Amazon just announced the Quarter Finalists for their Breakthrough Novel Award and Hustled To The Altar made it into the next round!
I entered the contest on a lark, basically because Create Space sent me an email that said, "You're eligible and it's free because you published this book with us." Con, the hero, is fiercely competitive and has done well in contests for unpublished manuscripts (Golden Heart, American Title) so there didn't seem to be a downside to entering this one.
The first round was judged on pitch and I knew I had a killer set up with this story.
The day before her wedding, a reformed con artist teams up with her ex-lover to sting a professional swindler.
I know, right? I was confident the book would make the first cut. Overall, they took the top 2000 manuscripts from a maximum of 10,000 so the odds were pretty good.
I felt my chances were decent for getting to this second level, too. The stories were judged on the first five thousand words and the opening scenes of Hustled To The Altar contain some of my snappiest dialogue ever, plus it's polished to within an inch of its life.
Still, the judges had to narrow the field from 2000 to 500, approximately 100 in each category, so it's pretty thrilling to see my story make it through.
Now it becomes a nail-biter. From the contest FAQs:
Publishers Weekly editors will then read the Quarter-Finalists' full Manuscripts to rate and review them based on the following Judging Criteria: originality of idea, plot, prose/writing style; character development; and overall strength of submission.
Publishers Weekly.... (gulp!) ...full manuscripts... (gulp!)
And they're whittling that pile of five hundred down to twenty-five, over five categories. Basically, that's 5 books out of 100 that will advance to the next round.
You'll have to sweat right along with me until mid-April to find out whether Con and Renny fast-talk their way to the next level.
Meanwhile, here's what the judging reviewers had to say about the book so far:
"I enjoyed being drawn into the story and being entertained by their conversations. Dialog is always the big teaser in a romance situation. The author does this well and I enjoyed the banter between the guys, it makes for an unapologetic relationship between the two." "Characters are likable, easy to follow along but still part of a mystery. I would just even out the banter a bit more. Wouldn't change anything else!! The love triangle is super exciting and although we can see where it might be going, the ride looks fun as well!!"