Writer’s Digest Contest

Writer’s Digest Contest

Last year I decided to sign up for the Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published e-Book Awards. I entered the contest and then mailed them three copies of my book “Gitana – Life Plan.” They said they would notify the winners at the end of the year. When the first of the year came around…heavy, sad sigh…I knew I wasn’t one of the winners.

Today, when I got home from work, I did a quick review of my emails. I had three emails from Writer’s Digest. The first email I opened was a greeting and a document of general marketing tips for entrants. I thought that was nice. The next email was a thank you for participating, a note saying that narrowing down the winners was difficult due to impressive talent, and that my score and judges commentary would be arriving shortly. I quickly went to the third email to see how I did.

The scores were 1 (needs improvement) to 5 (outstanding) for the following categories: structure and organization, grammar, production quality and cover design, plot, and character development. I received the highest score, 5, for all categories. Yay! My heart sang. Here is their commentary (in their writing):

“The cover is gorgeous. Love the mix of blues and grays to convey her blue mood. Also, the pier being a bit rubbly, with weeds growing, conveys her state of mind, that she has been walked on, that unwanted things grow (memories), and the model’s thin and slumped posture shows the weight of the world. Well done, conveying so much as well as a sense of place. Very engaging, and a strong impression to bring the reader to the book.
Great opening! The reader can see the smarmy doctor’s tan, the glitzy car, feel his tense presence and her tension in his presence. The reader tightens up at their meeting, which is very good when you make the reader react emotionally and physically in just a few sentences, that’s excellent craft.
Excellent imagery tied between Gitana and her scenery, such as when she looks up to the sun and the author ties it to the sailboats looking up to the sun and sky as well. Author does an excellent job with place, and giving Gitana a presence in it. It’s very 3D, very well-done.
The author excels at using sensory details, how things smell, taste, feel, textures, even the bend of a shoe. Great talent with this essential element of a novel that is an experience, not just a read. We are there with the characters. Beautiful inclusion of nature and animals. This is a real world she’s created.
BRUTAL that the ex gives her a bottle of Diazepam, especially with her history. Reader gets a visceral reaction, feels Gitana’s anger and hurt. This was a brilliant idea on the author’s part.
All of the characters are likeable and engaging, written well with differentiated voices and movements; the author has done great work in creating each of them as the surrounding characters. Excellent work with the supporting cast. Especially with Rex, who is a hoot, and it’s especially good that he’s distant and hesitant with her at first, then grows into a relationship with her. This shows maturity in the author’s writing, not just laying supporting characters in a scene like a paper doll. These supporting characters have depth and motivations, worlds of their own. Well done.
While there are just a few slow spots that are not at all a detraction from the book’s quality, the pace is good, the author moves the plot along well and naturally without any gimmicking, and the romantic parts are done naturally, lacking in clichés. Enjoyable to read and organic to the story.
It’s especially enjoyable to start with Gitana’s sadness over her infertility, her inability to create a child, then evolve into being a creator of art. Nice that this journey allows her to give birth to art.
The author does a good job of evolving Gitana from that mind-lock of imagining her ex with the other woman, the obsessive thoughts, to finding more freedom from that. We sense her strength growing, her learning from her life’s mistakes even with some backslides, and the surprises throughout truly take the reader for a ride. Nothing predictable here. A great read, with great characters, in a great world.
Well done.” —Judge, Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards

I didn’t win the big prizes or get honorable mention, but I was extremely happy with what I did receive. In a world with a million plus authors and zillions of books on the market, it’s nice to know that my scores were the highest given and they liked the book. They made my day! 

Lessons Learned: Two Goals for “Gitana – Life Plan”

One of my goals for this year was to publish my first book. In March, I published Gitana Life-Plan in electronic format. The eBook is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iBook, and other outlets. A second goal for this year was to publish in print format. Drum roll…I’m happy to say that Gitana Life-Plan is now available through Amazon in print format!

When seeing Gitana Life-Plan for the first time on Amazon in March, I was thrilled to no end. I immediately went to my Kindle and bought my eBook. I clicked through the pages with a big smile. I did it! I was a published author.

Front Cover

Front Cover

However, being old school, I knew there was nothing like holding a real book in my hands. I decided to wait at least six months before publishing in print. I began the process in October, using CreateSpace (Amazon) for my POD (print on demand). Again, I was thrilled to no end when I opened the box that held my proof for review. I loved feeling the book in my hands. I loved how the cover, spine, and back turned out. I read each cream-colored page (and so did my husband!) to make sure all was correct before clicking on the “Publish” button. I’m still smiling to know that I’ve accomplished my two goals. I can’t wait until my next one comes out 🙂

Back Cover

Back Cover

RT Convention – Kansas City, MO

Today was the first full day at RT – the Romantic Times Convention. I had fun talking to authors that I met last year and to meeting new people – authors and readers – as we sat at tables, waited in line, or walked to our hotel. I came with Tina Susedik, my roomie from last year. We drove to Kansas City versus flying. This way, we’d have room to bring home all the goodies from the events and promo or swag tables.

Last year, Tina and I vowed that we would attend RT in 2013 as authors. What a year. Both of us accomplished our goal. With my eBook Gitana – Life Plan published at the end of March and with her eBook Riding for Love released today, we did it! We signed up for a promo spot, a section of a table to promote our eBooks. We tag teamed, having similar postcards. Mine said “Take Me” and hers said “Ride Me” with the backs having our book information. Many people commented on our cards, loving the concept.

Hans and RT 2013 014

During the day I attended the Welcome Party and went to four sessions on marketing. Tonight’s parties were Rose Gulch’s Saloon and Ellora’s Cave Bad Girls of Romance Disco Inferno. The male models of Ellora’s Cave danced on stage to classic 70’s music. Oh yeah……..not a bad sight!

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s events 

Lessons Learned: Heavy Sigh Moment

I am close to publishing my contemporary romance Gitana – Life Plan. I planned to work hard this weekend to add the final touches to the manuscript document and to upload to the sites. However, the only “finish” I completed on Sunday was to shut down my computer after a frustrating few days.

On Friday, I had trouble with my work computer and my personal computer. This should have been a sign for the weekend, but I was ready to tackle my list. I went on to Amazon and set up my account and upload my nicely formatted manuscript. The good news is that you get a chance to preview what your eBook will look like on an eReader before published. For mine, the paragraph indents were too long at .5 as instructed. I now have to go back and reformat the manuscript (hoping that I don’t mess up anything else) and then upload again.

I started working on the manuscript document when suddenly my computer security software flashed a warning sign that something/someone was trying to get into my computer. Immediate shut down occurred. I stared at the black screen with a sick feeling in my stomach. My book was inside of it. I pushed the power button. The machine crackled to life, and I mean literally crackled like static. I held my breath, then swore. It shut down again. After two tries, I resuscitated my computer. Needless to say, I took the time to back up all my documents and pictures to an external drive…just in case.

Back to the book. I decided to wait on the manuscript formatting and went to upload the book cover. I wanted to see how that would look once on Amazon. I had used the size and options recommended from the class I took. Shouldn’t be an issue, right? Wrong. I couldn’t read my name or the book title. It would have been okay if it were blurred or hard to read since it is a small picture, but I couldn’t make out any of the letters. I went back to work on the photo. I stared at the picture as if it would magically correct itself, because I couldn’t remember how I managed to create it in the first place. I did a lot of guessing and now nothing worked.

So yes, this is my heavy sigh moment. I’m on the home stretch of getting my book published, but I’m tripping over my shoe strings as I run to get there. I have to stop, concentrate, and work on one issue at a time.

If you hear any grumblings, it’s probably me.