Viewing entries tagged
romance

When You Wish Upon A Star

When You Wish Upon A Star

The kids back in 1994.

The kids back in 1994.

The first time I went to a RITA ceremony (and an RWA conference), we had four young children (ages 7, 6, 5, & 4) and were living from paycheck to paycheck. It was 1994 and only way I could go was if I shared a hotel room with three people I’d never met (but who were also attending the conference) and if I packed Graham Crackers and peanut butter in my suitcase for all my meals since I couldn't afford to eat out.

The culmination of that conference was the RITA awards ceremony. The RITA is named for founding RWA member Rita Clay Estrada and the ceremony is the equivalent of the Academy Awards for my industry. As a matter of fact, the entire ceremony was like attending the Oscars. The stage was lavishly decorated. The ballroom was packed. Famous authors bedecked in glamorous gowns announced the nominees as the nominees' books and photos flashed up on the screens. Finally, the presenter opened her envelope and said, “And the winner is …”

Founder of RWA, Rita Clay Estrada, whom the RITA is named for.

Founder of RWA, Rita Clay Estrada, whom the RITA is named for.

Once the winner was announced, screams of elation were heard above thunderous applause. A live band played music while the winner made her way up to the podium, a camera following her every move on two giant jumbotrons. A gorgeous blond handed the presenter a stunning 24k statuette which had been made by the same company who makes the Oscars. The presenter then awarded the statue to the winner, who gave her acceptance speech.

During that first ceremony, I was sitting way at the back beside people I'd never met and in a gown I’d borrowed from my sister-in-law. I was so inspired by those authors and thought, “Someday, I want to be the one making my way up to the stage for one of those gorgeous statues.” That night, I wrote my goal down in my journal, packed my bags and headed back home. In the 20-plus years that followed, I was nominated five times (which in and of itself is crazy-exciting), but I'd never brought the girl home … until last Saturday.

I was totally stunned when they called Tiffany Girl along with my name. I know everyone says that, but I truly was. I’d read every book in my category and they were so well written and very representative of the Historical category. But the music started, the presenter awaited, and my husband gave me a huge smile, a quick kiss, and a little nudge when I stared at him in shock.

Even after all the times I'd secretly imagined what it would be like, the reality was even better. Well, except for when I fell off the stage on my way out. I had on black velvet shoes with big bows across the instep. The stiletto of one shoe inadvertently slipped into the bow of the other shoe. I lost my footing, started to pitch forward, and screamed at the top of my lungs. I clung to the railing with one hand and my statue with the other. By some miracle, I gained back my footing.

Jennifer Lawrence falls at the Oscars. At least Deeanne Gist is in good company!  Source

Jennifer Lawrence falls at the Oscars. At least Deeanne Gist is in good company! Source

It had to be angels. I mean, how else could my stiletto have gotten out of the bow and onto the next step? A true, live miracle. No lie. And thank goodness because if those quick-thinking angels hadn't untangled me, I’d have done a face-plant and broken my nose. No WAY was I letting go of that RITA statue!!

Deeanne Gist and her husband, Greg.

Deeanne Gist and her husband, Greg.

When I finally reached the landing, I was so discombobulated, that I sat down on the stage right in front of everyone, threw back my head and gave a belly laugh out of sheer joy, relief, and embarrassment. The staff rushed over, assured themselves I was unharmed, then quickly whisked me back stage.

When my husband observed all of this from our seats, he turned to the man beside him and said, "My wife isn't very coordinated." Hahahaha. That's the understatement of the year! But it didn't dampen my joy or our celebration afterwards.

When the lights came back up, my dear friend, Kristan Higgins, swept Greg and I into a hug and then into her company. We celebrated with her; the recipient of RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, Robyn Carr; Robyn's family; and Dianne Moggy of Harlequin. Meanwhile, a plethora of colleagues came by with hugs and words of congratulations—even people I’d never even met before.

Deeanne Gist and Author Kristan Higgins

Deeanne Gist and Author Kristan Higgins

It was a night dreams were made of and one I’ll never forget. Now, the RITA sits in a place of honor in my office. I get a tiny thrill every time I look at her and am so appreciative of RWA and of you, my readers, without whom I’d never have been able to experience this amazing night and so many others that have come along since I sat at the very back of that ballroom and made a wish upon a star.

Deeanne Gist accepts RITA Award for Best Historical: Long. (Presenter: NY Times Bestselling Author Elizabeth Hoyt.)

In Need of a Book?

Deeanne's TIFFANY GIRL is a RITA Award winner and rated as a *MUST READ* by USA Today!

The Morning I Received "The Call"

The Morning I Received "The Call"

At 3:00am, I turned off the computer and tumbled into bed. I fell into an exhausted sleep, slept right through my alarm--and at some point realized the phone was ringing. Snaking one hand from beneath the covers, I fumbled for the phone. "Hello?"

I tried not to sound as if I'd been sleeping. That's so embarrassing, being caught in bed when the day is calling. The voice on the other end was chipper and identified itself as Allison Kelley.

I blinked, trying to make sense of it through the fog. Allison Kelley? As in Executive-Director-of-RWA-Allison-Kelley?

Then it hit me. It's March 25th. RITA finalists. A surge of adrenaline flooded my body. I'm not certain, but I think I said something like, "Get out."

I heard the smile in her voice. "I'm about to make your day a lot brighter." Or something like that. I honestly can't remember because then she told me. Tiffany Girl was a finalist for Best Long Historical in the RITAs.

I flung the covers off. One hand held the phone, the other tried to cram itself into the sleeve of my robe. I gave up and simply walked throughout the house with half my robe on, the other half dragging behind me. (Don't worry. We're empty nesters. I didn't frighten any children.)

Allison and I talked. (She's one of my favorite people.) I got choked up. And she congratulated me again, but had to go. She had a few more calls to make.

I stared at the phone in my hands. Had that just happened? Was I really standing in the middle of the living room half dressed and with the worst bed-head ever? Was Tiffany Girl really nominated? For Best Historical??

"Mr. Wilder had been extremely attentive at the beginning of the evening when Flossie pointed out the Astors, the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts, and, of course, the Tiffanys." --  Tiffany Girl  , by Deeanne Gist

"Mr. Wilder had been extremely attentive at the beginning of the evening when Flossie pointed out the Astors, the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts, and, of course, the Tiffanys." --Tiffany Girl, by Deeanne Gist

I was stunned. You see, this is my fifth nomination. I've never brought the girl home, though, and my nominations have always been in the Inspriational Category. But I'd crossed over with these last three books and I now write mainstream. And, frankly, I just never expected to get nominated. I don't write about Scottish lairds or Regency dukes and duchesses. I write about everyday women in America who struggle to break out of society's molds. You know, women who want to do more than stitch and have babies. (Not that there's anything wrong with stitching and having babies. I love to sew and I love having babies. But if that's all I was allowed to do? Um, no. Shoot me now.)

Bottom line, my books are not your usual historical fare. Sure, maybe back in the '80s, '90s, there were plenty of American-set historicals. But these days? Not so much. And don't get me wrong, I love those Scottish lairds and hunky dukes. I just re-read Julie Garwood's, Saving Grace, which involves a fabulous Scottish laird. And Sherry Thomas's books? Ohmygosh. Love, love, love her Regencies.

But when it comes time for me to sit down and write, I'm simply fascinated with all the stories that happened right here in our own backyard. So this nomination? It was huge to me.

The next few hours of my morning were spent answering congratulatory calls, emails, texts, and social media posts. Things are now beginning to slow down. So here I sit ... with you. I have finally gotten dressed. Even washed my hair. But as for work? Not happening. Not today. Today is a day for popping the champagne cork.

My only regret is I won't be able to share today's bottle with my fellow nominees. I was thrilled to discover two of the other nominees in my category are from my hometown chapter--West Houston RWA (Go Shana Galen & Olivia Drake!)--and are VERY dear to my heart. But we live on polar opposite sides of the city and getting together for a quick toast would take lots of planning, fighting lots of traffic, and investing lots of time that, alas, none of us has.

I'm not sure where Sabrina Jeffries lives. She and I don't know each other well enough (yet) to be BFFs, but we have many mutual friends and acquaintances and often cross each others' paths. So perhaps this will be the time when I'll get to know her a little better. Grace Burrowes is the only one I don't know at all. But I will get to know her. If nothing else, I'll get to know her when I enter into her world by reading her book. :)

None of this would be possible, though, if it weren't for you, the reader. You are the treasure. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You are the reason I sit down and put pen to paper. Thank you. And I really mean that. From the very bottom of my heart.

The RITA Finalists for BEST LONG HISTORICAL are:

"The highest award of distinction in the Romance genre."

"The highest award of distinction in the Romance genre."

Bella and the Beast by Olivia Drake
St. Martin’s Press
Jennifer Enderlin, editor

Earls Just Want to Have Fun by Shana Galen
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
Deb Werksman, editor

If the Viscount Falls by Sabrina Jeffries
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Micki Nuding, editor

Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist
Simon & Schuster, Howard Books
Beth Adams, editor

Tremaine’s True Love by Grace Burrowes
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
Deb Werksman, editor

Congratulations to these fellow nominees and to the nominees of all the other categories. Good luck everyone! See you in San Diego for the award ceremony!

International bestselling author, Deeanne Gist IWantHerBook.com

International bestselling author, Deeanne Gist IWantHerBook.com

In Need of a Book?

Deeanne's TIFFANY GIRL was rated as a *MUST READ OF THE YEAR* by USA Today!

Valentine’s Day: 1893 and Today

Valentine’s Day: 1893 and Today

Being a romantic at heart, I thought it’d be fun to see what Valentine’s Day would be like if we lived in 1893 versus 2015. First off, we’d have to become extremely prim and proper (I’m in trouble already). We’d have to follow a set of rigid social customs … or else! And absolutely NO showing of physical affection. Can you imagine?!

2-10 blog image 2.jpg

Remember that 468 page etiquette book I mentioned in my post last week? Those Victorians were not kidding around! With PDAs being a huge no-no (think no dates and no time alone), we’d have to resort to handwritten letters and small tokens of affection. Since we’re traveling to 1893, our moms and dads would have been of the generation that exchanged “traditional” cards, decorated with beautifully drawn pictures like the one above that depicted what they’d like to do, but couldn’t due to those strict conventions and were, for obvious reasons, closed with a wax seal. (Yes, Valentine Cards pre-date Hallmark!)

 

Their cards became more and more elaborate, but by the time 1893 hit, they were mass produced instead of created by hand.  Even still, they’d have everything from lace paper to beading, and feathers to poetry. 

Fast forward to today. Without the burden of a chaperone, we can go on romantic dates, exchange gifts and spend all the time we want together. And though sending flowers, buying jewelry and gifting chocolates are some of the most common ways we say “I love you!” to our sweeties, I find myself tapping into my inner-Victorian and making handmade cards--just like they did. Of course, mine aren’t nearly as beautiful as theirs were, but it’s not the end product that matters, right? It’s the thought. Reminds me of a wedding anniversary we had a few years back. It was a milestone anniversary and Greg knew I would make him a handmade card--so he surprised me with one, too. And guess what? I saved it and it still brings a smile and a giggle every time I take it out of my keepsake box.

What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day gift? Do you love getting candy, jewelry or other tokens of affection? Or are you happy with a heartfelt card like the ones that gave birth to this crazy holiday in the first place?