Where Are They Now – The Unsinkables (Class of 2010)

Hello and welcome back for Week Two of our eight week series: The Golden Heart Finalists, Where Are They Now?  Last week, we caught up with the Dragonflies of 2015, but this week is all UNSINKABLES!

Back in 2010, massive flooding in Tennessee put the Grand Ole Opry under water and moved the RWA National Conference and Golden Heart ceremony to Disney World, but these Golden Heart finalists were not deterred and named themselves Unsinkable in honor of the fact that even natural disasters could not keep them down!  So lets see what they’ve been up to in the last seven years…

(All of the information was voluntarily provided by the finalists themselves – and if you are a Golden Heart finalist from 2010 and you missed our call to arms, please post your own update in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!)

The Unsinkables of 2010, Where Are They Now…

A lot has happened for the Unsinkables.  Of the ten respondents to our call, nine were currently published, with the tenth still actively pursuing publication. Three of those nine also added that they have quit the day job and are writing full time, and there are two USA Today Bestsellers in their ranks.

Nine of the ten are still active in their Golden Heart group and 80% listed 2010 as their only final.  80% are still writing in the genre in which they finaled, while the other 20% are still writing, but in new subgenres.  And just like with the Dragonflies, overall there was a strong sense of the impact the Golden Heart had on their writing lives, especially their confidence…

How did the Golden Heart impact your writing journey?

Unsinkable J. Keely Thrall said, “The Golden Heart let me know other people could appreciate my writing – not just my family and friends. It gave me a huge boost in confidence.” Adding, “I remain pro-contest for unpublished authors no matter what manner of publication they pursue. Contests are an invaluable barometer of how our MSs are engaging readers allowing us to retool, regroup, and revise our way to satisfying stories. Crit partners and beta readers are great, but contests are opportunities for a blind read that we (usually) don’t get elsewhere.”

Mary Lawrence (who is now writing full time) said “I definitely feel like getting to the finals in the Golden Heart was a turning point for me. It gave my confidence the boost I needed. It would be another 3 years, switching genres to mystery writing, and writing an entirely new manuscript before getting a traditional book deal, but knowing that I was a Golden Heart finalist was enough to make me feel like I could succeed.”  She added,  “Getting involved in the Romance Writers of America was the best career move I ever made. The group is amazingly supportive and enthusiastic of each other. I learned so much from these ladies.”

Two time finalist (2007 & 2010) Donnell Ann Bell said, “The Golden Heart is without a doubt the most important thing to me, even so when I got the call to be published. By finagling with Walk Away Joe now The Past Came Hunting, that Golden Heart call told me I could write — that others believed in me as well. The Golden Heart is a major career booster.”

Abigail Sharp said of the Golden Heart that it, “Opened my experience to others not in my chapter or town, and had someplace to celebrate and kvetch when things didn’t go well. Also being able to say Golden Heart Finalist on a query letter hasn’t hurt!”  She adds that “Even seven years later, the support I get from our class is fantastic! We’re not as active as other groups, but we still have our loop and still stay in touch.”

Unsinkable Lynda Bailey said, “It was a HUGE kick-in-the-pants that said…hey, I’m actually kinda good at this writing thing. :)”

“Without a doubt,” said Lena Diaz, “my GH final captured the attention of agents and snagged me my first agent, who is still my agent today. My GH book is also the one that sold to Avon.”

For two-time finalist (2004, 2010) and USA Today bestselling author Angi Morgan, “The Daphne du Maurier win actually shot me to publication. The Golden Heart win was icing.” She added, “The Golden Heart community brought me many true friends. I’m so glad to be a part of it.”

Linda Lovely said the Golden Heart provided “Encouragement that I was on the right track with my writing. Plus my fellow GH finalists made it great fun. Have stayed in touch with many of them.”

“I’m convinced the GH got me my agent, and everything else has flowed (albeit slowly) from that,” said Nancy Holland.

USA Today bestselling author Chris Keniston said the Golden Heart made her feel “validated I know how to tell a story people will love to read.” 

As the Unsinkables prove, the Golden Heart can provide incredible validation, confidence, and encouragement in an industry where there isn’t always a lot of those qualities.  And now…

What’s next for the Unsinkables?

Lena Diaz explains, “I’ve been blessed to have a continuing career in romantic suspense. However, I hope to break into the thriller market in the next year or two. I’d also like to try some self-publishing projects and become a hybrid author.”

Mary Lawrence said, “I’m working on books 4 and 5 in my Bianca Goddard Mysteries set in Tudor London. I also have plans for a work of historical fiction set in this period.”

Angi Morgan‘s plans include, “Four 2018 Harlequin Intrigues and additional Bodyguards in Heels indi releases.”

Unsinkable J. Keely Thrall said “I’ve currently debating whether indie publishing is in my future. I have a completed MS that doesn’t seem to fit the trad. or e-publishing buckets and I’m working on the next in that series. Very glad that the indie road is a possibility.”

Abigail Sharpe explained that she “Last published in 2014, but [is] still writing on!” and said of her goals, “I want to be in a bookstore, but if that doesn’t happen, I have my indie plan all set up. I was with a traditional publisher but digital-first, so I’ve had that experience.”

Donnell Ann Bell said, “I am so behind. Life has intervened. Relocation, grandchildren. Determined to restart my career.”  Adding, “I am working on a Suspense with Romantic Elements, but it’s mostly a mystery/suspense. I am also working on a series that is romantic suspense.”

Linda Lovely “Just turned in the second book in a three-book contract with Henery Press for my humorous Brie Hooker Mystery Series. First book BONES TO PICK is out Oct. 24. Romance is a subplot in the series.”

Lynda Bailey said, “I plan to take Donald Maass’s *Breakout Novel* workshop in April to help me with my upcoming NA paranormal series.”

While Nancy Holland explained, “At this point, my goals only go out to 2018/19. In that period of time I hope to have all three books in my fantasy trilogy out and at least two short contemporary romances with another publisher.”

And Chris Keniston plans, “to start a new series next year and keep that pattern up until my brain stops working :)” 

Adding this advice “Never give up and listen to those who came before you – don’t try and reinvent the wheel :)”

Whatever point in your career you find yourself at seven years later, whether you’re restarting or still pushing for the brass ring or powering through a multi-book deal, the Golden Heart community remains a strong support system.  Congratulations to all the Unsinkables!  And don’t forget to…

Check Out These Unsinkable Releases!


Nancy Holland is also excited to announce her upcoming fantasy release, Thalgor’s Witch!

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

8 responses to “Where Are They Now – The Unsinkables (Class of 2010)”

  1. Welcome, Unsinkables! It’s great to hear from so many of you. 🙂

  2. Heather McCollum says:

    It’s wonderful to meet you all! I love your name – the Unsinkables! And congratulations on all your books : )

    Thank you for coming by our blog today <3

  3. It’s awesome to read what you ladies have been up to and the successes you’ve had. Congrats on your fortitude to keep moving forward in this wonky business.

  4. Hope Ramsay says:

    Waving to my Unsinkable sisters.

    My 2010 final in the Golden Heart came as a bit of an after-thought because I signed a four book contract with Grand Central Publishing in February 2010, a full month before the finalists were announced. No question that my 2009 final in the Golden Heart opened some doors for me and lead to that 4 book contract. In the years since my 2009 and 2010 finals, I have published 12 full-length books with Grand Central Publishing, as well as several short stories. I’ve made the USA Today bestseller list. And my 13th book, THE BRIDE NEXT DOOR, will be released in April 2018. I also hope to have an indie paranormal romance out in January 2018.
    Without question, though, the most important thing about the Golden Heart is the friendships I’ve made with both my Ruby and Unsinkable sisters.

  5. Tracy Brody says:

    Love reading these updates. Cheering for you all and wishing you the best with your publishing and continuing GH sister friendships.

  6. Welcome to my fellow Unsinkables! I think my recap will post with my first GH class, 2007, but I’m still writing, mostly mysteries and thrillers. Fun fact: one of my 2010 GH finalling books was optioned for film and is currently being developed!

    Congratulations on all the goodness in your writing lives, and thanks for being a part of my writing journey! <3 <3 <3

  7. So great to hear about your successes and see the covers of some of your wonderful books. Wishing you all continued success and camaraderie!

  8. Yay for Unsinkables!
    Keep doing all those great things you do! Wishing you ladies all the best and continued success!


Subscribe to the Blog

The Latest Comments

  • Tracy Brody: Happy, happy birthday to all the wonderful Rubies! Your GH class bonds are a testament to one of the...
  • Jeanine Englert: Thank you, Elisa! 🙂 I so appreciate your support and encouragement. Happy writing!
  • Elisa Beatty: Yay!! Congrats again on your GH final!!!
  • Lara Archer: Fabulous, Nicole!! So glad you found us!!
  • Elisa Beatty: I can’t wait for WWF 2019!!!