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.
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.