It's been a little while since everyone who didn't final in the RITA's received their scores. Every year this happens, I think a few different things.
- Why give scores out at all?
- If giving out scores, why not ask for judges comments, and especially reasoning when giving out bad scores?
- Are the RITA's worth entering?
- And why do I enter anyway?
Now, I'm going to start this off with this qualifier: THIS IS NOT A SOUR GRAPES post. I've been judged harshly before. I've gotten bad reviews before. Not everyone is going to like my work. It is not for everyone and not just people who don't read romances. I'm sure some lovers of romance won't find my brand as wonderful as another author. When I got a 1-star review from a woman who didn't like the fact there was sex in the book, obviously she picked the wrong book and well, not everyone likes chocolate, but as one reviewer commented: does that mean you should bash chocolate?
Interesting question. In that case, I think the review sold me some books. But mostly, I'd say, if you don't like chocolate to begin with, don't write a bad review. But if you are a lover this type of book and you thought everything went wrong with book, then by all means, leave that 1 star review loud and proud.
I'm being very honest here. This is because, in order to crack that barrier from known to unknown, authors need to have both lovers and haters. As a brand, we don't exist if no one hates us. The most powerful form of marketing for authors is readers talking to other readers and not just if they love the book, but hating it too. As many people LOVED 50 Shades, many others HATED. That debate sold a lot of books!
Why is this important? Because I know, if I'm going to cross from the level I'm at right now, to the next level, I do need those discussions between readers. I can promote my books all I want. My lovers can promote my books and they will sell a few more copies that way, but what makes people stop, look, and listen?
Controversy. So if readers are vehemently hating and judging publicly, well, I say, that author has done something RIGHT.
So, I honestly don't mind someone giving me a bad review AND telling me why. I've a few readers tell me my heroine was too winey. I hear that enough, I'm going to take a good look at my writing. I mean, the readers and their opinions are important to me. I don't take criticism personally, especially when a reader gives me a reason why.
What fascinates me is that many people don't bother to write a review for a book that was 'okay'. Even at times if they thought it was the best book ever, they might not take the time to write that review. But if a reader is that disappointed, they are all over that! And, as it should be, but again, the reason really helps me out. I can either look at it from the idea that the reader is the reader for my type of books, or maybe it's something I really need to look at, or maybe the book is fine, but the reader and I have a difference of opinion. It happens.
I have judged a lot of contests and I have given low scores before. Usually we have a bunch of questions that we rate, so I can usually find one area that the author excels in and I can say something TRUE and POSITIVE. Not because I feel the need to be politically correct. Nope. that's not me. Nor am I just being nice. That said, much of writing is a craft that is learned and takes many years to master. We all started somewhere. Someone's grammar may such, but their descriptions could be stupendous. Their characters may suck, but the plot interesting. They may have impeccable grammar, but the characters don't pop off the page.
I remember feeling really bad about giving a low score in the RITA's last year. I went through all my notes thought about the different elements and while I didn't feel as though the writing was as good as it could have been and I found a few flaws in the plot. I also took issue with one of the characters and how they behaved in one scene. I gave it a 5. That score says a lot and I felt it was an accurate score. The book, in my opinion, was mediocre. But I really wish I could have explained my score to the author. They may not agree, but how can we improve if we don't get to know how people feel about the words on the page?
But you all say, Jen, this is a published contest, why should we give you feedback, you already know what you're doing?
To which I respond with: Then why the fuck did someone give me a 1?
If a 10=perfection. A perfect storm of words, characters, plot, and all that goes into a book without one single thing that didn't work.
Then a 5=well, I won't remember it tomorrow and I might not ever read that author again, but I didn't want to cut my eyeballs out.
Well a 1=YOU FUCKING SUCK. YOU CAN'T WRITE, YOU CAN'T DEVELOP CHARACTERS OR PLOT, AND REALLY PACK IT UP AND GO HOME.
Did I take the 1 I got on my recent RITA score that way? Nope. I did not. Do I think it was fair? Hell no. And not because I think I'm all that. I don't. That said, a 1 is not a representation of my work. Granted, I get that there is always a level of subjectiveness to judging and what I think is a knock out, someone will think it's mediocre. HOWEVER, we are judging the writing. And we are all professionals in the same industry. We read as authors, not as readers. So, you can hate my work as a fellow author, but judge it on its writing merits.
Now, I could be way off base, because I have no idea why this person gave me a 1, but I'd really like to know. I might not like the reason, but I'd have an understanding. If I didn't, than that's on me, not the judge.
Unless it was just a mean move. Again, not suggesting it is (though others have), but I'd be lying if it didn't feel like it had that mean twist to it. I mean, this is a really small business and its not like I haven't 'done' a few things in my day.
I've kind of always worried that the RITA's have become a popularity contest. I don't know. I've been lucky, most of the books I've judged have been by authors I've never heard of, so I had no preconceived notions. I have read authors that I'd heard of, but hadn't ever read.
There is no answer to fixing the contest to make it fair for everyone. Right now, if you enter, you have to judge. We don't have enough judges. But peers judging peers isn't always a good thing.
I don't know if I will enter again or not. I do have a book I published this year that I think is the best work I've done to date. We shall see....
So, I attended the RWA conference last week. I came in with a sinus infection and went home with the flu. I thought I was feeling better yesterday, but must have over done it since I slept for 12 hours. I’m so far behind now in my writing it’s sad, and I just signed on to do a Christmas Boxset which I have to turn in September 4, 2018, so this should be interesting. The title is: THE CHRISTMAS GETAWAY. I’m pretty excited about this one. It will be a contemporary romance, so not so much suspense.
Back to RWA. For years I attended these conferences with Bob Mayer as Cool Gus Publishing. Bob and I would park ourselves in the lobby for the day and talk with people. We’d attend a few workshops, but we would always set up tons of business meetings, so our goals were always networking. Now that I’m going alone, my my goals are a little different. Yes, networking is always my number one goal, but I also went to check out what’s new in the industry. That said, I was highly disappointed in the workshop options. The few I attended, other than one, I was also disappointed. There were many geared toward beginners, which is good. It’s important to help out new authors. I was new once and am very grateful for all the help. But I would have liked to have seen more higher level master classes. The other disappointment was the lack of interaction with publishers, though I did get to talk with two editors I am submitting to. All that said, I enjoyed the conference.
I don’t go just for workshops. I go to meet people. Talk with people. Ask questions. Learn and some of the best learning happens in conversation. And often the best part of the conference happens after when you connect with the new people you met.
I’m on the fence about going to NYC next year for RWA, but only based on cost of the hotel. But I’ll probably go. Hopefully, I won’t come home sick.
I haven’t had the flu in years and this one knocked me on my ass for a week. I’m still not quiet right and it’s making it difficult to get work done and I have deadlines!
In other news, my hubby and I are coming up on our 30th wedding anniversary. Holy shit! hard to believe! We’re hoping to go to Greece!
Here is a picture of me and my crazy ass family that I love so much! Happy summer!
Check out all these books! Sign up to win: https://authorsxp.com/win-ebooks
Lot’s of great summer reading on this list!
I’m knee deep in finishing TROUBLE’S WEDDING CAPER. This has been a difficult book for me to write. It’s a new genre…Mystery. Though this is more Romantic Mystery, but still, it’s different enough. It also has a cat point of view, which has been very interesting to write. I mean this cat thinks he’s British AND he is a world class detective. Like the best! Seriously.
Anywho, here is a little taste of what is to come…
I follow the crowd to the next unit. This one too has a lot of boxes, but the tops are open and one in particular, a white wedding veil cascades over the cardboard. Careful not to draw too much attention to myself, I enter the storage unit. I’m an expert at blending in and it’s one of the reason’s I’m the best detective.
And I know Sherlock Holmes would agree.
I weave my way through a maze of boxes filled with more veils, dried flowers, and now I’m standing in front of a mannequin, dressed in a beautiful, lacy white gown.
This is the unit for Annabel and I need to find a way to tell her, without cueing the rest of the group to bid. I hear a male voice start the bidding at one-thousand dollars. Lucky for Annabel, I’m quick on my feet and a great cat to human communicator.
I rub my side against her leg, then take a few steps toward the storage unit. I repeat this a few times, making sure I look directly at Annabel before turning my head.
“What is it, Trouble?” she whispered, kneeling.
Someone in the back of the crowd raised their hand and yelled, “Fifteen hundred.”
I raise my paw, glancing over at the woman asking for another bid.
“You think this is a good one?”
Bingo. Not that I would ever say bingo, but Annabel is turning out to be smarter than the average human.
“Two-thousand.”Annabel lifts me once again. I could get used to being carried around wherever I go. The view up here isn’t too bad either.
“Twenty-two hundred,” the same voice shouts.
I raise my paw, giving Annabel a look that said, keep going until you can’t go anymore. Not all humans would understand this look, but I had faith in this one.
“Twenty-five hundred,” she said.
“Twenty-seven hundred,” another voice said.
I hold my paw high and tap her shoulder. My amusement in storage wars fades as the temperature rises and the humidity sticks to my elegant coat. I really want to get back to the windowsill in the master bedroom. I love the way the sun beats down this time of the morning while the fan above pushes a cool air-conditioned breeze in my direction, making ita perfect place to relax and take a nap.
“Sold to the lady with the cat.”
Finally. We can go back to the condo.
“Let’s go see what we’ve got,”Annabel’s tone is electric.
I yawn and climb up on one of the boxes where a tad of sunlight brightened the dingy storage area and curl up, licking my paw.
My work here is done.
Sign up for Jen’s Newsletterwhere she often gives away free books before publication.
Join Jen’s private Facebook groupwhere she posts exclusive excerpts and discuss all things murder and love!
When Amazon first announced that they would be shutting down Kindle Worlds and that effective the following day the books would no longer be in Kindle Unlimited, but would not be taken down until July 15th, well, I figured that’s what they meant.
Well, they did take them out of KU, but yesterday EVERY SINGLE Kindle World book disappeared from Amazon. Gone. Poof, no more.
I had 20 Novellas in Kindle Worlds.
Of those, 13 of them will be re-released through the following publishers.
Twisted Ink (Brotherhood Protectors)
Aces Press (Special Forces: Operation Alpha)
MT Worlds Press (Paranormal Dating Agency & Sassy Ever After)
Decedent Publishing (Omega Team & The Phoenix Agency)
The others will eventually come to life in various forms as I plan to expand on all of them. So, I have a plan, but unfortunately, there will be a lull in when the books will be republished since Amazon pulled the plug early.
If you sign up for my newsletter, you will receive one of the novellas for free! You will then also be notified when the books are released and any other new releases I might have.
Check out BURNING LIES…
Meet Fire Protection Specialist, Brodie Welch and Air Force Investigating Officer, Harper Dawson.
We first met Brodie very briefly in the first book in THE FIRE PROTECTION SPECIALISTS series: BURNING DESIRE.
Brodie just had a birthday, with a big birthday bash that his buddies threw. Minus on little altercation with a fellow firefighter on a different team, it was a great party. Gets even better the next morning when Brodie meets his new, sexy neighbor.
He has no idea that in just twenty-four hours, he’ll end up in her bed…
And the next morning… she’ll have to take him in for questioning regarding the murder of one of their own.
The evidence is stacking up, but Harper just won’t believe that Brodie could murder a fellow firemen. Working together, Brodie and Harper uncover a plot so thick and twisted, it changes the course of their lives.
Here is an excerpt!
Harper sat on the front step of her new home feeling a sense of pride that only ownership could bring, but even that couldn’t change that today was the anniversary of the single most painful event in her life.
She glanced at her phone, which she’d set on the wood plank. The porch needed a fresh coat of paint, and she would enjoy doing all those chores and fix it up projects that came with her new job. Sam “Mozart” Reed had always told her she had a restless heart and she should consider settling down and taking a more stable job in the military, instead of volunteering for every dangerous mission she could get her hands on.
Her only fear was that she’d get bored. Of course, she had the sexy fireman across the street to keep her eyes occupied. He waved as he jogged across the street.
“Hey, I’ve got some bad news,” Brodie said, stopping at the base of the porch.
She tipped her head, staring into those dark eyes that reminded her of the finest warm dark chocolate drizzled over ice cream. “What’s that?”
“I’ve been called in for an overnight shift, so dinner and drinks will have to happen another night.”
“It was drinks, and you know where I live.” She flicked her hair over her shoulder. It was a blatant sexual move, and she had no idea why she’d done it.
“It will be more than drinks because I cook the best steaks in town.”
“And if I’m a vegetarian?” Someone needed to sew her mouth closed, giving her brain a chance to think through the things that she said.
“Then I make a mean veggie platter.” He winked.
“For the record, I enjoy a good piece of meat.”
His eyes went wide.
“Your mind just went straight to the gutter, didn’t it?” She really needed to shut the fuck up. Flirting was one thing, but this banter was the kind of shit that got her into trouble.
“Who? Me? Never. But now that you sent my mind there, I’ll remember what you like.”
She waggled her finger in his direction. “I think we need to dial this conversation down a notch. I don’t even know you.”
“I plan on getting to know you,” he said with a smile. “I gotta run, but If you need help at all with the move, come knock on my door, just don’t ask my roommate, he’s helpless.”
She laughed. “Are you cockblocking your buddy?”
His mouth dropped open, and his eyes blinked wildly.
“If we’re going to be neighbors and occasionally have a drink, you should be forewarned, I say exactly what I think, when I think it.”
“I had already figured that out, I just hadn’t expected it to be so blunt.” He leaned forward, stretching out his arms, resting his hands on the step on either side of her hips.
She cocked her head to the side as he invaded her personal space.
Oddly, she didn’t mind.
“And since we’re being forthright with each other. Yes. I’m cockblocking my buddy, and unless you flat out tell me to bug off, I’m going to stop by next time I see your car in the driveway with a bottle of wine and a huge steak.” He pushed off the steps, turned on his heels, and strolled across the street as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He hopped into his pickup truck. Another man, who she assumed was his roommate, equally handsome, slid into the passenger seat.
She fanned herself after the truck took the corner and disappeared onto the main road. Brodie had sent her heart on a tail spin, and that didn’t ever happen unless she’d been staring down the wrong end of an AK-47.
“Christ, that is one sexy man,” she mumbled. He wasn’t quiet six feet, and he wasn’t broad, but he was solid, with well-defined muscles. He had that All-American-boy-next-door look, with a dash of badass.
Pushing him out of her thoughts, she sipped her diet soda waiting for the clock to tick to eleven in the morning.
Mozart never failed.
Download your copy today!
My mind is an interesting place! I spend most of my time thinking about people who don’t exist. When I’m not thinking about them, I’m calling my writing partner Casey Hagen and discussing them with her.
My latest release, BURNING LIES, just went up for pre-order. It will be released June 26, 2018.
Enjoy an excerpt!
Brodie stepped into the garage and hit the clicker. The warm sun filtered through the opening. With hurricane season behind them, the temperatures had started to drop, but that didn’t seem to stop the lush green growth of the grass yet. He pushed the lawnmower out to the driveway, noting a white SUV parked at the house across the street and one door down with the hatch open. That place had been empty for the last two months since it sold. Someone told him that the new owner wouldn’t be renting it out, but moving in. Only no one had moved in yet.
Bending over, still staring at the house, he snatched the cord just as a woman in a pair of white shorts, showing off tanned legs that went on forever, graced his vision Her black tank top hugged her mid-drift and breasts, showing off her tight abs and her curvy top. Her dark hair flowed over her shoulders. She peered over her large-rimmed sunglasses and waved. Her smile socked him in the chest.
He pulled the rip cord on the mower with manly gusto, ready to show her his awesome stud status but instead, he yanked in an awkward direction and fell over backward.
“Fuck,” he said with a moan as he landed on his ass on the concrete driveway.
“You okay?” the woman asked as she raced across the street.
“I’m fine.” Only his bruised male ego took a major hit.
The woman stood over him, holding out her hand. “So, you’re Air Force Fire Protection.”
“How’d you know?” he asked as his lungs deflated. He tried to suck in another breath, but it seemed for the first time in his life—a woman stole it.
She tapped her chest, right above her damn perfectly round womanly curves. “I recognize the tatt.”
He’d forgotten he was in only his shorts. Taking her hand, he jumped to his feet, only he didn’t allow her to help. He just wanted to touch her skin.
His pulse raced with the kind of adrenaline rush he had right before he ran into a burning building.
“Are you moving in?” Brodie asked, still holding onto her hand and staring into her almond-mocha eyes.
She nodded. “I’m Harper Dawson.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” she said, pulling her hand away. “I’ve got to get going. I need to get a few things before the moving truck gets here. I hope to see you soon.”
“Maybe tonight we can have a drink. Yeah. Stop by. Me and my roommate, Declan, will just be hanging out. Might as well come over for dinner. I mean, who wants to cook while they still have to unpack?” Jesus, he sounded like a fucking moron as he babbled on and stumbled over his words.
“I have a meeting I have to attend around five, so maybe a drink later on.”
“Hope to see you then.”
She nodded, slipping her large sunglasses back on her face. Her hips swayed as she crossed the street.
Brodie tore his gaze away as he turned his attention back to the lawn mower. Jerking the cord, this time without falling over, the engine turned over once, then puttered out. He tried two more times before he realized the damn thing was out of gas.
He snatched the gas can from the garage and put it in the back of his pickup before heading back into the house to snag his keys and a shirt.
Declan still sat at the kitchen table, sipping coffee and scarfing down fries.
“We need gas,” Brodie said, pointing at the back door that just slammed shut. “And I met our new neighbor. She’s stopping by for a drink tonight. For me, not you, so don’t embarrass me or hit on her.”
Declan laughed. “Because falling on your ass didn’t shame you enough?”
Brodie rubbed his bruised ass and winced at the thought.