The WeekIt’s been nice knowing you. I hope you all have prosperous writing careers, and maybe mention me in your dedication someday. It can be something like this: To Mary, whose head exploded waiting for the Golden Heart calls.
The first time I entered the Golden Heart was in 2003. The morning of March 23rd (no, I didn’t remember, I had to look it up), one of my friends mentioned that the following week the calls would be going out. They’d be going out on Tuesday. I had kind of put it in the back of my head before that, but teased about taking Tuesday off to be home for the calls. (In those days, I would do anything not to go to work.) I turned away from the computer, told my husband the calls would be going out the following week and I’d be depressed.
Less than an hour later I got a call.
I don’t even remember what the woman said. I had only entered one ms, Hot Shot, and it had made it. My head was buzzing. I would be published. I was on my way. I joined the 2003 loop, found wonderful friends, but still went to NY with no pink ribbon.
In 2004, I entered Hot Shot and another ms that had done really well in contests, Where There’s Smoke. The day before the calls, I told the secretary at school that I MIGHT get a call, and if I did, please call me to the phone.
I was music teacher in those days, and (I hope no one from my district is reading this) in between the classes that day I would run over to check eHarlequin, which had a GH board. I couldn’t check email, so this was the next best thing. The first person that morning to get a call was Stef Feagan, with her first Pink book. I got an email from Trish Milburn, and another from Emily McKay, and the secretary came over the intercom to say I’d gotten a phone call and the person would call back at 11.
It was 9:00.
I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but who else would call me at work? I had put some applications out for a new job (this was the horrible school) but surely fate wouldn’t be so cruel as to have them call me on the same day the GH calls were going out.
I continued checking the eHQ boards, cheering for the others, holding hope in my heart.
At 10:58 I was in the office, waiting for my phone call. It came ten agonizing minutes later. Hot Shot had finalled again. My primary emotion was relief. I wasn’t a one-hit wonder. I got through the rest of the day somehow and came home too party online with my friends.
In 2005, I didn’t enter Hot Shot. I entered two other books, Smoke again, and Beneath the Surface. I had mixed feelings the day the calls went out. It would be nice to final, but I really didn’t want all my family vacations to be about RWA conferences, so I told myself if I didn’t final, it was a sign.
I didn’t final. And that was okay. Everyone told me I was such a good sport and they couldn’t believe I could be so happy for them when I didn’t make it, but really, I was okay. (Until I saw the scores for Surface, which would have finalled if not for that SIX!) Seriously, not bitter.
This year is different.
I want this so bad. Both the books I entered had wonderful contest success (but so had Smoke, and it was always middling in the GH). I’m going to Atlanta anyway. And damn it, I was supposed to have my pink ribbon three years ago. If I can’t have a pink ribbon, I at least want another Golden Heart.
If I final, I know it won’t be the thrill it was the first time. I know the feeling will be more of relief. I know that finalling will mean more work – one of the books is halfway through revisions from my agent and she hasn’t even read the other one yet.
Okay, now that I’ve laid this all out here, I don’t want you feeling sorry for me if I don’t final. I know what the competition is like, I know the vagaries of contests. But I’m still going to be waiting for that call.