Sunday, 10 June 2012

Searching for a Heart of Gold...

So the finalists for the 2012 RITA and Golden Heart Awards have been announced by RWA (Romance Writers of America). If you're not familiar with these awards, the RITAs are for works of romantic fiction published in the previous year (2011 in this case), and the Golden Heart Awards are for us so-far unpublished authors. These truly are the Oscars of the romantic fiction world!

I think it's fantastic that there is a platform with such visibility for those of us who aren't with publishers yet (or perhaps don't even plan to be).  I've hovered around the RWA website on numerous occasions, scrolling through the scarlet and gold annals of past winners and the already-successful, wondering what it would be like to enter.

So then comes the dilemma. Call for entries will open again come September for the first 1,200 hopefuls. Final deadlines are mid-November, going by past years. My first (ever) story is in its final draft stage, and the temptation is there to do some quick editing as well as work on the synopsis that is required.

I wanted to find out...what was it actually like to enter? What were the pitfalls? What were the pros and cons of entering? The RWA website, while thorough, obviously didn't contain the 'real-world' advice I was after. After some furious Googling, I did locate a few websites that I found helpful, and thought I'd share:

The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood -

From what I've read, this site and group-blog was started by the Golden Heart Finalists of 2009. Just like a graduating class, they've created an 'alumni' site to track their respective journeys in the romance writing world, provide support for each other and some useful information for the rest of us wannabes! So far I've found:

  • Interviews with current and past Golden Heart Finalists
  • Success stories
  • Self-publishing and publishing advice

The Golden Network -

This is an online chapter of the RWA, and while to actually fully join the group you must already be a Golden Heart Finalist, they do run an annual writing contest of their own call The Golden Pen. This contest is modeled very closely to the Golden Heart Awards, but the bonus is that you get feedback, and I have read that it is a great way to test your work before submitting to the more daunting (and expensive) Golden Heart Awards.

I'd be very interested to hear from anyone else who is contemplating submitting this year! Leave a comment or email me...

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