by Kiersten Hallie Krum
Last Friday, Romancelandia experience the yearly giddiness (and for some, crushing disappointment) that is the annual announcement of the RITA/Golden Heart finalists by the Romance Writers of America. These awards are given out at the formal closing banquet to the annual Romance Writers of America National Conference this July in San Diego, California.
For the uninitiated, the RITA is basically the Oscar of the romance novel industry, a prestigious award given to best romance novels of the year in their respective categories. The Golden Heart is the award equivalent for as yet unpublished writers and can (though not always) help a writer struggling to get publish get noticed by prospective editors and agents. I know several of each who use the finalist list of the Golden Heart awards as a kind of cheat sheet for prospective authors, and really, who could blame them?
— RWA (@romancewriters) March 25, 2016
Like many readers, I use the RITA finalist list as a cheat sheet for my TBR pile. I mean, take a look at those names! That’s the crème de la crème of Romancelandia right there–not all of them, mind you, but a fair few special snowflakes ripe for the reading.
The #RITAGH hashtag was burning fast and furious on Friday as finalists were notified and announcements made. I could hardly keep up with all the well wishes and congratulations. I was thrilled to see names I know and titles I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed make the list. Some are even books and authors we’ve talked about here at Lady Smut!
— J. Kenner (@juliekenner) March 25, 2016
But what struck me and what has stuck with me all weekend (and not for the first time either) is the overwhelming goodness that was palpable across the interwebs. Board members making calls were nearly as excited as the people being notified. Posts popped up from finalists in a running “Where were you when you got the call” scenarios that included dead batteries on phones, needing to pull over to the side of the road, and immediately after, needing to make a Play-doh chicken leg for a finalist’s unimpressed daughter. Now there’s a reality check!
#RITAGH Finalists. Congrats. When you’re done screaming and jumping for joy – take a bow for being the best our genre has to offer. Love ya
— Beverly Jenkins (@bjevechip2) March 25, 2016
It was this goodness that filled me with the warm fuzzies all day Friday and throughout the weekend. The romance industry is unique on several levels, not the least of which is that it is predominately written and produced by and for women. But it is also the fact that romance writers are perhaps the most supportive group of professionals you can find. Oh ,we’ll cut a bitch if necessary–not literally, but you get me. No one is perfect and wherever there are people, you’ll find bad seeds full of back biting and nastiness. It’s human nature. But it’s also human nature to be good to one another, to support each other, and to celebrate those wonderful moments of success and accomplishment and no one does that better than romance writers.
Some of Friday’s finalists have published many books for many years and this is the first time they are finalists for a RITA. Some took the chance to write the book that was on their hearts, perhaps the one that no one wanted to publish, and now see validation in being nominated.
LOVE AFTER ALL was my 69th book and my first RITA final. I’m so excited I can’t breathe. This was worth waiting for 😊💗 #RITAGH
— Jaci Burton (@jaciburton) March 25, 2016
My first novella came out in 2006 & this is the first time I’ve been a finalist. Go FACING FIRE!!! #RITAGH
— HelenKay Dimon (@helenkaydimon) March 25, 2016
It’s this goodness that makes me so proud to be a romance writer, this level of unprecedented support that makes me proud to be a member of RWA, and this commitment by so many women (and more than a few men) to mentorship and growth of those who are still finding their way that makes me eager to pass it forward.
I have never been more excited to watch the #RITAGH thread! As emcee, I get to hug you all!! And I will!! Good luck, friends!!
— Roxanne St. Claire (@roxannestclaire) March 25, 2016
Congratulations to all the finalists. What a spectacular achievement. I can’t wait to scream myself hoarse for all of you at the awards banquet this summer.
Until then, follow Lady Smut. We’ll make you scream for sure.
Singer, writer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel releases on April 14th. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.