The phone call came a few months ago at work. “Your book is a Daphne Finalist!”
“It is?” My voice shot up two octaves into an ecstatic squeal. After the call, I worried that I’d given the Daphne coordinator a massive earache.
The next two days were a flurry of polishing the first 25 pages for the final round, then I headed over to my website and drafted a new home page, waiting to release it until the names of the finalists were officially up on the contest website.
The Daphne du Maurier contest is run by the Kiss of Death chapter of the Romance Writers of America, a chapter that focuses specifically on romantic suspense. (Check out the website’s cute video introduction!) Every year, unpublished writers are invited to submit the first few pages of their novels in various categories of romance as well as a “mainstream” category of suspense that isn’t required to have romantic elements. My main writers’ groups, Sisters in Crime and its online “Guppy” chapter, always post details of the contest, usually open for entries from mid-February to mid-March of each year.
I’ve been entering mainstream category of the Daphne contest for the last seven or eight years now, and I’ve always appreciated the generous feedback. Comments from the judges have given me much needed encouragement (writers have such frail egos!) while at the same time providing valuable direction for ways to improve my work. It’s been encouraging to see my scores gradually go up over the years, proof that all that hard work of rewriting and attending to craft is beginning to pay off. A few years ago, my scores came very close, and though they were not close enough to make the finals, it was still a real boost to get overwhelmingly positive reviews from each of the four judges. Prior to that, one or two always seemed to love my entry, but the rest—didn’t. So that alone was a thrill.
And now, I’m thrilled even more! I am so grateful to all the wonderful volunteers who take the time to judge and coordinate this marvelous learning opportunity for writers, year after year. I know that for me personally the Daphne contest has been a major factor in developing my work. Words of praise from judges who loved my voice and my work sustained me during periods of doubt, and words from those same judges, pointing out ways to improve along with their praise, have been some of my best guides, lampposts along the way.
Curious about my book? It’s an urban fantasy suspense set in Paris. Link here for the teaser on my home page.