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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Anticipation

The finalist announcements are being made tomorrow for the Romance Writers of America's two biggest awards: The Golden Heart and The RITA. You'd think the fact that I'm not entered in either of them this year would make my anxiety over "the list" less intense.

Not so.

I am positively nauseous already. I know so many wonderful writers who are entered this year that I'm experiencing sympathy pangs of pre-announcement jitters (and the occasional cold sweat) on their behalf. Hurry up, RWA! Why wait 'til tomorrow? Make the freakin' calls today!

I'd entered the Golden Heart for several years--and with multiple manuscripts--before I found myself fortunate enough to be a finalist in 2007. I knew very little about the process and even less about the other finalists, but what a tremendous group my fellow "Bond Sisters" turned out to be! Getting to know them and sharing in the finalist experience was an unbelievable highlight of my writing career, and the gifts of their friendship keep on giving. (*Hugs to you, '007 Ladies!*)

I didn't start blogging until two weeks after that exciting phone call, so I never posted the story, but I remember the day it happened very, very well: My husband was sick and, so, didn't drive up to see my parents with my son and me. Nevertheless, we spent a lovely weekend visiting with them, enjoying the stirrings of spring (which, in Wisconsin--in late March--is truly just a hint of springtime :) and, if one were to ask outsiders, acting in a fairly normal manner.

Inside, however, I did not feel normal. I was hyper-aware and constantly on edge, waiting and waiting for a call I could in no way expect but couldn't help but hope for anyway. My young son, who'd recently begun collecting coins, had given me a "lucky quarter" before we'd left home, and I kept it in my pocket that whole weekend--less for luck, actually, than because I wanted a reminder that I was loved regardless of any contest outcome. I'd rub it every so often as I went about the day's activities. And when the time came for the phone calls to begin--when the first hour passed, then the second--and I'd still heard nothing, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that, really, it was all okay. No matter what.

About ten minutes before we were supposed to leave for the long drive home, my cell phone rang. The number had an area code I didn't recognize, so I answered with some confusion initially. Turned out to be one of the RWA board members. A very nice lady I didn't know who, for some reason, didn't seem to mind that I shrieked in her ear, "Oh, my God!! I LOVE you!" when she gave me the good news.

The call I got when I sold that same book was also very exciting--in a different way, though, not more so than the GH finalist call that day. I wish a similarly incredible moment of pure dancing joy for everyone entered in either contest this year. And, by the way, I still have that lucky quarter. It's on my desk--I'm rubbing it for you right now--and, no matter what happens tomorrow, my wonderful writer friends, just remember you're loved.

15 comments:

Maureen McGowan said...

Fabulous story, Marilyn.

I had forgotten about the date and was out all day. I got home really late and had 3 or 4 messages on my machine from an increasingly anxious person telling me I'd finalled. BUT with which book? Now I was the anxious one.

Luckily, when I logged on to my e-mail, the poor RWA Board member who'd been trying to call me all day had given up and spilled the news in an e-mail, so I didn't need to wait until the next morning to call her back.

Marilyn Brant said...

LOL, Maureen! Just goes to show what a talent you are to have multiple manuscripts that were GH-ready in the same year :-).

Nancy J. Parra said...

Great story! The year I finaled in the GH- I was so new to RWA...I didn't realize what day it was- or what the phone call meant. I think I said something like, "Oh, well, that's nice.Thank you." Hung up... waited hours- maybe even the next day then mentioned it to one of my CP in passing on the phone...

She, of course, nearly passed out from screaming. I still didn't get it.... Um, what? why the screaming? :)

I'm still in touch with some of the gals who finaled my year. And going to my first RWA conference as a finalist was awesome beyond words.

Good luck to all who entered!

Erica said...

That really was a wonderful day -- and the first of many such phone calls to come for you, I'm certain!

Carrie Lofty said...

I hadn't noticed the date at all. Nope. Not me. *whistles*

Watch, my mom will call and I'll be all, Oh, it's only you.

Marilyn Brant said...

Nancy, that's a terrific story! I wish we'd have known you then, so we could've screamed for you, too!

Oh, thank YOU, Erica! Thanks for sharing all the excitement with me... Looking forward to reciprocating :).

Marilyn Brant said...

LOL, Carrie!! Good luck tomorrow! I've got my fingers crossed for you!

Pam said...

I'm with Carrie--whistling by the graveyard, telling myself I'm really happy getting ready to query my current book (which I am!), but still...

Thanks for this post, Marilyn. Even before tomorrow comes, I already feel like a winner.

Morgan Mandel said...

I wish you many more exciting phone calls, Marilyn!

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Marilyn Brant said...

Pam~you know I'm pulling for you :). It's 8:08, RWA...c'mon...

Morgan~thank you! I wish you the same!!

Caryn Caldwell said...

I LOVE call stories! This was a good one, too. Can't wait to hear your story for when you win the Rita!

Marilyn Brant said...

Caryn~Ha! Thanks for the enormous vote of confidence!! *hug* Of course, if I won a RITA, I'd probably have to break my no-dusting rule, wasting valuable writing time by constantly polishing it... :)

L.A. Mitchell said...

I've never heard that story before. What an awesome start to a fairy tale year for you. I count the 007 friendships as one of my many writing blessings, too.

Marilyn Brant said...

Yay, L.A.!!! For anyone who may not know, L.A.'s manuscript Until Midnight is a GH finalist this year! Congrats, hon :).

Caryn Caldwell said...

Hey, dusting your Rita is a great excuse to procrastinate on writing!