Hearts & Scribbles

My SYTYCW Top Ten List...revisited #sytycw2013


Harlequin's SYTYCW event has me looking back in time to last year's contest. One year ago, I had two revised full manuscripts (a SYTYCW 2011 Top Five finalist aka SNOWBOUND WITH THE SOLDIER and a HQ Romance Fast Track submission aka RANCHER TO THE RESCUE) under consideration with Harlequin Romance and I was encouraged to enter SYTYCW again.

At that point, I was nervous and excited. I really, really wanted to write for Harlequin. It was my dream. So I figured I had nothing to lose by entering. After all, even though I had two revised full's with one editor, it was no guarantee of anything. And I wasn't going to let a prime opportunity pass me by. 

So the following list was written at the end of the first round of the contest, before the finalists were announced. BTW, I was a finalist....for all of 3 days. LOL. What can I say? I got "The Call" and had the choice of accepting a publishing contract and withdrawing from the contest or staying in the contest. Umm...lets see. Yeah, I took the contract. And it's been full-steam ahead ever since. 

But for those of you trying to decide whether to enter or not, I hope my story/experience will help you. ;-)

previously posted October 8, 2012 - from this previous contestant's experience....

These are the Top Ten things I learned and experienced from my participation in Harlequin’s 2012 “So You Think You Can Write” Contest. Grab your cup of coffee or tea and pull up a seat.

10.  I’m not a scaredy cat after all…

Well, maybe just a little. J Remember my blog post from last week, where I dared myself to get out there and talk to new friends and old acquaintances? Well, I found that the more I put myself out there and pointed people in the direction of my entry, the easier it got. Now, don’t get me wrong, my insides still shivered and quaked. And for a moment, I envisioned them laughing themselves silly, but it didn’t stop me. I pushed onward. Besides, once they had the link and went off to read, it was totally out of my hands.

9.  Promo is akin to mindbender games

Seriously have you ever tried to take a novel and shrink it down to less then 140 characters. Oh my goodness. Let me tell you it’s like a puzzle. And don’t forget you need to leave room for the link and hashtag. And then you wonder if you can break grammar rules to make it fit. But then you worry because this is, after all, for a book promo. If people see you breaking grammar rules in the promo, won’t they begin to wonder about the quality of the book? LOL.

8.  I am not alone

As the voting for “So You Think You Can Write” got underway, social networks provided an avenue for some of the entrants to reach out to each other. Definitely lots of virtual hand holding going on this past week. It’s been quite a nerve-wracking, nail-biting journey. LOL. But made so much better by the support from the other wonderful entrants. Together we watched for any snippets of information concerning the wild card picks and those illustrious top 25 spots. Wish I could say I have a source inside the hallowed halls of Harlequin but I’m as much in the dark as the rest of you.J Is it Friday yet? Pleeease.

7.  I’ve gained a new form of procrastination

Twitter. Seriously I spend way too much time on it. But it’s fun and it's an immediate source of information. Plus, there are lots of new friends to make on there. But you know you’ve been on it too long when your forearms and fingers grow stiff and achy by lunchtime. You know it’s time to shut down and slowly back away from the computer.

6.  Somebody’s watching me

No, not in the stalker way. <shakes head> But people are paying attention to what I put into cyberspace. There’s a difference between putting your best foot forward with promotion and bombarding people with “Vote for me” messages. I’m trying to walk that very fine line, not saying I’m always right on it. I may have hit the ‘send’ key a time or two more than necessary. But when promotion is done right, people notice. And I have gotten very kind messages from people I’ve never talked to before, letting me know that I’ve done a good job and they’ve noticed. I am so touched by these short messages. What more could I ask for?

5.  Editors are among us

It isn’t like writers have their space and editors have theirs. With the aid of modern technology, we all share the same cyberspace. So be careful what you say, you never know who might be listening. And sometimes when you do say the right thing, the editors highlight it.

4.  Generosity can come from the must unexpected places

I’ve been amazed by not only my wonderful friends but also the people I vaguely know whether from a writing group or via a friend or sparkly new people I’ve just met online. Out of the goodness of their hearts, they’ve helped promote me and my entry by tweeting about it, mentioning it in blogs, recommending it to their friends and even placing it in an online newpaper. Wow! I am in total awe of these wonderful people and touched by their generosity. In turn, their amazing kindness makes me want to pay it forward. *big squishy smile*

3.  Take a chance, it might pay off

Even though I’m not published, I’ve noticed how putting myself out there on the various social networks has numerous benefits. I’m thrilled about the friendly people I’ve met just saying ‘hello’ and wishing them a good day. Try it. You'll be amazed at the doors a friendly greeting can open.

2.  Sleep is overrated

Seriously I’ve learned to live on tea. Hot chai or cold black tea lemonade, it doesn’t matter. As long as it has caffeine, I’m good. That is the fuel this determined writer runs on. And don’t even get me started on the size of my gigantic mugs. LOL. Seriously when you stumble into bed with caffeine still coursing through your veins, new ideas for pitch lines percolating in your mind and counting off the hours until you can focus solely on whether the H/h should kiss on page 35 or 95 in your new WIP, how are you supposed to sleep?

P.S When this is over, I’m totally sleeping in. Hello pillow! 

1.  And last but not least: Winning isn’t everthing…

I haven’t the foggiest who will win this contest. There are far too many variables to even hazard a guess. Remember the editors get to pick the final three in the next round. Those trained eyes will see things that we, the writers, might miss. But no matter who is crowned the winner, I have no doubt that they’ll have a great story and I’m looking forward to reading it.

But for those of us who don’t get that special notification, everyone who tries is still a winner in my book. You've taken a big step forward by entering the competition. Now you must keep going. Keep writing and submitting. Your day is coming… 


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