Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist

I feel like the father on A Christmas Story: “I’ve won a major award!”

If you’re the sort of folk who reads my blog, you are probably well acquainted with the ABNA contest. For 2009, Amazon accepted up to 10,000 entries of finished novels in February.

They narrowed the entries down to 2,000  on the basis of the Pitch (basically the meat of a query letter). Excerpts of the 2000 novels were then reviewed and scored before the 500 quarterfinalists were announced.

And The Edge of Memory was one of those 500 novels.

At this point, the contest gets a bit American Idolish… the quarterfinalist excerpts are posted on Amazon.com for Amazon customers to review. Based on these reviews and a formal score/review of the full manuscript by Publisher’s Weekly, the entries will be cut to 100 semifinalists on April 15th.

So, if you have the time and inclination to read and review my entry, I’d greatly appreciate it. You can download the excerpt here, and then click “Create your own review” to leave your thoughts and star-rating (the button to leave a review is on the right side of the page, just below the “Customer Reviews” heading.

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An Open Market: Back on the Chain Gang

So someone needs to start off the next round for the blog chain gang.

So all of us on this blog chain gang have worked feverishly on what needs to be done before a novel gets published. Some of us are quite close to publication, including the next link in our chain, Jessica Verday whose debut novel The Hollow will be released later this year. But lately I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to the work that needs to be done during and after publication.

Besides writing new stuff, of course.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about marketing.

Now, many aspiring authors I’ve encountered dread the idea of marketing. So you might think I’m getting ahead of myself, but I see this as sort of like wedding planning.

I mean, after all, I’m going to notify all my family and friends of the date when I’ll finally be able to walk down the aisle (of the bookstore) and hold my handsome love (whom I’ve been seriously involved with for a year or two) in my arms.

So why wait until I’m officially “engaged” to start planning?

But seriously, I don’t think it can possibly be too early to start thinking of ways to market your project. Although certainly a publisher might have different ideas and choose to go in another direction, but it can’t hurt to have your own plan developed and ready to go.

So, blog chain buddies…

What plans do YOU have to market your novel? How will you make sure the public finds your work?

(Pssst, gang… this would be an ideal time to show us your book trailer, if you have one)

Naturally, I plan to use the tried-and-true marketing methods (guest blogging, conferences, maximizing my online presence, bookmarks, etc.), but I also have a couple of ideas I’m very excited about that are specific to The Edge of Memory.

First of all, my novel features a silver charm bracelet, which my protagonist discovers with the hidden letter from her birth mother. For a contest prize, I would like to create a similar bracelet. I would also have some less pricey prizes available. To enter the contest, people would have to view my book trailer.

Speaking of book trailers, I already have a mock-up one:

When the time comes, however, I will produce a professional version. And I’m especially excited about that, as my diverse group of test readers includes photographers, actors, musicians, make-up artists/stylists, and an amazing videographer. They might even give me a discount. 🙂

But the idea I’m really excited about doesn’t involve flashy trailers or prizes. It involves a concept I think will help generate interest with a specific group of readers: book clubs.

Book clubs usually involve three main activities: reading the book, discussing the book, and EATING. So all the better if I can create a food connection to my novel, right?

My protagonist Beatrice cooks when she’s stressed… and I gave her a lot to stress about. So there are a few dialogue passages where she’s preparing a meal during the conversation.

A friend of mine runs a fabulous cooking blog (seriously amazing… more drool-worthy pictures than most mortals can handle) and has graciously agreed to some guest blogging with recipes for the meals my character prepares.

How much fun is that? I’m anxious to cook them myself.

Anyway, I’m excited to hear how the rest of the gang envisions themselves marketing their novels. And our next blog chainer will have extra cool insights, since marketing her debut novel is not just a fantasy for Jessica Verday.

QueryTracker.net Link Lottery Contest!

Over at the QueryTracker.net blog, we are delighted to announce the QueryTracker.net Link Lottery!

Very easy to enter and a great prize!

First Page Contest: Off the Hook

Many big kudos to both Authoress on the Miss Snark’s First Victim blog, and to the amazing Secret Agent Holly Root at the Waxman Agency.

This was a rocking contest in so many ways. Ms. Root invested a lot of time to give thoughtful feedback on each entry to the Are You Hooked? contest. All 115 of them. Photobucket

Mine is here, if you’d like to see. It was a fresh revision, as I was inspired to rewrite my opening from another character’s point of view just a couple of weeks ago. The feedback I received was absolutely invaluable.

It is SO helpful to have fresh eyes look at your work, especially expert, professional agent eyes. I’ve now revised my new opening and am pleased with the changes.

Especially significant was the disconnect occurring with the first paragraph of my contest entry. Several readers mentioned that paragraph was less engaging because they didn’t care enough about the character yet to be moved by her husband’s death. This is why the fresh evaluation is so important. I have hundreds of test readers, but they already know and care about the characters, so they can’t have the same reaction a new reader would.

I’ve posted my revised page in my entry comments if you’re interested. And if you haven’t been by Miss Snark’s First Victim previously, you might want to spend some time poking around. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Links to all the contest entries are currently displayed on the left side of the page.

After a fashion…

Editing is weird. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately. I’ve heavily revised the language and descriptions through the first 17 chapters now (almost halfway through the book).

You write something and, at the time, it seems pretty good. You go back later and it’s like looking at your prom photo. “Really? I thought that was cool?” rolleyes.gifrollingonfloor.gif

I have recently trimmed a lot from the second chapter (which was something like the fourth run through, although the first few times were intentionally not major edits). I now find my previous version humiliating. Like the oversized, plastic framed glasses I wore at thirteen.

Why should this matter? It shouldn’t. But I’d submitted the first 3 chapters to a contest last month (which is why I’d revised those chapters before my major edit).

I’m now cringing, knowing that someone is reading that earlier version– despite the fact that many people liked it the way it was.

But there’s not a durned thing I can do about that. And who knows, I may revise again later and hate the version I’ve got right now. teehee.gif

I am still toying with title ideas. I’m recently really digging “Flashing Past”, but I’m not sure if that’s intriguing enough for people to pick up in the first place. I came up with “Long Way Baby” on the way home from a lecture today. And I’m sure I’ll have more ideas as time goes by.

OH! And I woke up with an idea for a short story today. That’s never happened to me before. I have lots of novel-length ideas, but rarely a quickie. So, I might crank that out when I get tired of editing.

I R Editing… a smidge, anyway.

So, I’ve been searching the internet for a good definition of women’s fiction. The category seems to be a bit vague, really, other than that it should appeal to women.

So, with that nebulous information, I’ve decided to enter a contest in the category of “Women’s Fiction with Romantic Elements”. At the very least, someone will read what I’ve written, and even if they say, “Pfft! What are you thinking? This doesn’t qualify!” I will at least have that information to go on.

I honestly think it could be marketed either way.

So, for the purposes of the contest, I edited my first 3 chapters. While I was doing it, I was afraid I was only making it worse, but after letting it settle for a couple days, I’ve reread it and I think it is much better.

So, yay! Three chapters edited and 37 to go. *snort*

I think I will still need to do a bit more in those first 3 chapters to accomplish the setting timewise. As it stands, I have it now set in 1981. Which means I need to address some big news issues that would be bound to come up (e.g. Pope John Paul getting shot). But that would have been beyond the scope of the contest entry.

I could set in 1982, but apparently there was a freak blizzard in April that year, which I would also have to address, I think.

Hmmm….

Test readers: I will make another private page to post the revised first 3 chapters, so you can review them if you like. 😉 The password will be the same.