Thursday, August 9, 2012

Winning the RITA

Pamela Tracy here.

I imagine most authors have a "Dream" list.  I know I do.  Winning the RITA is number four on my list.   See, the RITA is the Oscar for romance writers.  It's the "Hey, she really can write!" seal of approval.  This year, 2012, an author named Serena Miller won the award.  Her book The Measure of Katie Calloway sounds awesome. 

Serena's words after winning we awesome, too. 

She said on her website, "It has taken a couple days to write about this–a couple days to believe that it is true."

Boy, can I imagine that.  I remember the day I sold my first book, how I walked around pinching myself because it was real.  I'd written a book.  Someone besides my mom was going to read it.  I imagine winning the RITA is the same.
Serena also wrote, "I was up against such strong writers, I didn’t think I had much of a chance. Still….I watched the tweets of those who were at the awards banquet in Anaheim with a small flicker of hope in my heart.  Then I saw my name come up as the winner of the inspirational genre and I will never forget that moment as long as I live. I screamed, and my husband came running. Then he realized what had happened and threw his arms around me and we hugged and cried and laughed and sobbed."

Serena, you weren't there when they read your name, but many many inspirational writers were.  When they read your name, we applauded.  Congratulations, Serena.  Your book sounds awesome!
On her website, Serena ended by saying, "Saturday night I learned that The Measure Of Katie Calloway truly was a winner. I am so grateful. It is no small thing to be allowed to make a living—while living a dream."

If you want to read the journal entry where Serena tells about winning the RITA, not the abbreviated version I've just cut and pasted here, please go to


  1. Pamela, thanks for sharing Serena's story with us. I found a list I made before I was published years ago after hearing Debbie Macomber speak. She had us all write down a list of things we wanted to accomplish in our writing careers. A couple of years ago I came across that list while I was cleaning out some files. When I read it, I was surprised at all of the things on that list that I had actually accomplished. When I made the list many of them seemed like impossible dreams. Dreams do come true. I know the thrill of winning. I had that same feeling when I won the Golden Heart. Winning a RITA is on my list, too.

  2. How cool that many of them were actually accomplished. Were you there, at RWA Nationals, when you won? LOL, I feel like applauding for you right now.

  3. Merrillee, that's amazing! I made that list at that conference as well. I need to see if I can find it.

    Great post, Pamela! I forgot to stop by today, but was reminded when Rachel Burkot tweeted about it! :)

  4. Rachel tweeted about the craftie ladies? Really?

  5. Pam, thanks for sharing some of Serena's excitement with us today. Non-writing folks don't realize how BIG the RITA really the Oscars or Academy Awards!

    Some day...ah, to dream!!!

    Hey, girls. I made a list after Debbie Macomber spoke at my GRW conference. I wanted to be published in 5 years. Took me a bit longer, but I finally made it. :)


  6. Serena's comments made me tear up! I'm glad she realized what a HUGE deal it was to win. I read her book. It is excellent.

  7. I wish Serena many congrats!!!

  8. Merrillee, how wonderful that so many of your dreams came true.

    Like probably everyone else, at my first RWA National, I dreamed of winning the Golden Heart. Finaling was just as fun...without having to give a speech. During the ceremony, I was too terrified for words and prayed God would have the correct person win (that is, someone who'd prepared a speech!). That same prayer went up this year, and from Serena's reaction, I'm sure my prayer was answered. Thank you for sharing.

  9. The year you won the Golden Heart, Merrillee was the first year I attended and I'll never forget seeing your face up there on the screen and being so impressed. I was a wide-eyed newbie, so overwhelmed by the whole shebang that I was walking into walls. I remember seeing several of my favorite authors in the flesh and being astonished they were real people who drank coffee and went to the bathroom with the rest of us. To me, they were demi-gods with super powers. I was so naive, I honestly assumed they all had personal secretaries and staff to clean their houses:-)

    I was also at the conference when Debbie Macomber spoke. I was a little less naive by that time, but still unpublished. She was such an encouraging speaker. I don't remember the part about writing down the five things, but I remember the part about the night her husband asked her to stop writing and get a job, and she agreed. And then I remember her telling him, "I really think I could have made it as a writer." That one sentence stayed with me through years of writing manuscript after manuscript while still unpublished. I kept thinking, what if Debbie had left it there? What a sad little sentence that would have been.

    I don't take credit for much--I've had a husband who has just about beat the walls of heaven down with his prayers for my writing--but that sentence of Debbie's was one of the first things that came into my mind after the RITA. Instead of going through life thinking "I think I could really have made it as a writer," I actually wrote.

    I'll forever be grateful to Debbie for speaking that night. Thanks everyone for the congratulations. And--by the way--I'd never seen the RITA up close before. Let me tell you, that lady is NOT a kid's Little League trophy. She is bigger, and nicer, and heavier, and classier, than I ever dreamed. When RWA does something, it does it well!

  10. Pamela, I was there to get my Golden Heart. I was so sure I wouldn't win because one of the other finalists had a request for her complete manuscript, but I didn't. I was sure she would win. I was in complete shock when I won, and my hubby, trying to be helpful, pushed me out of my seat toward the stage before I could get all of my speech out of my teeny-tiny purse. I wound up with only half of if, so I winged it.

    Serena, congratulations again. It is funny how we look at others and think they have it all when we are really so much alike. As you looked up to me then, I'm looking up to you now.

  11. Serena, thanks for reminding us those words of Debbie Macomber. What you said is so true.

    And yes, I agree on the Rita statue! I held Tammy Alexander's one year (and I think I drooled on it! LOL). It was SO HEAVY! I nearly dropped it when she handed it to me. (Yes, I asked if I could hold it.) :)

  12. So great to have Serena stop by and to read more about her writing journey. Merrillee, thanks for sharing your fun memory of winning the Golden Heart.

    I hear Debbie M. speak at ACFW a few years ago and she encouraged us to make that list. I did, and I just looked at it the other day and I was so tickled to see some of those dreams have come true. What a great encouragement.

  13. This was a great post. Congratulations Serena...

  14. So wonderful to see Christian writers recognized in this way!:)


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