Guest Post

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

cj Sez:  The following note comes from Sisters in Crime, the international writers’ group:

“We need diverse books, which is why Sisters in Crime launched the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. This award provides a $1,500 grant to an emerging mystery writer of color. Submissions for the 2017 grant are now open.”

This call for submissions is open to emerging writers of color, male or female, who have not yet published a full-length work. Applicants do not have to be a member of SinC to apply.

Go here to find out about eligibility requirements: 

Note:  The deadline is June 15th.

Helpful text to copy and tweet this message to your friends: “Submissions are now open for the #ETBA17, an emerging mystery writers of color grant.

The following note comes from Tara Gelsomino, Executive Editor at Crimson Romance, my publisher and an imprint of Simon&Schuster: 

FACEBOOK…APRIL 20   “Just a note that I'm finally all caught up on submissions. So if anyone has manuscripts they're sending or friends who are looking to query, now's a great time to send us anything.”

Find submission requirements here:


I recently acted as a judge for entries into the Romance Writers of America Kiss of Death Chapter’s 2017 Daphne du Maurer Awards for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. My assignment was to judge the first thirty pages of unpublished and uncontracted manuscripts. It was a huge responsibility and a great experience.

RWA judges don’t sit on the bench without proper instruction, thank goodness. I received a packet of how-to-judge-this-contest documents, but even they didn’t allay all my fears. After all, I going to JUDGE a brand-new writer’s hard work, a story someone has worked on for months or maybe (like me) for years. I knew what these writers must be feeling because I felt the same anxiety when I entered my first RWA contest. It turned out to be justified when one judge wrote that she felt like throwing the pages against the wall when the story didn’t end as the accepted rules for a romance said it should.

When thirty pages of manuscript from each unpublished writer arrived in my inbox one day in March, I stared at the computer screen for several minutes before I thought to download them. Judging is an intense process, and there is a deadline to meet. My objective analyses require several read-throughs because I am determined to be fair and not let any personal biases affect my scoring of these entries.
The writing world is brimming with rejections, and writers have to be pretty thick-skinned to entrust their work to strangers. However, those how-to-judge pages reminded me that new writers are especially vulnerable to criticism. I tried really hard to balance my comments on the things done wrong with praise for the things done right. I hope I was successful in not badly bruising any of these writers’ egos. I also hope that someday I get to read their published works.

The winners of the 2017 Daphne du Maurer Awards for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense will be announced at the Kiss of Death’s annual “Death by Chocolate” extravaganza in July. I'm excited to find out who made the leap to Award Winner.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


PS: A research note to remember:  What the author knows about character, scene, and career never makes it onto the page.

Bad Day at Round Rock” a short story in The Posse, anthology, still 99 cents @
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo
California Kisses—10 book publisher’s bundle (includes Deadly Star) @ 99 cents
The Great Outdoors  8 book publisher’s bundle (includes Choosing Carter) Available May 1 @99 cents


  1. Thanks for all the juicy information. Your judging experience sounds wonderful and congratulations for being entrusted with this awesome responsibility.

    1. cj Sez: I'm still worrying about whether I judged correctly because the process is so very subjective even when trying to be objective. Hopefully my comments were somewhat encouraging. Thanks for stopping by, Mahala.

  2. Does Tara have a co-worker/friend/anybody who's looking for paranormal suspense with a romantic thread? *grin*

    Thanks for the inside peek at being a Daphne judge.

    1. cj Sez: As long as the story ends with a happily every after or the promise of one, it might fit into Crimson's guidelines. I think I'd send it in and see what happens. Good luck! And thanks for stopping by.


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