RWA, the Romance Writers of America association, has a contest every year called the Ritas. The last time I entered the Ritas was 2000, I think, and the book was My Beloved.
I loved that book. I still do.
I requested the preliminary scores and opened them just knowing I’d gotten rooked somehow. Someone had miscounted. I should have been in the finals. Instead, the only book of mine to be in the finals was Heaven Forbids – about adultery, of all things. My Beloved was the story of a leper and the woman he loved. I thought it was groundbreaking. I adored Sebastian and Juliana.
Um, when I saw the scores, I nearly wept. I was savaged. Okay, let me rephrase that. My perception was that I was savaged. Maybe some tears did escape. I got two 9s (the highest score) and the rest were abysmal.
On that day I vowed NEVER to enter the Ritas again. Plus, I didn’t renew my membership in RWA.
Fast forward to 2014. I rejoined RWA thinking to attend the convention here in San Antonio (didn’t do that, but that’s another story).
The other night, I entered both The Witch of Clan Sinclair and The Virgin of Clan Sinclair in the Ritas. First of all, it’s $50.00 per book. Secondly, you have to send them 5 copies of each book by a certain date, and thirdly – which is most important – you have to volunteer to judge because only published writers can judge (I think). Judging is very, very, very time consuming. You have to read between 5 and 9 books and be as fair as you can when rating the books. Trust me, after my experience with My Beloved, I KNOW how important it is to be fair.
Sometime in March, those writers whose books have been picked for the finals are informed by a phone call. The winnowing process is done by numeric scores.
This year, I requested the preliminary scores again. I’ll let you know how it goes and what the scores are.