Jilly: Storyteller v Smooth Writer

storytellerI’m planning to spend today judging romance writing contest entries. It’s time-consuming and headache-inducing, but over the last couple of years I’ve discovered that analyzing other unpublished writers’ work is a great way to improve my own.

I guesstimate that on average it takes me about three or four hours per entry from first read to submission of score-sheet. Multiply that by four or five manuscripts, and you’re talking about a serious investment of time. It’s relatively quick, and usually great fun, to read an entry and reach a first impression. Are the scenes well-written? Do I care about the characters? Would I read on? It’s much harder to pinpoint what it is about the writing that makes me feel that way, and harder still to find the right words to give that feedback to the author in an honest, courteous and professional manner.

The last time I judged this particular contest I was lucky enough to read two very good entries back-to-back that made me think hard about 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