Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Posted by Jennifer L Hart
I love watching the Olympics. Probably because I don't have an athletic bone in my body. I love them all, but especially pairs figure skating. To me, it's romance on ice, poetry in motion, even when someone falls on her ass. I used to have to annoy the hell out of my father to get him to put the figure skating on. He had a problem with the judged events because, in his opinion, the scores were always politically based. He used to complain about the East German judges because they notoriously ranked the American's low. And I know he wasn't alone in this assessment.
Okay, so politics and favoritism aside, I can really relate to the East German judges. Not when it comes to figure skating, but definitely in the arena of novels. That's my territory, I know it inside and out, upside down and with my eyes closed. And I know the good from the bad. I have very definite opinions about books, and I can usually tell by the end of the first page if it's worth continuing or not. I'd guess that I don't continue about 40 percent of the time, with another 10 percent dedicated to regretting the fact that I continued against my better judgment. That's half of all things I read that I don't care for. I read in almost every genre of fiction. Romance of course, but also fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, women's fiction and erotica. Only a miniscule percentage of what I do finish makes it to my keeper shelf.
In my field, I am the East German judge. I want to be wowed, not fed redundant filler. I get angry when I feel as though my time has been wasted and though I generally keep my opinions to myself, every so often I have to have my say. I can't be bribed with anything other than a stellar book and watch out if you get me as a judge in a contest because my scores reflect exactly what I think. I am not kind, but neither am I cruel. I am brutally honest and I can be far more help to you in a contest than all the platitudes and nicy nices in the world. If I hate your heroine, you will know it. If your plot isn't up to snuff, or your content is offensive, you will know it. And if I love it, I will gush all over those comment forms like a schoolgirl with her first crush. In essence, you won't have to guess what's going on in my mind.
I don't plan to do things any different. I want the best and refuse to settle. My opinion is just that, one person's take. You can either make use of it or blow it off. And if you can't take the honest truth, then you have no business in publishing.
Contest season is coming up. RITAs, Golden Heart, ect. Is your work up to snuff? The very best it can be? Because the East German judge is waiting to be impressed. And believe me, you will know it if she isn't.