look at this contest which gives a large portion of points to a section they call 'Style' which is basically five points for each bullet. The topics lean toward the subjective.

    Style: 30 points:
    • Shows rather than tells.
    • Style is easy-to-read with a rhythm created by varied sentence length and structure and smooth transitions.
    • Descriptions are vivid and give reader a sense of time and place.
    • Information is fed in naturally, as needed—not too much or too little at a time.
    • Narrative, dialogue, action and introspection interwoven and balanced and viewpoint is handled well.
    • Grammar, punctuation and spelling do not detract from the story.
    It's going to be more difficult to pimp this contest. Not impossible. And remember, you may not want to change your voice to suit this contest. If you are willing to pimp then you have to go through each bullet item and do a hard evaluation of your manuscript.
    • Check for words like felt that show.
    • Evaluate your sentence length. Read your entry aloud for smooth transitions.
    • If a reader picked up your pages would they be grounded in time and place?
    • Go through and use different colored marker to evaluate your narrative dialogue and action. Is it balanced? (Maybe you don't actually want it balanced as this is not your voice-but know it will weigh against you.)
    • Never send anything but your best work out to a contest. Have someone check for errors.

    This next contest is even tougher with fifty points in this section. That is half of the contest's total points. Again, some are subjective-it is a contest after all.

    STORY – 50 POINTS (1-5 points each)

    Does the story hold your interest to the end of the entry?

    Is the point of view consistent? Are POV changes smooth and logical?

    Do sensory details (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) enhance each scene?

    Does the setting support the story? Is the story well-grounded in the setting?

    Do inspirational elements grow organically out of character or plot?

    Do scenes flow smoothly, giving a sense of movement?

    Is there an opening line or paragraph that immediately hooks the reader into the story?

    Is the writing fresh and original, avoiding clichés?

    Does the writer utilize showing and telling skillfully?

    Is the author’s voice distinct and unique?

    You can pimp this contest too and get the maximum points allowed by pimping the highlighted areas. You can't do a thing about a judge who doesn't love your style and voice so work on other areas until they are perfect.

    The following contest leans heavily subjective with ten questions worth ten points each. Ten being the highest and one the lowest. There are suggestions in each judging question but no set checklists. This will be one tough contest to ace, since it depends so heavily on whether the judge likes your story and it is very broad.


    Plot : Appropriate for genre? Believable/logical? Complex enough for length?

    Wow, and that is for TEN BIG HUGE POINTS!!
    Another contest with similar scoring uses only 2-4-6-8-10 for those big tipping point categories. While subjectively based it gives clear guidance to the judge.

    Plot and Conflict: Does the story start at a good point with a strong sense of movement? Does at least one main character have clear external conflict and at least a hint of internal conflict? Is point of view consistent with the character whose head you are in? Will the conflict sustain the plot? Does the plot seem contrived? Do the scenes flow with effective transitions?

    You can easily pimp your entry to meet the judging criteria of the above example. Add a line to hint at your hero's conflict. Cut that internal passage the heroine has while waiting for a plane. Check your POV carefully. Would the heroine say that if you are in her POV? What keeps your H & H apart? Can you show the conflict or hint at it?

    Bonus points/Penalty points:

    I personally don't like these types of questions because if you are a strong writer readers love you or hate you. You can't pimp a thing here. Others would argue however that if you are a writer who can template a story (technically perfect but the story has no spark) then these questions are very effective.

    OVERALL APPEAL –Would you want to finish this book if it were published, and would you
    recommend it to a friend? (Score 0 through 5)


    -->GENERAL IMPRESSION—5 points

    Is your interest piqued? Did these pages reel you in? Are you wondering what will happen next? Would you buy this book to find out how it ends?

    Synopsis : If you write a lousy synopsis you are shooting yourself in the foot by entering a contest that judges them. That translates to five points or more that are keeping you from finaling. You cannot afford five points. In some competitions you cannot afford .5 points.

    Pimp your entry by learning how to write a synopsis.

    Hooks & Grabbers

    A grabber pulls them in and a hook makes them want more.

    A contest is a great place to test your grabbers. Sometimes the contest will specifically judge them. It's an easy way to chalk up points.

    Read your first line out loud. Is it something that would make the contest judge want to keep reading? If you don't understand grabbers, open up any book on your TBR pile and read the first line or the first few lines.

    Hooks are a trickier because while contest divas know what a hook is, they often have a hard time breaking their own preconceived rules and regulations for contests. They are pimping shy.

    Time to break out. Pimp your hook!

    Don't even think about ending mid-sentence, mid-paragraph or mid-- anything. If you haven't made that contest judge scramble through your entry to find more pages with your ending hook, you have failed.

    This is not a hook:

    Don’t even.” Angel said. “I have a full-time job too.”

    “You do?” Sophie queried.

    “Angel hasn’t shared her news?” Dora asked, a pinched expression on her face.

    No room for the last few lines. So what will I do? I'm going to shift my font and my formatting, ruthlessly cut words to get that hook right where it belongs. Usually what I discover is that my story is better for the pruning.

    -->Now here is a hook:

    “Don’t even.” Angel said. “I have a full-time job too.”

    “You do?” Sophie queried.

    “Angel hasn’t shared her news?” Dora asked, a pinched expression on her face.


    “What news?” Sophie glanced at her sister.

    “Ma.” Angel repeated the warning.

    “Your sister is now a stripper.”

    After you have done a basic review of the contest score sheet go through and judge your manuscript.

    Go ahead and write down the scores you would give if you had to use the contest score sheet as a judge. This is not an evaluation of the quality of your manuscript but a check list assessment of whether the factors they judge are evident in your first pages. Often a judge is bound by an inflexible score sheet.

    Is the contest too objective? Too subjective? How does your manuscript fare?

    And finally, can you pimp your manuscript to make it work with the score sheet and the contest rules? Or will you be totally changing your voice and style.

    Only you can decide.

    3. Last, utilize a checklist much like you do before sending your manuscript off into the world. Here a nice self-editing list in no particular order of importance. Feel free to share those editing points you think should be added to this list.

    1. Use the word find tool and scan for overuse of: going-it-and-but-just-only-that-would-as. Replace or eliminate.

    2. Have I introduced too many characters at once, detracting from the H&H conflict and requiring a scorecard?

    3. Avoid cliches.

    4. Have I used strong action verbs or did I rely on vanilla verbs such as went, came, started, found herself, made, feel/felt?

    5. Check:
    • Toward not towards
    • Backward not backwards
    6. Its is possessive and it's is a contraction of it is.

    7. How many exclamation points do I have? Two is one too many.

    8. Check for redundancy: too, always, ever, never.

    9. Read pages aloud to see if you skipped/left out a word. This also eliminates sentences that have an 'off' tempo.

    10. Have I overused the em-dash or ellipsis as a technique?

    11. Do a word check for words ending in 'ing' preceded by was. Can I create a stronger more active sentence?

    12. Check for unnecessary commas.

    13. Can I make a stonger sentence by eliminating 'ly' words? She ran quickly to the goal line.
    or instead try, She raced to the goal line.

    14. Have I over used the attributive clause? "You want to start over," Mary said with a frown.

    Change to:

    Mary frowned. "You want to start over?"

    15. Do all my sentences start the same?

    Mary said...
    Mary went...
    Mary got up...
    Mary felt...

    16. Use your tool option to highlight: his/her, she/he. Have you overdone it?

    17. Evaluate for action then reaction. Additionally, do your characters react, respond?

    18. Is there emotion on every page?

    19. Avoid over use of ending sentences with prepositions (-of-to-in-with-for-on) or the pronoun--it. This isn't a rule, simply a warning to avoid overuse.

    20. Read aloud to eliminate dangling modifiers.

    So what do you think? Are you read to give it a try?

    Go ahead.

    Pimp your contest entry for stellar results!

    Today we're giving away a ten page critique to one writer and a surprise reader package to one reader. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition. Comment to be entered. 


    1. Love this -


      “What news?” Sophie glanced at her sister.

      “Ma.” Angel repeated the warning.

      “Your sister is now a stripper.”

      I SO want to have that conversation! LOL

      Thanks for the excellent tips.

    2. Okay, that may have come across wrong. ;)

      But as the oldest sister of four, I can just imagine that conversation taking place and what my mother's reaction would be.

      Not that I want my sister to be a stripper or anything. Nope. Not that.

    3. Me thinks me smells a strategy here, posting this excellent essay from the archives the day after the monthly contest update. Great thinking.

      The coffee pot is on duty.


    4. And wouldn't I like to sell that book, Mary Curry.

    5. Yes. Indeed, Helen. We want to start the year right.

      Write. Submit. Repeat.

      Contest. Submit. Win.

    6. OK, well, first I love the dogs! That cheered my heart immediately. Then the advice - choice as always!

      I have to admit a classic rookie mistake. I once took third place in a contest where I entered the wrong category. I know. It was amazing because my historical was as far from a contemporary as they come, but I managed to get through two gates of judging without being disqualified, taking third. Insane. Especially insane when two agents and an editor asked to read it and I had to explain that it wasn't a contemporary. ;) Fun times.

    7. I have never even thought about some of these points. Thank you so much for sharing these invaluable tips from the past:)

    8. I have referred back to this post in the past when preparing to submit a manuscript to a contest.

    9. Well, Lyndee you are not alone. I entered an inspirational in a contest judged by Brenda Chin (who was doing hot short contemps at the time). I won. What a shock to realize I'd pressed send and sent it off to the wrong category coordinator. Hello!

    10. A stripper, huh?


      Our family has a stripper conversation often. Hub's has had to hire a stripper. When he was in a pinch sometimes he filled the position, sometimes I filled it, and so have our older children. Right now we have a stripper, courting our daughter, who likes to wear pink!!!

      If someone didn't know we own an upholstery shop and reupholster furniture, they would think we have the weirdest conversations. ;)

      Tina, I've entered the wrong entry before. I think the worst entry was the one I sent with the comments left in it.

    11. Golly.

      Blogger ate my first comment.

      Christina...that was hilarious.


    12. This is one of the best articles I've read here.

      I'm saving and re-reading in the AM when my brain is more alert.


      The drama, the tears!

      My tears and the tears of the poor judges who had to wade through my pages.

    13. I have read the opening for that book and fell down laughing, LOVING IT!!!!


      I needed this reminder. I am guilty of too many things that I shouldn't do any longer.


      Helen, I concur! This is a wonderful tool for pimping and primping those entries!!!!

      But it's also a great reminder for all of us to think as we write and edit.

      Embrace change.

      Re-tool our sentence structure.

      Make sure our characters stay in character and don't become just another pretty face.

      Add dogs. (okay, that one's mine!)

      Tina, this was a perfect wake up call for me! Great choice. Thank you!

    14. Its interesting reading these posts. my brain is fried 114ish today. still 104 at 8pm.

      love the pics

    15. Christina, LOL!

      I love refinishing things, and just bought myself new stripper materials.


      You are hysterical! And I'm laughing at the wrong entries.... oh my stars, been there, done that.


      But what a hoot to final in the wrong category! Lyndee, I love that story! Laughing out loud in upstate!!!!

      Hey, I brought breakfast. I know we're probably supposed to be starving ourselves, but I figure that's after the upcoming weekend: Little Christmas. I always go to "Twelfth Night".

      So we have Ruthy's famous Frittata today.... Eggs, bacon, sausage, potato, cheese (3 kinds), onions and peppers....

      Kav, darling, I made a veggie version with eggs, broccoli and cheese for you. I have a dash of Cajun seasoning I'll add to it if you'd like... Cajun eggs are yummy!

      Tina, I'm doing a final read on my September book this weekend. I've printed this off to remind me to think and pause as I read.

      So I'll use this and Vince's Rewards per page idea to work on Falling for the Lawman.

      Again: Thank you!

    16. Good Morning Seekerville,

      Thank you for listing these great tips again. Another formatting one came up in my contesting--to use find and replace (What did people do before find and replace?) to put one space after the period instead of two.

      I usually check, but I let an entry go through with some two- spacers after the period and it was mentioned. I also learned not to use the tab key to start paragraphs. These are old typewriting moves that have not carried over into word processing (Guess I am showing my age!). These may not be part of the format score, but apparently, they do make an impression. As the article said, you can't afford to lose .5 let alone 5 points...


    17. Tina, what a hoot! So, does the stripper opening really belong to one of YOUR books? LOLOLOL, you made my Friday : )

      Reading through all your thoughtful advice, my attention snagged on one detail -- Is the plot contrived? Oh my goodness is that a loaded line item. I don't know how many times I got nailed by that one.

      Just remember, your plot might make perfect sense to YOU, but if you don't share enough detail and background, it won't have the same effect on the reader/judge. Make sure they understand WHY things happen.

      Enough soap box. Gotta get work. Have a great day everyone!

    18. Audra, you're spot on.

      I am guilty as charged of trying to force plots sometimes. And then when others don't "get" it I have a light bulb moment and wonder Why Didn't I See That Myself????

      Piper, I would never have thought of doing find and replace for that extra space. I had to re-train my typing brain to go to one space a long time back and it wasn't easy to break that habit.

      But you don't use tab to indent? I always do. Being archaic, I would not even think there was another way to do it.

      What do you do, oh smart one?

    19. Ruthy,

      Ha! Did I say I had a solution to not using the tab key? No! I still use the tab key and pray that it doesn't make a difference to the entry--at least for the GH.

      I received this information on two recent contest feedback sheets about setting up a template to indent new paragraphs by .5 inch. Yes, I know, a tab does that, but is what the feedback said. Does any one else not use the tab key to start a new paragraph?

      Also, I learned not to indent the first line of a new scene. Didn't know that either.

      Not so smart about indenting, :(


    20. LOL, Christina!

      Great post and important questions for any first chapter, not just a contest entry.

      I often forget not to load up the first chapter with too many characters. They're all clear in my mind, but they can be confusing to readers. Just ask a crit partner!

    21. Love this checklist Tina. And the pooch.

      Oh my, I wish I had this list years ago when I started out.

      However, my first contract came from submitting a proposal to the wrong publishing house. It was a YA novel on a teen who had to make a serious decision.

      I sent it to a publisher who only published non-fiction but they contracted me to write a book on Decision Making. I ended up writing several other books for them. So funny.

    22. LYNDEE your story made me think of mine. So funny. But how wonderful that you got requests.

      RUTHY the frittata is to die for. Thanks for bringing yummy goodies this morning

      JENNY please send some of that heat NORTH. I"ll trade and send down some cool weather. smile

      CHRISTINA you made me laugh with the stripper conversations stories. LOL

    23. I've never looked at the scoring as pimping. However, I have certain things I like to see. (Granted, I've ignored them and still done well, but I have my preferences.)

      1) One score gets dropped. We've all been killed by one judge at one time or another. Granted, I've also lost when the dropped judge was used as a tiebreaker.

      2) Who's on the other end?

      3) Category. I've tried "Historical" before with no success, not counting the two minutes where I thought I'd finaled until I realized I needed to tell the category coordinator that she was bad at math. "Inspirational" judges are prepared for historicals (though historical Japan has gotten me some really funny (i.e. friendly) comments from judges at times). Historical judges are less prepared for inspirationals.

    24. And I have my own stripper story that I'm trying to use as an intro for a contemporary inspirational.

    25. "Also, I learned not to indent the first line of a new scene. Didn't know that either."

      This is interesting. I know that's how Love Inspired type sets their books but I don't actually do it myself.

      I can't imagine a contest judge dinging your for it.

    26. This is some great advice. Thanks!!

    27. As always, a great morning, but where is Vince? Yep, today i most certainly enjoyed the comments more than the post. Stripper? What about someone doing the splits? Thanks again for the goodies, but noticed too that Mary beat Helen here this morning. Thanks for a great start to my Friday.

    28. See that paragraph screen shot in the post Ruthy and Piper? Where it says "Indent" and "first line"?

      That's how you make it do first line indent rather than tab.

      I spent days setting up my Genesis entry. Don't hold out tons of hope but it's a good entry.

      Also just spent yesterday cutting 4 pages to make prologue/Ch. 1 15 pages for Genesis. Some of the cuts make it better. Some were better the other way. Now to see if I can make them all better ;).

      Except for Genesis, I'm done for a while... :)

    29. Tina, what a fabulous post! Even if it is a few years old, this is pure gold. I wish I had seen it last summer. :) I've contested with the mindset I'd just do the best I could to make my entry great and fit within required formatting. I never consciously thought about how to pimp my entries. Some of your suggestions, I've done, others will be very helpful when I enter more contests. :)

      Please don't enter me in the drawing for a critique, as I just won one from you last month. :) Thanks for sharing your insights, Miss Contest Diva.

    30. LYNDEE--your story made me laugh. :) I kind of did that this fall. :)

      CHRISTINA--I was laughing when I read your comment. I certainly wasn't thinking of the kind of stripper your family business hires..... ;O)

      PIPER--your shared tip about indenting is so helpful. I'll have to figure that one out. I've had people mention not using the tab, but I'm just not good enough to know another way to indent. :)

    31. Piper, I made it a life's goal to avoid contests that make us jump through too many hoops.

      That just smacks of control to me, and I'm willing to do the norm, but if the norm wasn't good enough, I didn't need to enter.

      I obeyed margins, word counts, pimped like crazy, and then did a happy dance wearing a muumuu as required.

      But what they should focus on is judges who recognize good writing and offer positive feedback (even if it's a tough bit to chaw sometimes)

      Sometimes my tough, good judges were the best ever. But those nit-picking things.



    32. Hi Tina:


      It may be a guy thing, (or just a Vince thing), but I find the term ‘pimping’ to be morally objectionable. It conjures up images of pimps, pimpmobiles, hookers, grabbers, rewarding the prospect, trashing up a naturally beautiful woman to comply with some John’s idea of sexy, casting couches, exploiting underage runaways, in short, the complete opposite of romance. I tried but I just can’t get by the word.

      So I fixed it. I combined all three posts: “Pimp Your Contest Entry”, “Pimp Your Prose”, and “Staging Your Manuscript” into one long file and did a ‘find and replace’. For each ‘pimp’ (15) and each ‘pimping’ (9) I substituted the words ‘sync’ and ‘syncing’ respectively.

      Now the opening to today’s post reads:

      Should you sync your manuscript for a contest?

      By sync I mean synchronizing it to the requirements of the specific contest. That’s a good thing. You are creating harmony. You are putting the world in balance. Remember all those war movies where the heroes synchronized their watches? That was a good thing…a noble exercise…a moral imperative.

      Next I am going to edit down this long combined file to just the rules and guidelines and then place it in front of each of my contest entries. As I meet each rule requirement, I will yellow highlight that rule. This way each rule will be covered or I will know which rule is still unmet. These are three wonderful posts. Especially now that I can read them without distractions.

      I also edited one other part.

      “Angel hasn’t shared her news?” Dora asked, a pinched expression on her face.


      “What news?” Sophie glanced at her sister.

      “Ma.” Angel repeated the warning.

      “Your sister is now a stripper.”

      “Oh, so you got that job down at the furniture factory.” They didn’t call her Sophie the unflappable sister for nothing.


      P.S. I just loved the part where you advise the reader to learn “…how to write a synopsis.” This little book will tell you how: “ Write a Great Synopsis - An Expert Guide” [Kindle Edition] Nicola Morgan – just 3.99

    33. I love this post! Kudos, Ruthy, for your savvy suggestions for those entering contests!

      Thanks for the coffee, Helen.


    34. Great suggestions! I'm ready to pimp! Now back to yesterday (or the day before's?) blog with a list of coming contests.

    35. Wow! Great information here!

      Will keep this in mind when entering future contests!

      Thanks, Tina. Didn't know you could be so devious!

      sbmason at sympatico dot ca

    36. This is a great post!

      Like Jeanne T, I wish I had read it before!

      And like Virginia, I'm missing contests. But there are irons in the fire, so I'm keeping busy.

      (don't you love how we can use up all our cliches here on Seekerville so we can keep them out of our WIP's?)

    37. LOL. Vince. You should be an editor. Put that red pen away and get writing.

    38. Contesting isn't cheap and anything you can do to stage your manuscript is time well spent.

    39. Grrrreat info, Miss Tina.
      And by the way, where does your model shop? I might need some new duds for my next incognito mission! BOL!

    40. Thanks for the refresher post on pimping for contests. I've used it in the past and though not finalled in one, I did receive helpful feedback. This post and the comments were so funny. Looking over the contests this month and may enter again. As has been said I need to contest, submit and win. I especially pay attention to those contests where the lowest score is dropped. One of the areas I need to watch is not to have too many characters in the first chapter. Please consider me for the 10 page critique.

    41. Tina,
      love the article! Only thing I wonder about at times is: how many times do you go over it, before you edit it to death? There's always something more you can change to make it stronger, so where does it end? And after having read it fifteen times, it all seems to sound ... well, old.

      Questions like 'did it reel you in?' are pretty hard, I guess. Megasubjective. We all know there are books out there that lots of people love and buy and still others might not like them at all. Still there's something to be learned from books that become successful. Loved what Susan Litman recently tweeted about certain movies that were box offices successes but never got critical acclaim: they are doing something right especially in the emo department that writers can learn from. YES YES YES! I love watching TV series and thinking: man, that's raising the stakes, or wow, that motivation is sooo strong.

    42. Oh, about indent:
      when I start a new document, I always type in Chapter One, then use ctrl A to select everything on page, then put it on double spacing and do the indent via the ruler on top (simply drag it to a .5 indentation). Then those settings work for the entire document.

      I've heard you never indent after a blank line or white space.

      Just my 2 cts.

    43. LOL, May. Clipart from istock photo. No idea. Cute clothes,I agree.

    44. Viv, you are so correct. At some point you just have to let your baby walk to school on his own. Or you suffer from the perfect manuscript with no soul syndrome.

    45. Great tips for the writers. Thanks.
      Love the puppy pictures. My daughter had a fit over them.
      Amy C

    46. Good tips!! I'm a reader!


    47. Was clueless about the indent rule. Guess I still am.

      Always something to learn.

    48. Amy C-be sure to check out the Weekend Edition for upcoming blog posts!!!

    49. Hey, Marissa! We love our readers!

    50. Jennifer, what are you working on??

    51. Jennifer--I couldn't agree more. However, I knew that someone would have the solution--thanks Carol! Jeanne and I have learned a lot today. I only mentioned these things because maybe it will benefit someone who wants to contest this year.

      Ruthy, your great advice about contesting over the past few days is appreciated. The feedback I have gotten from repeated contesting this past year has helped bring my draft (and subsequent work) to a different level. But, when the evaluation goes there... well, it does require some thought. The comments should really should be about the story and the writing.

      I try to think of it this way: the judges who mentioned these tidbits wanted to help my writing make a good first impression. That's the spirit that I took the suggestions in and that's why I love Seekerville where we can share this information. :)


    52. I like to think of it as strategic, Susan!

    53. And Viv too! Thank you for your approach.


    54. This is a great blog to repost at the beginning of the year -- especially following all that contest info from a few days ago. I find it kind of scary but informative. :-)

    55. Tina, I'm working on a ms that Emily Rodmell from Harlequin Love Inspired requested. (A long time ago.)

      Almost done. A few more chapters to edit and off it goes :)

    56. RUTHY said--- "I made it a life's goal to avoid contests that make us jump through too many hoops.

      That just smacks of control to me, and I'm willing to do the norm, but if the norm wasn't good enough, I didn't need to enter."


      This doesn't sound like the sweet and humble Ruthy we've all come to know and love, the one that preaches cooperation and holding hands?

      You're sounding just a teeny bit revolutionary, my dear.

    57. JAN--

      Irons in the fire!!

      And your cliches are historical, so it's all good, right?

      :) :)

      Can't wait for your book...

    58. sandra would love too send some heat thankfully we had a cool change last night altough house is hot trying to cool it as will still get to mid 90's today. i didnt sleep well.

    59. I'm ignoring the whole 'indentation' conversation because it looks like work. I tab and no one has ever said anything about it.

      But I AM very glad of one of the first judges I ever had taking the time to explain how to CNTRL-ENTER and it would give a chap break.
      Also, some astrix for a scene break or POV shift.

      That was very helpful.

    60. A truly timeless post, Tina! Glad you brought it up from the archives.

      You know, I think when a judge starts picking on minor issues of formatting, it's because she's stuck for anything else constructive to say. And unless it's a clear breach of manuscript style (like, say, single-spacing or teensy font or too-narrow margins), taking off points is uncalled for.

    61. Is it my imagination or is Ruthy using me as a bad example in that post?

    62. Also, why do I always feel like Ruthy is YELLING AT ME!!!!!?????????

    63. Ooooh so good! Will definitely be coming back to this post if/when I enter another contest. This is a writing year, though - so we'll see.

      THANK you!

    64. VINCE I remember the first time my CHILD told me I needed to PIMP my myspace page. I was horrified that the child would use that word with me.

      Now Ruthy is titling a Seekerville post with it and I don't even blink.
      The Decay of Western Civilization!!!!!

    65. From my computer dictionary:

      1 [ no obj. ] (often as noun pimping) act as a pimp.
      • [ with obj. ] provide (someone) as a prostitute.
      • [ with obj. ] informal sell or promote (something) in an extravagant or persistent way: he pimped their debut album to staff writers at Rolling Stone.
      2 [ with obj. ] informal make (something) more showy or impressive: he pimped up the car with spoilers and twin-spoke 18-inch alloys.

    66. What do you mean this is a writing year????? As opposed to????

    67. Thank goodness, The Grammar Queen's best friend is here to save me. You were saving me, weren't you???

    68. Sure, Tina, sure. Whatever I can do to help. ;-)

    69. One of my objections to many of the rules of Writer's Contests is often the publishers and agents don't have all those rules.
      I think it confuses aspiring authors who think they need to submit something with very EXACTING specifications. And that's just not true.
      I remember someone asking a publishers panel once what font they preferred for submissions and the editor who answered sort of tilted her head and shrugged and said, "Pretty much anything but Wingdings."

      Which tells you a lot, I think.

    70. LOL, Mary, this is so true. However I do recall trying to impress editors with my bright white heavy weight expensive paper and a kind editor at Love Inspired (Krista Stroever) gently asking me not to use the heavy paper.

      Imagine them having to put my manuscript on a small wagon to take on the subway.

      I was clueless.

    71. On fonts for business letters Arial seems to be the preferred font or fonts in that family.

    72. Isn't every year a writing year?

      Glad I could give everyone a laugh. I deleted my original entry, figured if my mother saw it she'd come after me with a butcher knife.;)

    73. Virginia,
      I didn't know about the ctrl-enter. Thank you!

      Tina, great advice today that needs to be revisited often. :)

    74. Christina! Chicken. Bawk. Bawk. Bawk.

    75. Way to go Jennifer!!!! Not so long ago.

    76. Tina, when it comes to my mother you better believe it. *g*

    77. WOW, Tina...This is GREAT!! I feel sure I'll be re-reading---and some of the comments posted made me LOL. Thanks for all the wisdom you share (and even though I'm a CAT person at heart, that dog IS cute!). Hugs, Patti Jo
      p.s. Sorry I'm chiming in sooo late---been gone today!

    78. You are never late to Seekerville, Patti Jo.

    79. I love the dog!

      Christina - just think of the story you could write. Your hero could think the lady he is falling for is a stripper and not the furniture type!

      Did I mention I love the dog?

    80. A reader here & I must say as a reader I learned a lot here today thank you.

    81. I'm a reader, and this was a very informative blog. And cute doggie pictures. Thanks for having the giveaway.


    82. I would love to win,Enter me!!
      Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
      Sarah Richmond

    83. This is great.

      Thank you,

      Anna Labno