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Rafflecopter Alternatives & iPad Winner Announced

And The Winners Are...

The Winner of the iPad mini is...Al Diaz over at Father Dragon Writes.

The second place winner will receive a $100 Manuscript Coaching Session with Larry Brooks, which has increased to $150, so it's quite a prize. The winner of this awesome prize is, D.L. Hammons, over at Cruising Altitude. 

Emily Crider over at Newlywed Moments, is the winner of Larry Brooks' newest book, Story Physics.

Jessie Humphries over at The B-Word and Shell Flower over on Tangent Shell each win a copy of Jessica Bells'  awesome new book, Adverbs & Cliches in a nutshell.

There you have it...the winners.

I want to thank everyone who participated. I'm still not quite at 500 followers, but I'm delighted to be in the 490's.

I'm not, however, delighted with Rafflecopter. I'm pretty sure that I'm in the minority on this one because I run across at least one blog every day, hosting a contest with Rafflecopter. 

Here's my problem:

We are allowed to customize our contest/give a way. We all live and learn from every experience and I learned that it is far better to offer fewer entry choices. My mistake- offering too many. I figured that people would be more likely to enter a contest if they had more options to choose from. After reading up on the subject, I've learned, that not unlike every other area in our lives, too many options, often send us running

That's not my problem, though. See, with Rafflecopter, the contest creator is permitted to assign the number of contest entries for each category. You all know what I'm talking about- I'm pretty sure you've all seen a million Rafflecopter give a ways. You earn "X"amount of entries if you do "Y". It is usually something like 1 entry for a blog comment, 2 entries for following on Twitter and 3 or more entries for other things like a blog post or a shout out...

Sounds perfect, right? 

Unless you read the fine print...and I didn't. I know, not very lawyerly of me, huh? You see, the fine print tells you that the winner or winners are selected from Random. Unless, I am totally missing something, it appears to me that a random selection from, does not give anyone the extra entries that they are entitled to for doing the extra things like more shout outs or tweeting about the give a way.

The second problem that I encountered is that after, the winner or winners were randomly selected, then and only then was I able to verify whether or not they actually performed the task required for the entry. Thankfully, I didn't have any winners who didn't actually qualify for the contest.

The only way I was able to make sure that people were given the proper number of entries was to ask Rafflecopter to email a copy of the spreadsheet and then tally the entries myself and conduct a second drawing which would have defeated the purpose.

I'm not complaining about the turn out as I'm sure I could have done more to promote it. I do however, feel certain that some of you left blog comments or tweeted about the contest, yet I did not see your name anywhere on the spread sheet. Nothing I can do about it now. Like I said, live and learn.

While researching the contest options, after it ended  (yes, I know I should have done this before), I came across some Rafflecopter alternatives that I will try in the future, if I  host another give a way.

Here are some of the Rafflecopter alternatives that are worth looking into before you host your next give a way.

I haven't had an opportunity to look into the details of all the Rafflecopter alternatives, but I did spend a good amount of time reading about Punchtab and I like what I see. It seems to be the first loyalty incentive type program for contest and give away hosting. It works sort of like your local grocery store or pharmacy rewards program by rewarding users for performing simple actions on a blog or website. 

I know that Rafflecopter appears to be the main giveaway hosting platform for bloggers, but I'm curious to know if any of you have used any of the alternatives that I mentioned? If so, please share your experience. Are those of you who use Rafflecopter, pleased with the platform or do you have any complaints? Do you know of any other contest and or give a way platforms, that I didn't mention?

Thank you again for participating and for reading my blog. 

Beta Readers & Critique Partners: When Do Authors Show Writing to Others

Authors: At what point do you allow your critique partners and/or beta readers to see your work?

I've Got Questions: Do you Have Answers?

Please, please, say yes!

Before I get started, I want to remind everyone about my prize give a way. If you haven't entered for a chance to win an iPad mini, please do so here. There's still lot's of easy ways to earn extra entires. For example, I haven't seen anyone add me to their networked bloggers. My network blogger friends is located about halfway down on the left side bar of my blog. The link above should take you there as well. If you're encountering a problem doing this on rafflecopter, please let me know, here. There are only six days left to earn entries, so please help spread the word. My goal is to reach 500 followers. I'm so close.

I intended for this to be a post filled with a variety of questions, but now that I see how in-depth and detailed the first question is, I decided that it will be my only question & I will save the remainder for another post. 

Okay, no need to wipe your foreheads & sigh. I'm not that long winded. Am I? 

But, first I need to apologize to Elise Fallson & D.L. Hammons co-hosts of the vanguard WIP it Good, blogfest.
Which was held on Friday May 31st. I want to also apologize to all of the other participants. I fully intended to participate (I checked in each day, last week to make sure I had the correct date). Unfortunately, we had a family emergency. My dad is in his late 80's and we had a big scare and I was unable to publish my WIP it post. I did listen to Devo, later that night. I know- big what.

Sorry guys.

While  I was unable to participate in the WIP It (Work In Progress) blogfest, I did, however, work on my post for that day which stirred up some issues that I've been unsure about for quite sometime. So, today is a Question & Answer Post and I will include my WIP questions in this post.

I've completed my first novel and received favorable responses to my queries. I haven't heard anything (one way or the other) from any of the agents & in the interim, I am not so much revising my manuscript...again, as I am rejuvenating, revitalizing, refurbishing, replenishing & refreshing it with the aid of critically acclaimed- best selling author and manuscript coach, Larry Brooks. So, I'm not looking for a beta reader of a critique partner, at this time, for book one.

I am in the early (and I do mean early) stages of book number two. I have an idea, concept, and plot line in mind. I've written an outline- ugh, I hate that word. My outline is nothing like a real outline or what we're accustomed to viewing when we hear the dreaded- wretched word...outline. I have written my tentative beat sheet and I've mapped out the order of my story using my all time favorite, the flexible, organizing, content generating Scrivener Cork board

And, I've churned out the first quarter of my book (first draft-rememberr), and we all know what Hemingway calls a first draft.

"The first draft of anything is shit."

 So, fellow blogger friends and all of you smart kids & agented or published authors, my first question goes out to you...and anyone else who can help me with this issue that I've worried about for so long. I should have asked these questions much sooner, but I was sort of shows just how little I know.

Question #1. 

Do you show your first draft-rough draft to crit partners or beta readers?

 I gotta tell you, this has been bothering me for some time and I've heard two very different & distinct answers. On the one side, I've been warned to never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, allow anyone other than my dog to lay eyes on my shitty, unorganized chaotic first draft. Hey, I get it. I don't want someone (one of you) reading my sloppy work, fragmented sentences chock full of misspelled words and grammar faux pas.

On the other side of the issue, I've been told by some talented and successful authors & bloggers that the only way we know if our story is working is to have our crit partners critique it. But, does that mean, after the second or third draft has been fine tuned & polished? I'm assuming it does, but, if I have someone I trust critiquing my first draft and pointing out the areas that aren't working, the plot holes, lack of suspense, or pointing out that  I'm not hiding the clues in my mystery deep enough, this can only help me, right? -

If someone reads my early work and tells me that they not only guessed the killer by the end of chapter four, but, they'd also figured out the motivation and yada get the idea.

This is going to save me considerable rewrite time because I'm gonna scrap the crap (hey that rhymed) early on, take my constructive criticism and well needed advise and use my valuable time writing a story that has oomph! I will restructure scenes, work on the one dimensional, cardboard or Mary Sue characters that you've just told me, made you want to vomit as you read.

Do you see my point? 

Last year I was so excited when I was finally able to sign up for Deana Barnhart's GUTGAA- Gearing up to Get an Agent, but quickly felt out of place.

Any of you know that out of place feeling?

I felt like I'd been accepted to medical school (by accident), and not wanting to give up my chance to shine like those cool doctors on E.R.,  I kept my head down, played along and acted as if I knew what I was doing-all the while hoping no one noticed the village idiot charging the paddles to 200 and slamming them onto the patient's chest, only to learn he was actually admitted because his bowels were impacted- he was constipated and I nearly killed the poor bastard by jump starting his heart.

So in case you got lost in verbiage, duh...I'll repeat the question.

When seeking out a critique partner and/or beta readers, it is vital that we're ready to exchange final & polished drafts?  Or, is there an exception or perhaps a second tier of crits & betas ( I made that sound like some bad ass gangs didn't I ~crips & bloods~yea), for first, rough or unpolished drafts.

 I'd really appreciate your advice & input on this. I can't believe I finally asked it. I've been too embarrassed to mention my compete lack of understanding of this really cool & obviously, insanely helpful process.

Don't forget to enter to win an iPad mini among other great prizes. Only six more days to enter. Enter here on my Greatest Hits Page, or Here.

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