Monday, July 20, 2009

Golden Heart final, Part 2

As most of you know by now, I didn’t come home with a beautiful Golden Heart win. Though I was disappointed, the honor went to a wonderful woman who recently joined the Heart of Dixie chapter, Kim Law. I wish her the best of luck with her submission, which was requested by the final editor! Squeee!!!

I wanted to do a bit of a continuation from last week’s blog, and let you know what it was like to be a Golden Heart finalist at RWA National conference. It was even more exciting, scary, and stressful than I imagined. I’m completely blessed to have had the experience.

We spent the first two days sight seeing, which was fun, but also painful. For the first time ever in my conference experiences, my shoes rubbed blisters on my feet. Even though I’d worn them at home. And thus began the week of band-aids. I had a great deal of trouble getting them to stick and had to replace them often. I went through 2.5 boxes of Band-Aids within a week. Yuck!

Being a new member of the Golden Network chapter, I was able to attend their conference retreat for the first time, which involved a panel of editors and agents discussing what they were looking for in authors and evaluations of queries. Tough, but a source of great information. Instigator and I also attended their Golden Network Dessert reception, where we mingled with current and former GH finalists and witnessed our friend Lynn Raye Harris’s “booting” ceremony, which bumped her into alumni status, since she is now a published author.

Fellow attendees were incredibly excited for me during the entire week. Complete strangers would cheer for me in the elevator and congratulations were overflowing. Many people asked me about my final, and it gave this shy introvert an opening to talk about my work and my writing journey with others.

Friday afternoon, the RWA National Board invited us to a dessert reception, where they presented all the Golden Heart and RITA finalists with a certificate. It was so exciting to watch everyone receive their certificate, to actually hold that piece of paper in my hands with MY manuscript title and name, to share smiles with fellow finalists. One would think that this would be a more blasé experience for the RITA finalists, but they were just as exuberant and I had the joy of watching several friends and acquaintances accept their own certificates.

On Saturday afternoon, I showed up for my category’s scheduled rehearsal for the evening ceremony and had to face the dreaded jumbotron. I’d been eyeing it with sick fear all week and now I had to grasp the reality of having my picture appear on it. Even worse, we took turns walking up onto the stage and experiencing the glare of the lights while we said our names into the microphones. That’s when the real shock came! You found yourself facing another jumbotron, with your face large and up close. But despite the big picture, the atmosphere shimmered with anticipation and sparkling excitement. I enjoyed chatting about the pitfalls of stairs, high heels, and long dresses. The show’s witty director, Laura Hayden, warned us of the dangers of drinking beforehand and not having our speeches prepared.

Two memories resonate with me from Saturday night: 1) Seeing my name and picture on the screen during the ceremony and hearing the applause and cheers of my friends. Far from the scariness I’d anticipated, I was so proud in that moment. Whether I won or not, my work was good enough to be there. Nothing will ever take that accomplishment from me. 2) The love and support of my people that night. The Playfriends who dressed me, hugged me, and beamed their own pride. Our mavens, Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones, who dusted diamond flakes in my hair, provided me with a beautiful goddess dress, and told me I was already a winner. My lovely chapter mates who stood with me that night, cheered for me, told me how beautiful I was, and affirmed their belief in me in so many other small ways.

Despite not being sure I would win, I wrote an acceptance speech so I would be prepared. I didn’t get to say it on stage, but I’m going to paraphrase it here. Because it really wasn’t about winning the Golden Heart, it was about the people who’d gotten me there. I’m convinced that the greatest gift this journey will ever give me – published or not – are these wonderful people who believe in me even in those moments when I can’t believe in myself. That’s another thing that can’t be taken away from me. I pray for everyone reading this that you’ll find the same.

I love you and thank you for the support you’ve shown me and the excitement of sharing this experience with me. It has been a wonderful journey. So much about writing is solitary and just pure work. This was the icing, the excitement and glitter (which I still had in my hair when I touched down in Alabama on Sunday afternoon). :) Now, it is time to get back to work…



MJFredrick said...

Angel, your experience sounds a lot like mine. What we did, in 2006, I think, was gather afterwards and give our speeches. Because like you said, it isn't about winning---it's about the people who get you there.

What a great quote, btw.

Linda Winstead Jones said...

I wanted you to win, but honestly, it IS a big deal to final. You deserved it. And you looked awesome. :-)

When I got home, my husband looked at my hair and said, "Hmm. Stripper Dust." I told him it was *Diamond* Dust (an important distinction) but he stubbornly insisted otherwise.

Congrats to Kim! HOD is bursting at the seems with winners. :-)

Linda Winstead Jones said...

SEAMS. Sheesh. Why can't I edit a comment? Why is it delete or suffer humiliation?


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Wonderful post, Danniele! Everything you said about the experience is exactly what I felt too. It's amazing, and you will always, always have that final in your resume (because of course I hope you are ineligible to enter again!), and you will always have your fellow finalists in your journey. :)

Congrats again.

Liza said...

Great speech Danniele. You are a winner and I can't wait to read your first published book. Thanks for sharing you time in DC with all of us.

Problem Child said...

I had very little voice left by Saturday night (Conference Cough hit hard and early this year, sigh), but I saved two screams -- I used one when your name appeared on the jumbotron (alas, the other went un-squeed).

I was just tickled to be there with you and you looked AMAZING!!!!

Congrats to all the winners -- especially our new chaptermate, Kim Law!

Smarty Pants said...

I'm sorry you didn't win, but it really is about the ride. I hope you enjoyed every frantic minute of it. Everytime you start to think you suck, you just pull out that certificate and remind yourself otherwise.

I'm back at work this morning. Exhausted, and yes, shedding tiny specks of glitter everywhere I go.

Instigator said...

I wanted you to win... I think you should have! But everyone is right, the experience is something no one can ever take away from you. I'm so glad that you got to enjoy every second of it.

Congratulations to Kim! HOD is rocking with talent.


Maven Linda said...

Hey. Glitter is a GOOD thing.

Saturday night rocked. Congratulations to both you and Kim. I'm so proud of all the Children, but I love when the spotlight is on one of you and you sparkle -- and not just because of the Diamond Dust. You sparkle because of who you are.

My verification word is "petaloid," which I kind of like, though it makes me wonder if it's a new plant/human species.

Kim Law said...

Hey, Danniele. Great post. It's hard to describe the feeling of being treated like "somebody" all week, isn't it? That little ribbon on our tags not only made us smile just knowing it was there, but preen a little every single time someone mentioned it. The week was definitley one I won't ever forget as I'm sure you won't either.

You looked absolutely amazing Saturday night and I wish you luck being ineligible for the GH next year!

I'm so glad I ventured beyond the TN border and joined HOD. It's a terrific group! Thanks for mentioning me, and thank you other HODers for the congrats too!

Playground Monitor said...

I'm late to the party but us old people crash hard after a week of going full steam.

The week was incredible and Saturday night was the high point. Seeing a friend get recognition for her hard work is terrific, and I was right there in the group scream when your photo came up on the jumbotron.

Like Kim Law, I really hope you're ineligible for the GH next year.

I love the Diamond Dust, but I'm in awe of the flocker. My gosh, my hair had volume and didn't end up lying flat against my head. Ulta, hear I come!

Rhonda Nelson said...

Ooo, Marilyn, what is flocker??? How have I missed this???

Danniele, having read your story, I know it kicked butt and am not the least bit surprised that you were a GH finalist. Hate that I missed cheering for you.

Kim, I congratulated you on FB, but will do it here, too. Congratulations! I know your dh is very proud of you. :-)

I am *so* there next year. (Someone please bring the stripper dust to the retreat. I want to try it. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Angel, what a wonderful experience to have and the memories. I truly enjoyed reading your post. And yes, you are a winner for getting nominated. May you continued to be very blessed in your career.
Fairy dust indeed.
word verification - potized, what the????

Kathy said...

You looked like a princess Saturday night, Angel, and you have the grace of one too. ;)

Good things are coming your way. Listen to the hum, hum, hum of success as it calls your name.

Adding my congratulations to you, Kim! Wishing you great success!! :D

Angel said...

PM, I hear you on the energy stuff! I'm exhausted. I have family in right now, and spent the day with them, which thankfully involved just sitting on the couch most of the day. Thank goodness!!! :)


Betty said...

Hey all my HOD friends and fellow writers! I thought I'd drop in and say hi -- and congrats to Danniele on her final! You looked beautiful Saturday evening!

And congrats to Kim Law, too! This chapter rocks!