It Started With A Call

Posted on 04/5/15

Golden Heart Pendant

The pendant that RWA gives to the winner of the Golden Heart Award

It all started over a beer with a girlfriend.

We were single ladies (at the time) tipping one back and discussing the virtues of hot men. I confessed that a certain handsome actor was keeping me up at night but instead of seeing him as the hero in my next story, I saw him as my hero in my story. She said, “So write that.”

Four weeks later, “Indulge My Fantasy” was complete, so titled because really, it was my fantasy and I was indulging myself. I wasn’t sure if I was thrilled or appalled but it was the steamiest, most fun thing I’d ever written. Surely there was a market for this? A voice in my head said, “If you can’t laugh in bed, you’re doing it all wrong.”

March 26th. Golden Heart / Rita nomination call day. I opened my computer at 7 a.m. No emails. Checked my phone; no calls. Checked my internet; it was, indeed, working. Well, hell. Might as well make some breakfast while I can still keep food down, right?

Eight-thirty; the first Erotic category finalist is posted. How many finalists will there be? No idea. To be a finalist you have to make a scoring cut. One point under the cut and it’s “better luck next year.”

Nine o’clock: nothing yet, but rumors were that the calls would start at 9 CST. I still had another hour. Clean up from breakfast, play with some yarn, try to keep breathing.

Ten o’clock: nothing. To calm my nerves, I popped “Frequency” in my computer’s DVD player. Jim Caviezel is the model for the hero in my current WIP so it was research, and it kept me from thinking too much.

Eleven: I’ve checked email a few times between scenes. Still nothing. Heart sinking. Maybe my critique group was wrong and it wasn’t good enough. Contests are crapshoots. If the judge got a speeding ticket that morning, or didn’t like blonde heroines, or her ex’s name was the same as the hero’s, it could spell doom for an otherwise wonderful manuscript. That’s just the nature of the beast. Suck it up and move on. I started making spinach quiche because I couldn’t sit in front of the computer anymore, watching other people’s names  appear on the finalist list and mine was nowhere to be seen.

Noon: Calls would’ve started two hours ago, maybe sooner. My hopes are fading.

12:30: I have a parent/teacher conference at my son’s school at 1:45. Time to go get makeup on. The least I can do is fake the appearance of being normal, even while my heart is on the sole of my shoes. Maybe next year. But I hit F5 a few more times, just to be sure.

12:45. Push myself out of the computer chair . I’m going to run short on time to get ready for conferences and I’m 99% out of hope. But I take the phone with me, just in case.

Halfway up the stairs, the phone in my hand rings. A 904 area code? I don’t know where that is.

OMG. I don’t know WHO this is, but I know WHAT this is. At least, I hope so. This would be a really rotten time for a telemarketer to call. Hands shaking, I hit “accept” on the third try. “Hello?”

I’m told “Indulge My Fantasy” is a Golden Heart finalist. I said, “I’m sorry, can you give me just a minute? I need to sit down.” My knees were useless at that point and I was standing on the stairs. If there’s a worst time to die, this may be it.

I still had to go to the school conference but I managed to appear sane and sentient. I still sometimes break out in a silly, sappy grin at random for no reason anyone but me knows. I also check the RWA website twice daily, just to be certain they didn’t realize their mistake and wipe my name off the list. Yes, I’m still a finalist.

I can’t wait for you to read about Grace and Aaron. They were a lot of fun to write and they took me on a wonderful journey, but it’s not over yet. In fact, it’s only just begun…


3 Responses


  1. Abby Sharpe says:

    *sniff* soooooo happy for youuuuuuu!!! <3

  2. Hope Ramsay says:

    I’m so happy for you!!!!

  3. Mary Behre says:

    Hi Caroline,

    So unbelievably thrilled for you! Can’t wait to celebrate with you in NYC!!

    In the meantime, I’m toasting your amazing success with cyber bubbly!

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