So, I left off at my epiphany. How I decided that writing was my new life path or rather how my muse made me sit up and listen.
Well, the next step on my journey was the contest.
I had been writing for five months and found out that I’m not a plotter but a pantser. I prefer to call it “flying into the mist” as one author called it in the RWR. There’s no outlining of the manuscript, mostly just writing what comes to mind. This works for a while but then at some point you have to connect the dots, which I did about 3/4 of the way through. I tend to be an emotional writer, the emotion and sex is easy for me the conflicts and other stuff, hard. So, I wrote the scenes as they came to me, they meet, she saves his life, he gives her a gift, they have sex. I thought it sounded good but my partner read it and I laugh every time I repeat her words, “I hardly know this man” she typed in her critique of my scene. My response…”OK, exactly how many times do they need to be together before they can have sex?”
Next, we decided to learn more about the craft and took Lori Wilde’s online workshop on Layering Scenes for Maximum impact. We learned A LOT! Can’t thank Lori enough, it was an eye opener.
So, then this contest comes along. The Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America’s “Between the Sheets” contest. My partner sends me the link and says that I should enter it. Contest schmantest I exclaim. Then she explains to me how important they can really be and I mull it over. At this point I’m not signed up for RWA, I have no home chapter, I’m just getting knowledge secondhand from her and writing on my own.
Then I decided that if this was going to be my life path I better get myself out there and declare it as my path. I joined the RWA despite the fact that I might not be able to really afford it living check to check and all. I rationalized paying the fee, thinking that if I needed the money that I sent I would just not pay my credit card for that month, (luckily for me I didn’t have to avoid paying my credit card). I filled out the contest application and began to polish my sex scene, not only polish it but cut it down as well. I submitted the application on February 2nd and the deadline for submission was the 14th, Valentine’s day. This seemed pretty short but to make matters worse, my son’s 7th birthday was on the 12th and I was planning a Clone Trooper celebration for the 13th. So, with shopping and planning and cooking and only having one car to do this with (meaning I had to drive my husband to work and pick him up when I needed the car), oh and taking a workshop, it was pretty challenging.
My scene started out as 9 pages, not too bad, you have to submit 10 and a 1 page set-up but it was missing some major parts like, oh, talking. So, I had to add to it. I stole some parts from my manuscript and had a complete scene, the page count after all that was 19 pages. 19! Crap, now I had to cut out 9 pages!!! Well, it wasn’t in manuscript format so after doing that it was decreased to 15. Still. I had to cut it to 10 pages and so I started. I learned while doing this I had WAY TOO MUCH narrative so some of it was easy to cut. I had to sacrifice some of the naughty parts too but it was for the good of the contest and I knew I could put it back.
So I worked for hours and hours, pouring over this one scene and by the time I was done with it I couldn’t stand anymore manhood, or thrusting or anything. I was done. I submitted it on the evening of his party, Saturday February 13th 2010.
Why did I enter? To begin to put myself out there, to put myself on the chopping block, to see if I was on the right track. I didn’t think about winning, I mean I had only been writing for 5 months. But I was proud of those 10 pages. I had worked my ass off! Well, the closer it came to the announcement of the finalists the more I wanted to win but it was too much to hope for to actually final. I was so new, so inexperienced, it could never happen.
Never say never because it did. I just about died when I got the email that TIMELESS had final-ed. I had to send it to my partner for her to verify that indeed is what it said but first I called her up and said, “we did it!” “We did what?” She said with excitement. “We final-ed!!!” “I think I could vomit,” she said. Yah, me too, I thought. That was unbelievable, it was just her and me muddling through and we had done it. It was so validating that all my work had actually paid off. Next were the final judges, my stomach knots just thinking about it.
I won’t make you wait for the result. I received 4th place (honorable mention) which was disappointing, I wanted to make it in the top 3 but the fact that Senior Editor,Patience Smith from Harlequin asked to see the full cushioned that a little bit. OK, A LOT!!!
One thing though, it wasn’t done. Meaning 1/4 of the story was still in my head. Now, I didn’t enter to buck the system. They always say (but I didn’t know that at the time) don’t enter a contest or pitch if you don’t have a finished manuscript. I entered to get some feedback, that’s all. So, I worked very hard and as quick as I could to actually finish it. Now that I think about it, I may not have finished it if I didn’t have the push of the request behind me.
And that’s where I am now. I am editing and revising and polishing to send it off to her and at the very least take my next step in the Romance Writing World and become PRO. But it IS delicious to dream of the alternative…