2013 and 2014 GOLDEN HEART® Finalist

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So I Went on Vacation and Came Home With Some Souvenirs

A week after returning from the whirlwind of RWA National in Atlanta this summer, I set off again for the Deep South with my boys in tow. We went "home" to Mississippi and then to Florida on a family vacation. Good stuff.

I came home with some souvenirs that will last longer and be more useful than some pretty shells or a tiny preserved alligator head. (I kid you not-- they sell these things at gas stations in Florida).

So totally did NOT buy this.

Contest finals!

While on vacation I got calls from three contest coordinators, letting me know I finaled in some AMAZING  RWA chapter contests with my latest YA manuscript, FOUR BULLETS. Nothing beats those phone calls (nothing yet, that is). The chapter representative is so happy to let you know you're a finalist, you're so happy to get the news.

I'm especially thrilled that these honors are going to FOUR BULLETS, because after having finished only one prior book, HIDDEN DEEP, and having it become a Golden Heart finalist, I needed reassurance that I could, indeed, write something else and have it be halfway decent... that I wasn't a one-book pony.

Perhaps awesome-sauciest of all ... FOUR BULLETS has now finaled in FIVE contests, every one I entered it in. (Actually, there's one more contest that hasn't announced finalists yet, but I don't know if I could even get any happier than I am now.) So here's the rundown:

 The Catherine- Toronto Romance Writers 

Put Your Heart in a Book- New Jersey Romance Writers

 Maggie Unpublished- Georgia Romance Writers

 Emerald City Opener- Greater Seattle Chapter RWA

 Golden Acorn Quick Look Hook- Charter Oak Romance Writers 

I've discovered chapter contests are a great way to get informed feedback on your writing. Most have two or more writers, some published and some trained judges, evaluate and critique your work. Those critiques can be really helpful in editing and revising. If you make it to the finals, there's usually a pretty awesome literary agent or editor who'll see your work and be the final judge. Sometimes a judge will even request your full manuscript based on your entry (it just happened to me!). And of course a contest final or win gives you something to put in your query other than "Dear Super-Agent, Please love me!"

You know what's coming. I'm going to recommend entering RWA chapter contests for anyone writing in the romance genre. See? I just did it. You knew I would. You can follow the links on this page for the above-mentioned wonderful contests, and check out this fantastic website to find out about other upcoming contests.

Stephie Smith's Contest Chart for Writers

It certainly isn't easy to put your work out there to be judged, but it does get easier the more you do it. And you really can't lose.

If you're interested, here's a look at all the finalists in these particular contests for 2013... I'm super-thrilled that my amazing critique partner McCall Hoyle and I are co-finalists in this one:

Put Your Heart in a Book Contest Finalists

New Jersey Romance Writers
Is proud to announce
Our 2013 Put Your Heart In A Book Contest Finalists!


Sacha Devine — The Ring

Laurie Benson — A Proper Scandal**

Patricia Kratina — The Viscount With a Wicked Wink


Nadine Mutas — Blood, Pain, and Pleasure

Mary Ann Worden — Heart of Atlantis

Laurel Wanrow — The Farm**

Short Contemporary

Leigh Raffaele — Brewed For Love**

Debora Noone w/a Delsora Lowe — The Rancher Needs a Suitable Wife

Catherine Cervantes — One More Time

Single Title

Pamela Gibson — Perfect Balance

Lena Pinto — True Partners**

Catherine Vignolini — Poser

Young Adult

Amy DeLuca — Four Bullets

Caroline Dunsheath — Last Wishes

McCall Hoyle — The Thing With Feathers

** denotes NJRW member

Georgia Romance Writers

Unpublished Maggie Award for Excellence Finalists

Congratulations to the finalists for the Unpublished Maggie Award for Excellence!

An * beside the name denotes a member of Georgia Romance Writers.

Book Title
Contemporary Series Romance
Melissa Klein*
Her Hometown Hero
Elisabeth Grace
Her Maine Attraction
Kathleen Hodges
Fallen Stars
Vanessa Moss*
Confessions of a Mayberry Starlet
Alexandra Haughton
Stay with me
E.E. Burke
Her Bodyguard
Susanna Craig
To Kiss a Thief
Louisa Cornell
Wicked in His Arms
Ursula LeCoeur
When a Lady Loves
Jillian Lark
Much Ado About Scandal
Contemporary Single Title
Jacqueline Floyd
Everybody Knows…
Lucy Farago
Sin on the Strip
Sharon Wray
Juliet’s Rogue
Sharon Wray
Rogue’s Redemption
Geneva Rand
Bryonna Nobles*
Nadine Mutas
Blood, Pain and Pleasure
Amanda Byrne
Iron Jewel
Lindsey Thomas*
Immortal Soul
Heather Leonard*
Key to the Lair
Walt Mussell*
The Samurai’s Strength
Lucy Morgan-Jones
A Certain Woman of Worth
Kristi Hunter*
The Thorny Hedge
Dianna Shuford*
Hidden Motive
Janice Martin
Turning Point
Young Adult
Jenna Grinstead
The Keeper’s Daughter
Amy DeLuca
Four Bullets
Lucy Briand
Magnetic Shift
Kathleen McMahon
Pamela Asberry*
Finding Home
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
Sally Kilpatrick*
Giving up the Ghost
E.E. Burke
Taming Huck Finn
Debbie Goncalves
Family Secrets
Jennifer Sanchez
First Blush
Heather Leonard*
Counter Friction


Greater Seattle Romance Writers

2013 Emerald City Openers Finalists

The winners will be announced at the Emerald City Writers' Conference

Jennifer DeCuir                 Hanging Onto the Past                                            
Stephanie St. Clair                To Mend a Broken Heart                                
Melissa Tenley                      Russell Ridge – Evie’s Story                           

Sacha Bullock                       Katia                  
Kirstin Dansk                         To Capture the Queen                          
Linda Locke                           The Grand Marquess                                     

Susan Bickford                     The House of D’Innocenzi
Susan Dunn                          Where You Belong
Judy Fogarty                        Holding At Love                                        

Amber A. Bardan                 Heart of Shadows                                           
Christy Gronlund                   Neomort                                      
J.C. McKenzie                       Shift Happens: A Carus Novel

Joyce Bouyea                       A Child of My Own                                 
Abbie Roads                         Dangerous Dreams                      
Jo-Ann Terpstra                     Fighting Fear                                         

Amy DeLuca                         Four Bullets
Kelly Garcia                   Late Night Reflections on the Zombie Apocalypse 
Cate Hart                              Bad Company

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm Not a Fluke!

After quite a few thrilling( and surprising) honors for my first ms, Hidden Deep, my second ms, Four Bullets is now a contest finalist! I got word today that it finaled in the Golden Acorn Quick Look Hook contest-- the first one I've entered it in. Thank you judges!! On to the finals, and hopefully, more good news from the handful of other contests I've entered Four Bullets in.

I'll be pitching both of them this week at RWA Nationals in Atlanta in my pitch appointments and also any chance I get when mingling with acquiring agents and editors who are looking for YA. I'll also be attending as many workshops as humanly possible each day. Will be bursting with writing knowledge when I return!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Guest-blogging Today at Ruby Slipper Sisterhood

If you want to see how a writing blog should really be done... check out http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/. I've learned so much from these amazing ladies (who are all Golden Heart Finalists) already. I'll be guest-blogging today, talking about sacrifice and The Things We Do for Love. Come and visit!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hidden Deep is a 2013 GOLDEN HEART® Finalist!!

Okay, I think after three days, I might have come down enough to write about this.

One year ago I joined RWA.  Someone mentioned on an author blog that it would be a good idea for any writer aspiring to be published, whether or not they write romance because of the awesome educational resources the organization offers. I did it.

I have learned since then that romance writers are the nicest people on the planet. Seriously. I'd never met any before. I started writing fiction seriously about four years ago but was too intimidated to attend any writers conferences. Then I entered a few contests organized by RWA chapters and ended up making the finals in several of them. I was invited to the conferences, sucked it up and made the reservations.

The first was to ORA in Missouri, where I was overwhelmed by the welcome they offered to a stranger visiting for the weekend. Members there encouraged me as I went in to my first-ever agent pitch meetings (where I tanked gloriously) then cheered for me as my YA Contemporary Fantasy Hidden Deep placed third in their Weta Nichols writing contest.

Then I attended Moonlight and Magnolias in October, the fabulous conference offered by the Georgia Romance Writers, where I gobbled up every workshop I could get to, found my wonderful, amazing critique partner McCall Hoyle, and Hidden Deep won first place in the Maggie contest's YA division. Delirium ensued. I was taken under the wing of the precious Trish Milburn, who helped me prep for my pitch appointments and kept me from eating lunch alone. As for those pitch meetings, they were slightly less nausea-inducing and resulted in several full requests. Getting easier.

Later that month, I was off to Seattle for ECWC. Becky Clark was assigned to be my GEM, sort of a mentor/babysitter for first-timers. She introduced me to absolutely everyone, was encouraging and wonderful, and I was totally charmed by the city and the women in that chapter. I promised Cherry Adair to finish a new book by September, and I'm too scared of her not to. :) I met another great friend and CP, Rachel Pudelek. By this time, I'm really starting to like pitch appointments (believe it or not). Those went very well and resulted in more full requests. I placed third in their ECO contest, made many new writer-friends, and had an awesome time eating lunch with the agents who attended.

So, it was a pretty dadgum good year. Dare I even enter the Golden Heart? I was on a roll--why not? I sent in my entry, focused on revising and querying and kept myself busy until Tuesday, March 26, the date the RWA Golden Heart finalists would be announced. Yes, I had it written on my calendar-- why do you ask?

I missed the actual call, but started jumping when I heard the voicemail asking me to call back. I have absolutely no idea what I babbled to the lovely woman who informed me that I was a finalist. And it's only gotten better since then. The RWA organizes a great online messaging group for all the finalists, and we've been "meeting" each other all week long. We've also been connecting on Twitter. I'm getting absolutely nothing else done this week. I only grow more and more humbled to be among them as I read their stories. And yes, romance writers are the nicest people in the world. I can't wait to meet these wonderful women in person at the RWA National conference in July. 

Here's a list of all my fellow finalists. Looking forward to reading their books when they're published!