No politics, I promise.
2019 will be the last year Romance Writers of America runs the Golden Heart® contest for unpublished authors. Until I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2016, I didn’t even know about the Golden Heart or whether I was eligible. It’s not advertised widely outside RWA circles (or even within RWA circles, honestly). It’s one of those things you either pay attention to or you don’t. One of those things that’s on your radar, or it isn’t.
It should be. In case you’re new here, I am a 2018 Golden Heart finalist.
On the surface, it looks like another bigger chapter contest. I’ve entered a lot of those, with varying results. This past year, when my manuscript Duet became a GH finalist, I was blessed or cursed with the most mixed results from all the other chapter contests I entered. I didn’t final in any of these. In fact, one piece of feedback I got was the worst (and rudest) judging I’ve ever received. Regardless, I still got the call early one morning late in March telling me that I was a Golden Heart finalist.
None of the rest of my contest feedback stuck with me after that. I had entered the Golden Heart on a whim–more or less oh, yeah, it’s GH time, I might as well. Then I promptly forgot about it until the morning finalists were announced and I started seeing social media blow up with excitement for a few of my friends. When I got my call, I assumed it was a telemarketer. But I answered the phone anyway, and all I remember are the words “Your novel Duet is a Golden Heart finalist. Congratulations!”
The rest of the phone call is a total blur.
That first rush of excitement, followed quickly by this can’t be right, surely someone made a mistake and they’re going to let me know they were only kidding, set my heart racing. All I really knew was that I was in the running for an award in the Contemporary Romance category for the Golden Hearts, which is really like the Oscars for unpublished romance writers (the RITA® is RWA’s equivalent for published romance writers). I had no real idea what else it meant, because while I knew other Golden Heart finalists from the previous year, I didn’t really get the low-down on what went along with being named a finalist.
It’s not a secret. That’s why I’m here to spill the beans on it all. So drum roll, please…
What You Get as a Golden Heart® Finalist
- You get a phone call from an RWA board member congratulating you. Don’t be like me. Listen carefully when you answer the phone and pay attention to who’s calling you. It could be a NYT bestselling author!
- Did you know there’s an RWA chapter for Golden Heart finalists? It’s called The Golden Network, and it’s one of the most positive, uplifting, and wonderful chapters I’ve ever joined. Imagine all the combined wisdom of previous finalists at your fingertips, managed with healthy doses of love, excitement, and unbridled enthusiasm.
- If the RWA National hotel is sold out or rooms restricted, as an GH finalist, you’ll get help getting those rooms for the dates you want.
- You are immediately part of a sisterhood. The beauty of this can’t be overstated. Face it, writing is a lonely task. We don’t always (or often) have people at the same stage in writing careers to meet, greet, talk to, share experiences with.
- If you’re querying, you get to nudge everyone and let them know you’re a GH finalist. (This might have been my first favorite part of the whole deal.)
- The Golden Heart award is a big deal. It’s peer-judged, so the novels that final are a fairly decent reflection of what readers want. Agents and publishers like Golden Heart novels, because they’ve been vetted and given approval. Speaking of agents and publishers, there was a reception this year with agents, publishers, editors, and Golden Heart finalists. Network, network, network.
- Whether or not you win your category, you get a finalist’s certificate at a special private soiree at RWA National. Bonus: you don’t have to make a speech.
- You get to sit up front at the Golden Heart luncheon, and get priority seating for the RITA reception. It might not seem like much, but it is a perk!
- You will be congratulated by friends and strangers alike, because you get a special Golden Heart Finalist ribbon for your RWA badge. Oh, and bling. There will be bling.
I’m sure I’ve left out about half the perks. I will tell you that suddenly your experience at RWA National will make you feel a little like a celebrity, which is really fun. So since 2019 is the final year for the Golden Heart® contest, I personally think you should enter. There’s so much to love about this award. I’m sad that the RWA board decided the Golden Heart no longer served its members the way they wanted, but with your help (and entry), we can make 2019 the most fabulous year yet for this esteemed award. After that, we can look forward to whatever replacement contest the board puts into place.
One more thing–past Golden Heart finalists are the most selfless group of writers, I swear! In addition to holding our hands this past year through the process, a number of previous finalists are offering critiques on your Golden Heart submission.
For more information, click here. The giveaway opens October 1.