ABNA pitch

Posted on January 31, 2010 (Subscribe to Blog)

A few days ago I submitted Island of Fog to ABNA (the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition). I've been fretting over the pitch ever since.

The first round of the competition is all about the pitch, you see. Between February 8th-27th, reviewers have to read 5000 pitches in my category and whittle the list down to 2000. These first-round winners will be announced on February 27th.

The problem is, pitches are HARD to write, and the pitch for this competition is slightly different to the requirements when writing to, say, an agent or publisher. So I've done my best; hopefully it will work. The last line I'm still debating over, as it could backfire if the reviewers don't have a sense of humor.

Pitch for ISLAND OF FOG, entered into the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition

A lonely, foggy island is home to eight families. Twelve-year-old Hal and his friends have always wondered what happened all those years ago on the mainland, that unseen place Out There beyond the fog, and after an astonishing discovery in the woods the children are more determined than ever to find out what their parents are hiding. But their lives are turned upside down when Abigail reveals her closely guarded secret. According to her, the children are slowly changing into monsters! Are they freaks of nature, or subjects of a sinister experiment?

ISLAND OF FOG is a story of intrigue and conspiracy. The reader follows Hal Franklin as he struggles to accept that he and his friends are something more than ordinary children, and that their parents have been covering up the truth the whole time. With their trust shaken, the unexpected arrival of a strange woman from Out There convinces the children to hide their frightening shapeshifting abilities and pretend nothing is wrong . . . while digging for answers.

Written by a die-hard reader and collector of children's mystery, adventure and fantasy novels, ISLAND OF FOG is a 95,000 word novel aimed at young readers but suitable for all ages. Each child reacts differently to his or her unique monstrous transformation; after all, one may feel proud to be a dragon, faerie, or centaur, but who in their right mind wants to be a sadistic manticore or cowardly harpy?

Part of a trilogy, this story will be of particular interest to children experiencing secret monstrous transformations of their own.

I don't know. I just don't know. I really just don't know. I honestly really just don't know. I could write this a million ways and still not get it right for everyone. Even now I'm thinking I need to alter the "arrival of a stranger" line because there's a possibility this could read like it's the stranger herself who is convincing the children to keep their talents secret... So I'll continue to work on it. But if anyone has any suggestions in the meantime, let me know on or before February 7th, because I can only update my pitch before midnight on that day!

Comment by HEATHER on Sunday, January 31, 2010...

If it helps, I am a bit dubious about the last line too. You probably have to assume the person reading it doesn't have a sense of humour, rather than the other way around.

As far as rewording the arrival of a stranger line, you're right that it could be misread - especially since whoever is doing the reading will likely be wading through thousands of these things. Perhaps it could go something like this:

"With their trust shaken and the unexpected arrival of a strange woman from Out There, the children hide their frightening shapeshifting abilities and pretend nothing is wrong"

Otherwise I really like it. It summarises the book well without giving too much away, and I like the line about the children reacting differently.

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Sunday, January 31, 2010...

Coo, Heather, that's really good! I think I might use that exactly as written.

My dad also made a good suggestion (in an email) that the "Each child reacts differently" line should come before the "Written by a die-hard reader" line, which also got me thinking about the order of other bits. So, with the removal of the tongue-in-cheek comment, I think it could/should be more like this:

A lonely, foggy island is home to eight families. Twelve-year-old Hal and his friends have always wondered what happened all those years ago on the mainland, that unseen place Out There beyond the fog, and after an astonishing discovery in the woods the children are more determined than ever to find out what their parents are hiding. But their lives are turned upside down when Abigail reveals her closely guarded secret. According to her, the children are slowly changing into monsters! Are they freaks of nature, or subjects of a sinister experiment?

ISLAND OF FOG is a story of intrigue and conspiracy. The reader follows Hal Franklin as he struggles to accept that he and his friends are something more than ordinary children, and that their parents have been covering up the truth the whole time. Each child reacts differently to his or her unique monstrous transformation; after all, one may feel proud to be a dragon, faerie, or centaur, but who in their right mind wants to be a sadistic manticore or cowardly harpy?

With their trust shaken and the unexpected arrival of a strange woman from Out There, the children hide their frightening shapeshifting abilities and pretend nothing is wrong.

Written by a die-hard reader and collector of children's mystery, adventure and fantasy novels, ISLAND OF FOG is a 95,000 word novel with strong series potential, aimed at young readers but suitable for all ages.
Or, I could try this:
A lonely, foggy island is home to eight families. Twelve-year-old Hal and his friends have always wondered what happened all those years ago on the mainland, that unseen place Out There beyond the fog, and after an astonishing discovery in the woods the children are more determined than ever to find out what their parents are hiding. But their lives are turned upside down when Abigail reveals her closely guarded secret. According to her, the children are slowly changing into monsters! Are they freaks of nature, or subjects of a sinister experiment?

Each child reacts differently to his or her unique monstrous transformation; after all, one may feel proud to be a dragon, faerie, or centaur, but who in their right mind wants to be a sadistic manticore or cowardly harpy?

ISLAND OF FOG is a story of intrigue and conspiracy. The reader follows Hal Franklin as he struggles to accept that he and his friends are something more than ordinary children, and that their parents have been covering up the truth the whole time. With their trust shaken and the unexpected arrival of a strange woman from Out There, the children hide their frightening shapeshifting abilities and pretend nothing is wrong.

Written by a die-hard reader and collector of children's mystery, adventure and fantasy novels, ISLAND OF FOG is a 95,000 word novel with strong series potential, aimed at young readers but suitable for all ages.
More thoughts, anyone?

Comment by RALPH CORDEROY on Monday, February 1, 2010...

I certainly don't like the last para. of the first one. It seems to be saying this is a good book for children because they'll identify with the difficulties they're going through in life. That's not why I chose to read a book as a kid. :-)

Comment by ANONYMOUS on Monday, March 1, 2010...

You made it! Congratulations on making that first cut...

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