Want a Piece of the Action?

The 2013 edition of Novel
Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest: Boosting You Out of the Slush Pile marks only the
fourth year of the event’s existence. It’s a small contest with relatively few
entrants. But an impressive number of those have gone on to
bigger and better things.
We shared a few of the
success stories with you last year, such as that of Cheryl
Linn Martin
, who won our Middle
Grade/Young Adult category a couple years ago with her YA detective story Pineapples in Peril. (I still remember searching for images of
pineapple fields for use in illustrating the post that announced the win.)
Since then, she’s published that story through Comfort Publishing as the first The Hawaiian
Island Detective Club series. The second, Menehunes
g, came
out recently, and the third, Ukuleles
Under Cover
, is scheduled for release in August of this year.
One of our first entrants, Johnnie Alexander Donley, signed with Tyndale House for a historical romance,
Treasure Hides
It made its debut this past December.
And let’s not forget Diane Moody, who has been ridiculously busy since winning our
Contemporary Romance category not once, but twice. She self-published both of
those stories (Tea With
and Strike the
) in a series called The
Teacup Novellas. But that’s just the beginning. She’s also published two titles
in the Moody Blue Trilogy (Moody Blues fan fiction), Blue
and Blue Like
; general fiction The Runaway
Pastor’s Wife
; the historical
novel Of Windmills
and War
; and two nonfiction
titles: Confessions
of a Prayer Slacker
published by
Sheaf House, and Don’t Ever
Look Down
, a book about
surviving cancer co-written with Debbie Church and Dick Church. 
But category winners aren’t
the only ones who have found our contest helpful. When we sent the judges’
critiques to Julie Trimmer, one of last year’s Contemporary Fiction entrants,
she replied: “Wow, this is the best contest ‘loss’ I can
imagine. The critiques are fantastic!”
writer Magda Knight entered two stories in the Middle Grade/Young Adult
category last year. Neither won. But her response couldn’t have been more
enthusiastic: “At the risk of burdening your inbox I’d like to voice my
appreciation of the incisive and immensely helpful critiques by the judges. I
don’t think I’ve ever had such pertinent and useful feedback. Absolutely
game-changing. Please accept my thanks for setting up such a great competition.
I may not have won, but thanks to those critiques I feel like I won anyway.
These comments were altogether
At the risk of sounding like
an infomercial, I’d like to share a few more snippets from our fan mail:

can’t tell you enough how much it has helped me. Just getting my work out has
been hard for me, because I usually don’t receive any feedback. Both of the
judges’ critiques were extremely helpful.

really appreciate experienced writers who take time to help newer writers
learn. The feedback is helpful, and it’s nice knowing there are people who want
to help you succeed – including all of you at Novel Rocket!


comments were spot on. Some were very encouraging. It’s given me new motivation
to continue on. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


can count me as one who was excited about my feedback. 🙂 I use contests as a
measuring stick, to make sure I’m improving in my writing. And the feedback I
got on this contest confirmed that I’ve taken care of most of the problems my
feedback from ACFW’s Genesis contest pointed out, LOL! I’ve still got a bit of
work to do, but I was encouraged that I was actually making progress.


one more, if you can stand it:

comments I received from both judges were incredibly helpful, providing plenty
of concrete advice, great insights, and the encouragement so precious to debut

don’t want to give the impression every entrant was as excited as these.
Some asked for clarification (which we were happy to provide), one suggested we
might want to choose different judges next time, and quite a few gave us no
feedback whatsoever.
we don’t guarantee you’ll be this enthusiastic. But you’ll never know how helpful the experience might be until you give it a try.
the quote above from Magda Knight? She wrote about the experience on her blog, and this
is how she wrapped it up:

If a writing competition
offers you a critique as part of either the prize or the entry fee, TAKE IT.
Research the judges, obviously. Research the site/resource/publication in
general. But they’re offering you gold, so TAKE IT.I entered the first chapter
and synopsis for two unpublished novels to the Novel Rocket Launch Pad Contest. 

I didn’t win, but the
critiques I was offered were so insightful that I felt like I had won anyway.
They ripped my work apart, those master butchers, and they had clearly been
wielding their knives with skill and clear-eyed dispassion for some time. They
dissembled my musty old cadaver of a first chapter and showed me how to rebuild
it into something that will soon not only stand up but walk. 

I’ve been on plenty of
online writing forums and I’m sure you have too. They’re great. They’re tough.
They’re loving. 

But they’re NOTHING like

This was my very first
taste of high-level feedback from industry insiders, with highlighting of
action beats and DNA-level sentence structure and stuff I’ve never before seen
covered in forum critiques. I felt like Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader
when Aslan strips away his dragon flesh layer by layer, finally returning him
to the form of the boy he was meant to be. 

Industry-level criticism is
objective and it is there to make you improve. If you see an opportunity to get
it via a writing competition, you’d be silly not to take it.

don’t take my word for it. Ask the people who’ve been there and done that. And then, if
you’d like to get in on the action, check out the official rules on the Launch Pad tab, and prepare for take-off!

When she’s not administering the Novel Rocket Contest, Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world.

Take the next starship through the Gateway to Gannah for some serious sci-fi adventure!