Where Are They Now – The Firebirds (Class of 2012)

Welcome to Week Five of our eight week series: The Golden Heart Finalists, Where Are They Now?  Last week we got updates from some of the OGs of the GH, but this week we’re back to more recent years and welcoming the chance to catch up with the Firebirds of 2012!

In March of 2012, the Firebirds got the call notifying them that they were Golden Heart finalists and later that year many of them made their way to Anaheim for their shot at taking home the Golden Heart necklace… and they banded together as another strong Golden Heart class.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Let’s hear from the Firebirds…

(All of the information was voluntarily provided by the finalists themselves – and if you are a Firebird and you missed our call to arms, please post your own update in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!)

The Firebirds of 2012, Where Are They Now…

Of the fifteen Firebirds who responded, all indicated they were still active as a group.  Fourteen listed 2012 as their only final, while the fifteenth elected to be included in the Firebird round-up.  Two have changed genre, three are writing in a new genre as well the one they finaled in, and nine indicated they were writing full time.  Their ranks include multiple RITA finalists as well as three best sellers and a multiple members who are overcoming major health issues.  It’s been a busy five years for the Firebirds, but they’re still persevering, still rising like their namesake phoenix, and the Golden Heart brought them together…

As Carol J. Post, who was a RITA finalist in 2016 and 2017, said “I made a lot of friendships with other finalists who have supported me along my publishing path.”  She currently plans to “continue writing for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line, as well as venturing into indie publishing.”

Natalie Meg Evans said, “It was a huge boost when I was wondering if I’d ever break in. I made lots of great friends and discovered what a huge and friendly world romance writing in America is. I was later shortlisted for a Rita in the ‘best first book’ category, and came to the RWA Nationals in San Antonio. That was my last visit to the States, but I hope to be back.” And in the mean time? “I am currently writing a speculative crime/horror novel and working on another historical romance set in Paris and the fashion industry.”

For Donna S. Frelick, the Golden Heart opened doors. “I had struggled to get the attention of agents prior to my GH nomination. Once I finaled, it was much easier to get a foot in the door with agents. I eventually found Michelle Johnson (at the Corvisiero agency at the time) who took a chance on me.” Now she says,”I’m published by INK’d Press, a hybrid publishing effort established by my agent Michelle Johnson as a subsidiary of Inklings Literary Agency. INK’d works just like a traditional small press, covering all the upfront costs of publishing my work plus marketing assistance, but I get much more creative control of cover, editing and other such aspects of production. All the benefits of self-publishing without the scary bits.”  And she plans to continue! “The fourth book in my Interstellar Rescue series launches November 14, 2017. I’m starting work on Book 5 for 2018. I plan to stick with the series as long as readers stick with me!” 

Terri Osburn, now a full-time bestselling author, said, “I doubt I’d be published now if I hadn’t finaled in the Golden Heart. I might have gone on to publish eventually, but I highly doubt I’d have been in the right place at the right time to have the success I’ve enjoyed over the last five years.” She said of her plans, “I want to keep writing book as long as I can and hope to one day reach the level of being one of the first names mentioned when my genre or Romance in generals comes up among readers.”

“It started my career,” agreed Robena Grant, now a full-time traditionally published author.  She plans to “finish my English Village series, and begin an adventure series set in Australia.”

Traditionally published full-time author Kathleen Bittner Roth said, “The Golden Heart spiraled me upward with not one, but two publishers who have been super helpful with my career. I am now working on my 8th book and contracted for more.” She says in the future, “I’ll continue writing with both publishers and also write a women’s fiction novel.”

Indie author Lexi Greene said simply that the Golden Heart “gave me credibility” and plans to work toward being a “hybrid published author.”

Colette Auclair agreed.  “It gave me street cred and, I believe, helped me to get a three-book contract.” She hopes “to be traditionally published and be successful enough to quit my day job and write novels full time.” Going on to say, “I’m going full-steam on a women’s fiction novel with a strong romance in it. It started as a contemporary romance, but then switched gears.”

Sally Kilpatrick, another women’s fiction author, said of her Golden Heart final, “That was the first time I entered the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category, and I felt like I’d found my place and my voice. Of course, then RWA tugged that rug right out from under me, but that’s publishing for you.” But it hasn’t stopped her.  She says, “I’m currently working on my 5th novel for Kensington, and my 4th releases on Halloween. I have a new agent (yay!), and I hope to keep honing my craft and to find new readers. I’m living the dream, y’all.”

Two-time finalist Laurie A. Green (2012, 2011 (double)) said, “Being a 3-time Golden Heart finalist helped me land an agent and resulted in the publication of my first two books. I became an indie published author as of January 2017.” Now she writes full time and says, “I plan to complete my Inherited Stars Series plus writing other science fiction romance and paranormal romance books.”

“Finaling opened a lot of doors for me and helped me obtain my first agent.  I have no doubt if I hadn’t finaled, I would still be knocking on doors,” said bestselling hybrid author Anna J Stewart.  “I hope to write single title romance for one of the big NY houses and also self publish in another romance sub genre,” she explained.  “I consider having been a GH finalist a true honor. It’s a club I’m thrilled to be part of.”

Of course, not everyone felt the Golden Heart opened doors.  Anne Kenny who writes as Anna Durbin said of the Golden Heart that “It didn’t do much for me, sadly.” But she has big plans for the future. She explains, “After self-publishing my series of Regency romance novels, I’d like to write literary fiction and publish traditionally. I’ve just recently self-published the first book in the Regency romance series and will be publishing the other three books within the next year.”

It seems like no one perseveres quite like a Firebird…

Kristen Ethridge said the Golden Heart “definitely propelled me.  I finaled in the GH and Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write in the same year. I was offered a contract to LI out of SYTYCW and had multiple offers of agent representation. Being a GH finalist gave my writing credibility and helped open doors that were firmly shut before I got the call from those two contests.” She explained, “I have had to take some time off due to a brain injury from a car accident (please don’t text and drive!) Now that I’m not going back to my “day job,” I’m focused on my writing and plugging back in. The last two years, while I’ve been doing rehab, I’ve participated in a few indie novella collections. I’ll be doing more of those in 2018, releasing some new full-length indie stories in my fictional town of Port Provident, and looking for some traditional publishing opportunities as well. I am excited to be a full-time author.”

For best-selling hybrid author Tamra Baumann “The Golden Heart helped me get the agent I wanted and then I was published with the publisher I wanted.  My GH award still sits in its box on my desk. On tough writing days I open the fuzzy lid and smile. The necklace invokes memories of trying to find spare moments to write. And the joy writing gave me before deadlines and dev edits when I could tell stories just because I wanted to. It reminds me of why I wanted to be a full-time writer in the first place. Then gratitude for every step of the journey fills me, so I slap the lid closed and get back to work.” She has “Just turned in my 6th trad published book, and am currently writing my 4th self-published book.” 

Lauren Christopher said of the Golden Heart, “HUGE impact! Being able to put “Golden Heart finalist” on my subject lines for email queries got me several “call-backs” from agents, and ultimately led to my current agent, who I signed with at the end of 2012 and who I’ve been thrilled with. Also, the camaraderie I’ve experienced with my fellow GH finalists has been invaluable. I had not been a part of my local RWA before the GH, so my fellow finalists became my first writing friends. And many are close friends of mine to this day.”  In recent years, she “went through breast cancer treatment (chemo, surgery, radiation) starting in 2015 (just before Books 3 and 4 came out), so I had to step away for a couple of years while I focused on treatments and getting back to health. But I’ll be back! :)” And stronger than ever!  She goes on to say, “I’m feeling stronger and stronger every day, and breast cancer treatments are almost in my rear-view mirror! As soon as I’m ready to jump back in, I have notes and outlines to finish the third books in each of my two series, then my agent and I have talked about maybe moving into the women’s fiction/romance fusion.” She says, “The Golden Heart sisterhood is wonderful on so many levels, but my favorite aspect has been the support, encouragement, and friendship that everyone shares so generously!”

It is an incredible community – and we’ll be looking for more of Lauren’s books soon, but in the mean time, check out these Firebird reads:


Check Out Some Firebird Books!

Thank you to all the Firebirds who responded to our survey! It’s incredible to see how you ladies continue to rise.  And remember, if you’re a Firebird, we’d love to hear more about where you are now in the comments today!


10 responses to “Where Are They Now – The Firebirds (Class of 2012)”

  1. Congrats ladies on your successes! It’s such fun to read where everyone is now. The covers shown here are awesome.

  2. Liz Talley says:

    What an accomplished bunch! Keep on keepin’ on, Firebirds! Great to read what you’ve been up to!

  3. It’s so great to have you here today and see how much has happened for you in the last five years. Thank you for joining us, Firebirds!

  4. Tamara Hogan says:

    Firebirds, thanks so much for updating us on your careers since being named Golden Heart finalists!!

  5. Heather D McCollum says:

    Hello Firebirds! Thank you so much for letting us know how wonderfully you are all doing! I love your name too <3

    It's wonderful how contests like the GH can open so many doors for writers. Congratulations!

  6. Love seeing those beautiful covers and reading about your accomplishments. Congrats to you all, and wishing you continued success!

  7. Elise Hayes says:

    Woot! What impressive work you Firebirds have accomplished (NINE of the fifteen who responded writing full time–that’s amazing!).

    Congratulations to all of you for continuing to write and continuing to dream.

  8. are doing and how the GH helped them. 🙂

    Like the blog post says, Firebirds persevere! So proud of you amazing ladies!

    Sending hugs to all of you across the miles,


  9. Addison Fox says:

    Congratulations to all the Firebirds. I am so happy for all your successes!!!!!


  10. Tracy Brody says:

    You ladies are an inspiration!Not always a straight path, but you’re sticking to your dreams and making them come true. Best wishes for continued and future successes!


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