EVER AFTER by Kate SeRine Release Day!

Ever After blog tour

Today is release day for book 4 in Kate SeRine’s Transplanted Tales series, EVER AFTER — Gideon’s story!

No secret we’re huge fans of Kate’s series here on FFYW, so we’re excited to share the news, the love, and Gideon’s story. We were both lucky enough to get an ARC and read, and we’ll be posting our J to tha M review on September 8, but in the meantime, follow the blog tour for reviews, Kate’s guest posts, and entries to win her giveaway! Don’t forget to enter here, too, for the chance to win the grand prize of a $50 Amazon, B&N, or BAM gift cert, signed paperback copy of EVER AFTER, Transplanted Tales swag, and 2 winners will get a Transplanted Tale ebook of their choice!

Ever After blog tour Rafflecopter giveaway!

Buy EVER AFTER at:

 

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J to tha M: What We’re Reading

Holiday Fluffclouds and a Little Rant

One Guess Who is on the Fluffcoud and Who is Ranting

medium_329408716M:  I realized we were talking about sports romance books last week, but as usual, I went off on a tangent

you are allowed to kick me back into line

as you well know

J:  nah

it turned out to be a really fun chat

any time I can rail on about DARK SECRETS is a fun time

I read Delphine Dryden’s latest last night – The Principle of Desire

cute

cute cute

M:  you liked?

J:  I did

still not as good as the first, The Theory of Attraction, but I liked a lot

M:  I’ve been plowing through a few books

most are the first in series, and most I’ll put on my list to buy more eventually

I just have to at least make a dent in what I’ve got on my Kindle carousel

J:  what I read depends so much on my mood

I have a bunch of stuff I downloaded and may never get to

because I find myself in the mood for something completely different

M:  which holiday ones did you read?

J:  Maybe my favorite was the…

oh, embarrassing

I read a LOT of Christmas ones :-\

Okay

Brenda Novak’s Take Me Home for Christmas was really good

part of the Whiskey Creek series

I’ll buy more of those

didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the previous ones, either

wasn’t afraid to push some buttons

like the hero dating someone else in the middle of the story, someone the reader can’t help but like

not the typical villainess

White Lie Christmas by Christine Bell and Riley Murphy

one of those friends-to-lovers-by-way-of-fake-engagement things but done pretty well. I liked it

cute fluffy thing

Ummm

Christmas at Copper Mountain I liked a lot

cowboy

broody

dark

sexy

lots of “dark secrets” but none that made me go “oh ffs”

it was a sweet read

and then a bunch of little shorts from Entangled that were too rushed and too fluffy to even mention by name

M:  I did read Jeanette’s When It’s Right – it’s a New Year’s Eve story

I liked. very cute

J:  oh, please tell me it’s not the usual NA

M:  it was NA-ish. they are out of college

hero has a job – a good, solid one. ummm, can’t remember what she does

J:  ohthankgod

will buy tonight

M:  the beginning took me a page or two to get into, but purely technical stuff because my editing hat was still on

nothing anyone else would probably even notice

a bunch of “it” and passive stuff. but then that even went away, and I was along for the ride

I definitely recommend, esp. if you’re looking for a short holiday story

J:  I do love them

they make me feel festive

M:  back to our sports hero kick. I read a couple

one is actually the sports sub plot one I mentioned last week – the one that made me a little ranty

dare I bring up?

J:  well, I know I’m curious

M:  The book was one of Marie Force’s Fatal Series – Fatal Mistake

I’ve heard them mentioned – suspense romance genre type – popular

and overall the book really was good – writing, plot, etc.

a very obvious riff of JR Robb’s In Death series, but I love those, so sounds good

and not so obvious it was eye rolly. She’s a police detective, homicide, he’s a super rich politician. Close enough to be noticeable, but different enough I rolled with it

but the plot was about the murder of a baseball player who missed an easy out to take the home team to the World Series

great plot, right?

J:  yeah

I’d read that

M:  and here we enter into one of those things that bug me, but other people might not even notice

that happens, you know

heh

J:  it does

M:  a lot of the conflict and tension centers around the fact the entire team, right up through management, is so pissed at the guy for missing the pop fly, they go on and on about it to outsiders. Like, totally ream him, say he deserved to die. They all sounded like raving, crazy, mob-mentality fans

and while it’s only human to think that down in the deepest part of yourself, this WOULD NEVER HAPPEN

J:  but she needed suspects

M:  and just to be sure, I asked hubs and other friends, who as you know, are actual athletes

and they were all wtf?

well, and all the crazy ranty blaming might not have been so bad, but the way the author described the game, there were other players who screwed up, too

like the pitcher, who walked the winning run

no one is mad at him?

J:  right

lazy

M:  and again, wouldn’t be so bad, but the point is hammered home again and again

and everyone goes on and on to outsiders about it

J:  she needed suspects so she made them all hate him

M:  yeah, I got that, but she could have had the same suspects without the constant hammering

I mean, from what I know of professional team athletes, when something like that happens, sure they’re pissed

but most are brooding about what they could have done better or what they did wrong to put one of their teammates in that position, where the entire game hinges on one play

that’s the team’s fault

and I still would have been okay if it was just mentioned in passing

but the entire story went on and on about it

but, I have to say, other than that, the story was pretty good

haha – I feel like that joke about Lincoln. “But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

But if you like romantic suspense, the series would be worth checking out. this book was like the fifth in the series

and the first one of the bunch I’ve read

J:  sorry it made you ragey

M:  it’s another of those that kind of amped my reaction, because I really liked it, and then…doh!

those are so darn frustrating

the other sports one I read was a hockey hero

and I liked that one, too, just a couple of minor irritations

the Hot Ice series by Lily Harlem. I read the first one  – Hired

not bad. the hockey action scenes were pretty darn good and I liked the characters

the only pulled-me-out-of-the-story things were, one, it’s obvious the writer is English

a couple phrases here and there, mostly in dialog

but she did hit one of my big peeves in hockey romances

J:  did he cry?

M:  hahahaha – no

that would have been a oh hell no and delete off my kindle – omg, you’re going to get me worked up about that story again

heh – I’m still chuckling. that was a good one

No, this was something I’ve seen in a few hockey romances and it makes me **grr** every time

so, here’s the thing. Take note. NHL players DO NOT WEAR CAGES

unless they have a face injury, maybe

watch a game, dammit

A visor, sometimes. A cage? No. Just no

and again, if it would have only been one quick mention, I would have cringed, grimaced, growled, and moved on

but she mentioned it a number of times on a number of different players

argh

but another story I’d recommend with stuff that probably bothers no one other than me

J:  well, fortunately, you write all the hockey stuff in our hockey romance

soooo

M: oh boy

J:  I have a hockey romance on my list to read

M:  which one?

J:  Breakaway. The Penalty Kill Trilogy is the series

oh, you have it marked to read, too

Goodreads is creepy sometimes

M:  I think you mentioned that one a while ago

that’s why I marked it as to-read

J:  it’s new adult

and probs has some dark secrets and assholery

but I’m gonna give it a shot

M:  Tattoos? Does he play in a band?

J:  probably

all of the above

M:  I read a NA one, another start of a series. It was okay/pretty good. I liked the voice and the writing

1st person and changed POV just about every chapter, which I usually find annoying

Not much real plot or conflict, or a lot of character development, tbh

but despite all that, I read it all the way through and am interested in reading the series

I get the feeling this one might be the set up for the others. maybe they have more development

JA Huss – Tragic. The Rook and Ronin series

I know nothing about modeling or photography, but I kept reading

J:  you kind of made it sound terrible. heh

M:  It wasn’t, though. One of those I don’t know why I liked it, but I did

J:  no plot

wandering POV

no character development

M:  I know. I was about halfway through and was like, wait. where’s the conflict? where is this going? why do I care?

and then, shrug, and kept reading

J:  that’s almost a talent in itself

to write a whole book without those vital things and make people still want to read it

M:  it was the voice, I think. did pull me in

J:  I’m amused

M:  and dark secrets without being DARK SECRETS!

borderline, but I was okay with it

and if you’re into historicals, I read the first in the Devil DeVere series by Victoria Vane

A Wild Night’s Bride

insta love and marriage between a noble and an actress, which would be totally impossible, but there you go

I enjoyed. A fun romp

J:  have to be in the mood for historicals

haven’t been in a while

M:  it was cute. not very long

J:  how historic?

M:  Dunno. Honestly, I never pay attention to the period – I know, I know. Historical lovers would probably throw tomatoes at me

um, maybe Regency or Victorian?

oh, wait, it has Prince George in it

if they go to balls, wear big dresses, and ride in carriages, to me, it’s historical.

*nods*

J:  fair enough

M:  when you say fair enough that usually means “get off the crazy train, M”

J:  nope

that’s not always what I mean

in this case, I mean, that’s all I’d know about historical

M:  haha – not always. You’re a funny guy (sorry, Goodfellas reference)

not “always” what you mean

love you

J:  heh

love you, too

M:  Taking a swan dive off the fluffcloud

brb

photo credit: Mollivan Jon via photopin cc

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.
photo credit:

Book Review: Sweet Sacrifices by Gloria Davidson Marlow

Guest Review by Kerry A. Hartjen

Sweet Sacrifices Is a Sweet Read

Sweet Sacrifices by Gloria Davidson MarlowDon’t you just love it when a book surprises you?

Sometimes the surprises begin with the first line, but sadly, they end there as well. Other times, the surprises just keep coming from cover to cover, and keep the reader guessing what will happen next.

Gloria Davidson Marlow’s “Sweet Sacrifices” belongs, I am happy to say, in the second group. A tale of love requited and unrequited, of mysteries and intrigues, and of layers and layers of family secrets, it kept me not only interested but entertained throughout.

“Sweet Sacrifices” is, at its core, the story of a poor, beautiful young teacher who falls in love with a handsome stranger, believes that she has married him, becomes pregnant, is betrayed by him, and is then coerced into marrying his brother in order to insure that her infant son has a better life, and a better father, than she did.

Oh — and it also turns out the man she thought she had married, as well as his entire family — are enormously rich. And loaded with family skeletons in a variety of closets.

Admittedly, that is a gross oversimplification of the story. But should you decide to read this book (and I really think you should, especially if you like romantic suspense novels), I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.

Ms. Marlow has populated her novel with a cast of characters that seem to grow in depth and believability the more we get to know them. There are heroes and there are villains, of course. But the author rises above the mundane and predictable by giving her characters multi-dimensional personalities. She elevates them from the world of the cardboard stereotypes that populate the books of many less talented writers, into the realm of believable, individual people.

Another pleasant surprise for me was that “Sweet Sacrifices” has an almost gothic feel to it. There is a sense of oppression, of captivity and isolation that is so much a part of gothic literature. There is also the hint, and even the reality, of madness. Things are not as they appear. People may — or may not be — who or what they seem to be. Danger and betrayal lie around every corner, and the danger keeps growing.

That is another thing I enjoyed about this book: the way that the story kept developing, and how just when I thought I had it figured out, the author would throw in a clever twist, some new bit of information that spun the plot in an unforeseen direction. And her plot twists are not just random devices tossed in as a gimmick to hold the reader’s interest. Once they have been revealed, they make perfect sense and fit seamlessly into the storyline.

I love it when a book comes along and surprises me. When it leads me on a winding path filled with growing suspense and increasing tension from page to page, and pays off with dividends in the end, I love it even more.

“Sweet Sacrifices” did all that, and did it very well.

***

“Sweet Sacrifices” is available directly from the publisher at:

www.TheWildRosePress.com

Sweet Sacrifice by Gloria Davidson Marlow

About the Author

Gloria Davidson Marlow is the author of several romantic suspense novels. 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.

About the Reviewer

Kerry Hartjen is a former magician/clown/actor and an award-winning writer. He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, a former member of the Dramatists Guild of America, West, and a graduate of The Hollywood Scriptwriting Institute. His poem “Homecoming” has just been published in the fourth issue of the online literary journal, HelloHorror.com. Kerry currently lives on a small island midway between Seattle, WA, Vancouver, B.C., and Victoria, B.C. with his wife and their cat, Max. His blog can be found at: www.raviolithewriter.com .

J to tha M: What We’re Reading

Too Much (or Not Enough) of a Good Thing?

medium_5795161232J:  I’m trying to think of the stuff I’ve read lately

My nerd kick led me to Nerd in Shining Armor

ehhhhh

and Love Kinection

better than ehhhh but still not everything I ever dreamed of

I should actually say Shining Armor was cute

but not what I expected

and the author of Love Kinection took too much pride in the nerdiness, but the story was pretty cute

M:  Oh yeah? I like the titles

J:  It was just a big dump of the geekiest things the author could think of

like she polled people for ideas and then threw them all in there

pop culture references galore

you know how I feel about those

besides dating a book…

I mean, there was Buffy, Star Wars, Star Trek,

stuff I’ve never heard of, comic books, nintendo, nerdy references that only nerds get, joss whedon, conventions. it never ended

that was Love Kinection

cute story. cute hero

too much nerd

M:  it’s a fine balance, like the alpha bad boy/alphahole. Too much is sometimes…too much.

J:  yeah. I would have loved the story otherwise

and the Nerd in Shining Armor was like “what else can we get these guys into?”

psychic brother, psychotic boss, heroine from the hills of Tennessee (little offensive there, too, though I know there are people like that here), color blind hero, set in Hawaii, plane crash, overprotective mother

the hero was adorable, just as I’d hoped

and adoring, like the shy guys are

but I sighed a lot

M:  I finished the Alpha Bad Boys 7 book pack – 99 cents when I bought

I liked the Olivia Cunning stories, I’d read her again

and Shayla Black’s story was good. Worth buying for those three stories alone

Started out good with those, but the rest I pretty much skimmed through

like, major skim

J:  assholes instead of alphas?

M:  snoozeholes

J:  hahahahaha

M:  the stories from the third one on did not hold my interest

not so much alpha or enticing

I mean, I was expecting some serious, bordering-on-alphahole heroes, and none of them really were

I was a bit disappointed. Maybe my idea of alpha bad boys differs, though, so…

J:  I can’t handle alphaholes

M:  I like a certain amount of arrogant alpha

as long as they have a good heart

these weren’t heroes I’d pull together specifically for a collection of that title, but that’s me

and there is a difference between an alpha bad boy and an alphahole

so there’s that

but these were just…romance heroes

and not that they weren’t good heroes, but just not what I get excited about when I think of alpha bad boys

J:  I feel like I’ve read more than just the geek ones lately…hmmm

M:  I read a couple of Entangled Brazen that were/are on sale to celebrate their birthday

all were pretty good

Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson – football player hero marriage for convenience/bolster his reputation. I’ve read a few by her lately and they’ve all been pretty good

Officer Off Limits by Tessa Bailey – hostage negotiator hero who falls for his boss’s daughter, forbidden romance angle. I’d read more of her stuff

I started One Night with a Hero by Laura Kaye, military hero one night stand turns into next door neighbor and related complications

only a little ways in, but so far so good. I’ve read a few of hers before, too, and they’re all  solid good-old sexy romance.

J:  Ooh, an Entangled one comes out today about a geek

must go buy

M:  read a couple m/m that were free and pleasant surprises

Reaching the Edge by LM Somerton. On sale for 80 cents

and Yes, Sir – a free short erotic novella that was pretty steamy and decent. I’d read more from both of them.

I read a couple of Skye Warren books, too

they were solid, but very different subject material. dubious consent, non-consent, that very dark side of erotica. Definitely not for everybody.

J:  holy crap. when do you read?

has it been that long since we chatted about books?

M:  I’ve read a ton. the past couple of weeks have been hella stressful and distracting

so I read if I can’t write

the one click ordering is so dangerous

J:  I agree with that. I ration myself

hahaha

not myself. my books. my money

or I’d never do anything

M:  I tried, but fell into the purposeful delusion of “oh, it’s on sale. That doesn’t count.”

and wheee

I can find lots of good books on sale

but I do have a new house and lots of fun remodeling to pay for soon, so…

budgeting sucks

but then, “it’s only 99 cents. What’s 99 cents?”

times fifty

J:  it’s a lot if you buy one a day

exactly

M:  I figure I’m doing good with one a day

I mean, I don’t buy coffees or anything. No Starbucks on the island.

right? heh

J:  that’s how I justify my pedicures

lol

I don’t buy handbags or shoes, so….

M:  yeah, those aren’t my crack

Buying books? Oh, yeah.

Speaking of which…

brb

photo credit: Domiriel via photopin cc

J to tha M: Fangirling on Kate SeRine

Sharing a Big Announcement from a Fave Author

kate serineM: Kate SeRine, one of our new favorite authors, had a super fun announcement this week

and we can feel pretty smug because we kind of chatted/stumbled into/guessed earlier

even though I’m just fangirl excited more than smug

J:  GIDEON!

sorry.

I was overwhelmed

M:  haha – yes!

J:  I’m jumping up and down

and I’m so so happy that we can tell people

M:  Kate SeRine is continuing her Transplanted Tales series

and Gideon is next!

J:  But seriously

for everyone to understand our excitement about Gideon,

they need to read the first three – Red, The Better To See You, and Along Came A Spider

We’ll be talking more about the new one–Spider–next week. Release date Aug 1!

M:  They need to read the first three, period

J:  Because, well, this guy–Gideon–is super hot.

She’s made him so with the least amount of words possible

which is such talent

M:  She’s kind of super talented that way

haha – there we go

on the same page again

J:  Let’s just recap the hotness, shall we?

I mean, we met Nate right away

hot

but she also introduced Seth with such few words

but we still COULD NOT WAIT to meet him in the next one

and then there were the little mentions of Nicky Blue

where he sounded so, so cute, but really steaming hot at the

same time

like a hotter Sinatra

way hotter

and I, for one, couldn’t wait to read his story, just from the few words here and there about him

M:  more like Brando

J:  How does she DO that?

oh, yes. Brando. I’m on it.

M:  I know. Each hero she writes is all swoonified

J:  but I’ve never been so excited about one

even as excited as I was about those heroes

she’s just made Gideon this AMAZING character with so few mentions.

and I already want one.

WANT.

M:  I’m like – Nate’s my favorite kind of hero. Oooh, Seth is. No wait, Nicky. Yes. Nicky. But

wait, Gideon.

She manages to hit all the buttons

all of them

and not just the hero buttons

J:  And I can’t wait to see his actual spot in the Fairy Tale lore

oh, talk buttons

then we’ll discuss his possible character

M:  She hits the heroine buttons, too. And story. And plot. And

characterization. And suspense. Fun. Mystery, worldbuilding. Cleverness.

I have so much love for her writing

just perfect escapism

J:  exactly

so

my guess on Gideon is that he’s more than he’s appeared to be so far

It would be hard to write a whole book about a peripheral character

so I’m wondering if she’s going to bust out some secret fairy tale

M:  or literary character

J:  the frog prince?

M:  or maybe the heroine is a Tale?

whatever it is, I’m looking forward to the unexpected and clever

J:  I’m sure it will be so amazing

who could the heroine be?

who’ve we met so far?

maybe Cindy gets her real Prince Charming?

M:  ooh, I did think Cindy needed a good story and turnaround

or the DA – Mary Contrary

the snarky one

there’s a story there, I think

maybe we can convince Kate to tell or give a hint

J:  I’m for that. gentle persuasion. blackmail. whatever it takes

M:  exactly. we must know so we can discuss and contemplate

and then before we get Gideon’s story, we get more of Nate and Red

Grimm Consequences – a short about the trials and tribulations that were hinted at in the last two books

like a extra little bonus to tide us over while we wait. I think that one will be released February 2014.

J:  siiiiigh

Nate

Look, I really loved Nicky and Seth

But there’s still something about Nate

and the depth of his devotion

he loved the longest

it wasn’t a “hey, she’s cute”

he loved her for years and bided his time

and that…

well, aside from the slight stalker angle

is just so effing sweet

when he told his story, I was just tied up inside

all breathless and near tears.

just unf

M:  Nate was my favorite

But Seth was sooo sexy

and I loved Nicky Blue

J:  oh yes

M:  sigh. Nicky…

J:  they’re all amazing for various reasons

M:  I have such serious sexy fun love for this series

I rec to everyone, and I haven’t heard anyone who has been disappointed

J:  I need everyone to read it

M:  Kate’s giving away a copy of one of the first three Transplanted tales novels–winner’s choice.

J:  wonder if we’re allowed to win. I wouldn’t mind something with her signature on it

M:  yes, a signed paper copy of RED and swag!

We all must enter.

J:  I WANT SWAG

Is it a rafflecopter?

M:  plus, on top of all the talented awesomeness, Kate’s a super nice person.

yes, a rafflecopter entry through the end of the week

enter, enter!

J:  you got it. I’m going to enter rtfn

brb

a Rafflecopter giveaway

photo credit: Alex Dram via photopin cc

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