Posted by Jalpa Williby
Recently, I attended the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards in Miami because both Chaysing Dreams and Chaysing Memories won gold medals in the Romance Suspense category.
I had promised myself that if I won a medal, I would fly down to Miami to personally accept my medal. I figured I deserved it for all of the hard work I’ve put into the books.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect there, so at first I was a bit apprehensive. I’m normally pretty social, but still it’s a bit intimidating to be around other award-winning authors. After all, I’m a “newbie.”
Let me tell you that this trip was probably one of my most memorable trips. On Friday, I was watching TV (something I never get to do anymore) in my hotel room when there was a knock at the door. I knew one of my best friends was flying in so I assumed it was her. When I opened the door, I got the shock of my life! Yes, my best friend was standing there, but so was my other best friend. They totally surprised me! She flew in all the way from LA! I couldn’t believe my eyes. You see, all three of us have been friends since fourth grade. I mean we’ve shared everything with one another. We went to the same grade school, junior high, high school, and college. We were even roommates at the university! During all of our major moments in life, we were there for one another. Even though I hate crying when it comes to my life situations, the tears managed to sneak out when I saw them. Once the shock of seeing them diminished, I knew that it was about to be one of my most memorable girls’ weekends.
We were in Miami with no responsibilities. We were excited about being outdoors with the sun baking down on us. But Mother Nature decided to bring rain and wind instead. Yes, we could have just stayed in all day, but we didn’t let the weather deter our plans. No way! We were in Miami and we had plans, damn it!
First, we headed to the Miami Book Fair. Both Chaysing Dreams and Chaysing Memories were going to be displayed in the Readers’ Favorite booth, so we definitely did not want to miss that. Words can’t describe how proud I felt when I saw my books there. I got to meet the wonderful Readers’ Favorite Team as well as other award-winning authors!
Even though the rain was coming down hard, we still headed to South Beach after the Book Fair. There was no way we were going to be in Miami and not go to South Beach. It felt like the hurricane was coming, but that didn’t stop us from sitting outside at one of the restaurants, drinking Mojitos! Oh, and did I mention that they gave us free shots? We must have stayed at that restaurant for a couple of hours catching up on life. When we finally headed to the beach, it was completely abandoned because of the rain and wind. But hey, we weren’t going to wait around for everything to clear. Instead, we danced in the rain! Our motto for the weekend? YOLO!
When we finally headed back to the hotel, I went downstairs for the Meet and Greet while my friends decided to take a quick nap. It was so nice to meet some very talented authors. Afterwards, I also attended the seminars that Readers’ Favorite had for us. They were about marketing and since I hate the marketing part of all this, they were definitely useful. Now, the challenge is how to find the time!
After the seminars, we hung out at the bar and mingled with other authors. It was nice to hear their stories, and it just felt good to be around people who got it. Finally, there were people around me who put their heart and soul into something simply because of their love and passion for their story and their writing. Nothing more.
On Saturday, we headed to South Beach once again. We simply couldn’t get enough of it, and we wanted to eat some yummy food there. We walked the boardwalk and even ran into a guy singing while playing his guitar. Yeah, a guy and his guitar: my huge weakness! He sang beautifully and with the ocean breeze caressing us, peace and serenity overcame me. Something else that was long overdue for me!
Saturday evening was the big event! Although I was a bit nervous, I was definitely more excited! I was so ready to go on that stage and get my medals. At that point, I didn’t even care if I tripped on stage with my high heels. Hell, nothing was going to stop me from that tiny moment of fame!
Words can’t describe the feelings of pride that overpowered me when my name was called for the two books. As I walked across the stage, I just wanted to start doing cartwheels on stage. Oh, and I don’t even know how to do a cartwheel. I wanted to yell, “HELL YEAH!” My best friends were right there by the stage, cheering me on. And I thought, “Wow, this is what it’s all about.” It’s not about money or fame. It’s about being recognized for your hard work and sharing those important moments of your life with the ones who matter…the ones who will stand by you through thick and thin…the ones who have always supported you in life.
For the rest of the evening, I couldn’t stop smiling. The event was beautiful, and I was very impressed with Readers’ Favorite for all their hard work. I was in my own happy world, and nothing was going to ruin it. I mean it’s not every day that a girl wins not one, but two gold medals for her hard work. So for the remaining of the night, I let the feelings of pure bliss consume me.
We eventually headed to the bar and closed it down. I met more amazing people, and we even had a round-robin of “What’s the meaning of life?” While some kept their answers light, others gave some profound answers. Again, it was another wonderful memory for me to hold dear.
What was my answer to meaning of life? To create memories. It’s important to remember all of the events in our lives—the good and the bad. It makes us who we are today. So that weekend in Miami, I definitely created some beautiful memories not only with my best friends, but also some new friends.