We Honor the Outstanding Authors and Books of 2011

At yesterday's annual awards ceremony RT recognized the authors and books of 2011, which stood out from the rest of genre fiction. The ceremony also celebrated some of the authors who have made a huge impact on the booklover community as pioneers.

Bestselling author Sue Grafton opened the ceremony with her keynote speech (after we surprised her with a room full of people singing Happy Birthday). She chatted a bit about the path that she took to success, and gave aspiring authors (and readers) some rules to live by — including find a good enemy whose misfortunes you can be glad about when you're having a bad day.

Sue Grafton addresses the crowd

Next, RT honored the incredible talent of several Pioneers of Genre Fiction. Sue Grafton, Nancy Holder, Francine Pascal, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rosanne Bittner, Vella Munn, Loretta Chase, Jodi Thomas, Cindy Gerard, Marilyn Campbell, Rachel Caine, Bob Mayer and Charlaine Harris were all recognized for their contributions. 

Jodi Thomas accepting her award

It was an evening of firsts, as we introduced two new awards during the ceremony. The first annual L.A. Banks “Warrior Woman” Award, an RT award honors the memory of the beloved paranormal author, by recognizing a heroine or a writer who exemplifies strength, courage and perseverance. We saw a beautiful video clip from the author in her last appearance here at RT last year, as the author gave us a message about the importance of reading and we said goodbye to this wonderful author together. The first ever L.A. Banks "Warrior Woman" Award went to Debra Webb. Despite a horrible injury, Webb pushed forward with an impressive dedication to writing in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Webb took the stage to a standing ovation and gave a heartfelt thank you that truly captured the fighting spirit of this woman's wonderful heart.

Author Debra Webb gets a standing ovation

The second new award was the 2011 RT Editors’ Pick for best book the year, which went to the paranormal romance Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison. The award was accepted by Jodi Rosoff.

Then it was time to announce the Career Achievement award winners. These awards went out to Brenda Jackson (Contemporary Romance), Joey W. Hill (Erotic Romance) Loretta Chase (Historical Romance), Nalini Singh (Paranormal Romance), Yasmine Galenorn (Urban Fantasy) Rita Herron (Series Romance), Melody Carlson (Inspirational Fiction) and Francine Pascal (Young Adult). Beverly Barton was also honored posthumously with a Romantic Suspense Career Achievement award that was accepted by Kensington Books' Vida Engstrand. 

See a complete list of the 2011 Career Achievement nominees and winners here >>

Paranormal romance author Nalini Singh

Next up, 34 of the 63 Reviewers’ Choice Award winners were on hand to accept their awards, as the audience smiled and cheered. 2011 novels were recognized from such categories as the Historical Love & Laughter award, which went to Tessa Dare's novel A Night To Surrender, the Young Adult Protagonist, which heroine Beatrice Prior from Veronica Roth’s Divergent took home, and Vampire Romance, which was awarded to Love Unleashed by J.R. Ward.

JR Ward was especially excited to share the award with her mother who was sitting in the audience

In the historical categories, Grace BurrowesLady Sophie’s Christmas Wish won Historical Romance of the Year, while Sensual Historical Romance was awarded to Delilah Marvelle’s Prelude to a Scandal and the year's Historical K.I.S.S. (Knight in Shining Silver) Hero was named Kit Frazier from Wicked Seduction by Jade Lee

Historical author Grace Burrowes

From the other romance sub-categories, Beg for Mercy by Jami Alden won the Romantic Suspense award, and the Christina Skye’s A Home By the Sea didn’t just steal our hearts, it also won this year’s award for Contemporary Romance. Meanwhile, Cindy Dees’ story Soldier's Last Stand won the Harlequin Romantic Suspense.

Sue Grafton took home the Contemporary Mystery award for her latest Kinsey Millhone novel, V is for Vendetta. Gwynne Forster’s Breaking the Ties that Bind won in the Multicultural Fiction category and the Indie Press Erotic Romance went to Jayne Rylon’s Morgan’s Surprise.

See a complete list of the 2011 Career Achievement nominees and winners here >>

Multicultural author Gwynne Forster

A big congratulations to all of this year’s RT Award nominees and winners. Readers can see a complete list here. And check back later today when we'll being you pictures of the RT Giant Book Fair!