Every year around this time, thousands of romance writers are sitting by their phones waiting for “the call.” Not the one from an editor or agent, but from one of the members of the board of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) telling them their manuscript or book finaled in either the Golden Heart® (unpublished) or the RITA® (published) Awards.
These prestigious contests are sort of like the Oscars of romance, complete with a ceremony emceed by an author-celebrity, lots of fancy gowns, and a golden statue for the RITA winners. The only thing missing is the E! reporter.
I can tell you from experience that there is no day so nervewracking as finalist announcement day. (Okay, except the actual awards ceremony.) I’ve been through it twice (2010 and 2011) so far. You think you will distract yourself with writing, but find that you’re constantly checking the RWA web page, Facebook, and Twitter to see if your category is done. And every time the phone rings your heart skips a beat.
In 2011, I was a Golden Heart finalist. I got the call in the middle of a doctor’s appointment with my son and couldn’t answer! I finally listened to my voicemail when the doctor stepped out, but it was vague. Still, I was pretty sure RWA wouldn’t call me on announcement day for any other reason.
That was the longest doctor’s appointment ever.
I got out to my car, returned the call, got my good news, screamed my head off like an idiot, and took my son out to lunch to celebrate. Hey, school could wait, he had to eat, and his mom was a finalist.
Getting that confirmation that my writing had improved was fabulous, but the best part of being a finalist was the new friends, many of whom now hang out with me over at the Kiss and Thrill site. The second best part was being treated like royalty at that year’s conference. 😉
For unpublished authors, a Golden Heart contest final opens doors with editors and agents too. I got some amazing feedback and a couple of revise-and-resubmit requests that year. Those—and some wins in other contests—eventually gave me the confidence to hire an editor and self-publish my GH-finaling entry, BLIND FURY.
Next year, I’ll be back to biting my nails at the end of March hoping for a RITA call, wondering why we do this to ourselves.
So, I’m raising a virtual glass to all of my friends who are waiting for their call today. I’ll be there to smile or console, and to cheer on the finalists in San Antonio this July. Good luck!
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