2011 Golden Heart Finalists – Where Are They Now?

In 2011 I was a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart. It was really exciting, but the best part was some of the people I was blessed to meet. I thought it would be fun to see what our finalist were up to.

And, since YA is typically last, they’re going first this time, baby!


Bria Quinlan (that’s me!)

I launched my first short story, an adult Rom Com under the name Caitie Quinn, the day before I headed to NYC for RWA the year we finaled. I was shocked to come back and find that people had actually been buying it while I was gone! So, I wrote a novella under the same name…and people seemed to like that too. O.O <–shocked bria. So, now I’m writing the Brew Ha Ha series series around a group of ladies who work/live in the writing world and hang out at the Brew.

Ridiculousness occurs frequently.

I’m also publishing my YAs which are all darker themed issue books written in a lighter, sarcastic voice…because that’s how I got through all the crap in high school. I’ve been shocked how many people identify with them. The letters I get from people who share how they held it together on the outside while everything was falling apart inside are so touching. There’s definitely more coming in the RVHS Series.

Tears and Ridiculousness occur frequently.

Constant Ridiculousness HERE.

Darcy Woods

After extensive revisions, my agent (Catherine Drayton) and I are preparing to go out on submission with my YA 2013 Golden Heart winning manuscript, SUMMER OF SUPERNOVA. Very excited and hopeful the stars will align and we’ll find a fated home for this story.

Right this hot minute, I’m working on another YA contemporary romance with a dash of metaphysical wonderment titled, (W)HOLEHEARTED. A companion novel to SUPERNOVA, (W)HOLEHEARTED is about a reformed serial dater nursing a serious broken heart when his first love dumps him for his older brother, and a tea leaf reading girl who was literally born brokenhearted and has high hopes for divining a brighter future. Set in the vibrant city of Chicago, I’m having a blast getting to know these colorful characters!

You can follow my shenanigans on my website or on Twitter.

Jennifer McGowan

It’s been a crazy time since I finaled in the Golden Heart in 2011. And looking back it’s hard to believe so much has happened! I’m now published with Simon & Schuster (YA) and Random House (NA) and about to try the Indie world later in 2014, and I think the biggest surprise to me has been how much I still had to learn. I’d been writing for ten years + before I sold, and I thought I pretty much knew what to expect. But I didn’t–not at all. The highs were higher, the lows were lower, and there is so much left to chance in publishing that for a control freak like myself, it was quite an adjustment!

I feel like a century has passed since last May, when my very first book came out. Now I have 2 other books out and 3 more on the way this year, with 2 next year so far–plus a foray into Indie publishing with a novella and possibly a full-length novel in the works. In addition, I am finally living the dream, making my living as a full time writer. I’m not so much ready for this new chapter as filled with certainty that the time is here, whether I’m ready or not. I have every opportunity, and am willing to take the risk, face all the demons/worries/etc.. No matter where I find myself at the end of this journey, it will be an adventure I’m deeply grateful to be able to take!
Jennifer McGowan and Jennifer Chance

Shelley Coriell

Last month Shelley Coriell’s debut romantic suspense, THE BROKEN, released from Grand Central Forever and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and a Top Pick! from RT Book Reviews. THE BROKEN is the first book in Shelley’s Apostles Series about an elite but maverick group of FBI agents headed by FBI legend Parker Lord. On the YA front, Shelley has released two smart, funny contemporaries with Amulet Books/Abrams, GOODBYE, REBEL BLUE and WELCOME, CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE.


Suzanne Kalb

After finaling in the GH, I did write another YA book, but it’s not really my genre, and I was getting pretty itchy to tell the stories that keep rolling through my head. So in January 2013, I couldn’t take it anymore and in 3 weeks I wrote a 110,00-word contemporary single title set in the music industry. I had so much fun! In August, I sent it to my agent, and she sold it as a series to Berkley. The first book—You Really Got Me—comes out in January 2015 under my pen name Erika Kelly. And then this year, I finaled in the GH again with a New Adult book. It’s been a crazy year and, while I’m still writing, I’ve been developing a social media platform in anticipation of my release date.
Twitter  Facebook


Gwen Hernandez

I’ve been keeping busy teaching online Scrivener courses and traveling to present Scrivener workshops. I indie published my 2011 GH finalist, Blind Fury, in February, and made PAN in April. 🙂 Now I’m working on books two and three in the series (Men of Steele), and prepping for a move to Boston at the end of June, courtesy of the Air Force. I can’t wait to see everyone at the TGN retreat!

Sharon Wray

Sharon Wray, 2011 GH finalist in Romantic Suspense, has had a busy three years. She has finaled three more times in the Golden Heart (romantic suspense in 2012, 2013, 2014), signed with her agent Deidre Knight, won the overall Daphne du Maurier award (2013 unpublished single title romantic suspense) and is currently revising her 2014 GH book for submission.

She is an active blogger/photo essayist and can be found at www.sharonwray.com, Pinterest (sharonbwray), Facebook (Sharon Wray Author), and Twitter


Amy Raby

I’m now a hybrid author with three fantasy romance novels published by Penguin/Signet, the first of which is ASSASSIN’S GAMBIT, and a self-published novella, ARCHER’S SIN. I plan to start a new fantasy romance series this summer, which will be self-published. The series opener will be titled THE FIRE SEER. I am also continuing my existing series.
Newsletter  Twitter  Facebook Goodreads 


Kay Hudson

Since 2011, I’ve been a GH finalist twice more, both times in paranormal, Bathtub Jinn in 2012 and Jinn & Tonic in 2013. But funny paranormals (or historicals) aren’t much in demand at the moment, so I still have no agent or sales. I’ll be at RWA in San Antonio, hoping to see lots of my GH sisters and to learn what I can about the pros and cons (and whys and hows) of independent publishing. I’m still blogging about books and domestic adventures at http://kayhudson.com

Kate Parker

After finaling in the Historical Romance category in the 2011 Golden Heart, Kate Parker switched gears and began to write Historical Mysteries. Her first, The Vanishing Thief, was published by Berkley Prime Crime last December. The second, The Counterfeit Lady, comes out August 5th, with more adventures of a bookshop owner who doubles as a private investigator in late Victorian London.


Anne Barton

Wait, can it really be the third anniversary of the Starcatchers (GH class of 2011)? The RWA Conference in NYC that year was magical. What other explanation can there be for the good stuff that’s happened since? I wish we could turn all of these blurbs into a highlight reel with a soundtrack by Katy Perry. Sure, most of the footage would probably feature us typing in our pajama pants and coffee-stained hoodies. It doesn’t sound too exciting…unless that’s something you’ve always dreamed of.

Some other dreams have come true, too. I cried in the break room of my day job when my editor sent an email with my first cover. I got the sweetest note from an 84-year old reader who liked my heroine because her mother was a seamstress. (I think she dug the love scenes also.) I survived giving my first RWA workshop (thanks to my GH11 Secret Curtsey sisters—woot!) I introduced myself to Elizabeth Hoyt after 3 glasses of wine and only slurred a little bit. I wrote a lot, and I told the stories I wanted to tell, as best as I could. Thanks so
much, Bria, for letting us share! Roar! 🙂

Ashlyn Macnamara

Within three months of finalling in the Regency category, Ashlyn Macnamara signed with agent Sara Megibow and sold two books to Ballantine. Her finalist manuscript turned into her debut A Most Scandalous Proposal, which hit the stores in March 2013, followed by A Most Devilish Rogue last September. Three more of her witty and wicked Regencies are upcoming, beginning with What a Lady Craves this August. Although she wries in the past, Ash can be found in such newfangled spots as her website: http://ashlynmacnamara.net.
Twitter   Facebook

Erin Knightley

I just released my 4th novella this month, and I am eagerly awaiting the release of my 4th full-length novel, THE BARON NEXT DOOR, on June 3rd. I’m also dreading the upcoming copyedits for my 5th book – always the worst part of writing for me!

I am a proud hybrid author, currently self-publishing my novellas while traditionally publishing my novels with Penguin. Just this month I signed on for another 2 books with them. Though I have yet to hold a copy in my hands, my books are currently translated into both Russian and Japanese, and an English press (Piatkus with Little, Brown) will be publishing my newest series.

I haven’t had any luck with the RITAs, but I’m thrilled to have won the Book Buyer’s Best award for best historical last year. It was my very fist contest win ever! I can officially call myself a ‘national bestselling author’ as well, though I wish I were selling a little more, lol.

I feel like I’m settling into the role of full-time writer, though I haven’t quite figured out how NOT to be sucked into deadline hell. Oh well – life must have its dramas, no?
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Ruth Kaufman

AT HIS COMMAND, set in 1453 England, received two revision letters but was ultimately rejected. I’ve also received revision letters for several other manuscripts from several publishers, but no sales. I plan to self-publish the GH winner. Stay tuned! www.ruthkaufman.com /www.ruthtalks.com


Arlene Hittle

Arlene Hittle, a finalist in Contemporary Series, is now what you’d call a hybrid author. In the spring/summer of 2013, she decided to take the plunge into indie publishing. Shortly thereafter, in July 2013, she sold Diva in the Dugout to Turquoise Morning Press’ Vintage line. TMP went on to publish Beauty and the Ballplayer (her 2011 finalist manuscript) and Sliding into Home, books 2 & 3 in Arlene’s All Is Fair in Love & Baseball series, in March and April of 2014. She also recently signed a contract with TMP for Breaking All the Rules, a book with no baseball in it whatsoever. While working with TMP, she self-published a holiday novella, Home for the Holidays, last November and plans to release her first single title contemporary romantic comedy, Blind Date Bride (Reality (TV) Bites No. 1), in June.

Lindsey Brookes

Romance author Lindsey Brookes – So much has happened since finaling in the Series Contemporary category of the Golden Heart in 2011. I sold a redneck romance, a.k.a. ‘hick-lit’ to Alicia Condon at Kensington Publishing. Jimmie Joe Johnson: Manwhore was the first in my Possum Hollow Series to be released. The prequel to that series – Romanced by the Redneck – was recently contracted and released by Amazon Publishing. The third book – Reeling in the Redneck – also just went up for sale. Along with publishing through traditional houses, I have Indie-pubbed several of my Golden Heart and other award-winning books. Kidnapped Cowboy, one of my best-selling romances, is also available in audiobook format and was narrated by the incredibly talented Kaleo Griffith. For more information about my contemporary romances, check out my website www.lindseybrookes.com. And for my redneck romances – www.possumhollowseries.com. I also write young adult fiction under the pen name Kat Brookes. Along with my YA ebook/print releases, the audiobook for Through the Eyes of a Geek is available through Amazon/AudibleBooks.com. More information on my YA books can be found at www.katbrookes.com.

Nan Dixon

Since the 2011 Golden Heart final, I have finaled three more times. In both the Single Title and Short Contemporary categories. With this year’s Golden Heart finalist manuscript – I am up to five. But I am finally not eligible!

I got The Call on April 28th. SOUTHERN COMFORTS, which finaled in 2011 and in 2013 has sold to Harlequin SuperRomance and is slated for publication December 2014 or January 2015. I give full credit to my agent, Laura Bradford, who signed me in fall of 2012. Laura offered me representation after rejecting three other manuscripts. (One of which was a previous version of SOUTHERN COMFORTS.) The editor bought the book after requesting two different sets of revisions. Her first revision letter came back in four days. I truly don’t think I would have had that kind of turnover if I’d been in the slush pile.

I am already working through another set of revisions which need to be turned in by June 10th. I had so much fun announcing the sale, but now it is back to work.

Twitter  Facebook  Blog

Virginia McCullough

Hi—here’s what’s happened. My GH book, Island Healing, ST category (2011 and 2009) was published in November of 2013. It’s Book 1 of my St. Anne’s Island series. Book 2, Island Secrets, will be out later this year. I just learned that it placed 3rd in the ST category of the Winter Rose Contest, sponsored by Yellow Rose chapter. This year, The Chapels on the Hill was released in March and Greta’s Grace is due out in about two weeks. Meanwhile, my nonfiction business continues and the book writing coaching service I cofounded, The Book Catalysts, will soon release Write Your Book Now. I’ve so enjoyed reading about all the progress and doings of the 2011 group.


Maggie McGinnis

Maggie’s debut novel, DRIVING WITHOUT A LICENSE, finaled in the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category in 2011. She signed with agent Courtney Miller-Callihan of Sanford Greenburger Associates soon afterward, and has been thrilled with this partnership ever since.

Her second novel, ACCIDENTAL COWGIRL, was published by Random House Loveswept in October of 2013. It hit the USA Today Bestseller list in January, and its sequel, MISTLETOE PROMISE, will be released in November of this year. The third book in the series is slated for May of 2015. She has also completed the first book of another contemporary series and is hoping to announce exciting news on that front soon!

When she’s not writing, she’s wrangling kiddos, driving a minivan she swore she’d never own, and feeding an unhealthy pen addiction. She loves reading Starcatcher news (and books!), and still feels hugely honored to be part of such a fabulous group of writers!
Again, thanks so much for doing this! When you’re ready to post, I’d love to tweet/FB and send people to your page! For those of us on digest, it’d be great if you could post a day or so ahead to be sure we don’t miss you. 🙂

Nancy Lytle writing as Mercer Addison

I was in the Golden Heart category Novel With Strong Romantic Elements, RWA finalists for Five o’clock Whistle. I was on a roller coster ride with my agent submitting my work for over two years, close but never the brass ring. I’m an older woman who wanted to be published while I still know who I am, so I recently let my agent go, and have self published two books, Five o’ clock Whistle, and, Even Nectar is Poison, with Kindle, KOBO, Amazon, and have my books in books stores. I am getting ready to release two more books, titled, A Deceitful Bait, and The Caged Countess. I write under the pen name of Mercer Addison. Check me out on: www.merceraddison.com
AKA: Mercer Addison author of:
Even Nectar is Poison (Kindle, KOBO, Amazon)
Five o’clock Whistle (Kindle, KOBO, Amazon)

Tracy Brogan

It’s been a crazy few years! After a couple of GH nods and a RITA nomination, my 4th book, THE BEST MEDICINE, released on May 13. It hit #10 on the Amazon Kindle Bestseller list. Yay! It’s a Bell Harbor novel with CRAZY LITTLE THING being the first book in the series, and LOVE ME SWEET (Feb. 2015) being the third. Next up I’m working on a WW2 novel (January, 2016.) Very excited to return to historical romance because it’s been awhile since HIGHLAND SURRENDER came out! After that, I anticipate writing a second historical and a couple more romantic comedies (working out some details with my publisher.) My books are being translated into German, French and a few other languages, including Japanese. Can’t wait to see a print version of that one! Being a Starcatcher seems like a lifetime ago. I’ve learned a lot but know there is twice as much I haven’t figured out yet. I hope you are all enjoying loads of success!!


HOLY SCHMOLLY! That’s a lot going on! I hope you saw some of the people you’d been wondering about.

Have you read someone’s book? Tell us what you thought!


  1. Oh, this was so fun to read, Bria! Thanks for compiling it. I must have missed the boat but I greatly enjoyed catching up with all the Starcatcher news here. As for me, I’m busily writing my 6th full-length Regency novel for St. Martin’s Press! The first book in my new Playful Brides series, The Unexpected Duchess, came out on April 29th, 2014 and was lucky enough to receive a starred Kirkus Review, a starred Booklist review, and a 4.5 star TOP PICK from RT Book Reviews. I’m having a blast writing my racy Regency romps and hope to have even more in the works very soon! I’m also a newlywed and was featured on the reality TV show Say Yes to the Dress, Atlanta in January 2014. Congratulations, Starcatchers, I’m proud to be in your midst!

  2. Bria, what a wonderful post! This was a great idea and I loved reading about what everyone has been up to. I especially love hearing about all the successes the Starcatchers have had in the past three years.
    So, for confession time, I have read almost all of the Starcatcher books. I haven’t read Kate’s The Vanishing Thief, Shelley’s second YA (Goodbye, Rebel Blue) and Tracey’s newest release- (The Best Medicine) – but I have all three books and plan to read them this summer. And Erin’s The Baron Next Door should be arriving today. (Happy book birthday, Erin!)

  3. Thanks again, Bria, for hosting the reunion party on your fab site! Great fun to see what all the Starcatchers have been doing. They have been doing a lot. 😉

    It will shock no one to know I’ve pretty much covered the YA gambit of reads, and LOVED the diversity of story and voice between every single one of them!!! I’m humbled to be among you. Seriously.

    Still, I have a BOATLOAD of amazing Starcatchers vying for attention on my Kindle! #needmorehoursintheday But I’m currently reading Tracy’s, THE BEST MEDICINE and adoring her clever, campy style!

  4. Bria, what a fun and motivational blog post! It shows that dreams can and do come true. I loved reading about all the successes of my fellow 2011 GH Finalists. Wishing everyone tons more success in the future!

    Lindsey Brookes

  5. Bria, this was great fun 🙂 Thanks so much for putting it together!

  6. This was a blast! So fun to see everyone working so hard. What an amazing group of women! I know I’ve read most – but not all of these wonderful books. Why aren’t there enough hours on the day!
    Thanks Bria!!

  7. Bria: This was so much fun to read. Thanks for putting it together. It’s amazing how much everyone has accomplished since 2011. So proud of all of you!

  8. Hey! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the great work!

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