Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Contest Update

Welcome to December! The December calendar is up and we're sledding into the month with a huge to-do list that includes our favorite contests! We've changed our categories to reflect the changing publishing world!

Today the prize vault is open and we have holiday reads for one reader commenter. For one writer a first chapter critique up to twenty pages(contemporary or historical in the following sub genres: inspirational, sweet romance, romantic suspense or Women's Fiction only). However, if we have a big turnout today, I will of course be persuaded to pull out two reader names and two writer names. 

December doesn't mean you get to stop writing and reading. Check out Myra Johnson's post from last Friday, then share your lofty December writing and reading goals with us. If you are a published author and sold directly as a result of a contest please raise your hand!

Published Manuscript Contests

NRCA is open. Deadline December 1, 2015. TODAY! Books are not due today. Enter!

NEW!! The Christy Awards now open until December 11. Now accepting Indies and looking for judges. 

Golden Quill is open. Deadline January 8, 2016.

Bookseller's Best is open. Deadline January 8, 2016.

Judge a Book by its Cover Contest. Deadline January 15, 2016.

New England Reader's Choice  (Formerly Beanpot) Opens November 15. Deadline February 1, 2016.  

Colorado Award of Excellence is open. Deadline February 2, 2016. 

Carolyn Readers Choice Award is open. Deadline February 14, 2016.

 Unpublished Manuscript Contests

Great Expectations. Deadline: January 3, 2016 (midnight CST). 5,000 word entry limit instead of page count and NO synopsis or blurb. Early Bird rates apply from October 1 to December 1, 2015 (midnight CST). 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 2013, 2014 or 2015). Cash prizes.

Categories and Final Round Judges:

Contemporary Series: Karen Reid, Assistant Editor, Harlequin 

Historical: Gabrielle Keck, Editorial Assistant, Harper Collins

Inspirational Contemporary: Raela Schoenherr, Fiction Acquisitions, Bethany House Publishers

Mainstream with Romantic Elements: Isabel Farhi, NAL

Romantic Suspense: Alex Logan, Senior Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Single Title: Madeleine Colavita, Editorial Assistant, Grand Central Publishing

Specialized (Futuristic/Fantasy/Time Travel/Paranormal): Kristine Swartz, Editorial Assistant, Berkley Publishing Group

Young Adult: Alice Jerman, Assistant Editor, Harper Collins

New Adult: Julie A Mianecki, Editorial Assistant, Berkley Publishing Group

Marlene Awards. Opens December 14, 2015. Deadline January 15,  2016. Please note **The Marlene Awards is a contest for unpublished manuscripts.**Every entry is evaluated by at least three judges.  Finalists are ranked by publishing professionals.  The grand prize winner in each category receives a detailed critique from a published author.  Entry consists of one electronic copy of a synopsis (up to 5 pages) and the beginning of the manuscript not to exceed 35 pages total for synopsis and manuscript pages.

Erotic Romance
Final Round Judge: Rhonda Helms, Carina Press
Critique Author: Lavinia Kent

Final Round Judge: TBD
Critique Author: Jennifer McQuiston
Coordinator: Kelly Maher

Final Round Judge: Latoya Smith, Samhain Publishing
Critique Author: Mindy Klasky

Romantic Elements
Final Round Judge: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates
Critique Author: Tracy Brogan

Romantic Suspense
Final Round Judge: TBD
Critique Author: Cristin Harber

Series Contemporary
Final Round Judge: Johanna Raisanen, Harlequin
Critique Author: Robin Covington

Single Title
Final Round Judge: Esi Sogah, Kensington
Critique Author: Kimberly Kincaid

Young Adult
Final Round Judge: Wendy Loggia, Delacorte Press, Random House
Critique Author: TBD

Great Beginnings Contest. Opens January 1. Deadline February 14.   Enter the opening five (5) pages of romance novels of all sub-genres (projected length of at least 50,000 words).Eligibility: Contest is open to published and unpublished authors. Published authors may submit only unpublished, uncontracted manuscripts that will remain unpublished until the contest has concluded.NOTE on Judging: Every entry will be judged 3 times, at least once by a PAN member.

Contemporary: Single title, category, mainstream, or inspirational.
Historical: Single title, category, Regency, suspense, mainstream, or inspirational. 
Paranormal: Time travel, ghost, futuristic, inspirational.

Romantic Suspense: Single title, category.

Final Judges:
Contemporary: Karen Solem, agent with Spencerhill Associates
Paranormal: John Scognamiglio, senior editor, Kensington Publishing
Romantic Suspense: Nicole Resciniti, agent with the Seymour Agency
Historical: Danielle Egan-Miller, agent with Browne and Miller Literary Associates


Other Writing Opportunities

Are you in the Omaha, Nebraska area? Check out It's All About the Book retreat coming in January with Harlequin Love Inspired, Assistant Editor, Giselle Regus. (My editor and if you are in the area you MUST attend and take pictures for Seekerville!)

 From Cindi Myer's Market New's Blog: Mysterious Press is sponsoring a contest for the Best EBook Original  Mystery Novel. The contest is open to both established and new authors, and your manuscript must be complete and not previously published in any other format. For this contest, submissions will be accepted only from established literary agents. Your story may be in any mystery sub-genre — hard-boiled, historical, traditional detective, humorous, noir, police procedural. The story must feature a crime or the threat of a crime. No horror, science fiction or fantasy will be accepted. There is no fee to enter the contest, and the top prize will be $25,000. Submissions will open January 1, 2016 and the contest closes April 30, 2016. Find more details here.

 Presented by the Chicago Tribune: The Nelson Algren Literary Awards starts at 10:01 p.m. (CT) on Dec. 1, 2014, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015.  The Chicago Tribune invites writers to submit their short fiction stories to its popular Nelson Algren Short Story Contest. Open to all topics and styles, this award presents $3,500 to one grand prize winner, $1,000 to four finalists and $500 to five runners-up for an original unpublished short fiction story of less than 8,000 words. The newspaper will publish the winning stories in its 25-page popular literary insert called Printers Row Journal. Other selected stories may also appear in the Journal. 

  Check out the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul Topics and Deadlines here.

Seekerville Salutes Our December 2015 Diva, Preslaysa Williams

2015 Won the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis, Short Novel
2015 Won the Indiana RWA Golden Opportunity Contest, Inspirational Romance
2015 Current Double Finalist in the Windy City RWA Four Seasons Contest, Inspirational Romance
2015 3rd place Finalist in the Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star Contest,
Inspirational Romance
2014 Semi-finaled in the ACFW Genesis, Short Novel
2013 Finaled in the ACFW Genesis, Category

In 2011, I entered my first writing contest, the ACFW Genesis, and I didn’t make it to the semi-finals. I wasn’t surprised. Although I’ve been writing fiction since 2008, I still had lots to learn. Entering that first and then those subsequent contests helped me achieve two goals:

1)    It was a first step in overcoming my fear of rejection and resistance. (“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield talks about resistance in depth. Read the book if you want advice on turning into a pro writer.) 

2)    I received valuable feedback on my writing before sending it on a submission campaign.

Contests were a way to test the waters (Yes, this writer used a cliché!). I wanted to see if my writing could stand on its own in a blindly judged competition. With each contest entry, I learned the importance of perseverance, perspective, and kaizen (which is the Japanese word for continuous improvement). While earning my stripes as a Contest Diva, I also grew as a writer and as a human being. 

Reading contest feedback was challenging at first. Once I got my emotions and my ego out of the way, I applied their comments and got better. I also read more craft books, took more writing classes, and spent more and more time writing and polishing my work. 

I became insanely obsessive about my words (in a good way!). Until I learned to cut back on the perfectionism because it was simply another form of resistance. Perfectionism had led me to delay hitting ‘send’ on more than one occasion.  My new writing motto is: Progress, not perfection. Over time, I saw kaizen in my writing and my career.

The contest process also helped me build relationships with industry professionals. This has been the icing on the contest cake! (Cliché #2!) There have been many times when I didn’t final or win a contest, but I met someone (or many someones!) who helped me in some way. As a Christian, I believe these were God-moments, His way of encouraging me in the journey. 

It takes a lot of inner reserves to pursue a career in writing. There are many ups and downs that come with anything worth pursuing. Contests are a great way to test your writing muscles (Cliche #3). 

To all the aspiring contest divas out there I say: keep entering contests, keep improving your writing, and keep a humble, professional attitude about your contest results (whether the result is a win, a final, or a non-final) these three elements make a true winner!

P.S. When preparing your contest entry, avoid all clichés ;-)

Preslaysa Williams is a multi-award winning writer of Contemporary Inspirational Romance. She loves Jesus, writing excessively detailed to-do lists, and being an introvert. When she’s not hunched over her manuscripts, she’s homeschooling her two children and avoiding housework. She’s represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. You can visit her online at www.preslaysa.com and sign up for her newsletter which provides updates on her writing journey.

There's more to this contest update....

In 2015 the Inspirational Category of the RWA Golden Heart failed to have enough entries for the category to be viable. This increased the risk that this category could be eliminated from this prestigious contest. Contests are near and dear to all the Seekers. (Here's a comprehensive list of past Golden Heart Winners just for fun!)

The Seekers met ten years ago on the contest road and began this blog a year after that. Pam Hillman finaled in the GH a whopping four times and won once. Myra Johnson, was a GH winner. Tina Radcliffe was a two time finalist. Janet Dean, a finalist, Julie Lessman, a finalist. Cara James, a finalist. Missy Tippens, a finalist.

Seekerville offers a Golden Heart reimbursement opportunity for the inspirational category yearly.  We offer this to encourage writers to enter the contest.

This year the Seekers are doing it with a bang and dedicating this opportunity to 2015 Golden Heart finalist and Seekerville Diva Eileen Barnes. Eileen went to be with Jesus in September. You can read about her contest journey here, and purchase her Golden Heart finaling book, Rescuing Mr. Gracey here.

The Golden Heart opens on December 10 for enrollment. Your full manuscript must be sent to RWA by January 11. The contest cost is $30.You must be a member of RWA to enter the Golden Heart. The Golden Heart does not provide a written score sheet. Your numerical score is emailed to you Here are the rest of the rules.

Enter and send proof of entry to Seekerville (Seekers@Seekerville.net) by January 11. Sit back and relax. If the category makes it, we will draw 9 names for reimbursement. Yes, you may enter this opportunity as many times as you like, as long as it is the inspirational category. So go ahead and take one for the team and ENTER. By entering you are thanking those RWA members who fought for that category.
Please share this meme with your local ACFW chapters and RWA chapters and your critique groups. If you know a writer who has an inspirational manuscript then share this opportunity! Email us if you want a downloadable jpg.
That's it! Now go forth and contest!

This post brought to you by Tina Radcliffe who at this very moment is in Arizona, watching with much dismay as the natives put holiday lights on the saguaro cactus.

She would like you to know that the very first contest update appeared in Seekerville in May of 2008. This post marks our 92nd contest update.

Tina takes contesting seriously and hopes you do too. 


  1. Love your picture, TINA. Why are you watching in dismay? I'm sure there's a story there.
    Congratulations Preslaysa Williams...Love that name.
    I have atleast 8 books to read and review before the end of December. I'm keeping January free to read the books I'm winning this week. Hahaha

  2. *Hand up* I sold because of a contest I saw in a Seekerville Contest Update. If it wasn't on here with big red letters that said LOW ON INSPIRATIONAL ENTRIES I'm not sure if I'd be published yet. Thanks, Tina, for the time you spend on this.

  3. Did someone say the prize vault was open and there are holiday reads to be won....well, shucks count me in on that!! ;-)

    Tina I love the hat & red nose, so festive! I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner....it goes by so quick anymore. I won't be putting my tree up for another couple of weeks, I am SO not ready! But do let the Christmas movie marathons begin (thank goodness for the Hallmark channel). And trying to put lights up on a the saguaro cactus? I think I'll stick to my little 4 foot artificial pre-lit tree, much less likely to get pricked by those needles...haha!

    Congrats Preslaysa on the 2015 December Diva! Perfection, something I still struggle with. Thankfully not to the degree I used to. I've learned to let things be more often :-) I can see where this would help you tremendously as a writer (the letting things be).

    I have many books on my to-read-and-review list. Seems that too grows on a daily basis! But since I enjoy reading so much and giving a much valued review for an author, it's really not such a burden. I may take the month of January just to read for my own personal pleasure. Not that reading a book for review isn't, don't get me wrong, it's just nice to take a break from that for a while :-)

    Happy writing (and contest entering) to all you Seekervilles out there....keep honing your writing skills......this reader appreciates ALL your hard work :-) Blessings!!

  4. Wow! Such great opportunities for writers! As a reader, I'm thrilled to see great writers given the chance to be published and with recognition too. Writers, keep up the good work and your babies are appreciated.

    Congratulations to Preslaysa!

    Many thanks to Tina (love the nose and hat) for a thorough list and the vault contest. I'm so excited about it that I'm typing this response on my tiny phone under the covers so not to wake my husband. I read 31 books in the month of November which I normally don't keep track of, but I participated in a challenge. Hence the count. I wonder if that's an average or not? Anyway, for the month of December, my goal is to make a dent on my physical TBR pile (to make room for more - hopefully from winning this contest.) Lol. *like how I tucked that in there? I don't think I'll keep count. I love just reading and not think of the number factor. Don't want people to think I'm a book nerd, do I? (O, whom am I kidding?!!)

    Have a wonderful evening and God bless all you writers. Enter away! Lucky for us readers, we'll be able to read your works!

  5. So much good information. Seekerville is always so encouraging for us fledgling writers. Thanks!

  6. A nod to the devoted Marianne. (It's just WRONG to put lights on cactus!) And I am with Trixi. So not ready for Christmas.

    Hurrah for Melissa J who hangs around with us and is a second generation contest butt kicker.

    But Just Commonly Annie! I fell over laughing at you under the covers with your phone. THAT IS DEDICATION TO SEEKERVILE! HA!!!

  7. Thanks, Jan! Now enter the GH in the inspirational category like a good writer.

  8. Hurrah Preslaysa is here! Such a well deserved Diva. She must be about to need a new wall for all those plaques :) I have the pleasure of meeting her at ACFW in Dallas this year and am hoping (fingers crossed!) to be hearing of her first publishing contract very soon!!!

  9. Yes. I'm trying to figure out where Preslaysa keeps all those awards. BRAVA!!! First sale is right around the corner for sure! Cannot wait to hear the news!

  10. Pres!!!!!!!!

    May I call you Pres? Or just DIVA??????

    This has been a stellar year, and I'm going to be one of those praying you into publication, my friend! Thank you so much for being a DIVA.... and you're such a stinkin' cutie, anyway, that the title works!

    I am not going to discuss how I entered 5 manuscripts into the GH one year and got hammered in each category. Note that I am not on that esteemed list...

    But I do encourage folks to enter (Keli Gwyn beat me TWICE that year. She double-finaled and I crashed and burned and pouted!!!!! It was my first time entering.... and I was pretty sure I was that cool: Oops!)

    First, if the category flies, your entry could be FREE... and second, crashing and burning develops that thick skin you need when you get e-mails that say, "Try, try again, darling, this needs a re-write!" :)

    And we all get 'em!

    Go for the gold. Be big, brave and bold.

    Lights on cactus.

    I'm appalled.

    The wrongness of it all is searing my sensitive soul.

    What do storefronts look like for the shopping season in the Southwest? Western with twinkle lights?

    They don't try and do fake snow, do they?

    My daughter told me in Adelaide Australia, the stores put on a "New England Christmas" face with fake snow, and the whole thing when she was there nine years ago.... So funny, to imagine that in the height of their summer!

  11. Hand up!!!! I got published because of a contest. Tina sent me an e-mail saying the Finally a Bride contest was low on inspy entries, and Melissa Endlich was the judge. Melissa had just been promoted in Love Inspired, and she'd never had my work before... so I sent two entries, Running on Empty and Seeking the Garden....

    Both finaled, tied for the win, she asked for both fulls and in less than a year, "Winter's End" was published. It was a whirlwind from that point on... what if Tina hadn't taken the time to e-mail me? She's part of OKRWA and it meant a lot to her for the category to survive.





    thank you, Tina!!!!!!

  12. Trixi, what a beautiful comment!

    Thank you, sweet thing!

  13. PRESLAYSA! What a BEAUTIFUL photo! And congratulations on being a DIVA this month! As you know, contests are near and dear to Seeker hearts--not just for the possibility of a win, but for the "personalized education" we received in feedback from judges who critiqued our stories. As you said, though, perfectionism can hold you back--I know it did ME! Keep up the GREAT work--you're nearing the finish line! (Or rather, the "beginning" line!)

  14. I'm seconding the value of contests! I didn't sell with a contest, but I learned craft and got name recognition from contests. And best of all, I met the Seekers through contests!

    Tina, love the nose and hat! And I'm grateful for all the time you take to keep everyone updated on contests.


  15. Preslaysa, congratulations on Diva status! You shine!!


  16. We're decorating trees not cactus! A big job but the results bless me every time.


  17. Awww, come on, Tina! Get with the Arizona program! Pull out those twinkle lights and big red bows and get that cactus in your yard decorated. Don't forget to order the tamales for Christmas Eve and to light the luminarias along your driveway. Open a box of prickly pear candy and turn up that mariachi Christmas music! This is Arizona at its best!!!

    By the way, LOVE the "nose." :)

  18. I'm published because of a contest win, too! That put my manuscript on the desk of Love Inspired Senior Editor Melissa Endlich and now here I am with 9 published books, another coming out in May and yet another that I just sent off to New York yesterday! AND I'm under contract for 3 more! So contest dreams CAN happen!

  19. Congratulations, Preslaysa! She's a NaNo winner this year too!
    I was offered a contract through a contest that I heard about here. Seekerville rocks!
    Great photo, Tina!

  20. HI SEEKERVILLE!! I'm so happy to be here today! When I woke up this morning, Seekerville was the first place on my mind. :-) Thank you Tina, for hosting me.

    MARIANNE, thank you!

    *Waving* to MELISSA JAGEARS, hey girlfriend!

    TRIXI, yes, perfectionism is the pits. As they say in the Frozen song, "Let It Go...Let It Go..."

    JUST COMMONLY, thank you!

    Hi JAN, so nice to meet you here. Go forth and contest ;-)

  21. Tina, thanks for all the contest opportunities!

    Preslaysa, congratulations!

    This evening I'll officially begin Christmas shopping. Plus I've convinced my son Scott to help me get a gift I know will be to heavy to carry to the car. It's nice to have sons.

    Have a great day everybody!

    (In case there's any doubt, I'd love to be included in the critique draw!)

  22. Hi KARA, I'm waving to you from the USA! I enjoyed meeting you at ACFW too :-) Congrats on your debut novel release in April 2016. I already preordered my copy of of CLOSE TO YOU.

  23. Hello Ladies! Congrats PRESLAYSA on being the December Diva and a NaNo Winner! Lovely to see you here.

    I've been steadily working my way through my TBR and discovering new ones to add along the way. *wink*

    TINA, you are looking very festive!

    Have a TERRIFIC TUESDAY! GOOD LUCK in the contests.

    Please enter me into the drawing.

  24. Preslaysa, you look fabulous in the contest diva tiara. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    I love all the contest opportunities. Will read over them again when I get home from work.

  25. Hi RUTH! You can call me the Little Writer That Could "I think I can...I think I can..." I love your energy. Whenever I see your check ins at #1K1HR, they keep me going ;-)

    Thank you, GLYNNA! Your words gave me butterflies.

    Hi JANET, thank you! I'm so glad to have connected with you on Facebook and here!

    Hi JILL, thanks! Congrats on your upcoming release! I can't wait to read your masterpiece :-)

  26. Congratulation Preslaysa!

    Beautiful picture. It will look wonderful inside a book on about the author page!

    Great contest update, Tina.

    I will be entering at least two of the published contests and have already entered one!

    As the lottery catch line says: You can't win if you don't play!

  27. Tina! Love, love, love that photo of you. You made my day start out with a cheery smile.

    Great contests coming up. I can hardly wait to see who all enters. Yippee!!!!

    We do love contests.

  28. Is Glynna speaking a different language, per chance?

    Mariachi music?


    Oy, what form of travesty has overtaken us????????????

  29. Congrats Preslaysa, What a lovely contest diva and what accomplishments. Yay for contest divas.

    Thanks for joining us today.

    Have fun and happy writing.

  30. Preslaysa, I love that we get to work together over there. It rocks. You, Jackie, Jan, me and sometimes Laurie.... We're regulars, and you know what I say about that:

    Write, write, write....

    Because no one's going to publish an empty page! I'm heading over there right now for my second 1K today before baking sponge cakes....

    Mmmm.........sponge cakes!!!! Tres Leches Cakes for the holidays!!!!

  31. Glynna you go girl. Arizona Christmas time is lovely. Remember folks, Jesus was born in the desert. So of course we can light up a cactus and a palm tree. smile

  32. Yum Ruthy, I'll take some of those Tres Leches Cakes. Thanks

  33. In case you want to see how the desert does celebrate Christmas, I'm going to post decorations from around here on Yankee Belle December 11th. So if you are wondering how we do it without traditional pine trees, come see.

  34. PRESLAYSA, Diva status sure looks good on you! Congratulations!

    TINA, for someone who SO isn't ready for Christmas, you sure look ready, you're adorable! Thank you for all the time you take away from your writing to post the updates! And for talking aspiring writers into contesting. You are an Extraordinary Encourager!

    I am SO blessed to know all the Seekers and Villagers here, it feels like such a wonderful gift in and of itself!

  35. I love contests, but I don't know if I'll enter this month. I really need to get some writing done first. :)

    Preslaysa, congratulations on your contest success. I so agree w/you on having our writing blindly judged. That's what it'll be like when readers see our work. I tried my hand at a suspense recently and was surprised what the judges thought unbelievable. Hmm. Maybe that's why the editor didn't request my ms after the finals. Back to the drawing board.

  36. Thank you, Tina! So much contest info my head is spinning! I just completed my first book (inspirational fiction) and I am so excited (and biting-my-nails scared) about entering some of these contests!

    Congratulations, Preslaysa! I love what you said about the "God-moments," His way of encouraging you on the journey. I'm a big believer in those moments as well. Wishing you all the best in the future! Thanks for sharing!

    TINA, PLEASE ENTER ME IN THE FIRST CHAPTER CRITIQUE CONTEST! (Sorry for shouting, I'm just so excited.) And thank you, Seekerville!

  37. Oh! Sandra. You got me. The Big J was born in a desert. No lights on cactus though. EVER!!!!

  38. Ok ok ok.
    THAT is a stunning photo of Diva Preslaysa and a hoot of a Tina photo.

    How FUN is Seekerville amongst all the seriousness of contesting.

    Dec 1st already? *gasp*

    Let's finish the year strong.
    Happy contesting one and all. May your Christmas and other dreams come true!

    Sandra - what a wonderful reminder about Jesus being born in the desert. LOVE it!
    I was blessed to visit Israel in '93 with Dad and 2 of our friends, and loved (almost) every minute of the 3 weeks.
    If nothing else, it makes those maps in the back of your Bible much more real... :D

    Happy December one and all!

    Still counting animals two by two here.
    >glub glub glub<
    (but happy to say, it's relatively warm out, so no freezing rains!

  39. LOLOLOL. LAura Conner Kestner. Welcome to Seekerville. Congrats on hitting THE END. And you are entered! We like that enthusiasm.

  40. Good morning to Jackie, Tracey, Rhonda, Caryl, Rose and Jill! Writers and Readers UNITE!! And pass the egg nog!

    And to my sister Seekers! It's my honor to diva with you these ten years.

  41. Congrats Preslaysia

    My goals for December is to continue writing I am 37K into the story I started for Blurb to book. I want to edit the two I finished this fall and prepare for contest entry. I also hope to be able to join ACFW.

    I am just not sure I am developed enough as a writer to enter a contest this month. But hopefully I will be ready at some point next year. that is my goal anyway.

    Happy first day of December.

  42. Congrats Preslaysa! I love the part of your bio about avoiding housework! Writing is great for that, right? Blessings on your writing journey.

    Thanks for the update, Tina, and I can always use a critique. I may enter more contests.

  43. Wow, Tina, what a super-duper contest update! YES!!! Let's keep the Inpsy Golden Heart category alive!

    And Preslaysa! You are really racking up the jewels in your Contest Diva tiara!!! Yes. Avoid housework at all costs. It's one of those never-ending jobs anyway, and it'll all be there tomorrow.

  44. You are so right about the cacti lights. It's like putting lights on...roses!

  45. Thanks for a great contest update, Tina!

    Preslaysa, what a fun update on you. Congrats on all your contest successes!! I love your attitude about progress, not perfectionism. Man, oh man, I need to work on that. Thanks for sharing!

  46. Laura CK, congratulations on finishing!! Isn't typing The End the very best thing?!

  47. Jackie, have fun shopping!! We have three December birthdays that I have to think of first. But Christmas shopping will start soon!

  48. Hello Seekers! I'm so very grateful that y'all met on the contest road and Seekerville was born. What a blessing you are to all of us! I loved seeing Preslaysa as the contest diva! And what great advice. I abandoned all but a few contests this year in order to work on some new projects. I was very disappointed not to see the inspirational category in the GH last year. Guess I'll have to swallow my fear and try it. And y'all are giving away a critique?!?!? Yee Haw! Sign me up please. :)
    Just an observation on contests, it's too bad that the contemporary category isn't divided up further. Not all of my projects are inspiration..a few of them are more "sweet". Unfortunately, the sweet contemporary romances are often judged in the same category with much spicier stuff and even some new adult (I know because I've judged a lot of contests). If the judge for the contemporary category doesn't like sweet, then your entry doesn't have much chance. In a perfect world there would be a sweet category for every contest along side the inspirational and I know that's not always possible. Would you recommend entering a sweet story into the inspirational category? (Although I tried that once and was dinged because there weren't enough faith elements).
    I hope everyone jumps in and flood the Golden Hearts with Inspirational stories this year!
    Happy Winter! (I say this from sunny Arizona where I only see snow when I WANT to make a 3 hour drive up to the mountains, lol).

  49. December Diva Preslaysa, congratulations on your sparkling tiara and your contest awards! This is PERFECT for me: "Progress, not perfection." May I borrow your motto? Thanks for a new word, kaizen. I do strive for continuing improvement.....in many areas. Thank you for your contesting advice. Your writing accomplishments are amazing, especially considering you are also homeschooling your precious children. Great! Congratulations to you...and all the others...for finishing NaNoWriMo! Cheers also to those who were brave enough to attempt 50k words!

    Tina, thank you for 92 contest updates!!! Love your photo additions and the frosty blue theme for December. My LOFTY writing goals: to organize my messy WIP and polish five pages (not to perfection, but improved) to enter one contest. My reading goals: continuing to enjoy all the Christmas romance stories! Thank you, Seekers and Villagers!

  50. TINA said: "And to my sister Seekers! It's my honor to diva with you these ten years."

    Absolutely! I will always cherish my Golden Heart year--not for the thrill of winning that little gold necklace (well, maybe a little!) but because I got to share the journey with TINA, JANET, & JULIE!!! Long live the Fab Four Golden Girls of 2005!!!!

    AND . . . being part of that foursome soon led to connecting with the rest of my Seeker Sisters, dear friends every one!

  51. I think Bethlehem wasn't nearly as dusty and dry back then, because shepherds and farmers claimed the land. There had to be more forage and growth potential then, don't you think?

    And I know our image of the New England snow-filled, sleigh-ride Christmas is Hollywood inspired....

    And I love it! I've been indoctrinated!

    So if my AZ buds want to decorate cacti, I'll be quiet.

    Now, rustic fencing, cattle fencing, etc. that's a total western decor! Gotta love a Cowboy Christmas, and I just might have to use that title for something:

    A Cowboy for Christmas

    Now there's a title that will sell some books!!!!

  52. LeAnne, another AZ gal!!!!!

    Snow of convenience.

    I like that idea, traveling up to Flagstaff for your snow fix, then back down again, grabbing the sunscreen!

    I know what you mean about sweet stories. You're darned if you do and darned if you don't. It's a conundrum.

  53. Thank you so much, Missy! And yes, it is the best thing! I know I have much rewriting ahead of me (that's why I'm so excited about a chance at getting critiqued) but I truly am thrilled to finally get those characters I love out of my head and down on paper :-) It's wonderful to be around other writers here, people who understand what an overwhelming and emotional time this can be. Thanks again!

  54. *Waving* to JACKIE! Hi lady! :-)

    CARYL, thank you!

    RHONDA, thank you! :-)

    ROSE, thank you too! EMILIE HENDRYX took the picture. She's a talented photographer :-)

    SANDRA, thank you!

  55. Congratulations on being this month's Diva, Preslaysa! I'm so not surprised. I loved reading your journey and your thoughts on contesting. :) Your days on the island are numbered, I'm thinking. :)

    I wasn't thinking about entering any contests, but I may enter the Golden Heart with my most current MS. I'll have to join RWA. :)

    GREAT Update, Tina. Thank you!

  56. LeANNE, I agree so much w/the sweet romances getting lost among the spicier. I entered a historical once where the judge kept telling more where I should ramp up the sex. Uh, there was no sex. LOL. She expected there to be.

  57. Congratulations Preslaysa Williams!!!

    YAY....December is going to be fun at Seekerville!!
    Please count me in for the reader drawing!

  58. Best wishes to all the writers participating in contests and congratulations Preslaysa! My reading goal for December is to catch up on some books that are waiting for me to read and review- 17 total! I know I won't get to them all but since we're driving across the country for Christmas (California to Nebraska via Utah) and my husband prefers to be behind the wheel, I anticipate plenty of reading time! :) I'm looking forward to sharing my reviews for Fire & Ice by Mary and the Home for Christmas and Heart Full of Christmas collections especially ;)

    Please include me in the reader drawing! Merry Christmas!

  59. Ok you've talked me into it Preslaysa, an entering I will go... :) Thank you for sharing your journey with us and many congrats!

    Have a great day all!!

  60. PRESLAYSA, congratulations on all your wins! It's worth it, isn't it? I hope to be able to read your PUBLISHED book in the next year or two.
    Two of my best writing friends got their publishers through contests! Peggy Rychwa (pen name Sheryl Marcoux) won third in Lone Star and published last month with Pelican. Clarice James (pen name Clarice James) finaled in the Jerry B. Jenkins, won a contract with Mountainview, and is publishing THIS WEEK! I am so happy for both of them. Shameless plug, but it's okay if you do it for other people: both books are avail. on Amazon. Sheryl Marcoux, "Cowboy In the Moonlight"; Clarice James, "Double Header."
    Kathy Bailey

  61. I love contests! My contest budget is depleted right now, but look forward to entering a bunch in 2016. It's such a good way to sharpen your skills.
    I have no outside appointments today, so I'm going to catch up on some things like reviewing a friend's book, writing some guest blogs for the future, and querying an agent. I'm going to clean up a lot of loose ends over December before starting a bigger project in January.
    I like the tamales and luminarias although I would probably draw the metaphorical line at decorating a cactus. Christmas can reflect the culture you're living in.
    I am cooking a ham today and will probably also bake the components for a gingerbread house.

  62. Tina and Ruthy, With all the angels flying around, the cactus might have glittered a bit. smile

  63. Yes, LeAnn It is lovely to go visit the snow and then come back to the desert and warm up. We are so blessed.

  64. This proves, once again, how classy and amazing Seekerville is!! I'm sharing your Golden Heart graphic right now--I hope RWA is bombarded with entries in the inspirational category!

  65. LeANN!!! I have advice for you. Did you doubt it???

    The secret to judging and getting judged fairly is to ask for the scoresheet ahead of time.

    It can tell you if your msc is going to get a fair showing in a contest.

    If it has a score section that talks about sexual tension, heat or sexy then you are doomed. Yes. You are correct. So why waste the money.

  66. And that comment goes to Connie Queen for her historical as well. :)

  67. Sherida! Thank you, dear. Now I am counting on you to enter your five pages in a contest as stated. I will be checking on you.

  68. Do it, Jeanne T. Time to do it. Do it. RWA has a host of rewards and this year the conference is in San Diego.

    See you there??? Ha! I can drive this year!

  69. Preslaysa! Emilie did your photography? Fabulous. We've had her here in Seekerville.

  70. Thank you, Heidi! We love our readers and reviewers. Ho. Ho. Ho. You are in the drawing.

  71. Don't toy with the keeper of the Contest Updates, Janet Ferguson.

    Do or do not. There is no may enter.

  72. I've been driving around town for the past few hours! And now I return to all of these lovely comments :-)

    That's right RUTH "write, write, write!!"

    Thank you, TRACEY HAGWOOD!

    Hey CONNIE QUEEN, my fellow contest comrade. CONNIE QUEEN is a fabulous writer. She's a writer to keep your eyes on :-)

    LAURA CONNER KESTNER, thank you! I *heart* God moments.

    MAY THE K9 SPY (KC FRANZTZEN) Thank you. I love Tina's photo too! She does make all this serious contesting VERY fun!

  73. WILANI WAHL, thank you and YES join ACFW. It's a wonderful organization for Christian writers.

    JANET FERGUSON, I try to avoid housework at all costs!! LOL

    MYRA JOHNSON, thank you. (And I'm glad you agree with me on the housework bit.)

    MISSY TIPPENS, thank you. I still have to remind myself of "progress, not perfection" especially on the days when the writing is blech :-)

    Hey LEANNE BRISTOW!!! Another one of my contest buddies. So glad to see you here!! And LEANNE BRISTOW is another fantabulous writer. I can't wait for the day when I see her books in print :-)

  74. Hi SHERIDA STEWART!! Thank you and, yes, go on and borrow the motto "Progress, not perfection!!" We need to spread the word ;-)

    Hey RUTH I like that title "A Cowboy for Christmas" LOL

    *Waving* to JEANNE T You're always such an encouragement. Join RWA and put that MS in the Golden Heart!!!

    Thank you, JACKIE SMITH!

  75. Can't believe it's December already. Seems like it should be May or something! Congrats to Preslaysa! Way to go, girl! That's awesome! Good luck to all those entering contests! Keep writing so I, as a reader, can keep reading :)

    Great Post!!!!!

  76. HEIDI ROBBINS I am impressed with your reading goals!! My reading has been scanty recently. I have to get back on it!

  77. *Waving* to KAYBEE aka KATHY BAILEY, another contest comrade and a Seekerville Contest Diva! Ii hope to meet you in person one day at a conference! Thank you, and YES, it is worth it :-) Send my congrats to Sheryl and Clarice on their success :-)

  78. Yes, TINA! EMILIE did my photography. She's amazing! I will have to look up her post here on Seekerville :-)

  79. Hi VALRI, Nice to meet you here!! And thank you :-)

  80. Thanks for the contest update, Tina. I just entered the Golden Quill. That makes three contests in the last couple months. :)

    And congratulations, Contest Diva Preslaysa!

  81. LOL, love, Love, LOVE the Tina pic with the red nose -- you go, girl!! :)

    And PRESLAYSA!!! WOW, WOW, WOW, GIRLFRIEND ... you've racked up some hardware there, my friend, so can't wait till you can show 'em your stuff in the pubbed categories!! :)

    ANNIE (COMMONLY) SAID: "I'm so excited about it that I'm typing this response on my tiny phone under the covers so not to wake my husband. I read 31 books in the month of November which I normally don't keep track of, but I participated in a challenge.

    LOL, ANNIE, you are sooooo darn cute!! That's a selfie I believe I'd like to see!! ;) AND HOLY COW ... 31 books in the month of November??? Thank God you got Isle of Hope out of the way in October, or you would have cut that number down considerably since it's as long as three books! ;)

    TINA -- guess what I just found out not 30 minutes ago??? Independently pubbed books can now enter The Christy Awards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did you hear me scream from Osage Beach???? Winning a Christy has been a dream of mine since they began, my love affair with Catherine Marshall's books OVER THE TOP. Not that I will win one, but you gotta be able to enter to win, so it is now possible for indies to do so, although the entry is rather steep -- $175. Thought I'd mention it since this is a contest update. :) And, YES, I am ALREADY entered ... ;)


  82. Wow, Julie. That is a chunk of change. But hey, a diva has to do what a diva has to do.

    I will add it to the contest update.

    Thanks for the info.

  83. MARIANNE ... 8 books to read before Dec. 31st??? YIKES ... when will you bake cookies and decorate your house??? Saying a prayer you breeze through them all and have a wonderful (and well-read) holiday season. :)

    Gosh, TRIXI, I soooo know what you mean, my friend. You said: I enjoy reading so much and giving a much valued review for an author, it's really not such a burden. I may take the month of January just to read for my own personal pleasure."

    I actually get a little tummy flip when I realize that, WAIT! I don't have any books in the queue that I HAVE to read, do I??? Fortunately for me, though, the books in the queue so far have been WONDERFUL, so I've been blessed.

    RUTHY!!! What a very cool story about Winter's End. I guess I knew that at one time, but this memory is on generator life support, I'm afraid. And, YES, you DO owe everything to Tina ... as do we all of late. :)

    LAURA C.K. ... SUPER CONGRATS on finishing the book, girl!! Next stops ... contests and publication ... ;)


  84. Jan Drexler, are you freezing yet? Snow about to hit I hear. Way to go Diva!!!! Enter dem contests author!!!

  85. Tina's a brat, but I do owe her.


  86. LOL, SANDRA ... "The Big J was born in a desert" (Tina's paraphrase).

    WILANI!!! Nashville or bust, darlin', and if you go, we MUST meet so I can give you a live hug, okay?

    MARIANNE SAID: "You are so right about the cacti lights. It's like putting lights on...roses!"

    Wait ... you guys don't put lights on your roses????

    MYRA SAID: "Absolutely! I will always cherish my Golden Heart year--not for the thrill of winning that little gold necklace (well, maybe a little!) but because I got to share the journey with TINA, JANET, & JULIE!!! Long live the Fab Four Golden Girls of 2005!!!!

    That WAS a magical time, wasn't it, Myra? EVEN when you walked away with the bling! ;)

    And, PRESLAYSA ... forgot to mention that your picture ROCKS, girlfriend!! Talk about a GREAT author pic!!


  87. Wow, Preslaysa! Good for you! You are a beautiful lady with a beautiful family, and I love seeing your pictures on Facebook!

    I'll raise my hand as an author who is (about to be) published as a result of a contest. The book is out in February! Eeeek! My December goals include writing almost half of a new story. I haven't been specific with myself, but there's no time like the present. I'm aiming for 20,000 words. :-)

  88. Thank you, Meghan for raising your hand.

    Anyone here connecting the dots??

    Ruthy, Glynna, Melissa J, Mary Curry, Jill W. Meghan, .......

  89. Tina, you are an adorable Santa's helper (red nose and all)! :)
    Thanks for the contest update, and I am *determined* (and I mean it this time, hehehe) to enter at least TWO contests this coming year. In December I'm working on my contemporary WIP and trying hard to get it completed by Christmas.
    CONGRATS to Contest Diva Preslaysa!! YAY!! :)
    Okay, back to writing while all the felines are napping (in addition to my 5, I'm now fostering 2 orphan kittens). Adorable babies but ACTIVE! ;)
    Hugs, Patti Jo


  90. I like you with a red nose, Tina.

    For some reason it just works.

  91. I wonder why Tina didn't mention ME in her run down of those who did well in the Golden Heart contest.

    Like talk about the time I got a ONE.
    A stinking ONE. It was for Petticoat Ranch, too. A ONE?????????????????????? Was it really THAT BAD???????????????

    What kind of cruel person did that?

    Fortunately I am COMPLETELY OVER IT!!!!!!!!!!!


  93. Thank you, JAN DREXLER and WAY TO GO on entering three contests :-)

  94. Thank you JULIE LESSMAN. Having the chance to enter the published writer contests...swoon-sigh! That would be a dream come true.

  95. And thank you JULIE LESSMAN for the compliments on my picture. I give all the credit to EMILIE HENDRYX, photographer extraordinaire.

  96. Preslaysa, congratulations! Thanks for sharing your journey. I love the snowflakes on your picture! Hoping to see some soon where I live lol.

  97. Hi MEGHAN CARVER! Congrats on your soon to be released book!!! I know it's gonna be a fab read. I can't wait to snag a copy. Thanks for the compliments on my family photos! Hugs :-)

  98. Hi CATMOM aka PATTI JO! Thanks for the congrats :-)

  99. *Waving* to MARY CONNEALY!!! I like TINA'S red nose too :-)

  100. Thank you, SALLY SHUPE!! I think one of the Seekerville fairy godmothers put the pretty snowflakes on my photo. Is that correct, TINA? It's a nice, wintery, holiday touch :-)

  101. Yes. Those were the contest fairies spreading snowflakes, since she, I mean they, don't have any in Phoenix. Only those cactus with lights.

  102. Preslaysa thanks for stopping in CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

  103. Tina you should have put a crown on her head along with the snowflakes, c'mon.

  104. Mary Connealy, let's talk about that GH score so many years ago that you have obviously never gotten over. Go ahead. Lay down on the chaise and we'll chat.

  105. Thank you so much for the snow! Still unpatiently awaiting snowflakes in my part of the country lol. I'll take them however I can get them.

  106. Congratulations, Diva Preslaysa!

    Thank you for a light bulb moment in this: "perfectionism ... was simply another form of resistance." And thank you for that wonderful word 'kaizen.'

    Best wishes for the Windy City RWA Four Seasons Contest!

    Nancy C

  107. Oh ... sending in two contest entries this month. At one time I entered contests for the critiques. I still want the critique/judging comments, but now I'm also entering hoping the entries will grab an editor's attention. Onward!

    Congrats to everyone entering contests.

    Nancy C

  108. Cactus with lights, lol. We don't have any snow here in my side of the country. We usually get snow around late January/February. MARY CONNEALY, I hope that one day you'll find inner healing and a sense of real closure from that dreaded GH score ;-)

  109. Hi CHILL N aka NANCY C Thank you!! I'm glad you got a light bulb moment from my post. Onward march!!

  110. How fun to read the sales that happened because of contests!!

    I had totally forgotten that Ruthy entered because of Tina's nudging and then won and SOLD! I love that. :)

  111. Can't believe Mary got a 1 in a contest! Sadly, I take comfort from that fact. Sorry,Mary!! I usually get what I consider an A+ and a D- and something in between on every contest... even when I finally placed.

  112. Tina, thanks for great info about all the contests!!!

    Congrats to Diva Preslaysa! So proud of your accomplishments!


  113. My reading goal is to catch up on the pile by my bedside and review some books I have won. Congratulations to all contest winner. Especially Diva Preslaysa!

    Please include me in the reader drawing! Merry Christmas!

  114. Preslaysa, Congratulations on being the December Contest Diva. That is a beautiful picture of you. Thank you for sharing your journey. What an inspiration that you wrote for three years before entering a contest but are still persevering.

    Tina, Love the picture. Thanks for the contest updates. I'm already planning my Golden Heart submissions, and I have one for inspirational.

  115. Happy month of December Seekerville friends. Love the pictures in today's post especially the header. Congrats to the new Contest Diva.I am really looking forward to the Seekerville posts tjos month. It sounds like a month filled with fun. Please enter me for the reader contest. Thank you

    Deanne P.

  116. Thank you, TANYA AGLER. I'm glad that my journey inspired you. And hooray to you on planning to enter the Inspirational category for the Golden Heart!

  117. Thank you, for the congrats DEANNE PATTERSON. So glad to meet you here at Seekerville :-)

  118. Congratulations, Preslaysa! That's an impressive list of contest wins and finals.

    I received an offer of representation as a result of the 2009 Launching a Star contest. Rachelle Gardener judged my entry during the final round and requested the full. I sent it in, and the very next day I received an email with words that set me soaring into the ionosphere, which my former science teacher hubby says is higher than the stratosphere: "I'd like to discuss the possibility of representation." She did offer, and I accepted. Following a massive rewrite (75,000 words ditched and rewritten), she sold that story, which was my 2010 Golden Heart final. Thus, I'm a huge fan of contests.

    I encourage all of you who have an inspirational manuscript written, polished and ready for the contest circuit to enter the Golden Heart. So many good things happened to me as a result of that contest, one of the most important being Tina finding me, inviting me to be a guest on Seekerville and introducing me to the wonderful world of writers online. Ah, memories!

  119. Thank you, KELI :-) Your contest journey is amazing! What a string of blessings! Hugs.

  120. The comments on here are just as inspiring as everything else!

    Tina - go for the cactus lights!

    Preslaysa - beautiful name for a beautiful woman - congrats!

    Ruth - are you ever not spunky? Love it!

  121. I'm a day late! Sorry. I read this post then got interrupted and never came back.

    CONGRATS DIVA PRESLAYSA! You've made your make on the contesting world! Your story is inspiring. Things are going to pop for you, I'm sure!

    Thanks TINA for the contesting update. I WILL enter GH this year. At least two MS and maybe three. Why not? ;) Thanks to Seekerville for the generous opportunity to win an entry scholarship. You gals are such a blessing!

  122. Made your MARK, Preslaysa! Sorry for the bad proof read.

  123. Laughing a lot when I look at Tina's picture and mentally line it up with "Tina takes contesting seriously and hopes you do too."
    Saguaro cactus look mighty fine in holiday lights.

  124. Hi SHERRI WOODBRIDGE, thank you!

    *Waving* to LYNDEE H, thank you too! So glad to have connected with you on Facebook and now on Seekerville!

    Yes, BARBARA FOX, Tina bought a smile to my face when I read about the serious nature of contesting ;-)

  125. Lyndee!!!! YOU GO!!! WOOOOOOT~!~~~ and I'll be there to cheer you on~

    Tanya!!! Yeah, baby. Go!~~~~

  126. There you go, Keli!~ Good things happen to those who dare!

  127. LOve that nose! Congrats to the new Contest Diva.sounds like a month filled with fun. Please enter me for the reader contest. Thank you :)