The Romance Writers of America's annual conference starts TODAY and ends on Saturday night with their big awards ceremony. Awards are given in several categories for published authors (the Rita) and unpublished authors (the Golden Heart). Having been a finalist in the Golden Heart once, I know how exciting it can be! (for a list of all the Rita finalists just click on the title of this blog post)
I'm sorry that I won't be in attendance this year, because I have five good friends who are finalists in the Rita and Golden Heart and I'd love to be there to cheer them on. But even if I can't be part of the excitement that is going on in Orlando even as I type, I wanted to give a shout-out and special good luck wishes to these five finalist.
My Bandita Beth Andrews whose book A Not-So-Perfect Past is up for a Rita in the Contemporary Series Romance category. Beth and I both made our first sales very close together. Her stories have engaging characters and lots of genuine emotions. I'd love to see her become the first of the Banditas to bring home that lovely silver statue!
Tina Ferraro is nominated in the Young Adult Romance category for her book The ABC's of Kissing Boys. I was lucky enough to make Tina's acquaintance way back in the days when we were both struggling AYUs (As Yet Unpublished) and she helped me a lot when I was writing the story that became The Treasures of Venice. Not only did she read first draft chapters for me, but she took a whole slew of pictures of San Michele En Isola when she was vacationing in Venice, and sent them to me! She was also my roomie at my very first RWA National in Reno in 2005 shortly after she'd just made her first sale. Tina's YA books are brimming with adorable characters in very real situations and I'd love to be cheering on my true blue friend in person.
Brenda Novak is a chaptermate of mine and one of the nicest people I've ever met, not to mention her tons of enthusiasm and generosity! She's always willing to share her time and knowledge of writing with aspiring and fledgling authors (like the fantastic cover quote she gave moi for The Treasures of Venice). Plus there's the incredible effort she makes every year toward research for juvenile diabetes. I'll admit I haven't yet read her Romance Novella finalist On a Snowy Christmas, but Brenda is a wonderful writer and she deserves to win just on her reputation alone!
Now for my two friends who are nominated (neither for the first time) for Golden Hearts:
My Bandita KJ Howe is probably the only person I know who has visited more exotic places than I have! Honestly, I am bewildered that KJ hasn't won several Golden Hearts already and been multi-published because she is a fantastic suspense writer! She's a finalist this year in Contemporary Series Suspense/Adventure and I'll have every digit crossed that she brings home "the gold!"
Keli Gwyn is also a chaptermate of mine and another genuinely nice person! I happen to know and admire how hard she has worked at perfecting her craft and building her author-presence. Her wonderful blog Romance Writers on the Journey showcases new authors and is just one example of Keli's generosity and commitment to all romance writers. She is nominated for a Golden Heart in the Inspiration Romance category with a manuscript that has been burning up the contest circuit all over RWA and should definitely be rewarded, along with its author, with a win and a fat publishing contract!
So there you have my admittedly very biased choices for a few of the Rita/Golden Heart winners in this year's competition. Do you have any favorites who are nominated for awards? I'd love to hear about them!