The Golden Heart® contest began in 1980, the year that Romance Writers of America® was founded. The contest has changed and grown over the years, and remains the top of the mountain for unpublished writers of romance novels. I was thrilled to join the ranks of GH finalists last year and amazed to make the cut again this year. (You can see all of the finalists on the RWA announcement, along with the nominees for the RITA Award for published romance.)
In recent years each class of GH finalists has gathered on an email loop, getting to know one another long before meeting at the RWA National Conference, and bonding over, among other things ranging from the ups and downs of writing to choosing an outfit for the awards ceremony, Choosing a Name.
I don’t know exactly when this custom started–maybe one of my GH sisters will be able to pin that down for me. I know that the 2009 finalists, the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood, have kept a very active blog going almost daily for three years. In 2010, the year of the Great Flood that forced RWA to move its annual conference from Nashville to Orlando on very short notice, the finalists became the Unsinkables. The class of 2011, after much discussion covering a wide variety of suggestions from silly to serious, became the Starcatchers. One of our members tracked down a suitable pin on line, a gold heart on a silver star, and we all wore it with pride on our conference badges. I’m looking forward to seeng many of the Starcatchers again at this year’s conference.
This year, after just as much wide-ranging discussion and several rounds of on line voting, we chose the name Firebirds. Interestingly, this was one of the first names that came up, inspired by the ups and downs in the lives of so many of us, and in the end we came back to it. Thanks to a young artist related to two of our members, we have a custom Firebird pin on order. Thanks to the multi-talented Liz Bemis, GH finalist and creative director of Bemis Promotions, we have a web site under development and plan to launch our group blog next month.
I can’t wait to meet these new friends, women from all over the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia, and even a couple of ex-pats coming from Bangalore and Budapest. Most of us will be arriving on Tuesday the 24th, in time for the Golden Network retreat on Wednesday.
Eleven days! I can’t believe it. I have a West Houston RWA meeting (to preside over, at that) tomorrow morning, a Houston Bay Area RWA meeting Tuesday evening, a critique group meeting (with no pages to read) on Monday evening, and a dental appointment on Tuesday morning. I also have to shop, for myself and for the West Houston donation to the Literacy Signing raffle at the Conference. I have to make arrangements for Nutmeg, with my neighbor or the vet. And oh, yeah, I have to go to work.
I need to schedule a panic attack. But when???