Category Archives: ABNA

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.

Ups and Downs, News and Such

Sorry I’ve been absent for an extended stretch again. The warmer weather vaulted the Architect and me out of our winter hibernation and back into the renovation gig. He fixed our front door–which could have been kicked in by a toddler–and I tore down plaster and walls. I found two more dead rats–one mummified, one just a skeleton. I stepped on another nail. This time it really hurt. But, I don’t seem to have lockjaw, which is nice. The big upside is that my prison of an office is now part of the openness of the rest of the upstairs floor plan and I don’t feel anywhere near as confined sitting here writing as I did before. And it’s nowhere near as frigid in here.

I just got news this morning that while I did make it to the second elimination round, I did not make it to the quarterfinals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I was really hoping to make it to the quarterfinals. Well, hoping for the part of the quarterfinals where Publishers Weekly would read my entire novel and review it. I wanted the awfulness that would undoubtedly go along with such a “win” because I wanted some brutal professional feedback by the biggest publication news source on the planet. I wanted to know whether or not to shove “Resonance” in a drawer and forget her. I wanted someone to tell me, instead of having to figure it out myself. Guess that’s what I get for trying to insert divine intervention into a free will universe. Still, I’ll be getting two reviews of my opening pages given by the Amazon Vine Reviewers who essentially knocked me out of the competition. Two opinions of why my book didn’t work for them. That should be fairly helpful. And making it from roughly ten-thousand people to two-thousand on the strength of my pitch means–fucking finally–I don’t have to stress over that thing anymore. It apparently does its job. Now I just need my novel to do the same.

It’s funny how I don’t feel defeated, resigned, or even belligerent. I feel just as determined as I did before, just as calm, just as focused. Have I finally reached that spot of firm belief in my work? Or is this just the first stage of rowing a big barge down a river in Egypt? I don’t know. It’s going to take a couple of weeks for those reviews to trickle down to me, so I’m going to just keep on keepin’ on and forget all about “Resonance” for a while and push ahead with the new novel.