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I pretty much figured I wasn’t going.
But on March 26, just like every year, I was a bundle of nerves and jumped every time the phone rang. Because no matter how long the long shot, you always hold the tiniest bit of hope that by some fluke, this year might be IT.
And then the phone rang.
And it was a strange area code.
And when I heard the words “from the board” I started to cry.
I can’t explain why. I didn’t even cry when I got THE CALL. I guess maybe because in Romance land, this is IT – the big one. Or maybe because the longer I’m in this business I realize how wonderful and also incredibly difficult it is. It takes a lot of work to have a career in publishing. And five of my peers read this book and considered it one of the best. That’s huge – because authors are also readers. But they are readers who read like authors, which makes them a very tough audience indeed.
Anyway, once I got off the phone I stopped crying and calmed down enough to simply shake for an hour or two. And that night I registered for conference.
What has been even more strange and amazing is the overall response that HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART -has had from the contest circuit. I enter a bunch of contests every year with a variety of titles, and simply hope that at some point one of them might final. So far this year, this particular book has finalled in the RITA, the National Reader’s Choice Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and the Colorado Award of Excellence (which it won). It is humbling and overwhelming and thrilling all at once. A bit hard to believe, really.
But you know, despite the hype and the excitement of buying a dress for the ceremony and shoes and plane tickets and all the other craziness, the truth is I’ve been too busy to think a whole lot about it. Because at the end of the day, I’m a working writer who is trying to meet a few deadlines so she can take some relaxing family time over the summer. The next books aren’t going to write themselves! The saying that I heard lots when I was unpublished really is true – it’s all about the next book.
And truthfully, it doesn’t matter if I win or not. And that’s the most awesome thing about Romance writers in the end. We are all excited and happy for each other. We celebrate each other’s victories and commiserate with the losses. It’s a hugely supportive community because honestly – we practice what we preach:
If any of you are in Anaheim for conference in July, please say hi if you see me roaming around. I’ll be the Canadian with the big smile.
PS In the meantime, you can check out THE LAST REAL COWBOY, out this month from Harlequin Romance, and THE GREATEST GIFT: A MOTHER’S DAY COLLECTION featuring a short story by me and also one by my fellow RITA nominee, Tanya Michaels!
Currently Donna is having a contest and will be giving this book away!