My urban fantasy novel made it to the quarter-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

The Awakening, my most recent novel, made the first two cuts of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The three reviews made me optimistic about the book’s future in the publishing business.

Here is my pitch, which put The Awakening in the top 2,000 of the 10,000 entries.

Book Description

Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Entry

Biker chick Cassidy Walker thinks her biggest problems are selling enough jewelry at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and keeping her alcoholic mother in line. She’s wrong. When a stranger tries to kill her, she doesn’t know it’s because a powerful secret fraternity believes that she could thwart its chance to rule the world.In The Awakening, Cassidy’s odd rich aunt dies, bequeathing her an heirloom pendant with a prophecy that pits Cassidy against Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead. Supposedly, Osiris will awaken, be welcomed by his modern-day minions and enslave all humanity. Only Cassidy with her pendant could stop him. The prediction is too crazy to take seriously, and she has more immediate things to worry about after her mother’s second drunk driving arrest. Then a murder and a home invasion prove that others believe the bizarre prophecy. As she faces the choice to fight or flee, a message from the sexy trickster god Coyote convinces Cassidy that the pendant does have power: the power to grant a single wish. Now she must decide whether to use it against Osiris – or use it for herself. From Appalachia to Devils Tower to California, The Awakening explores conflicting responsibilities to self, family and society, and learning to recognize who can be saved and who cannot.

The next round cut another 1500 contestants. It was judged by two Amazon reviewers who read the first few thousand words of the book; their reviews are below.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Reviews

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The story is exciting and draws the reader in immediately. Lots of action with the motorcycle murder attempt and a look a the characters in the town who come to help the victim. The sentences flowed nicely and gave us a good description of who will be starring in this story.

What aspect needs the most work?

I felt the writing was very good and didn’t see the need for any improvement.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

I enjoyed this excerpt and would like to continue reading. The author has a nice way with words and also gives us enough information to pull us into the story and let us have a look around. I look forward to finding out more about this main character, why someone is after her, and her biking adventures.

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The strongest parts of this excerpt are the individual unique characters (loved Santa-Pete!) and the interesting plot line. It is well written and had lots of descriptive passages that set the scene and really serve to pull you into the story.

What aspect needs the most work?

The part of the excerpt that needs the most work is the introductions. For example, the introduction of the “Brotherhood” is completely mystifying (a huge switch from Cassidy’s version of events) and could use some additional background perhaps (instead of leaving us saying “Wait- What?).

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

Overall this is a very interesting story that has a lot of potential- there are unusual characters and an involved plot line that pulls you right in. While some of the story is a little confusing, it is possible that as the story continues this confusion is cleared up (this is unclear from this excerpt). The dialogue is entertaining and seems realistic- and the descriptive passages set the scenes skillfully.

In the semi-final round, a Publisher’s Weekly reviewer read the entire novel and gave it a numerical score for character development, originality, plot, style and overall strength of submission. Those numbers are not revealed to the contestants and sadly, mine did not make the top twenty-five. I debated whether to redact the shortcomings the reviewer noted, because I’ve taken the critique to heart and revised the novel to correct those problems. But I decided to reproduce it in its entirety, because if those were the worst (now corrected) flaws of The Awakening, that in itself can be considered positive.

ABNA Publishers Weekly Reviewer

This witty urban fantasy follows motorcyclist, jewelry designer, and martial artist Cassidy Walker as she tries to juggle an alcoholic mother, a demanding aunt, and a mysterious town car out to kill her. Being a strong-willed and capable heroine, Cassidy brushes off being run off the road by a town car, and focuses on her plans to travel to South Dakota to attend a motorcycle festival. But when her life is threatened a second time, she can’t ignore it, or the fact that her family holds an ancient secret. The manuscript would benefit by removing words like “Jap” and “retarded,” which seem to function as ways to point out amusing, oddball characters rather than comment on racism and slurs. At times the novel is heavy on the banter and light on the plot moving forward, but it still delivers three engaging heroines — Cassidy, Sierra, and Mae — in this story about family bonds and loyalty.


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