RWA® Nationals 2011 came to a stunning conclusion. My talented critique partner and treasured friend Anne Barton won the Golden Heart in the Regency category! I’ll be your guide as we take an up-close-and-personal look at that enchanting evening.
Anne and I donned our finery. I’d worn my dress last year in Orlando, but Anne found a stunning teal number that looked super on her. She’s got a real flair for fashion.
Anne’s cousin Lisa Connelly met us in the lobby where we snapped some pictures. Lisa was a GH finalist as well and is also Anne’s critique partner. I told them I wanted to see them both get a new necklace. Yeah, I dream BIG.
I sat beside Anne at her table in the VIP section with Lisa on her other side. While I was giddy with anticipation, Anne sat composed as can be. She’s a class act!
The presenter for the Regency category was our friend and fellow 2008 GH finalist Courtney Milan, who is a NYT best-selling author as of last week. Am I proud? You betcha!
The Awards Ceremony begins with the announcement of the Golden Heart winners. This year the first category was Regency, in which Anne was a double finalist. Meg Cabot, emcee for the long-anticipated gala, got things rolling with her great brand of humor.
Very soon Meg introduced Courtney, who read the names off the six finalists and their titles while their pictures were displayed on the jumbotron screens placed throughout the ballroom. I held my breath as Courtney opened the envelope.
“And the winner is ‘The Proper Miss—’” That’s all I heard before I threw my arms around Anne. She’d won! I hope I didn’t hurt her ears too much because I believe I shrieked.
Anne made her way to the stage and delivered her acceptance speech. I attempted to get a good picture, but this fuzzy shot was the best I could do with no flash across a crowded ballroom. Trust me, she looked great and was her classy self.
After Anne rejoined us, we waited with bated breath as eight more categories were announced. At long last it was time for Lisa’s category, Contemporary Single Title. Since Anne had won, I wanted so much for Lisa to win, too, thinking how cool it would be for cousins to bookend the Golden Heart portion of the ceremony. I’m a romance writer and am all about happy endings.
I got my wish. Lisa won as well. I shrieked some more and shouted something. If memory serves me, it was “That’s two for two!” I cried, which is nothing new for me. I weep easily. Anne had worn the most endearing sweet smile ever since she won, but when Lisa’s name was read, Anne shed tears, too. I think she was even more excited about Lisa’s win than her own, but that’s the way Anne is. She’s generosity personified.
Anne’s lovely and hardworking agent, Helen Breitweiser, joined us at our table and shared in the excitement of Anne’s win. I have a hunch Helen will be letting editors know about her talented, Golden Heart winner client. My new dream is a First Sale for Anne.
Anne went off to sip champagne with Helen, and I returned to our room where I did a happy dance that didn’t stop until Anne returned in the wee hours. She let me hold her Golden Heart necklace, and I snapped a picture of it along with the card Courtney pulled out of the envelope hours before.
I can’t think of a more wonderful ending to a great week. I still smile every time I think about Anne’s win. I’ll cover other aspects of the conference in upcoming posts.