Oct 11, 2011

JUDGMENT DAY... DUN Dun dunnnn

So, the first round at New Voices has ended, and I am relieved(the list in a couple posts below is out of control!). About mid-week last week, I thought the number of entries was going to roughly match last year's, but the entries started pouring in the last three days. It took 3 weeks to get to 466 entries, and the last five days of the contest added a couple more than that total(some uploaded and were taken down just after closing bell).

  • 1090 first chapters uploaded, the rough equivalent of about 109 of the shorter length category romances

Currently, the judges/editors at Harlequin Mills&Boon are trying to cull 20 from the herd, and advance them to round two. The math on this is not pretty.
  • 1.8% of all entries will advance to round 2 -- or --
  • 1 in 55 chapters make round 2 (slightly less scary for some reason)

Those are not good odds. It's better than the lottery or being hit by lightning, but if you had a 1.8% chance of surviving an operation, you wouldn't sign up, yea?

Thankfully, there are other wins to take from the competition:
  • The comments. 
  • The chance to see the competition so you can decide if you're bringing your A-Game when you submit. 
  • The chance to learn from the mistakes of others. 
These are the 'thanks for playing' prizes(which is part of why I've been managing that list -- some folks have gotten a wealth of comments, and some have not gotten any. Granted, most of those without are from the last 3 days of uploads, but still... everyone deserves feedback regardless of when they bellied up to the bar.)

The suspense is killing me. I didn't call any of the semi-finalists last year, and when I read them some of them were actually quite surprising to me... so I'm curious to see if my eye has been honed at all, and also to see what currently is catching the editor's attention.

The list goes live Thursday, and then I will return to this WIP on a more normal schedule, and hopefully to posting regularly. It's about time for the Spiderpocalypse report--the warmer weather has kept them mostly out of sight so far, I think. but around Halloween when it always gets quite cold, they'll be inside. A flipping beetle got into my room the other night and about drove the cat crazy(which was totally fun), so: flipping beetles seek warmer accommodations before spiders do -- bless their little clumsy hearts.


  1. Hi Amalie. Wanted to say I was very surprised that you didn't get through to the next round. Didn't feel right saying it in the room post announcement, but wanted to tell you 'personally'. Your writing is very strong. - Nina H

  2. Thank you, Nina. I really enjoyed your writing too. I am still invested in the investigation and the whole psychi idea is near and dear to me. I read a Harlequin Romantic Suspense the other day from like... 2008... that had a psychic FBI style psychic strike team and I kept thinking about your story(which I liked better than the book I read) and how it would have gone beautifully into a series. I really hope you a) make the callback list if there is one, or b) submit that puppy the old-fashioned way because it's only a matter of time.

    I'm kind of struggling. I didn't want to take the shine off anyone's moment, so I'm trying to keep a cap on it, but really starting to feel like I'm tilting at windmills with HMB. Trying to figure out what to do, and what targeting a different publisher would do to my process/understanding of story requirements.

  3. Hi Amalie, Saw your post on the harlequin forum and sensed you were disappointed. Have to say that I am very surprised with the list. Seeing that it seems like it is two years in a row of people being dumbfounded with the selection, I don't think I will be investing my time in this again as it isn't a productive use of my time. But I just wanted to take a moment to say a big THANKS for being such an expert and go-to info lady on the forums. I always knew you'd have an update for us. It's very disheartening and I have taken this much worse than I expected, mostly because of how wholeheartedly I disagreed with the final list (for the most part). Oh, well....on we go and hope to see you in Sub Care soon:-)

  4. I just wanted to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all you did to make New Voices a great experience for EVERYONE. The hours you spent on the spreadsheets, the posts you made on facebook, and at eHarlequin--you are an absolute class act and people will remember that long after they forget the names of some of the top 20 (not that they are not all deserving writers, but some are bound to fade off the radar). You are SO close to publication. SO CLOSE. I love your voice.

    At the risk of being all "come to the dark side with me" what if you targeted Blaze or Supers or Intrigue for awhile? Moving over to the non-M&B lines would let you still feel connected to the eHarlequin community. New Voices really showed me that I *am* a good writer (I think :) But the comments helped :)) but that I'm just not a good fit for M&B. I loved the feedback, but I won't be doing the contest next year. Better to put my energies where my voice DOES fit. I'm going to keep going with my super/blaze focus and look at other publishers where *my* voice would work.

    Also, you know something? I REALLY think that had eWife come through on the last day, you would be one of the finalists. The skew towards last minute submissions has to mean that some that made early short lists got moved down. Your theme is classic category with a great twist. Go ahead and submit that one the regular way or do Golden Heart or another contest to try to get it in front of the right editor for your target line. Then decide what direction your next WIP will take, but don't give up on eWife joining the Harlequin family. I loved your chapter. Loved. Was shocked at some of the choices (some in a very good way) and especially shocked at who didn't make it. Oh well. With 1090 entries there was bound to be A LOT of favorites not moving on.

    Thank you so much for making my NV experience much richer.

  5. Thanks guys. My grief in this is really not about not winning. It's *not* about not being a finalist. It's a resurgence of that 'too quirky' fear. They have been really banging that originality gong this year, enough to make me believe that things were changing, but I didn't see any of that in the selections.

    I know eWife is a tried and true M&B storyline with a big twist on the Marriage of Convenience premise, but all I've seen is tiny twists. I don't want to finish it as a HMB story format if it has no shot there. I know that every submission is a gamble, but you tilt the scales slightly in your favor if you try to deliver what they want. If what they really want is ... *box without a lid on it* as opposed to *outside of the box* ... well then my stories will probably never work.

    That's what the grief is about, and why I'm laying low. Really hoping that I will see some innovation on the callback list. If not, I think my HQN submission days are over and I'll need to look for a new target to aim for. I can write inside the box, but I don't think I do it as well.

    I'm glad that I could help make the experience better for everyone, but I agree that my time would be better spent *elsewhere* next year. Live and learn, right?

  6. Amalie, I have to agree with Annabeth here that you might stand a good chance with Blaze. I pitch Desire, and I am sure Annabeth knows Blaze better than I do, but I read them quite a bit and I feel they allow a little more wiggle room for "thinking outside the box." Of course take your time, collect your thoughts, and find a window of hope again. I hope you will.

    As with Annabeth, I won't be entering again next year because I don't see next year being any different in the selection process. It's clear that I'm not a good fit for them as evidenced not only by my own entry but the similar voice style I saw in so many other entries that were not selected, yet received so much positive feedback from peers and readers. It seems they shifted to a more narrative style, though I admit I didn't read all of the final 21 because again, it is time to stop wasting (for lack of a better word) time here and start focusing on advancing my own writing.

    I too was very dismayed, though, that so many were selected from the final weekend, when so many of us really participated in the contest in its entirety.

    I again echo Annabeth that though I won't be spending my time and energy on this any more, I have taken away the very good feedback I received and I think that in some ways I almost believe in myself a bit more and I can hope you will take that away for eWife as well.

    I've actually sort of stopped thinking M&B will pull out a callback list. I was becoming a bit drained with how much hope I was allowing them to hold over us. The hype and build up is a bit much and at some point, I decided to stop emotionally investing and take control of my life again - ha. But even if they do post a list, and it would be at least something to be on it, I personally feel certain voices are more appreciated for other lines and I would be greeted with more success elsewhere.

    At the very least I hope you will pick up a few Blaze books and give them a read and that, again as Annabeth stated, you won't give up on the Harlequin family. I still believe. Chin up, Amalie, but all in good time. There's hope for us all yet and think of how sweet that achievement will be.

  7. I'll look into Blaze. I have not done so before because I always thought they were way more sexy than what I write, but honestly I have no idea anymore!

    I also somehow thought of Desires as the sexy Presents-style storylines, and Blazes as the sexy Romance-style storylines, but the guidelines look different. Will grab some to have a look.

    Thanks again, ladies. It certainly would be easier on my foggy brain to shift from one HQN line to another, but I'm not making any decisions until I start thinking clearer--my brain feels a bit squishy right now.


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