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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

139 Comments

  1. DeeCee
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 12:30:31

    Patricia Briggs’ Cry Wolf

  2. Bonnie
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 12:35:03

    What about Lisa Kleypas for Blue-eyed Devil???

  3. Rachel Thomas
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 12:43:37

    I’m surprised Broken Wing isn’t there.

    Rachel

  4. Jody
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 12:53:48

    Wouldn’t this thread be more effective if you know whether or not the bereft books were actually ENTERED into the contest?

  5. Kerry Blaisdell
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:09:28

    @Jody – my thoughts exactly! My CP is a perfect example – fab first book, Read My Lips, YA by Teri Brown. Can’t believe she didn’t make the cut – well, um, she didn’t enter. *:?) Only sure way to lose out….

  6. Leslie Kelly-Parrish
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:12:31

    Top book on my “she should have finaled” list: Linda Lael Miller’s Deadly Deceptions. I love me some Mojo Sheepshanks!

    And I'd like to think that the reason there are ZERO finalists from Blaze, Presents or Desire in the straight-series romance category (though I know the Mod X final will/has become a Presents) is because those authors have finally gotten the message that they just don't have much of a chance under the new category definitions, and chose not to waste their money.

    But I doubt it. I think they just don’t have a chance under the new category definitions.

  7. Lorelie
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:23:05

    Carrie Lofty for What a Scoundrel Wants

    and

    Anne Aguirre for Grimspace

    :(

  8. Amy Ruttan
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:24:02

    Well, none of the books I judged made it to the final round of the RITA’s, which kind of bummed me out because I really enjoyed several of the books.

    There are a couple I have read, which I had bought or won, that made the cut and I don’t agree they should be there. But c’est la vie, it’s all subjectivity of the judges.

    And I won’t even get started on the fact they won’t allow EC or Samhain books to be entered. There’s another whole load of talent they are neglecting.

  9. Anthea Lawson
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:24:22

    Just a reminder, authors have to be RWA members to enter, and with very few exceptions, the author needs to enter themselves. The publishing houses will not do it for you. So it’s not exactly the ‘best books out there.’ It’s ‘the best books by RWA members who entered.’ Still, it’s a pretty big deal to final. :)

    I think the application was due in November (or earlier?) and books by December, so Carrie’s may not have been released by the cut-off date.

  10. Jane O
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:25:23

    I can’t believe Meredith Duran’s Duke of Shadows isn’t in there anywhere. I hope it’s not there simply because it wasn’t entered, because I think it’s one of the best books I have read. (And, of course, no one could possibly fail to agree with me, right?)

  11. SarahT
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:26:23

    Given that Lisa Kleypas is a former RITA winner, I’d be surprised to hear she hadn’t entered ‘Blue-Eyed Devil’.

    Also missing from the best contemporary nominees are Erin McCarthy’s ‘Flat-Out Sexy’ and Deirdre Martin’s ‘Power Play’.

    How on earth did Julia Quinn’s ‘Mr Cavendish, I Presume’ get nominated for best historical? It was my least favourite book of 2008.

    Would ‘Broken Wing’ have been eligible to enter the RITAs under RWA’s new definition of subsidy publishers? Medallion Press is rather small.

  12. Lorelie
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:40:26

    Oh, Carrie made it by the cut off, for sure.

  13. Scarlett
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:41:59

    I am also astonished that Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran missed the cut. Not even for best first book?? Huh?

    Am I the only one who liked that more than Private Arrangements?

    I haven’t read Broken Wing yet (in TBR pile), but given the huge praise it’s received, I was surprised to see it missing.

  14. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:45:42

    If she entered, Manhunter by Loreth Ann White (Nov 08 Silhouette Romantic Suspense) totally got robbed! It was a great book.

  15. BethanyA
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:50:05

    Kathleen O’Reilly’s triliogy? Those SEXY O’Sullivans were the best contemporary reads of 2008, Deidre Martin’s Power Play was great, too.

  16. katiebabs
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:58:56

    No Blue Eyed Devil for best contemporary or Duke of Shadows for best historical or best first book. Both were robbed.

  17. Lindsey
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 14:08:41

    Where are all my trash talkers?? The single-title race is going to be pretty bland without Susan Andersen, Toni Blake, Kristan Higgins, Diana Holquist, and Leslie Kelly to bring the catfight – and they all had fabulous books last year (though I don’t think LK had a single-title). To that I say: [bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep]

  18. Sunita
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 14:29:08

    Add me to the surprised list for Meredith Duran. The historical category is really deep and strong, but I assumed she’d be a shoo-in for Best First Book. It was not a perfect book, but it was a terrific debut.

    I also really hoped to see Ellen Hartman’s My Secret Past make the category list. Maybe she didn’t enter, but if she did, I can’t believe the people that read it didn’t love it.

  19. Diana Holquist
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 14:29:56

    Hey, just because we didn’t final doesn’t mean we can’t talk trash…did you see those (bleep)ing finalists!?! They’re all (bleeeeep)!

    Just kidding! Way to go, guys. Enjoy the ride.

    (I feel a video coming on….)

  20. Carrie Lofty
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 14:30:28

    Oh, I entered all right. *sobs*

    But srsly, this was a hella tough year to be gunning for a historical nom! So much good stuff to be had. Jo Goodman anyone?? Loretta Chase?

    And I second my disappointment about Kathleen O’Reilly’s Sexy O’Sullivans being left out of the running. LOVED Sex, Straight Up.

  21. Amy Ruttan
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 14:30:43

    I should clarify EC and Samhain authors who are RWA members, like me.

    I’m also shocked by Meredith Duran’s Duke of Shadows not making it. What a fantastic book.

  22. katiebabs
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 14:34:01

    Also, no Julie James for Just the Sexiest Man Alive for Best first book or contemporary? Where is Kresley Cole and Meljean Brook for best Paranormals Romances?

  23. anon
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 14:57:51

    “Entry Qualifications and Rules for All Contestants
    The contest is open to members of RWA and to non-members as well. Any lapse in membership during the course of the contest shall result in the entrant being required to pay the higher non-member entry fee.”

  24. Ellen Hartman
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 14:58:20

    @Sunita–I entered. ;-) Thank you very much for your support. I appreciate it!

    This rejection coming so soon after my crushing defeat by Sherry Thomas in the DABWAHA (to say nothing of my humiliation in the brackets competition–tied for 665th!!!), is a bit much for my sensitive author ego to take.

    All I can say is, “Bleeep.” And also, “More gin, please.”

    Kidding. The waiting and hoping is always fun and the list of nominees looks great. I hope everyone has a blast as they wait for the final news!

  25. Kalen Hughes
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 15:03:41

    I’m blown away by Jacquie D'Alessandro and Stephanie Laurens being nominated for their novellas in It Happened One Night . I thought the Balogh and Hern stories were the real gems there. Clearly I still don’t have my finger on pulse of what people like in a story.

  26. Leslie Kelly-Parrish
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 15:33:12

    lol…thanks Lindsey. No s.t.’s for me last year, just Blazes. Didn’t even consider entering the one with the 3′some. Can’t imagine why the one with the gigolo hero didn’t make the cut! :snort:

    That said, there were some fantastic Blazes, including ones that got a tremendous amount of attention–Kathleen O’Reilly’s, Lori Borrill’s, Sarah Mayberry’s–that are nowhere on that list.

    Sadly, I just think sexy books and Rita go together like Boones Farm and Beluga caviar. (No dig at Kirstan Higgans intended…lol!)

  27. Hilcia
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 15:37:13

    It Happened One Night . I thought the Balogh and Hern stories were the real gems there. Clearly I still don't have my finger on pulse of what people like in a story.

    I was about to post this — THANK YOU! I was blown away too… especially the Balogh short story… it was definitely a gem…

    Lisa Kleypas for Blue Eyed Devil…
    Ann Aguirre for Grimspace
    Larissa Ione for Pleasure Unbound

  28. Diane V
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 15:38:51

    I think a lot of authors were robbed — if I counted correctly there are only 5 books nominated that were part of the DABWAHA tourney.

    What I think is funny is that there are at least 8 books that I read in 2008 and HATED that are on the list of nominees which means that my definition of a good book is the complete opposite of whoever got to vote for the nominees.

  29. Diana Peterfreund
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 15:42:14

    GAMER GIRL by Mari Mancusi

    MY LIFE AS A RHOMBUS by Varian Johnson

  30. Chicklet
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 15:47:39

    Sadly, I just think sexy books and Rita go together like Boones Farm and Beluga caviar. (No dig at Kirstan Higgans intended…lol!)

    Seconded! I haven’t read any of the books nominated for Contemporary Series, but just looking at the titles I was thinking, Every one of these has a care-bear epilogue starring seventeen babies, doesn’t it?

  31. Kim
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 15:55:07

    There were several missing nominess: Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas; Death Angel by Linda Howard; Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn; The Kiss by Sophia Nash; and The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn (instead of MCIP).

  32. Amanda
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 15:57:17

    I’ve gotta say I was bummed not to see either of Julie Anne Long’s books from last year in the Regency Historical category. The Perils of Pleasure was my favorite book of last year.

    And count me in the surprised column for no nom for Blue Eyed Devil. I thought for sure it would be there.

  33. Zoe Archer
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 16:05:36

    @Amanda:

    I've gotta say I was bummed not to see either of Julie Anne Long's books from last year in the Regency Historical category.

    I agree. I think Julie Anne Long is one of the best writing historicals today, and it surprises me she doesn’t garner more attention. That bitch can write. (“Bitch,” of course, being the term of highest praise in my lexicon.)

  34. Raquel
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 16:13:31

    I was surprised not to see Pamela Clare’s name there.
    Both “Untamed” and “Unlawful Contact” were fabulous!
    And I second Amanda. No Julie Anne Long? Really?

  35. Wendy
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 16:18:12

    Since I know these folks entered, here it goes:

    No Ellen Hartman for her most excellent HSR, His Secret Past. There were two fabulous HSRs released in May 2008 actually. The other one, The Man Behind The Cop by Janice Kay Johnson did get a nomination. So I’m 50% happy.

    Carrie Lofty’s What A Scoundrel Wants, which I think would have made an excellent addition to the Best First Book category. Like Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas, I thought it was a wonderfully written book.

    Portia Da Costa’s In Too Deep – which was a fantastic erotic romance published by Black Lace. Sexy, fun and romantic. One of my very favorite books from last year.

    Oh well.

  36. Anthea Lawson
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 16:32:38

    Ah, you’re right, non-RWA members can enter… but I believe the higher fee equals the membership cost. Maybe some folks don’t become members who enter, but they’ve set it up that way at least. :)

  37. AnnieK
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 16:35:23

    No Duke Of Shadows by Meredith Duran. Loved that book. Much more so than the Sherry Thomas book. Oh well.

  38. Danielle
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 16:42:36

    I was surprised not to see Broken Wing too!!!

  39. SonomaLass
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 16:49:03

    Loretta Chase, Your Scandalous Ways. That and Blue-Eyed Devil are the titles that I’m surprised to see missing from that list.

  40. Jorrie Spencer
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 16:59:39

    I have to chime in with Duke of Shadows. It was one of my favorite books this year, and it’s stuck with me longer than most too.

  41. » RITA and Golden Heart Nominees with Links
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 17:05:46

    [...] been on twitter today you’ve seen #ritanoms all over the place. Comments abound like why didn’t she get it? but also a slew of congratulations are going out to the authors that did get to the coveted spot of [...]

  42. Scarlett
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 17:08:13

    I forgot to mention Julie Ann Long. I will second (third) her.

    I thought both The Perils of Pleasure and Like No Other Lover were really good books, far superior to her previous work and comparable in quality to some of the others nominated in the regency category. I’m surprised that neither of them made the cut for the nominations (if indeed they were submitted).

  43. Janine
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 17:11:27

    I’m also sorry to see The Duke of Shadows overlooked. Meredith did enter. I know she appreciates the love for the book from so many posters on this thread.

    FWIW, I think her chances next year may be better. She’s got two wonderful books coming out this summer, Bound by Your Touch and Written on Your Skin. Written on Your Skin is out-of-this world fabulous IMO. I’ll be very surprised if one of these two books doesn’t get some RITA recognition next year, but even if not, I have little doubt that some of that RITA love will eventually come Meredith’s way.

  44. Jessica
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 17:39:11

    Like many others, I would have been very happy to see the following get recognition:

    Meredith Duran, Julie Ann Long, Judith James, Julie James, Pamela Clare, Kathleen O’Reilly

  45. Lynne Connolly
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 17:50:23

    No erotic romances, and none from the epubs.
    Epu7bbed writers are not eligible to enter either the RITA or the Golden Heart. The RITA because we’re not considered published, and the Golden Heart because we are. Catch 22 in action. I don’t pretend to understand the circuitous rules that get there, but that’s more or less it.

    This year I made a break from entering contests, and I’ll revise it last year. I felt uncomfortable competing against writers I respect and enjoy, and it’s also murder on the nerves waiting for these lists. I’d rather just write. For now, anyway.

  46. Jia
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 17:50:30

    Really? Only three nominees in the YA category? :(

    But I guess that’s nothing new.

  47. Anthea Lawson
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 17:52:38

    More YA authors will be announced, I think. I’ve seen a few mentioned on blogs that are not up on the official RWA list yet… They don’t post names until they’ve actually reached the nominees by phone.

  48. Janine
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 17:58:03

    No erotic romances, and none from the epubs.

    Pam Rosenthal’s The Edge of Impropriety finaled in the historical category, and it is an erotic romance (though not an epub).

  49. Angela James
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:10:32

    Pam Rosenthal's The Edge of Impropriety finaled in the historical category, and it is an erotic romance (though not an epub).

    I think that’s very heartening though it’s not quite as good as having say…six inspirationals nominated or six regency historicals.

  50. Jane
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:14:56

    There are specific titles I would have liked to have seen. I’m agog at the paranormal category because I read so many paranormals last year.

    But mostly I agree with Angela James. The inclusion of 12 Historicals with no seeming separation between the two (ie. if you are going to have a regency historical category those books should NOT show up in the main historical) seems to be nonsensical and the existence of the inspy category without the corresponding Erotic Romance category is striking.

    Further striking is the lack of Blazes that are in the category nominations. Sarah Mayberry, Lori Borrill, and Kathleen O’Reilly are great writers. Susan Napier, who writes hotter HPs is one of the best in the entire HP line.

    Finally, there is the fact that many erotic romances that were submitted were marked as Not Romances by the readers reading the books.

  51. Janine
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:24:18

    Finally, there is the fact that many erotic romances that were submitted were marked as Not Romances by the readers reading the books.

    You mean by the judges? That’s shocking.

  52. katiebabs
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:25:51

    Why would erotica not be considered a romance?
    Sex and love and usually a HEA is at the end of erotica also. That is a romance in my eyes.

  53. Jane
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:27:41

    @Janine: Yes, and if you get a certain number of Not Romances on your book (5 maybe or 3?) then it is judged not a romance no matter the quality of the work. So if the work is entered into Paranormal and marked Not Romance enough times, it is automatically disqualified.

  54. Jane
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:31:19

    Here is the language from the Policies and Procedures:

    Any entry receiving 3 NR (not a romance), 3 NSRE (no strong romantic
    elements), 3 NPF (not properly formatted, for entries in the Golden Heart
    contest) or 3 WC (wrong category) scores shall not be eligible to advance
    to the finals even if the scores would otherwise qualify it as a finalist.

  55. wendy
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:32:28

    Julie Ann Long either/both and Virginia Kantra either/both

  56. Jody
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:33:09

    Hm, I wonder what would happen if it got 2 of each? Would they be added together to disqualify the book?

  57. theo
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:36:00

    @Jane: So, if you’re disqualified, do they let you know that? And let you know why? Or do they just ignore the author and move on to the next?

  58. Jane
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:38:02

    I don’t know if you know that you got DQ’ed. I don’t think that you do. Scoring is confidential and that may include DQ scores

  59. Jody
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:40:23

    You can opt to receive your scores, which I assume would include if you got any designations like NR or WC.

  60. Lynne Connolly
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:40:51

    Further striking is the lack of Blazes that are in the category nominations. Sarah Mayberry, Lori Borrill, and Kathleen O'Reilly are great writers. Susan Napier, who writes hotter HPs is one of the best in the entire HP line.

    I read some really good ones this year. Also, one Modern/Presents and no Silhouette Desires. Of all the categories I read this year, I thought Desire put out some exceptional books.

    The paranormals are weird. I read a lot of para romance, but I’ve only read one of the ones listed. Lovely to see Nalini Singh there, but of the big sellers there’s no sign. And not the authors the bloggers and reviewers have been so excited about.

    I think it might be time that the RWA is left to meander along its own happy little path. Tralala.

  61. theo
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:42:18

    @Jane: Well. That just sucks!

    @Jody: I’m going to step out on a limb and say that I entered the GH this year and there was no option for me to get my scores or not. I was led to believe that they would be sent when the contest was over. Period. So who knows?

  62. Keishon
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:48:31

    I'm also sorry to see The Duke of Shadows overlooked. Meredith did enter. I know she appreciates the love for the book from so many posters on this thread

    I’m finally reading The Duke of Shadows. As for the whole RITA authors being overlooked, nothing to add. I haven’t been reading romance on the regular to make a comment on that. I hope Ms. Duran’s books will be released in ebook if I am to continue reading her work. I borrowed this paper copy from a friend.

  63. Bonnie
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:51:05

    Why would erotica not be considered a romance?
    Sex and love and usually a HEA is at the end of erotica also. That is a romance in my eyes

    .

    Interesting question.

    Megan Hart, for instance. Different, but fabulous, nonetheless. And they all have a HEA.

    Why?

  64. GrowlyCub
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:54:22

    I would not consider Megan Hart ‘romance’, ‘romantic elements’ maybe, but her writing is too dark and her HEAs are extremely questionable in my not so humble opinion.

  65. Sherry Thomas
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:58:12

    Put me down as another reader disappointed that DUKE OF SHADOWS did not get nominated at all.

    But Meredith Duran is a fabulous writer, destined to be one of the greats of our genre. She will have a long and storied career. And her chances at a Rita double next year with two books out back to back this summer.

    Also, Shana Abe’s THE QUEEN OF DRAGONS has a 2008 copyright date. I’m sorry she didn’t get a nod.

    The absence of BLUE-EYED DEVIL was striking, to say the least.

    And personally I’d have traded two nominations for PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS for one for DELICIOUS, which is the superior book of the two, dearer and nearer to my heart.

  66. Angela James
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 18:58:38

    It’s like asking why chick lit or women’s fiction can’t be in the romance genre. Because they’re not romance?

    Erotica and erotic romance are not the same genre. The reason I think this distinction is so important, why I keep making it, is because when you don’t make it, the marketing/labeling lines get blurred and you end up with pissed off customers. Because erotica doesn’t require a HEA. It doesn’t even require there to be a relationship. It can be about one woman’s sexual adventures to find herself. So if you lump the two together, then publishers slap a romance label on an erotica novel and when readers buy a romance, they want two thing: a relationship, and a relationship that ends in some semblance of a HFN. Erotica neither requires nor promises that as a genre.

  67. Bonnie
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 19:02:30

    I would not consider Megan Hart ‘romance', ‘romantic elements' maybe, but her writing is too dark and her HEAs are extremely questionable in my not so humble opinion.

    Eh… I dunno. I don’t think I agree.

    Why do HEAs always have to be holding hands, tripping through daisies and having babies? Enough already.

  68. Janine
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 19:19:25

    And personally I'd have traded two nominations for PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS for one for DELICIOUS, which is the superior book of the two, dearer and nearer to my heart.

    Sherry, much though I loved Private Arrangments, I agree that Delicious is the superior book. I’m thrilled to see PA recognized but still…

    If I’m not mistaken Shana Abe’s Queen of Dragons came out in December of 2007. Would it have been eligible for this year’s RITA, or was it in the running for last year’s?

    Other overlooked books (though I don’t know if the authors entered or not):

    Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
    Wicked Intentions by Lydia Joyce (though it seems to be very polarizing, so I’m not surprised)
    Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase
    Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

    I would have loved, loved, loved to see Bettie Sharpe’s Ember on there, though of course being self-published, it wasn’t eligible. Ditto some of the very fine short stories in Tangle, which are m/m and from a small publishing house at that.

    Finally, I don’t know if Emily Giffin has any interest in the Ritas or if she’s laughing all the way to the bank, but I would have liked to have seen Love the One You’re With in the “Novel with romantic elements” category. Though it’s not quite as great as her earlier books Something Borrowed and Something Blue.

  69. Janine
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 19:30:12

    Also, Shana Abe's THE QUEEN OF DRAGONS has a 2008 copyright date. I'm sorry she didn't get a nod.

    I just checked my copy and you’re right! I was sure it was a 2007 book or I would never have left it off my “Best of 2008″ list. Now I feel doubly bad for her!!!

    Off to correct my own oversight. Better late than never…

  70. GrowlyCub
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 19:38:54

    Bonnie,

    you are making a rather large assumption on what I consider a HEA. Neither babies nor daisies required, but I want to be able to believe that the characters are committed to each other and will have a successful relationship. With the Hart titles I read, I didn’t get that, hence, they aren’t romance to me.

  71. Bonnie
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 19:51:42

    GrowlyCub,

    Cool. We feel differently and that’s cool. I just think that perhaps, edgier books like Hart’s might expand the romance genre and perhaps give it a little bit more depth and respect. Mainly, because they’re so well written, AND different IMO. Just me.

    Sorry for the topic diversion. I’m done. :)

  72. Sherry Thomas
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 19:54:13

    Janine,

    Queen of Dragons had a street date of Dec. 25, 2007, but a copyright of 2008. No wonder you were confused!

  73. SonomaLass
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 20:36:53

    @Sherry Thomas: I wondered about Delicious; I thought maybe you hadn’t entered it. I would have loved to see both your books nominated — Private Arrangements for best first book, but Delicious for best historical, because it was definitely the best historical romance of 2008 for me. I have to buy another copy, because I loaned mine and she won’t give it back!

  74. Janine
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 21:00:53

    I want to be able to believe that the characters are committed to each other and will have a successful relationship. With the Hart titles I read, I didn't get that, hence, they aren't romance to me.

    I can think of a lot of books, especially many from the seventies and eighties, that didn’t convince me that the main characters would have a successful relationship. They were still published in the romance genre though, and of the ones that came out after the RITAs came into being, I have no doubt that some were eligible for the contest. There is a big difference IMO between saying that a book isn’t one we find romantic, and saying that it isn’t romance.

  75. Jane
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 21:05:36

    @Janine I don’t think that even Hart labels herself as a romance author. In fact, I thought that the argument between you and Robin over her work was that Robin thinks Hart is writing erotic romance rather than some hybrid erotic fiction. If you go by the author’s intent alone, though, I think Hart has clearly held herself apart from romance.

  76. Sherry Thomas
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 21:57:26

    SonomaLass,

    Thank you!

    As for entering books into the Rita, I once heard Jayne Anne Krentz say that she doesn’t do the Ritas. And that makes perfect sense, actually. It costs money and books to enter the Rita. Getting nominated or even winning doesn’t make you prettier or better-selling. And few people beside the romance industry and its most hardcore fans even know about the award.

    But most of us newer authors enter everything we’ve got, in every category we are eligible for, because during our long slog toward publication, the Ritas seem a promised land, full of glamour and bragging rights. It is part of the recognition we seek for our work, part of the community we want to belong to, and really, the idea of standing up there in a sparkly dress, holding a little statuette, gushing about our editors and agents and husbands, that just sounds like a lot of fun. ;-)

  77. Zoe Archer
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 22:09:21

    But most of us newer authors enter everything we've got, in every category we are eligible for, because during our long slog toward publication, the Ritas seem a promised land, full of glamour and bragging rights. It is part of the recognition we seek for our work, part of the community we want to belong to, and really, the idea of standing up there in a sparkly dress, holding a little statuette, gushing about our editors and agents and husbands, that just sounds like a lot of fun. ;-)

    Sherry, that’s exactly the fantasy I have. Quit reading my mind! And, hopefully, see you in 2011 at the podium in our sparkly dresses. (My next books don’t come out until 2010, so I’m already planning what to wear. I’m on the short side, so I think cocktail-length, don’t you?)

  78. orannia
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 23:39:44

    I’m gobsmacked Blue-Eyed Devil (Lisa Kleypas) hasn’t been nominated. It was the most amazing book! And I just loved Silent in the Sanctuary (Deanna Raybourn) and Cry Wolf (Patricia Briggs), although I’m wondering what category Cry Wolf would fall in…perhaps Novel With Romantic Elements?

    It costs money and books to enter the Rita.

    I can understand that cost would preclude some authors from entering, but…is it just me or is the fact that not all books are eligible mean that the awards are..I can’t think of the right words…limited somehow? Shouldn’t authors have the opportunity to go up against all of their peers?

  79. Janine
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 00:25:57

    @Jane:

    With regard to Hart’s books specifically, Dirty is the only one of the ones I’ve read that read like romance to me, though the others have strong romantic elements. I loved Broken but it was edging into a different category IMO. Where the books start to focus equally on third parties that don’t get a HEA, as they do on the two that end up together, IMO it starts to become something else.

    However, I wasn’t making my comment about Hart’s books specifically, but rather responding to GrowlyCub’s thought that unconvicing HEA= not romance.

    Actually what was circulating in my head was the AAR review of Lydia Joyce’s Wicked Intentions, in which the reviewer said the book wasn’t romance to her partly because she wasn’t comfortable with the characters’ actions and partly because she wasn’t convinced of the HEA.

    The characters did marry at the end of the book, and it was published as a romance. I was really thrown for a loop by that review, so much so that I’ve thought of blogging about it, but in the end, I could not really articulate my thoughts about that to my satsifaction.

    Maybe it’s because when I first started reading in the genre, I cut my teeth on a steady diet of books filled with hero/heroine bad behavior and rapes/forced seductions (that was what was commonplace in historical romance at that time). The characters did marry although their HEAs were frequently unconvincing.

    But those books were still marketed and sold (often sold so well as to end up on the bestseller lists) as romance, so I have to reject the argument that if readers aren’t convinced the relationship will last, it means it’s a different genre. Now you could say it means the writing isn’t very good, but if it says romance on the spine, and focuses on a relationship that ends in commitment, it is romance. Maybe poorly written romance, but romance.

  80. Courtney Milan
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 01:11:14

    The inclusion of 12 Historicals with no seeming separation between the two (ie. if you are going to have a regency historical category those books should NOT show up in the main historical)

    I don’t think any of the books that are on the main historical list qualify as Regencies. The Regency period is a very specific time and place: England, in the years after King George was declared mad and Prince Albert operated as Regent. This period lasted from 1811 to 1820.

    So Duchess by Night is a Georgian, In Bed with the Devil is a Victorian, Private Arrangements is either Victorian or Edwardian (forget the year off the top of my head), Seduce me at Sunrise is a Victorian, The Edge of Impropriety falls off the end of the Regency (it’s 1829), To Seduce a Sinner is a Georgian, and Where the Heart Leads is set in 1835.

    Spymaster’s Lady is the only one that I think is arguable–and that because it is set during the Napoleonic War era; JoB will know the precise date; maybe it is earlier than 1811 but it’s not listed in the book–but the first half is set in France, and the category specifies that the majority of the book must be British-Empire focused, so it would have been a risk to enter it into straight Regency.

    In any event, what I think this illustrates is not that the two categories cannot be distinguished–there is a fairly hard-and-fast rule distinguishing them, after all–but that readers do not care or notice any particular distinction and so the categories are stupid.

  81. Lynne Connolly
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 03:23:55

    I don't think any of the books that are on the main historical list qualify as Regencies. The Regency period is a very specific time and place: England, in the years after King George was declared mad and Prince Albert operated as Regent. This period lasted from 1811 to 1820.

    Sorry, Prince Albert was never declared Regent. Ever. He married Queen Victoria in 1840 and until then had nothing to do with the British ruling system.
    The Regency was called that because there was a Regent controlling government, namely Prince George. When his father, the “mad” King George III died in 1820, the Regent became King George IV. Regency implies a Regent, which isn’t possible when there’s a ruling monarch. Where on earth did the idea that Albert had anything to do with it come from?
    There’s another issue. When an antique dealer refers to something as “Regency,” s/he means a longer period than the actual political period of 1811-1820. The Regency era in style and indeed in philosophical, political and economic thought is often assumed to be between around 1790 and 1830, or even right up until 1837, when Victoria ascended the throne. It is so different to the rest of Georgian thought and behaviour that it is often studied separately and is, historically, an interim period when the old order was swept away and new systems were put in place. So a Regency novel could be said to take place between those dates. The Georgian era lasted from 1714 to 1837, and was by no means a homogenous period.

  82. Lynne Connolly
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 03:41:24

    I can understand that cost would preclude some authors from entering, but…is it just me or is the fact that not all books are eligible mean that the awards are..I can't think of the right words…limited somehow? Shouldn't authors have the opportunity to go up against all of their peers?

    Two comments in a row! But this one has nothing to do with the last one, so I thought I’d better put it separately.

    The Ritas are limited for a few reasons, not all of them obvious.

    1. You have to enter it to win it. You are not nominated. So many non-members, and people who prefer not to compete against their peers choose not to enter.
    2. Many non-USA writers don’t enter. I’m thinking particularly of the Harlequin Modern writers and the Harlequin Historical writers, who don’t live in the States and don’t join the RWA.
    3. The categories are skewed. No erotic romance, even though there is an Inspirational category.
    4. Epublished writers cannot enter the Ritas. Or rather, they can’t enter their epublished books.
    5. The erotic romance problem. The politics are getting more and more twisted, and I don’t even want to think about it. But there is a problem there.

    None of that means that any of the finalists aren’t fully deserving of the award and that the winner will get big ups from the industry. Just that the Ritas aren’t representative of the whole of the world of romantic fiction any more. Some of my friends and acquaintances have finalled, and I’m thrilled for them.

  83. Anion
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 03:59:20

    @orannia:

    I can understand that cost would preclude some authors from entering, but…is it just me or is the fact that not all books are eligible mean that the awards are..I can't think of the right words…limited somehow? Shouldn't authors have the opportunity to go up against all of their peers?

    Yes, it does make the RITA extremely limited. The fact that authors have to enter themselves also makes the RITA look like a silly vanity affair in the eyes of the publishing industry as a whole.

    But then, that’s what the RWA in general looks like, so that’s not a surprise.

    I had a RITA eligible book and I actually considered entering it for a week or so, but ultimately I decided not to. The RWA doesn’t deserve a dime of my money for their useless little award; and that’s all it is, another fundraiser, just like all the other contests they run. They’re so busy milking their members’ bank accounts dry they forget to, oh, actually behave like a professional writing organization and inform their members about the industry, or help them in any way, or learn what epublishing actually is, or provide any benefits for their members at all.

    I’m genuinely pleased for all the finalists. If this is something they wanted, good for them and congratulations to them. It’s not my intention to belittle their accomplishment.

    But screw the RWA.

  84. GrowlyCub
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 05:48:20

    But those books were still marketed and sold (often sold so well as to end up on the bestseller lists) as romance, so I have to reject the argument that if readers aren't convinced the relationship will last, it means it's a different genre.

    But that is exactly my point. Just because publishers slap a ‘romance’ label on a book because they think it will sell more, regardless of what’s between the covers, doesn’t make it a romance.

    That’s actually the biggest issue I have right now, mislabeled books, and there’s more and more of that going on in the mistaken belief that reader will be too dumb to figure it out.

    Going back to Hart, I may not have expressed myself very well, but as Jane mentioned Hart herself does not consider her books ‘romance’. I very deliberately did not use the word ‘romantic’ because that’s not what I was talking about.

    Bonnie mentioned that genre stretching may get romance more respect. I’m always baffled by such arguments, because they imply that romance that doesn’t ‘stretch the genre boundaries’ isn’t worthy of respect, an assessment I very much disagree with.

    I don’t care what others think about my reading preferences. And I resent the idea that books that aren’t even meant to be romance are held up as example of ‘better romance’ worthy of more respect.

    Needless to say, just in case it’s not clear yet, grin, I do not consider genre stretching a good thing and have no interest in reading such books or in according them higher literary merit, because every single one I have read that did the ‘stretching’ was no longer a romance as I define it. Obviously, there are as many definitions of what constitutes a romance as there are people who care to define it. :)

  85. Lynne Connolly
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 05:59:04

    That's actually the biggest issue I have right now, mislabeled books, and there's more and more of that going on in the mistaken belief that reader will be too dumb to figure it out.

    Great post, and I’m in total agreement. IMO, a romance, whatever sub-genre, should be about the development of an adult romantic relationship, with a happy ending. Everything else should be subservient to that. Otherwise, it’s not a romance (in the genre sense – let’s not bother with the dictionary definitions here).

    True, some people’s happy ending is not another’s, but I want that happy sigh at the end. For instance, some category romances have left me doubtful because the conflict was resolved too fast, and I still think the hero is scum, after the way he treated the heroine, but other readers will accept the end as it is given.

  86. GrowlyCub
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 06:02:38

    I also was disappointed to see that ‘Broken Wing’ wasn’t on the list for Historical Romance. Does anybody know whether it was entered?

    I was a bit surprised to see the Wiggs title on the contemporary list, since it struck me more as Women’s fiction from the cover and the back cover summary. Matter of fact, while I haven’t read any of the nominees, the vast majority of them seem/sounded Women’s fiction-y, not contemporary to me. Can somebody who has actually read them comment?

  87. Courtney Milan
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 06:04:08

    @Lynne Connolly: Argh. “Albert” came from the fact that the comment was posted at 2 in the morning after a flight that sat on the tarmac for four hours. So of course I flipped the names. Names are not my strong suit even when I am full of vim and vigor. Yes, the Regent was George, not Albert.

    As for what is called the Regency period in books . . . Yes, it can be defined more malleably than the political situation but despite what people may do in art, I would probably end the period that matters well before 1837, and date it right about the time when empire waist dresses and the natural figure get phased out and skirts start to bell out again. Which is early-mid 1820s. For romances, the dress (and the ease of access) is probably the thing readers will notice the most, followed by the Napoleonic war setting.

    To the extent that such a thing is defined by anyone in romance fiction, the Beaumonde sets it strictly as 1811-1820, occasionally conducts vigorous arguments about whether the time period ought to be extended to a broader one, and has yet to extend it. What is called “Regency” and “Georgian” in romance fiction is just not the same thing as what is called “Regency” and “Georgian” in the art world. Thus it makes perfect sense to say that Eloisa James writes Georgians rather than Regencies–even though the rest of the world thinks the “Georgian” period lasts through 1830.

    None of the books nominated in the straight Historical category would have qualified to be placed as an new Regency release on the Beaumonde’s website, except TSL.

  88. katiebabs
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 06:04:33

    I know it is great to win an award but has it ever been proven that winning a RITA increases an author’s book sales? Also I don’t think I have ever really seen award winning RITA author on any of the romances I have read.

  89. Kathleen MacIver
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 06:28:43

    With all the talk as to why there are two historical categories…does anyone else think there should be more than one paranormal category? The paranormal genre is now so large that agents and editors want us to specify what type of paranormal our books are…so doesn’t that indicate that the category needs to be split here, too? It seems to me that well over half of today’s romance writing falls into the paranormal category, so lumping it all together in one category doesn’t seem quite right, especially when so many different paranormal genres have developed.

    It just doesn’t seem quite right to be pitting urban fantasy, shapeshifters, werewolves, demons, and vampires up against pure fantasy and time-travel. I’m sure there’s some other types of paranormal that have developed that I’m not thinking of at the moment, that are different enough to need their own category, too.

    All I know is this. I write time travel…and the criteria of what makes time-travel good is so far removed from what makes urban fantasy good, that it’s ridiculous to try to compare the two. (Although I did see that one time-travel made the list.)

    To be quite honest, I’d be more comfortable with my book being compared to Contemporary or Historical, than I am paranormal. But I’d be disqualified from either of those, because of the paranormal factor that turns part of the book into a historical, then back to a contemporary. That’s why I didn’t enter for the GH.

    Does anyone else have thoughts/opinions on this?

  90. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 07:13:25

    I don’t think the RITA can be for everybody because it’s a romance award. Erotica, urban fantasy, etc are novels with romantic elements perhaps, but not romances. I think the NRE was an attempt to embrace the broadening scope of the genre’s writers, but RWA is what it is.

    I mentioned this on Twitter, but I also think some of the well-loved paranormals may have been hurt by the fact they’re part of an ongoing series with intense, complicated worldbuilding. It’s that ongoing, expanding relationship that bonds the readers with the books, I think. Cole’s omission from the list caused some outrage, but playing devil’s advocate—imagine the judges getting her book, which is book 5 in that series. If you hadn’t read and loved 1-4, would you be lost? Overwhelmed? Not enjoy it as much as the other, more stand-alone paranormals you received? What makes it awesome to the readers might hurt it with the judges.

    (I’m not a big paranormal reader and haven’t read the nominees or Cole. Just random thoughts on the matter.)

  91. Jody
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 07:30:41

    There are two historical categories so it does make sense there could be two paranormal categories. I guess the question would be how many submissions is the contest getting in the PNR category — enough to split it? Granted, submissions may rise when the expansion happens, but that’s no guarantee. A lot of romance authors feel the RITAs should have fewer categories anyway. And then there are cross-breeds that could be contemp…historical…suspense…PNR… A lot of good books may get dinged by a judge who feels anything with the slightest bit of paranormal or suspense should be in that particular category (or some such), though I have no idea if these books get WC’d (wrong categories) 3x.

    I’ve listened to RWA judges talk about their judging criteria, and sometimes what they say horrifies me (NR-ing or lowballing books with blue language, erotic content, random personal preference, etc) but sometimes their criteria seems pretty flexible. Of course that’s just what everyone is willing to cop to in public.

  92. Lizzy
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 07:32:20

    I’m taking up the Julie Anne Long cause. ‘Like No Other Lover’ was probably my favorite romance of the year.

  93. Jane O
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 07:32:41

    Speaking strictly as a reader, I have no idea if the RITAs make any difference to sales. I do know that when I ran out of mysteries to read a few years ago and decided to try romance, I printed out a list of RITA winners to take to the library. And if a book/author I don’t know turns up on the list, I’ll give it a try.

    In a field where hundreds of books are published each year, winning a RITA is clearly an honor. My favorites don’t always win, but I frequently vote for the loser in political elections too. That doesn’t mean I want to scrap the election system.

    As for the question of erotica/erotic romance, I suspect these books would have to be considered in a separate category to have a chance of winning. Too many people dislike them. This is NOT a slam at erotica readers/authors. I know people who really like erotica, but I also know people who wouldn’t touch it with the proverbial ten-foot pole. Much the same is true for inspirational romance, which now has its own category. One question would be, are there enough non-ebooks published in erotica?

  94. Kathleen O'Reilly
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 07:34:15

    Ahhhh…… The best part of not getting a nod is reading this thread. The Rita’s are a very cool honor, and I don’t know of any of the author who is on that list who isn’t a great writer. I don’t know if RWA will revisit the RITA categories (AGAIN!), but it would be nice to see some changes within the category category, but honestly, I don’t know how I’d do it.

    As for the paranormal category, I agree with the posters who talk about the ongoing world-building and series. I’ve picked up several in the middle of a series and put them down simply because when you’re a virgin to that world, some are almost impossible to follow. There are character backstories, history, mythology, past betrayals, and past loves that you miss, and that adds to the whole package of a series, and it diminishes that book to a new reader. Also realize that a writer who enters in the paranormal category is not who is judging the paranormal category. It’s the non-paranormal authors (or authors who didn’t enter in the paranormal category that year.) Because of that, (and truly, I don’t think there’s a way around it, unless they let entrants judge in their own category), I think an elaborate series will always have a disadvantage.

  95. Sherry Thomas
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 07:40:42

    @Zoe Archer,

    LOL. I think cocktail length for me too. Heck, maybe I’ll even show up in something inappropriately short and scandalize the gathering. Since I’ve got no chance of winning up against THE SPYMASTER’S LADY, I’m going to immortalize my crotch instead. Besides, without Liz Maverick’s and Marianne Mancusi’s thigh-highs and dominatrix boots, the Nationals were totally lame last year. :-)

  96. Allison Brennan
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 08:24:15

    All contests are about which books are submitted. There’s no one entity that reads all 200,000 published books a year and decides which is the best romance, the best thriller, the best self-help . . . some authors, like Linda Howard, don’t enter. Some authors, like Nora Roberts, do. I love the books by both authors and think they write terrific stories, winning a Rita doesn’t make one better than the other. Winning a Rita, however, is a thrill (or so my winning friends tell me!) It’s a peer award and being recognized by your peers as a great storyteller is cool.

    The only place to compete against everyone is for bestseller lists, and even they are manipulated (like USAT doesn’t count Walmart and NYT weighs heavier on traditional bookstores.) The Ritas, the Thrillers, the Edgars, the Nebulas are all about which books are entered. They are all peer awards.

    As a finalist in Romantic Suspense, I’ve read all the books nominated except one (which I ordered yesterday from Amazon!) and I am so proud to be with all those women. They are all fantastic storytellers and I honestly enjoyed every book there. I’m thrilled and humbled to be on the list with them.

  97. theo
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 08:46:39

    I agree with the paranormal category. Everything is lumped into one pot. I don’t care for UF, but it’s a huge sub-genre and really should have a category to itself. Same with fantasy, time travel…if they are primarily those things with romantic elements, then you’re faced with another problem. There is a suspense with romantic elements, why not a UF with romantic elements?

    My point is just that, I think, with the glut of books that have the slightest bit of paranormal in them, there are just too many to judge fairly. So where is the balance?

  98. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 08:58:49

    I don't care for UF, but it's a huge sub-genre and really should have a category to itself.

    I have to respectfully disagree. The RITA isn’t an award for any book with a female protagonist. It’s an award for romance novels, with an already existing category for books that aren’t romance but may have a romantic element.

  99. theo
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 09:02:34

    @Shannon Stacey: That’s all fine and dandy, but then why do they specifically have Suspense with Romantic Elements? Because I agree with *can’t remember the poster* where she said for her, it’s not romance unless there’s a true HEA. UF to me falls into the Suspense/Thriller/Kick ass heroine with romantic elements. Not a true romance.

    *edited to add:

    The UF is filed under Paranormal Romance, when technically, it’s not.

  100. Ksquard
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 09:05:30

    First, I love this community of people/women that can passionately discuss Gerogian vs. Regency periods, erotica vs. erotic romance vs. mainline romance, and how best to wear scandalous dresses to awards programs with equal zest and verve. Hee! Awesome.

    I think Sherry Thomas, Merridith Durran, Carrie Lofty, Loretta Chase, and Kathleen O’Reilly wrote some of the best damn books I’ve read in nearly 30 years of reading romances. I’ve been walking away from historicals in recent years and have never been one for category on a regular basis, but you ladies brought me back to the base with style, panache, deeply flawed, challenging, engaging characters, marvelous love relationships, and incredible prose. Good on ya! Keep it coming!

  101. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 09:12:08

    There’s no Suspense with Romantic Elements. There’s an award for Romantic Suspense and an award for Contemporary Series: Suspense/Adventure (to differentiate the HIs and SRSs from the SSEs/HARs, etc).

    Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
    A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries.

    Judging guidelines: Novels of any tone or style, set in any place or time are eligible for this category. A romance must be an integral part of the plot or subplot, and the resolution of the romance is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

    Paranormal Romance
    Romance novels in which the future, a fantasy world or paranormal happenings are an integral part of the plot.

    Judging guidelines: In this category, a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element is blended with the love story, which is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

    I agree the typical UF series wouldn’t be considered Paranormal Romance. It would be considered a Novel with Romantic Elements. It’s on the author to enter in the correct category.

    I simply don’t agree you can tell me a book isn’t a romance while claiming an award for romance should provide a category for that book.

  102. theo
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 09:20:25

    @Shannon Stacey: I’m not asking you to agree. I don’t expect you to agree. What I’m saying is, especially at this time, when anything out of the norm is lumped into the paranormal category, in order to give those authors a fairer chance, there should be sub-genres for them.

    I’ve read a lot of paranormal novels that were listed as romance where the romance took a backseat to the story and the ‘romance’ was an afterthought at the end, and definitely didn’t make me think the couple had a satisfactory HEA. Those to me, belong in a ‘romantic elements’ category. UF, many TT, and a few others, belong in other categories than simply Paranormal Romance. Because they’re not. But they’re entered that way, shelved that way and advertised that way.

    This is only my one opinion. No one at RWA, I’m sure, give’s a rat’s patoot what I think. But I’m beginning to understand why so many don’t enter.

  103. Sunita
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:26:25

    First, congratulations to everyone who was nominated. I am just as thrilled to see the authors of deserving books nominated as I am frustrated at the omissions.

    Re: the Regency v. historical romance categories. Even the RWA doesn’t agree with those Beau Monders who think that Regencies can *only* be set between 1811 and 1820. Thanks to the invaluable Laura Vivanco, we have the definition of the Regency category in 2007 (when they didn’t give an award):

    Best Regency Romance
    Romantic historical novels with primary settings during the Regency period, typically 1795-1840. The word count for these novels is 40,000-85,000 words.

    Judging guidelines: The category includes comedy of manners as well as darker stories, and the books may contain a variety of story elements, such as sexual content, paranormal elements, mystery, suspense, adventure, and non-traditional settings. (RWA)

    In the current definition at RWA, no dates are given. And guess what, in the Royal Ascot contest definition (best Regency prize awarded by Beau Monde), the time period is closer to the old RWA definition:

    Category Guidelines

    Regency Definition: Broadly set at 1780 to 1830
    Setting must be at least partially in the British Empire during the Regency period, or any setting which includes British citizens in any other part of the world during the Regency period. This includes military settings.
    Entries with strong paranormal or erotic elements are best placed in the Hot and Wild Category. Entries without explicit sex in the story lines would be best placed in the Sweet and Mild category.

    I really don’t understand why the RWA resurrected the Regency category when trads are no longer being published, except maybe by Harlequin, whose authors (as someone noted above) are frequently not members of RWA and therefore unlikely to submit. They are appearing in epublishers’ lines, but we all know how much the RWA loves *them*.

    If they want to have two historical categories to increase the number of contestants and winners, that sounds fine to me, but do it by something sensible, like territory (Britain v. everywhere else), more understandable time periods (e.g. pre-1750, 1750-1837, post 1837), or word length.

    Of course, IANA historical romance novelist or scholar, so I’d love to hear from them on this: Kalen? Laura? Jo Bev?

    Bueller?

  104. MaryK
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:30:27

    IMO, a novel that doesn’t have a resolution to the romantic relationship isn’t even a Novel with Romantic Elements. A lot of UF novels have developing relationships which may or may not someday be resolved. I like several of those series, but if I were judging a Romance contest (HA!), I’d kick them back in a heartbeat.

  105. Leslie Kelly-Parrish
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:36:18

    There's an award for Romantic Suspense and an award for Contemporary Series: Suspense/Adventure (to differentiate the HIs and SRSs from the SSEs/HARs, etc).

    The problem is, it's not separated nearly that equitably.

    Under the old definitions, (and before some of the lines went) the breakdowns went something along these lines:

    Traditional series:
    Har Romance, Sil Romance, Medical (some), Presents (a few)

    Short Contemp series:
    Desire, Temptation, Presents, Blaze, Medical (some)

    Long Contemp series:
    Special Edition, Super Romance, American, Intimate Moments, Intrigue (which also had the ability to compete under the standard romantic suspense category)

    That's roughly 4-5 lines in each category. Considering each line, at that time, was putting out anywhere from 50-100 books a year, that seemed a pretty good split.

    New definitions:

    Series Romance:
    Har Romance, Special Edition, Medical, Modern, Super, Nascar, Blaze, Desire, Presents,

    Series Suspense/Adventure:
    HQ Intrigue, Sil Suspense. With maybe an occasional Blaze or Super or something.

    So you have one category with 9 lines, putting out anywhere from 50-150 books a year each.

    vs.

    One category with 2 lines putting out roughly 60 books a year each, and a smattering of others whose books happen to have some adventure/suspense.

    I know RWA wanted to trim the number of categories. But what they did was create a monster category for which roughly 900 books a year qualify! That's a huge number, far more than any other category. And by eliminating the chance for a judge to opt out of reading a spicy book if they didn't want to (by, for instance, refusing to judge what was once “short contemporary” specifically designated as potentially having sexy content) they've got a monster category with a lot of books that some judges are just never going to like.

    Hence (imho) the almost complete absence of the passionate lines from the finalist list.

  106. Shannon Stacey
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:57:31

    I don’t like the new series categories at all, either, and hope they’ll revisit them. My comment was a shortcut way of explaining why that category specified suspense. That’s all.

  107. Courtney Milan
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 11:03:56

    @Sunita: I’m not trying to argue that RWA’s division is rational–one of the huge problems with it is that people do not agree on what constitutes the Regency era, and since the historical category is qualified as “before 1945″ I suspect a lot of people entered books that *could* have been Regency-qualified in Historical in an abundance of caution.

    RWA doesn’t define the Regency period at all in the current rules. And RWA doesn’t police the categories–whoever enters the book picks a category, and even more frightening, whoever *judges* the book can say the categorization is wrong and if enough agree your book will be DQed.

    So, a lot of people who have books that are Regencies in the marginal times–e.g., fitting one of the “looser” definitions of Regency but not the strictest ones–are entering in Historical because they’re afraid that bad luck of the draw will land them with a judge who is hyper enough that they’ll get screwed. What I was trying to say was not that the categories are defensible, but that given the categories, the decision to enter a book in Historical rather than Regency was defensible.

    In my mind that’s a sign the categories are badly drawn. I don’t like an arbitrary date range but frankly it is better than what exists now.

  108. Allison Brennan
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 11:40:42

    As far as the categories go, I had once argued to cut them dramatically: Best Romance novel in four categories: Contemporary, Historical, Suspense and Paranormal. I think only one person on the committee agreed with me.

  109. Anion
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 11:47:28

    @Allison Brennan:

    The Ritas, the Thrillers, the Edgars, the Nebulas are all about which books are entered. They are all peer awards.

    No, they’re not. Every one of those awards EXCEPT the Rita are awarded based on nominations made by the organization’s membership at large. The authors do not pony up fifty bucks to put their names in the hat; writers nominate each other. Professional writers, who know something about writing, nominate books they feel deserve the honor. Books getting a certain number of nominations then go to voting; again, all members can read and vote, and the voting is done in several rounds.

    Only the Rita is a self-nominating award. Only the Rita does not have any form of real concensus judging, but instead hands a few books off to a few members, who are then permitted to disqualify books at their whim if those books have too much of that dirty sex or those nasty fuckwords in them, or if one of the authors looked at them funny at an RT breakfast once or whatever.

    The Rita is NOT a peer award. When the award is given based on the opinion of six or nine people, that’s not a peer award.

    If I remember correctly the only qualification you need to be a judge is to volunteer, is that correct? Perhaps you need to be published, but I don’t remember there being a real definition of published for Rita judging purposes. There’s no indication that the judges are actually professional writers, that they have actually reached any level of skill or professionalism (I think the fact that they DQ erotic romances because any book with a lot of sex just can’t be a romance is a pretty clear sign that we’re not dealing with professionals).

    Like I said it really honestly isn’t my intention to downplay the acheivement of those nominated. Really. They entered, and their books were considered the best out of those entered, and that is a genuine achievement. I congratulate them whole-heartedly and hope they all find some benefit from being nominated, and I wish them all luck.

    But to compare the Edgars or the Nebulas to the Rita…there’s just no comparison. The first two are awards of genuine prestige, given by a large panel of professionals to the books they deem are the best in the genre out of all the books published that year (or within the last year), and the nominees do not pay to be considered; the Rita is an award based on what a couple of people think, given to an author out of a small self-selected group of those who felt like giving the RWA more of their own money with which to discriminate and form Task Forces.

  110. Barb Ferrer
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 11:50:03

    @Jia Really? Only three nominees in the YA category?

    The number of finalists is determined by ten percent of the number of entries. So if there are only three YA finalists, it means there were approximately thirty YA books entered. I wish there had been more entries in the category so there could have been more finalists. I actually judged a YA this year that was absolutely FANTASTIC and I was shocked to see it didn’t make the finals but with a small number of overall entries, it makes finaling that much more difficult.

    My RITA box this year was an interesting amalgam– I had three really, really small press books, two of which were GLBT, a YA, and a couple of Mainstream with SRE, again, another of which was really fabulous, yet didn’t final.

    Overall, seems like it was an interesting year for the RITAs.

  111. Angela James
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 11:55:49

    @Anion: you have to be a PAN member to judge the RITAs, and being a PAN member comes with its own set of qualifications/achievements.

  112. Jeanette
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 11:57:12

    @Allison Brennan

    First, major congrats on the nomination.
    Second thanks for the insight on how you feel. I don’t choose a book because it’s a Rita award winner but if a witer I love is one of the nominated I sure cheer them on. Go Allison, Go Sherry and Go Nora!!!! that said I wish Cry Wolf was there. Is there a list of books that were entered?
    Last, I just started Sudden Death, It’s wonderful!

  113. Tammy (aka karmelrio)
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 12:18:24

    I’d like to thank everyone for sharing their knowledge, experiences and perceptions about the RITA. My manuscript UNDERBELLY was selected as a GH finalist in the paranormal category, and I’ve been reading this thread with great interest.

  114. Karen Templeton
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 12:39:44

    The major problem with a contest for the largest (by far) genre in publishing, is that a contest based solely on peer nominations would almost automatically exclude all but the most popular authors. Nobody has the time to read all, or even most, romance titles published every year (we’re talking THOUSANDS, remember). And if we’re talking only those books that receive X number of nominations moving into the final round, I find it highly unlikely that the model for the Edgards and Hugos would even remotely work for the romance genre.

    God knows the RITA is far from perfect, but at least this way relatively unknowns have SOME shot at finaling, since judges have no way of knowing who else entered save who they get in their judging packet. And most of us are thrilled to discover a wonderful new voice or a fantastic book we didn’t even know about, and judge accordingly. Yes, it’s all still subjective — but ALL contests are subjective. “Best” is always in the eye of the beholder, and I’ve always said getting any five random people to give the same book high marks is a miracle in itself!

    I was also on a task force committee a couple of years ago to revamp the categories — a lot trickier than it might seem on the surface — but many of our suggestions weren’t implemented. As a series romance author, I was not pleased at the division of the series books — as Leslie Kelly noted, the series category is now HUGE, and the previous divisions of Trad, Short and Long contemp allowed much more wiggle room for those judges to opt out of judging not-their-cuppa material. Before, if you got a short contemp, you pretty much knew it would be sexy — Desire, Temptation, Presents. Now a lot of judges are getting books they simply aren’t comfortable judging, and that’s not fair to anyone.

    We tried to make the case for erotic romance being a lot more than simply a romance with hotter sex scenes, that it’s an entirely different form, but our words fell on deaf ears. Of course, then there’s the issue of who’s going to judge them, as long as the contest is about peer judging (which, frankly, I like). Obviously, letting people judge in the category they’ve entered is rife with potential abuse, so even if there were a separate category for ER, finding enough published judges who enjoy and get the books — considering how large a share of the genre ER currently is — might be problematic.

    Does the RITA affect sales? Not to any significant degree. I happened to notice my Amazon ranking for my nominated book did improve yesterday, but we’re probably talking a sale or two. :) Within the industry, it might mean more under certain circumstances — multiple wins might signal to a potential agent or editor that your work has a certain appeal, even though that the work might not appeal to that particular individual. But in a world where ego-strokes are far and few between for authors, getting a nomination or winning can be enough to relieve the maybe-I-don’t-totally-sucks for a few days. And it can be a marketing tool, although I don’t think that potential has been mined nearly as much yet as it could be.

    So I guess it comes down to…it’s better than a stick in the eye. :)

  115. Leslie Kelly-Parrish
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 12:55:40

    Much better than a stick in the eye, Karen–and very well deserved. I really am thrilled for you. (I have never forgotten how wonderful you were to me when I got my first nom!)

    Maybe an answer is to let judges check a box to “opt out” of any books that are more than likely going to have strong sexual content? So they could still judge series romance, but wouldn’t be sent any books from the “passion” lines. That would require more work on RWA’s part, I suppose, but it seems a more fair way to do this if they’re not going to allow sensuality to be part of any description.

    Though, that doesn’t address the monster category issue. I know many authors who just don’t even bother entering anymore. If they thought they might have a shot again, and started entering, we could see a category with 15 finalists!

  116. Janine
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 13:13:44

    @GrowlyCub:

    But that is exactly my point. Just because publishers slap a ‘romance' label on a book because they think it will sell more, regardless of what's between the covers, doesn't make it a romance.

    That's actually the biggest issue I have right now, mislabeled books, and there's more and more of that going on in the mistaken belief that reader will be too dumb to figure it out.

    On that I totally agree with you and I have often taken up that cause in my reviews, where I indicate when I think a book is in a different genre than the one it was labeled by publishers and let my unhappiness with the mislabeling be known.

    However, what I’m talking about was an entire subgenre (historical romance), that was, in the seventies and eighties, overwhelmingly filled with rapes and forced seductions. It was the rare book that didn’t have them. The books did focus on a romantic relationship and the characters did marry at the end, and sometimes had a baby as well. It’s just that I wasn’t always convinced they would stay together faithfully, or that if they did, they would be happy together.

    Now you can say that those weren’t romances but the fact is, those were the books that led to the creation of a separate subgenre called historical romance. Before Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower came along, things looked pretty different in the publishing industry and I don’t think today’s historical romances, even beloved books like The Spymaster’s Lady, would exist in their current form if those books hadn’t been there before them.

    Those weren’t books that stretched the boundaries of the genre, they were books that created a template for historical romance. And whether we like it or not, forced seductions, hero-heroine rapes, and lots and lots of fighting and arguing were a part of that template for a while.

    I guess for the reason that I read a lot of those books when I was a teenager seeking out romances, I can’t see them as anything other than a part of the romance genre. And therefore it boggles my mind when someone (like the AAR reviewer of Wicked Intentions) says that a book isn’t romance to her because the characters behaved badly or were unsympathetic to her or, even though they married at the end, she wasn’t convinced of their lasting happiness. Because I was introduced to the genre by many books that that was true of, the idea that such aren’t romances is a jaw-dropper to me.

    I guess I look at the genre as something that should be, as much as possible, defined by objective criteria, especially when it comes to something like judging the Ritas. Whether or not a HEA is convincing to a given reader, in a book where there is a HEA (by which I mean a book in which the characters do make a commitment like marriage to one another at the end), is completely subjective. If you take Wicked Intentions as an example, Jennie and I did a conversational review in which we both graded the book an A-. Even though the AAR reviewer had a different opinion, Jennie and I were both convinced that the hero and heroine would be happy together.

    Now, a book where one of the characters dies, or one where they split up at the end? That’s much more objective because the majority of readers would agree, there is no HEA in that book. That to me is a book that a Rita judge could write “Not Romance” on and disqualify, and I would not have a problem with that.

    Obviously, there are as many definitions of what constitutes a romance as there are people who care to define it. :)

    But that’s exactly my point. I think what’s romantic, or what’s a convincing HEA, can differ as much as we want from reader to reader, but what defines the romance genre should be something we should at least be able to approach a consensus on. Otherwise, we can’t really argue with publishers over things like mislabelings, because then they can honestly say that every reader has a different definition and they might as well call Othello a romance even though the title character kills his wife.

  117. Karen Templeton
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 13:14:33

    Leslie — I think there’s a no-more-than-nine finalists rule per category (as of now).

    Also, it’s not just the series books with the sensuality issues — STs and SRE are the same way. Obviously sometimes it’s hard to tell the books’ heat levels from the cover/blurb — but most of the time, it’s pretty obvious!

    And let’s face it — everyone has a right to his or her own comfort level, and the right to not judge books they feel they can’t be objective about. We’re more polarized about sex in this country than perhaps any other issue (except perhaps religion and politics!). But even if RWA were to open up all categories to everything under the sun (as long as it focused on a central relationship and had a satisfying ending), changing individual mindsets is not part of its mission. Nor should it be.

    However, running a contest where each entrant has an equal shot as possible at being fairly judged is. Or at least should be.

  118. Janine
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 13:17:37

    @GrowlyCub:

    Since I’m changing topics and my post got so long, I thought it would be better to post this in a separate post.

    With regard to stretching the genre, I think that depends on how one defines “stretching.” From what you say, GrowlyCub, it sounds to me as though your definition of “stretching” is a negative one.

    But you also say in another post that you would have liked to see Broken Wing recognized by the Ritas, and though I haven’t read the book, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen readers post that Broken Wing is a book that they feel stretches the genre’s boundaries. And even just from the description I’ve heard of the book, with its unusual hero who cuts himself and with the long separation, it sounds like a book that meets my definition of boundary-stretching.

    I understand why some readers say that stretching the genre’s boundaries will accord the genre more respect. It’s because they define stretching as anything that makes a book feel fresh or makes it stand out in a good way. They probably look at many of the books that doesn’t work for them as ones that didn’t stretch the genre, and don’t focus on the books that stretched it but also didn’t work for them. Whereas from what you said, you look at every book that you see as stretching the genre as one that didn’t work for you.

    For me, the definition of stretching can be both positive and negative, but I probably focus more on the positive, maybe just because those books that stretched and pulled it off stand out more in my mind than the ones that stretched and fell short of the mark I felt they were trying to reach.

  119. Claire
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 13:23:11

    I love the idea of having awards for romance novels but the process is really messed up if the author has to submit their own work. Very weird. I didn’t know it worked this way. Couldn’t there be another way, like other authors nominating them?

    My “she was robbed” goes to Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas.

  120. Leslie Kelly-Parrish
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 13:26:43

    Ahhh! That suddenly makes sense, then, Karen! Because the top-10% rule just didn’t compute for me with only 9 finalists.

    And you’re absolutely right. I know there are a lot of other books, outside category, that have to overcome that sensuality stigma. Brava being one right off the top of my head.

    So, maybe the author can mark her book as being high in sensuality when she enters? And those books aren’t sent to judges who specified that they don’t want to judge them–no matter what the category? I dunno…no easy answer, I guess.

    I am aware that it’s not just sensual books, either. As a judge, you really do have to try to set aside your own dislikes. I would never choose to judge inspie romance, because I rarely read them. (Except for Rachel Haucks–whoop Rachel!) And I make that clear on my judging preference sign-up. Yet one landed in the romantic suspense lot I judged last year–obviously the author’s choice to place it there. I tried to be as fair as I could, and gave it a pretty good score, but I don’t know that someone who chose to judge inspie wouldn’t have rated it higher.

  121. Karen Templeton
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 13:38:59

    Claire, I just addressed that issue a couple posts up.

    In a genre with thousands of new releases every year, it really wouldn’t be any more “fair” for authors to nominate their faves, since like everyone else, authors tend to read more of the more popular authors than the lesser-knowns (and they often read them after the year of publication, since it’s often hard to read someone else’s work while you’re writing.) So if noms are dependent on # of votes, it’s highly unlikely that a new or less popular author would garner enough votes to be nominated.

    There actually was a RWA Favorite Books contest, separate from the RITAs but still author-generated. It was discontinued due to lack of response (if you only have time to read a handful of books during the year, do you really feel qualified to vote? I didn’t.) As you can imagine, with very, very rare exception, the same Big Names showed up on the Top Ten every. single. year.

    Good idea in theory, but not terribly practical. ;-)

  122. MaryK
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 13:41:37

    @Janine:
    FWIW, a lot of the talk I’ve seen about stretching the genre has specifically been about an HEA not being necessary. Which does tend to give a negative connotation to stretching. I’m all for innovation, but within the genre not by diluting it with romantic fiction.

  123. Sunita
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 14:25:09

    @Courtney Milan:
    Thanks for posting again, and for explaining why books wind up where they do. I too find it frightening that a book can be DQ’d by the reviewers without any appeal. And it makes sense to me that someone who is submitting will choose a category where they’re less likely to be DQ’d, especially when the category rules are the subject of disagreement from year to year.

    I think my preferred way of dividing the category would be by word count, since it’s such a constraint on the way that the plot, characterizations, contexts, etc. can be developed or not. I love categories because so many authors are able to write fully realized and satisfying stories in a very short space, and I think that talent deserves to be singled out more than whether your story is set in Britain at a particular time or not. When trads had their own publishing lines the Regency category was basically doing that, but that distinction is clearly gone now.

  124. MoJo
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 14:28:21

    Those weren't books that stretched the boundaries of the genre, they were books that created a template for historical romance. And whether we like it or not, forced seductions, hero-heroine rapes, and lots and lots of fighting and arguing were a part of that template for a while.

    Most of those books came after Nancy Friday’s books about female sexual fantasies were gaining ground. While I don’t think one necessarily informed the other, I do think that it was a convergence of awareness that happened concerning the rape/forced seduction fantasy. My Secret Garden was published in 1973 and Forbidden Flowers in 1975. Both have sections laden with the rape fantasy.

    Woodiwiss’s Flame and the Flower was published in 1972 and Wolf & Dove in 1974, both of which prominently feature rape as the preferred seduction technique.

    These could not have been informed by each other, as they were all in the editorial pipeline about the same time, but note that the fiction came before the non.

    But

    Rosemary Rogers
    Bertrice Small
    Johanna Lindsey
    Valerie Sherwood
    et al

    might have been.

    All those came after Nancy Friday, but Woodiwiss came before.

    I think the case could be made that the rape fantasy in historical romance, and in Nancy Friday’s, ah, research, could have been a backlash to the feminism at the time. But my real point is that there’s a reason the rape/forced seduction scenario was popular then and it’s not just historical romance that documented it.

  125. Janine
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 14:41:20

    @MaryK:

    I think that’s a relatively new (last few years) development. I’ve also seen stretching the genre discussed in the context of long separations, historical romance heroes who aren’t of the nobility, different or unusual settings (like ancient Rome or contemporary Japan), etc. In general I favor stretching, but when things don’t end happily for the main characters (such as when one of them dies), then it goes beyond stretching the boundaries IMO, and becomes crossing them.

  126. Janine
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 14:49:41

    @MoJo:

    But my real point is that there's a reason the rape/forced seduction scenario was popular then and it's not just historical romance that documented it.

    Oh yes, I agree with that. There were also clearly other places in pop culture where you saw it too, such as Luke raping Laura on “General Hospital” and John Travolta’s character in “Saturday Night Fever” raping his girlfriend. Both hugely popular with viewers.

    I also think that it’s no coinicidence that the old-school romances we are discussing were some of the earliest romances to include explicit sex scenes. I think the heroines (almost always virginal) then were forced into sex partly to distinguish them from the villainesses who freely consented to sex. IOW the idea that “good girls don’t” was still prevalent at that time and if the hero forced her, well then, she could still be a “good girl” and have sex (often enjoying it) at the same time.

  127. MoJo
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 14:57:02

    @Janine:

    IOW the idea that “good girls don't” was still prevalent at that time and if the hero forced her, well then, she could still be a “good girl” and have sex (often enjoying it) at the same time.

    And that the rape was the only vehicle available at the time for a good girl’s (explicit) sexual gratification and the retention of virtue.

    I think the sexual politics of the Old Skool romances is fascinating.

  128. GrowlyCub
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 15:11:35

    Janine,

    Broken Wing actually felt like a return to an older style romance rather than genre stretching in a new direction.

    All the ‘stretching’ I’ve seen lately (Hart, Brockmann) took the books clearly out of the romance genre for me. I do not consider it something positive, and especially the argument that the ‘stretched’ stuff is somehow better romance does not resonate with me at all. I didn’t get the impression that it was about being ‘fresh’ but rather that it was better because it didn’t follow the traditional romance constraints.

    It’s not so much about whether the HEA is convincing but rather that I wasn’t sure there was one (especially in ‘Broken’) and it has nothing to do at all with whether or not the story is ‘romantic’.

    I started reading romance in the 80s with Heyer and while I have read some of the books that came before and clearly fall into the category you described (Rogers) I do not consider the comparison of those early books to what evolved into the genre ‘romance’ over the last 25 years really relevant to the point I was making.

    I feel we are having two different conversations, addressing two separate issues. :)

    What’s really funny is that my definition has evolved over the years. I considered ‘A Knight in Shining Armor’ a romance when I first read it, but I wouldn’t classify it so nowadays because of the ending.

    While I agree that we all should have a similar general idea of what constitute ‘romance’ as a genre, I have a feeling it’s very much like that quote ‘I can’t define porn, but I sure know when I see it’ and it does seem to differ from reader to reader. My definition is something like this: story concerned with one primary couple (or triple) working to overcome obstacles to a long-term, lasting relationship, with a commitment at the end to make a go at it. No babies, marriage or white picket fences required.

    A considerable number of the books I’ve gotten to judge in contests and seen nominated for RITAs (especially in recent years) should not be included as far as I’m concerned, but since they are many people obviously disagree. I usually try to live and let live (aka I just don’t read the things that are clearly not romance), but I’m increasingly finding books labeled as ‘romance’ that do not even have a clearly defined couple or where the characters go separate ways at the end or where one of the protagonists is killed. And that’s where I see the issue in labeling, when a reader cannot determine between the spine label and the back blurb whether the book is indeed a romance or not.

    Maybe it’s a sign of having read romance for so long, but I don’t want structural surprises any more (if I ever did). That doesn’t mean I want to read the same book over and over again, just that I want to be assured that I won’t have a nasty surprise at the end, be left feeling depressed after finishing a book labeled ‘romance’ or get bogged down in trying to follow 12 couples over multiple books and then be left hanging anyway.

    That may make me sound like I’m not willing to try new authors or books that include controversial plot points, but that is definitely not the case. I just read my first Jewel (Scandal) and loved it, and really enjoyed the new Carlyle that had some events in it that took some readers aback, which I guess some might call stretching the boundaries, but which were clearly dictated by the characters’ needs as far as I was concerned.

    I’m not sure I clarified my thoughts any more than I did before, but I tried… :)

  129. KristieJ
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 15:56:27

    My biggest disappointment have already been mentioned.

    No Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas :-(

    No Broken Wing by Judith James :-(

    No Untamed or no Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare :-(

    These were my 3 top reads of 2008 and not a one of them got nominated.

  130. Kalen Hughes
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 16:10:07

    To the extent that such a thing is defined by anyone in romance fiction, the Beaumonde sets it strictly as 1811-1820, occasionally conducts vigorous arguments about whether the time period ought to be extended to a broader one, and has yet to extend it.

    As Past President of the Beau Monde I have to speak up here: We define our chapter thusly “Our purpose is to promote excellence in romantic fiction, set primarily in the Regency period (1811-1820)”, but even for our own contest (the Royal Ascot) our date range is stated as “Broadly set at 1780 to 1830″. I think most people (readers, agents, editors and even *gasp* writers) would label any book set during this period in England as a “Regency”. I know Kensington certainly marketed my books as “Regency Historicals” even though they are set in 1788-1789. I think of them a Georgian Historicals, and I entered them in the “historical” category, but I’m a history buff (obviously).

    Personally, I'd have called Bourne's book a Regency, but I wouldn't have fought with her about entering it in the historical category. The contest definition is “Romance novels set in any time period prior to 1945, and taking place in any location”, which clearly includes the entire Regency period, no matter how you define it (a problem which MANY of us pointed out to the board and complained about when the categories were revamped).

  131. MaryK
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 16:10:35

    @Janine:

    I agree. I don’t necessarily like some of the components you mentioned (like long separations) but I don’t think the inclusion of them makes a novel not a romance.

  132. Janine
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 17:40:01

    @GrowlyCub: Yes, we probably are having separate conversations. My initial comment was never about Megan Hart’s books but rather more generally about how we define the genre. I agree with you re. Broken; I loved it but it is not a romance IMO. There was a happy beginning (rather than a happy ending) for two characters, and a sad ending for one character. I want to point out that as Jane says, neither Hart nor her publisher has ever represented her Spice books as romances. Readers have debated whether or not they are but that is not the same as mislabeling.

    I haven’t read Brockmann in ages and have never read any of the books in her current series that was the focus of so much controversy. I enjoy J.R. Ward’s series which I’ve heard is structured similarly, but I agree with the sentiment the last couple of books in that series have been less romance and more something else (most romance readers seem to say these later books are urban fantasy, but I wonder if most fantasy readers would agree, since I think urban fantasy usually has more focus on the worldbuilding and fantastical aspect than Ward’s books do).

    My definition is something like this: story concerned with one primary couple (or triple) working to overcome obstacles to a long-term, lasting relationship, with a commitment at the end to make a go at it. No babies, marriage or white picket fences required.

    My definition isn’t that different, actually, though I don’t mind subplots about secondary characters and I’m also okay with that commitment being something other than marriage, like living together, or with it being hinted at. I totally agree that a book in which one of the main characters dies or the couple go their separate ways at the end is not a romance.

    I’m tempted to make an exception for A Knight in Shining Armor, though. It did work for me as a romance, and I can’t exactly explain why. Maybe it is as you say, a case of “I know it when I see it.”

    just that I want to be assured that I won't have a nasty surprise at the end, be left feeling depressed after finishing a book labeled ‘romance'

    In that I am also with you 100%. One of the reasons I read as much romance as I do is because I want to avoid nasty surprises and getting depressed. If I didn’t mind depressing endings I would head over to the literary fiction genre, where they often have strong prose and well developed characters, but the books frequently leave me feeling in need of Prozac. The one thing that distinguishes romance from other genres is that the ending is happy, and I think it is important to preserve that.

    However happy ending doesn’t necessarily mean babies and a white picket fence to me either.

    Where I think we disagree is on how we define stretching. As I said to MaryK, I think books where one of the main characters dies or where they split up cross the genre’s boundaries, rather than stretch them.

  133. Anthea Lawson
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 17:53:27

    re: Regency vs. Historical categories in the RITA~

    When did they remove the word count specifications? Because part of the definition of the Regency novel (for the RITA and GH) used to be 85,000 words or less. Anything over that was the straight Historical category. This made more sense before the boundaries began to blur, (say 10 years ago? longer?) back when a “Regency Romance” was a short, sweet, and rather discreet book set most definitely in England between 1811-1820.

    Seems like books and sub-genres are shifting faster than the contest categories. But then, it’s a moving target.

    re: Nominated vs. self submitted

    As a relatively (ok, VERY) unknown author (actually, 2 authors, I co-write with my husband) whose debut book is up for a RITA, I can say that very very few people have read PASSIONATE, but the feedback has been great from those who have! Why so few? Smaller NY publishing house, no push whatsoever from marketing (I mean, the authors even have to load most of the book info to Amazon themselves), smaller print run, released in October (remember, Publishing’s worst month. Ever.) Not placed in a number of outlets because of exotic setting (botanical expedition from England to Tunisia)… and yet, the RITA gives PASSIONATE a chance to not be *completely* buried beneath the waves of hundreds of releases. And for that, for giving our book an increased opportunity to connect with readers, we are very, very grateful.

  134. Allison Brennan
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 18:03:11

    @Anion (I don’t know if I’m tagging this right, forgive me)

    Actually, you’re mistaken. I’ll admit I don’t know how the Nebulas are judged, but I know exactly how the Edgars and the Thrillers are judged. ANYONE can enter the Edgars and Thrillers. There is no charge, publishers by and large enter the books, and a panel of FIVE JUDGES read the books and then determine the finalists. As the ITW Thriller Awards Chairman, I know what I’m talking about here.

    We had well over 300 books entered in the Thriller Awards for Best Novel. FIVE BOOKS will final. ALL thrillers (except first novel) compete against each other. There’s no separate categories for romantic thriller, medical thriller, techno-thriller, crime thriller . . . it’s all together.

    Publishers (or authors) enter books in the Edgars and they are judged by a panel of peers. A panel of five judges (it might be seven, but I think it’s still five.)

    The difference between the Ritas and the Edgars/Thrillers is that there are many, many judges for the Ritas, but every book is judged by five people and no one judge is sent more than 9 books (unless they opt-in for more and more judges are needed.) In the Edgars/Thrillers, the books are read by the panel–and discussed–and everyone knows who the judges are. And, the Ritas charge $40 for members to enter, and the Edgars and Thrillers are free–just the cost of the books and shipping to the judges.

    Also, you do NOT have to judge the Ritas to enter the Ritas. I don’t know how that rumor started.

    Yes, the Edgars are considered far more distinguished that the Ritas but I have my own opinions as to why and this isn’t the thread for that debate.

    Finally, you must be a published romance writer to judge the Ritas.

    The Ritas are not perfect. No contest is. I don’t understand why people are up-in-arms about this. The books that finaled are great representations of the genre they finaled in. That doesn’t mean they are the BEST representations or the only representations.

    I believe, and I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, that there used to be an award in RWA that was voted on by the membership at the conference for a specific book, and there was some sort of nomination process. I can’t remember the name, but it was discontinued a year or two after I joined.

    Anyway, I just wanted to clarify how other contests manage their awards.

  135. Allison Brennan
    Mar 26, 2009 @ 18:13:58

    @Jeannette:

    Thanks for your comments! There’s no list of books entered, which actually isn’t a bad idea . . . it’s done in the Edgars and Thrillers, so why not the Ritas? But I don’t know how that would go over with the authors. I wouldn’t care, personally. I hope you like Sudden Death–I really enjoyed writing that book.

    I’m thrilled with the finalists in my category. They’re all outstanding writers, I’m excited to be in the group with them.

  136. Anion
    Mar 27, 2009 @ 04:02:05

    Sorry, Allison, my point was that to enter the Edgars or the Thrillers or the Nebulas, the authors didn’t have to pay cash out of pocket and fill out the forms themselves. That’s what makes the Rita look like a vanity award. Period. I don’t think anyone is up-in-arms about anything. My point is just that the Ritas are not particularly prestigious because of the way entries are handled and nominees are chosen, and that if the RWA were actually a professional group as it claims to be they would do something about that.

    That doesn’t mean that this years nominees shouldn’t be proud to be judged the best in their category or that they’ve acheived nothing, just that the Ritas on the whole would mean more if they were more than another fund-raising activity for the RWA so it can pay more questionable legal counsel to give it lousy advice about ebooks.

    I do have a hard time buying the “Nobody can read all those books” thing though, when I consider how many books I and most writers I know read per week or per month.

    (I never thought you had to judge the Ritas to enter the Ritas. And being a PAN member is all well and good, until you consider that the PAN requirements are pretty low.)

  137. Karen Templeton
    Mar 27, 2009 @ 07:57:33

    I do have a hard time buying the “Nobody can read all those books” thing though, when I consider how many books I and most writers I know read per week or per month.

    Do you read ALL the thousands of books released each year in the genre? Or even most of them? Enough to feel qualified to cite a book, or books, as “the best” in the genre?

    And say you did read some outstanding books, hidden gems, say, from smaller pubs, books without much word of mouth. So you nominate them. If we’re talking votes, what are the odds of those little-known books even having a shot at getting nominated?

    In any case, not all writers read prolifically, even if they once did. Some writers don’t like to read at all while they’re “on book,” and many don’t read in the genre while they’re writing so they won’t be unduly influenced. Some of us, whose reading time is limited, prefer to read out of genre, anyway. In fact, I look forward to my RITA judging because it forces me to read authors I wouldn’t have normally picked to read on my own — I’ve found some real treasures that way!

    I’m not saying the RITA is ideal. I realize, for instance, that my nomination is out of a smaller pool than every series romance book published in 2008 (even though that’s by no means a small pool). And I absolutely agree that there needs to be more accommodation for e-books, and that erotic romance needs its own category. But I’m not getting how the “let everyone vote who wants to,” in such a huge genre, would be an improvement. No matter how the contest is run — even if, somehow, every single romance novel released that year was part of the process — people are still going to feel left out, or that more worthy books are being overlooked.

    I mean, name me one contest/award where everyone agrees about the winners.

    Is that crickets I hear?

  138. Leslie Parrish | Daily News
    Mar 29, 2009 @ 16:35:05

    [...] Comment on RITA and Golden Heart Nominations – She Was Robbed … [...]

  139. DS
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 20:36:00

    I’m not sure where this belongs, but I guess I will put it here. I noticed that Amazon had a page of book finalists up including the Hugo nominees, the Edgar, and even the Gold Spur (westerns) but the RITA finalists were no where to be found. I can’t imagine Amazon slighting romance when it’s such a big seller, so I’m wondering if press releases were actually sent out by the RWA.

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