Piers Anthony and Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Posted on January 26, 2010 (Subscribe to Blog)

Today I received two exciting emails and a great Facebook post. The first email came from Amazon.com, announcing their third annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. I don't often enter competitions, but this one is a must:

The third annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award has begun! The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award offers authors of unpublished or self-published English-language novels a chance to win one of two $15,000 publishing contracts with Penguin USA, and distribution of their novel on Amazon.com. For the first time, Amazon.com customers will vote for two grand prize winners: one for general fiction and one for the best young adult novel. The 2010 competition will now be open to novels that have been previously self-published. Submissions will be accepted from writers around the world through Feb. 7, 2010, or until 5,000 entries have been received in each category. The two grand prize winners will each receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.

You can be sure I'll be entering Island of Fog tomorrow!

The second email came from Piers Anthony, the New York Times bestselling fantasy author who I often name-drop about. Over Christmas I had sent him my second novel, Labyrinth of Fire, just out of courtesy because he enjoyed the first. I explained that he was in no way obligated to read it or even respond; I'd hate to be thought of as one of those annoying types who is always wanting something! So I wouldn't have been offended if he had thrown it away or just never replied.

But once again I was impressed. He not only wrote to say he'd received it, but that the book was next on his reading list. As it turned out he then wrote a few days later to say that a load of chores had come up, and that he would have to deal with those and come back to the book later. That was fine with me.

Today he wrote to say that he had finished reading it, and offered a really neat idea:

I read Labyrinth of Fire and will review it favorably in my FeBlueberry 2010 HiPiers column. Essentially, I love it, as I did Island of Fog. This is a hard-hitting imaginative story that held my interest. My main criticism is that starting with eight children, it is hard for the reader to track them all at first. I folded the corner of page 17 where they are all listed with their talents, and that helped. I think you should have a listing of them at the outset, perhaps on a separate page or on a bookmark, so that no reader need be confused. It is too good a novel to allow the reader to be confused at the beginning.

The bookmark idea in particular is brilliant! What better place for a checklist of characters? Better than thumbing to the front or back of the book. So I'll do that sometime, for sure.

So, after a review for Island of Fog in his July 2009 newsletter (second paragraph), now I'm going to get one for Labyrinth of Fire in the February 2010 newsletter. This is brilliant! I never would have thunk that someone so successful would a) find the time to read my books, and b) actually like them enough to review/recommend them. I'm feeling a little chuffed right now. :-)

While I'm in the self-congratulating mood, Heather in Australia was kind enough to report that she and her daughter had both finished the second book:

Both Ashley and I have finished reading Labyrinth of Fire now. I loved it! So much action going on the whole time, and it's so refreshing reading books that I don't have to mentally edit the whole way through. Loved the way the kids worked through problems and found solutions I never would have though of - there wasn't too much predictability. Ash liked it better than Island of Fog because it was "more exciting" - that's all I could get out of her. A book reviewer she is not :-)

Oh, and my parents seemed to like it too. My dad picked up a couple of very minor errors which I've corrected in the manuscript – which reminds me: If anyone spots a typo or error, please don't keep it to yourself. Let me know. I want to know.

Okay, enough ego-stroking. I'll shut up now.

Comment by BRIAN B on Thursday, January 28, 2010...

Happy for you mate!

I love that you use the word "chuffed"!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Friday, January 29, 2010...

It's a good word. Gotta retain some Britishness, right? :-)

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