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I’m a winner!

I’ve been trying to finish up my manuscript for RWA’s Golden Heart Award, so apologies for leaving the blog so fallow. I had some great news a week ago – I was the Grand Prize winner of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s blog! The fantastic Anne Marie Becker read my entry for the Golden Heart Award and gave me loads of valuable feedback. Thank you so much, Anne Marie. I really appreciate your encouragement and tips.

If any of you haven’t read the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s blog, definitely check it out. They were the finalists of the 2009 Golden Heart Award, and this post is dedicated to them.

Some of the best of the Ruby Sisters’ blogs:

For general writing advice

The First Five Pages…and the Red Line of Death by Jeannie Lin

Be a succesful hooker. by Rita Henuber

Go for the Gold! Tips for Turning Your GH Entry Into a Potential Finalist by Laurie Kellogg

Specifically about the Golden Heart Award

Golden Heart–The Final Edit Before You Mail by Kelly Ann Riley

Judging the Golden Heart – 101 by Jennifer Bray-Weber

The Woman Behind The Curtain by Bev Pettersen

Golden Heart Rotisserie by the Numbers by Jamie Michele

About being a writer

Year-End Tax Tips for Writers by Diane O’Brien Kelly

Business Planning for the Golden Heart and Beyond by Laurie DeSalvo

How To Be “Mommy!” and Still Write a GH Manuscript by Heather McCollum

Okay. I entered. Now What? by Autumn Jordon

You Are Not Alone (Tips from your Traveling Companions: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion) by Anne Marie Becker

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Getting an unbiased opinion

I mentioned earlier that I sent my first three chapters to some writerly friends. None of them write romance, only one of them reads romance, and one of them told me, “I have to be honest, I absolutely HATE romance novels!”

I’m hoping that that’ll be a good thing. They’ll all help me make my manuscript stronger without worrying about the conventions of a particular genre.

Even though I told them all that I don’t want any ego-stroking, I’m not sure how honest they’ll be with me. Half of them are writers I work with, so we’re used to editing each other’s news stories. I know they can point out problems without feeling like they’ll hurt my feelings.  The other half are friends who are fantastic creative writers who are blunt to a fault.

But how do you get unbiased opinions from people who don’t know you?

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Writing for your family

(Manuscript #1 word count: 69,934 – getting there!)

Last weekend I was talking to my parents on the phone and mentioned that I was working on finishing my book. “You’re reading a book?” Dad asked.

It shouldn’t have been much of a surprise to him, considering I majored in English lit. But Dad’s not a big reader.

So I said, “No, Dad, I’m trying to finish the book I’m writing.” Apparently it was the first time he’d heard of the project I’ve been working on since May. Mom’s known for months.

It made me wonder if I’ve kept from telling him about it because it’s a romance novel. Or, as my friend Amanda said, “Lots and lots of hot NASTY sex!”

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My first readers

On Friday I sent my synopsis and first three chapters to a few trusted friends. It felt like a truly momentous occasion. These were, after all, the very first people who would see anything I’ve written (well, for this novel, at least).

In return, I got the sound of crickets. Nada.

So I emailed them all and it turns out none of them received it. My email must have some kind of filter that considers romance novels unworthy.

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Dontcha break my heart (my achy Golden Heart)

(Manuscript #1 word count: 64,892)

I was in Dublin killing time in an internet cafe as Hubby read every single sports report published online, when I thought I’d look up information about Romance Writers of America’s romance novel competitions. They announce the winner at their annual conference, and I knew that next year’s is in July, so I figured I had plenty of time to finish up my manuscript and send it in.

Not so.

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Romance novel contests and competitions

I had never thought about writing competitions as a way to publication until I read Meredith Duran’s Duke of Shadows, her first published novel and winner of Gather.com’s First Chapters Writing Competition.

The competition seems to be defunct, as do most of the others I’ve seen people write blog posts about in the past.

I’ve done a bit of digging to find out more about romance novel contests.

Tami Cowden has an article with tips on selling manuscripts, and she talks about knowing your goals before you enter a competition, as they can be expensive.

Charlotte Dillon has a page with loads of links you can trawl through with information about entering, and surviving, competitions.

Book Crossroads has a really helpful post with Ten Warning Signs that a Writing Content is a Loser.

Anyone know of specific writing competitions coming up that are suitable for unpublished romance novelists? Post ’em here!

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She writes again!

After a bit of fiddling around, I’ve discovered I have no problems with She Writes, a social networking site for writers, at home. The problem seems to be with my work, but the IT department blames She Writes. In the comments to my previous post, Fran Lee explained some of the techie reasons my work computer doesn’t like the site.

I’m starting to love the site, though. I’ve been able to “meet” writers in other countries and I think it’ll be a useful place to get information from writers who have been down this road before.

To everyone at She Writes, I look forward to getting involved!

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She writes, she promotes, she fails

This week I was reading an article on the Washington Post website about how authors can market themselves using cheap (or free!) online tools.

It had a link to a new social networking site called She Writes. I had a gander at it and got really excited. It seemed like it might be just the place for me to connect with other writers and, possibly, find someone who understands romance and can be a good critique buddy for me.

I signed up. And the site nearly stopped working.

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On foreignness

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband and I have been travelling around northern India for two weeks. It’s my first time being in this country, and I was really surprised by how much attention we’ve been getting just for being foreign-looking.

On our first day in Delhi, we went to the Baha’i Temple where some Indian tourists stood next to us for a photo. I thought I was in their way, so I started to move away, but an elderly woman grabbed my arm and pulled me next to her. Hubby and I posed with four older people and gave them our camera to take a picture with.

We were wondering what they’d tell their friends back home when they showed off their holiday snaps. My first thought was it would be something like, “These are some white people we saw.” Then I saw the photo and my husband, who’s 6’3, was standing next to the elderly woman, who’s certainly less than 5′, and we thought they might say, “These are some giants we saw.” The woman whose home we were staying in said they’d probably say, “Look! We met some marble statues!”

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Learn and let learn

My husband and I have been travelling around northern India for two weeks in what’s certainly one of the most exciting and thought-provoking trips I’ve ever taken.

Part of my preparation included reading  Sherry Thomas’ Not Quite a Husband and Meredith Duran’s The Duke of Shadows (by the way, they blog together at Plotters and Manipulators United, but they don’t update nearly enough. I guess that’s the peril of being published authors; you don’t have time to write other stuff). Both are set in 19th century India and are very beautifully written. As I walk around forts and hill-top palaces, their evocative scenes return to me and make the history seem more alive.

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