Thursday, February 25, 2016

Contest Announcement from Editor Tina James

Gabrielle Here:

Erica and I are excited to welcome our Love Inspired Historical editor, Tina James, to Coffee Cups & Camisoles! We invited Tina to share the good news about Manuscript Matchmakers, a contest the Love Inspired editors are holding right now. Since this is similar to the Blurb2Book contest Erica and I participated in last year, we thought this was a perfect place to share the news this year! After Tina tells you a little about the contest, Erica and I will share our experiences from last year. We'll tell you how we survived all the rounds, and what it felt like to receive "the call" that we had been offered contracts! Read all the way to the end and check out the fun giveaway we're offering!

Without further ado, here's the lovely Tina James to tell you more.

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Love Inspired Historical is looking for new authors!

Hi, I’m Tina James, and I’m the executive editor for Love Inspired Books. I want to thank Gabrielle Meyer and Erica Vetsch for inviting me to come and share a great opportunity we have at Love Inspired Historical for historical romance authors.

Love Inspired Historical is an inspirational historical romance line that publishes four books every month. The stories are 70,000 words and set in various countries and time periods up to World War II. The books are sweet and wholesome, and emphasize tenderness and emotional intimacy between the Christian characters, rather than more passionate feelings.

The Love Inspired Historical editors are looking for new authors for the line and are inviting writers to participate in our newest pitch contest: Manuscript Matchmakers (#ManuscriptMatch).  If you’re an aspiring or published writer who writes richly textured and emotionally intense stories set in times past, then here is a great opportunity to get your work in front of a Love Inspired Historical editor.

The first step to submitting to the Manuscript Matchmakers pitch is filling out a matchmaking profile card (where you define the hooks, conflict, and setting/time period of your story and describe your story in just one sentence), and sending us the first page of your manuscript.  Instructions on how to submit, along with deadline information can be found here: www.harlequin.com/ManuscriptMatchmakers/

Authors who catch our eye will move on to stage 2 of the contest and will be asked to submit a full proposal (synopsis and three chapters). And if we’re interested in seeing more of an author’s story, then we’ll ask for the full manuscript in stage 3.

The Love Inspired editors will be providing advice and feedback to the entrants at each contest stage. Check out our forum threads here http://community.harlequin.com/forumdisplay.php/110-Manuscript-Matchmakers and you’ll see various threads such as what we’re looking for in your Love Inspired Historical story and how to write a standout first page. And find encouragement in success stories from authors (like Gabrielle and Erica) who we’ve bought through past pitch contests here: http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/9100-Success-Stories.com  And check out the guidelines for Love Inspired Historical here: https://harlequin.submittable.com/submit/29571

One of the things that gives Love Inspired editors the greatest thrill is to be able to make that phone call that says, “We’d like to offer you a contract.”   So if you want to become the next new author for the Love Inspired Historical who gets “the call”, then I encourage you to submit your entry in our Manuscript Matchmakers pitch.

Happy writing!

Tina

Gabrielle here:

Last year, I heard about Blurb2Book from my friend who writes contemporary romance. I didn't think to enter, since I write historical, and I assumed the contest was only for contemporary. When Erica sent me a message, and asked if I was going to participate, I went online and discovered that Love Inspired was taking submissions for all their lines, including historical. I only had three days to come up with my first page and 100-word blurb, so I worked fast.

At the time, I didn't realize they had received over 320 submissions! On the day they made the announcement (naming the twenty-five authors who would move on to round two in the historical division), I was sitting in the dentist office parking lot. I squealed when I read my name on that list! I also squealed when I saw Erica's name. Later that week, I was on vacation in Washington, D.C. with my mom, my mother-in-law, and my daughters, so I worked on the first three chapters and the synopsis in between site-seeing.

When the announcement for the final round came, I happened to be in the grocery store parking lot! The editors narrowed down the list to the top ten in each category, and again, I saw mine and Erica's names. I was both excited and nervous! It was a challenge to write the full manuscript in just two months, but I had so much fun. After I submitted the story, I had to sit back and wait (which was even more of a challenge!).

First, I heard that Erica was contracted, and I was so happy for her (and not surprised!). It was such a long wait, but one day in August, I was on my cell phone, making a doctor appointment for my daughter, when I heard a text come through. After I was finished with my call, I read the text. It was from my agent, asking if I had time to chat. The answer was a big YES! I had a feeling she was calling with good news (she doesn't usually call with bad news...). When I answered, she told me she had just been on the phone with Tina James, and Tina loved my story and wanted to offer me a contract!! Oh, happy day. Within a half an hour, I was on the phone with Tina, talking to her about my story. It was one of those moments when I kept thinking: "When I woke up this morning, I had no idea I'd be on the phone with an editor from New York."

Tina and Gabrielle at the Love Inspired Dinner during
the ACFW Conference in Dallas, Texas last year.
Since then, I've revised my manuscript, renamed it with Tina's help, and had the pleasure of meeting Tina, Shana, and Melissa (other LI editors) in person at the ACFW Conference. I've loved working with Love Inspired and with Tina, and I'm so thankful Erica sent me that message last year. :) My story, A Mother in the Making, releases in September.

If you write historical romance novels, don't even hesitate to enter this contest! The feedback you receive from the editors is priceless...and you never know. You might be writing a blog post similar to mine next year!
 
Erica here:
I first became aware of the Blurb2Book contest last year by reading over at the Seekerville blog. My first thought was, “What a fun idea.” And my second was, “They are including historical romance in this year’s pitch contest.” (In past contests I had seen, they were looking for romantic suspense or contemporary romance, but not historical romance.)
As I looked over the timeframe of the deadlines, I realized if I wanted to enter, I would have to come up with something quickly.  I decided to take a gallop through my ‘ideas’ folder to see if anything both caught my interest and would work for a Love Inspired Historical Romance.
Thankfully, I uncovered a story idea I’d once come up with and stashed in my ideas folder that I thought might work.
I don’t know how many times I read and re-read the guidelines for the first stage, not wanting to make a silly mistake and disqualify myself. There was a decent-sized chance I wouldn’t make it to the second round, but I didn’t want it to be for something as slip-shod as using the wrong font or forgetting page numbers.
A writers’ group I attend critiqued my idea and the first page of my manuscript, and I went ahead and hit ‘send.’
Then I wrote the full synopsis and the first three chapters, but I didn’t continue on with the manuscript at that time. I had a couple of other deadlines I was working on, some edits to do, and after all, I probably wouldn’t be asked for a full.
I happened to be at the writers group on the day the second round of the contest was announced, and we broke all kinds of rules about not using the internet while we were supposed to be writing in order to tune in and see the results of the first round.
When the list went live for the historical authors, I quickly scanned to the bottom, and my heart sank. My name wasn’t there…so I went back to the top to read who had gotten in when I realized that the names were listed alphabetically by FIRST name, not last, and that my manuscript had indeed made the list.
When it came time for the stage three announcement, and I learned they were cutting the list from 25 down to 10, I was sure I wouldn’t make the cut, but I’m thrilled to say that I did. The editors sent back amazing feedback, and it was up to me to edit my story and synopsis to fit the Love Inspired line.
I wrote like my hair was on fire. And I paid attention to the editors’ comments. With a bit of time to spare…but not much…I submitted the finished story to the Blurb2Book email address.
Then it was time to wait. We had been told that all Blurb2Book manuscripts would be read and responded to by August 30th.
As it would happen, I was once again at the writers’ group when my phone rang. (I had forgotten to turn it off! Another breach of the writers’ group rules…no phones while the group is writing!) When I saw it was my agent on the phone, I hopped up and ran outside to take the call.
Squee! It was the news that Tina James had read my story and had liked it very much. She wanted to offer a contract. I’m sure I paced a groove in the sidewalk out in front of Sharon Hinck’s house as my agent and I celebrated and went over some details. I was super-excited to get to go inside and share my good news with the group of writers who had been with me through all the stages of the pitch contest.
A couple days later, I got to talk on the phone with Tina herself, who was just as nice as could be, so encouraging and enthusiastic about my story. And a few days after that, I got to celebrate with Gabrielle as Love Inspired announced that her story had received a contract offer, too!
I know I wouldn’t be a Love Inspired Historical writer if it wasn’t for the Blurb2Book contest. I’m so glad I entered last year. Working with the LIH team has been terrific, and the authors who write for Love Inspired have been so supportive and welcoming.
I can’t believe that His Prairie Sweetheart releases in just a few weeks!!
If you’re wondering if the Manuscript Matchmaker is for you, all I can say is, you can’t win if you don’t play! Get busy, study the contest rules, get to writing, and get that story entered! Amazing things might be just around the corner!
Your Turn: Have you ever entered a writing contest? If you have, share a little about your experience. Do you have any questions for Erica and Gabrielle?

Here's the giveaway we promised! One winner will receive the February 2016 Box Set of Love Inspired Historical Novels (Kindle version). Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

40 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I agree! Love Inspired Books is blessed with amazing authors. Thanks for stopping by, Cheryl!

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  2. Love this post! It's so good to hear how authors get published! I love Love Inspired books. I call them my little "snacks" or "quick pick me up!" because they're always so uplifting!

    Thanks for an awesome giveaway!

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  3. I am new to Love Inspired novels, but I do love historical romances. I hope you will consider me for this giveaway. Thanks

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    1. Oh, so happy to hear you've discovered Love Inspired novels, Debbie! Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. So excited for you guys!

    This is such a fun contest idea. I'm taking the plunge this year and submitting a historical idea. Fingers crossed and prayers going up! Thanks so much for the opportunity to enter the giveaway! And thanks to Tina and the other fabulous LIH editors for the opportunity to submit our pitches!

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    1. I'm excited to hear you're entering, Natalie!! You'd be a perfect fit for LIH (and I'd personally love to have you with us). :)

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  5. I'm not a writer! But I love to read only clean Christian books. So ladies, keep writing and I'll keep reading!

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    1. We love readers like you, Gail!! Thank you for being so supportive and encouraging. :)

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  6. As much as I love history and historical fiction I am actually pretty new to Love Inspired Historicals having just read my 2nd, The Express Rider's Lady. I doubt that it will be my last, not even close...

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  7. Historical fiction is my very favorite genre. I appreciate the research the authors do to place their characters within the happenings/events of the time period. So much more than we might have learned in school.
    Welcome "Manuscript Matchmakers" and the formation of more good reads! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

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    1. Yes, Kathleen. I love how much we can learn from a well-researched historical novel. It's educational, as well as entertaining.

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  8. I'm still super excited for both of you, Gabrielle & Erica, on the LIH contracts! I'm looking forward to reading the books in the very near future. Did you guys do anything special to celebrate when you found out? I'd be over the moon :-)

    Thanks for the chance to win the LIH February new releases Kindle set!

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    1. I giggle at your question, Trixi, because my husband says we're constantly celebrating around here! We celebrate when I complete a manuscript, we celebrate when I get a contract, we celebrate when the books arrive on our doorstep, we celebrate when the book officially releases, then we celebrate when there's good news related to the book (ECPA bestseller list, reviews, etc.). :) Honestly, though, when I got the call from Tina, that was indeed worthy of celebrating, so he took me out to supper. :)

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  9. I have never tried to be a writer. I struggle just writing messages in cards and writing reviews for the books I read.

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    1. Sometimes the hardest things for me to write are concise messages in cards! It's easier to get my thoughts across when I have 75,000 to 100,000 words to use! Only twenty? I can't seem to say anything well! :)

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  10. I'm not a writer but a reader, but I do enjoy learning more about the process! Thanks for the chance to win the LIH February new releases!

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    1. Thank you for being here, Deanna. We love our readers. :)

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  11. Not a writer but an avid reader. I would love to read these book. Thank you for a chance to win.

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    1. I'm so happy to hear you're an avid reader, Stella. Thank you for stopping by and entering the giveaway.

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  12. Not a write either, but do like to learn about the process. Excited to read these stories!

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    1. The process for a book to get from the writer's fingertips, to the reader's hand, is a long one! Thank you for stopping by to learn more about our stories.

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  13. I really enjoy finding new to me authors and Love Inspired makes it really easy to do that. Thanks for the great giveaway!

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    1. That's a great point, Beth. Love Inspired is an amazing way for a new author to find an audience. Win/win. :)

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  14. Thank you sharing your stories today. I can't wait to read your books.

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  16. Thank you so much for the chance to enter!

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  17. Love Inspired books have given us a lot of reading enjoyment over the years. Thanks for this great giveaway!

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    1. I'm so happy to hear you're a fan, Connie! Thank you for visiting our blog today.

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  18. When it came to writing contests, my first thought was "I'm not a writer, so nope, no contests." Yet, I thought back to high school and realized that I had entered two writing contests - once during my junior year and then a second time during my senior year of high school. I didn't win, but I did remember how rigorous our language arts program (with a writing emphasis) was during my 7th-12th grade school years. I had home-schooled my kids off and on from grade school through 9th grade and had been able to compare the difference between traditional school, my school years and homeschooling. I know that many teaching methods are cyclical, but it seems as if right now, at least in our local school district, there isn't as big an emphasis on writing skills. In fact, I've gotten to the point where I rarely proofread my son's writing homework. He gets frustrated, because my expectations are not the same as his teacher. Maybe there isn't a right way or wrong way, just different ways of teaching writing. I am probably more technical, while his teacher focuses more on the creative aspect.

    I'm excited to share that I read my first LIH romance about a month ago (Sherry Shackelford's, The Rancher's Christmas Proposal.) I have always been a purist when it comes to historical fiction with regency and Jane Austen being my favorite. That's probably due to Pride and Prejudice being the first (and favorite) historical romance read at about 14 years old. Of course, I read hist. fiction from other time periods, but had only read contemporary LI books up to this point. Well, Sherri's book is one of my favorite 2016 reads, so far, and has me scrambling for more from this line. I've already ordered all of Sherri's back list from our library. If you're interested, my Amazon review is under the name Trosado. Thank you so much, Gabrielle. It will be a blast getting to read your book when it is published.

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    1. Oh for goodness sakes! So sorry for the lengthy comment. Obviously, if we were face to face, I would talk your ear off. haha (no, but seriously)

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  19. Looks like a great collection of some of My Favorite Genre of books Thanks for the chance to win

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