One of the benefits of participating in the ABNA and making through the quarter-finals, is getting a genuine Publishers Weekly review of your manuscript. If you are self-publishing, this is something that normally costs about $150 to submit, and it’s still sort of hit or miss as to when (or if) they will actually publish your review, so as a prize it’s a pretty cool deal even if one doesn’t make it to the final round.
So, even though the next round isn’t announced for another couple weeks, our PW reviews came in the other day. Judging by the amount of moaning and groaning in the various ABNA related forums, there were a lot that were fairly brutal. Even in cases (like mine) where the review was overall positive, it’s still one of those things that is more like a back-handed compliment in places, and trying to come up with a decent blurb out of it will likely take a bit of cut and paste.
The good news, is that it wasn’t a bad review… YAY!!!! There are even parts of it that are really encouraging, but the summary part is a bit funky in places – not that it’s necessarily wrong, just think it could have been phrased better. Also… I beg anyone to find a romance novel these days that doesn’t have cliches. I’m pretty sure that there are very few truly “never been done before” stories in any genre at this point. Personally (as a reader) I don’t care either way as long as I enjoy the characters and the actual storyline, which thankfully my review seems to have felt the same way (at least in some aspects)…
Set against the backdrop of Civil War Virginia, this absorbing novel has clear enough prose and charming characters to transcend it’s familiar plot devices such as Confederate-Yankee romance, a woman in drag, and tired sexual cliches: “Ry was flying. Nothing in her life had prepared her for the multitude of sensations that were flooding her body.” Rylee James, a young beauty with dead parents, is getting through the war, holding her home together with the help of her two devoted (and free) African American servants. She is counting the days until peace returns and her beloved brother Matthew can return home. When she learns that Matthew has been taken prisoner by Union troops stationed nearby, she hacks off her hair, binds her breasts, christens herself James Rylee and uses the medical know-how she learned from her father to talk her way into the Union camp. There she not only finds and helps her brother – she also falls in love with the sexy Union captain. The very real question of whether all the principals will make it through the war adds a bit of suspense to this engaging romance.
“Set against the backdrop of Civil War Virginia… clear prose and charming characters… this absorbing novel … transcends.”
” Engaging romance.”
As to what this actually means in terms of moving to the next round, I truly have no idea. The next round relies solely on the PW reviewer and the score that they compiled while doing that review, based on the following (1-5 points for each section)…
- Character development
- Originality of idea
- Overall strength of submission
Clearly I’m going to get dinged on “originality”, but hoping that the other ones might be at least fairly high scoring. But of course it will depend too on how the other entries do, so still a nail-biter till the end.
The thing too is that really the next round doesn’t really mean a whole lot, there’s no extra prize for it (other than the … hey I made it to the semi-finals blurb I could put on my book cover), it just narrows down the pool to the top 5 in each genre for the judges to pick the 5 finalists from (1 from each genre). I’m fairly certain (though it would be really cool if I was wrong), that I won’t make it all the way to being a finalist. But if I could make the top 5 that would still be awesome!!
Anyways… back to pulling my hair out waiting for the announcements. 😄