About Judges

I’ve been procrastinating, stalling. Why? I wasn’t quite certain. I just couldn’t write another word. I sat down, stared at my computer. I tried to start but the strangest thing happened, my eyes would close. It wasn’t writer block. I had lots of ideas and things to say but try as I may I could not get it down on paper.

I decided to read, craft books, Donald Maass’ The Fire in Fiction and Noah Lukeman’s First Five Pages. I also read some good reads from my TBR list, Leanna Renee Heiber’s The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (actually a re-read), Tasha Alexander’s A Poisoned Season, Barbara Michaels’ The Wizard’s Daughter and Elizabeth Peters’ The Cure of the Pharaoh. I read my critique partner’s entire manuscript while she was on vacation and sent her my comments. Yep, kept me pretty busy, I didn’t write a thing.

This month I got the responses to the two contests I entered and started to analyze the results, still no writing. Alas, my story didn’t final in either contest but as I read through the comments I realized the feedback was awesome. Some of the comments contradicted others but I found a pattern when I charted the results. Here are some of the pro’s and con’s in my own words. Judges quotes are clearly marked.


  • I’m dizzy from head hopping. Pick a person and stay there, at least for a scene.
  • Try to vary the sentence length. It gets boring when you don’t and builds tension when you do.
  • Sprinkling commas is not the objective. You have to put them in the correct place.
  • I am on page 30 and finally got to the story.  This is where you need to begin. Don’t throw the beginning away. Find places where you can strategically input that text.


  • “I found the storyline very intriguing. I think you have a winner here if you polish your text.”
  • “You have a wonderful voice.” (I re-read that comment several times!)
  • “Great job with your descriptions. I feel like I am right there. Very well done.” (Can you see me beaming?)
  • “I know I have given you a lot of comments and some of them may have been hard to take but this story has a lot of potential. I hope to see your story in Barnes & Nobel!”

This is what I had been waiting for. I was inspired but still so hesitant. Would I really be able to cut the first two chapters out of the story? I checked the comments once again. Several judges, not just one or two, had pointed out where the story should start. It took me only a few seconds to highlight the text. It took me several minutes to actually push the delete button. Finally, I knew I was making one publisher happy. They asked me to get the manuscript down to 95,000 words.  I was well on my way.

All of a sudden I saw more opportunities for the story. The judges had given me enough tips and provided examples to drive home their points. So judges, thank you for your comments. Please know that your hard work is greatly appreciated. While this is not the outcome I would have liked, it was have been great to final and awesome to win, your feedback is valuable to me and in helping me to grow as a writer.

One last word about books, today, Leanna Renee Heiber’s second book in the Miss Percy Parker series was released, The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker. Congratulations!

… Ruth Seitelman


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