Thank you for joining us today on Wordwranglers! You won the 2009 Golden Heart in Romantic Suspense Action-Adventure category with your manuscript, Romance or Retribution!
Q: Were agents and editors banging down your door after the win?
While the win itself hasn't increased the level of interest I see in my work, there's no doubt that finaling in the Golden Heart contest makes agents take notice of you. After the announcement of the finalists' names in March, most agents I queried responded within days or hours, which is more than I can say for my pre-announcement response rate. The difference was stunning, actually. My book hadn't changed, but agents suddenly responded much more quickly about it. I don't begrudge agents for this apparent difference in behavior -- and no, I'm not just saying that to be nice. If I were an agent, I'd take a closer and quicker look at Golden Heart finalists who query me than those who are not. It's a wonderful filter for the industry, and I was lucky to be one of the few caught in the net this year.
Or, perhaps I'd just finally queried the right agents. I can't assume that they're all just arms of the same beast. While I believe that finaling in -- even winning -- the Golden Heart makes your queries move more quickly, the contest shouldn't change the ultimate result of your query. The contest isn't going to sway anyone's opinion in a direction it wasn't already going.
Q: How has winning the Golden Heart impacted your career?
I attended this year's RWA national conference, and though it was my first conference, I'm sure my networking abilities were substantially increased by my status as a Golden Heart finalist. For one thing, finalists are invited to attend several different events in which they mingle with not only each other but also the current Rita finalists. The "Golden Heart Finalist" ribbon I was given upon registration brought smiles and congratulations from most people I met, including a few editors, agents, book reviewers, and published authors.
Longer-term, though, I'll always be a Golden Heart winner. Nothing I do will ever take that away now. I can put it on my query letters, and it'll continue to get me quicker responses from editors and agents (though I have to assume that the shine will wear off after a few years).
On a more personal level, I'm often hard-pressed to understand why anyone would want to read anything I might have to say. Wearing the Golden Heart necklace while I write helps to remind me that at one point in history, several people (including a few editors) got together and decided that one of my manuscripts was pretty good. I must not suck quite as badly as I fear I do. Right?
Q: What are your plans for the manuscript now?
I'm working on revisions for one of the Golden Heart final-round judges. It's a fairly significant reboot, and I hope I can pull it off. One tiny problem with winning the Golden Heart is that you're not allowed to kick your winning book under your bed and forget it ever existed. Well, I guess I could, but I'd be disappointed in myself. I owe this book a debt. It's given me so much, I can't just ignore it now.
Q: Will you enter the Golden Heart again?
Yes, if I have something new in time for the deadline. I don't enter many contests. This was the second I'd ever entered. I get fairly mathematical about things, and the way I see it, the value I received from finaling in this contest would probably not be exactly doubled if I final a second time. It would be an honor, to be sure, but I don't think it would help my career much more -- unless it served to catch the eye of an editor or agent, but honestly, I should be catching their eyes anyway at this point. I shouldn't need to win or final in the Golden Heart twice. Once should be enough of a career catapult, and if I've got anything of interest to say, I should come out on top. If I don't, then I'm just a fluke, and I don't deserve to be published.
These are from Tereasa.
Congrats on winning the Golden Heart! Thanks for doing this! My first question is, How many times had you entered this manuscript in contests?
One previous time, that I can recall. I'd entered the Rose City Romance Writers' Golden Rose contest, which models itself as a sort of Golden Heart practice run. I finaled but didn't win. I received incredibly helpful and lengthy feedback from the contest judges, and I used their notes (and the comments of Harlequin/Silhouette editors who'd recently rejected the same version) to completely revamp the opening chapters of my book. That revised version is the one that went on to win the Golden Heart.
Q: Was this the only time it placed?
Q: And is the romance /suspense throughout the same, fifty-fifty?
Interesting question. I haven't charted it. My husband says it's 60% suspense/adventure, 40% romance. He's probably right. I didn't have the slightest idea what I was doing when I wrote it, so it's not like it adheres to any sort of plan. I'm going back and inserting a plan now, which is far more difficult than beginning with one, I think.
Q: What's the next course of action for you, getting an agent or did you already have one?
I'm not worrying too much about finding an agent right now. I'm very focused on revisions right now.
Is this entry a single title or targeted at category romantic suspense?
Category, though I've heard that my screwed-up heroine would go over better in single title. She's one of the things I'm revising!