Even though I’ve placed in a few contests, I’ve found that not all judges write quotable remarks on the score sheets. Some judges give nothing but a number, even when they give a perfect score. But in a few contests, I’ve had such enthusiastic responses from the judges, I’ve shared them below.
Judges comments from the “First Kiss” Contest
In December 2005, I finaled in the New England Chapter’s “First Kiss” contest with my entry Prairie Fire. The contest required submission of up to a 10-page first-kiss scene from an unpublished manuscript. I entered a scene I call my corset scene, which appears in the first quarter of the book.
One published author and one qualified author judged the first round of the contest. Both gave me perfect scores. Here are excerpts from their comments, which were entirely positive.
• "I could not put this entry down... The characters jump off the page... Wonderfully, vividly, distinctively written... The writing was almost kinetic in its liveliness."
• "This is a well done scene. Evoked emotion, senses, time, and place… Great tension and conflict after the kiss… You have a nice voice and use of language… I think this scene is perfect for the First Kiss contest. Well done, great conflict, believable characters… Your presentation seemed flawless. Again, nicely done!"
Judges comments from the “Picture This” Contest
In October 2003, I took first place in the Inland Empire chapter’s “Picture This” contest with my entry Prairie Fire. The contest required submission of a 5-12 page scene from an unpublished manuscript that best describes the book, hero, heroine, plot, etc. I entered the black-moment love scene from near the end of the book.
Here’s what some of the first- and second-round contest judges had to say:
• “You’ve developed a strong writing voice and you write with a smooth assurance that’s impressive. I think you have a great future ahead of you!”
• “Great hero. Great heroine. … Very clear, distinct voice. Evocative writing. Good dialogue and emotions.”
• “He’s gentle, commanding and sexy. She’s pretty cool. I can see her. I like the gentle way she shows she’s from another time. … [The sexual tension was] slow, tender and very compelling. The tension, emotional, was achy. I want them to be able to stay together. … [Style/voice was] very vivid. An easy read. Definitely ready to submit.”
• “A very real person from the first paragraph. He didn’t turn to greet her, but he felt the heat from her body – great sensory detail! Nice handling of inner conflicts. Great sex scene! … I was invested in both characters early in the scene. The attraction between them was real and earthy.”
A judge's comments from the "Stepping Stone" contest
In 2004, I entered the Stepping Stone contest, which has similar rules to the Golden Heart contest -- enter the first 55 pages, including a synopsis. Prairie Fire placed second in the contest. Here's what one published judge had to say:
• "First of all, you are an extremely talented, skilled writer. You have a fresh, strong voice and to me, 'voice' is difficult to achieve as a writer. You've got that mastered. ... You have great characters. ... You excel at description. You really know how to paint a picture with words. ... Wonderful humor. ... You have real talent as a writer. The story is intriguing and compelling and your voice and style are superior."
A judge's comments from the "On The Far Side" contest
In 2006 when I entered Prairie Fire in the time travel category of the FF&P On the Far Side Contest, I didn't final. But, I came really close to finaling. Really close. Each judge read the first chapter of Prairie Fire and a five-page synopsis. Here's what one judge had to say:
• "Wow! A Time Travel with a heart and a brain. I love the hint of magic in both their lives -- made me think the time travel could come from magic in the Heroine/Hero or someone in either of their lives. The setting is alive and vivid. ... This is certainly something I would love to read more of. ... This is a strong voice; I'd know this one again. In fact, I'd be looking for it."