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Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 12.38.12 PMAfter releasing my latest novel THE SECRET MISS RABBIT KEPT, I put ‘Enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest ‘ on my Bucket List. I’d never considered a contest before, but I thought there might come a day when I might regret having not given Miss Rabbit the opportunity to try her luck.

**Background for those not familiar with the contest: Any non-contracted author can submit their work into one of five categories. The entries are then whittled down in stages: 10,000 to 2,000, then 500, then 25. From there, 5 Finalists are announced and held up for a popular vote. And all of this takes place over a 5-month period.

Torture, right? You have no idea

If you haven’t seen my FB posts, my Tweets, my LinkedIn or Goodreads profile, my Pinterest pages, or my Instagram shots (yes, authors have to be social media freaks),  you might not be aware of my current spot among the remaining 100 entries in the General Fiction category. There’s still a long way to go (or not), but as a member of the ‘100 Club’, I received a review by Publisher’s Weekly. Mine, completed last week, is included below: 

“Smart but self-doubting Sophie — nicknamed So-So by her family — narrates this winning coming-of-age-story that takes place where people really do come of age: the nursing home. Although loved by her parents, Sophie lately feels the sting of being abandoned by her birth mother when she was an infant. “Assuming the residents were unloved toss-aways” like her, Sophie starts a job on her 16th birthday as a nurse’s aide at Sterlingwood Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where one Mrs. Gertrude Steiner promptly pees on Sophie’s leg and dies in her arms. Although she’s devastated by her first three days at the home, Sophie’s new friend and guide, Emma Jean Baker, is able to show her — and the reader — the humor and humanity behind the horrors of aging and dementia. She’s also Sophie’s guide into the world of Miss Mable Rabbit, a slight but sharp resident who resolved decades ago never to speak to anyone. In her, Sophie finds a purpose: to unlock her secrets and hear her talk again. By uniting the young and old souls, the sly and ever-caring Emma Jean hopes that each woman will come to an understanding not only of the other damaged soul, but also of their own. Though the plot is predictable, the novel’s sharp, funny characters, their warm and friction-filled relationships, and the madcap — but very real setting — provide insights and surprises aplenty.” 

My current placement could be the last stop on this journey (the competition is fierce), but I’m thrilled with this reviewer’s kind words.

We writers put our hearts and souls into our stories, and The Secret Miss Rabbit Kept took every bit of mine. While I would love nothing more than to see Miss Rabbit among the next 25 (dare I say the final 5?), my readers love her as much as I’d hoped they would. Winning hearts — more so than winning contests — is the stuff of any writer’s dream.

PS Lest I jinx anything, let me say BOTH would be very nice 🙂

 

© Robin Cain 2014

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It’s official!

Anita Romero, with her entry SAX, took 1st Place. She wins a $50 Amazon gift card, an autographed copy of WHEN DREAMS BLEED and an article in The Examiner showcasing her entry. Her lovely short story is below:

Unable to sleep, his mind was engrossed with the rain. Each drop erupting on the hard pavement outside was another note; a beat within his mind, pure music, fluid, precise, forming around each object as it struck. Splat.’ Ta, tat…tat, splat…ta, tat.

Rising from bed he padded across the floor, much like a small child sneaking out of bed for one more look at his Christmas presents. He had so much to do in the morning but the joy of the rain was a small sacrifice against his mundane life.

Where was she? There, between the crack made by the ragged chair and the wall. Yes that was where she was, shouting, begging, louder than the rain outside. She should have been in her case, safely tucked away for the night, but he knew that rain would fall tonight. Fondling her body, he stopped and admired the inviting mouthpiece, formed only for his lips. He pushed aside his jealousy of the previous owner. She was his now, only his.

It wasn’t long before the sad rhythmic pitch of the sax rang across the room, the rain complementing like a drummer in a band; splat, ta, tat…tat, splat, ta, tat. Soon he would have company. Three in the morning was not the time for his music to penetrate the paper-thin walls of the south side apartment building. Maybe tonight would be different.

His music was sad, but sweet as a memory. If they listened, everyone would dream tonight. It had happened before, and in those times, he knew he had helped them push aside their nightmares, and reach another world. If they listened, he would help them again. It was his gift.

The rain built to a crescendo and ravaged the city outside; splat, ta, splat, tat, ta, ta, tat, splat, ta, ta, ta, splat, tat. His notes followed suit; frustration, failure, and all of his desires came to greet the rain. He wanted more, he wanted to play for more than the walls, and he wanted to dream in the daytime.

The knock finally came, just before dawn. “Marvin, it’s time for bed.” A loving voice echoed through the door.

“OK, Mom.”

He carefully cleaned the instrument, making sure that every inch was chaste, ready for the next rain and padded off to bed.

2nd place goes to the extremely talented poet, Brian Heffron, for his entry. He wins a $15 Amazon gift card, an autographed copy of WHEN DREAMS BLEED and a feature here. His beautiful entry follows:

The punch remembered from then on
Looping round in endless song.
When dreams bleed they are funneled south
Blood still dripping from the mouth.
My heart cannot be wounded more,
I have taken all you had in store,
And rolled over into a newer sorrow,
Understanding this won’t end tomorrow.

There is sadness beneath your childhood bed,
Stored there, like the things unsaid.
But if you come to me at night
I will give you a lamp to light
And point you to a spot secure,
Down here amidst the other poor.
Who will welcome you like a long lost brother
Although at heart, you’ll remain the other.

Brian has recently published a book of his work.

Brian's new poetry book

Back cover


Entitled, Sustain Me With Your Breath, and it’s a beautifully hand-bound compilation of love poems. It can be purchased through his website here.

Last, but certainly not least, 3rd place goes to Lori Kurowski. Having not attempted a fictional piece in some time (or so she tells me), Lori’s entry was a strong interpretation of the theme. Her work is below:

Sheila awakened to the sound of shattering glass downstairs. She grabbed her robe and sat up in bed. Listening carefully, she didn’t hear another sound. She twirled around on her bed and got up slowly, not wanting to make the old wooden floor squeak. Quietly, she tip-towed to the bedroom door and peered outside.

It was dark and drafty in the silenced hallway. Feeling a shiver, Sheila tightened her robe and cautiously headed towards the staircase. The old worn carpet, felt hard on her feet as she approached the landing. The shadows from the ornate furniture downstairs, cast vicious visions dashing across the walls. Sheila shakily grasped the staircase railing and began her descent.

Proceeding cautiously she still did not hear any more noises, or see movement of any kind. Suddenly, she felt a whisper of fur cross her bare feet. She quickly glanced down to see her cat, Luca, rubbing his face on the end of her robe. “Silly cat”, she thought, “you must have decided to finally come home, and knocked something down on your way into the house”.

With emotions now at ease, Shiela casually walked in to the dark kitchen, her hands searching for the elusive light switch. That’s when she saw his face in the beaming moonlight. Eyes lit with anger, and a slight smile, she knew instantly this was the end. She put her hands over her head, anticipating the first blow, as she fell to the floor in panic. But she felt nothing, nothing at all. She looked up to see yet another face peering in the moonlight. Then a gunshot rang out sending Luca scrambling for the door. Shiela heard a loud thump, and felt the wooden floor shake. She gingerly stood up and found the light switch. The eyes that greeted her where familiar and safe. She ran to them and knew, after years of dreading the release of her ex-husband from prison, the dreams were finally going to stop bleeding.

A grant writer in Phoenix, AZ, specializing in educational grants involving children, community, and women’s causes, Lori has been a Arizona State Certified Teacher for the last 18 years. She can be reached at grantyourfutre@gmail.com

CONGRATULATIONS everyone!

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With the recent release of my book, WHEN DREAMS BLEED, and the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, I thought I would sponsor a contest!

Details are as follows:

WHO: Open to any of my Facebook friends or fans (writers or not). NO RELATIVES, please.

WHAT: Essay, Poem or Flash Fiction less than 850 words – entitled


    “WHAT TO DO WHEN DREAMS BLEED”

WHERE: Submit to: robin@robincain.com
Subject line: WHAT TO DO WHEN DREAMS BLEED

WHEN: No later than noon (MST) Tuesday, February 9th

WHY: Don’t we all just need more exposure?

Prizes:

1st place
– $50.00 AMAZON Gift Certificate
– Publication of your winning entry on my column at the Examiner to go along with a Valentine’s Day article I will be writing (1000+ readers at last count!)
(includes personal link to your website or book site)
– Autographed copy of my book, WHEN DREAMS BLEED
– Publicity on my Facebook page and blog (3800 friends and counting!)

2nd Place:
– $15.00 AMAZON Gift Certificate
– Autographed copy of my book, WHEN DREAMS BLEED
– Publicity on my Facebook page and blog (3800 friends and counting!)

3rd Place
– Autographed copy of my book, WHEN DREAMS BLEED
– Publicity on my Facebook page and blog (3800 friends and counting!)

Fine Print:
– All decisions are final
– Contest null and void if less than 3 entries are received (and I quit being nice!)
– All authors retain the rights to their submission (but permission for publication w/credit on above-mentioned sites is assumed).
– Prizes will sent out after Valentine’s Day, but press will begin when winners are selected.

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