|Cat and Angi at Golden Heart Awards|
I’ve been a contest diva (i.e. junkie) since I finaled in the Linda Howard in 2007. It was my first contest. I had no idea what I was doing. Something that became apparent with the next few contests I didn’t final in. But I got smart fast and soon I wasn’t just finaling, I managed to win a couple.
|Every diva needs a tiara... Right???|
However, the one final that I wanted more than any continued to elude me. The Golden Heart. It had been my dream to final since 1993 when I joined RWA the first time. So, full of hope and enthusiasm I entered 2 manuscripts in 2007. When I received back my scores that first year, the book that had been trashed in all the contests thus far had ended up in the top 25%. What? Meanwhile, the manuscript that had been finaling like crazy didn’t even make the top half. Huh?
Undaunted, I tried again the next year with a much improved manuscript. It did worse than the year before. Something wasn’t working. I sat 2009 out. Signing with my agent prompted me to try one more time. I entered the 2010 Golden Heart with 2 manuscripts. One was a debut entry. The other, hadn’t made the top half in 2007. Wonder of wonder. It finaled.
If you’ve been happily writing in obscurity, a final in the Golden Hearts is a trip. News releases. Professional headshots (or not). Guest blogging. You join The Golden Network, a chapter whose membership is limited to GH finalists past and present. You go to parties. Rub elbows with agents and editors. All very heady stuff.
|Golden Heart finalists|
I’m sure it’s obvious that being a Golden Heart finalist opens doors. By the time Nationals rolled around, four of the 2010 finalists had already sold their book, another two had sold non-finaling books. Others were seeking representation or submitting to editors. For me, Orlando was about the party. I had an agent. I had a book (not the one that finaled) sitting at Silhouette Desire. I went to Nationals to hang out and have fun.
A bunch of cool things that happened to fellow GHers that weekend.
One agent handed out her card to all the people sitting at her table and requested they all send her something.
Another agent publicly offered representation.
At the Golden Network Retreat, an editor requested a full based off a first page read.
After the conference, one enterprising agent looked up the websites of all the finalists and contacted one because she liked what she saw.
A few finalists received congratulatory flowers from their chapters.
All those things are great, but what will stick with me forever are all the wonderful friends I made thanks to the Golden Heart. It’s a unique experience that forms lasting memories and strong bonds. I can’t wait to see who finals in 2011. They are in for quite a ride.
Cat Schield lives in Minnesota with her daughter, Emily, and their Burmese cat. Winner of the Romance Writers of America 2010 Golden Heart® for series contemporary romance, her first book, A Case of Meddling, will be coming out in July 2011 from Silhouette Desire. When she’s not writing sexy, romantic stories, she can be found sailing with friends on the St. Croix River or more exotic locales like the Caribbean and Europe. Contact her at her website.
Cat, thanks so much for coming by Seekerville, sharing your story! I've got the coffee on for the straight Joe drinkers AND I brought my Keurig.... And a great assortment of people pleasing flavored coffees, teas and hot chocolates to welcome this lovely eleventh month of 2010!
Let us know if you've dared enter the GH or other contests. How you fared... No cussin', please. :) And if you're thinking of entering and looking for advice (any contest, pubbed, unpubbed, GH/Rita, whatever), you've come to the right place. My friends have their GH tiaras polished and primped for the day.
HAVE I MENTIONED LATELY HOW I CRASHED AND BURNED IN THE GOLDEN HEART??? HAVE I? HUH? OH, A GAZILLION TIMES????? IMAGINE THAT!!!
And you know I brought food, great country breakfast food, fried ham, scrambled eggs, home-fries with onions and paprika, fresh whole wheat or Italian toast, bagels, croissants (a kiss of New Orleans, well deserved)....
And a donut for me. I'll share, though, because I'm THAT nice. Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for my newest book: MADE TO ORDER FAMILY, a September 2010 Love Inspired release, the love story no one thought should or could happen.
But it did.