As promised, I will regale you with memories from Saturday night’s Golden Heart ® and RITA Award Ceremony. To be honest, the entire experience is like a dream. Or maybe a better explanation is an out-of-body experience.
When I arrived at the ballroom looking for my friend who would be sitting with me in the VIP section (a lovely woman in my local writing chapter who served as a friend, cheerleader and psychologist that evening) I heard my name being called in a sing-song detached chorus of voices. Upon turning around, I found my chaptermates all waiting for me with hugs and well-wishes. What an amazing way to keep me grounded for the ceremony.
As my friend and I stood in line, we were surrounded by other Golden Heart finalists as well as RITA finalists. Now for those of you who don’t know what a RITA finalist is (come on, you wanted to ask right?). They are published authors who are also up for awards. Many of them are New York Times best-selling authors and I was rubbing elbows with them as we stood patiently (okay, maybe not so patiently) to enter the venue.
My friend and chaptermate, Miranda Liasson was also up for two Golden Heart awards and we asked to be seated at the same table for the ceremony. When we were finally allowed into the room, we discovered that our assigned table # 55 was right in front of the stage. As in THE table right before the podium. I glanced around in confusion. Maybe they had accidentally put us in the wrong place? I mean, why would we be seated there?
Let me describe the scene for you so that you have a better idea of things. The ballroom was the size of a football stadium with tables and chairs for 2000 plus people! On either side of the stage were gigantic screens where the presenter’s face (and the award recipient’s face) was projected and blown up to the size of a hot air balloon.
When we sat down and looked at the place cards on the table we realized that we were sitting with Eloisa James and Sarah MacLean two best-selling authors! As if the pressure was not high enough 😉 But the ladies were wonderful and as excited as we were to see if they were winners.
Miranda’s category was called first and she WON! Hallelujah! I was so happy for her and immediately the pressure decreased for me. I mean, what were the odds of me, her chaptermate, winning as well? When the time came for the paranormal category, my friend grabbed my hand (remember she was my support system during all of this) and I listened to the titles and names of the finalists being called. Then came the drumroll (which is the worst thing in the world – let me tell you) and the envelope was ripped open.
“And the Golden Heart goes to. Mind….”
And that is all I heard before my friend started screaming and threw her arms around me. I had actually won. Me.
I grabbed my speech and headed toward the stage praying that I didn’t take a header in my shoes (remember my earlier blogs about my shoe fears). But I made it on the stage unscathed and started my speech. Since the ballroom was dark and spotlights were shining on me I couldn’t really see the crowd. This was probably a good thing to tell you the truth. No deer in the headlights look for me. I actually got some laughs from the crowd (always a good thing). And with only a couple of minor gaffes, I got through my speech and walked off the stage. Pictures were taken and then I headed back to my seat in shock clutching my Golden Heart necklace and envelope declaring me the winner.
But the fun didn’t end there. BOTH Eloisa James and Sarah MacLean won RITA’s for their categories as well. We had a lucky table for sure. Eloisa let me hold her RITA and I took that as good mojo. I plan to be back up on that stage in the future accepting a RITA as well. Too cocky? I look at it as being confident. I still have A LOT to learn, but I plan on publishing and continuing down this path.
What a crazy night! And you know what I also took away from it? Both Eloisa and Sarah were super excited at their wins. It doesn’t matter if you are a relative newbie like me or a New York Times best-selling author. Having your peers acknowledge you for your work is a wonderful accomplishment.