Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting a RITA

I posted this in the comments trail, and then decided I would make it a post of its own. Because getting prizes is part of writing, and anyone who decides to be a writer should be prepared for What Happens in the Writing Life.

The RITA ceremony has about 3000 people there in a grand ballroom,
all of them sitting in rows and rows of chairs and looking down at this little stage in the far distance.

(How do they get 3000 people to come do this without giving them food? Though they give them food afterwards, of course.
But still ... would YOU come to hear thirty people get up on stage one after another to somewhat incoherently thank their editors and agents and families and stare like deer caught in the headlights?)

Since nobody can see the stage
the helpful technicians at RWA have set up huuuuuuge TV screens. Those puppies must be 40 feet high.

They show every pore on the faces of the RITA winners, (or Golden Heart winners,) when they get up to speak.
This is reality TV.


I do not say I would rather face a firing squad, because, of course, I would not.

I think.

But anyhow ... there I was and I had just found out I was NOT going to get a RITA for Spymaster's Lady, having lost out to the excellent and wonderful Pam Rosenthal whose work impresses me so much it is almost not like losing at all to lose to her ...
(though not quite,)
and I am now relieved because the ordeal is over and I am not going to have to mount the scaffold ...
ah ... podium ...
and can now relax,
and they say My Lord and Spymaster.

So I drop my glasses, without which I cannot see.

And I drop my very short speech, which I have written in Big Letters on a piece of paper,
and which consisted of only five people to thank,
not because I am stingy but because I didn't think I was going to be able to say anything at all.

So they are gone somewhere in the darkness below my chair.
And I have to walk up on stage and make that set of acks.

I do not actually remember much that happened after this point. It was so horrible my mind has repressed it.

I do not AT ALL remember standing there and staring out at THREE THOUSAND PEOPLE and saying the right words, but I have been assured by people who wish me well that I did just that and that I did not make a fool of myself.

This is good.
This is very good.

I understand they played the theme from James Bond for the 'walkup'.
No memory of this.

So, anyhow, getting the RITA is like being beaten with long, flexible bamboo poles and at the same time being tossed in a blanket while someone plays La Traviata in your ear on a penny whistle. When you come to the other side you have this beautiful little gold statue sitting on the floor in front of your feet and you are sitting down again.

I am going to put the RITA on the shelf over my desk.

It's heavy, and the gold quill the lady holds is fragile. It would still be suitable for knocking burglars over the head with.

The RITA in the photos is not my RITA. It is the RITA of Jennifer Ashley who is here and who just wrote The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. Go. Read it.


  1. Love it! It will be easier next time. And the time after that.

  2. It was so great seeing you win!

  3. Laura3:49 PM

    Congratulations on your win!

  4. @Martha

    heh heh heh.

    It'll be a long time before I have to worry about whether I should enter a book for the RITA again. By that time, I will have forgotten what it was like.

    @ Sarah and Laura

    I never once dreamed I would get a RITA when I was working on the manuscripts. Not once. Entering was kind of an impulse.

    Getting a Finalist position was thrilling. Getting the RITA was like the The Griffin Roller Coaster.

  5. Jo, I am SO VERY HAPPY for you. And proud of you. And awed by you.

    YAY! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and Snoopy Dance)

  6. Amazing!!! Congrats!!!

    Additionally, I can't imagine anything more annoying than Traviata on a penny whistle. Artful description. That is why you are an author and I am one of you avid readers.

  7. Huzza Jo!
    Congratulations on an award well deserved. I wish I could have been in the audience cheering you on.

  8. Congratulations on your win! It was so wonderful to meet you at the conference, and I cheered very loudly when you won. If you don't remember anything that's probably because the Awesomeness Instinct kicked it because you accepted the award with grace and poise.

  9. Awww, crack me up! I'm sure you were very charming. :)

    Congrats again!!

  10. Congratulations! And no worries. Your speech was lovely!!

  11. They did indeed play the Bond theme, and that made us laugh. You appeared quite calm and collected up there!

    Congratulations again! :)

  12. Congratulations! Your speech was absolutely perfect!

  13. @ Sabrina -- Thank you so very much. I am still unable to take all this in.

    @ Maria -- Thank you so much. I was glad to finally meet you in person.

  14. @ Susan -- It's been a long, long process, hasn't it. I remember when you were helping me get the query letter for My Lord and Spymaster whipped into shape ...

  15. @ Kat --
    Yes. I was trying to think of something that would be particually horrific on a penny whistle.

    Not, I hasten to add, for all those penny-whistle lovers out there, that I have anything against the penny-whistle or those who love her. I am very fond of a fine boot-stomping penny-whistle tune from time to time.

  16. @ Rhonda -- You are so very kind to say so.

    I understand they had champagne and chocolate goodness for everybody afterwards.

    I kinda fled the scene, I'm afraid, since I was about incoherent with shock.
    Went up to my room and phoned home.
    Then I went out in the night to walk around the streets some till my mind settled down.

    @ Anime -- right back @U in terms of being glad to meet and say hello. I think Romance writers might be the friendliest people on earth. There was no one there I didn't want to grab and haul into the bar and sit down to talk to for an hour about writing.

    Or anything, really. I sat next to Celeste Bradley at the signing (love her books) and she has the most interesting dogs.

    @J.H. -- good luck on your conference critique today. Kristin Nelson!! Woot Woot.

  17. I echo the reply that your speach was simple and coherent and humble ;-) It was great to meet you in all the various circumstances (or maybe you can only meet once, then see eachother?) and *gasp* touch your RITA. Many congrats!

  18. Hi LL --

    It was wonderful to see you too. I never had any time to 'set a spell and talk to people,' y'know. And every place was so LOUD.

    What surprised me about the RITA was that it was heavy. Yes. That was unexpected.

  19. Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations. That's three cheers. You so deserve the RITA. I bought Spymaster's Lady and My Lord and Spymaster from you at the Literacy Signing in Washington and have read them both. Staying up much too late to finish My Lord and Spymaster. Great stories, loved the characters and can't wait for your next book.
    Enjoyed meeting you again at the conference.
    Robin Sorrentino

  20. Hi Robin --

    Thank you so very much. I am glad you liked the books.

    Thank you for buying them at the Literacy signing. The money goes to a very good cause.

    I am up to my ears in the next ms. I imagine you are too. How can something we love so much be so hard?

  21. I cannot tell you how much I think you deserve this!



  22. Hi Nina --

    Thank you so much. All the Finalist were wonderful books. It must have been nearly impossible to judge in this field.

  23. Anonymous11:26 AM

    You totally deserved it! I love your stories and am looking forward to anything you write. A GREAT RWA TALE!

  24. Thanks for posting this. So much fun to read. And you look radiant in the photo!

  25. @ Claire -- I have posted the best photos of a RITA I could find. It is really very pretty.

    @ Janie -- Thank you so very much. I am struggling with a very obscure scene right now. I will take your words as encouragement.

  26. Congratulations on your win, Jo! Well-deserved.

    Re: Obscure scenes. Sometimes those scenes we struggle hardest with turn out to be our favorites because we've poured so much of ourselves into them.

    Enjoy your RITA!

  27. Hi Emily --

    Thank you so very much.

    I hope I come to like these difficult scenes. I like best the scenes that I come to 'see'.