Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fast Times At Golden Heart High

Welcome Guest Blogger, Gina Welborn

Voice: May I speak to Gina Welborn?
Me: Umm, this is she, me, her.
Voice: Hi, this is Terri Reed from RWA. Your entry, One Day, finaled in the inspirational category of the Golden Heart.
Me (scrunching up my nose): Really? You sure?
Voice (slowly): Yeeesss.
Me (bandly): Oh. Well, that’s kinda cool.

(Long awkward pause)

Voice (perky): Congratulations!
Me: Umm, thanks. You too. Have a nice day.

I hung up the phone then walked to the table.

Hubby: Who was that?
Me: An RWA chick called to tell me my story finaled in the Golden Heart.
Hubby: What are you going to do about it?

Me: Nothing. We don’t have the money for me to go to the conference.

Here’s the kicker: Two days later I had this amazing peace that God was going to provide a way for me to go. Well, me and my newborn. And He did! Everything—airfare, conference registration, hotel room, food, and even a ride from the airport to the hotel. Yay, God!

Since I’d never been to RWA Nationals before, I have to say I learned a few things. Yay, me!

1) Being a GH finalist and holding a cute baby begin myriad of conversations.

2) Half the women at RWA Nationals have either cute babies or grandbabies the same age as my daughter.

3) Don’t try to nurse a cute baby in a workshop.

4) Never give your cute, well-fed baby to Missy Tippens, unless you want to stain Missy’s suit.

5) With ugly babies...well, I’m guessing no one cares, but I wouldn’t know ‘cause my baby’s cute. No offense intended to mom’s of ugly babies.

I have to say I’m glad my story finaled because it led me to my agent, enabled me to meet Tina Russo, and affirmed that at least five people loved my medieval. Well, six if you count me.

Now if I had to narrow my Golden Heart experience to one eye-opener, it’d be this:

Find a community to participate in.

Okay, some people might say a clique, but cliques have such a negative stereotype because they tend to be exclusive instead of inclusive, although I can say some groups will forever be exclusive. No one can be a member of the Golden Heart ’07 group except for those who finaled that year. Same with previous and future years, and some groups are very proud of their exclusivity. Yay, them!

Unlike cliques, communities are inclusive, inviting, incouraging. (Yes, I know I spelled encouraging wrong, but I couldn’t think of another in-something word. Then again….)

I mention joining a community for a reason.

During the GH/Rita reception, I sat against a wall with one of my CPs while the certificates were being handed out. Hmm, I can’t remember where our other flutter bug CP was at that moment, but during the reception, I noticed the table that several other current and previous inspy GH and Rita finalists sat.

My CP asked me if I knew any of them. I said, “Nope, but maybe I’ll meet one or a few over the next two days.” If I met any, I don’t remember. I’ll blame it on the cute baby.

I do remember going to the Steeple Hill Open House because I wanted to get to know some authors…oh, the truth is I wanted to talk to Melissa Endlich. Most of the party was a blur because of the number of people in the tiny room, but I can remember drinking a bottle of water and meeting a few ladies so unbelievably sweet, gracious, and friendly that I decided I wanted to be like them when I grow up. Yay, you gals!

Of course, the moment Melissa came over and sat on the end table across from me, I thought “Here’s the reason God made it possible for me to come.” I knew Melissa and I were going to chat and she’d realize what a fabulous person I am and beg me to write long historicals for her. We’d also become BFFs, and she’d name a goldfish after me. Yay, Melissa!

Two seconds after she sat down, my cute baby spit up on Missy. Oh well. Melissa probably doesn’t even like fish.

Despite the blurred memories, I can still feel the impression I had inside that room—a community ready and willing to include any new members. And I don’t think the Steeple Hill contingent is the only group in RWA or in any other writing organization that feels that way. Yay, you fabu communities!

I also realized at Nationals that you can’t sit walled behind your computer waiting for the community to hunt you down. You have to move past your quirks/phobias/fears of being rejected, walk into a room of total strangers, and say, “Hi, my name is Gina Welborn and I write inspirational historicals that are a little funky/silly/outlandish at times, but God’s truth is always conveyed.”

Okay, maybe you should use your own name instead of mine. I’d hate for people to think I have perfect hair and live on something other than chocolate and caffeine. Yay, you!

When Gina graduated with a degree in Communications, working at a news radio station writing commercial copy, public service announcements, and news reports seemed like a fantabulous career choice. But a writer can only be so creative when describing ketchup and Geronimo’s grave. (No, she never combined those two elements in the same script, but now that she thinks about it, she wishes....) So Gina retired after six months on the job to focus on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict within her family before discovering her niche in fiction writing.

Her medieval finaled in the 2007 inspirational Golden Heart and in the 2005 historical Golden Gateway.

You can sometimes find Gina blogging at Five Kids and a Blog.

If you have a long or short contemporary or historical manuscript, then get your entry fee ready for Faith, Hope & Love's 2008 TBL contest. Gina and Kelly Riley are competing to see who can take Best Category Coordinator honors.


Tina M. Russo said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Gina. Although we are composing a list of honorary members and you and Mel top the list.

I think GH is an experience everyone should try at least once.

I also think you should be writing romantic comedy. But that's another issue.

Katherine Harms said...

I love the energy and excitement of Gina's comments. I love her breezy style. I love the flavor of her work. But I am completely baffled by all the initials. CP GH BFF and so forth. I finally figured out GH, and I knew BFF because I watch ads for text messaging services. I still don't know what CP stands for. I hope she writes again, but when she does, I need a glossary!

Gina Welborn said...

Honorary member? Maybe. Someday.

Ahhhh, gee, thanks, Tina. That's the second, okay, third nicest thing you've said to me in the last week. See my riviting staccato sentences above? Forget a rom-commer, I'm a rom-sussy in the making. Suss, btw, is not to be confused with wuss. And I know wuss. I've been googling "nice guys who can't get the girl because they're wusses."

Oh, and I do have one rom-com that I started after the Ruthinator suggested I try writing a short contemporary. Apparently the story is soooo bad, she'd rather change poopy diapers than read it. How self-absorbed is that? All I'm saying Ruth better not expect a Christmas card from me. And if a box arrives with no From addy, I know nuthin' about it.

I think deep down inside she's jealous because she knows her rom-com can spank mine in a contest. Good thing I'm not into BDSM--birthin' dem silly manuscripts.

Lemme see if I still have that miserable attempt.

Gina Welborn said...

LOL, Katherine. You know that text messaging commercial where the mom, granny, daughter, and friend/daughter/whoever are playing scrabble and using ROFL, etc? Well, I'm the mom. If I had a mobile phone, I'd probably be the one person fully typing out text messages...well, typos, of course. Man, I spotted two in my seeker blog post.

Gina Welborn said...

Whoops, I forgot to add...

CP stands for critique partner, who I often also call a critter.

My kids, on the other hand, are chitlins. Fried pig intestines. Yep, that's them. When they clean they're room, they get to be munchkins who enjoy the Chinese food mom spent all of 2-minutes ordering.

Gina Welborn said...

Okay, that was supposed to be their, not they're.

You know, I only make typos so y'all don't think I'm perfect.

Tina M. Russo said...

Katherine, not to shove you out of Seekerville, but Writers At Play has a nice acronym list on their site and I am all for not reinventing the wheel.

Besides they might come over and play.

Hannah said...

cool story about how God provided for Gina to go to the concert! shows me again that God provides for ALL our needs and many of our wants.

Gina Welborn said...

Okay, Tina, here's the opening to my rom-com attempt.

I, Hildegard Venus Bohannan, carry the title of Ugliest Female in the entire bedroom community of Broomgarden, Texas, population 64,732.

I know it. Accept it. Scoff at it.

Considering Broomgarden boasts of sixteen Miss Texases, nine Junior Miss Americas, two Miss Americas, three Miss Universes, one Pamela Anderson stunt double, and forty-seven miscellaneous other pageant winners, anything less than surgically-enhanced, Saran-Wrapped perfection screams “ugly.” And I am too wise to argue with stupidity.

Hilde’s un-manicured fingers paused on the keypad of her office computer as she glanced over the top of her pink sunglasses at the neon Harley Davidson clock she’d hung up last week to replace the temporarily broken and frightfully expensive Rombach and Haas. Like her, the replacement clock clashed with the elegant Ethan Allen furnished room.

Twenty-seven minutes.

Not much time left before she had to leave to make her hair appointment.

Either she was gonna have to start getting up earlier to have her quiet time on the days she needed to stay late to use the office computer...or figure out a way to read as she walked to work. Like the latter would happen. A blind woman reading would so scream 'fraud.'

With a puff of breath and a flexing of her fingers, she focused on the monitor and typed.

Rumor has it I purposefully dyed my pale, shaggy mane a shade vaguely resembling four-day-old mold in protest of the Broomgarden rule that any self-respecting Texas lady never self-colored her hair. I never denied it.

Hilde bit back a laugh. Boy was that color smelly to produce and took forever to grow out, but the result justified the suffering. She flicked her braided pig-tails over her shoulders. No time to reminisce about the good ol’ days.
The online “How to Write Your Last Will and Testament” article said to keep the personal commentary to a minimum.

The clock’s ticking grew louder.

Twenty-four minutes.

Good gravy, she had to hurry.

Yet once my Miss Broomgarden 1971 mother lost her sight and finally understood that beauty was in the eye the beholder, I realized the solution to my marital quandry (which came as a result of someone’s constant begging for grandchildren--yes, Mother, I'm talking about you) stared me right in the face.

At the age of 27 and armed with a Texas A&M PhD in Finance, I happily applied for and accepted the position as business manager at the Michael Jullian Gifted and Talented School for Visually Impaired Student, where everyone from students to teachers to administrators couldn't see. A few were deaf, too. Granted, with 20/20vision, I swam against the blind flow. But as long as beauty was only skin deep, I figured I’d fake blindness to find one man who would see the real woman missing the required beauty mark of all true Texas ladies: big hair and a shiny tiara.

In fact, I'm confident the friendly music teacher is my man. He has to be.

After all, Mr. Beets loves football, despises the Patriots (and any team playing our precious Cowboys), attends the same church, and favors polyester’s practicality. How could I not love such a non-superficial man? That my boss Michael Jullian surpasses Tom Brady’s hottiness and is as stalwart as a New England Patriots offensive lineman means little to me. Did I mention how much I hate the Patriots? I do, but I must give athletic prowess credit where credit is due.

Hilde blinked at the screen. As the possible date of her demise loomed, she was rambling foolishly. She quickly tapped the head of her Jerry Jones bobble-head prominently enshrined next to the brass and rhinestone nameplate her mother had given her before Hilde “selfishly deserted” Broomgarden for Houston. If anyone could ground her in sensibility, Jerry could.

Seventeen minutes.

She quickly deleted up to “tiara.”

If you are reading this, I have clearly failed in my mission and my guilt over my charade has poisoned me to death. Either that, or God has thankfully spared me from my mother’s wrath. Praise You, Jesus! But at least you know why I chose this odd course. My mother made me do it.

Tina M. Russo said...

LOL!! Brava!!!

Mary Connealy said...

YAY Gina!

Funny post and funny scene.

I've really gotta try and get to the RWA Nationals someday.

And if Missy wasn't a good sport about getting barfed on, let me know, like she didn't have burping babies in her day.

Melanie Dickerson said...

I wish I'd entered the GH this year. Now I'm manic-ly entering every other contest I see. I'm outta control. Somebody stop me.

Gina, you and I are going to single--make that double-handedly bring Christian medievals into vogue. In a couple of years they'll be all the rage. Becky Germany will be emailing Mary Connealy and begging her to change one of her 20 backlogged manuscripts into a medieval to meet the huge demand.

stampedwithgrace said...

very interesting story & a great post!

Gina Welborn said...

LOL, Melanie. With us leading the rage, medievals will be...a rage.

I know the inspy market has some post-Charlemange, pre-Protestant Reformation historical romances, but I haven't found any that hook me. Maybe I'm not serious enough of a reader.

Oh, I'm doing a review of Camy's newest on Friday so I figured I ought to read it. OMG. I was laughing at her "relieved" comment at the top of page two. What a great word choice!

IMHO, if you are looking for a freelance editor, Camy should be your first choice. Granted, I know some people edit better than they write, but I like knowing that the person criticizing my writing has the "dang, she can write" credentials to back it up.

Did I ever mention how she butchered my synopsis? I think she was channelling Ruthie.

Kim said...

You know, I'm starting to look for Gina's picture when I pop in here to read! Gina, I love your sense of humor! The more I "listen" to your voice, the more I like it!

This was a great post, and I am so thankful to see God working out the details for folks who are willing to write the stories that He gives them!

I look forward to getting to know your work Gina! Thanks for the great post!


Melanie Dickerson said...

I want to comment on the other medievals out there, but let's just say, there's more than one way to look at a time period. The middle ages were a colorful time. As opposed to "dark."

That's all I'm gonna say.

Julie Lessman said...

Geez-Louise, Gina, if your fiction is half as quirky and wonderful as your blogs and personality, I can't wait to read it! I'm slapping you on my prayer hit list for publication!!

Fun, fun post! Thank you for the smiles and the insight ... and for being such a blessing to The Seekers!


Gina Welborn said...

Hannah, aren't you just amazed when God does something that is just so...well, amazing? The seekers ought to do a thread on writing-related miracles, and I'm not talking about being published.

Thanks, Kim, for enjoying my voice. I rather enjoy it too, which is why I have a pillow that says "If I wanted your opinion, I would have stopped talking already." ;-) Hmm. Not that I think about it, the pillow might not have been a compliment when my mother-in-law gave it to me.

Melanie, I forgot to say, don't fret about not entering the GH. Better to not enter than waste your $$ if your manuscipt isn't ready. Better to enter a handful of contests where you get feedback so you can figure out any weakness.

I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't enter the GH unless your entry has been through at least a 1-chapter contest, a 3-chapter contest, and finaled or won one.

I've entered the GH three times, which doesn't even qualify me to be a contest bimbo-in-waiting.

1st:: Six years ago with my Victorian in the inspy category. I think my scores were 3/5/5/6/8. Bottom tier.

2nd:: Last year with my medieval in the inspy category. My scores were 8/8/8.5/8.5/9, and I finaled.

3rd:: This year with my revised Victorian. I was disqualified because I didn't double-space my synopsis. I'm actually glad of the DQ because my syno sucked and so did my opening chapter, but thanks to Camy and Tina for some brutal crits, the story rocks! But they were brutal. I think I'll start talking to them again maybe next month. Maybe sooner if they pay me. A girl must have standards.

My hope is to never enter the GH again because the editor looking at my Victorian and my its-not-about-the-Civil-War Civil War story will snatch them up before some other editor recognizes my silly brilliance and offers me a multi-million dollar contract that I'll have to turn down to keep me humble. I've told my kids once I sell a book, they can move up to three meals a day with every-other-day snacks and potty breaks.

I want to comment on the other medievals out there, but let's just say, there's more than one way to look at a time period. The middle ages were a colorful time. As opposed to "dark."

Mel, dark to me is something I wear, not something I write. Although I don't mind reading it in contemporaries. Dark historicals, for me, are like taking the man out of romance. That's just not right, in my book.

Julie, honey, you can pray for me all you want. Have I mentioned I have the spiritual gift of receiving? So if anyone knows anyone who has the spiritual gift of giving, please hook us up.

Regarding my writing as being quirky, I'd say my Victorian is a product of my loony mind. One of my dear, sweet secondaries was involved in a hit-and-run with a pack of sheep. They hit her, and now she runs from them. I decided I like her to much to let her wallow in secondary-dom, so I've morphed her into a girl in hiding. In her story, she's either going to fake having amnesia or fake not having it. I can't remember.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Okay, enough of slamming the Ruthinator....

Jeepers creepers, every now and again a girl just has to play catch-up.

And Gina did send her awesomely funny opening to me, which is now sitting on my hard drive waiting for me to get a spare hour.


Yes. You saw the opening. Hysterical, to get into the heroine's head. And I read the first six pages instantly, then realized that if I didn't get some work done, I'd be mad at myself all day because twenty-four hours just doesn't seem to be quite enough.

So I'm loving it, and Gina, the tattle-tale princess.

Oy Vay....

Cut me some slack, kid.


Great post. And I saw the typos. Ha. Gotcha.

But what a delightful story of God's amazing hands and a mom who isn't afraid to tackle the world and diapers. I so admire that about you, Welborn.

And since this is my first GH attempt, it will be interesting to see the results from a personal point of view, not just a cheerleading, pom-pom waving, Go, Tina! Go, Myra! Go, Mary...

Oops. Scratch that last one...

Okay, Go, Julie! Go, Cara! Go Everybody who ever entered!!!!

But with Mel not in it, at least I have a chance.

Thanks, by the way.


Okay, must go work. Gina, well done. Very nice. And welcome to Stamped with Grace, SAHM with seven good-looking kids.

Not too shabby!


Terri said...

Oh my. Where to begin?

First: Tina, your link didn't work so I had to track you and your friends down like dogs, but it was worth the effort. :-) Your friends are as weird as mine are, so thanks for the invitation!

Second: Gina, your post was wonderful. I can't believe I somehow missed seeing the GH finalist with the cute baby! I'm thrilled to see an increase in inspirational historicals and hope it continues. My friend and fellow GHer Carla Capshaw has just sold one set in ancient Rome to Mills&Boon.

Thirdly: My maiden name is Bohannon, and I'm originally from Texas. (I swear). Your rom-com voice is hilarious! Poor Hilde!

Thanks for the giggles, and I hope the acronyms list helped, Katherine!

Gina Welborn said...

Gee, Terri, I guess now's the time to confess I'm writing an unauthorized biography.

I spoke to sooooo many ladies at Nationals that I got to the point of quit peeking at their badges to see their names, but I should have made a list of all the gals who either took Niley's picture or held her.

Of course, Missy has the distinction of being the only one Niley baptized.

I do remember handing Niley over to Jill Limber and thinking "Okay, the RWA president is holding my baby, gooing and gaaing over how cute she is, and I don't have a digital camera."

Gina Welborn said...


I intentionally leave typos for your appreciation. Gee, now that I think about it, GH/Rita announcements are rapidly approaching. Oh, I'm feeling nervous for the gals who entered.

Last year, I'd totally forgotten about the contest because I had a baby Feb 22. About a month later, I thought "Gee, I must not have finaled because I didn't get a call." That was Saturday night. The call came Sunday around 1 pm-ish. And because NO ONE calls our house on Sunday unless a person has died, is in the emergency room, or won't be able to make it to church to do his/her ministry responsibilities, I wasn't even going to answer the phone. But hubby thinks when a phone rings, one should answer it, so I did.

My caller-id showed some caller in Oregan. So my next thought was "Something's happened to my CP Maggie." She lives in Oregon.

Needless to say, I was stunned with the news. In fact, until the notification came in the mail, I was sure I'd imagined the call.

About a month or so later, I got to call the long contemporary finalists for the Touched by Love contest. All three ladies screamed with joy. That's when I realized I was a dork for how I responded to my GH call.

And if I hadn't answered the phone, no telling how long it would have been before I got the news because I'm terrible with checking my voice mail...which reminds me....

Ausjenny said...

Ok first mental not to self dont eat rice crispies when reading these posts. at the probably doesn't have a fish the screen almost got covered!

ok im at it again what is inspy?
The initials this time i know.

I enjoyed your post today and your start to a story

Tina M. Russo said...

Terri, you are a hoot. Thanks for all your hard work. I was a bit groggy this am so forgive me.

I remember years ago being on a lurker group with you on aol, the boards, before they destroyed them and you were just writing Dead Girls Are Easy.

So thrilled you have been so successful. Will post this on our playground too so you don't have to hunt me down again.

Jeannelle said...

It is fun to peer into the writers' world and read the chatter of the comments. I forgot to comment yesterday, but, no matter, I'll comment today anyway.

Tina M. Russo said...

Gina, thanks for joining us. Don't know how you balance all the facets of your life, kiddo.

Julie Lessman said...

GINA SAID: Julie, honey, you can pray for me all you want. Have I mentioned I have the spiritual gift of receiving? So if anyone knows anyone who has the spiritual gift of giving, please hook us up.

Gina, honey, just had to let you know that I laughed my guts out over this and then read it to my husband, who couldn't stop laughing either!

Look out, Mary and Ruthy, we have another comedian in the ranks.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Gina...this was THE most adorable post. Love it!

Cheryl Wyatt

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Gang, been mostly awol today. It looks like Gina held her own. Good girl Gina. Nice to know I can take a day off making fun of the Seekers and someone is there to step into the breech.

I did get to paint today, so that was productive. No writing though. Frustrating! Now words have cloged on my fingertips and I'll have to run a head and tip cleaner program on myself before I can write clearly again.

Missy Tippens said...

Yay, you, Gina!! :)

Hey, don't worry about the baptizing with spit-up. Holding cute baby was definitly worth it. And the suit cleaned up just fine. (I did stink for a while, though!) :)


Missy Tippens said...

I also meant to say that I, too, think you should be writing romcom! I can imagine you being another Jenny Crusie (one of my favs!)


Janet Dean said...

Fun post, Gina! Sorry I'm late but thanks for sharing your Golden Heart experience a Seekerville!

I had the pleasure twice. Thanks for sharing the fun with us!


Ausjenny said...

ok another question whats romcom?

Katherine Harms said...

Thanks Tina, for pointing me to Writers At Play. This is not the first place I have encountered the breezy initials, aka acronyms. I will certainly keep that reference to help me translate. I have a built-in resistance to the use of naked letters instead of words, because I love words. Since my career before writing was technical consulting, you can probably imagine what an alien world that was for a person who deplored the use of acronyms, and secret jargon, too. But I can live with it if I have a key. Thanks again for helping me out.

Mary Connealy said...

ausjenny, just keep asking questions. I LOVE IT when people ask questions I actually know the answers to.

romcom is romantic comedy.
And I don't know if that's a real term or if we just made it up here today. :)

Ausjenny said...

Thanks Mary so inspy inspirational spy?

Lorna said...

Gina, thank you for sharing your Golden Heart Experience. It was inspiring to read and you made it all sound like so much fun!

Carla Capshaw said...

Hi Gina,

What a great blog. You had me LOL. You write Historicals and RomComs? Is there anything you can't do?