12 March 2013

ABNA - "Curse Breaker" - cut in the quarter finals

The Curse Breaker of Cairo, my paranormal romance, made it through the first round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest this year. I had high hopes of making it to the quarter finals, but got the word this morning that I had been cut.

I spent way too many hours on the computer today, waiting for my reviews to be posted on my CreateSpace page, but they finally showed up. Having never done this before, I was curious to read what these Amazon Top Reviewers had to say.

I wish I knew who wrote the first review so I could give her a proper thank you. With only a 20 page excerpt to review, this person must have spent several hours taking the time to give a detailed critique.

The first section of the review is "What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?"
She/he wrote an entire seven paragraphs - I'll post the first two:

The strongest aspects of this piece, by far, are the style and pacing. I do not care for either romance or supernatural novels…yet I inhaled this excerpt. The descriptions are vivid and colorful without being too flowery (a major problem in most romances), the main character is interesting and the reader connects with her right away, and the pacing of events are well done. Even though this setting and certainly these events are probably complete unknowns to most readers, we are so quickly drawn into the story and have created such a fascinating picture in our minds, that we eagerly read on.

Sentences like, “The rapid, caressing beat of the tabla drum reverberated in her chest. Ancient melodies ringing out from the strings of the oud, seduced her body.” Even the words you use help create the rhythm, we can hear these instruments – even if we don’t know what they are.

Under: "What aspect needs the most work?"

There were a few phrases that could use some tightening to stay in line with the quality of the rest of the story.   

The reveiwer then went on to quote actual passages. I wish I might have had someone point these out to me before, but at least there was nothing glaringly wrong.

Under: "What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?"

Again, I have to go back to the fact that a reader who is neither a fan of the genre nor the subject matter you have chosen was completely drawn into this story. The setting, character and pacing of this piece are very well drawn. The visual details you’ve provided create such vivid images in my mind’s eye – but you rarely go over the line and beat the reader over the head with details. Your words allow the reader to fill in the blanks, interact with the story and make it our own.

The story starts to move from the very beginning, but the reader never feels lost or confused. This is an unfamiliar world, to be sure, but because we can see, hear, even smell along with Tangerine…we have enough of a stable footing to sit back and watch in amazement as the events unfold.

Also, at least so far, there is a good balance between the mystery of the curse and the beginnings of the romance. Tangerine stays focused (most of the time) on the job she was sent here to do, and the mysteries she must solve. Because she is our guide, we can explore this city along with her…and with only a few side trips into the sexual side of her nature. Depending on where the story leads, and what your ultimate goal is for the book, that could certainly change, but for this excerpt, the balance is well struck.


I figured with this good a review, I needed to post it somewhere.

The second review was quite different.

Strongest aspect?
 The content is certainly unique and one of a kind. Everything was well written and some captivating characters are emerging.

What needs the most work?
 A good introduction on curse breaking or it's history would be nice. I was left with so many unanswered questions during the first chapter that I had to reread to grasp the narrative. And I really liked where this was going, just I did not where it came from. Tangerine first encounter with energies and her battle blindsides the reader. whoa...wait a minute....energies...etc etc what the heck is going on? what weapons is she using? where did they come from? how do they work? is she phsycic?

Overall opinion?
This could be a real nice piece with a bit of work. Great idea. Great plot. Nice character development. Just if it all could come together.

I choose to believe the first review. Others can draw their own conclusions.
And should anyone care to read those first 5K words that the reviewers saw, just click on the link above, (or go to Amazon), and click on the Look Inside banner over the kindle version. (there is actually a longer excerpt than what was reviewed.)

Getting to the quarter finals would have meant major exposure of my writing and even a shot at prize money and a book contract. I will continue to believe that The Curse Breaker if Cairo will find its way onto people's Kindles or bookshelves, and maybe try to channel some of that earth energy that's rattling around Cairo.