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Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy Dancing for My Critique Partner

I've been blessed with two critique partners who are wonderful writers as well as treasured friends. I love reading their work, and I love when good things happen to them.

One of my critique partners is Jody Hedlund, whose debut novel, The Preacher's Bride, is due to be released by Bethany House on October 1st. Since Jody and I became CPs this year, I haven't read TPB yet, although I've had my preview copy on order from Amazon for months.

One of the big events a debut romance novelist awaits is her first review from RT Book Reviews. I've been eagerly awaiting Jody's. Since I subscribe to the magazine (and highly recommend that every romance writer do the same), I'm able to view the reviews online weeks before they appear in print.

This morning, I visited the RT website and squealed. Not only was the review up, but Jody's book, The Preacher's Bride, received the highest RT Book Reviews rating: 4-1/2 stars!!! I'm beyond thrilled for Jody. What a way to launch her career as a published novelist.

I contacted RT Book Reviews to request permission to share Jody's excellent review, and editor Carol Stacy generously granted it.

So, here it is:

by Jody Hedlund

Genre: Historical Romance, Inspirational

RT Rating

In this remarkable debut based on the life of Pilgrim’s Progress author John Bunyan, Hedlund shows a great talent for immediately transporting readers into her story. The pages turn faster with each chapter and the characters seem like old friends from the beginning.

When his wife perishes after the birth of their son, John is too busy grieving to want another woman to care for his home and children. However, Elizabeth has other plans after being asked to keep house for the preacher and falling in love with the newborn baby and his siblings. John has made some powerful enemies as his brave sermons upset Royalists in 1650 England, and Elizabeth is soon dragged into peril. Now that she has grown to love John, she may be the only one who can save him. (BETHANY HOUSE, Oct., 384 pp., $14.99)

Reviewed By: Terri Dukes


Published: October 2010

Currently, only subscribers can see the review online. As of October 1st, anyone will be able to view Jody's review at:

The October issue of RT Book Reviews is on newsstands and in the mail to subscribers, so you can view the print version of the review there as soon as you get a copy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

RWA® Nationals 2010

Nationals has come and gone, but I'm still savoring the memories and will do so for months to come. I had a blast!

I applaud the Romance Writers of America® staff and board for the incredible job they did. When the devastating flooding in Nashville this past winter forced a change of venue, RWA found a new location in just three days. The Dolphin and Swan Hotels in Orlando made us feel welcome, and I'm grateful to their staff as well.

When I attended Nationals for the first time in 2008, I was overwhelmed. This was my second RWA conference, and I knew what to expect. I arrived ready to embrace the experience, and I did.

My biggest thrill was spending time with my awesome critique partner and treasured friend, Anne Barton. I hadn't seen her in person since the conference in San Francisco, so when she entered the hotel she got a huge hug.
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Here I am with Anne on my right.

I'll be blogging about some of my other conference highlights, but today I want to focus on my Golden Heart experience. I was a finalist in the inspirational category. Since I'd been a finalist in 2008 as well, I knew RWA treats the finalists like royalty. This year was no exception.

One of my goals for the conference was to locate Terri Reed, the board member who called me on March 25th in both 2008 and this year. I checked into my room and hurried back down to get the lay of the land. I began reading name tags right away. One of the first I saw was Terri's! I squealed. Thankfully, since she makes GH phone calls, she's used to that. I delivered the hug I'd earmarked just for her.

The Awards Ceremony takes place at the close of the conference. Since this was RWA's 30th anniversary, we were served dinner. The huge room held 2,000+ conferees and their guests. Anne was mine. We had great seats in the VIP section at the second row with an excellent view of the podium. We were so close we could see without having to watch one of four jumbotron screens.

Our table was next to the one reserved for Nora Roberts and her guests. Yup! Anne and I were four people away from the most recognized name in romance. Nope! I didn't shove a camera in her face, so I don't have a picture to share.

Once dinner was over, we had a few minutes to mingle. And then, promptly at eight, the ceremony began. RWA does a superb job. The evening feels like the Oscars. When a winner's name is called, a spotlight follows her to the stage.

I had fun listening to the acceptance speeches. Some made me laugh. Others made me cry. All of them moved me just as the win moved the novelist who earned the award. Husbands, critique partners, agents, and editors were thanked. One winner thanked Diet Coke!

The inspirational winner is CJ Eernisse Chase. She was stunned to hear her name called, but I wasn't. She's a talented novelist who has finaled in the Golden Heart six times. I believe it was her turn, and I'm thrilled for her. I hope her win leads to representation and a sale.

One of the best parts about the Awards Ceremony is that we get to dress up. What fun it is to feel like a princess for the evening. My daughter, The Fashion Queen, found me a "little black dress." She's got great taste. The dress fit like it was made for me and traveled well, making it from California to Florida without a single wrinkle.

I'll close by sharing some more pictures with you.

.Here is Anne looking, oh, so elegant in her Awards Ceremony finery.
Here I am in my new dress.
Here we are posing for pictures before the ceremony began. I'm with two classy ladies: Anne and my fellow 2010 finalist Lisa Connelly, who is Anne's cousin.
Here I am with my inspirational category mates: CJ Eernisse Chase and Kristin Wallace.

Here's CJ wearing her new bit of bling, her Golden Heart necklace. I'm sooo happy for her.