SQUEE! Novel Rocket Contest News

A few months ago, I submitted the new and improved (although not quite perfect) Finding Cadence into the Novel Rocket Contest. Win or lose, an edit was part of the contest.

I didn’t figure to win. Let’s face it: I never figure to win. Anything. It’s not in my genetic makeup. In order for me to win anything, the stars have to be in perfect alignment, my cholesterol level has to be low, my butt has to be smaller, and, oh…my manuscript has to be flawless. None of these things apply to me – as the recent Powerball winner can firmly attest – so I enter contests for the sport of it. And to learn from the experience.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the results in my email inbox. (I knew I didn’t win. Had I won, there would have been YOU WON! in caps in the subject line. And a glittery background with shooting stars and smiley faces winking at me in the body of the email.) No, I didn’t win, but the comments from the editors caused me to SQUEE.

“This is good. Really good. Publishable good. I don’t know if the rest of the manuscript is as good as this, but if it is, you’re ready to be agented if you’re not already. I love your voice, your literary style, your descriptions and the story. It’s got it all. The competition this year is so steep. The steepest I’ve seen in any contest I’ve ever judged. Several of you are publishable. Some I could see sitting on the NYT bestseller’s list. Really. Of course there are some not so great entries too but you’re not one of them. It was an honor to read this. I don’t have a whole lot to offer you but even if you don’t take the category win, know it was very very close and you’re really close to that contract I’d think. The only overall advice I’d offer is to maybe run this through a copy-editor if you can afford it or a good grammatarian (probably not a word, but you know what I mean) if you can’t. Thanks for submitting. So good and I’m a tough one to please.”

So said Judge Number One from the Novel Rocket Contest. Then I opened up the file from Judge Number Two:

This has the makings of a lovely story, but it’s not quite there yet. A couple of questionable word choices early on didn’t bode well; excessive telling/explanation makes it wheeze soon there after.

I like the story. I like the musical references (including the character’s name), the depth of emotion, the layers of meaning. The characters are believable, the descriptions are vivid, and the situations are wholly realistic. The problem is a certain excess in zeal. While reaching for a lofty word or perfect phrase, it tends to want to tip over at times.

You’re a skillful writer, but it seems you’re trying too hard. Just let the story out slow and easy. I know you can do it, because you’re close to doing it now.

Judge Number Two was a little harder on me, but I can’t disagree. I have decided without a doubt that Finding Cadence is my breakout novel. While I love Virtually Yours and the characters of my Virtual Moms, and I love the story with Oaks and Acorns (and Acorns and Oaks and Darlings for Clementine, the companion books), these are light, fun, happy stories. They are entertainment.

Finding Cadence is much, much more than that.

I’ve been toiling over it so long, I can see where my story has transcended entertainment. (I know you might think I’m full of myself but) I can see this particular novel reaching toward art.

Of course, it’s going to need a lot more work.

Every edit, every beta reader, every contest and competition is a tool toward that end.

Guess it’s time to get off my momentary cloud and get back to it.


2 Responses

  1. Joanne, I was excited to hear the encouraging comments you had received from the judges! Keep up the good work!

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