A RITA Primer

By Lizbeth Selvig

Science Fiction writers have their Nebula Award. Mystery writers covet an Edgar. Inspirational authors give their best books each year a Christie.

For Romance writers, the ultimate honor for a well-written love story is the RITA Award. 
Barbara Samuel O'Neal has seven beautiful RITAs--stunning aren't they?
The winners of this year’s golden RITA statuettes will be announced July 20th at the 2013 RWA National Convention. Romance readers are already aware of how prestigious the RITA is in the romance industry, and RWA is working hard to make that name well-known to the general reading public as well.

On the RWA website, the stated "mission" of the RITA awards reads like this:

“The purpose of the RITA award is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas.”

It certainly does that! Take a look at the Who's Who list of (just a few) beloved authors who’ve taken home the beautiful golden lady.
LaVyrle Spencer
Nora Roberts
Julia Quinn
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Jo Beverly
Francine Rivers
Barbara O’Neal
Kristan Higgans
Darynda Jones
And countless others. They are the heroines of our genre!

RWA was created in 1980, and the founders immediately established two contests—one for unpublished authors and one for published authors. The RITAs were originally called The Golden Medallion Award and the prize was a pendant similar to an Olympic medal.

The Golden Medallion award became the RITA award in 1990—on RWA’s 10th anniversary. It was named after one of RWA's co-founders, Rita Clay Estrada. In a contest held to design a statuette, Marilyn Clay from Dallas submitted the winning design, and so RITA took her place as the symbol of the best in romance.

Today, up to 1200 entries are received for the RITA’s 11 categories. Out of those, approximately 100 finalists are chosen and, finally, the 11 winners. The ceremony held each year at the national meeting is as glitzy and glamorous as the Oscars—truly an amazing night!
One of my proudest moments in 2010. After winning a Golden Heart in Contemporary Single Title, I got to have a picture snapped with the Contemporary Single Title RITA winner, the amazing Kristan Higgans.
Get Lost in a Story is celebrating this year’s RITA awards starting next week. Each day from July 10-20, we’ll highlight one of the contest’s categories, and on July 21st we’ll celebrate the big winners.  I hope you’ll come back and check out all the amazing nominees.


  1. What a great post, Liz !!

    I also hope everyone will come back and leave comments and enter the Rafflecopter drawings.

    35 authors have contributed multiple books to make our second annual RITA FEATURE a year to remember!

    EACH Day will be run as a separate drawing. You can enter through Rafflecopter multiple times --for the same drawing or lots of different drawings.

    Rafflecopter will be open through Saturday, July 27th. Winners will be posted on July 28th.

    SPREAD THE WORD...the more commenters and entries we have, the more contributions will have next year making it even more fun!


  2. Sounds amazing--can't wait to read the posts! :)