The RITA® Award – Jeffe’s 2019 Scores

Happy Book Birthday to L.X. Beckett! GAMECHANGER is out in the world and ready to be snorfled up! Those of you who listen to my First Cup of Coffee Podcast will remember L.X. from a guest interview back in July.  I’ve got the book on my Kindle and can’t wait to read it!

It’s become something of a tradition here on my blog for me to share my RITA® Award scores each year. Here’s my post from 2018, which summarizes the previous few years.  I think it’s important to share this information, so that there’s greater transparency in what the scores shake out to be for various books. Of course, I totally respect that some people prefer to keep their scores private, but that’s not a thing for me, so I’m happy to hang them out there.

I entered three books this year – the max I could enter – and for those who say we should only enter one book, our best book from the year, I totally did not expect THE DRAGONS OF SUMMER to be the one that finaled. I think it’s impossible to predict these things. So much depends on which judges you get. Read on for more!

So, these are the scores for THE DRAGONS OF SUMMER, which was a finalist in the novella category. As you can see, it finaled with an average score of just over 9, on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0, with 1.0 being the lowest (poor) and 10.0 being the highest (excellent). (If you’re doing the math at home, remember that the highest and lowest scores are dropped.) So, yeah – Judge 4 *really* didn’t care for the novella. Did it deserve a score 4.5 points below the next lowest score? Opinions are subjective, but that’s a marked gap.

Here are my scores for my Fantasy Romance novel, THE ARROWS OF THE HEART. It got an average score of 8.3, which put it in the top 25% of scores in that category, which means it came pretty damn close to finaling! As you can see, however, Judge 4 Did Not Like. (And no, it’s not the same judge as for DRAGONS – it’s just a coincidence.) And look, they also marked it as not a romance. I get one judge saying this on my Fantasy Romances pretty much every year. I think it’s because some readers have rigid ideas about what romance should be. Also, I do think some judges score out of spite. As impossible as it may be to believe, there are people out there who don’t like me. I know, I know – but it’s true! I’m very interested to see if the new measures RWA is taking to track judges and how they score over time will eliminate some of these kind of wildly different scores.

Finally, I entered my rock star Contemporary Romance SHOOTING STAR, just because I wanted to see how it would do. This book has just never gone the way I thought it would. We couldn’t sell it to a trad publisher, so I self-published it. And it turns out those trad folks predicted well – lol! It has never sold well. Though it does get really good reviews. It scored here much better than I thought. Interestingly, it didn’t get the hate score, but it also didn’t get any love scores. High mediocre, maybe? But I was happy to get this much validation for it.

So, thoughts? Questions? Comments? Hit me up! And any of you who entered and feel the urge, go ahead and share your scores in the comments 🙂

How Emotions Are Held in Contempt

First things first: Love in Panels is sponsoring Romance for RAICES, a silent auction to raise money for the heroic lawyers helping people in the internment camps at the border. I’m a huge fan of their work, so I’m participating with a first chapter and synopsis critique, along with some author coaching on figuring out how to position the story genre-wise. This is really helpful for people writing cross-genre, like me, especially in SFF + romance. It’s a great cause and I promise to do my best for you. 🙂

Some updates for those who don’t listen to my podcast (I’m not saying you should, just that I tend to give a lot of the most immediate news on my writing life there):

  1. THE ORCHID THRONE, Book 1 in my new series, The Forgotten Empires, comes out in two weeks!! Can’t believe it’s almost here. Eek!
  2. The sequel, Book 2, THE FIERY CROWN, comes out May 26, 2020, which isn’t an *awful* wait time, right? I’m doing a final read-through/polish on the content edits right now, then back to Editor Jennie it goes.
  3. I have a New Shiny going out on submission, something I’m super excited about. Cross your fingers and stay tuned for news!
  4. Next I’m turning to THE FATE OF THE TALA, the climactic book in The Uncharted Realms. (And kind of for The Twelve Kingdoms, too.) It’s looking like I’ll have that out in early November. I’m also planning a spinoff trilogy that takes things up with the next generation – a certain pair of twins and their younger buddy, who will be born during FATE. 🙂
  5. If you like to read in French, LA GUERRE DE LONEN, the French translation of LONEN’S WAR, Book1 in my Sorcerous Moons series, will be out October 4.

All exciting stuff!

I’ve been reading (listening on audio to) Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC, which I’m enjoying. She has terrific insights into the way creativity and the universe work. However, she slides into dissing genre books. She mentions a story idea she had that Ann Patchett ended up writing (which became STATE OF WONDER), unbeknownst to each other and through a strange synchronicity. As evidence of the extreme coincidence, Gilbert clarified that this was a specific and unusual story idea, not a “vampire novel.” She, of course, doesn’t specify *which* vampire novel, but it doesn’t take a lot of cogitation to figure she means something like TWILIGHT and not INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. Though could be she lumps all vampire novels together, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I know she’s being flip, but see how absurd it is to act as if all vampire novels have the same plot?

Later she discusses Harper Lee and how she never wrote anything after TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Gilbert makes great points about competing with yourself creatively and being intimidated by previous success, but she follows up by saying she wished Lee had “churned” out some fast, cheap novels, including a “light romance.” She mentions other genre books in the same breath. All clearly NOT art. All easily written and just as easily discarded.

I find it ironic, because although I’m no luminary author like Patchett (one of my all-time favorites) and Gilbert, if she’d asked me I’d tell her that there’s big magic in fast writing. The flow comes fast and furious when I get it going.

Anyway, I know we’re all familiar with the Literary Writing vs. Genre Writing bias. It’s something that continues to bemuse me, how people decide what’s art and what isn’t. What’s valuable storywise and what’s “cheap.” I know I have a different perspective than many people because I became disenchanted with academia long ago, and I’ve never been much interested in the posturing over what we *should* be reading.

Still, one thing I’ve noticed is that some of this falls out along the lines of emotion vs. mind. Or even vs. spirit or body. Stories that have strong emotional content are considered female in general, and not particularly valid. The occasional article that disses romance in favor of things like thinking about how the Amazon jungle is burning, always carry the implication that intellectualism is more valid and valuable than emotion. Spiritualism is usually elevated even above that. Even the male writer navel-gazing on their sexuality is considered more important than emotional lives.

This goes hand in hand with the way women are often told they are too emotional, or unable to control their emotions. Of course, those are only certain kinds of emotions. The soft and suspect variety.

Anyway, this is what I’m mulling these days.

Being Proud of Being Different

I’m just back from #WorldCon76, which was a whirlwind of great stuff. I caught a moment of downtime at the lovely Fairmont pool, including a much-needed nap.

This week at the SFF Seven, we’re asking “What are you most proud about with regards to your writing?” Come on over to read about mine