So I still think I can write…

Well. Much as I’d like to begin this entry with a huge WOO HOO and lots of smiley faces… I didn’t make the top 25 (28) of Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write. It was a top 25 as voted by the public with three wildcard entries as voted by the HQN editors.

Given I have a total of three Facebook friends who know me as Lily Malone, (which isn’t the name I entered the competition under) and given I don’t Twitter AND I am extremely shy about telling any friends that I’m trying to make that leap from ‘writer’ to ‘author’… I knew I was always hunting one of the Wildcards. I was never going to get anywhere when it came to the public vote.

I just read the best blog entry about SYTYCW. http://www.run-janie-run.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/so-you-think-you-can-write-then-shut-up.html and I’m filled with empathy and I guess sympathy, for the blog author, Janie Crouch. What she got up to in terms of getting votes makes for funny reading, but as I’m sure any of the co-dreamers who hoped for one of the spots in the top 28 will tell you – we were all there too, fingers (and toes) crossed along with Janie, voting for our own entries. Only I wasn’t so darn imaginative as Janie when it came to garnering other votes. Why didn’t I think of running down to the nearest Harvey Norman computer section and logging on to every computer terminal to vote for His Brand Of Beautiful! Gol-darn.

The hardest thing for me is the let-down, having not been picked. There is something so exciting about that beautiful vast unknown. Any writer who has a query out, a submission in, a contest as yet un-won, will know how much you both dread, and anticipate, hearing news about that story. It’s far more fun having something out in the ether and being on the roller-coaster I call ‘waiting to hear’ than not having any balls in the air (so to speak.) No matter how hard it sometimes gets to juggle that feeling of fear when there’s an email coming in, and the let down when it’s my husband’s golf partner making a golf date; or my weekly butcher specials from The Chop Shop – I’d still rather rush to the computer on the hour in case there is something.

And the best thing about SYTYCW for me? Well, perhaps because the only votes I engineered for myself were the three I got from my sister-in-law… I was truly thrilled when 7 people clicked they LIKED my entry; and one person – the lovely Jo Fereday from New Zealand – even tweeted that she liked it. YES – I have been the subject of a positive tweet. (Now that’s worth a WOO HOO in anyone’s little black book!) And Jo became my third Facebook friend, and one that I’m looking forward to get to know.

So to Janie Crouch and anyone else suffering withdrawal from SYTYCW I say, hang in there. Keep writing. Keep honing that craft and enjoy what you do. Write! just do it.

Last days of SYTYCW

Voting closes (GMT) in about an hour on Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write competition. The top 25 stories as voted by the public over the last week or so go through to the next round, plus a Wildcard 3 entries as selected by the Harlequin editors.

It has been an eye-opener watching the promotion of writers involved in the competition. Twitter on the Harlequin site was ballistic. I only just graduated into Facebook, so I’m not as yet ready to join the Twittersphere, but there were a heap of writers who’re obviously very familiar with using Twitter for promotion, and using it to connect.

Personally, I didn’t see any bad blood. But I did read a blog post of one entrant that when reading between the lines would seem she’d copped some flack about all the self-promotion. http://fortheloveofwritingwords.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/for-love-of-putting-it-all-out-there.html

She wasn’t the only one doing it by any means and there were tweets from husbands saying vote for their wives’ entries and friends and colleagues and you name it. I think if you’re out there and you’re doing it, well good on you. In some respects the use of social networks is part of what Harlequin would look for (and other publishers) to see that you are prepared to take on some self-marketing for your work.

What some people got up to was eye-opening. I read about one writer who printed business cards with the competition address and her entry link details and left them all through her office building with a ‘please vote’.

I’m very relaxed about the next phase. I don’t expect to get through, given I’m really battling for a wildcard as I’m sure I won’t have the votes, but I’ll look forward to seeing what does get chosen by the editors. (That’s if the wildcards are separated from the Top 25 somehow, so you know which ones the editors picked).

Meanwhile, I’ve been working through my critique partner’s 56,000 word story, and enjoying the process (and I enjoyed the story). We swapped very quick emails with initial responses. I really like her heroine in the book which surprised my CP, she said so far, “no one has”.

This is what she said about my book:

So far my impression of His Brand of Beautiful is one of clever writing, really strong concrete description and fun innovative situations.  I am finding it hard to follow the character’s motivations but I will explain that in my notes.  This looks like it’s going to be a fun, emotional read.

Critiquing has been very much on my mind and once again my favorite author blogger, Jennifer Crusie, has a timely post for me! (Okay so I’m sure it’s not just for me, but it’s still timely). A lot of the comments were interesting. She asked what people fear about having their work critiqued and the pros and cons. http://www.arghink.com/2012/10/09/critiques-some-questions/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ArghInk+%28Argh+Ink%29

Meanwhile, it’s off to wait for the Harlequin tally-keepers and editors to score their votes. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve chosen to go through. I can only imagine the next round of Twittering once they’ve narrowed down a short list. I think the Twittersphere might melt down!

What’s the best bit of social network self promotion you’ve seen? Share a tip in the comments!

Playing God (Agent) for a day

There was an interesting article on Nathan Bransford’s blog today: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2012/10/empathizing-with-literary-agents.html and it’s inspired me to play agent for a day, plus I have the perfect opportunity, a wet Saturday and Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write competition – voting now on.

The Harlequin So You Think You Can Write competition has more than 700 entries across all the HQN categories. In the category I entered, Harlequin Superromance, there would be about 50. So this morning and last night I’ve gone through every entry in the Superromance category, to see which ones I like best, and which one, if I was an agent, I’d select.

This is my short list:

Sierrra Sunrise http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/sierra-sunrise/ (I like this opening line).

Bow-Tie & The Boys http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/bow-tie-and-the-boys/ (This was the first chapter of any entries – superromance or other – that I read to the end)

Everlasting Inklination http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/everlasting-inklination/

Stealing Home http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/stealing-home/

Bride For The Batchelor http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/bride-for-the-bachelor/ (Another one with an opening line I really like). It only has one ‘like’ (it’s got two now) which surprised me because I think this is really good and she’s the first heroine I’ve really cared about. Maybe because my days with a newborn baby are not so long ago that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to walk the halls with a screaming child). It’s by M. J. Esber. I got to the end of this one too. I thought it was excellent.

And I’m not counting my own entry, His Brand Of Beautiful. I’m not the best person to judge it! http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/his-brand-of-beautiful/

If I have to pick just one – it would be Bride For The Batchelor. I like it because it lets the story and scene unfold through dialogue and action whereas in almost all these entries there seems a big info dump early on in the story.

It’s an interesting lesson in writing psychology, taking part in this competition. The Twitter chat is huge. As someone who has only just found Facebook, I’m not yet into Twitter and this is the first time I’ve watched a conversation. A whole heap of plugging is a-going on… At the end of the day they’re probably not pumping the right audience because I’d say the people watching that feed are people like me, other writers. We only get one vote to spread a day and I’d say every writer in the competition will be saving her vote madly for her own story… unless they’re saints if course, which I’m not 😉

So You Think You Can Write – I hope so!

Before I even start, that’s twice now that I’ve typed So You Think You Can Wright (seriously!) It’s not a great look! 🙂

If you’re in romance writing land, and especially if unpublished, I think you’d have to be hiding inside a non-internet connected igloo if you haven’t heard about Harlequin’s global competition, So You Think You Can Write. (There – wrote write without the ght but I had to really concentrate).

I first saw news of the competition on the RWA Cruisin the Blogs. I checked it out but I didn’t think His Brand Of Beautiful fit any of their categories. I confess that whether it fits any of their categories or not, I don’t feel personally that it fits Harlequin’s style – but then I figure there’s nothing to lose by entering. So it’s in as a Super Romance, which has a wordcount of 80,000 and is the longest HQN publish (other than MIRA I think but MIRA wasn’t offered as a choice for the competition).

So on Saturday morning I sat down before the AFL Grand Final to submit my entry. It took forever. You have to write (god I did ght again, what is going on this morning??) a 100 word pitch, which is harder than it sounds and apparently you were supposed to include the HEA in that 100 words too (oops). In recent days I’ve had to write a 200 word synopsis and now a 100 word pitch. Pretty soon I’m sure we’ll be down to 140 characters in a tweet to ‘hook’ readers/agents/editors/publishers…

Well, then I couldn’t seem to get a confirmation email which the site said I should get, and then the FAQs said any problems, email Tech Support… except Technical Support only work 9-5, Mon-Friday and the competition entries closed on September 30 (Sunday). All of which had me thinking I’d left it all too late and I was likely to miss out. So I emailed the lovely Tech Support people and said something along the lines of: “if I miss out so be it but this is what I did and perhaps you could let me know either way if it did, or didn’t make it…”

And this morning there’s notification that they’ve uploaded it on my behalf. So I’m in. Officially.

The public can vote on the entries. I think the top 25 go through to the second round and HQN have 3 wildcard entries they can pick. Some of the comments on the Twitter feed at HQN’s site talk about whether it’s a ‘popularity’ contest or a writing contest, but I think the 3 Wildcards are there to help that in some respects.

Anyway, let’s see how we go. Here is the link to His Brand Of Beautiful. If you have a chance to read it and you like what you’re reading, I would be thrilled if you’d give it the thumb’s up. When I look at it versus other stories it seems a world away from what people are entering. Which I guess either means I’m doing something wrong; or I’m just not in the style they’re looking for. Time will tell. Here’s the link and thanks in advance: http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts/his-brand-of-beautiful/