Something Spectacular Could Happen

28 Apr

I love being a writer. It’s exciting. I enjoy the creation of an idea. I love finessing the words until they flow just so, working with their rhythms. I also love being a part of the writing community and attending events like The Cabin’s Readings and Conversations where I recently listened to the engaging Elizabeth Gilbert talk about how surprised she was by her own success with eat, pray, love.

While I adore writing, it can make me bizarrely obsessive about things like specific word choices, comma placements, and sentence lengths. But despite the obsessing, I have managed to finish an 80,000 word manuscript. It has been written, critiqued by my lovely critique partners, debugged by me, and is ready for the next phase – a contest.

I’ve submitted my opening chapter to the TARA contest. I was apprehensive as I pushed the upload button. Contest judges have the power to validate our work or crush our writer-egos, but aren’t they just anonymous critique partners? My previous and current critique partners have been invaluable. They’ve helped me take my ability to write and use it to tell a story. So, an anonymous critique by a contest judge is just another tool that will help me hone this craft – perfect my skill.

It also opens up exciting possibilities. Something spectacular could happen. I might final in a contest…perhaps even win…then the phone could ring and an agent might want to see a full…then she might want to represent me…it could get published…in hardback…then paperback…followed by a movie option…and Julia Roberts might play me…and then…(oh…uh…yeah…my manuscript isn’t a memoir—so there’s no me for Julia to play).

Ok, realistically, most of us write for the love of the craft and few, if any of us, will experience the wild success that Elizabeth Gilbert experienced with eat, pray, love. But isn’t it exciting that, by putting ourselves out there, we open ourselves to the possibility that it could?

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN ENTERING THE TARA:  I asked contest chair Anne-Marie Carroll (who was extremely helpful to this contest newbie) some questions about the TARA, and learned the contest generally receives approximately 200 entries. Judges, who go through extensive training, use the Deitrich scale for scoring, and entrants receive feedback on their submissions. As a result of entering the TARA, some writers have sold their manuscripts and others have received requests from editors who serve as judges in the final round. If you decide to enter, be sure to end your submission on a hook, but remember not to exceed the word count. Doing so will get you disqualified. The TARA is sponsored by the Tampa Area Romance Writers. The deadline for submissions is May 1st.


Posted by on April 28, 2011 in contests, writing


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20 responses to “Something Spectacular Could Happen

  1. johannaharness

    April 28, 2011 at 5:39 AM

    Contests differ so much from one to the next. It’s great to read about the good ones. Thanks, Carley!

    • Carley Ash

      April 28, 2011 at 6:44 PM

      Thank you Johanna.

  2. Bobi

    April 28, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    I am not a good writer-but always wanted to be – it is a gift to have your readers “feel” the emotions from your written word. I actually feel the excitement of the possibility in the unknown. Love you Carley!!!

    • Carley Ash

      April 28, 2011 at 6:44 PM

      Excellent. Thank you Bobi.

  3. Clarissa Southwick

    April 28, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    Good luck with The Tara, Carley. I love to enter contests, but I haven’t entered many this year. The Tara does have a good reputation. I hope you get some great feedback.

    • Carley Ash

      April 28, 2011 at 6:45 PM

      Thank you Clarissa. I’m excited about going through the process.

  4. Janis

    April 28, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    Great article. Good luck on the TARA.

    • Carley Ash

      April 28, 2011 at 6:59 PM

      Thank you Janis. I’m looking forward to it.

  5. Donna Cummings

    April 28, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    I like your philosophy — “something spectacular could happen”. That’s a great way to go through each day, actually. 🙂 I’ve done well in a few contests and always learned something valuable, so I think it’s a great experience. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!

  6. Carley Ash

    April 28, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Thank you Donna. I’ve already started planning for the next one.

  7. lynn mapp

    April 28, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    Contests are an excellent way to move to the next level. Good luck, Carley.

    • Carley Ash

      April 28, 2011 at 11:12 PM

      Thanks Lynn.

  8. Liz Fredericks

    April 28, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    Hey Carley – I’m with you – contests are about the possibility. I entered TARA last year and had an excellent experience with the feedback and the quality of the process. Good luck!

  9. Carley Ash

    April 28, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    That’s great news. Thank you.

  10. Scott Schmaljohn

    April 30, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    Way to go Carley. You summed up the fact “you never know until you try.” I really like your voice in your writing. Fun, humorous and honest. Good luck Carley, but most of all keep writing! Thanks for keeping us updated.

    • Carley Ash

      May 6, 2011 at 6:33 AM

      I’ve always admired your creativity and willingness to take a risks Scott.

  11. Jane McClaran

    May 4, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    A good writer takes her readers on a journey. I share in your excitement at the possibilities! I’m certain it will be a rewarding experience for you – best wishes.

    • Carley Ash

      May 6, 2011 at 6:34 AM

      Thank you Jane. You’re alway so wonderfully supportive.

  12. Mary Vine

    May 5, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    You go, girl! Congrats on finishing your manuscript!!

    • Carley Ash

      May 5, 2011 at 6:42 PM

      Thank you Mary – I’m really excited to start this phase.


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