Monday, August 9, 2010


No, I'm not holding a contest, but rather entering them.

I'd planned on not submitting to anything this year to get my craft up and books finished. But then something over the week-end dragged my psyche into contestland.

Actually, it was a post on the FF&P group about entering contests. The item in question was having a completed a polished mss.

Got me thinking as more than one person mentioned that having a hard goal (such as the contest judging time) can act as a prod for us yet to be pubbed folks who are really working without deadlines in this stage of our lives. I'm doing this to give me some hard deadlines ;)

Sooooooooooo- I'm entering! I'm looking for ones that do seem to have folks who understand SF/'s scary and depressing how many contests have a "Paranormal/F/SF" category then have a final judge THAT ONLY TAKES PARANORMAL! Now that is annoying. If you have a category for it, you need to have a final judge who takes it. *grumble*

Needless to say- I won't be entering those most likely-LOL. That's not so much that I feel I WILL final (hope springs eternal ;)) it's just that the final judge does to me at least indicate the mindset of the contest. Why bother if folks don't like/get your genre? The whole reason is feedback and they can't give it if they don't get it. Nuff said.

As for who I am entering- not tellin'. But I'm running around looking for good contests! Each one I send is another, "Crap- I'd better get things moving" prod.

So what of you folks- what has been your experience with contests? Know any great ones coming up?


  1. Hello, Marie.
    I've not had much experience with contests, but here goes.
    I see a contest as a great way to get objective feedback on your work.
    Many contests have editors as final judges, so you can potentially get your work in front of an editor without the slush pile.
    Finally, don't use contests as an excuse not to polish your manuscript beyond the first three chapters, fifty pages, etc. Don't forget to write! Don't be a contest junkie-- there's always a contest out there.
    Regards, Kelly
    Hope this helps.

  2. I've never entered a contest and am a bit of a newbie to the RWA world, having only joined a few months ago. I find the categories to be confusing also. I write urban fantasy, and I've been told that's not paranormal, that's "Novels with a Strong Romance Element.". But I'm a member of FF&P, and in their contest, they have both a "Novels with a Strong Romance Element" category AND an "urban fantasy" category, leaving me even more confused.

    From what I've read, it does seem to matter that you enter your manuscript in the most appropriate category as the category sets the expectations of the judge as to your manuscript. But for anything in the paranormal/fantasy/sf area that strays from the strict definition of a paranormal romance, it seems to be tricky to figure out what that category is, or if there is a category for it at all. Personally, that confusion is one of the things that has kept me from entering any contests to date.

  3. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you already!

    I’m a recovering contest junkie (only recovering in the sense that I don’t have anything this year to submit). Contests are great for feedback and creating a hard deadline for yourself. Just remember it’s all about personal opinion. I have stories that people are still talking about (positively) that other people hated (including a few final judges). Best of Luck, Marie!

  4. I've entered several contests, but not at the same time. I've used the feedback from one, edited like crazy, and then entered another. I'm on my last (hopefully) contest (for this book). I came so close to finalizing the last time.

  5. Thanks all!

    Kelly- some GREAT points. I think I've been afraid of becoming a junkie and that maybe one reason I've held back before.

    Janet-I hear ya. I've never heard UF being called "romantic elements" I guess it would depend on the amount of romance. One def I've heard is that paranormal is shelved in to romance section; UF is shelved in SF/F (in bookstores. I think FF&P has a better grasp on the dividing lines between genres than most other chapters since that's what we do-LOL. I'd say if you have a UF you might go "elements" in other chapters- but stick with UF if you enter the FF&P contest.

    Kelsy-LOL- maybe you need a shirt- "Stop me before I enter again!" So basically you're still a junkie? ;) Thanks for the good luck wishes. The only contest I entered didn't get me finalling but did get me to work witha VERY cool author- so here's hoping something comes out of these!

    Stacy- see you're taking the logical approach ;). I'm sort of taking the shotgun approach! Good luck on your entry and I hope you final!

  6. Hey Marie,

    This year was my first year entering RWA chapter contests. I was about half done a ms that I thought really had potential. I got great comments from my crit partners but wanted "outside" opinions so I entered 3 contests at the same time. I figured I would finish the ms while the contests were being judged.

    All three contests had really good judges (editors of major publishers that requires an agent to get in front of).

    The first contest I heard back from I had finaled in and the ms was sent on to an editor at Berkley. The second one I heard from I had just missed the finals - got two really high scores and one middle of the road. The feedback was good. The third one was weird as two of the judges gave me high scores and one judge didn't seem to read it fully and missed key parts and then told me that they hadn't been included. That judge also admitted to never having read paranormal before the contest.

    So in three contests, I've had pretty universal comments and scores. Entering all three was totally worth it to know that the majority had the same feeling toward the ms.

    The best thing of the contests: was the very first contest that I not only made to finals in but won first place and the full ms was requested by Berkley and several agents.

    The worst thing: As soon as I sent the entries, I found out I was pregnant :) and then got really bad "all day" sickness for about 3 full months and didn't leave bed :( so never wrote another word til I was over that. When I got the request from Berkley, I had to scramble to finish.

    Hope my experiences help.
    Christal from FFnP

  7. Wow Christal- you really went for the full experince! Congrats on on the requests and the baby :)