The road to publication isn't an easy one. It requires more than hard work; it requires a single-minded refusal to give up that some days feels like it might border on insanity. One of the things that keeps me pushing and semi-sane is entering RWA sanctioned contests. It's a great way to get unbiased feedback. I began entering my first manuscript in contests a little over a year ago. The feedback I've received along the way has helped tremendously.
And here's a contest opportunity for you, one sponsored by my local chapter of RWA. Check out MCRW's 2013 Melody of Love, a contest I was fortunate to final in last year. But even better than making the finals was "meeting" a great writer who would become a future critique partner. I volunteered to judge in last year's Melody of Love and was lucky enough to get the chance to read PHANTOM LIMBS, the eventual winner of the YA category. I was so impressed by the entry, I noted on the score sheet that I'd be happy to beta read if the writer needed a reader. The writer, Paula Garner, contacted me through our coordinator after completion of the contest. That initial correspondence led to a wonderful working relationship that I count myself blessed to have. I'm happy to say Paula has gone on to win a number of contests since with PHANTOM LIMBS.
On the subject of contests, my newest manuscript, FRAMED, recently won the Contemporary category of RCRW's 2013 Duel on the Delta and netted a full request. This is the real prize; getting the chance to have your work read by agents and editors. For that reason, I recently entered my newly revised first manuscript in the 2013 Emerald City Opener sponsored by GSRWA to test my new start. Contests are a great way to vet changes to see if they work. I'm happy to announce the new start to THE HOUSE OF D'INNOCENZI passed muster. It made the finals!