The Champion of Barésh is a RITA® finalist!

I received the most exciting news! My feel-good, girl-power, dream-big, sci-fi sports romance, redemption novel The Champion of Barésh has been named as a finalist in the paranormal romance category of the 2017 RITA® awards. The RITA, the romance publishing industry’s highest award of distinction, recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. It’s like the Oscar in the Academy Awards, an industry honor judged by my peers. Up to 2000 romance novels and novellas from 13 different categories are judged each year in the RITA competition. After the first round of judging by fellow published romance authors, the competition narrows to approximately 100 finalists.

This is such a special honor. It’s been 16 years since the first time I got THE CALL letting me know my book had finaled in the RITA contest, and this was my 4th time to have that honor. It never gets old, you still get shaky and flustered and crazy excited, and can’t believe it’s happened. Like with lightning striking twice in the same spot, there is so much chance involved to final in the RITA. It takes more than a good book, it’s timing, it’s pulling the judges of all the many judges who will love your story. The stars really have to align to final. You can go years between one final and another, decades even, or it may never happen again…or it happens twice in a row. There’s no telling. Lightning striking. It’s why that phone call you get is the best. In a business where one’s author self-worth and perceived storytelling ability can often be trampled by sales numbers and needing to making the bestseller lists and how many folks subscribe to your newsletter, THIS was for me, this fills up my writer’s heart and soul. This is validating and lovely and pure joy that keeps me going with my crazy stories that don’t ever seem to fit neatly in any one genre/sub-genre. It’s so wild that whenever I feel ready to cave in and write what sells versus the books of my heart, something like THIS happens and gives me confidence in my abilities and that I *am* a good storyteller, even though I don’t top the bestseller lists or have legions of fans. And you know what? For me it’s always been quality over quantity anyway. 

My book that finaled, The Champion of Barésh, is my first as an indie author. Seeing “self published” under my name on the list of RITA finalists was the most surreal thing. (When I left publishing 6 years ago not knowing if I’d ever return, this was not a thing, being able to enter the RITA with a self-published book.) On purpose, I didn’t make note of the date the calls would go out, but knew it always was around the time of my birthday. Yesterday morning I was on the road before dawn on a 3.5 hour rush hour slog to the airport when I got a call from some random city across the country. Telemarketers, i thought. Ugh! Calling at 7 am! I let it go to voicemail. My “Voicemail to Text” app gave me this: “Hi Susan…I am one of the directors on the board directors for our gonna be way and I was trying to give you a call this morning I know it’s early to give you some news….” I puzzled out “our gonna be way” for all of 2 seconds. It was “RWA” (Romance Writers of America). AAAAAAAAHHHHH. I so wished I didn’t have to work. I had to wait until I flew all the way across the Pacific Ocean before I could celebrate…in Seoul, Korea, with the other pilots who had no idea who RITA is but were happy for me all the same and more than willing to lift a glass in a toast.

Winners of the awards will be announced Thursday, July 27, 2017, at an Awards Ceremony to be held at the 37th Annual RWA Conference in Orlando, Florida. 

A complete list of finalists and author photos can be found on the RWA web site at www.rwa.org in the Contests and Awards section. 

–Susan

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