Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The 2008 Golden Heart Inspirational Finalists-----Part 2

SEEKERVILLE Welcomes Keli and Denise

Meet Keli Gwyn

March 25, 2008 will stand out in my memory. I didn’t expect to receive a call from RWA®. Tears came to my eyes when Terri Reed said two of my entries were finalists in the Golden Heart®: Addie’s Choice and Love in Bloom. Although I was in shock, I grabbed pen and paper to jot some notes. I’m glad I did, or I wouldn’t be able to recall half of what she said.

When I began writing two years ago, I was drawn to romances. Many a night some talented romance author has kept me up until the wee hours. I write for the inspirational market because Christian romances are what I enjoy. I think readers hunger for something deep, something that helps them make sense of lives filled with overbooked schedules, constant stress and guilt for not having it all together. For me, my faith fills that need, so I weave a spiritual element into my characters' lives.

My five historical romances are about godly women of yesteryear who deal with challenges to their faith. The situations women faced in the 1870s may be different than those of today, but the themes transcend time. Some of my characters need to forgive, others to trust, still others to discover God’s plan for their lives. It’s my hope that a reader who journeys with my characters as they struggle to learn the lessons the Lord has for them will gain useful insights she can apply to her own life. I have a heart for hurting women. If my books help even a single person, I would feel that I'd done something worthwhile.

I applaud each woman who’s entered a contest. It takes courage to submit our work to be judged. It's disappointing when our entries don't final. I have two drawers full of entries that didn't. I'm learning there’s always room for improvement. No matter how many times I read my manuscripts, I find things I could do better. I strive to learn the craft, but I also believe it's important for a writer to stay true to her voice and the stories she’s been given.

I’d enjoy hearing from you. What do you write and why? How do you deal with the hills and valleys that are part of a writer’s life? What are ways God has surprised you on your journey to publication?

You can contact me via

Meet Denise Meinstad

I've had a passion for books since the second grade when I discovered Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I wrote my first book, a mystery, at age thirteen and have been writing ever since.

I'm a member of RWA, Midwest Fiction Writers, Northern Lights Writers and Faith, Love and Hope. My current manuscript, This Time Forever is a contemporary inspirational romance. In 2006, This Time Forever took first place in the inspirational category of the Winter Rose Contest and is currently a finalist in RWA's 2008 Golden Heart Contest.

Here is a brief description of This Time Forever:
Libby Cunningham's dream has finally come true. She's found the daughter her father forced her to give up for adoption sixteen years ago. Libby has never forgiven herself for relinquishing her child, and now she desperately wants to make up for the years they've lost.

Her dream, however, turns into a nightmare when she learns that Amber's natural father, Cash MacKenzie, has custody of her. Years ago, Cash shattered Libby's heart and abandoned her when she needed him the most. Now he holds the key to her future happiness. Can she trust him to do the right thing and cooperate?

From Cash's viewpoint, Libby couldn't have chosen a worse time to show interest in her daughter. Amber is like Libby at that age—strong willed and independent. The last thing he needs is interference from the woman who gave up her own child. What guarantee does he have that Libby won't lose interest and leave Amber again? For years, he's struggled to forgive Libby for running away from her problems--and him. He wonders if God is using her to force him to come to terms with the past. Worse yet, he's afraid that the excitement of finding her mother will draw Amber toward Libby—and away from him.

I live on six wooded acres in East Bethel, Minnesota with my husband, Steve and my cat, Mocha. I love to read, write, study and travel.


  1. Good morning, ladies, and congratulations to both of you. And Keli, two manuscripts....

    That's a coup.

    Hey, I wanted to switch things up a little today, although the ever-present cafe'-cappuccino bar is here and staffed this morning by, oh my stars, I can't believe I'm saying this...

    Orlando Bloom.

    Yes, gals, the star of numerous big screen extravaganzas (including Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribean) has deigned to grace us with his presence to make your Seekerville visit as memorable as possible. Before his Hollywood success, Orlando worked as a Starbucks barista, so you can approach him with full confidence. Note the authenticity of the pirate costume...


    And there's a fresh array of German kuchens this morning. Try the custard cheese/crumb-topped, it's an old family recipe.


    I'm Irish.

    Okay, it's SOMEBODY's old family recipe, LOL!

    Welcome, girls, and hope you have a great day in Seekerville, the little town built on God's love and contest afflictions.

    You name it, we've been there, done that, probably multiple times.

    And shed a few tears along the way, LOL!


  2. Hey, Tammy!!!

    Thanks for the love and support, kid, I felt it all the way up here in WNY!

    What a peach you are. Seriously.

    And I can never pout or whine too long because then I have to face my children who were raised by a drill sergeant-type mother...

    If it don't kill ya', it'll only make you stronger...

    If I pout, they throw it right back at me.

    With chocolate, of course.


    Ruthy (Who loves the Golden Acorn, even if it's a nut, not a heart, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, especially at Christmas!)

  3. Good morning ladies,

    A big hello to Keli and Denise. Nice to meet you and read your stories.

    Keli, you have a double chance of winning with 2 entries. That's amazing! I like what you said about wounded women. I think we can all relate a little to that. Who hasn't been wounded by something? My current heroine is badly wounded from circumstances in her childhood, and it's up to her new landlord and friend, Nick, to guide her gently back to God and the belief that there are good people in the world.
    (Now I just have to figure out how he's going to do that!)

    And Denise, your book sounds wonderful. Hope to read it someday!

    Ruth, can I put in an order for a latte? And can Orlando deliver it personally to me? I'll tip real big! Especially if he's dressed as Will Turner! And if Johnny Depp is available to tag along, I won't complain a bit!

    Well off to the reality of work again. Will catch up later. Have a great day everyone!


  4. Hi Keli and Denise,
    So glad you're visiting us in Seekerville today. Thanks for telling us a little about your writing journeys. Congrats to both of you on your success in the Golden Heart!

    Keli, two submissions -- two finals! Fantastic! I hope some savvy editor snatches you up fast. Sounds like you've had your fair share of time in the trenches with your drawer full of manuscripts. I'd say all of us in Seekerville can relate. So glad for the recognition your writing no doubt deserves!

    Denise, your story sounds wonderful! I'm ready to buy the book! Hopefully an editor will feel the same way. Love the fact that the dad is raising the daughter the heroine gave up so long ago. A very nice twist! You've certainly provided a hook that grabs this reader who wants to see how all the conflict can turn into a happily-ever-after ending.

    I'll be cheering for both of you in San Fran this summer!

    Ruthy, thanks for providing all the goodies! Love Orlando . . . a nice addition to Seekerville!

  5. Good morning Keli and Denise.

    Enjoy the ride, ladies.

    So this morning my wake up call was two msc entries in a contest returned to me. I am telling you this business is designed so that just when you get your proud little peacock feathers all cleaned and looking lovely along comes that contest rooster to knock you on your keister and tell you, "Whoa, girl, just who do you think you are."

    Good thing my sense of self, value and etc. are not established in how judges perceive my manuscripts since yesterday's lofty perfect scores have been replaced by 2's today.

    Orlando buddy, make that a double.

  6. Ruth, thanks for inviting me. Nice digs.

    Tina, one double chai soy latte coming up.

    One round on the house in honor of the Golden Heart Finalists.

    Cheers, Ladies.

  7. I love the flow of this blog -- some days flying high, other days slogging through the mud. When I'm slogging all by myself, it seems cruel, but when I hear that others are slogging as well, I take a deep breath and keep going.
    Thanks to Keli and Denise for sharing. Tina, you are a 1 in my book.

  8. Hey Keli and Denise, welcome to our little corner of the writing world -- it's wondeful to have you all here. And congratulations on the GH final -- may there be many "golden" results in your futures with both wins and publishing contracts.

    Keli, like you, I write historical romance because I love the innocence of earlier times. Regarding those hills and valleys you mentioned, I take them one step at a time with a prayer everpresent on my lips and a ton of Kleenex in hand. This business can really wring the heart out of you if you let it.

    Denise, you wrote a whole book at the age of 13??? I actually wrote 150 single-spaced pages of what has become my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, when I was 12 after reading Gone With the Wind. But a whole book??? Wow!! Do you think you will ever try and rewrite that first novel?

  9. Thanks, Katherine. LOL. But it is sooo true. Really, like Sunday I read those scores and thought, I must be dreaming. These are like judges from a parallel universe. I could tell from their comments. They got it. I got two perfect scores out of three. Today I am just cracking up. Not only do these judges not get me they are insulted by my lack of skill.

    It's the same way with an agent search. You have to find someone who gets you.

    Oh, boy. Whose the designated driver this morning? LOL

  10. It's early in California, but one of our cats saw to it that I'm awake. Sandy likes to crawl under the covers and curl up next to me. Unique alarm clock--but soft.

    Ruth, German sweets and Orlando Bloom. Wunderbar! Our seventeen year old daughter was born in Germany while my husband was teaching U.S. Army dependents in an American high school. She drools at the mere mention of Orlando and loves to tell people she was born in a German hospital. I won't have any trouble waking her up this morning when I tell her about your surprise.

    Tina, I'm sorry to hear about the scores you got today. Hang on to those from yesterday. And just wait until your ms is seen by the editor God has planned. Won't that be the day?

    Denise, I hope This TIme Forever is published soon because I can't wait to read it. I have to find out how you get Cash and Libby together.

  11. Keli, good morning to our double finalist!!

    Now, there's a coincidence. My oldest son was born in a German hospital when I was stationed in Augsburg while I was in the Army.

  12. Congratulations to Kit, Susan, Keli, and Denise! Finaling IS winning, in my book! Personally, when I enter contests, I never think about winning, I just want to FINAL!

    And congrats to Ruthy and Tina! Woohoo! You won! ;-) I entered the Golden Acorn's historical category, and apparently, I lost! No final. Boohoo. But I'm happy for you two.

  13. Running out of pastries. Ruth, I hate to ask, but can you do a run for me?

    These ladies are drinking hand over fist. Don't see how I can leave the bar any time soon.

    Yes, Ma'am, one Cafe Americano straight up and a Vanilla Latte, shaken. Not stirred. Coming right up.

  14. Okay, I know I'm naive, but at first I really thought Orlando Bloom had popped in to leave us a comment. Thanks, Ruthy, for getting my heart started this morning!

  15. Congratulations, Denise and Keli!! I'm really excited for you! So glad you've joined us today to share your experiences.

    Tina, big hugs on the contest. But I had to laugh at the craziness of it! You're so right. We can't build our self-esteem on contest scores!

    Melanie, it is Orlando! Don't you realize how powerful the Seekers really are?


  16. I got some info yesterday I thought I'd share about the editors and agents attending RWA this year. Here's a link for you to check it out. (Note that Revell and Bethany House have editors attending, as well as the Steeple Hill editors!)


  17. Well, the link didn't go through. i'll try one more time:

  18. Writing can often be a solitary endeavor. What fun it is to be sharing the day with the incredible women of Seekerville. I'm honored.

    Tina, we were in Fürth for four and a half years. Our daughter was born just a block from the Nürnberg castle. Maybe that's why she devours fantasy adventures filled with knights, dragons and castles aplenty today.

    We lived in Germany as the Cold War was ending. What an incredible experience. Unfortunately we also saw our troops head off to the Gulf War. The community was filled with yellow ribbons when they returned. I have great admiration and respect for our military and their families.

    Orlando, my daughter could use a peppermint mocha to jumpstart her day. And please sign her cup so she can show off to her friends. Thx.

  19. LOL! I guess it's too long.

    So I made a tiny url:

  20. Captain Jack Sparrow...

    Be still my heart, Susan. Not quite as hot as Derek Jeter (NY Yankees shortstop, amazing eyes), but definitely on the Richter scale of great-coffee-delivering-guys...

    One latte, coming up, delivered to a hard-working writer's office.


    And Orlando, dahling, may I have some caramel drizzle on my venti caramel/mocha frappuccino, please?

    And extra whipped cream.


    I feel your pain, Sistah! Raising my glass to yours in firm sisterhood of the sometimes finalists...

    Sometimes the bug...



  21. Orlando, I've got more right here, honey-lamb...

    You just mix the drinks, I'll take care of the food.

    (which means we share the same counter-space, oh Mylanta!!!!)

    Umm, 'lando, can you pass me the cut glass serving tray please, oh, and wash up these forks would you?

    There's a dear boy...

    (while brain is thinking yum and superyum....)

    Tina, I loved how the Yellow Rose did their Winter Rose scoring, with the dropping of the lowest score, and then adding the other three. Pretty cut and dried and fair all the way around.

    But what I've noticed lately is that you almost have to get three perfect scores to final in a lot of contests, and that's kind of a new skew on things.

    Three 96's won't do it. Two 100's and a 96 might.

    Kind of Ivy-league grade inflation weird.


  22. Haven't had time to read today's post...will be back.

    Congrats Keli and Denise! Whoo-hoo! is pretty today...Check it out. Sorry, everybody, I don't remember how to do the link. I've got the instructions, just not going to look them up! lol

  23. Welcome, Keli & Denise! So glad to have you in Seekerville, and congratulations on your outstanding showing in the GH!

    I see Ruthy has the refreshments all lined up. And, just curious, should it be "barist-O" if it's a guy? I've always wondered that? Man, the movie business must be tight if Orlando's serving coffee. Aren't we lucky to have him, though?

  24. And don't talk numbers to me.

    I'm trying to cut 15k from my Victorian so my agent can send it to Steeple Hill.

    Considering every word is brilliant, I'm at a loss.

  25. You're right, Myra. But since I'm with the ladies of Seekerville today I wanted you to know I am in touch with my feminine side.

    One peppermint mocha, autographed cup.

    A venti caramel/mocha frappuccino,with extra whipped cream.

    And a Victorian Latte for the lady with the editing issues.

  26. 'Lando, dahling, that's no lady. It's Gina...


    Gina-kins, I'm going to bet there are entire chapters that can go...

    I've got a delete key right here.

    Keli and Denise, are you guys targeting these manuscripts to a particular editor and are you hoping for a CBA or ABA slot?


  27. Keli and Denise,

    Great to read your posts. Congrats to both of you and look forward to meeting you this summer.

  28. Orlando, I just wanted to tell you, I own the entire Lord of the Rings DVD series. I thought you were terrific as Legolas. The blond look works for you.

    And make mine a decaf latte, thanks.

  29. It might be after noon, but I don't get good coffee very often...

    Orlando, dahlin', I need a white chocolate Mocha - grande!

    Tina, sorry about your latest scores. I don't have any contests entries out there, but I do have some submissions to editors that will probably start winging their way way or another...soon.

  30. Okay, Denise, you're from Minnesota...

    My daughter's in Minnesota, caught herself a boy, and is headed back here after the July wedding.

    They claim it's God's plan.

    I think Beth's whining might have had something to do with it.


    There are lots of nice writers from MN...

    Cat Schield and Marion Stevens are both from the St. Paul area.

    Do you love it there? Were you raised there?

    And how many quilts and blankets do you use on an average winter's night?

    Inquiring minds want to know!!!



  31. Congratulations to all of you on the GH.

  32. Okay, Orlando it's time for another round of lattes. This time I want the hard stuff - whipped cream with chocolate sprinkles.
    And maybe a big chocolate brownie to go with it.

    Keep up the good work. And I hear there's work up here in Toronto. Richard Gere's up here right now filming some new movie. Come on up! ANd bring my latte - please!


  33. For my ladies in Seekerville...

    One decaf latte, for Myra the 2005 Golden Heart winner(I did my homework for this part). Take care it's hot.

    An extra tall white chocolate mocha grande for another former Golden Heart winner.

    One leaded latte with whipped cream, sprinkles and a shot of brownie for the Golden Heart Finalist from Toronto.

    You're wearing me out!

  34. Denise will be checking in tonight. She doesn't have puter access at her day job.

    Ask her about her critters.

    Pammer I have a few of those editor subs out there too. No news is good news I spose.

    What are you GH finalists working on right now? Queries, finishing WIPS??

  35. Denise has critters? Like, opossums? Raccoons? Goats? I know Mary will want to hear any goat stories.

    BTW, I think it was Sue yesterday who said her ms. had been under consideration at Steeple Hill only to be rejected even after the GH final. Been there, done that, Sue! I was utterly convinced I'd written a Love Inspired, so it was doubly disappointing. I'm still looking for a home for that ms. and trying to find my niche.

  36. Congratulations Kelli and Denise!

    Best wishes to all the GH finalists.

  37. Did I mention you gals were weird?

    Whole chapters, Ruthy?! Did you miss the point about every word being brilliant?


  38. When do the GH finalists get to choose editor and agent appointments for National? Have they told you ladies yet?

    It's one of the big perks for conference! :)

    Does anyone know when former GH finalists get to choose??


  39. Missy, there should be a list of dates and stuff on the RWA website. I haven't looked for it though.

  40. Editor/Agent Registration Information

    Please read the section below for registration dates.

    April 28, 2008 – Editor/agent appointment registration available to current Golden Heart and RITA finalists.

    May 5, 2008 – Editor/agent appointment registration available to Golden Heart and RITA finalists from the previous two years’ contests (2007 and 2006 contest years).

    May 12, 2008 – Editor/agent appointment registration available to PRO and
    PAN members.

    May 19, 2008 – Editor/agent appointment registration available to all General RWA members.

    May 27, 2008 – Appointment registration ends at 5:00 p.m. CT.

    Questions? Contact Stephani Fry at steph@rwanational.or

  41. Define, weird, Gina.

    Myra, thanks for the compliments. Blondes have more fun.


    All frapps and lattes 1/2 price and brownies added to all orders for free.

  42. Hey, then that means it's happy hour in CST right now! Bring on the lattes and brownies!

  43. May 27, 2008 – Appointment registration ends at 5:00 p.m. CT.

    Now THAT'S weird. I didn't know appointment registration had a deadline. I thought the registered until all spots were filled.

  44. Back from my Toastmasters meeting.

    Ruth, at this point I am focusing on the CBA, but I have tried my hand at Steeple Hill and have the rejection letter to prove it.

    Tina, I am currently revising the manuscripts that finaled in the GH. I have great feedback from contest judges and instruction from conferences, which I'm putting to use.

    Missy, we were allowed one editor and one agent appointment. I got up extra early the morning they opened the sign-ups and got appointments with the editor and agent I wanted.

    Orlando, thanks for your tireless service on our behalf.

  45. Half price????

    'Lando, you been chargin' these girls, laddie???


    Just put the money you've collected into my purse, honeykins, and we'll call it even.

    Rejections always bite, Keli, 'cause you know it's one more opportunity gone, but they're a valuable lesson for actual reader response which our published Seekers have found out ranges anywhere from brutal to nice...

    And everything imaginable in between. Develops our tough skins.

    Then we buy Curel to soften it back up.

    Vicious circle but it keeps the economy moving.



  46. Congrats to Keli and Denise.

    I have a question that seems perfectly timed given Tina's incredible high that came crashing down ;-) When you final in a contest, or even win one, then get judges critiques back from another that maybe aren't has high scoring - do you think the judge is from another universe? It sounds like Keli is still revising her MSs even with so many kudos (I googled you - hope you don't feel stalked!) So do you still welcome those critiques?

    GH and Genesis flunky!

  47. Oh, I do hope Orlando is working overtime. I would love a double mocha something and I'll even take the crumbs of the non-caloric brownie if he's serving.

    Keli and Denise, congratulations on the GH! I'm so excited for you both. I hope this opens a lot of doors for each of you.

    Tina, I'm sorry you got bad news today after your perfect scores yesterday. That had to hurt. Sometimes, life just doesn't seem fair.

  48. Hi, this is Denise. I just got home from work and zipped through all of the posts. This is my first time as a GH finalist and my first time as a blogger, too. This is super fun! My own blog is pretty bare right now, but, as a true writer, I'm going to keep revising it until I get it perfect.

    Hello to Kit, Susan and Keli. You know, we should do lunch together at one of the RWA luncheons. I'm going to the FHL mini-conference as well, but I still have to register.

  49. Thank you to everyone for your well wishes and encouraging comments! I've been to National every year for 16 years, but this one will be the best of all. I hope to make a lot of new friends and cheer them on as their careers grow.

    I love the picture of Orlando Bloom. I should go to my blog and change mine to the one with me holding the raccoon. I met him at a family picnic in Carlos, MN. "Bobby" liked me and wouldn't stop climbing all over me.

    Oh, and btw--the book I wrote at 13 was only about 45 pages in longhand, but it did have illustrations (mine). One of these days I should go dig it out of my hope chest (and laugh, laugh, laugh).

    Tammy--I've entered a bunch of contests. I had great luck in some, some were so-so. I look through the comments and take what seems helpful. It really depends on who your judges are and that's the one variable you can't control.


  50. Oh, Tammy how perfect the timing of your question is. I just told Ruth via email that in one contest I got felt bonded at the soul to the judges and in the other was pretty sure it was a parallel universe experience. LOL.

    But what I will do is give the DID NOT FINAL judging experience a day to cool. Then I will go back and review when emotion is out of the scenario. And as much as I hate admitting it, chances are I will find much useful information in those that were generous enough to share their low scores with substantial comments. Oh, sure there will always be a few flakey things. One says too much narration, one says too much dialogue, but those are subjective comments when compared to each other. And then you have to factor in contest mania. Those who want your GMC for both characters up front. Well my first chapter is 18 pages. It is single title. Full GMC for both will not happen in 18 pages. So you have to really weigh the comments.

    I don't have a critique group, so this is my cold read. Just like a reader will be a cold read. And I hope to grow from it.

    No really.

    I never pull hair. Honest. HONEST!!

  51. Denise,

    Nice to meet you and Tigger.

    Good luck to all the Golden Heart finalists.

    Ruth, thanks for having me here today.

    I raked in fifty bucks and six phone numbers in tips.

    A pleasure Seekerville!

    Now I'm going to go schedule a session with my therapist. This double personality thing is hurting my head.

  52. My husband and I are off to watch our daughter perform in her high school's production of Les Mis this evening, so I'll say farewell.

    What a thrill it's been to spend time in Seekerville. You ladies are tops. What hospitality. What humor. What fun. Thanks for having me.

    And a special thanks to Tina for issuing the invitation to join you today and coordinating the visit.

    I'll stop in from time to time to say hi. Let me know if Richard Gere can serve the beverages when he wraps up his shoot in Toronto, and I'll be first in line to place my order.

  53. Thanks for the ed/ag signup info! I'm so glad I heard before the date passed!


  54. oh today was funny thanks for the laughs and what i missed Orlando!