I have great news! My second book, One Fine Cowboy, has been selected as a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA contest. Named after the organization’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada, the RITA is possibly the most coveted award in romance writing, and I never thought I’d make the shortlist. Being a finalist in the Contemporary Single Title Romance category puts me in the company of an incredible roster of writers – Victoria Dahl, Susan Donovan, Rachel Gibson, Molly Harper, Jill Shalvis, Robin Wells, and (gulp) Nora Roberts.

I am one happy romance writer.

And I’m looking forward to the RWA Conference more than ever. I always love the event, which brings together about two thousand writers from all across the country for meetings, workshops, and general camaraderie (which generally involves a lot of martinis and margaritas). The Rita and Golden Heart Awards Banquet will take place on the evening of July 1st, and I’m thrilled that One Fine Cowboy is one of the titles they’ll name when they list the nominees from the spotlit podium. I’ll be there with my awesome editor Deb Werksman, who deserves a big share of the credit for every one of my books, and my wonderful and supportive agent Elaine English.

Getting “the call” was a total comedy of errors. I knew the finalists would be announced on Friday, but Ken and I were up in Montana for a visit with his daughter, and I’d lost my phone just before we had to leave to catch the plane. I saw something about the RITAs on a blog the morning of the announcements and joked to Ken that I had a much better chance of winning since I couldn’t answer the phone call. But though there’s always a little light of hope at the back of your mind, it was definitely a joke. I never expected to final. 

So when I got home and found a message from RWA on my phone, I told myself there must be something wrong with my conference registration, or maybe I’d committed some grievous writerly sin and been kicked out of the group. Those options seemed infinitely more likely than a slot in the finals.
 
If the board member who notifies finalists was looking for someone who was totally surprised (and weeping uncontrollably), she got it! They had been trying to reach me all day because they couldn’t post it until they notified me. They finally gave up late in the afternoon and posted it anyway after notifying Deb. I feel bad for making everyone work so hard to get in touch with me–I wasn’t playing hard to get, and I’m usually not that disorganized!
I’m flattered by the nomination and so, so glad that One Fine Cowboy is getting some attention. I love Nate and Charlie, and they earned this honor–especially Nate, who seems to connect to readers more than any of my other heroes. The book is definitely a contemporary romance, but there’s an old fashioned cowboy hero at its heart.
One Fine Cowboy is the only one of my books where the hero and heroine aren’t in any way based on people I know. Nate and Charlie just showed up and wanted their story told. I have no idea who they are or where they came from, but they’re as real to me as any of my friends. Writing is magic sometimes, and you never know where it’s going to take you, but right now I’m really enjoying the ride!