The RMFW Colorado Gold contest is a competition for unpublished writers of genre and mainstream commercial fiction. It is a rare chance to get your work in front of industry professionals, such as literary agents and editors, who judge the contest and also provide feedback.
This blog is the second of a three-part series where previous winners share their experiences with the Colorado Gold contest. Part One, "How the Colorado Gold Contest Changed How I Feel About My Writing," published on Monday the 27th. For today's blog, I asked them whether the judge's feedback was helpful to them in their writing. Here is what they said.
"As with all critiques, the comments are always helpful. They just need to be taken with a grain of salt. What someone else may think sounds better may not work for your story. Only you can be the true judge."
Jessica Naab, author of the 2013 Romance Winner, Between Skin and Soul
"Matt Martz, an editor with Crooked Lane Books, was the final round judge. At the conference after the program on Friday night, he was kind enough to give me about a half hour of his time to discuss the story. He wanted to know where it was going. He’d only seen the first twenty pages. He made some suggestions and asked me to send the completed manuscript when I thought it was ready."
Kevin Wolf, author of the 2014 Action/Thriller Winner, The Homeplace
"Yes, although at the time I didn't agree with it. They questioned my choice of POV character, and whose story it really was as I have a main character die. At the time I was adamant I wasn't changing the POV character, and yet, twelve months after winning the competition, based on additional feedback, I had made changes close to their recommendations."
Kristin Meachem, author of the 2013 Mainstream Winner, Ten Seconds
"The judges’ feedback was fantastically helpful. The year I won the mystery category was the first year the finalists got the chance to revise their entries using the first round of judges’ feedback before the entry went to the final judge. The comments were insightful, encouraging, and constructive. My entry was greatly improved using the suggestions of the judges."
Mary Birk, author of the 2014 Mystery Winner, The First Cut
"Extremely! The feedback helped me to recognize where my strengths are and where I could improve. I found the judge’s comments to be honest and for the most part spot on."
Kara Seal, author of the 2014 Young Adult/Middle Grade Winner, The Shuvani's Spell
"Their feedback was extremely helpful. Fresh eyes provide fresh suggestions. There were several feedback comments that I’d never thought of before, and the edits resulting from those comments strengthened the beginning of my book. Sometimes all it takes is a single sentence added or deleted to enhance your story’s momentum. The judges offered areas I could trim, places I could expand, but they also marked what they liked. The best feedback is a balance of enjoyment and improvement."
Michael Carson, author of 2104 Speculative Fiction Winner, Beauty is for Suckers
"Definitely. Getting that kind of critique is always great. In high school and college when I was writing creatively, receiving a teacher’s critique was always terrific. In my twenties and thirties, as a journalist, getting feedback from my editor was always helpful. And now, as I return to writing fiction, the feedback I’ve gotten from workshops, my critique partner and beta readers helps show what is working, and what, quite frankly, is absolute 100% rubbish. So to enter a contest and get feedback from it? That’s tremendous. Not only is it one more opinion to consider, but it’s one from an industry source—and those aren’t easy to come by."
Monica Comas 2014 Mainstream Winner, The Cookbook
"Exceedingly so! My protagonist is an Iraq veteran, and by pure chance – or perhaps by providence – so was the judge who read my work. His comments, and the extra tidbits of information he provided about military life and the Iraq war, were invaluable for a cake-eating civilian like me."
Charles Kowalski, author of the 2013 Action/Thriller Winner, Unbelievers
In part three of this blog series, winners will share where their winning novels are today. To hear about rewrites, agents, Hollywood, and publishing deals, visit my website.
For more about these winning writers and the status of their books, visit Jennifer Kincheloe's blog post "Colorado Gold."
The Colorado Gold Contest for unpublished fiction closes June 1, 2015. For more information on how to enter, go to http://rmfw.org/contest/rules-and-entry-instructions/
Jennifer Kincheloe is a research scientist turned writer of historical mysteries. Her first novel, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, will be out November 3rd from Seventh Street Books.