Posts tagged with: RITA winner

The BIG Awards 2011

Every year RWA ends their national conference on a splendid note by having a HUGE awards ceremony to announce the winners of the Golden Heart (for unpublished authors) and the Rita award (for published authors).

As you all know, the awards have special significance to the Banditas because we were all Golden Heart finalists back in 2006. That’s where we met and bonded and we continue to be attached to the yearly awards ceremony.

Even those of us who were unable to attend the conference this year were gathered round our laptops in eager anticipation. Sven (who stayed home this year so that Lars and Paolo could attend) made us a huge batch of hot buttered popcorn, and there’s plenty of bubbly for everyone.

Please join us as we toast this year’s Golden Heart and Rita winners:

Golden Heart for Regency Romance: The Proper Miss’s Guide to Bad Behavior by Anne Barton

Golden Heart for Historical Romance: The Dark Lady by Maire Shelley

Golden Heart for Inspirational: At His Command by Ruth Kaufman

Golden Heart for Young Adult: Irresistible by Suzanne Kaufman Kalb

Golden Heart for Contemporary Series Romance: Lost and Found by Jo Anne Banker

Golden Heart for Contemporary Series Suspense/Adventure: Stolen Lullaby by Robin Perini

Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense: Spy in the Mirror by Diana Van Dyke

Golden Heart for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles

Golden Heart for Paranormal Romance: The Blood Sworn King by Tirsze Ray

Golden Heart for Contemporary Single Title Romance: The Sinners by Lisa Connelly

Rita for Regency Historical Romance: The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

Rita for Historical Romance: His at Night by Sherry Thomas

Rita for Inspirational Romance: In Harms Way by Irene Hannon

Rita for Young Adult Romance: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Rita for Contemporary Series Romance: Welcome Home, Cowboy by Karen Templeton

Rita for Series Romance Suspense/Adventure: The Moon that Night by Helen Brenna

Rita for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: Welcome to Harmony by Jodi Thomas

Rita for Romantic Suspense: Silent Scream by Karen Rose

Rita for Romantic Novella: “Shifting Sea” by Virginia Kantra in Burning Up

Rita for Paranormal Romance: Unchained: The Dark Forgotten by Sharon Ashwood

Rita for Contemporary Single Title: Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Rita for Best First Book: Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner

SUPER CONGRATS to all the winners! It’s wonderful to see familiar names and also fun to see brand new authors with great new books to try!

Do you like to watch award shows? Which are your favorites?

How many of the winning books have you read?

Bonjour to Madame Sophia Nash and her Tres Merry Widows!

by Anna Campbell

It is my huge pleasure to introduce one of my favorite people in Romancelandia, the RITA-winning, endlessly witty, stunningly intelligent, gorgeously attractive Sophia Nash!

Sophia, I hope you’re soaking all this up – I certainly don’t say it to your face. To your face, I call you a Tim Tam hound, which is also true!

Sophia writes sparkling, emotional historical romance for Avon. The latest instalment in Sophia’s THE WIDOWS’ CLUB has just been released. You can find out more about Sophia and her books at her website:

Sophia, welcome to the lair. I think you’re going to fit right in. Yeah, I saw you steal that margarita from that cabana boy. And all with a smile on your face! Grand larceny, yikes! The latest in your wonderful Widows Club series hit the stands at the end of February. Could you tell us about LOVE WITH A PERFECT SCOUNDREL?

This is the third book in the series I’ve had so much fun creating for Avon. The book’s back cover blurb follows:

Twice jilted in the last two years, the achingly beautiful yet stoic Grace, Countess of Sheffield has given up on love. Now she’s no longer capable of maintaining the elegant, serene facade with the members of the Duchess of Helston’s secret circle of friends. And so she flees… only to encounter wretched disaster during the carriage ride north. But little does Grace know that once she faces all fate has tossed her way, she will find a new life…with a tall, rugged stranger who not only saves her life but forces her to dig deep into her hidden reserves of desire and fortitude to blossom into the woman she was destined to become—a lady willing to sacrifice all for a mysterious, yet powerful man who insists he is nothing more than a perfect scoundrel.

Sounds delicious! Where next for your wonderful widows?

There will be an anthology: FOUR DUKES AND A DEVIL which arrives in book stores June 30th. In this stand alone novella, the most eligible gentleman in London’s marriage mart reluctantly rescues a stranded school mistress. When the duke is forced to go heart-to-heart with the spirited siren, (Victoria Givan introduced briefly in LOVE WITH THE PERFECT SCOUNDREL, the well-documented Catch of the Century finds out she’s the only one he can’t have.

And after the novella, the final book in the Widows Club quartet, which I’m currently writing, will be on shelves. Although…there might be another widow or other liar lurking about in mourning if the powers that be have a say… You just never know!

Can you tell us about your writing journey?

Journey? I was NOT one of those writers who started scribbling stories in the 1st grade. But I did love to read as did my father. We would sit like two zombies on the couch until my mother dragged us to the dinner table each night. But I did figure out that I liked to “create” when I worked at PM Magazine in WTVJ-Miami after college. I loved writing and producing stories. I spent many years in television, then as a congressional speech writer, and head of a non-profit. But when my father was very ill, he made me promise I would do what he and I had always talked about: write a book. He edited parts of A SECRET PASSION before he died, but I’m sorry to say he didn’t see it published.

You won a RITA award for your Regency A PASSIONATE ENDEAVOR. Congratulations! Can you tell us about that experience? Just in case, you know, a Bandita has to appear with panache and style on that stage one day. Also what is your feeling about awards? Do you think they help a writer’s career?

I recently wrote about this subject, but it’s one I always like to tackle, because my take on awards surprises many people. While the initial glow of winning any award is lovely, I’ve also learned the hard way not to take any of it seriously. Author Anne Lamott wrote something like, “whenever the world throws rose petals at you, beware the cosmic banana peel right behind.” This could not be more true in my case. Right after the RITA and having a book named “Top Ten Romance of the Year” by Booklist, the Signet Regency line closed, I struggled with a proposal that flopped, changed agents, wrote a new proposal, etc. ad nauseum before FINALLY, my stories found a new home. And of course the opposite is true re my Banana Peel View on winning awards: All the writers who don’t win awards are the ones with the last laugh since they’re being offered “significant” deals and selling television rights to HBO, right?

You write luscious heroes. Do you want to give us the lowdown on the men in the Widows’ Club?

Luc, Quinn, Michael . . . and coming soon: John and Rowland. They are a big, bad bunch except Quinn, the only Beta male of the group. He was the toughest to write because he is so calm, serious, and has a heart of gold, not a hot-headed, brute like Luc, who knows his power and uses it, or Michael who is capable of seducing half the female population at first glance.

I will admit that I love writing in the hero’s point of view and writing about male posturing between them. I was an only child surrounded by a huge number of French and American male cousins. All of them are very good looking, funny alpha males. I watched them blaze a trail littered with broken hearts on two coasts. I also watched what sort of women brought them to their knees (as in “Will you marry me?”). It was a wonderful education especially for writing romance!

It looks like when the series is finished there will be: 2 dukes, 1 earl, 1 marquis, 1 viscount, and a “gentleman” (or not). How is that for leaving a loophole?

Ooh, la la! You’re half French and I really feel there is a strong European influence in your writing. Do you draw on your French heritage in your work?

I think writers draw on everything they’ve got, don’t you? But, yes, I have so many paintings and beautiful crumbling photographs of my French ancestors surrounding me in my house, and I swear that while I’m writing, I have the ghosts of the lot of them looking over my shoulder (kind of like those dead ancestors hanging over Mulan’s shoulder in that Disney movie ). But you see, I also have an American father, with British roots. And those Brit ghosts are always keeping a stiff upper lip and trying not to tell the frogs where to go. So when I’m writing scenes in the ballroom, the Brit/American voice inserts itself, and beyond the bedroom door? Well, there’s a reason it’s called French kissing;-}

Where do you find your inspiration?

In the strangest places, like most writers. Sometimes it’s as simple as a movie, or a newspaper article, or a conversation with a friend. The entire concept of the widows club came from a ladies lunch when I asked the group what they would do if they lost their husbands (one absent friend had just lost her husband.) Each lady had a different answer . . . and a series was born. The plot for Love With the Perfect Scoundrel came to me after driving 1,200 miles through a gazillion hair-raising roundabouts in England. I arrived in Derbyshire–right into the teeth of a freak snowstorm. And I wondered….what if Grace Sheffey got caught in a blizzard in Derbyshire?

Thanks, Sophia! What great answers! I can’t wait to read LOVE WITH THE PERFECT SCOUNDREL. It sounds fantastic.

We’re giving one lucky commenter a chance to win Sophia’s latest. So good luck, Bandita buddies. Sophia, do you have a question to get the conversational ball rolling?

When reading a romance, do you have a favorite point of view? Do you prefer to be in the heroine’s head or the hero’s head, and why? What about during a love scene?

Lorraine Heath, guest blogger

Interviewed by Suzanne Welsh

RITA Winner and NYT best-selling author, Lorraine Heath joins the Romance Bandits in the Banditas Lair today. Lorraine’s newest historical romance, Just Wicked Enough, recently received a 4-1/2 star review from Romantic Times Magazine and will be on the shelves at your local book stores tomorrow. Today, she’s here to give us a sneak peek at Just Wicked Enough and talk about writing both historicals and Young Adult (YA). Congratulations, Lorraine on the great review and welcome to our lair.

Your stories always bring your readers wonderful alpha males in need of the right heroine to love. Can you tell us about the hero and heroine in Just Wicked Enough?
Michael Tremayne, the Marquess of Falconridge, stole my heart the moment I met him. He’s extremely proud (what male isn’t, right?) and in dire financial straits. In A Duke of Her Own, he watched his best friend court a wealthy American heiress only to end up with the penniless chaperone. Michael hasn’t the time to waste courting a woman when the outcome is questionable, so he decides to hold a private auction with all the American fathers. He’ll marry the daughter of the man willing to arrange the best settlement.

Kate Rose has a secret in her past that makes her more than willing to agree to marry Falconridge if for no other reason it’ll get her out of her overbearing mother’s house. But Kate also believes strongly in love and courtship so before she’ll consummate the marriage, she insists that Falconridge earn her love. And since her father has given control over the money to her, my poor hero—who had hoped to avoid courtship—finds himself dancing to her tune.
Kate seems to be one of those headstrong Americans you love to incorporate in your books. How does she feel about her father essentially buying her a husband with a title?
When she finds out, she’s furious . . . but since it was a private auction and neither man wants to confess what he’s done, it’s a while before she learns that Falconridge didn’t approach her parents and ask for her hand in marriage.
You originally wrote Western historical romances, which garnered you your RITA award. Was it hard to change from Western settings to books set primarily in England?
It was difficult in that I had to do a lot of research because life was so very different in London than in Texas. Clothing, food, to a degree etiquette, all different. But I’d always wanted to write a story set in England, so part of the reason that I brought the second sons of English lords to Texas in my Rogues in Texas series was so that I could begin researching England and getting comfortable with the differences when a story wasn’t completely dependent upon a vast knowledge of English ways. So the Rogues in Texas became exactly what I’d hoped they would—a stepping stone to writing stories set in England.
If you had the chance is there another time or place you’d like to take your readers to with your historicals?
Actually, I wrote three medievals before I was ever published and I’ll admit that lately I’ve been considering dusting them off and seeing if they have any potential. Although I suspect in truth I’ll find that they’re simply awful.
You’ve ventured into contemporary romances with Hard Lovin’ Man and Smooth Talkin’ Stranger. Are there plans for more of those stories in your future?
I would like to write more contemporaries, have worked on a couple of stories actually, but I’m just not entirely comfortable with my contemporary voice and I’m not sure I’ve managed to figure out how to create that “big book” feel that you really need to be successful with contemporaries.
Our blog readers may not know this, but you also write YA stories under the name Rachel Hawthorne. Want to tell us about your latest YA release, The Boyfriend League?
The Boyfriend League was a lot of fun to write. DH and I had gone to watch the McKinney Marshals play. They’re a collegiate team—college players move to the city during the summer, stay with host families, and play baseball. It was family appreciation night and they recognized the families who had provided homes to the players—and I immediately envisioned a teenage girl desperate for a boyfriend who talks her parents into hosting a player so she can get up close and personal with the players. Came home from the game, sat down at my computer, wrote the synopsis, pitched—so to speak—the story to my editor, and she loved it. I had my fictitious Ragland Raiders play actual teams in the North Texas Collegiate League. Although I’ve heard that the league may disband after this year.

If you read the excerpt for this book posted at my website, you’ll discover that Michael believes he has only to guess Kate’s favorite color in order to prove that he knows her well enough to be invited into her bed. His misguided belief provides some of the lighter moments in the story. What one thing does a man need to know about you to prove that he truly knows the real you?

One lucky commenter will receive an autographed copy of JUST WICKED ENOUGH along with a JUST WICKED ENOUGH mug!