And so a new year is upon us. I have to say, 2015 far exceeded my expectations. If you told me 365 days ago that I was going to be a Golden Heart finalist come March, I’d have laughed and said you’d had too much Prosecco. But it happened, and it sure made this year magical.
For my final blog post of the year, I thought I’d share why I think 2016 should be the year you enter the Golden Heart (or try again if you’ve entered before). Entries are currently open for The Golden Heart® Award for unpublished authors until January 11, 2016 at 5pm CT.
1. It’s a great self-imposed deadline. When I was working on my manuscript in 2014, I had no one breathing down my neck telling me to stop editing. I felt aimless, and so when I learned about the Golden Heart and realized the January deadline was doable, it suddenly gave me the motivation to whip my manuscript into shape. In fact, since I didn’t think I had a chance in hell in becoming a finalist, this was the reason I entered.
2. The mandatory synopsis. I’d never written a synopsis until I was “forced” to do so with my contest entry. I’d probably have stalled on this for many more months had it not been a requirement. While I admit, the original synopsis that I submitted with my entry wasn’t my best (it’s changed several times since then), it gave me something to work with. Something’s better than nothing!
3. The first 50 (or so pages). When I started researching about submitting entries, I found several blog posts that helped me take a fresh look at my first fifty. (Let’s not talk about how it’s changed several times since the award ceremony. haha) I’d say this post by Laurie Kellogg on the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog was most helpful. I pretended I was reading my entry as a Golden Heart judge and that helped me look at it differently and improve my writing.
4. You’ll never know unless you try! I just shared that I didn’t think I’d ever become a finalist. That’s the truth. After all, it was my first manuscript and my first contest entry ever. To be honest, I didn’t even understand the importance of what I’d just entered until I started researching the award after the fact. When I received that call in late March informing me that I was a finalist, it was quite shocking.
So if it happens to you…
5. Best experience ever! Like I said, I had no idea what to really expect as a finalist. I was never involved in the Greek system in college, but it was like suddenly being thrown in a sorority with some of the most awesome women I’d ever meet. Everyone had similar goals in mind, some further ahead, while other were just starting their journey. Being a Dragonfly (2015 Class) has made this past year beyond special. I have this fantastic group of women to bounce ideas off of, to celebrate, to support, and to cheer on.
Of course, it was awesome attending Nationals as a finalist and mentioning my finalist status in my query letters to agents. But it’s really about the friendships that were formed and that have strengthened as time has gone on.
So take a chance and enter your manuscript into the Golden Heart® Award. Or aim to do so next December. Even if you don’t become a finalist, the experience of entering can help you get your manuscript in much better shape. And if you do final? Well, that’s just the icing on the cake.
Are you entering? Best wishes to those putting themselves out there. I applaud you!