I found out this week that my book, Rock Bottom, is a finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest. With that news has brought some mixed emotions. First, I'm proud that I've made the second round and I will honestly say I needed the encouragement. I've been a bit overwhelmed with doing my freelance jobs and still finding time for the fiction. I've doubted my ability lately and will benefit from the confidence booster.
Having said that, on our member forum there's been a huge discussion about this year's judges and whether or not they were too harsh in their critiques or unfair in some way. I got to thinking about the whole concept of a contest and what it means to final. Ironically my scores are actually lower than they were last year (for the same story) but because we have a stand alone Chick Lit category this year I still had a better chance...which brings to mind the question how subjective are contests and are they worth our time to enter???
Here's my two cents for whatever it's worth, and as late as it is it's probably not worth much. LOL. Anyway, I believe that any type of art-- and our writing is an art form--is very subjective in and of itself. Just as I may look at a painting and think it's beautiful and glorious and envy the talent of the artist, another spectator may look at it and see distorted lines and bad use of color or whatever...a judge may read my story and think it's crap and then the next judge reads the same exact story and may say "wow this is great"...but then as writers that's exactly what we set ourselves up for when we submit to editors and hopefully the general public if we make that first sale. So I believe that even if we don't agree with the comments and the scores, isn't it at least good to get the feedback and learn whatever we can from it? Good or bad. Even if all we learn is to be a little tougher.
For instance if a judge says you don't have enough conflict set up in the first 25 pages and you're thinking "but it's coming later" The judge is right, the story needs to start from page one. A reader may not necessarily read all the way to page 48 to find out whether the story is going to hold their interest. You don't have to agree with the judges, but if you pay to enter the contest and it's with an organization you respect, then shouldn't you at least take the comments into consideration? That's what I did last year. (even if my scores are lower this year, LOL)
I'm tired and I'm rambling so I'm probably not making much sense, but I just hope everyone who entered got at least something from the contest and can find some value in their experience. I didn't final last year but I can't tell you how many times I took out my scoresheets and re-read what they said and thought about how to apply the concepts they suggested. It was even a help to me with my other book, Prescription for Murder. I used one of the judges examples and reworked several scenes in PM.
It's tough and disheartening when the remarks are less than favorable, but I truly think it's at least worth the experience to enter contests. (as long as it's from a reputable organization)
Next week I'm going to be interviewing Ramona Cecil and we'll see how a contest changed her life when she won the top prize. They published her book Larkspur. It's a fab book and she's generously offered to give a copy away. Stop by to meet this very kind woman.
Oh, and I wanted to congratulate all the Genesis finalists. Especially Jenny Cary and Georgiana Daniels. You both rock!
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
SNITCH(The Occupational Hazards Series)
(WaterBrook Press May 15, 2007)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge
(Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop
She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Old School meets New School meets Homeschool
Just shy of retirement and a well-earned pension, Las Vegas Police Department Sergeant Ron Yeager's definition of "active duty" involves shifting his bad leg into a more comfortable position. But when he's requested from his mind-numbing desk job to head an undercover auto theft task force, the former narcotics officer determines to prove he's still got the right stuff.
That is...until he meets his unlikely team of officers.
As Yeager soon finds out, not all the crazies are on the street. An undercover rookie, the audaciously honest Mackenzie "Mack" Hazard sends Yeager's blood pressure skyrocketing by wearing her faith like an ever-present badge. Then there's Jesse Lunden, a maverick undercover officer who refuses to learn anything from an old guy with a cane. Can this tangle of egos and eccentrics be trained into a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine...even while they are being drawn into something much bigger and more dangerous than anyone imagined?
In her trademark style, Rene Gutteridge blends zany, original characters, sincere faith, and surprising plot twists into one hilariously addictive read.
"Snitch is an engaging crime novel, balanced between sheer whimsy and genuine human drama."
....CHRIS WELL, author of Tribulation House
"A wonderful, fully developed ensemble cast makes Snitch an entertaining, engaging read. Rene's flair for a comedic, well-turned phrase shines here. Snitch is worth snatching."
...SUSAN MEISSNER, author of Widows and Orphans
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Last year I had the pleasure of having Rachel Hauck on for an interview. To read that interview go here. Since I'd done the normal type questions last time I thought we'd just have a little fun this time. ;)
Rachel's newest book Diva NashVegas is out this month and if it's half as good as her first book in the series, Lost in NashVegas, it's sure to be a hit.
I read Lost in Nashvegas in nearly one sitting. I was up LATE finishing it up. It was that good. I'm eager to get into the new book.
What do you do when the past you've been skirting shows up at your door with cameras rolling?
Aubrey James ruled the charts as the queen of country for over a decade. She'd rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parents' death-both of them pioneers in Gospel music. But while her public life, high profile romances, and fights with Music Row execs made for juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey has remained a media mystery.
When a former band member betrays Aubrey's trust and sells an "exclusive" to a tabloid, the star knows she must go public with her story. But Aubrey's private world is rocked when the Inside NashVegas interviewer is someone from her past-someone she'd hoped to forget.
All the moxie in the world won't let this Diva run any longer.
Wow, doesn't that sound great? Maybe it's just me, but lately, I've been in the mood to just read a good book that I can have a good chuckle and maybe commiserate with the main character a little. This sounds like just the book. ;)
Now to the interview:
Tell us something about Rachel that the average reader might be surprised to know. A quirk or habit…anything. ;) Favorite food, t.v. show, etc…
RH: I did something the other day and thought, I should note this as a weird Rachel thing. Now, of course, I’ve forgotten.
Well, here’s one. I go to McDonald’s every morning for a large Diet Coke. They know me there. I sit and read or pray, drink my soda, get a refill and go home.
What do you and Tony do for fun?
RH: We are pretty mellow people. We like visiting family on vacation for fun, or going to the mountains. At home, we like to rent a good movie or go to dinner with friends.
The best date ever would be?
RH: I’m pretty simple. A good dinner at a restaurant with ambiance and a walk on the beach would be great.
If you couldn’t be an author you’d love to be…
RH: One of the American Idol judges.
Oh, that's good. I have to add my own two cents and say I'm more like Simon than Paula...LOL. Anyway, what's been your most chick-lit moment in your own life… (I have these all the time. I’m the queen of talking too much. I hear this voice in my head saying “stop talking…stop talking…you really should shut up now!!!” For some reason I just can’t help it. LOL.)
RH: This is my best chick lit moment. Many, many years ago, the company I worked for sent me to Spain to train a customer on our computer system. During one of the breaks, I went to the bathroom. The was a Madrid newspaper and I had to walk a catwalk over the press room to get to the bathroom. Well, it took a few extra minutes so I was hurrying to do what I need to do and get back to class. About two minutes into class, my interpreter said, “What’s this?” And he pulls a paper towel from the top of my slacks. OH my stars!! Some how, the paper towels I’d put on the toilet seat got caught in the back of my pants and were nice and neatly tucked in.
But I was cool. Without missing a beat, still instructing the class, I backed up to the waste can, pulled out the paper towels and never said another word about it.
Anything you'd like to share about future projects or ideas.
RH: I’m working on a chick lit set in the South Carolina lowcountry, Sweet Caroline. It releases with Thomas Nelson next March.
This story is about a woman who’s lived her life more for others than herself. Through a friend, she is offered an amazing job in Barcelona, and for the first time, she’s free to do something for herself. Until… she learns she’s inherited the Café where she works. If she refuses to accept the inheritance, the Café will be sold, jobs lost and a town treasure forever forgotten.
There’s romance and friendships, and the message of our inheritance in God.
As always, thank you, Rachel. You're such a blessing and inspiration to aspiring writers...I so appreciate you taking time to share with us today.
RH: I’d like to thank you and all the bloggers who support writers, and for all the readers who take the time to read my stories. I really appreciate their time and feedback!
THANKS SABRINA!! YOU DA BOMB!
LOL. Isn't she fun, folks? Now for the fun part, if you go to Rachel's website and find out what kind of car Rachel drove in the 80's email me the answer and leave a comment you'll be entered into a drawing for a copy of DivaNashVegas. You have to look, but I'm sure you can find it. Happy hunting.