Posts tagged with: 2019 Golden Heart Finalist

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Lisa Heartman!!

Today we’re welcoming Lisa Heartman, one of the Omegas, the 2019 Golden Heart Finalists. Lisa is a finalist in the Romantic Suspense category with her book HIGH HEELS AND HANDGUNS.

Lisa Heartman is a coffee-swilling, sass-spewing, romance writer who believes love is messy and magnificent. She writes things she wishes she had said, and some she wishes she hadn’t, delighting readers with exhilarating stories and swoon-worthy characters in a world where danger and desire collide.

In addition to writing, Lisa enjoys movies, music, reading, baking, traveling, anything dark chocolate or coffee related, and hobbies like jewelry making and sewing. Growing up in New Jersey in a large Italian family full of strong role models gave Lisa the confidence to chase her dreams all the way to Arizona where she still lives with her husband and cat.

Here’s a blurb for HIGH HEELS AND HANDGUNS:

For Kate Howard, former Army Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, life as a one-woman personal protection detail comes with challenges. Wearing civilian camouflage while guarding high-profile clients is a dangerous game of rock, paper, hollow point. After an explosive and deadly end to her client’s re-election fundraiser, which left his young son in critical condition, Kate must accept help from an unwanted source: the soldier she loved and left in Afghanistan, bloody, broken, and barely alive.

Special Forces Officer Paxton Banks, Kate’s former captain-turned-FBI agent, is brought in to investigate the attempt on her client’s life. After twelve years, old emotions and new threats whip Kate’s world into complicated chaos. But when other elected officials are threatened, Kate and Paxton must tamp down their fiery feelings to catch a madman hell-bent on revenge.

That sounds deliciously intense! “Old emotions and new threats,” indeed!! I’m just imagining the dialogue….

So glad to have you with us here today, Lisa!! I’m having a blast getting to know the Omegas!

Since Lisa’s a Romantic Suspense finalist, I’m going to invite everybody into my virtual bulletproof bunker today. Don’t worry—I’ve got comfy couches inside, and there’s a fresh pot of coffee brewed up by one of the hunky FBI agents who always seem to be hanging out. Grab a seat!!


Welcome, Lisa! Congrats on your Golden Heart Final, and thanks for being with us today! So, tell me a little about your background as a writer. Did you always know you wanted to write?

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Anna Collins!!

Today we’re welcoming another Omega, Anna Collins, whose book RESURRECTING ANNIE WOLFF is a finalist in the Mainstream with Central Romance category!

Anna grew up in a land far far away – Sweden to be exact – but moved to the US after meeting her American husband back in 2002. After two more international moves and several domestic ones, she now lives in the greater Seattle area with said husband, their 12-year-old son, and 10-year-old daughter. A puppy will be joining the brood later this year. A former high school teacher, Anna currently spends her time not really at all using her master’s degree in educational psychology, instead rearing children and indulging whatever creative fancies arise, be it writing, making music, painting and drawing, baking, sewing, or light carpentry. Why choose one?

Here’s a blurb for RESURRECTING ANNIE WOLFF (Trigger warning: depression/suicide)

Eight years ago, Annie Wolff abdicated motherhood to spare her children her maternal legacy of depression and suicide. But when their dad dies and Annie finds out relatives are looking to adopt the now teenage kids, she decides to come out of her self-imposed exile to make sure they are all right. The last thing she expects is to be pulled close enough for someone to do the same for her.

 Before long, she is sucked back not only into the lives of her unfamiliar family, but also that of Wic Dubray – the handsome but annoyingly honest former pot dealer who leases her a room. Amidst old memories, hostile family members, her own internal monster, and Wic, she must learn to believe she can shape her own destiny apart from the generations before her in order to win back her children, her life, and love.

Ooh!! This is why I’m so happy RWA brought back the Mainstream with a Central Romance category!! This sounds like such an interesting and rich and complicated story, even though the subject matter probably wouldn’t fit in any traditional Romance lines.

Congrats, Anna, on your final!!

Gather round, everybody. My backyard’s wonderfully sunny this morning, and my family just adopted our puppy a few weeks ago, so it’s a good place to be!! (Anna, I won’t say anything about the 1 a.m. whining-puppy trips outside or the struggle to teach her that the cats really DON’T enjoy puppy bounces or the mysterious disappearances of all our socks or the current condition of my carpets, sigh…just the wonderful bits!! Which are truly wonderful.)

So let’s settle back in some Adirondack chairs and take turns tossing a tennis ball to this sweet girl while I lob some questions Anna’s way.



Welcome, Anna! Wonderful to have you with us! Can you tell us a little more about RESURRECTING ANNIE WOLFF and the process of writing it?

I should say right off the bat that my GH book is Women’s Fiction so I feel a teensy weensy bit out of place in the hallowed halls of romance. I suppose I tend to use romance as seasoning in my stories, rather than as the main course.

Guest Blog: 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Susan Lee – This One’s For the Dreamers

Today we’re welcoming another member of the Omegas, the 2019 Golden Heart Finalists: Susan Lee, whose manuscript DRAGGED has finaled in the Young Adult category.

Susan Lee has built a career as a Human Resources executive at successful startups such as Spotify, Warby Parker, and SeatGeek. Her biggest job takeaway: we are all, for the most part, ridiculous. 🙂 And she channels this into her writing of light-hearted, quirky novels about the oftentimes hilarious human condition. You can find Susan around New York City enjoying bottomless brunch, catching any show with her favorite local drag queen, Marti Gould Cummings, or trying to snag cheap tickets for Broadway previews. Susan is a 2018 PitchWars alum, a 2019 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, and a lifetime Shangela stan.

Here’s a blurb for DRAGGED:

Goody two-shoes Grace Lee has a surefire plan for success: work her butt off to become a doctor and then be rich enough to buy herself a new butt. She’s one-hundred-percent focused on graduating first in her class and accomplishing all her goals. Nothing can stop her…except her smug arch-nemesis, Henry Liao. Henry is fast on Grace’s heels in their race to the top. He’s also the villainous traitor who convinced Grace to participate in a senior prank gone terribly wrong. Left shouldering the blame, Grace faces an enormous repair bill and—even worse—disappointed parents (eek!). To redeem herself and get back on track, Grace must win the school’s Most Outstanding Student Award, along with its hefty scholarship. Problem is, “outstanding” requires not just good grades, but song, dance, and jazz hands, too. 

 Enter stage right: Azia J’Adore, New York City’s hottest teen drag queen. With her huge wigs and an enormous heart to match, Azia’s the fairy dragmother Grace needs to land a role in the school musical, catapulting herself past Henry and straight into the winner’s circle. But working with Azia stirs up unexpected feelings in Grace. And when she finds out Azia’s true identity, Grace is knocked for a loop. With opening night fast approaching, it’s time to face the music: win the scholarship at any cost and screw up the one relationship she never knew she wanted, or toss aside her best-laid plans for the chance at a future unlike anything she ever imagined.

Oh, my!! What a fascinating and fresh storyline!! I’m dying to know exactly who Azia really is! Just from this blurb, Susan, I can see the humor and warmth in your writing voice, and can’t wait to see this book out in the world!

Today, readers, Susan has a wonderful guest blog post for us, one that’s especially poignant just after Father’s Day.

Thanks so much for being with us, Susan! Take it away!!


This One’s For the Dreamers:

It is such an honor to be a finalist for the 2019 Golden Heart award. Some of my favorite authors started their careers as GH finalists and to share this achievement is mind-blowing for me. I’m a baby writer – I’ve only been putting words to page for a few years now, and this is my second completed manuscript. But, I think I’ve been a storyteller my entire life. And I know I’ve been a dreamer from the very beginning.

My father passed away a few weeks ago. It was a difficult loss for my family. But as I’ve been scrolling through memories of him in my mind, there has been a common thread: my dad was a dreamer. He was hard-working, uber-practical, stubborn, demanding…but he was a dreamer nonetheless. From early on, he dreamt of a better life and greater opportunities, success for his family, and a legacy to leave behind. And he made those dreams come true for us.

When I was growing up, he moved us to a new neighborhood in the suburbs of San Diego. We were one of the very few families who looked different than the rest. In school, others would actually tell me that they’d never even seen a kid who looked like me. But at home, my dad made it a practice to speak life into me. He showered me with words of confidence and acceptance. When I walked down the stairs of our home, he would announce “Here comes Miss Korea!” And I would wave and smile and stand taller with pride. I was unfazed by looking different than other kids because in my heart I knew I was beautiful. My daddy told me so.

We attended a Korean church every Sunday. It was one of the only places I had access to other Korean kids, kids who looked like me. But most of these kids were born in Korea, where I was born in Chicago. It’s funny what kids decide is weird to them. For these kids, it was weird that I was “not Korean”.. But at home, my dad made it a practice to speak life into me. He showered me with words of confidence and acceptance. When we watched the news at the kitchen table, he would proudly say, “Susan, you’re the only person in our family who can be President of the United States.” And I would nod and let those words sink in and accept all the opportunity ahead of me with pride. I was unfazed by kids telling me I wasn’t Korean. I knew I was Korean-American and that meant something big. My daddy told me so.

The dreamer in me wants to tell stories that are life-affirming, confidence-building, and honestly, belly-achingly funny (my dad was that too, by the way). I write young adult romance because I want the teens who might worry there isn’t a place for them, to be assured that there is. There are stories for them. There is love and happily ever afters for them. I don’t want to tell kids to forget who they are, but to explore all the possibilities that lay ahead of them because of EXACTLY who they are.

I was raised by a dreamer.

I am a dreamer.

I write stories for the dreamers.

What about you, readers? Who inspires you the most in your life? 



Connect with Susan Lee on social media:

Twitter: @susanleewrites

Instagram: @syleegurl



Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Becke Turner!

Today we’re welcoming another of the Omegas: Becket Turner, whose manuscript MURPHY’S DEBT is a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist in the Best Short Contemporary Romance category.

Becke Turner spent many years honing her story chops—many years. A native of southern Illinois, Becke and her husband of over forty-seven years were on the move for the first ten years together, including a three-year stint operating her family cattle ranch in Missouri. But two kids, 300 cows, ten horses, four dogs, and enough snow to scare Frosty wore thin. In 1996, the family and dogs, minus the hooved animals, moved to sunny South Carolina. Although by this time Becke had completed five ranch stories, she hadn’t found RWA. With the help of her CRW and GRW sisters, her stories improved. Today, her stories feature sassy, independent women learning how to love.

When she’s not wrangling her five rambunctious grandkids, you’ll find her on some grand adventure or writing her next story.

Here’s a blurb for MURPHY’S DEBT, accompanied by a picture of the clock tower that sits atop the Newberry, SC Opera House. Newberry is the inspiration for her fictional small city of Sunberry, NC, the setting for Murphy’s Debt and her two WIPs:

Five years ago Ava Robey lost her husband and nearly lost herself. But life will not suck this Marine widow under. To help her four young children, she’s going to win the lease in her hometown’s historic district and open a business to honor her husband.

 For Ryan Murphy, ‘leave no man left behind’ are not words. They are his code. And that includes the widow of the best man in his unit. Only problem is a fellow officer needs help securing a location for his retirement business. As a native of the Carolina community, Ryan has plenty of contacts. But to get the best site, he’ll have to win a competition—against the widow.

 As a Marine widow, Ava understands their code. But she’ll only give her heart to a man who is looking for a partner. Not a man driven to protect and make decisions for her. She’ll teach her impressionable children the pride of attaining a goal because of hard work and she won’t let Ryan throw the contest because of his misplaced guilt.

 Ryan harbors his own demons. His Afghanistan decision resulted in the loss of Ava’s first husband and the need to give back wars with his desire for a family. But his southern roots taught him good relationships are built on love not guilt and he must prove his worth to Ava and himself.

 With the competition in full force, Ava and her children soon show Ryan they are a fair match for one love-sick Marine. But how does he convince the independent mother of four, his feelings stem from love and not guilt, and her rambunctious tribe are the family he believed he’d never have?

Oh, I LOVE that “she’ll only give her heart to a man who is looking for a partner. Not a man driven to protect and make decisions for her.” What a great way to modernize that familiar trope! Fabulous emotional dynamics going on here!!

Okay, folks—I’ve got some questions for Becke!! I have fond memories of visiting a friend in North Carolina in the heat of summer and sitting on his old wooden back porch eating watermelon and spitting the seeds through the cracks between the boards. Grab a seat and a slice of ice-cold melon….spitting seeds is purely optional!

Guest Blog: 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Janet Walden-West

Today we’re delighted to welcome Janet Walden-West, another of the Omegas, the 2019 Golden Heart Finalists. Janet is a finalist in the Contemporary Romance with her manuscript Salt + Stilettos.

Janet is also a long-time friend of the Rubies and a hard-core participant in our yearly Winter Writing Festival, and we’re already huge fans of her fabulous writing voice! Regular Ruby readers know about our annual Make It Golden Contest, in which competitors submit 50-word book openings, Rubies select ten finalists from all the entries, and then finalists submit a longer 250-word version to compete for the top prizes. The entries are always AMAZING, so competition is incredibly fierce. Well, the very talented Miz Walden-West has finaled EVERY YEAR FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS, and has been one of our final winners TWICE.

Janet lives in the southeast with a pack of show dogs, a couple of kids, and a husband who didn’t read the fine print. A card carrying Crazy Dog Show Lady, she’s easily distracted by great cars and bad coffee. A founding member of the East Tennessee Creative Writers Alliance and The Million Words craft blog, she is also a member of Romance Writers of America. She pens Urban Fantasy that escapes the neat confines of the city limits in favor of map-dot hillbilly towns, and inclusive Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Romance.A #PitchWars alum and Golden Heart® finalist, her first short story, “Road Trip,” is included in the CHASING THE LIGHT anthology. She is represented by Eva Scalzo of Speilburg Literary Agency.

Here’s a blurb for Salt + Stilettos:

Growing up red-dirt poor, Brett Fontaine learned image matters, you can’t count on family, and marriage is another word for misery. Leaving that past in her rear-view, her new reality is the best Jimmy Choo collection in Miami and a position as the go-to image consultant in South Beach. With a strict CYA policy of never mixing business with pleasure, she’s good with uncomplicated hookups who can see themselves out the door. Unfortunately, her latest client—the muscled chef with the intriguing tataus—is making it difficult to stick to her no-complications rule.

Will Te’o expected plenty of challenges establishing a fine dining restaurant in Miami’s chic foodie scene. However, falling for the fierce consultant with the power to make or break his career wasn’t one of them. He’s already learned mainland women prefer manscaped and unencumbered, not hulking and rough around the edges. But he wants the same kind of Happily Ever After his parents had and is determined to cook his way past Brett’s relationship reservations.

While their kitchen heats to scorching, Will’s traditional Samoan family obligations crash into their modern Miami life, leaving Brett questioning whether she’s repeating her parents’ mistakes, all while a smear campaign led by ghosts from her past threatens both their careers and their chance at love.

Oh, man!!! I know this going to be FANTASTIC!! I’ve loved all of Janet’s 250-word openings for the Make It Golden Contest, and adore her sassy, fresh, funny contemporary voice. I can’t wait to read A WHOLE DANGED BOOK!!!

Instead of choosing the the interview option today, Janet volunteered to pen a guest post.

And it’s on a topic very dear to the Rubies’ hearts: the ways writers don’t have to go it alone. 

Take it away, Janet!!!


Does It Really Take A Community To Raise A Writer?

It’s a truth universally acknowledged…that writing is a lonely, solitary occupation. Hours, days, weeks of toiling alone in our isolated tower, with only the characters in our heads keeping us company.

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Sammi Spizziri

Today we’re delighted to welcome another Omega, Sammi Spizziri, whose manuscript AFTER I BID YOU ADIEU is a 2019 Golden Heart finalist in the Young Adult Category

Sammi Spizziri lives in a small town in Illinois with her husband and baby girl. When she’s not lost in writing (or reading) a new book, she’s a stay-at-home mom who dabbles in accounting on the side. Boy bands, rec league volleyball, and chai tea lattes are a few of her favorite things.

Here’s a blurb for AFTER I BID YOU ADIEU:

Eighteen-year-old Evie wants to change the world through podcasts and not repeat her deceased mom’s mistake of settling for a hometown boy over her career. In an early college program at NYU, she’s on the perfect path to success. The only thing missing is her best friend and sort-of love interest from back home, Kace. But since he decided to skip college in favor of staying in Ridgeview for his mom, Evie’s done her best to forget about him. So when her dad’s heart attack requires her to return home for the summer, she’s not sure how to handle being face-to-face with Kace again—or her grief.

To make matters worse, her scholarship is threatened and she needs Kace’s help on a podcast to save it. She knows it’s not safe to get too close again or she’ll be tempted to stay, especially since he admitted his feelings for her before she left the first time. But as they spend time together, she soon finds herself admiring his small acts of kindness around town and appreciation for who she is over what she does, making her doubt why she’s leaving. Will Evie chase her dreams no matter the cost or learn how extraordinary ordinary can be?

Ooh! You’ve got podcasts and the lure of New York and anxiety about the future and family responsibility and best friends who might fall in love…very real stuff for teen readers!! And I love the idea that the boy is the one representing kind-heartedness and small-town-values! Very interesting dynamics going on!

Well, readers, it’s a lovely summer day outside, and my cottage hollyhocks are in bloom, so let’s all pull up some comfy-cushioned wicker chairs, pour tall glasses of iced tea, and let the local finches serenade us while I lob some questions Sammi’s way.


Welcome, Sammi! Wonderful to have you with us! You’re our first Young Adult Finalist of the year. (It’s a favorite genre for me, since I teach high school and am always looking for good books to recommend!) Tell us a little about your Golden Heart book and the process of writing it.

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Rosie Danan!!

Today we’re continuing our series of interviews with the Omegas, the 2019 (and final) class of Golden Heart Finalists. We’re delighted to welcome Rosie Danan, whose manuscript NEVER HAVE I EVER finaled in the Contemporary Romance (Long) category and will be available from Berkley/PRH in Fall 2020!!

Rosie Danan writes steamy, big-hearted books, articles, and tweets about the trials and triumphs of modern love. In her spare time, she enjoy jogging slowly to fast music, petting other people’s dogs, and competing against herself in rounds of Chopped using the miscellaneous ingredients occupying her fridge. As an East Coast transplant to Austin, TX, you can regularly find her, sweaty and happy, with a mouthful of taco. As child she appeared on the short-lived (and rather ill-received) television program Bloopy’s Buddies.

Here’s a blurb for NEVER HAVE I EVER:

Clara Wheaton has built her life around other people’s expectations.

The rich and powerful Wheaton family is infamous for their lack of impulse control, except for their careful daughter Clara. She’s never made a rash decision in her life, but can’t resist when her first love invites her to move in with him and shed the shackles of her suffocating blue-blood upbringing. She’s shocked when Prince Charming pulls a bait-and-switch, leaving her to share a three-month lease on a crumbling Los Angeles bungalow with an annoyingly charming stranger. Clara must hide the shameful circumstances that led to her sudden cross-country move. If the Greenwich gossip hounds get their hands on one more story about a Wheaton behaving badly, the family reputation she’s worked her entire life to restore will go up in flames.

 No one ever expected Josh Conners to amount to anything.

Against the odds, he’s made a name for himself in Hollywood entertainment—unfortunately, that name isn’t his own. His on-screen chemistry with his ex-girlfriend won him the hearts (and panties) of American women, but when his ex kicks him out and a power-hungry executive wants to turn his viral success into a million dollar payday, he finds himself back at square one—answering a Craigslist ad for a summer sublet. The last thing Josh needs while trying to decide whether to employ his prodigious talent for questionable means is for his uptight new roommate to find out how he earns his paycheck. But keeping secrets from Clara while they’re sharing a shower is easier said than done.  

I love that premise—“keeping secrets while they’re sharing a shower.” And you clearly have a great sense of humor! I’m not at all surprised that Berkley/PRH snapped this one up! Yay!

Since this is an L.A.-set book, I’m going to arrange some virtual beach chairs by the surf and invite everyone to get comfy while I ask some questions of Rosie Danan. (And, oh, look!! There’s my favorite taco truck!! Tacos on me!!)

Meet 2019 Golden Heart Finalist Fenley Grant!!

One of our favorite traditions here at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood is getting to host the newest class of Golden Heart Finalists each spring for a series of interviews and guest blog posts. We’ve made friends with so many amazing and wonderful writers, and have been thrilled to watch them as they’ve launched their careers and brought amazing books out into the world.

This year, of course, is special—in a deeply bittersweet way. RWA will be suspending the Golden Heart Contest after 2019…with no clear news on what will be replacing it.

The Golden Heart has meant so much to so many of us in the Romance-writing world, and we know how special it is for the 2019 Golden Heart Finalists to be bonding together in a unique sisterhood.

Fittingly, this final group have chosen a name for themselves that reflects their status as the last finalists in Golden Heart:

The Omegas.

An awesome name.  Oh, sigh.

Someone please pass me some Kleenex.

But the good news is, the Omegas are here and FABULOUS and READY TO ROCK!!

So let’s get to meeting them!!

Today we’re welcoming the first of the Omegas to join us here on the blog: the wonderful Fenley Grant, whose manuscript WARRIOR OF EDEN is a finalist in the Golden Heart Paranormal Romance category.

Fenley Grant has always loved the written word. In her youth, books traveled with her on family adventures to various Army bases. North Texas is home these days, where she lives with her husband, two human children, and two furry dog kids. A perfect day includes writing, reading, family, friends, and sunshine. No snow. After a long stint in the northern climes, she’s shoveled her last driveway. Her favorite books involve magical worlds, action, adventure, intrigue, and, of course, love. Fenley writes urban fantasy, time travel, and paranormal romances.

Here’s a blurb for WARRIOR OF EDEN:

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