Tuesday, March 24, 2009



By Pat Cunningham

I realize I’m being wayyy premature here, when I only just got picked for the quarterfinals in Amazon.com’s Breakthrough Novel contest and there are still at least three more rounds of judging and 499 other books between me and #1. However, I could be out by this time next month, so I thought it best to dole out the thank you’s now while I still had something to give thanks for. After all, I didn’t fare so well the last time I entered a writing contest …

That said, kudos to –

The Absolute Write website (
www.absolutewrite.com), where I do my most serious lurking. That’s where I learned about the ABNA contest to begin with. They’ve got forums on just about everything related to writing, from genre to sharing leads to market lists to how to write screenplays and greeting cards to which publishers and agents to avoid to how much money you can make writing for Harlequin to what happened on Lost last night. Pick any forum at random, read the posts, and I guarantee you’ll come away learning something, even if it’s just the words to The Andy Griffith Show theme song. Highly recommended.

World Wrestling EntertainmentHellblood is actually a spinoff of sorts from another book I wrote. That book was born when I started watching WWE pro wrestling and fell in love with one of the characters. I did a book to give him a better deal than he was getting on TV. The storyline had mutated drastically by the time I was finished and none of the “borrowed” WWE characters were recognizable any more, but most of the ideas, concepts and themes in Hellblood first appeared in that other book. I didn’t have to spend much time on world building because the heavy lifting was already done. Just goes to show that inspiration can come from anywhere, and no writing is ever wasted. (For the record, there are no wrestlers, disguised or otherwise, in Hellblood. Maybe I can work Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson into a sequel or something.)

The ABNA contest rules, for setting the minimum word count at 50,000 words. When American Title contacted me my manuscript was still in longhand. It wasn’t until I typed it up that I discovered I was nowhere near their minimum. Even if I hadn’t been voted off, I still would have been disqualified. After several rewrites, tweaks and padding it’s still barely 60,000 words. Will brevity hurt my chances? We’ll find out.

You guys, for cheerleading and providing the emotional support I don’t always get from my jealous writer friends. Yes, I’m going to drop them all when I’m rich and famous. But not you guys. You rule.

Finally, to the Chinese buffet where I’m going to celebrate selling my first novel, whether it’s this one or another one (I need the advance to pay the check). It would probably help if I wrote another one. Or several.

Oops, there’s the music cue, time to get off the stage and get back to work. The next cut, down to the top 100, is scheduled for April 15. I’ll keep you posted.

By the way, here’s how the top 500 broke down by category:

213 general literature
78 thriller/suspense
54 historical fiction
53 fantasy
46 mystery
35 science fiction
18 romance
3 Western

Best of luck to everyone, especially the authors of the Westerns. It’s not a very commercial genre right now.

Note: Pat, I read your entry. Hard-boiled Urban Fantasy ~ I thoroughly enjoyed, since I luv Buffy and I've always gotten a kick out of hard-boiled detective shows/movies.
And, there were some fascinating little synchronicities. Your Hellblood might not care for my Carnal Cherub, Volcano... uh-oh, the heavenly and hellish sparks might just fly. We'll have to keep them apart.
Okay, Andy Griffith is big in Gardenia, New Atlantis, a local hero, in fact.
Believe it or not, as I'm writing this I'm listening to Coast-to-Coast am, nighttime paranormal radio, and the bumper song was ~ Devil or angel... love me or leave me... whichever you are ... I need you, I need you...
Now, it's The Devil Went Down to Georgia... give the devil his due... Hell's broke loose in Georgia... maybe that's Hellblood broke loose and won on Amazon... ?


Savanna Kougar said...

Okay, the pic... he is intensely inspirational...

Lexie O'Neill said...

Best of luck! I was so excited about this contest last year. It gave me encouragement and then they wiped out all the romance. The fantasy fared better, so I'm crossing my fingers and toes for you!

Mel Hiers said...

Pat! Congrats on quarterfinaling! I'll head toward Amazon tonight after work to check it out!

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Who is that guy, and what's his address?

Evonne - If you're out there, Ithought you'd like to know the wrestler mentioned in the blog wore a mask. That was part of his appeal. The Mysterious, Silent Masked Man with the Tragic Back Story. Those were the qualities I gave to the character he inspired. The wrestler changed gimmicks a couple years back and no longer wears a mask. Let's just say he should have left it on.

Lexie and Mel - thanks for the support. I'm guessing Penguin will lean toward the genre books because genre is more commercial and they'll want to pick a book with half a chance of earning back the prize money. So maybe I've got a chance, even though I suspect a suspense/thriller or mystery will win. I should get to work on one of those for next year.


Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, I'm not sure who Mr. Inspiration is, but he's beloved by those in Paranormal-landia. I thought he did things for the mood of your story, Hellblood.

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, he could probably play the half-angel, semi-evil love interest, who doesn't show up until about Chapter 5. Just the thing to get a demon's blood boiling!


Savanna Kougar said...

Yep, boiling with bloodlust and with pure lust.