Last month, I entered one of my books into a free contest. The Test of True Love is my 2011 NaNo novel, has had a partial rewrite and at least three rounds of editing. My beta readers have all enjoyed the story, while I’ve enjoyed writing new stories following the family.
For the past four or five years, I’ve entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. It opens in late January, accepts 10,000 manuscripts, and the winner is offered a publishing contract, along with lots of money. I’d decided not to enter this year, convinced that my Christian Romance had no hope of rising to the top with all the other awesome stories that get submitted on a yearly basis.
I did drop by their chat boards and got my pitch for my book tweaked. Regardless of what I did with the story, a pitch to sell your story in 300 words or less is essential, but hard to do. I’d started on it this summer, got frustrated, and put it away. So I pulled it back out in late January and had the people on the pitch boards look at it, expecting them to find the same things wrong with it that they had issues with six months before. But instead, they LOVED it. My pitch was tweaked, but not shredded, as most of my pitches usually are.
What was more, I had my usual ABNA friends that I’d talked with every year, asking why I wasn’t entering. Then I learned that ABNA had changed the rules this year. They added different genres, and there would be a top winner in each genre. The grand prize winner would still be determined by popular vote, but the other top stories would also receive a smaller amount of money and a publishing contract. I looked up the rules at that point. I was stunned to find that Romance had its own genre this year. I entered the contest the next day.
ABNA has several rounds of judging. The first round is based solely on your pitch. Out of 10,000 contestants, 8,000 are eliminated in this phase alone. This year, the Top 400 in each genre would be moving on.
They released the lists last week of those who had survived the first cut. My name was on the list!
Sadly, many of my ABNA friends did not survive this cut, though they had awesome pitches. I’m not sure why theirs weren’t picked and mine was.
The next round of judging is based on the excerpt, your first 3,00-5,000 words of your manuscript. Judges are looking at it right now, and I won’t hear back until mid-March.
Here is my winning pitch. The links to my excerpt are below. I had to separate it into two different links. Feedback would be awesome.
Jasmine, the youngest princess of Wynster, has fallen for an unusual suitor. Instead of a prince, courtier, or nobleman, she has chosen Trevor – a peasant clergyman. But after accepting his faith as her own and realizing her feelings for the man, she is faced with a dilemma.
Trevor will not court her further without the blessing of her family. And the Queen will not consider just anyone to take her daughter’s hand. But Trevor’s outcries against the Queen’s unfair taxes will not improve his chances to gain her approval.
Jasmine’s plea for her suitor turns into an outburst against her mother where she crosses a forbidden line. The Queen orders her to recant her new faith and renounce her choice of husband. Jasmine refuses and is thrown in the dungeons until she obeys.
Despite the consequences, the princess refuses to recant. Then a new prisoner is placed below – Trevor. When he faces execution, the only hope of changing his sentence lies with facing the angry Queen.
THE TEST OF TRUE LOVE is a Christian Romance novel that follows Jasmine as she learns that love and forgiveness can set her free when nothing else can.