So, this happened.
At the RWA National Convention in Orlando, I actually won a RITA® for Paranormal Romance. Our subgenre is a broad category ranging from J.R. Ward’s urban fantasies to Ann Aguirre’s and Susan Grant’s science fiction—along with Harlequin Nocturnes and Molly Harper’s Paranormal Romances. Winning was an amazing experience. Hearing my book’s title called out—THE PAGES OF THE MIND—gave me a rush of pure joy like no other.
Here’s a video clip of my win and speech, recorded by the fabulous Tawna Fenske, also a RITA finalist.
It had been heavy on my mind, that story I told, of being in Orlando at this same convention in 2010, and how low I’d felt. A long way for me to come.
I made time this year, as I try to do every year, to attend Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ and Jayne Ann Krentz’s discussion of their careers and friendship over the many years. One thing they discuss is that every writer has a core story, which comes from the conflicts and beliefs that drive us. The core story is independent of the fictional landscape—meaning that it’s not confined to genre. It can take place in any genre and subgenre.
So it’s apropos that this week’s topic is “What is your recurring theme and how does it manifest?”
Mine is always about power and transformation. In THE PAGESOF THE MIND, my librarian bookworm heroine survived the rampages of a tyrant. She discovers her own power through fortitude, through surviving and arming herself with knowledge. To serve her high queen, she goes on a quest to discover hidden knowledge. She is kickass at understanding words and language—but to find true happiness and balance in herself, she has to learn to trust in the wordless, in the language of the body and passion.
This story comes out in my contemporary and erotic romances, too, and even in my nonfiction essays. For me, finding the personal power in ourselves to become more than who we’ve been is the great journey of our lives.
And that’s a journey I’ve undertaken these last seven years—from crying in the bar because someone said my work fell in the cracks between genres, to standing up on that stage with a RITA® in my hand.
Felt pretty damn wonderful, too.