This is the second year I've had the pleasure of working with Alicia Condon as the final judge in the historical category of the Linda Howard Award of Excellence Contest. She is at all times professional and a pleasure to work with. I hope that I have an editor like her when I grow up. Yes, she is that nice! I asked her to answer our final judge interview questions on her first day back from vacation. Not surprisingly, she returned the form the next day. I know you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
Diane Richmond (DR)
DR: What is your background?
Alicia Condon (AC): I've been acquiring romances of every description for Dorchester for the past 23 years - I can't quite believe it's been that long! Before that I worked at Bantam and Silhouette.
DR: Is there any type of story you're hoping to find but not seeing in your submissions?
AC: I'm very excited about fantasy romance, and haven't seen too many in our submissions. I'd also like to see a fresh fairy godmother story.
DR: How often do you ask for manuscripts from contests?
AC: I almost always ask to see at least one manuscript when I judge a contest. And I'd say I go on to acquire about one a year that I discover from judging contest. That's part of the reason I enjoy judging this kind of submission.
DR: How often do you select manuscripts from the "slush pile?"
AC: I generally acquire one or two new authors from slush each year.
DR: While reading a manuscript, how long does it usually take before you know whether or not you want to request the full or reject? Why?
AC: 75% of the time, I know I'll reject a submission after reading the first ten pages. I realize this sounds harsh, but it's because the voice or writing style just aren't powerful enough. That isn't going to change as the story goes on. If I like the voice, 50 to 100 pages will tell me whether I want to make an offer for the book.
DR: If you had to choose between a magnificent plot or a magnificent voice, which would you select?
AC: Magnificent voice, every time.
DR: What are some errors that new authors make?
AC: Believing that once the first sale is made, everything will be easy. Writing a wonderful book is always challenging.
DR: If you had to given an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be?
AC: Don't give up. You are driven to write because you have something to communicate to others. Even if you aren't published right away, continue to share that part of yourself with your family, friends, critique group, etc., and make sure it is a clear expression of who you really are.
DR: Have you ever become star struck when meeting an author? If so, who?
AC: Years ago, I met Celeste Deblais after reading her WILD SWAN books and was completely tongue tied.
The Linda Howard Award of Excellence is taking entries now. Click here.