Golden Heart Recap…

CST at reception cropped 1Here we all are – Romance Writers of America’s® 2013 Golden Heart® nominees in the Contemporary Single Title category! From the left: Nan Dixon, Jacqueline Floyd, Sheila Athens, Leslie Lynch, Jane O’Hanlon, Talia Quinn Daniels, Katie Graykowski, and Sonali Dev. We had just received our certificates at the reception for Golden Heart (unpublished) and Rita® (published) finalists. The winners would be announced the following evening.

And now we know who won! Congratulations, Jane O’Hanlon (back row, dark hair, red dress) for winning the 2013 Golden Heart with Objection Overruled! <Throwing confetti! Breaking out the champagne! Cheering wildly!>

We wanted to do one last post as a group, reflecting on this conference. And since we mere mortals get very few Jumbotron moments in their lives, we’ve included photos. Sorry they aren’t all of stellar quality, but it was definitely a rush to see our faces up there! Let’s start with Jane.

Jane O'Hanlon cropped JumbotronJane O’Hanlon


I almost didn’t enter the Golden Heart. Then, I registered for another conference the same week as RWA Nationals. Even after receiving “the call,” I wondered if a mistake had been made. Finally, a friend advised that I would have my entire life to be disappointed if I didn’t win, but I had the next 4 months to enjoy and believe that I would win. So, every day, I imagined how wonderful it would feel to have my name called. I’m still amazed I did win and am deeply honored to be included with such talented individuals as my fellow Lucky-13 contemporary single title romance writers. I believe we will soar to great heights in our careers! Believe with me!

Sheila Athens better Jumbotron croppedSheila Athens

Too tired for complete sentences

Wonderful time

Loved meeting Lucky 13s

Met my agent for the first time; even happier to be part of #TeamJill

Interesting that RWA has embraced self-publishing

Forgot to pick up thumb drive of conference recordings

No blisters – wore comfortable shoes (smart!)

Congrats to the Golden Heart/Rita winners

Special bond w/ other contemporary writers – new chapter!

Assigned to Jill Shalvis table at awards ceremony!

Kristan Higgins’ luncheon speech: spectacular. Made me cry. Got pix w/ her!

Fun time debriefing w/ chaptermates after GH/Rita ceremony

Overuse of exclamation points due to lack of sleep during conference


Talia Quinn Daniels cropped JumbotronTalia Quinn Daniels

The vast, tall cone of an interior atrium of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis looks like those weird pods in the Matrix. And it’s impossible to air condition.  (Note to architect:  pretty isn’t everything.)

Last year’s Golden Heart class developed tighter bonds during the year between conferences, which meant that it was even better to see my fellow Firebirds this go-round than it was to meet for the first time. (Looking forward to this happening with the Luckies!)

Indie publishing is far more accepted this year, mentioned in every single panel and tons of informal discussions.  It seemed to lend the entire conference this electric energy.  We have choices, and that feels great.  For everyone.

The best part of the conference was walking through the bar lounge and connecting with people.  I couldn’t nap even though I was beyond exhausted.  All those people!  Together in one place for this short slice of time!  And I wasn’t talking to them!  What a waste!  So I’d eat some chocolate as a pick-me-up and go back down into the fray.

Most of all, I came away with the non-original but deeply felt conviction: this is my tribe.

Sonali's Jumbotron pic croppedSonali Dev

It makes me want to weep that we’re already recapping this. Although
this was my second National and I was a newbie in NYC two years ago, Atlanta
was really all about firsts — my first GH final, my first conference after
selling. I loved wearing those two ribbons on my badge and shamelessly flashing
them at strangers. Not that there are any strangers in RWA. Seriously, that was the highlight for me both times. Whether I was getting to know other finalists or fangirling my idols or hanging with friends, being part of the sisterhood was the best part.

Nan Dixon better Jumbotron croppedNan Dixon

RWA13 was an amazing time. Not just because I was Golden Heart finalist, although being a finalist is the best. RWA was amazing because I was surrounded by a community of writers, people just like me, who have a passion for telling a tale.

I may be naïve, but this is a group of people who support each other, they pay it forward.  We aren’t competitors. We’re sisters. And it was fantastic to see all my wonderful friends, both new and old.

Jane Porter said it best. Don’t covet a fellow writer’s success, cheer them on. Successful writing doesn’t preclude another writer’s success. If readers will buy, editors will too. And one of those stories might be yours.

Jacqueline Floyd cropped JumbotronJacqueline Floyd

When I went to the Registration Desk the first day, there was Mary Jo Putney looking at a big picture of…Mary Jo Putney. Finding myself seated next to a big-time editor at the Awards Ceremony, having an author at the Avon signing offer to have her editor look at my manuscript. These are the kinds of things that don’t happen any place else.

A personal highlight was having my daughter there to share the wonderful experience.

Another highlight was seeing old and new friends. Meeting this year’s finalists was awesome.

Being a contest finalist is like being named princess for a week. It’s so much fun, it’s hard to remember to make the most of your opportunities.

Katie Graykowski cropped JumbotronKatie Graykowksi

RWA 2013 was a hell of a good time.  I met lots of interesting people, pimped out my PAN friends during book signings, pretended my feet didn’t hurt from terribly cute but horribly uncomfortable shoes, and loaded up on free books.  Meeting my Lucky 13 sisters and having dinner with my follow Rubies was loads of fun.

But the highlight of my time in Atlanta was watching my dear friend Emily McKay win a Rita.  Watching a friend reach a lifelong goal was a thousand times more fantastic than wining something of my own.  Enjoy, Emily – you deserve it!

Leslie Lynch cropped JumbotronLeslie Lynch

This was my fifth RWA national conference. I knew it would be different, but the reality…

It was a blast. It was so much fun meeting the rest of my Lucky 13s sisters, especially my fellow Contemporary Single Title nominees! Each person is now more than a photo and a unique voice on a loop; they are real.

Another difference was that it was a working conference for me, rather than a learning conference. Most of my time was spent with networking – which was really cool, because for the first time, every time I turned around, I recognized someone. That’s a far sight from my first conference, where I knew four or five people out of two thousand!

The highlight of it all? My daughter and her friend were there to share the experience, and my chaptermates were so supportive, both in Atlanta and back home in Louisville. For me, it all comes down to people and relationships. While only one person can win the Golden Heart, we all became better people for the experience.

Thank you, fellow Contemporary Single Title Lucky 13s sisters, for sharing the ride! Best of luck to each of you in your writing journeys!

This entry was posted in Creativity, Golden Heart, gratitude, Leslie Lynch, Romance Writers of America, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Golden Heart Recap…

  1. India Powers says:

    Fabulous recap! You all made me weepy that I didn’t get to spend more time with you at Nationals. Best of luck, Single Title Lucky 13s! I’m sure we’ll hear more good news from each of you!

  2. Leslie,

    Thank you for giving us this one last opportunity to present ourselves as a unit. It has been an honor to be a part of this wonderful and talented group. In the posts, I notice that the prevailing theme is one of the friendships we’ve made, past and present. Isn’t that always the way in a community writers? Writing can be such a solitary pursuit, it’s necessary to treasure the relationships we make with others who choose to communicate through the writer word.
    It’s been a joy to share this experience with all of you. I can’t wait to see how things unfold in the coming months and what fabulous things are in store for us throughout our writing careers.
    Best wishes for success to all.
    Jacqueline Floyd

  3. Don Mulcare says:

    What a wonderful post. It wraps up this years GH events. Sounds like everyone came away with indelible memories and a major launch toward next year’s achievements.

    God bless everyone!


  4. Thanks for the recap! It was an amazing, inspiring, and overwhelming week. So great to meet the Contemporary Single Title Lucky 13’s. I think there’s a lot of talent in this group to go with the “Lucky” part of our name. Looking forward to reading everyone’s books in the future!

  5. Nan Dixon says:

    Leslie, Thank you for hosting all the single title finalists. It was so wonderful to get to see you all, although I think I missed Katie!!
    And one more Congratulations to Jane!!! Way to go!
    Now let’s all get published!

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      You’re welcome, Nan! It was fun. It started out as a grand experiment, and I’m more than satisfied with how it turned out. Make sure you get in touch next time you come this direction to visit your daughter! 🙂

  6. Joanna Shupe says:

    It was so wonderful to meet you all! I love that you guys had the Jumbotron photos. (So smart, those contemporary single-title ladies.) This has been an incredible journey and I look forward to seeing where the path takes each and every one of us. To final in this amazing contest is a dream for SO MANY writers out there, me included. So onward and upward, ladies!

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      The only reason the Jumbotron pics were there is because Jacqueline Floyd was smart and told me to get one when it was flashed up there. I decided to catch everyone’s (all the poor quality ones are from my phone), and it worked out well for the blog. What fun!

      It was wonderful meeting you, too, Joanna, and all the Luckies! 🙂

  7. Love this recap! Makes me feel like I’m still at the conference surrounded by fabulous authors and friends. Sending a big thank you to each and everyone of the Lucky 13s for making my summer so special this year!

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