Sunday, November 21, 2010

Interesting writing contest news...

And not about New Voices :)

Prior to the announcement of the New Voices Top 10, I entered Secrets & Speed Dating in the Romance Writers of Australia "High 5" competition. In this contest, you enter your first 5 pages of a novel aimed at one of the Mills & Boon category lines.

This week, I found out that my wonderful friend, Rachael Johns and the lovely Jackie Ashenden both finalled in the High 5! Awesome! Big congratulations ladies! This is a fantastic achievement as there were more than 70 entries.

But, as you may have guessed, I didn't final. I wasn't even close! 25th, to be exact :)

One of my judges adored my story (scored 100%) while the other two hated it. One even suggested it may be better suited to another publisher :)

So, this has confirmed something for me that I kind of already knew. And that is:

  • Everyone who finals in a writing contest thoroughly deserves it. Their writing must be of a very high standard and really draw in readers in order to shine amongst so many entries.
  • But - not finalling does not mean your entry is not also fantastic. Judging is such a subjective thing. Some judges mark harder than others. Some judges will think your heroine is neurotic and unlikeable :) :)
It is always a little kick in the guts when you don't do as well as you'd like in a writing contest. But just because you don't final in one contest, doesn't mean you won't do well in another. If you don't believe me, please refer to Secrets & Speed Dating :)

Anyway - I must get back to writing madly - my deadline is fast approaching!


  1. Great post Leah! I entered another one in the contest too and it came 42nd!! Same as you. One judge who loved it, one who really, really didn't like and another who just didn't rate it very highly. Contests are fun but they are not the be-all-and-end-all... unless you're the New Voices winner that is :)

  2. Great post. And good advice for a newbie. Good luck with your writing.

  3. I know how you feel! My STALI marks came back the same - a 99 and a "This is so full of holes".

    I think the part I found hardest was that I couldn't argue with some of the conceptions the judges formed - but in the end, that's telling me that my writing is at best ambiguous if it is capable of seeming that way. I think also people bring baggage with them and if they're having a bad day every minor issue is emphasised.

    To be fair, I got a lot more useful criticism from the person who thought I needed more work than from the judge who loved me!

    Better luck with the next one! :-)

  4. Well done to Rach and Jackie! And you're so right, Leah, writing is really not a sure thing, it depends so much of the reader, and how they're feeling at the time.
    :) for being such a nice writer to congratulate everyone else when you haven't had success in that comp yourself!

  5. Rach - 42nd!!! No way that something you wrote would deserve that :)

    Nas - I'm glad you liked the post :)

    Julia - I even got the "...but I loved your title!" line :) So yep, they really hated it. But you're right, some of the most useful feedback I've received has been from harsher judges.

    Sally - Haha, it's easier to be nice when I know that the M&B editors liked my entry, even if the High 5 judges didn't! Normally I have a 24 hour sook post-Contest-not-finally :)

  6. You have a deadline! Isn't that so cool?!

  7. Leah, thanks for leaving a lovely cover congratulation on my blog! Very excited to click on the link to see who you were to discover you were the New Voices winner! Loved your entry.

  8. I'm late commenting here, Leah. Thanks for the shoutout. Usually my experience with contests is similiar - I always get one judge who HATES it. I lucked in with this one though. Anyway, the judge that really matters is the editor so I wouldn't even worry about it - you've got that sorted. :-)