Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The North Texas Romance Writers of America chapter is proud to announce that the 
2016 GREAT EXPECTATIONS CONTEST is open for entries!

The Great Expectations Contest is for unpublished material, to include works from unpublished authors as well as unpublished works from published authors (if you are a published author, please see the 2016 Rules for details.)

Now in its 15th consecutive year, North Texas RWA can help you receive unbiased opinions from three qualified judges on the first 5,000 words of your story. The top four scoring entries (or five, in the event of a tie) will progress to the finalist stage of the contest, where top editors from leading publishing houses will determine the winners.

THE ENTRY!


  • 5,000 word entry limit instead of page count
  • NO synopsis or blurb (finalists will have the opportunity to include an unjudged synopsis for the editors)


DEADLINES AND FEES

October 1, 2015:  Contest opens for entries

Early Bird Dates and Fees:

DATES:  
October 1, 2015 to midnight (Central Time) December 1, 2015

FEES:  

  • $20 per entry for North Texas, DARA, and Yellow Rose Chapter Members of RWA
  • $25 per entry for all other contest entrants


Regular Dates and Fees:

DATES:  
December 2, 2015 to midnight (Central Time) January 3, 2016

FEES:

  • $25 per entry for North Texas, DARA, and Yellow Rose Chapter Members of RWA
  • $30 per entry for all other contest entrants


Midnight, Central Time, Sunday, January 3, 2016 
the Contest Closes for Entries!

Polish up your manuscript and enter today! 

Questions? Contact Fenley Grant, at GECoordinator@NTRWA.org

Friday, April 3, 2015

2015 CONTEST WINNERS!


CONTEMPORARY SERIES ROMANCE
Final Editor: Karen Reid, Associate Editor, Harlequin Publishing

First Place: The Trouble with Freddie ** by Diana Waldhuber
Second Place: Wrong Side of Love ** by Susan JP Owens
Third Place: The Right Sister ** by Sharla Francis
Honorable Mention: Cordelia and Her Cowboy by Deborah Vlahakes

HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Final Editor: Gabrielle Keck, Editorial Assistant, HarperCollins

First Place: The Secret Affairs of a Duke’s Daughter * by Janna MacGregor
Second Place: A Lady In Shadow by Robin Delany
Third Place: Love’s Triumph by Jeanine Englert
Honorable Mentions: Rescuing Mr. Gracey by Eileen Barnes
                                   Love’s Wager by Jeanine Englert

INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE
Final Editor: Raela Schoenherr, Acquisitions Editor, Bethany House

First Place: Lead Me Home by Natalie Monk
Second Place: The Sacrifice by Megan Besing
Third Place: Reclaimed by Jennifer Rodewald
Honorable Mention: Healing Grace by Anna Taylor

MAINSTREAM WITH ROMANTIC ELEMENTS
Final Editor: Laura Fazio, Assistant Editor, NAL / Penguin Group

First Place: Between Nowhere and Lost by Alexandra Christle
Second Place: Waking the Dead by D.B. Sieders
Third Place: What You Wish For by Gina Wynn
Honorable Mention: Cave Girl by Liz McClure

NEW ADULT
Final Editor: Julie Mianecki, Editorial Assistant, Berkley Publishing Group

First Place: A Cruel Kind of Beautiful ** by Michelle Hazen
Second Place: Feel Again ** by Carilyn Ballentine
Third Place: A Not So Sleeping Beauty by Sheryl Kaleo
Honorable Mention: Branded by Robin Delany

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Final Editor: Alex Logan, Senior Editor, Grand Central Publishing

First Place: Broken River: Redemption by Lindsay Cross
Second Place: Wrong Side of Love by Susan JP Owens
Third Place: Forsworn by Michelle Hazen
Honorable Mention: Stalker by Sidney Bristol

SINGLE TITLE ROMANCE
Final Editor: Madeleine Colavita, Editorial Assistant, Grand Central Publishing

First Place: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Nicole Evelina
Second Place: How Not To Be A Tabloid Cover Story ** by C A Speakman
Third Place: The First Word by Isley Robson
Honorable Mention: If I Should Remember by Kirk Van Brunt

SPECIALIZED ROMANCE (Alternate Earth, Dystopian, Fantasy, Futuristic, Paranormal, Time Travel)
Final Editor: Kristine Swartz, Assistant Editor, Berkley Publishing Group

First Place: Skin Deep * by Margo Bond Collins
Second Place: Not His Dragon by Annie Nicholas
Third Place: The New London Marriage Stipulation by Margo Bond Collins
Honorable Mention: Awake and Dreaming by Andrea Contos

YOUNG ADULT
Final Editor: Alice Jerman, Assistant Editor, HarperCollins

First Place: The Nascent Bloom ** by Janet Halpin
Second Place: Song of the Sirens by Carolyn Rogers
Third Place: Colliding Skies by Debbie Koristz
Honorable Mention: Beest by Debbie Van Brunt

Congratulations to our winners and good luck on your road to publication!

PERMISSION TO FORWARD GRANTED AND ENCOURAGED


Denotes Request for Partial Manuscript *
Denotes Request for Full Manuscript **

Thursday, February 5, 2015

2015 Finalists

The North Texas Romance Writers of America is proud to announce the
2015 Great Expectations Finalists

Congratulations to all who entered and put your work in the hands of strangers. Best of Luck to the finalists as they submit their work to our final round editors.
*denotes double finalist
(Listed in alphabetical order by title)

CONTEMPORARY SERIES
Final Round Editor:  KAREN REID, Associate Editor, Harlequin SuperRomance                                                                             
Cordelia and Her Cowboy by Deborah Vlahakes                                   
The Right Sister by Sharla Francis
The Trouble With Freddie by Diana Waldhuber
Wrong Side of Love by Susan JP Owens*

HISTORICAL
Final Round Editor:  GABRIELLE KECK, Editorial Assistant, Avon / William Morrow                     
A Lady In Shadow by Robin Delany*
Love’s Triumph by Jeanine Englert *                
Love’s Wager by Jeanine Englert*
Rescuing Mr. Gracey by Eileen Barnes
The Secret Affairs of a Duke's Daughter by Janna MacGregor                   

INSPIRATIONAL
Final Round Editor:  RAELA SCHOENHERR, Fiction Acquisitions, Bethany House                                  
Healing Grace by Anna Taylor
Lead Me Home by Natalie Monk                    
Reclaimed by Jennifer Rodewald
The Sacrifice by Megan Besing

MAINSTREAM with ROMANTIC ELEMENTS  
Final Round Editor:   ALEX LOGAN, Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Between Nowhere and Lost by Alexandra Christle                     
Cave Girl by Liz McClure
Waking The Dead by D.B. Sieders
What You Wish For by Gina Wynn

NEW ADULT 
Final Round Editor:  JULIE MIANECKI, Assistant Editor, Berkley Publishing Group    
     
A Cruel Kind of Beautiful by Michelle Hazen*                
A Not So Sleeping Beauty by Sheryl Kaleo
Branded by Robin Delany*
Feel Again by Carilyn Ballentine           

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE         
Final Round Editor:  LAURA FAZIO, Assistant Editor, NAL/Penguin Group      

Broken River:  Redemption by Lindsay Cross                   
Forsworn by Michelle Hazen*
Stalker by Sidney Bristol                      
Wrong Side of Love by Susan JP Owens*

SINGLE TITLE            
Final Round Editor:  MADELEINE COLAVITA, Editorial Assistant, Grand Central Publishing
The First Word by Isley Robson
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Nicole Evelina
How Not To Be A Tabloid Cover Story by CA Speakman           
If I Should Remember by Kirk Van Brunt

SPECIALIZED 
(Alternate Earth, Dystopian, Fantasy, Futuristic, Paranormal, Time Travel)
Final Round Editor:  KRISTINE SWARTZ, Assistant Editor, Berkley Publishing Group

Awake and Dreaming by Andrea Contos
The New London Marriage Stipulation by Margo Bond Collins*
Not His Dragon by Annie Nicholas
Skin Deep by Margo Bond Collins*                 

YOUNG ADULT 
Final Round Editor:  ALICE JERMAN, Assistant Editor, HarperCollins

Beest by Debbie Van Brunt
Colliding Skies by Debbie Koristz
The Nascent Bloom by Janet Halpin
Song of The Sirens by Carolyn Rogers


CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL GREAT EXPECTATIONS FINALISTS!

Fenley Grant and Angi Morgan
Great Expectations Contest Coordinators


PERMISSION TO FORWARD GRANTED AND ENCOURAGED

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

CONGRATULATIONS . . .

. . .to our judges.






What wonder men and women you are!

Thanks for completing your volunteer job in record time. We've said this before, but you make this contest possible. We know that the contestants thank you for sharing not only your time, but also your writing experience. 



Friday, January 30, 2015

Judged Entries Due Saturday Jan 31st

That's right everybody!

All judged entries are due back to the GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org
Saturday, January 31st

If you need more time, please contact the coordinator.


CONGRATULATIONS
the
Single Title Romance Judges
who have all finished !


Saturday, January 17, 2015

TOPIC: PACING

Is the story well-paced, or does it seem to lose momentum? Does it have you wanting to turn those pages?

"Whether you’re using fast or slow pacing, things must happen. While description makes the story more vivid, it shouldn’t be what’s happening. If you put people on every page and in every paragraph and have them doing something, pacing will unfold naturally. The more things that happen, the faster the story pace."   Maggie Touissant


Maggie's words are great to judge by. Pacing is about something happening in the story . . . fast OR slow.  If you find yourself reading the entry and you've forgotten to judge it . . .  That's a clear indication that the pacing is right on target.

Too Much Back Story * Jarring Sentences * Inconsentent Information
CAN STOP A READER

That when we mark the confusing passages in the manuscript, then zip down to the scoresheet and give the author page numbers to refererence. Let them know why (or which sentence) affected the stopping & starting.

Need some pacing articles? Try the Romance Univerity blog-- http://romanceuniversity.org/
They have lots of tips and may have exactly the verbiage you need to validate your feeling about the entry.

As always, if you have questions relating specifically to an entry, contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Angi

Friday, January 16, 2015

TOPIC: International Writing Differences

Isn't it amazing we can help writers all over the world reach their potential? Unfortunately, our PCs are not always as friendly.

Some of your entries may have international spellings. Please do not count off for this unless the word reappears and is spelled inconsistently.

In addition, international entries may use one quotation mark (standard in the UK) or leave out the period in formal address words such as Mr., Mrs. and Dr. as is used in the U.S.

As always, if you have questions relating specifically to an entry, contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Angi

Thursday, January 15, 2015

TOPIC: WRITING STYLES

Please keep the following in mind:

QUESTION: I’ve judged entries in various contests where an author wrote “said he”, instead of “he said”. At first I would mark them down and explain the correct way. Then I found out in some countries “said he” is the correct way of writing. I still comment that in America it’s written ‘he said’ and editors and agents may see this as inexperience, but I understand other countries don’t write in the same format as we do. I don’t take off for it, and I tell them I’m not taking off for it. Have you come across this and how would you handle it?

RESPONSE: Subjectivity
Bottom line?  Is it a good story and does the style work in that story.

An author's style and voice are their own. But so is each story. The way a character thinks and acts in one book won't necessarily work in another. Same thing goes for readers...what one likes, another says maybe not so much. Basic grammar rules may be broken if they don't jar the reader from the story. They may even be used to tell a specific story in a specific way.

So authors may use different tags to identify different POVs or characters. But it has to work.

If it's a distraction, then it should be counted down, but please leave a comment about the distraction--not just the gramatically inconsistency.

As always, if you have questions relating specifically to an entry, contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Angi
Angi Morgan                   AngiMorgan.com
                WEST TEXAS WATCHMEN
The Sheriff           The Cattleman            The Ranger 

 JAN                              FEB                             MAR

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

TOPIC: POV SHIFTS

QUESTION: Can it be pointed out to the judges that a scene break or blank line or ### is NOT required with each POV shift?
                   
ANSWER: Blank lines are not required with a POV shift.
If they aren't used, we refer to that as a transition.

IF a blank line, * or # is used for the POV shift, there's nothing wrong with this style either.

POV SHIFTS for scoring purposes
If the POV changing (or lack of changing) is distracting you as a reader then there's a problem. Many times as a judge I explain to the contestant that I’m not a POV purist, but “head hopping” is not simple POV shifting. "Head hopping" doesn’t allow the reader time to invest enough emotion with one character before shifting to another POV. It's the author's goal to get me to connect with the storie's characters. If I’m not in the character's POV long enough to connect...then the POV shifting is not working.

IDENTIFIERS that might indicate a POV problem
Point of View that shifts every couple of paragraphs?
There's no rule that says a writer can't do this. (I love to use this tool in a love scene.)
     --BUT, does it jar you from the story?
     --DOES it keep you from investing emotion into the characters?
     --DOES it have you wondering whose POV you're reading?

As always, if you have questions relating specifically to an entry, contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Angi
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Angi Morgan                                    AngiMorgan.com
                   WEST TEXAS WATCHMEN

The Sheriff           The Cattleman            The Ranger  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

TOPIC: WORD OVERUSE

I LOOKED at him.
She LOOKED great.
He had a nasty LOOK in his eyes.
LOOK, there’s the mailman.
Who LOOKED at me?

QUESTION: Where on the score sheet do we comment on words  or proper names being over-used? 

ANSWER:  Let’s consider these "style" issues (unique voice/strong writing style) ... I wouldn't mark an entry down much for overuse of dialogue tags or proper names, but if it's distracting a slight reduction would certainly be appropriate.  Just note that the duplication of words is distracting. 

Try highlighting the use of mirrored or overused words. The highlight will draw attention to the distraction when the author reviews the manuscript. But as for any deduction, always leave a comment as to why. 

NOTE: Some authors use repetition deliberately -- for emphasis, for comedic effect, etc. So, again, only mark down if the repetition genuinely interferes with your ability to read the story.

As always, if you have questions relating specifically to an entry, contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Angi
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Angi Morgan                                    AngiMorgan.com
                   WEST TEXAS WATCHMEN
The Sheriff           The Cattleman            The Ranger 
     JAN                            FEB                         MAR

Monday, January 12, 2015

Young Adult

THE SCORE SHEET
~ ALL SPECIFIC SECTIONS

Most of the opinions on judging and interpreting the questions’ intent are my own words. I’ve only been in the business 15 years and have spoken to many authors, gathering information. A lot of the time when a question is asked, I go to authors who publish in that genre for advice. Please use your own expertise and experience, but keep our humble interpretations in mind. Thanks, Angi

~If you have an additional question regarding your specific category, please send it directly to GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Some of the explanations are the same for general questions which require some expected knowledge of the sub-genre. If you require a more in-depth definition of the genre...please send an email for additional information. Additional resources are being posted this week.

~For your convenience we’ve included a description of each category as described on our FINAL EDITORS page.

The Young Adult category entries were emailed 1-13.

*YOUNG ADULT* 
Novels appropriate for young adult readers. Includes young adult heroes and heroines not exceeding 18 years of age. An example is the 2013 RWA RITA winner: THE FARM by Emily McKay.

Need more about what the trends in YA are? Try Romance University
Or how about Publishers Weekly

SPECIFIC TO THE YOUNG ADULT CATEGORY
Possible 20 point total to award, 5 points per question
        Does the main character face his / her problem in a believable manner?
        Does the author capture the dialogue of a young adult romance?
        Is the main character moving toward discovering who he/she is as a person?
        Are the secondary characters necessary, interesting, and believable?

Breaking Down the Questions
        Does the main character face his / her problem in a believable manner?
Young adult manuscripts encompass a wide range of subjects, tones, and styles. Contemporary to historical paranormal, first person or third person, slow and steady or action-adventure. Anything goes. The goal of any manuscript is to provide an excellent book. Please keep the writing in mind.
        Does the author capture the dialogue of a young adult romance?
Dialogue is an important part of any manuscript. Do teens curse? Yes. Do they use slang? Yes. Do you still want the story to flow? Yes. Finding the perfect balance is difficult. The most important thing about dialogue is to convey information, progress the story, and NOT interrupt the reader. If you’re jarred from the story…you might want to verify why. Is it because you can’t understand? Or was it a good shock? Only you as a reader can decide this answer. I like the Writing YA for Dummies dialogue section: “blurt it out.” As in teens often TALK first and THINK second.
        Is the main character moving toward discovering who he/she is as a person?
 “The elements of storytelling are the same for young adult fiction and adult fiction, but writers of young adult fiction must come at those elements with a wholly different mindset. After all, this category has its own rules, its own quirks, and its own very opinionated audience: teens and tweens.” ~ Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies by Deborah Halverson  The main character must overcome their obstacle.
        Are the secondary characters necessary, interesting, and believable?
As with any length and any sub-genre of romance, the secondary characters must have a purpose in the scene. One point to watch out for is if they’re info-dumping. Now, a second character in the room is the perfect way to give the reader information without the POV character just thinking about it. Dialogue is always better (in my humble opinion). A dialogue (or mental note that the secondary character is talking a lot LOL) gives purpose and makes the character necessary.

If you have specific questions regarding this section, please contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

Additional help tips for this category may be available through the coordinator or on our blog.

Inspiration Romance

THE SCORE SHEET
~ ALL SPECIFIC SECTIONS
2016 --Two questions are currently under review

Most of the opinions on judging and interpreting the questions’ intent are my own words. I’ve only been in the business 15 years and have spoken to many authors, gathering information. A lot of the time when a question is asked, I go to authors who publish in that genre for advice. Please use your own expertise and experience, but keep our humble interpretations in mind. Thanks, Angi

~If you have an additional question regarding your specific category, please send it directly to GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Some of the explanations are the same for general questions which require some expected knowledge of the sub-genre. If you require a more in-depth definition of the genre...please send an email for additional information. Additional resources are being posted this week.


~For your convenience we’ve included a description of each category as described on our FINAL EDITORS page.

The Inspirational judging panels have been emailed.

*INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE*
Romantic novels with an inspirational message/theme, including romantic suspense, historical, etc. An example is the 2014 RWA RITA winner: FIVE DAYS IN SKYE by Carla Laureano.

SPECIFIC TO THE INSPIRATIONAL CATEGORY
Possible 20 point total to award, 5 points per question
        Do the inspirational elements reflect not sermonizing and seem a natural aspect of character and plot?      
        If you took the inspirational element out of the story, would the plot still work?    
        Is the protagonist’s faith, belief system or values (or lack of) apparent or foreshadowed?
        Is the tone appropriate for inspirational romance? (language, sexual tension, etc.)

PLEASE remember that “faith” may not necessarily reflect your personal beliefs.

Breaking Down the Questions
        Do the inspirational elements reflect not sermonizing and seem a natural aspect of character and plot?   
Answering this question is a matter of the judge’s opinion. Please refer back to the balance of introspection and dialogue. A balance is needed in any story.
        If you took the inspirational element out of the story, would the plot still work?     
Are the main threads of the story woven together in such a way that the plot would unravel without one of the threads? In other words, if the inspirational element is removed, this story shouldn’t fit another category.
        Is the protagonist’s faith, belief system or values (or lack of) apparent or foreshadowed?
MANY published inspirational romances focus on characters who do not have faith at the beginning of the story; instead, the story is about them developing faith. Our score sheet does not necessarily reflect this reality as well as it should.  So, for our purposes, think of the category-specific question as being about whether there is a foundation for a journey of faith as well as a journey of romance.
        Is the tone appropriate for inspirational romance? (language, sexual tension, etc.)
Tone. If you don’t read several types of inspirational romance, this question may be a mystery to you. Please contact the coordinator for help. But each type and length of a Amish, suspense, category or single title inspirational has its own feel. It’s what a reader would expect when picking up a book not only on a designated/tagged bookshelf, but also by an author.

Sexual tension in inspirational romance is appropriate, just as it’s needed in any romance.
Now … the frame for this will be different because lust doesn’t get mentioned, nor can you have any of the physiological reactions that you would probably show in most other types of romance.  However, these are people falling in love, and as an author, you don’t want that to come across as a brother-sister kind of thing.  In showing attraction or sexual tension in inspirational romance, my approach is similar to what you’d see in solidly family films.

Some of my models for how to do this are the relationships between Jack and Lucy in While You Are Sleeping, Hawkeye and Cora in Last of the Mohicans (1992 version), Danielle and Prince Henry in Ever After,  and Mary and Steve in the Wedding Planner.  In each of these, it’s obvious these people are falling in love, but the tension is as much emotional as it is physical.  And because the focus is on the emotional, you just know the physical will be just fine.
~ inspirational author, Sharon Mignerey

If you have specific questions regarding this section, please contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.
Additional help tips for this category may be available through the coordinator or on our blog.

Mainstream with Romantic Elements

THE SCORE SHEET
~ ALL SPECIFIC SECTIONS

Most of the opinions on judging and interpreting the questions’ intent are my own words. I’ve only been in the business 15 years and have spoken to many authors, gathering information. A lot of the time when a question is asked, I go to authors who publish in that genre for advice. Please use your own expertise and experience, but keep our humble interpretations in mind. Thanks, Angi

~If you have an additional question regarding your specific category, please send it directly to GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Some of the explanations are the same for general questions which require some expected knowledge of the sub-genre. If you require a more in-depth definition of the genre...please send an email for additional information. Additional resources are being posted this week.

~For your convenience we’ve included a description of each category as described on our FINAL EDITORS page.


The MRE judging panels have been emailed.

*MAINSTREAM WITH ROMANTIC ELEMENTS* 
Novels that include an element of romance but in which traditional romance conventions are not followed and in which there are themes and conflicts beyond romance. Mainly women’s fiction and chick lit. An example is the 2013 RWA RITA winner: THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLAIRE by Simone St. James.

Please note that the Mainstream with Romantic Elements category only needs to hint at the possibility of romance. Please do not judge the entry based on the romance, MRE normally focuses on one protagonist’s journey.

SPECIFIC TO THE MAINSTREAM w/ROMANTIC ELEMENTS CATEGORY
Possible 20 point total to award, 5 points per question
        Does the story focus on one protagonist and/or their journey?
        Is there an element to the story that takes it beyond a traditional single title romance? 
        Does the author build a sustainable story beyond using the traditional romantic elements? (The story should set the groundwork for a potential romantic relationship but should not be the central focus of the story.)          
        Are the secondary characters necessary, interesting, and believable?

Breaking Down the Questions
        Does the story focus on one protagonist and/or their journey?
Mainstream or women’s fiction. One protagonist on a journey…normally that is not a journey to find love (although that subject isn’t ruled out as long as the main focus is on the one protagonist). Emotional reflection and action that is a journey of self-discovery. Here’s an article by a women’s fiction author on what to expect.
        Is there an element to the story that takes it beyond a traditional single title romance? 
Wow…now that’s a serious question, right? Beyond a traditional single title…reference back to a journey of self-discovery. It may or may not involve a hero (traditional single title romance must have a hero). It is normally a protagonist over thirty. AND the protagonist saves herself through her self-discovery.
        Does the author build a sustainable story beyond using the traditional romantic elements? (The story should set the groundwork for a potential romantic relationship but should not be the central focus of the story.)      
With many MRE entries, one of the two protagonists may not be introduced in the first 5000 words. Each contestant had the opportunity to view the score sheet before entering the contest. Please use your judgment as best as you can.
        Are the secondary characters necessary, interesting, and believable?
As with any length and any sub-genre of romance, the secondary characters must have a purpose in the scene. One point to watch out for is if they’re info-dumping. Now, a second character in the room is the perfect way to give the reader information without the POV character just thinking about it. Dialogue is always better (in my humble opinion). A dialogue (or mental note that the secondary character is talking a lot LOL) gives purpose and makes the character necessary.

If you have specific questions regarding this section, please contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.
Additional help tips for this category may be available through the coordinator or on our blog.

Specialized Romance Category

THE SCORE SHEET
~ ALL SPECIFIC SECTIONS

Most of the opinions on judging and interpreting the questions’ intent are my own words. I’ve only been in the business 15 years and have spoken to many authors, gathering information. A lot of the time when a question is asked, I go to authors who publish in that genre for advice. Please use your own expertise and experience, but keep our humble interpretations in mind. Thanks, Angi

~If you have an additional question regarding your specific category, please send it directly to GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Some of the explanations are the same for general questions which require some expected knowledge of the sub-genre. If you require a more in-depth definition of the genre...please send an email for additional information. Additional resources are being posted this week.

~For your convenience we’ve included a description of each category as described on our FINAL EDITORS page.

Specialized Romance category entries were emailed 1/14.

*SPECIALIZED ROMANCE*
 Alternate Earth /Dystopian / Futuristic / Fantasy / Time Travel / Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
Romantic novels of any time setting (historical or futuristic) with Alternate Earth Histories, Dystopian, Futuristic, Fantasy, Time Travel, Paranormal or Urban Fantasy. Please keep in mind that the emphasis should be on the romance. An example is the 2014 RWA RITA winner: THE FIREBIRD by Suzanna Kearsley.

ONLY ON THE SPECIALIZED SCORE SHEET
This third setting question is not seen in other categories.
SETTING:  possible 15 points 
        Is the world well defined yet understandable for the reader without being overwhelming?
While all novels feature an element of world-building, in that the author makes the setting ' real' for the reader, novels in the Specialized category expand on this skill and build alternate worlds that become more of a character than merely a setting. The world built should seem plausible and well-defined, without confusing the reader with excessive technical jargon. The setting should accentuate the characters and their actions, not overpower them.

SPECIFIC TO THE SPECIALIZED CATEGORY
Alternate Earth /Dystopian / Futuristic / Fantasy / Time Travel / Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
Possible 15 point total to award, 5 points per question
        Is the protagonist a unique, well-defined, relatable, character who is complex enough to sustain a story of this length?
        Are the protagonists’ actions and motivations believable?  Do they face their problems in a believable manner?
        Are the secondary characters necessary, interesting, and believable?

While stories in this category will require an unworldly atmosphere the reader may or may not be accustomed to, they must also have some ‘specialized’ element as an integral part of the plot. The category is not simply an alternate reality--it is also a ROMANCE. So an element of romance/attraction or the potential of attraction has to be evident in the first pages.

Breaking Down the Questions
        Is the protagonist a unique, well-defined, relatable, character who is complex enough to sustain a story of this length?
As in any sub-genre of writing, a character should have these qualities to sustain a story. Keep in mind this isn’t a point deduction when one of these may not be present. Look at the point definitions and evaluate the character.
        Are the protagonists’ actions and motivations believable?  Do they face their problems in a believable manner?
The protagonists should behave and interact in ways that makes sense for their character traits and work within the parameters and the 'rules' set in their world. As in any good novel, the reader needs to believe that the protagonists' behaviors are consistent with their internal and external driving forces.
        Are the secondary characters necessary, interesting, and believable?
As with any length and any sub-genre of romance, the secondary characters must have a purpose in the scene. One point to watch out for is if they’re info-dumping. Now, a second character in the room is the perfect way to give the reader information without the POV character just thinking about it. Dialogue is always better (in my humble opinion). A dialogue gives purpose and makes the character necessary (or you can make a note that the secondary character is talking a lot).

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