Arianna's Blog

Come listen to the ramblings and assorted babblings of a crazed mother and newbie author. It might not always be helpful, but it should be amusing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Last week I got my 7 books to judge for the Rita contest. For those of you who don't have any idea what the Ritas are, they are like the Emmy awards for Romance writers. It's a BIG deal to get nominated, final, and especially to win. I didn't enter the contest because I didn't have a print book released in time last year to enter, and as of yet RWA doesn't have an erotica category. In any case, I kind of figured it was my "civic" duty to volunteer to judge because I really don't do squat for RWA otherwise.

I wasn't planning on getting the books the week before I left for my cruise, but hey, what's a little more stress?

I wanted to be VERY objective about the books I got. I looked at the covers, the back cover blurbs, and did my best to ignore the author names on the books. I really feel that RWA should strip the books of any identifying clues so you judge the book on the writing, not on the reputation of the author.

Judging the books has been much harder than I thought.

Three of the books were category books that I generally wouldn't read if given the choice. I had to focus on the craft of the writer, how they managed to draw me into the story , was it emotionally satisfying? Did I like the characters, could I root for them to succeed? It ain't easy writing a category romance, you have lots of parameters to work around. Just because I didn't like the category didn't mean I could penalize the author for it.

I think being a teacher helped a lot. I can't grade according to how much I like or dislike a student, so I used that same mindset for my Rita books.

It has been a very enlightening experience for me. I'm still a newbie author, I have HUGE insecurities about my writing abilities. I never volunteered to judge before because I didn't feel that I was qualified to judge people so much farther along in their careers. Although I'm by no means an expert, I am a HUGE reader so I can honestly say I did my best to judge the books on both their evidence of craft and on reader appeal.

I'm just glad there are other folks reading the books too. I'd love to know how my scores compared to other people's scores. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen.

For all of you who entered the Rita who may or may not be reading this blog, kudos to you! It takes a lot of moxie to put yourself on the line like that and I congratulate every one of you for having the guts to do it.

Maybe someday I'll find the same nerve and enter myself. . .
or maybe not!


  • At 10:17 AM, Blogger Tina Gerow said…

    Ari: I know what you mean. I judged last year and it was very rewarding, but yet also very difficult. I wasn't chosen to judge this year even though I volunteered and now with the WIP and everything, I'm sort of glad for the

  • At 10:23 AM, Blogger Cheyenne McCray said…

    I just got my box of books, too, most of them category, which I don't read. The first one, which is the only one I've had a chance to start on, is very good. I've really enjoyed it. It's veeeeery thin, so it might be in the novella category. I need to finish it. Unless it falls flat, it's going to get a good score. :-)


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