Monday, March 28, 2011

ABNA Quarter Finalist! (And full of doubts)

I think my writing skills are stronger than my marketing skills, which is kind of funny because I write grants (basically I beg for money) for a living. Somehow it's different when I'm marketing myself. I have all that lovely self-doubt creative types tend to wrestle with. And if I don't believe in me, who will?

Anyway, knowing that about myself, I decided that I'd look for another writing contest instead of querying agents right away. I know my book needs some work still, but I think it's good to get it out there. Any feedback is good feedback and anonymous feedback is even better.

Enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Grant prize? A publishing deal with Penguin Books. Not too shabby. I crafted my pitch, did a couple self-portrait headshots and submitted my book, not really expecting to get beyond the pitch. As I said, marketing is not my strong suit.

Despite all that, despite my horrific proof reading skills, despite going up against much more meaningful, serious works, I got through the first cut. Somehow I landed in the top 1,000 from 5,000 entries. I was shocked. I prepped myself to use some of the pitch in query letters and move on, but instead, I made it through the second cut. My book, based on the first 5,000 or so words, is in the top 250 of 5,000!

It's been a little crazy since Tuesday when the top 250 were announced. The 5,000 work excerpts were reviewed by Amazon "expert reviewers" and the feedback I received was really encouraging. I post the full reviews on my Facebook page (see the badge on the right), but the highlights include descriptions like "atmospheric, evocative," "laced with a tinge of dread" and characters that "ring true."

And on top of all that, the excerpt from Guardian is available on Amazon! Something I wrote is out there for the world (or at least those with the ability to download books for the Kindle) to see! Eek!

It really has been a wonderful opportunity and I've loved reading the other excerpts for the contest. I never expected to make it this far, so even if this is it, I feel much more confident going forward. I'm incredibly nervous about the next cut. The full manuscript is being reviewed by Publisher's Weekly and I know it's full of typos. I know the second to last chapter is a hot mess (I've since fixed it, but it's too late to edit my ABNA entry). After my last round of edits, I'm worried that I left one or two important lines out. Did I ever resolve the fire? It's one line. One stinkin' line. But it's a huge plot hole without that line. Did I properly intro her parents? I mean, they're bit characters, but they need an intro. They're going to hate it. They're going to tell... Well, I don't know what they'll tell me and I don't know how that feedback will affect me, but it should be good for me no matter what.