Thursday, February 18, 2010

What Are You Reading? with Jenna Bayley-Burke

It's Thursday, which means another round of 'what are you reading?' here at the Pink Heart Society...but we can't tell you. It's very hush-hush...but for PHS editor Jenna Bayley-Burke, it's fabulous!!

Every year around this time, romance authors get very secretive about what they're reading. We can't tell you, we can't tell anyone. Well...I'll probably tell you if you buy me a drink, but I'm that kind of chick.

Most members of Romance Writers of America's Published Author Network (PAN) sign up to help choose the best romance books of the year for RWA's RITA Awards. This is our Oscars. Peer recognition for the most amazing stories told in a particular year. Just like Oscar, RITA is a golden statuette that you never know quite what to do with, but you never forget that you earned one.

The RITA Awards are named for Rita Clay Estrada, the first RWA president. There are 12 categories - from historical to young adult. Approximately 1,200 books are entered, and fewer than 100 are deemed finalists. From that, 12 books are chosen and presented at the RWA conference each year.

OK, so that's the history. What's happening right now is authors are reading and judging the RITA books they were assigned. In the eHarlequin reading challenge you might see these listed as RITA read 1, or something. We find new favorite authors this way, and we start to root for the stories we want to win.

I get quite a thrill when a story I loved makes to to the finals. Did you read last year's RITA finalist for best first book and Contemporary series Suspense The Secret Soldier by Jennifer Morey? It was fabulous! It didn't win in either category...but maybe it should have... You get invested in having a story you voted for win, even if you haven't read all the others in the category.

In 2008 I was torn...Sleeping Partner by Kelly Hunter was up against Mile High Club by Heidi Rice -- both Modern Heat. And then, to make things harder on me, The Tycoon's Princess Bride by Natasha Oakley (one of the Pink Heart Society founders) was in the same category! I might have been upset that none of my friends got the nod, except Snowbound by Janice Kay Johnson won that year and Janice Kay is something of a living legend in my mind. She's a wonderful writer and an even nicer person, so I couldn't be too put off. It really couldn't have gone to a better person!

This year, I'll be rooting for a certain debut author to feel the heat of a RITA nomination. Maybe a film lover will get her chance at taking home romance writing's version of Oscar. We're sworn to secrecy about what we're reading and how much we love it, but I will tell you I had a great grouping of books! Not a dud in the bunch. All I can say, is that I hope the best book wins!

Jenna's latest release is Compromising Positions -- available with chocolate, Kama Sutra yoga, a decade old crush and a steady addiction to sugar. To find out what Jenna is up to ...check out her website & blog.


  1. Jenna

    Am busy at the moment reading my RITA books too and have to say I've had some real gems so far... Last year I discovered a new auto-buy author too so anyone who's a member of RWA I'd strongly recommend doing a stint as a judge!

    As for my RITA nom in 2008, what a hoot... My mum bought me all the other nominated books that year (bless) and once I'd read them all I have to say I was so chuffed to just be in the same company as the other books. And Janice was definitely a worthy winner!

    Heidi x

  2. I LOVED Snowbound.

    I've found a couple of new authors from Rita reading. One was a few years ago and now I have just about every book she's published (missing a few that are out of print). The other is new to me this year and I'm going to be on the lookout for more books. I love reading stories where storytelling and craft come together. One I read this year had great characters and chemistry to keep me turning the pages, but then when I looked at HOW it was put together my respect for that author went up a whole other notch. :-)

    Glad I'm almost done though because several from my TBR are tempting me!

  3. Heidi -Your Mile High Club was one of the first MH's I ever read! Believe me you held your own in the category. :-)

    The problem I find is hearing about so many great books and knowing there's no way I can read them all!

  4. Great post Jenna. I will also be reviewing for RomCon and can't wait to receive my books. The conference is in Denver, CO and their will be an awards ceremony for the authors.

    I just finished Kate Hewitt's The Greek Tycoon's Reluctant Bride, a very emotional story.

    Now I'm reading Nicola Marsh's Marriage: For Business or Pleasure? Loving it!

    My tbr pile at the moment is huge!

  5. I've just finished my books and they were wonderful this year. I have high hopes that one of them will walk away with the lovely lady.

  6. I'm reading some fabulous books at the moment. More than that I cannot say......