All posts in the contests category

Let’s start at the very beginning (#MFRWAuthor)

Published March 23, 2018 by francesothomas



This week’s blog topic is “My contest experiences-win, lose, get signed.” The only contests I have ever entered were two by Harlequin: So You Think You Can Write.

The first one was several years ago. The theme was medical romances. I was a huge fan of House, MD, and had begun a story featuring a brilliant and prickly doctor. (How original.) As you have not seen this novel in print, you may surmise that Harlequin did not drop everything and sign me up. I did, however, get some helpful advice. Start in media res.

Here’s how Encyclopedia Britannica defines that term

In medias res, (Latin: “in the midst of things”) the practice of beginning an epic or other narrative by plunging into a crucial situation that is part of a related chain of events; the situation is an extension of previous events and will be developed in later action. The narrative then goes directly forward, and exposition of earlier events is supplied by flashbacks.

I had started, as many beginning authors do, with backstory instead of at the moment when my naive but plucky heroine met said doctor. Lesson learned. I redid the opening, but have yet to complete the novel. Maybe someday.

I recently entered a similar contest that called for submission of a first chapter. Harlequin favors exotic locations and careers, so I wrote about the maestro of a fledgling opera company in Salzburg who is accused of harassing a violinist. He is immediately cleared by the company’s new PR director who must then pose as his fiancee to keep other women at bay.

I got positive comments on my pacing and characters, but Harlequin’s editor thought the subject was too touchy in today’s climate.

I’ve decided to write the story anyway, but I’ve relocated it to Florida where I live. I’d love some feedback. Is the topic too sensitive? Would you read this book? Please leave me your comments.

And if you want to find out how my fellow authors fared in contests, go here.



The Groom Wore Plaid review

Published February 24, 2016 by francesothomas

The Groom Wore Plaid

Highland Weddings Series

By Gayle Callen


The Duffs and the McCallums in Gayle Callen’s The Groom Wore Plaid resemble the Hatfields and the McCoys, only with kilts. The two feuding families can reconcile their differences if a marriage occurs between the son of one family and the daughter of the other. But the bride refuses to go through with the wedding, and to make matters worse, someone is trying to do her harm.



I felt that the book couldn’t quite decide if it was a mystery or a comedy. The mystery elements moved along  well enough to keep readers turning the pages. The machinations Maggie goes through to turn off her prospective bridegroom, however, are a bit silly. Even the worst seamstress wouldn’t construct a shirt with three sleeves, and what virile Scot would base his attraction on sewing skills or lack thereof anyway?


Rafflecopter Giveaway


About the Book

Falling in love means tempting fate in this passionate new novel in USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen’s Highland Wedding series.

Maggie McCallum’s dreams about her new fiancé aren’t the romantic sort. It’s not just that she was bartered to Owen Duff like a piece of property to end a clan feud. She’s also haunted by premonitions of his death on their upcoming wedding day. Yet the exasperating Highlander won’t let her call it off, even though his life and his clan are both in jeopardy.

Owen has wanted Maggie in his bed since he first glimpsed her years ago. If their union restores peace between their clans, so much the better. But while lusting after another chief’s sister had its risks, growing to trust Maggie is far more dangerous. Owen is falling deeply in love with the one woman he cannot hope to claim…and survive.

 Purchase Here:


About the Author

After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, GAYLE CALLEN found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane.

Visit her website at

Twitter –

Facebook –

Goodreads –


The Royal Ascot Contest

Published February 11, 2015 by francesothomas


While searching for something entirely different, I came across information about an annual contest geared just for Regency authors, called, fittingly enough, The Royal Ascot Contest. The contest opens Feb. 16, and entries are due by March 27, 2015. The winner will be announced at a Soiree in New York City on July 22.

The fees to enter are modest-$25 or $30-and the categories are inclusive-YA, mainstream, even paranormal. The stipulations are they must be unpublished and have at least a partial Regency setting.

According to the sponsoring site, Beau Monde, the contest has been going since 1994. Why didn’t I know this?

Last year’s winner, Cora Lee, is still revising her book, The Only Exception, according to her website. It looks like she’s won several contests, presumably with the same book, yet it hasn’t been published. What’s up with that?

When do you stop revising and let it fly? Personally, I’d be so happy just to finish any of my many WIP that I would rush to get it in print or out as an e-book. Maybe I’m just not picky enough.