2020 has been quite a ride as well as an affront to science and the social contract.
But one thing that came as a surprise pleasure was my work as a final judge in my local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter’s annual contest The Writer. Every year, LERA (the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors) invites authors to send in the first 5,000 words of their manuscript. Any romantic subgenre, any heat level. After entries are scored in the initial round, final judges select which of the top-scoring finalists they’d liked to mentor in anticipation of revising the contest entry for the final round. I selected Hartley Gray to work with, and I’m so pleased to announce that she has gone on to win LERA’s 2020 The Writer contest!
Her entry “A Simple Plan” is a delightfully fluffy F/F contemporary romcom, and was just the thing to get me out of a rut from quarantine and QAnon conspiracies. As we got into the swing of our weekly mentoring sessions, we discovered we had a lot of similar values and goals from the writing life as well, so that was another unexpected pleasure from this experience. I never had to question that I was giving her the right advice because her writing priorities were already very much like my own. It also helped reinforce some of the things I have been lax on doing for myself as well, reenergizing me and what I want to accomplish with my own writing. All this to say, I initially feared the contest mentoring experience would be just another demand on my time in an already-draining pandemic year, but thankfully I found quite the opposite!
Hartley is a fantastic writer, and I’m certain we’ll see more of her as she continues on her writing journey! Be sure to check out her website or visit her on Instagram!