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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's Question and Answer Day!

Now is your chance to ask any question and the Noodlers will answer. Just leave a question in the comment section, and it will be answered shortly! You CAN ask anonymously - no worries.
So, three questions were asked ahead of time here we go:

1. How many times can you enter the GH with the same manuscript? Should you change the name? Or continue to enter it with the same title? I send the MS out and have received feedback on what the story needs to make it better. So I go and revise it…..which changes it from what I entered in the previous GH.

Am I wasting my time? Should I just shelve it and not bother to enter the GH?

2. The limit for a synopsis is 15 pages... now, what do you think is an acceptable minimum number of pages? I have a four page synopsis that covers the main characters/villain GMC, the inciting incident, turning points #1, 2, 3, the development of the romance, black moment,
realization, and resolution. I really don't want to mess with this by adding in some of/all of the scenes that take place between the turning points. But if it would help, I will. What do you think?

3. How "completed" does "completed" have to be? Suppose I have a manuscript which is finished--as in, I wrote 95,000 words starting from "Chapter One" and going to "The End."

Of course, six months have passed and "The End" is not as final as I once thought. There are giant things that need to change--the role of characters, the hero's motivations. I have a huge list, and a revised synopsis, and I'm in the process of deleting a bunch of extraneous cast members, bringing one of the subplots to the fore and pushing what I thought was the "main" plot to a subplot, and ramping up the conflict (lots of this).

There is no way I will have all the edits done by the GH deadline. Is it okay to enter the GH with a full manuscript that will show an obvious--and I do mean REALLY obvious--discontinuity where I stop editing?

Labels:

73 Comments:

At 7:27 AM, Anonymous beverley said...

Hmm, you covered so many of my questions. When I judge contests (and I'm judging GH again this year), I don't usually base it on my own preference in reading, I base my evaluation on if the story is well written, how well written, does it have an interesting plot (not so much to me, but could I see it being interesting to the readership their obviously writing to) and did they manage the manuscript with only minor grammatical errors. I, personally, have a list of plotlines, characters etc which appeal to me but I'm not everyone and I know everyone has different preferences in their plots, voice etc. Is that a sound way to judge or do I should I be looking for ONLY story which spark my interest (which unfortunately, would leave a lot of stories out of the picture and I'm not sure if that's fair to the writer).

 
At 7:45 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

We might get some different answers to these questions, but here we go:

#1 How many times can you enter the GH with the same manuscript?

As many times as you want as long as it hasn't WON the GH. I entered my two medieval time travels too many times to count and they both finaled twice. I will not be entering them again. My purpose was for these books to SELL. But that didn't happen so I'm pulling them now. I changed the titles because I have 2 or 3 good titles for each book and I believed in these books. I'm not published and I can do what I want. Don't let anybody tell you that you can't change the titles. You can do what you want. If you believe in your book, whether revised or not, enter the GH. You'll know when the book has run its course and it's time to shove it under the bed. Don't spend ALL of your time revising one book though...keep writing new stuff!

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger CM said...

Here's a lame, lame, LAME question that shows exactly how hung up on ridiculous details I am.

Colored piece of paper between pages and synopsis: Aye or nay?

If aye, does it count as one of your 55?

 
At 7:59 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Beverley, it sounds like you have a "sound" way of judging the GH to me! A well written story with an interesting plot usually gets a high score from me. If it has that extra "spark" then it's probably going to get a 9, which is the highest score possible.

 
At 8:02 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Question for Published Authors:

1. What was the BEST writing advice you received before you were published?

2. Do you revise as you write or do you tackle revisions after you have finished your first draft?

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

CM, I always place a colored sheet between the synopsis and mss pages and it does NOT count toward the 55 pages.

And NO question is a lame question, IMO.

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger CM said...

Oh, Theresa--let me tell you the other half of that question that has plagued my visions.

WHAT COLOR?

 
At 8:21 AM, Blogger TiffinaC said...

Thanks for the idea. I have never done coloured paper for any of the contests I entered.

You know, I had a question on Wednesday that I was saving for today... of course I've forgotten it!

I'm curious about the answer for the completed manuscript part too. I don't have to do any overhauls that are major, but my partial is more polished than the rest of the book. What do judges think of that? or does it matter unless you final?

 
At 8:58 AM, Blogger Charity said...

I’ll be doing an entry later about “a day in the life of a final-round manuscript,” but the short answer, straight from Stephani Fry at RWA on what the final round judges read (and might request) is this:

The judges read the synopsis and partial for every finalist in the category they are judging. Once they turn in their scores, they can request to read a finalist’s full manuscript.

In response to member concerns, beginning with the 2008 Golden Heart contest, the RWA office will notify the finalist that an editor with XYZ publishing house has requested to read her/his full manuscript. The actual editor’s name will remain confidential. At this point, the entrant will have 24 hours to e-mail or overnight a revised version of the manuscript to the RWA office. Alternatively, the finalist can request that RWA send the editor a copy of the full manuscript already on file with the office.


Stay tuned to the blog for all the nitty-gritty on final round judging.

 
At 9:04 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Regarding the colored paper:
Acck. Don't stress about this! and I personally wouldn't bother, but, as Theresa said, it won't disqualify you.
I hated the "colored paper" rules in some contests because that meant I had to go buy some. And I don't really have any use for colored paper.

Regarding entering more than once:
I agree with Theresa! If you want to enter a manuscript again, do it!! It worked for The Mysterious Miss M. If fact, it sold it and I would not have, had I not entered a second time.

You don't have to change the title, but if you thought up a better one, go ahead!

Regarding "how done is done"
A friend of mine WON the Golden Heart with a manuscript that had things in it like INSERT DESCRIPTION HERE; CHECK FACTS HERE. She'd sent in the wrong version. The book sold, too.

I wouldn't take that kind of chance, but don't worry about it if you continue to make changes after entering. If a judging editor is interested in the book, you can always say you've revised it a little. If it sells, the editor will have changes anyway.

 
At 9:04 AM, Blogger Elyssa Papa said...

What's the whole GH process---once you submit your partial... then what? How do you know if you even made the cut? Do you get feedback on your piece even if you don't final?

What about if you get an agent after you send your GH entry in... do you have to pull out of the contest? What about if you get signed to a publishing house... do you have to pull out of the contest? (Not that I see foresee any of these two things happening any day soon).

Did any of you GH winners have that intuitive feeling that you had finaled or were you totally surprised?

What about if you enter the GH and realize your manuscript is nowhere near ready... should you still submit???

Thanks for any questions you can answer---sorry about the many of them I asked!

 
At 9:14 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Theresa's questions

1. What was the BEST writing advice you received before you were published?

2. Do you revise as you write or do you tackle revisions after you have finished your first draft?


1. Oh, I've had so much great advice! I think the single-most thing that has helped my writing is learning to get into deeper POV by avoiding those "filters" I talked about a previous comment section (the Write Tight one, I think)

2. I prefer to revise as I'm going. I love to go over what I wrote the day before and revise as I go along, then, at the end, go throught the whole ms again.
Sometimes, though, with a deadline looming, I have to just write on and not look at the old stuff.

 
At 9:16 AM, Blogger Manda said...

Okay, here's a dumb question. When I entered, I said my MS is 90K, but since then I've revised and it's less than 90K (more like 86)--is the discrepancy between my original entry and my final entry going to hurt me?

And CM, I didn't even think about colored paper between the synopsis and the entry!!! That's a whole other thing to worry about!!!

Note to self: buy colored paper!

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger CM said...

Okay, I was kinda kidding about the color of the paper. ;)

Manda, I sincerely hope that the word counts are just considered nothing other than guidelines. I'm never sure which "word count" they actually use anyway, and I'd rather not stress. I really can't imagine them disqualifying someone over 4,000 words after removing word count requirements from the categories.

 
At 9:23 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

What excellent questions!

I'm feeling a deer-in-headlights blankness concerning questions, but I'm sure they'll occur to me about three hours before the whole thing must be mailed...

Meanwhile, I'll keep taking notes here...:)

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger Manda said...

Me too, CM. Cause seriously, this word count stuff drives me batty. Do you use the MS Word word count? Or the 250 X number of pages formula? And does it really change your word count when you change fonts??? Arrgh, I suspect they lowered the word count for all of them for this very reason...at least I hope so....

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

1. What was the BEST writing advice you received before you were published?

"You'll write a million words of crap before you write anything worth publishing."

It made me realize that not every word on the page had to be perfect. Nor were those there books under my bed never to see the light of day wasted efforts because they were just building me closer to those million words : )

2. Do you revise as you write or do you tackle revisions after you have finished your first draft?

I go chapter by chapter and I revise as I go. Once I have a chapter where I'm happy I send it to my one critique partner - I implement any changes based on her comments, read the whole chapter one more time, then put it to bed.

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Manda, I'm with cm. I looked at the rules and didn't see anything about word count for the GH. I don't think it will matter.

 
At 9:35 AM, Blogger Manda said...

Cool:) Thanks Diane & Cm! There's one thing I can cross off the list...

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Here are some of my answers for Elyssa's questions:

How do you know if you even made the cut?

You will receive a phone call from a member of RWAs National Board. They will give you all the details, but you will be so excited, you may not remember them all. That's okay, because you'll get all the information in the mail a few days later.

Do you get feedback on your piece even if you don't final?

No, you never receive feedback.

What about if you get an agent after you send your GH entry in... do you have to pull out of the contest? What about if you get signed to a publishing house... do you have to pull out of the contest?

No to both questions. In fact, you'll see a lot of people at National wearing both a lavender ribbon (for GH finals) and a pink ribbon (for first sale) on their name badge. The whole point of the GH is to get your work in front of publishing professionals - so you won't have to pull out because you succeeded!

Did any of you GH winners have that intuitive feeling that you had finaled or were you totally surprised?

It was a complete and wonderful surprise. I thought I'd had a chance with a different book the year before, because it had done well in competitions, but it didn't make it, so I really wasn't expecting it the year after.

What about if you enter the GH and realize your manuscript is nowhere near ready... should you still submit???

I go back and forth on this one. The point is to get your work in front of editors, but if you final, then the final round judge (see Charity's response) asks to see it, but the rest of your manuscript past the partial is not editor ready - then you've wasted the time of the editor, maybe your reputation as a professional, plus taken the spot from someone whose entire manuscript is editor ready (remember people miss out on finals in just fractions).

HOWEVER - if you know your manuscript will be editor ready by March if/when an editor asks to see it after reading the partial in the final rounds - then yes, enter and have fun!

I'm anxious to see opinions on this last question.

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

Elyssa's question about realizing the ms isn't ready:

Okay, no one throw anything at me. Elyssa. The year I finaled in long historical with Amid the Shadows, I was madly, and I do mean mad, typing away to finish the first draft so I could mail it in. I entered as a means of spurring me to finish. I joked with my critique partners, watch this piece of you know what final and all the other times I entered with completed polished manuscripts I didn't. Guess what? My best and worst nightmare comes to fruition--unpolished ms finals. I then worry about some judge reading all the way to the end. If this happens, it is not the end of the world. I took the time between mailing it and the GH call to polish it. Being a finalist meant I got an appointment with an editor and agent who both requested a look. Ultimately that book didn't sell, but I haven't given up on it. I am in fact toying with revising it and changing the title. I still qualify to enter because I'm published in short stories.

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger CM said...

Jill,

Thanks for your answer on that last one. I'm entering stuff that's not "editor ready" now, but I'm hoping that I can use the notification deadline as a deadline to finish revisions. Because on the off chance that I did final, I'd hate to be embarrassed! :)

 
At 10:12 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Oh, Theresa--let me tell you the other half of that question that has plagued my visions.

WHAT COLOR?

Ha! LOL, CM. PINK. The paper should always be pink. :)

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Actually, I was thinking that would be a very good use for dear Doglady's chocolate-scented paper with the holographic image of (fill in your favorite hero here) ;)

 
At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. GH rules state that you have the choice of entering the title of your romance with your name or leaving your name out. Which of these two do you consider the best and why?

2. Also, it seems that as writers enter the GH contest repeatedly, allowing a writer's name alongside the title would give an advantage to a writer who may be a favorite with some judges. What do you think?

3. Will choosing either Courier New or Times New Roman font affect how judges will judge you?

P.S. I cannot thank all of you enough (as a contestant) for your immeasurable help. Many of my questions and concerns have been answered here!

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Anonymous.

#1 and #2. I leave my name off my GH entries. Probably because its habit now. I can't imagine a judge giving a lower or higher score because of a name being on the entry. I have been a judge for at least 7 years and I didn't realize until years later that I had judged a friend's mss (published now). Even if I had realized at the time, it would not have made a difference in how I judged the mss. But that's just me. I care about RWA and the Golden Heart and I want the contest to be fair.

#3 - Courier or TNR. I have finaled in the GH using BOTH.

I have also finaled with a mss that had a 14 page synopsis and with a 5 page synopsis.

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Elyssa wrote: Did any of you GH winners have that intuitive feeling that you had finaled or were you totally surprised?

I am not a winner of the GH, but I have finaled four times. The first time I finaled was my third or fourth attempt and so I was SHOCKED. I did NOT expect to get a call from RWA and I was in the shower. I had already warned my husband that I would probably be a little depressed that day because I knew that everybody else would be getting their calls. Like I said, been there--done that. But I DID get the call in 2003 and it was VERY exciting.

If you DO get the call from RWA saying you finaled in the GH, use your finaling status on your queries to agents and editors ASAP and get your stuff out there.

How about the rest of you finalists--where were you when you got the call from RWA?

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

1. and 2. I don't know if I consider it better to include a name or leave it off, but I included mine on my 2003 entry. I knew I was getting close to producing work that was publishable and I figured building a little name recognition couldn't hurt.

3. I entered with New Courier and my synopsis was 14 pages, I think.

What you have to do in the end is take your best guess and send in the entry. From then on it is a crap shoot. You don't know if you will get a judges who care about fonts or names or length of synopsis or if you get judges who actually assess your story. You don't know if you'll get judges who think they know the "rules" of writing and think it is their job to enforce them or if you get judges who love something fresh and different.
Or in one contest I didn't final in (not the GH) I missed out because the judge loved my entry but she just scored low.

In the end, you just do the best you can at the time and hope luck shines on you.

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

here's a question from a previous day's comments:

Quick question (and I know the day for this discussion has passed) but will you all devote a post just to formatting headers and the entry? I've heard horrible rumors of entries being disqualified for things like not numbering the synopsis separately from the MS, and I don't think the GH rules are totally clear on that. Delle's last answer was a little bit like Greek to me - sorry for the nitpicky question!
Margaret M


Margaret,
This scary disqualified-for-header days are from 2000. Both Delle and I mention it in previous days' blog comments.

In the present GH the header the important header instructions are: The entrant’s manuscript title and page numbers shall appear in the headers on the complete manuscript, partial manuscript, and synopsis.
Other than the author’s name, which may (at the author’s discretion) appear in the header on the full manuscript, partial manuscript, and synopsis, no other personal identifying information (such as address or phone number) may be included on the entry.


So, to me, this means the header should be:
Left Margin: MANUSCRIPT TITLE by Author Name (optional)
Right Margin: page number

Exactly how you format this is up to you, but make it simple. Title on one side; page number on the other.

As to page numbering, there is nothing in the GH rules that says anything more than that the pages be consecutive, which means you don't send five pages from chp one and six pages from chp seven and three from the last chapter. You start from the FIRST pages of your ms.

I cannot see why you would be disqualified for numbering the synopsis separately as long as the numbers were consecutive.

 
At 12:39 PM, Blogger Emily said...

My question: I have a Regency-era manuscript, which I assume could be entered in either the Regency Historical or plain Historical. I'm wondering whether the judging of the Regency category favors manuscripts that are heavy on period detail. It's not clear to me why there's a separate category otherwise. Thanks, Noodle Ladies! Your site is so encouraging :)

 
At 12:56 PM, Blogger Charity said...

I cannot see why you would be disqualified for numbering the synopsis separately as long as the numbers were consecutive.

For what it's worth, I've always done this and (so far) haven't been disqualified.

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

I too have question blankness. But I'm learning so much, it's okay. Sometimes it's better to listen and observe.

Oops, I have a question. If one finals in the GH but several years have passed with no sale, at what point does the value of the finals hit diminishing returns? This is not specific to the GH but for any contest final/win, since authors are always encouraged to include this info in query letters. Just curious.

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger Karen said...

Elyssa wrote: Did any of you GH winners have that intuitive feeling that you had finaled or were you totally surprised?

I was not a winner, but here's my story (and I'm sticking to it...)

When I finished The Old Fashioned Way (published as Daddy in Waiting), yes, I "knew" it would final. However, I didn't know what day the calls were going out and I was completely taken by surprise.

The day I got "the call" from Silhouette the phone rang and I looked at it and said, "That's Stephanie Maurer." And it was, calling with an offer.

I also knew my friend Merrillee Whren was going to win the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie for Love Walked In (a wonderful Love Inspired) but she didn't believe me.

 
At 1:31 PM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Patricia - if you finaled years ago, I'd go ahead and mention it. although you don't have to put in the date. I think editors/agents understand that writing isn't usually our full time job. Plus, life gets in the way with illnesses, families you name it.

Enjoy all the successes!

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Patricia's question: If one finals in the GH, but several years have passed with no sale, at what point does the value of the finals hit diminishing returns?

Other noodlers feel free to disagree, but since that's the boat I'm in I thought I should weigh in. I think finaling in the GH is something that's respected even years later. Since I've sold smaller works and am still going for the novel-length sale, I mention several of the bigger contests, the GH and any finalings or wins on the new ms I'm trying to sell when I query. I don't list everything my mss over the years have finaled in, just a few highlights, dates only if they're current. On my latest round of queries, I wrote the following: "I've won won several romance writing awards for unpublished authors, the Maggie for my paranormal time travel NOW MORE THAN EVER and the Suzannah for my paranormal historical AMID THE SHADOWS. Most recently, A GHOUL JUST WANTS TO HAVE FUN won the Crested Butte Friends of the Library’s Sandy Award and is a current 2007 Molly YA category finalist." Does that help Patricia?

 
At 1:51 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Patricia asked: If one finals in the GH but several years have passed with no sale, at what point does the value of the finals hit diminishing returns? This is not specific to the GH but for any contest final/win, since authors are always encouraged to include this info in query letters. Just curious.

I think GH finals and contest finals are ALWAYS fine to put in a query letter to an editor and/or agent no matter how many years have passed. Some editors/agents will take notice and some won't. Ultimately it's always going to be the story that's going to make you a sale, not the query letter or the contest final.

If a writer finaled in the GH and/or other contests and 5 years later he/she is still trying to push that same mss instead of something fresh and new...now that might worry an editor or agent.

Diane, what do you think?

 
At 2:06 PM, Blogger Santa said...

I probably should know this one but is it 55 pages including the synopsis?

Does anyone know the clean way to do Headers in MS Word 2007 even if you are saving it was a 97/2003 document?

What a wealth of information here. Thanks!

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger banksofmillbrook said...

Okay, here's a REALLY basic question and probably one I should already know (as a fairly new RWA member, I'm still clueless about a lot of things).

How does the RWA decide on who judges the GH? And how specific are the judging instructions?

 
At 2:43 PM, Anonymous bria said...

Another really basic questions:

I understand you have to put your real name on the form, and they say that if you final you can use your pen name instead. . .so:

do you fill out the form as Real Name w/a Pen Name? Or just leave it off.

Thanks so much for all this

 
At 2:47 PM, Anonymous bria said...

Oops, one more question:

If your story say, hypothetically, um. . .starts with 5 pages in italics - is it recommended to underline all five pages or leave it in italics. I know that it's easier to read portions underlined, but pages?

THANKS

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Emily asked:
My question: I have a Regency-era manuscript, which I assume could be entered in either the Regency Historical or plain Historical. I'm wondering whether the judging of the Regency category favors manuscripts that are heavy on period detail. It's not clear to me why there's a separate category otherwise. Thanks, Noodle Ladies! Your site is so encouraging :)

Emily, no one really knows the answer to this because these are brand new categories! The old categories were based on word count and the Regency category did tend to be almost exclusively Traditional Regencies, perhaps heavier on period detail, but in no way should the new Regency category be considered the same as the old one.

My fear of you entering in the Historical is some judge saying, "She should have entered this in the Regency category" and judging it down because of it. This SHOULDN'T happen, but I'd worry that it would.

There are two categories because the Historical writers lobbied hard for the Board not to have just one Historical category. Because Regency set historicals are so numerous, it made sense to divide the pie this way.

for more about Historical categories, read my last week's blog
http://tinyurl.com/ypupk4

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Santa,

It is 55 pages INCLUDING the synopsis.

From the RWA rules:

The total partial and synopsis shall not exceed 55 pages combined.

I can't answer your Header question because I can't even understand it!

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

bria,
I personally would underline the pages of italics, but as a judge, I'd never judge down for formatting them in italics. The judges should not be judging about formatting.

I'd do what you think is easiest to read.

And about putting your name. I haven't seen the form but I would NOT put a pen name on the form unless there is a line asking for it. The option for a pen name is to protect the privacy of the writer if they don't want their real name to be publically displayed.

Banks,
Most of the judges of the GH are GH entrants, but there are also published authors and other members of RWA who volunteer to judge.

Judging instructions are usually pretty slim, but no one knows yet if there will be any difference this year.

Maybe the WNP could do a "how to judge contest entries" blog month. would anyone like that?

 
At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, here's a question I've always wanted answered but haven't seen anywhere.

What scores are you looking at in order to final?

I realize it'll change from year to year, yada yada--but would anyone who finaled mind sharing her scores?

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Charity said...

Santa,

I'm not at my Vista/Word 2007 computer right now. It's new enough that I still have to look at it to figure out what I'm doing.

I'll check back when I'm at that machine. If no one else has answered, I'll give it my best shot. ;-)

 
At 3:48 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

Yep, that answers my question. And the responses were quite encouraging. Glad to know it's not like a car. Drive it off the lot and the value decreases immediately by 50% with continued diminishing returns. :)

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

What scores are you looking at in order to final? I realize it'll change from year to year, yada yada--but would anyone who finaled mind sharing her scores?

Anonymous, I love that question because in 2002 all of my writer friends who finaled had at least 40 points. BUT, another friend finaled the next year with 39 points. There is a total possible score of 45 (9 X 5). In 2002 my paranormal received 41 points, but I did NOT final. A published friend made me a pink ribbon that had "41" on it and I wore it at conference. LOL The moral of the story is that it depends on what category you enter and how much competition there is that year. One year a score of 39 (maybe even less) could get you into the finals, and the next year you might need a 41 or higher to final in that same category.

In 2007 I finaled in the Paranormal Category with 41.6 (can't find my other scores, but I will keep looking)

 
At 6:37 PM, Blogger Santa said...

Thanks Diane for answering my question. I probably was too wordy with my header question and need to tighten it, lol.

Charity, reply when you can. I'll keep my eye out for it.

 
At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Ami W. said...

Wow, so much info here. I hope I'm not too late! My ms is with an editor right now. Is it still okay to enter it? If not--since I already paid for the entry before this occured to me--what should I do? Can I sub another ms in? Which, actually is very unpolished...

Ami :)

 
At 7:14 PM, Blogger janegeorge said...

I've got an easy one:

Do every year's GH finalists form an on-line support/chat group?

 
At 7:58 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Ami asked:

Wow, so much info here. I hope I'm not too late! My ms is with an editor right now. Is it still okay to enter it? If not--since I already paid for the entry before this occured to me--what should I do? Can I sub another ms in? Which, actually is very unpolished...
Ami :)


Not too late, Ami.
Having a manuscript with an editor doesn't prevent you from entering. It is only if you have had that coveted "Call" by the due date.

From the RWA rules:
The Golden Heart contest is open to writers who have not accepted a publishing offer from a non-Subsidy, non-Vanity Publisher for a novel or novella by the contest entry deadline. Entrant must retain all rights to the entry and not have granted any of them to a publisher or any other party by the contest entry deadline.

 
At 8:10 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

janegeorge,
Finalists usually do form a yahoo group these days, to share the experience and answer such important questions as, "What are you going to wear to the Awards Ceremony."

Not all of them stick. The Wet Noodle Posse has been exceptional. The Romance Bandits are going strong, too. I'm sure there are others, too.

 
At 8:22 PM, Blogger janegeorge said...

Thanks, Diane!

I was just curious, not getting ahead of myself or anything. ;-j

My ms has a polarizing contest history, so it's a complete and total cr*p shoot.

Anybody else sick of their GH entry? I love my story and all, but I'm dying to move on, and clear the slate to start the next one for NaNoWriMo!

 
At 8:26 PM, Blogger Charity said...

Santa,

Word 2007 and headers:

You can double click at the top of the page and the header space should appear.

If that doesn’t work, try Insert > Headers, and then Word gives you more choices than anyone in their right mind would want.

If you want to adjust the vertical placement, I’d use the vertical scroll bar.

If you want to insert a different header for different pages (for whatever reason), you need to insert a section break first.

That’s Page Layout > Breaks > Section >Next Page.

Double click on the header again and select Link to Previous (so it’s no longer highlighted).

I’m not sure if I answered your question. Let me know. I’ve been playing around with Word a lot since my writing partner uses an older version and we’ve had a few formatting issues.

 
At 8:43 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Good evening, Ladies!! Wow, everyone has asked some great questions! I am going back to take copious notes. I am still uncertain as to whether one should enter the GH with a manuscript that you know is STILL a rough draft, even if the partial is polished to a fine sheen. This is a tough call to make!

 
At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Ami W. said...

Thank you, Diane. I doubt I'll be getting the call before the deadline! LOL. Hmmm. Though I can always hope... :)

 
At 10:18 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I am still uncertain as to whether one should enter the GH with a manuscript that you know is STILL a rough draft, even if the partial is polished to a fine sheen. This is a tough call to make!

Doglady, you're right, it is a tough call to make. It depends on how rough the rest of your mss is. If you final and your mss isn't up to par, maybe it will hurt your chances of WINNING or it could possibly hurt your chances of making a sale to the finaling editor judge, BUT in the event you did final, you could use your finaling status in a query to editors and agents. Finalists are notified in March, so you would have until then to polish the rest of your mss. for future requests. I say go for it, but I'm sure others will disagree.

 
At 10:45 PM, Blogger Santa said...

Thanks Charity! I'm off to fiddle with it now.

Great blog ladies. Such wonderful information. Do you guys archive these blogs under specific headers because it would be a wonderful reference guide.

 
At 3:37 AM, Blogger Trish Morey said...

Theresa asked, "How about the rest of you finalists--where were you when you got the call from RWA?"

I woke up to an email from someone I didn't know asking for my phone number because they had to contact me on RWAmerica business. The email arrived about 5am, though I didn't get it until around 10am my time (Central Australia time) and I eagerly sent off my number, holding my breath and hoping above hoping that it wasn't just a call about my subscription or some other non GH type admin thing. I had to wait until about 3pm my time (too long to hold one's breath!) before the phone finally rang and a gorgeous American accented woman told me I'd finaled in the GH. Can't remember another thing:-))

Re, whoever asked about paper - I never use/d it. If a judge can't tell the difference between a manuscript and a synopsis, then imho, they shouldn't be judging:-) Also, if they can tell how long the synopsis is because of where the coloured paper divide is, and they have a predisposition against long synopses, you might be doing yourself a disservice (oh gosh, that judge thinks, here we go again...) Again, they shouldn't be judging. But people being people, why give someone the opportunity to not look forward to your sypopsis?

But like I say, that's just my view. Could never see the point of coloured paper myself, and the lack of it didn't hurt my chances. Again, it's the story that counts!

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

I finalled with Hot Shot twice, the second time it was my "safety" ms, because I had such a blast as a finalist in 2003. But alas, it still hasn't sold.

I leave the name off the partial, but put it on the full.

I've finalled with both TNR 14 and Courier 12 ;)

I had a sense my 2006 book would final.

Theresa wrote: I had already warned my husband that I would probably be a little depressed that day because I knew that everybody else would be getting their calls.

I told my dh the SAME THING! Only calls went out early that year! I got a call about 30 minutes after I told him.

Patricia, I still submit Hot Shot as a GH finalist. Because, you know, it is. ;) But I no longer mention that it won different contests longer than a year back. I've been listening to conference workshops and many of the speakers list the GH as a credential, even if they've been published for a number of years.

 
At 8:10 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Just wanted to take the chance to say "Thank YOU" to you all for all the time and talent you have shared with us.

It's helped so very much. :)

 
At 8:20 AM, Blogger CM said...

I don't know if anyone will still respond to questions, but I have a specific synopsis question.

I've realized that in the first 55 pages, I won't be able to show my readers why the hero is doing something that looks a little stupid. There are hints, of course, but the full backstory doesn't show up until 2/3 of the way through the manuscript.

If you know his history, though, it makes complete sense. So I've decided to lead my synopsis--his GMC paragraph--with a description of what happened to change his life 10 years ago.

In describing those events, do I use the present or the past tense? It feels weird to say "His life changes forever at eighteen," and then say, "ten years later, he...."

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger doglady said...

I want to echo Gillian in saying that this blog has been an absolutely solid gold fount of information for those of us who are just sticking our toe in the water, so to speak! Thank you so much for the time, effort and patience you have all spent doing some helpful hand-holding and imparting some invaluable knowledge. The Wet Noodle Posse is definitely a class act and I think each of you had a heart of gold before you won the Golden Heart! (And no, I am not turning it up a bit brown, for you Regency ladies! I am sincerely grateful!)

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

cm asks:
In describing those events, do I use the present or the past tense? It feels weird to say "His life changes forever at eighteen," and then say, "ten years later, he...."

cm, your dilemma seems perfect for my "synopsis formula." In the GMC paragraph, is the perfect place to explain an important piece of backstory.

I do use past tense in the synopsis to "tell" those things that happened before the story begins. I think it makes it clearer to the reader (aka judge)
And when I'm done talking about the backstory and GMC, I always say "The story begins with..." to make if very very clear.

I do not believe synopses need to be clever. I think the most important thing is that they are clear to the reader/editor/judge. To me, writing the synosis in as straightforward a manner as possible is the way to go.

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger CM said...

Thanks, Diane!

And thank you, incredibly generous Noodlers! I owe you all a drink in San Francisco for all your advice.

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger Prisakiss said...

GH finalist story: I missed my call in 2003. I'd spent the day with my local chapter, attending our recognition luncheon. I hadn't kept track of when calls were going out, so I had no idea. When I got home, there was a message on the answering machine. I was in the other room, listening with half an ear as my husband played the messages. I think they heard my scream in the next county. My husband freaked out, thinking something was wrong as I came running into the kitchen, yelling for him to rewind the message. It's a moment I will never forget. Total surprise! Needless to say, it took me a minute to calm down enough to call back the RWA rep. :-)

Questions (in random order):

I use colored paper to separate the manuscript from the synopsis, and I put the synopsis behind the manuscript pages. I don't think you have to, but someone recommended it to me years ago and now it's habit.

Revising-- My revision process is similar to Diane's: I reread the pages I've written the day before, then reread the chapter when I finish. At the end, I'll go through and reread the entire book for continuity.

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Pris, I think that is great advice to put the synopsis AFTER the manuscript pages.

You want to hook the reader with your wonderful writing, have them panting for more, so when they go to the less-than-sterling synopsis, they are predisposed already to love the entry.

Your synopsis is not going to win you a contest or a book contract; your writing will

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

I finalled three times, in three consecutive years (01-03). The first time, I was stunned. I'd only entered the GH once before, and my scores were in the lower half.

The next year, I was anxious to repeat, but didn't feel too much pressure. I did final with what I thought was a stronger story, which still hasn't sold, drat it.

In 03, I felt incredible pressure, albeit self-imposed. And I went in very nervously with the least alpha male I'd ever written, the softest entry-ending hook, and almost no whitespace as a consequence of squeezing the entry into Courier New 12. Man, I chewed my nails to the quick waiting for that call. And thank God it came! If I hadn't finalled in 03, I wouldn't be a Noodler.

I also sold in 03 after winning Dorchester's New Voice in Romance contest (the precurser to the American Title contest that our own Trish Milburn is in the thick of right now), removing the pressure to try to repeat a fourth time. :-)

 
At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, can I sneak in one last question? When I submit I underline, rather than italicize, thoughts/flashbacks. For the contest, which is preferred or have you used?

Thanks so much!

Margaret M

 
At 1:52 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Margaret M,
I underline, rather than italicize, what I would call "mental dialogue" or those internal thoughts that need more emphasis, or song lyrics, or, in my just completed ms, newspaper clips.

But I wouldn't necessarily italicize or underline a flashback or internal thoughts. For a flashback, if I could get away with making it very clear i was going back in time and clear when I was coming back to the present, I wouldn't italicize.

It would be okay to italicize a flashback in certain instances. Stylistically that may be your choice, though. If you make that choice, either italicizing or underlining is okay. But I always underline.

The thoughts of a character, I rarely underline or italicize. Only a line here or there that is like a mental dialogue the character is having, or for emphasis.

And that has probably made it all more confusing!!

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Merrillee said...

I'm coming in a little late to the questions day, but I'll answer the ones I remember.

I didn't expect to final in the Golden Heart. I had received a rejection just after I entered the manuscript that WON the inspirational category in 2003. So the call was a complete surprise because I wasn't even thinking about the Golden Heart. I have never sold that book although I've sold seven others.

I also revise as I write unless I'm on a very tight deadline. I like to go back and reread and revise what I wrote the day before. Then I do at least 2 full reads after the book is finished.

I never used colored paper to separate the chapters from the synopsis, and I always numbered my synopsis separate from the chapters.

I have used Courier and Bookman Oldstyle. The manuscript that won was in Bookman Oldstyle. I never used TNR because I always hate getting that small print to read myself.

 
At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lovely answer, Diane - thank you!

Margaret M

 
At 11:52 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I just got in from the Emerald City conference and thought I'd just catch up on things... Wow, what a lot of comments! A few quick thoughts here.

I use EMERALD GREEN paper between synopsis and partial. Always. Why? Because I bought a ream of it eight years ago and still haven't run out. But honest, it's not important.

I almost always had that feeling I was going to final, but I was usually wrong about which manuscript it would be. The first year I won, I had already figured out Anne Mallory was going to win so I went to national with the most carefree attitude I'd ever had. But then about two hours before the awards ceremony, this little voice inside me said, "You'd better figure out what you're going to say..." I kept shaking it off and it kept coming back. "You'd better figure out..." Oh, shut up. But it wouldn't. So I wrote out something quick and stuck it somewhere, but to this day I don't know where. I still didn't believe it, yet the very second my photo and the title flashed on the screen I knew it would happen, and then it did. And I didn't say anything I thought I was going to say. The second time, two different final round judges let something slip (one of them started giggling and wouldn't stop and the other one mixed up the GH with another contest category she'd judged but I knew I hadn't entered), so I knew I would most likely win. The third time it was impossible. So I was completely shocked. I still have trouble believing that one.

 

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