Category Archives: Contest

ABNA is Back!

Amazon has announced it’s 2014 Breakthrough Novel Award contest! It’s a little late, compared to years past, and everyone was starting to worry! I have to admit, it was a pretty good way to get us all amped up… whether or not that was their intention. 🙂

Here’s a link for all the info! You can also go to to register!

So, we have about one month until the entry period begins (February 16). My only dilemma this year is what to enter. I have my tried and not-so-true TERRA INCOGNITA, which I have entered three years in a row, or my recently finished CREEPING SLOWLY & EVAPORATING, which still needs some major editing and rewriting… not to mention a pitch. 🙂  Can I finish it in time? Well, I’m gonna try! If I don’t, at least I’ll have a back-up!

So, are you going to enter ABNA 2014? Check out the rules and give it a try! There’s nothing to lose… and possibly $50,000 and a publishing contract to win! 😀


And it’s over before it even started…

Booted at the pitch stage once again… For me, ABNA 2013 is done. I’m out. I must admit I am a bit disappointed. I felt my pitch was good enough this time around… and maybe it was (I don’t know) as everyone keeps saying the pitch round is basically a crapshoot. And that’s fine. Really. It is. I am very happy for all of those writers who made it through. I’m glad they will continue to get a shot for publication and possibly that grand prize of $50,000. 😀

Anyway, as the disappointment sunk in, part of me was saying, “Maybe I’m just not cut out for this… But what else is there for me to do? I have a degree in Art with little experience in graphic design and none in web design… What’s a girl to do?” Then the more rational part of me said, “But it’s what you love. It’s who you are. You couldn’t stop if you wanted to… Sure, you might have a dry spell every once in a while where you just can’t write a goshdarned thing… but that comes with the territory… and none of this means you should quit.” Once I’d given myself a little pep talk, I thought maybe I should get back to querying… but I’m not quite so confident in TERRA INCOGNITA at the moment (maybe that will pass, I don’t know) so (for now) I think I might actually shelf it… focus on something else before I come back to it… I’ve been working on it for so long, editing for so long, it needs a break. I need a break. I have other works-in-progress to complete… maybe one of them will be “The One.” And I’m so close to ending one of them… focus. That’s what I need to do. Focus.

Besides, I have more important things to worry about… I’ll be 25 weeks pregnant on Friday and have a lot to do. Sheesh, I’m due, like, the week before the ABNA Finalists travel to accept their prizes… that would have been an interesting trip, for sure… Traveling across country about a week (or so) after giving birth, newborn in tow. 🙂  Yeah… but it would have been totally worth it.

So, to wrap it all up… Good luck to all who remain in the contest! AND good luck to all who were cut. You shouldn’t give up either… Being cut this early is absolutely no indication of your (or your book’s) worth (yeah, I know, we need to make it a mantra).

Good luck with all of your writing careers! I hope to see you on the other side.

Edit/Update/What-have-you: I just wanted to say that I’m not really discouraged when it comes to writing… I can’t give it up, it isn’t possible… My main reaction/emotion is one of exhaustion, more than anything. This has just been a very trying week… 🙂  I’m already tired, in general, but have a very sick hubby this week and a 3-year old to contend with, so… ha ha. Bad timing, perhaps…?

2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is on!

2013 ABNA! Yay! The entry period begins on January 14, 2013… Of course, this year it has undergone some interesting changes. First, Penguin is no longer involved and the winners will be published through Amazon itself (physical and ebook formats). Second, there will be more winners and, thus, more prizes. In previous years, there were two winners (publishing contracts with $15,000 advances, one in the General Fiction category and another in the Young Adult category). But this year we will have FIVE winners (yes, five!). The Grand Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance, and four First Prize winners will each receive contracts with a $15,000 advance.  Pretty exciting news!

One other major change: while before we could only choose between General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction, we now have the addition of three new categories (Romance, Mystery/Thriller, and Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror). Yay for more categories! It would seem there will be a winner chosen from each category, one of which being the Grand Prize winner… at least that seems to be the consensus of Amazon’s ABNA forum (a lot of fun writers over there – check it out sometime).

Other than that, everything seems to work pretty much the same as before… as far as I can tell. Make sure you take a look at the rules and whatnot before entering.

SO… I’ve been trying to work out which story to enter. Hm… decisions, decisions… 🙂  My choices have been reenter Terra Incognita (entered twice before in GF, would have entered it again this year as YA, though I now have the option to enter it as Fantasy…) or enter my WIP Creeping Slowly & Evaporating (in YA or Fantasy). I just need to write the end of that manuscript… which is the most difficult part for me so… I believe I will reenter Terra, then focus on finishing and editing Creeping. Perhaps I can work on querying it, as the other (hopefully) makes it’s way up the ranks of ABNA… 😉

Now YA or fantasy? I hope I make the right decision.

Ah… It’s that time of year again…

Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (ABNA) 2012!

Very exciting… in about an hour, I will be submitting my novel (Terra Incognita) – this is my second time submitting but with the same novel. The deadline for submissions in February 5th, 2012. Every unpublished or self-published novel is eligible, as long as they meet all the requirements (length, etc). The prize (in two categories – young adult and general fiction) is a $15,000.00 publishing contract with Penguin USA. Of course, many people have had success without winning.

Another thing I enjoy about participating in this contest is the community of writers it connects. The forum is extremely helpful and… entertaining, at times.

The contest requires a Pitch (no more than 300 words), Excerpt (first 3,000 – 5,000 words of novel), and the full manuscript…

Last year, my pitch made it through the first round but my excerpt didn’t make the cut in the second.  I’m hoping for a different outcome this year (one where I make it further, that is).  Of course, I wasn’t all that happy with my pitch from last year so I wrote a completely new one.   I’ll wait until the first round winners are announced before I post it (just to be on the safe side).

If any of you have a completed novel (self-published or unpublished) I suggest you look into this contest.  Check out the rules and requirements to determine if it’s right for you… it doesn’t hurt to try.  Plus, it’s free!  😉

Good luck to everyone who enters!  See you on the other side!

Also, if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them!

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:


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.

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!

Hello world!

Hello, all!

This is my first WordPress blog and the first blog I’ve written in at least five years… I’ll do my best not to lose focus, as I go. I’m hoping to use this blog to promote my name and work a bit, especially my books, only one of which I’ve finished so far. The first step, for now, is getting my first novel published, so I suppose I could share that process with my readers (all zero of them right now).

My book is called Terra Incognita, and I have entered it into the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Truthfully, I’ve been obsessing about it ever since… But I did make it through the first round unscathed, mostly.

The first round was judged by a 300-word pitch, basically a summary of the story and why anyone would want to read it. My novel is in the General Fiction’s Sci-Fi/Fantasy category, so I wrote about how certain elements appeal to readers of that genre. Plus there is a little romance in there, so the romance readers will enjoy that.

Now that I’ve made it through the first round, I’m trying not to think about this second round too much. Hopefully, this blog will help take my mind off of it. Also, I’m working on a short story (of less than 2,000 words) and hope to enter it in another contest soon. And, of course, I’ll be working on book two of the Terra Trilogy while I wait. I also work, sporadically, on my mystery series (but I’ll post more about it at another time).

I’m very excited about the ABNA contest, and there are so many talented writers who have entered. The grand prize is a $15,000 publishing contract with Penguin (USA). Of course, I’ve read many times over that even those who do not win are winners. Many authors have gone on to be published who made it to the quarter-finals and semi-finals, so that’s exciting too!

You can find the pitch for Terra Incognita under the “Works” tab above. The most recent pitch for Terra Incognita can be found via the “Books, Etc.” tab. Feel free to read over it and comment, if you like. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep up with this blog and keep everyone updated on the contest and whatnot.

Heather Riffle