Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Guest Blogger -- American Title Finalist Lindsey Brookes

And instead of your regular Wednesday blog with the Playground Monitor, today we have a really special treat -- Lindsey Brookes, who is a finalist in the Romantic Times American Title III competition. She's been kind enough to share a little about her writing journey and the AI contest experience. Please give her a big Playground welcome.

Three calling birds….Two French hens…and an American Title vote for me...

Have Yourself A Merry Little Voting Round...

O come, All Ye Voters...

Sound a little nutso? Welcome to the world of an American Title finalist. While everyone else is starting to get in the Christmas spirit, I’m consumed by each new American Title III voting round and so grateful to have made it through. It’s not a contest for the oversensitive. That’s for sure. The judges’ remarks can be pretty biting at times – Note: Full body armor required. But they can also be constructive in a positive way. You have to be open to criticism and willing to admit your book isn’t perfect. You can always make it better. The good thing is you aren’t going through this contest alone. There are nine other finalists to share the ups and downs with.

The American Title III finalists have formed a Yahoo group to support each other along the way and we are fortunate enough to have past American Title I winner, Janice Lynn – and American Title II winner, Gerri Russell - on that loop. They’ve been through this before and have given us great advice on how to be a finalist and maintain our sanity throughout the coming months.

Those of you who know me know that I’ve been trying for a very long time to realize my dream of selling, of seeing my book out there on the shelf where others might actually have the chance to pick it up and read my words. So this is such an incredible opportunity for me. I now have a one in eight chance of seeing my dream come true. I hope that if you haven’t voted, you’ll head on over to the Romantic Times website ( ) and cast your vote for OPERATION: DATE ESCAPE.

A little about me. Like most writers, I began writing in utero. I write both adult romantic fiction and young adult fiction. All my manuscripts have humor in them because I love to make people smile. Between my incredibly supportive family, agent and friends (waving to my pals!), the long and winding road to publication has been a lot less lonely. Now that I think about it, that road should come with a ‘Dangerous Curves’ ahead warning. Unless you’re one of the few lucky ones who sell their first book right away, there are write and rewrites, rejections, requests (yippee!), then close but no cigar rejection letters – please try again. And I do. One thing I’m not is a quitter. My motto, if you’ve been to my website – -- is Never Give Up On Your Dreams. That’s true for every writer. Hopefully we’ll all have the chance to see our dreams come true.

Thanks so much for asking me to come play on your blog.

Lindsey Brookes
American Title III finalist – OPERATION: DATE ESCAPE
Voting this round open until November 26!

P.S. from the Playground Monitor: I know all the writers here can relate to Lindsey’s post and the “Dangerous Curves” that the writer’s life contains.

But what about you non-writers? What big goals and dreams do you have for yourself? Do you write them down? And how to you stay focused on them and see them to fruition?

One of today's lucky commenters chosen at random will win a copy of JANE MILLIONAIRE, the first American Title winner, a book thong and a magnetic refrigerator memo pad that reads “Go in the Direction of Your Dreams.”

P.P.S. KarenG is yesterday's winner. Please email Problem Child to make arrangements for your prize.


Minna said...

Oh, I do write my goals down. And my biggest goals have something to do with writing: I want to get my thesis done and get a job as a translator.

Maureen said...

Good luck Lindsey in the competition.

I do write my goals down, even something as simple as my exercising goal.

Tam said...

I don't ever remember writing down my goals. I've never had anything that had a set time that had to be done in a long time. The last time was back in school and that was a very long time ago.

Good luck Lindsey in the competition.

Smarty Pants said...

Welcome Lindsey. Full suit of armor is right. I've been on the page a few times and read some of the judges comments. With as little as a first line or paragraph hook, they just rip you guys apart. You can almost pick out the Simon and Paula judges. :)

Its really hard not to give up when things aren't going your way. The little beasties on your shoulder whisper how you're chasing an empty dream and need to focus your time on something that might actually happen. But you know what? I find this dream is just as achievable as any other. Each rejection, painful as it might be, is a learning experience that makes my writing better. At the time its a screaming, stomping, fit throwing experience, but weeks later, I can look over the R again and say... "yeah, she's right."

But you don't give up. You make note and keep going. Thanks for a little inspiration.

What's next for you after ATIII? (I know that depends on the outcome, of course...)


Beth said...

I am a list maker.
I did make New Year Resolutions.
I made 2 I've kept one the other I'm working on.
My goal right now is to help my dyslexic daughter succeed in being a vet. She just started Middle school and we have been fighting the school system here since 2nd grade. We'll continue to fight because I want her dreams to come true.

Angel said...

For those of our readers who are just, well, readers, can you explain in more detail how the American Title contest works and when the voting is finished?

Man, I have a hard time with non-positive critique. I can't imagine having it done for everyone to see! What's the best piece of advice you've gotten so far?


Problem Child said...

Hi Lindsey

I know the critics can be harsh, but you know your book must be good to have made it even this far. Do you feel like you've learned anything about your craft from being a part of the competition?

robynl said...

Congratulations on being a finalist in the Romantic Times American Title III competition, Lindsey. Welcome to The Playground today. I always make lists that have goals on it. I love crossing off the accomplishments. Keep your chin up and good luck.

Meljprincess said...

I don't write down my goals and dreams. I would like to become a published writer and win a million bucks though. Hee.
I already have JANE MILLIONAIRE. Wow, I've had that book for a long time. Won that baby when it first came out.
CONGRATULATIONS, Lindsay, on becoming a finalist in the RT American Title III comp. GOOD LUCK!

Patricia W. said...

I don't write down my goals and dreams, although I always have a to-do list going though. As I get more serious about writing, I've gotten more visual. So I've been giving thought to surrounding myself with visual words -- my dreams, words of affirmation/inspiration--where I can see and reflect on that at my leisure.

Lindsey Brookes said...

Thanks for all the comments guys!

Smarty Pants, I'm really hoping that a contract with Dorchester will be in my future, but in this business one never knows. Either way, I will continue writing, entering contests to get in front of editors, and submitting new work to my agent. I guess that's all we can do in this crazy business. Hopefully grow and get better as a writer and keep on submitting.


ChristyJan said...

Congratulations on being a finalist and good luck in the competition.

I don't write down my goals, but I do have to do lists.

alissa said...

Congrats Lindsey. what a wonderful achievement. I have always had goals which I aspire to and have always written them down. It helps to see them concretely and to act on them.

Debby said...

My goals this year are just to survive. The group of kids in my classes this year are not very good. They were this way in 6th and in 7th and they are in 8th. Very sad.

joelle said...

Congratulations Lindsey. I have a journal which I use daily to express my views and goals. So far it has been very helpful and I will continue to write as it is very therapeutic.

pearl said...

I make lists and have always felt that this was an important compnent of everyday life. It helps me keep sane and organized.

Jill James said...

Lindsey, good luck in the rest of the competition and congrats for the journey so far. It is hard sometimes to read the judges comments, but I'm sure agents and editors say the same things; just not outloud for the world to read. LOL Enjoy the journey!

Elizabeth Sinclair said...

Lindsey, I have the utmost faith in you, sweetie. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is an editor out there who will very soon recognize your incredible talent. You go, girl! You're gonna win this one.
Ditzy Chix rock!!!

Anonymous said...

Best of luck. I think that it is important to write down goals. It puts things in perspective and is attainable.

Playground Monitor said...

Hey there Elizabeth!

Gang, that's Elizabeth Sinclair who not only writes for Medallion Press and Silhouette Intimate Moments/Romantic Suspense, but also is the world's absolute expert on "The Dreaded Synopsis."

Glad to have you here at the Playground.

And in case you wondered about the "Ditzy Chix" comment, Lindsey and Elizabeth are part of a group called the Ditzy Chix, 11 writing friends in multiple genres who are just the greatest bunch of women.


Instigator said...

Lindsey, welcome to the playground! (and sorry I'm tardy - day job has had me snowed under for days).

I admire you very much for entering the ATIII contest. It takes a great deal of faith and self confidence to do so. Have you discovered any tricks for handling the good and bad comments that you've received from the judges? Oftentimes those comments can be contradictory, how do you know which ones to listen to and which to ignore?

Good Luck!


Terri said...

'Goal' is one of those four letter words I hate to use, like 'diet'. :) I do have them, but I don't write them down... I think I'm afraid I'll sabotage myself (see 'diet').

Congratulations and good luck, Lindsey! Keep your head up no matter what those meanie judges may have to say - that's their job, after all - and I don't see them finaling in any contests!

So proud of you! (but I have to get that image of you writing 'in utero' out of my mind, and quick!)

Janice Lynn said...

Congrats to Lindsey for making it to Round 2. I know (boy do I know!) how rough this contest is on a person. I admire you so much for putting yourself out there & doing this. And, as I've read your manuscript, I know it's wonderful and deserving to win. Like Elizabeth said, there's an editor out there for you, babe!

Thanks to the playground for giving away Jane. :) Is it insane that I still get giddy any time I see a mention of it? Or if I see it on a shelf? Or if I...well, you get the idea. Hey, writing is my dream/goal and to have had the privilege of holding a book in my hands that I wrote...oh man, the shivers & quivers come over me!!!

Good luck, Lindsey!

CrystalG said...

Good luck in the competition Lindsey. I do write down my goals. It helps to keep me focused.

Lindsey Brookes said...

Angel, to answer your question, the American Title contest is run similar to the American Idol contest. The finalists are asked to submit different pieces of their story for each round. The judges then make comments - good or bad - and then the readers vote via email. The two finalists with the lowest amount of votes each round are eliminated. The winner will receive a publishing contract for their book with Dorchester Publishing. So every vote counts. I hope you'll all take a sec to go vote. Voting is over for this round on the 26th.


Carol said...

Good luck, Lindsey!

I don't write anything down. At my age I don't have goals. lol I just live from day to day! One thing I would like to do though is read JANE MILLIONAIRE! :)

Lindsey Brookes said...

Problem Child,
It's still early in the contest, so I have a lot of learning to do and suggestions to consider from the judges. (At least, I'm hoping I'll still be in the running to get those comments *grin*) One thing I am getting a crash course on though is getting the word out. That's something that will come in very handy when I sell someday.


Lindsey Brookes said...

Beth, I can so feel for your situation with your daughter. My oldest daughter is legally blind (uncorrectable) and she is on medication for seizures. It's hard as a parent not to be able to make things all better with just a word or a touch, but we do all we can to make life accomodate their needs. I think laughter is so important in life and that comes out in my writing. I truly hope all your daughter's dreams come true. She's lucky to have you!


Lindsey Brookes said...

Debby, you must be a teacher. I admire you. I couldn't be one, even though half my family members are teachers. It takes a special person for that job.


Lindsey Brookes said...

Sorry, I missed part of your question. As far as advice goes, Janice Lynn and Gerri Russell, past AT winners, have given the ATIII group so many tips for surviving this contest it's hard to pick just one. I guess the most important piece of advice is to take the judges' comments with a grain of salt. Take what I agree with and use it, but let go of the bad things. It's just one person's opinion. That's what I try to do. Although, I strongly disagree with the comment made this last round about my chosing a firefighter as a hero being a bad thing. They are incredible heroes in my eyes and I'd read about a firefighter romance hero without a moment's hesitation.

Lindsey Brookes said...

Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by and for the nice words about my writing. It means a lot coming from you. So glad to have you cheering me on!

your fellow Ditzy Chix,



Lindsey Brookes said...

Thanks for commenting. A lot of whether I listen to the comments or not comes from gut instinct. If it's something I think I should consider, I ask my writing pals for their thoughts. If it's way off base in my opinion, I laugh. *grin*


Lindsey Brookes said...

Sending a huge thanks out to the Writing Playground for asking me to come visit. And thanks to you all for your good luck wishes and comments. I'll check in later tonight to see if there are any more questions that need answered. Have a great Thanksgiving!


KarenG said...

Wishing you the best of luck in the competition Lindsey.

Thanks so much for drawing my name yesterday!

Jeanette J said...

I don't write them down...which is problably why I usually forget them. Right now I am trying to lose some weight (ongoing goal)

Cheryl said...

Good luck, Lindsey! I don't write my goals down and that's probably why I can't keep track of my progress on them.

Tawny Weber said...

A little late, but I wanted to comment - I LOVE goals. They keep me motivated, focused and add a little extra vigor to that happy dance when I achieve milestones.

Congrats, Lindsey, on the AT III contest progress. I still love your opening line about getting a boob job! btw, thanks for putting the twisted Christmas Carols into my head... I'll be humming them all day now!