I know it's late to be giving my reflections on the Mills & Boon New Voices Contest, but I have literally been so busy I have hardly had time for anything at all, never mind blogging. Heck, I have hardly had time to piece together my reaction to the results!
The short of it: I didn't get picked for the top 10. In the end, there were over 800 entries, which I think is completely wild. A fellow Diva from the Romance Divas site, Kat Cantrell, made it into the top 10 with her chapter, Thigh Noon. I am super happy that someone I "know" made it to the next level!
Graciously, Mills & Boon also decided to offer 10 critiques on random entries, drawn "lottery style" from those who wanted to hear more. I signed up for that, but didn't get picked either.
Further - there will be, apparently, a list of authors from whom M & B would like to hear more, posted publicly on the website. I think it is neat that they are doing so much more for those who have not been picked for the top 10, but not sure how I feel about that one.
The long of my reaction: I know why I didn't get picked. Sadly, there is no way for me to really write this without it sounding like sour grapes, even a week or two after the contest has ended for me. My novel would not fit easily as a category romance. It's long - I understand most category romance are around 50k words - mine is 90k. There are subplots going on in it which lend themselves to further novels in the "series" (just the way I planned it). My novel is more of a single title if anything. (Listen to me, talking like I know what I'm writing about. Lies!)
So, I was disappointed that I didn't advance to the next round, but I think I already knew. One thing I can say, though, is how awesome it was to get feedback (both positive and negative) on the chapter. It was nice to hear what others were thinking, even though it got many positive reviews and several low "rose ratings" (there was a lot of talk of people intentionally voting lower on entries to try and bump them down to the bottom of the judging, but fortunately, the first round was all judges!).
Also, this whole thing really inspired me to keep pushing with my novel. I am in the process of revamping my query letter (have I mentioned I hate query letters? I am convinced it is the only thing standing between No One Else and a publisher... or at least that is how I sleep at night.