So anyone who stopped in yesterday afternoon has heard... I made the Amazon Semi-finals and everything else has vacated my brain. This is the only topic I am capable of speaking to.
Well, the first round judged on the pitch (300 word summary and sell) [2000,0f 10,000 passed on]
The Quarter-finals were based on the Excerpt (first 3000-5000 words) [500 of 2000 passed]
Semi-finals are based on THE WHOLE FREAKING KAHUNA. That's right. Somebody –a Publisher's Weekly PROFESSIONAL--read my darned book. Anonymously without the nagging 'but I LIKE Hart—she makes me MISBEHAVE' nagging at them. This stranger READ and made JUDGMENT on my book... and passed me on.
100 of 500 pass on, 50 each in young adult and general fiction. From the original 10,000, there are 100. That is 1% and I feel TOTALLY humbled. There were some great sounding stories that didn't pass. Some of the reviews I've seen look harsh.
Now you will see, this is not all goodness and light... this book is not done (as I've been saying) but I am GIDDY at what (s)he liked about it...
An engaging ghost story with an unusual setting keeps the pages turning in this manuscript. Helen is a ghost who has spent 60 years as her 15-year-old self. Her suicide lead to the closing of the mental hospital located in eastern Washington State. The hospital building is now being renovated, and turned into a school to help juvenile offenders rehabilitate. As students and staff arrive, Helen is surprised to discover that some of them -- a teacher named Allan and students Daniel, Mickey, and Serena -- can see her. Allan thinks having a ghost observing the students could be helpful. Helen isn't so sure. A vicious attack makes Helen realize that the staff have failed the students. As Serena falls into deeper danger, Helen will do everything she can to protect her only friend. This dense novel has much to like; the well-worn ghost concept is modernized through the juvenile rehabilitation school setting and a subplot involving illegal medical testing on the students. Characters like Helen, Serena, and Allan are well-drawn, although the villains like Beck and Harper are rather cookie-cutter. Frequent run-on sentences create confusion and unnecessary tangents slow down the otherwise excellent pacing. Chapters from Allan's perspective in particular spell out the action a little too much, and Helen's unresolved fate makes the story feel unfinished. These flaws aside, this author has a very good grasp on how to create a well-paced story, and the originality of the plot and the interesting characters keeps the reader engaged until the end.
Let me just say—this reviewer is exactly right... My earlier drafts DO have run on sentences, and I DO have trouble rounding out my villains! (though there is no evidence i know how to eradicate tangents) It is nice to have some constructive direction to work. And I will work it...
I sent my AGENT the world's least traditional query last night, too... I explained this dilemma... not being DONE, but being far enough I don't want to be unrepresented on the off chance I go farther. I'm sure there are perfectly done works more likely to win... but I was sure there were more done works that would beat me THIS round too...
Besides, agent and I needed to have 'the chat'--does she even LIKE YA that is this edgy? Some YA reps want sweet love stories... some want cool fantasy. I write the lousy CRAP life includes if you have too large a dose of reality. I don't have the imagination for fantasy or the patience for sweet ( poo on sweet, I say--POO!). I have a master's degree in psychology and like to watch TV shows like Breaking Bad, where good people are pushed into bad stuff by circumstances. I like my characters thoroughly damaged... it's just the way I roll... So I just thought it was time to have 'the talk' so I know if I should hold out hope, or whether I should plan on querying when this is cleaned.
And... Because I am entered in Round of Words in 80 Days: My UPDATE:
I am not DONE with my line edits of my Garden Cozy, but will be by Saturday, which was my deadline (win!)
My progress on Garden Cozy #2 has been SLOW, but once May rolls around, I plan to treat it like a WriMo until it is done... so it will be done...
AND the query letter to agent was on my list.
So I am good on my goals! YAY!
And finally, I got some serious blog love yesterday. I was FEATURED by a new reader and she was so NICE to me!!! So go check out San's Informed Sharing!
If you want to read, I am entry #19
Happy Hing Day, Friends!