Please welcome my special guest blogger, Raven Raye!
I have had the honor, and yes, it is an honor, to judge many contests. I love judging contests. Someone has the guts to send their blood and sweat in to you and let you pass judgment. That being said, I myself have been a contest queen. I didn’t have a critique group and very few people I knew had the time to be a beta reader. I know there are sites that have beta readers, but I don’t trust them; look what happened to Stephenie Meyer. Needless to say, I have the same fear a lot of you probably have: someone will steal my idea/manuscript and publish it under their own name. Need I mention what happened to Gene Roddenberry before Star Trek came out?
What I’ve learned from those contests, oh yes, what I’ve learned. The scores I got on those first few entries might have scared anyone else away from writing for good. Failed! Worse than failed! One judge told me she hated my heroine so much she was (sniff) TSTL. I know what that means… now: Too Stupid to Live. Another judge said she didn’t know what some of my words meant and they pulled her out of the story then admitted to not liking paranormal; another awful grade. I was devastated. Criticism like this is an abuse of the position; those people should not have judged. I did get some constructive comments, which I cherished like gold leaf on the page. I took their advice and took dozens of online classes, signed up for writing groups like Savvy Authors, followed writing blogs; basically anything I could do to absorb writing knowledge. I learned.
After scores in the 20s and 30s, I made major changes and got scores in the 80s. That was more like it. My grammar was awful so I read blogs about that, tried to notice subtleties in books I read; I bought books about grammar. I learned.
My 80s scores again rose to 90s and a couple perfect scores. Then I began finaling, winning and getting requests. Heaven!
My personal mission when I judge is not to make someone feel the way I did when I got a 27, but to offer critique, not criticism. As far as I’m concerned, no entry should ever get below a 60. As far as ‘grades’ are concerned, if this is what you think you’re doing, does someone’s manuscript really deserve a failing grade? A 60 is below average meaning it needs work. I just got done judging the Molly. One of the entries had POV issues, grammar issues and a few other things needing help. However, the potential for conflict was there and it was a wonderfully imaginative premise. It got a fair grade and critique. Constructive critique. This means you tell them the problem with a certain spot and offer suggestions that may help fix that problem. Maybe tell them how you resolved the same issue in your novel.
All in all, judging is a wonderful opportunity to give back to a community that helped me and support new writers climb the same ladder. So remember, when you’re judging, you have the honor and responsibility to judge the work at hand. You’re not comparing it to Linda Howard or Stephen King; you’re judging the entry based on predetermined criteria. Judge wisely.
Raven's first release is Broken Prophesy. Here's the blurb!
Only Killian’s bloodline was created with the planet. No other can accept the Seal and no human can carry the seed to bear the Heirs of Aeden.
Killian, King of the Fey, is in love with Marcella Rowan, human and forbidden to his kind. An errant Angel, seeking revenge, awakens creatures thought long dead or mythological. Marcella’s life in danger and against the Divine Council’s orders, Killian saves her from death—by claiming her as his soulmate. As earthly and other-earthly creatures polarize toward good or evil, Marcella and Killian must survive the forces driving them apart. Only their love can unite the worlds of magick and mundane. Only their love can force their peoples to put aside bigotry, jealousy, and fear to overcome the evil tearing the earth apart. Only the magick they make together can repopulate Earth’s garden in Aeden.
Broken Prophesy is available through the follwing retailers:
Soul Mate Publishing