Friday, February 18, 2011


By Santa Byrne

It’s that time of year again when published and unpublished authors alike brave the waters and submit their books and manuscripts to Romance Writers of America RITA and Golden Heart contest judges. I am not one of them. I have the honor and privilege of knowing both RITA and Golden Heart hopefuls this year. It brought to mind some other brave souls who write and literally stand up to be judged.

There are two things I know for certain in this, my writer’s journey. I love the written word and I love being a part of a community of writers who unceasingly support and encourage one another. I believe this is an anomaly in a world where people in the pursuit of the same goal – publication – stop to talk about what you are working on and give unsolicited advice in what may be of help along the way.

Romance Writers of America and each of its chapters are resolute in this. And I applaud them.

It’s what helps to drive me as a writer to solider on, as Robyn Carr said in her luncheon speech at the NJRWA conference in October 2010. It’s what makes me want to be a better writer, to improve in my craft and learn from any mistakes I’ve made along the way.

I see myself as brave to put out there what comes from my heart and soul.

Then I turned on the TV and watched HBO’s Poetry Slam.   They were hosting the finals of a Brave New Voices 2010. Here young souls come up one after another and present their poems. Tears streaming down their faces as they passionately called out the words. Toward the end of the competition three members from Denver’s team got on stage and their poem of having presented and given a 6.2 on a previous slam and they entreat, challenge the judges to give them a 7 because they would not go home that night, crawl into a ball and feel sorry for themselves. They would, as they had the last time, go home again and wrote more poetry, filling notebook upon notebook with, as they called them, sloppy metaphors.

And their mantra for that 7 score resonated on that stage, in that theatre and, yes, on Facebook where 7 was lauded as the new 10.

It was magical.

It was surreal.

It was sublime.

And, the judges heeded their call for 7s and, amidst a standing ovation from their fellow poets, awarded them four 7’s. It earned Denver 4th place in the end but a 4th place that was applauded as loudly - if not more so - than NYC’s first place win.

Their mentors and the Slam’s organizers commented on their mettle in challenging the judges. They were all winners not simply because they entered the contest, read their poems in front of so many and finaled.

It was because they wrote the poems and did not let a low score shutter their passion.

That resonated with me as a writer. To work to bring my story to light and not let harsh critiques kill that light.

All it will take is writing the story of my heart.

That’s what will get me that contest final, that agent, that contract. Going back after getting a 6.2, and continuing to write the story of my heart and going on to garner that 7 (the new 10, don’t you know).

Those young poets have inspired me to write a poem of my own. Trust me when I say it does not even come close to the stellar ones they shared on that program but it’s mine and I’ll post it here:

I write in the late hours of night
In crowded cafes and coffeehouses.
Food for thought.
Filling my well of creativity.
Only to empty it onto the wordless page.
All so I can write the story of my heart.
My story of heroes and heroines
Of honor in word
Of loyalty in action
Of unadulterated joy in a forever love
In this the story of my heart.
I am driven.
I am determined.
I am compelled.
And I must and I will
Write the story of my heart.
The story of my heart.
The story of my heart.♥

Santa Byrnes is a contemporary romance writer with one completed manuscript under her belt. She is also co-owner and manager of her family’s gourmet food store. An ardent foodie, Santa has created heroines that are chefs, whose passions for the culinary arts rivals the passions they share with the heroes in their lives.


  1. What an inspirational post, San! Thanks for sharing your journey as a writer. I know that one day I'll be looking at your book on the shelf of my local bookstore....and saying "Woohoo!"

  2. Santa,

    This post has such great timing and meaning for me. I just had some extrememly critical feedback from a contest... all true, but so harsh. I won't lie here, I did stop and step away from my writing for a bit.. then went back and read the critique again... Still just as harsh, but I hope I am learning from it, and I can't stop writing.. so I LOVE this:

    "To work to bring my story to light and not let harsh critiques kill that light."

    Great line Santa, and just what I needed to hear today, as I get out my notes and manuscripts to see where my heart will lead me next :)...

  3. Great blog, Santa! I applaud you for not letting your creative light be dimmed and continuing to put words to paper. I look forward to one day being able to read the story of your heart.