Golden Heart and RITA announcements went out this week. Once upon a time, I was a Golden Heart finalist in the Romantic Suspense category. It was a long time ago. Back when you used to get candle wax on your books. Back when you used to hitch your horse up in front of of the general store. Back when you used to wash your clothes on the rocks by the river. Back when Route 66 was a dirt path.
Anyway...I embarked on my very first trip to the ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA conference. There was definitely an element of suspense to the whole process. I had no idea what to expect and quite honestly, I was nervous as all heck. But I packed up my bags, along with my conviction, and I boarded that plane. As the cab pulled up in front of the hotel, I walked through the sliding front doors into the lobby and witnessed a throng of nearly 300,000 women (or so it appeared to me at the time). Hyperventilating, I spun around to leave, but the cab had already pulled away.
I had no choice but to 'man up' as they say. I took a deep breath and walked directly into that throng (with my head ducked down). But try as I might to stay invisible, the Golden Heart ribbon affixed to my shirt was like a beacon. People I didn’t know would stop and say, “Ohhh, you’re a finalist. Congratulations! What category?” After my fifth congratulatory comment I decided the RWA Conference was a really cool place to be. :)
The day before the award ceremony they made us practice walking up the steps and onto the stage. They even made us go up to the microphone and speak into an empty arena to get used to the sound of our voice over the speaker system. The rule they recited over and over was to NOT drink any alcohol before the ceremony so that you didn’t embarrass yourself by tripping or saying something silly.
The night of the ceremony came, and no, I didn’t win my category, but it’s an honor just to be nominated, right? :) I had to chuckle that night, though. A very prominent NY Times best-selling author won a RITA. She walked up to the podium and held up her award and very loudly announced, “And guess what…I’ve been drinking!”