The 2016 RITA Finalist Reading Challenge

The 2016 RITA Finalist Reading Challenge

The RITA is a contest put on by the Romance Writers of America that is basically the Oscars of the Romantic Fiction world. If you write romance this is the award you want listed in your bio.

 “The RITA is the highest award of distinction in romance fiction. It recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. Up to 2,000 romance novels are entered in the RITA competition each year. After the first round of judging by published romance authors, entries that meet the qualifications to become a finalist then advance to the final round. The winners will be announced at a black-tie awards ceremony held at the annual RWA Conference.

This years conference will be held in San Diego, California with the award ceremony happening on July 16 between 8-10pm PT.

For further information on the finalist (who their publishers and editors were) and a list of previous winners check out 2016 RITA Finalist Announcements page.

Each year I try to read at least one book from each category to see what the judges and romance industry as a whole might be looking for. This year I decided to turn it into a game.

Warning: The 2016 RITA Finalist Reading Challenge is not for the faint of heart.

Here are the rules:

  1. You must read each and every book listed in every section. That is a total of 85 books! You can buy the book, borrow it through kindle unlimited (if that is an option) or borrow it through the library and yes, Audiobook versions count as reading the book.
  2. If you’ve already read a book you do not need to reread it. Just skip to #3.
  3. You must share on at least 1 social media outlet what book you are reading and when you are reading it. Use #RITAGH and #curvyreader in the text so that I can follow along with you.
  4. After reading each book you must either leave a starred or written review on Amazon or GoodReads for said book, write a review blog post or do a review video on Youtube.
  5. Once you have read every book in each category publicly state who you think or hope will win the RITA for each category (don’t forget to include #RITAGH and #curvyreader in your text) either on a social media account, a blog post or a Youtube video. The categories are: Best First Book, Contemporary Romance: Long, Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length, Contemporary Romance: Short, Erotic Romance, Historical Romance: Long, Historical Romance: Short, Inspirational Romance, Paranormal Romance, Romance Novella, Romantic Suspense, & Young Adult.
  6. You must have your guesses shared by the start of the award ceremony on July 16 @ 8pm PT. That means, as of today, you have 100 days to read 85 books. So, in order to succeed you need to average about 9 books every 10 days. Definitely doable don’t you think??
  7. After we find out who won, post on a social media account how many of your guesses you got right. (Don’t forget to use #RITAGH and #curvyreader)

You might be wondering, “Why on earth would anyone want to do this?”, and while I can’t speak for anyone else I can list the reasons why I think this is a good idea.

  • I am a writer in the romance field and I feel it’s important to know what kind of stories and what style of writing the judges and romance industry as a whole is currently looking for. I feel the RITA finalists are a good representation of that.
  • It’s exciting to know who is a finalist and guess who might win but unless you’ve already read every book listed you can’t give a fair guess. Therefore the need to read each one arises.
  • By buying or borrowing the books, publicly sharing what you are reading, and leaving a review you are doing the best thing you could ever do for any author. Even if you didn’t care too much for the book, as long as your review is respectful it helps. If you are a fellow writer you know how important this is to the author. If you are a reader just know that the more romance books that get talked about, the more publishers look to produce them, the more writers get a chance to have their story published. It’s a win win for everyone.
  • As voracious readers we tend to get into reading ruts where we only read from certain genres or certain themes. This challenge is a good way to read a few books in genres you wouldn’t normally pick up and potentially find a new favorite author in the process.

I know 85 books in 100 days is a bit stressful. Not to mention the potential cost of such a challenge. If you would like to join the challenge but don’t think you’ll finish in time and/or can’t afford to purchase so many books, don’t worry. You can still participate. For any book you didn’t get to or couldn’t purchase or borrow just read the blurbs and any chapter previews (if there are any) and base your guesses off of that. Then continue with rules 3, 5, 6 & 7.

If you are one of the authors listed below, come join the fun! You know you are dying to scope out your competition. The only rule for you guys is that you can’t list your guesses because that would be weird. However, sharing what books you’ve read from the list below with your fellow authors  and readers would be a great show of camaraderie and support.  You could also share this challenge with your readers to see if they would like to participate.

Leave a comment below to let me know you are up to the challenge!

The 2016 RITA Finalists

Best First Book

Contemporary Romance: Long

Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length

Contemporary Romance: Short

Erotic Romance

Historical Romance: Long

Historical Romance: Short

Inspirational Romance

Paranormal Romance

Romance Novella

Romantic Suspense

Young Adult Romance

Let the reading begin!

Stay Tuned

Friday 9am “How To Handle Your Families Concern Over Your Weight”

Monday 9am “Tax Deductions for Writers and Bloggers”Let's Chat Graphic

  • What do you think of the books and authors that made the list?
  • Have you read any of the books listed above? If so, what did you think of it?
  • Are you brave enough to join the 2016 RITA Finalist Reading Challenge? If so, let me know in the comments below!

The 2016 Golden Heart Finalists

The 2016 Golden Heart Finalists.jpg

Ever since I heard about Romance Writers of America I knew it was where I needed to be if I wanted to be serious about my writing career and so I joined as soon as I could.

When I learned about the Golden Heart contest I felt that if I won a Golden Heart award it would mean that I had a really good story and would be a successful author in my genre and so of course I’ve chickened out each and every year. 

I known. I’m insane. This year I got close to entering but at the last minute I psyched myself out and convinced myself it wasn’t ready. 

I fear I’m one of those writers who may never think their completed manuscript is polished enough to be seen, judged or read by anyone else. 

However, this article isn’t about me and my crippling anxiety. This article is about the ones who overcame their insecurities, took the plunge and entered their work in the biggest romance contest out there. 

Before we go any further I just want to say,

CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations on taking that leap of faith and putting your work out there to be judged. I hope to one day follow in your footsteps.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, lets talk a bit about what the Golden Heart award actually is.

The Golden Heart Award is a contest to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding manuscripts written by members who have not published a novel or novella.

Approximately 1,200 romance manuscripts are entered in the Golden Heart each year by RWA members who have not accepted a publishing offer for or self-published a work of original fictional narrative prose of 20,000 or more by the contest entry deadline.

A writer may enter a romance manuscript in one of eight contest categories. In the preliminary round, the manuscripts are read and judged by General RWA members. Entries meeting the qualifications to final will proceed to the final round of judging.

The final round of the contest is judged by acquiring editors from romance publishing houses. Many Golden Heart finalists sell their manuscripts to publishers as a result of the exposure from the contest.

Romance Writers of America reveals the Golden Heart winners at the Awards Ceremony at the RWA Annual Conference. Golden Heart winners receive a gold, heart-shaped necklace in recognition of their achievements.

The Golden Heart winners for 2016 will be announced on July 16 8-10pm at the annual RWA conference in San Diego, California. For further information and to view past winners and to watch the 2015 awards ceremony check out RWA’s Gold Heart Award page.

Keep in mind that you will not be able to read the stories listed below due to the fact that they haven’t been published yet. However, you can check out the up and coming authors and show them some love.

To keep up to date on any information look for and use #RITAGH or #RWA16 .

2016 Golden Heart Finalists


Contemporary Romance

“An Education” by Brooke Salisbury

“Façade” by Susan Bickford

“Off the Rails” by Monique Headley

“Shelter Me” by Gabrielle Luthy

“Smiling Underwater” by Sydney Carroll

“The Sniper’s Second Shot” by Tracy Brody

“Sometimes You Need a Sexy Scot” by Melonie Johnson

“Soul Song” by Rayn Ellis

“Surrender to the Movie Star” by Melanie McCarthy

“Volunteering Her Heart” by Erin O’Brien

“Welcome Home, Katie Gallagher” by Seana Kelly

 


Historical Romance

“Besotted with the Viscount” by Susanna Malcolm

“A Curious Correspondence” by Amelia Ridley

“The Earl and the Pussycat” by Elizabeth King

“The Impetuous Miss Milton” by Renee Ann Miller

“My Lord Mercenary” by Tracey Amey

“Saving Columbine Ranch” by Karen Miller

“Taming the Earl” by Elizabeth King

“An Unbridled Gentleman” by Eileen Emerson

“Undone” by Elizabeth Rue

“Wild Women and the Blues” by Denny S. Bryce

 


Inspirational Romance

“For the Love of Termites” by Kimberly MacCarron

“One More Breath” by Pamela Kopfler

“Scottish Warrior” by Laura Stolmeier

 


Paranormal Romance

“Better Dead” by Pamela Kopfler

“Constant Craving” by Kari W. Cole

“Don’t Call Me Cupcake” by Tara Sheets

“Kissed at Midnight” by Ainsley Wynter

“The Mer Chronicles: A Duty Too Far” by Kate Ramirez

“Taxing Courtship” by Jaycee Jarvis

“WØLFF: Rise of the Valdyr” by Alison Pritchard writing as Alyson McLayne

 


Romantic Suspense

“Escape from the Harem” by Diana Belchase

“Four Tragedies” by Layla Reyne

“In the Wrong Sights” by Tracy Brody

“Love in Hiding” by Diane Holiday

“Ruby Red” by Melanie Novak

“The Truth Is in the Tango” by Arianna James

 


Short Contemporary Romance

“Back in the Saddle” by Susan Breeden

“Breaking Her Rules” by Sarah Hall

“In the Fast Lane” by Evie Anderson

“Rescuing Riley” by Carrie Nichols

 


Young Adult Romance

“The Accidental Boyfriend” by Lori Freeland

“The Beekeeper” by Meg Kassel

“Between Never & Always” by TL Sumner

“The Expedition” by Mary Sullivan

“Field Guide to a Girl” by Nicole Hohmann

“The Other Cheek” by McCall Hoyle

“Senior Tag: The Underwear Games” by Sheri Adkins

 

Sadly, I couldn’t find contact information on all the writers. If you know of any contact information that is missing or incorrect please let me know.

Stay Tuned

Wednesday @ 9am “The 2016 RITA Finalists”

Friday @ 9am “How To Handle Your Families Concern Over Your Weight”

  • Are you a romance writer? If so have you joined RWA and have you thought about entering the Golden Heart Competition?Let's Chat Graphic
  • What are you feelings toward writing competitions? A waste of time or an invaluable outlet?
  • Do you have a manuscript that you’ve been working on but can’t get up the courage to submit it to a contest or publisher? If so, why do you think you haven’t taken the leap yet?

Plus Size Actors & The Characters They Portray

Plus Size Actors & The Characters They Portray

Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a movie, watched a TV show or read a book that had a “fat” character in it who was used solely for comic relief.

one direction mean girls imagine imagines imagine one direction

Now, raise your hand if you’ve seen a movie or watched a TV show where a plus size actor played a character and their weight and size wasn’t mentioned once. A character who was not used as comic relief, as a disgusting prop, or as a villain. Or how about a book where the only time it was mentioned that they were plus sized was during the description and then it was never mentioned again. No fat jokes, no self degradation, no scenes where they are having to defend their right to be respected.

class stare question deep crickets

Yeah, I couldn’t think of one example either.

Out of all the hundreds of thousands of movies, TV shows and books I’ve consumed in my lifetime I’ve never once come across a plus size character who was just a normal character. No fat jokes, no disgust, no mention of weight or size what so ever.

At this point in my life when I see a plus sized character I automatically assume that they will be the “comic relief” or will constantly have to defend the fact that they are worthy of respect and I’m tired of it.

Not to mention they are usually the goofy best friend, the outcast, the villain, or literally labeled “fat guy”. It’s rare to see plus sized people in leading roles and even more rare for those roles to be deep, provocative and “weight free”.

I’m tired of fat characters being the butt of everyone’s joke.

I’m tired of seeing them portrayed as the villain, the slob, the person to be hated or pitied.

I’m tired of seeing fat characters berate themselves, to act as though they are not worthy of respect.

And please, Dear God, someone tell me why the idea of seeing a fat person naked is gross?! Like plus size body parts are downright fowl.

Come on people.

Grow up.

You, personally, might not be attracted to fat bodies but that doesn’t make them gross, disgusting or fowl. It doesn’t make them worthy of your hatred and disrespect.

I want to watch a movie or TV show or read a book where fat people are shown as confident, worthy, sexy and respected without having to address the stigma that goes with the size.

Stop the cliches, stop the worn out stereotypical characters.

Give me 3 dimensional characters with depth for all body sizes.

I know what some of your are thinking, “Fat people are treated this way in real life so why shouldn’t Hollywood portray that?”

It’s one thing to portray real life, it’s another to perpetuate a hatred that should have no place in our society.

Why do we feel the need to make fun of people who look different than us?

Why, as a society, do we feel we have the right to judge someone based on their size, weight, color of their skin or way of dressing?

Why are we all so fixated on fat? Being fat, getting rid of fat, making fun of fat, etc…

How can we help Hollywood and society as a whole see that we are ready to grow up?

We are a visual society that follows the trendy way of thinking. Shallow but it’s the truth. If we want to change the way we treat plus size people we need to see it acted out for us. A change needs to happen and for that change to be accepted into mainstream thinking it must first be portrayed in books, movies, TV and social media. This isn’t going to happen unless publishing houses and production companies see a demand for it. So that’s what we must do.

Demand the end of fat characters and the rise of  deep 3 dimensional characters who are free of worn out stereotypes! 

Write to production companies, publishing houses, editors, directors and actors. Tell them what you are looking for.

Start a twitter campaign and tag plus size actors. Let them know you are ready to see them in better roles. Believe me, they are ready too.

Support the people who are trying to make this change happen by seeing their movies and TV shows or reading their books that portray plus size characters as characters and nothing more.

Be the change you wish to see in this world… How? By not laughing or partaking in the fat jokes, by not judging others based on their body type or appearance.

You might be thinking, “But it’s good to make fun of yourself every once in awhile so that you don’t take things too seriously.” Why? By being the first one to make fun of yourself you are just perpetuating the belief that it’s OK to do this.

Example: “It’s OK to make fun of fat people because they make fun of themselves. Even they realize how funny and disgusting they look.”

I know, this is an impossible thing I’m asking. But remember, every change seems impossible until its done and believe me, this change will happen. It’s already happening on social media. Don’t let this momentum die.

Fan this movement into a roaring fire that will burn down the need to fat shame. 

#FatIsntFunny

Stay Tuned

Monday9am “The 2016 Rita Finalists”

Wednesday @ 9am “Past RITA Winners Worth Your Money”

Let's Chat Graphic

  • What are your thoughts and opinions on the subject?
  • Would you like to see a post listing positive plus size characters in movies, tv shows and books?
  • Do you know of any positive plus size characters that you’d like to mention?