Friday, October 4, 2013

George Bernstein – ON WRITING CONTESTS


Like many aspiring authors, I’ve regularly entered writing contests. I guess it’s a way to validate my writing skills. My novel, TRAPPED, was a finalist at the large Florida Writers RPLA contest in 2012, and after the judging was completed, I got print-outs the results…and the rating sheets from the 3 judges.

First, 2 judges read the synopsis and the first 30 pages, and they’re asked  rate 10 areas, from 1 – 5 points…so a max total of 50. They judge things like character development; description; scenes; technical skills dealing with grammar, spelling & formatting; and of course, the flow of the story and continuity. An entry needs at least 80 pts. to become a finalist. TRAPPED received a combined 92 points during the preliminary judging, and the judge giving 48 pts. loved character development and the way I described the action, solely through my protagonists eyes.

Now, it’s interesting that I also entered TRAPPED in TAG Publishers “Next Great American Novel” contest, and I was “stoked” when Dee Burks called me to say I was a winner and they wanted to publish the novel. It was she who suggested I change to a single, 1st person point of view, seeing the whole novel through the eyes of the Jackee, the main character. I agreed. It wasn’t easy, but in the end, we both felt it was terrific.

However, the final judge at RPLA, who read the entire revised book, didn’t agree with us…or the earlier judges. He down-rated the novel because he wanted scenes from other characters’ viewpoints. As I always say, “That’s why they make chocolate, vanilla and 39 other flavors.” Readers, by the way, have been almost universally complimentary on how I handled the first person, feeling it added to the tension. So, while I didn’t with the RPLA, readers agreed with me, not the final judge!

The main thrust behind this post is, writers have to “keep their head up,” and shake off negativity. This isn’t the 1st time I’ve had one judge rave about something, like characters or scenes or settings, while another denigrated the exact same things. It’s the same reasons authors like Louis L’Amore (America’s top Western writer…for EVER) was rejected 350 time before finally getting published. And J.K. Rowling, probably the wealthy woman in the World right now, struggled for years before finding a small publisher to take a chance on Harry Potter. The stories of rejection are legion, because you can’t accommodate for taste.

On the other hand, we can’t be so proud (or obstinate) that we overlook solid advise when it comes our way, or fail to review that which was criticized, to see if any if it may be warranted.

Luckily, TRAPPED has already received many 5-Star reviews at Amazon, and I’ve fielded a plethora of calls and e-mail raves from the first readers. So I think I’ll cherish those good reviews.  I suggest this attitude should work for all of you, no matter what your endeavors.



Ashley Easton rescues a badly abused horse, deciding to return to show jumping, the passion of her youth. The animal gives unquestioned love, something lacking from her husband, Keith. But when Ashley begins to compete, she is terrified as the show course seemingly changes into an old forest and the jumps appear as real walls, fences and trees. Her thoughts spill through her head in elegant French. As she attacks the fences with an unfamiliar, fearless abandon, she begins winning every competition.

Craig Thornton, an avid horseman, happens upon Ashley’s first competition, entranced as he watches her jump her horse, Injun. Mystically drawn toward each other, it’s as if they knew the other…but from where? After several missed opportunities, they finally meet, becoming fast friends, their love of jumping horses a mutual bond.

Ashley seeks therapy to address a strange terror swamping her whenever she’s intimate. During hypnotic regression, she’s stunned to find herself in two apparent past lives, first in the 17th Century, on a fox hunt as the fearless French horsewoman who fills her head while jumping, and again, 150 years later in Philadelphia, a shipping tycoons daughter. Both times she is fulfilled by glorious romance, followed by the terror of their brutal murder while making fervid love in a forested glade!

The doctor says these are figments of her subconscious, but he’s shaken, knowing the truth. He realizes those were real past lives, and their killer may be lurking again, nearby.

Ashley and Craig soon discover more than friendship. As these two newly rediscovered lovers struggle to free themselves from broken marriages, others plan to fulfill a 300 year-old legacy of death.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG13

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  1. Thanks for hosting A 3rd TIME TO DIE on you blog during my VBT. We authors know how much effort and time goes into one of these, and we really appreciate the effort. I hope you had an opportunity to read A 3rd TIME TO DIE and enjoyed it as much as the many 5 & 4 star reviewers. I'd be happy to answer any question or respond to comments from any of your followers. As research for the novel, I actually went through Past Life Regression with an associate of the Famous Dr. Brian Weiss, finding nine "Past Lives." I've got some interesting vignettes on who those impacted my life now.