When the Algorithm Works

Sometimes I buy my own books on Amazon. There are a few reasons for this, the primary one being that some publishers, like Kensington, never give me finished digital versions of my books. That means that the last version I’ll have of any of my Kensington books is the Word document where I reviewed copy edits. Yeah, I can accept all changes and make a reading version to send to my Kindle – and sometimes I do that – but the formatting is funky and there can be distracting errors. So, if I want to revisit one of my books and read it on my Kindle (like if I’m not at home to grab the paper copy, or if I want to search for something and not read on my laptop) then it sometimes makes sense just to buy the ebook.

Yes, it IS kind of weird to buy my own ebook.

But, I figured I get some of that money back in royalties, and it gives the book a bump in the Amazon algorithm, which never hurts.

So, I did this last week with THE TALON OF THE HAWK. I’d just finished reading Kennedy Ryan’s LONG SHOT, which deals with an abusive marriage (and is *excellent*), and it got me thinking about how I dealt with recovery and healing from sexual assault. This isn’t something I mentioned about THE TALON OF THE HAWK for a long time, because it felt spoilery, but the book has been out for enough time now that I think I can. The heroine, Ursula, suffered sexual abuse in her youth and wrestles with the scars it left behind. I wanted to reread what I did as a foil to what Kennedy Ryan did in her book.

It was an interesting exercise, and I learned quite a few things about my own writing.

Anyway, today, I got this email from Amazon with “Since you read THE TALON OF THE HAWK.” I get these all the time, as we all do, and I never open them because Amazon is always wrong. This time, though, I thought I should look, just to *see* what their AI thinks is like my book. Thus the screen shot above.

The Tessa Dare historical romance is a bit of an outlier – though I don’t care since Tessa is wonderful – but otherwise it’s pretty damn close! Go figure. And I’m pretty chuffed to be listed with Anne Bishop and Seanan McGuire! And Jessie Mihalik is my agent-sister and an awesome writer of SFR.

I’m over at The Romance of Reading Facebook page today, talking about The Magic of Books. I’m also doing some book giveaways, so come on by and chat!

Best Fantasy and Science Fiction

Prisoner of the Crown

The first book in my Chronicles of Dasnaria series, PRISONER OF THE CROWN, is up for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book at Fresh Fiction! You can go there and vote for your favorites in multiple categories. I’m super delighted that this book was nominated. It’s up against tough competition, so I don’t expect it to win, but getting the nod is so gratifying.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “Spinning the Spiderweb of Complicated Plots.” Come on over for my thoughts!

The RITA® Award – 2018 Scores

This morning I got a new comment on an old post, which is always interesting. When I saw which post, I totally got it. Last year I put up an article on my blog: The RITA® Award – Is It Worth Entering? Right away I knew why that post, because we all got our scores from the 2018 RITA® Award contest. 

That’s me above, by the way, at this year’s RITA ceremony, with my fantastic agent, Sarah Younger, and one of her newest clients and Golden Heart finalist, Alexia Chantel

I won’t reiterate everything I said last year about the contest, except to say that I still believe in everything I said then, 100%. Even though I didn’t final with either of the books I entered this year. And I’m going to share my scores again, because so many people said they appreciated that I did so last year. 

I entered two books, The Shift of the Tide in Paranormal Romance, and With a Prince in Short Contemporary Romance. 

My scores?

The Shift of the Tide: 9.6, 9.5, 8.9, 7.9, 5.9 – Final Score: 8.7666666667
With a Prince:  9.5, 8.6, 8.3, 7.9, 7.2 – Final Score: 8.2666666667

The Final Score is figured by dropping the highest and lowest scores, then averaging the other three. Finalists in each category are the top 4% of scores, unless there are fewer than four or more than ten, in which case it’s adjusted. 

I’m super pleased with these scores! The average for The Shift of the Tide is second only to that for The Pages of the Mind, which finaled and won last year, so score! And I’m pleasantly surprised by the consistent scores on With a Prince

One interesting trend, the score for the Top 25% in the Paranormal Romance Category has been going up. (25% of all entries had final scores equal to or above that score.) In 2015, it was 8. In 2017, 8.23. And in 2018, 8.3. That indicates to me that overall scoring is higher, and the field even more competitive. I don’t have the 2016 data when I entered The Talon of the Hawk. Maybe I didn’t get my scores that year? Or maybe I deleted the email in a fit of pique because I’d been so hoping it would final. (It won best Fantasy Romance from RT that year after all!) I seem to recall a judge marked it “Not a Romance,” which also happened with The Mark of the Tala. Happens to all of us. 

I also haven’t really tracked the trend in averages for Contemporary Romance, as it’s not my primary genre, but I can tell you the Top 25% score was 8.36, even higher than for Paranormal. Very competitive!

So, onward and upward. You bet I’m entering again for 2019. 🙂

 

The Right Words at the Right Time – Supporting Newbie Authors

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THE CROWN OF THE QUEEN will be available as a stand-alone novella on November 22! (You can preorder now at Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.) If you already have FOR CROWN AND KINGDOM, this is the exact same novella in that duology with Grace Draven. You can get mine alone for $2.99 or both of us for $3.99. A deal, either way!! If you haven’t read it, THE CROWN OF THE QUEEN takes place between THE TALON OF THE HAWK and THE PAGES OF THE MIND. It’s told from Dafne’s point of view and bridges the events in the aftermath of TALON and sets up her book, which is PAGES.

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is “The person(s) most influential on my early writing career.” Come on over to find out who made all the difference for me when I needed it most

Channel Your Outrage into Art

the talon of the hawkCan our calendar guru see into the future? If so, I want words with KAK on if she saw these elections results coming!

Maybe it’s just me reading in. Our topic this week is: Writing fuel – taking caffeine (coffee and tea) off the table, what fuels your words?

Lemme tell you, folks – I’ve been writing a lot this week. Come on over to the SFF Seven to find out more

Are Pay-to-Play Published Book Contests Unethical?

CffkAWSWIAAc1BXTo celebrate that THE TALON OF THE HAWK won Best Fantasy Romance of 2015 from RT Book Reviews, I got this amazing tattoo of Ursula’s sword. I’m thrilled with how it turned out. (Freshly finished and a little red here – it looks even better now!)

If you haven’t yet signed up for my newsletter, one went out today with an exclusive, never-seen-elsewhere, juicy deleted scene from TALON. If you sign up today, you can still see it. Yes, I’m totally luring you. Is it working?

You’ll see this in the newsletter (hint, hint) – Kensington is sponsoring a Goodreads Giveaway of 25 copies of THE PAGES OF THE MIND. Hie thee hence to enter!

Finally, I’m over at Word Whores this morning, setting forth the question of whether published books contests that require an entry fee, such as RWA’s RITA Awards, have less integrity than those where books must be nominated, such as SFWA’s Nebula Award.