Michaeline: Have You Seen This Dog? Do You Need To?


Describe this dog, and you could have won a touristy tchochtke from Tokyo! LOL! (Photo by Michaeline Duskova)

Well, lessons learned all around this week! The contest was a miserable failure, but my thinking about description in fiction feels much more solid.

Failure analysis later. One of the reasons I ran the contest was because I found it very hard to describe my dog. Finally, finally, about Wednesday, I started to get a grasp of the words for him, and then today, I came up with this:

He is a fluffy, scruffy, flop-eared cream-colored mutt, but the kind of cream that has been crawling around in coal mines, with streaks of grey. His eyes have the soulful look of somedog who experienced extreme depression in a past life, and wasn’t expecting too much from this incarnation either. (Fifty words.)

I realized, though, with a description like that, the dog had better be playing the part of the Melancholy Messenger Of The Story. He’d better be super-important, and not just a passing dog on the roadside. I think as writers, there’s this somewhat arrogant or even control-freak kind of thinking where we believe we want to put the images we see in our brains directly into the brains of our readers . . . and the problem is that words and brains don’t Continue reading

Michaeline: Puppy Love and Physical Description


Describe this dog, and you could win a touristy tchochtke from Tokyo! LOL! (Photo by Michaeline Duskova)

EDIT: Contest is now closed, but the comments are still open. Thank you for your likes and stars!

CONTEST! I’m in Tokyo right now, so I thought it’d be fun to run a little contest while I’m away from my computer. Your task: describe my dog (pictured here) in 100 words or less. Your prize? A cheap touristy trinket from Tokyo, sent anywhere in the world that the Japan Post Office will deign to deliver. 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

Justine: The Benefit of Contests

writing contest, royal ascot, regency romance[First, a little housekeeping. Kat and I have switched days, so starting today, I’ll be posting on Tuesdays and she’ll be posting on Fridays. My apologies if you were looking forward to her post today…you can catch her this Friday! And now…onto my post…]

I’ve been working with the same beginning for awhile now:

  • Scene 1: Susannah and her uncle face off; he tells her she’s marrying his friend, she says no.
  • Scene 2: We meet Nate, learn he’s out for revenge with Susannah’s uncle as the presumed traitor and target, and must court Susannah (whom he’s never met) so he can get inside the uncle’s house to find damning evidence that’s been eluding him for years.
  • Scene 3: Susannah and Nate meet on the street (but do not reveal themselves to each other), then Susannah shops for a dress (necessary) and brainstorms with her seamstress friend an alternative to marrying her unwanted intended.
  • Scene 4: Susannah meets the marquess (the unwanted intended) and his mother at a dinner hosted by her uncle. Sparks fly.

The sum total of these four scenes is about 10,000 words…and Susannah and Nate don’t even know who each other are yet! Continue reading