Saturday, July 27, 2013

The 2013 Golden Heart and RITA Award Winners

Last Saturday night at the RWA's annual convention, the RITA and Golden Heart awards were presented. I was lucky enough to be one of the many individuals in the audience who witness this special event. Let me just say, the room was filled with so many smart, intelligent, and talented writers that it was awe inspiring. I am glad that I wasn't one of the individuals who had to narrow the field down to just one winner per category, I would have had a hard time choosing. All the nominees were worthy of the honor,and I was glad to see many of my favorite authors were nominated. A few even won a RITA. Yay! 

For those of you who have never been, I would liken the RITAs to to Oscars, complete with golden statues, which in this case hold a book and golden quill. The authors and guests get dolled up in beautiful gowns and evening attire. A little bit of trivia, I was informed by the very talented and award winning, Mary Jo Putney, that four of the RITAs, one of which was hers, were flawed and did not contain a quill in their hands. These lovely golden ladies will eventually be replaced by those which do contain the quills and the recipients will get to keep the flawed ones as conversation pieces. 
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The night kicked off with the very talented Christie Craig Emceeing the event. Armed with a devilish gleam in her eye, a charming smile on her face, and a warm and lovely southern accent that could melt an icicle on a cold winter's day, she presided over the event. Using her wonderful humor and quick wit she talked of the perils writers face when attempting to get published. Reading some of her own rejection letters and talking about her struggle with dyslexia, which incidentally, resulted in one sentence's whole meaning being altered when she inadvertently left off the letter 'r' in the word shirt. She had us laughing while inspiring and encouraging us to not let such things detour us from our calling as writers. I didn't get a picture of Ms. Craig in her evening attire, I did manage to snag a picture of her at a books signing earlier the day before.

While I tried to get pictures of all the winners, I only managed to get a handful. Many went off in search of a quiet space to call loved ones to let them in on the good news.  I did, however, manage to snag pictures of both the first and last award recipients of the night.

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The first and only Golden Heart award winner I was able to find was Miranda Liasson (picture below). Her story,  "Baby on Board--Help!",  (something I could relate to when I was a new mother) won her a Golden Heart for the category Contemporary Series Romance.
If you notice the gold heart shaped necklace Ms. Liasson is sporting, that is the Golden Heart award. Imprinted on that heart charm is the image of the woman the RITA is fashioned after--complete with book and quill. As you can see Miranda's holding the case to the necklace in her right hand and that is how I spotted her among all the other award ceremony attendees. Let me just say the Ritas were much easier to spot than the Golden Hearts. :)

Along with Miranda, the following authors received Golden Heart awards. I should point out that many, if not all, of the Golden Heart nominees are unpublished, but as I managed to meet quite a few, they were happy to inform me that many of their nominated stories have now been picked up by publishers. So while I can't give you a synopsis of the stories nominated, many will be finding their way to bookstores in the near future, quite possibly under different names. Congratulations ladies!

                   Author                                       Story                              Golden Heart Category          
Krista Hall Reynolds                    Broken Places                Romantic Suspense
Jane O'Hanlon                              Objection Overruled       Contemporary Single Title Romance
Joanna Shupe                                Drawn to the Earl           Historical Romance
Amy Jones writing as AE Jones   Mind Sweeper                Paranormal Romance
Darcy Woods                                 Summer of Supernova   Young Adult Romance
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Now, of course, the big awards of the evening were the prestigious RITAs. Everyone was waiting patiently in anticipation of finding out who would win. As nominations were read, you'd hear many attendees clapping and displaying their approval and support of the nominations. It was fun seeing whole tables getting excited where nominees were sitting.

Author Sarah Morgan was the evening's first RITA award winner. Unfortunately I could find no picture of her. Her book, "A Night of No Return" (The Private Lives of Public Playboys), won in the category of Short Contemporary Series Romance.

Book Synopsis for 'A Night of No Return':

Money, charm and sensual skills don't make up for a heart colder than ice….

Wild parties, wanton women, relentless work—nothing helps tycoon Lucas Jackson escape his dark and haunting past. Arriving at his rural castle in a snarling snowstorm, he craves only complete isolation.… But it seems oblivion can take an unexpected and highly intoxicating form!

Personally delivering the vital file left on her boss's desk, secretary Emma Gray starts to seriously regret her dutiful overtime mission. She never expected the dark side of the usually controlled Lucas could generate such a primitive, powerful—and entirely inappropriate—reaction.
The Second RITA award of the night went to Karen Templeton for her book, 'A Gift for all Seasons". It won Karen the RITA in the category Long Contemporary Series Romance. Again, I have no picture to share of the author. I should note, however, she also received entry into the RITA Hall of Fame. According to RWA, an author who wins more than one RITA during her career is rare. For those outstanding authors who win multiple RITAs, RWA needed a special way to honor them, so they created the RWA Hall of Fame. Upon receipt of her or his third (formerly the fourth) RITA Award in the same category, an RWA member is inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame for that category. I think I'm going to have to check Ms. Templeton's books out.

Book Synopsis for 'A Gift for All Seasons':

Hiring Patrick Shaughnessy to landscape her new inn was strictly a business arrangement. Until April Ross got to know the war-scarred single father …and his irrepressible little girl. Patrick made it clear he wasn't looking for romance. Neither was April. But could she make him see that some risks were worth taking?

The lively, widowed blonde might be the most tempting woman Patrick had ever known, but the returning vet knew a happy ending wasn't in the cards. Still, that was before April started working her magic on his daughter …and on him. Maybe this Christmas was a time for new beginnings — if Patrick had the courage to go with the powerful feelings April had awakened in him….
The third RITA award recipient of the evening was a newcomer, Simone St. James (great name by the way). Her story 'The Haunting of Maddy Clare' won in 2 categories, hence the two RITAs she is proudly displaying in her picture below. The first, was in the category Novel with Strong Romantic Elements and the second was for Best First Book. This is definitely an author to watch. I can't wait to see what she'll do in the future. Talk about making an entrance in the Romance world, Ms. St. James could give us all pointers. :)


Book Synopsis of 'The Haunting of Maddy Clare':

Sarah Piper's lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis-rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts- has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah's task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a deperate struggle. For Maddy's ghost is real, she's angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair's assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?
The fourth RITA award winner of the night was Elizabeth Camden. Again I wasn't able to get a picture of her with her RITA, but I was able to find this photo of her on Goodreads:

Book Synopsis of 'Against the Tide':

Love and Lives are Threatened in Camden's Latest Offering

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.
The fifth RITA of the evening went to author Laura Griffin. She won for her book 'Scorched' in the category Romantic suspense. This one has been on my to read list since it came out. I need to make time to read it. She was gracious enough to pose for the picture below. 

Book Synopsis for 'Scorched':

Kelsey Quinn set out to trace a murder victim.
Now she may become one.

The dead don’t speak, but Kelsey knows their secrets. As a forensic anthropologist at the Delphi Center crime lab, Kelsey makes it her mission to identify bodies using no more than shards of bone, and her find at a remote Philippines dig hints at a sinister story. When Kelsey’s search for answers puts her at the scene of her ex-fiancé's murder, only one man can help her. The same man who broke her heart just months before, and who is also a prime suspect. Faced with an ultimatum - Kelsey or his job - Gage Brewer did the only thing a Navy SEAL could...but that doesn't mean he stopped wanting Kelsey. Now Kelsey is running for her life and Gage is her last line of defense. As the threats escalate, Kelsey realizes this conspiracy goes deeper and higher than they could have guessed. With the clock ticking down on a madman’s plot, the slightest misstep will have unthinkable consequences....
The sixth and eigth Ritas went to Eloisa James (below on right) and Sarah MacLean (below on left). FYI, we were really close to the stage which were emitting a red glow on the dynamic duo. So that is not the red hot glow of victory you see on Ms. MacLean and Ms. James. Although, who's to say for certain? lol Both were decked out in shimmering evening gowns and looked gorgeous.

Eloisa won for her short story 'Seduced by a Pirate' in the Category Romance Novella. 

Book synopsis for 'Seduced by a Pirate':

Sir Griffin Barry leapt out of the bedchamber window at age seventeen after a very disappointing wedding night, drank a bit too much at the pub and woke to find that he'd joined the crew of a pirate ship! Years later, he has become one of the most feared pirates on the high seas, piloting the Flying Poppy, a ship he named after the wife whom he fondly (if vaguely) remembers.

What happens when a pirate decides to come home to his wife — if she is his wife — given that the marriage was never consummated? And what happens when that pirate strolls through his front door and is met by... well, that's a surprise!

Sara MacLean won for her book, 'A Rogue by any Other Name', in the category Historical Romance.

Book Synopsis of 'A Rogue by any Other Name':

What a scoundrel wants, a scoundrel gets...
A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury.

A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to such unexplored pleasures.

Bourne may be a prince of London’s underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them... even her heart.
The seventh RITA award winner of the night was the talented and wonderful Barbara Freethy. She won for her book, 'The Way Back Home', in the category Contemporary Single Title Romance. She proudly displays her Rita below.

Book Synopsis for 'The Way Back Home':

In the small California town of River Rock, the river is always there—sometimes unpredictable and wild, sometimes a source of comfort, always a part of life. Bestselling author Barbara Freethy will capture your heart with an emotional story about love, family . . . and fighting for what matters most. Ex-Marine Gabe Ryder is fulfilling the last request of his best friend, Rob, who was killed in a firefight during their final days of service. He promised to help Rob’s family— especially Rob’s twin sister, Alicia—with their struggling river rafting business. Gabe has a hidden past with Alicia, though. She’s the woman who taught him that love might exist, yet he walked away from her.

Alicia has more than enough on her plate with her brother’s death, her father’s injury from a tragic rafting accident, the entire town turning against them, and a series of dangerous attacks on her business. She doesn’t need this rugged loner who broke her heart. But passion flares between them, and this time, they can’t walk away. Alicia can’t help wondering: did Rob really send Gabe to watch over her—or did he want her to show Gabe the way home?
The Ninth Rita Award of the evening went to Kresley Cole for her book, 'Shadow's Claim', in the category Paranormal Romance. It should be noted she also was inducted into the RITA Hall of Fame. One of her comments as she accepted her RITA was, 'Lothaire will not be happy." *chuckle* Ms. Cole's book 'Lothaire' was up against 'Shadow's Claim' competing for the coveted spot.

Book Synopsis for 'Shadow's Claim':


Trehan Daciano, known as the Prince of Shadows, has spent his life serving his people—striking in the night, quietly executing any threat to their realm. The coldly disciplined swordsman has never desired anything for himself—until he beholds Bettina, the sheltered ward of two of the Lore’s most fearsome villains.


Desperate to earn her guardians’ approval after a life-shattering mistake, young Bettina has no choice but to marry whichever suitor prevails—even though she’s lost her heart to another. Yet one lethal competitor, a mysterious cloaked swordsman, invades her dreams, tempting her with forbidden pleasure.


Even if Trehan can survive the punishing contests to claim her as his wife, the true battle for Bettina’s heart is yet to come. And unleashing a millennium’s worth of savage need will either frighten his Bride away—or stoke Bettina’s own desires to a fever pitch. . . .

The tenth RITA of the night went to Emily McKay for her book, 'The Farm', in the category Young Adult Romance. I just got my copy and look forward to reading it. 

Book Synopsis for 'The Farm':

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...

The final award of the night went to the lovely and talented Ms. Mary Jo Putney. She was gracious enough to pose with me for a picture. She won the RWA Nora Robert's Lifetime Achievement Award.   

Mary Jo Putney was born in Upstate New York with a reading addiction, a condition for which there is no known cure. After earning degrees in English Literature and Industrial Design at Syracuse University, she did various forms of design work in California and England before inertia took over in Baltimore, Maryland, where she has lived very comfortably ever since.

While becoming a novelist was her ultimate fantasy, it never occurred to her that writing was an achievable goal until she acquired a computer for other purposes. When the realization hit that a computer was the ultimate writing tool, she charged merrily into her first book with an ignorance that illustrates the adage that fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Fortune sometimes favors the foolish and her first book sold quickly, thereby changing her life forever, in most ways for the better. (“But why didn't anyone tell me that writing would change the way one reads?”) Like a lemming over a cliff, she gave up her freelance graphic design business to become a full-time writer as soon as possible.

Since 1987, Ms. Putney has published twenty-nine books and counting. Her stories are noted for psychological depth and unusual subject matter such as alcoholism, death and dying, and domestic abuse. She has made all of the national bestseller lists including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USAToday, and Publishers Weekly. Five of her books have been named among the year’s top five romances by The Library Journal. The Spiral Path and Stolen Magic were chosen as one of Top Ten romances of their years by Booklist, published by the American Library Association.

A nine-time finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA, she has won RITAs for Dancing on the Wind and The Rake and the Reformer and is on the RWA Honor Roll for bestselling authors. She has been awarded two Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards, four NJRW Golden Leaf awards, plus the NJRW career achievement award for historical romance. Though most of her books have been historical, she has also published three contemporary romances. The Marriage Spell will be out in June 2006 in hardcover, and Stolen Magic (written as M. J. Putney) will be released in July 2006.

Ms. Putney says that not least among the blessings of a full-time writing career is that one almost never has to wear pantyhose.

It was a fun and fabulous evening.
To all of those who won, Congratulations!  :)

Special Notes:
Book synopsis' found on Goodreads.
 Mary Jo Putney's biography was found on her website.


  1. Great coverage and a picture of Miranda. I did not get to meet you but if you do this coverage in the future, you might ask RWA if you can meet more GH nominees at the champange reception or the rehearsal before the awards! Even GHers who are not published yet or who do not have deals need the publicity, so thank you!

    1. Thanks. I wish I would have known, but I was a real newbie. I didn't realize we got to go to the Golden Heart and RITA awards ceremony until Friday. Another newbie and I were talking on Wednesday and she thought we needed tickets, which she had. Then I started talking to a volunteer and she said our badges were our ticket in. Thankfully, I had packed a dress just in case. The write up was a spur of the moment thing to do. I saw two winners and snapped a picture then saw another, and so on and so forth. It was fun meeting and talking to everyone. I wish I had been able to do a more thorough write up before and after the awards were given, and I wish I had been able to find more Golden Heart winners. :(

      Thanks for the information. I'm not sure if I'll be going next year, but you never know.

  2. What a wonderful write-up! I was there, my first time, it was such a cool experience.

    1. The whole RWA experience was very fun and everyone was so nice and helpful. It was a very inspirational experience. Cathy Maxwell gave a inspirational tear jerker of a speech and Kristin Higgins' speech likewise inspired and brought tears to my eyes. I wish it would have lasted longer. :)

  3. Awesome write-up!!! And thanks Lisa for taking my pic :) So many good RITA-winning books to read now!!!


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