Now it’s been officially announced on the RWNZ loop, I can share my news:
My paranormal romance, Jade’s Choice (Crystal Warriors Book 3), is a finalist in the 2009 RWNZ Clendon Award for full-length romantic manuscript.
Aside from the thrill of finalling in a writing contest, for me, the Clendon Award is special because it is a true full manuscript contest.
Entrants submit 2 copies of their entire manuscript for first-round judging. These are sorted into genres and sent out to Barbara’s Books readers who read extensively in that particular genre. Each manuscript is given multiple reads — time permitting, it’ll be read by 10 different readers — and each reader has THE most extensive and detailed 3 page scoresheet I’ve ever seen to fill out. So for the feedback alone, this contest is invaluable!
What I especially appreciate about this contest is the quality of the scoresheets. The 1st section is entirely devoted to evaluating that all-important first chapter. In fact, readers must only read the first chapter and then put the manuscript aside to answer this section. So as a writer, you’ll get a detailed critique of how the beginning chapter impacts your readers.
And the 4th section is also unique. After reading the entire manuscript and answering sections 2 and 3, readers must put the manuscript aside for at least an hour before filling in the final section. This section, called “afterglow”, deals with how memorable, satisfying and emotionally involving the story is for the reader.
Once all the reads have been completed and manuscripts returned, scores are triple-checked and the 6 top scoring manuscripts — regardless of genre — are deemed finalists and sent to Leslie Wainger, Editor-At-Large for Harlequin Enterprises, for final judging.
This is the 4th time I’ve been a Clendon Award finalist and I won it in 2006, so you could be forgiven for imagining I might be a bit jaded by this news. No way. Believe me, it’s still a helluva thrill to be a Clendon finalist!
But what’s really interesting from my point of view is that now, all three books in my Crystal Warriors paranormal romance series have been Clendon finalists. Chalcedony’s Warrior (Book 1, then called “Chalcedony’s Wulf”) finalled and won the award in 2006, Ruby’s Dream (Book 2) finalled in 2008, and Jade’s Choice (Book 3) finalled in 2009.
I know it’s not particularly smart to write a series — if you can’t get the first book published, the others are dead in the water and all that work has been a complete waste of time! But I loved this concept so much I just couldn’t help myself. New characters cropped up and demanded their own stories and I knew I wasn’t gonna get any peace until I wrote them. Each book features a completely different heroine and hero, and the constant character throughout is the Crystal Guardian, the old man who cast the spell condemning each Crystal Warrior to imprisonment in his namesake crystal.
Now if only I could find an editor or agent who was as enthusiastic about this series as Barbara’s Books readers appear to be!