The Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers are pleased to welcome Liz Lipperman to our blog. Liz is a chapter mate of mine (Dallas Area Romance Authors) and a huge support to me and Mary Marvella on our Goals loop (headed by Amy Atwell). If you want more information on the goals loop, let me (ArkansasCyndi) or Mary know and we'll get you hooked up. Take it away, Liz!


First off, I want to thank Cyndi and the rest of the girls at TPFS for inviting me to talk about the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. When I heard it mentioned on a loop the early part of February, I decided to give it a shot since I was in a funk after having rushed through a manuscript to enter in this year’s GH.

Let me stop right here and say up front - I hate contests! I have never had much luck with them since I write Women’s Fiction. Until a few years ago, this genre didn’t exist, or at least it wasn’t addressed. Those of us who write it have always had to enter Single Title which still carries with it a lot of romance mindset and genre rules. (Hero and heroine meeting in the first chapter, sexual tension right up front, etc.) Judges either hated my writing or they loved it. Usually, I got one of each, and I never finaled. Two years ago, I entered a Colombia story in the GH in the new category, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements (NSRE), happy I had finally found my home. Imagine my chagrin when I received scores of 9, 9, 8, 7, and 4. The 4 judge said it wasn’t a romance despite the synopsis that detailed the strong romance that played out and ended in a marriage.

That’s when I vowed NEVER to enter another contest again.

At the encouragement of my agent, I broke my rule and entered the GH. Her motive was to get me to finish a ghost story she loved. So, I did, wondering what had I been smoking.

I only mention this to let you know where my mind was when I entered the ABNA. It was free, so I thought what the heck. I had a week to get my entry ready since it required a pitch, a bio and a short synopsis. Never having written a short synopsis and hesitant to sing my own praises, it was a challenge. I forgot about it until the day they were supposed to announce the quarterfinalists – March 16th.

I was nuts that whole day, checking the Amazon site at least every ten minutes. Finally at midnight, I went to bed, but when I woke up at 3:30 am, I HAD to check. Sure enough, there was an email from Amazon time stamped 12:30 am.

Now here’s where it gets spooky. TALK DEAD TO ME is a story about four sisters who come together for the funeral of the fifth sister, fashioned after my own relationship with my four sisters, one of whom is dead. The dead woman has been a loner all her life and she and the heroine have been estranged for over nine years. At the funeral home, the dead woman appears to the heroine to convince her to help her find her killer. I’ll spare you the details except to say, TDTM is a story about starting over, healing relationships, murder and mayhem. I made my ghost a wise-cracking, potty mouthed woman (nothing like my real sister) who adds humor to the mix.

I sent out emails to all my relatives and told them to read the excerpt. I can’t tell you the chills I got when my nephew commented about how appropriate that I found out on the day his mother, my sister, had died twelve years earlier. I swear to you, in that moment when I realized he was right, I knew Theresa, my sister, had a hand in this. Knew she must have hexed the two people who reviewed my entry and bullied them into choosing it.

Anyway, I was supposed to be talking about how ABNA works. Out of 10 thousand entries, Amazon reviewers chose 500. Until April 14th, the excerpts are posted on Amazon as a free download. Mine is (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001UG3BYK,) Publishers Weekly will review the fulls of all 500 entries and will post their scores. Then Penguin will use that, the original scores and reviews of the second round reviewers and the input from the reviews on Amazon to come up with 100 semi finalists whose names will be posted on April 15th. Penguin will read the 100 fulls and pick three finalists. At that time, Amazon customers will be allowed to download a longer excerpt and like American Idol, you get to pick the winner. Of course, Penguin has the right not to publish and award a cash prize instead.

So, that’s how it works. I’ve read the threads from last year’s top 10, and they all agree, the reviews probably mean nothing. Penguin will be looking at the PW reviews and scores. It is really fun, though, to see my excerpt with author after my name.

Oh, congrats to everyone who made the finals of the GH. I didn’t. Where was that damn ghost when I needed her??


I’d love to hear any spooky stories you’re willing to share as well as your comments. I’ll let the TPFS girls pick one, and the prize will be a copy of The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham. This is one of my favorite books, but somehow, I ended up with two copies.

Thanks for listening to me babble on.


Thanks for visiting Liz. You're always welcome at Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers!

31 comments

  1. Arkansas Cyndi // March 26, 2009 at 10:05 AM  

    Liz - thanks for visiting with us today. I read your entry and really loved it. I know the competition was rough to even get this far so congratulations on that accomplishment. Now, on to the finals!

  2. Nightingale // March 26, 2009 at 10:17 AM  

    I was a semi-finalist last year and I know the feelings you describe. Your ghost story sounds fabulous. I'll go out and give it a read. But I agree the personal reviews don't really influence the winners. Best of luck Liz. We've got our fingers crossed for you.

  3. chris k // March 26, 2009 at 10:22 AM  

    Of all the contests to change your luck - you went straight to the top!! lol.

    Talk Dead to Me is a great read and clearly the Amazon judges saw that.

    I'll be tapping my toes beside you waiting for the next announcement.

  4. magolla // March 26, 2009 at 10:23 AM  

    I loved your story, Liz!
    Good luck in April!

  5. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 11:30 AM  

    Cyndi, I appreciate your offer to come here and "brag". Even though the reviews are probably meaningless, I love that people are reading my story.

    Thanks again. I'll buy you a drink at Dreamin' in Dallas next weekend.

  6. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 11:32 AM  

    Nightingale, congrats on making the semifinals last year. I'd love to pick your brain about it.

    I'm curious if it helped in any way getting somebody's attention out there.

  7. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 11:35 AM  

    Hey, Chris K, good to see you here. Thanks for the encouraging words, You know how much I value your opinion of my writing.

    Chris reads all my fulls after they are edited (and I read hers). She's not so shabby herself.

  8. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 11:38 AM  

    Margaret, thanks for the nice words. I love your children's stories, too.

    Hey guys, where are the spooky stories??

  9. Sylvia Rochester // March 26, 2009 at 12:26 PM  

    Liz, I have a couple of ghost stories, but they're too long to tell. I'll share them with you another time. I just want to say you're a terrific writer. I absolutely love your story and can't wait to read the entire book. It can't help but get published.
    Sylvia

  10. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 12:53 PM  

    Wow! this is turning into the "rah rah" section for me. had I know this would happen, I would have written blogs a long time ago!! Thanks for the nice words, Sylvia. Coming from an EPIC winner, it means a lot.

    Seriously, I do want to hear the ghost stories. And Cyndi, didn't you go to a ghost town or something a while back? Or was that Mary?

    I do have another story about my sister. Before she died, she told me a secret that none of my other sisters knew. I shared it with my younger sister who was always my best friend so she could understand why Theresa acted the way she did this one certain day. I swear to you, my lights dimmed just as I broke her confidence on the phone that day. I never told anyone else!

  11. Mona Risk // March 26, 2009 at 12:55 PM  

    Liz welcome to the PFS. What an interesting story. Wishing you best of luck in the finals.

  12. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 12:59 PM  

    Thanks, Mona. You probably don't remember but I met you two years ago at the HeartBeat luncheon in Dallas.

    Since then you have had two(or is it three) books published. Congrats on those, BTW.

  13. Mary Marvella // March 26, 2009 at 1:41 PM  

    Hey, Liz! I'm glad Cyndi had the great idea to have you visit us. Yes, you are an excellent writer, a funny one, too. I'll post my review soon. Gotta review a few pubbed books to give my review credibility.

    I know several of us have eerie ghost stories.

    I did a ghost tour a while back but it wasn't very exciting. (Big grin)

  14. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 4:01 PM  

    Hey, Mary, I remember when you went to that haunted house. One day I would love to hear all about it.

    Thanks for the look-see of TDTM.

    I'm off to the dentist, so I'll comment when I get back.

    Okay, apparently this didn't go through. I'm back!

  15. Cyrano // March 26, 2009 at 4:05 PM  

    Liz it's so nice to hear from you on PFSW. And what a great contest to change your luck!
    Your Ghost story, Talk Dead to Me (love the title by the way) sounds fantastic. Can't wait to give it a read.
    Have a lovely evening.
    Happy writing,
    Tamara

  16. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

    Tamera, thanks for commenting and for taking a look at my story.

    Maybe you'll be lucky and win the book I'm giving away. It's an oldie but a goody and well worth the read.

  17. Mary Ricksen // March 26, 2009 at 6:57 PM  

    Thanks so much for a great blog Liz. And if fate made you change your mind and decide to enter this contest, then maybe your talent along with fate will make you win.
    I wish you the very best of luck!!
    By the way you deserve the rah, rah!

  18. Edie // March 26, 2009 at 7:23 PM  

    Liz, I enjoyed your contest story. I read a lot of WF, and I would love it if your story finals. I'm keeping everything crossed!

  19. Mona Risk // March 26, 2009 at 7:41 PM  

    Liz, now I remember you. Gosh, my memory is going down the drain. Thanks for the kuddos on my books, two out, the third coming in July.

  20. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 7:44 PM  

    Mary, I don't personally know you, but I'm pretty sure I'm safe saying you're sweet. Thanks for having me here.

    Edie, I personally know how sweet you are. And Edie's being modest and not mentioning that she was in the final four of the American Title contest and Dorchestor has that full. Fingers crossed for you, too.

  21. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 7:46 PM  

    Mona, they call it CRS. Can't remember #$%^! I have it, too.

    Congrats on the new book.

  22. Nancy // March 26, 2009 at 8:27 PM  

    Liz! I thought your story was wonderful and wanted more. On the spot! Huge congrats on taking the leap, and you KNOW I'll do a dance on the beach for you. I'll have a whole beach party when you win!

    Light,
    Nancy Haddock

  23. Liz L. // March 26, 2009 at 9:24 PM  

    Hey, Nancy, you get around! Thanks for your kind words a third time and for the great review you left.

    Sorry we'll miss you next week at Dreamin' in Dallas.

  24. Scarlet Pumpernickel // March 26, 2009 at 11:26 PM  

    Great interview! I knew nothing of this contest! Maybe I'll think of entering next year. Love ghost stories. Yours sound intriguing. Bet you had fun with it. Thanks for visiting the Fuzzies.

    Scarlet

  25. Liz L. // March 27, 2009 at 12:02 AM  

    Scarlet, for sure you should consider entering next year. I still haven't come done from the high of seeing my name on Amazon. You can go to the main page, type in my name, do a search, and my excerpt comes up. How cool is that?

    Thanks to all the Fuzzies for having me.

    Cyndi, let me know who wins the book.

    OMG! Another spooky thing just happened. My ghost's name is Tessa. My sister's name was Theresa but we called her Tessie. The word verification for this comment it "tesse". She really is here with me.

  26. Mary Marvella // March 27, 2009 at 12:11 AM  

    Okay, Liz, now that's weird!

  27. Liz L. // March 27, 2009 at 12:23 AM  

    Mary, I know. I couldn't believe it.

    You and I must be the only ones up this late. All the young un's went to bed!!

  28. Beth Trissel // March 27, 2009 at 12:53 PM  

    Liz, this is a fascinating post. wow.

  29. Donna Caubarreaux // March 27, 2009 at 1:00 PM  

    I live in a house that was built about eighty years ago. My son has always said there is a ghost on this side of the house. (We built on to the house.)

    My bedroom is in the old part, and every now and then, I hear a footstep, or think I see something out of the corner of my eye when the door is open.

    On the property, we dug up land for a small pond addition. Two feet down, I found a Civil War shell. So....who knows.

    We call the ghost Clarence.

    It's spooky about the date...your sister is trying to tell you something. At least she's rooting for you!!!

    And so am I, I hope you get a publishing contract out of this.

  30. Liz L. // March 27, 2009 at 4:11 PM  

    Thanks, Beth. I'm still a little freaked out about what happened last night.

    Donna, I am becoming a believer. I wonder what Clarence is trying to tell you. Do you know the history of your house? It might be interesting to find out if you don't. And thanks for that great review of my story. You guys are the best.

  31. Judy // March 28, 2009 at 4:00 PM  

    Thanks so much for visiting our group. Loved your story! I agree contests are the pits in many ways. But I have to admit I've learned a whole lot about writing from the good, the bad, the ugly sides of them. Good luck with your ghost story! it sounds wonderful!