Monday, March 28, 2011

A Golden Opportunity

It was 6 am. As much as I tried to squeeze my eyes closed and deny the truth, like it or not, I was wide awake. The three or four butterflies traipsing around my tummy when I went to sleep the night before had somehow managed to clone themselves into a veritable army. Yes, there would be no more sleep for me this morning. I was too daggone excited.

About what, you ask? Well, let me back up.

It all started in Chicago. Last April, I attended my very first writer’s conference. Almost a complete newbie, I clung like a spider monkey to the only person I knew—my friend Jodie. Soon, she had introduced me to the awesome ladies of my online crit group, and I began to relax. Everyone I met seemed so lovely and open, it was easy to mingle and make friends.

It was during this conference that I met four amazing ladies: Heather Snow, Cat Shield, Rochelle Staab, and Erica O’Rourke. Besides being fantastic people, I soon discovered that they were all Golden Heart® finalists. What’s this?, I asked, unfamiliar with the name. I soon learned that it was a prestigious contest held by the Romance Writers of America for unpublished writers. Sort of the Olympics, or the Academy Awards of the Romance writing community.

I could see the instant respect the GH finalists enjoyed; that certain credibility it seemed to lend them. It was a conversation starter and a great way to network. By the end of the conference, my interest was definitely piqued. When I arrived at Nationals a few months later and could see all the doors that were opened by those little yellow ribbons attached to the name tags of GH finalists—not to mention that wonderful camaraderie the finalists shared—I *wanted* it. I started planning then and there to enter come November.

After endless revisions and agonizing over every word (thank you crit partners who stuck with me!), at last I posted my entries in the mail. And then waited. And waited. And waited.

And then finally, March 25th arrived: the day the calls to the finalists would be made. Yep, with my nerves shot and the butterfly army rioting, I already wanted the day to be over the moment I opened my eyes.

To be honest, for months I had fluctuated wildly between 'hey, I have a chance' to "OH MY GOD I'M THE WORST WRITER EVER." That morning, I was leaning toward the latter, but still a beacon of hope shined in the back of my mind. Perhaps I had a chance [biting nails nervously] With the possibility of sleep was nil, I puttered around the house, toting both phones with me just in case. At one point, I even jumped out of the shower to turn my ringer on when I remembered my cell phone was on vibrate.

At around 9:30, I was watching Dr. Phil when the caller id flashed on the tv. My heart stopped dead in my chest. Seconds later, the phone itself started ringing, and I stared at it like it was a snake. If this was a telemarketer, I would *KILL* them. Feeling like someone had just put me on a Tilt-a-whirl, I slowly picked up the phone with a tentative "Hello?" The woman asked for Erin, and my heart began to pound wildly. "Yes?" I got as far as her telling me she was from the RWA and the room started to spin.

I tried to listen to her instructions, but honestly, my brain was somewhere in outer space, giddy and weightless and soaring all at once. I was a FINALIST!!! When I hung up I was nearly hyperventilating, and since I couldn’t even fathom getting a proper sentence out of my mouth, I just tweeted: “AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” Luckily, at least one of my writer friends understood, and soon we were celebrating. I emailed my awesome crit partners and my agent, called my dear friend Heather, then belatedly realized I had to call the hubby and fam, lol.

Since Friday, I have been floating around in a pink bubble of happiness, thankful and humbled by all the well-wishes I have received. Though I have my fingers crossed that I do actually manage to take the award (and by take, I mean snatch from the real winner and run for the hills, lol), I can’t imagine that it could feel any better than I feel right now. It’s a feeling that I wish for each and every one of you at some point in your live :)

Thanks for being such awesome readers. I love you all! Heck, I love the whole world!

So, tell me about something that made you really, really happy recently. I can’t wait to share in your joy as you have shared in mine. :D!

33 comments:

  1. Very proud and excited for you! It seems our good luck and hard work paid off at the exact same time, for it was just last week that I found out that my new script was getting some attention from an actresses' agent, and very soon after I found out that the actress was officially attached! So I know EXACTLY that feeling of disbelief, of euphoria, of "can this be happening" and "of course it's happening, I deserve it" back to "holy crap I can't believe this is happening." And, like you, I don't know if I'll "win" (ie, sell it), but right now, the sheer idea that someone (someoneS) read my writing and liked it enough to pass it along to others, is a reason worth celebrating! I also love that you and I decided to become writers around the same time, so CHEERS TO US for all the hard work paying off (and here's to it ACTUALLY "paying" off hee hee)

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  2. Congratulations, Erin. I'm so sorry I won't be at RWA this year, but I will send many virtual hugs.

    This is your year without a doubt! Any day now I'm expecting to hear that you have a multi-book deal in the works. And I hate that I'm so far away and can't celebrate with you.

    The closest I've come to this feeling (recently) was when I saw my book for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for the first time. I had a complete and delicious meltdown.

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  3. That feeling of elation is amazing. It doesn't matter what tickles your fancy, when you have an accomplishment it feels good! This is so awesome for you. :) I have a bloggy friend who's book is being released on April 14th... so never give up on your dream! It can happen and only you can stop it. Congratulations! Cheers!

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  4. We're really proud of you E.K. - it's great to see your hard work paying off. By the way, that line about taking the award and heading for the hills -- hilarious.

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  5. Thank you so much, Lindsay! Kara told me about your incredible news - congrats!! So exciting! I think its wonderful that our good fortune is matching up :) Yay for having something to squee about!

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  6. Lucy, seeing your YA book, LIFETHREAD, on Amazon must have been absolutely euphoric! Hell, I was giggling for you when I saw it, lol. Thanks so much for the congrats, and here's to it being *our* year :)

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  7. Hi Rhonda! It's absolutely amazing when our dreams start to come to fruition, isn't it? How exciting for your bloggy friend - I know she must be over the moon. Thanks so much for stopping by to celebrate with me!

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  8. Aww, thanks Andy! Yes, a girl's gotta have an exit plan, no? ;) I have to think the day of your concert on the radio must have evoked a similar feeling - so cool!

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  9. Erin, congrats again. I'm really so thrilled for you. I was a GH finalist years ago, and I was vacationing in New Orleans when I got the call. (It was a fantastic place to celebrate!)

    I'm not sure if I'll make it to NYC, but no matter where I'm at, I'll be cheering you on. Yay!

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  10. What an awesome story!!! Congratulations - I live in NY and will be attending conference so I will be there - good luck!

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  11. Congratulations, Erin. Enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Something that made me happy? I think seeing you final is as much fun as finaling.

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  12. I just have to tell you again how proud I am of you. Congratulations!

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  13. That's the way to do it--see the prize and fight for it. Here's hoping, Erin.

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  14. Hehehe, Clarissa, it was more fun being able to share the experience with you! Congrats back at you, sweetie - I'm looking forward to attending all the fun GH stuff at your side in NYC

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  15. Thanks for celebrating with me, Donna!! Although, getting the call in New Orleans definitely sounds like the way to do it, lol! I hope you'll make it to NYC - if you do, there is a cupcake with your name on it!

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  16. Leigh, you are so sweet to congratulate me :) I'm so glad you enjoyed the story, and I hope we can me in NYC!

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  17. Thanks, Beth! HCRW has played such a huge part in getting me to where I am today :)

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  18. Catherine, you are such an awesome crit partner - you were a big part of helping me get MTAS to it's final draft. Thank you, you are just plain awesome :)

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  19. Thanks so much, Leigh! I feel so blessed, and it is so wonderful to share the celebration with all of you :)

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  20. I'm bursting with pride:) THAT'S MY SISTER!!!! CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It was pretty fun finally getting a meeting I had dreamed of for more than a decade...and then realizing I had pictured it so many times I wasn't even nervous, so I was actually able to really enjoy it...pretty spectacular feeling:)

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  21. Congrats!!! I am completely happy for you! And I can't wait to be there to cheer you on in NYC when you win!

    All that's next is a fabulous contract from a fabulous publisher! Just around the corner, I know!

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  22. Awww, thanks Kara!! Your constant support and commiseration has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. Love you!



    Thank you, Marquita - you are such a sweetie :) I'm looking forward to celebrating with you someday soon when your wonderful writing wins you that agent and editor!

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  23. Wonderful post, Erin. I completely understand that moment of staring at the phone like it's a snake. Congratulations on being a finalist! Hope you "take it" fair and square. Then i might swipe it from YOU! See you in NYC.

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  24. LOL, Tracy - you just try it! My cat-like reflexes are how I plan to steal it in the first place. If I win fair and square, I'll go all Jackie Chan on anyone who tries to pry it from my hands ;)
    See you there, sweetie!

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  25. That is so exciting - CONGRATS!!

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  26. Thanks Jenn!! I've been spending the week shopping for the headshots and conference clothes just for fun, so I'm a very happy girl right about now :-)

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  27. Sara and I are filled with joy for you. We knew this day would come and about a year ago I told Sara that I thought you were going to break into the writing scene big--I just had that feeling. This is just the beginning and we chuckle while shaking our heads at the amazing direction we have all taken since college.... life is amazing.

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  28. As always, as a mama writer on deadline, I am way late to the party...however, let me add this rousing online WOOOOOHOOOOO to the real one on the phone :)

    I am so very proud of you. I know how hard you worked and revised and learned and changed...that's what it takes to succeed! Glad to know you, my friend, and I will be cheering away at the ceremony in NYC!

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  29. Thank you so much, Jacob - and Sara too of course :) Talk about being there from the beginning!! How fun it is to look back at how far we have come together these last 14 (!) years. I can't wait to see you guys again!

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  30. I'm so glad you picked up the phone that day, Heather! I know I couldn't have done it without you :) Thanks so much for your friendship, cheerleading, and critiqueing. We are going to have SO much fun in NYC!

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  31. Hey everybody, THAT'S MY LITTLE GIRL stepping into the Winner's Circle...WAHOO!!!! ;-) Congratulations, EK! I love being a charter member of your booster club...you are always providing new accomplishments to cheer about! And as a proud parent, I get the added bonus of vicariously sharing in the thrill of your victories!! Enjoy the glow, girl...you've earned it.
    Love, DaD

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  32. Aww - thanks Dad! I would be nothing without you and Mom... literally ;) Really though, your support is so wonderful, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you guys!

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