By Katrina Snow
In order of appearance, the first huge benefit is the December deadline. I completely sacrificed my social life last Fall finishing my rewrite, combing over the pages and writing the synopsis. Of all the steps involved, putting that synopsis together was the most difficult. By the time December hit, I had what I hoped was a solid manuscript and a workable synopsis.
The second benefit is that meeting the above-mentioned deadline puts you in a great place for working on queries to send out after the holidays. And that’s just what I did. Over December and January, I honed my query letter, running that all-important story blurb past my writers group more times than I did scenes in my manuscript. In February, I unleashed my magnificent query on well-researched agents whom I hoped would love my work. Alas, they didn’t. Still, the letter was in great shape for another round in March, and as I researched who I should send it to next, I hoped I’d soon have some good contest news to add. And I did!
Which brings me to benefit number three—a taste of what it will be like to receive The Call someday. That magical Golden Heart phone call came in on my cell phone the morning of March 25th at 9:31 AM. I was at work, so I calmly responded to the news although I was doing cartwheels on the inside. And my surprise at hearing I was a finalist was heightened by the fact that I had thought I’d be notified by mail within a couple of days. I guess I misread the contest information. Thrilling, exciting, surreal and a host of other adjectives all describe the moment.
Fourth, I became a part of another writing family. Someone immediately set up an email loop for all of the 2010 GH Finalists and we’ve been sharing the joys and hardships of our writing journeys, as well as answering all-important questions like, “What are you wearing to the awards dinner?” And this past week, you can bet we exchanged hundreds of emails about the conference move from Country Music’s Nashville to Mickey’s pad in Orlando.
Lastly, is the stamp of approval the Golden Heart gives a writer. I hadn’t realized how respected the contest was until an editor and agent congratulated me with great enthusiasm on being a Finalist. Of course, those agents who had passed in February didn’t suddenly realize their mistake and contact me, and editors didn’t send me impassioned pleas to send them my manuscript, however, I think it played a roll in drawing the attention of one vivacious agent.
A combination of Golden Heart magic and fate, or the gods, or some other benevolent force, kept throwing her in my path—or maybe me in her path—and as a result I now have a fantastic agent who is very excited about my work, which makes me very excited about her. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect fit than Louise Fury from L. Perkins Agency and I’m thrilled to be working with her.
To those who have entered and not made it to the Finals, I encourage you keep trying. One writer in that loop I spoke of earlier said she entered three years in a row and didn’t Final until this year. The competition is tough and many excellent entries don’t make it. A woman on another loop said that she entered the paranormal romance category (my category) and didn’t make the Finals with a score of 42.1. The highest score possible is 45. For those not quick with the math, her score was only 2.9 points below a perfect score.
The high level of writing in this competition and the fact that I’m in that paranormal romance category with the tight point spread are why I’m not anticipating a win. I entered with the hope that I would be a Finalist, and accomplishing that has me feeling like a winner already. It’s sort of like when the Oscar nominees say they are just happy to be nominated. I never really believed them, but I’m more inclined to going forward. Just being a Finalist in the Golden Hearts is a thrill and it’s enough. Of course, if I do manage to win, I’ll be giddy beyond reason.
As I’m hoping you’re curious about my manuscript, I thought I’d include the blurb from my query letter for your amusement.
In this single title, 110,000 word, medieval paranormal romance, THE PERFECT ADVENTURE, shares the lively tale of evil sorcerers and catty princesses, daring duels and steamy kisses, bandits and spells, sacrifice and passion, and a high-spirited Bachelor-style competition for the hand of a prince.
A gifted sorceress with no illusions of love or fairy-tale heroes flees to a distant kingdom to escape her sinister uncle and new husband. As using her powers is essential in their plot to rule the land, Kate’s life depends upon avoiding capture this time. Unfortunately, her plan to vanish into the life of a servant falls apart when a mischievous prince forces her to compete for his hand in a ridiculous festival. While she scrambles to hide her identity and to battle snooty royals in embarrassing games, Kate must face a truly horrific circumstance—not that she has been discovered, but that she is falling in love with the intriguing prince. She needs to disappear, find a new position, and keep watch for her uncle’s men, not get distracted by a man she can’t hope to have a future with. But life never hands her what she needs. Or does it?
The prince of Florian lives for adventure and revels in exploring exotic lands, cultures and women. A wife is the last thing he needs or wants—until his father severs his funding. To resume his quests abroad, Bregovi is forced to consent to a ludicrous contest designed to secure him a dowry-rich bride. As any of the entrants will do, he resigns himself to his fate and spends his last shackle-free days pursuing his latest amusement—a feisty maiden with a sharp tongue and soft lips. But what begins as mere sport turns into something disturbingly more. Kate captivates him, and each encounter with her gives him the same thrill as discovering a new shore. Unfortunately, loving the penniless maiden, marrying her, will destroy his life. He’ll never explore again. But losing her just might shatter his heart. Could she possibly be THE PERFECT ADVENTURE?
If you’d like to read more, I’ve posted an excerpt from the manuscript on my website at www.katrinasnow.com.
Adventures seem to be a prevalent theme in my life and my stories, and it feels like this Golden Heart journey is turning into a perfect adventure as well.
I wish you all the best of luck with your own writing adventures and hope to see you in Orlando! ♥
Katrina Snow’s THE PERFECT ADVENTURE is a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest. Winners will be announced at the RWA National Conference in Orlando, Florida, this July.