Some of the frequently asked questions about the Royal Ascot:
1. Why do you care about the format of my entry?
If all entrants use similar formatting, no one is getting any special breaks from that, and the quality of the story itself is showcased instead of unimportant things like font. It's also easier for the judges to read if they are not side-tracked by unusual fonts or densely crammed paragraphs.
Sometimes contestants feel if they can just get the judges to read more of their words, they will have a better chance. Actually, the reverse is true. I've seen some really extreme examples of attempts to cram more and more words into an entry, things like not indenting paragraphs, running paragraphs together, and cramming extra lines on a page. In reality the entry becomes less and less readable. White space is good. It makes the words stand out.
2. Why do you have both a page limit and a limit on the number of words?
The maximum word count of 8500 words allows for 283 words average per page. If you have more words than this in 30 pages, you have a densely crowded manuscript, and it will be difficult for judges to read. That has a negative impact on a judge's opinion of your work.
3. Am I supposed to provide a set-up for my story in addition to my synopsis and manuscript beginning?
Only if you are entering a time travel that doesn't begin in the Regency period. In that case, give us a short summary of what happens between your story's opening and the time when it enters the Regency period. Begin your manuscript portion of the entry with the point where it enters the Regency time period.
4. Why can't I send you a printed entry?
We've tried having both printed and electronic entries at the same time, and we have received poor response for the paper entries. They add a lot of work and expense in relationship to their value to participants, and we believe we're giving better value to everyone, including those judges and coordinators who donate their time, if we just keep it all electronic.
5. Does an entry in the Hot & Wild category have to be both Paranormal AND Erotic?
No. Our categories are designed flexibly, to provide the most opportunities for the contestants and help find suitable judge for such a wide variety of sub-categories. Hot & Wild entries could be paranormal, or very spicy, or erotic. Or they could be both paranormal and very sexy. They might also include other elements that might make them fit into other categories, but generally if the paranormal or very hot elements are dominant in the story, the Hot & Wild category would be the best choice for them.
6. But what if my entry has no sex in it, and has some romance but is really more of a mainstream historical about the Peninsular War, but also involves angels on the battlefield? What category should I choose for it?
We'd like to find room for everybody who is endeavoring to write Regency-set romance, but sometimes that does create puzzles for us. You could probably choose any of the three categories. If the story is not all about angels, though, I'd suggest avoiding the Hot & Wild category. If it's an Inspirational Romance, you might want to put it in Sweet & Mild, where most Inspirationals will be. And if it's most strongly historical, perhaps the Regency Historical category would be best.
7. Will you disqualify me if I pick the wrong category? What if I end too many pages? What if the formatting messes up my page count?
No. We'll discuss it with you if we think another category would be a better choice for you, or if your story doesn't fit in that category at all. For example, an Inspirational romance probably needs to remain in the Sweet & Mild category because that's where its strongest judges will be. And a sexy story really should not go in the Sweet & Mild category.
If you have too many pages, again, we'll talk about it. I might be able to suggest something that will help you edit a bit more. The problem might be caused by different formats, or there might be too few lines on a page. If you send me 50 pages, though, I'll send it back and ask you to cut it down before submitting. All of this must be finished before the deadline, though.
8. Are your deadlines firm? What if I send it out on time but it gets there late?
Now that we're all electronic, this isn't much of a problem anymore. But we have to adhere to a tight time schedule if we're going to be done in time to announce our winners at the soiree in July.