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. Continue reading

Justine: Leaving Well Enough Alone

“The more we stur a tourde, the wours it will stynke.” So said J. Heywood in the 1546 Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue. How true is that? I have muddied around with the first several chapters of my book for MONTHS now, but as the Golden Heart deadline approached on Friday, I found myself having to follow the equally proverbial “fish or cut bait.”

In other words, I had to make whatever changes I could get done before the deadline, then send it off on its merry way. (I have few hopes of finaling, but I thought because it’s the last time RWA will hold the Golden Heart–the “Academy Awards” of romance writing for unpublished authors–I should give it a go.)

When I finished my submission, and in conjunction with my Word Of The Year (which is DEADLINES), I told my husband that I was not going to touch those first five chapters again. And he made me sign THIS:


So it’s moving forward, starting with Chapter 6 and going until it’s done and I turn it in to my editor.

Do you put a stake in the ground when it comes to your MS? Do you only allow a certain number of revisions to a given chapter?

Congratulations Jeanne! Golden Heart Winner!

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

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

The Eight Ladies were thrilled to be in New York to witness our very own Jeanne Oates Estridge win the Golden Heart for her paranormal “Demons Don’t” on Saturday night!

There were lots of screams and shouts of joy from one corner of the room and many of us (like me!) had tears in their eyes. We have all worked very hard since the McDaniel program on fine-tuning and improving our writing, and seeing Jeanne win was a testament to that.

All the ladies had a great weekend, received requests for fulls and partials, and attended some great workshops. Details on that in the days to come!

In the meantime, we wish Jeanne every success and are so proud of her!

Kat: Interview with 2015 RWA Golden Heart finalist – Jeanne Oates Estridge (Part II)

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Golden Heart, 2015

Welcome back, Jeanne! So last week we talked a little about your writing journey. Your style, the years of sweat and doubt that you endured to get this far. Today, I’d like to turn to the fruits of all that hard work. Tiaras and spotlights, oh my.

What’s life (specifically your writing life) been like since the nomination, Jeanne? 

JE: The nomination came in at the end of March, while I was still polishing Demon’s Wager. Soon after that, I started receiving manuscript requests from editors and agents as a result of the various contests I entered, so I wound up scrambling, trying to get it ready for prime-time.

I know you’ve been scrambling a lot since then. What’s happening right now?

JE: I’m working on plotting the next book in the series. I don’t have a title yet, which is making me a little crazy—it’s like families who call their youngest child “Baby”—for heaven’s sake, give that kid a name. Continue reading

Kat: Interview with 2015 RWA Golden Heart Finalist – Jeanne Oates Estridge (Part I)

Jeanne Estridge clean smallerToday, I’d like to welcome our own Jeanne Oates Estridge, one of nine paranormal finalists in RWA’s 2015 Golden Heart contest. Jeanne has graciously agreed to answer our questions and share her GH journey to date. First, congratulations on your Golden Heart finalist nod, Jeanne. That’s a tremendous accomplishment and we’re all proud of you!

I’m sure everyone is dying to know about “The Call”. Where were you when you learned the news? Did you scream for joy? Drop the phone? Spill, girl!

JE: Like everyone else who entered, I was watching the RWA website that morning, hoping against hope. When names started to populate in the different categories and I hadn’t received a call, my heart fell into my shoes. Then I saw that I had a missed call from an unknown number in California. I told myself it was probably someone trying to sell me something, but my hopes rose anyway. A few minutes later, the same number called back and it was RWA. I cried. Big, fat tears. I asked her if everyone cries and she said, “Some people cry, some people curse. I spoke with a woman in London this morning and she said, ‘Crikey!’”

Once you processed the fact that you’d just finaled in the mother of all RWA contests what went through your mind? What was your primary emotion? Continue reading

Justine: The GMC, Ma’am, Just the GMC

conflict, gmc, debra dixon, goal, motivation, conflictSo I’ve been in judging hell this week. Last week, I’d spent a bunch of time totaling scores for the contest I’ve been managing…this past week, I’ve been reading paranormal entries for the 2015 Golden Heart (the “Oscars” for unpublished romance writers).

Elizabeth wrote in this post about some recurring items that pulled her out of the story (poor grammar/misspellings, not following rules, starting at the right place, etc.).

For me, there was one BIG issue that hit me over and over again on the poorly written entries. It’s something I admittedly didn’t know much about (at a conscious level, anyway) before I started writing, but I’m glad I learned about it. Those of you just jumping onto this writing wagon would do well to learn it yourself: Continue reading

Justine: It’s Bang-My-Head-On-The-Desk Time

drinkI had planned a completely different post for today, but it’ll have to wait for another week. Instead, I’m going to share with you my major SNAFU (you do know what that acronym means, right? If not, read this) that happened just this evening. I think most of us have been there at one point in time — drowning in a major screw-up — and when we have, we’ve just wanted to bang our heads on the table over and over again.

As many of you know, I’ve been working towards the Golden Heart contest sponsored by RWA, as have a few other Ladies, for several months now. Well, today was “due day” for the final version of our manuscript. Because of a variety of reasons, which I’m not going to go into (but they involve kids, laundry, and a new puppy who’s gone from “charming” to “Cujo” in a matter of weeks), I still had some final finishing up to do on my MS, which I planned to do today. We’re talking minor stuff, like making sure it looked good in Word and making the PDF. This evening, after getting the kids at school and taking them to tae kwon do, I finished the changes, logged into the website, and when I clicked on the Register link to upload my revised manuscript, I got this message:

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 7.36.37 PM

Yep. You’re reading that right. I missed the deadline. Continue reading

Justine: The Romance Writing Olympics

golden heart, rwa, justine covington, writing contest, romance writing

Your type of jewelry? The Golden Heart® necklace, given to winners of the Golden Heart writing contest for unpublished romance writers.

By the time many of you read this (well, those of you west of Mountain Standard Time), I’ll have registered for the Olympics of unpublished romance writers: The Golden Heart®. I’ve been training for this competition for years — both as a reader and as a writer.

Sponsored by Romance Writers of America®, it is THE contest for unpubbed romance writers. They cap the entries at 1,200. Yes, 1,200! It’s that popular.

There are several categories, including Contemporary, Erotic, Historical (mine!), Inspirational, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Short Contemporary, and Young Adult.

A couple years ago, they changed the judging guidelines. Now, the top 10% in each category make it to the final round (but you must have a minimum score of 80%). There are five judges per entry; scores are calculated by dropping the highest and lowest, then averaging the three remaining scores.

As with any contest, your score is entirely dependent on the judge, and almost any RWA member can judge. If you get someone who just doesn’t connect with your story (which has happened to me), you’re potentially screwed. It doesn’t mean you have a bad story, but it does mean you might not qualify as a finalist, and unlike Michael Phelps, my goal isn’t really to win…it’s to final.

There are a few benefits to being a finalist — some are more important than others Continue reading