Getting ready for the Golden Heart 2011

The 2010 RWA Golden Heart is over. We’ve squeeed with the finalists and cheered for the winners. We’ve pitched our manuscripts at conferences and sent out query letters. What’s next for our intrepid writers?

The 2011 Golden Heart, of course. Now is the time to get started, not in September when you send in your money and then realize you’ve committed yourself. It would be even better if your story is already partially completed. So what are the three steps to be taking now to see your name on the 2011 Golden Heart list?

1.  Write, write, write. You can only send in entries that are completed. If you put your butt in the chair for 5 pages a day, you’ll have a 400 page manuscript written in first draft in 80 days. October 31st. Halloween. Oohh, that doesn’t leave much time for rewites. It’d have been better if you’d started on that rough draft last spring.

2.  Get your posse together and critique each other’s manuscripts. It’s amazing what another pair of eyes or more can spot in what you thought was a perfect page. Just remember, it’s your story, and you’re the final judge of which suggestions to take and which to ignore.

3.  Enter the Golden Pen contest. Put on by the Golden Network chapter, it’s the closest thing to the Golden Heart, plus you get more feedback than just a number. Particularly worried about the first chapter? There are some excellent contests out there right now which will get feedback to you before the Golden Heart entries need to be sent in.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to line up your muses nearby. Mine are Figment (collected this summer at Disney World), Dark Wing Duck (anyone remember him?), and a pot bellied hippopotamus. I’ve got my muses, my manuscript was begun months ago, and my plan is in place.

Anyone want to share their plan for this year’s race to the Golden Heart deadline?

35 responses to “Getting ready for the Golden Heart 2011”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Hey, Kate! I can’t BELIEVE it’s all ramping up again…but of course it is.

    And indeed, “it’d have been better if you’d started on that rough draft last spring.” LOL!

    I definitely second the plug for entering the Golden Pen Contest. If I remember correctly from last year, you get your feedback sometime in early-to-mid October, and that’s TREMENDOUSLY useful for making those “last minute” changes to the 50+ pages that are actually judged for Golden Heart. Most contests don’t give you feedback past page 25 or so, so Golden Pen is is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. THE DEADLINE IS AUGUST 15, so scurry!

    My other advice is to join in on NaNoWriMo in November, especially if you have a significant part of your Golden Heart entry to finish (or if you want a head start on an entry for Golden Heart 2012).

    Having a minimum of a polished first 50 pages going in to NaNoWriMo is great…if you NaNo properly, you can add 50,000 words in a month and reach THE END (but, unless you’re fabulously good at first drafts, you’d better be truly prepared to revise like a maniac through March, in case you final in GH and end up having a final judge request a polished full.)

    Have fun getting ready, everybody! It’s anybody’s game!

  2. Darynda Jones says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Kate! Fabulous post. And I love Nano too. Can’t wait for it all to start over again. Fun, fun, fun!

  3. Elise Hayes says:

    Hi Kate!

    Yup, I’ll be entering the GH this year. Lots left to do on the manuscript–basically the second half left to write–but I’ll be going on a three-day writing retreat in late August to help me jump-start my fall writing. Yay!

    And a big THANK YOU to Liz Bemis, who put together this fabulous redesign of the site!! I love the ruby-slipper-strewn starry sky!

  4. liz talley says:

    Well, I won’t be entering, but if I could, you better believe I’d be getting something ready. Finaling in the GH was a gamechanger for me.

    I will also give a shout out to the Golden Pen. I used that both years to get my ms ready. I got some really helpful comments that made a difference not just for the contest, but also on the ms that sold. So I think it’s a good one for a test run.

    Muses that are Dark Wing Duck and a hippo? Really? I’ve always thought of my muse as a thin, lazy, cosmopolitan former model. She’s content to sit around the pool all day drinking mojitos. When I call her, she gives me that look. You know the one that your kids give you. That I-can’t-be-bothered look, but she gets up anyway. If I can get her to play, she kicks ass. That’s my muse.

    • Kate Parker says:

      Had to laugh about your muse, Liz. Mine kick serious butt while looking genteel-y plump and cuddly. Don’t turn out enough pages, and they become vicious predators with cotton stuffing.

  5. Kelly Fitzpatrick says:

    No GH for me either. Probably no NY either. I’ve got my eye on Anaheim.

  6. Liz Bemis says:

    Hey, Kate! This post makes me realize how little time I have left to do the MASSIVE AMOUNTS of editing that will be required to start submitting both to the GH and to Agents again! Thanks for reminding us that time is short! 😀

  7. Nan Dixon says:

    Kate – what a timely blog. Just Sunday I put on my To Do list – Determine 2011 GH entries. Going to clean up some new manuscripts that haven’t been out there on the contest circuit. Yikes. I’d better get them into a contest or two to test the waters!
    Thanks for the nudge.

  8. Kate, you’re absolutely on the money (honey)! Unless I sell a manuscript before the deadline, I’m entering the GH this year with at least one manuscript, ideally two. That means i need to write the last few pages of the second one, and polish up the first 50, but hey, there’s more than enough time left to do all that!

    Maybe I can sneak a third entry in…


  9. Jeannie Lin says:

    Hey, nice new digs we got here. It’s like Rubies in the Sky with…Diamonds?

    I’m a big list-maker my self. I love ticking off items on the To-Do list. One of them is judging in the Golden Pen. Entries are due August 15!!

  10. Kelly Fitzpatrick says:

    Good luck all with the GH.

  11. Dara says:

    So…I would like to try for the Golden Heart but I really don’t know if I’ll be able to my story revised in time. Maybe I should just focus on a first chapter contest. But now I have to go and find a good one–I haven’t entered a contest in ages!

    • Elise Hayes says:

      Dara, just remember that you only need a complete *draft* by late fall for the GH. When I’ve entered, I use the entry to push me to revise through the winter, so that if I find out on March 25th that I’m a finalist, I can have an updated version to give any judges who might request a full manuscript.

      That said, it’s true that the GH doesn’t give feedback (other than the judges’ scores), so if you’re looking for comments on your work you probably do want to look elsewhere.

    • liz talley says:

      Well, not to totally pimp my chapter contest because I do beleive the Golden Pen is a good one for prep for GH, but ours is open for entry Sept 1st. It’s a 7200 word entry for published and unpublished writers – like an editor’s desk. It’s the Suzannah contest so maybe it will work better for you.

      Okay, sorry for the highjack.

  12. Shea Berkley says:

    Oh Kate, I just caught my breath from 2010 GH, and I’m already feeling the pressure of the 2011 GH. The GH is pretty much the only contest I enter these days, and though I love entering it, I’m undecided. The YA I’ll be working on as soon as I finish my latest round of revisions has very little romance in it, so even if I finish in time, it doesn’t fit the requirements. I do have a few manuscripts laying around, but fiddling with them just to enter the GH doesn’t seem worthwhile at the moment. So you can see, I’m torn.

    For those who want to enter contests, I think the Golden Pen is fantastic and would be a wonderful contest to test drive an manuscript. Good luck to all those who are gearing up to enter!!

  13. Anne Barton says:

    Hi Kate! Thanks for sharing the tips. I’m a little slow getting started this year, but I’m gonna try to make it.

    Your muses sound like a motley crew. Hope they keep you in line. 😉

  14. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    OY!!! Where has the time gone? And I hope to enter three manuscripts in two categories! I may have to lower my sights a wee bit.

    Thanks for the wake-up call, Kate. Looks like I need to follow my own advice and put everything non-essential on hold so I can get to work.

    • Kate Parker says:

      i’m only certain of entering one in the GH, so I’m going to try it out in the Golden Pen first. If all my judges say, ewww, I’ll know to save my money until I have something better.

  15. Hope Ramsay says:

    Okay, I know it sounds snarky to say that I’m so glad I won’t be eligible to enter the GH this year. I must have entered the GH every year for the last seven or eight years running.

    But don’t think I won’t be working my fanny off this fall. Instead of the Golden Heart, I’ll be working feverishly to get the second book to the publisher by the October 1, deadline.

    So, I will second Liz Talley’s comments: being a Golden Heart Finalist in 2009 was a total game-changer for me. It opened the door to finally make a first sale in a difficult market. So, ladies (and any gents who may be lurking) it’s worth the effort.

    So, butts in chairs, fingers on keyboards, ready…set…write.

  16. Kate Parker says:

    I see no one wanted to be reminded that 80 days from today is Halloween. The last day of November is 120 days. There isn’t a great deal of time to get those entries ready. Does this make you as nervous as it does me?

  17. I’m already forming my plan of attack, Kate. Unfortunately, the last day of November (which is approximately the mailing date) is only about 110 days away. My manuscripts usually average about 300 words a page. So if I’m going to write a 90,000 word book and still have two weeks to polish, I’ve got to write 1000 words a day or approximately 3.5 pages. Very possible if I get started now. I just have to figure out what I want to write. 🙂

  18. Rita Henuber says:

    Wow! Here it is again. Are any of you who are represented going to enter?

  19. Addison Fox says:


    GREAT post!!!!

    It’s so awesome that we have such a fun community here to cheer each other on.

    Go, go, go!!!!!!

  20. Hi … it’s been a while since I’ve checked in. This year, I’m entering the GH in TWO categories.

    That’s right: I have two MS I’m going to start prepping for GH — both completely written, but in need of some polish and shine. I plan to dedicate September to one and October to the other, and be ready to hit the NaNoWriMo on Nov. 1 with a completely new idea.


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