Thursday, September 11, 2014

Checklist for Entering Contests

My former boss always said that my attention to detail was what made me good at my job.  And just for the record, I quit my former job a few years ago to write, work in the Christian publishing world, and manage the books on the family farm. It wasn't like I was fired from that day job! Just sayin' :)

So, this slightly OCD trait also comes in handy when preparing manuscripts for mailing, whether to contests, agents, or editors. But if you’re not detail-oriented, not to worry. Here are some tips to help keep you on track.

Keep in mind that some of the tips below do not apply to all contests. This list of tips is to help you get in the habit of doing all the steps every time you enter a contest, so that you can whip out an entry in a matter of hours. If something doesn't apply, you just mark it off your list.

Once you’ve got the content of your manuscript and your synopsis polished to a shine and/or there are only 3 hours until the receipt deadline, then:

1) Review the big picture rules
a. Does your ms fit neatly into one of the categories?
b. Do you know who the finalist judges are?
c. Have you looked at a sample score sheet if available?
d. Is the deadline a “receipt” deadline or “postmarked” deadline? Most, if not all, unpublished contests are online these days, but published contests will involve mailing books. Rules are there for a reason. If the deadline on a mailed entry is receipt, then the contest coordinator is honor-bound to abide by the rules regardless of when it was postmarked. 

2) Review the rules specific to your manuscript and your synopsis
a. Check the margins
b. Check font and font size
c. Check to see if there is a title page. A lot of online contests have moved away from title pages, but it never hurts to check the rules, just in case.
d. Check header. What exactly does the contest require in the header? What does the contest forbid in the header (like your name or pseudonym)?

3) There are few contests that require you to mail in your entry, so you don't have to print out the entry form these days, but if it helps you to keep everything on track, by all means, print it out. And especially if you are mailing in your entry, you might want to print out the mailing address for one last check when you get to the post office. In your excitement, it’s much too easy to get to the post office and seal that sucker up, forgetting all about the return postage and/or your check.

a. Did you include enough books or copies of your manuscript? If books for a published contest, did you sign them?
b. Did you double-TRIPLE-check the mailing address?
c. Pay a bit extra for Delivery Confirmation. You'll be glad you did. (The same goes for those wonderful contracts you're going to be snail-mailing someday!)

Entering unpublished contests have changed a lot over the years as the bulk of them have gone online. On one hand, the process is much, much easier and cheaper, especially since you don't have to print or mail anything. Isn't that a blessing? Contests with 3-5 print copies of a 20-25 page manuscript added a chunk of change to someone's contest budget. Also, for you young whippersnappers, us oldies had to pay for printing, postage to mail our entries, and a SASE envelope with enough postage for the contest to return all our judged entries. I like online much better.

But online contests don't come without problems. Slow internet, incompatible software, corrupted files, and failure to confirm your entry or payment can knock you out of a contest.

A year or so before I sold, I found out about a contest that was low on inspirational entries, so with hours before the deadline, I entered two manuscripts. One went through fine, but for some reason the other one kept converting from 35 pages on my computer to 39 on the coordinator's computer. Same two computers and the same coordinator as the other manuscript, minutes apart. It was the weirdest thing I'd ever seen and neither of us could fix it. The coordinator bent over backwards to help, but in the end, I had to make a decision. In desperation, I chopped 5 pages off the end, and sent it in with 2 minutes to spare. The manuscript was within the page count at that point and wasn't disqualified. (It finaled and actually won the contest. Go figure...)

Once a contest lost my digital entry. Just literally lost it. I can't remember if they gave me a refund or if they had someone read for me. In the course of writing this post, I found another one that I'm still not sure I ever got the results on. Let it go! Let it go! It never bothered me anyway....

Always, always, always make sure you use an email address that you check regularly and especially check your email after the fact if you end up entering a contest with mere hours to spare. Contest coordinators are amazing at bending over backwards to let people fix issues, but in fairness to other entrants, once the deadline has passed, there's nothing they can do. Stay on top of your entry and don't be disqualified for something that could be prevented just by being aware of your email trail.

Generally when you enter a contest, you will receive at least two emails. Possibly more.

1) Payment confirmation. Most of the time, this email will come from PayPal as that's the go-to for most online payments these days. PayPal allows non-users to pay with a debit or credit card, but the email will still come from PayPal.

2) Entry confirmation receipt. This receipt will be from group/chapter hosting the contest OR the contest coordinator's private email, depending on the software the contest is using. It confirms that the contest coordinator received your entry. Again, generally speaking, #1 and #2 go hand in hand and are automated responses when you complete your entry. This email will usually let you know if you need to look for additional emails.
3) Additional emails might land in your inbox once contest coordinators have laid eyes on your manuscript pages and made sure they meet the guidelines.

Then you sit back and wait for the results...or...

better yet, write another book!!!

By checking your email, you ensure that you've completed the process, sent in your manuscript and received payment. The best laid plans can go awry even after you do everything perfectly, hit submit, but then go off to celebrate your achievement... only to find out that there was a glitch with your PayPal account. 99% of the time, you will receive an email confirmation immediately from PayPal. If you have time to wait 24 hours, do so. If the deadline is looming, it wouldn't hurt to check on the status of your entry.

It never hurts to check and double check everything. You’ll feel better, your package will be neat and tidy, and the coordinator will be forever grateful.

So, any contest war wounds? Lost submissions? You sent in your fee, but forgot to send in the manuscript/books? You sent in everything except your fee? You entered your ms in the least likely category that it could ever possibly final in? 'fess up! :) 

Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. 

The Evergreen Bride (Barbour Publishing) Available October 20th as ebook only and in The White Christmas Brides Collection, exclusively at Walmart. Cover coming soon!


  1. To me contests mean...yeah another book to read sometime soon! I'm glad you keep up with the farm books. Where I am, that means the accounts, but in my house it could mean novels. I'm looking forward to your book.

  2. Great advice and totally helpful list. I'm sharing. :)
    Edge of Your Seat Stories


    I saw that and realized what a stinkin' slouch I am, oh my stars, I'm just wowed by that.

    I was fanatical about following the rules because what if I MESSED UP and my wonder child was bumped because of it??? Horror of horrors!!!

    So I agree totally with you on that, although I bet 90% of contests will never see a Priority envelope because they're sent digitally now. Which is a wonderful thing because I remember when the idea of a digital contest entry seemed scary!!!!!

    WHAT IF IT LOOKS FUNNY???? AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! Now it's the norm and we're so easy with it!

    Details are important on both sides of publishing. Attention to detail keeps you sane and makes co-workers happy! I love happy coworkers!

  4. Coffee is here!!!! We've got the full fixin's bar to the right of the Keurig and the hot water station for brewing your tea in your choice of fancy tea cups is to the left... and if you see the tea cup with swirled pink roses??? I brought that one!

  5. Thanks, Pam for a helpful post. This one is a keeper.

    So just in case I decide to enter a contest anytime soon, I'll have my check list.

    E-mail entries sound good to me! :-)

  6. I remember the hassle of entering contests by snail mail. It's great we can now submit electronically. I'm not very good with technology (yrs. behind), but I sure like it's simplicity!

  7. Hi Pam~
    I'm looking forward to The Evergreen Bride, thanks for the update on its release!

  8. Thank you Pam - Yep, I've had lost entries, never received results and even mistaken results - From three judges they used the top two scores and my top two were from the same judge (duplicate)! So, the contest people had to find the other judge, determine what her score was and redo all the calculations (yeah - just because I was honest and told them about it.) Fortunately when all was said and done I still finaled. ANother bad experience was trying to communicate with a contest coordinator where many of my emails kept going to her spam file. I dont think she ever did figure it out. I was finally disqualified and they kept my entry fee!
    But yes - Let it go. If it wasn't meant to be then I only dig up these war wounds now and then to share on Seekerville. Maybe it will encourage someone else that they aren't the only ones. Pam - you're a great encourager! Thank you!

  9. Good morning all! Marianne, yes, that means keeping up with the accounts. :) I'd say keeping up with the books when talking about my real life "job", but I would probably say the accounts or the ledger if writing about it in a western setting. Funny how the mind flips like that! lol

  10. Thanks Raquel. You know it's September. We should be making a list and checking it twice!

  11. Breakfast is served to go along with Ruthy's coffee! Yay! Let's see...

    Omelets this morning, made to order: fresh eggs or egg whites, colby, American or pepperjack cheese, ham, bacon, onions, green peppers, olives.

    Wheat, white, or rye toast with an assortment of jams, jellies and sweet butter.

    Dig in!

  12. Ruthy, I don't have my awards on display...Well, some of them kinda/sorta are right now so I could take pictures.

    One of these days I might display them .. when I can find the walls in the office....

  13. Yep, details are king.

    Hey, has ANYBODY had to snail mail a contest entry in the last few years? It seems like such a waste with the technology we have these days.

  14. Yay, Mary, that's the ticket.

    Cara, isn't that the truth? All that printing, packaging, worrying if you had everything in there, then the rush to the PO just before it closed.... Oh, once I arrived minutes after they'd closed, but the postmaster was still there working in the back and she opened up and let me hand my packages over. Whew!

  15. I remember sending books, articles and short stories by snail. This is much easier. I will never go back. Not that anyone's asking me to...I do snail mail to my crit partner because she lives in another state and her back hurts if she sits at the computer too long, but that's by mutual agreement. I like to think of her cuddled on the sofa with a cup of coffee/tea as she thoughtfully wields her red pen. And nobody wields a red pen like my crit partner. Sigh...
    I passed some kind of a milestone with Lone Star when I got a good score (averaged at 94) and I found myself combing the comments for something I could do better. Yay me, it took a long time for me to get to this point.
    Where I usually screw up is in the formatting, especially if I leave an entry to the last minute, which usually means I am waiting for the funds to send it. I need to plan better. Formatting is my downfall right now, but we're working on it.
    Thanks for a good post.
    Kathy Bailey
    Formatting madly in NH

  16. Hi Pam,

    What an inspiration you are to all us contest slackers.

    One of my entries was lost in a contest. It was probably my fault. As you say, double check.

    I used to be a contest coordinator for my RWA chapter and I know what a horrendous job that is. It took extra time to notify all entrants before announcing to the world, but in my opinion, it was just common courtesy. These days, entrants who don't final are treated rather shabbily.

  17. Thanks Tracey! I can't wait for it to come out. I really enjoyed writing something set in my home state. AND I get to write a sequel...The Lumberjack's Bride which is part of the 12 Brides of Summer Collection. Too fun! :)

  18. Cindy, gracious, girl, you get a medal!!!

    Mostly I was pretty good about getting everything put together and sent off in the snail-mail days, only because, like Ruthy, I was terrified I would mess something up.

  19. Kathy!!! Congrats on that great score with the Lone Star!! Yay!! :)

    And formatting can be such a booger, moreso with electronic contests than with print. With print, if you printed it out, that's what the coordinator got; with electronic their system might change the formatting, as in my case.

  20. Elaine, that is an interesting thought. I guess since I entered so many contests and won some/lost some, that it never occurred to me that as a non-finalist I needed to be alerted before the announcement was made public.

    For instance, calls for the Golden Heart go out on a certain day, and in those years (several of them!) I didn't get the call, well, there ya go. :(

    I think most contests do send a "So sorry" email to contestants. Seems like that is a definite courtesy!

  21. Congratulations on all those awards, Pam! You just need a treasure chest to put them in.

    Contest war wounds. When I was a newbie, I entered a contest and didn't receive confirmation. I was hesitant to 'bother' the coordinator but later wished I had. They never received the entry. They were kind enough to refund the entry fee, which they didn't have to do.

    In another contest the manuscript formatting was fine for three judges but was bold and all uppercase for the fourth judge. There should not have been scoring by the judges for formatting, but that was the longest comment and the judge penalized the entry. Fortunately, the lowest score of four was tossed and the entry finaled.

    Because of possible formatting shifts, my chapter's contest does not include formatting on the scoresheet. In the guidelines, but not on the scoresheet. Considering the weird things that can happen in transmission, that only seems fair.

    Congrats on The Evergreen Bride! October 20th is getting closer :-)

    Nancy C

  22. P.S. Pam, that problem with the number of contest entry pages not being the same for you and for the coordinator is one of the reasons some contests are going to word count instead of page count. You were not alone :-)

    Nancy C

  23. Great reminders Pammers. Thanks for the lists. I always get a kick out of your bio. I just love picturing you atop that tractor. smile

  24. Pammy -- WOW, this is definitely a printer-offer for anyone who wants to enter contests because like Tina is fond of saying -- this is a workshop in a blog!!

    And like Ruthy, I am TOTALLY impressed that you have all your awards in one place. Ruthy and I will now quietly slink back into our disoroganized holes ... or at least I will!!

    And you asked about contest horror stories. Oh man, do I have a doozy, and you already know about it since it was a Seeker blog back in 2009 called CAUTION!HORMONE-FREE ZONE ... A Contest Horror Story! The gist of it is I went off HRT while entering contests and drove some poor contest coordinator into rehab with my actions, which I still can't believe I did, but then weaning off HRT too quickly is a dangerous thing to do, apparently. :|


  25. Pam, I suppose my outlook came from when I was a manager and called in all the losing applicants for promotion to thank them and give a pep talk before announcing the selectee. I don't remember if that was required or not, but I didn't want those people to hear the news out in the hall.

  26. Pam, excellent post! I have judged but never entered an electronic contest. Far easier and less expensive for the contestant and coordinator. I handled my RWA chapter contest back in the day and remember all those priority envelopes spread on the beds, trying to organize them for the judges.

    Love your bio. I've ridden on a wagon pulled by an Allis Chalmers to and from a pumpkin patch. Must say farmers have it easier today with their air conditioned tractors, but the cost of those babies blows my mind.

    Fun to see your contest bling!


  27. I'm impressed by all those awards!

    I don't have many contest war wounds...but I'm not complaining. All of the coordinators I've worked with - both entering and judging contests - have been so gracious.

    But entering as a published author now is a bit different! I keep forgetting to sign the copies of my books I send to contests (thanks for the reminder!), and the employees at our post office are learning to recognize me when I come in....

    Thanks for all the info, Pam!

  28. What a valuable KEEPER checklist! Thank you, Pam! Congratulations on the two upcoming releases...both sound great!

  29. Nancy, word count seems like an excellent compromise!

  30. lol Sandra. I'm supposed to send my editor a little known fact about myself. I'm not sure what to send. Driving tractors and trailers is about the most unusual thing about me, and everybody already knows that.

  31. Wow, Pam, what a cache of awards. I am suitably impressed. Mama Mia!

  32. Oh my! I remember that, Julie!!! I know it wasn't the least bit funny at the time, but it is now.

    And I can't believe your hunny told you about the hidden scores while you were holding a steak knife! lol

  33. And don't forget that you can check the Seekerville Contest Update, anytime in Seekerville. Just go to

  34. Elaine, you have a tender heart. I know the applicants that didn't get the promotions appreciated your concern and the gentle let-down. :)

  35. Jan, mailing out signed copies of my books is my biggest problem, too. I live in the boonies and a trip to the PO is an hour-long process.

    Thankfully, the day I mailed 40 books out for a blog tour, my son came over and did all the stuffing and then went to the PO for me. Yay!

    But if there hadn't been a deadline for the bloggers to read and start blogging, those poor books would probably still be sitting here.

  36. For those just wanting to get their feet wet with 5 pages, ACFW First Impressions Contest opened last week. Deadline is October 15th.

  37. Oh, yes, I checked and re-checked and dotted t's and crossed i's...

    And then reversed it when I saw it was wrong, LOL!!!

    I think judges relaxed a little on margin orientation ETC, once things were digital because computers aren't perfect.... and the good thing is I never saw an editor toss a great book because it was 1.2" margins!!!!

    So much worry back then that someone would get an extra 250 words in by narrowing margins.


    Honestly, if you don't make it into the final possibility range with the first ten pages, and extra page does nothing but that's how it buzzed back then!

    Pam SAYS she doesn't have those awards all organized, but um... we have the pic to prove it! And they're beautiful, Pam! Don't go hidin' them, a lot of hard work went into those awards!

  38. Wow! That's quite a bevy of awards.

    I'm so thankful most unpublished contests don't require you to mail pages any more. Sometimes the postage was as much as the entry fees. Of course, that might be because I was always last minute and required overnight delivery.

  39. I stand in awe of your organizational skills, Oh, Pammy.

    I'm such a muddled mess by comparison.

    Okay NOT by comparison, as if I'm less of a muddled mess compared to someone else.

    Nope, It's always me scrambling, forgetting. apologizing.

    Have I mentioned I have a cold? I think I might be kind of a Debby Downer today.

    Ignore me.

  40. I'm pretty sure, if I was in school today, they'd be labeling me ADHD, not much in the hyperactive region for the attention deficit, for sure.

  41. Hello from cold, rainy Nebraska. What a good day to curl up with a good book! (Or to write one!)

    I don't have a book ready to enter a contest but I have entered short story contests before. I know I would be a bit OCD in checking and rechecking everything before submitting a book for a contest.

    Formatting is the hardest thing for me, too. Right now it is even harder because I got a new computer in the spring with Word 2013 which I still haven't figured out how to use very well. That is something I will need to figure out before I am ready to enter a contest.

    Your upcoming books look good, Pam.

  42. These are such important reminders, Pam! When I was entering ms. contests or snail-mailing ms. submissions regularly, I had a general checklist posted on my bulletin board. It was too easy to miss one important detail and blow the whole submission!

  43. Thanks for the great check-list, Pam. It's timely because tomorrow night is the deadline for a contest I'm entering. Eeek!!! I'm grabbing a cup of Ruthy's coffee and heading off to review the ms in light of all your points.

  44. The other thing I tried to be consistent about was keeping a spreadsheet of which mss. were entered in which contests. I had columns for submission deadline, the date I sent it, when finalists would be announced, when the winner would be announced, and afterward, what my results were. (Also try to do this with published book contests but I've gotten lazy about it.)

  45. No horror stories here, Pam, but I think that's because I'm like you, and then some. I double-check, triple-check, and quadruple-check until my family is sick of me. :-) Thank you for the pointers, and I'm glad we don't have to mail in paper copies in triplicate any more!

  46. Great check-list, Pam.

    Living with Dyslexia, attention to detail is one of my strengths.

    I plead sheer ignorance for having entered a MS into the wrong category. That was my first-ever romance MS, first contest, and first time dealing with all those contest rules. I had no idea that I'd entered the wrong category. The irony is that, rather than disqualifying it, the contest chair let it move forward and my historical nabbed third place in the long contemporary category. I've shared this story here, before. Still amuses me.

  47. Organized is a matter of perspective, Ruthy!

    And, Terri, I've been there with you on the overnighting. Sigh.

  48. There goes Mary with the organized comment.

    Did anybody happen to notice that those photos were cropped to show you exactly what I wanted you to see..not the utter chaos surrounding them?

    You guys are so easy...

  49. Sandy, I got a new computer a year ago and I'm still learning it! As a matter of fact, I still work on both computers, switching back and forth.

    I'm just now getting used to the new one. Took me 9 months to find the dim/brighten buttons...and my fingers were about an inch away from them.

    Oh, and I won't tell y'all what happened when I tried to turn on the new monitor the other day. Well, I guess I will. I bought the monitor to hook the new laptop to. And on the front, it had this row of "buttons", the ones that have a circle with a line through it. On my new Mac, that is an ON/OFF button and you depress it to make it go well...ON or OFF. And, my kids had a Playstation and that's the way it worked.

    It was getting power...I could tell from a little light on the back. I pressed that button for hours...DAYS. I'm fairly tech savvy (or at least I like to think I am), but it would NOT come on. It was like they'd forgotten to put the button under that soft plastic cover.

    I was ready to haul the whole thing back to Best Buy and demand they show me how to make it come on, or give me my money back. No wonder the thing was on sale. I was a DUD.

    A couple of weeks passed and my older son came over one day. While we were chatting, I told him my problem and he went and looked at it while I stood there fussin' to beat sixty.

    Then... a funny little grin crossed his face, and he reached out, ran his fingers on the underside of the monitor where the BUTTON actually was and it whirred to life.

    I was so mad and there was nothing on the instructions, nothing on the youtube videos, nothing anywhere that said the button was not where it was supposed to be.

    PS... the only reason HE knew is that his HDTV monitor was the same.

  50. Carol!!! Good luck with the contest. You'll do great! :)

  51. Myra, I too have a spreadsheet with most of what you mentioned. I've entered very few published contests to this date, but I have tried to keep it up-to-date.

  52. Meghan, so glad to meet another Detail Oriented Author (DOA).

    Wait...... DOA???? That's not exactly the image I was looking for.

    Hmmm, we need to find a different acronym for our OCD compulsion!

  53. Lyndee, sometimes God has a sense of humor, doesn't he?

    Your story reminds me of something similar that happened to me many years ago. I wanted to enter 2 mss into a contest and had already printed both out. We're talking 30-40 pages x 3 per EACH entry.

    At the very last minute I took my own advise and very carefully read the rules. For whatever reason, that particular contest would only let you enter ONE ms per category.

    A bit frustrated, I switched my inspirational historical romance to the standard "Historical Romance" category.

    When I finalled, I wanted to see if I could do it again. :) That one contest fluke was the sole reason that I ended up entering and finalling in several historical romance categories INCLUDING my first Golden Heart. If that hadn't happened, I wouldn't have dared to enter the historical category with an inspirational.

    Sometimes, glitches result in bigger and better things that we never saw coming. :)

  54. That's supposed to read ADVICE, not ADVISE.

    So, so sorry, Grammar Queen!


    Somebody get the smelling salts! I think she fainted!

  55. I can't remember a contest coordinator messing up, but I've made myself laugh at my own silliness.

    I finaled in a contest and the editor from Avon scored it low for a number of reasons. I then sent it off to another contest where it finaled again and the final judge was from HarperCollins. Uh, hello, Avon and Harper Collins is the same publisher. The editor didn't like it better the second time she read it.

    I've also waited until the very last minute to send in an entry. With less than an hour, I had to whip out a synopsis. Couldn't think of why my hero wouldn't be interested in meeting my heroine so I made his ex-fiance dump him from a traveling broom-salesman. After I hit send, I died laughing. A traveling broom salesman? No taking it back!

  56. Well, Connie, if that traveling broom salesman demonstrates his brooms regularly, then I can perfectly understand the attraction! :)

  57. I entered the published Daphne this year and my books were lost. The very sweet coordinator checked her post office repeatedly. Since I used Priority Mail, the box was tracked and had arrived at the PO...they just couldn't find the package.

    After a few days, the coordinator and I realized the only solution was to mail more books!

    Which I did.

    And I finaled.

    A happy ending, for sure!

  58. Love the pic of all your prizes, Pam! Spectacular!

  59. Pam, I remember the days of having to worry about what type paper clips I used on entries! And making all those copies. And then paying for postage. Goodness! It was a small fortune.

    I haven't entered very many e-mailed contests, but they carry their own stresses. I'm so thankful, though, to be able to email manuscripts now!

  60. Ruthy, I agree! I do keep some award pins on my name badge holder. And I keep a chain with some of the charms that I wear sometimes to meetings. But all the certificates are in a file folder. I really should frame some of them sometime.

  61. Debby, so glad you stayed on top of it, and that you had your tracking number. That's the way to go.

    It's pretty rare for the PO to lose something like that, and I generally don't purchase insurance, but if I had it happen very often, I might be tempted!

    And congrats on finagling!!!! :)

  62. Mary, I think I'd have been labeled too, is there a manic label????

    Class clown label?

    Julie Hilton Steele did a cute thing about kitchen quirks at Yankee Belle yesterday and I realized I have tons of quirks.... but most of them have little to do with the kitchen.

    I'm just plain weird all the way around!

  63. Funny, Pam! God works in mysterious ways! BTW, I went back and perused your awards. What a buncha hardware! YAY for you! Need to build a Pam Hillman Hall of Fame room on the side of your house to house all those goodies! ;)

  64. Funny you should mention building on, Lyndee. We just got back from a cattlemen's meeting and we spent the entire trip home discussing building on....

    to the catch pen... a whole new 20x30 roofed section to protect the brand spanking new fancy head gate.

    That is what you were referring to, wasn't it????

  65. I don't know how many manuscripts I've entered in contests, but I noticed that I enter contests for one of two reasons, to target the final judge or to get feedback. I've entered contests knowing the manuscripts didn't have a snowball's chance of finaling, but I wanted someone I didn't know to give a blunt opinion.

  66. Pam said: "And I can't believe your hunny told you about the hidden scores while you were holding a steak knife! lol"

    LOL ... me, either!! ;)


  67. Thanks for sharing these great tips.

    The contest I've entered the most, I always do bad in. It was the first contest I ever entered, and I was crushed the first year. But with Tina's encouragement, I found the courage to enter others contests. I've gotten helpful feedback and have been pleased with the outcomes.

    This year when my "original" contest rolled around, I entered again. Still not good. So I've decided there must be some contests that aren't for my style. If that makes sense.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing!

  68. Walt, those are two excellent reasons to enter, and I've done both.

    Sometimes a ms was so new, and I was so unsure of it, that I just wanted to see if it would fly.

    But then there are those contests with a judge that you're just dying to get your stuff in front of. :)

  69. Jackie, don't give up on that contest. ;)

    Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw on judges. There are a lot of good manuscripts that don't final in a lot of contests. There could be any number of reasons. A good story will rise to the top eventually.

    And... I was just enough of a competitor with myself, not necessarily with others, that the next year I'd enter 2-3 different mss in that contest just to see if I could beat my own worst score! lol

  70. Edwina, glad to see you this morning!

  71. Pam, thanks for the tips from a Mississippi girl to a Mississippi girl!

  72. Yay, Patsy! So glad you dropped by.

    GRITS rule! :)

  73. I've just started entering in the last year. So far, I had a second ms end up sent to the trash folder, because the titles on the two I entered were similar and the coordinator didn't read carefully. Although they were very nice and refunded the second entry.
    I also never got score sheets and the judged copies from a contest, despite several inquiries, just the "Sorry, you didn't final" note. Ah, well. :).

  74. Janet, that's no fun. :(

    Regarding scoresheets...I had that happen a couple of times throughout my years of contesting, but I very politely continued to follow up with the coordinator until I got an answer.

    My advice: after a few weeks and 2-3 emails to the coordinator, if there is no response or logical explanation, I would politely email others that are involved with the contest, and cc the coordinator.

    It could be something as simple as your emails going to spam, or even the emails they're sending you (with your scores) going to spam.