First of all, the Board recommends that the Traditional Regency category be eliminated, "...since there are no longer any major publishers printing this type of book. Any short Regencies remaining can be entered into the new historical categories."
Previous contest years split historical entries into categories by word count, with "short" defined as fewer than 95K words and "long" defined as greater than 95K words. The Board recommends submissions now be entered by time period. The proposed categories are "Best Historical Romance to 1820" and "Best Historical Romance from 1790-1945."
Anyone with a book set between 1790-1820 will be playing odds-maker with regard to placement. Which to choose??
The year 1900 used to cap historical romance eligibility, thus the most radical change regarding these new categories is allowing for entries through the conclusion of World War II. Good news for our 20th gals!
"Rationale for changing historical categories: Again, the board wished to eliminate the word count problem. With numbers dwindling, we examined merging both short and long historical into one category but felt that the historical novel could grow in the future. We hoped to allow for the change in popularity of one time period over another by providing overlapping years. An author whose book spans many years should determine where the novel best fits."
Dwindling numbers?? *pout*
Please see your copy of Board Recommendations for full details.
So there you have it, the proposed changes as they impact our work. Members will have a chance to vote, either in person or by proxy, in July. What are your thoughts on these changes?? Do they belie structural differences between shorter, category-style historicals and longer, single-title works? Are they placing an undo emphasis on era rather than plot structure? Is the decision to give 1790-1820 "double billing" a means of splitting a popular era into two (roughly equal) piles or an unnecessary complication?
UPDATE: Have something to say? The RWA is soliciting its membership to speak out. You have until May 15th to voice your opinion. Write to gh_ritacomments AT rwanational DOT org