Or why Craft and Story make a perfect couple.

This manuscript, originally completed in 2012, which I recently released on Amazon worked it’s way up from midfield to being highly commended in the VPA in 2017 and 2nd in the Emerald Pro in 2018. I have thanked the RWA Judges in the dedication because their feedback was invaluable to improve the MS.

I’m taking a break from sending out competition results and contemplating the emotions that will be felt by both finalists and those who didn’t make the cut this time.

I’ve been entering competitions for more than six years now, with varying results. I know the angst of coming THIS CLOSE to finalling and then the next year finishing a lack lustre mid field or lower.

I know the frustration of that ONE judge. The other two loved your work but that ONE judge marked you down far enough that the top marks of the other two couldn’t push you into the winner’s circle.

I’ve had the humiliation of a judge make the assumption that I’m a new writer just starting out when I’ve got competition wins under my belt. (That manuscript is going straight to trash)

But wait. There’s more.

The last two years I’ve been coordinating one of the RWAus competitions. I find it fascinating as I’m checking through the forms, to see the scores and the comments of a whole range of judges on a wide variety of entries. It’s taught me a lot.

Because when it comes down to it. Judging a piece of literary work is always going to be subjective.

Not that the judge who marked me down was wrong. But when they put on their judging hat, they are not necessarily looking for the same things as the other two judges.

For some people, and they may be judges, STORY will trump CRAFT every time. They figure an editor will fix those things if they are relatively minor, but a great STORY deserves to be out in the world.

For others, CRAFT is vital. They figure that no matter how good the STORY, if the CRAFT is faulty, no publisher will touch it.

They could both be right, and they could both be wrong. The fact is that editors are time poor and publishers are risk averse, so they want the full package. The drama of a half-polished manuscript that is fought over for six figure sums comes but rarely in this world.

CRAFT and STORY should be in balance. If you are getting unbalanced scores in competition, take a note of that and read the comments carefully. It will help you to know where to focus your attention. If you are getting all mediocre or low scores, try to focus on CRAFT. You can’t tell a great STORY if the reader can’t get past the first page because you need to work on those skills.

Even if you think the feedback is wrong it can be valuable. Because if you look at the feedback and try and understand why they think that, you might still learn something.

And a better manuscript, a better submission will always be the result of learning from feedback. And there is nothing wrong with that outcome.

We are a week into the New Year and somehow the holidays are fading fast. Here is an update.

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Everythings big in Texas

Real World Stuff

New Years Eve was a quiet evening. We had a couple of relatives over for a meal. Roast Pork and my famous apricot Pavlova for dessert. I did intend to stay up and watch the Midnight Fireworks at Sydney Harbour on television but everyone else went to bed and I was writing my Runaway Christmas Elf story for Wattpad and missed it.

The following day we went to Texas. Texas, Australia. It’s a small town of around 1300 people an hour or so drive west of here on the border of New South Wales. I haven’t been there for around 30 years. We had a picnic lunch and DH and my BIL took some photographs. I was interested to have a look around because I have a partial manuscript I started to write a couple of years ago for a Harlequin competition. The story is called “The Last Virgin in Texas.” I’m good with the snappy titles.

ARC Reviews

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Rabbit Processing Factory, now a museum. A good place to freeze the tale off those plot bunnies.

I’ve finished reading the ARC for the Secret Confessions: Down and Dusty set of short stories from Escape Publishing.  The set is a nice combination of Rural and Erotic Romance. Set in the very small town of Milpinyani Springs, (smaller even than Texas) the eight stories touch on the lives of eight very different women in need of some serious loving. Each one is written by a different Aussi or New Zealand author so there is considerable variety in story and style. They are all pretty warm and some of the language is explicit. I’ve done individual reviews on Goodreads for each of the stories.

Movies I’ve Seen

I took Mother Dearest and No.4 to see The Peanuts Movie this week. I always loved the Peanuts cartoon series as a child so I was interested to see what they did with it. I particularly liked Snoopy in his writing endeavours and his ongoing battle with The Red Baron. The story line basically followed a school year in the life of Charlie Brown and his friends. As an Aussi, this was kind of fascinating. There is also a touch of romance for Charlie Brown.

A dental trip gave me the opportunity to see a movie with No.7, my fourteen year old daughter. She picked Joy. I was curious to see it because it came highly recommended by movie aficionado and romance writer, Heidi Rice and her equally discerning sons. For a movie that wasn’t an action flick and wasn’t a romance, it kept me interested right to the end. No.7 thought it was pretty good too.

I also watched Need for Speed on television. It had a no-name cast apart from Michael Keating and was based on a video game but I enjoyed it. Now I want to write a road trip story.

What I’m Writing

I finished my Seasonal romance short which turned into a novella, The Runaway Christmas Elf, on Wattpad. They have a happy ending, but I’m thinking I might do a little epilogue for Ori and Holly when I have some time.

I had my first writing session for the year with local author Dakota Harrison. She’s working on some exciting projects at the moment. I’m finding it very motivating spending the time talking over progress and then getting into the writing. I spent the day getting up to speed on my Sekrit project. It’s a reunion novella with a musician hero and a nurse heroine set mostly in Brisbane. I’m around half way there so hoping to get it finished this month.

I’m still working on #Spymaster, the second in my Spy series begun with my SYTYCW15 entry. It’s nearly a month since I sent #Spymistress off to several publishers and into a competition. I know it’s a bit soon to expect to hear anything, holiday season and all, but I will admit to checking my emails extra carefully.

That’s about it for the moment. Thanks for dropping by.