Shameless self-promotion alert! (It may be the last of its kind, so indulge me.)

I just learned today that the “wardrobe scene” from Goddess of the Hunt is a finalist in the MRWA “Reveal Your Inner Vixen” contest. Yay! (And no, the finalists aren’t posted yet. They said it might take a while.)

This was especially exciting, because this is a contest expressly for sexual tension scenes. And I really do love that wardrobe scene. I vividly remember the weekend I wrote it – all they were supposed to do was kiss! Heh. Jeremy had other ideas. And they were gooood ideas, I guess. I still think of that as the defining scene of my book.

Overall, I entered GOTH in 5 contests. In one, I placed just about dead last. In another, I just missed the finals cut, but I made a great networking contact. In the other three, I made the finals. No final results yet. So I can’t complain. But am I entering another contest again?

No way. Argh, the tension! I can’t take it!

What else have I learned? Assuming you have a generally decent manuscript, finaling or not finaling in contests seems largely a matter of which judges you draw. Some of my most helpful feedback has come from my harshest judges. And even when I completely tanked in the one contest, it helped me learn to deal with criticism and rejection. But–oh, the energy and time and postage I’ve spent! I’m glad I entered each one; I’m also glad I haven’t entered any more.

How about the rest of you? Has your experience with contests been positive, negative, mixed? Gotten any unexpected benefits from contest participation?

12 comments to “Vixen Revealed….”

  1. Maggie Robinson
    · September 6th, 2007 at 6:05 am · Link

    Yay, Tessa, you vixen!

    I’ve only entered one judged contest (no results yet) with a book I’d abandoned but might want to resuscitate if the opening/synopsis gets positive feedback. I’m so chicken I figured I’d gradually set myself up with something that doesn’t really “matter,” if that makes any sense…sort of toughen my hide, as it were. My two current things don’t fit conveniently into the usual genre categories (uh, how did I think they might ever get published, LOL?).

  2. terrio
    · September 6th, 2007 at 6:38 am · Link

    Congrats, Tessa! I would be on pins and needles too if I was waiting to see if I won THREE contests!

    I’ve entered one contest with the purpose of getting real feedback from educated and unbiased readers. I finished just about in the middle of the pack and the feedback was great. They got my voice, enjoyed my writing, pointed out the areas where my story needed work but said “keep writing”. That’s what I wanted to hear. I’m now working on the changes that came out of that feedback and in my mind they are making my story 100% better.

    So, I’d say, mission accomplished. Now my goal is to finish and polish the WIP by next spring so I can enter a contest or two and actually be a contender. Here’s to some of my own pins and needles. LOL!

  3. Sara Lindsey
    · September 6th, 2007 at 7:23 am · Link

    Congrats! Not that I’m surprised – the wardrobe scene is fabulous!

    Aside from the GH, I think I’m through with contests for a while. I entered three, but I always seem to get stuck with one judge who hates everything about my entry. The other two judges usually love it and make few (if any) suggestions for improvement.

    Based on my personal experience, contests haven’t been worth the time, postage and overall anxiety, but I’m sure I’ll get suckered into entering another one before too long…

  4. CM
    · September 6th, 2007 at 10:37 am · Link

    Congrats, Tessa, although it’s hardly a surprise. 🙂

    I’ve entered three contests–one which tanked, one where I finaled, and one where I haven’t heard back.

    Ostensibly, I only care about getting feedback on the partial that’s going to the GH, which I only care about because I think it’ll get me read with more care at the query stage, which I only care about because I think it’ll make it more likely that I publish.

    But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel the lure of contestitis. People send stuff on loops, and I think, “Whoa, I could enter that.”

    I always have to stop and shake myself and say, “No, CM. That’s not going to help with publication.”

  5. Alice Audrey
    · September 6th, 2007 at 11:01 am · Link


    I have found some of the feed back from contests extremely helpful, but I only entered a couple last year, not counting Avon, and likely will only enter a couple this year. Maybe.

  6. Tessa Dare
    · September 6th, 2007 at 11:11 am · Link

    Thanks, everyone, for the congratulations.

    Maggie, I think ‘toughening the hide’ may be the best thing we can get from contests. It prepares you to deal with rejection, and

    Terri, contests have also helped me learn to be receptive to feedback. I wouldn’t change my manuscript on the basis of one (or even two) contest judges’ comments – but if a pattern starts to emerge, that can be very helpful. And the encouraging comments are just that – encouraging!

    Sara – You’re the perfect example of how the luck of the draw affects contest success. Sometimes you just get that cranky judge and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    CM – I hear you on the ‘contestitis’ – it’s really easy to see how people get addicted to the thrill of entering and finaling. But you’re absolutely right that if there’s no way the contest can help us publish, there’s no reason to enter.

    AA – I think a few a year is a good idea. They do give you some motivation to keep working, too. If you enter a contest with an unfinished (or unpolished) manuscript and manage to final, it’s an incentive to get that full in shape, in case the final judge asks to see it.

  7. TiffinaC
    · September 7th, 2007 at 5:56 am · Link

    I’m entered three contests… including the vixen… I will never again enter a contest when I am in the first draft of my book, because the scene I entered..well it complete changed.

    I have yet to hear back from one contest, the other I placed third…BUT there was a huge discrepency between judges so they had to bring in another judge to determine the ‘grading’ scheme.

    I like contests, you get that unbiased feedback and I’ve learned more and more about my writing from someone else’s pov. And Sara Lindsey, go for the ones that are electronic entry, and save a little bit of money.

  8. Christina
    · September 7th, 2007 at 11:41 am · Link

    I think contests are great for unbiased feedback. I personally have only entered one. I received helpful tips etc. I don’t know if I’ll enter any more. I see the hell others go through when they get their results back, some scores seem totally unfair. I don’t think I could handle the stress waiting to find out my scores.

    By the congratulations.

  9. India Carolina
    · September 7th, 2007 at 1:23 pm · Link

    Congratulations, Eve! The wardrobe scene is beyond fabulous! I guess it’s been revealed that you have an inner vixen!

    I think making contests work for you is about just that. Make them work for you. Enter if you have a good reason (i.e. you want to catch that editor or agent’s eye; you’re looking for feedback etc.).

    Contests are one thing you can do to work toward publication. And my opinion is you should do everything you can to reach your goal. Contests can be part of a plan that includes querying agents and editors; critiquing and being critiqued; WRITING.

    Contests can derail you sometimes. But hopefully you come back stronger. Luck is a HUGE element too, so no one should get discouraged when they don’t final.

    And Eve, don’t swear off contests altogether. What about the RITA???????

  10. Lynne Simpson
    · September 10th, 2007 at 5:19 pm · Link

    I occasionally get a bad case of contestitis, myself. I hope the vaccine holds out this time. 🙂

    In every contest I’ve entered, particularly the ones where I was a finalist, I’ve always had one judge who hated my entry. I remember one who actually dug deep grooves into the paper with her red pen as she repeatedly traced over her comments, which were all caps and underlined three to four times each. The ink completely soaked through the paper, and she wasn’t writing with a fountain pen or Sharpie, either!

    Fortunately, there’s such a thing as discrepancy judging. I got to the point where I would only enter contests that had a mechanism for handling inconsistently low scores because I could see that my entry tended to fall at one extreme or the other. That’s what I get for entering a fantasy story with romantic elements in a catch-all paranormal romance category, I guess!

    Congrats to all the recent finalists, and the very best of luck to y’all in the upcoming contests.

  11. lacey kaye
    · September 12th, 2007 at 7:54 pm · Link

    Hm, I vowed TRYIV contest would be the last one for DTD. Looks like I didn’t final. So yeah, I’m with those who feel the need to write over contest.

    But HUGE congrats for you! That scene is HAWT!

  12. Tessa Dare
    · September 12th, 2007 at 10:36 pm · Link

    Wah, Lacey… I wish we were finalists together! It’s all such a luck of the draw thing. But maybe you got tougher judges who gave some helpful feedback.