Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Golden Heart = Fried Brain

Hi, it's Myra (2nd from right) . . . waving to Seekerville's Julie, Tina, and Janet, my sister finalists in the 2005 Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript.

Ah, the Golden Heart. Gotta love it, gotta hate it. I was still pretty new to RWA when I entered. Actually, the first time was in 2004, a non-entry. I thought I'd been very careful to check all the deadlines and submitted my entry form in plenty of time. But then I got the wrong date in my head for the ms. due date and didn't realize it until the very day submissions were due at the RWA office. Not that morning. Not early afternoon. More like 5 p.m.! I lived in Houston at the time, only a couple of miles away, so, silly me, I tried desperately to contact someone to ask if I could rrrrrush my manuscript over, but it was too late. At least they were kind enough not to run my charge card when my entry was a no-show.

The next year, I paid more attention and created several reminders in Outlook so I wouldn't miss another deadline. I sent two mss. (actually, I delivered them in person several days early), then tried not to think about them for the next three or four months. The day the calls went out, I was actually feeling pretty good. Novice that I was, I had no concept for how tough the GH competition is, and I knew what I'd sent was good. So I think the person who called to tell me one of my ms. had finaled was somewhat disappointed that I didn't scream and jump up and down and blow out her eardrum. I kept waiting for her to tell me the other ms. was a finalist, too. After all, I knew it was so good. (Actually, it was my non-entry from the year before, a ms. that still keeps getting chewed up in contests.)

Okay, if you think waiting from December to March is nerve-wracking, the wait from the day of THE CALL until awards night is excruciating! That's the summer I learned just what a big deal the Golden Heart really is. It's also the summer I became friends with three of the warmest, most caring ladies I could ever know. It's the summer I learned to really pray--and mean--"Not my will, but thine be done." Right up to the moment my name was called, I'd been praying that God would let the Golden Heart go to the person who most needed that affirmation.

And frankly, I didn't think it was me. Looking back now after more than two years of trying to market that ms. when two of the other ladies have already sold their books, I can see how important that little golden necklace has been in reminding me every time I look at it that somebody thought I'd written a darn good book. It gives me hope that someone (preferably with the authority to issue a publishing contract) will think so again.

So. It's Golden Heart time again. Heed my warning: This is no contest for the fainthearted! Nor is it for the chronologically challenged. Engrave those submission dates on your brain. Know the rules forward and backward. And follow them. Go here for full details. The two important dates you need right now are:
  • November 15, 2007 — Entry forms and fees must be received by the RWA Office.

  • December 3, 2007 — Entered works must be received in the RWA Office.
Oh, and write a really good manuscript. Which is why it's a good idea to enter at least a few other contests first, contests where you get actual feedback. As Janet said yesterday, every contest critique is a valuable learning experience. It's an investment in your writing career, so, whether you win, final, or end up wallowing in scathing comments, learn all you can and keep polishing your craft.


  1. Forming a friendship with Myra, Tina and Julie was the very best part of being a 2005 Golden Heart finalist! Our bond enabled us to be thrilled for whoever won. Myra's beautiful acceptance speech did us proud.

    Unlike Myra, I sounded like an idiot when I got the call. At the time, I was president of my RWA chapter. I'd entered the Golden Heart several times and my scores had never been high enough to final so I didn't make note of the announcement date. When Erin Fry called from the RWA office, I asked if I'd forgotten to send in a chapter form or something. She laughed and said, "You don't know what day this is, do you?" Then it hit me. I was a finalist. I cried. I think that call made Erin's day. I know it made mine!

  2. Oh, Myra, your blog took me back to a truly "golden" time--one of the best of my life! Without question, finaling in the Golden Heart was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (ahem, well, maybe twice in a lifetime for the likes of Janet Dean and Pam Hillman), and one that I will definitely never forget. No, I didn't win, but I forged a bond with three of the most amazing women I've ever met--Myra, Tina and Janet--"Golden Girls" forever!

    Love ya,

  3. I could NEVER crack that tough nut of a Golden Heart. I used to put on my writer's resume "Finished in the top 25% of the Golden Heart"
    I think Pam Hillman advised me to do that and believe me, that was the closest I ever came.
    I remember the first year I tried to enter. I was entering China Doll, which has recently sold... so many years later.
    That was back when you had to mail in a completed manuscript in order to enter.
    I printed that book out and got it all ready to go and waited for it to be time to send it. Then... oh at LEAST a month to late, I realized it was still sitting there, all tidy and printed and ready.
    Honestly I had to just accept it was from the Lord. I was so ready. I KNEW the dates. It was important to me. Then somehow all that was sucked into one of many air pockets in my brain and just lost.
    Good grief.
    So I decided God Himself didn't want me to enter and actually wasn't even too upset about it.
    I am so jealous of you ladies together in that picture. I've never gotten to an RWA conference. And you make it look very glamorous. Did you all wear evening dresses all the time? Cuz I think that should be a rule.

    How many Golden Heart Finalists do we have in the Seekers anyway?

  4. Wow, I could have used a spew alert. Lost my coffee and my need for breakfast looking at that chubby picture of moi.


  5. Pam has finaled several times and won. Janet has finaled several times. Missy has finaled. Tina has finaled several times. Myra has finaled and won. Julie has finaled.

  6. I'm fairly new at entering contests, and this will be my first Golden Heart. (Now I'm paranoid I'll forget the date or forget to send it in!) I've entered five times and finaled once, but nothing as prestigious as the Golden Heart. But I'm kind of glad I won't be getting feedback! I won't have to cringe at all the things I did wrong.

  7. We didn't dress like that all the time, Mary! I'd love for you to come to RWA one year. I suppose you lost your entry fee when you missed the GH deadline. What a painful experience. Definitely mail your Rita entry early.

    Tina, I finaled twice, but thanks, several times has a nice ring to it. :-)

  8. Girls,
    You look so beautiful all dressed up for the Awards Ceremony! Congrats to all of you! You're fantastic!
    Debby Giusti

    PS: I mentioned Seekerville on my blog today: Stop by and say hello!

  9. Ah, Janet, the memories. When I got the call in 2004, the lady told me and we squealed and cried and chatted...and then she said, "And there's more."...and my heart just dropped into my stomach.

    What more could there be unless it was a double!?!

    I kept walking around the living room repeating, "I can't believe it!" lol

  10. Myra!

    Great post. As one who has never entered the GH but intends to this year, I'm keeping this baby above my keyboard to remind me of dates, Kleenex, tough spines and stiff upper lips, LOL!

    I know people who've crashed and burned with a manuscript one year, only to have that same unchanged manuscript final and/or win the following year.

    Back to that subjectivity stuff.

    Myra, you showed us the humor involved. Sorely needed, my dear!

    Can't wait to be on the edge with the rest of you.


  11. And of course you've all heard about the time I got a ONE on my Golden Heart entry.
    Okay, thank heaven's this is a computer or you'd hear the deafening screams of
    This was for Petticoat Ranch AFTER it'd won the Noble Theme contest.
    A ONE on a scale of one to ten, ten being GOOD. ONE being...what? Beneath contempt? Did my manuscript fall on her foot and break it?
    Did she leave it out and her pet ate it and choked and cost her a fortune at the vet and she blamed ME?????
    Of course, as I'm told you every time I've mentioned this...I am completely over it.
    But a ONE?????!!!!!!!!!!!
    A one????
    Surely black ink on white paper rates a TWO!!!!!

  12. Oh my gosh, Mary. You crack me up!! (How many zillion times have I said that, huh?)

    Anyway, Myra, thanks for the great post on the GH. I entered so many times I'm not really sure how many--probably 4 years (two manuscripts one year). I finally finaled in 2006, then sold a different book in January 07. The GH finalists is still available! ;)


  13. And I still say that judge thought 1 was a perfect score, Mary! I'll believe it to my dying day.