I can’t believe it’s almost that time. The Golden Heart® awards luncheon is just around the corner. Thank you for reading all the Rebelles from the Heart guest posts. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey and insights as much as I have! Susannah Erwin is our last guest Rebelle. Her manuscript Job Opening: Billionaire’s Wife is a 2017 Golden Heart® finalist for Contemporary Romance: Short, and here she is to share with you what it means to her to be a Golden Heart® finalist.
It’s almost here. Less than a week from today, the Golden Heart luncheon will take place and this crazy ride that started with hitting “submit” on the RWA website in January will come to its first stop – but only the first one.
Before this journey began, I was sure I understood what being a Golden Heart finalist would entail. Over the years, I’ve cheered for many friends as their faces flashed on the screen and their names were read by bestselling romance authors (or not read, in the case of Christine Merrill, who went on to win her category anyway. It’s a great story. If you see her in Orlando, ask her about it). I’ve even roomed with Golden Heart finalists, so I’ve seen up close the excited preparations for the reception and the rehearsal and the ceremony itself. Yep, I knew it all.
I was wrong.
Being a Golden Heart finalist is so much more than I ever imagined. Not because of the pin and the ribbon I will wear on my conference badge, or even the thrill of seeing my name on the RWA website. And while the validation of knowing my manuscript connected with the first round judges in my category is heartening, pun intended, there are many steps still be taken before it might reach a greater audience. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. While this is a very nice water station – to draw out the running metaphor – it’s far from the finish line.
No, what I didn’t foresee is that being a 2017 Golden Heart finalist means I am a Rebelle. And what’s more, I am surrounded by Rebelles.
My fellow Rebelles are smart. They are strong. They are fearless. And they are generous. They inspire me in so many ways, from putting words down on paper every day (Alexis and Sarah, you are writing powerhouses!) to getting myself to the gym (thanks, Melonie!). I am in awe of their boundless creativity, not only as romance authors but also as artists and graphic designers and writers of blog posts – and especially at brainstorming group names.
Writing tends to be a solitary occupation, just you and the voices in your head, and it can become even more isolating when the voices stop belonging to your characters and start channeling your insecurities. Being a Rebelle doesn’t make insecurity go away, but it does help to banish the isolation. The community is quick to commiserate or to suggest possible solutions to problems, plotwise or other. This is the greatest gift being a Golden Heart finalist will ever give me: access to a group of talented, intelligent women whose wide-ranging experiences and backgrounds provide a bottomless wealth of knowledge and support.
In five short days the Golden Heart ceremony will be held, and then before we know it the 2018 contest will be open for entries. But this isn’t the terminus of our journey. It’s only the beginning. And I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for my Rebelle sisters. I know it’s going to be as amazing as they are.
An eager lover of storytelling in any and all forms, Susannah Erwin has a bachelor’s degree in film and an MBA in entertainment management. Her employers include major Hollywood studios, and she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a very spoiled cat.
Her manuscript Job Opening: Billionaire’s Wife is a 2017 Golden Heart® nominee for Contemporary Romance: Short. Susannah’s chapter “Grounded” was selected as the winner of the fourth round of the 2015 Avon FanLit competition and can be found in the novella A Duke to Remember. Her short story “The Santa Shack Up” is available in the anthology Holiday Ever After, published by LARA RWA.