The contest would open on July 1st (yes, in a few hours!) and close on July 15th, but would be limited to the first 500 entries. What a fabulous opportunity to get a full manscript before an editor! I assumed that 500 other aspiring authors would rush to submit an entry as soon as the contest opened. So I scrambled to put together the required query letter, synopsis, and full manuscript of Aliya Arabesque, my contemporary single title. By 11:30 P.M., I was as ready as I could be with so little time, and at 12:01 A.M., I hit the "Send" button. Then I dropped into bed, as I had gotten up at 4:00 A.M. that morning.
During July, I didn't think about the contest because other contest excitement filled my days. Aliya Arabesque finaled for the sixth time in the 2010 Golden Claddagh Contest. At the RWA National Conference in Orlando, Deus ex Nosferatu, my historical paranormal, took First Place in the 2010 Stroke of Midnight Contest with a request for a full from the final round editor, and The Loving of Lord Loxley, my historical romance, took Second Place in the 2010 Romance Through the Ages Contest with a request for a full from the final round editor (the talented G. Jillian Stone, a 2010 Golden Heart® Winner, took first place). Then, during early August, my newest story, Royal Prince, Reluctant Princess, a contemporary series written especially for Mills & Boon Harlequin, finaled in the 2010 Four Seasons Contest.
On August 11th, I arrived home to discover that I had a message on my answering machine from Megan Records...yes, the Megan Records!...of Kensington Books, saying that she had some news for me and leaving her phone number to return her call. For a split second, I couldn't fathom why she would call me, but then I remembered the Kensington Books' Writing with the Stars Contest. Good God, might I be one of the finalists? But the announcement had said that the finalists wouldn't be notified until September 1st.
So, the next day, I returned the call. Here is the news Megan Records had for me:
Aliya Arabesque ~ Finalist, Kensington Books' Writing with the Stars Contest
Other authors have asked me how I felt in that moment? Elated, validated, excited, but most of all, fortunate. Yes, I felt incredibly lucky that Alicia Condon and Megan Records, who'd judged the preliminary round of the contest, had heard my voice among the voices of so many talented authors. Never do I forget that even though I've enjoyed contest success, I'm no farther along on the publishing journey than any other aspiring author. Never do I forget that this is a life journey, for publication is only a beginning, not an ending.
Thanks to Kensington Brava Books and RT Book Reviews Magazine, and congratulations to all the other finalists!