22 Mar

Another Letter to RWA

As you may have heard, the finalists for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award were announced yesterday. As you may also have heard, the results again inspire hashtags such as #RitasSoWhite. RWA’s president is open to suggestions for this known, longstanding problem. Though I’m done with the organization for a multitude of reasons, I care enough about the systemic exclusion of authors of color to submit the following.

You asked the membership for ideas about changes to Rita judging. Given the specific nature of the problem, this is the most fit-to-print thing that came to mind.

The scoring system is nonsensical as it is. While I agonized about using “average published quality” as a standard and deducting/adding points according to the entry I was reading, I suspect most other people judge based on “this is/isn’t to my taste,” which leaves room for scoring entirely based on unacceptable prejudices.

I suggest more granular scoring to try to get more objective results, with each book judged on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being Poor, 10 being Excellent) in craft-specific categories, such as:

  • Copyediting
  • Characterization
  • Plot
  • Convincing Romance
  • Whatever other measures of craft and professional quality can be divorced from “I can’t relate to someone who’s not like me”

To avoid claims of confusion, include descriptions of what is to be rated for each heading on the judging form itself (i.e., Copyediting should ideally exhibit no spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors that can’t be accounted for by a character’s dialect or differences in American/British spelling).

Additionally, either keep all five scores and let the high and low moderate each other or only throw out the lowest to eliminate suspiciously negative outliers.

Yes, requiring multiple separate scores for each book would complicate the judging process, but deciding which books receive what’s supposed to be the genre’s highest honor should be a serious task, not a personal whim. Anyone who objects to treating it with the gravity it deserves isn’t qualified to serve as a judge.

Five seconds after hitting “send,” naturally, I wanted to add that the “Convincing Romance” judging criteria shouldn’t  mandate marriage and babies, which is the only outcome some members currently accept because they’re stuck in the 1950s, but ironing out the details isn’t my job.

10 Mar

NDTS: Consistently Crappy Sentences

I read a book earlier this month that caused an urge to write a salty email to an editor who should have done a lot more work than they did and sugary emails to the editors who’ve kicked my ass over the years and taught me to self-correct a lot of problems before a manuscript leaves my hands. I won’t do either because (a) unproductive and (b) kicked my ass, but I need to rant and—what ho!—I have this nifty spot for just such an occasion.

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28 Feb

Reading Challenge: February 2019

This month, I rebounded from some rant-worthy romances I can’t talk about (contest judging… do not recommend) by rereading an old favorite and breaking the glass on an expected feel-good I’ve been saving in case of emergency.

All links go to Amazon and are affiliate coded. Almost all books are available at other sellers (I’ll note when that’s not the case and chastise myself for poor shopping habits), but linking every book to every store is a lot of work to do for free, and the two other affiliate programs are a pain in the ass.

COMPLETELY by Ruthie Knox: Rosemary is 39 years old, divorced, mother of a 19-year-old daughter, and she’s trying to reclaim her own identity by climbing the seven biggest mountains in the world and writing a book about her experience. Her Everest climb is interrupted by an avalanche that requires her climbing party to be evacuated. They’re unharmed, but the base camp below is wiped out, killing 29 people, many of whom had become her friends while waiting to start her climb. She’s shell-shocked when Kal, the 32-year-old “ice doctor” who was in charge of the safety of her group and still feels responsible for her, checks up on her at the hotel to which they’ve been evacuated. In the customary “we’re lucky to be alive” fashion, they celebrate with food, wine, and sex.

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08 Feb

Someone Asked: Thank You, Next

I’ve recently had a small flurry of emails inquiring along the lines of when I’ll be releasing another book.

First, for the 99% of readers of my previous books who apparently missed it, I released a book in May 2018! It has a whole page dedicated to it! You can request it through your Overdrive-affiliated library or purchase from the following sellers:

Ebook $4.99 USD   Amazon  |  Apple  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play   |  Indigo  |  Kobo  |  Scribd  |  Smashwords

Trade Paperback $17.99 USD   Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Books-A-Million  |  Alibris  |  Book Depository  |  IndieBound

Moving on!

Sales of the most recent book keep authors alive while writing the next book. WCAD and 10KH each sold ~10,000 copies the first year post release. At ~$3 per book (after retailer cuts), that’s ~$30,000 per year, which after expenses and self-employment taxes is closer to $20,000 per year in my checking account. That’s obviously not enough to be the sole wage earner in a household of 4 adults in the United States, but it’s still slightly better than the take-home pay from a $10/hour day job, so I could justify calling writing a full-time job and supplementing with freelance work.

Silent Song, at the time of this writing, is 9 months post release. During that time, it has sold slightly over 100 copies, also known as 1% of what I needed it to sell in year 1 in order to survive while writing another book. August 2018 was absolutely the last opportunity to turn the failure around financially, and that didn’t happen. Since I had to take on more paying work at that time to cover the bills, I no longer have 40 hours a week to write. When I have 40 hours a week to write, it takes me a year to write a novel. When I have 4 hours a week? See you in 10 years.

In other words, there isn’t going to be a next book.

I’m sorry the news isn’t better, but I promise it sucks for the person who wasted over 20 years on this “career” only to end up making less in her last year than in 1996 way more than it sucks for readers who have millions of other options to console them.

I think my web hosting expires in May, at which time I’ll probably redirect the URL to a book landing page on free WordPress until domain registration expires in November, at which time I’ll have to evaluate whether there’s any point maintaining even that. Old books will remain for sale until stores start charging upkeep for listings. There just won’t be anything new.

Here’s to better days for us all ahead.

30 Jan

Reading Challenge: January 2019 (Part 2)

Remember when I split this month’s reading because I was afraid one post for the whole month would be obscenely long? Yeah, I forgot about contest-judging obligations that arrived on the 20th, so this is actually super short.

All links go to Amazon and are affiliate coded.

THE END OF THE WORLD: STORIES OF THE APOCALYPSE by Various Authors: I’ve said before I have a terrible time with anthologies (it takes me a long time to commit, and most short stories are over before I warm to them sufficiently; also, I want a line of logic I can follow from beginning to end, and a lot of short stories are… “experimental” is the most generous term I can come up with), but since I was already having a terrible reading streak, what’s the harm? At least I like the apocalypse!

The stories themselves date back as far as 1944 and have all been previously published, so if you’re a SF short story aficionado, you may have seen many of them elsewhere. This collection was published in 2010, when nobody in publishing even pretended an interest in diversity; accordingly, the 19 authors include 1 woman and 0 POC. The +/- after each story indicates my positive or negative feeling toward it.

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