RITA winners announced

Ahead of the announcement of the Romance Writers of Australia’s RUBY and Emerald award winners at our 2016 conference in Adelaide, we share the winners of RWAmerica’s RITA and Golden Heart winners. The RITA and Golden Heart awards are for published books and unpublished manuscripts respectively. It is interesting to note that when publishing the shortlist, RWAmerica pays tribute to authors, publishers and editors.

The 2016 winners are:


  • Romance Novella Nice Girls Don’t Ride by Roni Loren
  • Contemporary Romance: Long Brokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates
  • Young Adult Romance The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
  • Historical Romance: Long Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist
  • Romantic Suspense Flash Fire by Dana Marton
  • Paranormal Romance Must Love Chainmail by Angela Quarles
  • Erotic Romance For Real: A Spires Story by Alexis Hall
  • Historical Romance: Short It Started with a Scandal by Julie Anne Long
  • Inspirational Romance A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter
  • Contemporary Romance: Short The Nanny Plan by Sarah M. Anderson
  • Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
  • Best First Book Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn


  • Contemporary Romance Shelter Me by Gabrielle Luthy
  • Young Adult Romance The Beekeeper by Meg Kassel
  • Historical Romance The Earl and the Pussycat by Elizabeth King
  • Romantic Suspense In the Wrong Sights by Tracy Brody
  • Paranormal Romance Don’t Call Me Cupcake by Tara Sheets
  • Inspirational Romance For the Love of Termites by Kimberly MacCarron
  • Short Contemporary Romance Rescuing Riley by Carrie Nichols

For further information and links to the books and authors go to the announcement on the RWAmerica website page.


Cruisin’ with RWA

Enrico, Clint and I wish you a safe and Happy Easter. Take care on the roads if you’re going away and stay safe. Here’s wishing you a weekend filled with Easter eggchocolate.

We hope you enjoy our line up this week. Have you got a new release, cover, contract, website or blog to share? Send us the link to cruisin@romanceaustralia.com.


Cruisin’ the News

Share your good news with us each week and we’ll join you in your happy dance. Congratulations to all our members this week. Share your new release, new cover, contest win, new contract, new website and more good news with us at cruisin@romanceaustralia.com.

Good News

has four of her modern novels for sale as ebooks on Amazon.

MOVING ON – Downtrodden for years, sidelined at her daughter’s wedding in favour of her ex-husband’s new wife, and burdened by a son who lives with
her and isn’t paying his share of expenses, Molly Peel has reached her sticking point: she’s moving on.

IN FOCUS – When a new feature on Pete Newbury’s popular TV programme shows his adult image digitally transformed to that of a young child, Beth is
shocked to realize that he’s her ‘baby’ brother, who vanished without trace thirty-eight years ago.

LICENCE TO DREAM – would winning Lotto make all your dreams come true? What about love?

SHORT AND SWEET – 14 romantic short stories, mostly modern, a couple historical, all previously published in women’s magazines.

is thrilled to announce her third contract with Escape Publishing. This time for another short story, AWAKENING THE WARRIORS, which is set in the same world as LEGEND BEYOND THE STARS. Awakening the Warriors is scheduled for release on 1st May 2013. If you’d like to take a look at the cover, here’s the link.

Fran must have been crazy to leave her ordinary, safe life and volunteer as a colonist to terra-form a new earth. Now she is trapped in a prison cell on an alien planet a zillion miles from home and bound for a hideous death in notorious research chambers. She has one chance of escape: awaken the long dormant sexual urges of the Darkon Warriors shackled in the next cell. It’s a desperate job, but someone has to do it.

MATILDA’S FREEDOM, an Australian historical set in the Hunter Valley during the nineteenth century, will be released on July 1st from Escape Publishing.

Jennifer’s modern gothic SECRET REFLECTION is now up for pre-order on Amazon and live from April 1.

First love. Forbidden love. THE YEARNING will be released as eBook on 1 April 2013, print book on 1 May 2013.

Congratulations to all our members who made the finals of the RITA and Golden Heart Awards


Contemporary Single Title Romance Finalists

Zoe’s Muster by Barbara Hannay
Penguin Group Australia, Michael Joseph Books
Belinda Byrne, editor

Historical Romance Finalists

Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation
Wendy McCurdy, editor

Romantic Suspense Finalists

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry
Hachette Australia
Bernadette Foley, editor

Short Contemporary Series Romance Finalists

A Marriage Worth Fighting For by Lilian Darcy
Harlequin, Special Edition
Bryony Green, editor


Historical Romance Finalists

The Last Light of Dusk by Joanne Lockyer

Romantic Suspense Finalists

The Predator by Chris Taylor


Cruisin’ Member Blogs

Clint had another busy week cruisin’ the web and inbox. Hope you enjoy his scoop. Share a link and a short blurb here each week by emailing the Clintdetails to us at: cruisin@romanceaustralia.com.

  • RWA Blog

March 29 – A Day in the Writing Life of Bec McMaster

March 30 – New Releases

March 31 – Event Announcements

April 2 – Conference Spotlight on Annie West

April 4 – Cruisin’ with RWA

Dreams and the Bodhi Tree in India fed into Jacquie Underdown’s novels. Visit with her this Sunday 31st. And next week, Kate Bell will be treading the boards. Make sure you drop by and say hi!

Much ado on Friday Feast this week. Best-selling historical romance author and she of the many ARR Awards, Anna Campbell, is donning her romance queen crown and swanning along for a visit, and bringing a ghost with her! Well, nearly. Anna ‘s latest release is THESE HAUNTED HEARTS: A REGENCY GHOST ROMANCE and you could win your very own ebook copy. Simply join Anna in sharing your favourite wedding cake and you’ll go into the draw. Shivering excitement!

All your favourites over at DSDU this week

Visit Eleni Konstantine in the Taverna

On my blog this week just gone, I have been sharing my love for Les Mis (the movie, weigh in if you hated it! There’s a great flash mob, too). I also have another young reader review from my in-house young reader and I share some of the challenges writers face in staying in print and how you can help them, if you like them. The last one was popular – feel free to share if you think it would be helpful to you or your friends.

Easter 2006, this Author Harvest guest sold her debut novel – CLAIMING THE COURTESAN. So it’s fitting that Easter 2013, she’s a guest on Jenn’s Author Harvest and what a hoot! Plus, you can win a copy of Anna’s latest eBook THESE HAUNTED HEARTS.

Author Kamy Chetty talks about her past, present, & future on my blog today and is giving away an ebook copy of her steamy, emotional romance FALLING INTO PARADISE. Just click on the link and leave a comment and you’ll be in the draw.

March 26 – WORLD-BUILDING: The Lady’s Gifts – a look at the special talents wielded by the characters in ALLEGIANCE SWORN

March 30 – ALLEGIANCE SWORN Blog Tour – list of dates of where & when

April 1 – ALLEGIANCE SWORN Countdown begins with snippets of scenes from the book

April 2ALLEGIANCE SWORN: Release Day – let the celebrations begin

S E Gilchrist is Cooking the Books this Wednesday.

I’m heading into the final week of my two book world tour. (Just like the Queen on a royal tour!) I’d love it if you’d drop in somewhere and leave a comment. There’s a $20 Gift Card up for grabs.

March 25Total Book Nerd

March 26Romance Bookworm

March 27Tattooed Book Reviews

March 28Lacey Wolfe

March 29Reading Renee


Enrico’s Pick Six

Submit your blog site link to cruisin@romanceaustralia.com to share with our readers. Enrico hand picks six blogs to showcase every week.

Enrico’s Pick Six this week:Enrico

  1. Victoria Purman
  2. Belinda Williams
  3. Donna Gallagher
  4. Hayson Manning
  5. Maggie Gilbert
  6. Jennifer Rae


Riding the Waves: Writing Romance in Tempestuous Times

Things are heating up here in the west with the 22nd annual RWA conference approaching fast. So do keep an eye out for blogs and information Riding the Waveshere on the blog, on Facebook and on the Romance Writers of Australia website. If you’re planning on Riding the Waves in Freo this year, why not keep up to date and subscribe to the newsletter via email.

August 16 – 18 2013 -The Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, Western Australia

In August 2013, for the first time, our annual national conference is heading to Western Australia. With a gorgeous heritage hotel, sunshine, sea-breezes, alfresco dining and history – Fremantle has it all. And now it has romance!

Take advantage of the Early Bird Savings and register today!

Regards Juanita

Golden Girl – Vanessa Barneveld

This week we welcome Golden Girl, Vanessa Barneveld and Golden Heart Young Adult nominee to the Golden Girls interview seat.

A little bit about Vanessa.

Vanessa Barneveld is a two-timer. That is, a two-time Emerald Award and two-time Golden Heart Award finalist. By day, she writes and records audio description voiceovers for the blind and writes TV captions for the Deaf. By night, she wrangles two cats and a never-ending house renovation. Despite all the two-timing, she’s totally devoted to her musician husband. Vanessa will co-present a workshop on self-promotion with Tracey O’Hara at this year’s conference in Coogee.


1)                Can you tell us your reaction when you found out were a finalist in the Golden Hearts Award?
My reaction was that of total disbelief. I knew that if was lucky enough to final, I’d get a call on the morning of Friday, March 26, Australian time. When I arrived home from work on Thursday afternoon, though, I found an email from Maggi Landry saying I was a finalist! “But I’m not supposed to know this early!” I said to myself. I googled Maggi’s name and learned she’s on the RWAmerica board. That’s when I knew the email wasn’t a hoax! I let out a little scream, rang my hubby and then Anna Campbell, with whom I screamed some more. This is my second consecutive Golden Heart nomination and I keep pinching myself. The GH is without doubt the toughest, most prestigious contest out there for romance writers. Finalling puts a tremendous spotlight on an author’s work and it’s something I hadn’t fully appreciated until I experienced it first-hand. I’m thrilled that there are no less than four Aussies in the GH finals this year (waving to Gabrielle, Kylie and Robyn!), plus three Aussie RITA finalists.

2)      What is your favourite part of Ghost-Ridden about?
Hmm, apart from writing the words “The End,” my favourite bits of GHOST-RIDDEN revolve around a ghost dog—a big boofy Saint Bernard named Bob who slobbers all over my psychic heroine. I like to think all dogs go to heaven, but Bob has a special role on Earth.

3)      What inspired you to choose the genre you write?
My genre is Young Adult. I first started writing at around age 13, and back then I wrote teen fiction short stories. Then I graduated to women’s romance. I struggled to finish my first book in 2004—a truly appalling attempt at Harlequin Blaze. In that book, I wrote a flashback scene featuring the heroine and hero in high school. Their conversation just flowed so easily and it was then I realised I had to go back to my teen fiction roots. What I love about writing YA is there are endless themes to explore from a teen perspective. YA fiction today is diverse, complex, and it’s become a real force in publishing.

4)      How long did it take you to write Ghost-Ridden?
Two weeks of nonstop writing. (Please don’t hate me!) It was my third book, second YA. The idea, or rather the book title, came to me when I was drifting off to sleep one night. I had to get up and write the synopsis. Up till that point I’d been a total pantser. This ms changed me forever. The next day,  I started writing. My boss let me take a week off so I could finish the draft as it would not leave me alone. When I finished it, I put it aside for a while and then spent about a year revising. I refreshed the story again in November 2009 and whatever I did seems to have paid off! An older version of this book has done the rounds in New York, so I’m excited about it getting another chance. Maybe the timing’s better now. Who knows? 🙂

5)      What are you working on now?

My agent, Robin Rue, is busy submitting a boy-centric YA book that’s close to my heart. Rather than bite my fingernails to the quick over that, I’m having oodles of fun writing a new YA about superhero cheerleaders from outer space.



Greta Baker is having a mid-teen crisis. She’s had it up to her crown chakra with the spirit world. Not only do ghosts walk through her, they walk all over her. And it’s going to stop. Right now. Or is it? After a run-in with the small-town clergymen of Dawson, Ohio, Greta is determined to reinvent herself in California as a normal, ghost-free girl. But her resolution falters when she discovers Lucy, who died in 1977 and now haunts her bedroom, is unwilling to “go to the light” unless Greta helps her. By “help” she means right Lucy’s lifetime of wrongs. The only way Greta can rest in peace is by doing as Lucy asks. Soon Greta is under pressure from more neurotic ghosts as well as the media, who are honing in on her psychic gift. Hottie Jake, aka president of the skeptics club, is breathing down her neck too – in a good way. But is she prepared to choose between the ghosts who need her and the gorgeous guy who doesn’t believe in life after death?

Vanessa thank you for taking the time to chat we us. The best of luck with the Golden Hearts, we will be all cheering for you from the sideline.


The Ruby Slippered-Sisterhood

While many of us are polishing our entries for The Emerald, closing at the end of November, some of us may be casting our eyes further afield at the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Contest for Unpublished Manuscripts.

And why not? Aussie romance writers have been showing up consistently in the finalists over the last couple of years, including the recently published Tracey O’Hara with Night’s Cold Kiss.

This year, Vanessa Barneveld was a finalist in the Young Adult category and has now joined fellow finalists to form The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood with a new blog dishing out advice about the Golden Heart. In their inaugural month,  there are daily giveways for commentators and a grand prize of critiques in time for the Golden Heart deadline.

Worth a visit for some great advice!

My Life as a 2009 Golden Heart Finalist

Guest blogger: Vanessa Barneveld

Beth Miller and me minutes before the ceremony (and hours before my wardrobe malfunction.)

November 2008, four days before the Golden Heart entry deadline – I had just discovered the manuscript I’d sent weeks earlier hadn’t made it to RWA’s Texas office. Cue panic attack. My dad, who lives in Los Angeles, suggested I email the ms to him and he’d print and send it. It was the only time I’ve ever been glad he lives so far away. After draining his stationery supply and enduring paper cuts, Dad FedExed the entry, which arrived with hours to spare. “You’d better get somewhere in this contest,” he grumbled over the phone when his good deed was done.

Cut to July 2009 – I am indeed “somewhere.” Washington, DC. As a Golden Heart finalist in the Young Adult category. Last year’s Aussie finalist, Tracy O’hara, insisted I would feel like a princess at the conference. She was right. Photographers and autograph hunters hounded me. (Alright, I signed and posed for one or two friends.) Strangers made this little nobody feel like a big somebody when they approached and said, “You’re Vanessa Barneveld. You write YA, right?” (The latter was not on my name tag, I swear.) One person told me how much they loved my books, but I soon realised she’d mistaken me for someone else. No matter. It was still nice to be accosted by a fan, even though technically she wasn’t my fan.

The day of the awards, I tried not to surrender to nerves. They’d hit during rehearsal when the director talked us through the proceedings. (“Make sure you have a two-minute acceptance speech ready!” “Try not to fall down!” “Don’t freak out when you see your ginormous face on those ginormous screens!”) But as soon as I walked into the auditorium for the ceremony that night, I got that weird out-of-body feeling and just absorbed the atmosphere. People have said the GH/RITA awards night is the Oscars of the writing world and that’s no exaggeration. To me, this was one big party to celebrate being a finalist in arguably the world’s most prestigious romance writing contest. I had Beth Miller, my agent’s assistant, as my date, a glittery Linda Howard in the seat before me, a ballroom full of new friends, and five days of jet lag had finally dissipated. I pinched myself the whole time.

Winning would have been a nice little bonus, but the fact is the GH puts a bright spotlight on all finalists. Many of us in the class of 2009 (aka the Ruby Slippered Sisters—we click our heels madly if ever a sistah needs extra help in making a wish come true) have landed publishing contracts, agents and full manuscript requests as a result of the GH. Each of us in the YA group received requests from an executive editor at a major New York house.

Tina Ferraro & Vanessa

Tina Ferraro & Vanessa

The only thing I regret about not winning is that I didn’t have the opportunity to publicly thank those who have helped me get this far. So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to grab that chance now. Promise I won’t go on for more than two minutes.

Simone Elkeles, who presented the GH in the YA category, and Tina Ferraro--women of exceedingly good taste. What you don't see is a third woman in the same dress standing behind them.

Simone Elkeles, who presented the GH in the YA category, and Tina Ferraro--women of exceedingly good taste. What you don't see is a third woman in the same dress standing behind them.

Thank you to RWA and the contest judges. Big hugs to my fellow YA nominees–Amanda Brice, Addison Fox, Elizabeth Langston and Shoshana ‘2009 Winner!’ Brown. Finalling is really just the beginning for us.

For their faith in my work, I thank my agent, Robin Rue, her assistant Beth Miller who rescued me from slushdom, and all at Writers House.

Anna Campbell and Annie West, thank you for pushing me whenever I’m slack and pulling me up whenever I’m down. I love you both even when you’re tough on me! I’m ever grateful also to my CPs—Stephanie Kuehnert, Janette Hankinson, Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross, Cheryl Sallick, Joanna Challis, my two Claires—and to my cheerleaders, Tina Ferraro, Kerri Lane, Christine Wells, Sharon Archer, Tracey O’hara, Trish Milburn, Fiona Lowe, CC Coburn, the We Love YA blog and the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood. To all the Romance Bandits, thank you so much for awarding me your scholarship to attend the conference.

Thank you to my husband, Frank. The night of the GH was our 14th anniversary and I would’ve given anything—except maybe a Golden Heart ;)—for him to be there with me. And finally, a huge thankyou to my dad. I truly couldn’t have made the finals without him.

Kandy Shepherd and Cheryl Sallick.

Kandy Shepherd and Cheryl Sallick.

And thank you to Vanessa for sharing your Golden Heart story with us.

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