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Where Are They Now? – The Dragonflies (Class of 2015)

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first edition of our eight week series on Golden Heart finalists past!  Every year from March to July we do a series of interviews with the new crop of Golden Heart finalists, leading up to the ceremony at Nationals, but this year we got to wondering… Where Are They Now?  And so this blog series was born! 

Each week we will feature a new year (or group of years – we had to combine some so we could get through them all).  All of the information was voluntarily provided by the finalists themselves – but if you are a Golden Heart finalist from a particular year and you missed our call to arms, please post your own update in the comments.  We’d love to hear from you! 

And now, without further ado…

The Dragonflies of 2015, Where Are They Now…

We did a random shuffle to see who would get to go first and it was the ladies and gentlemen of 2015! Less than three years ago, the Dragonflies got The Call, but already ten of the sixteen who responded to our call are published, either traditionally or independently.  The Dragonflies are still active as a group, supporting one another on their path to publication, and all of those surveyed are still writing in the sub-genre in which they finaled, though some are writing in other genres as well.  Ten of those surveyed listed 2015 as their only final, while six others finaled in two or more years, but chose to be included in the Dragonfly round-up. 

They spoke about how the Golden Heart affected their careers, but don’t take my word for it.  Let’s hear from the Class of 2015…

How did the Golden Heart impact your writing journey?

“My GH finals have impacted my writing life immensely. The friends I made through my finalist classes have become a large part of my support group. We cheer each other on, share insight and knowledge to help each other learn more about craft and industry, and offer a place to come “home” to for celebration or commiseration. In some uncanny way fate often has, three of my finals came at a time when I needed a boost of positivity with my writing or in my life. Those finals reminded me that good can come if I keep persevering. Did being a finalist guarantee a sale? No. Very few, if any, things can do that. But it did guarantee the potential for creating lasting friendships that are vital in an industry where rejection happens often,” said four-time finalist (2003, 2008, 2012, 2015) and traditionally published author Priscilla Oliveras.

Brynn Kelly says “The networking has been invaluable – making connections with the talented, smart and inspiring fellow finalists in my GH year. It’s so valuable to be able to regularly check in with people on similar journeys who understand the highs and lows. The support is incredible.”

Traditionally published Dragonfly Kristal Hollis simply said, “Finaling in the Golden Heart contest launched my career.”

“Being involved in the Golden Heart has made a huge impact on my writing career in a very positive way. It helped me make wonderful writing friends and it also helped me gain visibility in the industry,” says three-time finalist (2013, 2015, 2016) and traditionally published author Tara Sheets.

Kelly Farmer said, “Finaling in the Golden Heart is something that stays with you always. It’s the highlight of queries. It goes on your marketing information. It goes on your book cover if that book goes on to sell! Industry professionals know what it means to final in this contest. It opens a lot of doors that we bang on. Like they say, it truly is an honor just to be nominated!”

Jen Gilroy explained, “My Golden Heart final changed my life in multiple ways. Not only did it give me more visibility with editors at the time my agent was querying my GH final manuscript, it also connected me with a community of writing “sisters,” many of whom I’m now blessed to count as friends in life, as well as supportive colleagues in my writing journey.”

“The GH made a huge difference for me! It helped me land both an agent and a contract,” said Sara Portman.

And she wasn’t the only one.  Julie Glover explains that the Golden Heart “helped me secure an agent. She’d already asked for the full MS, but when I told her that I’d finaled, I’m pretty sure that moved my book up to the top of the slush pile and gave her a favorable perspective as she read.”

“Not only did the Golden Heart final introduce me to some wonderful writers, I believe it drew attention to my entry when it went on submission,” agrees two-time finalist (2015, 2016) and Kensington Zebra author Renee Ann Miller.

Two-time finalist (2015, 2016) and traditionally published author Seana Kelly says, “Finaling in the GH prompted agents and editors to give my work a chance. When i queried, I actually received responses. Being a member of the GH class, gave me a sisterhood of wonderful women who supported and consoled one another. I’d be floundering without them!”

That sense of community was echoed by Arlene McFarlane, 2-time finalist (2011, 2015) and independently published author, who said she “Met wonderful and talented women!”

“I met the most encouraging, courageous group of women on the planet, and they accepted me like I actually belong in their ranks,” confirms  Dragonfly Caroline Bradley, who now publishes both independently and with a small press.  “I am ridiculously fortunate to be a Dragonfly. I learned as much about life and the world from them as I did about writing.”

Three-time finalist (2015, 2016, 2017) Tracy Brody agreed, “It helped me get my agent who is aiming high – thus the still pursuing publication after passing on offer I got and interest from a small press. Best thing has been the relationships with my Golden Heart sisters! Being a Dragonfly was such a great experience, I entered and finaled again as I was still eligible (but working hard on not being eligible again.)” 

Tracy also added that, “Finalling and even winning the Golden Heart doesn’t mean an automatic sale, but it does help open doors and build a community of supporters with the other finalists. Even if your GH book doesn’t sell (at least right away) keep writing and trying to find the right match or publishing path for you.”

Which is excellent advice.  I’ve definitely noticed a theme among the responses so far – The Golden Heart: Come for the Career Opportunities, Stay for the Fellowship.  😉  And now…

What’s next for the Dragonflies?

Renee Ann Miller explains, “My debut historical romance series, The Infamous Lords, will be released with Kensington Zebra Shout in 2018. Two of the books in the series were Golden Heart finalist, so 2018 will be an exciting year for me. Right now I’m learning about edits, copy edits, and proofs. And I’m working on a fourth book that has a secondary character from one of the books as the hero.”

For Priscilla Oliveras the goal is to “Continue writing romances with Latino characters, doing my best to create stories that celebrate how love triumphs and brings hope. Write 2 books a year, with a novella potentially in the mix if possible.”

Tara Sheets plans to “finish writing the third book in The Holloway Girls series, then continue writing books in the contemporary romance genre.”

Tracy Brody is “About to go on submission with the 2017 GH RS book. Started a new project that is more a WF cross-genre book.”

Kelly Farmer is working toward having “writing novels be my full-time job and sole source of income.”

Jen Gilroy‘s goal is “To build a sustainable, long-term writing career.”

Julie Glover says, “I finaled in YA and my GH novel is out on submission, but I’m now also writing adult mystery. I hope to sell novels in both genres, but at this point I believe the mysteries have a better shot at publication. So my next goal is simply getting published by a reputable, traditional press.”

Kristal Hollis is “currently writing paranormal romance and plan[s] to branch out into contemporary and romantic suspense next year.”

Arlene McFarlane plans to “Keep working on my series.”

Brynn Kelly is “in edits for my fourth story for Harlequin’s HQN imprint, the last story in the series that began with my GH finaling book, Deception Island. Very excited about the prospect of getting a breather after that so I can work on a sophomore series.”

Seana Kelly is planning on “Finishing and selling my latest contemporary. **The line I published with (Harlequin SuperRomance closed so I can’t complete my series. I’m editing the 1st book in a new series** I’d also REALLY like to get my paranormal published but it’s a tough market. Someday, I want to write full-time.”

Caroline Bradley‘s goal is to “Sell movie rights. (Hey, shoot for the moon and you might just hit the stars.)” 

I, for one, love that goal.  May we all shoot for the stars, but for now…

Don’t Miss These Dragonfly Releases!

 

Caroline Bradley had this note to add for readers: “I have 4 books out on the market if anyone’s looking for a hot post-summer read. 🙂 Indulge My Fantasy was my GH finalist, published by LooseId in 2016, but Hidden Away, Tall Shadows, and Heated Competition are also available and quite fun!”

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

17 responses to “Where Are They Now? – The Dragonflies (Class of 2015)”

  1. Welcome, once again, to the Dragonflies. It’s so much fun to catch up with you. What beautiful covers you have, and congrats on your successes.

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  2. Welcome, Dragonflies! So excited to hear from you! Here’s to many more books to come!

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  3. Liz Talley says:

    Congrats, Dragonflies, on your amazing success and enjoying the benefits of sisterhood so well. Nothing like having a strong group of women behind you, pushing, cheering and being your voice of reason. Can’t tell you how much the Rubies have meant to me on this path. Keep flying, ladies (and gent) and you’ll find new paths, new places and hopefully catch those dreams.

    Enjoyed reading about your successes!

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  4. Great post–I’m always happy to found out what’s happened to people since… Congratulations on your successes!

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  5. Jen Gilroy says:

    Thanks to the Rubies for featuring this “Where are they now?” series and for all the support and encouragement the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood has given me on my writing journey.

    I’m happy and honoured to be a Dragonfly (2015) and am very much looking forward to reading updates from other the Golden Heart classes.

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  6. Tracy Brody says:

    can’t say it enough, but the finaling in the GH and being part of the Dragonflies was —
    and still is — the most awesome experience. I wish all writers could be part of such a community. There’s no competition within the group, but oh so much support, encouragement, and fun.

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  7. Congrats to the Dragonflies. It’s great to hear that your group has remained close. Love the writing updates and seeing those beautiful covers!

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  8. Kelly Farmer says:

    Aww. Dragonflies fly high! This really is an amazing group of ladies. 🙂

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  9. Gwyn says:

    A great recap, and so lovely to know so many Dragonflies have achieved their goals. Kudos, ladies.

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  10. Can’t wait for the catching up with posts from all the years. 🙂 It’s fun to see how everyone’s doing and to hear how the GH final(s) have positively affected everyone.

    Hugs,
    Pris

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  11. Kate Parker says:

    Glad to hear how the Dragonflies have moved along. Even gladder to hear you have a supportive group like we have with the Rubies.

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  12. Welcome Dragonflies! It’s so awesome to hear about your successes! Looking forward to hearing more from you and the other GH classes.

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  13. Elisa Beatty says:

    Congrats to the wonderful and talented Dragonflies all over again for their success! Dang, I have some new books to buy!!!

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  14. Jeanine Englert says:

    Congrats to all of you and thank you for sharing all of your successes and encouragement… and for helping me to add to my “to be read” pile. 🙂

    Happy writing!

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  15. Darynda Jones says:

    I adore this!!! Thank you for this post. I am going to use some of these examples in a workshop I’m giving next weekend at the Emerald City Writer’s Conference on contests and how they can catapult your career.

    Thank you guys for being here and super congrats to everyone!

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  16. Hope Ramsay says:

    This is so much fun! And so inspirational too. So excited to see these beautiful covers displayed.

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