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Welcome 2017 Golden Heart and RITA Finalists!!!

CONGRATULATIONS, 2017 FINALISTS!!!

glassWe hope you’re still floating on Cloud 9 after yesterday! RWA judges are tough, and nobody gets where you are without having written a FABULOUS book, so enjoy those well-deserved accolades!!

(See the full slate of 2017 nominees here).

We have a tradition here at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of asking new finalists to share their stories about getting that life-changing, thrilling call. So SPILL THE DETAILS in the comments below, and we’ll set off a whole new round of squealing and cheering for you.

Golden Heart finalists: we hope you’ve got your seat-belts fastened, because you’re being launched onto a serious thrill ride. And you’ll need good friends to make it through the experience in one piece. So, if you haven’t done so yet, your first order of business is to join the email/Facebook loops for the class of 2017 so you can meet all your new sisters.(If someone has those links, please share in the comments.) Your 2017 Sisters will be an unbelievable support in every way, and if past experience holds true (as it certainly does for the Rubies), they’ll become some of your dearest friends in the world.

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THANKS TO ROMANTIC SUSPENSE FINALIST TRACY BRODY, HERE’S THE INFO:

*RE: The Facebook Group Link Request*

TRACY SAYS, “I have set up the Facebook Group and here’s a link. It is private and you have to be added, so if you use a name on Facebook that is different than listed on the RWA finalists list, you might want to friend me and message me. I’m at https://www.facebook.com/tracybrodyauthor <–anyone can friend me. 😉”

The Facebook Group page is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/481197135604075/
Tracy’s  looking through feedback before setting up the email group, so she’ll be back with that info.

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Today, the 2009 Golden Heart finalists, the Ruby-Slippered Sisters, will be stop in with congratulations, advice, and tales from their own Golden Heart adventures. And we invite all our friends and readers to add cheers and whoops of their own.

We’ll also be issuing an invitation (via a member of your email or Facebook loop) for as many of you as we can possibly fit into the schedule to guest blog with the Rubies or be interviewed on the blog sometime between now and Nationals. We love getting to know the new Golden Heart cohort each year and helping you make yourself better known to the Romance writing world. Be on the lookout for the details!!

Tomorrow, for everyone who didn’t get that coveted call, we’ll be back with our annual Consolation Day party, with heaps of support (you can bawl your eyes out if you need to, and we’ll be here with the hugs and the virtual tissues and calorie-free brownies), plus lots of prize giveaways to help pick you right back up: chocolate, gift cards, and helpful, supportive writing critiques.

Of course, after we celebrate, every single one of us—whether finalist, non-finalist, whether newbie or multi-published author—has the very same task to do: sit down at that keyboard and KEEP WRITING!

But for now: It’s your day, Finalists!! Congratulations!!!! We can’t wait to hear from you!!

131 responses to “Welcome 2017 Golden Heart and RITA Finalists!!!”

  1. Hywela Lyn says:

    Congratulations to all the RITA finalists! I recently had the thrill of being shortlisted for the UK RoNAs,so I know how exciting it is. Enjoy the moment and the achievement!

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  2. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    I’m so excited to see some friends on the lists. Congrats to ALL and Good luck! What a time to shine!

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  3. Congratulations to all the finalists. Enjoy the months ahead. You’re in for a wild ride.

    I can’t wait to read your call stories. This day is so much fun.

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  4. Elisa Beatty says:

    Congratulations, nominees!! I love hearing all the stories.

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  5. Tracy Brody says:

    Hey everyone. I’m Tracy Brody and I’m baackk! Finalist in Romantic Suspense. I have set up the Facebook Group and here’s a link. It is private and you have to be added, so if you use a name on Facebook that is different than listed on the RWA finalists list, you might want to friend me and message me. I’m at https://www.facebook.com/tracybrodyauthor <–anyone can friend me. 😉

    The Facebook Group page is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/481197135604075/
    I'm looking through feedback before setting up the email group so I'll be back with that info.

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    • Congratulations, Tracy!! And thank you for providing the group sign-up links. 🙂

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    • suzanne turner says:

      Tracy Brody is the most amazingly organized person I have ever e-met! Can’t wait to meet in person. I have officially made her my GH guru.

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      • Tracy Brody says:

        Suzanne,
        I’m really not all that organized. If you saw my ydesk, you’d see the real me. I do, however, know the drill, have no reservations taking the easy route and copying rather than reinvent the wheel, have no outside job or little kids, and a lot of eagerness to get to know the new finalists because past finalists are now my besties and I want this to be a great experience for all. To do that, you have to get just out of your introvert cubbies and jump in. I’m a daredevil extrovert. 😉

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        • Jo Anne Banker says:

          We’re just happy to have you take charge, Tracy! Appreciate your efforts!

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    • Congrats, Tracy!!

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    • A.Y. Chao says:

      Congrats Tracy and thank you for setting up the FB groups and everything else <3

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  6. Diana Lloyd says:

    Diana Lloyd here, I’m a finalist with my Regency Romance, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR BARON. My phone call came early in the day. I was home because my shift at the library didn’t start until 4:00 pm. Looked at the caller ID on the phone and didn’t recognize it so I let it go to voice mail. The person calling identified herself and the name sounded vaguely familiar. She left a number to call her back but left no details. I usually just ignore those but there was something about this call. I just knew that I should call back which I did within about 10 minutes. They told me why they were calling and I thought it was a joke or something. I made her repeat the news three times. And then, suddenly, I couldn’t speak. I was squeaking out a thank you to her and my hand started shaking. She sort of chuckled like that was the usual response to the news. Still stunned. Didn’t even tell my husband until this morning because I was afraid it was all a big mistake.

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  7. Tracy Brody says:

    Thanks for the lovely welcome and the help celebrating. No wonder everyone LOVES the Rubies!

    I’m been to this show before so I knew what to expect – as in answer the phone even when I don’t know the number, just in case. I may have even scanned the list of RWA board members so I’d recognize names, though when they ask for Tracy Brody (my pen name) it’s a giveaway. With calls not starting until 9:30 this year I was a bit antsy waiting and I may have taken the phone in the bathroom while waiting and was thankful the call didn’t come then. Though I’ve heard of someone getting their call while doing that business and another while getting out of the shower. 😉 For me, no screaming. No tears. No blog worthy story about my call. Just excited to share this experience with friends from past years and the friends I’m making with the new finalists. Congrats everyone!

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  8. Tracy Brody says:

    *RE: The Facebook Group Link Request*

    I have set up the Facebook Group and here’s a link. It is private and you have to be added, so if you use a name on Facebook that is different than listed on the RWA finalists list, you might want to friend me and message me. I’m at https://www.facebook.com/tracybrodyauthor <–anyone can friend me. 😉

    The Facebook Group page is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/481197135604075/
    I'm looking through feedback before setting up the email group so I'll be back with that info.

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  9. Congratulations to all the finalists!!! Hope to see returning and meet new finalists at the Golden Network Retreat in Orlando!

    Thanks for sharing your stories so we can live vicariously through you. 😉 It’s always fun to celebrate good times with fellow authors.

    You’re all an inspiration to us!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Were you making phone calls this year, Priscilla? What was that like?

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      • Oooh yes, Elisa, I had the privilege of making calls this year as the PRO Advisor to the RWA Board.

        Gotta say, it is one of the best highlights of serving on the board!

        I don’t wanna say names so the finalists can share their story– this is all about them– but I actually got to call three GH sisters from one of my previous classes– one is a multi-finalist this year. I tried to play it coy, but that didn’t last very long. I too excited for them! 🙂

        My one RITA finalist call was to a wonderful Golden Network member who does a ton for the chapter, so it was super fun to tell her the exciting news!

        Really, calling is such a thrill. We all work so hard for our craft and writing, getting to give someone amazing news, hearing the excitement on the other end of the line…you can’t help but feel energized and inspired!

        😀

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  10. Congratulations to all of the finalists! It was super exciting to see so many Mermaids (GH’16) and Firebirds (GH’12) getting or making calls, not to mention all of the lovely people I know through RWA — including one from my home chapter — getting The Call!

    Enjoy this time, make the most of it, and treasure the relationships you’ll make via your GH loop. They will be your best sounding boards and emotional “rocks” as you move forward in your writing career.

    Wishing you all the BEST!

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  11. Hello, all! I still haven’t come down from the ceiling – and I think I may just stay up there for a while. Can’t believe it, but maybe if I share the call story it will sound real? I was out to lunch to celebrate/commiserate about Call Day with Liz Bemis and Jennifer Chance. The lists were filling up and I’d pretty much written off this year when my phone rang with an unidentified Ohio number. Since I’m in Ohio for the moment to do battle with Medicare on my gran’s behalf, I figured it was another call about her powerchair application and prepared to deal with red tape – until the caller identified herself as being from RWA! My brain went blank. I know I cried. I know she told me Always a Bridesmaid had finaled in Long Contemporary. And I calmed down enough to ask her name because I still don’t know who called me for the Golden Heart in 2009. So THANK YOU, DONNA MACMEANS!!! When I got off the phone, Liz and Jenn squealed and hugged me and I immediately dashed off a call to my family – but I was so incoherent they didn’t now what I was saying at first. My only wish is that more of the Rubies had finaled with me! That would have made this even more perfect. 🙂

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  12. suzanne turner says:

    Thank you so much for the congrats and this awesome blog! I am so excited to join this community!!

    I have had the craziest past seven days. It started with a medical emergency in which one of my children was admitted to Pediatric ICU, the doctors suspected Leukemia, and then it turned out my kiddo was totally fine and would make a full recovery within days.

    We came home from the hospital and i got THE CALL. I shook. I cried. My children asked if they were going to be famous. I am a finalist in the Historical category for my Victorian era romance, The Lost Chord.

    I am honored to be among these amazing writers. I am also, at the moment, a bit of an emotional basket case!

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Suzanne, getting good newsz on your child’s health is even better than a GH final, but I’m glad you got awesome news on both! Congrats!

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    • Seana Kelly says:

      Congratulations, Suzanne! It sounds like the good news was well timed <3

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    • Wow, Suzanne! Sounds like you got the best news you could possibly get before you got the GH call!!

      Congratulations on the good news on both fronts!

      Alyson McLayne, GH 16

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    • Abby Sharpe says:

      Wow, what an emotional roller coaster! Cheers to your kid’s continued good health, and congrats on your final!

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    • So happy to hear that your little one is okay, Suzanne. Wonderful news all around for you!

      Congrats on the GH final!! 🙂

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    • Nicole Hohmann says:

      Congratulations, Suzanne! That’s my middle name! I look forward to meeting you in Orlando. Who knows, you may be famous soon. So glad you’re child is okay!

      Nicole

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, my gosh!! I’m so glad to hear everything worked out well with the medical news. I can’t imagine anything more terrifying.

      And now this wonderful Golden Heart news!! We’re looking forward to getting to know you and all the 2017 Finalists better!

      Enjoy every minute!

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  13. Hi There!

    I’m Christina Hovland and my book Things I’ll Never Say is a finalist in the Long Contemporary category.

    Yesterday morning I spent time texting inappropriate jokes back and forth with fellow ’17 GH finalist C.R. Grissom and ’16 finalist Diane Holiday. I carried my cell phone around with me through the house. When my landline (yes, we still have one) rang I thought it was my mother–she’s the only one who calls on that line.

    I said, “Hello” and the woman on the other line asked for Christina. (Nearly everyone calls me Christy). Then she said she was with RWA, and that’s when I knew.

    My cell phone was blowing up with more inappropriate humor and I was in shock. I started to cry and apologized for doing so. Carolyn Jewel was my caller and she was a sweetie about it–giving me the information I’d need even though I wasn’t very responsive (due to all the speechlessness and the tears).

    An hour later C.R. Grissom got the call and my awesome day got even better!

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    • Seana Kelly says:

      Awwww, and you just made me tear up. Congratulations, Christy!! I’m so excited for you!

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    • suzanne turner says:

      I can’t wait to hear all your inappropriate jokes!

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    • Congrats, Christina!

      How fantastic to final with a good friend! And inappropriate jokes are the best kind, lol.

      Alyson McLayne, GH 16

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    • Yay!!! (Carolyn Jewel called me last year, and I totally fangirled all over her. I swear, I sounded more excited *she* was the one who called than I sounded about actually getting the call.)

      You have one heck of a great entry. I knew you would final.

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    • Yay for land lines that ring with great news!!! 😀

      It’s always fun when we’re caught by surprise! Congrats on your final!!!

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    • Nicole Hohmann says:

      Congratulations Christy!
      I’m looking forward to meeting you in Orlando! I met C.Grissom last year at Day of YA. I was so excited for her nomination too!
      Nicole Hohmann

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I love that you and your friend finaled together!! Just makes the whole thing sweeter…and hurray for buddies who text you inappropriate jokes!

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    • C.R. Grissom says:

      Christy, waiting to get the call with you was amazing. Inappropriate gifs/pics and all. When your text crossed my phone—your good news confirmed what I already knew. Things I’ll Never Say is an amazing story! You’re an extraordinary writer.

      Poor Diane Holiday ’16, stuck in a dual role—equal parts Obi Wan and crisis hotline counselor.

      I’m thrilled for the opportunity to behave inappropriately together. Ahem…I mean, in text.

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  14. Tracy Brody says:

    Christina, it’s great to share the GH experience with friends. Now, you’re about to get a whole bunch more supportive friends!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Amen to that, Tracy! No one understands writers like other writers. Our families try to understand, but most of the time, they just don’t get it. 🙂

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  15. Abby Sharpe says:

    How exciting for both of you!!! Congratulations.

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  16. Jo Anne Banker says:

    So happy to be here!! I’m Jo Anne Banker, and my manuscript, This Child Is Mine, is a Contemporary finalist.

    This is my third. I won the Short Contemporary category in 2011 with my Starcatcher sisters. Then finalled again with the fabulous 2015 Dragonflies. I was having health problems and didn’t get to New York to meet them. Fortunately, several Dragonflies are with me again in 2017, so I’ll get to meet folks in Orlando.

    When I enter a contest, I mostly don’t think about it, cause after all, they’re subjective, and such a crap shoot. But GH, sigh, you can’t help but hope. So I was going for normal yesterday morning. Had just gotten out of the shower when the land line (yep, I still have one, too) rang. I wasn’t going to ignore it, that’s for sure.

    So I grab a towel and grabbed the phone that lives around the corner from my bath (in my home office). I don’t have my cheater readers on, so I can’t see caller ID. But when the caller asked for me by full name, I perked up.

    And when this lovely soul identified herself as Priscilla Oliveras Kissinger, I stood there dripping, wearing nothing but a BIG ole smile, and did a little happy dance. Now, I’m 70. NOT a small woman. And have the arthritic knees from hell. So this is some visual, right? My cats thought I’d lost it.

    Pris is one of my 2015 Dragonfly sisters, and that made it so much more special. It’s tax season, and I own a bookkeeping service. I only got in 1/2 of billable time yesterday. Sigh. Then I went to the Houston Bay Area RWA chapter meeting last night and celebrated with friends there. Finally fixed myself a martini about 11 last night. Still couldn’t gear down. Running on 3 1/2 hours sleep. Tonight, my critique group will be here, and I’ll celebrate again. Toooo much fun.

    Congratulations to the class of 2017. I’m honored to be included with you ladies!!

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  17. Melonie says:

    Ditto what everyone has said – so happy you had that good news about your son so you could enjoy the good news about the GH! You really need to celebrate!

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  18. Melonie says:

    Hello Rubies and fellow GH sisters of all years! You are so lovely for supporting each new class of finalists – it adds to the magic of the experience for sure!

    I’m a GH16 Mermaid, and was actually dreading call day. I had managed to forget about it for the most past until a text from a friend wishing me luck placed it back front and center in my brain. :/
    Anyway, last year the call came as I was driving home from the gym, so when that didn’t happen this time I thought, “Oh well…” So I get home and jump on-line real quick to see if things had started – and of course, they had, so my heart sinks a little lower. Then on to the Mermaid google chat (aka The Grotto) where everyone is wishing each other luck and cheering as calls are pouring in… I celebrated and cheered with each announcement, super excited for my GH sisters, but a little more sad and nervous as the minutes ticked by…I remember Tracy typing her phone was ringing… and I was cheering for her when suddenly my phone was ringing too! It was Alyssa Day, and Sometimes You Need a Sexy Scot was a Contemporary Single Title finalist. I’m going to be 100% honest here – at first I felt more relief than excitement. This industry can be soul-crushing (or at least leave your soul pretty bruised) and even though there is plenty of luck involved, being a finalist for a second time was a real confidence booster. Now that the worry has worn off the excitement is beginning to build and I can’t wait to see all my Mermaid sisters again and meet my fellow GH17ers – in Disney of all places!

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    • Seana Kelly says:

      Yay, Melonie! I was so happy to see your name pop up on the finalists list!! I can’t wait to see you in Orlando 🙂

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    • Mermaid sisters in Disney– couldn’t help but smile at that image, Melanie!! 😀

      Congratulations on your final!

      I hear ya about the excitement tinged with relief. It’s so easy for us to let a more negative emotion or thought sneak in. But I really hope your excitement whips that relief away and you can soak up every fabulous moment of being a 2017 finalist.

      Though I’ll say, the fabulous moments don’t end once you’re a GH finalist, because you meet so many cool people and make so many great friends, the fab moments just keep coming– in different ways, but just as fabulous!

      You deserve them!!

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Melonie – this business is soul-crushing. Or at least it’ll beat you down. That’s why our sisters are so important to us. What a journey this is – and too damned scary to travel alone. Thank the goddess we have each other.

      You’re a winner!! In fact, we all are!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      So happy for you Melonie!!!

      And it really is just as much fun the second time around!

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    • Abby Sharpe says:

      Congratulations, Melonie. The waiting sucks, don’t it.

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  19. Hope Ramsay says:

    Congratulations to all the finalists. Enjoy every minute, and I wish you book contract and mega sales in your future!

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  20. Nicole Hohmann says:

    Hi Rubies!
    Thanks for hosting the party. You all are amazing. I tried to post once but I think it didn’t take so feel free to erase this if it’s duplicate.

    My caffeine must not have kicked in yet as I ignored the unknown number at 8:45 in the morning while trying to get my daughter out the door to preschool. I thought, who the heck is calling me so early? Even though I’d been chatting with the Mermaids about call day. Duh! I figured it out in the car and answered on the way to preschool. I was surprised that the ms that finaled (I”d entered 2) was the one I’d entered on a whim as I didn’t feel completely done polishing it. Thank the gods for whims!

    I was so excited to final again and to hear friends’ names as well. One of the best parts of finaling is just meeting great writer friends.

    I hadn’t planned to go to Orlando (unless maybe I finaled) so I just registered today for the conference. I’ve got my dresses and shoes since I OVER BOUGHT in all my GH madness last year.

    Thanks again Rubies. Good luck to all and look forward to meeting everyone!

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  21. A.Y. Chao says:

    Thank you for opening your blog to us, Rubies! I’m so excited to be here. Lol stunned, if I’m honest. My name is A.Y. Chao, and my MS SOUL AFFINITY is a finalist in the Paranormal category. This is my first time as a GH finalist.

    After I submitted I assumed I had no chance and promptly put the contest from my mind. So I wasn’t expecting the call nor did I know that the finalists were about to be announced. When my phone rang, it was a 1-212 number. Initially I thought it was my friend from NYC calling (I live in London UK). But when I answered, a male voice asked if I were A.Y. Chao. The first thought that went through my mind was: scam call, phishing for bank details or something. LOL Have had too many cold calls asking me if I’d been in an accident that wasn’t my fault!

    My “yes” was less ‘omg!’ and more narrowed eyes ‘what is it you want?” Damon Suede, lovely and calm, wasn’t phased by his less than welcoming reception. He began to speak. In my confusion, because what he was saying did not at all match expectations, it took a little while for the words Romance Writers of America, and Golden Heart, and Finalist to sink in. I’m not sure I spoke as that processed. All I could think was “whoa”.

    When my brain caught up with the words, I was all verklempt and probably said thank you like a zillion times. I’m still stunned and still on this high and still kind of pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

    THANK YOU DAMON! SORRY I WAS SUCH A NERD ON THE PHONE!

    Am sooooo excited to be on this journey with all my fellow GH finalists. I’m not sure I can get to Orlando, but I’m going to try because it would be so awesome to meet you all. <3

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    • Seana Kelly says:

      What a great story, AY! Congratulations and I hope you make it to Orlando to meet your GH sisters 🙂

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      I’ve only met Damon Suede once, but he’s a lovely man, very bright and very nice. If you ever get the opp to hear him speak, go for it. He’s fabulous!

      Congrats on your Paranormal final, A.Y.!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, that’s awesome!!!

      Damon Suede is the best…I’m sure he enjoyed the whole thing.

      Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations!! You’re headed into one of the best experiences any romance writer can have!

      And I hope you’ll join us for an interview a little later this spring. (I’ll be getting a message through to your loop or Facebook group once you guys get settled in.)

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    • Abby Sharpe says:

      OMG I love it! A scammer. hehhehheh.
      Congratulations.

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  22. suzanne turner says:

    Verklempt is perfect word. Hope you can come to Orlando!

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  23. Pennie Leas says:

    I’m surprised I survived THE CALL.

    My backyard is predominately a natural area that dips into a large ravine. About once a year, an unwanted guest shows up in my house — a mouse. I’m pathologically terrified of mice. I don’t care how small or cute they are, I totally flip my sh** when I see one.

    The night before Call Day, I’m tucked into bed watching Jimmy Kimmel when my two cats start racing around in the telltale pitter-patter of a mouse hunt. My heart rate ratchets up to stroke level, I scream a few profanities, and I fly to a standing position, back flat against the headboard.

    Yes, I have two cats, but they’re idiots. They have no desire to catch the mouse. They just want to chase it and play with it until the three of them collapse from exhaustion.

    Fast forward to 5:30 in the morning. I haven’t slept a wink. I haven’t moved off the bed — my island of safety because, in my world, mice can’t climb. The cats saunter into my bedroom like nothing is amiss, jump up on the bed, and fall fast asleep. I don’t know where the mouse is. I’m exhausted, weirded out, and trying to decide how much to list my house for because moving is my only option.

    I join them for a cat nap. 🙂 Seemingly 12 seconds later, the phone rings. I answer it with a groggy “hello.” She asks for Penelope. I go by Pennie, so clearly she doesn’t know me and if she’s trying to sell me anything other than an AK-47 with which to kill the mouse, I’m not interested. “This is she,” I growl. She introduces herself as someone from RWA, and I immediately bolt upright, swing my legs over the side of the bed and put my feet on the floor.

    She’s talking. I’m hit with a jolt of paranoia that the mouse is gonna run over my bare feet. She’s still talking. I gasp and yank up my feet in an uncoordinated version of an ab curl, because if a mouse touches me in any way, I’m going to have a massive coronary and…well, ain’t nobody got time for that. She’s still talking. With my feet tucked under me in the bed, I finally tune in to her in time to hear her say that my contemporary romance, No Man Left Behind, finaled in the Golden Heart. My heart rate ratchets up to stroke level AGAIN — this time for a wonderful reason — and I begin babbling incoherently.

    I didn’t catch the name of the woman who called me. I’m sure she thinks I’m a lunatic. My sincerest apologies to her.

    Pennie

    P.S. The mouse has gone to heaven. Please don’t make me recount that part of the story.

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    • Jo Anne Banker says:

      Too funny, Pennie. And BIG congrats. Both on your final, and on surviving the call.

      Mouse – RIP.

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    • Tracy Brody says:

      Pennie, OMG you are cracking me up. Glad you survived even if the mouse didn’t. Congrats.

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    • Kari Cole says:

      Penny, Bwahahaha! Sorry about the mouse, but lol. Btw, last year, I had no idea it was call day. When my cell rang, I dismissed the call. It rang a few seconds later and I answered, just “knowing” it was a telemarketer. Yeah, no. Poor Cynthia D’Alba got growled at, too. Thankfully, she is a doll, and laughed at me when we met in person.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      ROTFL!

      You had me howling from Sentence #2.

      Clearly you’ve got great voice…and I’m so glad you survived the mouse long enough to take that phone call!

      Congrats!!

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    • Abby Sharpe says:

      Oh, MAN, Pennie! What a morning (and night!).

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  24. Thank you, Rubies, for opening up your blog to the 2017 Golden Heart class and thanks to Tracy Boyd for letting us know we could continue the celebration over here!

    I’m Susannah Erwin and my manuscript is a finalist in the Contemporary Romance: Short category. While I’ve started many a novel in the hopes of entering, this is the first year I actually had a completed manuscript. In fact, I used the Golden Heart deadline as my incentive to finish – to the point where I discovered RWA closed the contest portal per Eastern time zone instead of Central time zone as the rules stated. But the RWA office very kindly rectified the issue in record time, so I had only 15 minutes or so of cold despair.

    Yesterday I woke up at 5 AM on the dot, much to the delight and displeasure of the cat, who was happy to be fed earlier than normal but had to miss out on her favorite activity of waking my husband and me up by jumping on our bladders. For some reason, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Wonder why.

    So I grabbed my phone and my iPad and settled on the couch to watch the Twitter celebrations in real time (I’m on the West Coast, so the East Coast was just receiving their calls). One of the RWA directors tweeted that she wasn’t supposed to call finalists until 8 AM, so I happily congratulated friends and texted back and forth with my critique partners. Then 8:15 rolled around. 8:30. Several RWA directors tweeted they’d finished making their calls. “Not this year,” I texted. “But I have a finished manuscript, so win!”

    I then hopped on my email to start the work day. Hmm. An email from Carolyn Jewel. Who tried to call me – but the phone number they had was incorrect. Could I email her the correct number?

    So my phone call was mostly apologizing to Carolyn for making her call an apparently very nice man who had no idea what she was talking about.

    Lessons learned: finish your contest submission more than two hours before the deadline; don’t give up hope; and proofread your phone number!

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    • oops – Tracy Brody! Sorry, Tracy!

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      • Tracy Brody says:

        No worries Suzanne. And considering I decided in Monday morning to enter, and rewrote several scenes and cut and polished, and revamped the snypopsis, I may have entered with 1/2 hour to spare, and kept unloading new versions as I continued to edit until it cut me off. 😀

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Congrats on making that deadline, Susannah!!! (You’re definitely my kind of person.)

      Karma is clearly on your side!!

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    • Abby Sharpe says:

      Sage advice, Susannah! Congratulations, on both the GH final and finishing your manuscript.

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  25. Kari Cole says:

    Hi everyone, I’m Kari W. Cole. My book, Constant Craving, is a finalist in the paranormal category. This is my second whirl through the hurricane of the Golden Hearts. I am proud to say I am a 2016 Mermaid and am very excited to get to know my new compatriots. It may sound cliché to the first timers, but the bond formed with the other finalists is the best part of this contest.
    I was in the shower when The Call came. I had convinced myself it was safe because I wouldn’t be getting the call this year. Why? Because I knew it was call day. I didn’t know last year, and I finaled. That’s my logic for you. Anyway, when the phone rang, I had just started washing my hair. Rather than letting the call go to voicemail, I thought, “What if?” and jumped out. There I was, dripping shampoo and water all over the bathroom as Farrah Rochon gave me the news. (I’m still dying over that part. Cynthia D’Alba last year, and now Farrah Rochon. Squee!)
    My husband was working from home and on a conference call—in the living room, in the front of the house, where we have very large floor-to-ceiling windows. I ran in the room, in nothing but a towel, still dripping soap and water everywhere. I mouthed “I’m in the Golden Hearts!” and performed a completely unhinged dance. He mouthed “Whoo!” back and enjoyed the show. I’m praying the neighbors didn’t as well. At least the kids were at school.
    Thank you Rubies for letting us come shout our joy. I promise, if I dance in Orlando, I will be completely clothed.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      So wonderful to hear about your happy dance, Kari!!!!

      I’m delighted to see so many familiar names on the lists again this year!

      Enjoy the new ride!

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  26. Kari Cole says:

    Yes, we are totally going to have to do something Arielle-ish there. Maybe dinner attire? I’ll leave that up to Melonie. She has the best clothes.

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    • Melonie says:

      Haha! I’m already thinking about which Mermaid dresses I want to wear. And of course, with Hollywood Studios, I HAVE to wear my R2D2 dress 🙂

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  27. C.R. Grissom says:

    My name is C.R. Grissom, my entry Mouthful is a finalist in the Young Adult category. Counting sheep did not help my contest-announce-eve sleep pattern, and I gave up being horizontal by 5:30 a.m. I began the day texting various waiting-themed gifs to friends who also entered the contest. In between texts, I performed frantic checks of my phone. I’d been told calls come in between 7 & 8 a.m. on the West Coast. By 8:30 a.m., I knew the time for me to receive “the call” was long past. I grabbed the Fritos Corn Chips and inhaled a thousand calories in ten seconds flat, and resigned myself to revision hell and the chance at redemption in a year’s time.

    At 8:48 a.m., an unknown caller from North Carolina crossed my screen. Adrienne Mishel, my new favorite person in the universe, was calling to share the good news. I started to cry, asked her to repeat herself three times before blurting, “I won? But, I’ve already started crying in my beer.”

    Thank goodness Adrienne was charmed by my less than sophisticated response, and I was able to thank her in a grateful reply Tweet.

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    • Seana Kelly says:

      I love that you made Adrienne Mishel laugh! I must admit, when I saw the texts flying around about you finaling, I may have bounced around at work with my fists in the air. Possibly. As there’s no photographic evidence, let’s just assume I totally kept my cool. 🙂
      I’m so excited for you!! Being a finalist is an amazing experience & I hope you enjoy every moment of it! <3

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      • C.R. Grissom says:

        Seana [class of ’15 and’16] I would not be writing today without you. Had you not reached out to ask me to critique Welcome Home Katie Gallagher (available July 1st from Harlequin Super Romance), I would have allowed my dream to stay buried. It took a couple of years and a few gallons of margaritas before I grabbed a shovel and dusted off my dream.
        Thank you for sharing your journey with me. I’ve lived vicariously through you and your achievements. I cannot wait to own my autographed copy of your debut novel. And all the others that will follow. Thanks! I can’t wait to hit up Consuelo’s with you!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Squee! I love everything about your call story!! I can tell you’re a writer!!

      Congrats!!

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  28. Loved reading all these wonderful call stories. The excitement is contagious. Thanks for sharing and congratulations to all the finalists!

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  29. Warm hugs and congratulations to our newest GH Sisters! May your GH journeys grow your professional worlds and hearts. <3 Joy, joy, joy!

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  30. Patty Hoffman says:

    I’m Patty Hoffman (w/a Patricia Dane), my entry is Seductive Strokes in Romantic Suspense. I’ve been writing a a long time and and have entered other times but I missed last year’s finalist cut off by a 10th of a point. I quit. My critique partner slapped me out of it. I entered the GH and chapter contests and started writing again and forgot about call day. Really. I was shocked when the call came and completely fell apart after I hung up. I am so grateful to be part of this group for the incredible support. I’m savoring these moments!

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