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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Using the Golden Heart to Your Advantage

Are you the type of person that works best with a deadline? Were you always the student in school that waited until the last minute to turn something in? Even if you had the entire quarter/semester to write a paper or to do a project, was there just something about the first few weeks that caused them to slip right by, no work done on the project until the clock started ticking? Do you now find yourself putting off writing because you don't have a clear deadline to push you?

Need a deadline for finishing your book? Look no further than the Golden Heart contest.

When I first started writing, I knew that I would need something, some end goal to motivate me. I found RWA and the Golden Heart contest requirements online and it was as if the sun started shining and the angels started singing. The jewel of romance contests, something to strive for, and even better, a contest that required a finished manuscript. I couldn't even enter without writing a full book. Perfect. It was around October when I stumbled upon the GH. I knew I couldn't implement my plan for that year's contest, but for the next year? Yes. I immediately began plotting a timeline. I figured that if I finished the book by August I'd have plenty of time to revise it before submitting it to the GH. So that's what I did. And it worked. I finished my book in time to submit it and I entered. I then started a new book with the thought that if I was still eligible to enter, I was going to use the next Golden Heart as a deadline to finish book two. Lather, rinse and repeat.

So if you are starting your first book, or finishing your 20th, and need a little extra motivation or a deadline...consider entering the Golden Heart either this year or next. Make your timeline, roll up your sleeves, put your money in the basket so you have to enter, and go for it. :)

Have you used the Golden Heart as a deadline to finish a manuscript? Do you use it for another non-standard purpose?

28 Comments:

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Keri Ford said...

I used the GH for a deadline this year.Whew. Tough business on the nervous that is. After I signed up and started on my entry I thought it was rather dumb thinking on my part. Now I'm on the down hill slope side of getting my entry together and I decided it was the best thing I ever did.

It really gave me that extra push and now I KNOW I won't have a problem writing for a publisher's deadline. When push came to shove, I buckled down and wrote.

 
At 8:41 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Good job, Keri! Was this your first finished book? If so, congratulations!

The GH definitely pushes me to finish one new book a year. I've completed six books now and every year I pray I won't be eligible for the GH the next year. :) One of these days...

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger doglady said...

First of all, Anne, I LOVE your books! What Isabella Desires is fabulous. That said, I AM using the GH as a deadline for this, my first novel. It is so hard to write a novel when you work forty hours a week at a job that just drains you. Shooting for the GH has forced me to sit in the chair when sometimes all I want to do is collapse in bed. It has also helped me to isolate my day job so that it doesn't follow me home and that is a great thing no matter what!

 
At 9:22 AM, Blogger Karen said...

I'm another one who used the GH as a deadline to finish my book. In fact, when I sent in my fee, I still had about 30 pages to go. I finished that book, and since I edit as I go, it only took a few read-throughs before it was ready to mail.

Be aware of your personal schedule if you decide to take this route, though. If anything unexpected comes up, you could fail to make your deadline and lose your fee!

Good luck to everyone.

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

For those of you who have been at this a while, try upping the goal to multiple GH entries. Not only do you have more chance of finaling/winning the more entries you have (especially if they're all in one category), but it's good practice for publishers, who generally want you to write more than a book a year.

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

One of the things I like about the GH is the way it mimics the real submission process - first a partial and synopsis; second a full ms. And a real deadline!

Karen, you like to live on the edge! It is risky to enter with more pages to finish, but 30 is not so many.

I think it is less important to make the final ms shine. I know someone (not a noodler) who mistakenly turned in the version of her full ms that had notations like "insert scene description here" or "research this"
And she won!!
And she sold.

 
At 11:51 AM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I'm on chapter 17 of Isabelle now, Anne, and having a hard time putting it down to get my work done. Great book!

The Golden Heart was a deadline for me for so long, when I stopped entering, I hardly knew how to program myself! Regency writers had a big push every year to get enough entries to meet the minimum (the big problem being not enough publishers, not a problem with enough authors). The last year I won I hadn't even intended to enter, but I came back from England in October and discovered the category was in danger. I only had one possible manuscript and it was about 30,000 words too long. I hacked the death out of the thing, knowing the poor terminally bleeding manuscript didn't have a chance, and entered. Well, you know the rest. Anything can happen in the Golden Heart!

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

That's Isabella, not Isabelle. I know the difference. My fingers don't.

Delle

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Diane, that is so funny! I can just picture my own work, with little scribbles like "insert witty barb here".

So, when the finals come around, do the judges (agents/editors) ask for the full that is submitted, or an updated full?

 
At 12:44 PM, Blogger Anne Mallory said...

Excellent, Keri!

Theresa - one of these days very soon! :)

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger Anne Mallory said...

Thanks for the sweet words, Doglady! It is stressful to write and work a day job, but it shows passion and determination. It sounds like you are doing a great job of it. Isolating the job so that it doesn't follow you home is very smart. :)

Good words of advice, Karen!

 
At 12:48 PM, Blogger Anne Mallory said...

Esri, you brilliant lady, that is something I should have put in the post. Writing multiple GH entries is definitely a great way to up the ante.

Diane, it really is a great test run for the submission process!

Thanks, Delle! I'm so happy you are enjoying the book! :) And I think that's one of the wonderful things about the GH - anything can happen!

 
At 12:51 PM, Blogger Anne Mallory said...

Gillian, for the contest purposes, only the submitted entry is read. But in terms of the editors or agents reading the partial and wanting the full outside of the contest...it likely depends on the agent/editor, but I think many of them would take a peek at the submitted full. I know that happened with me. My editor read the full I turned in to the contest. Cue groaning because by that time I had lengthened the book by 80+ pages and revised the heck out of it. I think just about every author wishes they could revise their entry first! :D In some contests you can do that though (the GOTCHA, for instance).

 
At 2:50 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Diane, that is so funny! I can just picture my own work, with little scribbles like "insert witty barb here".

The moral of the story is, you don't have to give editors a perfect manuscript, just one that shows the book can be edited and will be fabulous. I don't mean you should be sloppy, but if you have a scene or two that doesn't work, the editors won't care.

 
At 4:38 PM, Blogger Keri Ford said...

Darn internet's had me off since this morning.

Anyway, Theresa no, not my first book. Not my second...or third..or moving on.

I did enter two books this year in the same category (one of them was done and basically ready to go).

Congrats to everyone else who finished theirs too!

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger janegeorge said...

Aaaah, deadline!

I have 80 pages yet to revise/rework.

Hear ya on the day job, Doglady. My office is expanding and we're working through the construction. It's nucking futs.

Back to work on the sanity-saver!

 
At 6:34 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

"Nucking futs"...[snort]

I gotta remember that.

 
At 8:30 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

I've used the GH as a deadline many times. I'm kind of a deadline junkie. I'm constantly setting self-imposed deadlines. I think I just have deadline brain, coming from the journalism field where it's all deadlines all the time.

 
At 8:33 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Great advice right down the line, Anne. Thank you! Hey, Gillian, fellow Passion's Slave! Ladies, don't let her kid you. She has written a terrific novel that had me hooked from the very first draft! I have so many notes from all of this and will definitely add "nucking futs" to that janegeorge as it describes running a bakery for Wal-Mart to a T!

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger Santa said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!

I think I am...no, I know I am one of those people who need a deadline. I never considered entering the GH and using it as a motivator.

Santa
Edging closer to that edge...

Anne Mallory - I am new to you. I first read your books last year and keep coming back for more!

 
At 5:39 AM, Blogger TiffinaC said...

I've been following the discussion for a week now...well all these topics...they have been of some help.

I am using GH as a deadline this year...to get my editing done.

It was my first book completed (Last may) and needed to sit a bit before edits...and I had these other characters nagging at me to finish their story too (only got halfway though before I had to pick this up or I'd never do it -- that deadline is getting close :D)

I paid the fee, afraid if I waited I'd be outta luck. Now if only I could edit faster.

I'm using san fran next year as a deadline to have three books done in my series. Goals set like that are a good thing, I've been working my butt off with the second book..and the ideas for the third germinating (I'm the eternal pantser, so no plotting for me, just a solid idea)

 
At 9:17 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

tiffinac: GREAT goal, to have a three-book series complete for San Fran. A fab city like that will draw all the senior editors, and to have three related books in the can is the best position to be in. You can sell 'em and only have to do editing and promotion instead of writing new stuff. Congrats!

And don't sweat it too much if you don't have the whole thing edited to the nth degree. They'll see where you stopped and realize there's more to be done. For that reason, it might even be better to polish the crap out of the partial and let the rest be obviously unedited. Then they can see the difference between your first draft stuff and your polished stuff. If the whole thing is polished to just a medium level, they might think that's as good as you get. Just a thought.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger Manda said...

Gosh, Diane, that's an amazing story! But, heartening:)

I've "finished" my first MS and am in the polishing stages, which I plan to be done with by the time submission time comes.

Am furiously taking notes on all this advice you guys are giving! Having someone tell the "straight dope" takes some of the scariness out of the GH process! Thanks so much!

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Thanks for all the words of wisdom, ladies.

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger Anne Mallory said...

Good luck on that last 80 pages, Jane!

Thanks, Santa! I'm one of those people who needs a deadline too!

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger Anne Mallory said...

Congratulations on finishing your first book Tiffinac!!! And using the conference as your series deadline is excellent.

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger Anne Mallory said...

Manda, congratulations on typing "the end" to your first book as well! There's nothing quite like that feeling. :)

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

I'm using a different contest to push me to complete my first novel this year. First draft done. Now working on contest entry (first chapter and synopsis). Then, back to revising the whole thing, which will be a GH entry next year!

If things go according to plan, I'll have a second GH entry to accompany it, now that I know the timeframe.

 

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