[Correction, 7-15-10: Our apologies to finalist Deborah Oâ€™Neill Cordes for misspelling her name, now corrected below. – Linda and Lynn]
The Orange County Chapter of RWA is proud to announce the 27th Annual Orange Rose Contest top ten finalists. These top ten finalists were selected by overall score, independent of category.
Historical & Regency
– Seducing Charlotte by Dora Mekouar, VA
Mainstream with Romantic Elements
– Deadly Blessings by Kathy Bennett, CA
– Girl Three by Tracy Mastaler, VA
– Oak Moon by Laura Templeton, GA
– The Miser Who Bought the Farm by Kendel Flaum , SC
– The Other Side of Heaven by Deborah Oâ€™Neill Cordes & Cary Morgan Frates, WA
– Tressed to Kill by Beth Yarnall, CA
– Assassin in Love by Amy Raby, WA
– Hearts of Darkness by Ciara Stewart , WA
– Piercing Velvet by Aimee Carper, MO
Second round scoring is underway and contest winners will be announced in October.
Congratulations to our top ten finalists on their top scoring entries!
2010 Orange Rose Contest Coordinator
2010 Orange Rose Electronic Entry Coordinator
The 2008 BBB (Book Buyers’ Best) Winners were announced in the Orange County Chapter/RWA Hospitality Suite at RWA National Conference in San Francisco.
Series Short Contemporary
AN IMPROPER AFFAIR
by Anna DePalo
Series Long Contemporary
SUMMER AFTER SUMMER
(Harlequin Everlasting Love)
by Ann De Fee
Single Title Romance with Romantic Elements
(New American Library)
by Brenda Scott Royce
Historical and Regency
DESIRE NEVER DIES
by Jenna Petersen
Romantic Suspense/Mystery with Romantic Elements
by Linda Castillo
Paranormal/Time Travel/ Fantasy
THIRTY NIGHTS WITH A HIGHLANDER HUSBAND
by Melissa Mayhue
The “TOP PICK” was chosen by Sue Grimshaw, Romance Fiction Buyer for
Borders, Inc.and Pam Nelson, Advertising and Promotions Levy Home
This year, both the national buyers chose the same book for their Top
by Linda Castillo
As “TOP PICK”, Linda Castillo will be featured for one full year on a
special webpage at www.occrwa.org.
Congratulations to all of the winners!
OCC/RWA would like to thank all of the judges, including Sue Grimshaw and Pam Nelson. And a special thank-you to BBB Coordinator Lori Pyne for a second year of hard work and dedication.
This award honors many years of outstanding service to the chapter. And Jann certainly deserves this recognition.
During the 15 years she has been a member of OCC, she has volunteered in many positions. She has been on the committee of our Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished writers several times, then Co-chaired the contest twice–this is a huge undertaking. The editors in the industry love our contest, citing it as one of the best, so the entries are quite numerous, and itâ€™s a big job.
She was also our Ways and Means chairman for two years, and a roving committee member before that. Ways and Means is pretty much the backbone of our chapter, and she did a fabulous job of coming up with ways to keep our treasury healthy.
In addition to other volunteer and board positions, she also handled our Write For the Money, where she encouraged our members to set a writing goal each month and meet it.
She was Co-President of our chapter for two years, in 2001 and 2002. During her term as Co-President, Jann was co-coordinator of our Orange County Chapterâ€™s first, and very successful Autumn Affaire conference.
These days you’ll see her name right here on the Slice of Orange with her fellow critique group members of “Writers Rock!”
Triple threat Golden Heart finalist Kathleen Beaver (w/a Kate Carlisle) has talent. How else do you explain 3 Golden Heart nominations in 3 different categories?
Color me impressed.
What’s even more impressive is how incredibly warm, kind and intelligent she is. She also has a great sense of humor…which is probably what helped her manuscript SNOOPING IN STILETTOS win the Golden Heart for Best Novel With Strong Romantic Elements.
Here she talks about her Golden Heart winning manuscript, SNOOPING IN STILETTOS, the real-life mystery that inspired it, what has changed since her win, and who she forgot to thank in her acceptance speech.
Q â€“ What can you tell us about your winning Golden Heart manuscript, SNOOPING IN STILETTOS?
A â€“ SNOOPING IN STILETTOS is a chick lit mystery and hereâ€™s the pitch: Suicide by BMW? Or murder? When L.A. attorney Berry McKenna finds her best friend, Deanna Coburn, dead in the driverâ€™s seat, she knows it was murder. After all, Deanna had just gone on a fabulous shopping spree, and what woman in the known universe would kill herself after buying a gorgeous pair of boots? Now Berryâ€™s got to convince delectable detective Ethan Oâ€™Reilly to start looking for a killer, but Ethanâ€™s a hard sell, so Berry must search for truth and justice on her ownâ€”even if it kills her.
Q – What do you love about the story? Or what do you think makes this manuscript stand out as an exceptional story?
A â€“ My heroine, Berry, has a great attitude and stands up for what she believes in. She loves her friends, she loves her mom, she actually believes in the system and sheâ€™s determined to find justice for her girlfriend. And of course, thereâ€™s a really cute hero that I truly love.
Q â€“ Did it surprise you that SNOOPING IN STILETTOS won? Why or why not?
A â€“ Surprise me? How about SHOCKED the HELL out of me! Honestly, I knew it wouldnâ€™t win. First, because it was up against so many other great books in the category, and second, because itâ€™s a fairly straightforward first-person mystery and I just figured a book like that didnâ€™t stand a chance. Iâ€™m incredibly happy I was wrong!
Q â€“ What do you think it is about SNOOPING IN STILETTOS that readers love?
A â€“ SNOOPING is told from a first-person point of view, so it was important that readers find Berryâ€™s attitude appealing. Iâ€™d like to think she comes across as funny and maybe a little snarky and self-deprecating. Sheâ€™s also a good friend and willing to fight for what she believes in. It was also important that readers could relate to the victim, Deanna, so I had to sneak in a few flashbacks to introduce her and make her seem real and likeable. And did I mention the cute hero? Love him!
Q â€“ Was there any one thing you remember a critique partner, family member or friend did or said that helped you make SNOOPING IN STILETTOS into a Golden Heart winner? If so, what?
A â€“ The best advice I got was from Maureen Child who told me to trust my voice and donâ€™t get bogged down wondering what an editor will like or hate. Just be true to myself and write the damn book.
Q â€“ If you could dedicate SNOOPING IN STILETTOS to anyone who would it be? Why?
A â€“ Iâ€™d dedicate this book to my wonderful husband Don who has more faith in me and my writing than I sometimes have in myself.
Q â€“ Did you do any research for SNOOPING IN STILETTOS? If so, what kind of fascinating and/or surprising facts did you learn while researching the book?
A â€“ Itâ€™s not exactly research but I have a story about how I got the idea to write this book. I used to work in a Family Law firm and our clientâ€™s soon-to-be-ex-wife had made at least 10 half-hearted attempts to commit suicide throughout the divorce proceedings. Of course, one day she finally succeeded, but it wasnâ€™t clear whether she actually meant to do it, because when she turned on the gas in the Bentley, somehow a spark ignited in the engine and the car caught on fire and she was burned to death. There were signs that she struggled to escape but the carbon monoxide apparently had slowed her down and she didnâ€™t make it. It was very creepy. My boss went with our client to the wifeâ€™s house and her attorney was there, running the show, bossing the police around and generally being a pain in the butt. Turns out, the wife had re-written her Last Will and Testament and made her attorney one of the main beneficiaries. So…suicide? Or murder?? I prefer to think it was murder, of course!
Q – Your acceptance speech was short, sweet and heartwarming. How were you feeling up there? Is there anything you forgot to say or anything you’d like to add?
A â€“ Well, thank you for the compliment on my speech, but I must admit I was in complete shock and had absolutely nothing prepared. I remember thinking, â€œTalk slowly. Donâ€™t forget anyone. Donâ€™t cry.â€ So naturally, I burst into tears! (laughing) Then I woke up at three oâ€™clock the next morning and starting re-writing the speech in my head…over and over and over…sigh. And yes, I really wish Iâ€™d remembered to thank my fellow Golden Heart finalists for their support and friendship. I know theyâ€™re all going to sell because they are all so talented. Itâ€™s a great group and weâ€™re all on an e-mail loop together, so I hope weâ€™ll be able to continue to keep in touch and get together at future conferences.
Q – Has anything changed for you since your win?
A â€“ No, and Iâ€™m so annoyed! Iâ€™m waiting by the phone for all those agents and editors to call, dammit! (laughing) No, nothingâ€™s really changed so far, but I now have something wonderful to tell those agents and editors who have my manuscripts in their To-Be-Read piles, so thatâ€™s something. And I have a lovely new piece of jewelry. Itâ€™s a Golden Heart. I love it!
Q – Who was the first person you called? What did you say?
A â€“ I literally ran out in the middle of the awards ceremony and called my husband. I just said, â€œI won.â€ And he was so excited, it was great!
Q – Does the win seem real yet? If so, when did it feel real? When and what hit you that made it finally feel real?
A â€“ After I won, I really had to pinch myself. A few times during the rest of the ceremony, Iâ€™d suddenly get tears in my eyes when I remembered that Iâ€™d won. The thing is, I know that winning the Golden Heart is no guarantee that Iâ€™ll sell my books, but at that moment when they called my name, it felt so good to be recognized and validated for all the years Iâ€™ve been writing and working toward publication. It was a sweet moment for me.
Dana Diamond is the OCC/RWA Secretary, a columnist for OCC’s award winning newsletter, Orange Blossom, a contributor to The Writers Vibe and hard at work on her next book. For more on Dana and her interview with Kathleen Beaver, be sure to visit Dana’s blog at: www.danadiamond.blogspot.com
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