Category Archives: Contests

Nom, Nom, Nom: Some of the 2011 RITA Finalists

This isn’t breaking news, but I’m especially excited about this year’s RITA nominations. This award recognizes outstanding romance books and novellas from the previous year, and the awards are given out at the annual Romance Writers of America convention.

This year, I actually know two of the finalists! Cheryl St. John is nominated in the Romantic Novella category for ‘Mountain Rose’, from the anthology  To be a Mother. And Mary Connealy’s Doctor in Petticoats is nominated for Inspirational Romance.

Second, some of my favorite books of last year are in the running. Below are the categories I’ll be watching most closely. Check out this link to the Romance Writers of America website for the complete list of 2011 finalists. Which books would you like to win?

2011 RITA Finalists for Historical Romance

  • Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee (Forever; Alex Logan, editor)
  • The Forbidden Rose by Joanne Bourne (Berkley Trade; Wendy McCurdy, editor)
  • His at Night by Sherry Thomas (Bantam Books; Caitlin Alexander, editor)
  • A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James (Avon Books; Carrie Feron, editor)
  • Last Night’s Scandal by Loretta Chase (Avon; May Chen, editor)
  • A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl (Zebra Books; John Scognamiglio, editor)
  • One Wicked Sin by Nicola Cornick (HQN Books; Kimberley Young, editor)
  • Open Country by Kaki Warner (Berkley Trade; Wendy McCurdy, editor)

2011 Finalists for Inspirational Romance

  • A Convenient Wife by Anna Schmidt (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical; Tina James, editor)
  • Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy (Barbour Publishing; Rebecca Germany, editor)
  • Finding Her Way Home by Linda Goodnight (Steeple Hill Love Inspired; Allison Lyons, editor)
  • In Harm’s Way by Irene Hannon (Revell; Jennifer Leep, editor)
  • Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist (Bethany House Publishers; David Long and Julie Klassen, editors)
  • Shades of Morning by Marlo M. Schalesky (WaterBrook Multnomah; Shannon Marchese, editor)
  • The Wedding Garden by Linda Goodnight (Steeple Hill Love Inspired; Allison Lyons, editor)
  • Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang (Tyndale House Publishers; Stephanie Broene, editor)
  • Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House Publishers; Karen Schurrer and Charlene Patterson, editors)

2011 Finalists for Historical Regency Romance

  • His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell (Avon Books; Lucia Macro, editor)
  • The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig (Dutton; Erika Imranyi, editor)
  • Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean (Avon Books; Carrie Feron, editor)
  • Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter (Jove; Wendy McCurdy, editor)
  • To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott (Forever; Frances Jalet-Miller, editor)
  • Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare (Ballantine Books; Kate Collins, editor)
  • When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer (St. Martin’s Press; Jennifer Enderlin, editor)
  • The Wicked Wyckerly by Patricia Rice (NAL/Signet; Ellen Edwards, editor)

2011 Finalists for Romance Novella

  • “Blame It on the Blizzard” by Jennifer Greene in Baby, It’s Cold Outside  (Harlequin; Marsha Zinberg, editor)
  • “A Dundee Christmas” by Brenda Novak in That Christmas Feeling (Harlequin Superromance; Paula Eykelhof, editor)
  • “Friendly Fire” by Jill Shalvis in Born on the 4th of July (Harlequin Blaze; Brenda Chin, editor)
  • “Love Me to Death” by Maggie Shayne in Heart of Darkness (HQN Books; Leslie Wainger, editor)
  • “Mistletoe Magic” by Sandra Hyatt in Under the Millionaire’s Mistletoe (Silhouette Desire; Krista Stroever, editor)
  • “Mountain Rose” by Cheryl St. John in To Be a Mother (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical; Patience Smith, editor)
  • “Shifting Sea” by Virginia Kantra in Burning Up (Berkley Sensation; Cindy Hwang, editor)
  • “The Wrong Brother” by Maureen Child in Under the Millionaire’s Mistletoe (Silhouette Desire; Krista Stroever, editor)
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Happy Valentine’s Day!

The sexy Scot hero of my next book has an interview at SOS Aloha in honor of Valentine’s Day! Kim is giving away some fun prizes as well, so stop by and read what Kieran has to say!

Speak the Speech, I pray You

“Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you—trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines…use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and as I may say, the whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.”  — Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2

I studied a lot of drama in college, and later used what I had learned in several community theater productions.  I’m lucky to live in a good ‘theatre’ town, with several non-profit companies that cover everything from Euripides to musicals to original works.  Although the acting bug stopped biting me awhile ago, I loved nearly every moment of rehearsal and performance, not least because I had the chance to appear in some wonderful productions.

Plays differ from movies in a lot of ways, but one of the biggest contrasts is, as one of my favorite directors used to say, “Movies move, plays talk.”  Film, based on photography, depends on images to tell a story. Theater, defined by the presence of actors and audience in the same space at the same time, depends on dialogue.

While I write books, not plays, and have an array of writing devices to use in story-telling, I still love good verbal interplay between characters. Whether as a writer or a reader, I demand a lot of a character’s speech (and since narrative can go inside someone’s head, their thoughts).

A character’s vocabulary and grammar can inform the reader of his or her background, social or educational level, and relationship with other people in the room in the space of a few words. Our speech is influenced by our gender, our mood at the moment, and our basic natures.  So is a believable fictional character’s.

One of my favorite series is the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries by Anne Perry.  Thomas, although the son of a gamekeeper, speaks like a member of the upper class. This works because Perry explains that as a boy, he was permitted to share lessons with the son of his father’s employer. That’s only one example. A cowboy from Texas won’t have the same accent or slang as a Boston-raised lawyer, even if they both went to Harvard.

Suppose a character alters her accent to fit into her current workplace or social circle.  She may still use expressions she learned in childhood, like Eliza Doolittle at tea with Mrs. Higgins in My Fair Lady — or my old acting professor. Bill is a New Orleans native who needed to tame his accent in order to increase the range of roles he could get. It always cracked us up when he would say, with perfect standard pronunciation, “I am fixing to go down to the store. Do you all want something?”

One of the biggest aspects of a character’s speech and thought is gender.  Men aren’t as verbal as woman, and unless it’s in an area they are trained to observe, they often don’t notice details. A hero who identifies the designer and exact color of the heroine’s dress is not going to come off as realistic. Yes, some heterosexual men can identify colors like puce or burnt sienna, if they’re artists like my stepmother’s brother. But most men will say “purple” or “brown”, like my hubby.

Male or female, a believable character will mirror real life in how they address others.  We don’t speak to our supervisors the same way we do our toddlers (tempting as that may be on occasion). Depending on the time and place, it can be inappropriate for a man to swear at, or in the presence of, ladies — and ladies might be prohibited from using anything stronger than ‘lud’ or ‘darn’. Of course, even a proper gentleman and lady involved in certain intimate activities might use crude language with their partners, to their mutual enjoyment.  Context and motivation are key reasons behind a writer’s word choice. 😉

Do you have any favorite conversations between characters in your books? I’d love to hear about them.

And as an extra bonus, I’ll send out a wee little prize related to Her Scottish Groom to the first person who identifies the actors pictured at the top if this post, along with their best-known science fiction roles. Hint: the photo is from a British production of Hamlet.

2010 RITAs

It’s awards season for romance writers!  The RITA Awards are announced every year at the Romance Writers of America durning their Annual Conference.  This year, the lucky attendees (of which I am not one — sniffle, sniffle) get to go to Disney World.  While the days are filled with any number of excellent workshops, seminars and panels, one of the high points is the ceremony that acknowledges, as the RWA puts it, “excellence in the romance genre.”*

Categories cover a range of subgenres, including Series Romance, Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, and Inspirational, among others.  I’m watching the Historical category (duh!) and my youngest daughter was excited to see two of her favorite books of the last year nominated for best Young Adult Romances.  I haven’t read all the finalists myself, obviously, but I’m thrilled for all of the writers nominated!

Below are the books we’re cheering for at our house:

Nominated in Best Historical Category

To Beguile a Beast, by Elizabeth Hoyt

Knight of Pleasure, by Margaret Mallory

Nominated in Young Adult

Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

If you want to see if any of your favorite books from 2009 are nominated, check out the complete list of finalists in ALL categories here: http://www.rwanational.org/cs/2010_rita_finalists

Have you read any of the nominated books? Do they strike you as award-worthy?

*Quoted from the RWA website.  http://www.rwanational.org/cs/contests_and_awards/rita_awards

And the Winners Are

Rhonda, Penney and Sally J. Walker each won a signed copy of TO BE SEDUCED!  Congratulations and thank you for taking the time to comment; it was much appreciated.

You can use the ‘Contact Me’ page to email your mailing address.  I’ll get copies out as soon as I know where to send them!

Warmly, Ann