Friday, February 25, 2011

Why Judge the RITAs?

This year, as always, I signed up with Romance Writers of America to judge the RITA contest. I received my package of books, unpacked them with great ritual, and then dove in eagerly. Now, just a few short weeks later, I'm coming to the end of my journey. This is both good and bad. I'm always excited to receive my box of books from RWA, but I'm also happy to reach the end of the stack and resume my regular reading schedule.

Today, as I hover on the cusp of the completed task for yet another year, I thought I'd blog about the reasons I keep signing up year after year, even in the years when I don't enter the contest myself.

5. Free books. Anybody who's a book lover can appreciate the allure of free books. Anybody who grew up in a day without online shopping and e-books can appreciate the allure of books delivered to your doorstep. It never gets old for me.

4. New Authors. I'm not gonna lie, not every book I get in my bundle is a keeper. Some are very good, some are excellent, and some ... aren't. But every year I discover at least one author new to me that I want to read again. In a world where mediocrity is rewarded with alarming frequency, that alone is worth the time and energy it takes to read a panel of books.

3. The chance to give. It's very easy to live a narrow little life. We're human. It happens. As a writer pursuing an occupation that is, by its very nature, solitary, it's very easy to focus on me, my problems, my books, my issues, my trials and tribulations. Life's a whole lot better when I can step outside of myself for a little while and think about somebody besides me. Judging the RITA contest every year is a chance to do that -- unless, of course, I get wrapped up in how it's going to affect me!

2. It's for RWA. I've been a member of RWA since sometime in early 1993. I've served on the chapter level and I've served at the national level. I admire and respect the professional staff in Houston, and I admire and respect the people who give their time and energy to serve on the board and on committees every year. As long as RWA chooses to have a contest, they can count on me to do my part.

1. A legitimate excuse to read during work hours. Nobody can raise an eyebrow when they find me sitting in my chair with a book. Not that anyone in my house would raise an eyebrow. I raised my kids right, and my grand-kids are being brought up right too. Nothing makes my heart happier than to have the two year-old toddle over to the bookcase and then run to me saying, "Want book! Want book!"

So tomorrow or the next day I'll log in and submit my score for the last book in my stack, and the moment will be bittersweet. I'm finished! I'm finished! Smiley Faces

.... but wait! That means I'm finished Smiley Faces

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