I have to credit Denise with this idea. I was casting about trying to decide what I wanted to blog about next when I learned to my surprise that my time travel romance, ERIN’S REBEL, had finished fourth in the Valley Forge Romance Writers’ SHEILA contest. http://www.vfrw.com/contest.htm
I was surprised because after I entered this particular contest, I’d once again changed the opening of this novel. I’ve struggled with this–my first foray into the romance genre–since joining Romance Writers of America in 2002. I’d had my first novel, a young adult Civil War coming-of-age story, UNDER THE GUNS, published just before I’d joined the organization. But the path to publication of that book wasn’t easy. Just before I’d received the acceptance letter, I’d been about to put that one back in the drawer.
Publishers don’t seem to like books–at least in the romance and young adult variety–set during the Civil War. I’ve been told that they don’t believe these books will sell. Well, I’m out to prove them wrong.
By entering as many contests as I could afford, I managed to gain a lot of expertise from judges–both published and unpublished–to guide my way as I wrote this new book. I also managed to come in third in a synopsis contest for ERIN’S REBEL, but after reading the judges comments, I decided the plot needed some changes. I’ve finished making those changes and also reworked the opening at least four times to find the ideal starting point. An opening has to be exciting enough to draw a reader–and editor–in, supplying just enough information so that the reader understands the situation without giving him or her a boring info dump.
It wasn’t easy. Took a ton of rewriting–as well as reading quite a few writer’s resource books as well as taking a slew of workshops in the craft of romance writing. But I think I’ve finally found my ideal opening. Now, I have to plant my butt in the chair and finish the book. But this contest win helps to affirm that there are readers who enjoy the Civil War period.
Hopefully, If I make this book the best it can be, a publisher will like it, too, and be willing to give it a chance.
Find more information on my work-in-progess, ERIN’S REBEL, at www.susanmacatee.com