Kay: Golden Contests

For writers who want to get sincere feedback on their pages, contests are one option to hear from judges who won’t have any inhibitions about criticizing a friend’s work. In addition to any critique, finaling—and especially winning—a big contest can bring the attention of agents and editors, not to mention fame and fortune, to the author.

Three years ago, our own Jeanne Estridge won the Golden Heart, a contest for unpublished romance authors. It’s a big deal, with more than 1,500 entries. We were all there to whoop it up when her name was announced. (She’s finaled again this year, and we have our fingers crossed.)

However, not everyone is a romance writer, Continue reading

Elizabeth: The Perfect Writer’s Conference

We’re about three months away from this year’s Romance Writers of America annual conference and, just before the end of the early-bird registration deadline I finally bit the bullet and clicked “register.”

This was supposed to be a non-travel year for me (excluding work travel, of course).  My travel budget has been earmarked for a long overdue kitchen renovation and, since my writing continues to move only slightly faster than the speed of erosion, the RWA conference wasn’t even on the radar.  Then of course, Eight Lady Jeanne finalled in the Golden Heart contest – again – and I found out Justine would be attending as well.  One thing led to another and next thing I knew the registration button was clicked and the plans made.

The detailed workshop schedule for the conference itself is still being finalized, but the basics are in place.  Like last year it looks like the conference will start out with a set of 3-hour “immersive” sessions.  Based on the discussions we’ve been having on the blog in recent months, I’m thinking Erica Ridley’s Newsletter Master Class will be an excellent option to begin with. Continue reading

Jeanne: March Progress Report

A funny thing happened on my way to accomplishing my March goals: I was notified that the second book in my Touched by a Demon series, The Demon’s in the Details, is a finalist for RWGH Finalist MedallionA’s® 2018 Golden Heart® award.

So, yippee!

I know that I can’t really claim that an event that didn’t occur until 3/4 of the way through the month constitutes a valid excuse for making so little progress on my goals, but it really was a complete distraction from March 21st onward.

Three years ago, when The Demon Always Wins was a finalist (under the title Demon’s Don’t), I got a request to see the entire manuscript from one of the final round judges. The book was far from ready for prime-time, and the anonymous editor or agent that requested the manuscript never followed up. Continue reading

Michaeline: Connections, connections

Four hermit crabs under the sea, in different stages of coming out of their shells.

And so, Micki came out of her shell and waved hello to the others. (Via the Internet Archive)

You never know where a new direction is going to come from. Could be north, could be east . . . could be straight up from the ground, or pouring down from the heavens.

In my case, an old friend sent me an email out of the blue regarding a writer’s conference in Japan. I suspected there were a lot of writers in Japan (there certainly are a lot of bloggers!), but I felt like we might all be like hermit crabs, hiding in shells of English Teaching or maybe IT Endeavors. You really can’t tell who is a writer and who isn’t just by sight.

But now, the internet is a miracle for peeling off those shells and saying, “Hey! Here I am!” Some savvy person got a notice for the 2018 Japan Writers Conference into a little newsletter based in Sapporo, and my Sapporo-based friend sent it along to me (the hermit crab by the sea). And then when I went looking . . . wow! The conference has a social media presence! Here’s the tweet about the conference, and there’s a Facebook page, and there could be more. (-: Not in the first two pages of Google hits, but still. Their Social Media Presence Can Be Felt.

Looking at the tweet also provides a lot of information – for example, information about the Twitter accounts of 14 people who liked the tweet. One of them has written about mermaids in Lake Michigan, for goodness sakes! (I’ve got a mermaid seeking revenge in a fictional lake in upstate New York. Writer-soul mate? Maybe. At least, I’ll follow and see what happens.)

I don’t know if I’ll be joining them in Otaru this year, but it’s just exciting to know that there are fellow strivers in the room. I mean, I guessed. Now I know.

What’s your local writing scene like? What do you get when you google “My Area Writers”? Is it all black and white photos of writers dead and gone? Or is there a living presence of scribblers like you? Let me know! I’m so curious.

Jeanne: Dear Contest Judge

(This is supposed to be a Christmas story using a list of words provided by Elizabeth, but since I’ve only recently started contributing to the 8 Ladies blog on a regular basis, I missed the memo. Next year. )

Recently, I received my scores back from an RWA chapter contest for Girl’s Best Friend, 

the contemporary romance I’ve been putzing around with in my spare time.

I always send at least a generic thank you to my contest judges. I judge contests, too, and it’s a lot of work, especially if you’re going to do it well. But this particular contest was set up to allow the entrants to thank each judge individually, so here are my individual thank you notes.

Dear Judge #1,

Thank you so much for sharing your time and expertise to judge my contest entry. The great score you gave me was gratifying and your comments made it clear you truly enjoyed my story. Writing is such a solitary occupation and a little encouragement really helps.
Continue reading

Jilly: Three Things I Learned at McKee’s Story Seminar

I promised to report back on last weekend’s craft marathon, otherwise known as Four Days of McKee—three days of the legendary Story seminar and a further day dedicated to the Love Story.

It was physically grueling. I can’t remember the last time I spent four eleven-hour days in a row sitting in a lecture theater, and it’s been more than thirty years since I had to take notes longhand. I treated myself to a new notebook and pen for the occasion.

It was mentally challenging. I had mixed feelings about Mr KcKee’s teaching style (to say he has strong opinions, robustly expressed, would be to understate the case), but no reservations about the quality of his analysis. Even though much of the material was familiar to me and I only made extended notes where I thought it necessary, I still filled more than sixty pages and went home every night with a head full of new ideas.

I could blog for the next year or more about the things that I learned, but three nuggets top my list of things to chew on, because I think they will be especially useful to me when I get on to writing Alexis’s prequel story. All three were superbly illustrated during the final session of Story—a six-hour scene-by-scene analysis of Casablanca and again during Love Story’s breakdown of The Bridges of Madison County.

Continue reading

Jilly: What I Learned at Gollanczfest

Good writing craft workshops are like London buses—you wait for ages, and then three come along at once. Today I’ll be finishing up my second workshop in as many weeks: the fourth and final day of Robert McKee’s legendary Story. It’s an add-on dedicated to Love Story.

All being well, I’ll report back on my Four Days of McKee next weekend. Today I promised to report on my takeaways from Gollanczfest (click here for my previous post about the event.)

Firstly, and most importantly, I had a fantastic time. I made a note to self that it’s worth attending some kind of writing-related event at least once or twice per year, simply because it’s inspiring and energizing to spend time with other writers.

Last weekend the writers were all about sci-fi and fantasy, so the talk was of worldbuilding, dragons, AI, dystopia and space opera. The discussions around process were entirely familiar, likewise the challenges of plot structure and character building. It felt strange that nobody made much mention of community or relationships. Continue reading