ABNA logoBack in the day, there was a TV show called Bewitched. The main character was a typical suburban housewife who happened to be a witch. The woman who lived across the street had a habit of spying on her neighbors, and when she saw something especially odd going on at the Stevenses’ house, she’d screech her husband’s name to get him to come to the window: “ABNER!!!”

I don’t know why I thought of that when I was coming up with a title for this post. There’s nothing magical about the ABNA – which is short for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Every year, usually in January, Amazon opens its virtual doors to 10,000 non-traditionally-published books in five genre categories: General Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, Romance, and YA Fiction.

An entry consists of a 300-word pitch (or blurb), a 3,000- to 5,000-word excerpt from your book, and the full manuscript, which must be between 50,000 and 125,000 words. You must strike anything and everything from your entry that identifies the author: your name, any awards the book has won, etc. If you don’t, your entry will be disqualified. Continue reading “ABNA!”

I Could Have Been a Contender!

Man, I was so sure I was going to win. I was so close to the semifinal circle in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards that I could taste it. My Tarot cards even said good news was coming! What could possibly go wrong?

Well, Seized could fail to be a semifinalist. That’s what could go wrong. And did, this past Tuesday.

If you’ve been playing this game of life for long enough, you’ve entered some contest or another, and unless you’re an extraordinary individual (and if so, I’d like to stand very close to you so the magic rubs off), you’ve lost at least once. So you know what it’s like: the sinking feeling in your gut; the denial; the rage; the desire to put the whole episode into your next novel and savage all those rotten writers whose books made the cut, because God knows nobody’s – NOBODY’S – was better than yours!

Oh, right. Sorry. Continue reading “I Could Have Been a Contender!”

Between You and Me, Grammar Matters

If ever a genie wants to grant me three wishes, I am all set. First, I would wish to always stay at the perfect weight, no matter how much I ate. Next, I would wish for financial security, so that I could quit my day job and never have to take another one. And my third wish would be for Amazon and Smashwords to insist that every indie title be vetted by a competent proofreader before they will publish it.

I admit it: I’m picky. It’s probably because I internalized grammar and spelling rules early. Please don’t hurt me, but I was one of those annoying kids in school who always got good grades on her English papers. I was a spelling whiz, too. One of my college journalism professors gave his classes a test on commonly-misspelled words at the beginning each semester. I had two classes with him, so I had to take the test twice. When I aced the thing for the second time, he wrote on my paper, “People in radio don’t need to know how to spell!” I’m still not sure whether he was trying to recruit me for the student newspaper. (And if he was, then it’s clear that he never saw my grade in photography.) Continue reading “Between You and Me, Grammar Matters”