Celebrating with Rachel Grant: Her Double Golden Heart Final!!

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

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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27 Responses to Celebrating with Rachel Grant: Her Double Golden Heart Final!!

  1. C.J. Redwine says:

    I loved hearing your special moment, and am so THRILLED for you. Yay!!

  2. Amanda Brice says:

    Aww, I loved hearing that golden moment. So special.

    And I totally agree with you –the competition really is over, even though the final round judging hasn’t even begun. The prize really is just finaling, and meeting so many new wonderful friends.

  3. Rachel Grant says:

    Thank you so much for interviewing me and letting me share my moment.

  4. Liz says:

    Congrats again on your double-final, Rachel! Despite the delay, discovering you finaled while with a group of writing friends sounds fantastic. I’ll be cheering you on in NY!

  5. Congratulations, Rachel. There will be other wonderful moments but I’m sure that one will always be one of the best!! Having friends and CP right there to help celebrate is so fantastic. Have a great time in NY with old and new friends; the people you meet when you final is the absolute best thing about the GH.

  6. Kris Kennedy says:

    Woot woot! You go, you GH-finaling-demon you! Can’t say it enough. 🙂

  7. Rachel, that is a magnificent accomplishment and I wish you the best at the finals.

    Being a NYC native and not being able to attend this year is not sitting well with this gal, but priorities must be met and like my Brooklyn Dodgers always said … “wait ’til next year.”

    Have a great time in NY and beyond to a great career 🙂

    • Rachel Grant says:

      Thanks so much! Sorry you can’t go to Nationals. 😦 I didn’t go last year and was so bummed to miss hanging out with the best group of women in the world.

  8. Anne Barton says:

    That recording is so much fun!!! My husband just walked through the room while I was playing it–I think he was worried about me. LOL.

    Rachel, congrats on your finals–I’m go glad we get to be sisters again. Great interview, Keli!

    • Rachel Grant says:

      Not just final sisters – but DOUBLE final sisters. I am so excited for you and your double final. And I will say again–I love your titles! Can’t wait to see you in NY.

  9. I’ll be in NY!!!!! I can’t wait to scream my head off when your gorgeous photo flashes on the big screen, not once but TWICE! So proud of you.


  10. Sherrinda says:

    DOUBLE final! That is awesome! Congratulations! I absolutely love hearing good news stories!

  11. Tatia says:

    As a fellow Pixie Chick, I concur with what you said about fellow GH finalists becoming some of your greatest friends! I feel very fortunate that I get to hone in on the Northwest writing retreat, though my home state doesn’t quite qualify.
    As a writer of historical westerns, I know all about writing in a subgenre that is considered “dead.” However, I’ve been somewhat heartened to see all the new opportunities available via self-publishing. It seems that the world is opening for both writers and readers, now that digital publishing is making such inroads within the publishing world. Any chance you’ll consider publishing your RS stories yourself if the traditional route doesn’t work out?

    • Rachel Grant says:

      Funny you should ask that question, Tatia…. I never would have considered self-publishing before, but as the market gets tighter for traditional publishing, a whole lot of opportunities have opened up in the self publishing arena. Self-publishing my 2008 GH ms., MURDER IN SITU, is something I may pursue in the fall.

  12. How neat to be able to share in your excitement via that clip! Congratulations on the double final and my very best wishes in the finals.

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