Saturday, January 19, 2008

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest

I can't recall which topic it was, where someone was thanking me for recommending other books I liked. I'll be putting up an addendum to the Methadone List on my website next week--a short list entitled "Violent Wee Buggers" (these being a group of Scottish and Irish novelists whose work I adore--but they do tend to be both violent and grim (while also being intermittently hilarious and/or poetic about it)).

Anyway, whilst composing this list, I got an email from a Scottish friend, also a writer, but not yet published, telling me that his book, SLEEPING WITH RACHEL, had reached the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest (about which I know nothing, though I've been hearing about it for weeks, a number of my friends having entered it). This was great news, of course--and he wanted to ask if I might go look at the brief excerpt of the book that's posted online, and leave a quick review.

I was happy to do that (in fact, I've read the whole manuscript, and think it's _very_ good)--but thought I'd also tell you guys about it, in case you should be in the mood. It's a modern novel, set in Scotland, and I don't know quite what you'd call it--it has mystery, long-buried secrets, famil dysfunction, and a lot of sexual tension [g]--but it's beautifully written. Anyway, if you _should_ feel the urge, it's at

And should you feel inclined to leave a review--David and I both thank you!


  1. Thanks Diana,

    Sleeping With Rachel short was really good. Your friend is talented. I will keep this on my list of books that I have to buy when they come out.

  2. Off to read the excerpt...

    Diana, I must let you know that I have never before been interested in any one's blogging. But I find myself checking here daily (sometimes twice) to see what you have to say. I'm not sure whether to thank you or curse you. :)

    (btw, I just finished "Brotherhood" and "Hand" in quick succession and wanted to say thanks for giving us more insight to Lord John.)

  3. Hi Diana,

    I'm always pleased when major authors take the time to read (and reveiw) new writers. It gives us newbie authors hope that with an endorsement from someone such as yourself, our books may actually get read. And with any luck at all, we will garner our own fan base. Thanks for taking the time!

    btw, your stories are what got me interested in writing. Thanks again!

  4. Hi Diana,

    Thank you for your generous support of my novel. If anyone else likes it please add a short review, as the competition is based upon reviews the sample has generated. There is also a prize for the best overall review if you had time for a more extensive (and hopefully complimentary!) review.

    Thank you,
    David Stanley

  5. Diana...I know, I know, I said I wouldn't blog any more, but I failed to realize how strong my addiction is. I just read your comments on "Amazon Breadthrough Novel Contest". I think I was the one who thanked you for recommending other authors (at least one of them anyway). And I thank you again. You could not have described the true Irish author any better(grim, violent, hilarious, and poetic). Frank McCourt comes to mind. Know wonder my ancestors immigrated to this country. Religion, politic. and superstition defined these people. Although I'm partial to historical fiction I will read about anything. Unfortunately I have been burnt a few times buying books that throw out the words; Scottish Highlander, Irish Rogue,the dark English Lord, so on and so on. You could put any ethnic race in these books and come out with the same story. When you recommended other authors I jumped on them. I trust your judgment completely. I even had to order books from the UK. Could not find them in the US. Beware of the currency change. You could be paying more than the orginial price, Depending how the pound and the dollar rates are on that particular day. I read the excerpt(Sleeping with Rachel}. Hope this author gets published. Can't wait. By the way do you ever sleep? I noticed the times you answer the blogs.

  6. I cringe every time I reread my comments. My spelling and typing are not the best. Just bear with me (pretend I'm speaking in Gaelic). I promise I'll try to get better.

  7. Diana:

    Read the excerpt by David and found it mesmerizing. This is very much a story I would purchase and enjoy reading -- please keep us informed should he get published.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

  8. Read and reviewed. Thanks for the link, Diana. This was a great blurb...the only problem I have now is that I have no clue what happens. Ah well, perhaps David's story will win and all of us lowly readers will be able to see how his story unfolds.

    Oh and sharaf, just an FYI for you...if you download Mozilla's latest version, a spell check comes along with it. I feel your spelling is atrocious!

    Thanks again, Diana.

  9. Hi,

    If you have read my chapter and like it be sure to post a review - it is how the competition works and I need all the support I can get! I have set up a blog at which I will update as things progress and where I can be contacted.

    In the meantime, I'd like to thank you all for taking the time to read my chapter and for giving such great feedback.

    Best wishes,

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I just wanted to say that I read the short, Sleeping With Rachel and I was drawn in immediatly to David's writing style. Good luck with the contest!

  12. If someone were interested in winning an award in this competition, looks like romance is the category to go for - only 36 entries compared to the larger numbers in other categories. Wonder why this is? Some sort of stigma attached to romance?

  13. Killen: This is just my opinion, but I think there is a stigma attached to romance novels. So many have been churned out you feel you have read the same thing over and over again. You can only read so many passages about voluptuous, creamy, thrusting and don't forget about heaving. It takes a really imaginative writer to over come this stigma. I will read Susan Elizabeth Phillips books because she at least has wit and humor in them even though they are predictable in the end. I do need a good romance novel to offset the gritty Irish authors. That's why I liked the Outlander series, they have everything and they make me want to keep the books and read them over again.

  14. Sharaf said:
    Killen: This is just my opinion, but I think there is a stigma attached to romance novels. So many have been churned out you feel you have read the same thing over and over again. You can only read so many passages about voluptuous, creamy, thrusting and don't forget about heaving.

    I think there must be more to romance writing that soft porn. I'm thinking of Rosamund Pilcher, Maeve Binchy, and Mary Stewart, all writers who sell well without steamy sex. I think DG said it best that sex should reveal character. Good writing is good writing in any genre.

    I can remember when sci-fi and fantasy were considered by snobs to be pulp fiction. Now some of the best writers I have ever read are working in genre fiction.

  15. Kilian:

    After reading your comments about there being so few entries in the Romance section of the ABNC, I went to it and checked it out. I even downloaded a few from the selections offered. I will state openly and honestly that: I Have Read Romances. There, I did it.

    Now, as we all know, not all Romances are created equal. I have read some so poorly written that I actually threw them away and didn't even bother to recycle them. (Ouch) I have read some strictly to get hot and bothered as a prelude to private fun with the old DH. *VSatisfiedG* Then, much to my delight, I have read some that were entertaining, where I laughed and cried along with the characters, and they have found a place in my permanent collection. I defy anyone (are your listening, Mom?) to make snarky comments.

    I agree that there is a stigma attached to Romances. It is MHO that Romance readers are viewed as (in any combination of the following): bored; spoiled; unintelligent; fat and lazy; deprived of stimulation, both intellectually and sexually; married too long; man-eaters.... I could go on but to what purpose?

    Again, IMHO, all genres serve a purpose, and in those categories are noteworthy authors, talented ones, not-so-skilled writers, and the weekend warriors.

    On a final note, I have enjoyed the varied approaches Diana has taken in writing her sex scenes, some being a bit more graphic than others, but always written with restraint and purpose -- never gratuitous. And the fascinating thing about them is they depict the on-going relationship of a long married couple.

    So, possibly, other authors write their stories' sexcapades vividly, down to the last bit of heaving, moist tumescence, because they have only one story, one chance to tell it, and they have to capture the attention of readers in a glutted market.

  16. Merrymags--

    Man, I could talk about writing sex scenes. [g] And often do, at writers conferences and the like.

    One reason why romance novels get a bad rap is not that they're any worse written (as a whole) than any other genre; it's because bad writing about elves or submarines is just boring. Bad writing about sex is HILARIOUS. Ergo, people open a sub-par romance novel, hit one of the Tab A in Slot B scenes, and can't resist reading it aloud to a crowd of roaring friends (amongst whom are doubtless a few romance readers, but who sure aren't going to admit it after _that_).

    Well, I'm not going to talk about sex scenes in any detail here--too busy today, but I may get to it later in the week--but I will note two things:

    Romance novels aren't the only books that contain sex scenes, by a long shot. And

    A _good_ sex scene involves the exchange of emotions, not body fluids. That's why they're difficult to do well--a sex scene is (or ideally should be) simply a scene of dialogue, with physical underpainting.

  17. Diana, oh Diana:

    You are right. No argument from me.

    One of my favorite scenes of all time is when Claire picks-up the pirate romance in the doctor's lounge (wasn't it?) and begins to read of the, "teasing of her membrane...." I'm sorry, I'm laughing so hard I can't exactly recall the words.

    I do hope you get to the sex discussion soon. Some of the most hypnotic, scintillating sex scenes I've read were far from the Romance genre. It was talent, pure and simple, with never a drop of fluid to mess it up.

  18. Diana:

    To my comment above, this is a P.S: I forgot to add mesmerizing, tender, and steadfast.

    Regards to you.

  19. Dear Merrymags--

    Ah, yes, "he teased aside the membrane of her innocence." [cough]

    Now, I, alas, did not write that immortal line. [g] I read it in a romance novel I picked off the supermarket shelf one day. It naturally seared itself into my brain, though (along with the line--from another book--about her breasts like two plump doves about to take flight), and so I had it to hand when the opportunity occurred.

    I don't consider this plagiarism, btw; it's fair use. [g]

  20. WOW! THIS BLOG IS GREAT STUFF. I enjoy well written opinions.

  21. Dear Sharaf--

    Oh, I got lots of opinions. [g] How well-written they are is, of course, open to question, but we certainly have material.

  22. Diana,

    Just one question: when you write your amazing sex scenes, what does your husband say about them?

    Especially the Lord John sex scenes! Whew! A friend of mine and I were reading Brotherhood at the same time, and both got stopped short at being "split open like a buttered bun". Quite a visual!

  23. DG wrote:

    "Ah, yes, "he teased aside the membrane of her innocence." [cough]

    Now, I, alas, did not write that immortal line. [g] I read it in a romance novel I picked off the supermarket shelf one day. It naturally seared itself into my brain, though (along with the line--from another book--about her breasts like two plump doves about to take flight), and so I had it to hand when the opportunity occurred.

    I don't consider this plagiarism, btw; it's fair use. [g] "

    I don't think you need worry about plagiarism here. For anyone to accuse to would make it necessary to admit to having written such a piece of drivel, an unlikely event.

    Now that bit about the doves sounds like something out of the Song of Songs in a bad translation, except it was eyes that were like doves. The breasts are compared to twin fawns and clusters of grapes. Hmm, even King Solomon seemed to lose it when it came to similes.

  24. Re: Mary Duncan
    As my insomnia kicked in this morninig I read your blog about the sex scene in Brotherhood of the Blade. It made me laugh out loud. Which wss not good since my husband was still trying to sleep. If only he would read her novels, he would understand. Nothing like a good Car and Parts magazine to put HIM to sleep. Hope Diana will respond to your comments.

  25. Sharaf,

    I was reading Brotherhood when my husband was home, as well, and as I took a sharp intake of breath, he looked over and said, "what did she write this time?" So I obligingly read it out loud, to his shocked expression, then I laughed, too! You're so right, if he would read them, he'd understand...well maybe not! Men just seem to have less tolerance for tenderness. If it doesn't grab their attention in the first two paragraphs, chances are they won't continue reading. However, when there are such wonderful expressions and emotions put on the page that make me chuckle (or inhale sharply), I read it out loud, just to share the experience.

  26. Dear Mary--

    Well, my husband is the only one who sees scenes as I write them. And having an excellent literary eye--and being very well acquainted with the characters--he appreciates the sex scenes, just like all the others. Though he _has_ been known to write marginal notes on a scene I've given him, saying, "Nipples _again_?!?" [g]

  27. very interesting! I love the sex scenes. Anyone know of any married sex scenes (heterosexual that is) in any other books. I have read the outlander series twice!

  28. I saw the preview of Claire on your site. I would prefer her to be attractive, espcially the eyes, but NOT beautiful. I love that she is not "figure perfect" in your book and has a good sized 'arse' according to Jaime. I believe these traits I have suggested will continue the authenticity you started in your books. To give them a hollywood quality would, in my mind, take away from the realistic charcters you took so much time creating. Claire's face should be interesting but not perfect. The very reason I have read the Outlander Series 8 times over, so far, is the quality of the realistic history, characters and their looks, and intimacies. There is one quality you have not lent to Claire yet, which I think, should be put forth and would be a super end book, when the time comes. No, not death. It is one that is believable and very intense; so intense as to draw another character into the frey, Lord John, to do what only a great man would do in such a situation. I am dying to share this with you but don't want to give it away to be pcked up by just anyone in its journey to you. Being a writer, newbie, myself, I value my work and ideas, would gladly give this plotline to you because I can't get past it and it would be a terrific as of yet unwritten plotline and characterization of Claire, Lord John (no not an affair) and includes her Indian friends as well. I would be shocked if you were not mesmerized by the whole idea. Its that good.
    You can reach me at
    My name is Lynne A. Ferguson-McKeage. I live in Halifax. I have spent years in withdrawal of your Outlander series sequels as I wait for each and all of them. Thanks for the gift of these characters and the history lessons.

  29. Lynne: I just read your blog. I'm so, so, very sorry I'm tying this. You may have the all time greatest ending, but I hope the only ending {when it comes} is pure Diana Gabaldon. She has not failed us yet. Sorry!

  30. Dear Lynne--

    Well...I certainly appreciate the thought. [s] But...these people talk to me. It's not like I can _make_ them do things, you know. [g]

    And on the whole, if it's my name on the front of the book, I think I'd kind of like what's in it to be mine. I _do_ appreciate the suggestion, though!

  31. Well fellow bloggers, I have spent the last couple of hours trying to find the link that will allow me to read the actual exert from Sleeping With Rachel. I had at that time only had 1 largish scotch & pepsie max. Now absolute frustration; I have read and enjoyed all the blogs about David's story which ended up being about our favourite characters. I read just about all the Amazon site...maybe it was that scotch...can someone give me clear instructions on how to link to the actual preview.

  32. Hello me again - can anyone tell me how I can show you all a great butt (Aussie football player - that I have on my computer. Don't have my own web page.