In July of 2012, I traveled clear across the country from Virginia to Anaheim, California to attend the RWA® national conference. I had never traveled like that by myself before—much less clear across the entire country—and I knew no one. I am an extreme introvert. Couple that with severe shyness and what do you get? A recipe for disaster.
Except my experience was anything but that. There is one word to describe how I felt at the end of that conference.
I put myself out there, introducing myself to people and reconnecting with someone I had met back in 2009 when the conference was in my backyard of Washington D.C. She was a Golden Heart® finalist at the time, and she introduced me to a slew of women, one of whom was also a Golden Heart finalist. I didn’t attend the Golden Heart award ceremony in 2009, but in 2012, I sat with a new friend and cheered on my two new finalist friends.
I went back to my room by myself that night with a feeling of empowerment and a newfound determination. I could do it. I would do it.
And guess what? I did do it! I am happy to share that my new adult manuscript LETTING GO is a Golden Heart finalist in the young adult category. Even as I type this, I can’t help but have a big goofy grin on my face. It is so surreal, made only sweeter by the fact that a dear friend of mine also finaled in my category.
The Golden Heart is aptly named. I am less than a week into my experience, and I feel golden, not just for the opportunities that come with being a finalist, but for the amazing friendships I’ve already begun to form with my fellow 2014 Golden Heart finalist sisters.
I’ve heard many finalists call the experience a wild ride, and I never really understood it. I get it now. You know the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach as you sit in a roller coaster car slowly chugging its way up that first big hill? The mix of excitement, anticipation, exhilaration, and yes, a little bit of fear?
I can’t wait to enjoy the ride.