Conversations & Guests

Conversation With You: Rita Nominees Are In, What Do You Think?

ritaEarlier this week, Romance Writers of America announced the finalists for the RITA, the equivalent of our Oscar nominees. In our little world, discussions popped up discussing them, but one comment was the most common, it seemed: the weird skewing of numbers in each category. For instance, Inspirational Romance only had two entries, while Paranormal Romance had Lucky 13. Contemporary had eighteen!

From what I understand, this is attributable to a couple of factors, but one of the main ones is that the finalist had to garner a 90% score or higher, with no low score dropped. Another factor, is that the new scoring system is now in place for the RITA, with the ‘romance’ portion heavily weighted.

Did this hurt the categories like Inspirational, Erotic and Romantic Suspense, which have different genre expectations? Did those categories just have fewer entrants, thus making the field proportionally smaller that would get the 90% score? I heard the YA category had to be eliminated because there weren’t enough entrants, which is a shame. I know last year a nice proportion of them were paranormals.

But before we get into discussing all this, I’d like to celebrate the finalists in the Paranormal Romance category, which includes our very own Lexi George!

Here are the finalists!

One thing that struck me was the lack of some of the bigger names in PNR, like Ward, Cole, Kenyon, etc. In the past, they’ve been in the list, alongside the newcomers and the other solid writers that just haven’t made it to the rarefied air of the JR Ward level. Is it the new scoring system? I want to be clear, this isn’t knocking this list AT ALL. I’ve read three of these thirteen and they deserve to be there, and just the names of some of the others assure me they should be there as I’ve read others of theirs. I just wonder if it’s limiting to good stories of just a certain type, leaving out good stories of another type due to the new scoring system. Does that make sense? Or is it as simple as they didn’t enter? I really don’t know.

What about you? Which have you read? I’ve read Piper’s, George’s and Callihan’s and I’m eager to dive into a number of these, especially Sherry Thomas’ (as I love her historicals) and Susanna Kearsley’s (loved the Shadow Horses!). I also want to read Beth Ciotta’s as I enjoyed the first book in that series. Some of the others I haven’t heard of, but looking forward to getting acquainted.

Do you non-writers even care about this award? Are we the only ones that get excited about it? Or do you notice and add some to your TBR pile?

What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Conversation With You: Rita Nominees Are In, What Do You Think?

  1. Truth? I don’t care about Oscar’s or Rita’s at all. I read those books I want to read, and it does not matter if the author is an award winning author or if it is a debut novel that catches my interest. From this list I have only read Nalini Singh. And I though Cathy Maxwell writes historical romance. I do have some of her books (unread) on my shelves.\
    I am a reader and a blogger, not an author.
    (p.s. I also have no interest whatsoever in who the publisher of a book is.)

  2. I’m part of RWA though not eligible for the RITA (I did however, enter the Golden Heart for unpublished manuscripts). The elimination of YA this year is a result of RWA having tweaked the definition of what constitutes a Young Adult Romance. The definition has been tweaked so much the past few years that current, active members of RWA and the YA chapter no longer felt their books qualified. To me, that points to something wrong. We aren’t talking about YA books that don’t have any romance to speak of. But YA inherently has other factors (coming of age, family, etc. that are necessary in order to not inadvertently provide a negative message to teens that relationships are the only focus).

    The sad fallout of tweaking too much led to an over-interpretation that romance was the ONLY factor, so writers pulled their books from the category. This was discussed quite a bit over the past year when the changes were made.

    I think similar issues are more clearly shown in the nominees list. The scoring changes most likely hurt niche categories (Erotica, Inspirational). I judged GH entries and was given entries to judge in a category I pretty much never read. Imagine then if you never read erotica and get a manuscript that’s really steamy. Does your personal opinion, morals, background, cloud your judgement on the writing? Same with Inpsirational. Religion is a touch subject. If you don’t write those genres, there are things that a reader/judge may be put off by. Dropping the low score helps to clear out bias, because some people, let’s face it, aren’t judging by the merits of the writing. Also, it’s very subjective. Sometimes we just don’t like something.

    I am hopeful that these issues will be looked at and our voices will be heard. I’ve discussed the YA matter with a board member via email and I also voiced my concerns after the nominees were announced. Here’s to next year!

  3. I have read about half of the books on the list. I think the RITA is wonderful to acknowledge the authors, but I don’t use it as a tool to determine if I want to read a book.

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