I did not make it to the quarter finals of Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards (ABNA). I did not cry over that, I got into the second round. In my mind, Maggie’s Child was a winner to make it to the entrance round, let alone beyond. These are a few of the critique statements from the judges, they know how to make me cry!:
ABNA Expert Reviewers
- Line by line the writing is pretty strong. The emotion is definitely there. The reader is invested in wanting to know what will happen to the child. Reading about life in the 1800s is interesting.
- The excerpt is undoubtedly compelling. The romantic aspects are not yet present. However, with the strong writing and dramatic opening scenes, the book may be quite good.
- Good opener. I like the way the story starts in action rather than a long, drawn-out exposition. The author uses dialog sparingly, but well, and offers us a good feel for period landscape. The tone and texture remind me of Philippa Gregory’s historical romances. The synopsis describes the piece as “slower-paced,” but the author manages to avoid the trap of a lethargic beginning.
- This is a promising start to a novel which will appeal to fans of Mary Stewart and Susan Howatch.
Those statements were based upon the first chapter and half of the second. I am extremely honoured to be compared to such incredible authors. Humbled, is the word I use to describe my first reaction. Wow, is the second. Unbelievable, and many, many others are words that run through my mind each time I read the printout. Yes, I printed out the critique and it sits in front of me. It inspires me to keep writing.
Maggie’s Child has notes, lots of notes. I am still seriously going down the road of a family saga. It was mentioned at the Festival of Romance 2013, that the saga might, might, become fashionable again. Readers have emailed and messaged their desire to see Maggie’s future, and that of her son, Nathanial. Ideas are popping into my head.
The Penny Portrait … Want a sneak peak of a snippet from the first draft? OK. Just a little peak …
Elle Buchanan, just turned 16, has been abandoned by her parents. This tiny snippet is of her leaving the only home she has ever known after an arduous search for her parents. The year is 1865. The country, England. The county, Essex. Please remember I write in British English.
Elle stirred and stretched her body in catlike fashion. The room chilled her body once again, no longer was there a welcome glow, the log burned out, and in its place sat a mound of whitened flakes of ash. Had she wanted to linger for a hot drink Elle would have been out of luck. A small ray of sunshine filtered through the grubby window reminding Elle it was time for her to leave. Sunrise. It was around seven- thirty and Elle wanted to put a good hour between her and the landlord. First she needed to search around for straggling vegetables in the garden. The sun was not going to stay for long. She could see by the clouds forming overhead. She gathered more cabbage leaves and rosemary sprigs. No other vegetables were evident which posed a problem with regard to her food source. The penny had been spent on route home the day before so there were no funds for purchasing bread, or even flour to make a small loaf. Elle had no choice, she had to move closer to the only food source she knew; the beach. As she turned to go inside to fetch her belongings she spotted an old pull along trolley her father made for her when she was a little girl. He would sit her in it and pull her through the leafy lanes to purchase fish along the quayside of Harwich. Shaking off the memory, Elle cleared away the broken tools that lay on top and noted with glee that all four wheels were intact. Although a little rusty, with effort they turned. She rummaged through the broken metal of the tools and found snapped scythe tip. Elle unravelled a piece of twine from around an old axe handle and wound it around the sharp blade of the scythe tip. Although rustic and bordering on the dangerous side, Elle had made herself a crude knife. Now she could carry more items, she made no hesitation in hacking at the stem of the precious cabbage. It sat pride of place on the small trolley. Alongside it Elle placed the handles and metal scraps of the old tools. Not really sure what she would do with them she was satisfied they might come in useful. Feeling no guilt about taking from the landlord, she loaded the cooking pot and rolled up thin mattress. Her needs were greater than his. November was making way for December and she would need warm food and something to lie upon. Without the cook pot and mattress it would be impossible to keep warm. He was well off enough to purchase a new ones.
She snapped off several rosemary and lavender branches and covered her precious goods. She found more twine and tied everything into place. It was time to leave. There was not a minute to be wasted on second thoughts. She had no money for rent and the landlord would find a way of an alternative payment, of that she was certain.
To obtain my weather facts, dates and times, I use a very useful site: Time and Date .com