Tag Archives: margaret atwood

Memberships and Contest Scores

I finally got my preliminary scores back for Hereditary Magic from the Rita contest.

Below please find the scores for your entry, Hereditary Magic Blood and Bone Legacy, in the preliminary round in the 2019 RITA® Contest.

Paranormal Romance 1



Score4.89. 8. 6.58.   
Does the entry contain a central love story?YesYesNoNoYes
Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?NoNoNoNoYes
Does the entry fall within the category description?YesNoYesYesYes
Did Not Finish (DNF) Reason (craft or grammar). The field will be blank if the judge did not select DNF.    

Final Score: 7.5      

Final Scores are calculated by dropping the high and low scores and averaging the three remaining scores.

If there are 3 negative responses to any one question, the entry is disqualified.

You may refer to the following information in order to determine the ranking of your score.

For the Paranormal Romance category:

            Top quarter; final scores equal to or greater than 8.3

            Second quarter; final scores from 8.26 to 7.83

            Lower half; final scores equal to or less than 7.8

Let’s talk about these and my own experiences with the Rita entries for a moment. As you can see from the underlined contingency above, Hereditary Magic was disqualified for having 3 “No” responses in a single category. The category question was Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic? The quick answer to that is of course not. It’s a series and if you solve the central romance in the first book, the series is basically over. There has to be some conflict and growth. Otherwise, THERE’S NO POINT.

There was one judge, #2, who actually got the book. And he/she is right. This book doesn’t fall within in the strict category of paranormal romance. None of my books do. That’s part of the problem.

I don’t write romance.

I write genre fiction that doesn’t subscribe to the regimented format of romance. I don’t have a happy ending at the end of each book. I don’t have the romance as the focal point in each book. My romantic entanglements are not always resolved at the end of each book. That’s part and parcel of writing series.

As a judge this year in the Rita contest, I find it disheartening to learn Hereditary Magic was disqualified while more than half of the entries I was given to judge were subpar, not just in their character development but in grammar and writing style.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that I’m no Margaret Atwood. I am very cognizant of how minuscule i am in the publishing world and even more so about how niche my genre is within that publishing world. However, I can construct a damned sentence properly…most of the time.

So, this is what it has all come down to…

I’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America now for 10 years and each year I renew my membership with reticence. What is RWA and the affiliated chapter memberships providing me? Honestly, not a whole lot at this point.

This year I paid my $99 membership fee in August to maintain the other chapter memberships through December. It will be my last year. Each year, I feel more and more marginalized in an organization where I clearly don’t fit in.

I have plenty of romance writer friends that get a ton of benefit from their memberships, and that works for them. I’m not one of them. And that’s okay. I just can’t seem to justify sinking money back into an organization that isn’t beneficial to me and my writing career. Not anymore.

This isn’t a condemnation of RWA or their contests. They do a lot of good for quite a few people. I’m just not one of them. I think that saying goodbye may be the best option for me. I have made many great friends in this organization and relish those friendships and support I have found in their company. But I must say goodbye to the organization that brought us together.

Farewell, RWA. It’s been nice knowing you.

Questionable Reading Habits???

I’ve been on a weird dismal kick in my reading habits lately. Twisted psychological thrillers, dystopian – both futuristic and fantasy, and books where the central heroes/heroines are murderers by trade. Each once of these In the last two months, I’ve “read” – aka listened to – the following:

I’m not even sure I should be ashamed of this or what this says about me that I enjoy multiple books about murder and societal collapse over and over and over again. I feel no shame.

They were, each in their turn, AMAZING. The problem I’m running into now is that some of these are series and I’m playing the waiting game with the library or going to have to buy the subsequent audio books because the library doesn’t have them. This angers me! If you’re going to get one in a series – GET THE REST!

If you’d like to know what I’m reading on a regular basis and read my real thoughts about them, subscribe for my newsletter. Once a month, you’ll get a recommendation about a book or two that I loved. Look up there, the sign up for Damsel Newsletter is on the right hand side of EVERY PAGE ON MY WEBSITE!

If you have recommendations of your own, leave them below. I’d love to hear them.

First Person Present

Am I the only person who doesn’t like this?

I’m currently reading A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I like the story, the world she’s set up, and the subversive dystonian society she’s created. The only thing that keeps pulling me out of the damned story and taking me forever to read is the way its written. First person PRESENT.

I don’t mind the first person. I write in first person. In fact, I have a hard time writing in anything else. It feels too removed for me. I want you right there with me as I go through hurdle after hurdle to overcome whatever beastie, I’ve created. It’s the present tense that really bothers me. I’m not even sure why. People love this perspective. I mean how many people bought a copy of The Hunger Games? A bagillion – which is a technical term, by the way? *snort* That trilogy was also told in first person present. Clearly, this is a thing and I should probably get over my ire at the writing style, but I can’t.

I don’t know if it’s the clunkiness or the constant back and forth between present tense and past tense. You have to go back and forth because not everything happens in the present tense. Backstory and character development require past tense. Here’s where we get a little grammatically nerdy. If you’re writing in first/third person past tense, the back story would then be mentioned in past perfect tense or past perfect progressive (depending on what you’ve got going on). I had done this. I had been there. Cause let’s be real, English has a lot of tenses. Just to give you an idea, see the chart below (thanks Language Learning Base).


This is complicated I know but…and this is a big “but” {ha ha}, moving between present and past is jarring. Moving between two past tenses is not. At least for me.

I’m powering through on the plot and the world but I find myself getting exhausted from the read. I’m only able to read a few chapters at a time which is taking FOREVER.

Let me know what you think!