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Local Author Snags Nomination
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Leader staff reporter Kimberly Van Meter, a romance novelist after hours, was recently named by the Romance Writers of America (RWA) as a RITA award finalist. The RITAs are the gold standard of romance awards, much like the Oscars in Hollywood. This is Van Meter’s first nomination. - photo by DAWN M HENLEY/THE LEADER

Reporter by day, romance novelist by night — and weekends — Kimberly Van Meter recently learned that she’d joined the ranks of Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, and Brenda Novak when she received a call from the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Friday, March 25 notifying her she’d been selected as a finalist in the 2011 RITA race.

The RITA award is the gold standard of romance accolades and the competition to become a finalist is fierce. Some authors go their entire career without a nomination but Van Meter snagged one in the series adventure/suspense category for her August 2010 romantic suspense To Catch A Killer.

“I’d woken up that morning a little grumpy because I knew the finalists were being announced that day. I’d had a dream that I’d received the call but then I woke up and realized that it hadn’t been real and five of the eight had already been announced, I was seriously disappointed,” Van Meter said. “But I got to work and received the call at 8:20 a.m.”

Her first reaction?

“Sobs,” Van Meter openly admitted. “I cried so hard I could barely get the words out. I kept saying, ‘Thank you!’ but likely not much more than that was intelligible. I’m still in a bit of shock.”

Van Meter is up against veterans in the field, which makes the nomination in itself, a huge accomplishment.

Van Meter’s fellow nominees are: The Baby's Guardian by Delores Fossen; Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming by Paula Graves; A Cop in Her Stocking by Ann Voss Peterson; Meltdown by Gail Barrett; The Moon That Night by Helen Brenna; Perfect Partners? by C.J. Carmichael; Renegade Angel by Kendra Leigh Castle.

“I know people always say, ‘It’s just an honor to be nominated’ but it’s so true,” Van Meter said. “I’m on a cloud right now. I thought I had a strong book but you never know how you’re going to stack up against the others.”

Among the phone calls made, Van Meter notified her Harlequin editor in Toronto and her agent in New York.

“It was a flurry of phone calls,” Van Meter said, laughing. “Actually my editor has four of her authors in the RITA race, three of whom are in the same category as me! She said we were making her look good!”

Van Meter’s agent has one other author in the race as well.

The winner will be announced at the 2011 RWA conference in New York in June.

“It’s modeled after the Oscars award ceremony,” Van Meter explained. “It’s a formal affair and everyone goes to great lengths to look their best.

“I feel blessed in my life,” she added. “To win would be an amazing bonus. For the moment, I’m just pleased to be a contender among such talented authors.”