On February 23, I think I hit “F5” on my laptop at least 1000 times between 8am and 11am. I would shut my eyes, hit the refresh button, peel them open slowly like a coffin lid and sigh. Not yet. The moment I was both dreading and anticipating was coming – The announcement of who will move the 2nd round of the 2012 Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
“Stop checking that site,” my wife, Anna scolded.
I’d go back to my daily work, stopping every 2-5 minutes to check the ABNA site. No results. I’d convince myself it’s just a dumb pageant like Lil’ Miss Bulimia 2012. Yeah, that was it. Even if I didn’t place it just meant that my work was just too ‘real’ for the judges.
It was worse than trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve as a child. I knew Santa Claus wasn’t real, but I almost ruptured with hope that something awesome was waiting under the polyester Christmas tree. Or maybe it would be slacks and socks.
I continued to work and I received and was distracted by a few urgent client emails that needed attention. 11:00 rolled around and I made a hasty lunch and dressed for the dreaded paying job. Before heading out around 11:15, I checked the ABNA site again. I’d rather not receive bad news at work. I’m an intolerable pisspot already. I didn’t want to play the bitter writer incarcerated and undiscovered in his gray cubicle.
I hit F5. On the ABNA site new text appeared: “Announcing 2,000 Second Round Entrants.” With trembling fingers, I clicked the link for the young adult entrants. It’s just a silly contest. I scrolled down the endless list, passing hundreds of promising titles.
Then I saw this:
I think I danced like this:
I made it to the 2nd Round, but this is no video game. I’m against writers who have worked, sacrificed, revised, fretted, expired as hard as me and some even harder. I’m ecstatic that I made the first cut, but next I’m up against the toughest judges ever: readers. Amazon customers will be able to download, and vote on a 5,000 word excerpt of Rapture Express. I never play readers for fools and it’s going to be a hundredfold harder to keep from reading the public comments. Those who will move the 2nd round will be announced on March 23rd. I’ll be sure to stock up on Xanax by then.
And I’m issuing a full-automatic round of thanks to Alex Hughes who helped me fine tune my pitch and edit Rapture Express. Alex was a semi-finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, which earned her notice and a 2 book deal. Her dystopian thriller Clean will be out September 2012.
To my fellow ABNA competitors, good luck and keep writing.