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!