>> Wednesday, February 29, 2012
My short story that made honorable mention will be "published" in the second edition of SQ Magazine's tranformed eZine on May 1, or so I've been informed. The story's called "Masks."
Secondly, for those that are interested, I followed my sister, Shakespeare's, advice and entered Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Note that she's also the one who advised me to enter SQ Magazine's contest and a poetry contest where I was also one of the finalists.
I was a little leery. Most of my books were co-written with my soon-to-be ex-husband and ABNA only allows solo author entries. Secondly, the first round, where they do their big purge from 5000 entries to 1000 entries each in general fiction and young adult respectively depends entirely on the blurb written.
Well, I've made no bones about it. Querying and marketing are definitely my weaknesses. That's scary, knowing the first culling will be aiming for my weakness. On the other hand, however weak I am at them, they are absolutely essentially. If I cannot master selling myself without forcing someone to read the entire manuscript, I might as well lock it into a virtual drawer and raise cats today. No matter how good I think my books might be, if I cannot convince anyone to read it, no one will ever know.
Additionally, I had two completed novels that my then husband had actively campaigned against so I wrote them myself, because I loved the characters, because I loved the time I spent with them. (See here, here and here.) Right or wrong, this was an opportunity to find out if the love I had for them is something anyone else might share or just my own personal affair.
So, I decided to enter, along with thousands (literally, close to ten thousand) others, including my sister, Shakespeare. Both Shakespeare and I entered in YA, presumably with blurbs we worked hard on. I know I did, gutting my first entry and following the advice of my own teenager on making it more exciting. After all, I'm aiming for teenagers.
Well, boys and girls, both Shakespeare and I made it successfully through the first round in YA. (First round "winners" in general, in case you're interested) Whew! I'll tell you, I consider that an accomplishment, even if I don't make it any further because it was--and is--something I really struggle with. So, kudos to me (and the other 1999 people who made it through).
Given the next step involves reading the first 3-5K of the novel, it's another challenge, again, not because I don't think the novel is good, but because I tend to work my way into my novels through my characters. Now, I know what you're thinking. No, no, no! You need the hook, the plot snag in the first five pages or you'll never be successful.
I know what you're saying. I know that's the current thinking. It might even be true that no one will ever read the novels I write because of the way I begin them, but beginning them differently won't work. It will come across contrived and forced because it WILL be contrived and forced.
You know what else? Most of my favorite books start out the same way. Published, even classic novels, written not only by authors I adore, but frequently by authors many people adored then and adore now. It's no coincidence that my favorite novels are character driven or that I write my own novels the same way. I'm fully prepared for the prospect that some of those reviewing my excerpt right now may not be able to get past that notion that I have to--positively must--jump into the action immediately. That I might get no further in this contest because of that.
But that's fine. I got through the first round so I did something right. If I make it any further, that will just be icing. If I don't make it further, at least I feel better that I might be able to entice someone else to give the book I've written a chance, to read it for themselves.