RWA RITA® and Golden Heart® Board Recommendations

I hope Candy’s bitchfork is polished and her torch ready to be set aflame, as the RWA Board has released their recommendations for changes to the RITA® and Golden Heart® awards process. Included in these edits are changes to the categories for entry.

This material is only available on the RWA website for registered members. So I’m posting below what I transcribed, and if they ask me to take it down since it is ostensibly protected content, I will. I know that they’ll be sending it to me in writing sometime soon, so we’ll see what happens.

Discussion ahoy!

Aside from the questions addressing who can enter, when were they published and should they drop the lowest score the meatier part falls later: reformation of contest categories.

These recommendations are open for input from the members until May 15 (hurry up and get articulate) and will be discussed and voted into policy at the July board meeting. I think my flight arrives just in time for me to roll into the board meeting (literally!) as one travel-rumpled Smart Bitch.

Let’s get to the meaty part, shall we?

Contest Categories

The board recommends that the short Regency category be eliminated since there are no longer any major publishers printing this type of book. Any short Regencies remaining can be entered into the new historical categories.

The board recommends that the novella category be eliminated. The board recognizes the skill required to craft a short story. However, the novella does not fit the contest purpose of recognizing the best romance novel.

The board recommends that the Traditional category be folded into the new Short Contemporary category. While Traditional authors wanted a new definition that allowed for nonexplicit sex within the story, the board maintains a consistent policy that the level of sexuality should not determine a category.

The board also recommends eliminating the “Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements” from the Golden Heart – though that will remain as a RITA category.

And then comes a whole mess of bold face, underlined, struck and edited text and omg I need more caffeine. In a paragraph that could have stood for a bit of clarity and editing, the board writes:

The problem of word count has been an on-going problem. The board hopes to have books judged by level of complexity without basing the category definitions on series category romance lines, as well as allowing for overlapping word counts. This should eliminate this problem and allow the novel to be judged on the romance.

Judging on the romance? Or judging on the quality of the writing? Or both? Grk!

And onward into the part wherein I need more coffee omg move out of my way. The board recommends the following changes:

 

Best Short Contemporary

The old definition as per the RWA website: Romantic novels released as individual titles, not as part of a series. The word count for those novels is over 70,000.

Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying.

Recommended Change: “romantic novels which focus almost exclusively on the hero/heroine relationship, usually with only one main storyline, very limited subplots and in which the level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “In this category, the love story is the principle focus of the novel, and the ending is emotionally satisfying. Such novels are typically 40,000 to 65,000 words, consistent with, but not confined to, shorter series lines. Entries are not required to be series romances as long as they meet the stated definition. These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.”

Best Long Contemporary

The old definition: Romantic novels in which sensuality may constitute a strong element in the romance. The word count for these novels is over 70,000 words.

Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying.

Recommended Change: “Romantic novels which focus primarily on the hero/heroine relationship, but often with a more complex structure than short contemporary, with at least one subplot, secondary characters and points of view and in which the level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging guideline Recommendation: “Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the principle focus of the novel, and the end is emotionally satisfying. Novels with this level of complexity are typically 60,000 — 85,000 words, consistent with, but not confined to, longer series lines. Entries are not required to be series romances as long as they meet the stated definition. These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.”

Best Contemporary Single Title

The old definition: Romantic novels released as individual titles, not as part of a series. The word count for those novels is over 70,000.

Recommended Change: “Romantic novels which focus primarily on the hero/heroine relationship, but often with a more complex structure than short or long contemporary. These novels may contain one or more subplots, several secondary characters, and multiple points of view, and in which the level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “In this category, the love story is the principle focus of the novel and the ending is emotionally satisfying. Novels with this level of complexity are typically 80,000 words and up. In most cases, these are not series lines novels; however any novel may be entered as long as it meets the stated definition. These novels may or may not contain a high
level of sexuality.”

Best Young Adult Romance

The old definition: Romantic novels geared to young adult readers. The word count for YA novels is a minimum of 25,000 words.

Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying.

Recommended Change: “Novels with a strong romantic theme geared toward young adult readers and in which the level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is an important element of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying. The minimum word count for YA novels is 40,000 words. These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.”

Additional information from the RWA Board: “Rationale for changing Young Adult category: The Young Adult novel is our best way to guide young readers toward adult romance. Most novels are geared more to the teenager’s journey and the story is not exclusively focused on the romance. However, these novels are still required to contain a significant romance in order to enter this category.”

Best Short Historical Romance

The old definition: Novels or sagas which have a strong romantic element throughout. The word count for these novels is 40,000-95,000 words.

Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying.

Recommended Changes:

New Title: Best Historical Romance to 1820

Description: “Romantic historical novel with a primary setting up to the year 1820. The story may take place at any geographic location. The level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “In this category, the story takes place primarily in years through 1820. The love story is the main focus of the novel and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying. If a book spans many years, the author should best determine the category in which it belongs. These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.”

Best Long Historical Romance

The old definition: Romantic novels in which sensuality may constitute a strong element in the romance. The word count for these novels is over 70,000 words.

Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying

Recommended Changes:

New Title: Best Historical Romance from 1790-1945

Description: “Romantic historical novel with a primary setting in the years 1790 through 1945. The story may take place at any geographic location. The level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “In this category, the story takes place primarily in years 1790 through 1945. In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying. If a book spans many years, the author should best determine the category in which it belongs. These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.”

Explanation from RWA Board (yes please, why the historical overlap?): “Rationale for changing historical categories: Again, the board wished to eliminate the word count problem. With numbers dwindling, we examined merging both short and long historical into one category but felt that the historical novel could grow in the future. We hoped to allow for the change in popularity of one time period over another by providing overlapping years. An author whose book spans many years should determine where the novel best fits.”

Best Romantic Suspense/Gothic Romance

Old Definition: Romantic novels in which suspense is a major element of the plot. The word count for these novels is a minimum of 40,000 words.

Judging Guidelines: In this category, a suspense plot is blended with a love story, which is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying.

Recommended Changes: “Romantic novels in which suspense is a major element of the plot.The level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “In this category, a suspense plot is blended with a love story, which is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying. These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.”

Best Paranormal Romance

Old Definition: Time Travel, Futuristic, Fantasy, Paranormal. Romantic novels in which the future, a fantasy world, or paranormal happenings are a major element of the plot. These may be single-title releases or books published within established category romance lines fitting other category descriptions. The word count for these novels is a minimum of 40,000.

Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying.

Recommended Changes: “Time Travel, Futuristic, Fantasy, Paranormal — romantic novels in which either the future, a fantasy world or paranormal happenings are a major element of the plot. The level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, but alternate worlds or paranormal happenings are an integral part of the plot. The end of the book is emotionally satisfying. These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.”

Best Inspirational Romance

Old Definition: Romantic novels in which one or more characters’ religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are a major part of their developing relationship, not merely a minor element or subplot. All inspirational books, set in any place or era, shall be eligible for this category. The word count for these novels is a minimum of 40,000 words.

Judging guidelines: In this category, one or more characters’ religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are blended with and form a significant and substantial part of the love story, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying.

Recommended Changes: “romantic novels in which one or more characters’ religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are a major part of their the developing relationship between the hero/heroine. These books may be set in any time period or setting. The level of sexuality is usually non-explicit but may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

(To Which Sarah Said Out Loud: AWWWW YEAH BABY INSPIE HOT SEXX0RING! WOOT!)

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “In this category, one or more characters’ religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are integral to the hero/heroine relationship. The end of the book is emotionally satisfying. These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.”

Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

Old Definition: A work of fiction not belonging in another category that contains a strong romantic element, such that one or more romances contained in the story form an integral part of the story’s structure, but in which other themes or stories may also be significantly developed. The word count for these novels is a minimum of 80,000 words.

Judging guidelines: Any kind of fiction, of any tone or style and set in any place or time, is eligible for this category. The romantic elements, while not the primary focus of the story, should be an integral and dynamic part of the plot or subplot. The NR term does not apply to this category. Instead, the book may be judged NSRE (no strong romantic elements).

Recommended Changes: “A work of fiction not belonging in another category that contains a strong romance that forms an integral part of the story’s structure, but in which other themes or stories may also be significantly developed. The level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “Any kind of fiction, of any tone or style and set in any place or time, is eligible for this category. The romance, while not the primary focus of the story, must be an integral and dynamic part of the plot or subplot. The Not a Romance (NR term does not apply to this category. Instead, the book may be judged No Strong Romantic Elements (NSRE) . These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.

Best First Book

Old Definition: A full-length book entered in any of the other Contest categories, except Novella, which is the author’s first published novel shall be eligible for this award. If entered by a writing team, the book must be the first published novel for all members of the team.

Recommended Changes: “A full-length book entered in any of the other contest categories, and is the author’s first published novel from any publisher in any format shall be eligible for this award. If entered by a writing team, the book must be the first published novel for all members of the team. The level of sexuality may range from sweet to extremely hot.”

Judging Guideline Recommendation: “Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying. These novels may or may not contain a high level of sexuality.”


You get all that? Holy cow.

Upon first reading and transcribing, my reaction? “We Are All Erotica!” The changes make room for erotica/romantica in every category (even Inspirational and I’m still giggling about that – “Oh God, Oh God” indeed!) and I can see why. How would RWA define a category of “Best Erotica?” Number of times the word “cock” is mentioned? Frequency of weeping overwrought va-hay-jays? “Romantic story with a driving sexual storyline (hur hur) in addition to the romantic storyline?” That could encompass stories that deal with sexual manipulation but aren’t erotica.

By making room for erotica in every category, there’s room, it would seem, for erotica authors to enter their books based on subject matter and plot – and let’s face it. Recent kerfluffles have addressed the lack of plot in some erotica releases of recent note, and those who crave good erotica say it’s not all about the Benjamins. It’s about plot AND sexuality. 

WILL these changes make room for erotica in every category? Will erotica be found in next year’s finalists? Time will tell, I guess.

But let me just send up a hearty, “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” at the noted absence of “Best Gay/Lesbian Romance” – and lemme do it again: “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

While there’s no restriction on the gender of the romantic pairing, and the category descriptions leave room for the protagonists to be homosexual or heterosexual, allow me to don my Cape of Hypocritical Bitch and say, “BOOOOOOO!” one more time. 

I’m cautiously optimistic about erotica and romantica finding a place in the finalist list next year in any category, but I’m not so optimistic about there being a gay romance appearing in that list.

Why? Because let’s be honest: past shenanigans paint a fairly clear message that gays=not always the most welcome. Sex has demonstrated that It Sells Well Holy Cow. Harder to ignore that.

Should Gay/Lesbian romance be judged separately? Or is that a condescending slap in the face of gay & lesbian romance – that somehow the romantic encounter between two men or two women is “different” than the romantic encounter between a man and a woman?

Ideally, Gay/Lesbian romance SHOULDN’T be an independent category, and shouldn’t have to be in the first place. But here’s my worry: so far, I’m down with this particular board. I’d buy it a big, big beer. And what these recommendations do is leave room for erotica and Gay/Lesbian romance by not defining (wisely) the gender or sex of the protagonists. What they don’t and can’t do is predict how these recommendations will be interpreted by future boards. There have been some hellabad presidents with agendas that made my hair curl and in the hands of the contest coordinators appointed by similar presidents? These recommendations are vague enough to exclude Gay & Lesbian romance easily and quietly. And in my opinion, including it is too important to leave it out. But therein you see very plainly my particular political agenda.

I’m well aware of the flaw in my reaction here – I’m ok with the inclusion of a Sex-o-meter that allows for erotic content in every category (Even Inspie HAHAHAH) but I’m not ok with the exclusion of Gay/Lesbian Romance as an independent category. And it does beg the question – do there have to be “African American” “Asian” “Latina” “Lithuanian” “Mutant Goatse” romance categories if there’s a Gay/Lesbian category? If they represent one minority with a category for independent judging, do they then have to represent them all? Difficult prospect, I realize.

Taking into account past history and agendas espoused by the past presidents, I’m dismayed that there wasn’t more of a declaration in terms of Gay/Lesbian romance. But on the whole (and in the hole), I’m pleased that there’s room for a variation in sexual content in each category.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    I think I like these changes.

    If you look at the reviews in RT Book Reviews, the editors have a section for paranormals, which they review, and then they add a “spicy” rating, telling the readers how much sex is in the book.

    RT also has an erotic section.

    I write erotic paranormals. Personally, I would like to see my books reviewed in the same section as the paranormals, but I get reviewed in the erotica section. The books in the erotica section include westerns, contemps, suspence, etc. (But no inspirationals!) I imagine its difficult for readers to sift through the information this way.

    For me, whether you want to call my March 07 release MOON SHADOW a paranormal versus an erotic romance, is not so important. It doesn’t change the content of my book. But the reviewers call my books “subgenre.” I think I’d rather be considered mainstream. (We all have sex! Well, I hope we all do…)

    I plan on entering MOON SHADOW in the RITAS this year. I’m very glad that it will be judged against other paranormals. IMO, the plot is strong and the book can hold its own there. I’m pretty happy with the suggested changes.

    I think the gay/lesbian thing might run into the same problem erotica does. If you do gay/lesbian paranormals, do you judge it against g/l contemps? Maybe the authors should simply specify that the sexes (and species?) of the romantic partners does not have to be m/f.

    SWAK,
    Lucinda

  2. 2
    kate r says:

    The historical thing is confusing, otherwise I think it’s just dandy grand. Yay RWA!

  3. 3
    Jo Leigh says:

    I don’t understand why there’s a separate inspirational category.  If they’re not creating an erotic category because it’s all about the romance, then why doesn’t the same hold true for inspirational?

  4. 4
    Leslie Kelly says:

    I am really unhappy that they removed the novella category. That (imo) was the one place where everyone could really go head to head—the best of the best from across all genres.

    And breaking out historicals into time periods just screams RT Awards to me…which are heartily criticized.

    Otherwise, thumbs up on the judging changes. Now the problem will be getting enough judges who are willing to judge “that sex stuff”…which could appear in just about any category now.

  5. 5
    Elaine says:

    Another thumbs up on the judging changes.

  6. 6
    Kalen Hughes says:

    The historical proposal is NOT OK. What were they smoking when they wrote that? As the proposal stands the vast majority of the historical romances being published (which are Regency-set) would qualify for BOTH categories. Why would they do that?

  7. 7
    Barb Ferrer says:

    I’ll admit this is just a knee-jerk sigh of relief for me, but thank GOD they addressed the word count issue.  And that YA is still in there and they reworked the definition.

    I’m sure once this bout of the vapors clears, I’ll go back and reread everything else and find something to get annoyed about, but for the moment, I’m pleased.

    Back to the salt mines.

  8. 8
    Sarah Frantz says:

    What’s up with the dates on historicals, for heaven’s sake.  Are you seriously trying to tell me that medievals don’t count as historical?  Or Jo Beverley’s Georgian series with is before 1790?  Or, say, Lavyrle Spenser’s “Morning Glory” which is set in WWII?  It’s all still historical, people, even if not in a finely defined number of years.  That’s weird.

    And if they’re going to separate out Inspirationals, they should separate out erotica AND gay romance, dammit.

  9. 9
    Alison Kent says:

    I’d love to see the rationale for two historical categories that overlap dates that way.

  10. 10
    Alison Kent says:

    Or at least one that makes sense . . . (sheesh, read right over that)

  11. 11

    OK, so the historicals aren’t going to be separated out according to length at all? Just according to time-period?

    So no ‘long’ or ‘short’ historicals, only

    (1) Historical of Any Length Covering All of History up to 1820

    and (2) Historical of Any Length Covering History from 1790-1945

    This presumably means that Harlequin Historicals, for example, will be competing against Single Title Historicals, even though in the contemporary categories shorter and longer books are separated out because the differing lengths mean more or less subplot and complexity. I can see why the RWA want to get rid of a specific category for Short Regency Romances, but why can’t they have a short historical category and a long historical category? It seems to me that it’s the length rather than the time-period which is really important. And does this mean that any book set after 1945 counts as contemporary?

    And if they’re going to separate out Inspirationals, they should separate out erotica AND gay romance, dammit.

    I’m not sure. I think it’s nice that they’re not making any distinction between books on the basis of ‘heat’ or the gender of the protagonists. Inspirationals are different. In some ways I’d see this as the equivalent of having a separate category for romantic suspense. In both cases there’s not just the romantic relationship, there’s also a very important other element in the plot, which takes up a considerable portion of the novel. In romantic suspense, it’s the mystery/adventure: in inspirationals, ‘the hero and/or heroine must overcome a spiritual obstacle’ (quoting from Brenda Coulter. It doesn’t specify which religion the inspirational has to belong to, so presumably some of the paranormals could be classified as inspirationals e.g. if part of the plot involves the protagonists needing to find out more about wicca, for example, and becoming seriously committed to it.

  12. 12

    Can anybody point me at information about how books are entered for the RITAs?  Inquiring minds that might just happen to be writing Elizabethan historical faerie fantasy espionage novels with girl cooties/Strong Romantic Elements all over them want to know, but the RWA website isn’t telling me what I want to know.

    I mean, after seeing the RITAs get slagged here, I’m a bit dubious, but depending on the process, I might give it a shot just for the hell of it.

  13. 13
    BevQB says:

    I’m very glad to see that Erotica will now be judged within each book’s genre instead of lumped together. That’s a good move. And I guess I can see why Inspirational is it’s own category.

    In a perfect world, same sex Romances should fall right into those new category guidelines, but I think that won’t be happening any time soon. However, I agree that a separate Gay/Lesbian category would open up a whole can of segregation worms.

    Now those overlapping historical guidelines? My reaction upon reading them was *blink blink* and that hasn’t changed.

  14. 14
    Sarah Frantz says:

    Okay, so I’m incapable of reading properly.  Sorry about the misread on dates. It’s still strange to me that there’s that overlap, though.

  15. 15
    Kalen Hughes says:

    Can anybody point me at information about how books are entered for the RITAs?

    It works like pretty much every other contest out there. You fill out the form, mail it off with the $, and then send the books. It’s that simple. I think the contest usually opens for submissions in Oct or Nov.

  16. 16
    Jonquil says:

    I really hate saying for every category “focus primarily on the hero/heroine relationship”.  I can imagine the judges now—“Well, they wind up together at the end, but there’s WAY too much other stuff.”

    Furthermore, this is a back-door way of saying for each novel “Hets only, no three-ways”

    In the WTFSTUPIDITY??? section:  So, I can enter my Directoire novel in *both* Best To 1820 *and* Best From 1790????

  17. 17
    Najida says:

    It was easier understanding Duck Sex.

  18. 18

    I really hate saying for every category “focus primarily on the hero/heroine relationship”.  […] this is a back-door way of saying for each novel “Hets only, no three-ways”

    There’s variation in this, though. From what Sarah’s copied of the guidelines for YA, there’s no mention there of hero/heroine, only ‘the love story is an important element of the novel’. Similarly in the Best Historical Romance to 1820 and Best Historical Romance from 1790-1945 categories, the suggested new guidelines read ‘The love story is the main focus of the novel’. Romantic Suspenses are defined as having ‘a suspense plot [which] is blended with a love story, which is the main focus of the novel’, and Paranormal has ‘the love story is the main focus of the novel’. The Romantic Elements has ‘The romance, while not the primary focus of the story, must be an integral and dynamic part of the plot or subplot’ and Best First Book has ‘the love story is the main focus of the novel’.

    It seems that it’s only in the 3 Contemporary categories and the Inspirational category that there’s that mention of ‘the hero/heroine relationship’. If all the descriptions were the same, and all read simply ‘the love story’ then that wouldn’t specify gender or the number of participants in ‘the love story’. Certainly it’s a bit odd that there’s this variation between the categories.

  19. 19
    Kalen Hughes says:

    In the WTFSTUPIDITY??? section:  So, I can enter my Directoire novel in *both* Best To 1820 *and* Best From 1790????

    You’d better believe that the historical writers are plotting and planning a response to this nonsense.

  20. 20
    Carrie Lofty says:

    The worst part will be determining where your 1790-1820 book or MS will best fit!

    The rationale was “We hoped to allow for the change in popularity of one time period over another by providing overlapping years.” I sussed that to mean if they included Regency-era books in a category, say 1800-1945, that category would be flooded with entries because of the popularity of Regency-based novels. They wanted to split up Regency-based entries by making people pick a category, hoping entries would fall roughly into even piles.

    I think it sucks. While I love that they’re finally acknowledging historicals set in the 20th century, the division is entirely arbitrary. A category-length historical—based primarily on the relationship between the H/H, few subplots, no other POVs—will read much differently than a more complex, lengthier single title. My critique circle mostly writes and reads category historicals, and some readers had serious issues about my use of other POVs and longer build-up. HQN constantly tells folks that there is a difference between single title and category books, but this disavows OBVIOUS distinctions.

    The contemps are split into three categories, requiring the author to endure varying levels of plot diagnostic gymnastics to determine her category, but the situation is different for historicals? Apparently the only thing that distinguishes one historical from another is its setting, nothing to do with plotting or complexity. Urgh.

  21. 21
    Carrie Lofty says:

    Oh, the only consession the board made to the possibility that judges may not wanna read all the sex-type thangs is the inclusion of a return envelope. It’s like a barf bag. If the material makes you wanna barf (too much sex, an accidental gay, a multi-racial relationship that makes ya go ick), you can send it back and refuse to judge it. No, that’s not gonna cause ANY headaches for the coordinators.

    Pony up people! Get a backbone! You might enjoy it!

  22. 22
    Julie Leto says:

    Before people go jumping all over the board for the historical thing, please know they consulted A LOT of historical authors…and these are only recommendations, not the final rules.  The board (of which I am NOT a member) wants to hear from historical authors…all authors, really, who are members of RWA.  If you have a better suggestion, send it in.

    Word count just wasn’t a good way to delineate, IMO.  Excluding Harlequin Historicals, are there any truly “short” historicals anymore?  Any truly long?  The days of the 150K epic historical are long gone.  Seems to me one historical category is enough…though I understand why that makes things unweildy.

    I think the board has done a great job on their first try.  Yes, it needs tweaking, but that’s what the comment period is for.

  23. 23
    Jules Jones says:

    So if they’re not explicitly excluding same sex—Alex and I have written something that could be classified as an erotic m/m inspirational romance. (And no, not by cheating and using a non-Christian religion. We wrote a futuristic that simply extrapolated from the Anglican Communion’s current angsting over gay marriage.)

  24. 24
    Shayne says:

    I just dying to see m/m, pagan fit into inspirational. Yes, Jules I am. *L*

  25. 25
    Jules Jones says:

    Shayne, going by a comment on my post in my LJ about this, you may get your wish. I, on the other hand, would have to write another explicitly Christian m/m so that I’ve got something that’s not disqualified by virtue of publication date.

  26. 26
    Shayne says:

    Oh, do both Jules. Actually, I’m considering dragging Mychael into a *gasp* plot bunny. That damn AK-47 I used on them the last time has apparently NOT worked. Hrmmm.

    Which shall it be? Christian, pagan, christian, pagan. A christian and a pagan. By george, I think I got it.

  27. 27

    Um, wow.  While I’m happy to see that my single title paranormals would now fit in the Paranormal, Single Title, *and* Inspirational catas (Wicca as a religion), I don’t know how in the heck I’m going to enter my latest with my eye on the prize (and let’s be honest, that’s what you enter the RITAs for).

    As the coordinator for the National Readers’ Choice Awards for the last two years, word count was something we were going to address in 2007, so at least we weren’t totally goofy in starting to question that.  Sigh.

    Must have more wine and cigars to mull this over.

  28. 28
    Little Miss Spy says:

    NO more regencies?? I am sooo sad. truly sad.

  29. 29

    Even as a writer of M/M I am not sure it needs a category here.  After all inter-racial etc are also themes that happen to just be a tad less topical right now and if the PTB at RWA really don’t embrace these issues rubbing their noses in it won’t help.  But a bit less “romantic novels which focus almost exclusively on the *hero/heroine* relationship” would help maintain the illusion of inclusivity.

    Actually it might be fun to pick a category and enter as many gay, lesbian, trangender, inter-racial, inter-generational, bisexual and just plain kinky book into it as possible.

  30. 30
    Nathalie says:

    They separated chain mail from doublets but they still lump galaxies far far away with fantasy worlds and paranormal.
    Fuck.
    And no room for same sex love?
    Fuck again, I exclaim.
    On the other hand, I’m happy with the “from sweet to woo-damn hot” love-o-meter.
    You can’t win them all.

  31. 31

    This is crap.

    Why not remove “traditional” from the Regency category and leave it there? Then nobody has to compete against the Regencies except other regencies.

    And saying all the books could be very hot is a cop-out. Erotic romances deserve their own categories. The point is that there are judges who will not grade an erorom well. Telling them hot sex is allowed isn’t going to make them mark it any higher.

    And haven’t we always said erorom isn’t just regular romance with lots of sex thrown in? So why is it being treated as such in the RITA?

    Why does inspie get its own category, then? Isn’t it just romance with lots of religion thrown in? Oh, the religion is supposed to have at least something to do with the plot? Yeah. Same with erorom. So quit pretending erorom isn’t really here to stay, and give us our own categories.

  32. 32
    Nathalie says:

    Actually, that thing bothered me so much I actually *did* send an e-mail to RWA. Here’s my suggestion:

    Split paranormal from the sff. It should have its own category.

    Replace “Science fiction/fantasy/time-travel” with “Speculative Fiction Romance” (this way, it includes even horror, which is lacking right now). SFWA has already had a big discussion a few years back about Speculative Fiction including everyone. I liked it then and I like it now. Plus, if SFWA can’t be looked at for definition and categories, who the hell can?! RWA should go with it.

    That’s my two cents. Or is it four since it’s my second post on this?

  33. 33

    Speaking as a Harlequin Historical author, I would like to point out very gently that HH are single titles in a series wrapper. It is how they are marketed.
    In the marketplace, Harlequin Historicals main competition is from other historical novels. And I do think the very best of Harlequin Historicals can measure up to the competition. Maybe that is arrogant of me, but it is what I truly believe.
    HH is used in part to allow authors to develop their readership without worrying as much about net sales. One advantage is that they can take risks on time periods such as Roman and Amanda McCabe’s upcoming Venetians.

    Personally I have no problem with the overlapping divisions in the historicals. It will be up to the author to decide, but authors have had to make those decisions before. And at least time period is something that can be easily checked. Length, particularly when using computer count,  is less easy to check.

    I am also pleased that the judging is being clarified, and judges are to be told that they are judging against a standard, rather than against their packet of books.

    I am also pleased that there is an inspirational catagory because it does mean that people who wish to can opt out of reading those sorts of books. Just as they can opt out of paranormal or historical.

    FWIW

    Michelle Styles

  34. 34
    Nora Roberts says:

    Mostly, I’m glad I’m not on the board and have no responsibility for figuring this stuff out and trying to make it fair for all involved. I’m not sure it’s possible to please everyone.

    I don’t really get the date thing in the historical categories, but see it as more logical than word count.

    As for Harlequin Historicals competing with single title historicals, category novels routinely compete against single titles in the Romantic Suspense, Paranormal and First Book arenas.

    And I think the board’s trying to open things up for erotic novels (Same sex is likely to take awhile longer) with the revised judging guidelines. In any case, there was an erotic romance in my box this year. It wasn’t a winner for me, but that had to do with a very weak plot, sketchy characterization and the writing itself rather than the sex.

  35. 35
    Cat Marsters says:

    It looks like an improvement to me; there were just too many categories for too few books before, and this looks much more inclusive.  Will be interesting to see sweet traditionals competing against erotica in the same categories, though.

    However, I’m still waiting to hear if they’ve lifted the proviso about books being entered in their first year of publication but also being sent in a publisher-produced print copy.  Might not look important but it excluded a helluva lot of small-press e-authors (yes, including me) who found a large gap between first publication and print copies being produced.

    But like the Murphy’s, I’m not bitter.

    Much.

  36. 36

    As for Harlequin Historicals competing with single title historicals, category novels routinely compete against single titles in the Romantic Suspense, Paranormal and First Book arenas.

    So is the RWA just making word-count and the number of sub-plots an issue when it comes to contemporaries because that helps divide up the books into more manageable piles? If it’s just about dividing the groups up to get them to a manageable size, that would explain why the historicals are being split into 2 halves along a blurry date line, but it seems inconsistent. Either wordcount matters (in which case the historicals and other categories need to be sorted accordingly) or it doesn’t (in which case the RWA should perhaps think up some other way of splitting up the contemporaries).

    And haven’t we always said erorom isn’t just regular romance with lots of sex thrown in? So why is it being treated as such in the RITA?

    If the sex in erotic romance is as much of a focus as the adventure/mystery in romantic suspense, or the faith issues in inspirational romances, or the world-building in fantasy and science fiction, then it would make more sense for it to be judged in its own separate category.

    And what about historicals? Is the element of historical world-building the equivalent of world-building in fantasy? I suppose it must be, because otherwise, there wouldn’t be much difference between a historical and a contemporary. It’s sort of tricky, though, because you can get ‘light’/‘wallpaper’ historicals and I suspect you can get the equivalent ‘wallpaperishness’ in the other sub-genres too (e.g. paranormals where the vampire or other mythology isn’t really developed). But I doubt dividing up the historicals into ‘wallpaper’ and non-wallpaper’ historicals would be a popular move 😉

    I get the impression that the RWA is having to deal with a mixture of theoretical issues (e.g. what makes one sub-genre distinct from another), craft issues (wordcount and how that affects plot complexity and number of sub-plots), commercial distinctions (how particular books are marketed), moral values and practical issues (e.g. trying to divide things up so that some categories don’t get such a huge volume of submissions that the competition gets unbalanced/unmanageable). No wonder it’s tricky for them.

  37. 37
    Nora Roberts says:

    ~So is the RWA just making word-count and the number of sub-plots an issue when it comes to contemporaries because that helps divide up the books into more manageable piles?~

    I think the contemps are divided up because there are still boatloads of category lines, and entries. There is only HH (I think) in category historical. But you have all the Harlequin and Silhouette contemp lines.

    I do agree the dates are blurry. I don’t understand how they were determined, or why really.

    Which is why, again, I’m glad I don’t have to figure this stuff out.

  38. 38
    Teddypig says:

    “Ideally, Gay/Lesbian romance SHOULDN’T be an independent category, and shouldn’t have to be in the first place.”

    Well at this stage of the game it might focus people on it as simply a category till they “get it” and drop the separation.

    After the whole RT thing it would be nice that the RWA use moments like this to focus on defining inclusion.

    LOL! Oh who am I kidding.

  39. 39

    I’d like an explanation for the overlapping historicals.  I find that confusing.

    Otherwise most of this looks like an improvement.

  40. 40
    MeggieMacGroovie says:

    Dumping the Novella??? Umm, why? Anthologies are rather hot right now, especially the mixes of romance and fantasy writers. Plenty of people get a taste a writer that way, as well as it often being used to start off a series in its own right. I just don’t get dumping them.

    Glad to see the YA stuff.

    The time period thing..whatevah.

    No Erotica, but keeping Inspirational (with hot sex..umm, say wha-?)..this makes sense, how?

    If Paranormal were split up, as its been suggested many places that it should be, there are a few scifi werewolf/vamp/psy books, what about those books?

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