Amid the rippling, throbbing, pounding heat of July in San Antonio, romance novel authors, publishers, readers and judges will gather for the Rita Awards to recognize outstanding published works in their chosen genre.
Although romances are often stigmatized and ignored by literary critics, they have the largest market share of fiction sales, followed by religious/inspirational, mystery, science fiction/fantasy and classical literature.
The RITA Award (named for founder Rita Clay Estrada) is given for published books and has nine categories, such as Best First Book, Erotic Romance, or Paranormal Romance, while The Golden Heart (for unpublished manuscripts) has seven, such as Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance and Young Adult Romance.
One of the finalists for Romantic Suspense, Thrill Ride, by Julie Ann Walker, is the story of hunky CIA agent Rock Babineaux, who seemingly "goes rogue," and his partner, the stubborn Vanessa, who follows him in the jungle as he eludes a massive manhunt: "One mutinous tear slipped from his right eye, slid down his cheek and landed in her hair where her head was tucked up under his chin. She loved him. It was what he'd been afraid of and maybe secretly yearning for all along..."
There are also awards for Lifetime Achievement, Bookseller of the Year, and my favorite,Librarian of the Year -- with last year's winner, Sean Gilmartin, of the Anythink Library in Thornton, passing the baton to this year's winner at the ceremony.
Want to try your hand at romance writing? The library has lots of love stories for you to read, as well as authorship guides such as:
- On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel that Sells by Leigh Michaels (2007)
- See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs (2006)
- Writing the Great American Romance Novel by Catherine Lanigan (ebook, 2006)
- Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies by Leslie J. Wainger (ebook, 2000)
Once you've written your romance, don't underestimate the importance of the cover - it tells the reader a lot about the book, including the era of the story or the sub-genre. See the video below for a glimpse into the glamorous world of the romance book cover photo shoot:
POV screened a wonderful documentary on the writers and readers of romance lit a few years ago called "Guilty Pleasures." Definitely worth checking out -- here's a blurb: http://www.pbs.org/pov/guiltypleasures/film_description.php
Oh, what a wind machine and some bronzer can do to spice up yet another heart-pounding encounter between rich mystery man and poor girl, rich girl and poor but proud mystery man, et al! This was more fun to read than the actual books, alas, but thank you.