Friday, November 16, 2007

What's So Great About Contests?

by Caren Crane

Contests. We love them, we loathe them. And by "we", I mean all of us. Think about it. Did you ever, as a child (or maybe as an adult), squirm with anticipation waiting for the Miss America Pageant? How about the World Series? The World Cup, maybe? For the uber-geeks among us, the Scripps National Spelling Bee? Dancing With The Stars? Or, my personal favorite, the Winter Olympics? (what is cooler than the luge?!)

Competition appeals to some primal need we humans have to compete. To prove we are bigger, better, faster, more. Writers are not immune to contests, by any means. As a matter of fact, many of you know that the Banditas all have one thing in common: we were all 2006 Golden Heart finalists. Some of us have confessed to being a bit fixated on contests, entering more than a few at a time.

We sweat over entries, agonize over synopses, hammer those first three sentences or pages or chapters until they gleam and scream and beg for mercy. You will often hear us crowing (or is that the Golden Rooster?) about a Bandita being a finalist or placing in a contest. It works us all into a lather, let me tell you! A win for one Bandita reflects well on all Banditas (and honorary Banditas, too)!

But why do we care so much? Why not simply write and submit and write some more and submit some more? Frankly, it's the rejection. All we get from most of our submissions is some form of "not for me". And truthfully, all most of us get from a contest is a certificate or plaque or, if we're very lucky, a piece of jewelry. Ah, but there is always the brass ring. The ring, my precioussssss!

*ahem* In our case, the brass ring is a request from an agent or editor wanting to read more. To read the whole manuscript. To buy the manuscript. It happens. We have seen it happen to writers we actually know! So we keep writing, submitting, writing some more...and entering contests. Right now, many of us AYU (as yet unpublished) Banditas are polishing our Golden Heart entries. We hope - we pray - that the stars will align and we will once again be Golden Heart finalists. That some wonderful editor who shares our vision and adores our prose will read us, love us, publish us. Then we will all be winners, even you! Because you will get to read our books. *g*

Meanwhile, what are your favorite contests? Do you watch to see who wins or who loses? Do you ever, in a moment of mean-spirited weakness, hope someone trips on the Miss America runway or drops his partner on Dancing With The Stars? Did you ever vote for Sanjaya just to piss off a friend or coworker? Please share!

Meanwhile, I have to finish polishing my new manuscript for the Golden Heart...


Christine Wells said...

Did I win?

Christine Wells said...

OK, that was a bit tongue in cheek, given the topic, but I won the Golden Rooster!!! Yay, that's twice in one week.

My fave contest has to be the Golden Heart. Not because of all the hoopla or the gorgeous gold heart pendant, but because it's where I met a bunch of fantastic, bright, funny, intelligent, talented women. Altogether now, awww!

But I will say that I also like the Emily (I sold Scandal's Daughter after an editor request from that contest) and the Indiana Golden Opportunity is brilliantly run and also if you win best of the best you get a Neo, which is a great prize.

And ::gulp:: It's the Rita this year for some of us. A couple of strong contenders from the Banditas, wouldn't you say? Present company excepted, of course!

Oh, and at the risk of writing an epic, one contest that really got me hooked was Project Runway. So many parallels to writing! Hmm, the subject of a future blog.

Christie Kelley said...

My favorite contest is also the GH. And for the same reasons Christine mentioned--this great group of women. Although, I was very happy to be unable to entered the GH this year.

I do admit to being a contest junkie. A couple of my more favored contests: The Melody of Love because it's the first contest I ever won. The Golden Gateway because I've received great feedback and finaled every time I entered. (see a pattern here).

Christie Kelley said...

And I forgot to say, GOOD LUCK!! to all those who entered the GH or the RITA this year.

Gillian Layne said...

Watching the awards ceremony for the first time this summer was amazing! And it's so sweet to see that the published authors were just as thankful and excited as the GH winners.

Caren Crane said...

Congrats, Christine, on nabbing the GR! And the GH! I can't wait to see which Banditas make it to the RITA finals. Woo hoo!

Project Runway: were you just waiting for a catfight to break out? I think the human drama is the best part of those reality-type competitions, don't you?

Nancy said...

Congrats to Christine on the GR!

My favorite contest, hands down and, er, no contest, is Top Chef on the Bravo network. I don't even like to cook, but I love watching what these people who do like it concoct. I've sort of gotten interested in Christine's favorite, Project Runway, but it doesn't pull me in the way all those aspiring chefs do.

I used to want to be a fashion designer or interior designer, way back in high school. Then I found out how much chemistry getting a degree in design required and decided to take my math-challenged brain in a different direction. So I'd expect to find Project Runway really engaging, but I guess those aspirations are too far back in my rearview mirror.

When it comes to writing, I have a soft spot for the GRW Maggie Awards because that was the first contest in which I ever finaled. The Golden Heart is huge fun if you final--who doesn't like being treated like a princess?--but you miss out on the fun if you don't go to the conference. In general, I think finaling in a contest is more fun if you can attend the related conference with a "finalist" ribbon on your badge. I also like contests that provide extensive feedback. Whether or not I agree with all the comments, I find more to think about in a critique that shows its author also thought about it.

Good luck to everyone entered the GH and RITA!

Susan Seyfarth said...

I am never going to win that stupid rooster.

But that's okay. I'm working on developing a laid-back approach to contests. :-) I love entering them, I love getting the feedback, I LOOOOOVE winning or finaling. But I HATE waiting. Oh, it kills me.

And then there's the inevitable, too-late discovery of a typo. For example, I like to type with "&" instead of "and". It's just easier for me or a habit or something, I don't know. But before I discovered autocorrect, I was always shipping contest entries off with random "&" stuck in them here & there. And just so you all know? Contest judges do not care for "&". :-)

Good luck to all our GH & Rita entries!

Oh, & I adore project runway. Fashionistas can really roll out the drama.

Joan said...

Yes, Christine. You won the GR.

And in honor of this win you will receive a lovely pendent of the GR...only problem is it weighs 8 pounds and the feathers might cause you to sneeze. :-)

My "first" win was The Suzannah run by RWA chapter NOLA. THE PATRICIAN'S DESIRE under a different title won first in historical. It garnered my first request for more material. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

TPD has gone on to final and place in many contests. A win in the 2005 Molly got a full request from a favored editor. THE PATRICIAN'S FORTUNE has already placed in two other great contests and is currently a finalist in another prestigious competition.

But yeah, Susan. The waiting is hard.

And the GH? What can I say? To have earned the recognition of my peers was wonderful. To attend conference in Atlanta with my GH Finalist ribbon on my name badge (and having Caren recognize my name and my mss at lunch)out of this world.

Sharing it with this group of astounding Banditas.....priceless.

doglady said...

This was my first year to enter any contests and I was really surprised and pleased with the results - ten contests, three finals, one win, one second place and one runner up (the Molly doesn't place anyone after the winner apparently.) My favorite has to be the Royal Ascot because I won and everyone was so nice. It was a great experience from start to finish. Well actually they all were. The Ascot was cool because two of my fellow Passion's Slaves were there and they called me to tell me I won. They also told me that the Avon FanLit crew sent up a big cheer as well. Wish I could have been there. The best part of contests by far has been the critiques. I have learned so much from them and they are the real reason I entered in the first place.

Caren Crane said...

Christie, you admitted to being a contest junkie. Have you started entering the pubbed contests, or do you have to wait until next year since your book is out then?

In the meantime, I know you have been up to your armpits in home improvements. But what is feeding your competitive spirit? Horse racing? Powerball? Bingo at the VFW? *g*

I will admit to being in a Powerball pool with about 10 other people. We have every intention of winning more than $14 one of these months.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I've heard a lot about 'Top Chef'. I watched a few minutes of it at my mother's house a couple of weeks ago. I guess because I don't know the contestants, I wasn't too impressed. There just didn't seem to be much going on. I suppose it's like a soap opera and you have to labor through with them week after week and get invested in their ambition or something?

I have never watched Project Runway but I imagine it could get really catty and nasty. What fun!

Caren Crane said...

Gillian, isn't it a thrill to go to the RWA awards ceremony? It's like the Oscars! I know a couple of writers who never go to the ceremony and they were it like a badge of honor. Pffft on them! I adore the ceremony. I always cry right along with the award winners and it's especially wonderful when they also happen to be friends! Can't wait for San Francisco. Will we see you there?

Caren Crane said...

Susan, isn't the anticipation just horrible? I have learned to distract myself with any number of bad things while waiting, though. Chuzzle, Fowl Words, Gem Drop.

Oh, I mean...I work on a new manuscript while waiting to hear about completed ones. Yeah, that's what I meant!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I will admit to being a bit jealous of you and Doglady and everyone else who has actually won a contest. Though I've finaled in a fair number, I have never won. I always intend to enter the "Finally A Bride" contest, but I've gotten so used to not entering anymore that I never make the deadline. *sigh*

I'm a bit conflicted about writing contests right now. Not sure I want to spend the time, effort and money to enter them. I'm entering the GH, but we all know what a crapshoot that is. Yet, how else does one get an editor's attention without benefit of vampires, secret babies and shape-shifting serial killers?

And Joan, I was so excited to see you at lunch at the Chapter President's retreat and to tell you I had judged your story that finaled in the GH. Thrilled! I love your Romans so much and I know they will be published. They are too good not to be!

Caren Crane said...

Doglady, I hope you are published soon so you can get off the contest circuit and onto the shelves! But isn't finaling (and winning, in your case) great validation?

The Golden Heart felt to me like a comforting hug from God. I clearly got the, "Not now, but someday" message.

I am simply too impatient and feel like Veruca Salt on Willy Wonka. "Give it to me...give it to me NOW!"

MsHellion said...

Hmmm. I didn't enter the GH this year. That intimidated me too much, so I'm starting smaller with the GOTCHA contest and the BETWEEN THE SHEETS contest--in hopes of casting out for a larger approval group than my critique partners. Though I think my CPs are the bomb, completely and utterly.

I don't watch contest shows really--they're "reality TV" mostly--and I don't care for them. I did love to watch ice skating though...gorgeous...and I always died a bit for a couple who fell or something...and you knew they weren't going to win after that.

Caren Crane said...

Ms Hellion, I love pairs figure skating! Did you love Torville and Dean? I had a real soft spot for them. But sometimes, there would be a snotty couple who looked especially arrogant (or had some other quirk I didn't like) and I would always hope they would fall or something. So mean, I know! But I can't stand it when I think someone "undeserving" advances. Like Sanjaya!

Keira Soleore said...

It simply warms the cockles of my heart (what are cockles?) to read people waxing rhapsodic about my fav reality shows: Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, and Top Chef.

I love watch ice skating, particularly pairs ice dancing.

No, I didn't watch a single episode of American Idol but I did chuckle a lot over how much everyone hated him. He's sorta a cute kid and he's from Seattle. And yes, I've seen him in.

Joan said...

Caren, you are and always will be a winner in my book (and not just for your FABULOUS writing either!)I've read "Kick Start". It is the kind of story you don't want to put down. It WILL FIND IT'S HOME!

And thanks for the love for my "Roman boys". They're picking themselves up and brushing themselves off after another rejection yesterday. They are strong men and will get through the pain (though I need to keep my eye on Bran...he's polishing his gladiator sword)

As much as finaling and/or placing in contests is a great feeling, I do it now in the hopes of getting in front of "the right person at the right time for the right mss."

When you are first beginning contests are a nice way to get feedback but people all too often do not go into it with their "eyes wide open" which is vital to protect your writer's ego.

I am frankly stupified at people who....recognize RWA as a good professional organization...and then scorn their efforts. I love the GH/Rita ceremony too. My first was in New Orleans in that fabulous old theatre. I was in sheer awe of the glitz and high on the energy I'd been experiencing all week. I resolved then to get my writing to the level it needed to be to enter the GH.

I adore the figure skating in the Olympics and well remember Torville and Dean. What about that Candadian couple from several years ago? The one's that had to have a international outcry to get the gold medal they had clearly one?

And don't get me started on Dancing with the Stars...this blog isn't long enough :-)

p226 said...


Other than sports or racing, I'm not sure that I have a lot of experience at contests. And there's no waiting period with those. It's instant gratification or instant disappointment. I can't imagine doing 30 laps, then having to wait weeks to hear who gets to stand on the podium in the winner's circle. I'd go bonkers. "I bet I could've braked later in turn 3. I bet I could've been on the throttle earlier at the exit of turn 8. Was I carrying enough speed out onto the front straight?" Wow. The more I think about it, the more I'm absolutely certain I'd go insane between crossing the finish line and hearing the winners announced. It'd be weeks of neurotic second guessing and VOWING on all that is holy to be FASTER NEXT TIME, please, please, please just let me place well THIS TIME.

How do you people do that?

Just so you know, I'm resisting the urge to rock back and forth squatted in a corner gnawing on my fingernails just THINKING about it.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Caren, you must've been reading my mind with this post today! I've been putting the poor printer through its paces. One GH entry is ready and the second is printing. Geesh!

I limit myself to three contests per year, one being the GH. Financially that's all I can afford. Metnally and spiritually, that's all I'm willing to put myself through.

I've won a few contests and finaled in a few more, but my favorite for feedback was the PASIC's Book Of Your Heart contest. The judges are booksellers, not fellow writers. You get comments about how they think the book would do if they had to sell it! And you have a list of 3 booksellers for each entry you submit to contact later WHEN you sell your books!

Beth said...

Best of luck to all Banditas (honorary ones too *g*) entering the GH and Rita! I can't wait to cheer you all on at the award ceremony!

The GH is my favorite contest too because it brought me so many wonderful people into my life but also because it's the only contest I've ever won (and I sold from it) *ggg*

I watch a lot sporting contests because my kids are playing *g* On TV I have seen Dancing with the Stars and found it a lot of fun.

MsHellion said...

Torville & Dean rule, yes. I think I saw them when they were just doing professional skating--and they'd do really "cute" sexy stuff. I think there was one where she was wearing cut off shorts, if its the couple I'm thinking of. I can't think of the song...but I remember loving the number and being entranced by how sexy they made it and how effortless they made everything look.

The couple that broke my heart--the Russian couple--but he died when he was 28 from a heart attack. They were married?--I loved them!

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

How do you people do that?

Just so you know, I'm resisting the urge to rock back and forth squatted in a corner gnawing on my fingernails just THINKING about it.

Okay, I said I WOULD NEVER do this, but here it comes...SNORK! I believe this for like, two seconds. (grin)

I send them in and forget about it. I forgot about the GH the year I finaled. I didn't know it was "call day" and I missed my call. One of my critique partners called the cell and said to my husband, "Why didn't Cassondra tell me she'd finaled in the Golden Heart?"

And when the rejections come--or when I don't final or if I get a low score on something that's WON A FREAKIN' CONTEST BEFORE, I whine to the Banditas. And they give me virtual pats on the back, and stick virtual pins in virtual judge-shaped voodoo dolls on my behalf.

I will admit to getting contest entries back, reading the first thing the judge wrote, and tossing it to the side, and never finishing reading it. But I didn't do that in the beginning. I used the feedback until I learned to tell the stupid from the valuable.

Susan, it would take a lot of ampersands to make me mark down a good story. I just don't do that. So you know, there's one judge out there reading for THE STORY for cryin' out loud.

As to other contests, I can get extremely competitive. So much that I tend to focus my energy elsewhere so I don't go overboard.

I used to live for the pairs skating though--and held my breath when the judges marked their score cards.

Oh, and gymnastics. Does anybody besides me rememeber when Nadia got all perfect 10s? It was a first ever. I think the girl was maybe 13. Maybe.

Oh, and as for the particular contest that has somehow consumed all those in the Bandit lair, you can rest assured, I shall never take possession of the Golden Rooster. I don't climb out of the coffin that early.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Cassondra...How about little Olga Korbit doing that back flip from the high bar? OMG!

I love the swimming, the gymnastics and the relay races in the summer olympics. Winter Olympics, ice skating of any kind, and the winter X games and frestyle skiing!

Sigh. If I was thin, young and not afraid of breaking every bone in my body I'd love to do snow boarding!!

Caren Crane said...

P226, we are all neurotic. That is how we handle it. *g* No, really, it takes a verra thick skin to weather the months of waiting for what is mostly abject humiliation. The Incomparable Claudia Dain describes writers as "a mountain of ego surrounded by an ocean of insecurity." It is exactly true! That, my friends, is why she is TICD. *g*

If we didn't all know, deep down in our hearts, that we really are better than most everyone else, we wouldn't bother trying. So, despite the temptation to squat in the corner and chew our nails, we plaster on a perky smile (when with others) and mutter filthy imprecations to our computers (when alone). Ah, the seamy underbelly of a writer's life...

Caren Crane said...

Okay, Beth, I know you can't possibly be nice all the time (despite mounting evidence to the contrary). Don't you ever hope one of those DWTS people will trip over a shoelace or a high heel will slide out from under someone and cause a big stink?

I found the American Idol coverage (not AI itself) fascinating last season. All the poop about Sanjaya. That kid really had very marginal talent. Like, his grandmother would probably think he was really good, and maybe some of his friends, but he was nowhere near professional level. But man, did he have chutzpah. The outrageous hair alone proved that!

Caren Crane said...

Suzanne, I've heard great things about the PASIC contest and of course Joan did a great job in that one with her Romans this year! I may have to put that one on the short list for 2008. I, too, am trying to keep the contests to a minimum, but I would like to enter a select few.

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Ms Hellion, I had forgotten about the Russian couple. Yekaterina Gordeyeva and Sergei Grinkov. He had a massive coronary while they were practicing and died within minutes. It was terribly tragic. They had only been married 3 years and had a young daughter.

I saw an interview with her years later and it was really heartbreaking. Happily, she met and married another Olympic champion, Ilia Kulik, and now they have a daughter together. She says her children are her greatest accomplishment. Oh, my goodness, now I made myself verklempt!

Keira Soleore said...

Um, Foanna, where's your fighting spirit? You seem to have lost the GR multiple days in a row and not even raised a stink, I mean grumbled goodnaturedly about it. What gives???

jo robertson said...

I'm with Cassondra. I entered the GH with my first m/s, first time, and I totally forgot about it. So finalling and then winning was a very pleasant surprise, but not one I'd ever considered getting LOL.

I love talent contests, especially amateur ones. They're just a lot of fun to watch!

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, I remember seeing Nadia Comaneci and just being floored by how fabulous she was! She was 14 in the 1976 Olympics when she scored all those 10s. They changed the rules and now you have to turn 16 in the year of the Olympics to compete, so no one will ever break her record as the youngest gold medalist in gymnastics unless they change the rules again.

I also liked Olga Korbut, but she lacked Nadia's sparkle. Olga looked very serious and always had dark, dark circles under her eyes. I thought she looked unhappy and it made me sad for her. Yes, I was always a bit maudlin and melodramatic!

Cassondra said...

Caren, she probably WAS unhappy. You know, life behind the iron curtain wasn't pleasant (still isn't, according to friends who've visited there recently, in what's once again Russia but was the USSR. They have a long way to go to get where they'd like to be. Starting over isn't easy.)

Nadia is here in the States now, isn't she? I don't know anything about Olga, but I remember her.

Does anyone remember sweetie pie Dorothy Hamil? (I don't know if I spelled her last name correctly). Everybody went around with that wedge haircut for a decade after she twirled across the ice and we all fell in love with her.

Cassondra said...

Caren, what do you do, Google all these Russian names to make sure you spell them right? Or are you one of those with photographic memory for the spelling of names?

Spelled right or not, that couple, and their story, was a heartbreaker for sure.

I'm glad to hear she's found happiness.

Christine Wells said...

Good luck to all entering the Golden Heart this year. Banditas and honorary Banditas, do us proud!

Doglady, my goodness, what an impressive list of finals! Congratulations!

And Project Runway. Hmm, I suppose the drama is ok but what I like about it is, they are given a project and they have to create something that is
1. Beautiful
2. Suitable for its purpose
3. Suitable for the client/range of clothing
4. Shows their individual stamp
And lastly, they also have to show that they're good at the personal side of selling their work.

So it's being creative within paramaters, individual, but tailoring that individuality to the market. And it's the ability to market yourself and your creation. Just like the writing biz, although we don't have as many divas--right Foanna?

flchen1 said...

Best wishes, all of you!

I not much for entering contests, for sure (too chicken), but do love watching pairs skating (LOVED Gordeeva and Grinkov, and yes, very happy she's happy again) and also remember Torville and Dean--they were amazing!

I do enjoy watching Iron Chef (at least the original episodes), just because I do love eating, and it was just hilarious to see what these chefs could whip up at the drop of a hat!

I vaguely remember watching stuff like Ms. Universe, etc., growing up, but it didn't really grab me--not a big watcher today, even of other celebrity stuff like the Oscars or Emmys... More time to read, I guess!

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, of course I Google them! *g* Though I am usually a pretty good speller. Not today, though.

And I totally had a Dorothy Hamill haircut in 7th grade. Let's picture it. Dorothy was adorable in her wedge, right? Caren was tall, painfully thin, with crooked teeth bedecked with braces and metal-framed eyeglasses. So, of course, the thing to do when you're already a hot mess is to cut off all your hair. *sigh* It was so cute on Dorothy...

Claudia Dain said...

I'm always impressed/amazed/agog at the people who keep putting themselves out there for contests. I don't have the contest gene. Really, I don't. I don't even feel guilty about it. *G*

Golden Rooster? Hey, the joke's on you for getting up that early. LOL Is there an award for taking the longest nap? I'd be in finalist in that contest, hands down.

In the Reality Show category my favorite has been Top Model, though I haven't watched this year and couldn't tell you why. Maybe I just got tired of looking at really skinny, sorta funny looking girls who just happen to photograph great.

Caren Crane said...

Flchen1, the thing about Iron Chef is, I don't think I could bring myself to actually eat most of what they come up with. Sure, it's tremendously creative and they do a stupendous job with what they're given, but the things they're given make me shudder sometimes! Ack!

Caren Crane said...

TICD is in the house! Claudia, I knew a girl in college who was, frankly, a bit odd-looking. Kind of buggy eyes and really pale skin and hair. But aggressive bones--very angular. Found out after a year or so that she had modeled in NYC before coming back to NC to go to engineering school. I could totally see that. I'm sure she photographed amazingly well! But she really wasn't what you would call beautiful or even pretty.

On Top Model do they ever say insanely stupid things? See, that would make me watch it. I really am a horrible person!

Caren Crane said...

Jo, what's the funniest thing you ever saw in an amateur talent show? Do you ever see anyone just eggregiously bad? That would make the whole thing worth it to me! I don't want to mock them, I like to cheer them on and celebrate their bravery for doing that in front of other people! Had a great time on the cruise last fall at karaoke night. I love the really bad singers who get drunk and just belt their hearts out! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Christine, I never thought about the startling parallels between Project Runway and publishing. But since you pointed it out, it's so obvious!

Nancy, maybe you really did channel all that frustrated design energy into writing. Wow!

Joan said...

LOL, P226...

You summed it up PERFECTLY! I forgot...are you a writer? If you're not you should be.

Caren's right though. Neurotic and writer go hand in hand. Funny thing was, I didn't realize I was until I started writing...or maybe it started after. I don't know, one of those "which came first? The Golden Rooster or the egg?"

Then again, I didn't realize the depth of my competitive spirit until I started competing in the State Fair baking contests. Reference the "nanny nanny poo poo" incident LOL.

Cassondra, I did have a Hamill cut in high school. I think it was cute! She was phenomenal. But you know who else I remember? The male figure skater from Canada, Elvis???
He was SO masculine AND graceful.

Caren Crane said...

Keira, I tricked Foanna today by not posting until almost 6 am ET. It through her off kilter. She will be mad as a proverbial wet rooster when she makes it over here!

And why, Miss Keira, are you stirring the pot today? I'm still waiting for some to confess to hoping to witness a catfight or fist fight or a smackdown on one of these shows. At least some tears or something! Otherwise, what's the point?

Caren Crane said...

Joan, you had to love Elvis Stojko! He was so cocky and confident and macho on the ice. Whatever happened to Elvis? Is he touring these days or something?

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, I've got the Golden Sloth! And I HATE it!!! Christine, congratulations on the glittery chook! You're showing off, my friend.

What a great post, Caren. Good luck to all our Bandita and Bandita friends in the GH and the RITA and all the other contests out there. I was a contest sl*t! I was too wimpy to send stuff to publishers but I was brave enough to enter contests - well, eventually! And now I'm a pubbed author contest sl*t!

Hey, lovely to see TICD!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, no, I just read that Elvis retired from skating (professionally) last August. No more Elvis for us!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, and meant to say, I love the GH because of meeting the Banditas and being made to feel like a princess at my first Nationals. And I love the Emily because those Texan chicks are just so dang nice, bless their hearts, and they introduced me to grits. And I LOVE the Finally a Bride contest because it was the first US contest where I came first rather than just placing and they gave me the grooviest cake slicer. It looks like something Queen Victoria would lay a foundation stone with! Go, FAB!!! And I got to sing OOOOOOOO-klahoma! Where the wind comes rushing down the plain! for a good six months over that one. Always a nice benefit.

Claudia Dain said...

As to snark on Top Model, those girls are pretty freaky. You get two basic types: the inner city girls where this is their chance to get out and the rural girls where this is their chance to get out. Maybe 5% of them have a small child waiting at home. It's hard not to wonder how they're going to be a model, all that travel, all those weird hours, with a baby in the wings.

Of course, the main feature of the show is showcasing how little they know about actual modeling. A lot of them just know how to pose, but their eyes are dead, or they only have one look (boring!), or they can't walk. Caren, you want tripping? Watch this show. These poor girls can't walk in high heels, add in a train on the skirt and you have instant physical comedy.

Caren Crane said...

Oh-oh. Sounds like Top Model is the show for me! You know I rarely watch TV, but if it's a train wreck, I can hardly look away now can I? *eg* (I told you I'm a horrible person!)

Caren Crane said...

Anna C, I would adore the Queen Victoria cake slicer! I suppose I'll have to enter some of my runners-up in Finally A Bride next year. I think it's time for some more validation. Maybe it's past time!

Caren Crane said...

Claudia, your mention of "one look" reminded me of Zoolander. Blue Steel! You know, there is more to life than being really, really outreageously goodlooking.

Helen said...

Hi Guys and firstly good luck to everyone who has enterd the GH and the other writer contests you all deserve to win all the hard work you put in and I would love to read your books.
As for contests I enter I like entering Author contests and I get very excited when I win something doesn't matter what I win I feel priveledged to get it. I have won Tafe student of the year 4 years ango and Traninee of the year 3 years ago and that was awesome.Of course the Golden Rooster is also great to win.
I love Australian Idol we are down to the 2 finalists now and I really like both of them so I will be happy for either of them to win.
Again good luck to everyone great post.
Have Fun

p226 said...

Cassondra said:
Okay, I said I WOULD NEVER do this, but here it comes...SNORK! I believe this for like, two seconds. (grin)

I dunno. A lot of things I do in life are pass/fail. You either walk off Parris Island in a uniform, or you ride home in civvies in a bus. That's a black/white pass/fail instant-gratification type situation. Racing? If there's a guy in front of you, you lost. Easy and quick performance evaluations. Things I do right, it's usually immediately evident. Things I do wrong are equally (and sometimes catastrophically) obvious. These contests you guys enter... the waiting. Wow, I dunno if I could deal with that.

Joan said:
I forgot...are you a writer? If you're not you should be.

Nope, I'm not a writer. I've been considering it, though. Some of the things I've learned as part of this consideration have been discouraging. Mainly because anything I've ever written has been for an audience of one. Me. I play guitar for the same audience. I'm a happy crowd. If I play that ballad JUST RIGHT I'll even hold up a lighter. *g*

I've learned that commercial writing and writing for oneself are often two completely different creatures. I assume this is the beast you guys wrestle on a daily basis. Perhaps I'm a coward in that pride of authorship or unwillingness to do battle with the beast are holding me back for now. As it stands at the moment, I'm still chewing on the idea. You guys are giving me great insight as to the commitment level required to be successful as a writer. I must admit, it's intimidating.

Now, how does that make you ladies feel? A group of romance writers have succeeded in intimidating a Marine. Hmm?

Man I hope my Drill Instructor doesn't read romance blogs.

Keira Soleore said...

Oooooh, Christine, you're very talented with words. I loved that run-down of Project Runway.

Caren, Fridays can be sort of ho-hum, so I thought I'd send the Banditas off with high fun for the weekend by needling Foanna a bit. But she decided to take the high road. Phooey! :)

I've seen tears and plenty of bad mouthing on Top Chef, but essentially they're professionals.

Claudia Dain said...

Caren, ROFL on the Zoolander reference. Yes, being really, really, really good looking is a terrible burden but, goodness me, someone must bear it!

I do think you'd like Top Model. A bunch of skinny girls living together and competing against each's a gimme that Drama Will Ensue.

Caren Crane said...

P226, you made me laugh. If you ask my husband, the ex-Marine, he might tell you writers are really scary. Probably scarier than the alligators he ran into on patrol at Parris Island. *g*

Really, though, you make a great point. We all wax romantic about the glorious time when we wrote only for ourselves and didn't worry about the market or readers or booksellers. No editors to please, no agents to wow. For me, writing was pure joy then. Now, it is riddled with uncertainty. I still love it, but the raw joy has dimmed.

Something we talk about often in my local RWA chapter is figuring out what you want from your writing. Do you want to sell a book? Do you want a career? Is being e-published all you need? NYT bestseller, maybe? Or is writing a fantastic, joyful hobby for you? Once you know what you want from writing, pursue it with a vengeance.

But there really is no pressure to strive for anything you don't want. Figure out what you want and just do that. Everyone is on her/his own path and no two ever look the same.

flchen1 said...

Caren, I agree that much of they came up with on Iron Chef was likely not delicious, but it was fun to watch.

And I have to say that I guess I'm just a very mean person--I do enjoy watching stuff like Top Model or other competitions if I can do it with others who can bring the snark. Nothing more fun than that :)

Cassondra said...

Okay, Claudia, is this "Top Model" thing the one where that really gorgeous model is the "star" and coaches the girls along--and kicks one off of each show?

If so, I saw that one time maybe a year or two ago (I don't watch tv--I know, I'm a freakazoid).

This BEAUTIFUL African American girl didn't look any more beautiful than anybody else on the show really--until they took the stills--and something about her just was electric in those stills. I'm a photographer by training, so I know how to spot that across the room, and I've walked up to people and handed them my card and said, "I'm not a weirdo, I'm a photographer, and if you ever need photos done, you have great facial bones and I'd love to take pics of you to include in my portfolio." You wouldn't believe how the jaws drop on that one.

Anyhow, on this show all the girls had to pose with this monster tarantula. It was bigger than my hand--probably six inches across--and they had to let it crawl across their faces and shoulders. And the pretty African American girl had arachnaphobia. They were constantly having to retouch her eye makeup, because between shots, she was crying. But SHE DID IT! And in the stills, you couldn't tell she was afraid. It didn't read. She was kept on the show for that reason.

I was so impressed with her. I could pose with a snake, but not a tarantula. I photograph horribly anyhow so it's a moot point, but that would have been my end.

"Goodbye contract." Picture me waving. "Crawl off on all eight of your hairy legs."

I can mentally push my way off a tall building on a rope, through black water looking for a drowned body, but THAT I could not do. No way, baby.

Claudia Dain said...

I remember that tarantula Top Model episode. Freaky. What they make those girls do...and then you see something like it in a fashion mag for real and you realize that they're not being cruel, just realistic about how willing a top model has to be to do ANYTHING to pimp the product.

The correlations to the wonderful world of publishing are too obvious to miss. *G*

What's amazing to me is how many girls freak over getting a new hair style. It's just hair!! You can grow it back! Plus, the new style really does make you look more beautiful and, hello, that's what your hair is supposed to be doing for you.

Don't get me started on the hair. One girl got kicked off because she wouldn't let them cut one more inch off her already cut hair.

It was mind-boggling.

Cassondra said...

You know, I hadn't thought of the correlation before. But that's EXACTLY like commercial publishing.

Not let them cut her hair? Hello! The job you want means your body belongs to them. They hire your body so they can paint it, cut its hair, polish it, hang any sort of ugly or pretty thing on it, and take pictures. If you can't stand to get your hair cut, what are you doing there?

And if you can't stand to rewrite your book because there's not enough conflict but it's "your baby" what are you doing trying for commercial publication? It's a product at that point.

Interesting comparison. I never saw it before, but it's perfect actually.

Cassondra said...

Caren wrote:

Really, though, you make a great point. We all wax romantic about the glorious time when we wrote only for ourselves and didn't worry about the market or readers or booksellers. No editors to please, no agents to wow. For me, writing was pure joy then. Now, it is riddled with uncertainty. I still love it, but the raw joy has dimmed.

Not me Caren. I always hated it. Okay, I LOVE "having written". But getting it out onto the page? That's been torture since I was 11, which is when I figured out I could write well enough that people wanted to read it. That's when I first "felt the flow" --that thing where you're not writing but you're the channel? That thing.

I suppose I should quit, but I can't stand to do anything else--everything else is MORE torture. So I keep writing. (heavy sigh) Maybe I'm the quintessential tortured artist type.

Joan said...

p226 said:

Now, how does that make you ladies feel? A group of romance writers have succeeded in intimidating a Marine. Hmm?

Seriously, I don't think you want to know... VBG (but watch for the subject of our future books LOL)

I work in a hospital as a charge nurse on an orthopaedic floor. The surgeons there are all my friends and the one who did some foot surgery on me became very interested in the fact that I was writing. So, in return for getting me back on my feet I started letting him read my first mss. Every office visit, he'd ask for the next chapters. He ended up reading the whole thing.

Longer story short, he expressed his hidden wish to write also. So I've been encouraging, prodding, cheerleading him to it and voila he handed me his first complete mss...a sci fi...for me to critique!

So, p226 if you have stories to tell I hope you will say hooah (or whatever the Marines say) and go for it. BTW...THANK YOU for all you do to protect our country.

Now onto Caren:

Caren said:

For me, writing was pure joy then. Now, it is riddled with uncertainty. I still love it, but the raw joy has dimmed.

Think of it this way, Posh. Your writing...OUR like a diamond with many facets. We started out as lumps of coal and have been polishing until we glitter. If the raw joy has dimmed simply turn the jewel and you'll find the sparkle again.

(I hope that came across's a great analogy in my head :-)

Now, I have a gladiator to torture...with the heroine :-)

p226 said...

BTW...THANK YOU for all you do to protect our country.

I should let you know that I'm out now. Been out for a while. But once a Marine, always a Marine and all that.

And I share the sentiment for all my brothers that are doing their thing right now. Semper Fi gentlemen, Semper Fi.

Joan said...


Doesn't matter if your active or not. I was blessed several years ago to be involved in a Support the Troops program. I won't go into great detail on THIS blog but suffice to say I've never been more impressed with the courage, the integrity and the honor of the guys and gals I corresponded with in harm's way.

Thank. You.

Aunty Cindy said...

The Brass Sloth lumbers in to be the proverbial "fly in the ointment."

If you'd asked me 3 months ago about writing contests, I'd have told you they are a waste of time and money. The judges are untrained (I know because I've judged contests and the only "training" I received was being told to "be positive" with my comments.)at best and CLUELESS at worst, giving inane comments and scores that have nothing to do with the writing or story-telling ability.

True, I met all my wonderful Banditas because of a contest, but I have to believe that somehow, such a momentous happening was DESTINY or KARMA or whatever...

Like I said, that was my opinion three months ago, and for the most part, I haven't changed my mind. No other genre makes such a fuss about contests for UNPUBLISHED writers. Then again, no other professional writers organization except RWA actually allows unpublished members. As several Banditas have mentioned (and I agree), the RWA's most prestigious contest for unpubbeds, the Golden Heart, is pretty much a crap shoot.

Now after saying all that, I have to admit that I probably would not have SOLD if I hadn't entered and finaled in the GH. Even though my editor didn't buy my GH final, she asked to see it strictly because it WAS a GH final. And I probably would have never submitted the manuscript she did buy if I hadn't submitted the first one!

So while your cranky ole Aunty will be this first one to rant and rave about all the things WRONG with writing contest, she also has to admit that YES, they CAN lead to a sale.

the brassy and cranky sloth

Anna Campbell said...

Cassondra, I'm with you on the absolute torture bit. But having written? Better than chocolate!!!!

Keira, the High Road? Och Aye, wee bairn of a bonny Bandita, what are ye blatherin' aboot? I'll have to do a search. I must admit I had one of those mornings where I skim read all the posts before mine. And because I am now the GOLDEN SLOTH, there were a lot!

Anna Campbell said...

Gosh, I found it? You call that needling??!! I want to come and live in your family. I'll even cook golden rooster for you every day and tell you you write like Loretta Chase in return!

Kate Carlisle said...

I think it's only fair that I get the Tarnished Slut--ack! I mean, SLOTH Award today!!

Okay, what was the topic? Oh yeah, contests! Jolly good topic, Posh, and one I can blather on about anytime. Wait, where's my Contest Diva Spreadsheet? Ah, yes...well, of course I love the Golden Heart, having snagged it through pure luck and favorable planetary alignments that day. It's a complete crap shoot and yet I love it because it really does create buzz and excitement for the finalists, and of course I wouldn't be a part of all this Bandita wildness if I hadn't taken rolled dice, so to speak. ;-)

And I'm soooo happy Project Runway's back for another season of snipping and sniping! It's the only reality show my husband will watch with me. I can't imagine why. ::cough::Heidi Klum::cough::

Kate Carlisle said...

No, "taken rolled dice" is not an's a Tarnished Sloth-ism.

I meant to say "If I hadn't rolled the dice..."

Going back to bed. Snagging the Sloth wore me out. LOL

Caren Crane said...

Wow, the sloths really do come out at night! I had the great fortune to go see a middle school musical tonight: Into the Woods Jr. (The 'junior' part means they cut the naughty bits and change the registers so the kids can sing the songs.) There were a couple of kids with great voices and some with raw enthusiasm and some with so little perceptible talent it's a wonder they made the cut. And yes, there were auditions.

Anyway, all the talk about Top Model has made me determined to figure out when in the world it comes on. I may even *gasp* watch TV! I'll be sure to let the Banditas know if that unlikely event occurs. *g*

Helen, is Australian Idol as painful as American Idol, I wonder? It is pure agony watching the auditions!

Flchen1, I just knew someone besides me must love the train wreck of the contest shows. Oh, the humanity! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I love the gemstone analogy! I think I've had some where I polished and faceted a bit too much and it damaged the integrity of the stone. Ah, well. Currently, I am polishing carefully and judiciously. I hope it pays off!

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, these days the joy is definitely in 'having written'. But I remember my first actual novel. It was bliss. Such pure, unadulterated fun! Of course, I wrote it strictly for me and a couple of friends to read. I have lovely memories of that book. Completely unpublishable, of course. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Claudia and Cassondra, I completely agree about the hair thing. Come on, I had a very ill-advised Dorothy Hamill haircut, for Pete's sake. It grew out!

I think for prospective models, as for prospective authors, it is hard to transition to thinking of your body (or book) as a "product". Once you come to terms with that, it gets easier all the time to tweak and change and manipulate. Hair cut? No problem. Cut a subplot? No problem. Maybe they need some romance authors coaching those skinny chicks. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Kate, you're cracking me up. What were you up, like 4-1/2 hours today? *g* Better save your energy, lady. You have a whole series of books to write!

Caren Crane said...

Speaking of contests, picture this: Field Day, fifth grade, three-legged race. Despite a complete lack of athletic ability, I somehow always managed to snag ribbons on Field Day. The three-legged race was a specialty of mine, so I felt confident.

Problem: I was tall and, by fifth grade, much taller than my classmates. So, I couldn't find anyone (no girl, anyway, since boys were still stinky to me then) who was anywhere near my size. I settled for a good friend who was, and always would be, quite vertically challenged. We did not win. But I was glad she chose to team with me and glad to have made an effort. Sort of. I really wanted to win.

Most. Competitive. Person. Ever!

Dianna Love Snell said...

HI Caren -
Great blog article.

I'm commiserating with those who have not finaled or won, but I admire your determination to stay in the battle.

I'm trying to imagine p226 squatted in a corner doing anything that doesn't involve covert work. ;) (btw - I did get your other post - definitely a crazy fast bike.)

I'm excited for all of you who are entering the GH and RITA - sending you lots of positive energy. The minute you get those entries in - take a nice break since you'll be due, then get on a new story so you'll have another baby to either pitch at national or pitch as the second book in that 2 book contract. I'm sending even stronger vibes for contracts to all of you.

I just got back in town and thought I'd stop in. This is such a fun blog, but I'm jumping off and see you another time. :)

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, I was just reading your post at WNP! Your 6 questions for openings is exactly what I need this weekend as I do my GH polish-up! Thank you for popping by and THANK YOU for the opening scene help! If anyone missed it, stop by the Wet Noodle Posse blog and check it out!

Anna Campbell said...

Dianna, lovely to see you back!