2/22/13

Putting off my writing to judge a contest

I have a problem of putting off my writing when I have a contest to judge. I don't know why I do this. My writing is important to me, but I think it's the obligation I feel to the contest that forces me to put it first.

I have to stop doing this!

I'd never judged this particular contest before. The categories were a little different since the contest accepted different genre types: romance, mystery, sci-fi, contemporary and children's. I think that was all of them. I volunteered to judge the romance since that is where my experience lies. I had the typical five submissions, but this contest was slightly different in that I could have any sub-genre from the romance.

Three of the entries were excellent. One of them, I gave a perfect score to along with a request to send me an email when it was published.

I did this many years ago on a submission I had judged in 2008, and just this week, I had an email from the author who told me it had been published. Five years, my friends. It took five years. Writing a book and publishing isn't for the faint of heart or for instant gratification. That just doesn't happen to 99.9% of us, but it's always the 0.1% you hear about.

Anyway, the perfect one simply got a "Wow, just wow. This was the first time in my years of judging a contest that I read an entry that was so good." And then I told her to email me when it was published and I'd buy it.

The other two almost perfect ones had a little something off about them. One of them had a totally different name in the synopsis than in the manuscript--oops, this should have been caught--plus enough minor stuff to drop it a point in a couple of the judging categories. The other one was excellent--I actually was very excited to read this, thinking I was reading an Allison Brennan-type story--until she added elements that tossed it into the erotic category side of the scale around the page 15 mark. Excellent writing, but very disappointing.

The last two needed major revisions. Actually, I think they would be better served to ditch the first 20 pages and start over. The synopses for both of these were very good, but the writing just wasn't there. The ghost story one seemed like it would be a fun read, but it needed work.

The other one had serious characterization issues--when a judge thinks the hero is acting creepy and stalkerish, then there's a problem. The two main characters were also lawyers, but neither one acted like lawyers. Though I'm not a lawyer, I happen to have many who are my friends. The lawyers I know have a very distinct ascerbic wit, are extremely intelligent, and they think about everything prior to shooting off their mouths, and these characters didn't feel lawyerish. And the odds strongly lean in the direction that this author is also a lawyer.  I'm sure my comments will be bashed in this writer's critique group and I don't know what I'm talking about.

Stuff like this happens all the time.

Susan Grant tells of the time she was bashed for wrongly portraying an airline pilot in her paranormal romance, Contact. Susan IS a 747 pilot who flies internationally, mainly San Francisco to Hong Kong or Singapore.

Anyway, I finished judging yesterday. On Monday, I'll review my comments, tweak and return the entries.

Today I'll write . . . I need to get my weekly 5K written in one day. I can do it. I've done it before. Besides I need to get something to my CP, she needs new reading material. :-)  

8 comments:

Marilyn said...

Okay, Margaret, you need to limit the number of contest entries you judge until your writing gets the attention it deserves. You have readers WAITING for your next book, and we tend to be impatient. Don't make me come over there and kick your butt. It would hurt my knee. ;)

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Tess Garrison tells the story about sending a book based in the medical field (with heavy medical undertones) to her agent who responded with...She wasn't sure. Most people wouldn't accept a book like this except from someone with a medical background. Um, Tess is an M.D.! Her agent didn't know.

p.s. I hate typing in the number and letters below! Have the time I can read one and not the other!

Margaret Golla said...

Okay, okay, Marilyn, I won't sign up to judge the Kiss of Death contest . . .I want to finish DRAGON before I go skiing, so I need to kick it into gear!

Margaret Golla said...

Cyndi--I think this is a problem in all fields. If you happen to work in a lab that does things one way, but someone writes about it differently, then you think they're wrong. They aren't wrong, just not the same. Plus Hollyweird has managed to skew the way we think about stuff. If a car flips over on the ice and snow--I expect it to blow up! Don't all cars blow up when they flip??

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Speaking of blowing up cars...did you see the story about the shoot-out in Vegas ON THE STRIP! Taxi did blow up when hit by another car.

Margaret Golla said...

No, I don't watch that show. Anyway most of my time is spent at the swimming pool in the evenings. :-(

Meg said...

Yes, Margaret, we want a new book.
The Vegas shoot out/car explosion was real.

Margaret Golla said...

I'm working on it, Meggie, I'm working on it!