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Past Golden Heart Finalists Tell All!

In just three short days, calls will be going out to a select group of 2011 Golden Heart and RITA entrants that will change their lives.

That sounds like a cliche, doesn’t it? Can one simple phone call really have that much impact?

I finaled in 2008 (shout out to the Pixie Chicks!) and again in 2009. I clearly remember getting both those calls from RWA Board member Trish Milburn, and probably always will.

In 2008, she really sent me on a wild roller coaster ride in a matter of the 10 longest seconds of my life at exactly 9:01 am. When she first introduced herself, immediately my heart started racing. A call from an RWA Board member on March 25! OMG, I FINALED! But then she started asking me about a short story I’d published a few months before the entry deadline.

Crash and BURN! That’s why she was calling? Seriously?! To ask about a story? Why would she call me on that day, of all days? How could she get my hopes up like that? So cruel.

But no worries. I’m a romance writer, and we love our happy endings. Apparently someone in the RWA Office thought that my published short story might have been a novella, which would have disqualified me. So Trish needed to verify the wordcount first, and if it turned out that it was novella-length, then they would offer the finalist status to the next person on the list.

You could actually hear the relief in Trish’s voice when I confirmed that it was just 7,000 words. Then she said those lovely, lovely words, “Congratulations! Your manuscript finaled in the Young Adult category of the Golden Heart!”

When I met her in person at Nationals that year, Trish and I had a nice big laugh over it. And she was actually worried for me, too. She thought she was going to have to tell me I’d been disqualified. Thank goodness that wasn’t what happened. Not exactly the happy ending she wanted to convey.

When I decided to write this post, I thought it would be fun to ask some past Golden Heart finalists to tell us about their own call experiences and to pass along some advice for this year’s class.

I was struck by the number of past finalists who’d missed their calls, and went through the entire day (or even several days!) thinking they hadn’t finaled:

  • Denise Meinstad, one of my fellow 2008 Pixies, had been calling her voice mail all day “and all I kept hearing was ‘No new messages….’ At 4:30 I called once more and gave up, thinking it was too late. Everyone had been called. But when I got home I had a message from Terri Reed and I almost had a spaz attack. I called her back and left a message. She got back to me in two minutes and said she’d been calling me ALL DAY!!! She didn’t want to leave a message, but at 5:30 she finally did. That was a half hour after I left work, thinking it was over. I was crying so much I could hardly talk to her. I had to write it all down so I would remember what she said.”
  • 2002 winner and author of 10 novels — including most recently “The Duke’s Night of Sin” — Kathryn Caskie, was on vacation in Disney World when the calls went out. “I kept checking my cell phone for any GH messages–but for two days there was nothing…Then the hotel phone rang. To my shocked delight it was one of my Washington Romance Writers buddies who had somehow tracked me down.  She wanted to congratulate me for being a finalist in the Long Historical category and was shocked when I told her I hadn’t heard a word.  After jumping on the bed, then remaking it, I ran down the hotel hallway screaming ‘yes!’ and doing odd ninja-like kicks.  Suddenly Disney WAS the happiest place on earth!”
  • 2007 and 2010 finalist Maureen McGowan, author of the upcoming YAs  “Cinderella: Ninja Warrior” and “Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer”, writes: “In 2007, I got home very late to three voice mail messages, the last of which revealed the good news, but not which manuscript had made the cut. I’d entered two. I didn’t find out which manuscript it was until the next day.”
  • Double 2008 Inspirational finalist Christine Johnson, author of “Soaring Home”, was away from home and passed along her vacation number to RWA, but apparently the new number didn’t make it into her file. “I waited and waited by my phone and didn’t check email, which was dial-up, because I didn’t want to tie up the phone.  When no call came for the umpteenth year in a row, I cried myself to sleep and once again questioned why on earth I put myself through the pain. The next day, I logged onto email and saw the message that I was a Golden Heart finalist. The elation doubled when moments later one of my writer friends informed me I was a double-finalist.”

Evidently some finalists were caught unaware, not even expecting a call:

  • Nancy Holland, one of the 2010 finalists, said, “When my phone rang, I thought it was my CP (who eventually won the GH) calling to tell me that she’d finaled.  I never knew who actually was on the other end, because by the time the reality sunk in, she was already way past introducing herself.  I couldn’t scream or anything because DH was still asleep, but he took me out to celebrate that night to make up for it.”
  • Fellow 2008 Pixie Chick Connie Gillam writes, “In my naivete, I didn’t know when the calls would go out. I was away from home in the morning and went to work at 3pm without checking my home phone. I checked my email from work about 6pm.  There was an email from Julie Hurwutz (Region 6 director at that time) asking me to call her about the GH contest. When she informed me that I’d finaled, I asked her to repeat what she’d just said. I was ecstatic. After getting off the phone, I hugged the first person who ventured into the lab, a pathologist who didn’t know me very well and who isn’t exactly a touchy, feely person. I didn’t care. I was over the moon!”

You know the old romance mantra…emotion, emotion, emotion! Same thing applies to getting the Golden Heart call:

  • One of last year’s finalists Keely Thrall’s call came as an email because National didn’t have her work or cell numbers for some reason.  “I  remember staring at the screen for a minute – I had to ask a coworker to read the words again for me because I just didn’t believe it. Then I shot out of my chair and sped around Church House (my workplace) like I’d won the lottery. And I guess I did in a way!  I remember putting on a gold blouse for specifically that morning for a little extra dose of luck. I *think* it worked. LOL!”
  • Jane Sevier from last year’s class writes, “Cinnamon toast had just gone in the oven when I heard my phone. Jeanne Adams was on the line telling me that I was a finalist in Romantic Elements. When I realized that I was going to cry, I struggled so hard not to go all Sally Fields on her that I couldn’t utter a word. Jeanne asked if I was all right, and then the dam burst. She said I was the first weeper she’d had that morning. Thank goodness I smelled the toast before it was completely incinerated.”
  • 2008 finalist Cindy Nord had just put away her groceries and was starting to chop onions for dinner when she saw the light on the answering machine blinking.  “My hands were shaking as I darted back to the machine and hit replay again…to make sure she’d said MY NAME.  Six times later, I finally decided they hadn’t made a mistake and called the wrong person….they meant to call ME. When my husband walked in ten minutes later, I was sitting at the kitchen table holding the onion and…sobbing.  He dropped his coat and dashed over, falling to one knee beside me.  ‘My God, honey, what’s wrong?’ ‘L..listen to th..this….’ I said.  Leaning sideways, I pressed the button on the answering machine.  Needless to say, we had dinner out that night.”

Almost everyone chose to celebrate in some way:

  • Five time finalist (2007, 2008, 2009, and twice in 2010) Shelley Coriell, author of the upcoming YA “Welcome Caller, This is Chloe,”  is a former food magazine editor.  “When I got each of my Golden Heart calls, I celebrated by heading to the kitchen and treating myself and the fam to a ‘splurge’ dessert. You know the kind: high-calorie-high-fat-melt-in-your-mouth-stick-to-your-thighs delish. My favorite was the 2010 Oreo Cookie Cheesecake.”
  • Author of the sexy paranormal “Taste Me” and 2009 finalist Tamara Hogan celebrated the old-fashioned way. Shopping!  “Soon after we came up with our Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog name, I went to my happy place — Nordstrom shoe department — and bought a pair of kickin’ red boots. “
  • For 2005 winner Gemma Halliday, author of 8 novels  including the recent “Perfect Shot,” the biggest celebration was once she got to the RWA National Conference. “My family was happy for me when I got the call, and I was totally excited, but beyond jumping up and down, squealing, and wearing a huge grin all day, I didn’t really do a lot to celebrate.  But that year was my first conference – and the first time I’d spent any time with romance writers in person – so I didn’t really get the full impact of what it meant to be a Golden Heart finalist until I was there, surrounded by other writers who knew exactly what a Golden Heart was and totally “got it”.  I suddenly felt like a rock star! LOL!”

Speaking of the conference, try to go if you can:

  • 2010 Historical winner Jacqui Nelson hadn’t planned to go to Nationals. “After the call, I still wasn’t certain because my finances were pretty tight. But finally I decided that I’d better go, and I used my tax refund to pay for the trip. It was the best decision I ever made. My advice? If you final, go to Nationals!”
  • Two-time finalist (2005 and 2007) Kristen Painter, author of the upcoming “Blood Rights” urban fantasy trilogy, says “Nationals as a Golden Heart Finalist is always fun because people want to talk to you about your book and congratulate you. Capitalize on the moment right now. Send queries stating your finalist status. Let anyone who has the book know. Get the word out to the industry people who matter.”
  • 2005 finalist and author of “About a Baby” Ann Yost  suggests researching agents and publishers with whom you want to interview. “Its a great opportunity to get your work in front of the right person.  Don’t sweat the pitch too much — they are all pleasant and kind and will ask for chapters and a synopsis at least.”
  • 2008 double finalist and winner Kris Kennedy, author of three medievals including the upcoming “Defiant,” was full of practical advice. “Do write a little speech and practice it.  I know, I know, you’ll never need it.  It’s just…someone will. And you’ll enjoy the ceremony more if you’re prepared. Remember who called you—you can say thanks when you meet face to face one day, and tell them how much it meant to you. The dress: When buying, remember it has to fit in a suitcase, unless you’re going to wear it while traveling. They let me hang mine in the front of the plane, but that was back in ‘08, before you had to pay for the air you inhale.”  
  • 2004 winner and author of 7 novels, including 2011 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence finalist “Meltdown,” Gail Barrett got right to the point. “Shop for your dress early.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Enjoy every minute of the glorious ride!”

Several finalists stressed that while the Golden Heart may be validation, it’s not the secret to success. Perseverence is.

  • Author of “Fair Game” Susan Andrews said, “I was an incredibly naive and new writer when I won the Golden Heart in 1986.  I did publish the next year, but my relationship with my editor was combative to say the least, and I put writing aside for a very long time in 1991. I’m only getting back to it now! So, please blog that all writers need to write what they love and really love writing it, and remember that an editor does not necessarily know or understand what you love to write, especially not at the beginning.   If I’d been able to put this all together in 1991, I’d be a multi-published author today.  Instead, I’m back in the crowd with the rest of the newbies!”   
  • Author of 5 Regency paranormals, including the recent “Earl of Darkness,” Alix Rickloff’s 2007 final was when her husband finally realized she was serious “about this whole ‘writing as a career’ idea.  It was also when I stopped feeling guilty about my writing because the house wasn’t clean or the laundry wasn’t done. OK–maybe I still feel an eensy bit guilty. 🙂 Even better, while I didn’t win the GH that year and the manuscript’s sat on my hard drive for the past four years, it just sold to Carina Press for release this fall. So I finally get to see those characters and that story come to life.”
  • Author of 15 Regencies (writing also under the name Diane Perkins), including the recent “Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress,” Diane Gaston was a Golden Heart finalist twice, both times with the same manuscript. “After the call in 2001, I ‘floated’ for days. It was the most exciting thing that had happened to me since having my children. I didn’t win that year, but I did win in 2003—and the manuscript sold to the editors who judged it in the GH.” 
  • Four-time finalist (2005, twice in 2006, 2008) and author of the recent “Taken by Desire” Lavinia Kent added “Writing is a hard business and we all need to develop a strong shell for the criticism and rejection that will come our way. No matter how high you climb it never gets easy. I’ve published four hot, sensual novels with Avon and am working hard on a set of sexy, fun novellas for this summer and I live in fear of reviews, contract negotiations, sales numbers, and my critique group (there is nothing as difficult as the opinion of those you trust). So, revel in every joyous moment you get!”

But 2008 winner Susan Gee Heino, author of 3 Regencies including the upcoming “Damsel in Disguise,” had perhaps the best advice of all. “Golden Hearts and martinis with editors really and truly mean nothing unless we write. My advice to this year’s finalists is to keep that in mind. Yes, by all means go to National if you can afford it. Take advantage of all the Golden Heart Finalist perks, but don’t lose sight of what’s really important. You are a Writer. Writers write. After all the hoopla has died down, after all the contracts are signed and the happy dancing is over, it really doesn’t matter who won or who finaled or who didn’t. All that matters is that you Write. That, after all, is really what we are celebrating.”

She’s right, you know. So how much did you write today?

JOIN US HERE ON FRIDAY, MARCH 25 FOR LIVE UPDATES AS THE NEW GOLDEN HEART AND RITA FINALISTS ARE ANNOUNCED! THE RUBY BLOG IS YOUR DESTINATION FOR GOSSIP, HAND-HOLDING, AND PRIZES. AND IF YOU GET THE GOLDEN HEART OR RITA CALL, LET US KNOW ASAP!!!

62 responses to “Past Golden Heart Finalists Tell All!”

  1. Kimberly Kincaid says:

    I loved reading this! It’s exciting just to read the stories– thanks for letting me live vicariously! Now I’m off with Susan’s advice (and my WC goal for today) in my head 😉

    Good luck, ladies!!!

    Kim

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  2. Oh, Amanda, I didn’t know about that heart-stopping moment right before Trish Milburn told you the news!

    In 2009, Trish called my office phone and left that magical message very, very early in the morning. She had to be careful about timing because we’re about 18 hours ahead here in Australia. She did tell me the news in another phone call a few hours later, but I kept her original message on my message bank until late last year, when I moved offices. 🙂

    I love all the stories past finalists shared with us today, but Susan’s advice resonates in particular. Just write! (Oh, and yes, I did write today, I swear!)

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  3. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    What fun, Amanda. My call stories are far from dramatic (unless you count the almost heart-attack from racing up the basement stairs.) A little squealing, some happy tears, and dinner out.

    The hardest part, I think, is that family and non-writing friends were so “oh, that’s nice.” Explaining the contest’s cache took all the joy out of the sharing—it felt rather like self-justification. So share with your writing friends first; they get it and will happy dance and squeal with you. 😉

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    • Amanda Brice says:

      Yeah, it’s a letdown when they stare blankly when you tell them you finaled in the Golden Heart and then you have to explain that it’s prestigious. LOL

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  4. Jane Sevier says:

    Thank you for that great round-up, Amanda. Getting the Golden Heart call is such an incredible moment and moving to relive here with so many wonderful stories.

    It’s heartening to hear from finalists who didn’t sell in their Golden Heart years but kept writing and working until that other golden moment when they got that other call and became published authors.

    I keep saying it, but we just have to keep on keeping on, y’all!

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  5. Kathy Altman says:

    Wow, Amanda. What a great post. You went through the wringer that day, didn’t you?! 🙂 I have to admit, I got weepy reading these stories. That image of Cindy Nord cluthing the onion… Each account is heartwarming and inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. Elisa Beatty says:

    I still get all shivery hearing these stories!!’

    I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again: the first year I finaled, I didn’t even know about the phone calls. I’d been expecting something in the mail. Then I finally had a break at work about fifteen minutes before 2 central time, and checked my email….there was a message from Madeline Hunter asking me to call her ASAP!! So *I* was the one who made the call. But since I was at work, I couldn’t whoop and holler–I had about the same tone you’d use to schedule an orthodontist appointment. Madeline Hunter must think I’m *very* low-key. But I ran outside and called my sister, and then I whooped and hollered like a maniac.

    Last year, I had my cell phone at the ready, but NO ONE CALLED the Regency category finalists. It got past 2 central, and nothing on rwa.org. I’m not even sure what time it was when names finally started popping up on the website. My name was there, but my REAL name not my pen name. I had to call Carol Ritter right away.

    So two years in a row, I was the one who made my own Golden Heart call.

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    • Heather Snow says:

      The wait for Regency last year was killer, wasn’t it! I actually was glued to the Ruby Site (and Judy Fennel’s), incessantly refreshing.

      I was reading all of the comments about how no one had heard yet on Regency after 2 p.m. here on the Ruby site when someone stopped mid-comment and said “Oh my God! I just got the call”. That was at 2:05ish. My heart literally leapt, knowing that the misery would finally be over soon. As I was reading that comment, my phone rang at 2:09. I couldn’t believe it 🙂

      Of course, I said something brilliant, like “Where have you been? We’ve been waiting all day!” Yeah, smooth Snow…

      Good luck to all who entered this year! I’m really glad not to be waiting for the call myself, but I will be watching all day anyway (just with less butterflies)

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      • Amanda Brice says:

        Oh wow, I couldn’t even imagine. The two years I entered, Trish made the calls literally first thing in the morning, her time zone. She’s in the Central time zone, so it was 8 am for her, and 9 am for me.

        Although I suppose she probably waits a bit to call any West Coasters. 😉

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    • Heather Snow says:

      Yes, the Regency wait last year was killer, wasn’t it?

      I was actually here on the Ruby Site (and Judy Fennell’s), incessantly refreshing like every 3 seconds. When the deadline came and passed, I was here reading everyone’s comments (my favorite was…did the Regency caller fall and couldn’t get up?) when at 2:05, another GH finalist stopped, literally mid comment, and said “Oh my God! I just got the call!” My heart started pounding, knowing hope was still alive.

      I was on the phone with my CP, reading her that comment when my phone rang at 2:09. Of course, I said something brilliant like “Where have you been? We’ve been waiting all day!” Yeah…smooth Snow 😉

      Good luck to all who entered this year! While I am SO glad not to be waiting for a call myself this year, I will still be watching all day, ready to cheer on the new finalists. Hopefully with a few less butterflies in my stomach, though.

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    • Eileen says:

      “I ran outside and called my sister, and then I whooped and hollered like a maniac.”

      I remember being on the *other* end of that screaming, crying call — WHOOOOOP!!! That was so much fun! One of the top ten moments of my life! 🙂

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  7. Trish Milburn made my call, too! *laugh* Actually, she wrote my email, because she called my home phone all day and I was at work.

    Yes, I still have the email. *grin*

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  8. I get so excited reading the call stories. I’ll never forget mine and can’t wait until Friday to hear to the squeals from the new GH sisters. So exciting.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      “the squeals from the new GH sisters”… SQUEE!!

      Oh, yeah–it’s going to be so exciting no matter what!! Last year it was fun having the Rubies play big sisters to the Unsinkables, and now the circle will get even wider.

      I was just thinking last night, SOMEBODY has the list of finalists in her hand right now. I wonder when the Board members get their lists? Could you imagine knowing in advance and NOT being able to tell anybody???

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  9. What a fun post, Amanda! I love reading GH call stories. The first time I received call I was a DOUBLE finalist (competing against myself in the same category) so I was Doubly excited. Since then there were two years I didn’t get a call. And although I know not being a finalist means very little about our work (my manuscript that didn’t make the cut in 2005 WON the GH in 2006 without a single revision), it still feels a whole lot better to get a call than to not get one.

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    • Amanda Brice says:

      It’s crazy how much of a crapshoot this contest is. My first GH ms scored all 8.9s and 9s in the first round in 2008, but then got all 6s and 7s (and didn’t final, of course) in 2009…without any revision!

      Same manuscript, different judges. Everything is subjective!

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      • Kate Parker says:

        Amanda, remind me of this when I don’t get a call. 9s one year, 6s the next. Click your heels three times and say -It’s all subjective.

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  10. Leslie Karen Witwer says:

    I am loving the posts this week sharing the joy! Gwynlyn is right, no one “gets it” like other writers. You can bet I’ll be here cheering everyone on on Friday.

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  11. Hope Ramsay says:

    I just love these stories. I shared mine on yesterdday’s blog. And I’m looking forward to hearing the stories of our new finalists next week.

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  12. Love these stories! After three years (or longer I can’t remember) I finally received my first GH call in 2003! I was in the shower and my husband said through the door that someone from RWA was on the phone. I jumped out of the shower, leaving the water running and grabbed that phone. I cried and laughed and it was like getting THE CALL for me.

    Much luck to all of this years Golden Heart entrants!!!

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  13. Reading these stories stirred up those original feelings of exhilaration from when I got the 2009 call. (And I didn’t even enter this year!) The thought that sixty or so people will be getting that feeling in just a few days is so wonderful.

    Best of luck to all who entered! 🙂

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  14. Heather Snow says:

    Argh! The blog ate my comment, I grumbled and moaned and then typed it again, and it posted both of them! Sorry for the double up 🙂

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  15. liz talley says:

    What fun! I loved hearing all the great call stories. We dream about what it’s like for so long that when it happens it seems otherworldly. Or maybe that was me. I cried like a baby and then I called my mom and made her cry too. My husband was like, “Well, that’s good, darling.” He didn’t have a clue what that meant to me. But that’s okay, I still cherish it in my heart and always will. 🙂

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  16. Amanda–love the call stories! I can’t believe poor Trish had to ask you a question to make sure you weren’t DQ’d before congratulating you! OMG.

    Gwynlyn–you nailed it –other writers understand and appreciate in a way no other person does.

    I too got teary-eyed with Cindy N’s onion story.

    So do we all have good phone numbers on our file with RWA?

    Oh, and while I was in a hyped-up frenzy yesterday-eating fudgsicles, Cheez-It’s and almond bars like there was no tomorrow, today I woke up with perspective again. Whatever happens, it’ll be okay. Hugs to all!

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  17. Question: So does the regional rep make the calls?

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Board members, as I understand it. Our own Diane Kelly will be one of the callers this year!!!!!

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        Though I see now that the regional reps are part of the Board.

        Oh, and what Amanda says below is right…I’m in California, but got my call from Madeline Hunter my first year (my category’s Regency).

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    • Amanda Brice says:

      No, they divvy up the categories, so unless your regional rep got assigned your category, you probably won’t be hearing from your regional rep.

      They generally divide it based on what the particular board member writes. For example, Madeleine Hunter has made calls for Regency before, and Sharon Sala for Romantic Suspense, Trish Milburn for YA.

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      • Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

        OMG! I just realized, since I entered three manuscripts in two DIFFERENT categories, I’ll be on edge for more than one call! Stress? What stress?

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  18. Jae Vincent says:

    I’m sitting at my desk reading this and can’t keep from crying. Gotta put it away until later.

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  19. As an Unsinkable, my call came last year, while I was at work. But my hubby was home. And he refused to give Maggi Landry my work number — isn’t he thoughtful? Protecting me like that? *s*
    To be fair, we were having a big, ugly shakeup in my local RWA chapter, and even I thought it was horribly unfair for RWA to decide to contact me about it on the 25th of all days! But finally Maggi and I connected and I cried silently, as only cubicle-dwellers can.
    Not days later a writing friend of mine asked “Well what did RWA say when they called to tell you that you were a finalist?” Uhh…yeah. I have absolutely no recollection. I’m sure the words “finalist” and “congratulations” were mentioned, but pretty much the only thing I recalled was that I needed to have my picture taken — which might mean panic trumps joy ; )

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    • Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

      I forgot about the *shake-up,* Jen. That must have been hard on you, but I’m so glad you made it! I owe you one small bottle of champagne, doll!

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  20. Rita Henuber says:

    My story illustrates what a newbie I was. I’d been writing a whole year and was frustrated with the process. Had it with people telling me I’d have to be writing 10-12 years and write 5 MS’s before I’d be published. I had to be patient and pay my dues. Well the he** with that. I decided to quite writing and take up bull riding or gator rasslin. It would be easier. But my plan was to enter six contests and the GH that year so I printed that puppy up and sent it in. A friend and mentor told me to say “I will be a GH finalist” every morning before my feet hit the floor I did mostly because I didn’t want to be lectured. By mid- January I changed my mind about writing. (My hiney hurt and I was getting too old to roll in the mud with those gators) I polished my one and only MS.
    The night before Call Day the neighbor’s two dogs barked all night long. Got no sleep. Totally oblivious to what day it was I slept in and was enjoying the quiet when the phone rang at 9:10. I snatched the phone and could not read the caller ID. Before I had my eye surgery I needed my glasses on to find the floor.
    Me “What?”
    Caller “This is Sharon Sala”
    Me “Okay” (almost said Thanks for sharing)
    Caller “I’m calling from RWA to tell you your manuscript finaled in the Golden Heart.”
    Me is searching for glasses so I can check caller ID. After Me sees RWA on the screen Me remembers nothing except something about getting more info in the mail.
    Right now I am getting teary thinking about all the new cousins I will have come Friday and how much fun, happiness, and excitement they will enjoy the next few months.

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  21. Dara says:

    I love reading these. Maybe someday I’ll be blessed enough to receive such a call! 🙂

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  22. Thanks, Amanda, for these fun, inspiring stories! And thanks to Susan Gee Heino for her very wise words. I haven’t reached my 1,500-word goal today, so I’m off to write. 😉

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  23. Tamara Hogan says:

    It was nice to have a legit excuse to go shopping for shoes! (Not that I actually hold myself to that standard of behavior very often, but you know what I mean!)

    The precious…(petting red boots)

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  24. Awesome stories! So much fun – can’t wait to hear the new ones on Friday!

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  25. Thanks for sharing all these great stories. I am starting to get nervous now. Still have three more days to go! Tick, tick!

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  26. Anne Barton says:

    Thanks for compiling all these great stories, Amanda! So many familiar names . . . such great advice. I love what Susan GH said about WRITING. Yep, that’s what it’s all about!

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  27. Cat Schield says:

    Oh, I love the Golden Heart stories. It’s always so fun to hear about the crazy stuff that happens. Can’t wait for all the new stories on Friday.

    Fingers crossed for all waiting.

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  28. Awww, I remember it like it was yesterday, Thanks for the great stories!!!
    ~D~

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  29. Thanks for including me in your wonderful stories, Amanda. I like the term “cousins” for how I feel about the Rubies, since it was only when you started your countdown last year that it ever occurred to me that I might actually final — altho’, as Amanda said, “might” and “expecting to” are two very different things. Best of luck to everyone who entered this year.

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  • Tamara Hogan: Rebelles, how awesome to read your updates! As someone who just registered to judge the GH (again,...
  • C.R. Grissom: I offer my thanks and gratitude to The Rubies. This group embodies the spirit of the Golden Heart...
  • Addison Fox: Congratulations to all the Rebelles!! So glad you’ve joined us for this series and wishing you all...

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