This Saturday, I finally (contest started back in June) took the plunge and entered the America’s Next Best Celler Contest, sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Textnovel.com. The purpose of the contest is to find “the next new voice in romance,” according to Dorchester’s site.
The contest will run until November 1, 2009. By then all entrants should have posted twenty chapters of their novel or a total of 6,000 words and the top 20 semifinalists will be chosen. On November 15, 2009, the top 10 finalists will be chosen. Finally, on January 31, 2010, the overall winner of the contest will be announced.
And the prize?
A guaranteed contract with Dorchester Publishing and a $2,000 prize. Not too bad a deal. And with the success of other voting-based contests, such as Gather.com’s First Chapters contests and Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel awards, it is certainly a positive step in the path toward publication for aspiring novelists. If nothing else, the contest will serve as a barometer for how viable a story is and will help the author build a following and readership.
Here's the short description I wrote for the introduction on Textnovel:
Athena Willoughby is a cynical gossip columnist with a passion for Jane Austen novels. So what happens when she wakes up one morning in Regency England, in a scene that could have come straight from one of her idol's books? She learns how gossip was spread in a time without the internet, of course!
Like many of my ideas, it was inspired by a simple phrase I read on Twitter, “What would Perez Hilton think of Catherine?” The question was followed by a link that to the site for a new book about Catherine de Medici. Well, of course, that phrase inspired the inevitable “what if” questions in me and it wasn’t long before an idea began to formulate.
What would happen if a modern day gossip blogger found herself in a time before the Internet, or even the television and radio? How would she get her gossip and, more important, how would she report it?
So, if you’d like to become a part of Athena’s misadventures in Austen’s world and follow me on my journey through the process, please check out my story and let me know how I’m doing. I would love to hear from you. For more on my reasons for entering the contest, you can read my post on Serializing the Novel. ~ Margay