So you can read my books

Sunday, January 13, 2013




     A. Of late, ABNA has come down with a bad case of AMERICAN IDOL-itis

         At some point in the selection, our entries can be voted on by Amazon's "readers"  -- ouch!

         With the popularity of AMERICAN IDOL, it seems a great many readers can't wait to parade their
         rapier wit at the expense of validity or accuracy of the prose assaulted.

     B. The judges even seem all too often to fall prey to that temptation or perhaps they are swamped with
          a tidal wave of entries to judge, reading only the first page or so.


     A. Last time, I told you how to write a winning PITCH, now for how to write a winning EXCERPT:


          Excerpts from each novel will be read, reviewed and rated by Amazon editors and top reviewers.

 They will be judged on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent)
 based on the excerpt's overall:
  Prose Style,
  Hook and 
  Originality of the excerpt

III. You have ONLY THE FIRST PAGE to exhibit quality in those 5 areas.

     A. Actually, if your 1st paragraph doesn't impress the judge, she/he will reject you.

     B. Remember she/he has hundreds of 5,000 word entries to read (you know no one is going to
          submit just 3,000 words.)

     C. BUT if your first 250 words do not make her sit up with happy surprise, the rest of your words
          will go unread.

     D. Polish each sentence as if that is the only one the judge will read, for that very well may be the case!

     E. Read each sentence aloud for the music and rhythm of it.  Then, read the 1st paragraph for the
          same thing.

     F. LOOK at the first page through the bleary, tired eyes of a judge:

            1.) Is the page filled with clunky paragraphs with little white space?

            2.) Is the page inviting to tired eyes with lots of white space and short sentences?

     G. Does it END and BEGIN with a hook?

     H. Will the judge feel that it is a fresh look at your genre?

     I. Will the judge feel that a browser will feel driven to read more?

     J. Does your first page contain a quotable line, something a reader will burn to share with a friend?

     I hope this helps in some small way, friends.

                                 And here is my first page:


           CHAPTER ONE



A kid shouldn't be taking this many bus trips alone. I smiled so bitter it tasted of salt. Who was I kidding? "Alone" was the story of my life.

Alone didn’t necessarily mean lonely, mind you.  I was hardly ever that.  People trying to kill you most every day kept things from becoming boring.  I studied the faces of the people on the bus with me.  Not every enemy I made tried to kill me in person.  The more successful types wouldn’t dirty their hands with a bottom feeder like me.  They sent their flunkies.

But killers all had that owned look.  They tried to lie to themselves about how free they were, how above it all they were.  But they were under the thumb of their need to kill, to please their boss, or to pay for their next fix.

Most adults like to think they’ve dumped their past behind them.  They polish the buttons of their adult uniforms, firm in the belief that all the ugly baggage is gone.  But everyone has luggage of fears and regrets trailing them, waiting for some dark night for that knock on the door demanding postage due.

Except for me.  I was a gypsy.  No baggage allowed.

I scowled at my vivid imagination.  It was my best friend, but it was also my worst enemy.  Imagination could be either good or bad. Leonardo imagined great paintings into existence. Hitler imagined death camps and built them. Imagination was so powerful that you had to be careful because you could imagine things into existence that you might regret later on.  Everything in the universe was an idea before it was real. 

And some ideas kill.
Neil Gaiman's lost the friend who taught him how to love again. Keep him in your best thoughts. The next few days will be hard

I know:



  1. Good Luck, Roland, with your entry. You and Victor deserve some notice.

    I dislike that idea of Idol-izing, though. Must everything be a cattle-call? (that's what the actors call it when agencies ask everyone to submit their talent).

  2. D.G.:
    Thanks! Victor seems to think a centerfold of Alice would get the book some notice. Alice smacked him in the shin. He's still limping!

    Yes, the glee of the poison pens of some reviewers sadden me. I can only pray that The Father guides my entry. Thanks again for the well wishes. Sam tips his Stetson your way with a wink! :-)

  3. Good luck Dude. I'm sitting it out. It was fun the first year, but I know my writing isn't stellar, and some of those whinny commenters gritted on my nerves.


  4. Donna:
    I can't blame you. I never read the comments on my ABNA entries.

    Sandra, who worked with Kinsey on his two books and traded jibes with Kurt Vonnegut is my touchstone for my fiction.

    She doesn't cut me any slack on my prose and if she approves a book like she does LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH, it doesn't matter what swipes I get from unknowns.

    And your prose is excellent. Don't put yourself down. That's for family to do! :-)

    Have a great new week, Roland

  5. I've been following from afar (a really far far far afar! LOL!) this ABNA contest and it continues to sound utterly daunting and with the added "popularity vote" it now just seems totally beyond frightening! Oh well!! GOOD LUCK you brave soul!!!

    Victor lives! Yay! take care

  6. I think you're going to rock with that opening, Roland!

  7. I entered two years ago. I got by the first round fine, but the second round was a joke. One reviewer really liked my excerpt and wanted more...the other made lots of comments that showed he or she hadn't even read it, with blatantly wrong details.

  8. Kitty:
    I hear you! LOL! The prizes are enticing me. The slaned, petty reviews that sometimes fire away at you are daunting until I remember it isn't what they call you. It's what you answer to that counts!

    Thanks for visiting this weary blood courier when time refuses to let me visit my friends.

    Say a prayer that I do. But Victor will only claim all the credit -- he is such a humble soul! :-)

    Thanks for having confidence in me.

    Your treatment was the same as mine two years ago. It smarted until Sandra reminded me that uufounded criticism said more about the speaker (or writer) than the one being assaulted with lies.

    Try again. You may score a win this time. You will never know if you do not try. I am in your corner.

    Thanks for visiting, old friend!

  9. Hi, Roland,

    Glad to see you took up the banner for ABNA this year. Thanks. I just didn't have the energy or frankly the interest.

    I might sneak in and see what happens. If I get through fine, if not, rolls eyes, I will make it another way. I haven't had the best reviews in the past, and I don't want to deal with drivel again.

    GOOD LUCK my friend. You and VIctor deserve a space in the literary world!

  10. Michael:
    Please sneak in. We'll be shadow-ninja's in the trenches! :-)

    I hold out no hope for winning. The mean-spiritedness is already starting in the forums. Sigh. But there are also kind hearts this time as well.

    Alice, like you, feels Victor deserves a space in the literary world. She is talking to Elu about visiting some of those razor-tongued commentors in the night.

    A ghoul needs a midnight snack, you know! LOL!

  11. Best of luck to you with your entry!! Your first 250 screams VOICE, VOICE, VOICE! Well done. :)

  12. Candy:
    Thanks so much. Victor, of course, is sure he will win. Hubris is his middle name! :-)