Monday, October 11, 2010

Barbara Hannay & What I've Learnt From New Voices

Before I entered the New Voices comp I made the decision that it was my last one. Actually, I think I said that about a competition two years ago but NV was such an interesting concept I couldn’t help myself. Although submitting to the world turned out to be akin to having to run down a public street naked.

The competition is far from over, and who knows what other opportunities they may throw our way, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s only reinforced my option that the ol’ fashioned submission and slush pile is the place for me to be. Competitions have always felt like publication detours, sometimes productive, sometimes not. They’re very much a gamble and because writing is so close to your heart it’s always painful if you don’t get the response you were hoping for, and it can take a while to pick yourself back up.

Thanks to my fellow Minxes and everyone in blogland I feel like I’ve won this time. I now have a wonderful critique group and just hearing that someone read your chapter and genuinely liked it is the most amazing feeling in the world. I was also lucky enough to get some fabulous criticism from Heidi Rice so I’m definitely not walking away empty handed and I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone for your support during the first stage of the competition and after.

My greatest disappointment is not being able to get my hands on the rest of the stories that followed the fantastic first chapters I read. I tend to skim first paragraphs and chapters of books when I’m buying them and the best ones get stuck in my head and niggle at me to finish them. Needless to say, it’s driving me nuts not being able read the rest of those manuscripts.

Next weekend I’ll have a wonderful distraction from those niggles because I’ll be at a Barbara Hannay workshop! Barbara writes for Mills & Boon Sweet and will be at the Tropical Writer’s Festival on the 16th. If anyone fancies a nice, warm, tropical holiday you can find information on the workshop here.

Submissions for Round 2 of NV have now closed and I'd like to wish Leah Ashton lots of luck with her entry!


abbi said...


I have to agree. I think I'm done with competitions. I need to SUB, SUB, SUB!
Love your analogy for NV and your chapter was awesome.

I'm sure I'll bug you over at the Minxes site very soon!

Abbi :-)

Angie Peters said...

Great post, Lacey :) I agree with you about wanting to read the rest of all the fabulous stories on NV.
And I know there were a few positives from the comp, like meeting new people, getting your writing out there for feedback, etc. But, personally, I don't know if I would ever enter another competition that was that public again. Thank God I've got some thick skin, that's all I can say.
Sounds like a great course - hope you learn lots!

Leah said...

I hear you on the "running down the street naked" thing!

You wrote a fabulous chapter, I was shocked it wasn't in "the list". I have no doubt you'll shine in the slush pile :)

And I'm very jealous - Barbara Hannay is lovely!

Lacey Devlin said...

Abbi - I didn't enter the last major competition (I think it was Feel the Heat - I can't always keep their names straight) and I really thought I'd end up wanting to kick myself for missing an opportunity but I didn't. It's a different kind of fun to support anyone who is entering while you paddle through the slush pile :)

I'm so glad you liked my chapter! I loved yours too! I hope you're busy finishing that partial!

Lacey Devlin said...

Angie - I think competitions are a lot easier when there's a bit of anonymity involved too. But I know I had to enter this one for the experience.

I hoping I can share some gems from the course but there might be a wee bit of a delay while I struggle through the last of my assessment, with something due every week until "the end" lol.

Lacey Devlin said...

Leah - You must feel like you're doing the "running down the street" thing twice over! Or does it get easier the second time?

Thanks so much for liking my chapter. I'm thinking of attaching a flashing light, like the kind you find on emergency life rafts to make it stand out in the slush pile lol.

I'm a HUGE Barbara Hannay fan so hopefully I won't gush all over her. I'm sneaking one of my favourite books in the ol' handbag with hopes of getting it signed ;)

Kerrin said...

I really loved your sub for NV! don't give up on it!
And yay for the criticism from Heidi Rice! That's awesome :)

Jackie Ashenden said...

Contests are not for me either, Lacey. I'm going to quit while I'm behind. :-)
And congrats on your Minxination! I missed it!

Lacey Devlin said...

Kerrin - Thanks :) I was so thrilled to get a Heidi comment and the others have been great too. It's not always easy to see your WIP through fresh eyes.

Lacey Devlin said...

Jackie - I don't think you're behind. In fact I think you're the person up the front carrying the banner ;) You are welcome to join Abbi and I in the slush pile!

Thanks re my minxation! You must have still been travelling :)

Sally Clements said...

People didn't just like your chapter, Lacey, they loved it! I'm just waiting for the response when you sub, I'm sure it will be positive because you're writing is so good it couldn't fail to succeed! Have a lovely day next week with your course - as you know I love courses, so I'm jealous.

Talli Roland said...

I'm not a massive fan of writing competitions because they're so distracting for me, but I know they have been helpful for some writers!

Have fun at the workshop!

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks so much Sally!! I hope I won't disappoint ;) I'm really looking forward to the workshop! You could always pop across the ocean and join me ;)

Lacey Devlin said...

Talli - Thanks for stopping by :) I'd have to agree with you that about competitions being distracting. I've spent far too much time obsessing over NV, darn site is addictive!

Tina said...

We will conquer Slush Mountain! We will conquer Slush Mountain! LOL
We have to. I want to read more than your first chapter. It was fabulous! : )

Anne McAllister said...

Could it be someone's birthday? Just saying . . . Happy day!

Lacey Devlin said...

It probably is a slush mountain! If we cross our fingers, maybe when our submissions arrive it will magically have reduced to hill size ;)

Thanks so much for wanting more of my chapter :) Quite a chunk of a manuscript exists behind that chapter but it needs to take a good long look at itself.

Hopefully with a dazzling synopsis M&B will come to like it as much as you do :)

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks so much Anne! It's made my day to recieve birthday wishes from you :)

Tina said...

Happy Birthday Lacey! You definitely get cake. :)

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks Tina :)

Kate Hardy said...

Good luck with that sub, Lacey.

And happy belated birthday :o)

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks for thinking of me Kate :) It's really something special when your favorite authors are wishing you happy birthday. I love the internet :)

Thanks for the luck too, I'm going to need it!

Julia Broadbooks said...

Great post, Lacey!

This was my first ever contest and I don't regret it at all; it's been a wonderful experience. But I don't know that I'll make a habit of entering contests. It is distracting and the feedback is only as good as the commenter. I was lucky that the readers who took time to comment on my chapter made some really helpful points (that are now glaringly obvious to me).

Lacey Devlin said...

Hi Julia!

Congrats on entering your first competition. Wow you picked a doozy to start with since it was such a public forum. I hope you'll submit the ol' fashioned way? Do you target a specific M&B line?

Julia Broadbooks said...

I did feel rather exposed when I posted that chapter. But everyone has been so lovely and generous. was thinking of targeting Modern/Presents. One of the comments I recieved was concerning the relatively well developed secondary characters. I'll concede that's a mistake in the first chapter, but they're a big part of my story. I'm just going to finish and worry about what an editor thinks if I get one. :)

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