Where Are They Now – The Mermaids (Class of 2016)

Welcome to the final week of our eight week series: The Golden Heart Finalists, Where Are They Now?  We’ve loved checking in with the Golden Heart finalists from years past to see what paths their writing careers have taken them on and this week we’re closing it out with a two-fer of our two most recent classes – the Mermaids of 2016 (today) and the Rebelles of 2017 (tomorrow).  So let’s see what impact the Golden Heart has had on some of the finalists after only a short time…

(All of the information was voluntarily provided by the finalists themselves – and if you are a Mermaid and you missed our call to arms, please post your own update in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!)

The Mermaids of 2016, Where Are They Now…

Of the Mermaids who responded, all said they were still active as a Golden Heart class and writing in the subgenre in which they finaled, although several also write in other subgenres.  Of our eleven respondents, 3 are still pursuing publication, four have signed contracts putting them on the road to publication, and four are currently traditionally published. Roughly half finaled in other years as well, but chose to be included in the Mermaid round-up. And now, without further ado, let’s check in with the Mermaids…

Ainsley Wynter is still pursuing publication, but she said of the Golden Heart “Being a GH finalist connected me with an incredibly supportive group of writers. My class, the Mermaids, are amazing. They are always there for me, regardless of where I am in my path to publication.”  She says currently, “I’m planning on indie publishing my paranormal series some time in 2018. I’m also pursuing trad publishing with a contemporary series.”

Two-time finalist (2012, 2016) Meg Kassel said, “The Golden Heart connected me with others on the same path. Some of my Golden Heart sisters have true, close friends. Their support has been…there’s no way to quantify the value of supportive writer friends. It’s precious.”  Now traditionally published with a small press, her goal is “To keep writing and building my career.”

Layla Reyne said through the Golden Heart final experience, “I got to meet a great group of fellow authors who have cheered and offered advice on my way to publication!”  Now traditionally published she explained, “I set out with a goal of writing and publishing four to six books per year, and already hit that goal for 2017, on both fronts. Hoping the good fortune and writing muse continue to be kind in the years to come, so that I can eventually become a full-time author.”

For Jaycee Jarvis, “I think it opened a lot of doors, and also gave me the confidence to really put myself out there.”  And now?  “I just signed my first contract, so I want to have a successful debut and then follow that up with the other books in the series.”

Three-time finalist (2012, 2015, 2016) Pamela Kopfler said of her Golden Heart experience that “The support helped me to stay the course until publication.”  Now traditionally published and writing full time, she plans to write “More books! I have three in a series coming out in 2018 and hope to sell a WF stand alone.”  She went on to add, “My Golden Heart sisters are a huge blessing on this path and I cherish them.”

Alyson McLayne said, “I sold a 5-book series through Wattpad to Sourcebooks that was a different book and genre than my Golden Heart final. I don’t think my being a Golden Heart that year influenced my editor at all. And it didn’t influence my agent either—already having a 5-book deal did that, lol. So, my being a Golden Heart has influenced my writing path by providing support & friendship. Love my Mermaids!!”  And she’s keeping busy. Her current goal is to “Finish my Historical romance series with Sourcebooks (almost finished book 3 of 5), continue my Indie series (just starting book 3), decide what to do about my GH manuscript/series (whether to take it Indie or traditional) and when to write it. Pursue other series in different genres that I’ve had in mind for a while. I’m also a screenwriter and I have a few projects in the works that I need to finish and/or take to the next level.”

2016 double finalists Elizabeth King is currently pursuing publication and said her Golden Heart experience “Opened doors as far as gaining the attention of agents and editors, and helped me get my agent. Been wonderful to be part of such a supportive group of women as the Mermaids.”  She plans to “Keep writing. Aiming for a traditional publisher for now, but expect to self publish at some point too.”

Two-time finalist (2016, 2017) Nicole Hohmann said of her Golden Heart final, “It helped me get an agent and allowed me to become friends with many lovely and talented authors.”  As she continues to pursue publication, she plans to “Polish my current YA WIP, write a chapter book for 3-5 grades. Hopefully sell my first 3 books to a publisher.”  She added, “The road to traditional publishing can be so long and winding. It’s nice to have a home of authors going through the same thing.”

Two-time finalist (2016, 2017) Laurel Kerr said, “Entering the Golden Heart actually was the first step that I took toward being published. I had always just written as a hobby before then. When I decided to get serious, I read some of my favorite author’s websites to see how they got their start. Monica McCarty mentioned how finaling in the Golden Heart had helped her career, and I decided to enter. I ended up finaling that year (2016), and I believe that helped me greatly during agent interviews at Nationals. I met my agent, Sarah Phair, at Nationals in 2016. My manuscript that finaled in 2016 will be the first novel in the three book series that I sold to Sourcebooks this year.”  Right now, “I am currently working on my debut series about a small town zoo and the animal residents who live there and help the most unlikely human pairs fall in love. My first novel will be released in about a year or so. My focus right now is to finishing editing the first book and then to write the next two.”  She added, “I really do think that the Golden Heart is a great opportunity. It is still recognized by agents and editors, and it is a great opportunity for sisterhood with fellow writers.”

Two-time finalist (2016, 2017) Melonie Johnson said, “Becoming a GH finalist feels like finding a Golden Ticket in a Wonka Bar – it moves you to the head of the line in some ways, gets your foot in the door – but you have to be ready to play the game when this happens! I had agents looking me up and reaching out – asking me to send them my manuscript. So I had had to be ready to respond with a manuscript that was as polished as possible as and series outline as well. I did sign with an agent not long after becoming a finalist, and I definitely feel the spotlight turned on my work certainly helped.”  And it didn’t end there.  “At the end of July ’17 I signed a three book deal with St. Martin’s Press that includes my GH manuscript, Sometimes You Need a Sexy Scot. The contemporary romance series will come out summer ’19 with back-to-back releases.”  In her future?  “I am currently working on my Sometimes series for St. Martin’s Press (will be experiencing my first round of editorial revisions soon!), and I plan to continue writing (and selling) contemporary romances. I also hope to do something with a much loved paranormal series I have half-hidden under the bed.”  But she adds, “More than the attention from the industry, the network created within the circle of GH finalists, both within the “class year” and overall via The Golden Network in an invaluable resource and a treasure trove of experience and advice. It truly is the best part of being a finalist!”

Carrie Nichols explained, “Even though I had already gotten an agent before I won the GH and we had submitted to Harlequin, my entry brought me to the attention of a senior editor so it would’ve opened the door for me with my eventual publisher.”  What’s in her future?  “I have my debut coming out in February 2018. I recently handed in book 2 of my contract and have proposals ready to go hoping for another contract.”  She added, “I’m thankful for RWA and the hard working GH judges. This was truly a wonderful experience.”

That’s a great reminder that you can now sign up to JUDGE THE GOLDEN HEART and pay it forward to the finalists of next year.  And if you’re looking for some great reads in the mean time…

Check Out These Mermaid Books!

Thank you to everyone who responded to our survey! And remember, if you’re a Mermaid, we’d love to hear more about where you are now in the comments today!

16 responses to “Where Are They Now – The Mermaids (Class of 2016)”

  1. C.R. Grissom says:

    So many Mermaids are Rebelles too! The Golden Heart Class of 2016 features so many talented writers and people I’m lucky to call friends.

    May you all continue to chase your dreams and make them reality!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your journeys with us! May they continue to bring you more and more successes as the years go by. 🙂

  3. Addison Fox says:

    Welcome Mermaids!! I know how much being a Ruby has meant to me – the camaraderie and friendship has increased my life beyond measure. I’m always happy and excited to read that same joy for others!


  4. Jeanine Englert says:

    Congrats, Mermaids! I love reading about your experiences and adventures since 2016. I wish you all the best, and keep those beautiful covers coming. I look forward to seeing all of you published soon! 🙂

  5. Seana Kelly says:

    Congratulations, Mermaids! So many fabulous women, so many amazing books! I can’t wait to read them all!! ❤️

  6. Welcome, Mermaids. As Addison said, I love my Ruby sisters. They have seen me through some awful dark times and made my brighter days shine even more. My life is much richer because of them. I hope in years to come you all will still together as we are.

    Congrats on your accomplishments this past year.

    • McCall says:

      Loving my Mermaid sisters and sharing in everyone’s success. Love the Ruby’s too. Hope everyone has a lovely holiday! <3

    • Congrats to all my mermaid sisters! I’ve moved five times in four months with yet another one coming up in a week. My book, LOVE IN HIDING, is coming out on 11/28. Crazy does not begin to define the events leading up to this day. Which is why I missed this I am sure! I’ve been in and out of communication depending on if we’ve had power where we stayed. I can’t make up the stuff that has happened. It’s truly a book of its own! But I’m still swinging!

  7. Julia Day says:

    Thanks for joining us today. I agree about the support; being a writer can be a crazy job, but having others who know and understand is a huge gift!

  8. Tamara Hogan says:

    Thanks for joining us today, Mermaids! It’s been so interesting to see publishing through the lenses of the various Golden Heart classes. It seems that the goalposts move every couple of years or so – or they’re joined by other goalposts positioned elsewhere on the field.

    Also, thanks for the reminder to sign up to judge the Golden Heart!

  9. Tracy Brody says:

    Congrats to all my lovely Mermaid and Rebelle sisters. Keep writing and working on reaching your dreams and stay in touch! Love y’all.

  10. Elisa Beatty says:

    It’s always so wonderful to see the book covers for all these GH Finalists!! We knew you when!

  11. Darynda Jones says:

    Super congrats, Mermaids!!! What lovely covers. Thank you so much for joining us!

  12. Heather McCollum says:

    Hello Mermaids! I LOVE your group name!

    Thanks for coming on the Ruby blog, and huge congratulations on all you’ve accomplished!

  13. Melonie says:

    Thanks for hosting us, Rubies! It’s so fun to see those covers up there of so many talented authors I get to claim as my sisters. 🙂 Keep swimming, Mermaids – I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

  14. Rayn Ellis says:

    Congrats to my fellow 2016 Mermaids on all your amazing success! Sooooo grateful to be included with such a talented and supportive bunch of gals! WOOT!


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