Thursday, February 28, 2013

Welcome SYTYCW Author Janie Crouch

Welcome Janie, who is sharing her So You Think You Can Write experience with us today. Thanks for being here.

Q. Overall, how would you rate your experience with So You think You Can Write Global 2012?

A. Well, I’m determined that I’ll never do it again, so what does that tell you? :-)

Honestly, I thought SYTYCW would be my big break. Not that I figured I would win the contest, or even come in the top three. But I was excited that a real live editor from Harlequin (oooh, aaah) would be reading my chapter. Surely once she read my chapter, there would be a request to send more chapters or the full manuscript.

Or perhaps they’d love it so much that they would offer me a book contract *on the spot*.

But alas: no. Nothing. Nada. Never heard anything back from anyone as a result of this contest. It was a heavy blow to my writing self-esteem.

Q. Ouch, I've suffered similar blows. Unfortunately they are part of this crazy business. We were required to upload the first chapter as our entry in SYTYCW. Is that chapter still in its original form or has it gone through more revisions?

Minor revisions. My book was complete before I submitted it to SYTYCW.

Q. How about the rest of the book? Is it finished? Going through more revisions?

I wrote my book as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – November 2011. I completed the novel in 30 days then put it away for three months. I didn’t want to look at it at all during that time. Finally, I found the mental fortification to really dig into and edit the book. Surprising, the story itself was pretty good; no real holes and it flowed at a good pace.

There were definitely some inconsistencies in the novel (blue eyes in chapter 3 turned to green eyes in chapter 6, etc) that had to be fixed. And dialogue that had to be expanded or chopped – or changed completely. I fully edited it two more times before I would let anyone else even glance at it. After a couple of trusted friends read it and encouraged me to keep tweaking, I did line edits with the help of an outside reader. It was completed finished long before SYTYCW.

Q. Any thoughts on submitting your entry to another publisher or agent?

A. I have definitely come to understand that my writer’s “voice” is not a good fit for the Harlequin Love Inspired line. I am a little too irreverent and biting where they are looking for traditional and sweet. Nothing wrong with traditional and sweet, that’s just not my style. At this point, I have given up hope that I will be an author for the Love Inspired line.

I submitted the first chapter of my SYTYCW entry to another Christian publisher – one that has a more progressive reputation – at the end of January 2012. On February 25, they requested my full manuscript. I plan to have that off to them soon.

Q. Finding the right fit for your style is important. How long have you been writing?

A. Unbreak My Heart, my SYTYCW entry, was my first novel. I completed it in November 2011. Before then I concentrated more on non-fiction and academic writing.

Q.What are your thoughts about the promotional aspect of the contest?

Basically, I went Looney-Tunes crazy during SYTYCW. It’s hard for me to talk about exactly how nuts I got, but I’ll give you the highlights:

1) I bugged every friend I had (or used to have, most of them probably unfriended me) on Facebook for TEN DAYS STRAIGHT asking them to vote for me in this contest.

2) About 2 days into the contest, I realized I could also TEXT PEOPLE and ask for them to vote for me on their phone. Coincidentally, lot of my friends changed their phone numbers during that time. And didn’t give me their new number.

3) I went to the Apple Store at the mall 8 days in a row and voted for myself on every device they had hooked up to the Internet (which is 57, btw).

4) I made my children vote for me on their Nintendo games and iPods. And told them to ask their friends to vote too.

5) Do you know that the public library has multiple computers patrons can use? Want to know how I know that?

6) Because voting was blind, I had no idea how many votes I had versus the other entries. What I could see was how many Facebook “Likes” an entry had (which had nothing to do with voting, but still… at least it seemed like real data). So I went through ALL 690 ENTRIES and wrote down the title of any entry that had more than 100 Likes. There were 120 of them in case you're wondering.

7) I got ABSOLUTE NOTHING done the three days between when voting closed and they announced the finalists because I was so nervous and anxious to find out the results. Nothing – I don’t even think I cooked or took a shower.

8) On Monday, Oct 15 when they began to announce the finalists, I checked my email incessantly even though my email gets sent to my phone and Tom Hanks announces “Houston, we have a problem” on my phone whenever I get email. Still, I manually checked. You know, just in case it was broken, or Tom Hanks didn’t feel like talking…

8) I didn’t help my kids with their homework on that Monday because I was so busy watching Twitter to see who the winners were.

9) I threw an absolute fit when one of the finalists started tweeting about how she didn’t even have manuscript finished so she better start writing *fast* so she’d have something to turn in.

HAVE SOMETHING TO TURN IN???? I had an entire book ready to turn in! How good can yours be if you’re writing ¾ of it in 2 days?

And… scene.

Do the words: outlandish, preposterous, ridiculous, or absurd come to mind? They should. Basically I lost two weeks of my life to this stupid contest. And by “stupid contest” I mean: “a perfectly reasonable contest in which my behavior was asinine.”

It’s hard to watch a train wreck while you’re also conducting it. But somehow I managed.

Q. If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently, if anything?

A. Not enter. Or if I did enter, not involve any of my family and friends in trying to get them to vote for me.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. In November 2012, just after SYTYCW ended and I was wallowing in self-pity for not being chosen as a finalist, I received a request from Harlequin for a full manuscript from an entirely different book (also completed). See No Evil, was sent to Harlequin Intrigue in December 2012. I am still waiting to hear back, although on February 20th I received word that the Intrigue Editor was in the process of reading my manuscript. Hopefully that means I will hear one way or the other soon, perhaps by the first of April.

Q. Please keep us posted on your Intrigue full request. I have everything crossed for you, and envy anyone who can write Intrigue. Where can we find you on the Web?

A. Blog:

Twitter: @janiecrouch




  1. You're not alone in your reaction, Janie. I pretty much fell apart after New Voices 2010, SYTYCW 2010 and NV 2011. And every year I claimed it was the last year I would enter, because I know how prone to insanity I am!

    There is a place for irreverence with Harlequin, but maybe not in the inspirational lines. I think Intrigue could be a good fit. Who doesn't love a tough, sassy heroine? Got fingers firmly crossed for you!

    1. Well, as someone who sold her SYTYCW entry, you give me hope Amalie! Congrats to you again. Can't wait to read your book when it comes out!!!

  2. Great interview. Good luck with your Intrigue!

  3. Thank you for being here, Janie! I look forward to having you here again.

    1. Thanks for having me, Maria! Appreciate all the hard work you're putting into your blog.

  4. Maria and Janie, loved the interview! Good on you both for entering SYTYCW. I did so in 2010, and I think, failed to really understand the process I was entering into. Like Janie said, I understood that Harlequin were offering a wide-open invite to seek out new writers. I expected there to be several finalists - there turned out to be about 3 as I remember. I remember thinking 'that's only 3 from all over the world?' Maybe they're super-picky about who they'll sign, or maybe my work didn't match their expectations, but the competition style alone was enough to make me embrace the route of slush pile.

    Best of luck with your journey ladies - Nikki.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Nikki. Although there were only 3 finalists several wound up getting contracts -one of them Jennifer Faye will guest blog this summer around the time of her new release. I love it: embrace the slush pile!