Didn’t Final in the GH? Shake It Off!

On the Golden Heart~Reflections for the Morning After: First, I want to send out huge congratulations to all RITA and Golden Heart Finalists! It’s such a fantastic achievement that will stay in your memory and on your writer resume forever. It totally deserves celebrations, confetti, raising a glass of your favorite beverage, and a few shopping trips looking for the perfect dress for the RITA/GH Awards!  Here’s to you! Sending you a big flailing armed Kermit “Yaaaayyy!!”


But today’s post is for the authors who didn’t get “the call” yesterday. I’m sure there’s the gamut of emotions from excitement for friends who are finalists (Go Dreamweavers!) to disappointment that still stings a bit today. No matter how you feel today, I’m suggesting you do two things.

#1…Celebrate. Yep. I said it. Celebrate. You put in all the hard work, sweated over your book and took an absolute brave leap into the void of “Putting Yourself Out There.” It’s a risk and it’s scary, but it’s a necessary step and you took it. You took it boldly. I think you should be damn proud of that.

#2 Like Taylor Swift says, “Shake it Off.” Seriously. Remember how subjective writing is. Contest judges are readers too. No one book can be adored by everyone. Come closer, because I’m talking specifically to you. Yes, you. I volunteered to judge the Golden Heart for the second year in a row, and I’m telling you– there were entries in my batch that I judged worthy of being a finalist… that didn’t final. Awesome entries. Entries that made me cry. Entries that made me laugh. Entries that had me jealous of the author’s talented mad word skilz. I’m talking some amazing writing. So, please, don’t let not finaling dim your confidence and belief in your writing.

And maybe it isn’t helping to hear this from me, a fairly new inexperienced, unpublished author just like you. That’s okay, because others with more experience than myself will tell you the same thing. NYT’s bestselling Author Virginia Kantra, a member of my local RWA group, the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, a RITA winner and 8 time RITA finalist (although yesterday’s RITA nom for her book Carolina Man might make it 9) said the same thing yesterday, only better…

“I will take a moment to repeat something I say every year: Every book that finals deserves to final; not every book that deserves to final is nominated as a finalist. It all depends on getting the right book in the hands of the right judge – five of them! – at the right moment.  Contests are always a crap shoot. And if you’re a little disappointed this year, repeat after me: “Crap shoot. Crap shoot. Crap, crap, crap. Shoot, shoot, shoot.” 🙂 ”


See? Yes, it’s hard, but don’t let any contest result dim your goals. Sure you can wallow for a day or two. Then get your butt back in the saddle and get writing. Use whatever mantra works for you. My “go-to” butt kicking mantras when I need to get past discouragement are Shakespeare’s “Once more into the breach, dear friends!” and John McClane’s “Yippee Kai Yay, Mother Fucker!” (Kind of the Yin and Yang for inspiration :))

A Reminder: Keep your eyes on your goal: to become a published author. To share your stories with the world. Not win or final in a contest. Yes, it’s true a contest win or final (especially the Golden Heart!) can help you toward that goal, but it’s only one path of many. And it doesn’t guarantee anything. The only thing closest to a guarantee of achieving that goal? Keep writing and writing, and then write some more. Because only you can tell your stories in your way. And if you keep writing, one day your stories will find readers who love them! And if my two butt-kicking mantra’s didn’t work for you, then listen to Taylor…go ahead, shake it off. And get writing.