Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quarterfinal results of ABNA are in...

...and Sultana made it, based on a 5,000-word excerpt, which can now be found here. It amounted to the first chapter and half of chapter two. Yeah! The contest is down to 500 entrants; 250 each in General and Young Adult Fiction. ABNA started with 5,000 entries in each category. After I got over my initial surprise about the results, I read the feedback from reviewers. They were good and fair, except I'm writing about the 13th, not 11th century. Meh. Both reviewers also made me think of how I should categorize my work - as historical romance or historical with strong romance elements. Here's what they said:

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
I think the characters are the strongest aspects of this excerpt. Specifically the characters of Fatima and her mother. In Fatima you have an angry, young girl forced to marry for reasons she can not understand-but even at eight the author paints her with an intelligence, which I think is the author's way of giving us an idea of what is to come. Fatima's mother on the other hand, is a woman that is loved obsessively by her husband, and yet he has poisoned the mind's of the children-the product of that obsessive love. Prince Faraj is another interesting character. He knows that his forced marriage to an eight year old could very well bring about violence, and yet at the same time his youth is shown in his inability to have done the right thing. I think this is a very interesting set up.

What aspect needs the most work?
I think the direction was a tad unclear. If this is an historical romance, I can see this being very similar to something Johanna Lindsey or Jude Devereux might write. If that is the case, this book could have a very big following. The glitz, the glamour, the excessiveness are all in appealing in a romance novel. On the other hand, if this book has little to know romance in it, I am not sure who the book would be marketed for.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
My opinion on this goes two ways: If this is a work of historical romance I am hooked. I want to know what happens next-and I want to see if Fatima and the Prince fall in love. Does Fatima grow up hating her father? Will she ever love her mother?

On the other hand, if this book is more of a history novel, I believe it can become very dry as it is a fiction story, rather than a history book.

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
I love how clearly the author tells his/her story. There's a lot going on: political intrigue, kidnappings, marriages, complicated family relationships. And yet it's all presented with such skill and verve, in concise, beautifully shaped prose that's simple yet poetic. Much to the author's credit, I believe every word. I'm having a great time reading this.

What aspect needs the most work?
There are times when the writing takes on a slightly melodramatic quality, but given the exoticism of the piece and its heightened reality, this isn't the drawback it could have been. And the author has the skill to not let things get too exaggerated or artificial.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
I loved this piece. The author writes with such authority about the 11th century, yet never in a dry or academic way. This is pure entertainment. like a great old Hollywood movie you'd see on TCM. It's authentic, engaging, beautifully written and a whole lot of fun.

I was surprised not to see some others advancing, including one in particular who I was rooting for, but as I told her today it's ever onward and upward from here. I don't know anyone else among the other competitors. It doesn't sound like there's too much historical fiction that made it through. Correction: 44 historical fiction excerpts made it including mine. Damn. I mean, great, wonderful. LOL. I still think that historicals aren't as "sexy" as paranormal or thrillers for others. For me, there's nothing sexier than people behaving badly in the past, doing what they wanted without the constraints of our 21st century morality. IMO, whoever says history is boring is reading the wrong kind of history.

So, what's next in the semifinal round of ABNA? Thanks to the help of two others who submitted to ABNA in the past, if I understood them correctly, Publishers Weekly will now read and score the excerpts manuscripts - apparently I was wrong yesterday in thinking they would review the excerpts. Based on the highest scores, 50 entrants from each category will be chosen in the semifinal round on April 26. Each quarterfinalist will get a PW review (I think), which I've heard can be harsh. Yippee. Excerpts will also be posted on Amazon, where customers can read them. At this point, I'll be grateful if the excerpt leads to more sales and reviews of Sultana. Like any writer, I've invested years in my work and a little recognition would be nice. Ok, money would probably be better, but I'll settle for recognition.


Heather said...

Congratulations again! You've got a special story here. :)

if this book has little to know romance in it, I am not sure who the book would be marketed for.

Ah, the old reliable "but what shelf will it go on?" *yawn*

Lisa Yarde said...

Yup. So far, I've been pegged as a historical fiction, romance and fantasy (?) writer. I could proabably see the first two but maybe people think I write fantasy because 'truth is stranger than fiction' or some junk. If my books are ever "shelved", it'll be interesting to see where exactly.

Jeanne Kalogridis said...

I'm laying money on your fitting into the historical fiction section, given the strong sense of exotic time/place. The very appropriate (and lovely) cover you chose would also place it there.

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks Jeanne, I'd take whatever real shelf space they could give me

Richard Warren Field said...

Congratulations on making the quarterfinals in such a large group of entrants. My fingers are crossed for even more good news upcoming!

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks, Richard

Alison said...

Wishing you the very best of luck! I can't wait to download my excerpt...*beetles off to get it*

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks Alison, keeping my fingers crossed for the semis, at least figuratively anyway.

teacherwriter said...

Congrats to you! And I wish you luck in moving on to the next stage!

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