Thursday, May 3, 2012

My book "Blue Car Racer" made it to ABNA semi-finals!!

So I know I don't write enough on here, but usually I'm so swamped with work and trying in vain to squeeze out bits of writing I'll actually be satisfied with lately, I either don't have the time...or I forget about Blogger completely. Sometimes I do that, and it's admittedly not something I'm proud of.

However, this time I do actually have some good news! I feel like such a cheapskate for copying this from my Tumblr, but unfortunately I use that much more than my blog here because Tumblr is simply more entertaining and easier to use. Sorry, Blogger =/ I don't think I even mentioned that I entered my book Blue Car Racer into Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (ABNA), but I did. And I'm increasingly glad I did, because I'm now one of 50 semifinalists culled from 1,000 manuscripts in the Young Adult category, and this is only my first year doing this. In case you don't know, the winner of the contest gets a publishing contract with Penguin Books and a $15,000 advance against future royalties. I'm sure those with bad experience in traditional publishing would balk and/or question such a deal, but for where I'm at in my life right now, this would really be a blessing.

Admittedly, I decided to give it a shot based on a whim. So I spent a whole morning crafting my pitch and perfecting things as much as I could, and I'm surprised I actually made it this far in the contest. My family tells me I shouldn't be because they think my writing is amazing, but of course I generally disagree. I never thought Blue Car Racer was a particularly strong manuscript, though I'm glad some people believe otherwise. It's really given me renewed confidence in myself =) Anyway, I'll just cut to the chase now and let you read my re-post from Tumblr.

I’ve honestly never felt so blessed in my life. During this contest, at the end of which the winner receives a publishing deal with Penguin Books and a $15,000 advance, I’ve been both nervous and excited, as well as feeling somewhat unworthy of such praise. But I’m extremely proud of myself for taking this chance, and I just want to say the following.

To those who have made the cut, congratulations and I wish you the best of luck. To those who didn’t, please don’t give up on your literary dreams! The opinions of one critic may differ quite substantially from another, so keep doing your very best and I have faith that you’ll get to where you want to be. You owe it to yourself to never give up =) And I fully intend on reading some of the novels that didn’t make it. You all have so much talent. Please keep writing, and I’ll definitely be reading!

And now, I want to share with everyone the Publishers Weekly review of my manuscript:

“Few young adult novels manage to convey an adult sense of the contradictions of the real world while remaining grounded in a teenage sensibility, but this manuscript accomplishes this delicate feat with skill and plausibility. Colin Dirk’s first day of high school recalls the sting of being an outsider during adolescence. Hounded by the class bully, Aaron Kinkirk, Aaron’s half-brother, Luke, and buddies Eric, Jonny, and Matt, Colin is wondering how he is going to survive the year. Then, unexpectedly, Eric, his former tormentor, defies Aaron and seeks to befriend Colin. Up to this point, Colin’s only friends are the memory of his dead father, a soldier killed in Iraq, the blue Hot Wheels car that was his father’s last gift to him, his mother, and the occasional sympathetic teacher. Colin is excited and needy, but wary. Why him? The answer that plays itself out over the next 300 pages is as complicated and incestuous as life in a small working class town in Montana can be. Colin’s world is fully realized in this novel, and by the time the reader completes Colin’s bus ride to school he has the full sense of being trapped by youth and circumstance. Colin’s days are a maze of evading bullies, teachers, and school administrators. Colin’s tormentors also have tangled private lives, which provoke them to sadistic acts worthy of the “Lord of the Flies,” and yet these are performed almost reluctantly in a desperate attempt to rid themselves of their demons. Nicely done.”

I’m so excited! Even if I don’t make it, I’m definitely not quitting what I love to do, and I certainly won’t be disappointed. I’ve come a long way, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

So have the rest of you, for that matter. We take a risk in putting our work out there for people to read, but just having that courage makes you strong.

Again, all the best of luck to everyone. Never stop sharing your stories, hearts, and minds with the world =)