Thursday, March 7, 2013

Welcome SYTYCW Finalist Monica Tillery

We're doing a little switcheroo this week, and Robyn will be visiting next week. Today I'm happy to welcome finalist Monica Tillery, who has some great insights.

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!


  1. Great job. It really was a great experience.
    Best of luck w/ your resubmitted MS!

    1. Thank you! I can't wait to do it again this year.

  2. Good luck with your revisions, Monica.

    And congrats on getting as far as you already have with your first submission. That's a heck of an accomplishment right there.

    1. Congratulations on your SALE!! I have a long way to go, but you are literally living my dream!

  3. Awesome!!! Remember the longer they have it the better. Especially since this was a R and R. If the person that you sent it to likes it, they'll send it to the next person above them and so on and so forth. I'm sure you'll hear good news soon.

    1. Thanks for your support! I actually got the big dreaded R after the interview! The feedback was incredibly nice and very extensive, so it's not a total loss. I can't complain--my first try went well even though it didn't go as far as I would have liked.

  4. Thank you for being here today, Monica. I agree with Amalie, you got very far with your first submission. That's impressive. Keep writing and come back and let us know all about the R&R!

    1. Thank you so much for having me! This was so much fun. I wish I could come in and say that I got the call, but I actually received a rejection after the interview. I got loads of feedback, and they were so nice about it that I can't complain. I am sending the ms out to other publishers and will hopefully have exciting news some time in the future.

  5. I have been so crazy busy lately that I haven't been checking up on blogs. I just spent a little while catching up on all these interviews. I have totally enjoyed each and every one of them. It's been interesting to see all these different points of view. Maybe one day I'll get back to writing, but until then, I'll keep on reading and enjoying hearing about writing from others.
    Thanks for sharing this with us! Now, off to check out that other blog of yours.

  6. If anyone is still keeping score at home, my book will be published! I got word yesterday that Crimson Romance will be picking up Kiss Me Katie.