Author Interview: Kate SeRine

We’re excited to be a part of Kate SeRine’s GRIMM CONSEQUENCES release blog tour! And Kate, being the seriously nice person she is, agreed to give us more little known facts behind the creation and characters of her Transplanted Tales. Learning about the motivation of both the author and characters adds such a great depth and satisfied the craving Kate’s created for more of her intriguing Transplanted Tales World. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway–link at the end!

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The Transplanted Tales: Behind the Scenes

I’ve shared a little behind-the-scenes info about my Transplanted Tales series here and there over the last couple of years, but because Melissa and Jennifer asked so nicely, I decided to divulge a little more.

1)     I’ve mentioned a few times that I hadn’t originally intended Tess “Red” Little to end up with Nate Grimm. What I haven’t said is that I’d planned for him and Trish to end up together. But they’re both better off where they are. 😉

2)     Aside from having a few key scenes in my head when I start, I don’t plan out my stories—not ever. I like to write as if I’m watching the plot unfold as a reader would.

3)     Nate Grimm was inspired by Humphrey Bogart’s characters in Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, and by my husband, who is a consulting investigator with local law enforcement.

4)     The flirty banter between Nate and Tess is drawn from my relationship with my husband. A couple of our exchanges actually appear in the novel. 😉

5)     The Refuge, a haven for wayward Tales looking for a new start, is very loosely based on the small town where I lived as a child (except there were no Tales there…that I’m aware of).

6)     Many of Old Mama Hubbard’s little sayings in The Better to See You are things my late grandmother used to say. This was my way of preserving her words forever.

7)     Bob “Old King” Cole, proprietor of the Tale pub Ever Afters, is based on my friend and mentor, Marshall “Greg” Gregory. Sadly, my dear friend was very ill when RED released and passed away not long after. He never had the chance to read the book.

8)     RED was the sixth full-length novel I’d completed at the time it was written, but was the first I’d attempted to publish.

9)     Trish Muffet’s ringlets are based on those of my youngest sister. My adorable baby sis has the cutest hair EVER. But, of course, she hates it.

10)  In Grimm Consequences, the villain Demetrius was inspired by actor Andrew Scott. You Sherlock fans would know him as Sherlock’s nemesis, Moriarty. He can pull off seriously freaking crazy like nobody’s business.

moriartyfromkate

 

GRIMM CONSEQUENCES release day April 17!

Grimm Consequences. Transplanted Tales #1.5

You reap what you sow…

Saying Nate Grimm has a dark past is an understatement. Fortunately, no one’s bothered to look too closely at the Fairytale Management Authority’s lead detective and part-time Reaper. And that’s the way Nate wants to keep it. For after centuries of torment and loneliness, he’s finally found happiness with the hot and hard-charging love of his life, Tess “Red” Little.

Of course, his love for Tess is the reason there’s a posse of Reaper judges after him, led by a sadistic bastard acquainted with Nate from once upon a time. Now, Tess will pay the price for Nate’s transgressions unless Nate severs his ties to the transplanted Tales–and Tess–forever. His enemy has the advantage in speed, malice and brutality. But the Reapers have underestimated the depth of Nate’s love and devotion. And the fury of his wrath. . .

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Why Do I Jump Genres?

Guest Post by Barbara Edwards

medium_6338763999I’m Barbara Edwards and I wish I knew more than the excuse that it has to do with the way my mind works. I do love variety in my reading and have a penchant for history. That’s why my first two full-length novels were historical romances. Another Love is set in New England and Annie’s Heart in 1972 Kansas. Although I’m familiar with both locations I needed to do a ton of research. I wanted all the details right. Funny how my interest in history had me spending more time reading than writing before I was done.

I did reveal a tendency to write dark plots. The next turn was into paranormal. I don’t think my stories are scary, but my editor does. Readers do. So I guess they are. I’m in the process of writing a Series set in a small mythical, New England town. My editor and I had a hot discussion about my first title and she won with Ancient Awakening. I still don’t ‘like’ it, but stuck with Ancient Blood and next year’s Ancient Curse. I think after that I’ll pick another lead.  If you have any suggestions let me know. Then I can argue with you.

I tried writing a humorous contemporary romance that got rejected.

And in there I wrote a contemporary romantic suspense called Rachel’s Rescue. I recently pulled it to do major rewrites. It has technical references that are dated. Wow things have changes in ten years.

Last year another well-known writer suggested writing shorter books to fill in the gap between the longer novels and keep readers aware of your name. I tried it. Let me tell you, for an author who writes 90 to 100 thousand works to drop to less than 50 thousand is hard work. And it took me longer to learn the new skill. The only reason I hung on through three rejections was because I’m stubborn as heck. Maybe I’ll go back to that funny one after all. Why not? It’s written. It does need rewrites, but I only have time. And talent. Snicker.

My short holiday romance is available now on kindle and free on from October 8th to October 12th. Journey of the Magi is available here:  http://amzn.com/B00ES5DZEQ  I hope you take a free download.

I did start another short holiday romance, hoping to have it come out next year, but I may get side-tracked by another genre. A paranormal romance is already in the works with another werewolf. I’m not promising anything.

About the Author

  • Caribbean 12-23-2012 026I’m Barbara Edwards and a native New Englander. I’m a graduate of the University of Hartford with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. I write poetry for myself and novels when I need to tell a longer tale. I’m fascinated by the past so naturally turned to writing historical romance. The dark paranormal stories evolve from nightmares. The romance comes from my belief in people’s basic goodness and longing for love.
  • I lived in Florida for several years and am past president of the Central Florida Romance Writers and a member of Romance Writers of America.
  • When I returned to Connecticut, I founded the Charter Oak Romance Writers, a Chapter of Romance Writers of America, along with several close friends.
  • My husband is a retired Police Sergeant. We share an interest Civil War re-enacting and travel the Eastern states to participate in events. I love visiting museums, galleries and battle sites, gathering information for my stories.
  • I taught Romance Writing at Manchester Community college for three years.
  • I’m fond of gardening and growing antique roses with limited success.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.

Blog   Website   Facebook  Twitter  Amazon Author’s Page  GoodReads  Shelfari   LinkedIn   LibraryThing  Facebook like page  Google+

 
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Read What You Love, Love What You Read (And Write)

Guest Post by Gloria Marlow

medium_8468101322I have a confession. My reading material is far from lofty. It always has been, and I would hazard a guess it always will be. I haven’t read most of the books considered “classics” and most certainly can’t discuss the ones I did read when I was in high school decades ago.

You see, in high school, I was quite busy devouring books by my favorite authors. Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Mary Stewart to name a few. I didn’t really have the time or interest to read Orwell, Salinger and Bradbury.

For many years after becoming an adult, I was rather ashamed of this fact. I wondered if I could really be a writer if I hadn’t at least attempted to read Hemmingway or Melville. After all, how could I possibly know anything about writing if I had never finished a book by those considered “masters of the craft”?

Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about the classics I did read. The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, Ethan Frome, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca (and du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn), The Great Gatsby, the plays of Shakespeare and some Dickens.

What I’ve come to realize is that all the required books I read had one thing in common with the books I chose to read on my own. Romance. Whether reading it or writing it, I love romance.

Judging from my reading list, I particularly love gothic romance. I love it when the dark brooding hero, innocent heroine, house filled with secrets and peril, and some hint of the paranormal come together to transport me to another place and time.

That leads me to another confession. My reasons for reading and writing aren’t any loftier than the books I choose.

I read to be transported, to become someone different, somewhere else, at some other time for just a little while. I write hoping to do the same for some other reader out there. A teenager, a housewife, a harried secretary reading on her lunch break, people just like me, who might not know much about the “masters” but know about their favorite authors.

One of the first pieces of advice we writers get is “write what you know”. I would add “read what you love”.  Know the kinds of books you read. Write the kinds of books you love.  If you write what you read, you’ll love what you write.

About The Author:

Gloria Davidson Marlow is the author of several romantic suspense novels, including Sweet Sacrifices and soon-to-be-released When Swallows Fall. She resides in Northeast Florida with her husband, works as a paralegal at a local law firm, and spends as much time as possible with her three grandsons. Visit her blog or her website to learn more. You can also follow her on Twitter.
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On Writing: For Novels and for Screen

Guest Post by Sandra Perez Gluschankoff: Is it a movie or a book?

screenwriting tipsBeginning, end, middle. Set up, confrontation, resolution. Act one, act two, act three. Any which way these three examples are presented they define the structure of a story.  But what kind of story do they tell? Take your pick. A juicy gossip shared by friends over some elaborated and overpriced coffee drinks. Michael Angelo’s frescoes on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. A movie. A novel.

I wouldn’t know what to do with a brush, so I will not get into the artistic painting process. I would never admit in public of enjoying every once in a while a good piece of gossip. But, I would definitely get into the two storytelling forms I’m very familiar with: Screenwriting and novel writing.

Even though both writing forms can tell the same story; they are both driven by fear of death or loss, and the main character’s journey to attain redemption or validation of his or her existence, they do it differently.

How many times have we gone to the movies to experience a book we loved on the big screen only to walk away unfulfilled? It has happened to me and the reasons are simple. Screenwriting is subjected to rules that limit the characters’ abilities to cocoon themselves into the many feelings and thoughts that cannot be spoken or showed. Audiences are not mind readers.  A movie plagued with voice over narration becomes tedious, and too many flashbacks intended to show a character’s backstory only succeeds in confusing the moviegoer.  A screenplay must have a beginning, middle and end, filled with subplots, and it must maintain a balance of show and tell, of dialog and narrative. Pages and pages of narrative are translated into minutes and minutes of silent action on the screen. Pages and pages of long uninterrupted speeches turn the characters into chatterboxes.

Another important aspect to take in consideration when writing a screenplay is page count. Every page makes up for a minute of movie time, 90 pages, 90 minutes and so on and so forth. Unlike a book, which we can put down at any moment, go about our days and then pick it up again whenever we have the time, that is not the case with movies. The moviegoer’s time is precious. Screenwriters should take into account the audience’s attention span. They should treat the theater as a classroom and deliver their masterpiece in no more than 120 minutes.  Yes, there are some movies that tie the audience three hours to their seat, but that is a risky gamble done usually with highly successful adaptations of sci-fi novels.

Many of the characteristics attributed to screenwriting apply to the writing of a novel. However, in this form the writer has a different kind of freedom. Novel writing amounts to the author’s use of words aimed to create a visual image in the reader’s head. Characters can be explored deeply; the author can write their inner thoughts, describe their inner turmoil. Unlike screenwriting, the writing of a novel is not a small percentage or blueprint of the storytelling process, it is its all. A novelist owns his or her product and all of its creation without being subjected to changes necessary to appeal this or that audience, attract this or that actor. After the edits are done, a novel is ready for publication. After the edits are done, a screenplay is ready to undergo as many rewrites as necessary to satisfy the many other departments that make up for the production of a movie and the millions invested to make it happen.

Whether it is gossip, stick figures on a cave’s wall, a blog, a novel or a screenplay, we all contribute in our way to the most ancient tradition known to humankind; storytelling.

Keep the ball rolling and write!

About the Author

I was born and raised in Argentina. My mother, born in a refugee camp in Italy, my grandparents Romanians Jews, and World War Two survivors. From my father’s side the flavor of the Middle East. A mixture of the legendary traditions and art of Safed, Israel and Lebanon.

Different languages, colors and food were my everyday. So, was silence and fear. My childhood happened during the years of the dirty war, the military regime. I was extremely fortunate to have the best teachers, who would risk their lives by closing the classrooms doors and hush to us the truth of what was happening out there.

While my academic background is in psychoanalysis (a Freudian girl, gotta love the divan!), anthropology, Judaic studies, and Hebrew teaching, my interest turned to writing. I have written six feature screenplays, one original T.V pilot, and a reality show concept. My thriller “Voices From The Tomato Fields,” placed as a semifinalist in the Write Movies International Screenplay Contest in 2004, and placed in the top one hundred in Project Greenlight the same year.

For three consecutive years, I served as a Judge for the Brass Brad Screenwriting Mentorship Award and in 2012 I was honored to be part of the judging panel for the U.C.S.B. Student Screenwriting Competition.

A couple of years before writing my first novel The Last Fernandez, I kept busy as a freelance writer and script consultant.

Follow me: Twitter | Website | Amazon

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Guest Post: Marketing Doohickeys

More Marketing Tips for Authors

author marketing tipsA librarian told me that writing the book is half the work; selling it makes up the other 50%. As a writer, how can you stand out in a world of other books? Try these personalized marketing tricks:

QR code.

Traditional marketing plans involve making postcards and bookmarks with your cover image and book information on them. (I’ve also heard of bracelets, necklaces, shirts, and cookies used for swag.) One way to make the bland postcard or bookmark more alluring (and to tie in new technology) is to use a QR code.

QR codes are those black and white fuzzy squares now appearing on posters, newsletters, and even cereal boxes. When somebody scans them with their smartphone, the code takes them to a web URL you set (the publisher’s site, the author website, Amazon.com, or even a secret download—like an extra short story).

There are free QR code generators, like http://www.free-qr-code.net/ or http://goqr.me/. Some printing companies like MOO.com offer the service when creating promotional materials. Sites like https://bitly.com/ can also track who’s been clicking on your code (but you have to sign up for a free account).

Customized goodies.

Giveaways are quite popular. Sometimes the prizes involve something monetary, like a Barnes and Noble gift card. One way to spark more interest, though, is to make a book-themed basket. Is your story set in the classic Hollywood era? Maybe a set of black and white films will entice potential readers.

Character-themed goodies also work. Silk, one of the main characters in my debut novel, has emotional memories tied to cherry blossoms. These flowers adorn the prizes in my gift giveaways.

author marketing tips

Autographed copies.

People enjoy getting free copies of your book. When you add a signature, though, it adds a sense of specialness to the receiver. Make sure to personalize the inscription to best reflect the reader. An inscribed copy is a way for people to show off their uniqueness and ensure that they’ll keep the copy in their library.

Which idea did you like? How have you made marketing more interesting and specific to your book?  

About the Author

Jennifer J. Chow, an Asian-American writer, holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Master’s in Social Welfare from UCLA. Her geriatric work experience has informed her stories.  She lives near Los Angeles, California.

Her fiction has appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, IdeaGems Magazine, and Mouse Tales Press.  Her Taiwanese-American novel, The 228 Legacy, made it to the second round of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and was published by Martin Sisters Publishing in July 2013.
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On Writing: GMC

No, not the automaker. Goal, Motivation, Conflict

Guest Post by Melissa Snark

medium_567207975Articles on the craft of writing are challenging. So much has already been said, yet very few books really stand out as invaluable writing tools. Today, I want to talk about a book that I have found particularly valuable.

GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon offers a roadmap for getting from the opening chapter all of the way to the conclusion. The book explains in clear, concise language how to create believable characters and story occurrences, and then how to sustain momentum through a series of plot twists. She uses popular movies such as The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca to illustrate her points.

Prior to reading GMC, I had already employed many of the principles in the book in my writing, but the guide really gave me the terms and definitions necessary for applying a practical process to good storytelling.

Instead of talking about the book in length, I’ll define GMC and outline how Dixon’s process works in broad strokes. Then I’m going to use a scene from my own book to demonstrate how I incorporated her GMC model into my story.

Goal, motivation and conflict are the basis of everything that happens in the author’s fictional world.

Goal—desire, want, need, ambition, purpose

Motivation—drive, backstory, impetus, incentive

Conflict—trouble, tension, friction, villain, roadblock   (GMC p. 2)

Remember the five Ws from grade school? Who, What, Where, When, Why?

Where and When are setting. Place and time. Easy peasy.

Who is your character. Not a question. Know who your character is and what you character wants. After all, it’s her story.

So now we’re left with What and Why.

Your reader wants to become involved in the character’s goal to achieve a specific goal. The reader wants to understand why your character is motivated to achieve that goal. And the reader wants to “worry” about whether or not the character can achieve that goal. Conflict creates the worry. (GMC p.9)

Ah, so now there’s an added element. Not only Why but Why Not.

Who = character

What = goal

Why = motivation

Why Not = conflict (GMC p.10)

Remember what I said about your character wanting something? Well, to have an interesting story, characters should want what they don’t have. This desire, want, ambition, or purpose is the character’s GOAL.  Per Dixon, the best goals are both urgent and important, and not always achievable.

As Kurt Vonnegut says in his 8 Rules of Creative Writing:

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

The following in an excerpt from my paranormal werewolf novel, Hunger Moon.

“Look how hard you struggled with a wolf’s strength to travel across a few hundred feet of chest-deep snow. Imagine how long it would have taken your mother. Think about how fast you move compared to a human.”

He stared in silence and then made grim reply. “You’re saying that both murders should have happened beside the pool.”

Victoria nodded and released his arm. He remained seated on the ground. “Your mother wasn’t killed by a berserker wolf. She was stalked and then slaughtered.”

“You don’t think I did this?” His question contained more hope than conviction. His shock ran deep, but his rage churned at the core of his being. He terrified her.

Victoria retreated from him toward the woods. “What I think is irrelevant.”

Logan surged to his feet and pursued her. “Wait. Please. I need your help.”

“I can’t help you.”

He stopped in his tracks. “What the hell are you doing here then?”

“I needed more information to form a complete picture. It’s too bad that your mother’s spirit isn’t more coherent, because I would like to help her.”

“What now?” Despair filled his beautiful eyes.

“Now?” she said. What now? What comes next?

“Yes, now.”

“Now… what I need is to take my pack and get the hell out of here before we wind up under the control of a psychotic Alpha who murdered his mate, or saddled with a damaged boy who murdered his mother. Either would be our end.”

Ah ha! We have two characters with radically different desires. Victoria’s goal is to keep her small pack of wolves safe from danger. Logan’s goal is to clear his name and find his mother’s killer. These respective goals are urgent and important, creating suspense.

Each character is motivated to obtain or achieve their goal. MOTIVATION is what drives the character to act, usually but not always in their individual best interests. Dixon advises that every character should have at least one good strong motivation.

Keep it simple. Keep it strong. Keep it focused. (GMC p.31)

Out of this combination of goal and motivation comes the driving force for your plot. Motivated characters with clearly defined goals will take action to obtain their goals.

Action is important.

Active characters will make your life much easier because action creates plot. (GMC p. 13)

Characters with goals in direct opposition to one another will create CONFLICT. Within the parameters of the GMC model, conflict is the Why Not. Every author needs to create conflict in order to advance their story’s plot.

Conflict is required in commercial fiction. (GMC p. 59)

Dixon’s quick definitions of conflict:

  1. Conflict is a struggle against someone or something in which the outcome is in doubt.
  2. Conflict is bad things happening to good people.
  3. Conflict is bad things happening to bad people.
  4. Conflict is friction, tension, opposition.
  5. Conflict is two dogs and one bone. (GMC p. 60)

Back to Victoria and Logan. Recall how they wanted different things? And desire them passionately? These opposed goals provide their motivation to act, which leads them into direct conflict with each other.

Cat fast, Logan landed on his feet and settled into a defensive stance. Victoria advanced, adopting an aggressive posture, spine stiff and head high. She expected Logan to come at her any moment, and she braced for his terrible transformation. They were close in power, but his superior size and strength allowed him a distinct advantage.

Victoria did not understand the delay; his attack should have come with the swiftness she knew he possessed. His continued failure to transform infuriated her. “Change!”

“No.”

“Change, damn you! Fight me!” She lunged at him and lashed out with her claw. She struck his right bicep and left a set of deep parallel gouges. Blood ran from the wound and fell onto the white snow.

Logan growled but controlled his beast. He smirked, taking a perverse pleasure in her towering frustration. With deft grace, he dodged her next blow. “I don’t think so.”

Her frustration peaked and she gnashed her teeth together. “Why? Why won’t you fight me?”

“Because it gives you an easy out if we kill each other. You don’t like who I am, so you resort to violence. You don’t want to hear what I have to say, so your solution is violence.”

He stopped moving and absorbed another slash to the chest. She left another set of bloody wounds over his left pectoral. “This doesn’t lessen your cowardice, Vic. It proves it.”

“Change. Now.” Victoria towered with fury. She backhanded Logan and drove him toward the edge of the lake. A shallow bluff hung over the water.

“Go on. Run away. Screw with people, and then tuck your tail and run. Run away so you don’t ever have to solve a problem or trust someone. Run away. It’s what you do best, coward.”

Pure hatred burned in his amber eyes.

The insult struck home more deadly than silver, flaying her ego to the bone. He took distinct pleasure in driving his point home and twisting the blade. Cowardice. It was too damned close to the truth. For months, she had run from everything—hunters and responsibility—to her great shame.

Howling, Victoria grabbed hold of Logan and hefted him above her head. She took three huge strides toward the edge of the bluff and heaved the wretched male high and far. If he’d never come down, it wouldn’t have been long enough for her.

Logan flew through the air and then hit the dark water below. An enormous splash served as the final punctuation on their confrontation. She watched long enough to be sure he surfaced and then she left. If Logan had been angry before, getting drenched might push him into a frenzy.

There you have it. My quick, neat recap of The GMCs—Goal, Motivation and Conflict.  If you’re interested in obtaining a more thorough explanation then Debra Dixon’s book is well worth the price. I highly recommend it.

* * * *

On Amazon for Kindle: GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon. Hard copies can currently be obtained from Gryphon Press for a much more reasonable price than those listed on Amazon.

* * * *

About the Author:

A friend asked me once how I chose my pen name. I told her the following: “Melissa, because when people mix up my first name, it’s the most common goof up. Snark, because it amuses me. A) I love the word ‘snarky’ and B) I love Lewis Carroll.”

As an individual, I’m sarcastic, stubborn and blunt to a fault. I have a strange sense of humor and I like to laugh (usually at my husband or children), but also at myself. I’m not particularly extroverted, although I do enjoy time with my family and close friends a great deal.

At the moment, I’m a stay at home mom who writes in my spare time. I’ve got a B.S. from Arizona State University in Business, and I’ve worked a variety of different jobs, including as a medical device documentation specialist, a technical writer, and an auto liability adjuster. I live in the San Francisco East Bay of Northern California with my husband, three kids, and three cats. My hobbies include roleplaying, cooking and reading.

Where to find Melissa on the Internet:

WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitterGoodreadsEmail

Amazon Author Page

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Contesting the Competition

Writing Contests and Flashes of Genius

Guest Post by Andrea Downing

 

Love’em or hate ‘em, if you’re a writer, most likely you’ve entered a writing contest at some stage of your career.  You may have done it in the pure and simple hope of getting your work in front of an agent or publisher, or you may have just wanted more feedback on your work in order to know you were going in the right direction. Perhaps you were just hoping for a win to use as promotion for your book. Whatever your reason, the value of entering could well depend on where you placed and what the judges said about your writing.

A couple of years ago I entered a writing competition and, unfortunately, came in fourth where the first three places were the finalists.  Like anyone would be, I was disappointed that, by a mere two points in this case, I had been pipped at the post.  My personal reason for entering had been to get feedback on my writing since I had undertaken to write a western historical romance which no one, but no one, in New York reads.  Therefore, I obviously looked to the three judges of this contest for some useful critique.  Two of the judges scored me at 99 and 94 out of 100 respectively, and the third—whose marks happily didn’t count as the contest only took the two highest scores­­­­— scored me a whopping 56.  After I was able to stop catching flies with my mouth hanging open, I asked myself….WHY?  Where the first two judges raved about my dialogue and said they could hear the voices of my characters, No. 3 said they sounded like the 1960s instead of the 1860s.   Whereas Nos. 1 & 2 loved the story and claimed they wanted to read more, No. 3 told me it was over-plotted and maybe I should try writing something else.  In fact, No. 3 didn’t have a single good thing to say about my opus until at the end she conceded that I had “flashes of genius!”  Not even ‘some bits were ok,’ but actual genius! Hmmm.

So, was Judge 3 having the literary equivalent of a bad hair day?  Was she simply a hard marker? Can there be such a gap between critics as to explain my results?  I looked at the marks for all 20 contestants and the nearest gap to mine was a measly 20 point differential to my 40.  Did my critic just hate “westerns?”  Or did she see something the others hadn’t? And who was right?  Can one be subjective about good writing?

When sentences are grammatically correct can ideas, imagery, voices, story be thought ‘good’ by one person and ‘bad’ by another?  Obviously, they can or critics would be out of a job. There are books—stories—you may not like while knowing they are well-written. The existence of classics and bestsellers says that there is often a general consensus of opinion.  But why (and how and when) does a difference of opinion occur?  And what is the value of all this to the entrant?

Obviously, if you enter a competition purely in the hope of winning for promotional purposes, your chances are pretty slim that you are going to reach your goal, and the same might be said about hoping to get your work in front of an agent or publisher.  You might, of course, but it’s not something you can count on.  What you can count on is getting criticism, and what you do with that criticism is entirely up to you.  I had some very good advice from a fellow writer, and it’s guidance I followed in the contests I entered following that fateful one.  I take the criticism I believe in and ignore the censure with which I don’t agree.  I go back over the manuscript with the remarks to hand and look at my work and see whether I feel the judge was right or wrong.  And—I repeat!—I ignore the rest.

In time the above manuscript became my first book, Loveland, and it has, to date, received quite decent reviews.  In fact, it’s currently a finalist as Best American Historical for a RONE Award—a competition which I did not enter but with which inclusion is purely based on having received a 5* review. Whether entering previous contests paid off, it’s difficult to say.  Or maybe those flashes of genius just flashed enough at an editor to get me in print.

 About the Author

Andrea Downing likes to say that, when she decided to leave New York, the city of her birth, she made a wrong turn and went east instead of west.   She ended up spending most of her life in the UK where she received an M.A. from the University of Keele in Staffordshire.  She married and raised a beautiful daughter and  stayed on to teach and write, living in the Derbyshire Peak District, the English Lake District, Wales and the Chiltern Hills before finally moving into London. During this time, family vacations were often on guest ranches in the American West, where she and her daughter have clocked up some 17 ranches to date. In addition, she has traveled widely throughout Europe, South America, and Africa, living briefly in Nigeria. In 2008 she returned to the city of her birth, NYC, but frequently exchanges the canyons of city streets for the wide open spaces of the West.  Her love of horses, ranches, rodeo and just about anything else western is reflected in her writing.  Loveland, a western historical romance published by The Wild Rose Press, was her first book and is a finalist for the RONE Award of Best American Historical.  Lawless Love, a story, comes out as part of The Wild Rose Press Lawmen and Outlaws’ series on Sept. 4.  Andrea is a member of Romance Writers of America and Women Writing the West.

Follow Andrea on her websiteTwitterFacebook, and purchase Lawless Love and Loveland on Amazon