The RWA® Golden Heart® contest is a H-U-G-E ta-do for unpublished romance novelists and authors from all over the world enter. To become a finalist is akin to Cinderella getting to go to the ball. I’ve dreamed of it ever since I attended my first RWA® conference in 2010. After beau-coup writing workshops, critiques, re-writes, more critiques, more re-writes, a few tosses in the garbage and then pulled out again, I found my groove and gained the courage to enter. On 12/6/14. Now, all I had to do was wait. For three months and twenty days.

3/26/15 is the Golden Heart announcement day. Yep, by the time it finally got here, I had no fingernails left. The moment I hit the submit button to release my entry, doubt rushed in. What if people think it’s crap? What if they don’t like my voice? What if, what if, what if.

Three months and twenty days is a long time to play the What If game. I write paranormal. I came up with some pretty scary What Ifs.

Warp ahead to 3/25/15. Tons of advice poured in on what to do and what to expect on “The DAY.” I went to sleep that night, just wondering . . . what if.

When I woke up, I immediately checked my phone . . . as if I would’ve gotten the call in the middle of the freakin’ night. There were no missed calls. Already, I was disappointed.

Got ready for work, sending out positive thoughts for everyone I knew who had entered. Realized half-way to the office that I had forgotten my coffee. I never forget coffee. Decided I must be showing early signs of dementia, made a mental note to call my doctor–then promptly forgot.

I arrived at the day job around 7am. Check my phone again. No missed calls. I turned it off and turned it back, then called my cell phone from my office phone just to make sure it would ring. It did, so I sat it right next to the mouse on my desk where it was easily reachable, should it ever decide to ring again.

I stared at it. Hard. Willing it to ring. Since I was up at the crack of dawn, every one else should be too whether or not they were bright-eyed and bushy tailed. I certainly wasn’t.

Obviously, I had no idea what time the BODs would start their calls. I have no sense of time, whether it’s zones or daylight savings. By 10:00am, I figured everyone in the world had received good news but me. I gave myself until 10:30, and then I planned to tuck my phone into my purse and dream of next year’s chances.

At 10:28, my phone rang. My heart stopped. “Oh, shit!” The display flashed a number from the San Diego area. I thought if it was a freaking telemarketer I just might reach through the phone and strangle them. I said “hello” so quietly, I wasn’t sure the caller could hear me.

I wasn’t entirely convinced that this wasn’t a sales call until the woman said, “I’m from the RWA Board and I’m calling with good news.” I burst out with “Oh My God! Are you serious?” Thank goodness I have an office, not a cubicle, and the door was closed. I wrote her name down, Helen Kay Dimon, before I started shaking so bad that couldn’t read my handwriting. She went through the rest of the information, to which I continued to respond, “Oh my God, Oh my God.” At one point, I told her that I might pass out. Good thing I work with doctors. Anyway, we got through the conversation and said our good-byes. I don’t know how long I sat in my chair staring at my cryptic handwriting with no idea what I wrote or what she said after “your entry Howlin’ Hearts has finaled in the Golden Heart Contest.”

All I could think was, they liked my story. They really like it. For an author, that’s the best feeling in the world.

Congratulations to all the finalists. I’m honored to be in your company.

~kristal

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