11 February 2009

Embracing ABNA

In case you haven't been over to the Web site of ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award), here's the gist of the contest:

How the contest works

Enter your unpublished, English-language, fiction manuscript until 11:59 PM EST February 8, 2009 or until 10,000 entries have been received, whichever comes first. The contest consists of four judging phases by expert reviewers, publishing professionals, and Amazon.com customers. The winner will be announced on May 22, 2009.

Initial Round: Expert reviewers from Amazon select 2,000 submissions from the 10,000 initial entries based each novel's "pitch." The 2,000 entries are then rated and receive two excerpt reviews from Amazon Editors and Amazon Vine Reviewers.

The field narrows to 500 entries...

Quarterfinals: Excerpts of the 500 are displayed on Amazon.com along with the reviews from the previous judging round. Publisher's Weekly now reads, rates, and reviews the 500 remaining full manuscripts.

The field narrows to 100...

Semifinals: Penguin Group (USA) reads and ranks the 100 semifinalists, taking into consideration the reviews from the two previous judging rounds.

Penguin chooses three novels to move to the final round of judging...

Finals: The three remaining manuscripts receive reviews from industry experts, including authors Sue Grafton and Sue Monk Kidd. Amazon.com customers select the Grand Prize Winner for 2009.

Exciting, no?

Well, considering that right now some reviewers could be reading my pitch after finding out about the death of loved ones or breaking up with their significant others...or being drunk out of their minds, I thought I'd share my pitch with you.

If nothing else, this will have come out of the contest. Uh, maybe I'm the one who needs the drink. Excuse me.


By blending the rich world-building of high fantasy with the edgy chick lit voice of its protagonist (seventeen-year-old Aryli), ANJIDIA modernizes the "hero[ine]'s quest" and makes it accessible to gossip girls and magic-obsessed muggles alike. It is coming-of-age, thriller, adventure, romance, and fairy tale all in one uniquely contemporary mythical journey.

There may be a smart-mouthed phoenix that cries healing tears, but she also acts as Aryli's metaphorical spirit guide and, when needed, as her "reality check" giver. There may be talking dragons that breathe fire, but they also discuss politics and make great personal sacrifices to support Aryli. And Aryli may fit the mold of a flawed, journeying heroine trying to win back her throne, but she also relates her story, her flaws, and her pain in a raw and accessible way unlike any other. And then there's the fact that she's literally incapable of harming any other living being, can talk to trees, ages years in mere days...

In this "golden age" of YA literature, teens are a consumer force to be reckoned with. The creation, and success, of imprints like Razorbill Books and HarperTEEN attests to that. But gone are the days of short, formulaic novels that underestimate readers.

Today's YA fans crave originality and savvy; think OCTAVIAN NOTHING: TRAITOR TO THE NATION and CRANK. They want stories that reflect their struggles (finding the right clique, figuring out who they are, and just trying to make it to graduation). But they long for stories that temper that reflection. ANJIDIA does just that through high fantasy and the struggles of Aryli (deciding if it's better to trust the inexplicably helpful man working for the enemy or the resentful fairy-tale creatures joining your cause, having total amnesia, and literally trying to save the world).

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