Thursday, February 23, 2012

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

[To follow my ABNA journey from the very beginning, click the ABNA label at the bottom of this post]

For the third year in a row, I entered the increasingly popular Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest, aka American Idol for writers. And for the second time, I made it to Hollywood...err, I mean, Round 2! This just means I wrote a pitch interesting enough to rate a couple of reviews of my 5000 word excerpt. If that goes well, I get a review of my full manuscript from Publishers Weekly. If that goes well...well, I can't even think that far ahead right now.

I'm a little scared about the excerpt. It's the first 5000 words of the manuscript, in which--with my novel at least--the real story hasn't quite started yet. Let's hope these reviewers smell something good cooking.

I'm actually really surprised because I wasn't expecting to advance at all. My book is 100% free of vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, zombies, fairies, poltergeists, gnomes, or three-headed unicorns with super powers. I hear agents are getting sick of mythical creatures anyway.

So here's the pitch that got me this far:

At eleven years old, Riley Tate witnessed the sudden death of her father. Now, at sixteen, she still can’t bring herself to step on “the spot”—-the section of kitchen floor on which her father landed after collapsing from a brain aneurysm. For someone like Riley, a hypochondriac with anxiety issues, moving on is never easy.

Since losing her dad, Riley has become obsessed with the human body, how it works, and what can go wrong with it. Reading about diseases distracts her from the things she’s not ready to deal with, like the fact that her mother started a whole new family with a man who has more muscles than brains and tries to act like her new dad. And that her doctor thinks she’s a mental case. And that her ex-boyfriend dumped her because she wouldn’t have sex with him. But she refuses to let anything—-especially not a guy—-interfere with her dream of becoming a surgeon.

When she meets Cole Boyer in an ER waiting room, Riley realizes immediately that he’s far from the safe, predictable boy she usually goes for. A fearless daredevil with mysterious scars and a thirst for all things dangerous, Cole is like an accident waiting to happen. Still, despite their differences, they forge an unlikely friendship that eventually blossoms into something more. Dating someone who’s so casual about death has its challenges, but as Riley soon learns, not everyone can be—-or needs to be—-saved.

OUT OF NOWHERE is a 69,000 word contemporary young adult novel that will appeal to fans of authors like Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott. With flawed, relatable characters and a blend of heavy issues and humor, OUT OF NOWHERE explores the total randomness of life, death, and love.

My baby is now out in the world.

I'm am totally overwhelmed and delighted with all the support I received today (and every day) from my family and friends. Writing is a lonely, frustrating job, and just knowing there are people out there pulling for me helps a lot. THANK YOU!

Next cut is announced on March 20. Stay tuned!


  1. Hey saw you in the pitch thread and thought I'd check yours out... Here's mine. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

    Living in a rural community isn’t a foreign concept to 16-year-old Casey Dragon, but when her mother dies and Social Services ships her to a foster home in Geetings, an isolated town on the far end of the county, she is heartbroken and too far from home for comfort.

    Life in Casey’s foster home is anything but normal, so when she begins attending a new high school, and several friendships quickly emerge, living there becomes a little more bearable.

    Like a shiny new toy, Casey soon becomes the object of the notorious Jeremy Legend’s affection, but her sights are set on someone else, Luke. Within her first week of school, several friends, including Jeremy, warn Casey about the secret Luke is hiding. Between Jeremy’s endless advances and Luke’s stubborn shyness, she isn’t sure whom she should trust. There is one thing that is certain though; if Casey makes the wrong choice her happiness isn’t the only thing she risks losing.

  2. Looks good. I'm intrigued! I have some time over the holidays, so I'd be happy to look over your excerpt for you too. Feel free to email me with it.

  3. Hi Rebcca,
    I saw your post in the ABNW thread. I have a hard time with writing pitches. Do you mind if I post mine here? I'd love to hear how I can improve it. This is my first year entering the contest.

    Rachel Deneuve and Adam, her ten-year-old son, were already driving to the hospital the night fire rained from the sky. The cataclysmic event changes the earth –killing plant and wildlife and causing mutations in survivors. With electricity unreliable and limited access to medicine, the doctors are unable to continue treating Adam’s leukemia. There’s no safe place in the city with Adam’s compromised immune system, but leaving Baltimore is scary for this single mom from the suburbs. Aside from weekend camping trips and keeping a backyard garden, Rachel knows nothing about creating a homestead.
    After making their way to an isolated house in the Appalachian Mountains, though, Rachel feels comfortable, until she sees some of the mutations caused by the Firestorm: carnivorous plants, an adorable penguin living in a turtle shell, and a vicious two-headed moose.
    Then the soldiers of New Babylon arrive. Their self-stated mission is to protect the human population by destroying any mutations and to restore civilization through a one-world government.
    Soon after the soldiers leave Adam becomes feverish. His cancer has returned.
    Rachel and Adam must leave the homestead, the only place they feel safe in this new post-firestorm world. They journey toward the hospital, but are confronted with other mutations in the people they meet as well as in the landscape.
    Rachel must decide whether to embrace a changed world where ancient mythologies are real or to fight for a traditional life and go to New Babylon with its promise of technology. Her only concern is Adam, but her decision affects where she will take him for a chance to be healed. If she chooses wrong, her son will die.
    GARDEN OF WYNTERHALL is a 86,000 word fantasy novel.


  4. It sounds good, though I'm not the best with pitches. The Pitch Thread on the ABNA boards is a great resource:

    The people there really know their stuff. Post your pitch there and they'll help you make it perfect.

    Good luck!

  5. Wow I love you pitch! I have also just entered the competition and have been slaving away at my pitch for countless sleepless nights now!
    After two and a half years the novel is finally complete! I couldn't be more proud!

    I am really worried about submitting my pitch or any parts of my novel onto the internet before I've been notified if my pitch has made it through.
    Are you allowed to do this? I'm so sceptic of it it's ridiculous!


I'd love to hear from you!