A little while ago I received word that I am officially in the Top 3 in the ChiZine/Rue Morgue/Leisure Books Fresh Blood Contest, so a big THANK YOU to everyone who sent in a vote for me. This month saw the elimination of Jonathan Janz's The Sorrows, which looks to be a fabulous book and one that, no doubt, will find a home soon.
Making the Top 3 feels a little (okay, a lot) surreal for me. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I never dreamed of making it this far, or if it’s seeing other contestants get eliminated one by one while I’m still here. Or maybe it’s that I’m now realizing that I have a one in three chance at a pretty major publishing contract for a novel that, quite honestly, I fully intended to trunk without ever submitting.
So for those of you who haven’t been following along with my journey in the contest, the judging criteria for the contest finals changes month to month. Back in December, when they notified me that I’d been chosen as one of ten finalists, I was asked to submit a series of materials including an author biography, potential back cover copy, an introduction to the evil thing in the book, and my creepiest scene. This month, the judging criteria was the scariest/creepiest/most atmospheric scene.
I struggled with what scene to submit for this round. I didn’t want to submit my opening scene--although it was probably my first choice--because readers would already get to see that scene in my first chapter, which was the criteria in the first round of judging. I also didn’t want to submit a scene too close to the book’s climax for fear of giving away too much of the ending. I also struggled because, while the book is horrific, I can’t say that it’s meant to be scary.
So I expected to take some hits from the judges this round.
I did take hits, too, and that’s okay. Not only is it part of the contest--they warned us at the very start that it would be brutal and at times it has been--but it’s all part of this business of writing. As writers, we have to be able to take criticism if we hope to succeed, and we have to develop a thick skin. I’m okay with that. Hey, whatever it takes, right? Besides, two of the judges ended their comments by saying that they’d been left wanting to read more, so I’m feeling pretty good about that.
I do have to admit that this was the only round of judging that made me wish I could respond to the judges, just to be able to explain that some of the things would make sense in the context of the book (in particular, the mention of a prophylactic, as well as the fact that the lightning storm indeed was integral to the plot of the book and not just that old dark-and-stormy-night plot device--I promise!). That, and that I really, genuinely hear you when you’re telling me my title sucks and I will be more than happy to change it, and wish I could change it this very instant, but it is out of my hands until the contest is over, lol.
Seriously though, I am grateful for this opportunity and I am grateful for those of you who’ve helped me to get this far in the competition. There are and have been some wonderful novels competing and I am honored that my novel is counted among them.
And with the newest results, voting opens again for the contest. I’ll be posting more on it in a day or so, but if you’re stopping by and would be kind enough to support my novel (that with the oft-maligned title, Heart of the City) with a vote, you can find this month’s contest information here. And if, while visiting, you find that there’s a different novel you’d like to cast a vote for, I understand and thank you anyway for supporting this great contest.