Monday, July 30, 2012

The RITA -- I Haz IT!

 I am so very very happy to say I have won the RWA RITA Award for Best Historical Romance of 2011. 

In my never-ending quest to reveal the nitty-gritty of publishing, I will tell you how it went.

At the Awards Dinner, I was sitting at the table marveling at the process of selecting winners, which seems to contain both the inevitability of tides and the randomness of wave formations.  I laid a fork to hold down what page of the booklet we were working through, watching the Finalists, of whom I know just a lot one way and another, and trying not to let panic come creeping with little cat feet into my mind.

I keep drinking cups of coffee and not eating the dessert because, y'know, cake and not good for you and the whole boring sugar metabolism thing and self-restraint on general principles ...

I had corner bent the page where my own particular fearsome trial lay.  I turn to that page because it is now time.  Lay the fork across it. 

They read through the Historical Fiction Finalists.  Because I am not panicking ... really truly not panicking ...  I am thinking, "If I lose, I'll allow myself to have one of those cakes.  Probably the chocolate one.  But the vanilla icing one looks pretty good.  Maybe it has lemon flavor inside.  Now, is that a third kind of cake there or is it just white cake and the light shining on it funny ..."

I'm thinking along like this while they read out the names of the Historical Finalists.  They say, "The Black Hawk" and I have not been following, so it is a doubletake moment while I work out that they've just named the winner and it's me.  "Go on!" says Pam-Hopkins-the-agent using an exclamation point.  "You won!" she says, using another.

They let you practice beforehand where you will walk and I am good at following simple, straightforward directions.  I proceed to follow directions and discover the podium is approximately where I expected to find it.  I am safe so far ...

Some nice lady hands me the RITA statue.  I will just take a moment aside to say that those puppies are heavy.

The light up there is so bright I couldn't read the note I wrote. 
What is is --  I'd written down my agent and editor names so I wouldn't forget them and stand there mouthing in small frantic gup gup gup like a goldfish.  But I got them right.  Then I said some extemporaneousity that seems to have made sense because no one later asked me why I was babbling idiocy.  Then I got down the exit ramp without tripping.

I thought it all went off rather well.

[ETA]:  The most excellent Jina Bacarr took a video of the speech wherein I seem to speak very slowly.  This is because I think kinda slowly, at the best of times, I'm afraid, and I was trying not to forget my agent's name and editor's name.  The speech is here.  One can see it in Safari and IE, but maybe not in Fireforx.  See also the acceptance speeches of Ann Aguirre here and Tessa Dare here.  [/ETA]

It is a measure of how little I expected to win the RITA that I had not previously at any point given one single tiny passing nuggle of a thought as to how I was going to get a statue home.  In the end, I used the conference bag and made it my carry-on.  The conference bag just precisely held the box they give you to carry the RITA in, which is a delightful innovation on somebody's part.

hawk attrib velosteve acceptance kristenkoster


  1. Richly deserved, Jo Bourne, and while it's fascinating to hear your account of the award night, I want to know how Justine and Hawker are celebrating.

  2. Anonymous2:35 AM

    Yes! Well done. I was so very pleased to see that you'd won. Hope you can take some time to enjoy it before you have to return to real life.

  3. Congratulations, Joanna! I'm so pleased to read that you won the RITA - I do enjoy your books and admire your writing skills.

  4. Well done, Joanna! What a wonderful achievement - you truly deserve it =)

  5. What a well-deserved award, Joanna Bourne. And here's to you winning many more!

  6. LOL. I'm surprised they let you on the plane -- the Rita sounds like a lethal weapon of the bludgeon sort.

    Congrats! I would like to be you and win a Rita every year. I wouldn't like to be you and have to follow in my own footsteps every year by writing another fabuloso book. ;)

  7. Yay, congrats! I love that you missed the moment because you were thinking of cake.

  8. So happy for you, Jo! I have to say, I would have taken it as a personal affront if my* Adrian hadn't won. If anyone deserves a RITA, it's that man**.

    *Okay, perhaps not mine. But in my head he is. *sighs*

    **You too, of course. :)

  9. Lege Artis7:37 AM

    Very happy, for you! Congrats!

  10. Linda G. took the words right out of my mouth. Black Hawk is a splendid novel, and Adrian is a rare creation. He's caused me a few sleepless nights. I would have been deeply resentful had he not won. ;)

    Four nominations, two wins. There will be little cake in your future, I fear -- at least not at the RWA convention.

  11. Congratulations again! I was thrilled for you! And you thanked teachers. It was lovely.

  12. Jo, you were as gracious and endearing as always. Congratulations--I am so very happy for you!!!

  13. Congratulations, Jo!!

  14. Huzzah!

    I heard every well-modulated word, and you said the nicest thank you to ALL of your teachers and to all the teachers in the audience. It was prefect!

    And so well-deserved! Huzzah and congrats!

  15. Yeah! Lovely, wonderful!
    BTW, did you eat cake after the win? ; )

  16. It was a wonderful speech. Very touching! I was thinking of my own teachers through the years and as a former teacher myself felt very complimented. Thank you!

    I'm thrilled you won--now go put Rita by your keyboard and write us some more amazing books!!!


  17. There's a poem by Auden, the 'Musee des Beaux Arts' -- where he says,
    'how well they understood
    Its human position: how it takes place
    While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along'.

    The passionate, singular, important moments are surrounded by the ordinary, even in the minds of the participants. Rhett Butler sweeps Scarlet into his arms and carries her up the grand stairway to their bedroom, and part of his mind is wondering whether he tied up his horse securely.

    I didn't eat any of that cake after the win, because having made a bargain with Fate one should be careful about all the terms and conditions that might be in the small print.

    This RITA is so fine and so wonderful. I, too, think of it as Adrian winning and Adrian deserving it.

  18. Huzzah, and congrats!

  19. Anonymous11:11 AM


  20. I should mention, since I'm dealing with confusion and weirdness and carrying home the RITA, that my checked bag as I left home was Very Heavy. It was 49 pounds out of a 50 pound limit.
    They put a red tag on it that said, 'Heavy'.
    This is one of those 'saying the obvious' thingums. I suspect there's an obscure figure of speech that covers this.

    Anyhow ... I'd packed an empty soft bag in my luggage to carry conference freebie books home with. I told myself would acquire precisely the number of books that fit into that bag.

    Anyone who has ever read Wand Gag's 'Millions of Cats' knows this does not work. There is always one more book that is just too lovely to leave behind. And one more.

    So, there I am at the hotel with free books spread all over the bed and my carry-the-books-home bag is doing its very best to hold them all but not succeeding. In the end, I had ten books that would not fit unless I invented an interdimensional portal to stuff them through.

    So I snuck them into my great big heavy checked bag.

    Which was now Very, Very Heavy because it had ten extra books in it.

    Onward to the airport. At curbside check-in the man weighed my bag.
    It is ... 52 pounds.

    I stand there figuring I can move maybe four books into my purse and cuddle five or six in with the RITA and he says, 'No problem', and just moves the bag through.


  21. Couldn't have been awarded to a nicer person (writer) or a more interesting hero (Hawker). :)

  22. Hurray! Your wrap-up was almost like being there. Heavy trophy or not, you're ALWAYS my go-to winner when I'm craving fabulousness :)

  23. Congrats rock!!!! Met you last summer in NYC at RWA:))

  24. Yes, a perfect post-Nationals summation. Cheered ecstatically for you and was so proud to be able to give a signed copy of Black Hawk to my friend--your new fan--and be able to tell her "It won!" Congratulations, Jo!

  25. Karen M.8:01 PM

    Yay!!! I was so sure you would win, and yet still tickled to hear it. Such a rich story & writing. I can tell you must have worked hard on it and this is well deserved.

  26. Congrats again--very well deserved!:)

  27. I can barely believe that I won. It's lucky the statue is so very solid or I might think I was having a particularly vivid dream.

  28. Congratulations!!!

  29. Huge CONGRATS to you, Jo ! Andrea and I screamed our heads off when they announced your name. So richly deserved and as a former teacher I thank you for the heartfelt gratitude you expressed for your teachers and all teachers in the audience.

    Hard work, talent and perseverance often turn dreams into reality. Thanks for reminding us of that!

  30. OH Congratulations Jo!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Congratulations. Your acceptance speech was pure class too. We're looking forward to having you in Columbus in Sept. Whoo hooooo on your win. It was well deserved.

  32. Joanna, I was really touched by your heartfelt tribute to teachers in your RITA speech! I posted a short video of your speech on TwitPic: Joanna Bourne RITA speech for The Black Hawk as part of my RWA Video wrap-up.


  33. I am so very delighted with all this. Just beyond belief happy.

    Jina -- I've taken the URL and linked to it in the posting.

    I am not able to see it in my own machine, because I don't have very many programs loaded into it. But my daughter has all kinds of fancy programs and she can watch it.

    Thank you so very much for taking that video. Just thank you. You are so kind.

  34. Whew, I was nervous just reading that. And so glad for you. Congratulations!! (that gets two !s)

  35. And to think I knew you when.

    Proud on you, kiddo.

  36. Awesome, Jo, congratulations!! And how lovely to thank your teachers :-)

  37. I'm so happy for you! You so deserved this. Loved the book and thought while reading it that it had to win an award at some point.

    Thank you for making this exciting time period so popular!

  38. Sara E.2:49 AM

    Congratulations, Jo! There were some really excellent books among the finalists (I particularly liked Silk is for Seduction, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron and Unveiled), but you most definitely deserved to win! Loved The Black Hawk--I always had a soft spot for Adrian. :-)

    /Sara E.

  39. So very happy for you, even if this post does have a squirrel in it.

    (although it's possible that is a chipmunk, in which case, I take no umbrage.)


  40. I took the RITA statue to visit friends this morning, fellow writers, though mostly not Romance writers. Then we all had mimosas except for RITA who did her best dolls' tea party thing and watched.

    Pam -- I think it's a chipmonk. It's the eyes, y'know. The don't appear to be evil.

  41. Anonymous8:31 AM

    This is for Joanna: congratulations on winning the Grand Prize! Leo just sent me an e-mail. I have all your recent books (had to repurchase those I had lent and that had not been returned). More power to you!

    Jacquie Berben-Masi, Eze, France

  42. I was so excited to be there to see you get the RITA, Joanna! I was hoping you'd win. Congratulations!

  43. Best speech ever. :)

  44. I was totally cast in the shade by Ann Aguirre's interpretive dance. It was a fun RITA award night, I think, even if I say it having won.

  45. Congratulations. Wonderful speech, wonderful book. And I apologize from the bottom of my heart for being so overwhelmed at meeting my hero (heroine) in person that I forgot to pay for our drinks. Can't wait to read your next one. It's always like Christmas morning.

  46. Oh *grin*. I greatly fear you will never live that down ...
    Nonetheless, I hope we can meet again at a future conference.

    I was so scared up on stage. I'm glad it doesn't seem to show much.

  47. Regan posted a comment on this post over at Goodreads and it doesn't convey back to the blog.

    So I have copied it and added it here:

    This article, Jo, is just another reason why your writing makes the readers smile and why you deserve the award. I was cheering for you loudly from my table (annoying my table mates, I'm sure). And don't worry about the desserts on a stick. I had the black and white one; it was cheesecake and not so good. Can't wait to read Pax's story!