The Feather Boa

So I didn’t win the Golden Heart.

To people not in the RWA community, this may seem like a huge disappointment. And don’t get me wrong–I would have been thrilled if I had won, but as any Golden Heart finalist will tell you, finaling is winning. All the GH nominees are winners simply because we finaled. Ask any of them, and I guarantee they will say the same thing.

After theFeather Boa Golden Heart awards ceremony, I posted a picture on my personal Facebook page with the caption “I may not have won the Golden Heart, but I did win the Tammy Baumann award, a very nice second. It made me cry!”

My non-RWA friends were thrilled that I won second place. It took me a while to explain that no, the Tammy Baumann award is not an actual award.

But I will tell you that it meant more to me than any actual awards I’ve won.

Tammy was one of the anonymous judges for Letting Go when I submitted my manuscript for the Golden Pen, a contest that mirrors the Golden Heart and is run by the Golden Network. She believed in my story at a time when I was questioning whether or not I had what it takes to make it as a writer. Her comments not only gave me the confidence to move forward, but her critical comments also helped me improve my manuscript.

So when Tammy presented me with the black feather boa after the Golden Heart ceremony, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was touched beyond words by the thoughtful gesture. That boa symbolizes everything that is good about RWA and the romance writing community.

We are all in competition with one another. Let’s face it–as much as we may enjoy it, romance writing is a business. We all want to sell books. We all want to make a list. We all want that huge advance. But instead of scratching and clawing our way to the top, we boost up our fellow writers. We plot together, we share manuscripts for critiques, we offer encouragement when it seems like the words will never come.

We take time out of our busy lives to pack black feather boas in a probably already-overstuffed suitcase.

That boa symbolizes home to me. Within my Golden Heart sisters (the Dreamweavers) and the organization as a whole, I’ve found my people, my place, my home. It was never more clear to me in that moment, in the aftermath of not winning the biggest accolade an unpublished romance writer can hope for, that I was right where I should be. With my sisters.

YA GH finalists

8 Comments on “The Feather Boa

McCall Hoyle
September 9, 2014 at 11:09 am

I got a little misty eyed reading your post, sister! Hugs! McCall

September 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I can’t wait to see you next month, McCall!

September 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Aw!!! So true, Jessica. Love that Tammy Bauman, and love that pic of my Dauntless sisters. Thanks for sharing this with us.

September 9, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Thanks for commenting, Pintip! I’m serious about a Dauntless spring fling. Half of us are within driving distance. We can make this happen!

Lenora Bell
September 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Awesome post, Jessica! Every girl needs a feather boa. Thanks for sharing this with us!

September 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Beautiful, Jessica. And yes, that is what makes our writing community so special. Enjoy that boa!

Amy Patrick (@AmyPatrickBooks)
September 9, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Awww. Those pics put me right back there to awards night, and you are so right– finaling is winning– and getting to know you all was by far the best part. I didn’t realize Tammy had done that. How amazing! Thanks for this lovely post. 🙂

September 12, 2014 at 5:42 pm

What a great post, Jessica. And so very true. It reminds me of Clarence telling George Bailey in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, “Remember, George, no man is a failure who has friends.” Tammy is made of awesome. It’s always so nice when you meet the judge who loved your book. I personally think it’s even better than winning. But I think more people will be reading your book than just judges now…:-)


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