Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Winning Season...

by Donna MacMeans

Everyone has been a little high strung in the lair this week.

You might recall that a contest, RWA's 2006 Golden Heart contest, brought us all together so many years ago.
Now, one usually doesn't enter the Golden Heart without having had som
e success at smaller regional contests. Consequently you could say that the banditas are a collection of successful contest sluts.

I'm afraid the sluttiness doesn't go away once one becomes published. There's a whole array of regional contests for published authors. While the prize in an unpublished contest is often an editor read - for the published author, it's just another credential to add to their biography (and sometimes a framable certificate or plaque). But the grand prize remains RWA's RITA contest which earns the author, besides bragging rights, a
golden statuette.

So why are we antsy in the lair? Thursday is the day the finalists in the Golden Heart/RITA contest are announced. First the finalists receive a phone call, then the names go up on the contest website and the congratulations begin flying. This year the winners of the Golden Heart and RITA contests will be announced in late July at the RWA convention in Nashville. Of cour
se, we'll announce any bandita finalists here and post their good news on the scroll. For more information on the RWA convention, follow this link: www.Rwanational.org

The nice thing about the Golden Heart/RITA contest is that much like the Academy awards, the contest is judged by peers. For the Golden Heart, scores are collected from five RWA member judges to determine the finalists. A panel of editors determine the winner. For the RITA, scores are collected from five other published author judges to determine the finalists. Then another panel of author judges chose the winner.

But while we wait for Thursday's announcement, I thought I'd explain some of the differences between the big published author contests.

Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Awards - Every year the reviewers at Romantic Times Book reviews magazine nominate various books/authors for a variety of awards. The reviewers choose the winner in each category and announce the winners at their convention (which this
year will be in Columbus, Ohio) in late April. The nice thing about this contest is that there is no entry fee or submission process. If you've published a book in the past year, you are
automatically entered. This year we have three banditas as finalists: Christine Wells/ Wicked Little Games, Anna Campbell/Tempt the Devil and Kate Carlisle/Homicide in Hard Cover. As I'll be at the RT Convention next month, I'll be cheering loudly for my fellow banditas to win. For more information on the RT convention, check out this link: http://guest.cvent.com/EVENTS

RomCon - This is the first year for this contest, but the prizes are simply amazing. This is the only contest with a significant financial award for the winner, but it is an expensive contest to enter and, unlike the RT award, one must enter. Like many of the smaller regional contests, the judges are screened readers. The finalists will be announced next month on April 30th. The winners will be announced at the RomCon convention in early July in Denver. For more information, check out this link. http://www.romconinc.com/

So my question for you is - do contest wins or finals make a difference to you as a reader? Not everyone enters their books into contests due to cost factors. We banditas enjoy the validation that a contest win or final can bring. Are you a contest slut? How about in another venue? Before I started writing I used to enter my paintings in local art shows. I guess once a slut, always a slut (grins). So what do you think?


chelleyreads said...


Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Chellyreads!

I guess you get the ultimate trophy - the virtual Golden Rooster! Unlike the trophies mentioned on the blog, the GR will not stay in one place for long - but hey - he's golden!

Helen said...

Congrats chelleyreads have fun with him

Hi Donna

Contest sluts I love that saying and yes I love it when I win books and prizes that are given away on blogs and I have had lots of luck that way and have many autographed books which are my pride and joy.

For me if I like the sound of a book I will buy it even if it has not won a contest but a contest win would entice me to buy a book I may not have bought otherwise if that makes sense.

I have everything crossed for all of the Bandits entered in any contest.

Have Fun

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Helen -

I would guess that we're all book sluts (grin). And we love that you love the bandita books! I have high hopes that new annoucements will be hitting the scroll about bandita placements.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Chelley, congrats on the rooster!

Donna, I'm STILL a contest slut! There's something so exciting about having your work singled out, isn't there? And I have a lot to be grateful to contests for - after all, a contest gave me my lovely Banditas. And then all the Bandita buddies! How cool is that? Think I got the first prize that year even though I didn't collect an official gong!

Jane said...

Hi Donna,
Finaling or winning a contest doesn't affect me as reader, but I guess it does has a nice ring to it. Good luck to the Banditas.

Tawny said...

I've been too broke to slut around :-( More's the pity, I did love my slutty days!!!

as for the rest of your post, *fingers in ears* lalalallallalaaalaaaalaaaa

I can't hear you.

chelleyreads said...

thanks everyone! the rooster's helping me write lesson plans this time :)

yes, lol i'm a contest slut. i love winning. actually though before i started entering book giveaways i've never won anything so i'm sticking with book giveaways where my luck seems to hold up.

i wish i can go to romcon as i've never been to a book conference solely to celebrate the romance genre (my favorite genre of all-time!)--but there's always the money situation. as for me, to tell the truth i'm usually not even a book has won a contest. i buy books based on whether i like the blurb and/or the book cover (yup, i'm a cover slut too!).

i think romances that won big contests like the RITA should have a mark on the cover like it would on a newbery medal winning book. not possible?

good luck on the RITA and at romcon banditas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Anna - You should be a contest slut. Your books are so good they're carrying away a number of honors. You've been nominated twice for RITA awards and you won an RT critics choice award. I'm expecting to hear Thursday that you're up again for a RITA - not to put too much pressure on (grin).

And yes - I think we all won the way we met in connection with the 2006 Golden Heart.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Jane - I guess it would be difficult to be influenced as a reader as the awards come out so late after the book has been released. The current nominations are for books released in 2009. But as one who has hasn't been entering book contests the way I used to - It's good to know that a win or loss doesn't impact the buyer's decision.

Donna MacMeans said...

Tawny -

Must admit, I haven't been making the contest rounds as much as I used to - it's just too expensive! Not sure if that makes me less of a slut, though (Grin).

Joan said...

OMG, I guess I have to admit it...I am a slut!

Our BB's know that I enter baking contests and have racked up well over 100 ribbons over the years.

As to my writing contests. I've been VERY lucky having finaled and won in some very prestigious contests. I don't enter EVERY one available so maybe I'm a semi-slut?


Anyway, good luck to everyone who is waiting for a call Thursday!

Donna MacMeans said...

Chelleyreads -

You know - I've wondered the same thing. They really should put something on the cover to promote that its a contest winner. Of course, for published author contests, the cover is designed and the book released before they are ever entered in a contest. The current contests are for books published in 2009. But a nice shiny sticker would be nice - then I suppose the issue would be labor to adhere the stickers - drat!

Sometimes you can find past accolades included in an author's bio in the back of the book, but I only read those AFTER I've read and been impressed by the book.

Donna MacMeans said...

Joan - You're a slut. Admit it!

I think baking contests must produce the best kind of slut - chocolate chip cookies - YUM!

Fingers crossed that you hear good things on Thursday!

Anna Campbell said...

Donna, you wicked girl! I'm taking a leaf out of the fabulous Tawny's book. Lalalalalalalalalla!!!!

By the way, thank you for those lovely compliments. You haven't exactly been hiding your own light under a bushel when it comes to contests either, m'dear!

Anna Sugden said...

I'm another one sticking my fingers in my ears *la la la la*

I'll admit it - I'm a contest slut. I started to get the editor reads and then enjoyed getting the bling too. I must admit, I stopped for a while because I didn't need the leg up that contests gave me (though I did miss the bling!).

Now, I've started in a new genre - romantic suspense - so it's a whole new ball game with new editors and probably agents too - so I'm back on the contest circuit. Keep your fingers crossed!

As to whether or not I read books that have won contests - it's only a factor if I'm convinced on other levels.

PJ said...

Congrats, Chelleyreads!

Donna, I'm so very excited (and anxious) for all the Bandits and hoping for lots of great news this Thursday.

I've been very lucky on the blog/author contest circuit, racking up many signed books and other assorted goodies...like the lovely Romance Bandits mouse pad that gives my desk that extra something special. :)

I wouldn't say I qualify for "slut" status yet, but I've entered photography contests and have walked away with a couple prizes. I have to admit, it is a bit addictive. *g*

The main impact RITA and Golden Heart awards have on me is that I'm thrilled for the authors I know who win them.

Claudia Dain said...

See, I need people like you to keep me in the loop on contest stuff. I never know the call date for the Rita. Good to know that Thursday is going to be a bust for me.

Thanks so much.


Contest slut? Not at all. I never entered a contest before I was published and my publisher always enter me in the Rita.

I'm contest clueless. We have our own contest, which we fail to enter. It's complicated.

Deb said...

Entering contests and winning is fun, isn't it?! I have only entered blog contests and have won books. I am not talented enough for baking (like my sister), nor gardening (like my other sister), nor photography (like my niece), nor painting or quilting (like my mom). Geesh, I sound like a dud, huh?! LOL

Everyone has their own special talent(s) and that makes each person unique, IMO.

I am so happy for all of my author friends who receive awards! HURRAY! Awards don't draw me to a book; but, rather, the author as well as friends' recommendations. There are many great authors who may not get the recognition they deserve. (Bev Kendall at The Season calls them authors under the radar.)

Donna MacMeans said...

Fo - yes, the contest circuit was good to me, but I haven't really hit it with the last book - just couldn't manage the deadlines and the mailings while working on the current WIP. I do enjoy following every one else's success, though.

Donna MacMeans said...

Anna S. -

I miss those contests where you actually get feedback! Published author contests don't give you that - they're sort of like the Golden Heart in that way. The other thing I miss about contests is the uplift you get when you do well. The validation that you know what you're doing. Like many authors, when I'm working on a project - I'm convinced that everything I write is dreck. It's good -in the middle of that - to hear that maybe it's not.

Donna MacMeans said...

JP -

I think you're lucky with blog contests because you are so darn sweet that the prizes naturally flow in your direction. Karma, you know?

I'd forgotten that you're a photographer as well. While I'm sure you are taking photos for your own enjoyment, those photography contests are highly competitive. If you've had success there, it's because you've a good eye for composition and a quick finger to snap right at the right moment.

Even though I've taken a couple college level courses in photography - mine still stink (grin). Somehow the camera just sees things differently than I do. Sometime you'll have to ask my husband about my series of photos of pelicans in flight. Some of the most boring shots even to grace a negative. (grin). Think I'll stick to writing - but good luck to you, PJ.

Donna MacMeans said...

LOL Claudia - love your posts.

I'm not really looking for a call on Thursday either. I'll be at a client's all day talking to some workers compensation auditors anyway.

Not being a contest slut is much easier on the nerves. How wonderful that your publishers have the faith in your work to enter it anyway! EIther way - nomination or not - I propose we meet at the bar in Nashville and celebrate.

jo robertson said...

Interesting topic, Donna. Contests are so appealing for a writer to enter, even though she knows the results can be very subjective.

I'll forever be grateful to the Golden Heart Contest for bringing us Banditas together. It was my firt contest win, with my very first completed manuscript so it was a very personal thrill for me too!

jo robertson said...

Congrats on capturing the rooster, Chelleyreads! Did you answer my question the other day about how to pronounce your very cool name?

Contest wins do make a difference when I'm selecting a book, Donna, especially if the book's a Pen-Faulkner award winner or Pulitizer prize winner. I know the book is well-written and has certain literary merit.

With romance, I'm impressed by the wins too because there are many romance books to choose from and I'd like to know which ones most readers appreciate most.

Donna MacMeans said...

Deb -

NEVER would I call you a Dud! Perish the thought! Cool that you are part of an accomplished group of women. While you might not be entering contests for all those individual talents, you probably do pretty well in all of those areas on your own. I bet if there was a contest for romance readers - you'd excel (grin).

That's what we need - a contest for romance readers! It'll reward not just those that read a lot, but those that read with comprehension as well.
What do you think?

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Jo!

What a thrill to win the Golden Heart with your very first manuscript! If you were like me back in 1998 when my first manuscript finaled in the Golden Heart (but did not win) - I thought that this was a sign that the manuscript would sell. It did not. But just being a finalist offered benefits that shine a light on you as if to say "this girl can write!"

I tend to buy/read the contest winners myself. I have so little time to read romance these days, I want to make sure I'm reading a good book. One can argue that the best romance did not necessarily win their category, but I don't think anyone can argue that the finalist titles aren't all really good reads.

Louisa Cornell said...

Ah yes, Chelley, you've won that rarest of prizes! Lesson plans? Good Lord it boggles the mind to think what the GR wants to teach those kids!

My name is Louisa Cornell and I am a contest slut! Contests have been very good to me. And, you're right, Donna, the feedback is a big plus. When I first started writing the feedback I received from contests was a tremendous help.

Actually, a contest is what drew me back to writing in the first place - the AvonFanLit Event. I even won one segment and chapter three of the novella the contest produced is by yours truly. The very best prize I received from that contest was meeting La Campbell. Her friendship and mentoring are a pearl above price! And through her I met the Banditas!! A very great prize indeed!

I do tend to pick up books by Rita winners and Golden Heart winners if that fact is advertised on the cover.

And when my niece and nephews were younger I tended to pick up the Newberry award winners first when shopping for a book for them.

And I will be watching for many Bandita names on the GH/Rita list on Thursday!! Good luck ladies! But then again, you don't need luck! You all have MAXIMUM TALENT going for you!

Donna MacMeans said...

Louisa -

We'll be watching for your name as well. You entered again, haven't you? Be warned though - it's a fickle contest. Often the exact same entry that finals one year fails to make the cut the second. And the reason? All contests are crapshoots! It all depends on the luck of the draw for those first round judges.

isn't it great how fate intervenes in contests? I'm so glad that your entry in the Avonfanlit contest brought you to Anna and then to us. We value your friendship - so I guess the banditas were the ultimate winners in that contest!

Louisa Cornell said...

You are so right about the luck of the draw, Donna! Yes, I have entered the GH this year, but with a different manuscript. I have been lucky so far to have my first book final and then my second, but I have no clue what this third book will do!

Donna MacMeans said...

Louisa -

Hey, three's the charm! You know I once heard of a survey someone did of various well-known authors and discovered that for a very large percentage of authors, the third manuscript was the first to sell. I know it worked that way for me. Fingers crossed that it will work that way for you too.

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Donna--

I'm not what you'd call a contest slut, though I may qualify as a little promiscuous. :-)

I've been in the gap for a long time, now, though. Published for official purposes, since I'm signed to Berkley, but unpublished in reality as my first book doesn't hit the stands until July this year. Which means, there really aren't many contests I could enter. It's been both liberating & maddening. I miss the rush of waiting to hear if I finaled.

Speaking of which, I'll be glued to the computer on Thursday, even though I don't have a dog in this race. Living vicariously, I guess. :-)

Best of luck to all the entrants!

Virginia said...

Hi Donna, great post! Congrat Chelle on getting the rooster! Have a great time with him!

Yes Donna I am a contest slut in a bad way. The only thing I have ever won was books but I so love it. I get a hugh thrill everytime I have ever won! That thrill is so addictive! I love it. But then again I do love my books. I love the idea of having autographed books and I keep them all! I just can't part with them if they have been autographed! After I read them I store them in a box, sometime I will let my sister read them. They just mean a lot to me!

Bandita's good luck with all your contest!

Donna MacMeans said...

Susan - I'll be in your position next year as I haven't a book coming out this year. However, next year I bet your name will appear on finalist lists everywhere! I can't wait for MONEY HONEY to hit the stands. I'm really looking forward to reading it - finally (grin).

Donna MacMeans said...

Virginia -

I love that you enjoy autographed books so much, and yes, winning them is half the fun. This blog is certainly a good one for that (grins). So glad to have you as a supporter.

Anna Campbell said...

Fanlit was fantastic, wasn't it, Louisa? I met so many wonderful people, including your good self, through that contest.

jo robertson said...

We're all eager for Money Honey to hit the stacks, Donna. Susan's such a great writer I know it will be wonderful!

jo robertson said...

Viriginia, I think winning books is the best kind of treat. When I lived in a small town in Idaho years ago, they had a quiz on the radio (yeah, radio!) once a week where you could win movie tickets.

I got so excited the first time I won a pair. The question was "Who invented the pretzel?" Can't believe I guess right on that one!

I love winning things, doesn't happen very often!

jo robertson said...

From your mouth to the publishing gods' ears, Donna. I'm now editing my fifth book, so I'd love some love on any of them!

jo robertson said...

Louisa, that's a great accomplishment! To have both your first and second m/ss final in the Golden Heart is superb. Hope third time's the charm!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Donna!!! I'm still a contest slut too. Grins. As a buyer, it does make a difference to me. I know what it means, though, so I'm an informed buyer. :>

jo robertson said...

Definitely, Donna! Having a winning or finalling m/s doesn't guarantee a contract. There are so many variables involved, but I know if I don't keep trying, I'll never get published.

Claudia Dain said...

Publisher confidence? Nah, can't be that. I think it's just their policy to submit books to the Ritas. If it's confidence on their part then I have to feel GUILTY for not delivering the goods.

I am not going there.

Meeting in the bar. Check.

catslady said...

I'm lucky enough to be one of the judges in the Romcon this year. I've done a few others in years past and take it very seriously. It's hard when you get genres you don't care for but this year I got what I selected and it's been very enjoyable reading.

PinkPeony said...

Hi Donna...

I never won anything until I started hanging out with you guys. :)

I finally jumped into the contest wading pool last month and boy, I can see how easy it is to become a contest slut/addict. Between the workshops and the contest fees, it sure adds up! Anyway, I'm just hoping for some constructive feedback.
Best of luck to all of you who are waiting for the GH/Rita announcements..and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for Christine, Anna and Kate for the RT contest too.

Donna MacMeans said...

Jeanne - Good to have you home!

I know you've been up for some of those awards. It's easy to be a contest slut when you write really great stories (grin). Fingers crossed that one of those calls on Thursday will be to your place.

Donna MacMeans said...

Jo - I have absolutely no doubt that you will be published. You have talent, skill, and perseverance. Can't ask for much more!

Donna MacMeans said...

Claudia - LOL - Nope, I stand by my publisher confidence statement. They wouldn't have bought the book if they didn't have confidence in your abilities.
Plus you have bandita confidence which is powerful mojo working on your behalf.

Donna MacMeans said...

Catslady - Good on you being a judge!
I judged books for the RITA contest this year (as did many other banditas) and I know what it's like to get books that just aren't great...and getting some really good ones. Glad that your mix is good.

Donna MacMeans said...

Pinkpeony - Sending virtual hugs. Being a contest slut is a tough road to hoe, but it has its rewards. Writing does tend to be an expensive obsession, isn't it? Be assured some of your contest feedback will be good and helpful and probably some will be useless. Remember - all contests are crapshoots! It all depends on the luck of the draw on judges. Sending winning vibes your way. Let us know how things turn out!

Claudia Dain said...

Donna, just have to say that is one gorgeous cover you have. Yay, you!

Nancy said...

Chelleyreads, congrats on the rooster!

Donna, I don't buy a book or not buy it because of a contest final or win, as a rule. I might pick it up and read the blurb and then decide. There are a couple of exceptions. I bought your wonderful GH winner, The Education of Mrs. Brimley, partly because it won but partly because I had met you.

I bought Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card because it won both the Hugo and the Nebula for the same year, and then the sequel, Speaker for the Dead, turned around and did the same thing. They were both amazing. I think Card may be the only author to have won both those awards for the same book, two books in a row.

But not usually.

Donna MacMeans said...

Claudia -

Thank you so much. I love the cover as well. You can't really see it in this small avatar, but the heroine has a definite twinkle in her eye - and, of course, the corset she's wearing is truly from the nineteenth century and is featured in the book.

But you know how it is, you always cross your fingers for the next one.

Donna MacMeans said...

Nancy -

Thank you as well - you really bought Mrs. Brimley because you'd met me? Wow! Hope you like it (grin).

You are so very well read in so many genres. I'm in awe. I'm familiar with the Nebula award (but not sure if I've read the winners), and the Edgar (same thing) - But I'm not familiar with other awards in other genres. I see I need to expand my horizons (grin).

limecello said...

Great post, Donna - but for a reader? Nope. Contests me nothing to me :X the RWA one used to mean something, but now, not that either.
I guess it depends on if my tastes and the judges's match up.
It's kinda ironic, because I do judge a few contests. *shh* but... *shrugs* Whatever :)
But I do think it's great when an author does win a contest though!

Donna MacMeans said...

Interesting Limecello -

I thought the contest wins would mean more to readers than they apparently do. I think maybe the biggest impact may be to a writer's credentials and also the boost it gives that the author has ability (grin). That may sound silly but doubt monkeys abound. An award helps to chase them away...temporarily.

catslady said...

Yes and no lol. It doesn't hurt to see that a book has won just as hearing from lots of people but it is subjective. I've judged for some contests (nothing huge). Hopefully you get the genre you prefer but that doesn't always happen. I'm not quite sure getting a small amount of people is a fair enough test. Let's just say I won't buy a book on that alone.

Becke Davis said...

I'm late responding to this, but it hit home because my critique partners and I all finaled in the same contest, and we just heard the results will be announced this week. It's hard competing against friends!

I didn't submit to the GH so I'm relatively calm this week while about half of my RWA chapter is sweating bullets in anticipation of tomorrow's announcement.

I don't know if contests are helpful to readers, but to a struggling writer the judge's comments often provide very helpful suggestions.

Good luck to everyone who entered!

Pat Cochran said...

Hi to all,

I began entering author and blog
contests some 2 - 21/2 years ago.
In fact, one of my early entries
was here in the Lair and I was a winner. Over this time period, I
have won some 120+ prizes and I
can tell you it was strictly
beginner's luck! It's begun to
calm down, I've only won 2 prizes
this month!! My ultimate prize is
getting to know all of the ladies
and the gentleman of the Lair and the Golden Rooster!!

Pat CochranTamales2

michellewillingham said...

Can I join in with a glass of champagne? I am just so over the moon right now. I found out that TAMING HER IRISH WARRIOR made the Rita finals for Historical Romance!!! SQUEEE!!!