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 I soon learned that it was a prestigious contest held by the Romance Writers of America for unpublished writers.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!