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Tammy’s Top Ten Golden Heart Do’s and Don’ts

As a relatively new member of RWA entering her first manuscript in her first Golden Heart contest one year ago, I freely admit that I had no earthly clue what I was getting myself into, and boy, did I make some rookie mistakes.  Following are some things that, for better and for worse, stick out in my mind about my Golden Heart experience.        

1.  DO use the informational materials that RWA so thoughtfully provides at the RWA National website.  Print out the “Checklist for Golden Heart Entrants” and then … use it.  I had to ask the nice people at the Post Office if they could please, PLEASE dig my entry out of the mail drop so I could verify ‘one last thing.’   Okay, two things.

2.  DO think about what you want to achieve by entering the Golden Heart.  If you’re looking for specific feedback or hair pats, the Golden Heart is probably not the contest for you, because you receive no feedback other than a set of five scores.  I entered because I wanted to see how my manuscript stacked up against the other entries, and as a former competitive gymnast who once received a brutal 3.8 on uneven parallel bars – as a nineteen year old! – I wasn’t intimidated by the scoring system.   I never dreamed I’d final, so entering the GH was a zero pressure, “it’s all good” situation.  In hindsight, I really should have asked myself, “Um, what if I actually final?”   (see next item)

3.  Save yourself some stress.  DO make sure your entire manuscript – not just the judged portion of your entry – is pretty much ready for prime time when you send it in.  The GH is one of the few, if not the only, contest in Romancelandia that requires that you send a copy of your full manuscript as part of your entry package.   Ever wonder why?  One of the reasons is that the Golden Heart’s final-round judges –  big-time agents and editors – might be interested enough in your submission to request your full manuscript.   What a fabulous opportunity!   I was fortunate enough to receive such a request.  I squeed and squealed and  jumped up and down for a bit, but then … reality set in.  My manuscript, UNDERBELLY, had undergone significant revisions (for the better, I thought) since my initial submission, and now I had a measly 48 hours to give RWA an updated version, else they’d pass along the version of the manuscript I originally sent.  EEEEK!   I now know from experience that there’s only so much revising and polishing one can do in 48 hours, even if you take time off of work and forego sleeping, dressing and bathing.   Bottom line:  entering the GH could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get your work in front of an agent who might conceivably want to represent you, or an editor who might publish your book.  You know what they say about first impressions.   Make yours a good one.

4.  As you anxiously wait for the day that Golden Heart finalists are announced, DO work on your next book.   You ARE working on your next book, right?

5.  DON’T let your scores impact your confidence as a writer.  Yes, this is easier said than done, but when you enter this contest, you have to know up front that your work is being judged alongside the strongest unpublished manuscripts out there.  Set your expectations accordingly – and be ready for that East German Judge.

6.  DON’T whine about your scores – for too long, anyway.  Think about it – as a knowledgeable reader, you don’t buy, or even like, every well-written book you pick up, right?  While there are specific criteria that all judges should apply, there is also a certain degree of subjectivity that invariably comes into play.  So, the East German Judge told you your baby was ugly.  The reality is that you’ll never know why, and dwelling on it is a complete waste of your energy.  Put on your Spanx (suck it up) and just keep writing.

7.  Walk a mile in a judge’s shoes: DO volunteer to judge preliminary rounds of the Golden Heart, or other contests.  Apply the judging criteria as objectively as you can, and leave your ego at the door.

8.  If you happen to be selected as a Golden Heart finalist, break out the bubbly!  But DON’T let the celebration distract you from writing – for too long, anyway.  😉   Protect your precious writing time, even as RWA asks whether you write under a pseudonym or not, requests an author photo for the website and RITA/Golden Heart awards ceremony, as you and your co-finalists start a Yahoo loop and get to know each other – and as you try to figure out the best way to use the visibility you gain as a Golden Heart finalist – ready or not.

9.   DON’T think being chosen as a Golden Heart finalist is a FastPass to the big time.  Yes, you’ll be able to type “2009 Golden Heart finalist” on every query you write from this day forward.  Yes, an agent or editor just *may* read your query before she reads others.  But the reality is that most of us are still querying, still submitting.  Still biting our nails as we wait for requests for partials or fulls, and receive polite rejections instead.

10.  Did I mention, DO celebrate?   How many people will ever be able to say that they finished a novel?  Every Golden Heart entrant can. Celebrate the fact that you scared up the guts to submit a Golden Heart entry in the first place.  Celebrate the day you receive your scores, regardless of what they are.  Celebrate if you’re lucky enough to receive that phone call saying you’re a Golden Heart finalist.  Then whoop up a storm the night that the winners are announced, regardless of whose name is called.

My own private Golden Heart celebration occurred at My Happy Place, otherwise known as Nordstrom’s shoe department.  While I was one of the few Ruby Slippered Sisters attending RWA National this summer who didn’t wear our signature red shoes (sorry, IF CLOTHES = BLACK, SHOES = BLACK, no exceptions, no how), I did purchase a pair of kick-ass ruby red ankle boots.  The heels are way too high, and they pinch like heck, but I didn’t buy them to wear them.   Instead, they teeter in a place of honor on a bookshelf right above my computer monitor – along with my Daphne award, some RWA National programs and ticket stubs, and several preserved roses from the gorgeous congratulatory bouquet I received from my Midwest Fiction Writers chapter mates – as a visible symbol of the year I became a GH finalist, and a member of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.

I’d love to hear YOUR Golden Heart Do’s and Dont’s!  What advice would you offer a first-time Golden Heart entrant?  One randomly-selected commenter will receive their choice of either a first chapter critique or a bodacious Ruby Slippered Sister mug, so comment away!

Tammy

78 responses to “Tammy’s Top Ten Golden Heart Do’s and Don’ts”

  1. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    I had to smile reading about your red ankle boots. And from Nordstrom’s no less. Your personal talisman. Very cool—and kinda sweet.

    My personal dos and don’ts would rival your blog in length. I learned a great deal as a result of being a GH finalist, although circumstances conspired to prevent capitalizing on the noteriety both this year and in 07. Even so, I wouldn’t have missed being part of either GH group. Knowing my GH sisters has enriched my life so much. Hearing of everyone’s successes keeps the spark of hope glowing. I know it sounds silly, but I’m so proud to know all of you.

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      There’s a picture of my red boots at my author page – if I’d been thinking, I would have linked a picture of them here.

      I’m one of the RSS’s notorious shoe hounds – but in my case, it’s all about the boots, boots, boots – and black boots at that. My chaptermates rarely see me in anything else, even in the summer! I have to admit that it was refreshing to shop for boots of another color, even if I probably won’t wear them anywhere else but in my office.

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      • Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

        Not to worry. You should know, I went and checked them out—it is me, after all. Seriously CUTE!

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  2. Excellent advice, Tammy! Enjoy those ankle boots. I didn’t have the requisite ruby-red shoes at the conference, either, but I did find a luscious satin pair last week.

    I have one ‘do’ to add–send your ms/s early! I was a hair’s breadth away from disqualification because my entries got lost somewhere over the Pacific. By the time I realised what had happened, I only had a few days before the deadline to resend.

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Oooh, good call on sending your submission early, Vanessa. Isn’t it funny how much contest angst revolves around the Post Office? (Insert obligatory ‘going postal’ joke here). Just one more reason to consider taking the contest electronic, in my opinion.

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  3. “Work on the next story.” Great advice. I sold my GH entry before I received the call that I was a finalist. So, I was one of the finalist listening to all the other sisters chatting about pitching thier GH stories. Forunately, I had my next ms well underway. At National ,I pitched the wip and received requests from the publisher of my choice and several agents.

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  4. Katrina says:

    Great advice! Thanks for taking the time to share it with us. I’m a new RWA member entering my first manuscript and I’m glad to hear I still have a chance. I was wondering if I was crazy for entering.

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Welcome, Katrina! I considered entering the GH to be somewhat like playing the PowerBall – if you don’t play, you can’t win. If you have a completed manuscript you’re passionate about, I honestly don’t think you have anything to lose by entering it in the contest.

      However, I have to admit I was completely unprepared when my manuscript was named a finalist. The shift from anonymity to visibility was jarring, and I had a massive learning curve to deal with re: the business of publishing. Thank gawd for my Ruby Slippered Sisters, who continue to be so generous sharing their hard-won experience.

      (Next comment is in response to Autumn’s post – too quick on the clicker.)

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    • Go Katrina! Plenty of us finaled (and won, wink wink!) with our very first manuscript. I’d say ENTER if you’ve read Tammy’s post and understand what you’re in for. I love her analogy of it being like PowerBall (she’s good with analogies, isn’t she? Loved the FastPass one, too.).

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  5. Tamara Hogan says:

    On this issue, I have to admit that I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth, because instead of working on my next book after being named a GH finalist, I was still frantically revising my GH submission. (After submitting the manuscript to the GH, I realized the villain’s motivation needed strengthening, which drove changes to his characterization and introduced new plot elements.) I was still stitching the pieces back together at the time I received a request for a full from one of the GH judges. Newbie mistake #112. 😉

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  6. Amy Talley says:

    Well, my advice is to go over that check list SEVERAL times! Cause the first year I entered, I was disqualified because I didn’t have page numbers on my synopsis. Yeah. It sucked. Talk about money down the drain.

    And I was so mad because I copied and pasted my synopsis in at the last minute. Five little numbers missing = no chance.

    I complained about it and guess what? Next year they put out a check list that was easier to use. Like you could actually put check marks beside each item. Plus they printed a check list in the RWR.

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    • You were DQd because of page numbers? I would have been SO MAD! I guess RWA has to draw the line somewhere, and I guess they can’t make exceptions left, right, and center, but page numbers really don’t impact the quality of your work. Would it have been so hard for someone to just put them in for you?

      *sigh*

      It might have been too hard. With around 1000 qualified entries, I suppose they can’t take the time to fiddle with each one. At least RWA responded by creating a tool to make that mistake less likely in the following year. It’s great to see a concrete example of the staff’s responsiveness.

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      * gasp* Amy, that sucks. HARD.

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      • Amy Talley says:

        Yeah, no kidding. I did cry at that one.

        I kept thinking…it was just the page numbers on my synopsis. Couldn’t the coordinator handwrite 1…2…3…4…5…?

        BUt I know, you do it for one, you do it for all.

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    • Yes, read the rules inside out and upside down.

      My advice (although a little late for this year) would be to enter a few other contests to get a feel for contests and get some feedback.

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  7. Addison Fox says:

    Tammy:

    Great post and great advice!

    The Golden Heart offers such much opportunity and visibility for the finalists – it truly is an “all good” opportunity.

    And #4 is always, always, always true. Always be working on something new. I’m the coordinator for my local chapter’s conference, and it never ceases to amaze me when people come out of their pitch appointments. It’s usually a 50/50 shot….the E/A is interested in what that person walked in ready to pitch, or….they’d like to see the work in progress.

    Addison

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    • I had an agent express just the smallest amount of interest in my GH winner and none in the subsequent book, but really wanted (wants?) to read the first chapters of my unrelated WIP. Who knows why these things happen the way they do?

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      • Addison Fox says:

        Jamie:

        Isn’t that the amazing part? There’s just something *there* that connects with the person you’re pitching. It’s magic when that happens!

        Addison

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  8. “Instead, they teeter in a place of honor on a bookshelf right above my computer monitor …”

    Very nice!

    I’ve no advice to give (just joined and will be participating in GH for the first time this year), but I wanted to say I appreciate your Do(n’t) list! Thanks for sharing it!

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  9. Thanks for your list! It’s kinda sad to know that even finaling in the Golden Heart isn’t a fast pass to publication, but it’s good to remember that, win or lose, it’s best to just keep writing.

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    • Kim Law says:

      Laramie, yes it is a little sad, but there are so many rewards and the doors definitley get opened!

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    • Tammy’s right that it’s not a FastPass to publication, but it DOES lift you up out of the slush pile, at least for a while. I’m not sure how long the glow lasts, but all of us seem to have found our queries were responded to much more quickly after the GH announcements than they were before. It’s a definite boon to your career, make no mistake about that!

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      • Elise Hayes says:

        The GH finalist glow can actually extend for a long time. I was a finalist way back in ’02 (wish I’d had Tammy’s great list of Do’s and Don’ts back then!)–but it was 2006 before I started thinking about trying to sign on with an agent. I interviewed with an agent, she was visibly impressed by the 2002 GH final, and we signed on together in 2007.

        As Tammy points out, the GH final isn’t a FastPass–even with an agent, that 2002 manuscript never sold–but being a finalist that year definitely helped me find my agent!

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Good morning, Laramie! (So nice to ‘see’ a chaptermate up and about.) Jamie makes a very good point – being named a finalist in the GH or another ‘big’ contest definitely creates a window of opportunity. My new agent may not have even seen my manuscript if I hadn’t entered the Daphne. She judged the finals and requested a full.

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  10. Kim Law says:

    Tammy, I don’t remember hearing about your red boots before. That’s awesome. I could see them sitting up there being total inspiration for you!

    I can’t think of anything else to add – my caffeine hasn’t kicked in this morning – but it is a great list without any additions. Seriously, I can not imagine how crazy it would be being so new and becoming a finalist. Overwhelming, but you handled it so great!

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  11. Ah, Tammy! I wish we’d gotten to know each other better at Nationals. I felt like I was rowing in my own little lifeboat as the RSS party boat chugged on by each day.

    You’ve done a great job of highlighting some of the lesser-known aspects of finaling. Also, I love the idea of buying sexy red shoes just to place on a shrine to my own success. I didn’t have red shoes, either. Never have, now that I think about it.

    BTW, I watched SNL last weekend and noticed that Megan Fox wore sexy baby blue toeless booties with a slinky black mini-dress, and it looked awful. It was almost as dreadful as U2’s performances. What happened to Bono that made him think he could rap?

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Jamie, my SO and I were also watching SNL Saturday night, and even HE said, “Those blue shoes just look …wrong.” He couldn’t articulate why – he just knew something was off. I heartily agree.

      Concerning Bobo and his unfortunate rap, any opportunity to see U2 is an opportunity to see the lusciousness that is Larry Mullen Jr. Dayum, that man just looks better with age.

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      • Really? The drummer???? Now you’re just being contrary. I’m more of an Edge kind of girl, but even his hotness doesn’t make up for the appalling mess that is modern U2. It’s almost as disappointing as modern Pearl Jam, a band I used to adore with all the passion a sixteen-year-old-girl can muster (which is a lot, let me assure you). But at least Eddie Vedder doesn’t rap.

        Whitesnake, though, is a band that still knows how to rock. Coverdale never wasted a breath on social commentary, and maybe that’s why his music is still relevant. Love and sex never go out of style. AND he’s still white-hot, and so is his current guitarist, one Doug Aldrich. Thank God for black leather vests…

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        • Tamara Hogan says:

          I have an epic weakness for musicians – particularly drummers. Drummers dominate my “Top Ten ‘To Do’ List” (if you watched “Friends,” you know which list I’m talking about). Yes, Coverdale remains blazingly hot. Top of the heap? GROHL.

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          • Grohl! I love ‘im, though not in a “kiss me now or lose me forever” kind of way. Sometimes I forget that he’s a drummer, too, but then he gets on a kit and reminds me. Oh, how he reminds me! He’s really something back there.

            My husband is a guitarist. His brother is a drummer. Hence, I keep my eyes off drummers.

            😉

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      • Addison Fox says:

        Oh goodness, if we’re talking about the STILL-SERIOUSLY-YUMMY Larry Mullen, Jr, count me in for that conversation!!!

        Addison

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  12. Diana Layne says:

    Tammy,

    I love the thought of you having the postal worker dig out your manuscript! Living in a small town, the years I was a contest diva, I drove my poor postal workers bonkers. They eventually learned, “Postage there and back, right?”

    Thank goodness for the increasing number of electronic contests, it makes a diva’s life a lot easier. But GH is not electronic, so thanks for your do’s and don’ts list!

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Hi Diana – yes, thank gawd for small town postmistresses! Funny how they remember things like “you need postage there and back?” It makes me wonder whether she ever wonders, “Could she wear something other than those ratty sweats?”

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      • Amy Talley says:

        This time around I ran out of rubber bands and paperclips. Thought I had enough, but no. The postal workers “donated” some rubberbands and paperclips. Nice to know I got a little of my tax money back:)

        They were super helpful!

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  13. Shea Berkley says:

    Great advice,Tammy!

    “FastPass to the big time” Ha! I love it. I think too many believe this. We do get a slight edge on attention, but that’s all. If a story isn’t right, whether you’re a published author, a Golden Heart finalist or Bright-eyed Betty from Tepeka, your book won’t get published.

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  14. Tina Joyce says:

    Tammy, great list! I remember agonizing over my entry, hoping I’d included everything…and that the copy of the manuscript I’d sent wasn’t really a rough draft saved in the wrong file (thank heavens it wasn’t).

    And I definitely agree with trying to guard your writing time. With all the excitement of finaling, I didn’t do that, and I’m still struggling to get back on track.

    Your ruby ankle boots sound awesome, btw!

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  15. Diana Layne says:

    I just clicked over to your RSS author page and looked at those boots. Too cute!!

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  16. Jeannie Lin says:

    Wow Tammy! First manuscript, first time entering. That is indeed a golden success story, and it’s only the beginning. How exciting is that?

    Hmm…do’s and don’ts.
    1. Don’t wait until the last/last minute and rely on Express mail. That last bit of polishing is NOT worth the agony! A post office snafoo disqualified my second entry. The post office refunded my money, but it was so sad to see the manuscript returned from RWA upopened. Butterfly Swords didn’t have enough postage on it and only got in by the grace of the RWA office who let me swipe my credit card to pay the $1.80 difference.

    2. Do use the Golden Heart Rush to keep on writing and striving forward. $50 for 5 cold numbers isn’t worth it. But for the dreams and the motivation to keep going, win or lose, totally a great deal!

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  17. Laura Breck says:

    Hi Tammy, great post this morning! I entered my manuscript, Secret Vegas Lives, in the 2008 Golden Heart, and was surprised to receive scores of 8.9, 8.9, 8.9…(at this point I was very excited!) then I saw two 6s. Huh? DO remember that readers’ tastes differ greatly.

    DON’T give up! I sold Secret Vegas Lives, and have a release date of October 22. So for 2010, I get to enter the RITA contest. And I’m very interested in seeing my scores!

    Congratulations on your final, and best wishes with your writing!
    Laura Breck
    LauraBreck.com
    RosesOfProse.blogspot.com

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  18. Nadia Lee says:

    Hmm. My advice in general to new writers who want to enter GH: Don’t sub your 1st ms, unless it’s gone through lots of revision. 1st mss are better off w/ contests that offer good feedback.

    There are exceptions, of course. 🙂

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  19. Great blog, Tammy. My recommendation sort of contradicts your number 3. I think anyone who has a finished manuscript with a well-polished first three chapters and synopsis should consider entering. There are four months before the announcement of the finalists to finish polishing the rest of the manuscript. I don’t think a writer should let the need for a little revision delay them from entering for another whole year. HOWEVER, if a writer does enter a manuscript that still needs work, she’d better make sure it’s finished before the end of March because everything you said was true.

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    • Shoshana Brown says:

      That’s what I figured when I entered last year. Four months–that’s plenty of time to polish my manuscript. Except, I had a baby in February. And the last half of my manuscript was a real mess. So, long story short, I’m STILL polishing. But I (think) I’m almost finished. 🙂

      Shoshana

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      • Tamara Hogan says:

        Hmm. No good excuse like having a baby here. Does getting a kitten count? (I didn’t think so.)

        I just wish my brain fart – um, I mean my scathingly brilliant solution(!) – had hit me in, say, Jan. 09 instead of April.

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  20. June Love says:

    Tammy, great list. LOL on having them dig your entry out of the mail drop. You have great postal workers. I couldn’t even get mine to help me get the IRC I needed for return postage from Harl in Canada.

    Too bad I didn’t your list before I entered last year. As all my RS sisters know, #3 stressed me to the max. I missed a lot of good RSS chatter because of #3. After I sent my entry fee, I decided my ms needed major revisions. Big mistake. I’m probably the only GH finalist who has ever prayed *not* to get a request. I have learned my lesson.

    P.S. Love the boots.

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      June, I was stressing out right there with you. I felt so overwhelmed, so, behind, so…visible. The RSS loop was full of “agent this/editor that” chatter – so much hope, so many successes – and me? I was still working on my manuscript and hadn’t submitted a darned thing yet. I felt like my window of opportunity was wasting away while I was taking care of business that should have been taken care of long ago.

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    • Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

      You aren’t alone, June. My mss is STILL bleeding red ink. Weaving a new thread is time consuming.

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  21. Pamela Cayne says:

    My advice is it’s all subjective. Some people may love it, some people may hate it, but you’ve got to put that all aside and remember why you’re writing–not for them but for you. The morning of the 25th, when I didn’t get the call, I cried, then went to Starbucks for a chai latte and glazed apple fritter, then wrote a blog cheering for my friend who did final. (L.A. Mitchell) So I guess my second lesson is to find the silver lining.

    And yeah–add me to the list of boot envy gals. 😉

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      You’re so right, Pamela – it’s all subjective. My GH finalist won a contest, finaled in one, and got absolutely clobbered in two others.

      Exact same manuscript. Go figure. 😉

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  22. Good advice, Tammy. And for Canadians, it reduces stress to use a courier service so you know your GH entry arrives safely and on time. I sent a manuscript special delivery, Canada Post, and it was lost. Luckily it was early enough that I could courier another one. Smiling at the image of your boots above the computer….

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  23. Jennifer Faye says:

    I just entered the GH this morning.

    Loved your story of taking a trip to the shoe store. If I ever final, I think I’d have dh take me out to dinner for sushi which I don’t get nearly often enough. *G*

    As for advice, I’d say join a critique group or find a CP whose on your level or a little bit further up the ladder. They will be able to spot things in your ms that you thought were there or that you thought were clear but still need some more polishing. My CP’s are invaluable and have become really good friends as well.

    Good luck to everyone and remember, it’s only a contest and judging is all subjective.

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Jennifer, great point about critique partners. My CP, Brenda Whiteside, is taking the e-pub route, has made her first sale and has a publication date – while I’m taking the more traditional NY publishing house route. She has experience with aspects of the business I don’t, and vice versa. It’s kinda funny – I don’t typically read in her subgenre, and she doesn’t read mine. But as writers, we get exactly what we need from eachother.

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  24. Tammy, I love your list! I definitely had to learn that finaling in the GH was NOT my FastPass to publication. It was a hard lesson to learn, because I was so sure the Golden Heart was my Golden Ticket….but, this year when I enter my expectations are going to be much more grounded.

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Thanks for the Willy Wonka earworm, Cynthia! (“I’ve got a golden ticket….”)

      I”m still writing an early draft of UNDERBELLY’s followup, so no GH for me this year. I’m rooting for you all!

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  25. December says:

    Great list! This is my first year entering the GH, so I’ll have to go track down this checklist you speak of!

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  26. Eden Glenn says:

    Hey Guys. I had to laugh. Your first manuscript, first year, first golden heart, first final!

    I’m making the calls now to get you in the GH protection program.

    Seriously, what a great story.

    I’ve enjoyed reading ya’lls blogs. I’m going to enter the GH for the first time ever. Not my first manuscript. Hopefully I can make all the same mistakes you did and final too!

    Dreaming of ruby red kick a$$ boots.

    Thanks for the encouraging blogs and laughs

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Eden, up until July I would have taken you up on your offer of entering the Golden Heart Protection Program without a single qualm! But by the time 2009 RWA National rolled around, I had met my revision goals and was ready to pitch. If an agent or editor requested a full, I had something to give them.

      But you know what I realized? All the so-called pressure to ‘capitalize on the GH visibility’ was, in the end, entirely self-imposed. I spent months living with this horrible sense of angst and panic that I wasn’t “out there,” that I was submitting my work “late”, that I was playing catch-up. But ya know what? The publishing world didn’t miss a beat. It kept right on turning.

      Everything in its time.

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      • Eden Glenn says:

        That is such a cool story Tamara. Kinda stay the course and hold the tiller attitude should do well to help keep you grounded.

        You’re an inspiration for those of us who hope success is possible!

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  27. Walt M says:

    Great list. I will both enter and judge (at least I volunteered to judge) for the first time this year. Should be an interesting introduction to the whole process.

    By the way, please remove my name from any coffee mug drawings. My wife will never let me live it down if I drink from a ruby-slippered coffee mug. 🙂

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  28. Ami Weaver says:

    Love the list, Tammy! I always have a hard time leaving an entry (for any contest) at the PO. Not because I’ve ever had problems with them. Not at all. But b/c as soon as I walk put of there I think of fifty awful things I JUST KNOW I forgot to do. But after the freak out is over, I’m good.

    I’d say make sure your entry is backed up somewhere else. In case your 3 yo feeds a pink post it to your computer and it’s so insulted it fries. Less than a week before you have to mail it. Even though the Mac guys were wonderful about getting everything off the hard drive and dh bought me a new Mac, it all didn’t happen in time to get mailed.

    Lesson learned. 🙂

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Great reminder about backups, Ami. No three year old here, just cat hair – which is also flammable. Ahem.

      I am absolutely anal about backups. I have backups of backups. External drives, thumb drives, diskettes, hardcopies, a thumb drive in my safe deposit box at the bank. When my agent recently recommended a few tweaks to my manuscript, I initially threw up my hands, looked to the sky and thought, “Okay, which version which ‘final’ did I send her?!”

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  29. Jennifer Hilt says:

    Tamara,
    I’m a first time GH entry writer. I loved your list. It reminds me that the final push to get anything in the mail always seems more complicated. And to allow time for the that:)

    I am so thankful for the RSS page and daily posts!

    Jennifer

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Keep coming back, Jennifer! There’s a lot more Golden Heart advice to come, from people with a lot more experience under their belt than I have.

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  30. Thanks, Tamara! I will assume entering is inevitable and copy this blog off for future reference. 🙂 Extra guidelines are always good.

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  31. What wonderful tips! Thanks, Tammy! It’s good to know the Post Office is understanding when it comes to writers on a deadline…;)

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    • Tamara Hogan says:

      The people who work at my local post office have been absolutely wonderful, Mary. Knowing your postal workers by name is definitely one of the perks of living in a small town!

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  32. Tammy, I”m so late getting to this but it was awesome!!! Fantastic post and I really think this will help many writers in the future.

    Yay for you!
    ~D~

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  33. […] Tammy blogs about her Top Ten Golden Heart Do’s and Don’ts at The Ruby Slippered […]

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