February 23, 2012

Amazon Breakthough Novel Contest Award

From my Mother, my first novel, made it through the first round in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest Award in the young adult fiction category.

To make it into the second round, manuscripts were evaluated on a written pitch of no more than 300 words. Here's what helped me get selected: 

For Nadia, an experienced marathoner, running is a quest for truth, her personal truth—helping her understand who she is and how she fits in the world. 

Things she has never understood about who she is, or could be, slowly but surely become verifiable and indisputable facts as she runs. By better understanding herself, she connects to the universe and mankind, and the eternal question: Why are we here? 

A brief and mysterious phone call by her maternal grandmother, Oma, gives the 40-year-old plenty of food for thought as she embarks on her biggest challenge yet, a 62-mile ultramarathon on Canada's West Coast.

Oma, now 94, reveals clues to a secret from the time she fled with her only child, a baby daughter, into the forest to seek shelter from the brutalities in the Second World War in Sudetenland, the part of Czechoslovakia annexed in 1938 by Germany. 

Her grandmother immigrated to the Netherlands in the early 1950s as a young widow, escaping Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of a Communist coup d'etat.

Though close to Oma while growing up in the Netherlands before moving overseas as an adult, Nadia reflects during the race on the hardships her grandmother endured and the impact it made on the way she lived. 

Realizing she knows far less about her roots than she always thought as the miles—and unexpected challenges that put her at odds with longtime boyfriend Tony—pass under her feet, Nadia also sees that the freedom she feels as she runs parallels the one her grandmother struggled so hard to find. 

Thinking about Oma's life helps Nadia gain perspective and courage as she recalls stories and clues of family lore to join them together in a full picture while the race unfolds.

Only 25 percent of the 1000 manuscripts will survive the next round to make it into the quarter final. Fingers crossed!

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