R*BY Finalist Julie Mac

She stared at the email in-box on her computer screen, her heart rate cranking up several notches. Then a smile formed on her lips and spread wide — so wide, the man sitting at the desk on the other side of the room was alarmed when he asked her a simple question about work, and all she could do was turn and smile. ‘What?’ he prompted. But for once, words refused to gush forth.

Yep, that was me, on Monday, when the email arrived to say A Father at Last, my first book, was a finalist in Romance Writers of Australia’s Ruby Awards.

In their blogs, Escape’s other two Ruby finalists, Juanita and Kendall, both described being speechless with excitement when they received their good news, and I understand completely what they’re talking about. Pleasure, joy — the thrill of success —robbed me of words.

So I turned to my computer and forwarded the email — with a new subject line ‘Look!!’ — to the man at the desk two metres away, and to our two adult kids. Mr Mac quickly realised what the crazy grin was all about, and his grin was just about as wide. And within 60 seconds, the kids had responded, breaking all records for email replies to Mum. They were happy too.

Just as they were when Escape Publishing said “yes” and my very first book was published last year. All of them, my husband, my son and my daughter, had supported and encouraged me over the years. “I want to be a romance writer,” I’d say, and they’d say, “Just get on and do it.”

Of course, there were submissions and rejections along the way. But rejections help us learn, and luckily A Father at Last struck a chord with Escape Publishing.

And thankfully the Ruby reader-judges liked it too, and to them, and the contest organisers, I’m very grateful. It’s always heart-warming and somewhat humbling when other people enjoy our stories.

It’s also humbling and exciting (sorry to use that word again, but it’s the best one for the job), to see my name up there with writers I’ve admired for years. So thank you, Romance Writers of Australia. And thank you, Escape.

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