At the end of January, when I stopped teaching, I thought about the writing I’ve been promising myself to do for many years. The first thing I did was put a couple of previously written, poorly written, novels for sale as ebooks. There’s the Barnes and Noble “nook” and the Amazon Kindle as well as ebook sites such as www.smashwords.com and www.goodreads.com.
While on the Amazon site, I noticed a contest known as the ABNA. Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. It’s a contest that involves uploading an entire manuscript as well as a short except of about 5,000 words and a synopsis. There was no cost, but there was a cut off at the first 10,000 submissions. Luckily, I was in on time. The sponsors are Publisher’s Weekly magazine and Penguin Books.
At the end of February, the 10,000 was trimmed down to 1,000. I had actually forgotten about it until I saw an e-mail telling me to go to their site and see if I made it to the next round, which I did. I then set a reminder in my phone for March 20, which was today, which was the next round of cuts down to 500. Luckily, I made it through again.
About another month from now there will be only 100 left. Then in another month only 3 left. At that point, there will be online voting for Amazon.com customers combined with “celebrity” reviews of the three finalists. The winner gets an advance of $15,000 plus a publishing contract with Penguin. I’ve been told that very often the non-winners will be offered contracts if the reviewers – from Publisher’s Weekly magazine, like their work. All entries that have made it thus far will get a thorough and complete book review from Publisher’s Weekly.
So – in about a month or two, I might be calling on some people to go to amazon.com, create an account – which is free – and then vote for my book. I’ll let you know when.
Here’s one of the reviews I was given:
ABNA Expert Reviewer The Curse
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
The immediate disgust the author gives the reader for Hayden Greenbury is startling. I think that is easily the strongest aspect of this particular excerpt. Right off the bat we see what type of man Hayden is-murder, rape, disrespect, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Here is a man that freely admits to loving money above all else. He holds money in the highest regard, and when I read the Stranger’s price I wondered what Hayden would have done if he had to part with his half daughter, or his wife? Would they be expendable? When an author can create such an immediate sense of dislike for a character I know I want to continue reading, if only to see Hayden get what is coming to him. OR perhaps see his redemption.
What aspect needs the most work?
I think the only flaw so far is the name of the book. It is such a generic name, that sadly I would probably pass right over this story in the bookstore or on a website. Granted the curse is at the heart of his story, and what a doozy of a curse this is, but I would still love a more intriguing title, something that sparks some real interest.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
I was hooked right from the beginning. The author has already created such a reprehensible character in Hayden that I would keep reading if only to see what happens to him. But then we have the curse, the stranger and the sad man in the shack at the end of this excerpt? Is Hayden the man in the shack? And who is the woman that is watching him through her telescope? How much time has passed? But the real question for me is what is Hayden’s final tale? Will he get what he deserves or does he somehow redeem himself? Has he learned anything? The answers to those questions would keep me reading.