2014 Golden Heart® Finalists Update: T’was the Week Before RWA®14 (abbreviated version)

T’was the week before nationals when all through the loop,
E-mails were stirring with the latest news for the group.

The nervous excitement hung in each heart and the air,
In the hopes that July 23rd soon would be there.

When what to each overflowing inbox did appear,
But a photo of the Dream Weavers pin for this year.

©2014 Dream Weavers  (Photo courtesy Asa Maria Bradley) Pin arrangements by 2014 Golden Heart finalists Denny S. Bryce (design search) and Asa Maria Bradley (pin maker search and orders)

Dream Weavers Pin ©2014 Asa Maria Bradley

More rapid than nanoseconds the messages came,
And we replied, commented, tweeted, and shared each name.

Now, requests! Now, contracts! Now, congrats and celebrations!
On interviews! On, posts! On, dresses and alterations!

To bringing new business cards! To downloading apps!
Now schedule events! Reservations! Maybe short naps?

Jillian Lark business card (front) @2014 Jillian Lark

Jillian Lark business card (front) @2014 Jillian Lark

But you’ll hear us exclaim, as we head on our way,
“We can’t wait to see each other and you in SA.”

©2014 Jillian Lark (with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)



Dream Weavers pin design by author Xio Axelrod www.xioAxelrod.com Twitter @xioaxelrod

Dream Weavers pin made by Kingpin www.show-pins.com

Final Dream Weavers pin designer search by 2014 Golden Heart finalist Denny S. Bryce

Final Dream Weavers pin maker search/ orders by 2014 Golden Heart finalist Asa Maria Bradley

“A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore


Happy Fourth of July 2014!

Opening of the Great New York and Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Display of Fireworks  (American School)

Opening of the Great New York and Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Display of Fireworks (American School)


Have a wonderful day with friends and family!

~ Jillian


Father’s Day Wishes

A Summer’s Day in Hyde Park by John Ritchie 1858


Best wishes to fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers everywhere!



Recently my fabulous Austin RWA chapter held a champagne party for the 2014 RITA/Golden Heart finalists at the beautiful home of urban fantasy author, Sloane Calder. (Thanks, everyone!) About 25 chapter mates enjoyed conversations and refreshments. Some ARWA members eluded the camera, so you won’t see them in the party album below. President Emily McKay (previous GH finalist, double RITA finalist, and 2013 RITA YA winner) proposed a toast to the current group of nominees and our past finalists and winners. We wished all of you could have attended. I’m truly honored to be among the supportive, talented writers in my local chapter and in this year’s group of Golden Heart finalists.




Julia London (double RITA), Julie Kenner (RITA), Jillian Lark (Golden Heart), and Sherry Thomas (double RITA)

                   hostess                          emily

                      Hostess Sloane Calder and Ana Farrish                               Austin RWA President Emily McKay

the toast

The Toast (Julia London, Julie Kenner in back, Jillian, Sherry, and Susye Bowles)


The Refreshment Table
(Foreground) Jodi Linton and Cheryl Rae’s curls
(Background) Aimee Wyatt and Mari Mancusi



Julia London, Julie Kenner, and Jenna Stuart (2009 Golden Heart finalist)



Melissa Rupert and Elaine Brady



(Left to right) Tracy Talbot, April Kihlstrom, Claire Ashley, Kathy Ramirez, and Susye Bowles



Anna Castle, Tenaya Sunbury, Chris Campillo (2011 Golden Heart finalist),
Emily McKay, Sloane Calder, and Ana Farrish


Mother’s Day Wishes

mothersdayThe Bayswater Omnibus by George William Joy 1895


I love this 19th century painting and its subjects from the clothing to their expressions. The details make me wonder about the passengers. Who are they? Where have they been and where are they are going? What are they talking, reading, or thinking about? Maybe the passengers were on their way to or from visiting the female members of their families like most of you will this Sunday.

Happy Mother’s Day!

            Best wishes to mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers everywhere!


Vintage Easter Bunny in a Basket


Happy Easter!
Will return April 29th

~ Jillian


My 2014 Golden Heart Story: “THE CALL”

If you read this blog, you’ll know I finished posting a 7 part series on the Golden Heart contest last Tues. Repeating  “Golden Heart” over a 100 times must have been my lucky charm. The next day I received “the call” for my Historical Romance manuscript, Much Ado About Scandal.

golden_heart png
Jan Hudson’s Golden Heart Necklace

I had to run an errand on announcement day and couldn’t remember which phone number I put on my entry form. I stopped by my house to check voice mail on the landline. NO MESSAGES. I checked my computer and saw 6 names listed in the Historical Romance category. I thought that was it. NO MORE NAMES. I was already late for the Austin RWA Golden Heart Announcement Breakfast, so I headed for the door. The house phone rang. THE Jodi Thomas was calling to let me know I was a finalist. I was too shaky and shocked to scream. I’m not sure what I said. Jodi repeated that I really did final. She seemed to be waiting for a more exuberant reaction. I told her I was glad she wasn’t a telemarketer. At least I made her laugh.

I called chapter mate Chris Campillo about the final and asked if she was still at the GH breakfast. She screamed and the rest of the group screamed. They waited for me to arrive and applauded when I opened the door to the private room at a local restaurant. I’m not sure what the rest of the patrons thought. They were probably glad I shut the door behind me. Lots of congratulations and hugs ensued. What a fun and supportive group!

My life has been a thousand shades of crazy since announcement day. Emails, tweets, and calls! Oh, my! Champagne, lunch, and tea celebrations with chapter mates, friends, and family, too.

Thanks for the special memories, everyone!


The Golden Heart Part 1: Judging Contests by guest blogger, Jody Wallace

The Golden Heart Part 2: Entering the Contest

The Golden Heart Part 3: T’is the Season to Sparkle and Shine

The Golden Heart Part 4: Sliding Across the Finish Line with Your Synopsis

The Golden Heart Part 5: Here Come the Judges

The Golden Heart Part 6: What Do the Judges’ Scores Look Like?

The Golden Heart Part 7: Are You Ready for the Finalists Announcement?

The Golden Heart Part 7: Are You Ready for the Finalists Announcement?

If you’re an unpublished romance writer, finding out you’re one of the Golden Heart finalists is the equivalent of an Oscar nomination. Since December, contestants have waited for the judging results and hoped they will receive “the call,” a contract, fame, and / or fortune.

Past Golden Heart Finalists from Austin RWA

Seated: Jan Hudson Left to Right: Emily McKay,
Katie Graykowski, and Kristin Noel Fischer (Not pictured:
Jane Myers Perrine, Jenna Stuart, and Chris Campillo)

How realistic are those dreams? The talented ladies listed above say there’s no guarantee, but they agree that adding “Golden Heart Finalist” to their subject lines and bios expedited their writing careers. It gave them the validation, confidence, recognition, and boost they needed to obtain representation, receive quick responses to queries and submission packages, sign a contract, pursue self-publication, and / or increase sales.

What advice do they have for Golden Heart finalists? They recommend enjoying the experience and doing your best to balance your family, job, and personal needs. Expect to . . .

1. Be Googled, emailed, interviewed, and envied.
2. Juggle short deadlines for revising, polishing, querying, and pitching multiple projects.
3. Network with other finalists, agents, and editors and increase your online presence.
4. Plan for the July National RWA conference plus the extra events for finalists, the wardrobe (aka awards dress), and an acceptance speech just in case you win the coveted Golden Heart necklace below.

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Jan Hudson’s Golden Heart necklace

What if you aren’t nominated? The past ARWA finalists have more years of experience with that reality. They’re excited about the changes in publishing today that provide opportunities not only for traditional but also for Indie and hybrid careers. Here’s their advice on handling the disappointment of not being a finalist.

1. Embrace it. Wallow in it. But not more than one day.
2. Surround yourself with the support of family, friends, CPs, etc.
3. Congratulate the finalists.
4. Indulge in your favorite comforts.
5. Relax. You have more time for revising, polishing, querying, and pitching.
6. Set new, realistic goals.
7. Keep moving forward. Being published is the end goal, not winning a contest.
8. Write.



Jan Hudson won in the Traditional category and placed second in Long Contemporary in 1986. She sold both manuscripts and later received a RITA nomination for one of them. In 1991 Jan won the RITA for Best Short Contemporary for Step Into My Parlor. http://janhudson.com/

Emily McKay’s Short Contemporary Series manuscript received a nomination in 2001. Two different Harlequin judges requested the full manuscript, and one of them bought it after revisions. In 2013 Emily’s first YA novel, The Farm, won the RITA.   http://emilymckay.com

Katie Graykowsi is a two-time Golden Heart finalist for Perfect Summer in 2009 and Place Your Betts in 2013. She’s an Amazon Bestselling Author. www.katiegraykowski.com

In 2013 Kristin Noel Fischer received a nomination for her Contemporary Series title, Her Soldier Returns. She signed with agent Emily Sylvan Kim in October. http://www.prospectagency.com/zoo.html

Jane Myers-Perrine was a Golden Heart finalist in the Regency category in 1999. The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek, the second book in her current series, received a 2013 RITA nomination. JaneMyersPerrine.com

In 2009 Jenna Stuart was nominated in the Historical Romance category. She loves all things chocolate and most things Scottish. http://jennastuart.com/

Chris Campillo’s Contemporary Single Title, Sail Away, received a Golden Heart nomination in 2011. Her manuscripts have won multiple awards. www.chriscampillo.com


The Golden Heart Part 1: Judging Contests by guest blogger, Jody Wallace
The Golden Heart Part 2: Entering the Contest
The Golden Heart Part 3: T’is the Season to Sparkle and Shine
The Golden Heart Part 4: Sliding Across the Finish Line with Your Synopsis
The Golden Heart Part 5: Here Come the Judges
The Golden Heart Part 6: What Do the Judges’ Scores Look Like?

Happy Spring Break!


Vintage Valentine Card


Isn’t this hand-made card beautiful?

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and Week!

~ Jillian


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