Last fall as the deadline for the 2013 Golden Heart® contest drew near, I found myself wanting to throw my manuscript into the ring again. I had been successfully resisting RWA chapter contests for the better part of a year, but I really wanted to enter the Golden Heart. I had become a GH junkie.
But I didn’t have a new manuscript to enter. I had a couple of old ones, good books, I believe, but probably needing some work, and I hadn’t looked at them in years. I didn’t see anything to gain in entering either of my previous finalists, although that is permitted and some writers do it. The book I had started was far too short to finish by the deadline (it still is).
That left Jinn & Tonic, a book I love, which had done well, but not quite well enough to make the final round, in (mumble mumble) previous Golden Heart contests. Maybe, I thought, those first chapters could use a tweak here and there. Well, of course they could. I’m a writer. And a rewriter. I read these blog posts now and then and often find something to tweak. Legend has it that Ernest Hemmingway used to track down his own published books in other people’s libraries and make corrections in the margins.
Giving Jinn & Tonic one more shot at the Golden Heart would also give me an excuse to bring it into sync with some of the world building I had done for Bathtub Jinn. When I wrote Jinn & Tonic, I didn’t realize I might be starting a series, but the world of the jinn and their relatives expanded in the second book.
As I was considering my Golden Heart options (option, really), I was also dipping into Scrivener. Why not jump in all the way, and use Jinn & Tonic as a practice piece, to see if the new software might make revising and editing easier? So I imported the manuscript into Scrivener, set about tweaking, and in due time sent Jinn & Tonic off for one more shot at the Golden Heart.
Then I did my best to pretend it didn’t matter, even as I continued to polish the manuscript. Why be greedy? Why expect a manuscript that had not made the final round in (mumble mumble) attempts to grab the gold ring this time? Who needed all that fuss, anyway? I had a lot of work at the Scorekeeper, and for West Houston RWA. I had manuscripts to judge for the Golden Heart in a category I don’t write. I signed up for a Scrivener class with Gwen Hernandez.
And when announcement day came, last Tuesday, I stayed late at home, at my computer, just in case the phone rang. I began to see emails announcing newly-notified finalists. Early announcements. Sisters from the Starcatchers and the Firebirds were finalists, and a friend, Lark Howard, from West Houston RWA. By 8:30 I was thinking I should probably get out the door and off to work.
At 8:33 the phone rang. As I picked it up I recognized the name of an RWA board member on the Caller ID. I knew what it was, I had waited for the call, and I was just as thrilled as I was in 2011 and 2012. Just as happy, just as dazed. But this time, the third time, I was pretty sure it wasn’t a mistake. After I saw the list on line, anyway. (And HERE it is.) A few minutes after the phone call, a friend on the RWA board sent me a one-line email: “So, how’s your day going?”
A week before the announcements I had dinner with friends before the monthly Houston Bay Area RWA meeting. Cheryl Bolen said, perhaps a bit rashly, “If you get a call next Tuesday, I’ll go to Atlanta with you.” Turns out she was serious. Now we’re both registered for the RWA National Conference in Atlanta in July, and we have a hotel room reserved. I’ve had a new picture taken. I’m finishing my edits so I can pull Jinn & Tonic out of Scrivener (and yes, it is easier to edit with Scrivener than Word, but compiling the manuscript may be an adventure).
I have forty new sisters, my fellow 2013 Golden Heart finalists.
RWA 2013, here we come!