Elizabeth: Golden Heart® Public Service Announcement

RWA’s Golden Heart necklace, awarded to each Golden Heart winner.

As you may have noticed if you’ve been reading the blog recently, several of the 8Ladies buffed and polished up manuscripts and entered them in this year’s RWA Golden Heart Contest.  It’s the last year of the contest, which may been just the extra motivation they needed to get those words flowing and stories finished.   Best of luck to all who entered the contest.

I have been a Golden Heart contest judge since my earliest days in RWA.  In addition to supporting the organization, contest judging can be a learning experience for the contest judge as well as the entrant.  I have often found that mistakes I don’t see in my own writing, or concepts that just don’t make sense in my own head, can be startlingly clear when reading someone else’s entry.  Plus, you get the chance to read some really good stories that you might otherwise never have seen.

The judging process is not terribly onerous for the judge.  You typically get 5 to 7 entries to read, no longer than 55 pages in each, consisting of a story synopsis and the first pages of the book.  There are no in-depth comments/feedback to provide (though as an entrant, I’ve always wished for just that).  Each preliminary-round entry is scored individually on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0, with 1.0 being the lowest (poor) and 10.0 being the highest (excellent). Judges are allowed and encouraged to use decimal points (7.5, 8.8, etc.) when scoring.

Preliminary-round judges answer the following three questions in addition to assigning one overall score to each entry:

  • Does the entry contain a central love story?
  • Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?
  • Does the entry fall within the category description?

That’s it.  Not a huge time demand.

You probably can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?

Today I got an email from the Carol Ritter, the contest coordinator, saying that there has been a delay in getting entries out to the judges because they don’t currently have enough members signed up to judge the number of entries that were received.  It’s a problem they’ve had in the past, and one of the many reasons they are retiring the contest after this year.

Are you an RWA member?

If so, would consider signing up to be a judge.

You can find all the information here on the RWA website.

Who knows, you just might find a new favorite author in the process.

5 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Golden Heart® Public Service Announcement

  1. The one time I judged the Golden Heart, I was surprised that it was the easiest contest to score that I ever did. I love the decimal point rankings—it makes the scoring much less fraught. I’ll have to check the deadlines; I might have time to judge this year.

  2. Like Kay, I’ve found the GH to be the easiest contest I’ve ever judged. Simply assigning a score is far less work than writing in-depth comments. And, perhaps because the GH is considered the pinnacle contest for pre-published romance writers, the quality of entries seemed to be a bit higher than other contests.

    • True. There is a general expectation that entries for this contest have gone through other, chapter-level contests first and gotten feedback there, before moving on to this contest, which is the expectation for why only numerical scores are given rather than in-depth comments. Not sure how true that is in reality though.

  3. I got that email, too. I’m hoping the problem was caused by a huge surge in entries rather than a lack of interest in judging because they’re retiring/changing the contest. Gotta say, I’m surprised they don’t make judging a condition of entry, as they do for the RITA (I think). That would solve the problem at a stroke.

    I’ve judged for the last few years and have really enjoyed myself. Most of the entries are of a good standard and it’s fun to see what other writers are working on. As an entrant, I agree that at least some hint of feedback would be helpful, but as a judge just having to give scores makes it so much easier than the chapter contests. I hope they get the problem resolved soon–I’m looking forward to reading this year’s batch!

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