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When Jill mentioned she had not only entered Mills and Boon New Voices Contest (she never said a word about entering) with her novel, WINDSONG, but was in the top ten finalists, I was over the moon! Why? Not only because she was a friend with great storytelling ability, but because she had at one time considered giving up writing.
I’ll let Jill tell you about that.
Thank you so much for inviting me to talk about being one of ten finalists in Mills & Boon New Voices contest, Sia.
I am one of the least competitive people you'll ever find, yet I've lost count of the number of writing contests I've entered over the years. My first "win" came from a silly entry into a contest an America Online writing group held for Mike Tyson recipes---this was soon after Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield's ear in their infamous match. As some of your blog followers are probably too young to even know about this, that gives an indication of how long ago this was. (Also shows my age LOL) My prize was a cookbook. A used one. Yet I was thrilled to win.
Once my writing took a more serious turn, I had two finished novels under my belt when I entered the first novel-writing contest at Gather. I was certain I would win. My novel is brilliant! Readers will recognize it as the masterpiece it is! Imagine my surprise when I was out on the first round.
I then entered my other novel into Gather's next novel contest--this one for romances--thinking I "might" win. Again, out on the first round.
Then came the first Amazon Break-Through Novel Award. I submitted the same novel I'd entered in the first Gather contest. Ah ha! I thought. New audience. They'll see this novel's brilliance! Entered. Out.
Second Amazon Break-Through Novel Award. I'd written another novel at this point, and worked hard to fine-tune my pitch, asked for feedback from all the Writing Wombats--whom I was fortunate to find during all those Gather writing contest--and polished, polished, polished. I just KNEW this was it. Entered. Out.
Although you'd think I'd be used to being out on the first round, I was devastated this time. To the point that I'd decided to give up. Not just give up on contests, but on writing completely. I'm not an, ‘I have to write' type writer anyway, and decided there were other, less time-consuming outlets for my creativity. For me, the satisfaction I get out of writing isn't complete without also having readers at the other end. Between the rejections I was receiving from literary agents and the contest losses, my disillusionment was complete. Four novels no one was ever going to read were enough.
I took two stories I'd written for the fun contests we Writing Wombats have a couple times of year and submitted them to publishers. One was a dark humor piece I'd written for our Phantasmorgia contest at Halloween time (mind you, I didn't win our contest), and it became my first publishing credit when it was published in an anthology "Night Bird Singing in the Dead of Night." My second publishing credit came when I submitted what I'd written for our Valentine's Day contest to Woman's World magazine. Peach- Flavored Kisses was published in their final issue of 2009.
So, I figured though I wasn't winning contests, good did come out of them. Still, when someone mentioned the New Voices contest, I was reluctant to enter. I'd just started writing again after the five-month hiatus that followed my devastation from the Amazon contest. Did I really want to put myself there again? Besides, my category romance was in first person, which Mills & Boon rarely publishes, AND I don't introduce my hero until chapter two. I'd already broken two romance book "rules", but entered a couple days before deadline with a what-the-heck attitude. I KNEW I'd never get past the first round.
Imagine my surprise...
- I'm not surprised, it's a good story, Jill. How do we go about casting a vote for you? Will I have to do anything special to gain access to your first two chapters? Can I comment on the story if I want to?
To vote in this second-chapter round, readers register at http://www.romanceisnotdead.com/, and receive an e-mail with a link to click (to verify they're not robots LOL). Once logged in, a "Cast your Vote" button is on the left side of the site's main page. Clicking on that brings up the top ten. Once there, readers can read first chapters, second chapters, leave comments, and vote.
In this round of the competition, the four entries with the highest scores go onto the final round and will post a pivotal scene for readers to judge. The grand-prize winner is announced on November 1st.
Oh, mine is WINDSONG! See? I told you I'm not very good at the competing part.
- Jill, I'm wishing you the best on this contest. Anything you'd like to add or ask readers?
Thank you, again, Sia. Instead of ending with a question, I'll just ask that everyone instead wish YOU a happy birthday. You, birthday girl, are a winner in all of our books!
Aww, Jill. Thank you sweetie.
Here's Windsong's Summary:
Journalist Lexie Gray enters the Witness Security Program and plans to write a tell-all about the secretive program. But, when she falls in love with the U.S. Marshal protecting her, her hard-hitting exposé softens into a romantic memoir. Chapter One Excerpt
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Jill Lynn Anderson has published several short stories. Jill writes mainstream and romance fiction in a little office in her petite home located in an itsy-bitsy Pennsylvania town. To compensate for all the smallness, she thinks and dreams BIG.
Go Jill Go!