A friend encouraged me (and her other writer friends) to enter Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest this year, and since it only required ten minutes to paste the copy from my MOURNING BECOMES CASSANDRA cover and upload Chapter One, I went ahead and entered. Given my subject matter (churchgoing woman puts life back together when she moves in with friends and starts mentoring an at-risk teenager), I didn't expect to win--not by a long shot--but I was also unprepared for being eliminated before the Quarterfinals. The "Amazon Expert Reviewers" narrowed the Fiction field from 1000 entries to 250, and MBC was not among them. Why? Who knew?
Some of the fog lifted today, however, when I received the summaries from my two luck-of-the-draw Expert Reviewers. Reviewer #1 was rubbed mightily the wrong way (this is copied and pasted, so don't blame me for the spelling and punctuation):
ABNA Expert Reviewer
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?The despair of loosing one's husband and child to a horrific accident is well done and goes on just long enough for us to feel her depression and anguish.
What aspect needs the most work?The religion/church aspect is a bit of a turn off. While it may appeal to the same type of reader as the three ladies, constantly referring to those other than themselves as 'black sheep' because they have sex and themselves as 'white sheep' because they don't implies there is something wrong with and adult, an over 30 adult, engaging in relations. A bit judgmental.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?As the author stated, a bit like Sex in the City but without the sex. Far too many judgments about those who have a sex life. Many mentions of the three women's church ties is off putting and will turn off certain readers, while attracting those with similar feelings and bias. Polarizing characterization will limit sales.
The second reviewer was more positive (not difficult, considering) and actually wanted more details on Cass and her relation to church! I think reviewer #1 saw a lot more about sex in that chapter than I thought I put in, but, hey--I'm willing to believe that, in my subconscious, it's all sex all the time. Not to mention judging people for their sex lives because that's almost as fun as thinking about sex 24/7.
I'd write more about the contest, but thinking about y'all's sex lives and forming my negative opinions is a full-time job.