Good Things Can Come From the Golden Heart by Diane GastonImagine this...
An editorial assistant at your most sought after publishing house finally reads your manuscript. She sticks a note on it to the senior editor, saying “Read this.” At a nearby cubicle, another editor in the same publishing house is judging Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest, and your manuscript is a finalist. That editor also slaps on a sticky note to the senior editor saying, “Read this.” The senior editor, sees these two rubber-banded stacks of white paper that contain your dreams and says, “I’m buying it!”
In 2003 this dream came true for Trish Morey. Her Golden Heart entry became The Greek Boss’s Demand (May, 2004), released in the hugely popular Mills & Boon Modern Romance /Harlequin Presents line.
Did being a Golden Heart finalist make the difference for Trish? Trish had been chasing the dream of publication for 11 years but only after she became a Golden Heart finalist did her dream come true.
Trish’s story is only one example of the good things that can happen if you enter the Golden Heart. All month the Wet Noodle Posse, Golden Heart finalists of 2003, are going to try to help you increase your chances of becoming a finalist. We can’t make any guarantees, but we’ll try our best to help.
One thing is for sure. If you enter the Golden Heart, good things can happen.
Terry McLaughlin received “The Call” from an editor a few days before RWA’s 2005 conference. The editor had judged Terry's manuscript for the Golden Heart and originally planned to meet with Terry at the conference to make the offer. The editor decided to phone Terry instead, so Terry could wear the special pink “First Sale” ribbon at the conference. Terry’s Learning Curve, a Harlquin Superromance, was released May 2006.
Two years ago, Lee McKenzie had an appointment with an editor at a conference. When Lee entered the room, the editor said, “I know you.” The editor remembered Lee because the editor had judged Lee’s manuscripts in the Golden Heart. Those manuscripts had not sold, but the editor bought the story Lee pitched to her that day. The Man for Maggie was a June 2007 American Romance.
Lest you think sales only happen in the Harlequin lines, oh, no! Anne Mallory received “The Call” from an Avon editor in 2003. Anne’s Golden Heart finalist became Masquerading the Marquess, an October 2004 Avon release.
Not only can the dream come true because an editor judged the Golden Heart, the mere prestige of being a Golden Heart finalist can make good things happen.
Karen Potter’s manuscript was languishing in an editor's slush pile when Karen informed her it had become a Golden Heart finalist. The editor pulled Karen's manuscript from that slush pile and moved it up the chain of command. When Karen met the senior editor of the line, she could break the ice by mentioning she was a finalist. That next October Karen's Daddy in Waiting (June 2005) sold to Silhouette Romance.
Senior Harlequin editor Brenda Chin once crossed the room at a Moonlight and Magnolias conference to congratulate Lorelle Marinello for being a Golden Heart finalist. Lorelle recently sold her first book, Waltzing with Alligators, which will be released in 2008 as an Avon trade paperback.
Norah Wilson discovered that being a Golden Heart finalist made it far more likely for editors and agents to request her manuscript. Of course, Norah sold in another “contest” way. Her paranormal, Lauren’s Eyes (August 2004) won the Dorchester/Romantic Times American Title contest.
Delle Jacobs has the distinction of having been a Golden Heart finalist seven times and winning three times. Because of the Golden Heart and her record-making success in the contest, Delle feels she has gone from a nameless newbie to being a recognized writing professional. Her editor, Jennifer Miller of Samhain Publishing, heard of Delle long before Delle heard of Jennifer. Delle’s Lady Scandalous will soon be a Samhain release, but Delle has other titles from Awe-Struck Ebooks.
We're not only talking about interesting editors. Agents perk their ears up at Golden Heart finalists, too.
Debra Holland won a Golden Heart and an agent. When she'd been chatting with a writer and mentioned that she'd won the Golden Heart, the writer introduced her to his agent and the agent signed Debra on.
Jill Monroe found that agents responded to her queries quickly when she mentioned being a Golden Heart finalist. One even mentioned the Golden Heart as the reason. Jill now writes for Temptation and Blaze. Her first book was Never Naughty Enough (Dec 2004).
Now my story, me, Diane Gaston.
The Golden Heart contest is entirely, wholly, 100 percent responsible for my first sale.
My manuscript was a Golden Heart finalist in 2001 and I made an all-out effort to market it to every agent and editor I could think of. It was rejected over and over and over, the most common reason being that the heroine starts the book as a Regency-era prostitute (of course, now that sort of heroine is all the rage). After I exhausted my every opportunity, I moved on, wrote another book and entered it in the 2003 Golden Heart. I thought, what the heck, I’ll enter my 2001 manuscript, too. It was eligible and all ready to go. Like the lottery, I’d double my chances.
That first manuscript became a finalist again, not the new one, but there was really nothing I could do with it; it had already been rejected everywhere.
Then out of the blue came a phone call from England. The Mills & Boon editor who judged my entry for the Golden Heart wanted to buy it. Mills & Boon? Never in my wildest dreams of finding a publisher did I ever consider Mills & Boon. They so rarely bought American writers, and I never dreamed they would buy a historical set in Regency England written by an American who had never set foot there. But they did.
That manuscript became The Mysterious Miss M, released by Mills & Boon, July 2004, and by Harlequin Historical, November 2005.
Oh, and it won the Golden Heart in 2003, too.
But maybe Esri Rose tells the BEST thing that can happen because of the Golden Heart. She says:
"The best thing I got out of finaling in the Golden Heart was the chance to meet other finalists. The GH brings together writers who are at a similar place in their careers, including some people who haven't quite made it to publication but who seem to know everything about the business. These are your peers and mentors -- a graduating class that can help with industry information, introductions, critiques, endorsement blurbs, or just sympathy and advice. Most GH finalists are serious about having a career as a writer. If you've never been active in a local chapter (as I wasn't), this may be your first, best chance to make connections that help you get published, and keep your sanity along the way."
Esri's urban-fantasy, romantic suspense with pointy ears, Bound to Love Her, will be released May 2008.
Remember. If you comment, you may be selected at random to win a critique of the first 5 pages of your Golden Heart entry by a member of the Wet Noodle Posse. If you refer someone to us and that person mentions you in their comment ("So and so referred me.") and that person is our random winner, we will also give you a critique. We’ll pick three names each week. See the entire critique giveaway rules and procedures here.
Now get to work on those Golden Heart entries!