Monday, December 14, 2009

That Contest Part 2

Having just taken another look over at I Heart Presents - and I really wish I hadn't - I'm just going to make one final comment.

And that is that, no matter what happened with the official rules and the actual winning entry - that is between the editors and the entrant. No matter how disappointed, angry, frustrated and confused you are there is a professional way to deal with it - and there is a petty, ill-tempered , mean spirited - quite frankly - childish way of doing just that.

A professional would be aware of the fact that the editors are human and mistakes can be made. The editorial offices are closed and no decision can be made until later this morning. I have no doubt that there will be an official announcement later. Until I am aware of all the facts that is all I'll say.

That is where the decisions and the proper assessment of the situation rests.

For anyone else - to resort to personal cat fights, and the sort of mean spirited spite on a public forum that I have seen in some of the posts does nothing to justify your cause, it simply lowers the writer to the level of truly unpleasant and totally unprofessional. I'm glad to see that one poster at least has realised this and come back to say so.

A while ago I wrote a post pointing out how unjustified the Crime Writers' Association were in their long-running and tired joke about the fact that crime writers were lovely people - it was the Romantic Novelists who would stab you in the back. Sadly, reading some of the posts on I hearts would give them plenty more material to keep that tired old chestnut roasting well into 2010.

To be honest, the venom in some of those posts would make me want to back well away from working with/ helping 'wannabe' authors in the future. Which, considering the post I put up at Romance Bandits on Saturday about how and why I do that would be a real disappointment.

PS On a personal note to 'Jenny' who commented so much - I quote:

The odds were grim to begin with. HM&B didn’t contract new writers for quite some years, it’s only in recent years that they’ve opened the doors again. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to work out why. Their stable of authors will need to be replenished – The Grand Dames of romance are winding down, some of the newbie writers may not be around for long as some, let’s face it, aspire to greater heights and view this particular genre as a stepping stone or a temporary diversion

Sorry - no- get your facts right. The doors have always, always been open to anyone who could achieve the standard of story-telling required. And I have no idea if you consider me one of the 'Grand Dames' (heaven forfend!) but winding down . . . no . I may have been published for 25 years but I ain't finished yet. - I already have two new books scheduled for next year, a new one 'on the keyboard' so to speak. And a 'special project' commissioned for after that. I don't see any of my writing contemporaries 'winding down' either. It's the writers who have made the Presents Line such a wonderful publishing success and so the line that 544 - and more who didn't enter the contest people would aspire to be published in.

You apologised to the 'Sisterhood', for not congratulating the winners, but in that paragraph you managed to dismiss the established authors, the newcomers to the genre - the genre itself in your comment about 'aspiring to greater heights' - If you really want help and advice - feedback and clarification you'd do well not to alienate those who might offer it to you as you struggle to start off your own career.


Caroline said...

I hadn't seen the comments until you referred to them - all very sad :o( I suspect there's actually a very simple explanation: I think that 'under contract to HMB' is intended to refer to having signed an ongoing 'X books per year' contract, not the per story contract I imagine is signed for Briefs, Bites and Undone.

I just feel sorry for the winners, this must be spoiling the thrill of winning it for them.

Romy said...

Thanks so much for your level-headed response to the furore. I was actually quite stunned at the turn the comments took, for pretty much the same reason as you: it's just so unprofessional.

No matter how one feels about any disappointment, a public forum is not the place to air it. That's what friends and family are for.

As you pointed out, publishing is a business and we should treat it as such. That means so much more than getting the formatting of a manuscript right, knowing the imprint you're targeting or having an effective web presence.

I just hope that the editors understand, as you have done, that there are many of us who appreciate the opportunity and that they don't stop giving aspirant writers these incredible opportunities.

Thanks too for all that positive encouragement that you give us aspirant writers in your blog, through the NWS, and everything else you do. You're a real example of how professional writers behave.

Rachael Johns said...

So glad you posted about this! It's really upset and saddened me too. The romance community has always been such a lovely place to be and be a part of and these personal attacks are awful.

I think it's horrid too that the focus has been taken away from the winners/runners-up who have obviously written WINNING chaps and now some of them are being attacked.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but when they started being personal and nasty, they lost my respect!

susanwilson44 said...

Just sat and read 186 comments on I Heart Presents and am totally stunned. I read the original post with the winners names on Friday and immediately "googled" the winners names to find out something about them. Was a little surprised to find websites for 2 of them with books published, but to be honest, didn't really start thinking about rules etc.
My mind moved on to other things - namely will I stand a chance of getting any feedback? And I have to say, that's where my mind still is. Think it would be shame if this stopped harlequin running any other contests. I will continue to submit, whether by competition or slush pile. Like 500+ others I live in hope....

Donna Alward said...

I can see both sides in this but what I can't understand is the nastiness. That just doesn't do anyone credit, does it!

As a published author, I can understand the frustration. But as a published author I can also honestly say 2 things.

One, as hard as it is to break IN, staying there is infinitely more difficult and even after several years of learning before I sold, I wasn't prepared for just HOW hard it was going to be or how hard I'd work.

And two - being published doesn't mean you can assume success. I tried for Modern Heat twice this year and failed - with the guidance of my editor. I simply wasn't a fit. It doesn't mean I'm not a good writer. It simply means I'm not a Modern Heat writer, and published or no wouldn't change that. :-)

I'm just sorry the whole thing blew up at all.

Nell Dixon said...

Hugs, the whole thing is so sad, it's robbed the winners of the joy of their achievement and the responses were just breathtaking in their lack of understanding.

doglady said...

It was a very sad ending to an exciting event. I wonder if some of the ladies who entered were new to competition writing and expected the moon?
I received a stock rejection email but as this was my first attempt (after goodness knows how many of your workshops I've attended) I expected no more - it was practise for the real thing.

Elaine Everest

Caroline Storer said...

Wise words Kate. It's such a shame to see so much vitriol out there! Sore losers me thinks! Take care. Caroline x

Maisey said...

It's just a shame. And it really saddens me because I know that the romance community is absolutely wonderful. Others may not. In fact, some might have been chased away by all the ugly.

For the record, I chose to write category, and for Harlequin Presents because I love it. It's what I read, it's what I want to write and I have a deep appreciate for the genre and its readers and writers.

Rachael said...

I have been shocked by some of the comments regarding the winners. At the end of the day, they won because their entries stood out. I posted early after the results were announced and congratulated the winners and told everyone else to keep writing. Now I wonder how many words they could have written towards a new project instead of all the petty comments.

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Kate, Amen. I'm so upset with the negative, hurtful and just plain mean posts. I believe sincerely that M&B and Harlequin would not award a winner if they did not meet the standards.

At a recent Oct Seatt;e RWA conference I sat with Lee, Susanna, Jennie and a HQN author spending the entire evening talking, laughing, sharing about the Presents we adore and the new ones out on the shelf. This particular author who won adores the Presents line, writes and reviews Presents authors on her blog so I can certainly understand her desire to want to write for the line.

Next year if I were a judge I would take a look at the blog posts on IHearts and EHarlequin to see who was hurtful and negative, it says so much about ones character.

Jeez, like you I can't believe all of this, it's so unprofessional.

Wishing you, bm, son and Sid a lovely holiday. As a reader and reviewer and one who adores your writing I also congratulate you on your 25 years and stepping out of the box with this post. xx

Amanda Holly said...

I too got a form rejection for my competition entry, but funnily enough it didn't hurt nearly as much as reading all the nastiness on the iheartpresents blog. I'm so shocked that authors who say they want to be part of the wonderful romance writing community can be that down right rude and nasty to each other! I don't care how righteous they think they are - you do not treat fellow human beings in that manner. Where's their respect?

I sincerely hope they are black listed from ever being published by Harlequin! Quite frankly I'd be appalled to look up to people who behave like that when things don't go their way.

Thank you so much for having the courage to take a stand in such a gracious way. Hear, hear!

Joanne Cleary said...

I've not commented on ihearts, by the time I got over there to read the comments nastiness had already started. It's so upsetting to everyone who entered the competition with a genuine heart.

As someone who has benefitted enormously from your advice, I can say publically a big thank you. I hope the awful attitudes of some doesn't put you or other authors off helping aspiring writers.

Also, thank you for the timely post in reminding us all that the way we think about our writing also defines the image we project. Is it a 'nice little hobby' or our future profession.

I am still waiting for my feedback, which makes typing this very difficult ;-)

Jane Holland said...

Donna, you're absolutely right. It is very hard work staying published, not just getting published in the first place. And not being the right 'fit' for a line is not something we can necessarily combat by trying harder.

It's just that some people on the ihp blog - and I suspect it's only a few people returning under different names - want someone to blame for not winning, when it's not a question of blame. You enter, you don't place, you deal with it. Attacking those who won and those who made the decisions won't change anything. Except to make it even harder than it was before to keep writing in the right spirit.

I'm fairly certain, even without feedback, that my voice is wrong for Presents. But it was worth a crack, if only to get me used to pressing Send!

sheandeen said...

I did not try entering the IHP contest, as a newbie I'm trying to focus on one line only and it is not MH/P line. My hat is off to anyone that is trying, but it saddens me that anyone would verbally attack and spew the kind of words I've seen over there.

I live in hope that HM&B does not stop the contests because of the response of a few. But contests or no contests it does not stop any of us from submitting the traditional way.


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