Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Reviews

I finally got my reviews from the two Amazon expert reviewers which came along with my advancing to stage two of the ABNA. First off, many thanks to those two individuals. I know it must have been difficult plowing through all those excerpts and writing reviews on each. I appreciate your dedication to this award and even more so your feeback on my work.

As far as the reviews themselves go, I’m fairly happy with them. No one said I should find another job or walk away from the keyboard, and I’m fairly certain neither of them clawed out their eyes after reading my excerpt. I already know–gods do I know–I’m a dense writer. I don’t think I can change that without changing everything about myself and my style. Plus, I’m of the opinion–stop me if I’m wrong–the issue of density is on a sliding scale when it comes to fantasy and sci-fi. I also was aware I was entering a mainstream contest with a borderline horror story, and that many people would be uncomfortable with some of the content of my novel. Not a big deal. I’m not mainstream about my life and my work reflects that.

Having said that, I am taking into consideration that I might want to move my prologue a bit deeper into the story, but I’m still not sure. Is is fairer to tell people up front that some nasty things go on in my book, or should I just let them get sucked into the relative safety of Resonance and Quinn’s story, then sock them with the really dark stuff once they’re trapped? I don’t know. I suppose if it’s a point of selling the book versus shelving it, I’ll have to be sneaky about the cringe factor.

Anyway, I’m posting my feeback below, if anyone wants to see what the reviewers of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award had to say about Resonance :

ABNA Expert Reviewer
Intriguing but dense

Resonance is the unusual name of an unusual girl. She is the tattooed, blue-haired twenty-something who is forced to register at the local college by her mother as the condition of Resonance continuing to live at home. This is the normal part of this excerpt. Before you arrive at Resonance’s story, however, you learn about a murderer named Arhreton who is busy tattooing a woman named Not, apparently for the last time after twenty years of brutality. Another character is Quinn, who works at a funeral home and is a key player in a lot of magical goings-on.

The plot is intriguing, with lots of interesting action. The supernatural elements were a little hard to follow, though, because of the dense writing style. I had to re-read many passages just to understand what was happening.

It’s a skilled effort by the author, but the story needs a little clarity and simplicity.

ABNA Expert Reviewer

This fantasy novel opened with a blood sacrifice which was a definite turn-off in my opinion. Despite my distaste for the plot as it developed, the excerpt was well-written and certainly stood out from the crowd of other entries in the competition.

I did find myself more interested in the story once Resonance and Quinn met one another- here again the strong writing overcame my reservations about the plot itself. I do believe this might work out into an interesting book, but am concerned that other readers will share my dislike of the opening. Perhaps reworking that element into the narrative at a later point would make this work more appealing to a wider audience.

For better or worse, there they are. Like I said, I’m still pretty happy with how this all turned out. And again, my thanks to those two reviewers for their honest input.

About Avery

I am a roller derbying, dark fantasy author. This blog chronicles my adventures in life, writing and skating. View all posts by Avery

16 responses to “Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Reviews

  • Avery DeBow

    Dana — Thanks. If you don’t mind a little horror mixed in with your fantasy, then you’ll have a better chance of liking it. ; ) I like your prediction. Now, if only I can find some way to transmute it into reality… Hell, I’d get rich off of that process alone!

  • Anonymous

    oops… I apparently have a new form of dyslexia in which I flip letters in a whole different direction. I meant to say “snippets”.

  • Dana

    Actually, based on just the little snibbets that the reviewers put out there, it sounds like a story I’d like to read. And I have very good taste. smile.Good for you. I predict you shall be signing your OWN works of fiction in the future. (smile)

  • Avery DeBow

    Laughingwolf — They are my tales, but, then again, I’d like to share them with someone at some point, someday. I like your take on horror.

  • laughingwolf

    av, i agree with everyone’s assessments… keep doing things your way, they ARE your tales, after allas for when to insert the ‘horror’, do it when least expected😉 lol

  • Avery DeBow

    Spy — Thanks. I had this idea of blending urban fantasy, high fantasy and horror, because they always tell you, “Write what you want to read.” Don’t know how well that’s going to go over at the end of it all, but I’m glad you found at least their reviews intriguing. Must mean I’ve done something somewhat right.The whole “opening with a bang” thing is why the prologue is where it is. My first chapter opens with a fight between Resonance and her mother, but is hardly the bang most readers expect these days. So, I introduced Arhreton a bit earlier, because he’s one big bang. Now people are getting squeamish on me. The Architect tells me there is no one right answer. I’m starting to believe him.

  • spyscribbler

    Wow, well, the reviews sure sold me on the novel, though. It sounds fascinating! And… kinda weird comment about the opening. Opening with a bang is almost a necessity, isn’t it? Nowadays? Shock and Awe, don’t they call it?😉

  • Avery DeBow

    Sidney — That was my impression, also–some poor reviewer who likes mainstream fiction, thinking the fantasy aspect of the contest might send them something along the lines of Harry Potter or LOTR. Then he/she picks up my excerpt and gets socked with–unpleasantness. I kinda feel bad they had to sit through it and squirm instead of just being able to put it down and go scrub out their eyes with Comet.

  • Sidney

    That second one kind of sounds like a reviewer who doesn’t really understand dark fiction. Sounds like generally it was a good experience. Sounds like a cool novel.

  • Avery DeBow

    Lana — Thanks. A hammer wrapped in velvet, as they say?

  • Lana Gramlich

    Keep up the good work. All things considered, there is praise under the criticism, after all!

  • Avery DeBow

    Charles — Thanks. I felt they were overall pretty good, considering, but wasn’t sure if I was just in denial.I’m with you on the make-believe horror. Give me monsters and mages over crazed mall shooters any day.Steve — Real flashes of brilliance regularly interspersed with real flashes of dullness? ; ) Seriously, let me know where you think there needs more–ahem–brilliance. I can use a fresh pair of eyes these days. And I’m glad you’re enjoying it, that means a lot coming from you.

  • Steve Malley

    I’m rather enjoying Resonance so far. It’s like a cross between Charles DeLint and James Elroy, and your prose shows some real flashes of brilliance. The hard point is going to be figuring out what you can do to bring that brilliance out more!

  • Charles Gramlich

    If you take out some of the negative references engendered by the fact that your work was a genre one, these are pretty darn good reviews. I’m often amazed at how so many people can watch the news about real life horror and be fine but can’t handle a little fantasy horror. That’s kind of sick, if you ask me. I don’t mind fantasy unrealistic horror. It’s the real stuff that bothers me.

  • Avery DeBow

    Hi Lisa. Thanks for stopping by. My cats don’t really like being photographed–I have a huge collection of the backs of their heads. There is one post with Minister in it here: http://averydebow.blogspot.com/2007/08/abercrombie-witch-and-wardrobe-and.htmlYour Scarlett looks like my Sneezer, except Sneeze has orange eyes.

  • Lisa

    Hi saw your comment on spy’s blog where you also have 5 cats. I came to see if you posted photos of them. Do you have photos in another post? My avatar is my baby scarlett. I tried doing an avatar with four of them but with 3 of them black you couldn’t tell what you were seeing.

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