Tuesday, 29 March 2016
Getting the RITA finalist call for Tempting the Knight (there will be exclamation marks)
'Hi, is that Heidi Rice?' Said a voice in a warm American accent.
'Yes, speaking,' I replied round a mouthful of cheese sandwich, thinking is this what I think it is? No it can't be? Surely they're not doing RITA calls on Good Friday? What's the date again? And anyway I got a RITA call last year I can't possibly have gotten another one!
'Hi Heidi, this is Alyssa Day...' At that point it all becomes a little fuzzy, because I was screaming OMG OMG OMG ALYSSA DAY!! inside my head while trying to swallow down my cheese sandwich and also remember to breathe ...
She mentioned my book Tempting the Knight, part of the Fairy Tales of New York quartet I wrote with Kelly Hunter, Amy Andrews and Lucy King, and said RITA finalist and Contemporary Romance Short at some point too, I'm almost certain... But I was hyperventilating far too hard to actually hear anything , except my babbling about how excited I was (as if she couldn't tell that from the hyperventilating) and how I was eating my lunch (like she needed to know that *facepalms*)... We then proceeded to have a half-way coherent chat (coherent on her end, anyway) about the conference in San Diego, would I be coming, how excited I was (again, sooo not necessary)... And then I put down the phone, and just stood in my kitchen waiting for the news to actually sink in – and hoping I'd remembered to thank her (still not sure about that).
I then ran into the front room to tell my two sons - who congratulated me without looking up from the TV then asked if we could take the car to the Angel!!
So far so NOT NEARLY EXCITED ENOUGH... Bloody men! They just didn't GET IT... So then I did what I should have done to start with and texted my best writing mate Abby Green - I cannot repeat the text here as it was a little profane (I swear when I'm excited, a lot, I'm a Londoner, this is how we roll). She congratulated me (properly) and then promised to break my legs if I ever moaned about my writing career again (fair enough). Then I hit Twitter and Facebook, as you do... In the middle of lots of lovely congrats from so many of my writing mates and readers, I got a call from my good mate Scarlet Wilson who sounded as flummoxed as me but more so, because she had just found out she had finaled TWICE in the same category!! .... Go Scarlet!!
By the time I'd calmed down enough to think coherently, we had to make a mad dash to the Angel, and nearly missed the start of the movie. (Zootopia's rather good btw, or at least I think it is, I wasn't exactly capable of being objective, I would probably have been entertained by having the phone book recited to me).
Needless to say, four days later, I am still on a high. And don't plan to come down any time soon. I'm all signed up for the conference in San Diego, I have my flights booked and I am quite simply thrilled to bits to be able to go to RWA16 sporting my RITA FINALIST ribbon and pin.
I have a huge debt of thanks to give romance-writing goddess Jane Porter and the fabulous team at Tule Publishing for letting us write these stories the way we wanted to (and giving me my best cover ever), but most of all I want to thank Kelly, Amy and Lucy.
Amy came up with the original idea of doing sexy modern makeovers of classic Fairy Tales (and then explained to me in words of one syllable what oblique meant when I instantly pooh-poohed the idea! Duh!), Kelly edited my book brilliantly and Lucy helped me come up with a great family history for my heroine (who was the sister of her Beast of a hero)... But more than that, we wrote The Fairy Tales of New York together, after spending months and two thousand plus emails brain-storming the plots, the characters, their connections, their hopes and dreams and conflicts and their backstories, and liaising on everything from the floor plan of the Irish American pub in Brooklyn where our heroines connect to the design of the uniform they wore at the convent school in Upstate New York where they all met as teenagers... The standard of their stories was so high, they challenged me to make my story the best it could be, they let me use their remarkable characters in my book, and they gave my story added depth and complexity by helping to build a whole wonderful world around all four of our heroines and their heroes. But best of all, they made the whole process an absolute hoot! I wrote all about it on The Pink Heart Society if you want to know more...
TBH it almost feels a little bit greedy to get the pleasure of a RITA nod on top of all that Fairy Tale goodness... But hey, I'm all for being the princess in my own modern day fairy tale, especially if it means I can now go shop for a new posh frock to wear at the Awards do!