Friday, August 1, 2014

August Contest Update

The sunflowers are blooming and it's time for the August Contest Update.

What are your contest plans this month? There is an outstanding contest line up listed. YOU SHOULD BE CONTESTING!

Comment on today's post and we'll automatically put your name in the jar for a chance to win a copy of any Seeker book currently available or available for pre-order on Amazon- for Kindle or in print. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

CONTESTS: This month we have combined categories as there are no current contests for published authors only. Red type indicates contests are open to published and unpublished authors.

The Phoenix Rattler is Open For Entries August 1-29th. Hosted by the Christian Writers of the West.  YOU COULD WIN A KINDLE FIRE HD!! Entry consists of the first 15 pages of your manuscript.YOU CAN DO 15 PAGES!!!

Contemporary (includes Contemporary, Women's, Romance) Michelle Grawkowski Agent, 3 Seas Literary Agency 

Historical (before 1960, includes Historical Romance) Susan Brower Natasha Kern Literary Agency 

Suspense, Romantic Suspense/Mystery Elizabeth Mazer Editor, Harlequin Love Inspired 

Young Adult (for under 18) Rachel Kent Agent, Books & Such Literary Management 

Fantasy/Science Fiction/Speculative Steve Laube President, The Steve Laube Literary Agency & Editor, Enclave Publishing  

 Show Me the Spark! Entry Period:  August 1, 2014 - August 31, 2014, midnight CST  
 Published and unpublished authors. Work must not be contracted in any form. If Work becomes contracted before October 1, 2014, entrant must withdraw Work. Entrants do not need to be members of RWA. First Chapter (including prologue); maximum of 3,500 words. 

  Contemporary   Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
  Erotic Romance   Leis Pederson, Berkley Publishing
  Historical   Julie Mianecki, Berkley Publishing
  Inspirational   Raela Schoenherr, Bethany House Publishing
  Paranormal / Fantasy / Sci-Fi   Dana Hamilton, Harlequin
  Romantic Suspense   TBA
  Young Adult / New Adult   Nicole Resciniti, Seymour Agency  

 Golden Palm. Deadline August 15. Entry consists of the first 25 pages.  

 Categories and Final Round Judges:

Contemporary Category:

Editor:Leah Hultenschmidt, Grand Central Publishing

Agent: Beth Campbell, Bookends

Editor: Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks

Historical Category:

Editor:  Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks

Agent: Jordy Alberts, Booker Alberts Literary Agency

Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency

Young Adult/New Adult Category:

Editor: Lauren Smulski, Harlequin Teen

Agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency

Agent: Laura Zats, Red Sofa Literary Agency

Paranormal Category:

Editor:  Peter Senftleben, Kensington Publishing

Agent: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates

Editor: Angela James, Carina Press

Golden Pen. Deadline August 15. Open to writers who have not accepted a publishing offer for a work of original fictional narrative prose of 20,000 words or more by August 15, 2014. Entrant must retain all rights to the entry and not have granted any of them to a publisher or any other party prior to or by August 15, 2014. 

Entry consists of a synopsis (not to exceed ten pages) plus the first consecutive pages of the manuscript in one document, together totaling not more than 55 pages.
 Contemporary Single Title Romance – Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks
 Inspirational Romance – Giselle Regus, Love Inspired
Paranormal Romance –  Leis Pederson, Berkley
 Romantic Suspense – Elizabeth Poteet, St. Martin’s Press
 Series Romance – Susan Litman, Harlequin
Historical Romance – Susan Grimshaw, Loveswept
 Young Adult Romance – Annette Pollert, Sourcebooks
Erotic Romance (New Category!) – Katherine Pelz, Berkley.

 Unpublished Beacon. Deadline August 31st. Opens August 1. Limited to the first 125 entries. Open to all authors of romantic fiction. Published authors are eligible to enter any category in which they have not been contracted and/or published in book length fiction (40,000 words and over) in the last 3 years.  (Self-published authors are considered published.)Entry: First 25 pages of the manuscript. The entrant may also include an optional 5 page synopsis for a maximum of 30 pages. (Synopsis will not be judged.)

Category Length Romance
 Agent: Laurie McLean–Foreward Literary Agency
 Editor: Allison Lyons–Harlequin

Contemporary  Romance
 Agent:   Rebecca Strauss–De Fiore & Co. Literary Agency
 Editor:  Elizabeth Poteet–St. Martin’s Press

Erotic Romance
 Agent:  Courtney Miller-Callihan–Sandford J. Greenburger & Associates
 Editor:  Leis Pederson–Penguin Random House

Historical Romance
 Agent: Beth Miller–Writers House Literary Agency
 Editor: Madeleine Colavita–Grand Central Publishing

Inspirational Romance
 Agent: Melissa Jeglinski–The Knight Agency
 Editor: Shana Asaro–Harlequin Love Inspired

Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic Romance
 Agent: Marisa Corsiviero–Cosiverio LIterary Agency
 Editor: Candace Havens–Entangled Publishing

Romantic Elements
 Agent: Nalini Akolekar–Spencerhill Associates
 Editor: Char Chaffin–Soulmate Publishing

Romantic Suspense
 Agent: Andrea Somberg–Harvey Klinger Agency
 Editor: Chesley Emmelhainz–Harper Collins

Young Adult Romance
 Agent: Michelle Grajkowski–3Seas Literary Agency
 Editor: Rebecca Kilman–Razorbill/Penguin Group

Joyce Henderson Contest. Deadline September 1.
Entry consists of the  first 20 pages of an unpublished manuscript featuring romantic elements, INCLUDING a brief synopsis (up to one page, single-spaced). Synopsis will not be judged.

Contemporary (including Romantic Suspense & Women’s Fiction):
 Sue Grimshaw, Random House

 Laura Fazio, Penguin

Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy:
 Mary Altman, Sourcebooks

Young Adult:
 Aubrey Poole, Sourcebooks

 Hot Prospects Contest is Now Open. Deadline September 1. Entry consists of first 25 pages and a 3-5 page synopsis. 
 Single Title Contemporary-
•Editor – Sue Grimshaw, Random House
•Assistant Editor – Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks, Inc

Romantic Suspense-
•Editor – Associate Editor- Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing
•Editor -Tera Cuskaden, Samhain

•Senior Editor – Esi Sogah, Kensington

•Editor – Editorial Assistant –Kristine Swartz, The Berkley Publishing Group


 Gateway to the Best. Deadline September 5. Entry: submit up to the first 7000 words (approx 25-28 pages) of manuscript.

Contemporary Series AND Single Title/Mainstream Romance
Editor:  Latoya Smith - Grand Central
Agent:  Nicole Rescenti - The Seymour Agency

Editor:  Kathyrn Pelz - Berkley
Agent:   Jessica Watterson - Sandra Dijkstra

Editor:  Kerri Buckley - Carina
Agent:  Jim McCarthy - Dystel & Goderich Literary Management

Editor: Patience Bloom - Harlequin
Agent: Mary Sue Seymour - The Seymour Agency

Young Adult
Editor: TBA
Agent:  Michelle Grajkowski - 3 Seas Literary Agency

The Stiletto Contest for Unpublished Contemporary Romantic Fiction. Deadline September 5. Entry consists of the  first 25 pages. All authors, regardless of publishing status, are welcome to enter this contest. All authors must be at least 18 years of age.Submitted manuscripts must be new, original works of fiction that have not been published, self-published, or contracted to be published.

 Single Title Contemporary Romance (70,000 words and up)
Final Judge: Amanda Bergeron, Editor, Avon Romance

Single Title Contemporary Erotic Romance (70,000 words and up)
Final Judge: Christa Desir, Editor, Samhain Publishing

Short Contemporary Romance (40,000 – 70,000 words)
Final Judge: Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Editorial Director of Indulgence, Entangled

Contemporary Novel with Strong Romantic Elements (60,000 words and up)
Final Judge: Allison Carroll, Editor, Harlequin HQN

Young Adult Contemporary Romance (50,000 words and up)*
 Final Judge: Margo Lipschultz, Editor, Harlequin Teen

Young Adult Contemporary Novel with Romantic Elements (50,000 words and up)*
 Final Judge: Elizabeth Poteet, Assistant Editor, St. Martin’s Press

New Adult Contemporary Romance (70,000 words and up)
 Final Judge: Nicole Fischer, Editor, William Morrow Books

*The Stiletto Contest reserves the right to combine these categories if less than 10 entries per category are entered.

Melody of Love Contest.  Deadline  September 7.  Eligibility: published and non-published. Entry consists of the first chapter (up to 25 pages) of unpublished novel-length manuscript (40,000+) including prologue, if applicable. 

 Danielle Burby - Agent at HSG Literary Agency
 Angela James - Acquiring editor at Carina Press

 Victoria Lowes - Agent at The Bent Agency
 Brenda Chin - Acquiring editor at ImaJinn Books
 Cindy Brannam - Acquiring editor at Soul Mate Publishing

 Heidi Moore - Acquiring editor at Samhain Publishing
 Janet Clementz - Acquiring editor at Soul Mate Publishing

New Adult
 Eric Ruben - Agent at Eric Ruben Literary Agency
 Mary Altman - Acquiring editor at Sourcebooks

Young Adult
 Mandy Hubbard - Agent at D4EO Literary Agency
 Lauri Wellington - Acquiring editor at Black Opal Books

 Kathryn Hayes “We Need a Hero” Contest. Deadline September 8.
Eligibility: Authors unpublished in romance as of September 8, 2014 and self-published authors. Entry: A maximum of 20 pages that show your hero in the best light as well as a brief synopsis (two pages maximum, not judged) to set up submission. Electronic entries only.

Final Judge: Cat Clyne, editor, Sourcebooks.

Keep Your Eye on the SYTYCW (Harlequin So You Think You Can Write) Web Page. The 2014 Contest launches in September!

Other Writing Contests

WD Short Short Story Competition. Early bird deadline is November 17. Deadline is December 15.  Think you can write a winning story in less than 1,500 words? Enter the 15th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition for your chance to win $3,000 in cash, get published in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a paid trip to our ever-popular Writer’s Digest Conference! The winning entries will be on display in the 15th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition Collection.

 The Seventh Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest. This contest begins at 12:01 A.M. Eastern Time (ET) on May 9, 2014, and ends at 11:50 P.M. ET on September 18, 2014.

 Have you ever had a eureka moment? Tell us about it.Think back on the instant when everything became clear. The split second when you realized that you had chosen the right career. Or the moment when you knew that your dearest friendship would last forever. Whether your epiphany changed your life or just made your day, write it down and share it with us.

Enter Real Simple’s seventh annual Life Lessons Essay Contest and you could have your essay published in Real Simple and receive a prize of $3,000.

Seekerville is pleased to introduce you to our August Contest Diva, Elaine Manders!

2013 – COTT’s Olympia Finalist
2014 – Perfect Pitch Winner

I’ve always been persnickety about contests. I research them for categories, rules, judges, and competition. I’m looking for the potential ROI, and I’m talking about more than money or winning. Will my entry be a good fit? If it’s polished and ready for publication, are the final judges my target agents or editors?

Some contests just strike my fancy. The first contest I entered as an inspirational writer was the Olympia. It intrigued me because the second round of judging would be done by non-writing readers. They would be judging like a reader pulling a book off the shelf, for the hook and the story. I had a manuscript I thought would be well received by readers, but I wanted validation. Finaling in the contest encouraged me to turn the book into a series.

I didn’t notice the SYTYCW contest until two days before the deadline, but I felt compelled to enter since it might help me decide whether or not I should try to write for Harlequin. Something else intrigued me about this contest. All the entries would be out in full view of the reading public.

The jury is still out on whether I should write for Harlequin since I didn’t move on in the contest, but all the comments were positive. And there’s always another time. I have one more manuscript that might fit the strict rules, if I trim it by 10K.
I use contests to prod me into doing those tasks I keep putting off, like finally writing the proposal. That was my objective in the Perfect Pitch contest. Every detail of the process was explained so well, I had to take advantage of the opportunity. But I knew the competition was stiff. I’d have to re-write the first three chapters of my submittal. Why? Because judges from previous contests and my critique partners had reminded me the h/h should meet before the third chapter in a romance. It took all month to do the re-write, but when you have a deadline, you rise to the occasion.

I was shocked when I was listed as a winner of the Perfect Pitch. I was ecstatic when Susan Brower asked to see the full. This is my ultimate goal of entering any contest and the reason why, no matter how it turns out, when I publish my first book, the Seekers will be at the top of my credits.

In my opinion, contesting is an important part of building your writing career. Contest judging is subjective. It often depends on the luck of the draw whether you get a strict or lenient judge, but in the end, you may learn more from the strict judge. I’m grateful to all the judges and coordinators who make contests possible.

Hard work, perseverance, faith—the winning combination in any contest.


That's it for the Contest Update! Now go forth and contest!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Getting a Handle on Procrastination - Rose Ross Zediker

Rose Ross Zediker

It’s the end of the month. How much writing did you get done? Did you get as much writing done as you’d hoped? Were your monthly goals or word count quota met?

If you answered no, none, not much or very little, it’s time to find out if you’re a procrastinator.  Score the following questions using the key below.

Hardly Ever
Continually checking email, blogs, social media during writing time
Noticing that you make little or no progress from day to day on your writing project
Collected research for your writing project sitting untouched for weeks on your desk or shelf
Goals or writing tasks 'float' through your monthly/weekly/daily to-do lists without being handled
Scheduling writing time then generating excuses or rescheduling once the time arrives
Staying up late in a mad dash to complete your manuscript before the deadline
Waiting for the perfect time when you can devote your complete attention to your writing
Not wanting to begin writing until you are prepared enough to do it "perfectly"

How did you do?

If you scored 0-8, you are in control of procrastination and put importance on your writing output. Good Job!

A score of 9-16 shows you have a few areas to improve on. Take a look at any 3 or 4 scores and consider ways to improve them. For instance, set a timer for thirty minutes when perusing online. When the timer chimes, stop and write.

While not a big problem a 17-24 score says procrastination hinders several aspects of your writing output. Stop and consider why this is happening. Are you overwhelmed with the amount of information on the occupation you chose for your hero’s career? Try breaking it down into manageable categories, education required for the job, environment required for the job, etc.

Hopefully you didn’t fall into the 25-32 score range where procrastination is significantly decreasing your writing production. If you did fall into this category it’s time to take a good hard look at the way you are spending your writing time. The only way to produce a manuscript is to write!

I hope you had fun taking this little quiz and that it helped you place an importance on your writing career and the time you spend writing.


Rose is giving away a copy of her August release, Sweet on the Cowgirl.


Laura Barnes Wants to Be a Cowgirl Laura has always dreamed of being a trick rider in her family's Wild West show. But her father will only allow her to perform if she disguises herself as Mr. Buckskin Jones. When soda-pop king Guy Roberts shows up to do business with her family, Laura is torn between keeping her identity under wraps and revealing her growing feelings for Guy. Guy is drawn to Laura's poise and beauty, but he, too, guards a secret. As their affection for each other grows, Guy begins to think about a future that includes Laura. When both their secrets suddenly come to light, their romance will face the ultimate showdown.

Bio: Rose Ross Zediker writes contemporary and historical inspirational romances for Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents line of books.

Rose works full time at the University of South Dakota and writes during the evening or weekends.
Besides writing inspirational romance novels, Rose has many publishing credits in the Christian children’s genre. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Writers Who Don't Write 'The End'

 Which is more difficult, getting a request from an agent or editor or fulfilling that request?

In my humble opinion fulfilling that request-FAILURE TO 'THE END'-seems to be one of the most common writer diseases, paralleling the dreaded Goldilocks Syndrome.

Raise your hand if you have ever had a request and not followed through.  Aha! I rest my case.

Let's chat about why FAILURE TO 'THE END' occurs.

There are plenty of seemingly valid reasons why writers stop writing before they hit the end. Which of these can you identify with?

1. Life gets in the way-this includes, death, illness, finances, time & energy and Mother Nature.

2. Fear-Suddenly it occurs to you that you might not be a writer. You might be a fraud who really can't write the book.

3. Fear of Success-You don't want things to change, because your life is insane enough as it is. How will you add a publisher deadline and author publicity to the mix?

4. Writer A.D.D.-Distraction by a shiny new brilliant idea.

5.  Falling out of Love-Contests have yielded confusing responses and suddenly you're looking at your story without much love.

6. Chasing the Market-The hot new genre isn't what you're writing.

7. Story Implosion-You're 45K into your WIP (work in progress) and the plot begins to unravel or you begin to suspect that you have no plot.


The reality is that all of the above can seem like or may actually be valid reasons to leave your manuscript behind. And if you think I am going to attempt to tell you why your rationale is skewed, you would be wrong.

No one can make you finish the book. 

I will, however tell you why you should write to the end.

Five Simple Reasons:

1. Choices- Every time you write the end, you the writer increase your choices. Your options. One completed manuscript, two, three or more, allows you to decide your future. Traditional publishing, self-publishing...the choice is yours. The more manuscripts you have, the more choices you have when determining your publishing strategy. More manuscripts really plays a significant role in increasing your visibility as a self-published author. (By the way, I recommend you RWA members obtain Courtney Milan's workshop for Slow Writers when the conference audios become available.)

 2. Mathematics- Whether you are traditionally publishing or self publishing you're going to rely on your high school algebra to figure out your writing and revising pace.

When you get that traditional contract and the editor asks how much time you need to do revisions or what the timing needs to be on the release of your books in that multi book contract you need to do the math. 90K divided by 3 months = WHAT? 

In determining how you will release 3 self published novels in 12 months, you must also do the math.

Writing THE END and tracking your writing pace determines your writing future. If you have a bad case of Failure to 'The End,' this is going to be problematic.

3. Opportunity- This is where you pull out your very favorite quote on opportunity. Every single time you write THE END and tuck away a manuscript you have prepared yourself for a future opportunity. When the market turns or an editor makes a call out for manuscript or a contest like Killer Voices comes along, you will have inventory that will allow you to take partake in that opportunity.

 Success is where opportunity and preparation meet. -Bobby Unser

4. Leverage- by definition: : influence or power used to achieve a desired result.  A proven track record for completion of manuscripts increases your leverage. Additionally, when an agent or editor asks what else you have, you are ready to discuss all those manuscripts that have THE END on them.

5. Endorphins- Completing a project releases endorphins. The case could be made that finishing a book releases so many endorphins that it is better than...well, you get my point. 

So don't quit. Resist the urge to stop writing, until you reach the sweetest words known to any writer, THE END.

So what are your thoughts? Be brave, and leave a comment today for an opportunity to win an advanced copy of my September release, Stranded with the Rancher, and to another commenter a one chapter critique.

A recovering Failure to 'The End' -aholic, Tina Radcliffe lives in Arizona where she  battles shiny new project distraction. She is a 2012 and 2014 ACFW Carol Award finalist who writes for the wonderful editors at Harlequin Love Inspired.You can also find her at My Critique Partner.

BTW if you have not read my 2014 Carol Award finaling book, Mending the Doctor's Heart, Anna Weaver Hurtt is holding a drawing through July 31st, for a copy. Check it out here.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Battling Burnout ~ 10 Tips for Helping You Overcome Writer’s Block

Ruthy here! Today I'm hosting guest blogger Emily Wierenga, and her words of wisdom about writing, faith, motherhood, family and balance... Emily is giving away copies of her debut novel, "A Promise in Pieces", and

a copy of her just published memoir "Atlas Girl".....

Join me in a big Seekerville welcome!

I pin the colored fabric as though savoring a mango, this slice of time so sweet, and the sounds of children splashing in the pool. And all I want is to rest. To open wide this moment and step into it, to sit on a beach chair and hold my babies and breathe in their skin, and funny how, once you get what you want, all you can think about is the other.

But I am learning to write, in spite of myself.

Because I want to honor the call.

But I also don’t want to miss out on my children. Nor the man I made them with.

And sometimes, I’m just plain worn out. I don’t have any more words in me, and hasn’t it all been said before?

So how do we do it? How do we balance the laptop with the laundry and the liturgy?

How do we still our souls in a world that never sleeps?

To know God, in the stillness. Less of us, more of him, and sometimes we think we have to produce when really, we’re slaves to no one. Christ calls us friends, and there is freedom in this. We serve God alone, and have nothing to fear. So, when we’re burning out, we need to quiet our souls.

Here, friends, are 10 ways to find that stillness:

1.       Turn off the laptop. I have made a habit of turning it off for the entire morning and spending those hours with my pre-schoolers. By noon, I’m normally more than excited to begin to write, and all of the fear of yesterday has fled in light of having a space of “me time.” Even if you turn it off for a full day, then return to it in the evening, let your mind, let your spirit, breathe. The sound of victory whooshing through your soul.

2.       Cry, and laugh, a lot. Experience that ALIVE feeling again. Remember: “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a (poor) first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life

3. Read. Whether it’s a novel or a memoir or the Psalms in your pajamas, don’t
read the same kind of genre you’re writing in, or you’ll get your own writing voice mixed up with someone else’s. So if you’re writing fiction, read non-fiction, and vice-versa.

4. Take a bath with some Epsom salts and a candle.

5. Eat some dark chocolate. And then eat some more.

6. Write a letter to someone you trust.

7. Surround yourself with inspiration. My friend constantly mails me encouraging quotes and artwork; I have posted these quotes and pieces of art above my desk to provide visual stimulation.

8. Hug your kids. Because they’re your greatest story. It’s incredible to be able to make up stories but it’s even more incredible to live them. To hear the words tumbling from your child’s mouth as he talks about his favorite blue flashlight as you lie beside him in his bunk-bed. “Some flashlights are small, and some are big, and some are tiny and some are huge,” he says as he slips his hand into yours there in the dark.

9. Kiss your husband. Because he’s your biggest fan.

10. Pray. The kind of praying that finds you on the floor. The kind that feels like home. Pray as you write, as you edit, as you rest. Pray through it all. Because God is the Word. He gave you this calling. So trust him to work through you, even on days when the pool and the sunlight and the birds are calling. For in the end, it’s all about him. And if he doesn’t write through us, we write in vain.

Don’t be afraid to rest friends, because in doing so, you give OTHERS permission to rest. And in the stillness, we know God. We hear his voice. We hear him wooing.
So, KNOW when to write, and when to stop.

And if God is calling you to write, then know you’re engaged in a spiritual battle because this is what this writing world is friends: it’s a place to speak the truth in love. It’s a place to engage, sometimes, in battle. Our words are holy tools being used to carve out the tomb, to resurrect a God the world says is dead, to point and say–LOOK, he’s alive and he’s here in our midst and do we know Him?

Do our words know him? Do our families and our children and our husbands and our relatives know him? Does the man who delivers your mail know him? Does anything else matter?

I totally love, love, love this picture!!!!!  Emily's website is HERE:

Visit there. You will love it. I promise. 

Now to the business of food!!!! We've got coffee and cronuts inside, I brought them back FRESH from Manhattan (okay, they have like a two-hour shelf life, so that's not GOOD 48 hours later, 'sall I'm sayin'....) Never mind the cronuts, we'll feast on God's love today.... and pastries from Financier on Williams St.