Consolation Day: We’ve Got Hugs, Chocolate, and Some Reminders You Need to Hear Right Now!!

Well, this stinks.

The universe clearly %*$%#$&!!ed up this time.

You submitted your wonderful, awesome, from-the-very-depths-of-your-heart precious book—your book that truly DESERVED it, the book you sweated and cried and suffered over, the book that made your CP weep tears of joy—and you WANTED TO FINAL SO BAD.

Especially this year.

And you stared at the phone all Thursday morning, drinking your twelfth cup of coffee, chewing off the last of your fingernails and about to start on the toes, waiting for Damon Suede to finally call YOU, and…nada.

(Well, okay, the phone rang, but it was just your vet reminding you about Fluffy’s appointment. Thanks, Dr. Nakamura. Yes, I will remember to bring the stool sample.)





Well. we’re here for you today with big hugs and healing chocolate and absolute permission to scream and wail and rave and curse and do whatever else you have to do to let it allllll out, baby!

(If Chumbawumba’s “I Get Knocked Down, and I Get Up Again” would help, click here.)

Or Katy Perry’s “Rise.”

Or a sing-along version of “Let It Go” from Frozen.

And you absolutely NEED to hear Andra Day “Rise Up”…. (Move mountains. Find the fighter. Rise up!) Just put it on repeat for awhile. 

And this glorious, cathartic behind-the-scenes video of “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman.

Or, heck, here’s a whole playlist….. )

And, seriously, we do have literal chocolate, and gift cards, and other prizes to remind you how wonderful you really are and that we love you.

We’re also here to remind you of what a crapshoot RWA nominations can be.

Out of a thousand manuscripts entered in the Golden Heart, only 10% could final. That’s tiny. And I know everyone who’s judged entries can tell you how often they read one that WOWs them, that they’re absolutely, positively certain will final, and then it doesn’t. WHY? Who knows. The high score gets deleted after all, so the judge who loved your work the most doesn’t count, and then it just takes one other judge to give it a 6 (you know that judge who goes on Amazon and gives 3 out of 5 stars and writes “I loved it!”…because…who knows why…because nobody praised them enough as a child or they’re British or something??), and…nope. Game over.

It really is one of those “eye of the needle” things.

With the RITAs, it’s only 4% who make it. FOUR PERCENT. Out of all those fabulous, sweated-over, uber-well-edited books. Books that made bestseller lists. Books that moved readers to tears. Books that will be read and re-read and beloved for years. Did you see Courtney Milan’s name on that list this year? Kristan Higgins? Lisa Kleypas?

And we could spend several days talking about the deep diversity problem the RITA contest has: 2019 is yet another year in which awesome books by authors of color—like Helen Hoang’s THE KISS QUOTIENT, Alyssa Cole’s A PRINCESS IN THEORY, and Beverly Jenkins’ TEMPEST, which topped countless “Best of 2018” lists—are nowhere to be found. We’ve got systemic problems, and we need to do better, RWA!!!

So…all kinds of things can go wrong. Humans are involved, so it’s subjective and weird and definitely flawed.

With any individual book, we may never know why it didn’t make the cut. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a fabulous, amazing, fantastic book!

Always remember this: if you entered the Golden Heart or the RITA, that means YOU FINISHED WRITING A BOOK, and had the guts to put it out there in the world!! That’s something most people dream of doing, but only a tiny fraction of people ever manage to do.

**YOU DID THAT!!!!**

Leave a comment below—as mopey or furious or self-pitying as you like, as long as you know deep inside you’re gonna pick yourself up off that kitchen floor afterwards, splash some cold water on your face, and commit to a concrete writing goal to carry you forward!!

Sing along with Gloria Gaynor now: “I WILL SURVIVE!”

Also, you’ll be in the running for one of these spirit-lifting prizes, which we’ll be awarding to random commenters throughout the day (but let us know if you **DON’T** have an address in the U.S., since some of the physical prizes are U.S. only):

$25 See’s Candies Gift Certificate from Lara Archer

$10 Starbucks Gift Card from Heather McCollum

$10 Amazon Gift Certificate from Autumn Jordon

$15 Amazon Gift Certificate from Liz Talley

$25 Starbucks Gift Card from Tamara Hogan

$20 Gift Card to Winner’s Choice of Store from Katie Graykowski

43 responses to “Consolation Day: We’ve Got Hugs, Chocolate, and Some Reminders You Need to Hear Right Now!!”

  1. Colette Dixon says:

    Okay, I’ll be the first. You ladies are awesome. I’m not really crying as I’ve been a finalist twice. But I did work my butt off this year to get 3 mss in shape to enter. I was hoping to be like Scarlett Peckham or Emily Sullivan with a triple threat final, but alas. I will just find my people when I self pub later this year.
    Nicole Hohmann writing as Colette Dixon

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Honestly, if you’ve got three manuscripts together and are ready to start that self-pub journey, you’re already Golden!!!!

      And the star of approval of being able to write “Two Time Golden Heart Finalist” in your advertising will be a terrific boost!!

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      And Colette, you’re the winner of the $25 See’s Candies gift certificate!! Lara will be in touch via email!

  2. ErrynB says:

    I didn’t enter this year but a call from Damon Suede would’ve been totally awesome.

  3. The Rubies are the sweetest. At first I was sort of torn up over not being a finalist this year, but it makes room for other people, and it takes me off the hook in terms of obligations in NY, so it’s not something to brood over. I’ve already started writing something new, so I guess I’m over it!

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Writing something new / no brooding? You got this!!!!

      There can be a big upside to not going down the Golden Heart rabbit hole…that takes a lot of time and energy.

      You’ll always be a Golden Heart Finalist…now get that new book done!

    • Heather McCollum says:

      Great attitude!
      Yes, it has helped me with my summer plans too : )

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Gwynne, you’re the winner of the $10 Starbucks gift certificate from Heather McCollum! She’ll be in touch via email

      • Gwynne Jackson says:

        Thank you, Elisa and Heather! The GH family is truly the loveliest part of RWA. I’m so happy to be a part of it. <3

  4. Jeanne says:

    I had hopes that my self-pubbed book, The Demon Always Wins, which won the paranormal GH in 2015, would get a Rita nod, giving me marketing material and a little publicity. Nope.

    The good news is, I was coping with rehoming the rescue dog I adopted 4 months ago, so I didn’t have much time or emotional energy to devote to the Rita.

    Next year I’m hoping to have time to really wallow when my 2018 GH finalist doesn’t get a Rita nomination.

  5. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    All can say is kudos to those who had the “chutzpa” to even enter! & if you weren’t among the “chosen”…keep on keeping on. We’ve come together here to encourage, cheer on & support each other…so, carry on!

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      It truly is an accomplishment in itself!!!

      This is a tough business, and no matter what stage you’re at, you’ve got to keep on keeping on!

    • Heather McCollum says:

      Christina Dodd once said at a conference that (and I paraphrase) submitting your work to be judged is like going up on stage, stripping all your clothes off, and asking for comments. Yes, just entering is so brave!

  6. Lana Pattinson says:

    I was excited to see new winners in my category this year, and also sad for me! Mostly because it’s the last year for the Golden Heart. In the end it’s good to have new faces join the Golden Network…now I’m off to write the next book! 🙂 and ps thanks for doing this – it’s really sweet!

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Nothing can ever take away your Golden Heart status!

      It’s just so sad that the circle will grow no wider after this year.

      • Tamara Hogan says:

        It’s going to be interesting to see what the future brings for RWA contests. 😐

        • Elisa Beatty says:

          Sigh. LOTTA changes on the horizon.

          This statement just came out today from the Board:

          A message from President HelenKay Dimon on behalf of the RWA Board

          The 2019 RITA finalists were announced late last week. While we are happy for our finalists, we cannot ignore the lack of representation on the finalist list or the shadow this lack of representation casts on RWA. The Board apologizes to our members of color and LGBTQ+ members for putting them in a position where they feel unwanted and unheard. While the Board cannot undo the harm inflicted this year, it does make the following points and commitments:

          The Board affirmatively states that there is a serious problem with reader bias in the judging of the RITAs. This is most evident in the preliminary round of the RITAs.

          Currently, the preliminary round is judged by peer-review. All entrants must judge and the judging pool is limited to those who are eligible for PAN. The 2020 RITA contest will not be judged by the same peer-review process.

          The Board is currently investigating options and reviewing member feedback to change the scoring and judging of the RITAs.

          The Board’s working presumption is that the preliminary round judges must be vetted, likely through an application process and chosen by a committee with a stated process and whose membership is transparent and includes both authors and non-authors. We are reviewing the particulars of how this would work and will seek the assistance of an expert with a specialty in implicit bias and culture change to assist us in this process.

          The Board commits to providing the membership with an ongoing status report of its work on the proposed RITA changes prior to voting on the changes at the July Board meeting.

          The Board has seen the suggestions about skipping a year, or more, of the RITA contest. We are reluctant to take that course for two reasons: (1) while the solution must be researched and well-reasoned, we prefer to harness the current momentum and stated will to do better, rather than wait for a new Board to get up to speed, especially when the issue predates this year’s situation by many years; and (2) reader bias will be an issue and continue to carry across the entire industry next year just as it does today, so that waiting will not make that situation better.

          While we work through this process and the large-scale change to RITA judging and other issues in the contest, we ask that members contact us with their comments, suggestions and concerns. You can contact any Board member directly or email me at and I will share your email with the Board.

          While we know we may not deserve your trust on this issue right now, we hope to earn it. We are aware that, for some members, this may be the last chance they give RWA and we hope to rise to that challenge.


          HelenKay Dimon
          RWA President

    • Heather McCollum says:

      Great words to live by – I’m off to write the next book. That’s the mark of a true writer : )

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Lana, you’re the winner of the $25 Starbucks gift card from Tamara Hogan! She’ll be in touch via email!

  7. Lynn Harris says:

    I spent a few minutes really sad, then my old mantra kicked in: there must be no cheese down that tunnel (for me). I believe things happen for reason (or don’t), so this wasn’t my path. So what if a manuscript that won FFP plus another and has two editor requests didn’t final? And another one that has finaled 6 times in 2018 (never won, but , you know, cheese 😉) and has an agent request didn’t final? Life, and that means the writing, must go on. I’ll see the finalist in NYC and be cheering my chaptermates on. Best of luck to you. I’ll be having my cheese elsewhere 😁.

  8. Pennie Leas says:

    To ease the sting, maybe Damon Suede could make consolation calls…LOL!

  9. I was so bummed to not final this year. It was so much easier the year prior when I figured I had a snowball’s chance in hell and was then pleasantly surprised. But I decided I wouldn’t let an external factor deter me from writing and take away one of the great joys of my life. I didn’t start writing for accolades (though they are nice to have!), I started writing for me, and that’s not going to change, come what may with all the vicissitudes this profession brings.

    Besides, disappointment is such good fodder for writing the dreaded black moment, yes? 😉

    Btw, you guys are awesome! This post was everything I needed and I’m sure that’s true for others as well.

    • Rita Henuber says:

      Yes. No matter what happens we go back to swirling words on the page ’cause really, we can’t not write.

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      “I decided I wouldn’t let an external factor deter me from writing and take away one of the great joys of my life.”

      Yes, yes, yes!!! That’s one of the most important lessons to hold on to in this ongoing rollercoaster of a profession. I think only actors have it harder. At least nothing can stop us from writing!

      Glad the post was what you needed!!

      Write on, Katherine!!

  10. Liz Talley says:

    Well, I was disappointed. Both the books I entered this year had good reviews – the highest I’ve ever had. I really thought I had a shot this year. Of course it was my first entry in the women’s fiction/elements category so it could have been too romance-y for that. But, I’m good. I’m happy for those who finaled and I’ll be there to celebrate them at the ceremony.

    Congrats to everyone who entered. Hey, we gave it the ol’ college try!


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