Thursday, July 07, 2011

Winning the Golden Heart®!

     Romance Writers of America®, The Voice of Romance Fiction, has over 10,000 members worldwide. It offers two contests, the RITA® for published authors, and the Golden Heart® (GH) for the as yet unpublished. The awards ceremony is held at the end of the National Conference, which was in New York last week and emceed by Meg Cabot. Approximately 2,000 writers and industry professionals attended.
     Each year the GH receives a maximum of 1,200 entries in 10 categories. I’d entered the Inspirational category with my manuscript AT HIS COMMAND, set in medieval England. Five first round judges score each entry. The top 10% up to eight making the final round, which is judged by editors. Entries consist of 6 copies of 55 pages of the beginning of a manuscript and a synopsis.
     I was thrilled to get the call from an RWA board member that AHC had finaled. It’s like a shot in the arm...of joy, hope and validation. Other benefits include a golden heart pin and ribbon for our name badges (which leads to many congratulations), a certificate handed out at a reception, having our pictures and manuscript titles in the conference program, membership in a special chapter called the Golden Network (which offers networking and programs), befriending and sharing knowledge with other GH finalists, and opening agent and editor doors.
     Competition in my category included an author who’d already sold her manuscript and another who had won the GH twice (in other categories) and finaled multiple times (fairly rare).
     I sat at my assigned table, holding the hands of friend and NYT bestseller Simone Elkeles  and my escort. When the presenter called my name, I was so surprised I didn’t even look at the huge screen to see my picture and manuscript title. Thanks to my extensive background in improv and public speaking, I came up with a speech that many said was not only humorous but one of the best of the evening.
     The outpouring of congratulations in person and via phone, email and Facebook has been amazing.  I'm honored and grateful to have so many people who support my writing.
     Many GH winners quickly find an agent (if they didn’t already have one) and sell.  Some take longer.  But not all get an agent and/or sell their manuscripts.  Only time will tell what will happen to mine.... 

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