Somehow, some way, Out of Nowhere made it to the semifinals of the ABNA contest. Somehow, some way, my name keeps appearing in the "next round" lists. It's insane. Yesterday morning I had several anxiety attacks as I waited for the results. The list came up at exactly 12:00pm AST. I took a deep breath and opened it up, scrolling down the list of names, looking for "P" for my last name. Didn't see it. I thought "Oh well..." and scrolled through again to see who did make it. Then I looked at the "R"s and saw my name. Rebecca. I slapped a hand over my mouth, muttering "Oh my God" over and over. After a few seconds of total freak-out, I told my husband and then posted the news on Facebook. It was awesome. I then waited several more hours for my Publisher's Weekly review, which I was no longer really worried about because, of course, I made it through so it had to be good. It was good.
This manuscript is a very good example of a contemporary coming-of-age novel, with well-rounded characters and honest emotion. Riley is a hypochondriac, worried that stomach pain is appendicitis or a hernia. She's been that way ever since her father collapsed in their kitchen and an 11-year-old Riley found him. Adding additional complexity to Riley's character, that event also inspires her to be a doctor. She spends time with friends Eva and Sydney, and works with her friend, the closeted Lucas. When Riley goes to the ER for an allergic reaction, she meets Cole, who's had a skateboarding accident. Later, by chance, Cole stops by the coffee shop where Riley works, and a friendship begins that soon turns to romance, distracting Riley from her problems at home. Cole encourages Riley to start facing her father's death, yet the closer they get, the more Riley worries that Cole's daredevil ways will get him hurt or worse. But when Riley's mother announces two major changes for their lives, Riley lashes out. Riley's story is thoughtful and grounded, showing the impact of a traumatic event years after the event occurred. Even supporting characters are well-rounded, and the relationships ring true.Isn't it nice? Today, it's still surreal.