The Contest Empress Speaks — Again!

I started entering Romance Writers of America contests with my very first manuscript. Several of RWA’s chapters sponsor romance writing contests. I came in second in the very first contest I entered, Virginia Romance Writers Fool for Love contest, so I was hooked early. By the time 2002 came along, I was finaling in contests left and right, so often that my friend Kathy Caskie (How to Seduce a Duke, Sept 2006) dubbed me “The Contest Empress” and she gave me the sceptre to prove it.

That year my historicals came in 1st and 3rd in the Marlene Contest (my own Washington Romance Writers chapter) – the first place entry became my eHarlequin Daily Read (Jan 2006) The Diamond, and the 3rd place entry became The Improper Wife.

Above you see me with my Marlene Medallion, the prize for coming in first.

In 2003, I won RWA’s Golden Heart contest with the manuscript that became The Mysterious Miss M. There I am accepting the Golden Heart at the RWA conference in New York.

And as Amanda mentioned, this summer my A Reputable Rake won the 2006 RITA, RWA’s most prestigious award, for Best Regency Romance. Here I am accepting the RITA statue in Atlanta.

I made the decision to enter A Reputable Rake in the Regency category of the contest, first, because it fit the category. It was heavily grounded in the Regency time period, and had the right word count. I had always thought of this category as being meant for the TRADITIONAL Regency lines, but knowing those lines were ending, I thought I’d enter A Reputable Rake in that category, rather than short historical.

My decision turned out to be a very good one!

This year there will still be a Regency category for the RITA contest and I think any author whose book fits the guidelines ought to enter the book in the Regency category instead of Short Historical. I don’t have a Regency this year, so I can’t enter.

These are the guidelines for Best Regency Romance: Romantic historical novels with primary settings during the Regency period, typically 1795-1840. The word count for these novels is 40,000-85,000 words.
Judging guidelines: The category includes comedy of manners as well as darker stories, and the books may contain a variety of story elements, such as sexual content, paranormal elements, mystery, suspense, adventure, and non-traditional settings.

Consider this.
1.The Regency category usually has fewer numbers. Fewer numbers equals less
competition. ( but we have to get at least 25 entries!)
2. The competition for all our non-Regency historicals is decreased, because the Short Historical category is not filled with Regencies.
3. Regencies will be judged against other Regencies, which honors the special quality of our time period.
4. RWA will learn that the Regency set historical is still going strong with wonderful, talented authors writing great books.
5. Who knows whether there will be this category again after the contest is revamped. This may be the best chance to reach the finals!
6. I’ll get to stand up there and present some lucky author a RITA!! I already have a dress to wear.(I bought two for this year’s Award ceremony, just in case.)

So, what do you think? Do you think the Regency period deserves a contest category all its own?

Cheers!
The Contest Empress

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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