Posts tagged with: golden heart

We’re Back!

Okay, RWA National was fantastic! I did more than survive. My brain is exploding with inspiration, and also, and perhaps more importantly, with concrete ideas on how to execute.

While we all recover, I thought I’d put up a quick post with some of my top RWA 2018 moments.

– When the woman with the coolest hair at the conference refers to seeing you at the Indie signing as her “surprise fangirl moment.” (Thanks, Chelle Olson!) 

– When Tessa Dare looks at your name tag and says, “We know each other, don’t we?” (Only in the sense that we tend to follow each other around the same threads on Twitter, but *grin*)

– When someone tells you your “Reinvention” panel was the most inspirational thing they heard all week. 🙂

– Having to take a few things out of checked luggage and transfer to my carry-on to reduce suitcase weight to 50 lbs. So many great books! #goodproblems

Me, with Darynda and Vivi

– Dinner with the Rubies, and seeing old friends! There’s never enough time to catch up.

– Ruby Slippered Sisterhood shout-out at the Annual General Meeting, related to the need to gather feedback from the RWA membership about the Golden Heart contest, which will end in 2019. What comes next? My friend @SusanSey live-tweeted the #AGM – she’s always worth a read!

– Listening to 2018 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Suzanne Brockmann’s electrifying acceptance speech:

(The RWA National office will post a YouTube link to the RITA Awards Ceremony soon. It’s worth watching in full.)

– Having multiple people mention how much they enjoyed/valued/appreciated the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog. Thank you so much! If you value the blog, we invite you to comment occasionally. Sometimes we wonder if we’re shouting into the void…  🙂

There’s so much more I could write here – workshops, and signings, and sore feet, oh my! But what about you?

What memories, learnings, and takeaways did YOU take away from this year’s RWA National Conference?


Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Gabrielle Luthy

Today we’re welcoming another Persister, a member of the Golden Heart Class of 2018, the lovely Gabrielle Luthy! 

Gabrielle is a three-time Golden Heart Finalist who took home the golden necklace in 2016 for her Contemporary Romance, SHELTER ME. This year, she has finaled in Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance with MIDNIGHT ON TOPANGA CANYON BOULEVARD. She lives by the beach in Melbourne, Australia, with her two cats and a rotating cast of foster cats, where she writes books about independent women sorting out their lives, one margarita – and one man – at a time.


Lilly Brannigan has the life she always wanted. She’s a successful tax lawyer with a perfectly nice boyfriend and, best of all, a life free of messy emotional complications. The last place she wants to be is Topanga Canyon, L.A.’s hippy stronghold and the scene of too many family dramas. But there’s no avoiding the tragic news she has to give to her childhood friend. Go, deliver the news, and escape, keeping her own secrets safe. That’s the plan.

Until one kiss upends everything.

Single father of three, Ethan Moore, makes the perfect margarita and knows just how to press Lilly’s buttons. With his carpentry business experiencing problems, Ethan really needs someone to keep an eye on his boisterous brood so he can take on extra work. Lilly is the perfect candidate for temporary caretaker–as long as she keeps her distance from Ethan, as long as he doesn’t discover the secret she’s been keeping since they were kids themselves.

How hard can it be?

Famous. Last. Words. How do you keep away from someone you’ve loved since before you knew what love was? Can she learn to stay when all she wants to do is run? Lilly faces a choice: the life she’s convinced she’s always wanted, or the life she’s never allowed herself to dare to dream of.

Gabrielle is here today to talk to us about setting as a character in her book. So grab a margarita (and maybe a handsome carpenter while you’re at it!) and hear what she has to say!

Take it away, Gabrielle!


Setting: Oh, the places your characters (and you!) will go

Whenever a book idea introduces itself to me, it always happens like this:

Oh, look! Here’s Person A and Person B, and this happens, and it happens here.

The idea for Midnight on Topanga Canyon Boulevard came after I saw a photo of a house online. Instantly, I had an image of a man walking out onto its stone porch just on sunset to greet a woman who said to me “I don’t want to be here, but I owe it to him.”

Welcome 2018 Golden Heart and RITA Finalists!!


We know you must still be floating in the clouds!!! And you deserve every moment of happiness! RWA judges are tough, and nobody gets where you are without having written a FABULOUS book!!

(See the full slate of 2018 nominees here).

We have a tradition here at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of asking  finalists to share their stories about getting that life-changing, thrilling call. So SPILL THE DETAILS in the comments below, and we’ll set off a whole new round of squealing and cheering for you.

New Golden Heart finalists: we hope you’ve got your seatbelts fastened, because you’re being launched onto a serious thrill ride. And you’ll need good friends to make it through the experience in one piece. So, if you haven’t done so yet, your first order of business is to join the email/Facebook loops for the class of 2018 so you can meet all your new sisters. Your 2018 Sisters will be an unbelievable support in every way, and if past experience holds true–as it certainly does for the Rubies–they’ll become some of your dearest friends for life!  (If a commenter can share the info on how to contact the Facebook group organizer, we’ll post it up here!)


Today, the 2009 Golden Heart finalists, the Ruby-Slippered Sisters, will be stop in with congratulations, advice, and tales from their own Golden Heart adventures. And we invite all our friends and readers to add cheers and whoops of their own.

We’ll also be issuing an invitation (via a member of your email or Facebook loop) for as many of you as we can possibly fit into the schedule to guest blog with the Rubies or be interviewed on the blog sometime between now and Nationals. We love getting to know the new Golden Heart cohort each year and helping you make yourself better known to the Romance writing world. Be on the lookout for the details!!

Tomorrow, for everyone who didn’t get that coveted call, we’ll be back with our annual Consolation Day party, with heaps of support (you can bawl your eyes out if you need to, and we’ll be here with the hugs and the virtual tissues and calorie-free brownies), plus prize giveaways to help pick you right back up: lots of chocolate and sweet gift cards!!

Of course, after we celebrate, every single one of us—whether finalist, non-finalist, whether newbie or multi-published author—has the very same task to do: sit down at that keyboard and KEEP WRITING!

But for now: It’s your day, Finalists!! Congratulations!!!! We can’t wait to hear from you!!

Where are they now? – GH classes of 2005 & 2007

Welcome to the next installment of our The Golden Heart Finalists: Where are they now? series. Today, the Rubies are hosting Golden Heart finalists from 2005 and 2007.

Since the 2005 finalists were heading to Reno for the RWA Nationals, we chose to be “The Wild Cards.” The 2007 finalists met in Dallas–but, of course, with ‘007 as our year, we were the “Bond Girls.”

Thirteen finalists checked in with us today and volunteered to tell us what’s been happening with their writing careers since. If there are other 2005 or 2007 finalists who would like to share your updates today, please join us in the comments!

Big Hooks -a marketing tool.

What is the BIG hook? Simple. A title.

Don’t believe me, read on. A few months ago, in a reader forum, I started a discussion, asking the question ‘what first grabs your attention when searching for a book in brick store?’ My thread stayed on top for weeks as readers offered their opinions.  A great cover was the overwhelming answer with a catchy title running a close second. Behind them were the back-cover blurb and the author’s name.

When I threw ‘the cyber-stores’ into the mix, a catchy title was hands down, no-doubt-about-it number one. With like a thousand new books being introduced each month in cyber-venues, your title becomes the hook that will make the buyer click, read your blurb and check out your sample pages.

A great title says a lot about the author’s creativity and his/hers capability to market their work. If you’re entering the 2017 Golden Heart and are seeking the interest of professional advocates, you definitely want to have the most awesome title.

Looking at my bookshelf, some of the titles that jump out at me are; Zeroes by Chuck Wendig, Tick Tock by James Patterson, Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters, The Hello Girl by Merline Lovelace, The First Grave On The Right by our own Ruby-sister Darynda Jones and most recently The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison. Each one of these titles reveals the essence of the story. And each one jumped out at me from their spine and prompted me to read the back blurb. Do not dismiss the importance of a great title.

Every now and then, on our private loop, one of the Ruby sisters cries out for title help. She shares a very short blurb and we bombard her with suggestions. Are we good at doing this? Look at our titles and you be the judge.

Today only, if you’re having trouble thinking up a grabber, the Rubies are willing to put on our thinking caps for you. Post a short blurb and we’ll help you out.  Guests, please offer a suggestion too.


Autumn Jordon is the award-winning sneaker Ruby and author of Perfect~ a fun, warm-hearted Christmas romance set in the fictional town of Black Moose, Vermont.  To join her rapidly growing newsletter and be entered into members’ only contests, visit www.autumn Jordon.comperfect

What’s next for the Golden Heart?

In November, RWA released the new schedule for the 2017 RWA Nationals Conference in Orlando. The biggest and most-talked-about change is the separation of the Awards ceremony into two events. The Golden Heart Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday (July 26) during the luncheon, with the RITA Awards ceremony being held that evening.

There has been a lot of discussion around cyberspace since the news released. The Rubies have talked about it too, and since we’re the GH class of 2009, we have plenty of thoughts about this change–positive, negative, and curious.


It’s been almosgh-2009t two weeks since the new schedule was announced. Now that we’ve had time to reflect on what’s been said, let’s revisit what it means to move the Golden Heart ceremony to the Thursday luncheon.

I’ll start off the discussion with my reaction, which is optimistic. I love the idea that we’ve moved the Literacy Signing to Saturday so that we’ll conclude the conference by meeting our readers. That’s a big positive.


And we won’t lose the factors that I value most about being a GH finalist. Those benefits include:

  1. Meeting the other finalists. Seven-plus years after meeting the Rubies, we remain friends and the very best kind of support network.
  2. Finding the courage to put our book(s) out there. Whether “out there” means agents, editors, or readers, finaling in a prestigious competition reminds you that your peers have judged your book among the best. It’s a big boost to your confidence.
  3. Feeling like royalty at RWA conferences. The Golden Heart pin is recognizable. You can be in the elevator, in the hallways, in a workshop, or at a meal–and you will be congratulated!

The negative most frequently mentioned is the possibility that the Golden Heart will become less special. I hope that doesn’t prove to be true. I hope the RWA community won’t allow it to be true.

Join the Rubies today as we discuss the new schedule and the separation of the GH and RITA ceremonies. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.


Meet Golden Heart Finalist Kimberly Buckner!

Today we have the pleasure of welcoming Kimberly Buckner, 2015 Golden Heart Finalist in Contemporary Romance with CALL ME MRS. WHITLOCK.

Kimberly writes contemporary loves stories set in the South. She’s active in RWA as a PRO member, and has used what she learned to teach at local writers’ meetings and conferences. In addition to the Golden Heart final, Kimberly won the 2014 Maggie for Single Title Romance, and the 2015 Emily for Contemporary Long Romance. After fourteen fabulous years below the Mason-Dixon, she currently lives in Denver.

Here’s a quick blurb for her Golden Heart book, CALL ME MRS. WHITLOCK:

Della was wicked close to her dream of opening a wellness studio, when her boyfriend disappeared with all her money. With no leads and no help from the police, she must go to his small southern town and convince his friends and family she’s his wife so they’ll help her track the goob down.

Jude, a reluctant new fire chief, knows he’s the last person to be called a hero, but will do whatever he can to protect the people he loves. Even if it means keeping an eye on the mysterious woman who shows up claiming to be married to his AWOL former best friend. Della wants something, but clearly doesn’t plan to stay forever, which should be fine. And yet, the longer she’s around, the less willing he is to see her leave. But Jude can’t let himself fall for Damien’s wife. Not again.

As Della and Jude become closer, it’s hard to deny their growing attraction. If she comes clean, will he help her find Jude? Or lead the party to drive her out of town?

Fabulous!! I have a soft spot for protective, dutiful, conflicted firemen, so I’d be first in line to buy this!

Kimberly’s going to take over the blog today with some hard-won wisdom about making conference pitches. She’s got some oh-so-painful (and hilarious) stories to share!

Take it away, Kimberly!


kimberly buckner author picOnce Upon A Pitch: Lessons from the Front Lines

One inescapable and vital part of the writers’ conference is the dreaded pitch session. It lands on the fun scale somewhere between visiting the DMV and getting a pap smear. But, if we hope to get an agent and/or publisher, it’s an important tool. The hard part is the nerves. You’re taking a piece of art in which you’ve invested countless hours, and trying to convey the story in mere moments, preferably in a pithy, fresh way. The pressure can be ridiculous.

There are a lot of resources on pitching tips, and they’re really good. But through my experiences, I’ve learned some things they don’t usually tell you. In sharing two of these, I hope you might walk into your next writers’ conference better prepared than I was.

My flight to conference left at the—not even butt-crack of dawn. More like the dimples above the butt-crack of dawn. After a night of waking up every twenty minutes, terrified I’d slept through my alarm, I donned my stretchy travel clothes, and shuffled to the airport sans makeup and with hair resembling an old push broom. My plan was to check in, make myself presentable, then come back down.

Show and Tell Wednesday: RITA & Golden Heart Edition

Hold all calls, tomorrow is RITA/GH Announcement day! This of course begs for a special edition of Show and Tell Wednesday.

Are you hoping for a nomination for one of these pretties?


Or perhaps a chance at one of these little ladies? (The statue, not Darynda!)


Announcement day is such an exciting time for us, since it was the day in 2009 when all of us came to know one another and the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood began. On top of that, it’s a day where dreams come true. Whether you’re waiting for a call or have friends who are waiting, there’s hope and excitement and anticipation in the air.

I remember how shiny and hopeful I was on that day. Getting the call was like winning the lottery and, every year, announcement day brings all that shininess back. Ooh…butterflies just thinking about it.


Ever since 2009, we’ve continued to make new memories. What can beat a Ruby presenting a Golden Heart award to another Ruby?


And look at Elisa showing off her Precious:


When one Ruby wins, we all win. (Wasn’t that a McDonald’s slogan?)


If you’re already feeling giddy like me, feel free to rub the little lady here for good luck. (The statue, not Vanessa.)


For Rubies and Ruby friends who are wishing and hoping and praying tomorrow — may your phones ring merrily — and may it not be the school calling about your kids. Heel clicks and happy thoughts to all!

Remember to come by tomorrow for our annual Announcement Day Cyber party on the Ruby blog. Share your news or just anxiously refresh the screen with the rest of us!

Show and Tell Wednesday is a weekly feature which features images and a short post sharing something about them. If you’re interested in doing a guest post, check out the additional info and guidelines HERE.

And don’t forget about the upcoming Show and Tell Wednesday: RSS Edible Book Festival on April 1st. If you like to bake or make edible art, you can enter your creation for a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate. Check out the info HERE.

Ruby Release – I Wish

“Don’t ever give up,” said the late Jimmy Valvano (former basketball coach for NC State University) a few short weeks before cancer claimed him.

That quote became the motto for me and I Wish. This is the manuscript that finaled in the Golden Heart in 2009. Without I Wish, I would’ve never met my Ruby Sisters or my agent. Yet it was such a hugely tough sell that I nearly quit writing over this book.

Announcing the Fifth Annual Make It Golden Contest!!!

The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood is about to celebrate our FIFTH blog birthday!!

Our official Birthday Bash will be Monday, September 22th, and as always, WE’LL be the ones giving away the gifts! Be sure to join us here for the festivities!!

Right after that, we’ll be holding our annual MAKE IT GOLDEN CONTEST, and giving our Golden-Heart-eligible readers a terrific chance to shine (plus have a chance to earn more great prizes!!)

The MAKE IT GOLDEN contest is designed for unpublished authors who are polishing up their entries for RWA’s Golden Heart Contest–the contest that brought the Ruby Sisters together when we were finalists in 2009.

We all know how important a strong opening is in grabbing the attention of Golden Heart judges, and this contest is a great chance to test yours out!

We’ve had a good track record with Make It Golden finalists going on to final in the Golden Heart, get published, and even hit the bestseller lists within a year or two (2011 Finalist Tracy Brogan, we’re looking at you!). Check out the finalists from 2013’s contest , from and 2012’s contest here, 2011 here, and 2010 here.

Finalists and winners from previous years are welcome to enter again, BUT YOU MUST STILL BE GOLDEN HEART ELIGIBLE (see RWA’s rules here) AND ALL ENTRIES MUST BE NEW!! Maximum of TWO entries per person. (Even if you use more than one pen name.)

TOP PRIZE will once again be your $50 Golden Heart entry fee paid for you by the Rubies!! Other prizes TBA.

The best part is, it’s FREE!!

All you need to do to enter is follow the official rules, below:

Official Rules of the MAKE IT GOLDEN CONTEST (read carefully!!):

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 24, we will accept the first one hundred eligible entries submitted for the contest, each containing up to the FIRST FIFTY WORDS of the entrant’s romance manuscript.


Submit your entry via the “comment” box on the blog, typing in the word ENTRY in all caps at the top so we won’t miss it.

There is no entry fee.

We will close to entries at midnight the same day. Entries will be disqualified if any of the following are true: the entry goes over the 50 word maximum; the entry is posted after midnight; the entry was submitted in a previous year; the entrant posts more than two entries (even if posted under more than one name); the entrant is ineligible to enter the RWA Golden Heart contest.

The Ruby Sisters will read the entries and choose ten finalists.

Ten finalists will be listed on the blog at 12:01 a.m. EST on Friday September 26. ENTRANTS SHOULD CHECK THE RUBY BLOG AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE ON FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 26 TO FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE FINALED. It is entirely the entrant’s responsibility to check the blog to see if he or she is a finalist.

The ten chosen finalists will have the rest of the day, until 12:01 a.m. EST at the very start of September 27 (in other words, 24 hours), to post an expanded entry, starting with those fabulous opening words, and continuing with the next consecutive lines up to a MAXIMUM TOTAL of 250 words. (Really, a maximum of 250. Any more than that, and we have to disqualify the entry.) Again, type ENTRY in caps and post the expanded entry.

The three winners will be announced on the blog on Tuesday, September 30.



MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22th: The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Blog Fifth Birthday Bash!

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24th: Starting at 12:01 a.m. and ending at the next midnight, we will accept the first one hundred entries for the contest.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th: Ten finalists will be announced on the Ruby blog. THEY HAVE 24 HOURS (until 12:01 a.m. September 27) TO POST EXPANDED ENTRIES!!



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