By Robin Kaye
My call story is a little bit unusual so bear with me, it should all make sense in the end. One would hope, at least.
I was lying in bed late on a Saturday morning, which is very unusual for me. You see, I was alone in the house for the first time in about eleven years. My husband was away on business in Florida, my daughters were spending the night at the neighbor’s, and my son was spending the night at his best friend’s. So there I was lounging around, still in bed at 11:00 on a Saturday morning. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
The phone rang and I checked the caller ID. It said Tennessee. The only person I knew in Tennessee was my brother-in-law, and since he only calls on his and my husband’s shared birthday, it would only make sense that he was calling to tell me some terrible news or that it was a telemarketer. I answered the phone with great trepidation since I knew my father-in-law had been ill, and I really didn’t want to talk to a telemarketer on the first day I had to lounge around like a slug in over eleven years.”
“Is Robin…” The woman on the line butchered my last name, not that I could really blame her, because it took me over a year to figure it out myself, but it was a definite sign of a telemarketer. I was soooo not happy.
“Yes.” I spat.
“This is Trish Milburn from RWA, and I’m calling you to inform you that Romeo, Romeo has finaled in the Golden Heart.”
I was in a state of shock. I entered the Golden Heart hoping to break into the top fifty percent. I never in my wildest dreams expected to final. Hell, I hadn’t even paid attention to when the finalist would be announced—obviously. All I could say was, “Thank God no one died!”
Trish and I have since had a good laugh over that. I’m sure it was the strangest conversation she’d ever had while calling finalists. When she asked if I was going to the RWA’s national conference, I told her I hadn’t planned on it, but since I finaled in the Golden Heart, I’d find a way.
I knew I needed two things to go to Nationals, a really cool evening gown since the awards ceremony was black tie, and a new cell phone. Thank God that was 2006 and the iPhone was being released. I was one of those crazy people who waited in line on the first day the iPhone came out, which was a much more enjoyable experience than buying the dress, believe me, but that’s a whole other blog.
Boy am I glad I got my iPhone because the day I arrived in Dallas for the conference, I received an email from an Deb Werksman, an editor from Sourcebooks, saying that she’d read Romeo, Romeo, “LOVED IT,” and wanted to talk to me about it.
I called Deb right back and we set up a time to meet. See, I told my husband that I needed the iPhone and of course, I was right. Don’t cha just love it when that happens?
The next day I met Deb and we grabbed a bite at the restaurant. Since it was so cold in the hotel, we both ordered a bowl of soup and Deb explained that she had been one of the Golden Heart final judges and had requested my manuscript from RWA and then shocked the heck out of my by proceeding to quote her favorite lines verbatim. Seriously. I thought she was either crazy or she really, really liked the book. Thank God it was the latter. That’s when I told her I’d completely revised the manuscript. Deb’s face paled. After assuring her I had kept a copy of the original, I explained the changes I made. When she found out I had added an external conflict, she declared me I was a genius. That’s when I took out my new iPhone and asked if she’d call my mother-in-law and tell her that, since, unfortunately my mother-in-law was blissfully unaware. Deb laughed, told me she’d send her an email, and then offered me a contract, all over a bowl of matzo ball soup.
Oh, and a few days later I was happy I had gone through hell buying the perfect dress, because I won the Golden Heart and had to give an acceptance speech in front of 2000 people. I knew I won when Rachel Gibson, who had practiced saying my name and did a great job when reading off the finalist said, “And the winner is…Oh God, I have to say that name again!”