Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write Contest

I’m still pretty new to the whole romance genre, but there are tons of contests new writers can enter, and now that I have an actual completed manuscript, I’ve decided to dip my toe into the contest scene. Last month, I entered the MoRWA Gateway to the Best contest, and just last week I learned of a rather cool, free contest run by Harlequin called So You Think You Can Write? For a period of about 3 weeks, Harlequin lets authors (who aren’t already contracted with Harlequin) post the first chapter of their novel and a 100-word synopsis for readers to look at and comment on. All entries are also looked at and graded by Harlequin editors of 20 different lines, then, authors of those samples with the 50 highest ratings are invited to submit their complete manuscript to the editors. The editors then narrow it to down to the top ten and those full manuscripts are posted on Harlequin’s website for reader voting. The one voted best manuscript wins a contract, though in the past quite a few folks in the top ten have landed contracts as well. While there was a time when the thought of a having a full manuscript available to read out on the internet would have made me squicky, I’m just not there anymore; there’s only a handful of places that I think would be remotely interested in a novel set outside the Regency, Highlander, and medieval settings, so self-publishing seems the most likely route for this book anyway, so why not at least give it a try. Besides, let’s not be overeager and think that I would even get beyond the top 50, even if I made it that far to begin with. What I’m really hoping for is some feedback, and maybe even meet some folks who would be interested in exchanging critiques (I’ve gotten one offer to beta read, so I’m super excited about that).

Anyway, the first chapter of my alternate history romance set in the universe of my One World series is on the contest website. Here’s the pitch for it:

Driven by visions of the end of the world, Aztec Emperor Cuauhtemoc averted the Spanish Conquest of Central America. When he discovers the slave woman who would have helped Cortes working in his palace, he’s determined to win her trust, so she can help him turn his enemies into allies.

But to Malinali, he’s no different than the other noblemen who’ve made her life as a slave miserable. With time and work, suspicion turns into trust, and trust grows into love, but the shadows of an avoided past threatens to turn them into the enemies history meant them to be.

You can read the first chapter here.

If you have a manuscript you’re interested in entering yourself, they’re accepting entries until 4pm EDT on October 9th. You can follow discussion about the contest on twitter at #sytycw2013.

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