When they were getting ready to announce my category, my husband took my hand. I held onto him so hard as they read the names of all the finalists. Yes, I wanted to win even though I had a contract. Don’t we all hope and dream for the moon?
And I did win. I won, I won, I won! I can always boast that Butterfly Swords won the Golden Heart® for the best historical romance manuscript of 2009. No one can take that away. Ever.
Is this ungraceful of me to strut like this? I do admire and genuinely hope the best for my GH® sistas, especially in the historical category. In fact, I have a feeling a couple of them are also really, really close to signing. One in particular, but I won’t name names. 😉
It’s just been such a long journey with so few celebrations up until the very last few months. And even with the contest placements and manuscript requests, I was getting scared. The best agents in the industry and the top romance editors were saying my Asian setting was too risky.
When I got up on stage for my acceptance speech, do you know how I felt? I felt like that moment at the end of the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. They finally announce that Chris (Will Smith) has earned the job he worked so tirelessly for without any promise of success. The executive says, “Tell me Chris. Was it as easy as it looked?”
Chris fights back tears as he replies: “No. No it was not.”
I gave my first writerly talk and I didn’t implode. Even though I’ve taught high school, every single time I address a group of people, I still get butterflies. It never goes completely away. I think people had a good time and hopefully learned something about pitching and querying. My main goal was to demystify what it involves and give people tips about being as prepared and as comfortable as possible.
I also received a lovely Chocolate Rose for our local chapter contest where published authors critique and judge first pages from the unpublished authors. Intrigue of the Dragon Court, my first baby, was awarded first. That’s the actual picture of the award. 🙂
And in addition to seeing my chaptermates, who are an energetic, lively bunch of people, an online writer buddy drove two hours to attend the meeting. She asked me over lunch about the benefits of joining RWA. Whenever I get that question, I start to gush. I know many romance authors have made it without being an RWA member and truly, it’s not for everyone. But it is for me, for these reasons:
I’ve always been close to a strong, supportive local chapter. The monthly workshops plus additional programs such as writing loops, critique groups, and mentorship programs are worth the membership fee times ten.
I need to see real people. I need the face to face connection to keep me motivated. I’ve met some of the most wonderful writers through LARA who encouraged my writing and made me believe that real people can do this. When I moved, MORWA put me instantly in touch with a new group of friends who have pushed my writing in leaps and bounds over the last year.
RWA National Conference. Going to National conference every year for the last three years has taught me so much about the industry and the lowered fee for members makes it worth it.
One way to show this is not just a hobby. If I want to show that I’m a serious writer, membership to professional organizations seems like a must for me to put on my writing resume.
And I’m all about the contest loop. You don’t have to be an RWA member to enter all of them, but again, the added cost makes membership worthwhile. Contests have been integral in getting my foot in the door with agents. I can track the effectiveness of my query process to the day that I started putting contest finals and wins on the letter.
Days like this. I learned tips from Angie Fox about how to craft a killer story that works from start to finish. I networked with friends and authors in every stage of their career, had tortellini for lunch and chatted about everything from poodles to e-publishers. Can’t beat this for a Saturday!
I know many, many successful authors walk this road without RWA membership, so I’m not saying you can’t get by without it. I’m just saying, I can’t get by without it. As with all things, you can get as much out of it as you want and I try to squeeze out every last drop and gulp it down.
Going to enjoy some chocolate now. If you haven’t joined, but were thinking of it, here’s the link –> RWA National Organization