I love to read romance. So when my husband took a new job in another state a couple of years ago, I suddenly found myself with the time to pursue the career I’d always wanted—writing Chick Lit. I’d been working on a novel for a while so I pulled it out and began a total rewrite. When I finished, I didn’t know what to do next. I began searching the web and found the Get Your Stiletto in the Door Contest. Who could resist?
I entered two manuscripts in the 7th Annual Stiletto Contest, seeking constructive feedback from a panel of judges who understood the genre. The contest went beyond my expectations. Not only did I receive fabulous feedback, but I placed first in two categories—contemporary and romantic suspense.
Any writer trying to get her foot, I mean, stiletto, in the door of romance writing should take advantage of this contest. The first round of judges gave such a wonderful detailed analysis that I have been revising my contemporary novel, The Ex Lottery, based on those suggestions.
My romantic suspense novel, Shades of Gray, was already headed to the printer when I learned the results of the contest. I must admit I was sitting beside the Savannah River when I opened the email announcement, and I did a little happy dance—feet only—my butt stayed firmly planted to the bench. I read the comments from the contest and was tempted to pull the book and revise it just one more time, but I resisted. Besides, I had already rewritten it a million times based on reviews from my avid reader friends, my English teacher mom, my Nora-Roberts-addict daughter, my editor son, and so on.
After receiving various “positive” rejections from agents and publishers, I self-published Shades of Gray. Actually, my husband shoved me in that direction. I was reluctant. If not for him, I would still be editing the book and sending it to potential agents. One day, he said enough—you wrote it; you like it; publish it. So with one brave step on very wobbly heels, I did just that. I never dreamed that almost 60,000 people would be reading my book just five months later.
This month Shades of Gray made it to number one on Amazon’s Best Sellers List (Paid) in contemporary romance and second place in romantic suspense. I’ve received some wonderful reviews, including one that noted it was a Stiletto winner. The book was also a Kirkus Reviews Critics’ Pick. In May, I’ve been invited to participate on a panel at the 2012 South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia and sign copies of the novel.
Let’s just say, I’m thrilled I found the contest. It gave me a boost of confidence and encouraged me to move forward. I’d recommend it to any romance writer because the detailed score sheets are invaluable. I look forward to reading the books of other winners.
Kim Sanders was born and raised in the South and currently lives in South Carolina with her husband. Sanders received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina and a doctor of law degree from Emory University. Over the years, she has worked as a journalist, a photographer, an editor, and an attorney. Shades of Gray is her debut novel.