Reality Check

Today is something of a tense day in the Romance Writers of America world.  Today the calls go out to the Golden Heart/Rita award finalists.  For those who don’t know, the GH (as it’s affectionately known) is THE contest for unpublished authors.  Finaling in the GH means you’re among the best of RWA’s up-and-coming writers.  My friend Laura Graham Booth has finaled twice in the GH, and my friend Robin Kaye finaled and won (and sold!) in the same year.  I’m so glad they let me hang out with them.  🙂

The Ritas are the Academy Awards of romance publishing.  They’re only for published authors and if you can final in that company, holy cow.  Among the probable finalists, in my mind, would be Nora Roberts and Jennifer Crusie.  (I have no idea if or what they’ve entered so don’t quote me on that.  I’m just giving you an idea what the Rita competition is like.)

I entered the Golden Heart for the second year in a row.  Last year I was blindly optimistic.  I thought “Release Point” was a sure-fire finalist; who would be stupid enough to say this work of remarkable genius wasn’t good enough for the GH?  Apparently, both my judges.  And I can’t say they were wrong.  Looking back at what I sent in, yes, it needed a lot of work.  You really have to be the  best of the best to final in the GH, and at that point, “Release Point” didn’t come close.  (I finished in the top half, which is still a good thing.) 

This year, after finaling in the NJRWA contest (Put Your Heart in a Book), I made some revisions and entered “Release Point” in The WRW Marlene contest, in which I was soundly beaten within an inch of my emotional life.  One 50/50 but also a 35 and a 29.  For some reason I look at the 50/50 and think, “How delusional are you?”  But I entered “Release Point” in the GH before I entered the Marlene, so I’m pretty sure I already know what my results are going to be.  In spite of my poor odds, though, my heart still wants to believe that my phone might ring today, and it’s not just the Red Cross looking for another donation.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Golden Heart is a time-delayed self-inflicted wound.  It’s what happens when you shoot your self-esteem in the foot in November, but you don’t feel the pain ’til March.

In case you’re interested, Judi Fennell will be updating her blog throughout the day with a list of finalists who’ve contacted her.  She did this last year and it was a blast.

Quick update:  I didn’t final, but my friend Robin Lanier did, for her novel “For Love or Money”.  I’m SO excited for her!!


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