Tag Archives: writing contests

Judging Writing Contests

Barbara Vey -- February 7th, 2014


I have recently judged my very first writing contest and I have to tell you that it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  I’m great at lathering on the praise, but not so good at the constructive criticism.

The Smooch sponsored by the Yosemite Romance Writers.  Bascially, it’s the ”First Kiss” scene from an unpublished work-in-progress; romance, any sub-genre.  So, I received a short set up of the book and then 5 pages of the “kiss.”  Reading them was a joy.  Lots of fresh new ideas and fun to see how each author approached this monumental moment in many books.


The problem was scoring them.  There were 2 pages of things to judge, so I reread each entry several times.  I really wanted to be fair and offer my own personal take on it as it related to me as a reader.  The more I dove into this venture, the more I realized how agonizing writing the book must be to writers.

I was just looking at one small part of the whole story to critique, while they have to toil like that with the whole book.  I have a new found respect for all who attempt this task.  Trying to put all the pieces together, having them make sense, creating believable characters, both likeable and unlikeable, and finally meshing it all into one cohesive piece.

Not this village necessarily.

Not this village necessarily.

It really does take a village to make a good book.  The writer’s vision, the editor’s red pen, copy editors, and open and honest beta readers.  I’m sure I’m even missing more fingers in there.  Just a head’s up to budding authors, don’t take short cuts.  If you plan to self publish, do your research and find reliable people to help get your book in a read-worthy state.

The point is that I will never read the same after judging.  While I’ll always appreciate the writer’s dedication, I think I’ll be even more critical because now I know how many eyes need to see a book before it is finally a polished, finished copy.  It’s a lot of work.

So, thank you authors, for filling my days and nights with such joy.  I appreciate you and your hard work does not go unnoticed by me.

Bottom Line:  I am proclaiming February 7th, my personal Author Appreciation Day…please accept these virtual chocolates, from me to you!


Rainbow Romance Writers Question RWA on Discrimination

Barbara Vey -- February 6th, 2012

Let me start by stating that I don’t belong to RWA (Romance Writers of America) or RWI (Romance Writers Ink) or RRW (Rainbow Romance Writers), but I’ve been trying to follow the storm brewing on the internet about same-sex romances being unaccepted in the More Than Magic (MTM) writing conference offered by the RWI chapter of RWA.


In the rules of the MTM contest, it is stated “  Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.”  No reason in given in the rules.  I have contacted RWI, and here is the information I have received:

On behalf of RWI, a small local chapter of RWA:
After much consideration, RWI regretfully announces the MTM Published Author Contest has been cancelled. All monies received from entrants will be returned as soon as possible. We have heard and understood the issues raised, and will take those concerns into consideration should the chapter elect to hold contests in the future. Please note: our contest coordinator, Jackie, is a chapter member who graciously volunteered to collect entries and sort by category. It is unfortunate that she has become the object of personal ridicule and abuse. We recognize the decision to disallow same-sex entries is highly charged. We also opted not to accept YA entries. We do not condone discrimination against individuals of any sort.


RRW president Heidi Cullinan wrote a passionate blog called “RWA Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Discrimination.”  In it she states, “Several members have emailed [RWI] to ask why the change; one member got a reply. She was told it was a hard decision, but some members of the chapter felt “uncomfortable” with same-sex entries.” You can read the entire blog here.


KT Grant published, in her blog, a response from Erin Frye of RWA to Isobel Carr regarding RWA’s stance on individual chapter contests.  “Chapter licensing agreements do not dictate the rules for chapter contests, and the idea that RWA can or should police contests run by its 145 chapters is fraught with complications. Following the suggestion logically, how far should RWA go with regulating chapter contests? Should RWA require chapters to only allow entries that would qualify for the RITA competition? If so, that would rule out contests that are open to books that are self published and/or books published by many small presses. Viewing the situation from another perspective, if the Rainbow chapter wished to hold a contest for the best LGBT books, should RWA say that’s not allowed? Personally, I don’t think so. Each chapter is separately incorporated and governed by volunteer leaders who are expected to make decisions in the best interests of the organization they serve. Each chapter is therefore allowed to offer programs and services that reflect the special interests and sensibilities of its members.”  You can read the entire blog here.


I see several different issues here.  Do individual chapters have the right to choose what they want to allow into their contests?  Is it discrimination if they don’t?  What if they can’t find readers to judge the contest?  Is it their responsibility to find judges if not readily available?


I looked at the RWI website and they appear to be a small group in Tulsa, OK.  I also checked out the RRW website and noticed that they didn’t have a contest available on their site.  Should RRW be required to have one?  And if they did would they accept all types of romance?


Is it up to RWA to police all the contest that are run in all the chapters?


I sure don’t claim to have any of the answers.  I know this is a hot button topic.  Even though I have read same sex books and we have blurbed about them on the blog, it’s not a topic I normally read.  But then there are other genres I don’t necessarily read because they aren’t my cup of tea.  These are personal choices of mine, but others may be fine with them and that’s okay.  That’s why there are so many choices out there.


Now that you have heard all sides, is this an issue that got bigger than it would have if things weren’t so instantaneous on the internet?  Would cooler minds have prevailed if everyone had a chance to have their say?  Do you still believe this was a blatant act of discrimination?  Or was it just a small chapter working within their means?


Bottom Line:  No easy answers here today.


Monday Giveaways

From Mia Marlow:  Two chances to win an advance reading copy of Mia Marlowe’s TOUCH OF A ROGUE (one of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten Romances for Spring 2012!). Leave a comment for Mia at http://www.bravaauthors.com/blog on Monday Feb. 6th and at http://jauntyquills.com/ on Thursday Feb. 9th. Good luck!