Rachel Grant writes contemporary romantic suspense. A Golden Heart® finalist with three manuscripts, all feature an archaeologist heroine with different areas of expertise.
Rachel always knew she wanted to be a writer, but during her freshman year in college (after reading too many of Elizabeth Peters’ mysteries) she switched her major from English to Archaeology, figuring the change would provide fodder for future novels. She worked for over a decade in the field and lab and left the workforce when her second child was born. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her archaeologist husband and two energetic children.
Once upon a time Rachel was interested in things other than writing—and has a few half-knitted sweaters to prove it—but between writing and managing her busy family she’s lucky to squeeze in a few minutes of TV now and then. In the meantime, she’s taught her daughter how to knit in hopes someone will finish those sweaters.
March 25th was a doubly delightful day for you. Please give us the scoop on your Golden Heart finals. When did you get the news? Where were you? Who did you tell first?
The easiest answer is to follow this link to my website, where I not only have the full story posted, but I also have an audio recording of the actual golden moment. You see, I’m a very lucky person in that not only did I get to share my moment with three fantastic writing buddies, but we also accidently caught the whole thing on a digital recorder. So pop over to my website, read the story and listen to the clip (the recording is short, I promise) but do turn down the volume on your computer–we were standing (and jumping) right next to the recorder, so it gets LOUD.
(Go listen now. I’ll wait for you here.)
Are you back? Are your ears bleeding? Sorry about that.
This all happened about three hours after I was certain I hadn’t finaled. Away for our annual plotting retreat, I didn’t have time to mope and had instead moved on and plotted another book. We were deep in my friend Jennie’s story when we paused for a break. (It’s important to refill the bowl of M&Ms—many promising plots have fallen apart for lack of M&Ms.) When I saw those emails I was absolutely stunned, and as you can hear, breathless.
As far as the amount of screaming, in my defense I’d like to point out there were four of us making noise. The initial squee is Jennie, Natasha, and me. They immediately grabbed me in a three-way hug and we jumped up and down. Then Kris came running into the room and it gets even louder. Plus there was more jumping.
Wow! There’s squeeing, and then there’s SQUEEING. Good thing you warned us to lower the volume. 🙂 If I didn’t know it, I’d think this was your first GH final. It’s not, though. You experienced a similar thrill in 2008. What have you learned about yourself and your writing since then?
Ah, 2008…remember those glorious days when we were Golden Heart finalists together in San Francisco, Keli? We came back from the conference, and in one day—one hour—three of our fellow finalists announced sales. Everything was bright and sunny, and at that rate we were all going to sell before November. Then, like maybe a week later, the whole economy tanked.
The romance genre held up for the most part, but my sub-genre, romantic suspense, took a nosedive. I think it was declared dead about a year ago. This past fall, as I hammered out my first draft of Body of Evidence, I wondered if I was a fool for continuing to write in a genre that had already been given Last Rites.
But a good story will find a home no matter how tough the market and BoE has a strong premise. When the idea first came to me, I was plotting a different book entirely, but this story grabbed me and took over. I tossed out the previous plot without looking back, because there is one thing I’ve learned in the last few years: if you dare to write in a genre that’s not hot (or even lukewarm), you’d better have a strong hook or you are wasting your time.
As a veteran finalist, what words of wisdom do have for this year’s first-time finalists: about attending Nationals while wearing that shiny Golden Heart pin, about how to dress for the Awards Ceremony, and about maximizing the attention a GH final brings.
If this is your first final, go to Nationals. Beg, borrow—do what you need to do to go to the conference. It tons of fun to wear the pink finalist ribbon, you get prime editor/agent appointment picks, and you get treated like a princess the whole time.
But there is another benefit to going this year, which is ten times more valuable than those editor/agent appointments and even beats the princess treatment. The best reason to go to Nationals this year: you’ll get to meet and hang out with your fellow finalists. The 2008 Pixie Chicks have become some of my closest friends. Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest meet annually for a writing retreat, which I look forward to all year long. Most of my critique partners are Pixies. There is no way I would have two manuscripts in the final round if not for their feedback. (Courtney Milan has the right to say, “I told you so,” to me forever because when I finally took her advice about my opening, Concrete Evidence finaled in the Golden Pen and then the Golden Heart. I intend to buy her off with chocolate.)
If you’ve never been a finalist, it may seem strange, but truly, the competition part of the contest is over at this point. Just being a finalist means you’ve already won, and the prize is a new group of friends.
Thanks for being my guest, Rachel. I look forward to cheering for you in New York City. I invite your visitors to share in your excitement and to ask you any questions they have about being a Golden Heart finalist.
Thank you so much for having me, Keli. I can’t wait to see you again in New York.
Learn More About Rachel
Visit her Website ~ www.booksbyRachelGrant.com
Follow her on Twitter ~ @rachelsgrant