Love is in the air—and on the page. It’s time once again to announce the winners of the summer’s hottest awards: the Romance Writers of America’s RITAs. The RITAs are named after RWA’s very first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and have been awarded every year since 1982. It’s not simply an honorary but an actual award—a golden statuette of a woman, whom I assume to be none other than Rita herself, reading a book. According to RWA’s website, it “has become the symbol for excellence in published romance fiction.”
Past recipients include Nora Roberts, LaVyrle Spencer, Francine Rivers, Diana Gabaldon, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Robin Lee Hatcher, Tess Gerritsen, Debbie Macomber, Julia Quinn, Jill Shalvis, Tessa Dare, and my new favorite author, Darynda Jones.
I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: as one of the few admitted romance readers on staff, I feel it’s my duty, right, and pleasure to present this list to you, dear reader. And I’m not even vying for a nomination for Librarian of the Year. Mainly because I’m not a librarian, but also because I’m ever-so-humble. Wink wink.
I’m including links to the catalog so you can easily find a copy now, because you know these holds queues are going to blow up as word starts to gets out.
Best Contemporary Single Title Romance:
The Way Back Home by Barbara Freethy
Best Historical Romance:
A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
Best Romantic Suspense:
Scorched by Laura Griffin
Best Inspirational Romance:
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Best Short Contemporary Series Romance:
A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan
Best Long Contemporary Series Romance:
A Gift for All Seasons by Karen Templeton
Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements & Best First Book:
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Best Paranormal Romance:
Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole
Best Young Adult Romance:
The Farm by Emily McKay
Best Romance Novella:
Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James
You’ll notice I didn’t include a link for every title. That’s because the library hasn’t yet purchased all of them. If you’re interested, feel free to talk to a librarian. Let them know it’s now an award winner and that Carol sent ya.
At the same time they announced the RITA winners, RWA also announced the Golden Heart Winners. What’s a Golden Heart? The short version: it’s an award given to outstanding unpublished manuscripts. The final round of the contest is judged by romance editors. Many winners go on to enjoy a career as a published romance novelist. Recipients are awarded an actual golden heart pendant. Gotta love literal literary prizes!
Perhaps you’d like to submit your own manuscript for next year’s Golden Heart competition. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of putting pen to paper (or keys to screen) and want to begin writing, but you don’t know where to start. We’ve got some excellent writing resources sitting in the stacks waiting to help guide you through the process of writing a romantic novel—including how to write those steamy love scenes.
Another valuable resource is Romantic Times. Each issue is packed with well-written reviews for everything from contemporary to paranormal, inspirational to erotica. I used to subscribe at home but I’ve since let my subscription lapse, since I can get each issue for free from the library. It’s also a great way to get a feel for what’s popular in romance publishing right now. You may notice themes or topics not currently trending—maybe this is the direction in which you’re meant to go.
Imagine your future as a literary trendsetter. It’s a good future, yes? Now go grab a RITA winner and get to work “researching.”