Monday, August 10, 2009

A Contesting We Will Go...

I've been putting off writing contest thank-yous, but I have to do it today. I received my scores back (three sets) from a published book contest. One I didn't final in. Two sets of scores were pretty standard - easy to write a thank-you. The final set was a bit interesting. See, this is Broken Lullaby, career novel number 15, and actually it's doing pretty well in the contest circuit. But, judge number three didn't really like it. That's okay. I don't like every book I read either. However, judge number three told me why she didn't like it (I do respect that by the way). If she'd (or maybe he'd) stopped there, the thank you would be easy. But he/she didn't. Instead they told me what they'd have done instead and how they'd have done it. Finishing with a "Do you see what I mean?"

I confess, having someone tell me how they would have written certain parts of a published book flummoxed me. It made me think about contest judges. Here are some of the thoughts that meandered through my little brain after I read her suggestions:

1. If I knew these comments were made by Nora Roberts, I'd frame them and put them on the wall next to my computer and look at them every day. Nora knows what she's talking about.

2. If I knew these comments were made by a peer (someone on the same rung of the publishing ladder as me), I'd frame them, put them on the wall across the room and try to think about the suggestions every time I started a new book.

3. If I knew these comments were from a reader, I'd know you can't please every reader.

4. If I knew these comments were from a pre-published writer... Well, this is the scenario I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around. As an author, I don't know how to analyze these comments if they come from a pre-pub. What I do know is... the longer I write, the harder I am to please. I used to like 90% of the books I read. Now it's closer to 40%. Have books changed? No, if anything, they've gotten better - especially in the inspirational world. Have I changed? Yes.

Perhaps I got that prepubbed author who is going through the change! LOL

First, I like this contest, will enter it again, and I'm not bothered by her comments because WOW, she put time into her comments. I'm also impressed that a pubbed contest would send back comments. Most just send back numbers.
Second, I almost stopped judging contests two years ago because I felt bad when I marked somebody down (Hey, I'm an English professor by day - I'm paid to use my little red pen!).

By the way, my novel Fugitive Family hit the shelves just two days ago. Why don't you buy it, read it, and see what you think. I don't care if you're Nora, a peer, a reader, or a pre-pubbed. I just care that you care enough to read it.


  1. I think if there is one thing readers need to do more often it's tell an author when they enjoy their books but I don't know if I could ever tell an author I didn't like their book and how to change it to "make it better".

  2. I also do reviews a lot on Amazon and sometimes on Christian
    I really enjoy the books and I know every author loves to hear from their readers. I will try to do more,
    May God bless and I hope to be a winner this week LOL


  3. Thanks Edna and Ellen, I've been trying to tell authors when I really like their books, but sometimes life and time are against me.

  4. As far as letting all of you Christian authors's no problem! I agree with Ellen, though. I really don't think that I could tell an author how to change a book! That seems so wrong lol!
    Your story actually reminded me of something from this winter...I auditioned for our District singing festival. I had won a place in 7th grade, but was rejected in 8th grade. So, 11th grade was my first time "getting back onto the horse". It was very nerve wracking for me personally, but my choir director really wanted me to try out. The audition was in a big room with 4 judges. There was one judge for every person. We had to sing in quartets a capella in 4-part harmony! : S So a few weeks later we get our comment cards back from our judges letting us know our score an if we were in. I had made it! But the judge had taken off points for my facial expression! I couldn't believe it! It seemed so ridiculous and minor to me, but was apparently important to me. She told me that she was not a singer, but my expressions were just "not enjoyable to look at". I don't know, this reminded me of what you are going through!

  5. Hannah,
    You got the 'Simon' judge. I'm glad you made the chorus.

  6. Very interesting, Pamela. I didn't know they ever gave comments or sent them to the author. I guess maybe I'll get some of those eventually! :)


  7. Missy,
    This is the first time I've received such, and quite frankly, I like it.


  8. Lol...exactly! You sure hit the nail on the head with that describer! Thanks!


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