So, a while back, I decided that, in addition to entering The Indian Princess into a couple of contests, I was going to trot out the latest book I'd finished, The Wannabe Cowboy. It had only been through my mom (Hi, Mom!), Mary the Grammar Goddess, and my critique partner, the Lovely Laurel--no one else had read it. But hey, it's contest season, and I wanted to see if it got enough positive feedback that I could feel good about entering it into the granddaddy of all contests, the Golden Heart (more on that later).
When I first started this crazy journey, I entered a whole bunch of contests without a whole lot of thought. (This, if you're just joining this career in process, is how I pretty much went about everything back at the beginning--the throw a bunch of stuff against a wall and see if it sticks method.) And I got a whole lot of helpful comments--and a whole lot of really bad scores. But those contests were good for me--all those judges who suffered through that first book of mine really helped me see where the (major) holes in my work were.
I didn't enter another contest for a year, and when I did, I took second in the Chicago-North RWA's Fire and Ice contest for a book no one actually liked, Warrior, Lawyer. (It's on a shelf somewhere, gathering serious dust.) They were so nice to me that I wound up joining their chapter.
I then got it into my head that I was going to sell a book VERY SOON--and stopped entering contests for another year and a half. I also didn't sell a book in that year and a half.
Which brings us back to the present. I decided I needed some independent readers, and hey--being able to say "Finalist" wouldn't hurt, either. This time, however, there was a method to my madness. This time, I've learned the secret to entering contests. It's not the contest so much, but who's judging it.
As you may (or may not) remember, The Indian Princess was a finalist in the Golden Rose contest a few weeks back. I entered the Golden Rose because the judge is an editor for Special Edition--one of possibly four lines where my books would fit at Harlequin. I've already entered Princess in the Golden Heart--and had an editor express interest in it.
I picked the Hot Prospect contest from the Valley of the Sun RWA chapter because the judge is an editor for Harlequin American, which specializes in American-set stories--and features a lot of good-looking men in cowboy hats on the covers. So when Linda Andrews from Valley of the Sun called and told me I'd finalled, I assumed she meant Princess.
But I was wrong. She meant both.
So, if you'll excuse me, I must now go forth and dance around the house with The Kid and the dogs (Gater loves to dance!) and then do a little bit of revision before I send Wannabe back for the finalist judges--and off to the Golden Heart.
I'm feeling lucky.