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Ruby Tuesday: Amanda Brice

Today we continue our get-to-know-the-Rubies feature Ruby Tuesdays with one of our young adult scribes, the smart and savvy Amanda Brice.  Take it away, Amanda!

 

Name: Amanda Brice

2009 GH Category & Title: Codename: Dancer, Young Adult

What Happened to That Book: Published it in 2011 as the first book in the Dani Spevak Mystery Series set in the dance world

Website: www.amandabrice.net

 

What subgenre(s) do you write? Young Adult (mystery and time travel) and Romantic Comedy Mystery (for adults – not “adult content” in the sense of being risqué, but the characters aren’t teens is what I mean)

When did you start writing? (And why?) I wrote my first book at age 9 – Nancy Flew and The Mystery of the Lady Ghost. Sure, it was basically just really bad Nancy Drew fanfic, but what can I say? My dad convinced me to “do something practical” so I stopped writing in my teens and didn’t start again until Election Day 2004. I was so depressed watching the returns that I decided to write a chick lit novel instead, and had to ask my professor for an extension on my paper on the patentability of indigenous medicinal methods.

How many books have you written? Published – 3 novels, 4 short stories. Unpublished – 2 novels, 1 novella, 1 short story. (One of those novels will never see the light of day, but the rest are in production for publication at the moment.)

What are you working on now? I’m revising my 2008 Golden Heart book, Party Like It’s 1899, which will be released this winter. I’m also co-authoring a YA mystery with Gemma Halliday, Wicked Games,  which will be the third in a series she began with Harper Collins. That will be released sometime next year, but her fans are already clamoring for it and discussing on Goodreads what they think should happen. It’s pretty exciting. I’m also plotting the first novel in my Natalie Hayes Mystery Series about a Capitol Hill staffer-turned-law student who keeps stumbling over dead bodies.

What are your favorite subgenre(s) to read? I read a lot of Young Adult and humorous romantic mysteries, of course. I also love historicals (particularly unusual settings, although I definitely glom onto Regencies as well) and suspense.

What’s your day job? Intellectual Property attorney for a large federal government agency. And before you ask, no, I wasn’t furloughed although many of my friends were.

Amanda’s Latest Dani Spevak YA Mystery

What is the best job you’ve ever had? You mean besides writing? Then that would without a doubt be the summer of 1996 when I worked in Protocol and Ticketing at the Olympics in Atlanta. It was the summer after my freshman year of college, and because I was so young, everyone assumed I was an intern, so I kept getting freebies thrown at me – tickets to plays, sporting events (gold medal gymnastics, tennis, swimming), parties thrown by royalty. No joke. I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to top that one.

College? Major? Post-grad work? I double-majored in Political Science (International Relations track) and French at Duke. Have law degrees from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and the George Washington University School of Law.

Marital status?  Kids?  I’m married to an awesome guy I refer to on blogs simply as Mr. Brice. This March will be our 10-year anniversary. We met in law school when I inadvertently spit red wine on him at a party. (Yes, that should be the opening of a romantic comedy.) We have an almost 4-year-old daughter who I refer to as Ballerina Girl and an almost 2-year-old son who I refer to as Monkey Boy.

Where are you from? I currently live in Alexandria, Virginia (about 10 minutes from DC), although I was born in Maine, and grew up in New Jersey. Have also lived in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, and France.

Where would you build your dream house? Either on the beach at Hilton Head Island, SC or nestled in the red rocks of Sedona, AZ. Sigh.

If money were no object, where would you go on your dream vacation? A cruise around the world, stopping in every continent.

What piece of random trivia would you use to entertain a new acquaintance at a cocktail party? I once swing danced with Vice President Al Gore. He’s a lot more fun and much funnier than the press made him out to be.

What’s your astrological sign? I’m pretty much a textbook Taurus.

Which TV show are you most addicted to right now? Sadly, with two kids under the age of 4, I’m mostly watching Dora, Fresh Beat Band, Sesame Street, and Sofia the First these days. I eventually get around to the shows my friends are all taking about once they’re available for free though Amazon Prime. I can’t wait until the new Downton season begins, or as my daughter calls it “the movie with the princesses in the dresses with the big castle and the cars.”

What is your favorite movie of all time? Oh man. Why don’t you just ask me which child is my favorite? LOL. I have lots of movies I love, but these seem to be my go-tos for re-watching: Gone with the Wind, Grease, Heathers, Legally Blonde, and Dirty Dancing. Especially Dirty Dancing. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen it. Easily over 200.

Do you like sports?  What team(s) do you follow? Duke Basketball and ASU Football. And the best part is I can just say “Go Devils!” and it works for either one.

What hobby takes up the most of your time? I probably shouldn’t say this, since it’s not really a hobby if you treat it professionally and are making money on it, but I guess I’d have to say writing since it’s what I actually do in my spare time instead of as my primary career. Occasionally I have aspirations of changing that (making it my primary career…like during the government shutdown), but for now at least it’s a second career on the side.

Do you have any advice for new writers? BICHOK. (Butt in chair, hands on keyboard.) It’s the only way you’ll ever actually complete anything. Don’t make excuses. Just do it. And find a support group, whether online or in person. I adore my local RWA Chapter.

Thank you, Amanda, for joining us today!

Digging for Change

We all have them — the metaphorical “books under the bed” that are better left where they are, to gather a patina of dust and cobwebs and never see the light of day. These things are a mess. Often it’s the first book you ever wrote, before you learned the finer points of plot and characterization.

My first manuscript is like that. It made the contest rounds (and even won the Jasmine back in 2006) under a number of titles (my favorite title was From Miss Bitch to Mrs. Rich, although it mostly finaled under the title Looking 4 Love) but, well, let’s just say that when my husband was trying to tell me to self-publish it earlier this year — “But you’ve already done all the work! Why not?” — I never took his suggestion seriously.  I know I’m not the world’s best housekeeper (understatement of the year), but there is no amount of polishing that could make that book something I’d want to release today. It served its purposes for what it was, my learning book. But it needs to stay balled up under the farthest corner of the bed … my preferred way of quickly cleaning up and making the rest of the room look quasi-presentable.

Okay, so let’s leave the books-under-the-bed, well, under the bed (or on the hard drive) and turn our attention to a different piece of furniture.

The couch.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old cliche about digging for spare change between your seat cushions. You may even have done it yourself once or twice (or a hundred times). But this can also be applied to publishing.

If a book under the bed is a hot mess, then the spare change in your seat cushions are the stories that are actually pretty good, but you’re not doing anything with them at the moment for whatever reason. Maybe it got great editorial — or contest –feedback, but didn’t sell. Or maybe it did sell, but it went out of print and you got the rights back. Either way, it’s just sitting on your hard drive at the moment, doing nothing for you.

Behold, my spare change, which just released today exclusively for the Kindle!

I had a few contemporary romance short stories just sitting on my hard drive, taking up space. Three of them (“She’s Got Legs” — which had received an 88 from snarky hard-ass Mrs. Giggles; “Love @ First Site”; and “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”)  had been published before, but one (“Birthday Gifts”) is brand new. I’d always liked these stories, but I figured they were too short to really do anything with them.

But then it hit me — why not bundle them as a super-short single-author collection? And yes, I do mean short. The entire ebook of 4 stories is around 15,000 words total. But I think 99 cents is a fair price for around 50 pages.

NY Times bestselling author Angie Fox calls the collection “sweet, sexy and laugh-out-loud funny!”

(Did I mention this one isn’t for teens?)

Jana DeLeon says “Amanda Brice has a voice that easily captures the self-deprecating humor and strength that so many young women have as they attempt to find their place in the world and the man of their heart.”

NY Times bestselling author Christie Craig describes them as “short reads that aren’t short on entertainment. Sassy humor and sigh-worthy. Amanda Brice delivers.”

And NY Times bestselling author Gemma Halliday says “If you’re in the mood for a sweet escape this holiday season, Amanda’s Brice’s Short and Sweet is just the ticket!  I loved all the stories in this collection. And anyone who is a ‘White Christmas’ fan will adore ‘Dancing Cheek to Cheek’.  The best things don’t only happen when you’re dancing… they also happen when you’re reading an Amanda Brice novel!”

Not bad for spare change.

And from now until New Year’s, it’s spare change for a good cause. A Jersey Girl at heart, I’ll be donating 100% of my author royalties from Short & Sweet: Four Fun & Flirty Tales to relief efforts for the survivors of Hurricane Sandy and to rebuild the shore.

I’ve also been inspired to dig out my first Golden Heart finalist, Party Like It’s 1899, from between the cushions and get it ready for publication. This one is a little dustier than the short stories — and I have to squeeze in the revisions around an already hectic writing schedule — so it’ll take longer to get it ready, but I’m aiming for Fall 2013. (And if it’s ready before then, say spring or summer, then bonus!) Here’s a sneak peak at the cover art.

Gorgeous, huh?

So what about you? Do you have any metaphorical spare change hidden in your cushions? Have you considered digging out an old story and giving it new life through self-publishing? Tell us!

Ruby Release: Pointe of No Return by Amanda Brice

Gotta Dance! or How Hobbies Sneak into Our Writing

Today I’m wearing an old pair of battered pointe shoes and dancing on my toes as we celebrate the release of Amanda Brice’s young adult novel, Pointe of No Return. The second book in the Dani Spevak Mystery Series, Amanda’s latest novel for teens/tweens is a charming blend of compelling mystery, quirky humor, and a dash of sweet romance. Bonus points for her rich, fascinating dance world setting. More on that below, but here’s a quick peek at Pointe:

Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak’s visions of sugar plums are dashed when she’s assigned to understudy her nemesis, Hadley Taylor, in the Nutcracker. Pretty, popular, and rich, that girl has all the luck. Or so she thought. When Hadley mysteriously disappears with opening night just around the corner, Dani can’t sit idly by, even if it means losing the part. Now she’s running all over Phoenix in a race against the clock. From reality TV trophy wives to sleazy real estate developers to a possible drug ring, the cast of suspects begins to add up. Will she find Hadley before the curtain rises?

Shelley: As the mother of three teen-aged ballerinas, I adored the dance world you created. Seriously, Amanda, you absolutely nailed the passions and pains I see daily in my daughters and their dancer friends. Why did you choose to write about dancers?

Amanda: Amanda: Awww, thanks, Shelley! I’ve been dancing almost my entire life. My parents enrolled me in dance classes at age three because I used to jump up and dance around the room every time the Coke commercial came on. I got serious around eleven or twelve or so, and danced through my tween and teen years in a pre-pro company. I then took ballet, flamenco, and ballroom in college (and competed at the intercollegiate level in ballroom), but got away from it when I was in law school because I just didn’t have the time. Then I came back to ballet as an adult around age twenty eight, although actually I haven’t been to a class of my own since August when I was about five months pregnant. (And I totally hit those double pirouettes despite a messed up sense of balance, too! Go me!) But my almost two-and-a-half year-old is taking ballet these days, and while she doesn’t really pay too much attention during class, she’s constantly regaling us at home with her prowess at pliés, elevés, passés, and arabesques. As well she should. 🙂

Anyway, when I think back to my teen years, dance was the constant, and it’s what jumps out at me the most, so it just seemed like an obvious plot device for me. I basically wrote the kinds of books I would have loved to read when I was that age.

Shelley: Are any of the scenes, characters, or plot threads yanked from your life as a dancer?

Amanda: Well, it’s fiction, so I definitely made up a lot of it. I didn’t have a beyotchy nemesis like Hadley, nor did I ever solve mysteries like Dani, but when I gave the first book to some of my old dance friends, they agreed they felt like they were reading themselves on the page. Sadly, the eating disorder subplot was pulled from my own experience, and several of the scenes in dance class were as well. But the specific plots of each book are pure imagination.

Shelley: Most of our Ruby Blog readers are writers, and I can’t help but point out that this is a classic case of “writing what you know.” What are the upsides of using your hobbies in your writing?

Amanda: My dirty little secret is that I’m basically lazy. (My Ruby sisters are laughing at me, but it’s true!) Between a full-time job as a lawyer and a full-time job as a mommy to a rambunctious toddler and an adorable infant — as well as serving as president of my local chapter, Washington Romance Writers — I don’t have much time for writing, so I certainly don’t have time for research. Thus, I subscribe to the “write what you know” school of thought, and when it comes to my teen years “what I know” is dance. So it was the logical backdrop for my series. I think (hope) that it makes for a richer experience for the reader.

I think you also write what you know, right? If I recall correctly, you were an editor for a food magazine, and I definitely noticed the prominent role that cooking and baking plays in Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe. I couldn’t imagine that book without tamales de dulce. 🙂

Shelley: Guilty. I’m a food writer, restaurant reviewer, and avid foodie. I included the tamales de dulce recipe in my YA debut because Chloe cooking with her two best friends played a huge role in creating their friendship years ago. Honestly, I was shocked when my editor at Amulet allowed me to keep it in because not many YA books includes recipes. Now, any warnings to our blog readers who want to incorporate hobbies – like dancing or cooking – into their WIPs?

Amanda: It can definitely put you in your comfort zone, but that runs the risk of becoming blind to the rest of the world’s knowledge of the subject — or lack thereof. Finding the right balance between too much lingo and not sounding authentic can be tricky. I can’t assume my readers are all dancers (although many are!), so I need to explain what the terms mean, but I don’t want to sound clunky, either. In my first drafts I tend to just write and then need to incorporate some in-text explanations in the second pass.

Shelley: With so many young dancers out there, including my little band of pancake-tutu-obsessed ballerinas, it seems that this is a perfect opportunity to target the world-wide dance market.

Amanda: Miriam Landis-Wenger, a former ballerina with the Miami City Ballet and the author of Breaking Pointe, called me the “queen of the ballet mystery.” I was thrilled, but I think I’m probably the only author writing ballet mysteries! With so many dance shows on TV these days — Dance Academy, the upcoming Bunheads on ABC Family, as well as the old standbys Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance — it struck me as the right time to publish. Although I have readers who know nothing about the dance world, I’ve found that I have good luck when I promote to dance students. Last year Dance Spirit Magazine featured my debut book, Codename: Dancer, on their website and in their e-newsletter. I’ve also run ads in recital programs, including Ruby Sis Anne Marie Becker’s daughter’s program.

I’m also finding success in using Facebook ads. I love these inexpensive ads, because you can narrowly target your audience (I like to show the ad only to people who have “liked” Dance Academy  or the School of American Ballet because I know that these people are likely to be interested in a book set in a ballet boarding school). And you can run them for as little as $1/day.

Shelley: Sounds like smart marketing, Amanda, and a great tip for our published blog readers to incorporate into their own promotions strategies. And thanks for the insiders’ look at your dance and story world. Now it’s your turn, Ruby Readers. Do your personal interests or hobbies sneak into your books? One commenter below will win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

Pointe of No Return has been chosen as a “Nook First Pick” by Barnes & Noble  and released exclusively for the NOOK on May 14. It will be available everywhere else on June 13. You can visit Amanda and find out more about her Dani Spevak mysteries at www.amandabrice.net.

Past Golden Heart Finalists Tell All!

In just three short days, calls will be going out to a select group of 2011 Golden Heart and RITA entrants that will change their lives.

That sounds like a cliche, doesn’t it? Can one simple phone call really have that much impact?

I finaled in 2008 (shout out to the Pixie Chicks!) and again in 2009. I clearly remember getting both those calls from RWA Board member Trish Milburn, and probably always will.

In 2008, she really sent me on a wild roller coaster ride in a matter of the 10 longest seconds of my life at exactly 9:01 am. When she first introduced herself, immediately my heart started racing. A call from an RWA Board member on March 25! OMG, I FINALED! But then she started asking me about a short story I’d published a few months before the entry deadline.

Crash and BURN! That’s why she was calling? Seriously?! To ask about a story? Why would she call me on that day, of all days? How could she get my hopes up like that? So cruel.

But no worries. I’m a romance writer, and we love our happy endings. Apparently someone in the RWA Office thought that my published short story might have been a novella, which would have disqualified me. So Trish needed to verify the wordcount first, and if it turned out that it was novella-length, then they would offer the finalist status to the next person on the list.

You could actually hear the relief in Trish’s voice when I confirmed that it was just 7,000 words. Then she said those lovely, lovely words, “Congratulations! Your manuscript finaled in the Young Adult category of the Golden Heart!”

When I met her in person at Nationals that year, Trish and I had a nice big laugh over it. And she was actually worried for me, too. She thought she was going to have to tell me I’d been disqualified. Thank goodness that wasn’t what happened. Not exactly the happy ending she wanted to convey.

When I decided to write this post, I thought it would be fun to ask some past Golden Heart finalists to tell us about their own call experiences and to pass along some advice for this year’s class.

I was struck by the number of past finalists who’d missed their calls, and went through the entire day (or even several days!) thinking they hadn’t finaled:

  • Denise Meinstad, one of my fellow 2008 Pixies, had been calling her voice mail all day “and all I kept hearing was ‘No new messages….’ At 4:30 I called once more and gave up, thinking it was too late. Everyone had been called. But when I got home I had a message from Terri Reed and I almost had a spaz attack. I called her back and left a message. She got back to me in two minutes and said she’d been calling me ALL DAY!!! She didn’t want to leave a message, but at 5:30 she finally did. That was a half hour after I left work, thinking it was over. I was crying so much I could hardly talk to her. I had to write it all down so I would remember what she said.”
  • 2002 winner and author of 10 novels — including most recently “The Duke’s Night of Sin” — Kathryn Caskie, was on vacation in Disney World when the calls went out. “I kept checking my cell phone for any GH messages–but for two days there was nothing…Then the hotel phone rang. To my shocked delight it was one of my Washington Romance Writers buddies who had somehow tracked me down.  She wanted to congratulate me for being a finalist in the Long Historical category and was shocked when I told her I hadn’t heard a word.  After jumping on the bed, then remaking it, I ran down the hotel hallway screaming ‘yes!’ and doing odd ninja-like kicks.  Suddenly Disney WAS the happiest place on earth!”
  • 2007 and 2010 finalist Maureen McGowan, author of the upcoming YAs  “Cinderella: Ninja Warrior” and “Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer”, writes: “In 2007, I got home very late to three voice mail messages, the last of which revealed the good news, but not which manuscript had made the cut. I’d entered two. I didn’t find out which manuscript it was until the next day.”
  • Double 2008 Inspirational finalist Christine Johnson, author of “Soaring Home”, was away from home and passed along her vacation number to RWA, but apparently the new number didn’t make it into her file. “I waited and waited by my phone and didn’t check email, which was dial-up, because I didn’t want to tie up the phone.  When no call came for the umpteenth year in a row, I cried myself to sleep and once again questioned why on earth I put myself through the pain. The next day, I logged onto email and saw the message that I was a Golden Heart finalist. The elation doubled when moments later one of my writer friends informed me I was a double-finalist.”

Evidently some finalists were caught unaware, not even expecting a call:

  • Nancy Holland, one of the 2010 finalists, said, “When my phone rang, I thought it was my CP (who eventually won the GH) calling to tell me that she’d finaled.  I never knew who actually was on the other end, because by the time the reality sunk in, she was already way past introducing herself.  I couldn’t scream or anything because DH was still asleep, but he took me out to celebrate that night to make up for it.”
  • Fellow 2008 Pixie Chick Connie Gillam writes, “In my naivete, I didn’t know when the calls would go out. I was away from home in the morning and went to work at 3pm without checking my home phone. I checked my email from work about 6pm.  There was an email from Julie Hurwutz (Region 6 director at that time) asking me to call her about the GH contest. When she informed me that I’d finaled, I asked her to repeat what she’d just said. I was ecstatic. After getting off the phone, I hugged the first person who ventured into the lab, a pathologist who didn’t know me very well and who isn’t exactly a touchy, feely person. I didn’t care. I was over the moon!”

You know the old romance mantra…emotion, emotion, emotion! Same thing applies to getting the Golden Heart call:

  • One of last year’s finalists Keely Thrall’s call came as an email because National didn’t have her work or cell numbers for some reason.  “I  remember staring at the screen for a minute – I had to ask a coworker to read the words again for me because I just didn’t believe it. Then I shot out of my chair and sped around Church House (my workplace) like I’d won the lottery. And I guess I did in a way!  I remember putting on a gold blouse for specifically that morning for a little extra dose of luck. I *think* it worked. LOL!”
  • Jane Sevier from last year’s class writes, “Cinnamon toast had just gone in the oven when I heard my phone. Jeanne Adams was on the line telling me that I was a finalist in Romantic Elements. When I realized that I was going to cry, I struggled so hard not to go all Sally Fields on her that I couldn’t utter a word. Jeanne asked if I was all right, and then the dam burst. She said I was the first weeper she’d had that morning. Thank goodness I smelled the toast before it was completely incinerated.”
  • 2008 finalist Cindy Nord had just put away her groceries and was starting to chop onions for dinner when she saw the light on the answering machine blinking.  “My hands were shaking as I darted back to the machine and hit replay again…to make sure she’d said MY NAME.  Six times later, I finally decided they hadn’t made a mistake and called the wrong person….they meant to call ME. When my husband walked in ten minutes later, I was sitting at the kitchen table holding the onion and…sobbing.  He dropped his coat and dashed over, falling to one knee beside me.  ‘My God, honey, what’s wrong?’ ‘L..listen to th..this….’ I said.  Leaning sideways, I pressed the button on the answering machine.  Needless to say, we had dinner out that night.”

Almost everyone chose to celebrate in some way:

  • Five time finalist (2007, 2008, 2009, and twice in 2010) Shelley Coriell, author of the upcoming YA “Welcome Caller, This is Chloe,”  is a former food magazine editor.  “When I got each of my Golden Heart calls, I celebrated by heading to the kitchen and treating myself and the fam to a ‘splurge’ dessert. You know the kind: high-calorie-high-fat-melt-in-your-mouth-stick-to-your-thighs delish. My favorite was the 2010 Oreo Cookie Cheesecake.”
  • Author of the sexy paranormal “Taste Me” and 2009 finalist Tamara Hogan celebrated the old-fashioned way. Shopping!  “Soon after we came up with our Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog name, I went to my happy place — Nordstrom shoe department — and bought a pair of kickin’ red boots. “
  • For 2005 winner Gemma Halliday, author of 8 novels  including the recent “Perfect Shot,” the biggest celebration was once she got to the RWA National Conference. “My family was happy for me when I got the call, and I was totally excited, but beyond jumping up and down, squealing, and wearing a huge grin all day, I didn’t really do a lot to celebrate.  But that year was my first conference – and the first time I’d spent any time with romance writers in person – so I didn’t really get the full impact of what it meant to be a Golden Heart finalist until I was there, surrounded by other writers who knew exactly what a Golden Heart was and totally “got it”.  I suddenly felt like a rock star! LOL!”

Speaking of the conference, try to go if you can:

  • 2010 Historical winner Jacqui Nelson hadn’t planned to go to Nationals. “After the call, I still wasn’t certain because my finances were pretty tight. But finally I decided that I’d better go, and I used my tax refund to pay for the trip. It was the best decision I ever made. My advice? If you final, go to Nationals!”
  • Two-time finalist (2005 and 2007) Kristen Painter, author of the upcoming “Blood Rights” urban fantasy trilogy, says “Nationals as a Golden Heart Finalist is always fun because people want to talk to you about your book and congratulate you. Capitalize on the moment right now. Send queries stating your finalist status. Let anyone who has the book know. Get the word out to the industry people who matter.”
  • 2005 finalist and author of “About a Baby” Ann Yost  suggests researching agents and publishers with whom you want to interview. “Its a great opportunity to get your work in front of the right person.  Don’t sweat the pitch too much — they are all pleasant and kind and will ask for chapters and a synopsis at least.”
  • 2008 double finalist and winner Kris Kennedy, author of three medievals including the upcoming “Defiant,” was full of practical advice. “Do write a little speech and practice it.  I know, I know, you’ll never need it.  It’s just…someone will. And you’ll enjoy the ceremony more if you’re prepared. Remember who called you—you can say thanks when you meet face to face one day, and tell them how much it meant to you. The dress: When buying, remember it has to fit in a suitcase, unless you’re going to wear it while traveling. They let me hang mine in the front of the plane, but that was back in ‘08, before you had to pay for the air you inhale.”  
  • 2004 winner and author of 7 novels, including 2011 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence finalist “Meltdown,” Gail Barrett got right to the point. “Shop for your dress early.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Enjoy every minute of the glorious ride!”

Several finalists stressed that while the Golden Heart may be validation, it’s not the secret to success. Perseverence is.

  • Author of “Fair Game” Susan Andrews said, “I was an incredibly naive and new writer when I won the Golden Heart in 1986.  I did publish the next year, but my relationship with my editor was combative to say the least, and I put writing aside for a very long time in 1991. I’m only getting back to it now! So, please blog that all writers need to write what they love and really love writing it, and remember that an editor does not necessarily know or understand what you love to write, especially not at the beginning.   If I’d been able to put this all together in 1991, I’d be a multi-published author today.  Instead, I’m back in the crowd with the rest of the newbies!”   
  • Author of 5 Regency paranormals, including the recent “Earl of Darkness,” Alix Rickloff’s 2007 final was when her husband finally realized she was serious “about this whole ‘writing as a career’ idea.  It was also when I stopped feeling guilty about my writing because the house wasn’t clean or the laundry wasn’t done. OK–maybe I still feel an eensy bit guilty. 🙂 Even better, while I didn’t win the GH that year and the manuscript’s sat on my hard drive for the past four years, it just sold to Carina Press for release this fall. So I finally get to see those characters and that story come to life.”
  • Author of 15 Regencies (writing also under the name Diane Perkins), including the recent “Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress,” Diane Gaston was a Golden Heart finalist twice, both times with the same manuscript. “After the call in 2001, I ‘floated’ for days. It was the most exciting thing that had happened to me since having my children. I didn’t win that year, but I did win in 2003—and the manuscript sold to the editors who judged it in the GH.” 
  • Four-time finalist (2005, twice in 2006, 2008) and author of the recent “Taken by Desire” Lavinia Kent added “Writing is a hard business and we all need to develop a strong shell for the criticism and rejection that will come our way. No matter how high you climb it never gets easy. I’ve published four hot, sensual novels with Avon and am working hard on a set of sexy, fun novellas for this summer and I live in fear of reviews, contract negotiations, sales numbers, and my critique group (there is nothing as difficult as the opinion of those you trust). So, revel in every joyous moment you get!”

But 2008 winner Susan Gee Heino, author of 3 Regencies including the upcoming “Damsel in Disguise,” had perhaps the best advice of all. “Golden Hearts and martinis with editors really and truly mean nothing unless we write. My advice to this year’s finalists is to keep that in mind. Yes, by all means go to National if you can afford it. Take advantage of all the Golden Heart Finalist perks, but don’t lose sight of what’s really important. You are a Writer. Writers write. After all the hoopla has died down, after all the contracts are signed and the happy dancing is over, it really doesn’t matter who won or who finaled or who didn’t. All that matters is that you Write. That, after all, is really what we are celebrating.”

She’s right, you know. So how much did you write today?

JOIN US HERE ON FRIDAY, MARCH 25 FOR LIVE UPDATES AS THE NEW GOLDEN HEART AND RITA FINALISTS ARE ANNOUNCED! THE RUBY BLOG IS YOUR DESTINATION FOR GOSSIP, HAND-HOLDING, AND PRIZES. AND IF YOU GET THE GOLDEN HEART OR RITA CALL, LET US KNOW ASAP!!!

The Latest Comments

  • Darynda Jones: I love this! I learned this fairly early as well. I also learned that sometimes I just have too many...
  • Heather McCollum: Thanks, Jenn! I forgot that you are also a free lance editor! Do you do both developmental and line...
  • Jennifer Bray-Weber: Very sound advice, Heather. I have done the same technique and often recommended it to some of...
  • Darynda Jones: Bwahahaha! I was so wondering where that was going! Did NOT see that coming. Great job, Evelyn!
  • April Mitchell: Congratulations Bonnie!

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