Monday, March 30, 2015

Journey of a Golden Heart Finalist

Romance Writers of America has two annual contests, The Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers and the RITA contest for those who are published (self-published or through a publisher). This year the finalists were announced on March 26th. Their stories will go through the final round of judging and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in July at RWA's national conference in New York City. It's a black tie event with all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's Academy Awards. To view the entire list of finalists, click here.

My book, This Time Forever, was a finalist in the inspirational category of the Golden Heart contest in 2008. Contest coordinators notified the finalists by phone, but I had to work that day so I kept checking the voice mail on my home phone to see if RWA had called and left a message. I left work at 4:30 pm without hearing from them.  Okay...maybe next year.

Of course, when I got home, the first thing I did was check the Caller ID on the phone in our office. I saw an out-of-state number had called several times and my heart began to race. Little did I know that at the same time my husband, Steve, was on the kitchen phone listening to voice mail. Suddenly he yelled, "Hey, Denise, RWA called!" He knew what that meant and couldn't wait to tell me. I called the number back and Carla Capshaw answered. She said she'd been calling all day and decided at around 5:00 pm to leave a message. She congratulated me, but I barely heard the words--my head was spinning with excitement. I couldn't wait to tell my chapter, Northern Lights Writers, that I'd made the finals. Over the next several days my email account filled up with many congratulatory posts, but the one I cherish the most was from my son, Dave.

In July, I went to the conference in San Francisco, California, and had the time of my life. I went to so many parties and receptions that I barely had time to attend the workshops (although, I purchased the CD and listened to them later on). I didn't win, but as a finalist, I received first priority to book appointments with editors and agents, all of whom requested my manuscript. I also met all of the other contest finalists and made many lasting friendships, especially the finalists in my category, Kit, Susan and Keli.

I'm currently published with Melange Books, LLC, but I'm also self-published. Last year, I decided to try my hand at self-publishing and produced several books. It was an interesting journey, but I'm hooked! I love doing it all myself.

Oh, and by the way, the head shot of me in this post was the one I sent in to RWA for my official photo. It's a glamour shot. I wanted a nice, professional-looking picture that I could use for a long time, but I knew it was going to cost me, so I did what any smart blonde would do--I brought Steve with me to the appointment and told him to choose his favorite. He took the entire $1,500.00 package. Nice going, Steve!
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Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author who writes sweet romantic comedy and inspirational romance. She is currently writing two series, Forever Yours (Inspirational) and Counting Your Blessings (Christmas romantic comedy). You can visit her at


  1. That's such a sweet memory, Denise. I hope you go on to win a RITA!

  2. Denise, being a Golden Heart finalist is everything you described. So glad you got to experience it.

  3. Yes, it is unique in its own way. I did a lot of happy dancing that day.

  4. Sounds fabulous. The buzz of finalling in any comp is so cool but the GH!!

  5. Very cool. I was a Golden Heart finalist in 2010 and it really is an amazing ride. I actually forgot the day calls were supposed to go out so wasn't even thinking about it. Then I got an email from someone I didn't know but it said RWA and that I should call. At first I was confused, wondering what RWA could want. Then I finally checked the date and the dots started connect. The lady had called my home and of course gotten the machine because I had already left for work.

  6. Great memory, Denise. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I put all of the emails and photos, etc. in a binder with my certificate in the front to keep the memory preserved.

  7. What a wonderful experience, Denise! And such happy memories, too. Thanks for sharing this post, and congratulations -- both on your win, and your current writing success!

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