Posts tagged with: A Shot Worth Taking

Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Tracy Brody!

Today we’re welcoming another Mermaid, Tracy Brody, already a Golden Heart winner last year, who’s a DOUBLE finalist this year, in two different categories!!

2015-10-17 CRW Glam Party -cropTracy Brody lives in North Carolina with her husband and teenage daughter and has a son that shows up for a few weeks between college semesters and internships to let her feed him and do his laundry.

Though she followed her father’s advice and studied business, she continued to indulge her creative side with various crafts and scrapbooking until her overactive imagination dreamed up a story line that she wrote as a spec movie script. Being a housewife in NC with no ties to Hollywood, she eventually took friends’ suggestion to turn her script into a book and began writing romances. She joined RWA and Carolina Romance Writers in 2010. She loves walking in her neighborhood or, even better, being at the beach talking to herself as she plots books and scenes. She’s represented by Helen Brietweiser of Cornerstone Literary.

Her 2015 Golden Heart winner, A SHOT WORTH TAKING, is actually the second book in her series of single title romances featuring the Bad Karma Special Ops team whose love lives are as dangerous as their missions. This year, both the first and third books in the series are finalists—which means all three of her completed manuscripts have finaled in the Golden Heart!!

Here’s the blurb for THE SNIPER’S SECOND SHOT – Contemporary Romance:

Sergeant Mack Hanlon thought he could beat the odds, despite knowing that a Special Ops career and a stable, successful marriage don’t go together as smoothly as peanut butter and jelly or even guns and ammunition. His wife left him and the Army life, but when Mack meets Black Hawk pilot Kristie Donovan, he believes he’s found a woman who can support him and his career choice. However, he soon finds he’s battling more than regulations prohibiting romantic relationship between the ranks.

After losing one husband in combat, Kristie’s sworn she’ll never fall for another man in his dangerous profession. Mack’s persistence and charm in pursuing her are accomplishing his mission to win Kristie’s heart until his ex-wife threatens to expose their relationship if Mack won’t let her move out of state with their girls. Kristie ends their forbidden romance to protect their careers and keep Mack from losing contact with his daughters. But, after insurgents bring down Kristie’s aircraft and take the crew hostage, Mack’s team rushes to rescue Kristie and her crew. If he can save her, he still has to find a way to give them both a second shot at love.

And here’s the blurb for IN THE WRONG SIGHTS – Romantic Suspense.

A patient’s deathbed confession landed nurse Cassidy O’Shea in witness protection. However, her unauthorized trip to Fort Bragg for her ex-stepfather’s funeral necessitates putting her under temporary protective custody after learning he’s been murdered. The Marshal Service turns to her late stepfather’s friends, the Army Bad Karma team, to keep her safe.

A dedicated soldier, AJ Rozanski is supposed to be protecting Cassidy, not falling for his former mentor’s stepdaughter. But her acceptance of his career choice is a refreshing change from his parent’s disapproval of his military service and his ex-fiancée’s inability to handle his erratic deployments.

Cassidy going back into Witness Protection puts an end to their hopes for something beyond a few days and romantic nights together—until an assassin locates her and she flees to AJ and the Bad Karma team. Can they give her back her life—and a future with AJ?

Awesome stuff!!! And both very suspenseful! I’m sure these will be out in readers’ hands before very long!!

Okay, everybody–time to gather around in our super-secret Ruby bunker for a chat with Tracy Brody. (No bad guys allowed!!….um, unless they look like Tom Hiddleston and are eminently redeemable!! In which case, join us!!)


Welcome, Tracy!! Lovely to have you back here with the Rubies!

Okay, so ALL THREE of your completed books so far have finaled in the Golden Heart, and the one that finaled last year actually WON. That’s incredibly impressive!! Did this come out of nowhere, or did you have experiences with contests before that? (Inquiring minds want to know.)

I’m a bit of a contest veteran, actually. I’d entered a few contests early on with RWA – when I didn’t know how much I didn’t know.  🙂 Some of the early feedback pinpointed areas I needed to improve in. Things like point of view, eliminating passive writing, establishing character’s goals, motivation and conflict, showing instead of telling, comma usage, et cetera and etc. I took classes and later entered a new WIP in the Golden Pen to see if my writing had improved. I was happily shocked when I finaled and kept working on learning craft.

I missed the Golden Heart finals in 2014 by one point. As most of the ladies in my critique group were not writing a lot, I felt bad asking them to keep critiquing for me. So in 2014, I entered a number of chapter contests for fresh feedback to see what I still needed to master. I developed a reputation as a contest queen (or whore depending on who you asked.) That year I think I entered eight different contests, entering both manuscripts in two of them. I had four misses but placed first in six contests.

Even after the wins in 2014, I almost didn’t enter the Golden Heart for 2015. I was very methodical in picking which contests to enter based on the submission size, the score sheet for judging, number of judges, whether they dropped a score, who the final round judges were. The Golden Heart didn’t tick the right boxes for getting feedback and in front of agent and editor judges I wanted. But, I decided to give it one more shot.

Clearly, a shot worth taking!! (Sorry, sorry…couldn’t resist the title pun.) You must have been excited that it finaled.

I’m thrilled it did! The Golden Heart is unlike any other contest I’d entered. With its reputation, it’s great affirmation to final and brings the perks of priority registrations for pitch appointments at convention – not just the year you’re a finalist. It’s a great credential to list when you query (and I got very quick requests.) Then there’s the networking opportunities, getting to shop for fancy dresses, and feeling a little like a celebrity. But the biggest difference was the sisterhood that developed among the finalists. Just being a finalist was a win and we worked to help and encourage each other. While I’d really hoped not to be eligible for the Golden Heart this year, since I hadn’t accepted an offer yet, I decided to enter again because of the friendships I formed with other finalists.

With your track record, I’m betting you won’t be eligible to enter Golden Heart again as of this time next year—but you may just have a second (or third!!) shiny heart pendant to add to your collection. So, I’m curious: your two finalists this year are part of the same series, but are nominated in two different categories, Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense. What’s the story behind that?

Several of the 2015 finalists had entered several manuscripts that year, and a few said it was the one they didn’t expect to final that did. While I tend to be a last minute kinda gal, I got IN THE WRONG SIGHTS (third in my series) submitted for the Golden Heart with a few days to spare. I kept thinking about the first in my series, which I’d entered in the GH back in 2011. It hadn’t finaled (hadn’t even come close then), but I’d revised it, and thought why not give it a shot. But it’s not as suspenseful, especially in the opening. (I was still learning how my series needed to be consistent in genre.) So the Friday before the GH deadline, I emailed my agent to say I was going to enter it and asked which category she thought I should put it in. I started doing an editing pass over the weekend. I only beat the deadline thanks to one of my awesome ’15 GH Dragonfly sisters saying, “Tracy, you know the deadline is 5 PM—not midnight?” Yeeps! I uploaded THE SNIPER’S SECOND SHOT with 10 minutes to spare and went with my gut to enter it in the contemporary category. My agent emailed a few hours later saying to enter it in romantic suspense. Ooops. My bad – I’m still learning, but it worked out despite the strong competition in that category. And having the first book of my series, that has undergone so many rewrites, changes, and edits, final is really special.

I love that you’re so open about having to learn to become the writer you are! I’m a teacher in my other life, and I always tell my students that screwing up and trying again is essential to growth…whether you’re a writer or Steph Curry. (And I’ll confess, my very first writing contest entry was a 35-page opening chapter. The judges very lovingly smacked some sense into me, and I quickly got to work on the dynamics of pacing.) But, in the short term, criticism can sting, can’t it?

While I’ve had friends who made the finals, even won, the first time they entered a writing contest, that’s not my story. We’ve probably all heard stories of mean judges and crazy comments and widely ranging scores. You learn to accept how subjective judging can be. Feedback can make you reach for a bottle of wine or make you dance.

Well, I’m sure you’re doing a lot of dancing these days!! Speaking of good times, are you going to Nationals?

Heck yes!! I get to see many of my wonderful friends from the 2015 GH class (am even rooming with two of them!) and meet new finalists. And I get to buy fancy dresses. Yes, plural. Last year I bought six dresses, returned four, and rebought one on sale – all for under $150 total. I’m about on that same track now. Still trying to decide between three, including one I didn’t wear from last year.

LOL! I’ll be looking forward to the fashion show!! (And everybody’s fabulous shoes!!) Before we go, do you have a question for our readers to get the conversation rolling today?

I’d love to hear your best or worst contest story. The good. The bad. The laughable comments from a judge. Feedback that made you cry or gave you that “ah, ha!” moment. Here’s your opportunity to let us commiserate or celebrate with you.

As a thank you for reading and responding, I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card and a pair of patriotic handmade red, white (okay, really they’re crystal) and blue earrings to two commenters. Thanks for stopping by and your support! Hope you all have the opportunity to fall in love with my Bad Karma heroes and their loves.

Bravo TeamAnd as a little reward for all, here’s a scrapbook collage of my Bad Karma Team for your viewing enjoyment.


Connect with Tracy Brody online:

Twitter: @BadKarmaWriter








Meet Golden Heart Finalist Tracy Poole!

Today we’re delighted to welcome Tracy Poole, a Golden Heart Finalist in Romantic Suspense for 2015 with her manuscript A SHOT WORTH TAKING.

And I get to announce some breaking news: the 2015 Golden Heart Finalists have chosen a name!!! I’ll let you know what it is right after the jump!!!

Now on to our guest of honor:

Tracy Poole was born in Ohio but moved to North Carolina at the impressionable age of 16 – young enough to develop a Southern Accent and say y’all like a native. She’s been married to her awesome husband, the first guy she ever dated for longer than 2 months, since 1987 and been blessed with an equally awesome son and daughter.

As a child, she loved to read and always had a book nearby. Her overactive imagination fueled many a romantic adventures — usually casting herself as the heroine opposite her current celebrity crush. However, she studied business at UNC-CH and worked in banking before retiring to be a stay-at-home mom. However, one day a creative muse made Tracy her captive, forcing her to write down some of those daydreams despite having never written anything longer than a 10-page term paper. She’s been learning has been craft and writing romance novels since, and joined RWA and Carolina Romance Writers in 2010.

Her Golden Heart book is the first in a series with a fabulous tagline: “Meet the men of the Bad Karma team. Their love lives are as dangerous as their missions.”

Here’s a quick blurb for A SHOT WORTH TAKING:

FBI Linguist Angela Hoffman trusts only herself. With a contract on her life, working—and being—alone is typically safest. When her unique skills send her undercover on an assignment reporting to a rancorous ex-lover, it’s just about her worst-case scenario—until they find the terrorists’ plans for a dirty bomb. What becomes an interagency terrorist hunt with a Spec Ops team brings the perk of working with magnetic soldier Tony Vincenti who has Angela wanting to wrap up this case so her next mission with Tony can be the under-the-covers kind.

Bullets and bombs don’t scare Tony. What does is suffering another heartbreak. Angela might be the woman who can deal with his dangerous career, but he needs her to trust him with her secrets. He learns about the contract when someone tries to kill her. To save the woman he’s falling in love with, he has to find a way to stop the assassin, only if he does, will he lose her because she feels it’s safe to leave?

I got to interrogate…um, talk with Tracy recently about her Golden Heart journey, so cuddle up with the nearest hunky Spec Ops agent (you’ve got one handy, don’t you?) and join us for the secrets I learned about Tracy’s writing life.

But first….the new group name of the 2015 Golden Heart Finalists:


The Latest Comments

  • Louisa Cornell: It’s a great first line, Louise! I am looking forward to reading the book!
  • Lenee Anderson: The murderer is David’s best friend. I’m concerned if I said something along the lines of...
  • Darynda Jones: This is great, Lenee, especially for a first attempt. Wow. I’m wondering if the stakes can be...
  • Darynda Jones: YES!!! I love it, Vivi, but Autumn’s is adds that twists that grabs me. Great job both of you!
  • Heather McCollum: Yes, this works! Thank you Autumn! You are awesome!!


The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood