Anne here. I watched the RITA award ceremony last weekend, via a live on-line feed from Romance Writers of America (RWA). The RITA Awards celebrate the best of English-language romance writing, as judged by participating members of RWA.
I love the RITAs — I enjoy award ceremonies in general, as long as they don't get too over-the top. I love to see people's efforts recognized and I always learn a little more about the various individuals from the way they accept an award. Like the Olympics, there are stories within stories at the RITAs.
Each year I enter the RITA, and, along with hundreds of others, I'm also a judge. I get a packet of around 9 or 10 randomly selected books—though not in my category or subgenre—to judge, and so I'm always invested in who finals and who wins. But more than that, this is my "tribe" — the tribe of romance writers — and it's made up of some of the most generous writers around.
Some of the authors there are my actual friends, some are social media friends, some are on writers' loops I belong to, and some are "book friends" — I've never met them, but I've read and loved their books. I'm always aware that the new person I meet might well become a favorite author or a new friend.
Normally, if I'm not at the RWA conference, I'm with a group of friends "watching it" via twitter, but this year I watched it via a live feed from my office at home. I could have joined friends who were gathered and drinking champagne and watching, but guess who's on deadline?
If I'm lucky I will have read all the books in my favorite categories and will pick my winners. They're almost never the actual winners, probably because personal preferences and reader taste plays a big part in the judging system — but that's part of the fun. If you're curious, the winners are here and the full list, including finalists is here.
The highlight for me this year was the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. This year it went to Robyn Carr, and Kristin Higgins delivered the introductory speech, outlining Robyn's life and career, the ups and the downs, the heartbreak and the triumphs. It was a beautiful speech and I hope it's posted somewhere, because it's certainly worth reading. (That's Robyn Carr (left) and Kristan Higgins in the picture, on RITA night.)
Here's a snippet of what I remember of her speech: After a long and successful career, Robyn was in publishing wilderness for a period of eight years. She never gave up. She kept writing and submitting, and finally, having revised a book that had been rejected, she asked that editor to give it another read. Reader she sold it, and that became the first book in the hugely bestselling and beloved Virgin River series. And she never looked back.
Then Robyn Carr went on to deliver another wonderful speech. The last part was particularly addressed to writers, brand new or multi-published, and was all about not worrying about social media and so on, but to go deep into the story and characters, to believe in yourself and your voice, and instead of chasing trends, to write the story that sets your heart aflame. I hope that gets published, too.
Remember what I said about some of the most generous writers around? Yep, that was evident up front and center stage.
And you know, that's why I love awards ceremonies — not because it's about winners and losers — in my view they're all winners — but because there is so much inspiration and positive thinking and encouragement.
So I wasn't able to be there this year, but thanks to RWA the RITAs came to me, and I was connected once more with my tribe, and felt the joy and the emotion.
Have you read any of this years RITA finalists or winners? Do you enjoy watching award ceremonies or not? Ever won or been a finalist for an award yourself? Tell us what it was and how you felt about it. I'll give a book to someone who leaves a comment.