Monday, March 31, 2008

Romance Writers of America RITA Finalists

I know this is week old news, but I’ve been out of town and, besides, this is my first scheduled day to blog since the announcement, so bear with me.

Romance Writers of America released the finalists for the RITA contest for published authors last Wednesday and my book, Treasure, was nominated in two categories, best first book and best contemporary series romantic suspense/adventure. The news left me, very likely in this order, astounded, speechless, and ecstatic.

It’s amazing what a few days will do to unclog those vocal chords. I can’t stop talking or thinking about it! Needless to say my family is sick of this queen for the day situation turning into queen for the week. Might as well spread the joy, right?

First off, you must believe me when I say that I entered the contest with complete resignation that nothing would come of my entrance fee. This certainty had nothing to do with modesty or pessimism. It was a pragmatic acceptance on the odds.

RWA eliminated the long and short contemporary categories, splitting the contemporary series romances into straight series and series with strong suspense/adventure elements. This was probably a smart and reasonable change, but I was fairly certain it pushed me right out of the running. I figured my Superromances had too much suspense/adventure to fit into the regular series category, but not enough to compete with the actual suspense lines. Still, this was my first year of being eligible for the RITA, how could I not enter?

This event is, aside from my first sale, the biggest happening to date in my writing career. One RITA nomination is a dream come true. Two is one of those wild ones in motion.

While I'm at it, Deborah Smith's A Gentle Rain, edited by our own Debra Dixon, finalled in the best novel with strong romantic elements category. Woohoo, Deb and Deb!

All that aside, I’ve got a couple of questions about both the reader and writer perspective on the RITAs. Before I started writing to try and publish a book, I wasn't aware of the RITA awards. So if you’re strictly a reader (not a writer) are you familiar with the RITAs?

To everyone: Have you read many of this year’s RITA nominees? Are there any books you read that you think should have made the finals and didn’t? Does a RITA nomination affect whether or not you buy/read an author’s book(s)?

http://www.helenbrenna.com

Here’s a complete list of this year’s RITA nominees:

2008 RITA for Best First Book Finalists

Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra
Simon & Schuster, MTV Books/Pocket

Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin NEXT

Prom Dates From Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Random House Publishing, Delacorte Press

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA

Snow Angel by Jamie Carie
B&H Publishing Group, B&H Fiction

Thief With No Shadow by Emily Gee
BL Publishing, Solaris

Treasure by Helen Brenna
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Superromance

2008 RITA for Contemporary Series Romance Finalists

Always a Bridesmaid by Kristin Hardy
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Special Edition

Fall From Grace by Kristi Gold
Harlequin Enterprises, Everlasting Love

Make-Believe Mom by Elaine Grant
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Superromance

Night Mischief by Nina Bruhns
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Nocturne

Sleeping Partner by Kelly Hunter
Harlequin Enterprises, Sexy Sensation

Snowbound by Janice Johnson
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Superromance

The Mile High Club by Heidi Rice
Harlequin Enterprises, Mills and Boon Modern Extra

The Tycoon's Princess Bride by Natasha Oakley
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Presents

2008 RITA for Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure Finalists

High-Risk Affair by RaeAnne Thayne
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Romantic Suspense

Midnight Prince by Dani Sinclair
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Intrigue

Sara's Son by Tara Taylor Quinn
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Superromance

Stranded With A Spy by Merline Lovelace
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Romantic Suspense

The Medusa Affair by Cindy Dees
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Romantic Suspense

The Medusa Seduction by Cindy Dees
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Romantic Suspense

Treasure by Helen Brenna
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Superromance

Untouched by Samantha Hunter
Harlequin Enterprises, Blaze Extreme

2008 RITA for Contemporary Single Title Romance Finalists

Blame It On Cupid by Jennifer Greene
Harlequin Enterprises, HQN

Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins
Harlequin Enterprises, HQN

Coming Undone by Susan Andersen
Harlequin Enterprises, HQN

Sexiest Man Alive by Diana Holquist
Grand Central Publishing, Forever

She's No Angel by Leslie Kelly
Harlequin Enterprises, HQN

Tangled Up In You by Rachel Gibson
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Tempt Me Tonight by Toni Blake
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books, Red

The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer
Penguin Group USA, Dutton

2008 RITA for Historical Romance Finalists

And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Beloved Warrior by Patricia Potter
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation

Lessons of Desire by Madeline Hunter
Bantam Dell Publishing Group

Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin's Press

Surrender to a Scoundrel by Julianne MacLean
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Tempted Tigress by Jade Lee
Dorchester Publishing, Leisure Books

The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
Grand Central Publishing, Forever

The Perfect Kiss by Anne Gracie
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation

2008 RITA for Inspirational Romance Finalists

A Touch of Grace by Linda Goodnight
Harlequin Enterprises, Steeple Hill Love Inspired

Autumn Blue by Karen Harter
Center Street

Pursuit of Justice by Pamela Tracy
Harlequin Enterprises, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense

Rainbow's End by Irene Hannon
Harlequin Enterprises, Steeple Hill Love Inspired

Ransomed Dreams by Amy Wallace
Random House Publishing, WaterBrook Multnomah

Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh
Random House Publishing, WaterBrook Multnomah

Taming Rafe by Susan May Warren
Tyndale House Publishers

When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall
Random House Publishing, WaterBrook Multnomah

2008 RITA for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements Finalists

A Gentle Rain by Deborah Smith
BelleBooks (edited of course by our own wonderful Debra Dixon!!)

High Noon by Nora Roberts
Penguin Group USA, Putnam

Learning to Breathe by Karen White
Penguin Group USA, NAL Accent

Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter
Grand Central Publishing, 5 Spot

See No Evil by Allison Brennan
Ballantine

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin's Press

Thief With No Shadow by Emily Gee
BL Publishing, Solaris

2008 RITA for Paranormal Romance Finalists

Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Demon's Kiss by Maggie Shayne
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA

Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair
Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Spectra

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot by Stephanie Rowe
Grand Central Publishing, Forever

Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
Penguin Group USA, Signet, Onyx

Prince of Magic by Linda Winstead Jones
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation

Raintree: Haunted by Linda Winstead Jones
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Nocturne

Touch of Darkness by Christina Dodd
Penguin Group USA, NAL

2008 RITA for Regency Historical Romance Finalists

Blackthorne's Bride by Shana Galen
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Lord of Scandal by Nicola Cornick
Harlequin Enterprises, HQN

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

Untouched by Anna Campbell
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books

2008 RITA for Romance Novella Finalists

“Angel and the Hellraiser” in Demon’s Delight by Vickie Taylor
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation

“Born in My Heart” in Like Mother, Like Daughter by Jennifer Greene
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin NEXT

“Christmas Cravings” in Holiday with a Vampire by Maureen Child
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Nocturne

“Christmas Day Family” in A Western Winter Wonderland by Cheryl St. John
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical

“Eternity in Death” in Dead of Night by Nora Roberts
Penguin Group USA, Putnam

“Fallen Angel” in A Western Winter Wonderland by Jenna Kernan
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical

“Mischief and the Marquess” in Perfect Kisses by Sylvia Day
Kensington Publishing Corp., Brava

“On the Fringe” in Dead of Night by Mary Kay McComas
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Jove

2008 RITA for Romantic Suspense Finalists

Die for Me by Karen Rose
Grand Central Publishing, Vision

Ice Blue by Anne Stuart
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA

Ice Storm by Anne Stuart
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA

Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin NEXT

Speak No Evil by Allison Brennan
Ballantine
Charlotte Herscher, editor

Traceless by Debra Webb
St. Martin's Press

White Heat by Cherry Adair
Ballantine/Ivy

2008 RITA for Young Adult Romance

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson
HarperCollins Publishers, HarperTeen

Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra
Simon & Schuster, MTV Books/Pocket

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Llewellyn Worldwide, Flux

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
HarperCollins Publishers, HarperTeen

27 comments:

Betina Krahn said...

First, Congrats again, Helen, on your finalist status! What a thrill it must be-- and TWO finals in one year!

And that's quite a list this year. Of course, I personally would add a title or two to the batch, but I was struck by the number of titles I hadn't read. And I read a lot! Just not always in the short contemporary categories. But you can bed that next year I'll be reading it with bells on! (ahem)

In my experience, a RITA nomination does get some additional people to pick up your book and give you a try-- just to see what gave your book its "Rita-ness." But in terms of overall sales, I don't think it's a big factor.

Being a finalist certainly helps to get your name out there in the romance writing community and if you final regularly, makes people on the editorial side sit up and take notice.

Personally, I've read several finalists. . . but not all in one category, so I've got me some readin' to do!

And some candles to light for Helen's big win!

Playground Monitor said...

I've only read 3 on the list (tried to read another one and tossed it after the first chapter). I never knew what a Rita was until I joined RWA and even now it doesn't affect whether I buy a book. A couple years ago I bought one that had just won the Rita and could not get past the first chapter. It just didn't suit my reading tastes. OTOH, I read Betina's winner from last year (even though I rarely read historicals) and couldn't put it down. Some books click and some don't. That doesn't make it a bad book.

Congrats, Helen, on your double final. I'll be in the audience cheering when they announce your name and your big photo flashes on the Jumbotron!

Marilyn

Michele Hauf said...

congrats to Helen and Deb! Whoohoo!

I have only read two on the list. Hmm...

I have to mention Nocturnes made a nice showing with three of them finaling.

And a shout-out to Samantha Hunter, who has guested her often, on her final!

Michele Hauf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lois greiman said...

I'm sooooooooo happy for you Helen. If I had two finalists I wouldn't even be coherent yet.

As far as I know, Ritas don't affect what readers pick up, but I do think the editors take it pretty seriously.
It is, after all, our Oscars.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Helen, for sure you get to be Queen For Four Months! Congratulations on the two-fer, dear one. And congratulations to the Belle Debs!

With three nods between you and Deb, you get glittering tiaras and seven human bobble heads in the Caddie going, "Oh, yeah. Riders rock." We need to have a sign made: "RITA Finalists On Board."

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm surprised by the number of finalist names I don't know and books I haven't read. But I'm happy for the shopping list. I love a good love story, woman's story, family story--any time period, if it has at least one of those elements in spades, I'm there.

I'm glad to see that one of the books I judged made the finals. I won't say which one, but it's a fine book. It's a joy for a judge to find a great book in the mix. Must be the same way an editor feels when she starts reading a ms and gets hooked right away. Eureka!

And that's what the judges said when they read TREASURE and A GENTLE RAIN. These books are already winners. They're gifts to some very special people: Readers.

Playground Monitor said...

Oops! Forgot to congratulate Deb too. Mea culpa and a thousand lashes with a wet noodle.

Marilyn

Debra Dixon said...

I have to say, REGARDLESS of Helen and Deb Smith making the list (g), this is one of the yummiest looking RITA lists to me in a long time.

I can't quite put my finger on it but I have a much bigger reading list to get through this year than usual. My Amazon cart is bulging. (g)

I loved seeing Samantha Hunter on there and Anne Stuart!

Christie Ridgway said...

Congrats to Helen and our Debra/Deb Smith! Yeah!

I'd forgotten that they put the series categories together. I'm not sure what I think about that. RWA never releases the number of entrants in each category (afraid of authors gaming the system, I suppose), so I don't know if that means series authors have a much harder time making a finalist list than, say, the single title contemporary category or not. I'd guess so...which makes Helen's nod so much more spectacular!

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks everyone!

And, yeah, cool that Sam Hunter finalled too!

RITA finalists on board - like it, Kathy!

I didn't recognize a lot of names either, but, with me, that doesn't mean overly much. Makes things interesting!

I'm with you, Deb, on the long TBR list!

Christie, I'm not sure what I think of the change in the series categories, but I guess it makes sense when you look at how ST is broken out - between regular and suspense.

I'd love to know how big each category is!!!!! Maxing the finalists out at 8 doesn't tell us much of anything.

Allison Brennan said...

Congratulations on your finals, lit signing neighbor! :) . . . I assume you'll be in SF? I don't think anyone can sit between us, unless there's an author I don't know about with the last name of brennak :)

flchen1 said...

Congrats, Helen, Deb, Allison, Sam, and everyone!

I've read very few of the list so far, but hope to read more. But I don't know that I'd base my reading choices only on whether someone finaled--it might tip my hand or float someone higher up the TBR maybe...

CherylStJohn said...

Besides the books that I read when I judge, I always read several of the nominated books. Especially those in the same catgegory with mine. LOL

Congrats to all the finalists!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Congratulations! And I'll fess up if you will: How many times did you look at your name on the nominee list? I'm going for my second million, I'll willing to bet.

I got my calls on the same day I had a root canal. Proving the universe loves irony. So I'm walking up Cambridge Street towards Dr. Miller's office, and realized I was--singing. Out loud. On the way to the endodontist!

And what was I singing?
Lovely Rita.

So I thought, all innocence--huh, wonder why
my brain chose that song?

And then I burst out laughing.

Singing and laughing on the way to a root canal. Only RITA nominations can do that for you!

Much happiness to all..and future nominees, too.

Helen Brenna said...

LOL, Allison! Yep, I'll be in SF and I'm thinking we'll be next to each other again.

Congrats on your double nomination! Way to go!

Helen Brenna said...

Good to know, flechn. Just trying to figure this crazy business out!

Helen Brenna said...

Congrats to you too, Cheryl!

I have a feeling I'll be reading a few books in my category as well. LOL

Helen Brenna said...

Yay, Hank. Congrats! And, hey, we have you coming to visit next month - looking forward to it.

How many times did I look at my name on the list? Gosh, I can't count. The whole thing has this surreal quality about it. I don't think it'll totally sink in until SF!

Cindy Gerard said...

Congrats to everyone - in particular our Riders, Helen and Deb. Too much fun!

And speaking of fun. I just finished my book!!! Since it's due tomorrow, I'm one happy girl!!!!!
Nothing like cutting it close.
Hugs again, Helen and Deb.

Helen Brenna said...

WAY TO GO, CINDY!!

PJ said...

Good Morning! Helen, congrats to you and to all those who finaled this year, for both the RITA and Golden Heart awards.

I've read 15 of this year's RITA finalists and they were all terrific. I'd hate to have to pick just one from each category to win the award. There are a couple books I think should have made the finals but I'm not a bit disappointed by any of them that did make the list.


As a reader (not writer) I was totally unaware of the RITA awards five years ago. That all changed for me, and many others, with the advent of internet romance blog sites. The first year of Squawk Radio we all became infected with the excitement surrounding the announcement of the finalists and the build-up to RWA, concluding with the awarding of the "big prize". It has only gotten more exciting since then. This year, many of the readers around the web waiting anxiously in front of their computers as you authors waited by your phones. It's become a big deal to us too. We love your books, through your blogs we've come to feel as if we know you personally, and we're thrilled for you when your excellence is recognized by your peers.

The RITA and Golden Heart lists have been posted at many of the internet sites I visit and the discussions surrounding the books that did, and did not, final have been lively and numerous. Many readers have posted that they will be giving books (and authors) on the finals list a try.

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, PJ. This is great insight. The whole internet thing bringing readers and writers together makes perfect sense. Gets me even more excited to be a RITA finalist, as if that's possible!! lol

Kathleen Eagle said...

Our dear friend Ann Frasier has a great idea that someone should pitch to Harlequin: reprinting past RITA winners under a special imprint. It's probably been suggested before, and it would need RWA input, but I think it's win-win-win.

Helen Brenna said...

Sounds good to me!

Marilynne said...

Congratulations on your nominations. I think that's great!

I recognize a lot of names in the list of nominations, but the two books I remember reading are Ice Blue by Anne Stuart and White Heat by Cherry Adair. So, I agree with some of the nominations.

Marilynne

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, Marilynne!