I didn’t post this yesterday. I think I was still in a bit of shell-shock. But by now, the news has percolated just about everywhere: “This Wicked Gift,” my debut novella, the very first work that I have ever published, ever, anywhere–is a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® Contest. For those of you who don’t know, the RITA contest is the Big Enchilada of romance contests. In part this is because it’s run by the national organization of RWA, and so many of the romance books that are published are submitted. In part, it’s because the readers are authors and judges. In part, it’s because there are always upsets and surprises–names left off that nobody expected, and sometimes names added that nobody has heard about. It’s a big deal for authors, at least, to know that other authors read their works and enjoyed them.
There have been a lot of fantastic novellas written over the last year, and if I didn’t post about this yesterday, it was in part because I didn’t believe it until I saw my name up in lights on their website. In fact, after I hung up the phone, I promptly convinced myself that I must have dreamed and manufactured the whole thing. I’m still in a state of disbelief.
But there’s one part of this I do believe in, quite frankly, and I’m very proud to say one other thing. As you may know, from time to time my website features books written by other authors, and designates certain days as Buy a Book Not Written by Courtney day. In 2009, I featured five other authors (and a few more books than authors). One of those five authors did not enter the RITA contest. Of the other four, three of them were nominated for RITAs: Sherry Thomas, Victoria Dahl, and Tessa Dare.
If you go even further and look at some of the mini-book-recommendations I’ve featured on my blog, you’ll find that I picked even more of the finalists: Julia Quinn’s What Happened in London, Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry (picked, I should add with a gloat, well before it had become a runaway hit with hundreds of thousands of copies in print), and Kelly Gay’s double-nominated The Better Part of Darkness. Can I pick ’em or what?
But looking at the RITA list made me realize how remiss I had been in talking about the books I’ve enjoyed, ranging from Elizabeth Hoyt/Julia Harper’s wonderful books, to Carolyn Jewel’s excellent historicals (and paranormals). Betina Krahn’s Make Me Yours made me a huge fan of hers, and after I read it I searched out her entire backlist, to the extent I could find it. Laura Lee Guhrke’s With Seduction in Mind is one of my favorite books of hers, and one where she took a huge number of risks with her characters–in some cases, the kinds of risks that give authors a little pit of Oh-God-please-don’t-let-that-happen-to-me, and had them pay off in the end. I can’t believe I’ve never mentioned Ally Carter’s Spy Series, which has finally gotten a RITA nod. (And it’s an utter travesty that I haven’t mentioned that her HEIST SOCIETY was one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2010–smart and plotty and yet still focused on characters. It kept me on the edge of my seat!) And I’m only stopping now because once I start babbling about books I can go on and on and on!
Suffice it to say that in the next day, I think I’m going to have a celebration where I give away a select handful of awesome RITA-nominated books. And because there are never enough slots for all the deserving books that I would have liked to see final, I’m also going to be giving away a handful of books that I wish had been on the list, too–not to imply that anyone else should have lost their slot, but I sure wished yesterday that there had been more slots.