Wednesday, August 31, 2016

September Contest Update

Back to school and back to the contest circuit!
It's been an AMAZING year for our Villagers who entered contests.
If you entered a contest raise your hand!
Leave a comment today and get your name on the chalkboard for one of two giveaways! A Super Hero Mug and a surprise book package. 
Two winners announced in the WEEKEND EDITION.

Published Manuscripts

Cover the WordsDeadline:  September 4, 2016.

Unpublished Manuscripts

 The Beacon. Deadline August 31. ENDS TODAY! Open to non-RWA writers. Published authors are eligible to enter any category in which they have not been contracted and/or published in book-length fiction (40,000 words and over) in the last 3 years.  (Self-published authors are considered published.)  Entry: First 25 pages of the manuscript. The entrant may also include an optional 5-page synopsis for a maximum of 30 pages. (Synopsis will not be judged.)  


Category or Series Romance (Short Contemporary Romance)
 Agent: Scott Eagan-Greyhaus Literary Agency
Editor: Kathryn Lye-Harlequin

Contemporary Romance (Single Title)
Agent: Rebecca Strauss–De Fiore & Co. Literary Agency
Editor: Elizabeth Poteet of St. Martin’s Press

Erotic Romance
Agent: LaToya C. Smith, Lori Perkins Agency
Editor: Toni Kelley – Acquisitions Editor eXtasy Books

Historical Romance (Including Regency)
Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan-Handspun Literary Agency
Editor: Elle Keck-HarperCollins (Avon)

Romantic Elements
Agent: Shannon Hassan, The Marsal Lyon Agency
Editor: Susan Litman-Harlequin

Romantic Suspense
Agent: Laurie McLean – Managing Partner; Fuse Literary Agency
Editor: Nicole Fischer-HarperCollins (Avon)

Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic Romance
Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Agency
Editor: Tera Cuskaden, Editorial Director for Entangled’s Select Otherworld

Young Adult
Agent: Jessica Errera of Jane Rotrosen Agency
Editor: KC Mead-Brewer, Developmental Editor for Bancroft Press

Inspirational ***OPPORTUNITY!!!
Agent: Melissa Jeglinski-The Knight Agency
Editor: Shana Asaro-Harlequin Love Inspired

Heart to Heart. Deadline August 31. ENDS TODAY! Open to non-RWA writers. Enter the scene(s) in which the protagonists meet for the first time or for the first time in the book, if previously acquainted, up to a maximum of 15 page.Open to all writers unpublished by an RWA-approved publisher as of the entry deadline. Prospective entrants may be published with a non RWA-recognized publisher. However, they may not enter books/manuscripts that have been professionally edited or have ISBN numbers. 

2016 Final Judges
    Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency - Agent
    Elle Keck, Harper Collins - Print Editor
    Toni Kelley, Extasy Books - E-Pub Editor 

    Sarah Bush, Trident Media Group - Agent
    Adam Wilson, Gallery/Simon and Schuster - Print Editor
    Tera Cuskaden, Entangled - E-Pub Editor

    Tamar Rydzinski, Laura Dail Literacy Agency - Agent
    Nicole Fisher, Avon - Print Editor
    Alycia Tornetta, Entangled - E-Pub Editor

    Lane Haymont, The Seymour Agency - Agent
    Bethany Blair, Berkley - Print Editor
    Stephanie Doig, Carina Press - E-Pub Editor

    Laurie McLean, Fuse Literary - Agent
    Michael Strother, Harlequin - Print Editor
    Samantha McMahon, SoulMate Publishing - E-Pub Editor

Hot Prospects Deadline September 1. Open to non-RWA writers. The Hot Prospects Contest is open to any Romance work uncontracted and unpublished at the time of entry. Entry consists of up to the first 30 pages to include a 3-5 page synopsis and up to 25 pages of your manuscript.

Single Title Contemporary-
    Senior Editor – Johanna Raisanen – Harlequin
    Editor – Victoria Curnan – Harlequin

Romantic Suspense:
    Editor – Stephanie Doig – Carina Press
    Agent – Melissa Jeglinkski – Knight Agency

    Editor – Rhonda Penders – Wild Rose Press
    Editor – Kate Seaver – Berkley

    Editor – Melissa Singer – TOR
    Editor – Michelle Klayman – Borroughs Publishing

Young Adult/New Adult Romance:
    Editor – Annie Berger – Source Books
    Agent – Michelle Grajkowski – 3 Seas literary agency

Inspirational Romance****OPPORTUNITY!!!
    Editor – Giselle Regus – Love Inspired Harlequin
    Editor –  Raela Schoenherr – Revell Bethany House

Erotic Romance:
    Editor Brenda Chin – Entangled
    Editor  – Kate Brauning – Entangled

Phoenix Rattler Contest (Christian Writers of the West). Deadline September 3. Submit the first ten (10) contiguous pages of your novel plus a one-page synopsis of the whole book. Completed manuscript no required to enter. THIS IS A GREAT CONTEST TO GET YOUR DIVA/DIVO FEET WET!!
Contemporary (includes Contemporary, Women's, Romance)    Michelle Grawkowski    Agent, 3 Seas Literary Agency

Historical (before 1960, includes Historical Romance)    Tamela Hancock Murray     The Steve Laube Agency

Mystery, Thriller, Romantic Suspense    Elizabeth Mazer    Editor, Harlequin Love Inspired

Young Adult (for under 18)    Rachel Kent    Agent, Books & Such Literary Management

Speculative Fiction    Susanne Lakin    Copy Editor, Writing Coach, Owner-Live Write Thrive

Fiction from the Heartland. Deadline September 7. Open to non-RWAwriters. Entry must have a projected minimum length of 40,000 words. Contest will have no more than ten overall finalists from all categories. Manuscripts must achieve 85% or greater of
the total points possible to qualify as a finalist. Finalists will be judged by an industry editor AND agent.

• Category Romance includes all novels intended for series lines
• Contemporary Single Title
• Historical Romance
• Romantic Suspense
• Paranormal Romance includes time travel, fantasy and futuristic
• Erotic Romance
• Young Adult Romance / New Adult Romance
• Inspirational Romance

 Elle Keck, Assistant Editor, Harper Collins
 Patience Bloom, Senior Editor, Harlequin
 Theresa Cole, Editor, Entangled Publishing
 David Long, Bethany House

 Shira Hoffman, McIntosh and Otis
 Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency
 Marisa Corvisiero, Corvisiero Literary Agency
 Nicole Resciniti, Seymour Agency

Gateway to the Best. Deadline September 9. Open to non-RWA writers. Entry consists of up to the first 7000 words of manuscript. The Grand Prize winner will receive a 2-hour coaching session with writing coach Michael Hauge (valued at $700), the Gateway Charm, and a certificate of achievement.

Contemporary Single Title/Series
Final Judge:  Diana Steger, Editor, Evernight Publishing

Final Judge:  Kathryn Chesire, Editor, Historical Team, Mills Boon/Harlequin

Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic/Time Travel/Alternate Reality
Final Judge:  Stephanie Doig, Assistant Editor, Carina Press

Women's Fiction with strong romantic elements
Final Judge:  Kristine Swartz, Editor, Berkley

Romantic Suspense
Tera Cuskaden, Editorial Director, Entangled Publishing

Young or New Adult
Final Judge:  Megha Parekh, Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Suzannah. Deadline October 1. The Suzannah is different from most other writers’ contests in that  published authors and unpublished writers all compete against one another in a single pool of entries without categories. Entry consists of maximum of 7,200 words, including synopsis (there is no restriction on length of synopsis, so long as the entire entry does NOT exceed 7,200) *not a cheap contest, but cash prize for the winner*

All six finalists will have their entries evaluated by the full panel of agents and editors. Our 2016 panel of final round judges includes:

Linda Scalissi, Three Seas Literary Agency
Sharon Pelletier, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management
Jessica Errera, Jane Rotrosen Agency
Victoria Curran, Sr. Editor, Harlequin Heartwarming and Superromance
Lexi Smail, Assistant Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Editor#3 – TBA

The Emily. Deadline October 2. No synopsis!First 5,600 words, end on a hook, so less may be better.Open to published authors (you cannot have published in any form or length a title in your entry category during the 3 years prior to the contest deadline).Three first round judges for all entries. Lowest score dropped.

Long Contemporary –
Editor: Danielle Marshall, Amazon / Lake Union Publishing
Agent: Paige Wheeler, Creative Media Agency, Inc.

Short Contemporary
Editor: Brenda Chin, Entangled Publishing LLC
Agent: Carrie Pestritto , Prospect Agency

Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal
Editor: Angela James, Harlequin Enterprises
Agent: Moe Ferrara, BookEnds Literary Agency

Historical Romance 
Editor: Janet Clementz, Soul Mate Publishing
Agent: Patricia Nelson , Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense
Editor: Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Elaine Spencer, The Knight Agency

Young Adult 
Editor: Alice Jerman, Harper Collins
Agent: Tricia Skinner, Fuse Literary

Best of the Best is a competition between the first place winners of each category. The winner will receive $100. Best of the Best Judge:2016 RWA Steffie Walker Bookseller of the Year: Anna Brown, Katy Budget Books

Joyce Henderson. Deadline October 9. Unpublished authors and Traditional or self-published authors who have not published in the category they’re entering within the past 5 years. Entry consists of the The first 20 pages of an unpublished manuscript featuring romantic elements, PLUS a brief synopsis (up to one page, single-spaced). Synopsis is not judged. 


Contemporary (including Women’s Fiction)
Editor: Sue Grimshaw, Penguin Random House
Agent: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates

Editor: Lee Lawless, Tor/Forge Publishing
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency

Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy
Editor: Georgia Woods, Hartwood Publishing
Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

Young Adult
Editor: Mary Altman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense
Editor: Junessa Viloria, Penguin Random House
Agent: Jessica Waterson, Dijkstra Agency

*NEW* Inspirational
Editor: Susan Brower, Gilead Publishing****OPPORTUNITY!!
Agent: Julie Gwinn, The Seymour Agency

Four Seasons. Deadline October 10. Unpublished authors may enter any category. Published authors may enter any category in which they’ve not been contracted or published for three years in any novel-length work of fiction. Entry consists of the first 25 pages. No synopsis.

Editor: Kristine E. Swartz,  Berkeley Publishing Group
Agent: Terrie Wolf, AKA Literary Agency

Single Title Contemporary 
Editor: Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks.
Agent: Saba Sulaiman, Talcott Notch Literary Services

Editor: Deborah Nemeth, Carina Press
Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Agency

Young Adult 
Editor: Amy Stapp, Tor/Forge
Agent: Marisa A. Corvisiero, Corvisiero Agency

Editor: Elizabeth Mazer, Harlequin Love Inspired**OPPORTUNITY
Agent: Lane Heymont, Tobias Agency

Romantic Suspense 
Editor: Brittany Lavery, Harlequin
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Agency

Other Writing Opportunities

Romance Writers! Give us your Great Canadian Heroes and Skip the Slush Pile! The Harlequin editors are on a nationwide mission to show the world what our Canadian romantic heroes are made of. Start brainstorming to create the perfect hero for one of our series.From July 1 to September 12, 2016 send us your first chapter plus a 3-7 page synopsis to the Ooooh…Canada! Blitz at  You can submit to any of the Harlequin series we publish as long as your story features a Canadian romantic hero.   Need some inspiration?  Check out all our current series books at entries to the Ooooh…Canada! Blitz will be reviewed by the editors with feedback provided by December 1, 2016. So don’t delay—get your submission in soon!

Real Simple Ninth Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest. Deadline September 19. No more than 1500 words. What was the most dramatic change you ever had to make? Maybe you had to move cross-country after being relocated for a job, opening up new possibilities along with fears. Or maybe you needed to sell your house or leave an apartment before you expected to. How did that situation influence the rest of your life? If one unavoidable shift changed your world—for good and bad—in enduring ways, write it down and share it with Real Simple. Enter Real Simple's ninth annual Life Lessons Essay Contest and you could have your essay published in Real Simple and receive a prize of $3,000.

Coming to an Iowa near you!!  Harlequin Red Quill Workshop. Saturday, October 15th. With Harlequin Assistant Editor, Dana Grimaldi. "Learn How to Be a Savvy Romance Author & a Hybrid Superstar." 10am – 2:30pm /Workshops 3pm - ... Socializing/Networking. Holiday Inn Des Moines Airport, 6111 Fleur Dr, Des Moines, IA 50231. Registration includes the Morning, Afternoon Workshops and Lunch. REGISTER NOW!!

In the Pennsylvania area? Check out the Keystone Christian Fiction Writer's Conference, coming in November. Love Inspired Editor, Emily Rodmell is taking pitches! 

Angels, Miracles, Cats, Dogs, Canada and more... The Chicken Soup upcoming topic line-up can be found here.
Seekerville Congratulates our September Contest Diva
2016 Genesis Winner in the Romance Category, Laura Conner Kestner.

DISCLAIMER. If you were a contest judge this year and recognize any of these remarks as having come from you, PLEASE know that I’m explaining (in my own warped way), not complaining. I truly appreciate you! 

Despite what sages and songwriters tell us, life is not about the journey. At least it’s not if you’re a fictional character. The best I can figure, contest judges (and therefore future readers) don’t care how many miles you’ve traveled, what quaint diners or smoky dives you’ve stopped at, or the colorful people you’ve met along the way. They don’t want to know anything about you at all until the first bullet zings past your fictional head as you’re hanging by your fingernails from the side of a cliff (or the emotional equivalent), and your only two choices are to let go and fall into the nest of vipers sunning themselves on the jagged rocks below, or accept the hand that’s reaching down to you. The hand of a handsome, yet sinister looking man who will eventually provide you with a swoon-worthy happily-ever-after. But you don’t know that part of the story yet. So you’re understandably anxious, if not downright fearful. 

And you know the worst part? Judges don’t want you even THINKING about what brought you to this moment in your fictional life.  Oh, you might be allowed a few fleeting thoughts, such as, “Sweet Uncle Fred, if only you’d been more internet-scam savvy.” But under no circumstances are you to think about how Uncle Fred, your only living relative, opened an email one day from a woman who needed just ten-thousand dollars from him to fund the first full-head transplant in medical history, and how dear old Fred emptied your joint checking account to help—leaving you both penniless and homeless—and…well, you get the idea. You can tell all that later in little bits and pieces, but not now. 

So, start with the action. And no back story or info dumps—weave those colorful characters into the story as you go. Those are two things I learned from entering contests. 
I’ll cut to the chase for the rest. In one of the first contests, the judges talked about beats and tags, noting “stilted and choppy dialogue” and too many “he said, she said” moments. They showed me examples of how to correct it. 

For instance, I had something like: “I’m a police officer, ma’am,” Caleb said, pulling out his wallet to show her his I.D. 

And a judge suggested something like: Caleb showed her his I.D. “I’m a police officer, ma’am.” 

Other judges shared information and links on passive vs. active writing, and how to improve character mannerisms in fiction. I realized I’d made MANY mistakes in my entry, and that these judges were going to a lot of time and trouble to help me. 

So, after I got over my hurt feelings (thanks to TINA’s advice here on Seekerville, I said/did nothing for twenty-four hours after receiving my scores) I studied the suggestions and took them to heart. There was one part of my story where my Heroine just sorta “had” something she desperately needed, but I’d not given any plausible explanation of how she’d gotten it. I could be a bit vague because anything goes in fiction, right? Wrong. Multiple judges questioned that particular plot point, so I realized I’d better tell exactly how it had all happened, and I’d better make it believable. 

Thankfully, many judges took the time to leave encouraging comments. Some judges marked places where I’d done things well, and some said they were eager to read more. That helped keep me going. I admit I’ve shed a few tears throughout this contest journey, some of frustration and some of joy, but I believe entering—and visiting Seekerville each day—has helped me improve my writing, and therefore my chance of being published. In a recent contest, a judge commented:  “The dialogue is well written, natural and distinct to the character.” Remember, I started out, “Choppy and stilted.” I’m making progress, people.  Thank you, judges and Seekerville!! 

Laura Conner Kestner has been hanging out in Seekerville since November 2015. Since then she has entered the 2016 Great Expectations, Genesis, TARA, and Lone Star contests. Laura is currently a Lone Star Contest finalist in the inspirational category and she won the 2016 ACFW Genesis in the Romance Category.

With one book completed and two more in the works, Laura is busy these days writing, praying, rewriting, praying and studying the path to publication. She knows that whatever happens, it will happen in God’s time and not her own.  

Laura can be found at 

That's it! Now go forth and contest!

A cat with very good taste.

Today's Contest Update was brought to you by Tina Radcliffe. Tina writes humorous sweet and inspirational romance from her home in Arizona. She is a Carol Award winner for Mending the Doctor's Heart, as well as a 2016 Holt Medallion finalist, a 2016 Greater Detroit RWA’s Booksellers’ Best Book Award finalist and a NERFA finalist for Safe in the Fireman's Arms. The fourth book in the Paradise series, Rocky Mountain Reunion is currently available.  Rocky Mountain Cowboy will be available in December. 


  1. TINA, how DO you do it? You keep us I. The know! Thank you. Without you, I would soon run out of books!
    Congratulations September Diva, Laura!

  2. Congrats Diva Laura! Keep on honing your craft :-)

    Lots 'O contests to enter :-)

    Tina, that cat has a bored look on his face, but I'm not sure how he could be reading your stories!

    That coffee mug is especially cute, please add my name for it & the surprise book package...thanks!

    As Bugs Bunny would say.....That's all folks!

  3. Trixi, he's reading my bio. Yes. It's THAT boring.

    But I paid him to review it.

    Marianne! Thank you.

  4. Congratulations, Diva Laura. Enjoy your crown for the day, you earned it.

    Bask in the adulation. Put that Genesis Winner plaque on the wall where you can see it!!

  5. Laura, I'm so happy for you!!!! This is so much fun, and I'm proud that you followed the 24 hour rule.

    Great advice, all around. And I've been nailed on vague bits of info, too, so I totally understand!

    I think as long as we keep learning and growing, amazing things can happen. Sometimes we have to work double hard, or be big and brave and bold (my words to three-year-olds hold true with us adults as well!) and spread our wings... but this industry is in a chronic state of change right now and the only thing that bears constant is God... and write, write, write.

    The more we write, the greater our chances of success. (And total world domination, but that's A DIFFERENT POST!!!!) :)


    I brought coffee along... and I'm on cup #1 right now!

  6. Congratulations Diva Laura. Keep up the good work!W

    Wish I was ready to enter some of these contests. Seems like more and more contests are being offered these days.

    Loved all the pictures Tina. Especially the cat reading your bio. :)

    I would love to be entered for the mug/book giveaways. Thank you for the chance.

    Cindy W.

  7. A lot of opportunities available.

  8. WOOT! Congrats Laura,

    Love your humor... :)
    and thanks to the judges who obviously saw something in your writing and gave you good advice, with EXAMPLES. I love examples.

    Thanks Tina, for the exhaustive contest list.
    Gracious. Lots of opportunity.

    Was looking at one of them and it said YA (under 18) - just wondering if MG would qualify for this? Likely not. /sigh/

    and - Happy Birthday Seekerville Eve (I think)

  9. Wow, a lot of contests and interesting tidbits here! Great job, Tina, putting this all together. And, congratulations Laura - enjoy your Diva month!

  10. Tina, thanks for another great contest update.

    Diva Laura, the tiara looks lovely on you! Congratulations on your Genesis win!!

  11. Well thank goodness someone remembered to bring coffee.

    NEEEEEED IT!!! Thank you, Ruthy.

  12. Mary Preston! Good to see you. That ebook you won releases today. So promise, that is on my to-do list. I have a stack of stuff to mail.

    Wish the cat would do it for me.

  13. We need to find you some MG contests, K.C.

    Goodness. I will start looking.

  14. Welcome to Seekerville C_Patterson. Reader or Writer? Guy or Gal?? Panster or Plotter?

    Coffee or Tea?


  15. Gorgeous picture of you, Rhonda!

    Love it!

  16. I'm going to bed in a few minutes here and leaving the blog to her majesty for a few hours.

    Yes. Up all night, but man, I got a lot done. Blog posts, new webpage worked on, short story written, proposal 1/3 done.

    Wish I didn't need sleep at all.

  17. LOVE the Contest Update, TINA - along with the savvy cat reading your bio. Awesome picture. As for your "Wish I didn't need sleep at all" comment, I'll tell you what my hubby always says... "I'll sleep when I'm dead."

    CONGRATS DIVA LAURA!!!!!! Very excited for you. Enjoy your Diva-ness.

    I so need to work on some stuff for all these contest opportunities. *sigh*

  18. Good Morning!

    I always LOVE contest update day! Congratulations Laura!

    Thanks for posting the conference info in Des Moines...that's only a few hours drive from me....decisions, decisions....

  19. Laura, I love your examples of judge's comments. I think we've all tried to slide something by that isn't explained that well. My husband and I went to the movies for the first time in forever Sunday night. When it was over, we couldn't tell if one of the main characters was actually good, or on the wrong side. It wasn't clear.
    They get by w/it all the time in the movies, but contest judges/editors won't let us do it. LOL.

    The Phoenix Rattler is also a good contest to enter a new work since it's only 10 pages. I entered the Canadian Hero Blitz, but may enter this one too.

  20. WOW, Villagers--talk about a target-rich environment that Tina's brought right to your doorstep today! (Back in the day before internet, we had to peruse the pages of numerous magazines / journals to dig out a treasure trove like this!) Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity to get those stories out to judges for feedback--and possibly in front of an editor or agent!

    Congratulations, DIVA LAURA! Like the Seekers who've gone before you, you're making wise use of these contest opportunities to grow in the craft of writing. It's helpful to read a craft book or writing blog, but so much MORE helpful when another knowledgeable writer provides personalized input so you can see how it applies to your own real-life work! Congratulations on having the courage to step out into the contest waters.

  21. Love the cute cat pic, Tina. Now go get some sleep!

  22. Thank you, TINA! This crown looks good, even with pajamas :-)

  23. Thank you, RUTHY! You said: Sometimes we have to work double hard, or be big and brave and bold (my words to three-year-olds hold true with us adults as well!) and spread our wings... but this industry is in a chronic state of change right now and the only thing that bears constant is God... and write, write, write. This is so TRUE! Thank you, as always, for the words of wisdom, and for the coffee!

  24. CONGRATULATIONS September Diva Laura!

    Good luck to those who have entered contests!


    Please enter me in the drawing for a Super Hero Mug and a surprise book package.

  25. LAURA, I agree with you about the 24-hour rule, especially if a score isn't what you had hoped. After that, my practice is to dive right in before I start rationalizing why I did whatever I did that they thought I could do better. Whether it's a reading by my crit partner or a judge, I make the corrections -- or don't make them -- before the week is out. I go over their comments, and incorporate the ones I agree with after the cooling-off period. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll never do it.
    Congratulations, Laura. Way to go.
    This weekend I entered Phoenix Rattler, with two pieces, and Hot Prospects with one. I was going to take a break till First Impressions, but Tina's list is intriguing, so I'm going to check the PayPal budget and see what's left.
    Check in later,
    Kathy Bailey

  26. Thank you, CINDY W! I encourage you to enter the contests as soon as possible. They were truly so helpful to me. And I love the cat picture, too. Made me laugh, and that's usually impossible before I've had my coffee.

  27. This month's contest updates has so many great contests! I like the variety that they what the guidelines are, and in the prizes offered. A two hour chat with Micahel Hauge? Wow!

    Thanks for compiling this list, Tina!!

  28. Thank you, KC! I'm glad you got my sense of humor - not everybody does, and I've learned to be okay with that. But when someone does get it, and appreciates it, it truly warms my heart. A woman came up to me recently and told me she enjoyed something I'd written, and commented on my unusual sense of humor. I told her that humor is how I deal with life - good times and bad - it helps me cope. She stopped me in my tracks when she looked at me and said, "It's very difficult for me to see the humor in things sometimes, but you make me laugh, so the gift that God gave you helps me cope with life, too." I had tears in my eyes. Truly touched, and so grateful. Thanks again, KC

  29. Thank you, C PATTERSON! I am enjoying my time in the spotlight, as some old star once said, (paraphrasing here) "After this is over, I may have to open the refrigerator door, just so I can stand in the light." LOL

  30. Thank you, RHONDA! I wonder if the crown will startle the mailman later? May have to slip it off for a bit :-)

  31. Thank you, CONNIE! That's so true about the movies, happens all the time! But I guess I'd rather judges call me out on it now, than a reader being disappointed later. I know writer's are supposed to think, "What if...?" and "Why not...?" But judges are saying, "Not happening" and "No way." LOL. Like I said, sometimes that's a good thing.

  32. Thank you, DebH! I am enjoying my Diva-ness more and more with each sip of coffee! I know you have a little one at home, but I hope you're able to enter contests soon. So very helpful!

  33. LAURA!!!!! I was dancing in the lobby when I heard you won in the Genesis, so WHOO-HOO, girlfriend!!!!

    Ah ... those judges' comments take me back to some of my own, many of which helped shape me into a better writer, so God bless judges!! And talk about a microcosm of public opinion that reflects what an author will face in the marketplace -- WOW!! Some will like your work and praise it, and others not so much. It's up to us as authors to pray and pick the advice we will take, molding us into the authors God wants us to be.

    I will never forget the judges' comments on one contest in particular. One gave me a 50% score, telling me that there were too many subordinate characters that detracted from the story (A Passion Most Pure) while a second judge in the same contest gave me a 100%, saying (and I quote): "Please, please, please, please let me know when you get published because I really want to read the rest of the story!" So judges' comments should always be prayed about and taken with a grain (or a box) of salt. :)

    Laura, you said: "In a recent contest, a judge commented: “The dialogue is well written, natural and distinct to the character.” Remember, I started out, “Choppy and stilted.” I’m making progress, people. Thank you, judges and Seekerville!!"

    LOL ... yep, definite progress, girlfriend, but the real proof is in one of the prestigious awards for an aspiring author, so SUPER CONGRATS again, Laura!!


  34. Thank you, ROSE! I hope you get to go to the conference near your home. Sounds like a great opportunity.

  35. GLYNNA, You're right! TINA has indeed brought this info right to our doorstep - so grateful!

    And thank you for the kind comments! You said: "It's helpful to read a craft book or writing blog, but so much MORE helpful when another knowledgeable writer provides personalized input so you can see how it applies to your own real-life work!" That's it exactly!

  36. Thank you, CARYL!

    KATHY, thank you! You said: "I agree with you about the 24-hour rule, especially if a score isn't what you had hoped. After that, my practice is to dive right in before I start rationalizing why I did whatever I did that they thought I could do better." Good point!

    Glad to hear you've entered the Phoenix Rattler and Hot Prospects contests. You're right, TINA's list is intriguing! So many opportunities!

  37. I was planning to enter the First Impressions contest Do you know when this will be taking place? Now I am considering The Phoenix rattler. I have entered two contests this year and the feedback was awesome and helpful

    Congratulations Laura on the Genesis win.

  38. Congratulations Laura. This is a milestone.

    Critiques from contest judges and critique partners are important to point out things that never occur to the writer. Obviously, if it had occurred to us, we'd have fixed it, right? It's just a part of the learning process, and you're learning well.

  39. JULIE, thank you!! I actually thought of you when I was writing this post, but I didn't get to mention it because TINA gave me a word-limit!! (I can't imagine why). Actually, I ended up cutting that part before I even sent it in, I knew it was too long, and even then she still made me cut several hundred more words, LOL. So, I'll share my thoughts now. There was something you mentioned here once about NOT changing too much of what you wrote based on other people's advice. That you'd changed a manuscript based on feedback until someone (I think you said it was your mother) told you the story didn't even sound like you anymore. I really appreciate that you shared that because it's something I keep in mind now at all times. I'm so glad that you went with your heart on that book, because your "voice" (like most good writers) is instantly recognizable and loved.

    And you said: "I will never forget the judges' comments on one contest in particular. One gave me a 50% score, telling me that there were too many subordinate characters that detracted from the story (A Passion Most Pure) while a second judge in the same contest gave me a 100%, saying (and I quote): "Please, please, please, please let me know when you get published because I really want to read the rest of the story!" So judges' comments should always be prayed about and taken with a grain (or a box) of salt. :"

    This is so true! I had one judge suggest I change...basically everything, including the genre I write in, and then two judges said they thought my story would make a great Hallmark movie. True story! So go figure, and pass the box of salt :-)

  40. Thank you, WILANI! I just looked and the First Impressions contest opens on September 2, 2016 at 8:00 AM central time, and closes on October 15, 2016 at 4:00 PM central time.

  41. Thank you, ELAINE!! You are so right! It's so much harder to critique our own work. Grateful for the help of others, for sure!

  42. CONGRATULATIONS, Diva AND Genesis Winner LAURA!! Sooo happy for you!! :)

    TINA, Thank you for this contest update (and I'm raising my hand for meeting my personal goal of entering 5 contests in 2016!). :)

    Hmmmm...think I'll check out the guidelines for CAT story submissions for Chicken Soup. ;) And speaking of cats, YOUR kitty is GORGEOUS!! (Is that Charlie? She's beautiful and has impeccable taste, I see). :)

    Still recuperating (LOL) from attending CFRR and ACFW - - but both were AMAZING!!
    It was such FUN being with some Seekers and Villagers, but missed the ones who couldn't attend.

    Just baked a Georgia peach cobbler, Georgia pecan pie, and pecan praline cookies if anyone needs a sweet snack today - - Enjoy!

    Hugs, Patti Jo

  43. Thank you, PATTI JO! And congratulations on meeting your goal!! That's awesome! And thank you for the food! Trying to decide what to sample first. Btw, are you the Patti Jo that inspired the bakery owner character in TINA's books? Seems like I saw this mentioned before on here when I first started visiting, but can't remember for sure.

  44. Congratulations, LAURA!!! Wonderful news about the Genesis--so exciting!!!! Clearly, you are putting into practice everything you've learned from contest submissions, and that will pave the way to even better things!

    Another fantastic contest edition, TINA! You are amazing!

  45. Thank you, MYRA!! I've learned a lot from contest submissions, but also a LOT from Seekers and Villagers, so thank you so much for that! And I sincerely hope the GQ doesn't look too closely at my responses on here today. :-)

  46. Thanks for the update Tina Always great to see all the contests and remember that is how we got started here in Seekerville.

  47. Congrats Laura Loved reading your story.

    Happy writing.

  48. DIVA LAURA, huge congratulations on the Genesis Romance win!!! And for entering contests! Fresh eyes are important. We writers are so familiar with our stories that sometimes we can't see what we need to do to improve. Wear that crown with pride! You earned it.


  49. I had a feeling I'd see my pal Laura in the diva spotlight this month. :) Congratulations, Laura! I'm thrilled for your achievements. I know how hard you've worked. You rock!
    Thanks for the awesome contest update, Tina!

  50. TINA, thanks for the contest update and for sharing your adorable cat picture!


  51. Thank you, JANET!! I remember on my first visit here, you welcomed me with a big hello, and I was so excited! I've paid attention to everything you've taught on here since then - how to flesh out characters (meat not fat) and settings, and so much more. Thank you for sharing!!

  52. JILL!!! I'm so happy to have "met" you here! You added me as a friend on Facebook right away (as did TINA) and it made me feel so legit! LOL. Thank you for that! You were just so sweet and approachable, and told me in your opinion CONTESTS and SEEKER CRITIQUES would be the most helpful things of all to begin this writing journey. You were right, thank you!! Can't wait for your book to be published, I'll be first in line to buy it. March 2017, right?

  53. September Diva Laura, BIG congratulations on your Genesis WIN!!! Your explanation on starting the book where the characters are in jeopardy is amazing! (That is still an area of trouble for me.) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Thanks for the contest update, Tina. I'm raising my hand for entering two stories in three contests this year....and receiving valuable feedback. Now I'm eyeing another one in a month. Hmmmm..... I'm thankful for 25 more letters and today's perfect quote.

    Tina, your sweet cat has good taste in authors!

    Best wishes to all those contesting in September.....really???...September already?!?!

  54. Thank you, SHERIDA!! You're right about TINA's quote about the 25 more letters, it is perfect!


    Two words for the day.

    Thank you, Diva Laura for holding down the fort.

    You have earned a special place in my next book.

    And yes, Patti Jo is the same one in the Paradise (series-not a series) books.

  56. First, congratulations Laura on your 2016 Genesis win for Romance! What a huge accomplishment! And I love your sense of humour in how you've learned how to write those opening chapters...without a sense of humour we couldn't keep writing, that's for sure. It's hard to remember sometimes that editors and contest judges are just regular gals like us, and we all put our pantyhose on one leg at a time.

    Please put me in the draw for that gorgeous coffee mug! I love mugs and hubby and I both collect them, which makes for a pretty eclectic kitchen cupboard experience.

    Tina, thanks once again for a stellar contest've got my story gears going again. :)

  57. Are we not a weird bunch?

    All our besties are people we never met.

    We are really strange.

  58. Laurie,

    You give it away with the spelling of humor. I love Canadians.


  59. Congratulations, Laura, on your Genesis win!! Yay for contests!!

    And, thanks, Tina, for keeping us informed on ALL the amazing contests out there!! Whew!

    Please put my name on the chalkboard too! Thanks!!

  60. Diva Laura!!! Congrats on your Genesis Award! Did you hear the Seekerville screams when your name was announced? We were cheering you on and so thrilled about your win!

    Tina, thanks for the contest update! Lots to choose from. Hope we have many Villagers' names mentioned when the finalists in all those contests are announced.

    Your kitty is too cute. Doesn't he/she have good taste in his reading!

    You stayed up all night? Oh, I'm feeling your fatigue. I slept for 5 hours and am dragging. :)

  61. Patti Jo, I love your peach cobbler! Thanks for baking. Thanks, too, for bringing the Georgia peaches to the ACFW Conference. The one you gave me was HUGE and so yummy!


  62. Thanks for the giveaway
    I enjoyed reading your comments.


  63. TINA, glad you're back! But goodness, you sure didn't get much sleep!

  64. Thank you, LAURIE!! You said: "without a sense of humour we couldn't keep writing, that's for sure. It's hard to remember sometimes that editors and contest judges are just regular gals like us, and we all put our pantyhose on one leg at a time." Thank you for that reminder!

  65. Thank you, KATHRYN!! And yay for contests, indeed!

  66. Thank you, DEBBY!! You are all so sweet! Btw, I finished Plain Truth last night and thoroughly enjoyed it! I wasn't sure how you could make a clinic setting as eerie as a spooky old house, but you did it!! Will leave a review on Amazon. Thank you!

  67. Congrats on being diva Laura! It was nice to get to know more about you :)

    Lots of contests!!! Best wishes to all the authors who enter! You are brave and courageous!

    I don't drink coffee but I'd love to be entered in the surprise book giveaway :)

  68. Congrats, Laura! Way to go!!!! You are living the dream!!!!!

    Good luck to all the writers who are entering contests! I hope all of you will live the dream too!!!! As a readers, I will profit the most by reading your submissions :)

    Enter me into the weekend contest, please :)

  69. Congratulations to Laura.

    All these contests are very interesting, but I think I will wait to sign up for anything (got to work on the books I'm writing right now). All the same thanks for the update!

    Please enter my name for the drawing for the mug as well as the surprise book package.

  70. Laura, you're so sweet! Kind words AND a review!!! Oh my gosh, thank you!!!


  71. You're doing such a great job that I went to bed for another two hours.

    I am now up with an energy drink in hand, ready to battle the world of words.

  72. Debby, Laura learned how to write reviews from the posts here on Seekerville that shared. Julie did one..someone did another.

    She's a roving reviewer now.

  73. Aw, LAURA, thank you for remembering something I said -- most people forget anything I say the millisecond after I say it, so I appreciate it! ;) And thank you for your kind words, my friend, too.

    And, YES, I have had WAY too many people try to change my voice (from paid author critiques, to critique partners, to contest judges), but I believe in remaining true to who you are, which I did in the O'Connor series.

    So, yep, you stay with YOUR VOICE, girlfriend, because there's plenty of salt to go around ... ;)


  74. Thank you, HEIDI, NICKY and VALRI!!

    TINA, I'm headed off to look for an energy drink, too :-)

  75. Yeah, Seekerville will wear you out. Imagine 27/7 for nine years. This is why I am round and instead of not-round. Well that and food. LOLOLOL.

  76. TINA, I seriously don't know how you get it all done. I've suspected for awhile now that you have a clone. And I'm pretty sure, after seeing RUTHY's post on Facebook, that she's one of identical triplets.


  77. LOLOL. I'm actually in reality pretty A.D.D. It's no fun when you are a kid, but wildly helpful when you are a grown up.

    Well, as long as you learn the NO word.

    The only place I am not speedy is writing. I am an edit-aholic.

    Oh to be like Mary and Ruthy. Mary writes a novella in the restroom. Ruthy writes a full proposal while baking a chocolate cake. Homemade of course.

  78. Great Contest Update, Tina! LOVE the adorable cat photo. :)

    CONGRATS, Laura!!! The Genesis!! What an honor!

  79. More skills I wish I had, TINA :-)

    Thank you, NATALIE!! I'm so honored and excited!

  80. Waving to Natalie, who looked gorgeous in her period costume for the genre dinner. Of course, Natalie looks beautiful in anything...even ragged jeans and an old T-shirt! Plus she's as sweet as she is pretty! Loved spending time with her!

    Laura, Tina is amazing. She's one of a kind. Definitely Super Woman. We love her...and are always in awe of what she accomplishes each day.

    She mentioned writing gurus Mary and Ruthy. I agree with Tina. I'm convinced they both wrote full-length manuscripts while they were in Nashville. Maybe they each wrote a trilogy or two...or three!

    Ruthy was up early everyday, sitting in the lobby with her laptop--working. That's impressive. I was sleeping. No doubt, that's my problem. I sleep too much! :)

    Mary never sleeps. Sleep either makes or breaks a writing career. Go figure!

  81. DEBBY, I agree, they are all three amazing! I was just teasing about RUTHY being one of triplets. But maybe twins? I'm looking forward to the trilogies :-)

  82. Thank you, Tina, for another GREAT contest update! :-)

    Congratulations, Laura, on your Genesis win! Nashville was a whirlwind--I still feel like I'm in a brain fog. Continued blessings over your stories!

  83. Thank you, CYNTHIA!! I loved seeing your photos from Nashville - it looked like so much fun! And your story about stopping at the little country church along the way made me laugh - loved that!

  84. Congratulations, Seekerville Diva AND Genesis winner, Laura!!! Yay!!

    Tina, I know I've said this before, but I really am going to enter one of the contests you posted...The Suzannah. I like that both published and unpublished authors will be judged in the same contest and the judges won't have a clue as to who I am. I need some unbiased feedback. Not that Ruthy cut me any slack. LOL

  85. Barbara!

    LOLOLOL. I do it all the time to try out new manuscripts. In fact, Laura our diva, and I are both finalists in the Lone Star right now.

    Laura is some tough competition.

  86. Thank you, TINA! But I sure made a lot of mistakes - lots to learn. Speaking of which, later tonight I'm going back through all the lessons from the self-editing class you offered. Making sure I didn't miss anything - awesome class!

  87. Thank you, BARBARA!! Yes, the unbiased feedback is so valuable. My friends and family said good things, but they have to, right? I think it's a law or something :-)

  88. Laura, what a great story! I love how you've learned and practiced and have been having contest successes! Contest really helped me, too. Of course, with you, that included some tears. :)

    Tina, thanks for the contest update!

  89. Tina. Anything for you and Laura!!!

    And Rhonda and I got to hang out in Nashville and it was AWESOME!!! She came down to the lobby and worked with me and The Connealy in the wee smalls and it was FUN!!!

    I love getting together with other writers. It's a favorite thing!!!

    I'm leaving fresh coffee because I need it, and I'm just happy dancing for you, Laura!


  90. Congratulations Diva Laura!! A super accomplishment. And what a delightful post ... pacing was wonderful ;-)

    Tina, that saying is smile-worthy: If Plan A didn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.

    Useless info from my research -- did you know that at one time the ampersand was considered part of the alphabet? And that at one time some letters we use today weren't part of the alphabet? See? I warned you it was useless info :-)

    Nancy C

  91. LOL on the family.

    Never put in a query letter that your mom loved it.

    I have heard of this happening.

  92. Thank you, MISSY!!

    Thanks for the fresh coffee, RUTHY!!

  93. Wow,congratulations on your achievements! And all the competitions you've been entering... Maybe one of these days I'll enter one. Maybe.

    P.S. Please throw my name into the drawings.

  94. Thank you, NANCY C!! Btw, I did not know that about the ampersand - that's interesting. I love doing research (seriously) and that's one of the reasons why, such cool little tid-bits here and there.

  95. LOL, I will not add the family's endorsement to my query.

  96. Hey, Boo (just had to say that, one of my favorite parts of To Kill a Mockingbird). Thank you so much!!

  97. LAURA, thanks for your sweet words! Preparing craft posts teach me as much as anyone.

    Sorry I've been gone this afternoon. I had a hair appointment, then my DH and I visited two friends in rehab. He's now out walking. I'm preserving my hair style. LOL


  98. DEBBY, isn't Patti Jo the best? The peach she gave me at ACFW was delicious. Carol M brought cookies. Food is always appreciated!


  99. Laura, Congratulations on your Genesis win. What an honor.
    Tina, Thank you for the contest update and congrats to you and Laura for being finalists in the Lone Star.
    Patti Jo, Thank you so much for the Georgia Peach at the conference. I enjoyed it as part of my breakfast on Sunday, and it was delicious.
    Right now I am a finalist in the Lone Star but in Contemporary, not Inspirational. I'm not entering any this month, but good luck to all who are entering.

    Happy writing everyone.

  100. Congrats, Tanya, on your Lone Star final!!! Yay, you, sweet thing!

    Loved being with you at ACFW! And I'll see you at M&M!!! More fun ahead!


  101. Thank you, TANYA! Congratulations on being a Lone Star finalist - that's wonderful!!

  102. TANYA!!!! We are finalists together. Sister Divas.

    Is there a list? I haven't seen one.


  103. 2016 Lone Star Writing Contest Finalists



    LOVES RECKONING – Rose Ortiz w/a Danni Rose

    A PINCH OF CINNAMON – Tanya Agler

    TANGLED PROMISES – Linda Trout


    ANIMAL INSTINCTS – Lauren James

    MISSING PIECES – Carol VanDenHende

    WAITING NEXT DOOR – Celeste Easton


    A QUIET GRAVE – Liah Penn




    WILT – JENNIFER BRAY-WEBER writing as Harlowe Wilde


    DEADLY DEMON FIRE – Nola Robertson


    FAIR HAVEN- Laura Conner Kestner

    TURNING POINT – Janice Martin

    WAITING FOR YOU – Tina Radcliffe

    Young Adult-New Adult


    COVENANT PARK – Christine Gunderson



    LOVES LAST STAND- Steven Moores

    SAVING GRACE – Kathy Otten

    SCHOOL FOR SEDUCTION – Patricia Casey

  104. Congrats to all you Lone Star Finalists!!!!!!!!!!! (Forgive me, Grammar Queen)

    Nancy C

  105. Oh my goodness, so many congratulations to pass around!

    Laura, I loved your write up on the blog and your adventure through contests. Good for you weighing the suggestions of judges and applying the comments that would strengthen your stories. Congrats on being Contest Diva, winning the Genesis, and finalling in the Lone Star.

    Congrats to all the Lone Star finalists!!!!!


  106. Thank you, AUDRA!! It really has been an adventure.

    Congratulations to all the Lone Star finalists!!

  107. Laura! What a fabulous hostess you've been today. You are now officially trained for when your first book sells and you come back again to host! I love on-the-job training.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Praying for continued success for you.

  108. Oh, I had such fun visiting with everyone - I appreciate all the sweet comments and encouragement! Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity, and for the prayers!

  109. What a great website! I find new information, and great books. Winning combination.

  110. Thanks Tina,

    I don't who else writes MG but know of at least 2 lurkers here who do, perhaps more.
    It's an odd category. We all know some MG has been crazy wild successful but then, don't we know those in other categories that could be said of as well (eck - what a sentence)...

    Anyway - glad this post was stewarded by the 2 (well 3) of you.
    Great job!

    Time for treats! :)

  111. I have entered a contest! And plan to enter a few more before the year is out. Really appreciating the feedback I have received!

  112. I had to laugh - the coffee cup has the priorities right!!!!

  113. Thanks, WifetoMom!!!

    Great to have you here.

  114. Sally!!!! WOOOT!!! You are another of our hard working Villager writers.

  115. Hahahah! Don't you love it, Heather???

  116. This is one time I want my name on the board! Count me in on the contest!

  117. Glad to be a part of this journey. Lots to choose from.