Posts tagged with: golden heart

Big Hooks -a marketing tool.

What is the BIG hook? Simple. A title.

Don’t believe me, read on. A few months ago, in a reader forum, I started a discussion, asking the question ‘what first grabs your attention when searching for a book in brick store?’ My thread stayed on top for weeks as readers offered their opinions.  A great cover was the overwhelming answer with a catchy title running a close second. Behind them were the back-cover blurb and the author’s name.

When I threw ‘the cyber-stores’ into the mix, a catchy title was hands down, no-doubt-about-it number one. With like a thousand new books being introduced each month in cyber-venues, your title becomes the hook that will make the buyer click, read your blurb and check out your sample pages.

A great title says a lot about the author’s creativity and his/hers capability to market their work. If you’re entering the 2017 Golden Heart and are seeking the interest of professional advocates, you definitely want to have the most awesome title.

Looking at my bookshelf, some of the titles that jump out at me are; Zeroes by Chuck Wendig, Tick Tock by James Patterson, Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters, The Hello Girl by Merline Lovelace, The First Grave On The Right by our own Ruby-sister Darynda Jones and most recently The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison. Each one of these titles reveals the essence of the story. And each one jumped out at me from their spine and prompted me to read the back blurb. Do not dismiss the importance of a great title.

Every now and then, on our private loop, one of the Ruby sisters cries out for title help. She shares a very short blurb and we bombard her with suggestions. Are we good at doing this? Look at our titles and you be the judge.

Today only, if you’re having trouble thinking up a grabber, the Rubies are willing to put on our thinking caps for you. Post a short blurb and we’ll help you out.  Guests, please offer a suggestion too.


Autumn Jordon is the award-winning sneaker Ruby and author of Perfect~ a fun, warm-hearted Christmas romance set in the fictional town of Black Moose, Vermont.  To join her rapidly growing newsletter and be entered into members’ only contests, visit www.autumn Jordon.comperfect

What’s next for the Golden Heart?

In November, RWA released the new schedule for the 2017 RWA Nationals Conference in Orlando. The biggest and most-talked-about change is the separation of the Awards ceremony into two events. The Golden Heart Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday (July 26) during the luncheon, with the RITA Awards ceremony being held that evening.

There has been a lot of discussion around cyberspace since the news released. The Rubies have talked about it too, and since we’re the GH class of 2009, we have plenty of thoughts about this change–positive, negative, and curious.


It’s been almosgh-2009t two weeks since the new schedule was announced. Now that we’ve had time to reflect on what’s been said, let’s revisit what it means to move the Golden Heart ceremony to the Thursday luncheon.

I’ll start off the discussion with my reaction, which is optimistic. I love the idea that we’ve moved the Literacy Signing to Saturday so that we’ll conclude the conference by meeting our readers. That’s a big positive.


And we won’t lose the factors that I value most about being a GH finalist. Those benefits include:

  1. Meeting the other finalists. Seven-plus years after meeting the Rubies, we remain friends and the very best kind of support network.
  2. Finding the courage to put our book(s) out there. Whether “out there” means agents, editors, or readers, finaling in a prestigious competition reminds you that your peers have judged your book among the best. It’s a big boost to your confidence.
  3. Feeling like royalty at RWA conferences. The Golden Heart pin is recognizable. You can be in the elevator, in the hallways, in a workshop, or at a meal–and you will be congratulated!

The negative most frequently mentioned is the possibility that the Golden Heart will become less special. I hope that doesn’t prove to be true. I hope the RWA community won’t allow it to be true.

Join the Rubies today as we discuss the new schedule and the separation of the GH and RITA ceremonies. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.


Meet Golden Heart Finalist Kimberly Buckner!

Today we have the pleasure of welcoming Kimberly Buckner, 2015 Golden Heart Finalist in Contemporary Romance with CALL ME MRS. WHITLOCK.

Kimberly writes contemporary loves stories set in the South. She’s active in RWA as a PRO member, and has used what she learned to teach at local writers’ meetings and conferences. In addition to the Golden Heart final, Kimberly won the 2014 Maggie for Single Title Romance, and the 2015 Emily for Contemporary Long Romance. After fourteen fabulous years below the Mason-Dixon, she currently lives in Denver.

Here’s a quick blurb for her Golden Heart book, CALL ME MRS. WHITLOCK:

Della was wicked close to her dream of opening a wellness studio, when her boyfriend disappeared with all her money. With no leads and no help from the police, she must go to his small southern town and convince his friends and family she’s his wife so they’ll help her track the goob down.

Jude, a reluctant new fire chief, knows he’s the last person to be called a hero, but will do whatever he can to protect the people he loves. Even if it means keeping an eye on the mysterious woman who shows up claiming to be married to his AWOL former best friend. Della wants something, but clearly doesn’t plan to stay forever, which should be fine. And yet, the longer she’s around, the less willing he is to see her leave. But Jude can’t let himself fall for Damien’s wife. Not again.

As Della and Jude become closer, it’s hard to deny their growing attraction. If she comes clean, will he help her find Jude? Or lead the party to drive her out of town?

Fabulous!! I have a soft spot for protective, dutiful, conflicted firemen, so I’d be first in line to buy this!

Kimberly’s going to take over the blog today with some hard-won wisdom about making conference pitches. She’s got some oh-so-painful (and hilarious) stories to share!

Take it away, Kimberly!


kimberly buckner author picOnce Upon A Pitch: Lessons from the Front Lines

One inescapable and vital part of the writers’ conference is the dreaded pitch session. It lands on the fun scale somewhere between visiting the DMV and getting a pap smear. But, if we hope to get an agent and/or publisher, it’s an important tool. The hard part is the nerves. You’re taking a piece of art in which you’ve invested countless hours, and trying to convey the story in mere moments, preferably in a pithy, fresh way. The pressure can be ridiculous.

There are a lot of resources on pitching tips, and they’re really good. But through my experiences, I’ve learned some things they don’t usually tell you. In sharing two of these, I hope you might walk into your next writers’ conference better prepared than I was.

My flight to conference left at the—not even butt-crack of dawn. More like the dimples above the butt-crack of dawn. After a night of waking up every twenty minutes, terrified I’d slept through my alarm, I donned my stretchy travel clothes, and shuffled to the airport sans makeup and with hair resembling an old push broom. My plan was to check in, make myself presentable, then come back down.

Show and Tell Wednesday: RITA & Golden Heart Edition

Hold all calls, tomorrow is RITA/GH Announcement day! This of course begs for a special edition of Show and Tell Wednesday.

Are you hoping for a nomination for one of these pretties?


Or perhaps a chance at one of these little ladies? (The statue, not Darynda!)


Announcement day is such an exciting time for us, since it was the day in 2009 when all of us came to know one another and the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood began. On top of that, it’s a day where dreams come true. Whether you’re waiting for a call or have friends who are waiting, there’s hope and excitement and anticipation in the air.

I remember how shiny and hopeful I was on that day. Getting the call was like winning the lottery and, every year, announcement day brings all that shininess back. Ooh…butterflies just thinking about it.


Ever since 2009, we’ve continued to make new memories. What can beat a Ruby presenting a Golden Heart award to another Ruby?


And look at Elisa showing off her Precious:


When one Ruby wins, we all win. (Wasn’t that a McDonald’s slogan?)


If you’re already feeling giddy like me, feel free to rub the little lady here for good luck. (The statue, not Vanessa.)


For Rubies and Ruby friends who are wishing and hoping and praying tomorrow — may your phones ring merrily — and may it not be the school calling about your kids. Heel clicks and happy thoughts to all!

Remember to come by tomorrow for our annual Announcement Day Cyber party on the Ruby blog. Share your news or just anxiously refresh the screen with the rest of us!

Show and Tell Wednesday is a weekly feature which features images and a short post sharing something about them. If you’re interested in doing a guest post, check out the additional info and guidelines HERE.

And don’t forget about the upcoming Show and Tell Wednesday: RSS Edible Book Festival on April 1st. If you like to bake or make edible art, you can enter your creation for a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate. Check out the info HERE.

Ruby Release – I Wish

“Don’t ever give up,” said the late Jimmy Valvano (former basketball coach for NC State University) a few short weeks before cancer claimed him.

That quote became the motto for me and I Wish. This is the manuscript that finaled in the Golden Heart in 2009. Without I Wish, I would’ve never met my Ruby Sisters or my agent. Yet it was such a hugely tough sell that I nearly quit writing over this book.

Announcing the Fifth Annual Make It Golden Contest!!!

The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood is about to celebrate our FIFTH blog birthday!!

Our official Birthday Bash will be Monday, September 22th, and as always, WE’LL be the ones giving away the gifts! Be sure to join us here for the festivities!!

Right after that, we’ll be holding our annual MAKE IT GOLDEN CONTEST, and giving our Golden-Heart-eligible readers a terrific chance to shine (plus have a chance to earn more great prizes!!)

The MAKE IT GOLDEN contest is designed for unpublished authors who are polishing up their entries for RWA’s Golden Heart Contest–the contest that brought the Ruby Sisters together when we were finalists in 2009.

We all know how important a strong opening is in grabbing the attention of Golden Heart judges, and this contest is a great chance to test yours out!

We’ve had a good track record with Make It Golden finalists going on to final in the Golden Heart, get published, and even hit the bestseller lists within a year or two (2011 Finalist Tracy Brogan, we’re looking at you!). Check out the finalists from 2013’s contest , from and 2012’s contest here, 2011 here, and 2010 here.

Finalists and winners from previous years are welcome to enter again, BUT YOU MUST STILL BE GOLDEN HEART ELIGIBLE (see RWA’s rules here) AND ALL ENTRIES MUST BE NEW!! Maximum of TWO entries per person. (Even if you use more than one pen name.)

TOP PRIZE will once again be your $50 Golden Heart entry fee paid for you by the Rubies!! Other prizes TBA.

The best part is, it’s FREE!!

All you need to do to enter is follow the official rules, below:

Official Rules of the MAKE IT GOLDEN CONTEST (read carefully!!):

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 24, we will accept the first one hundred eligible entries submitted for the contest, each containing up to the FIRST FIFTY WORDS of the entrant’s romance manuscript.


Submit your entry via the “comment” box on the blog, typing in the word ENTRY in all caps at the top so we won’t miss it.

There is no entry fee.

We will close to entries at midnight the same day. Entries will be disqualified if any of the following are true: the entry goes over the 50 word maximum; the entry is posted after midnight; the entry was submitted in a previous year; the entrant posts more than two entries (even if posted under more than one name); the entrant is ineligible to enter the RWA Golden Heart contest.

The Ruby Sisters will read the entries and choose ten finalists.

Ten finalists will be listed on the blog at 12:01 a.m. EST on Friday September 26. ENTRANTS SHOULD CHECK THE RUBY BLOG AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE ON FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 26 TO FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE FINALED. It is entirely the entrant’s responsibility to check the blog to see if he or she is a finalist.

The ten chosen finalists will have the rest of the day, until 12:01 a.m. EST at the very start of September 27 (in other words, 24 hours), to post an expanded entry, starting with those fabulous opening words, and continuing with the next consecutive lines up to a MAXIMUM TOTAL of 250 words. (Really, a maximum of 250. Any more than that, and we have to disqualify the entry.) Again, type ENTRY in caps and post the expanded entry.

The three winners will be announced on the blog on Tuesday, September 30.



MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22th: The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Blog Fifth Birthday Bash!

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24th: Starting at 12:01 a.m. and ending at the next midnight, we will accept the first one hundred entries for the contest.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th: Ten finalists will be announced on the Ruby blog. THEY HAVE 24 HOURS (until 12:01 a.m. September 27) TO POST EXPANDED ENTRIES!!



Updated Golden Heart & RITA Rules!

Every year prior to conference the RWA National Board meets and makes changes to the contests.  This is the ONLY time such changes can be made because it is the only board meeting when the contest is not actively in session.  The new rules were released following the meeting and I’m sure will soon be posted in more detail on the individual contest pages, but for now here is RWA’s SUMMARY OF CHANGES.

And here’s a little breakdown of the highlights:

  • Entrants are required to judge. 
  • Entrants will not judge in a category in which they are entered.
  • Judges will be allowed to opt out of two categories.
  • Contemporary romance is divided into three categories and historical into two categories, based on word count, with the goal of dividing the number of entries equally among the available categories. Please note that the number of entries, by category, vary from year to year, and the resulting number of entries in each category may not be equally divided.
  • Each entry will be scored between 1.0 (lowest) and 10.0 (highest). (Yay!!!)
  • Judges will assign one score to each work, with the final score calculated by dropping the high and the low score and averaging the remaining three scores (trimmed mean).
  • The top 4% of each category’s entries (based on the number of qualified entries received) will advance to the final round, except each category will have no fewer than 4 finalists or more than 10 finalists.

Also, the minimum number of RITA entries for a category to avoid being eliminated due to lack of entries has been set at 50 (as opposed to last year’s 5% of 2000, or 100) so Young Adult should be back!  (Minimum 25 entries for the Golden Heart.)

Category changes for contemporary and historical above are for the RITA not the Golden Heart.  The Golden Heart categories will remain the same as last year.  Also, finalists for the Golden Heart will be the top 10% per category not 4%.

Aaaaand a little birdie told us at the AGM that they will be LOWERING the entry fee for the Golden Heart this year!  If my notes are correct you can enter (Golden Heart, not RITA) for only $30 per entry!  So get your multiple entries ready, darlings.

What do you think?  Do you like the new rules?  Are you excited to enter? 

Live Blogging the GH/RITA Announcements


It’s time for our annual live blogging event of the 2014 Golden Heart/Rita announcements ! If you entered RWA®’s Golden Heart or RITA contest, then you’re likely hovering over your phone today as you await THE CALL. So why not hang out with all the other hopefuls (many of the Rubies included) who are also waiting on pins and needles?

From past experience, we know that the internet will be abuzz today with happy news. We’ll be updating our list here as announcements come in from various sources. Come spread the joy and keep hope alive by celebrating the announcements of those who did receive a call today.

Good luck to all who entered and thank you to all for coming to celebrate with us.

FOR THE FINALISTS: If RWA® has notified you that you’re a finalist, please post your news in the comments below, and include the following info:

The word FINALIST in all caps / your CATEGORY also in all caps. Also, please give us your book title and the name you want listed if writing under a pseudonym.

If you’re a RITA finalist, we’ll also need the publisher and your editor’s name.


To make this even more festive, we’ll hold random drawings through the day. All you have to do is comment, and you could possibly win one of the following fabulous prizes.

MP900404922[1]Turtle Island series  by Kim Law (Ex on The Beach & Hot Buttered Yum – print, Two Turtle Island Doves novella – e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Studs and Stilettos (e-copy version) by Bev Pettersen

MP900404922[1]Winner’s choice of one of Laurie Kellogg’s books (paperback or e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Winner’s choice of one of Cate Rowan‘s books (e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Tempt Me by Tamara Hogan (paperback or e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Whisper Falls  by Elizabeth Langston (paperback or e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Point of No Return by Rita Henuber (e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Perfect by Autumn Jordan (e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Reckless Brides 4 book set by Elizabeth Essex (paperback or e-copy)

MP900404922[1] Tangled Hearts by Heather McCollum (paperback or e-copy)

MP900404922[1] The Dragonfly Chronicles (includes Prophecy and Magick) by Heather McCollum (paperback or e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Hero of Her Heart by Lindsey Brookes (Amazon copy)

MP900404922[1]The Broken by Shelley Coriell

MP900404922[1]Brazilian duet (To Play with Fire/The Dangers of Dating Dr. Carvalho) by Tina Beckett (paperback or e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Naughty Karma by Vivi Andrews (e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Last Chance Book Club and Last Chance Knit and Stitch by Hope Ramsay (paperback or e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Winner’s Choice of book from the Charly Davidson First Grave Series by Darynda Jones (e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Winner’s Choice of book from the Darklight Trilogy by Darynda Jones (e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Perfect Summer, Place Your Betts, and Getting Lucky by Katie Graykowski (e-copy)

MP900404922[1]Twist by Amanda Brice (e-copy)

MP900404922[1]The Vanishing Thief by Kate Parker (print)

MP900404922[1]First three books in the House of Steele series by Addison Fox (print or e-copy)

Prize Disclaimer: Unfortunately, we are unable to ship prizes to addresses outside of the United States. Books won by those with non-U.S. shipping addresses can only be delivered electronically. Should you win a prize that can not be digitally sent, then a substitution will be made.


Now, that the formalities are out of the way…let’s get this party started! Cork Shot Out From a Bottle of Champagne


Contemporary Romance:

Along Came Trouble
by Ruthie Knox
Random House Group, Loveswept
Sue Grimshaw, editor

Beach House No. 9
by Christie Ridgway
Harlequin, HQN
Margo Lipschultz, editor

Country Roads
by Nancy Herkness
Amazon Publishing, Montlake
Kelli Martin and JoVon Sotak, editors

Crazy Thing Called Love
by Molly O’Keefe
Random House Group, Ballantine Bantam Dell
Shauna Summers, editor

Fix You
by Beck Anderson
Omnific Publishing
Jessica Royer Ocken and Cindy Robinson Campbell, editors

Half Moon Hill
by Toni Blake
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
May Chen, editor

Home to Whiskey Creek
by Brenda Novak
Harlequin, MIRA
Paula Eykelhof, editor

Homecoming Ranch
by Julia London
Amazon Publishing, Montlake
Maria Gomez, editor

It Had to Be You
by Jill Shalvis
Grand Central Publishing
Alex Logan, editor

Letters to Nowhere
by Julie Cross

Rescued by a Stranger
by Lizbeth Selvig
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Impulse
Tessa Woodward, editor

Rumor Has It
by Jill Shalvis
Berkley Publishing Group
Kate Seaver, editor

The Second Chance Café
by Alison Kent
Amazon Publishing, Montlake
Lindsay Guzzardo, editor

Sleigh Bells in the Snow
by Sarah Morgan
Harlequin, HQN
Flo Nicoll, editor

The Sweet Spot
by Laura Drake
Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Latoya Smith, editor

Talk of the Town
by Beth Andrews
Harlequin, Superromance
Wanda Ottewell, editor

The Way You Look Tonight
by Bella Andre
Shelley Bates, copyeditor

Whiskey Beach
by Nora Roberts
Penguin Group USA, G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Leslie Gelbman, editor

Short Contemporary Romance:

A Conflict of Interest
by Barbara Dunlop
Harlequin, Desire
Charles Griemsman, editor

Free Fall
by Karen Foley
Harlequin, Blaze
Brenda Chin, editor

Her Accidental Boyfriend
by Robin Bielman
Entangled Publishing, Bliss
Stacy Abrams and Wendy Chen, editors

Her Secret, His Baby
by Tanya Michaels
Harlequin, American Romance
Johanna Raisanen, editor

A Royal without Rules
by Caitlin Crews
Harlequin, Presents
Megan Haslam, editor

Why Resist a Rebel?
by Leah Ashton
Harlequin KISS
Meg Lewis, editor

Historical Romance:

Any Duchess Will Do
by Tessa Dare
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
Tessa Woodward

The Autumn Bride
by Anne Gracie
Berkley Publishing Group, Berkley Sensation
Wendy McCurdy, editor

The Chieftain’s Curse
by Frances Housden
Harlequin, MIRA
Kate Cuthbert, editor

The Countess Conspiracy
by Courtney Milan
Robin Harders and Keira Soleore, editors

by Grace Burrowes
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
Deb Werksman, editor

Dark Angel: A Gothic Fairy Tale
by T J Bennett
Entangled Publishing, Edge
Liz Pelletier and Shannon Godwin, editors

Duke of Midnight
by Elizabeth Hoyt
Grand Central Publishing
Amy Pierpont, editor

The Lady and the Laird
by Nicola Cornick
Harlequin, HQN
Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor

Love and Other Scandals
by Caroline Linden
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
Lyssa Keusch, editor

The Luckiest Lady in London
by Sherry Thomas
Berkley Publishing Group
Wendy McCurdy, editor

Never Desire a Duke
by Lily Dalton
Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Michele Bidelspach, editor

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
by Sarah MacLean
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
Carrie Feron, editor

Plaid Tidings
by Mia Marlowe
Kensington Publishing Corp., Zebra
Alicia Condon, editor

A Rake’s Midnight Kiss
by Anna Campbell
Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Amy Pierpont, editor

The Rogue’s Proposal
by Jennifer Haymore
Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Selina McLemore, editor

Sins of a Ruthless Rogue
by Anna Randol
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
Tessa Woodward, editor

Sonata for a Scoundrel
by Anthea Lawson

Inspirational Romance:

Five Days in Skye
by Carla Laureano
David C. Cook
John Blase and Tonya Osterhouse, editors

Promise to Return
by Elizabeth Byler Younts
Simon & Schuster, Howard Books
Beth Adams and Amanda Demastus, editors

Erotic Romance:

Claim Me
by J. Kenner
Random House Group, Bantam
Shauna Summers, editor

Private Practice
by Samanthe Beck
Entangled Publishing, Brazen
Heather Howland, editor

When I’m Bad I’m Better in It Stings So Sweet
by Stephanie Draven
Berkley Publishing Group, Berkley Sensation
Cindy Hwang, editor

Paranormal Romance:

The Burning Sky
by Sherry Thomas
HarperCollins Publishers, Balzer & Bray
Donna Bray, editor

Caged Warrior
by Lindsey Piper
Pocket Books
Lauren McKenna, editor

Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar
by Lexi George
Kensington Publishing Corp., Brava
Alicia Condon

The Devil’s Heart
by Cathy Maxwell
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
Lucia Macro, editor

Diamond Dust
by Vivian Arend
Samhain Publishing
Anne Scott, editor

The Firebird
by Susanna Kearsley
Sourcebooks, Landmark
Deb Werksman, editor

Heart of Obsidian
by Nalini Singh
Berkley Publishing Group, Berkley Sensation
Cindy Hwang, editor

His Clockwork Canary
by Beth Ciotta
Jhanteigh Kupihea, editor

Immortally Ever After
by Angie Fox
St. Martin’s Press
Monique Patterson, editor

by Kristen Callihan
Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Alex Logan, editor

Skies of Gold: The Ether Chronicles
by Zoë Archer
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Impulse
Amanda Bergeron, editor

by Lauren Kate
Random House Group, Delacorte
Tamar Schwartz, editor

Witch Bound
by Eleri Stone
Carina Press
Gina Bernal, editor


Romance Novella:

The Bridesmaid
by Julia London
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
Deb Werksman, editor

“Defending Truth”
by Shannon McNear
in A Pioneer Christmas
Barbour Publishing
Becky Germany, editor

How to Marry a Highlander
by Katharine Ashe
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Impulse
Lucia Macro, editor

How to Misbehave
by Ruthie Knox
Random House Group, Loveswept
Sue Grimshaw, editor

“Imagine Me and You”
by Maisey Yates
in Animal Attraction
Harlequin, HQN
Margo Lipschultz, editor

Mine Under the Mistletoe
by Kat Latham
Carina Press
Angela James, editor

Take Me, Cowboy
by Jane Porter
Tule Publishing, Montana Born Books
Tessa Shapcott, editor

Take What You Want
by Jeanette Grey
Samhain Publishing
Jennifer Miller, editor

“Too Fast to Fall”
by Victoria Dahl
in Be Mine
Harlequin, HQN
Tara Parsons, editor


Romantic Suspense:

Justice for Sara
by Erica Spindler
St. Martin’s Press
Jennifer Weiss, editor

The Killing Game
by Toni Anderson

Off the Edge
by Carolyn Crane

Thrill Ride
by Julie Ann Walker
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
Leah Hultenschmidt, editor

Best First Book:

Five Days in Skye
by Carla Laureano
David C. Cook
John Blase and Tonya Osterhouse, editors

Fix You
by Beck Anderson
Omnific Publishing
Jessica Royer Ocken and Cindy Robinson Campbell, editors

Private Practice
by Samanthe Beck
Entangled Publishing, Brazen
Heather Howland, editor

Promise to Return
by Elizabeth Byler Younts
Simon & Schuster, Howard Books
Beth Adams and Amanda Demastus, editors

The Sweet Spot
by Laura Drake
Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Latoya Smith, editor



Contemporary Romance:

“Fearless” by Brynley Bush

“Love in Living Color” by Shelly Chester Alexander

“Too Good to Be True” by Suzanne Kaufman Kalb

Short Contemporary Romance:

“Bringing Delaney Home” by Lee Kilraine

“Poetic Justice” by Nan Dixon

“Yesterday’s Promise” by Sarah Cannon

Historical Romance:

“Charlene and the Duchess Factory” by Lenora Bell

“The Earl Next Door” by Charis Calhoon

“A Haunting Desire” by Julie Mulhern

“Much Ado about Scandal” by Jillian Lark

MP900404922[1]“The Seer” by Gwynlyn MacKenzie

“A Soldier’s Serenade” by Ellen Lindseth

“The Unseducible Earl” by Sheri Humphreys

“Wicked Things” by Laura Trentham

“A Wild and Wicked Wind” by Laura Trentham

Inspirational Romance:

“Against the Peace” by Carrie Padgett

“Better Than a Movie” by Sara Tompkins

“My Lord Valet” by Kristi Ann Hunter

“A Virtuous Ruby” by Piper Huguley

Paranormal Romance:

“Beyond the Fire” by Marni Folsom

“Fit to Die” by Pintip Dunn

“Hidden Magic” by Shelly Chalmers

“Valhalla’s King” by Asa Maria Bradley


Romantic Suspense:

“Chasing Damn” by Denny S. Bryce

“Dangerous Dreams” by Abbie Roads

“Fatal Fragrances” by Connie Taxdal

“Secrets That Kill” by Sarah Andre

“See Her No More” by Sharon Wray


Young Adult:

“Altered” by Marnee Bailey

“Carlie in Crisis” by Pintip Dunn

“Carma Always” by Stephanie Winkelhake

“Chasing Fireworks” by Kimberly MacCarron

“To Feel or Not to Feel” by Kimberly MacCarron

“Four Bullets” by Amy DeLuca

“Letting Go” by Jessica Ruddick

“Macha and the River Blue” by Barbara Gerry

“The Thing with Feathers” by McCall Hoyle

MP900404922[1]“This Is Your Afterlife” by Vanessa Barneveld


10 Ways to Kill Time Until the Call… GH, RITA, or THE Call

The following post is a bit tongue-in-cheek. It’s a Ruby Reprise from March 23, 2011 (with some minor updates), but the tips are still valid…especially the chocolate one. 😉

10 Ways to Kill Time Until the Call… GH, RITA, or THE Call

It’s almost here!  March 26th.  A day that will always be significant in the world of romance writers.  But it’s not here yet and the anticipation makes the hours drag by.  So how do you spend these final days?

1.)  Plan your Celebration

Stock up on the champagne, streamers, and party horns.  Oh, and a tiara.  How can you party without a tiara?  Or book a day at the spa.  Make reservations for you and a significant other or group of writer friends at a restaurant.  Or plan a “pleasure reading day” that is only for you and the book of your choice.

2.)  Pose & Plan

One of the first things you’ll want after the call is a platform (if you don’t have one already).  Start mugging for the camera as you pose for your professional pictures in the mirror.  And don’t forget to practice your acceptance speech and reserve or renew a domain name for your fabulous author site.

3.)  Write

Oh yeah, that!  Just because you’re going to be a big success doesn’t mean you can take it easy.  Get to work on that next amazing manuscript.  The world is waiting!

4.)  Review

Look over your agent/editor submission list (and think about what you’re going to say to them when you email or call with the news that, yes, your manuscript is fantastic! ☺ )  Remember, as a GH finalist, you have first round picks of appointments at conference.

5.)  Revise

Oh yeah, there’s that, too.

6.)  Plot…

…your outfits for conference.  OR your future RITA-winning New York Times bestseller.  OR plot how you will celebrate (see #1).

7.)  Plan

Google maps of San Antonio, and plan your visit for the RWA National Conference.  But save lots of time to mingle with your fellow finalists and attend some wonderful events thrown in your honor.

8.)  Day job?

Pshaw.  No, daydream…your body may be at work, but they can’t control your mind (unless maybe you work for the government – but um, of course that’s a rumor).  The sky’s the limit here!  Browse your local bookstore (or and imagine how your book will look there.  What will the cover look like?  Picture delivering your keynote address as you receive the RWA Lifetime Achievement award.

9.)  Make a spa/salon appointment

Nails nibbled down to the nubs from the exhausting wait?  Get thee to the salon.  You’ve got to get in shape for that professional photographer appointment for your new website, business cards, and the gi-normous picture they’ll flash when you win the GH (see #2 above).

10.) Self-induced Chocolate Coma

Consume vast amounts of chocolate until you fall into a sugar stupor. It’s a proven fact: Chocolate makes everything better.

While I wrote this semi-tongue-in-cheek, I sincerely wish the best of luck to all who’ve entered, and to all who have submissions out there in the wide world of publishing.  Waiting is the hard part, and you’re almost there. In the meantime, dream big.

So, tell me…how do you plan to spend the final few days before the GH/RITA calls go out?  How are you killing time while the seconds slip by?

And don’t forget… our Ruby Cyber-party on the 26th will commemorate the end of the wait!  Join us for live updates (and lots of great giveaways!) as the Golden Heart and RITA finalists are announced.

Golden Heart Finalists Tell All – 2014 edition

Six days from today, calls and emails will be going out to a select group of 2014 Golden Heart and RITA entrants that will change their lives.

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

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

In 2009, I entered two manuscripts  — Party Like It’s 1899 (which had finaled the year before , and which has now been self-published) and Codename: Dancer. When Trish told me I’d finaled, I automatically assumed it was for Party. I mean, after all, I’d finaled with it once before, right?

Wrong. She told me it was Codename. I was shocked, but thrilled. And then I got giddy … and greedy. I assumed this meant I must be a double finalist! After all, I’d finaled with Party before, right? I figured that was the better manuscript, so if I’d finaled with Codename this year, then my call for Party must be coming, too. Whoohoo!

I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something dumb like asking when the other board member would be making the other call. She was perplexed. What was I talking about? What other board member? And what other call? See, she’d seen the entire list of finalists, and knew I wasn’t on there twice.

D’oh! Yeah, real classy, Amanda. ;)

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.

Sometimes the finalists didn’t believe they’d actually finaled, and needed to search online for further proof:

  • 2006 finalist and author of Three Wishes  Juli Alexander  didn’t think she would final, “so I didn’t make sure my phone number was updated. I was busy at work, checking the updates online, dying to know if I’d finaled.  Then the full list went live on RWA’s site.  Sure, it looked like my name next to my title, but I couldn’t quite believe it.  All of my work buddies had left for the day, so I printed it and went down the hall to knock on the door of a guy I barely knew.  ‘Can you just read this and tell me if it really says my name?’ I asked.  ‘Are you sure?’ I asked again.  ‘Does it really say Investigating the Hottie?’ He transferred to another office shortly after.”
  • 2011 finalist Bria Quinlan hadn’t slept well for several nights before the GH call. “When it came in, I was so exhausted (and excited and relieved and anxious and…) that I didn’t hear a word she said. But she promised I’d be getting an email, so I said, GREAT! and rushed off to tell everyone. I called two close friends (including Ruby Sister, the awesome Jeannie Lin) and my agent before I posted it on Twitter for the world to see. Then I freaked out imagining I’d been so overtired that I’d made up the call. Rushing to the RWA site, I paged down to YA and… I wasn’t there. So I hit refresh. And I still wasn’t there. I hit refresh once more. Oh, snot rockets! I was going to be the first person to social media the whole world with a final that didn’t exist! I was freaking out, trying to figure out if I should tweet that it was a mistake (or maybe a really bad joke?) when I hit refresh one last time — and my name popped up.”

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:

  • New York Times Bestseller Christie Craig, author of sixteen novels and three non-fiction books, waited at home hoping beyond hope to get the “You finaled” call in 1988 for her traditional romance novel, Two Hearts Too Late. “There were no cell phones or links to check for updates in the dark ages. Just the ol’ fashion nail biting, waiting by the non-portable phone. Much to my dismay, the call never came. A couple weeks later, I got the scores in the mail. Pulling my big girl panties up I looked at them. There had been a mistake in the scoring. Phoning my mentor, published author Jan Hudson who was actively involved with RWA Nationals, she went to bat for me. It took less than a week to get THE call. I had made the finals. It was my first time to enter the GH. I did happy dances all over the house. I think I cried, laughed, and then cried again. It would be give years before I get the “You Sold” call for the same book, but finaling in the GH fueled my perseverance.”
  • 2002 winner and author of more than 10 novels — including A Sin in White 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!
  • But my favorite emotion came from 2008 and double 2011 finalist Rachel Grant, author of the upcoming Concrete Evidence, who was away at a plotting retreat and missed the calls. Click on her website to actually HEAR what she did when she found out in 2011. It’s really fun! (But be warned, it’s also really loud!)

Caller ID plays a big role apparently:

  • Pixie Chick (2008) Catherine Chant, author of the YA time travel Wishing You Were Here, didn’t want to get her hopes up so she wouldn’t feel disappointed if she didn’t final. A call came in around 10 am, but her husband (who was working from home that day) looked at the caller ID and thought it was a telemarketer, so he let it go to voice mail. But Catherine wasn’t so sure. “Call it intuition, I don’t know. I suddenly turned into Nancy Drew and Googled the number to see what state it was from. Then I saw on one of the GH results loops which Board member was calling my category and visited that person’s website. Same state! Now my heart was pounding a litle bit more, but I was determined not to believe it might be possible. I was so afraid of being wrong. I could’ve called the number back, but now I was starting to feel silly for all the Googling nonsense, so I decided to just wait to see if she’d call back. She did!”
  • 2011 finalist Kimberly Kincaid, author of Love On the Line, was chatting online with her critique partners, but the minute she walked away from the computer, the phone rang. Her husband (at home between job contracts at the time) said, “Oh, I recognize that number. It’s a job recruiter I’m trying to dodge.” Kim was crushed, but they let it go to voicemail. She writes, “A minute later, my verrrrrrry guilty-looking husband came in and said, ‘Uh, you might want to listen to the mesage on the machine.’ Turns out, the job recruiter and Vicki Lewis Thompson have the same area code, and she’d called to tell me I’d finaled! I called her back so fast, it was mind-boggling. And then after I hung up, I literally jumped into my husband’s arms (like, feet off the floor, tackled him to the ground, laughing and crying like a maniac). Bless his heart, he caught me and everything!”
  • 2005 winner and NY Times bestselling author Gemma Halliday, author of more than 20 books, including the upcoming Secret Bond, writes “I’m on the west coast, so I’m always a little behind. By the time I realized what day it was and checked my phone, I saw that there were two missed calls. Neither came up in Caller ID. So what did I do? I Googled the area code and cross-referenced it with the cities where the board members lived. Sure enough, one matched! (Can you tell I write mysteries?) Which of course made me wait by the phone for the next two hours until the number called again and gave me the good news.”
  • 2012 finalist Natalie Meg Evans says “living in England, I was kind of detached from the process. I hadn’t put the date in my diary and was outdoors, mucking out stables, when the call came. My husband came out with a handset saying, “You’ve got a call from America.” I hadn’t a clue who it would be and managed to drop the handset. It broke into all its different bits. I put it together thinkin, whoever it is will ahve gone. She hadn’t. I learned the amazing news that “A Tangled Season” was up for a Golden Heart. I went to Anaheim, met loads of new friends. I didn’t win, but so what?!”
  • 2007 winner Robin Kaye, author of Back To You: Bad Boys of Red Hook, had the house to herself for the first time in years. “It was also the first time in thirteen years that I could actually sleep in. Though awake, I was still in bed thinking about how lovely it was not to be hearing the usual chorus of ‘mom, mom, mom….” when the phone rang, disturbing my blissful state of solitude. The caller ID said Tennessee. Now, the only people I knew in Tennessee were my brother-in-law and his family, and my BIL only calls on his and my husband’s shared birthday. It was not their birthday. I thought, crap, someone had died. My father-in-law had been ill, and if Mark was calling, it surely meant that Dad had taken a turn for the worse. Either that, or it was a telemarketer, in which case, I’d be royally ticked. Needless to say, I answered the phone with quite a bit of trepidation. When Trish Milburn butchered my last name (Kaye’s a pen name) — and no, I don’t blame her for that, it took me three years just to learn how to spell it — I pegged her as a telemarketer and I might have been just a little short. ‘This is she,’ I answered. Okay, I might have barked due to disruption of my solitude thing. Poor Trish meekly introduced herself and said she was calling from RWA. She congratulated me on finaling in the Single Title category. Once I realized that it wasn’t a telemarketer and let go of my anger, I felt such a huge wave of relief, even I was surprised — my father-in-law and I had never been close, but I was immensely relieved he was still alive. The first thing out of my mouth was, ‘Well, thank God no one died.’ Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was the weirdest response poor Trish had ever received to a GH call!”

I’m sure you’ve heard the cliche that just being nominated is such an honor. Actually, it totally is true! And for the overwhelming majority of finalists, getting to know our “sisters” is the biggest prize of all.

  • 2011 and 2012 finalist and author of Highland Surrender Tracy Brogan advises to take it slow. “Each year, the GH group takes on a unique personality, and it’s wonderful to watch the finalists transition from ‘Can you believe it?’ to ‘We have achieved something to be humbled by and proud of.’ There is a special camaraderie that builds from sharing this experience. It creates friendships that will last a lifetime, and a support system to get you through agent rejections, pokey industry professionals, and bad reviews. It will also cerebrate your ever victory, the tiny and huge. Now, if I could offer a bit of advice (which will most certainly be ignored!) it is to implore the new finalists to not push too hard to establish that pack identity. Inevitably someone on announcement day will say to their fellow nominees, ‘Hey, we need a name for our class!’ That will trigger all sorts of interesting converations. Things like ‘Firebreathing Unicorns’ and ‘Sisterhood of the Flaming Panties’ will take center stage. But don’t rush this process! Get to know each other first! Let a name grow organically from things you find in common. Don’t worry about building future websites, or how to mirror the Rubies’ success. Just enjoy the moments between announcement day and the awards banquet. Don’t try to control the flow, just go with it!”
  • 2006 finalist Alexia Haynes, author of the upcoming New Adult romance Too Fast, gave this advice: “The Golden Network brings to the forefront all the things that I love best about RWA, a group of talented writers forging friendships as we strive for excellence in our craft.”
  • 2004 winner and author of 12 novels, including the upcoming Fatal Exposure, Gail Barrett got right to the point. “Shop for your dress early.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Enjoy every minute of the glorious ride!”

Speaking of the conference, several past finalists had advice:

  • Two-time finalist (2005 and 2007) Kristen Painter, author of the Blood Rights urban fantasy series, 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.”
  • 2009 winner Diane Kelly, author of Love, Luck, and Little Green Men, advises finalists to have a speech ready. “Be sure to thank everyone who has helped you in your career. It takes a village to produce a good book, and that often includes a spouse, critique partners, RWA chaptermaters, and more!”
  • 2011 winner Ruth Kaufman, author of the self-help book Find Your Inner Fabulous, stresses that “winning is no guarantee of a sale or representation. So many in my GH class have sold, some multiple books. A few already have hit bestseller lists. Not me … yet? I’m still waiting to hear about a second set of revisions… Suggestion for the finalists: Write an acceptance speech. I truly didn’t think I’d win. A finalist in my category had already sold and another had filed multiple times and won twice. Fortunately, I have years of improv training and experience to rely on and was able to come up with something on the spot. But if public speaking and performing aren’t up your alley, prepare in advance so you’ll be more confident and won’t leave anyone or anything out.”

(Speaking of speeches…if you’re one of the lucky writers who final, come back here on Wednesday, March 27 for our “Welcome finalists!” party. Ruth has graciously offered to help five finalists write their speech. Details in the post next Wednesday!)

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

  • Author of six Regency paranormals, including the recent Dangerous Magic,  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 was just released this fall. So I finally got to see those characters and that story come to life.”
  • Author of nineteen Regencies (writing also under the name Diane Perkins), including the recent Born To Scandal, 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 What a Duke Wants, 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!
  • 2009 winner Anne Marie Becker, author of the Mindhunters romantic suspense series, says “My recommendation for the lucky writers who receive the call — breathe. Sometimes we forget the basics when the extraordinary happens. Breathe. And then get to work, because soon the manuscript requests will fill your inbox.”

But Robin Perini, 7-time Golden Heart Finalist, Winner in 2011 for Stolen Lullaby (Harlequin Intrigue, which was retitled as  Finding Her Son), who sold seven books From February 2011 to February 2012, had the best advice: ”No matter if you final or not! Write, write, write. I sold Stolen Lullaby (aka FINDING HER SON) as a direct result of the Golden Heart. I’d NEVER received an editor request before, but in 2011, Harlequin Intrigue bought the book in May. I had another book ready, which sold in August and became Cowboy in the Crossfire (out in July, 2012). Keep writing new stories. Every day/every week. That’s what writers do.”

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


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