Alumna named finalist for national book award

Posted April 25, 2012

To Win Her Heart, a novel written by alumna and ACU employee Karen Witemeyer ('93), has been selected as a finalist in the inspirational romance category of the 2012 RITA awards. The novel is also a finalist for the National Reader's Choice Award, sponsored by the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America (OKRWA). It is Witemeyer's third novel.

"It is such an honor to have my book selected. After I got the call, I couldn't stop smiling the rest of the day," said Witemeyer, who works in ACU's Academic Development Center. To Win Her Heart is Witemeyer's third novel. Her first book, A Tailor-Made Bride, was a 2011 RITA finalist for Best First Book.

To Win Her Heart is a love story set in Texas in the 1880s that pairs a pacifist librarian with a blacksmith who has a criminal past. Witemeyer explained the plot's underlying message. "The story addresses what happens to the prodigal son after the celebratory banquet concludes. Yes, the father welcomes him home with open arms, but what about his bitter older brother and the rest of the household? Do they forgive and accept, or do they let the memory of his past sins drive a wedge between them? It is human nature to keep records of wrongs and to view others through our own hurts and prejudices, but God calls us to something higher: to mercy and grace."

The RITA contest promotes excellence in romance writing by recognizing the best romance novels out of up to 1,200 entries in 12 categories each year. RITA is associated with the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and named after RWA's founder, Rita Clay Estrada. After the first round of judging by fellow published romance authors, the competition narrows to approximately 100 finalists. Winners of the awards will be announced July 28 at RWA’s 32nd annual conference in Anaheim, California. The National Reader's Choice Award is sponsored by the Oklahoma branch of RWA. Winners of that award will also be announced in July.