Okay, roll up the sleeves, it’s year two of the judging adventures for RWA’s 2017 RITA awards! Cannot wait for my packet of books to arrive. It’s really like Christmas! I talked about my first experience of judging RWA around this time last year and how, well, not super duper qualified I was to judge the contest.
So, from that basement, there's nowhere to go but up this year! How am I going to up my scoring game for this year’s RITA’s? As I described in the March 2016 post, there’s really no consensus explanation of how to score or what the numbers really mean. What does a 6 mean? What does an 8 mean? Is Judge A's 9 the same thing as Judge B's? I don't know. I haven’t even tried to figure out decimals, and therefore, we will work on that later when I arbitrarily award decimal bonuses. Yeah. I said it. Decimal. Bonuses.
Well, first of all I’m applying a dose of kindness because…man, after this last year, we all need support and love. In addition, for this year, I'm going to also use the “cast no stones” approach.
Because, who am I to judge anyone, anyway?
With that preamble/ramble in mind, and in all transparency, I present to you – how I score RITA entries. Updated for 2017!
#1) Just like last year, my grading scale will start at 5 and stop at 10. That’s because the world is cruel, and it takes amazing guts to put your book out there. I know that those pages contain the last drop of blood from the innermost chamber of your palpating heart, and then you put all those pages out there to be criticized. That’s right. From a base of 0, I’m awarding an automatic 5 way-to-go points just for entering.
photo courtesy of Flickr commons ydant
#2) Genres I don’t read. Less of an issue this year than last year, since my genre base has expanded widely. And I opted out of the categories I simply never read. (Sorry, Obadiah and Sarah, but no matter how totally awesome your inspirational romance is, I’m not a big fan of that particular genre. Nothing to do with thou.) So no bonus points for genres I don’t read since I’m hoping that issue is not applicable this year.
#3) Awesome characters. Real, life, jump-off-the-pages hero/heroine (in whatever combination and number) with complex motivations. Not perfect/gorgeous people. Real people. If you make me think I could run into this person on the street tomorrow and want to talk with them, then I’m awarding 0.5 extra character points.
#4) Something new. If you have a new spin on an old tale. If you come up with a story where Cinderella is a dude and he meets Princess Charming… and you freakin’ sell it? Extra 0.5 de novo points right there.
#5) Awesome cover bonus. This concept hasn’t changed since last year. Don’t do what I wanted to do with my first cover: Minimum of 4 characters, one must be a “floating head”, toss in a few random pets, a vehicle of some sort, and maybe some molten lava. So, the exact opposite of what I had in mind on my first book. In short, if your cover is awesome? Add 0.5 cover-me points.
#6) Superb grasp of English language. Also known as: grammar. If you don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”, then I will stroke out my frontal lobe. And that doesn’t make me a bad person, it makes me OCD. There’s a big difference, and you bet I know where to go for help. Minus 1.0 points for bad English.
#7) Show me the money. If I read this book and now I want to purchase every word this author has written? If it’s that fabulous? Automatic 1.0 extra rock-my-world points.
#8) World explorer points. If the book truly teaches me something new in a way that’s super entertaining, then that’s 0.5 Encyclopedia Britannica points.
#9) Call points. My call comes in 10-day blocks. They sometimes can be brutal and loaded with sleepless nights and frequent interruptions. (Dude, the area nursing homes have my number on speed-dial.) If I’m reading your book during one of these call periods, I’m adding 0.5 bookus interruptus points. Because bad timing on my part does not constitute a lower score on the author’s part.
Welp. That’s my scoring scale, and I’m sticking with it. Let me know if you have a method or scale that you use to judge RITA’s.
Author, daydreamer, and practitioner of trying very hard to duct tape folks together and help when I can.