How to Build a Better Writing Contest


Whether you’re a sponsor, judge, or contestant each person has a responsibility to the success of the contest.What can you do?


  1. Convey the standards through score sheets and concise guidelines or training for judges.
  2. Ban judges’ promotion of their books and writing services except in optional signature lines.
  3. Return scores and comments to all contestants at least one week BEFORE announcing finalists and winners. (Why? All contestants should have an equal opportunity to bring any legitimate errors or problems to the attention of contest coordinators, and the coordinators need time to correct the situation if warranted. Coordinators verify the numerical scores, but some issues aren’t noticed until the contestants receive their scores and comments.)

First-Round Judges:

  1. Set aside your personal frustrations, problems, likes, and dislikes.
  2. Avoid promoting yourself and your services except in permitted signature lines.
  3. Remember most entries are partials and not all elements will be fully developed.
  4. Provide concise, positive, constructive comments and leave the real world rejection to the final round agents and editors.
  5. Read Jody Wallace’s informative and humorous series on contest judging. (See link below.)


  1. Read and follow entry rules.
  2. Check the score sheet and guidelines for judges.
  3. If there’s a legitimate error or question about your submission, scores, comments, or a judge’s action, contact contest coordinators immediately.
  4. Thank the sponsors and judges.
  5. Avoid public rants about contests, judges, and scores.

Are you a sponsor, judge, or contestant? What do you think?


Jody Wallace’s 4 part series on oontest judging

Jamie Gold on her experiences as a judge

Linda Style’s contest pros and cons:

In Search of the Perfect Victorian Afternoon Tea

Marguerite, the plucky heroine of my manuscript, is plagued by situations not mentioned in the etiquette books of polite society. She sometimes prefers to have tea at the Aerated Bread Company, one of the few places women can visit alone without risking their reputations. Customers selected and paid around five pence for their choice of tea, sandwiches, scones, and pastries.

During my childhood in England, I often had afternoon tea in a department store built in the Victorian era. The restaurant had the original wooden floors, shrimp colored walls, white table linens, china teacups, and servers who called me “Dearie.” I think the tea cost about five shillings. Cucumber, salmon, and watercress sandwiches were served first, followed by warm scones with jam and clotted cream. One of the servers passed by frequently with a trolley of desserts. Apricot sponge cake, lemon tarts, chocolate éclairs, and puffy crème pastries were among my favorites.

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited a tearoom. As part of my historical research and writer’s book club, I recently had afternoon tea at a hotel dating from the 19th century. We discussed our most recent selection, THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS, and sampled champagne or sparkling cider at a large round table in the hotel’s mahogany paneled and stained glass ceiling lobby. Our table was set with pristine linens, crystal, silver, and fine gilt china.

The first course included our choice of tea and cranberry scones with Devonshire clotted cream, lemon curd, jam, or honey. The clotted cream was not only scrumptious, but it also passed the test for a crucial scene in my manuscript. For the second course we were presented with a three-tiered silver tray of assorted sandwiches. I missed having watercress, but the cucumber and smoked salmon with cream cheese sandwiches were a delicious treat for someone who no longer eats red meat or pork. The third course consisted of a variety of desserts, which were made from modern recipes. The hazelnut mousse in chocolate shell and the lemon tart minus pastry crust were my favorites.


Although I loved the setting, tasty afternoon tea, and the enjoyable company of my fellow writers, I’m still in search of the perfect Victorian afternoon tea. So far I’ve located a couple of tearooms, The Mad Hatter in Margate and The Bridge at Bradford, which I want to visit on my next trip to England. Their interiors, server’s attire, and menus are more reminiscent of the perfect afternoon teas I’ve researched.


What do you think about Victorian afternoon tea? Are there other tearooms I should add to my list?

Feb. 28th , the Other Filing Deadline for Some Writers: Are You One of Them?

calendarDisclaimer: I am not a tax expert, so please consult one and the IRS links below.

Before I started my writing business, I took two tax courses for writers. Neither instructor mentioned the Feb. deadline and forms, so I am fortunate I didn’t need to file the forms until now. (Huge sigh of relief) I can only tell you about my situation and what I recently learned from a writer friend, my web guru, and the IRS website.

Last year I paid one person at least $600.00 for writing related services, web work for this site. Anyone who pays $600.00 or more for materials and / or services related to their business must file Form1099-MISC per recipient (person paid) and one Form 1096 Annual Summary and Transmittal of US Information Returns. If I had paid with a credit card, payment card, or through some 3rd party transactions, I’d have to submit Form 1099-K.

The purpose of Forms 1099-MISC (copies A-C) and 1096 are to ensure recipients report the proper amount of income on their tax returns. Filing the forms is also important to me, because I want to claim the fee as a writing business expense. The forms have laser bond OCR heat resistant ink, which can’t be reproduced. You can order the free forms from the IRS and provide the recipient’s required identification number (SSN). The forms are also available at office supply stores.

Did you pay someone $600.00 or more for materials and / or services related to your writing business? If so, please consult a tax expert and the IRS links below. Remember Feb. 28th is the filing deadline each year.





1096-Annual Summary and Transmittal of US Information Returns:


General Instructions:

To obtain scannable forms:

Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676)

Or go to this link:

Jillian’s Adventures in Twitterland

Last year I had a Cheshire cat purpose for following the little bird on Twitter. My smiling presence appeared, disappeared, and reappeared while exploring a world with reverse chronology. What was my main goal? To follow a select group of authors and agents to learn more about the publishing industry.

Sometime I felt like Alice in Twitterland, attending the Mad Hatter’s Tweet Party where everyone else understood the tweetiquette except me. There wasn’t a talking white rabbit to show me the way. Just a bird, which couldn’t speak or fly. I learned about shrinking with a Tiny URL and growing larger by increasing Followers. I was “curiouser and curiouser.”  (See links below.)

What is my main Twitter goal for this year? To connect with people in a meaningful manner, not in the Queen of Hearts racking-up-head-count way.

Do you have any Twitter advice? What are your Twitter goals for 2013?


The 10 Golden Rules of Twitter

Twitter Tools That Help With Efficiency

3 Hashtag Tips To Change Your Twitter from Drab to FAB!