Hi Monica. Overall, how would you rate your experience with So You think You Can Write Global 2012?
SYTYCW 2012 was an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. It came at the perfect time, as I had been working on my first manuscript and I used the opportunity to get serious about writing. The public voting aspect of the contest forced me to share my dreams of becoming an author with my friends and family and gave me the push that I needed to be bold and purposeful in my work. The support and camaraderie that developed between participating writers was such an unexpected bonus. It was an amazing experience to get support and encouragement from people that were essentially competing against one another. Another aspect of SYTYCW that was invaluable to me was that, as a top 28 finalist, I was given the opportunity to send my full manuscript to Harlequin editors. No query, no partial, no slush pile required. That’s a rare opportunity and I know how lucky I was to get to do that.
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?
The chapter I submitted for the contest has been through multiple revisions since then. When I uploaded it to enter, I honestly thought I was putting forth my best work. When it came time to send my MS to editors for the next round, I saw how woefully wrong I was! It looked like a first draft to me when I came back to it with fresh eyes.
How about the rest of the book? Is it finished? Going through more revisions?
My book is finished! I was fortunate enough to be in the top 28 finalists and had to send my complete manuscript to the editors. I did not continue on to the top 3, but I was excited to receive a revise and resubmit letter for my submission. I was given a letter outlining ways in which my story wasn’t right for Harlequin Romance and the opportunity to revise and resubmit. I have revised the ms according to their critique and the book is currently under consideration. I haven’t heard another word about it, and I’m trying to stay positive and focus on other things while I wait!
Any thoughts on submitting your entry to another publisher or agent?
Harlequin is my first love, my dream publisher, but if they reject this manuscript, I am open to submitting it elsewhere. I also think it’s important to consider other publishers for books that don’t fit within the right category guidelines of Harlequin’s imprints.
How long have you been writing?
Like so many people, I spent years saying that I want to write a book. I have many, many aborted and abandoned attempts as well. I got serious and started writing with purpose in May of last year. I feel like I’ve learned so much in the time since then, but at the same time I feel like such a beginner!
Have you ever entered a contest like this one before?
No, not like this. I entered a short story I wrote in a Writer’s Digest contest once, but this has been a much more satisfying experience!
What are your thoughts about the promotional aspect of the contest?
Do you mean that we needed votes to advance? That we had to promote ourselves in order to have a chance? I found it intimidating to put myself out there to ask for people to read my chapter and vote for me, but a big part of success in writing is learning how to self-promote. Authors today must learn how to be visible without annoying their audience, how to promote themselves without always seeming like they’re promoting themselves. I know that the top 28 chapters might not have actually been the best 28 of the 700 submissions, but the importance of promotion and networking can’t be denied. Fortunately, editors from Harlequin combed the submissions for promising chapters that didn’t make it onto the next round. Several aspiring authors received requests from their entries, so everyone benefitted.
If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently, if anything?
I had a beautiful experience and I was thrilled to go so far since it was the first book I’d ever written. My dream is to be ineligible to participate in SYTYCW 2013 because I’ll have a publishing contract with Harlequin, but if I enter again this year, I will know more of what to look for when revising my work. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and have made some improvement in my writing, so hopefully my next entry will be even stronger.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently revising my second book, another category romance for Harlequin Desire, and planning a third. When I’m not writing or revising, I am learning. There is a lot of information available, and the more I learn, the more obvious my previous mistakes become! I hope that I’m improving with every piece I complete and getting closer to my dream of being published.
Where can we find you on the Web?
I’m on Facebook and Twitter!
Thanks for being here today, Monica!