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The RITA Awards for the Best in Romance

Over the weekend, a warm—but not too warm—San Diego welcomed the Romance Writers of America for their annual conference and their awards ceremony. Approximately two thousand authors or authors-to-be (the vast majority women) caught the city transitioning between the All-Star Game celebration earlier in the week and the madhouse of Comi-Con International's July 21 start. Baseball lovers, romance writers, and wannabe zombies cheerfully rubbed shoulders on the sidewalk and in hotel lobbies.

RITA WinnersThis is my fifth RWA visit over the past fifteen years, and the $1 billion romance business has shifted enormously in that time. E-books and e-novellas are the biggest change for writers and readers, of course. Subgenres have moved in and out of popularity. And the face of the readership has changed—growing younger, according to RWA. The majority of romance readers now slot into the 30 to 54 age group. Or maybe we just look younger. (Ha; I wish.)

What has stayed consistent at the conference is the breadth of practical workshops for writers new and veteran alike on subjects such as character conflict, Facebook ads, virtual assistants, business plans, and creating sizzling chemistry (not the kind you find in the lab—unless the heroine is a scientist). Between workshops, the attending writers, editors, and literary agents share their experiences and a lot of laughter at the coffee shop, poolside bar, or evening parties.

Three full days of workshops, signings, and panel discussions end with a bang at the RWA awards ceremony. Writers dressed to the nines in gorgeous gowns or sharp tuxes (and sometimes accompanied by their patient significant others) fill a ballroom to support the finalists for the RWA RITA and Golden Heart awards and to continue their onslaught of the hotel's wine supply. I saw more than one bartender dab at his brow as the chardonnay started to run low.

This year, Robyn Carr received the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, and she had the audience in stitches with her advice, leading off with "Skip menopause. It's a waste of time." Carr had a strong writing career in the eighties and nineties, then suffered an eight-year drought during which no publishers would buy her manuscripts. She jumped back on top of the game again with her beloved Virgin River series and hasn't looked back.

The winners of the 2016 RITA Awards are below. Read, and enjoy!


Best First novelForget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunne - Print book | Kindle book





Broke-Down CowboyBrokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates - Print book | Kindle book





HimHim by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy - Print book | Kindle book





The Nanny PlanThe Nanny Plan by Sarah M. Anderson - Print book | Kindle book





For RealFor Real by Alexis Hall - Print book | Kindle book






Tiffany GirlTiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist - Print book | Kindle book






It Started with a ScandalIt Started with a Scandal by Julie Anne Long - Print book | Kindle book





A Noble MasqueradeA Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter - Print book | Kindle book





Must Love ChainmailMust Love Chainmail by Angela Quarles - Print book | Kindle book





Flash FireFlash Fire by Dana Marton - Print book | Kindle book






The Anatomical Shape of a HeartThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett - Print book | Kindle book





Nice Girls Don't RideNice Girls Don't Ride by Roni Loren - Kindle book





Congratulations to the winners and finalists—and to the readers who have found a new book to devour this weekend.

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