And The Winner Is....RWA 2009

by Kayla Perrin

I’m in Washington, D.S., at the 29th annual Romance Writers of America conference. The votes for the Rita (honoring published books) and Golden Heart (honoring unpublished manuscripts) competitions are in, and the winners have been announced.

Who would have thought that the winner for the Rita for the best Contemporary Single Title Romance would go to the dark horse of the competition…so dark, that the book wasn’t even entered! That’s right, I didn’t even enter the Rita this year, and yet there I am in the first photo above, holding the coveted Rita award!

Of course, the Rita isn’t actually mine. My friend and fellow author, Rachel Gibson (pictured with me in the second photo), won the Rita for her novel, NOT ANOTHER BAD DATE. This is Rachel’s second win in the Contemporary Single Title category, so one more, and she’ll become an RWA hall of famer. I expect it will happen soon!

The room for this ceremony was massively huge, and there were laughs all around—guaranteed when Anne Stuart is the Mistress of Ceremonies. I still remember the one RWA conference where she was a keynote speaker as the BEST keynote speech ever given. She had the women roaring with laughter. I believe that was my second conference, and it solidified my view that romance writers were the best group of women in the world.

A true dark horse winner was Pam Rosenthal, who won the Rita for Best Historical Romance with her novel, THE EDGE OF IMPROPRIETY. I call her a dark horse because she was up against powerhouses Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, and Stephanie Laurens. Pam is represented by my agent, Helen Breitwieser, and she told Helen that she didn’t believe she had a chance in hell of winning. When she did win, I screamed with joy for her at the back of the room.

I won’t recount all the winners, but you can find them listed on the RWA web site. I will tell you that as always, the ceremony emotionally moves me. The Ritas are the Oscars for the romance industry, and it’s always emotional to see the winners moved to tears when they give their acceptance speeches. The Golden Hearts are especially emotional for me because the win for these aspiring writers means so much. A golden heart win is a critical step toward securing a publishing contract. And many times, by the time the next conference rolls around, those Golden Heart winners have gotten that coveted first sale.

I never fail to come away inspired and motivated after every conference, and this time is no different. And I feel satisfied, if only for 4 or 5 days, that I get to see some of my most cherished friends whom I normally see once a year. There’s nothing quite like being with a group of people who adore books as much as you do, who get what you do. As you can tell by the picture of me above with my new friend, aspiring writer, Cassie, a lot of fun is had by all.

If you’re a romance writer and you’ve never attended the Romance Writers of America national conference, I encourage you to do so. Next year it’s in Nashville…where legends are born! See you there!


  1. Woo! Thanks for the virtual pass to the RWA Ritas party, Kayla. I'm planning to be there in Nashville next year. Cannot wait!

  2. Kayla, Kayla, Kayla - queen of shmoozing! Looks like you had loads of fun and were inspired to boot! Conferences, festivals, markets - they're great for that re-energizing boost! Hope we can all meet up in Nashville for RWA2010! :D

  3. I'll be there next year, Kayla! Can't wait to meet you in person.

  4. It's been a blast! And yes, I love to schmooze. What are conferences for? :-)

    I can't wait to see you all next year at the next conference.

  5. Nice recap. Everyone looks so happy. Congrats to the winners. I hope to be in Nashville next year!

  6. Sounds like a blast, Kayla! Thanks for giving us a peek. I'd love to go - maybe next year. Nashville's a great city - full of cowboys!

  7. I was so sorry to miss RWA this year! Thanks for sharing those wonderful photos. It's so nice to catch a glimpse of the magic.

    Nashville here we come!

    --Chiron O'Keefe
    The Write Soul:

  8. Glad to see a veteran author not be jaded about the ceremony. Loved your perspective. We had over 400 first timers. That's fantastic!



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