Saturday, January 30, 2010

Guest Blogger Autumn Jordon

Today our guest is Autumn Jordon, a 2009 Golden Heart finalist. She's here to talk about how setting goals helped her to become a Golden Heart finalist. Here's Autumn's bio:

Autumn Jordon, a quiet nut with a reputation for finding trouble, lives with her husband along the Appalachian Trail in northeast Pennsylvania. Crafting stories has always been part of her life. When not working at the family business and not writing, she enjoys her friends, not housework or pulling weeds. She loves meeting new people and making new friends.

It’s so great to be here at the Prairie Chicks Write Romance blog. I loved Jana's post on setting goals. Kudos to you. Goals are important.

I’d like to share a story about a goal I set once.

The year was 2000. My good friend, and critique partner at that time, and I were driving home from the RWA National conference held in Washington D.C. We were so charged after the workshops, the networking , the awards ceremony and couldn’t wait to get back to our computers to write the next best seller. I remember my CP saying, “I’m going to win a Rita.” I chuckled and then responded. “I’d love to just be nominated for a Golden Heart.”

I’ve always set goals in baby steps. I think to do so is also important.


Setting a realistic, obtainable goal and then reaching it will fuel your drive to move forward again and again.

My first step on my quest for the Golden Heart was to start over. I took note of my strengths and weaknesses from critiques and contest feedback. (Note: Ninety-eight percent of contest judges are honestly trying to help—so take note of comments) I attended workshops and conferences and studied. I wrote one book and then another and another. With the enigma of how to write a book behind me, I had more to learn. There still was the editing and polishing process to grasp. Each step was a goal.

In November of 2008, I entered the Golden Heart with my novel HIS WITNESS. Part of me believed I might have a chance to final in the prestigious contest since the work had won the New Jersey chapter PUT YOUR HEART IN A BOOK contest. A recognized contest itself. And part of me thought no way. I still had so much to learn.

Then on March 25, 2009 at 9:02 a.m., I’m late for work. The phone rings. With my curling iron tangled in my hair, I scrabbled for the phone. “Yes.”
“Good morning. I’m calling for Autumn Jordon.”
Oh, God. Just what I needed. A telemarketer. Deep breath. She’s only doing her job. Be nice. I conjured up my own customer relation voice and said, “I’m she. How can I help you?”

“This is so and so…”

I’m really not listening anymore because, one, I’m just waiting for the opportunity to respond, “Oh gosh, you should’ve called me last week. My husband just bought me one. Or I already gave to this organization. A Horace Grainger called. Do you know Horace?” And two, I’m trying to get my curling iron out of my hair, and three, I’m giving my dog the evil eye because now he is lying on our bed, my pillow.

“... from Romance Writers of America.”

(Insert visceral response here like OWL eyes, heart slamming into ribs, lungs collapsing) Okay. This is where she got my attention.

The date? My mind whirled. It’s March 25th. The Golden Heart calls go out. Holy sh*#!

“No, way,” I gasped.

Laughter from Ms. RWA representative. (To this day, I don’t recall the name of the woman who called me. I wish she’d identify herself to me so I could thank her in non-babble gibberish)

“Yes, way. You are a 2009 Golden Heart Finalist. Are you planning to come to Washington D.C.?”

“Are you kidding? I’m packing tonight.” And so it began…

Goal reached.

In 2009 I reached another goal. I signed two contracts for two of my works. My first release, OBSESSED BY WILDFIRE, was released this past Wednesday. It is part of The Wild Rose Press’s Wayback series. Here is a link to the home page.
My Golden Heart entry is now titled Evil’s Witness and will release on June 18, 2010 also through The Wild Rose Press. For more information on either book, please visit my website

Setting goals is important. Making them realistic is the key to success.


Anita Mae Draper said...

Good morning, Autumn. I loved reading your GH call story.

I had full intentions of entering the Golden Heart this year. I even blogged about it here giving info and advice. LOL

But I came back from a writing conference in Sept with a request for another ms and I've been spending all my writing time on it instead. I'm such a perfectionist! It's cutting into my contest time this year.

Thank you for blogging with us. Maybe I'll meet you (if I haven't already) on one of TWRP's chats. :)

Autumn Jordon said...

Hi, Anita. You're a rose too. (((HUGS))) What line?

Woohoo. Congrats on the request. That is so AWESOME. Have you submitted yet? To who? Details, lady.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Autumn,
Thanks for being with us today. We love having guests on the Prairies!

Have you found that finaling in the Golden Heart has made a significant difference to you and your writing? Did it give you more confidence? Do you find you're being taken more seriously by agents and editors? Does your family take your writing more seriously? :) I'm curious about the impact that a prestigious contest like the Golden Heart can make.

I'd also love to hear about the awards ceremony itself, and specifically, what did you wear? I hear it can be a pretty posh affair!

Again, thanks for joining us.

Autumn Jordon said...

Hi, Jana.

My lucky. I have a great support system. Honestly, I think your family will only look at your writing as a business if you do. If you say I need to work tonight for a few hours and do it, they will get the picture.

I gave up shopping today with my daughter because I'm working. I'm blogging/promo and I'm editing my current wip. I set a chp goal and I will meet it. Tomorrow is my day off.

Nationals: The whole experience was worth the work. To answer your question about editors and agents, yes, being a Golden Heart Finalist has opened doors. I had already sold my Golden Heart Book, now titled EVIL'S WITNESS, a few weeks before the announcement, so it put some pressure on me to get my wip ready to talk up. Which I did. I've recieved several requests from agents and a publisher.

Many of my fellow Golden Heart sisters experienced the same reaction. At least six of them have sold their manuscripts and more have been agented since the conference.

At nationals, we had several parties attended by agents and editors that were exclusive to the Golden Heart finalist. I will admit it was a little nerve racking, but so thrilling.

The ceremony is much like the Oscars. I'm sure you heard this before. It's true.

I was all guzzied up. I wore a long gown, makeup (which I never wear), jewerly--the whole bit. My husband attended the ceremony with me. We had reserved seating, up front. The seats in fron of us were reserved for Nora, but she never sat there. Linda Howard, who is one of my favorite authors, sat behind us. It was so exciting.

Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat.

Darynda said...

LOVE the GH story, Autumn!!! And I was right there with ya last year. Owl eyes, lungs collapsing, but mine was because my husband had texted me saying someone left me a message, something about a golden contest I had finaled in. I was in a one-on-one state testing situation and I coudln't REACT to the news. I had to sit there quietly while my client finished that portion of the test. All the while I'm texting under the table, OMG, OMG, OMG.

The moment she closed the testing booklet, I jumped up and hugged her, the tears of holding back all that emotion finally breaking free.

Poor kid. She was a tad confused.

Hugs you and I'm soooo proud of you!!!

Autumn Jordon said...

LOL. I love that story too, Darynda. Non-writers just don't understand, do they? I bet you wish you had a picture of her face for your scape book. I'm so happy have ours at nationals.

Meeting my fellow Golden Heart sisters is one of the best things that has happened for me because of finaling in the contest. We're so close and supportive of each other.

(((HUGS Darynda))) AJ

Judy said...

Hi, Autumn! Love reading about success stories. Not one, but two books out... Wonderful! Congratulations!

Diana Layne said...

Hi, Autumn, Love the baby step goals. And that you only set goals for what you can control.

Ha, my GH call story--I was waiting for that call, even tho it was out of my control of whether I'd final or not, after 10 years of trying I "knew" 09 was my year. And when the phone rang at 8 am from Sharon Sala (I have caller id) I just answered, "You've got to be kidding." Cuz even tho I "knew" it was my year, I still hadn't really believed it until the call made it real. :)

Even now, almost a year later it feels surreal.

Autumn Jordon said...

Thanks, Judy. I'm so excited about Obsessed By Wildfire because it's my first release and a dang fun read. I'm going to be freakin' over Evil's Witness in June because it's going to be out in paperback too. I'll get to hold it, smell it, sleep with it under my pillow. All that and I love the story too.

Autumn Jordon said...

Hey, Diana. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story too. Always fun to read. Determination is the key to success.

Have you seen the trailer yet for OBW. Check it out.

Darynda gave it a WOW! Is it wow or yum?

We should take a vote.

Jana Richards said...

Don't do yourself an injury sleeping with your book under your pillow, Autumn! Seriously, I can understand your excitement and enthusiasm and I wish you the best with both books.

Getting back to goal setting, I like the way you approached your goal. Your overall goal was to be a Golden Heart Finalist, but you set many, many goals along the way, making sure you did the work to get you where you wanted to go. Do you continue to set yearly, monthly and even daily writing goals for yourself?


Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Autumn, can't exactly be called a rose yet... more like a wannabe. LOL

I sent one in to Vicky in response to a blog response but she passed it on to yellow rose because they said I was very 'cowboy-ish'. Stacy sent it back with suggestions and told me to edit and resubmit. But before I could do that, I ended up with a request for a cactus rose but with a print publisher. So, I'm working on that.

Because I am going to edit and resubmit my yellow rose to Stacy, I try to get to as many chats as I can although I have to admit I haven't attended since before Christmas.

I log in as AnitaMae at the chats (so original) do you log in as Autumn?

Autumn Jordon said...

Definitely. Everyday.
Because of Margie Lawson, I now keep a notebook. Every morning I write down 3 things I want to accomplish with my writing, 3 need to dos with my personal life-like mail son'e B-day card, and 3 tasks at my full time job.

Writing them down helps me focus.

Today for example, 1) I'm to deep edit three chapters. DONE and I've stared a fourth. 2)Blogging-doing that. )Fill out interview questions for another up-coming blog at Danger Zone Authors-started.

I also set monthly goals and yearly goals. My yearly goals were posted January 1st on my blog for the world to see. So far I'm doing good.

The important thing about setting goals is to be realistic when setting them.

Are you are goal setter, Judy?

Autumn Jordon said...

PS; Margie Lawson will be my blog guest this Wednesday, February 3. My son's B-day. Just in case you want to stop by here's the link again.

Autumn Jordon said...

Anita, I would be AJ. ALl though, I think there are two AJ at WR. That might be confussing, huh?

I'm learning a lot about the industry with Wildrose. Sounds like you have a lot going on. Focus, lady, every minute you can and get those puppies out there.

Lynne Roberts said...

Congratulations on reaching your goal! Wow! I havent' entered a contest yet... I'm thinking about it. : )

I love the description of quiet nut... can I borrow that? : )

It was nice getting to know you better, Autumn!


Autumn Jordon said...

I'm back from my 30 minutes of exercise. Another thing on my personal today list. Done. Whew. I feel so much better.

Hey, Lynne. So you're a quiet nut too? I'm the one to stand against the wall and listen while my friends jabber away-until, for some reason, a zinger pops out of my mouth. SHRUG. Just me.

Are you talking entering the Golden Heart or any contest?

Contests can be valuable for their feedback. And there are a lot of RWA chapter contests that are totally awesome. From writing a first page to the first fifty-something pages. Over the years, I've made some great friends with those you have judged my entry. I sent them a thank you note and they responded and we conversed from there.

One such judge was Caridad Pineiro. She writes the Calling series for Silhouette's Romantic suspense line and now writes for GCP, Pocket and a few other publishers as well. There's a funny story on how we met face to face. She's been an inspiration to me.

So, if your asking me should you enter a contest? Yes. You never know what vaulable feedback your get.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Autumn,
Yes, I set yearly goals, but I haven't been so great about setting weekly or monthly goals. Which is kind of silly really, because how can you get to your yearly goal if you don't work on them every week and every month? I need to break them down more into manageable chunks.

Margie Lawson is an awesome teacher. Make sure you let everyone on the loops know she is at your blog this coming Wednesday.


Autumn Jordon said...

Jana, Grab a small notebook, nothing fancy. I carry mine everywhere. Sometimes I think of things I need to do through out the week. I plug it in on a day. It's off my mind until then and focus what is on my list for the day.

I hope you stop by on Wednesday. WINK

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Hey Autumn,

It was lovely to read about The Golden Heart CALL. I have to admit, I've never been able to final or win a writig contest in my life, so I love living vicariously through you. Thanks for sharing and congrats on both this release and the next:)

Autumn Jordon said...

LOL. Only if I can live vicariously through you too. Hey there's always the RITA.

BTW, I love your name. Joelle. And I find it hard to believe you've never won a contest.

Thanks for your support my new PFS sister.

Lynne Roberts said...

Thanks for the feedback, Autumn!

Where is a good place to find contests? I'm seriously considering joining RWA, but it would be a financial giant leap of faith. : )

Thanks again,


darkangelauthor said...

Fabulous story, AJ! I love your description of your visceral response -- it made me laugh out loud! :)


Autumn Jordon said...

Lynne, You're not a member of RWA? Okay, then you don't get the announcements of contests ro the RWR magazine. I know if you google writing contests you're going to get a zillion links and how do you know which are good contests?

If you go the National RWA site you can search chapters and look at each chapter's home pages. I think most chapter contests are open to all writers not just RWA members, but check the rules.

Some contests I've entered my five works in over the years and received great feedback were through the NJ PYHIAB, Smokey Mountain (TN), Windy City (IL), Valley Forge (PA), Maggie (GA), Molly (CO) chapters and they're many more.

There is also and a writer who has an on-going contest listing on her site, but I can't recall her name. If you email me at and I remember who it is, I'll pass the info on.

Autumn Jordon said...

Hi, Linda. It's all true. Even the dog. He's a 90 lb Irish Setter and thinks our bed is his when we're not in it. LOL.

Have you taken a peek at my trailer yet? Is it a WOW or YUM?

And I know you're a follower at my blog. Margie Lawson will be there next Wednesday. I hope you have a minute to stop by. I'm sure she will have something awesome to share.

P.L. Parker said...

I can imagine how excited you must have been. What a wonderful phone call. We all can wish.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Autumn and welcome to the prairies! I loved hearing about your Golden Heart finalist call. I'm trying to get all my ducks in a row so I can enter the Golden Heart this year. Have gotten contest results back from one (and first ever) contest and looking around for another to enter in the near future to help me prepare. But I think I will definitely start making concrete writing goals for each day.

Thanks for the inspiring post!

Autumn Jordon said...

Hey, P.L., Finaling in the Golden Heart was definitely a wish. I shared the quote below on another blog today. It's hung on my office wall since the day a friend gave it to me.

“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true.” Richard Bach

Autumn Jordon said...

Karyn, I think entering other contests before the entering the Golden Heart is wise. If your manuscript has weaknesses, you certainly want to rework the areas.

Remember when recieving feedback from contests, you want to only chnage what feels right for you. Go with your gut. A good rule, if several judges have the same problem with the work, then you have a problem. Otherwise look at the comments. Let them simmer in the back of your mind for a few days and then if you still feel the judge is off, but the comments away and forget them. It's your work.

Mary Ricksen said...

I can't tell you how much I respect you for reaching your goals. So many of us set them and never reach them. How proud you should allow yourself to be no matter how unnatural it feels.
Here's to many more goals and a life filled with attainment.

Autumn Jordon said...

Thanks, Mary. I'm only 5'4" so baby steps fit me well. LOL

Autumn Jordon said...

Jana, I'll check back tomorrow to answer any other posts. Before I go, I wanted to mention that I'm holding a contest at my blog, ending Feb. 3. I hope and others will stop by.

Thanks for having me here.


Jana Richards said...

Autumn, thanks so much for being here today and inspiring us to attain our goals.


Mary Marvella said...

Autumn, you are awesome. I'm resetting my goals again!

Autumn Jordon said...

Mary, you are sweetie. Hugs to you.

Jana, I had a ball. I must say, your ladies ask great questions. I like the interaction. ANd I hope you'll ask me back again.

I'll be around Sunday, planning a baby shower, so if anyone pops in I will respond.


2009 Golden Heart Finalist

Mona Risk said...

Autumn, what a fantastic goal and an amazing way to reach it. Now you are not only a GH nominee but also a successful published author. Congratulations. May you always fulfill your goals.

darkangelauthor said...

Yes, I did see the trailer, AJ -- definitely a WOW. Very hot! :)

And I'll do my best to stop by on Wednesday -- will you be posting a reminder on the WRP loop? That tends to be my "sticky note" system... :)

Have a great week! And don't forget that I'm on tour as well...I post each day's stop on my own blog. Stop by if you have a chance!