Dear Avon FanLit Contestants,
Now that everyone's heartbeats have returned to normal, and the pressure to write a brilliant chapter every single week is off, I thought you might enjoy my story, which includes your own characters, Damien and Patience! Avon and I came up with the idea of my writing this story as a continuation to all the excitement and learning that went on during the FanLit contest; I've also prepared some notes about writing and about the story itself. There were so many times when judging the contest that I wanted to be able to write much more involved notes about the chapters I read. Instead of that, I analyzed my own story—I do hope there's something here that will help you in your future writing.
I want to congratulate every single one of you who wrote an entry in the contest. Frankly, I wouldn't have wanted to. To me (and to many of the judges), it looked like such a tough contest, in which the comments were akin to one-star reviews posted on Amazon. I'm saying this because I want all of you who got an unpleasant comment, and those who didn't make the finals even though their entries were just as good—if not much better—than a chapter or two that made it to the finals that week—I want you to remember what I always remind myself of when I get one of those unpleasant Amazon reviews.
I wrote this book because I love writing. And I love what I wrote—and that's the MOST important thing. Above anyone else's opinion.
Another thing: Every book I write, I feel as if I learn something more about writing. Something I didn't even think of before, hadn't even known was a "rule" until I figured it out. The act of writing a story, of writing a chapter, is a hugely valuable one even if you made mistakes—because next time you won't make that same one. You'll learn.
And finally: Nora Roberts wrote something like thirteen books before she was published. Just for you all, I have dredged up my first book, Passion's Slave. I haven't looked at this book in literally twenty years.
So…go ahead: judge me! What kind of score do you think I would have gotten?
"Jordan, I love you," Emilia murmured as he covered her face with kisses, holding her neck as if she were very, very precious. "I love you! I love you! I love you!"
He pulled back for one instant, eyes serious. "Do you really love me?" And, "Will you marry me?"
"Oh yes," Emilia said joyously, "Yes, yes, yes, yes!"
It speaks for itself. How WAS he holding her by the neck anyway? And you probably noticed that I had read a lot of Barbara Cartland. Poor Emilia: Her speech patterns were close to a nervous tick. Everything had an exclamation mark, and most of her remarks were repeated.
Please feel good about what you wrote—and feel very very proud of yourself for entering your work into a forum this harsh and difficult. Passion's Slave was rejected by approximately 26 agents and publishers (might have been even more), but at least most of them just sent me nice form letters. And yet—it was a good book. It had all the seeds of my first book, Potent Pleasures, in it and none of the 26 agents noticed.
I'm proud of our finalists—and in a way I'm even prouder of those of you who kept trying, even when judging (for whatever reason) didn't go your way. I hope you enjoy my story and my notes on the story. And I hope that each of you keeps writing—for the pleasure, and for the sake of your future audience!
Download Eloisa's novella Improper Pursuits
Download Eloisa's notes about writing Improper Pursuits