The editor of RWA Hearts Talk messaged me the other day asking me if I would like to share my thoughts on winning the Emerald Pro in 2019 for my book, Tropic Storm. Here's what I wrote:
I entered the Sapphire (formerly Emerald Pro) because I had substantially rewritten an old manuscript and wanted to test whether the re-write had improved the story.
As Tropic Storm is the first in a series, it acts as the "gateway romance" - the story has to be satisfying and engaging, so the reader keeps wanting to acquire Stella Quinn titles.
Reader feedback in the first round was encouraging and gave me some tips for improvement:
- a secondary character's story line hadn't been resolved satisfactorily, which was an easy fix
- a kissy moment, early in the manuscript, was loved by one reader and felt to be too soon by another, so I added some deep POV angst to make the suddenness more credible (the story is a second-chance romance, so the moment isn't totally random!)
What did I get out of winning the Sapphire? Beyond the glory of the moment (which was epic! I danced all night! I glugged champagne!) I won confidence in my prose. I've received plenty of rejections, but this win has helped me overcome the doubt that rejection breeds. I know I can write great romance - because Rachael Donovan from Harlequin and the earlier reader judges all said so - and their opinions matter.
If you're interested in what a winning manuscript looks like, Tropic Storm was published last month, and can be found on Amazon.