Monthly Archives: March 2011

Goodbye to ABNA 2011…

Well… I am officially out of the running for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. While my pitch was successful, my excerpt failed to impress my two Amazon Vine Reviewers… at least enough to move on, anyway. I think I was actually starting to believe that I could make it… but it’s just the mild depression talking right now… 😛

In any case, my reviews weren’t horrible. The first one gave me some helpful feedback, some things to consider when rewriting, before I decide to submit to agents/publishers (which is my next step, I believe – yay, me!). The second review was short and basically just said that my excerpt was “Ok,” but s/he didn’t provide me with any advice on how to make it better – not that s/he had to do so. Also, keep in mind that the excerpt was only the first 3,000 to 5,000 words of the manuscript (the first chapter, in my case), and reviewers were allowed to use 25-250 words to critique the excerpt. They could not read further and had no access to the pitch. So, without further ado, below are my reviews… for your reading pleasure:

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ABNA Expert Reviewer
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

You’ve done a decent job of world building here. There’s a nice attention to physical detail here and description of the whats and hows of everything that’s going on so far.

What aspect needs the most work?

The characters just seem a little flat and shallow to me. I also feel like the tension was rather underwhelming so I would suggest that you try to draw out the tension more.

And something to note: be very VERY careful about things such as the “I’m not attractive but everyone thinks I’m pretty” and “my eyes always shift color” tropes. There lies Mary Sue tendencies. Most people will instantly identify these traits with Mary Sues so it’s usually better to avoid using these in your books.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

The author does an excellent job of worldbuilding and showing us what is supposed to be going on, but unfortunately it comes at the cost of character depth. The tense moments just lose their impact because of this, although I will admit that it wouldn’t take much to fix this. This is a pretty decent fantasy/horror entry that I wouldn’t mind reading a little more of.

ABNA Expert Reviewer
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

It is engaging and sets up the story and the character well.

What aspect needs the most work?

It seemed Ok to me.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

It might make a nice story. I thought the set up for the story was very good.

Why I write…

Hello! Maybe I should blog about procrastination, as not only has it been too long since I’ve updated here but I’ve also neither been writing nor researching my next story the last several days… need to get back to that! Ugh! Maybe next time!

Anyway, today I thought I’d write about why I (and others) write. I began thinking about this after visiting with my grandmother, who is fighting cancer. (Speaking of procrastination, I had been putting off that visit, I imagine out of fear – the fear, I suppose, of her illness, seeing her sick, when I think of her as being so strong. Also, I believe I have been afraid that seeing her that way will verify her frailty, make it more “real” to me.) The visit went well but, of course, had me thinking of the people I’ve lost in my life. These losses have influenced my reasons for writing over the last few years. For instance, my mystery series “Juniper Jackson Investigations” started as a way for me to deal with the death of my father when I was 20. I have a lot of unresolved issues there, and writing is a way for me to work through them.

Obviously (okay, maybe it’s not that obvious but), I have reasons for writing other than the need to work through various psychological/emotional issues. Mainly, I love to write. Though I haven’t always known that I wanted to write, I discovered it was an option when I was a teenager. I loved reading and spent the majority of my time doing so. I suppose writing was the next logical step for me. Now, not only could I escape into the worlds created by others, I could escape into my own worlds; imaginings I had not been able to openly entertain since I was a very young child. Of course, I may not act them out as I did at that age, but my characters can! My favorite stories involve otherworldly people, creatures and/or scenarios, and much of what I write does as well.

As with many writers, writing is a compulsion (this is also the case with drawing) for me, and when the mood strikes (and if often does), I must write (unfortunately, laziness/procrastination often derails this). Also, writing can be an obsession, of sorts. Most days, whether I’m procrastinating or not, my writing is all I can think about (I’m choosing to view this as a positive thing). And writing can also serve as a diversion, which I suppose is the opposite of my Juniper Jackson series. In that particular case, I am working through issues and thinking about that aspect of my life quite directly. However, I also write to take my mind off of my everyday life and its obstacles and anxieties.

This leads back to writing as an escape (which is part of why I love writing, as I stated above) and back to another reason why I write… and why I hope to one day be published and have others read my work: I want others to enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them… and hope that they can use them to escape the realities of their lives as I have, at least for a little while.

Ah… Spring is in the air!

That it is… perfect weather to start something new… and, in my case, that means starting on a fresh story! Yep, that’s what I said! I had it all figured out last night, which story to start working on next… then I had a dream this morning that has messed with that a bit.

So, now I have a little thinking to do… I now have another idea for a book but was all set to start on something else. Maybe I should stick with what I was planning… a different take on the Robin Hood legend. That’s all I’m saying about it for now, but it too was based on a dream I had several years ago…

The count down to the ABNA quarter-finals commences! 19 days!