Three weeks ago, the Romance Writers of America handed out its RITA awards which is deemed by the industry to be the highest award an author can achieve. It’s an award, though, that is the target of a great deal criticism for everything from its categories to the entrance fee to the way in which the judging is carried out.
Each year seems to have at least one controversial win. This year’s controversial winner was Caridad Ferrer’s book, Adios to My Old Life. Ferrer’s book was originally entered into the Young Adult category but lack of contest entrants forced RWA to eliminate the category. Per the rules, Ferrer was given the option of choosing other categories for her book should she desire to continue in the contest. Ferrer chose New Book and Contemporary.
There were arguments made on either side as to why this award was appropriate or inappropriate. Some argued that it was not a romance. Others maintained a YA book should not have won. What no one said, though, was that this wasn’t a good book. In fact, two readers I trust, JMC and Keishon, have both read and raved about the book.
What the Ferrer win exemplified for me was that the RITAs, for all their glory, is still so subjective that no consensus will ever be created to validate the RITAs. Each year there will be a controversy and each year a different set of supporters and detractors will arise. Is there a better way to categorize and run the contest to achieve a higher degree of validity? I doubt it. I can’t see the RITAs ever attaining the status of the OSCARs even within the romance community. What I can say is that, for writers, the award is meaningful and worthwhile. (Julia Quinn says it is heavier than an Emmy). And isn’t that enough?
We ran the RITA Reader contest and had 267 entrants. Not one entrant got more than five (5) out of eleven (11) right and only six entrants got five. Entrant no. 92 was the random winner. Entrant No. 92’s ballot was as follows:
- “The Husband Trap” by Tracy Anne Warren
- “Summer at Willow Lake” by Susan Wiggs
- “My So-Called Love Life” by Allie Pleiter
- “The Mommy Quest” by Lori Handeland
- “Lady of Sin” by Madeline Hunter
- “Ready & Willing” in The Boys Are Back in Town by Tanya Michaels
- “A Hunger Like No Other” by Kresley Cole
- “Born in Death” by J.D. Robb
- “Devil In Winter” by Lisa Kleypas
- “From the First” by Jessica Bird
- “Blind-Date Marriage” by Fiona Harper
- “A Lady Raised High” by Jennifer Ashley writing as Laurien Gardner
Entrant No. 92, however, was from the UK and the contest winner had to be a US resident for postage costs. Next year, though, it will be open to everyone. I’m just going to start saving today. ;). The next random winner was Jaci Burton, who also picked five the winners correctly. Burton tried to deny the prize saying that she was an author but authors are readers too so I forced her to take it. Plus, I felt that she would be guilted into reading them and blogging about it.
The results of the contest were fairly interesting. It is important to note that the contest called for entrants to pick who would win, but not who they thought should win. Whether there was overlap, it is hard to tell. Burton said she picked who she thought should win.
Kresley Cole, winner of the Best Paranormal Category, sent me nine books to give away to random entrants. Dorchester sent me a set of RITA finalists to give away as well. Since Ferrer’s win was controversial, I decided that every contestant who picked Ferrer’s book for as the Best Contemporary would be the winner of a donated book. The winners have been contacted.
Best Traditional Romance had close contenders in A Woman Worth Loving by Jackie Braun (24%), Domesticating Luc by Sandra Paul ( 21%) and Blind-Date Marriage by Fiona Harper (19%). The winner, Claiming His Family by Barbara Hannay, had only 14% of the vote.
In Best Contemporary Single Title Romance, 22% thought Summer At Willow Lake by Susan Wigg would win followed by fellow Harlequin book, Irresistible by Susan Mallery at 18%. The winning book, Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer received only 16 votes or 6.7%.
Best Inspirational Romance voters thought A Family Forever by Brenda Coulter would win with 24 % of the vote. 21% thought My So-Called Love Life by Allie Pleiter would be the RITA winner. Only 12% thoughtRevealed by Tamera Alexander would win.
In Best Long Historical, voters felt confident in awarding the prize to On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn with 27% of the votes. Mary Jo Putney’s The Marriage Spell came in second at 25% of the votes.
Best Romantic Novella‘s results gave “Her Mad Grace” in Bad Boys Ahoy! by Sylvia Day big odds to win with 35% of the vote. The winning novella, “‘Tis the Silly Season” in A NASCAR Holiday by Roxanne St.Claire, only received 11% of the vote.
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements had a neck and neck race between California Demon: The Secret Life of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner (20%) and Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday (19%). Eventual winner, A Lady Raised High by Jennifer Ashley writing as Laurien Gardner, received 18 votes for the second lowest percentage of a winner behind Adios to My Old Life.
The biggest upset, though, would have to be Best Romantic Suspense winner Blackout by Annie Solomon. She received only 11 votes in total which is a little more than 4% of the vote. Born in Death by J.D. Robb received 50% of the vote with The Kill by Allison Brennan coming in a very distant second with 11% of the vote.
Do these statistics mean anything? Probably not, but it was fun to analyze them. I hope that everyone participates next year. I want to give special thanks to the publishers and authors who donated books to giveaway during this contest: