June 29 2017 09:36 AM

Local romance authors win RITAs

Local romance authors win RITAs

What are the odds that two Williamston authors were selected as finalists for prestigious awards given annually by the Romance Writers of America?

Romance writers Darcy Woods and Lyssa Kay Adams, aren’t as much interested in computing those odds as they are in talking about how they became romance writers and how excited they are to be RITA finalists, which is sort of like the National Book Award for the Romance genre.

The two aren’t competing directly against each other for the award, because their writing is entered in different categories. Darcy Woods’ “Summer of Supernovas” weighs in as a finalist in two categories Best Young Adult Romance and Best First Book, while Adams’ book, “Wild in Rio” is a finalist for Best Romance Novella.

Woods’ novel also won the Golden Heart Award in 2013 given by the Romance Writers of America (RWA) for an author’s unpublished manuscript.

The content of the two books is as different as night and day. “Summer of Supernovas” follows a geeky teenage girl on an astrology-fueled journey of love while “Wild in Rio” is a more adult look at two Olympic athletes who find love in the Rio Olympic village.

Their books were selected from more than 2,000 entries submitted to the Romance Writers of America’s annual contest.

Talking to the two authors on a conference call is like listening to two best friends finishing each other’s sentences and playing off of each other’s excitement in a “you’re the best; no, you are better” rap.

The two recalled the day they learned they were both named finalists. The RWA has a system much like the NBA Draft, but with seemingly random phone calls being made to the 80 finalists over a four-hour period. The entrants from across the globe know that the finalists will be notified, but they have to sit by the phone waiting anxiously as the clock ticks down.

Woods, who was at home when the call came, described the selection process as “Very dramatic.”

“It wouldn’t be romance writing if there wasn’t some drama,” Woods said. “I was home attempting to write. I heard the phone and thought this could be the call,” she said.

It was and Woods who calls herself “an emotional fast tracker” said she started “screeching and screaming” while jumping on the couch with her husband recording it on his cell phone. Sort of. He forgot to push the button.

Adams’ reaction was somewhat more reserved, but she knew being named a finalist is a big deal within the genre.

“It’s a career boost. RITA finalists get special receptions and interviews with book bloggers,” Adams said, “Waiting was like the Hunger Games. It was horrible.”

She got the call while sitting in Expresso Royale on Lake Lansing Road.

“I never expected to be a finalist. It was something to check off my list,” she said.

Although the two authors live in the same city they didn’t know each other until meeting at a gathering of the Capital City Writers Association, an organization, founded by Adams in 2013.

Woods said, “The group has been really valuable to me. It gave me so many more tools and I was able to connect with peers.”

Though each writer is working diligently now on their next book projects, both spoke candidly about their ups and downs as authors with book reviews and other digital kudos or criticisms on platforms like Twitter.

Adams said her stints in journalism and working under constant deadline helped her recognize what she calls a “discipline for words” and develop a “thick skin.”

She recalls getting emails when she wrote as Louise Knott Ahern for the Lansing State Journal that were “straight up threats” and others asking questions like “where did you go to school-the clown school of journalism?” Adams’ first book “Wild in Rio” was also self-published which until recently was looked down upon in the publishing industry.

“The trend is so interesting,” she said.

“The Romance genre has pioneered that. It went from almost nobody self-published to being asked why aren’t you thinking of self-publishing.”

Adams said digital publishing really began taking off in erotica with “super-secret pen names.”

It was also difficult for Woods. “I didn’t take any writing classes and I Forrest Gumped my way through it before I began to have the wisdom to see everything through my own lens,” she said.

“Now, if I don’t know the person reviewing my book and if I read something negative I stop reading and I move on.” (Full disclosure this author reviewed “Supernovas” when it came out last year. For more information about the authors go to darcywoods.com or lyssakayadams.com On Tuesday, July 18, Lyssa Kay Adams will join several other members of the Capital City Writers’ Association at the Eastwood Towne Center as they discuss their new work. Adams’ newest book “Seventh Inning Hero: The “Vegas Aces” is about a talented baseball player who becomes an Army Ranger after his best friend is killed in the 9-11 attacks. After he loses his leg he returns to baseball as the manager of the Vegas Aces and of course a woman and romance are involved.