Friday, November 29, 2013

From the Shores of Unpublished Island...

By popular demand we're doing a shout out for those who are looking for critique partners. Email us at with your name and the genre you write and what you have in mind. If we pair you up I'll throw in two weeks of mentoring with your group. That means I'll critique with you for two weeks.

This month's giveaway is a holiday treat! A Caroling Kittens Amazon gift card. 
 Published Authors

The 2013 National Readers Choice Awards Now open. Deadline December 1.

 The 2013 Lyra Awards are designed to find and promote the best in independent fiction.  The contest is open to all independently published eBooks released in 2013. 12 categories. Deadline is December 31, 2013.

International Thriller Awards. Received deadline December 31.

Golden Quill. Now open. Deadline January 10.

Bookseller's Best. Now open. Deadline January 15.

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Now open. Deadline January 15.

Judge a Book by Its Cover. Now open. Deadline January 15.

Winter Rose Award for Excellence. Opens December 1, 2013. Deadline January 26.

Unpublished Authors

For the THIRD YEAR, Seekerville will again be offering entry fee reimbursement to the 2014 Golden Heart Awards. With a twist!~This year we are narrowing that to the Inspirational Category entry only in an effort to keep the category open. And we are offering TWO reimbursements of the entry fee.

This opportunity is open from the entry date through to the Golden Heart deadline. The Golden Heart contest is open to 1,200 paid entries.Entries must be submitted to RWA’s contest site no later than 5 p.m. CT, Dec. 13, 2013

Send proof of entry to the Seekerville email address (may send multiple proofs if you enter multiple times in the inspy category). Winners will be announced in January 2014.

Great Expectations. Deadline December 29. Sunday, December 8, 2013, midnight CST deadline for EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT. This contest is open to all authors who have never been published in book-length romantic fiction as well as authors who have not been contracted or published in the entered category during the last three years (during 2011, 2012, or 2013). Entry includes 5,000 word entry limit instead of page count. NO synopsis or blurb.Finalists will be asked to include an unjudged synopsis for editors.

Contemporary Series – Megan Long
Associate Editor, Harlequin Publishing

Historical – Chelsey Emmelhainz
Assistant Editor, William Morrow Avon

Inspirational– Raela Schoenherr
Bethany House

New Adult– Elizabeth Poteet
St. Martin's Press

Mainstream with Romantic Elements – Alex Logan
Editor, Grand Central Publishing/Forever

Romantic Suspense – Laura Fazio
Assistant Editor, NAL

Single Title – Madeleine Colavita
Editorial Assistant, Grand Central Publishing

Specialized – Kristine Swartz
Editorial Assistant, Berkley Publishing

Young Adult – Julie Mianecki
Editorial Assistant, Berkley Publishing 

The Smooch. Deadline January 8. Entry: “First Kiss” scene, 4–8 pages, unpublished work-in-progress; electronic only. Judges: published romance authors
Final Judge: Barbara Vey of Publisher’s Weekly’s Beyond Her Book blog.

Marlene Awards. Opens December 15. Deadline January 15. Open to published and unpublished manuscripts.  35 pages maximum (story opening and synopsis). Winners in each category receive a full manuscript critique by published authors.

Series Contemporary – Johanna Raisanen- Harlequin
Single Title – Esi Sogah-Kensington
Historical – Leah Hultenschmidt-Grand Central
Paranormal – Latoya Smith-Grand Central
Romantic Elements – Rhonda Helms-Carina
Young Adult –Reka Simonsen- Harcourt Children's Books.

Unpublished Winter Rose Contest.  Deadline  January 26. Entries consist of the first 25 pages of the novel. A prologue and/or second chapter may be included if within total page guidelines.

Contemporary Series: Dana Hamilton, Harlequin
Contemporary Single Title: Emilia Pisani, Simon & Schuster
Erotica: Amanda Dawn, Siren
Historical (includes Regency):Nicole Fischer, Avon
Paranormal: Tera Kuskaden Kleinfelter, Samhain
Romantic Suspense: Junessa Viloria, Random House
Young Adult: Holly Blanck Ingraham, St. Martin’s Press

 Get ready, the 2014 Genesis Contest opens in January!


Other Contest & Writing Opportunities

  WOW: Women On Writing Fiction Quarterly Contest.  Open September - November 30th, Midnight (Pacific Time). "WOW! hosts a (quarterly) writing contest every three months. The mission of this contest is to inspire creativity, communication, and well-rewarded recognition to contestants. The contest is open globally; age is of no matter; and entries must be in English. We are open to all styles of writing, although we do encourage you to take a close look at our guest judge for the season and the flavor of our sponsor, if you are serious about winning. We love creativity, originality, and light-hearted reads. That's not to say that our guest judge will feel the same... so go wild! Express yourself, and most of all, let's have some fun!"

Maximum: 750--Minimum: 250 The title is not to be counted in your word count. We use MS Word's word count to determine the submitted entry's word count.Open Prompt: Open to any style and genre. From horror to romance! Entry Fee: $10.00 We are limiting the amount of entries to a maximum of 300 stories. Please enter early to ensure inclusion. If we reach 300 entries, we will disable the PayPal buttons.

Check out the great prizes, including cash! Final judge is Literary Agent Suzie Townsend.

 Midlife Collage is looking for submissions in our free-entry contests. We run weekly, online writing contests for a cash prize. Perhaps you would be eligible and interested in submitting a short story. Please see our Submissions page for the guidelines and contest rules.  U.S. citizens and legal residents age 40 and older may enter.  

The December Contest Diva

Julie Hilton Steele
 Contest Diva December 2013

I knew I’d lost my mind when I put my first chapter up on So You Think You Can Write. I mean my work wasn’t going to be viewed by just a couple of judges or an agent or editor. It was going to be out there for the world to see, compared to much more experienced writers than me!  I had visions akin to my middle school nightmares.  Putting up my chapter was like standing in front of my class in my underwear. But it didn’t cost me anything except potential humiliation.

So why did I do it?  I needed to prove something to myself. My daughter parachutes out of planes and rappels down thirty-five story buildings to build confidence. I threw my writing up on the vast internet. I did the best I could. There, perfectionist, scaredy-cat part of myself. Take that!

I didn’t final but, because I prepared that chapter, I realized I was brave enough to send three chapters on to an agent. Courage begets courage.  

So, whether you are testing a new genre, submitting to a contest with an agent you really want to see your work, or just contesting for the first time, you will grow your confidence and be braver for it.

 Go forth and contest.

We couldn't have said it better, Julie!

Tina Radcliffe writes Inspirational romance for Harlequin Love Inspired and romantic comedy as Tina Russo. Stop by and check out the launch of My Critique Partner!


  1. :( I'm contest jonsing and Great Expectations looks fabulous, but they've lumped historical, suspense and contemp all under Inspirational.

    It's been over a year since I've entered a contest and for us divas that is hard. ;)

    Hope y'all take advantage of entering the GH!

  2. Ooh..I hope I get to read some of these stories going into these contests. Hope each one wins..even if it is confidence!

  3. I'm not sure how many I entered this year. I thought about GH, but the cash just isn't there [I'd need to reup my membership too].


    I am contemplating great expectations :). And Genesis :D.

    But right now... I have 6290 words to finish by Saturday...


    [Love the new site Tina!]

  4. Oh, Julie.

    This is why I love you.

    No, correction. This is ONE of the reasons I love you.

    "Courage begets courage." What an awesome take-away line for my next week.

    Enormous high five and showers of Lindt chocolate balls!!


  5. Gotta finish that NaNo, Carol? I'm 2k from the end, but it continues into December. It's a good habit to keep up. There was a woman on my team who generated 6-9k a day since the middle of the month. I had no idea of how someone who writes historical does that, but she made our numbers look great!

    Yeah to CD Julie! You are out there! Celebrate!


  6. Thank you for the contest update, Seekerville! I'm curious about the Lyra contest for indie-published books... Something to consider!

    I'd love a chance to win an Amazon gift card - thanks! :)


  7. Tina,

    Thanks for sharing the contests with us. I'll definitely check them out.

    Congratulations to Diva Julie.

    I hope you all have a great Black Friday wherever you are!

  8. Congratulations, Julie! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on entering contests. I hope to get better at that this next year! :-)

    And you're right that 'courage begets courage'.

  9. Thanks for the contest update TINA. I just went and entered a couple. woo hooo

    One of course is the Golden Quill sponsored by my home RWA group. And no that doesn't give me an advantage. I enter every year and haven't won yet. LOL They use outside readers, not members to judge. That is why it is a readers choice award. Some of the proceeds go to literacy organizations in our area.

    Congrats to JULIE HS. You truly are a contest diva.

    Go CAROL and PIPER

  10. So far, I've entered my book in the Booksellers contest and the Rita.

    I might try entering a short story in the Midlife Collage.

    Thanks for the update, Tina and Congrats on being a contest diva, Julie!

  11. Way to go Carol. Now how many manuscripts are under your belt??

  12. You are welcome, Jackie. No guts no glory!!

  13. This is the time of year for published contests!

  14. Hi Julie,

    My fellow fearless competitor. I didn't think of SYTYCW in the same way. Piper prodded me to enter, and I agreed it was a good contest to get exposure, and I did have a ms with the right word count.

    The situation turned out a little funny so I'll relate it. When I went to post, I couldn't get my chapter to paste. Maybe the problem was in my computer. I'd been having trouble with it, but I didn't want to give up. I knew Piper would ask, and I knew I couldn't lie, so I typed the whole chapter into the entry, complete with typos and a misused word.

    I didn't see that at the time, of course, and I had bigger problems. The screen said it posted, but it didn't show up. When I tried again, it said I'd already posted. So I contacted the tekkies. We had several emails over the next 2 days. No one else might know me at Harlequin, but the tekkies do. Seriously, they were nice and finally (I don't know what they did) got it up.

    I spite of all those problems, I'm glad for the experience and wish more publishing houses offered the same opportunity.

    Like every contest, it pushed me. I had to do a complete edit of the entire ms on the outside chance it would be needed. How does one edit a whole book in two weeks? But I did it, and now I have a clean ms, no more typos or misused words.

    Moral - No good effort is ever wasted.

    Good luck with your agency submittals.

  15. Congratulations, Diva Julie! Now on to more challenges.

    Like Christina, I miss the contests. Maybe next year.

  16. Helen, hey sorry about that split personality issue

    Next year to diva.

  17. Seriously, Elaine. You are spot on.

    No guts, no glory. No risk, no reward.

  18. Tina -

    This will be no. 11 when it's done. I think. Maybe 12, but probably 11.

    That's why I'm so far behind. I was finished revisions/edits for the MS requested at conference and didn't get it done and sent out until Nov. 14.

    Piper -

    I can't do that more than a day or two in a row [at least historically, but I rarely have the chance to do it more often than that]. I did have 5K+ last Friday and 10K+ last Saturday which is the only reason I have a fighting chance now. Normally, day after Turkey Day is "Carol goes to Panera all day" day, followed by a second "Carol goes to Panera all day" on Saturday, but not this year. Headed to my BIL's house in a few hours today [FIL's bday was Wednesday] and hubs is going out of town early tomorrow afternoon so...

    Plus Sunday is December. Sigh.

    My original goal was a 70K rough draft [like my SpeedBo goals], but if I can have the rough draft done by Jan 1, I'll be happy.

  19. Or since the 10yo just threw up [again :(], looks like I may get to stay home.


    I'd rather her not be sick.

  20. Thanks for the kind words folks.

    Elaine, I know exactly how you felt as I edited away also!

    I am thinking of making Courage Begets Courage as bumper stickers for us all.

    Peace, Julie

  21. Love the ornaments and Santa on the beach. Ho, ho, ho!

    Congrats to Julie HS on donning the contest diva crown! Way to go!

  22. Hey, Julie, that's a good fundraising idea to get to San Antonio. Think about it! I am going into the pashmina business and selling shawls at conferences for cold people. :)

    Your post (as well as Elaine's) were so kindly worded as to avoid connecting bully or the verb bullied in connection with my name. Thanks guys! DS thanks you too, he doesn't want a bully for a Mom!

    I had no idea of your travail Elaine with the HQ tekkies. *hangs head* But you made it in a alot of people enjoyed yours and Julie's entries.

    Tina, great contest update. I may be all contested out after this latest stretch. We will see. And my teammate had 9400 one day! Insane!

    Carol, congrats on your consistent production! I am in awe. Sorry it is not a Panera day for you--gotta take care of the kid--but I hope you'll be back at it soon. Maybe some day you can share how you get a 10k day!

    Now the holidays can begin!!!

  24. I'm sitting here watching Nebraska Cornhuskers ... ahem ... STRUGGLE against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

    I might as well be writing. It would be more entertain.


  25. Carol your goal is NANO right?

    I set a NANO goal though I didn't officially sign up. I'd need to do 10000 by Saturday and that ain't happening. But I got really really close to my goal and got a LOT of writing done this month and feel really great about it.

  26. My life has been a NANO goal of late.

  27. Mary - yeah, my official goal is NaNo and 50K. My personal goal was a 70K rough draft, but since the revisions/etc took longer than expected, I'll be very happy with 50K and a full rough draft by the end of the year :).

  28. Carol, :( on the sick kiddo. Not fun! Poor baby girl.

  29. Great idea for a bumper sticker, Contest Diva Julie! You, Elaine and Piper were great examples of courage as you posted your stories to SYTYCW. I enjoyed your stories and cheered for Seekerville writers I "knew"...what fun!

    I entered two contests this year which gave me enough COURAGE to submit a story to WW....that was very brave for me. (And I completed something! I need some of Carol's "finishing" tonic. Way to go, Carol and other Nano-ers!)

    Unfortunately, my GH entry is not going to happen. I'm praying there are enough Inspirational entries so that I will be able to enter as a GOAL for NEXT year.

    Cheering for Julie and all those contesting! Thanks, Tina!

  30. Congratulations, JHS! We always knew you were a diva.... :)

    I've entered four contests so far this year (and won the TARA - woo hoo!). Looking at the Golden Quill and the other pubbed contests.

    What a thrill to be able to enter pubbed contests!

    And I love the new website, Tina! When I need a critique, I'll be stopping by :)

    Also - My dad was telling me about this book he found at the library, and how much he enjoyed it. He wondered if I had ever heard of the author...Tina Radcliffe. :) Thanks for making my dad's reading enjoyable, Tina!

    (And no one may go back and count the exclamations points I used in my comment....)

  31. My goal was 1500 words a day all month long to reach 45,000 for the month which would get me through my book to 80,000 words.

    I'm at 70,000 instead of 80000.
    But the book isn't due until February so I'm good. I just wanted to get it done so I could get on with book #3 so I could get more of a big picture going on the three books, get them all to be one big vision, you know?

    I think book #1 which is finished but the revisions aren't due yet, reads differently if I know what's going to happen in book #3. I can incorporate more of the vision for the whole series and that makes the story have a different, broader, more honest voice where all the characters are more fully realized right from the beginning.
    Does that make sense?

    I think that's the secret to Harry Potter, that she had three or was it four? books done before the first one was published, that abiility to go back and revise and weave in details were what made those books so rich, made kids read and re-read them, to get all the details Rowling could never have put in if she didn't have such a deep understanding of the big picture.

    Not that my westerns reach that kind of lever of course, because I'm not creating such a complex world, but I still love getting ahead.

  32. Well, talk about serendipity, Jan Drexler!!!

    Tell your Dad, hi!!

  33. Sherida! Pat on the back for you.

    Way to get it done in 2013!!

  34. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Please count me in for the Amazon card....have a few in my cart there that I would LOVE to

  35. I'm still considering the. Golden Heart. Getting closer. Thinking about others. I know I need todo more.

  36. I agree Mary. Though I never read Harry Potter.

    That's one thing I love about your books.

    I'm going to have to contemplate that as I get closer [dear God, please!] to publication myself.

    I know we have talked about this, but it's something to consider. Not only is it a shame that there is no inspy representation, but it's also a shame not to get in such a prestigious contest when there may be not such huge competition....right?

  38. The thing I remember about Harry Potter is, one of my daughter was re-reading book one in preparation for the release of book three. So re-reading the whole series to get up to speed.
    And she looks up from the first page and says, "Hagar is riding Sirius Black's motorcycle on page one of book one."

    The reason this matters is because Sirius Black does not even begin to matter in this series book three, the Prisoner of Azkaban.
    That one teensy reference, Hagar rode in on Sirius Black's motorcycle, is all that's said. That tiny three word reference to Sirius Black....a reference that will mean NOTHING in this series for THREE MORE BOOKS.

    That's the kind of complexity in a series that will make someone start SEARCHING. Start re-reading, picking up little nuggets because it's so COOL to realize things like Rowling already knew Sirius Black mattered, THREE books before any mention would be made of him.

    My kids read the books but they never got into them like so many kids did. I had a nephew that probably read them...ten times each. He was just obsessed with them.
    Lots of kids were.

    And I think little things like that tiny Sirius Black's motorcycle moment are why.

    And how in the world do you do that without writing way, way, way ahead? I get big picture stuff, but tiny details ... I don't hardly think it's possible until the books are written. At least it's not for a seat-of-the-pants writer like me.

  39. Congratulations Diva Julie!!!! You are an inspiration!

    Sigh, I don't know if I'm coming or going these days so I don't know what I'm doing about contests. I'm just grateful I'm getting in writing time every day. Right now I'm 'Hooray -- it's the weekend!!!!' Snooze, write and read, sadly in that order. :-)

  40. [Did I mention I want to be in the drawing for an Amazon card? Or did we have to enter a contest? Or did I flat out miss something? I have Saved by the Bell and The Great Big Book of Negative Emotions and the other Great Big Book of Positive Emotions or something or other to buy [to go with my Emotion Thesaurus].]

    Mary - I've heard that, though I know not what it means.

    Tom Clancy's earlier books are like that [I've not read the later "written with" ones]. A fairly minor character in one book becomes an even more minor character in another book and a moderately big character in a third. But in the third book, you get a payoff 30 years in the making [because that second book actually took place before the first one and during Vietnam and the third in late 90s - okay - like 25 years, but SO WORTH IT]. If I ever have time to reread books, I need to reread those again. Even if my eyes glaze over with the technical mumbo jumbo, the man was a master of the series story arcs.

  41. There seem to be more contests than ever before and that's a good thing!

  42. Kav,

    Sometimes that's all that matters. Daily word count.

    Good for you!

  43. Yeah, Rowlings had time to revise and revise while she was starving to death. Unfortunately I am not that focused. I would be thinking about cheesecake not writing.

  44. Why didn't Mary and I write THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF NEGATIVE EMOTIONS with a special bonus section on SARCASM?

    We missed it, Connealy.

  45. BTW Angela Ackerman is coming back to Seekerville, Carol. I forgot when, but soon.

  46. Here's the thing about the GH. Don't enter unless you are ready. ZERO feedback.

    But as Mary said, with fewer competing manuscripts, it can be a great opportunity for VISIBILITY.

    And bottom line is, if the category keeps tanking. They will get rid of it.

  47. Yippy for Contest Diva Julie! "Courage begets courage" -- how did you boil down so much insight into so few words??

    Thanks to everyone who is setting goals and letting us know how you're doing -- you're great inspiration.

    CAROL -- hope your daughter is well soon.

    And has anyone heard from Melissa?

    Nancy C

  48. Thanks for the contest updates, Tina! Don't know how you keep it all straight.

    Contest Diva, Julie! I've only known you to be courageous - think pitching at nationals, lol. You just did it! You've taught me a lot about stepping out in faith. Peace, lady!

  49. I'm on a contest hiatus, but I love the words of wisdom from the DIVA!

    And wow, you got showers of Lindt chocolate from Virginia. That alone is worth the personal cost of entering.

  50. Tina, has the sarcasm book been written? I think there may still be an opportunity there.

    Except I don't really know how to WRITE or EXPLAIN sarcasm. I just AM sarcastic with every breath I take and every word I speak.

    And have been since birth. I suppose my very lovely parents are just dismayed.

  51. TINA's RIGHT about the zero feedback on the GH, plus expensive. So honestly, not a good contest unless you're doing well in other contests, probably.

    I have TINA'S RIGHT permanently ready to PASTE into every email and comment box.


  52. But, Tina, we spent years starving to death, too, published-authorly speaking. So it's the same.

  53. Thanks for the contest updates, Tina!

    CONGRATS sweet Julie - - you're a lovely DIVA!! :)

    I'm sure I posted a comment earlier, but I guess Blogger ate it...hmmmmm, NO pumpkin pie for Blogger today! ;)

    Hugs, Patti Jo

  54. I don't keep it all straight, Lyndee. My cat helps.

  55. Tina's right. I should buy you a stamp and inkpad, Connealy.

  56. Okay, hubby and I have a tradition of making shopping on Black Friday for all our Christmas gifts our tradition. It's a date day. A little crazy, but fun for us.

    I'm finally, finally stopping by. :)

    JULIE HS—I'm not sure you will see this, but you ROCK, lady. Thanks for sharing your bravery. It's inspirational. :)

    Contests....I only entered two this year—the Frasier and First Impressions. I really, REALLY want to get my current WIP to the point where I can query it. Since my time has been scarce of late, I've focused on the book rather than the contests. But, I plan to enter the Genesis next year, and I may take a look at a couple of the ones in this update. I'm getting the itch to contest again!! :)

    Sleep sweet, y'all!

  57. Thank you for today's blog. It came at such a great time for me. I loved reading about the upcoming contests (great motivation to finish and edit WIP). I also loved reading the comments because I'm not the only one here who has entered NaNoWriMo. I just validated tonight and am rewarding myself with catching up reading some of my favorite blogs and posting on social media. Thanks to all the commenters who have talked about NaNoWriMo or entering contests. I always get so inspired and fired up to write when I read this blog.



  59. I just had a brain fart. I THOUGHT I heard Jeanne T say she does all her Christmas shopping on Black Friday.

    You always seem quite calm and centered.

    In person as well.

    I can't see you as a savage shopper.

    Trying hard. Scrunching up my eyes. Still. Nothing.

    Could you send a picture next year???

  60. No Black Friday shopping for me. I went ONCE. Shudder.

    GH - You have a good chance at winning your fee back from Seekerville.

    And, if you have completed manuscript(s) and have been doing well in contests, the odds are pretty good on finalling as well. Top 10% of 25-35 entries. Not bad odds at all....