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Monday, December 13, 2010

Voting Begins in Round Three of the Writing with the Stars Contest (successor to American Title)

Voting opens today at RTBookReviews.com for Round Three of the Writing with the Stars Contest. Here is my attempt at a back cover blurb for Aliya Arabesque as well as Mentor Emma Lang's comments:

ROUND THREE: BEST BACK COVER BLURB
December 13 - January 2

Back Cover Blurb:

BETWEEN RESISTANCE AND SURRENDER LAYS A WORLD OF
DISCOVERY…

ALIYA ROBERTS OF NEW YORK—A woman who rebuilt her shattered life and swallowed her hatred of the Middle East, the world from which her parents' murderers came in jihad. When her sister disappears in Saudi Arabia, she must journey into the depths of her heart not only to find her sister, but forgive her Arab blood.

SHEIKH FARŪQ OF THE AL-`AZĪZ—A man deeply imbued with the ways of his ancient land, devoted to his faith, and responsible for his tribe. He carries an American infidel of al-Jābir blood out of a sandstorm and into his harem, challenging his world. To rule his desert kingdom, he must awaken Aliya Roberts of New York to her destiny as `Āliya of Arabia.

A JOURNEY ACROSS TWO WORLDS—Their desire is undeniable, but dangerous. Sheikh Farūq’s burning passion ignites a firestorm among the al-`Azīz, while Aliya’s conflicted heart brings the al-`Azīz to the brink of war with the al-Jābir. To be together, they must betray their worlds, but to love forever, they must sacrifice their beliefs and surrender their hearts.

BETWEEN DESIRE AND SACRIFICE LAYS THE ROAD TO
ETERNITY…

Mentor Emma Lang’s Comments:


Writing a book blurb can be one of the hardest things a writer can do. How do you summarize ninety thousand words in two hundred? It’s a task not to be taken lightly. Madeline started well, and we worked through revisions to tweak it until we both felt it was ready to entice readers from the back cover of a book. Rereading it now, I have to say Madeline really nailed it.




TO VOTE FOR ALIYA ARABESQUE,
CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Double Finalist in the 2010 Wallflower Contest!


The results are in for the 2010 Wallflower Contest. For this contest, I took a foray into the genre of contemporary series. To my delight, both of my entries are finalists. Here are the titles and categories:

Royal Prince, Reluctant Princess ~ Finalist, Genres Division: Contemporary Series Category

The Playboy's Fake Fiancée ~ Finalist, Scenes Division: Opening Hook Category

Monday, November 29, 2010

Writing with the Stars - End of Round Two: Best Hero and Heroine



The voting poll has closed for Round Two of the Writing with the Stars Contest. RT Book Reviews will announce the results just before the start of Round Three on December 13th. Thank you to all who voted for me in Round Two.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

January Issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine Covers Round Two of the Writing with the Stars Contest


January's issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine covers Round Two (Best Hero and Heroine) of the Writing with the Stars Contest, which runs from November 8th through November 28th. The description of the hero and heroine in my novel, Aliya Arabesque, appears on page 30.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Voting Begins in Round Two of the Writing with the Stars Contest (successor to American Title)!

Voting opens today at RTBookReviews.com for Round Two of the Writing with the Stars Contest. Here are descriptions of the hero and heroine of Aliya Arabesque:

ROUND TWO: BEST HERO AND HEROINE
November 8 - November 28

The Heroine:

Aliya Roberts is a woman of conflicting worlds, her hair a piece of Arabian silk in the color of Western wheat, yet her eyes the green of the West set in the almond shape of Arabia. For years, she has rebuilt her life in New York and swallowed her hatred of the Middle East, the world from which her parents' murderers came. When her sister disappears, Aliya must journey across a world not only to find her sister, but her destiny.

The Hero:

With dark eyes, hawkish nose, and sensuous mouth, Sheikh Farūq of the al-`Azīz is a man as harshly beautiful, deeply mysterious, and dangerously forbidding as his desert. During a sandstorm, he comes upon an American infidel of al-Jābir blood and carries her off to his harem, challenging his tribe. To settle an ancient grievance, he must marry his enemy, but to capture her heart, he must betray his world.

Mentor Emma Lang's Comments:



Describing the hero and heroine can set the tone for the book. Madeline knew her characters well, bringing them forth through words. Readers can visualize not only Aliya and the sheikh, they are ready to embark on a journey with them, to find out what happens, to become a part of their unforgettable story.




TO VOTE FOR ALIYA ARABESQUE,
CLICK HERE.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

An Arab Love Song

One of my Arab Muslim friends has posted this on her blog. It is an Arab love song performed by Najwa Karam, a Lebanese singer. Enjoy!



For those who don't know Arabic, here is a loose translation:

بالروح بالدم رح تبقى يا غالي
In the soul, in the heart, you will stay, oh precious one

بالروح بالدم شو ما صار بحالي
In the soul, in the heart, no matter what happens to me

مجنوني عني قالوا
“Crazy,” they said about me

كل واحد حر بحالو
Everyone is free with his own self

يفنى الكون من رجالو ما في غيرك رجالي
If all the men in the world finish, no one other than you would be my man

لو غصبوني بغيرك لو ما بسمح يصفالو الجو
If they force me to be with someone other than you, I won't allow the air to be calm around them (meaning I will cause problems and be uneasy)

ما بيطلع علي الضو بالليل بسمم حالي
The morning will not come on me, I will poison myself during the night

اول ما شفتك جنين عبقوجي وشو نهميت
When I first saw you I went crazy, my face changed and I was concerned

بالرجعة ضيعت البيت
I lost my way on the way back home

الحب بيعمي يا حالي
Love makes you blind

Thursday, October 28, 2010

December Issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine Kicks Off Round One of the Writing with the Stars Contest


December's issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine covered Round One (Best First Paragraph and Last Line) of the Writing with the Stars Contest, which began on October 11th and ran through October 26th. The first paragraph and last line of my novel, Aliya Arabesque, appears on page 26.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing with the Stars - End of Round One: Best First Paragraph and Last Line


The voting poll has closed for Round One of the Writing with the Stars Contest. RT Book Reviews will announce the results just before the start of Round Two on November 8th. Thank you to all who voted for me in Round One.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kensington Author Emma Lang's Interview of Writing with the Stars Contest Finalist Madeline Smyth

Hey y’all! Emma Lang here. Today I’m going to post an interview with my mentee, Madeline Smyth, a finalist in the Writing with the Stars Contest.

Madeline, what was it that first drew you to the craft of writing romance?

I’ve written for as long as I can remember. As a child, I’d fall asleep by working on a story, replaying it each night to the point where I’d left off the night before and taking it a little further. Then, one day, when I was about 12 years old, Sister Karen (yes, a nun) handed me a copy of Jane Eyre. I read it to the other girls at our private girl’s academy (a place of intellectual expression and sexual repression) as we sat on the lawn dressed in our black blazers, white shirts, long skirts, and black tights.

After that, in secrecy, I devoured hot and steamy romance novels with an insatiable hunger. I lost my innocence to Brandon Birmingham (The Flame and the Flower), battled the mighty Wulfgar (The Wolf and the Dove) with spirited words, and waited for Cole Latimer (Ashes in the Wind) to realize I was a woman beneath my boy’s garb. Of all my imaginary lovers, though, Ruark Beauchamp (Shanna) made me tremble and quiver the most as a girl…and still makes me tremble and quiver the most as a woman. Oh my, he just defies time.

So, what drew me to the craft of romance writing?

My favorite authors gave me a heroine I could be, a hero I would never meet, and an exotic place I wanted to go. Now, more than anything, I want to give readers this experience. For them, I’ve written Aliya Arabesque. Aliya is a woman who speaks for many women, bemoaning her less than perfect figure, wanting a man she fears is unobtainable, trying to find her way in a complicated modern world. And Sheikh Farūq is a man who’ll make most women tremble and quiver now and forevermore.

Do you ever argue with your characters while you’re writing? Who usually wins?

When it comes to writing, and most other things, I argue only with myself…and I always win.

What is sure to distract you from sitting down and working/writing?

The demands of real life are the only thing that can distract me from writing. I have a fabulous husband, three young children, law practice, and old home. Wait, I have more—a mother-in-law who doesn’t know who my husband or I am, a bachelor brother-in-law who thinks I’m married to him as well as his brother, and a reclusive neighbor who lets only me into his house. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel more fulfilled from giving than receiving, and when the well of my heart is full, I give the best of myself to readers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Write, write, write. During my younger days, I let other things come between writing and me, mostly my legal career. Recently, when I was telling a colleague about my writing, he said, “Being great at something kept you from being greater at something else.”

If you were a book, what would your blurb be?

Whisper in My Ear

A Secret Identity

Madeline is a woman who is not what she appears to be. By day, she wears armor and swings her battleaxe for Lady Justice, but by night, she shimmers in silk and invites Lord Muse into her dreams. When a challenge calls her to the battlefield, to vanquish her enemies and capture the hand of her beloved lord, she must decide whether to swing her mighty battleaxe or wield her most seductive words.

A Silver Tongue

Lord Muse is a man who can tempt a lady to reveal her secrets. During the day, he hovers in the shadows just beyond Madeline’s reach, advancing and retreating, teasing and tempting, but at night, he lies with her in the pale moonlight, seducing her with his silver tongue. To entice his lady to cast away her warrior’s armor, and reveal the secrets of her vulnerable soul to the world, he must whisper a word in her ear…a word that only she knows.

An Inevitable Surrender

Their desires are undeniable, but their flirtation is dangerous, for Madeline has long belonged to another, and Lord Muse now wants her all to himself. Lord Muse’s seduction threatens Lady Justice, while Madeline’s resistance encourages Lord Muse. When Lady Justice raises her sword to claim her warrior, will Madeline let it fall upon Lord Muse…or will she risk her heart and whisper a single word in her beloved’s ear?

What would be your “voice’s” tagline?

Rich and sensual.

Who’s your favorite author?

That depends on my mood.

Let’s talk about your Aliya Arabesque. What’s the story behind the story?

I was devastated on 9/11, like other Americans. I had a personal connection to New York, NY (my home city), Boston, MA (the city where I’d gone to law school), and Washington, D.C. (a city where I’d practiced law). On that day, I had family and friends who worked in Manhattan, I had former colleagues who often flew out of Logan and Dulles, and I had friends who worked for the government in Washington, D.C. More, before that day, I had lived among (and even worked for) Arab Muslims during my life.

In the aftermath of 9/11, perhaps a year or two later, I picked up a romance novel in a bookstore one day. The hero was an Arab Muslim sheikh. Yet, there wasn’t one mention of Allāh, Islam, or the Qur’an in the book. Worse, the sheikh engaged in behavior that was haraam (forbidden) under Shari’a law, though his behavior would’ve been acceptable for a Western man. I shook my head in dismay, wondering how we could know so little about this ancient culture, and how we could be so foolish to think God had made the world in our image.

As I returned the book to the shelf, I realized that I’d only ever read two types of Western/Middle Eastern romance stories—ones with Arab Muslim sheikhs running around spouting Western ideas, and ones with Western women being enslaved in Middle Eastern harems. In that moment, Sheikh Farūq was born. I knew him as if I’d known him all my life. He was a holy man imbued with the ways of his ancient culture, devoted to Allāh and the peace of Islam, and responsible for the welfare of his tribe and the harmony of his harem.

The creation of Aliya Arabesque wasn’t as simple, though. I had to honor the people who had perished on 9/11 and those who had fled through the ashes of death, but I had to respect those Arab Muslims who are true believers in the peace of Islam. To do this, I would need to lift away a veil of lies and half-truths to reveal the beauty of two vastly different cultures. Aliya Roberts, the daughter of an American man and Arab woman lost on 9/11, became the embodiment of the conflict between these worlds…and her love for Sheikh Farūq the resolution of that conflict.

What has being a finalist in the Brava Writing with the Stars contest been like?

This experience has been exciting, but if I’m honest, a bit daunting as well. I now think that writing a book is easy, but promoting an author (especially an unpublished one) is a whole other thing.

What’s on the horizon for more books?

I’m working on Roubia Rayya, the story of Aliya’s sister, and then I’ll turn to Amira America, their mother’s story. Both will offer a fresh and different perspective of the conflict between the West and Middle East, between Judeo-Christian and Islamic beliefs, and between men and women. In addition to Roubia Rayya, I’m also working on The Loving of Lord Loxley, a multi-contest finalist for which I’ve received requests for a full manuscript.

A little bit more about you…

1. What is your favorite word?

I have three favorite words—love, betrayal, and sacrifice, my author brand.

2. What is your least favorite word?

My least favorite word is “it.”

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

I’m always on fire.

4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Other people’s negative energy dims my fire.

5. What sound or noise do you love?

I love the voice of Andrea Bocelli.

6. What sound or noise do you hate?

I hate the screams of my children.

7. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

If I could be anything that I wanted to be, I’d be a surgeon. I’d like to save lives and heal hearts. A year ago, my eight year-old son was tragically injured in an accident. He underwent emergency surgery and then two more surgeries during the following six weeks. Dr. Steven A., a brilliant surgeon, gave my son back to me.

Never will my son be quite the same again…and neither will I. I traveled through a dark place beyond grief—a place where only mothers with broken hearts pass—but I emerged from the darkness because of Dr. Steven A. He does with his hands in the real world what I can only do with my words in an imaginary world.

8. What profession would you not like to do?

I wouldn’t want to be a trash collector, though I think they know more about people than just about anyone. If you want to discover what people are buying or throwing away, ask your trash collectors. They are a fountain of information.

Lightning Round:

- dark or milk chocolate?

I love milk chocolate, but looking at my waist and thighs, I’d have to say milk chocolate doesn’t love me.

- smooth or chunky peanut butter?

Oh, is there a peanut butter other than chunky?

- heels or flats?

I wear flats most of the time to chase after children, run around town, and meet with friends, but if I want to draw DH’s eye, I wear black heels (and sheer black stockings, of course).

- coffee or tea?

I drink coffee in the morning, but opt for tea in the afternoon.

- summer or winter?

I’ll say summer because I may live in Buffalo, NY, but I’m not insane.

- mountains or beach?

I’m drawn to sand, ocean, and sun, probably because I’m from Long Island, NY.

- mustard or mayonnaise?

I’m always in the mood for a mouthful of hot and spicy mustard, but I sometimes crave a lick of smooth and creamy mayo.

- flowers or candy?

Why one or the other? I’ll take both, of course.

- pockets or purse?

I use pockets, purse, and satchel, which is perhaps why I can never find anything quickly.

- Pepsi or Coke?

Neither (not even if stranded on a desert island).

To read more of the opening scene, or see a slideshow of the exotic world, of Aliya Arabesque, check out Madeline’s blog at http://www.madelinesmyth.blogspot.com

Thank you to Madeline for sharing about herself, her writing and her fabulous book! I hope y’all will go vote for Madeline!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Voting Begins in Round One of the Writing with the Stars Contest (successor to American Title)

Voting opens today at RTBookReviews.com for Round One of the Writing with the Stars Contest. Here are the first paragraph and last line of Aliya Arabesque as well as Mentor Emma Lang's comments:

ROUND ONE: BEST FIRST PARAGRAPH AND LAST LINE
October 11 - October 26

First Paragraph:

The sandstorm swept across the desert of Saudi Arabia, leaving nothing but fury in its wake. Blinded by the flying sand, Aliya Roberts could see no more than the figure of an Arab standing over her. His white headdress concealed his face, and his white robes flapped in the wind. Was he a mirage in her delirious mind? Was he a whisper within the howling wind? She reached for him, finding the leather of a riding boot. God hadn’t abandoned her this day in An Nafūd Desert, or as her late Arab mother had called it, Allāh’s garden. He had done so, though, on another day halfway across the world, shattering her heart.

Last Line:

Sheikh Farūq sat behind Aliya on his stallion, looking out across the golden sands of An Nafūd, as the sun dropped beneath the horizon, enveloping them in its orange glow. “Your destiny brought you across a world to me, and mine sent me through a sandstorm to you. I challenged my world to have your hand, even as you surrendered your heart to forgive my people. No longer are you Ms. Aliya Roberts of New York, but now `Āliya of Arabia, the only wife of the sheikh of the al-`Āziz, today, tomorrow, and forevermore.” His words swept across the desert, burning themselves into the sand. “It is written by Allāh.”

Mentor Emma Lang's Comments:


Madeline began to put herself into the book as a reader while we worked on the first and last lines. Many readers form opinions on the first page. Madeline found her voice here in the first line and was able to immerse the readers immediately into the An Nafud desert, to feel the desperation in our heroine and wonder about the mysterious man of Saudi Arabia. On the last line, her imagery leaves a golden sparkle to carry with the ultimate happily ever after.

TO VOTE FOR ALIYA ARABESQUE,
CLICK HERE.

Monday, September 27, 2010

November Issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine Presents Finalists in the Writing with the Stars Contest (formerly American Title)


I plucked November's issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine out of my mailbox this evening. I appear on page 31 as part of a 3-page spread on the Writing with the Stars Contest (formerly American Title). In a continuation of the discussion of the appeal of print vs. eletronic books, I can tell you that holding the magazine in my hands was much more exciting than seeing it on my screen.

By the way, here is the 3-page spread on-line.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Finalist in the Writing with the Stars Contest (successor to American Title)!

On the afternoon of June 30th, I happened upon this announcement for the RT Book Reviews Magazine and Kensington Brava Books Writing with the Stars Contest on the Brava Authors website:


The contest would open on July 1st (yes, in a few hours!) and close on July 15th, but would be limited to the first 500 entries. What a fabulous opportunity to get a full manscript before an editor! I assumed that 500 other aspiring authors would rush to submit an entry as soon as the contest opened. So I scrambled to put together the required query letter, synopsis, and full manuscript of Aliya Arabesque, my contemporary single title. By 11:30 P.M., I was as ready as I could be with so little time, and at 12:01 A.M., I hit the "Send" button. Then I dropped into bed, as I had gotten up at 4:00 A.M. that morning.

During July, I didn't think about the contest because other contest excitement filled my days. Aliya Arabesque finaled for the sixth time in the 2010 Golden Claddagh Contest. At the RWA National Conference in Orlando, Deus ex Nosferatu, my historical paranormal, took First Place in the 2010 Stroke of Midnight Contest with a request for a full from the final round editor, and The Loving of Lord Loxley, my historical romance, took Second Place in the 2010 Romance Through the Ages Contest with a request for a full from the final round editor (the talented G. Jillian Stone, a 2010 Golden Heart® Winner, took first place). Then, during early August, my newest story, Royal Prince, Reluctant Princess, a contemporary series written especially for Mills & Boon Harlequin, finaled in the 2010 Four Seasons Contest.

On August 11th, I arrived home to discover that I had a message on my answering machine from Megan Records...yes, the Megan Records!...of Kensington Books, saying that she had some news for me and leaving her phone number to return her call. For a split second, I couldn't fathom why she would call me, but then I remembered the Kensington Books' Writing with the Stars Contest. Good God, might I be one of the finalists? But the announcement had said that the finalists wouldn't be notified until September 1st.

So, the next day, I returned the call. Here is the news Megan Records had for me:

Aliya Arabesque ~ Finalist, Kensington Books' Writing with the Stars Contest

Other authors have asked me how I felt in that moment? Elated, validated, excited, but most of all, fortunate. Yes, I felt incredibly lucky that Alicia Condon and Megan Records, who'd judged the preliminary round of the contest, had heard my voice among the voices of so many talented authors. Never do I forget that even though I've enjoyed contest success, I'm no farther along on the publishing journey than any other aspiring author. Never do I forget that this is a life journey, for publication is only a beginning, not an ending.

Thanks to Kensington Brava Books and RT Book Reviews Magazine, and congratulations to all the other finalists!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quadruple Finalist in the 2010 Golden Gateway Contest!


The results are in for the 2010 Golden Gateway Contest. I had four entries, all of which finaled. Here are the titles and categories:

Aliya Arabesque ~ Finalist, Single Title Category

The Loving of Lord Loxley ~ Finalist, Historical Category

Deus ex Nosferatu ~ Finalist, Historical Category

Royal Prince, Reluctant Princess ~ Finalist, Long/Short Contemporary Series Category

Thanks to all judges and congratulations to all finalists!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Do You Want to Have a Healthy Discussion?

Last week, I followed a post entitled The Death of Print/Publishing, Part MCCLWTFXVIII by published author Jim C. Hines, and an exchange of comments between Mr. Hines and published author J.A. Konrath, about the pros and cons, past and future, and life and death of print publishing, e-publishing, and self-publishing. It was a truly amazing exchange, not only for the substance of the discussion, but for the style of the participants. They went up against one another in hand-to-hand combat, and after a time, being equally matched in weapons and skill, withdrew with grace to fight another day. They awed me, but more, they made me conclude without any doubt that...

Men are from Mars.

Just after that experience, an aspiring author asked me to do a critique. I pointed out several newbie mistakes, and I had a care with my phrasing because I appreciate that some authors take every criticism to heart. By pointing out these mistakes, I wasn't condemning the writing because (and here is a revelation for newbie authors) writing is all about revision. Yet, instead of having a discussion with me about my comments, the author went crying to her critique group, and after they told her to get a grip, came back to me but only to argue about almost every comment. She saddened me, but more, she made me conclude without any doubt that...

Women are from Venus.

P.S. Kelly Fitzpatrick, a multi-RWA chapter contest winner, 2009 Golden Heart® finalist, and author of Lily in Wonderland from Cerridwen Press and soon-to-be released Pleasant Lake, P.D. from Medallion Press, told me recently that I should get a No Hissy Fit Contract from an aspiring author before doing a critique.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Finalist in the 2010 Four Seasons Contest!


The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2010 Four Seasons Contest. I have an entry that is finalist. Here is the title and category:

Royal Prince, Reluctant Princess ~ Finalist, Short/Long Contemporary Category

Congratulations to all finalists!

Friday, July 30, 2010

2010 RWA National Conference

I couldn't go to the Nationals in Orlando this year, but I could bring it to me. That's the wonder of the internet. To see the Literacy Signing (that amazing two hour event during which romance authors, such as Nora Roberts and Kresley Cole, raise money for literacy), check out this video:



If I'd gone, I would've attended the Passionate Ink Romance Writers' party yesterday evening and discovered that Deus ex Nosferatu, my historical paranormal, had taken First Place in the 2010 Stroke of Midnight Contest with a request for a full from the final round editor.

Then I would've gone on to the Hearts Through History Romance Writers' party right afterwards and discovered that The Loving of Lord Loxley, my historical romance, had taken Second Place in the 2010 Romance Through the Ages Contest with a request for a full from the final round editor (the very talented G. Jillian Stone, a 2010 Golden Heart® winner, took first place, by the way).

Oh yeah, I should've gone!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Finalist in the 2010 Golden Claddagh Contest!


The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2010 Golden Claddagh Contest. I have an entry that is a finalist. Here are the title and category:

Aliya Arabesque ~ Finalist, Contemporary Category


Congratulations to all finalists!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To Publish With A New E-Publisher...Or Not?

During the past couple of weeks, several of my aspiring author friends have been all a twitter (that is, "a twitter"as in old-fashioned chirping away with one another rather than as in modern tweeting on Twitter) about a new e-publisher on the scene (I'll call it "Happy New Publisher"). I researched this start-up on EREC and elsewhere, learning that the two principals have no editorial experience between them. As an attorney, I shivered at the inherent dangers of getting caught up as an author in such a scenario.

Then, as it would happen, an aspiring author (I'll call her "Happy New Author") mentioned that she had just submitted a story to Happy New Publisher. A few days later, Happy New Author said that she had a contract in hand from Happy New Publisher and was off to choose a book cover. I wish her the best, as I always enjoy vicariously when someone else succeeds at something.

But would I go this way? No, this isn't the right scenario for me. When it comes to writing, I want one thing more than anything—an editor. Oh yes, I want an editor, one who has experience, one who'll see my promise, one who'll send me revision requests, one who'll demand more and more of me. When this happens, and I know it won't happen within a few days, I'll be a happy new author, but probably one with an established publisher, whether print or electronic.

Happy Writing...and Revising!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Double Finalist in the 2010 Golden Acorn Contest!


The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2010 Golden Acorn Contest. I have two entries that are finalists. Here are the titles and categories:

The Loving of Lord Loxley ~ Finalist, Historical Category

Deus ex Nosferatu ~ Finalist, Paranormal Category

Congratulations to all finalists!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Brenda Novak's 2010 On-Line Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research

 

It's that time of year again. Brenda Novak's 2010 On-Line Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research begins tomorrow! I think this is the most exciting event of the year, even more than the RWA Nationals. It offers something for everyone. Best of all, if you win a bid, your money will benefit diabetes research, not just fill the coffers of RWA or one of its chapters. So, if you haven't visited the website yet, click on the above link and start browsing. It's a bit like walking through Tiffany's. I guarantee that you'll want one of everything you see.

P.S. From my personal experience, I can tell you that Brenda Novak is one very special lady.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Double Finalist in the 2010 Romance Through the Ages Contest!


I've had the most amazing week contest wise.

The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2010 Romance Through the Ages Contest. I have an entry that is a double finalist. Here are the title and categories:

The Loving of Lord Loxley ~ Finalist, Historical Romance Category

The Loving of Lord Loxley ~ Finalist, The Legend Category (most memorable hero)

Congratulations to all finalists!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Finalist in the 2010 Sheila Contest!


I arrived home yesterday to hear the sweetest voice on my answering machine giving me the sweetest news. The results are in for the preliminary round of The 2010 Sheila Contest. And I have an entry that is a finalist! Here is the title and category:

Aliya Arabesque ~ Finalist, Women's Fiction with Romantic Elements

Congratulations to all finalists!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Double Finalist in the 2010 Stroke of Midnight Contest!



The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2010 Stroke of Midnight Contest. I have two entries that are finalists. Here are the titles and categories:

The Loving of Lord Loxley ~ Finalist, Historical Category

Deus Ex Nosferatu ~ Finalist, Novella Category

Congratulations to all finalists!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Judging Writing Contests

© 2010 Madeline Smyth
 Judging contests is an eye opener, as I've said before. You can see the mistakes in another author's story, even when you can't see the mistakes in your own. A couple of weeks ago, I finished judging a batch of entries for the contemporary series category of a contest. Now, two weeks later, let's take a look at what has stuck in my mind about those entries:

Entry A: The heroine had no goal or internal conflict other than to get the hero to acknowledge their prior secret relationship and marry her. The hero's goal was to take the heroine from another man (who, of course, she wasn't seeing, but who the hero believed she was, even after she denied a relationship) and resume his affair with her. His internal conflict was that he didn't want to commit to the heroine for what turned out to be a rather silly reason, but then, he did a complete about face and decided to marry her. There was almost no external conflict, which left the hero and heroine going around and around on the same internal conflict until he suddenly decided to marry her. Yet, for all its shortcomings, the voice was fantastically right-on for a contemporary series.

Entry B: The formatting was extremely non-industry standard, which subtly irked me. The hero and heroine had very little in the way of goals or internal conflict. The story was plot-driven, not character-driven. The plot (which was filled with everything but the bathroom sink) danced the hero and heroine around like puppets on a stage. See more on this under Entry E below. The author switched POV with every line of dialogue, not only for the hero and heroine, but for every character in the story. I assumed that this was a newbie author's first attempt at writing, and that she/he had never entered anything into a writing contest before.

Entry C: The heroine had no goal and an overused internal conflict (which, by the way, the author didn't set up in the 55 page entry, but left for the judges to ferret out in the synopsis). The hero's goal was that he wanted the heroine, though his immediate declaration of love and other teenage antics, especially given that he'd never met her before, made him appear silly. The pacing was deadly slow with long passages of back-story, internal thought, and scene connector narrative.

Entry D: What a delight! The hook, clever heroine, strong hero, secondary characters, POV switches, action, dialogue, narrative, pacing, etc. were all right-on. The hero could've been a bit more alpha, and the last couple of scenes in the entry could've used some tightening, but overall, this story had great promise.

Entry E: The first line of dialogue didn't appear until half-way down page 6 after more than 5 pages of back-story narrative, slowing the pace to a crawl. The heroine and hero had a goal and internal conflict, but the external conflict overwhelmed the story. The story was primarily, although not exclusively, plot-driven, not character-driven. As with Entry B, the plot contained everything but the bathroom sink, and typical of these plot-driven stories, the author introduced shocking events (for example, criminal assaults, attempted rapes, etc.) to propel the story. By the way, the synopsis was a walloping 15 pages, which is, IMO, way too long for a contemporary series.

Having found these mistakes, I'd now like to repeat part of one of my former posts titled "Ten Most Common Writing Mistakes." Here it is:

Judging the writing of other aspiring authors is often a lesson in the most common writing mistakes and sometimes an encounter with the most effective writing techniques. If only we could all begin as proficient writers, but as with any profession, writing requires an apprenticeship. This apprenticeship, often painful and frustrating, but on occasion exciting and rewarding, can develop and refine an aspiring author's raw talent into a powerful writing force.

In the contests I've judged, I've come across ten common writing mistakes. Before saying anything more, let me tell you that I'm not too proud to admit I made many of these mistakes in my earliest writing endeavors. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here is my list of aspiring authors' ten common writing mistakes:

1. Back-Story Dump.

2. Lengthy Narrative.

3. Use of Passive Voice.

4. Dialogue Tags Versus Beats.

5. Head Hopping.

6. Slow Pacing.

7. Told, Not Shown.

8. Inadequate Characterization.

9. Unrealistic Actions/Reactions.

10. Lack of Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts.

Now let's go back to the five entries in issue. IMO, the authors broke the following rules:

Entry A: Rules 7, 9, and 10

Entry B: Rules 5, 7, 8, and 10

Entry C: Rules 1, 2, 6, and 7

Entry D: No rules broken.

Entry E: Rules 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, and 10

Are you an aspiring author who hasn't finaled in a contest, but you don't know why you haven't finaled? If so, I strongly recommend that you become a contest judge. As I've said before, and I'll now say again, judging contests is an eye opener, but let me add for the first time why I think so—it puts you inside the head of an editor.

Happy Writing and Judging!

© 2010 Madeline Smyth. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kelly Fitzpatrick Has Sold Pleasant Lake, P.D. to Medallion

We have come to the end of a long journey...and the beginning of a new adventure.

Do you recall my adoration of Near Perfection—the entry I read as a contest judge that didn't even final in that RWA chapter contest (not because of my score, of course), but went on to become a 2009 Golden Heart® finalist? After the 2009 Golden Heart® finalist announcements, I revealed that Near Perfection was Pleasant Lake, P.D. by Kelly Fitzpatrick. I took great personal delight that I'd seen the promise of this story when others had not. Well, with even greater delight, I now announce that Kelly Fitzpatrick has sold Pleasant Lake, P.D. to Medallion.

Congratulations, Kelly Fitzpatrick!

P.S. I'll follow up with a cover photo and release date as they become available.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Finalist in the 2010 GOTCHA! Contest!



The results are in for the 2010 GOTCHA! Contest. I have an entry that is one of the five winners. Here is the title and category:

Aliya Arabesque ~ Fourth Place, Single Title/Mainstream Contemporary Category

The GOTCHA! Contest is different from other contests in that the placements are made based on the scores of the preliminary round author judges rather than a final round editor/agent judge, and then the four/five highest scored entries are sent on to an editor/agent for review and comment.

Congratulations to all winners!