Writing with the Stars

My publisher, Kensington, is hosting a contest for aspiring writers called WRITING WITH THE STARS. The newbies have been paired up with existing Brava authors for mentoring through the extended judging process. Today I’d like you to welcome one of the 10 finalists, Dale Edwards. She’s sharing a bit about how this contest has changed the way she thinks about her writing.

Go ahead, Dale. My blog is now yours.


Hi everyone,

I love writing romantic suspense novels and have recently branched into writing YA books as well. Being a finalist in Brava’s Writing with the Stars contest has been an exciting time and has really opened my eyes to the publishing business. The challenges were just that – challenging. As a writer I tend to look over my work on a more global level and work through plot, characterization, and dialogue issues on a large scale. The challenges forced me to assess the value of each word, each sentence. With the words limited, each one had to be perfect – especially when your work is going to be judged – publicly!

Of course, when you write and revise your work, you think you’ve got the right word down. It’s not until you examine each on a micro level that you realize – there really are better choices to push your writing up another level.

A great lesson to apply to my all my manuscripts.

What about you? How do you revise your manuscripts to take them to the next level?

Excerpt from Tuesday’s Child:

The older officer, his expression encouraging and steadfast, helped calm her nerves. Except her ability to judge people had never been good. Sam hesitated a moment longer before the words blurted out on their own accord. “I need to talk to someone about a murder.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“Two murders.” Even she recognized the apology in her voice.

His eyes widened.

Okay, she sounded like she had one screw loose, but there wasn’t any delicate way to approach this. She dropped her gaze to her tattered sneakers almost hidden beneath her overly long blue jeans.

“What murders, miss?” His voice, so kind and gentle, contrasted with the sharpness of his gaze.

Shifting, she glanced around. She didn’t want to talk about this out in the open. The line of people started several feet behind her, but still… She leaned closer. “Please, I need to speak with someone in private.”

She twisted the ribbing of her forest green sweater around her fingers under the intensity of his gaze. Catching herself, she stilled, as if locked in space and time. Not so her stomach, which roiled in defiance. This had to happen now, or she’d never be able to force herself back again.

When he nodded, she breathed a deep sigh of relief. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“Go take a seat. I’ll contact someone.”

Sam spun away and stumbled into the next person in the line behind her. Flushing with embarrassment, she apologized and retreated to a chair against the far wall. She closed her eyes and rubbed her face, as she tried to calm her breathing. She’d made it this far. The rest…well…she could only hope it would be just as easy.

It wasn’t.


Thanks for sharing with us, Dale. Good luck in the contest. You can learn more about Dale Mayer at www.dalemayer.com. She can be found on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/dalemayer and you can friend her on Facebook.

Writing for the Stars Finalist – Voting starts October 11th at RT BOOKReviews. In the coming days, I’ll be hosting some of the other finalists as well, so be sure to check back for more aspiring authors and their work.

Providing a published mentor for the finalists is what makes the WRITING WITH THE STARS contest so valuable. Dale’s mentor is Cynthia Eden, author of sexy paranormals and dark romantic suspense. She’s part of THE NAUGHTY LIST anthology which is available now and has a new paranormal called Eternal Flame coming out November 30th! You’ll want to check out www.cynthiaeden.com and while you’re there be sure to take the Creature Feature Quiz to find out what kind of paranormal YOU are. (I’m a shifter, BTW, which makes sense when you consider that I’ve had multiple pen names!)

To get the questions started today, I’d like to ask Dale how long she’s been writing and if she’s entered any other contests besides WRITING WITH THE STARS?

33 thoughts on “Writing with the Stars

  1. Dale Mayer says:

    Sandy – I would love to give you more – of all my books I adore the characters and action in this one!br /br /Thanks!br /br /Dale

  2. Sandy says:

    After reading that excerpt, I want more.

  3. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Cyndi!!!br /br /Thank you so much for the good wishes. I#39;m so glad you#39;re enjoying the book.br /br /Dale

  4. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi HelenKaybr /br /Thanks so much for dropping by. I#39;m overwhelmed with everyone#39;s good wishes. Thank you!br /br /Dale

  5. ArkansasCyndi says:

    Congratulations on being in the TOP TEN!! I#39;m loving the excerpts from Tuesday#39;s Child. br /br /Best of luck. Your first chapter really shines!

  6. HelenKay Dimon says:

    Congratulations on being a finalist!! That is such a huge accomplishment – great job!

  7. Dale says:

    Hi Linda,br /br /I remember the American Title when Edie went through it. Painful! I have been very lucky so far and I#39;m hoping none of the other finalists let the #39;snarky#39; comments get to them.br /br /Thanks for the best wishes!br /br /Dale

  8. Dale says:

    Hi Diane – nice to have you drop by! I#39;m glad you enjoyed the excerpt!

  9. Dale says:

    Thanks Mia for the insight into your revision process. I just finished the first draft of a YA last night and am now yet again re-evaluating my revision process!br /br /Dale

  10. Linda Thomas-Sundstrom says:

    Well – good excerpt, Dale. I do have to come in here and let you know that the quot;snarkyquot; reviewer you have in this contest was not nearly as brutal as the ones we had in the American Title contest from Dorchester and RT. So far, you#39;re lucky there! And everyone knows who this reviewer is, and expects exactly what she dishes here. So never fear….. hand in there, and good luck.br /br /Lindabr /www.lindathomas-sundstrom.com

  11. Diane Whiteside says:

    Great excerpt, Dale! I#39;d definitely like to read more.

  12. Dale says:

    Saranna – that is so awesome! Congratulations. I#39;m already pulling my hair out, can#39;t imagine what it will be like by the end of this! I#39;d love to meet a group of like-minded writers through this. What a lovely idea!

  13. Dale says:

    hi Barb, thanks for stopping by. I#39;m so glad the excerpt is a teaser for you! Thanks for the congratulations! I#39;m looking forward to this journey.br /br /Dale

  14. Dale says:

    Nynke – Sam does have a hard time of it – but she#39;s a survivor! Thanks for stopping by!br /br /Dale

  15. Dale says:

    Hi Stacey – thanks so much. I hadn#39;t realized how difficult it would be to pick a small 300 word excerpt out of 300 pages plus! Glad you enjoyed it.br /br /Dale

  16. Dale says:

    Susan, thanks for the congratulations and for letting everyone know I was still snoring in bed. lol. Dreams are what keeps us moving forward – they are soooo important. I#39;m delighted you managed to turn yours into reality!br /Dale

  17. Dale says:

    Mia – I think you#39;re right about that first manuscript. Mine is collecting dust bunnies under my bed. And that#39;s where it#39;s going to stay!br /br /Dale

  18. MiaMarlowe says:

    Stacy, Nynke and Barb–Thanks for stopping by and offering your encouragement to Dale. I like to think of reading as a conversation between the writer and reader. It#39;s always great to hear from the other side.

  19. MiaMarlowe says:

    Susan–Do Canadians do their Thanksgiving with turkey and all the trimmings?

  20. MiaMarlowe says:

    Saranna–Another contest warrior! It does sort of fall under the category of quot;Whatever doesn#39;t kill you…quot; doesn#39;t it?br /br /As far as me being a doll, not so much. I#39;ve received so much help from other writers over the years. I#39;m just paying it forward. ;-)

  21. MiaMarlowe says:

    Dale asked how to revise a manuscript to take it to the next level. I like to look at the work scene by scene. I ask myself if the POV is right. When in doubt, I rewrite it through another character#39;s eyes and see if it has more impact. I look for a rise in action and then ask if it bridges naturally to what comes next. I look for hooks and if they aren#39;t there, I slip them in. I want to make a path in my prose for readers to follow along naturally.br /br /How about the rest of you? What sort of things do you think about when you revise?

  22. Saranna DeWylde says:

    Dale-br /br /I really liked the detail you gave in the excerpt, the part about twisting her sweater between her fingers. That was such a small thing, but I do that too and it was like insta-bond with your character. That#39;s great!br /br /These contests can make you nuts. I won the Dorchester Next Best Celler contest last year and I was almost bald by the time it was over. But I made some really great friends with the other contests. So close, in fact, a group of us went to Florida last month for a writing retreat. br /br /I wish you lots of luck in the contest and your career!br /br /Mia- I think it#39;s great you#39;re having them guest on your blog. You#39;re such a doll. :)

  23. Barb H says:

    Oh, no. She has information on two murders? Two? And no one believes her? I want to know what happens.br /br /Nice excerpt, Dale. Congratulations on your entry. br /br /Good luck.

  24. Dale Mayer says:

    Thanks Edie, picking an excerpt was hard! Hadn#39;t expected that. Glad you enjoyed it.br /br /Dale

  25. Dale Mayer says:

    Maggie – I#39;m way too stubborn. It#39;s been that much overall for me plus a bit. I just couldn#39;t not write and a one point I decided that if this was the career I wanted for myself, then I had to get serious.br /br /Thanks for the congratulations!

  26. Dale Mayer says:

    Good morning everyone! Thanks Mia for the invitation to be here with you. I#39;ll start with your question first. I#39;ve been writing for around eight years but took a hiatus when life took a tough turn for about three years. I #39;said#39; I was writing but wasn#39;t producing. These last three years I#39;ve focused on my writing career. I have entered various contest more to see if a manuscript concept would fly. I#39;ve been a finalist with several manuscripts, including the Emily, Heart to Heart, Great Beginnings to name a few.

  27. Nynke says:

    I#39;m with Stacey – loved the excerpt! Poor Sam…br /br /Good luck with the contest!

  28. Stacey Joy Netzel says:

    That is a very catching excerpt, Dale! I#39;d definitely want to read more. Best of luck in the contest. I#39;m looking forward to voting soon!

  29. Susan Lyons/Fox says:

    Dale, congratulations on being a finalist. It#39;s lovely seeing another British Columbian on the list. (BTW, we may not be seeing Dale here for a little while. It#39;s just after 6:00 a.m. PST, plus it#39;s Canadian Thanksgiving.) As for the path to publication – mine was a long one. I had 2 dozen magazine stories (like Woman#39;s World) in print before I sold my first book, and I went the contest route too. One of my dreams was to write for Brava and hey, I made it! The publishing world is a tough one, but dreams can come true. Best of luck, Dale, and happy Thanksgiving.

  30. MiaMarlowe says:

    Edie–Thanks for stopping by. You#39;re a contest warrior, my dear. br /br /For those of you who don#39;t know, Edie was one of the last authors standing in the last American Title Contest.

  31. MiaMarlowe says:

    Maggie–I think it#39;s important for aspiring authors to realize how long it typically takes from initial determination to write a book to seeing one in print. I started my quot;training wheelsquot; manuscript in 2001 and got quot;the Callquot; 2 manuscripts and 4 years later. I know it#39;s tempting to write one and then stall out trying to sell it. The truth is most first manuscripts deserve the obscurity they enjoy. Writing is a craft and we have to hone it with practice.

  32. Edie Ramer says:

    Dale, congratulations again! I loved the excerpt!

  33. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe says:

    Dale,congrats on finaling! Contests can get you one step closer to the dream. It took me 7 years and a few contests to get published, so I guess I was too stubborn to quit. :)br /br /Mia, thanks for spotlighting these future stars!

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