Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sixteen days

[To follow my ABNA journey from the very beginning, click the ABNA label at the bottom of this post]

Voting is officially over and only a few people know the winners. The public (and the six finalists) will find out on June 16.

I'm relieved now that it's over. Asking people for anything is so out of my comfort zone. I've done all I can do to get votes. Now I can forget about that part and focus on freaking out about Seattle.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me. If I win, I'll be happy. If I don't win, I won't be sad. This contest has already opened doors for me. I'll be okay either way.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Author page

Please "like" my AUTHOR PAGE on Facebook!

Tomorrow is the last day to vote for Out of Nowhere, so expect another onslaught.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Grateful" doesn't even begin to describe it.

[To follow my ABNA journey from the very beginning, click the ABNA label at the bottom of this post]

I'm completely overwhelmed and touched by the support I've received from my family, friends, and perfect strangers these past two days. Everyone I know went above and beyond in getting the word out, asking for votes, sharing the voting link, and just generally being awesome. I owe you all a huge THANK YOU. Seriously, you all rock.

Also, I read the other finalists' excerpts and I have to say, they are amazing. So much talent in this group. It's intimidating to be sitting next to them.

Special thanks to Cara Bertrand, one of last year's finalists, for being my mentor of sorts on Tuesday! You helped to reduce my anxiety and that's not an easy feat.

Voting is open until May 30 so there's still time to VOTE if you haven't already.

Stay tuned for more excited ramblings about my ABNA journey.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Big ABNA news!

[To follow my ABNA journey from the very beginning, click the ABNA label at the bottom of this post]

(I've been writing this blog post all week, so it would be fresh in my mind.)

Finally, after a long and torturous week of sitting on the biggest and most exciting news of my life, I'm allowed to sing it from the rooftops.

I am a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest


Here's a taste of how last week unfolded:

Monday morning

Did some laundry, swept and mopped the kitchen floors, surfed the net, etc. Typical Monday. Not nervous, not anxious, not expecting a call from Seattle in any way, shape, or form. While I was putting a load of laundry away, I started thinking about the 2010 ABNA finalists' books and how one of them (the winner) dealt with the aftermath of losing a parent, just like my book does (though my book is nothing like hers in any other way). I thought "There you have it...there's no way they'll have another "death of father aftermath" book in the finals." I was 100% convinced then. It wouldn't be me.

12:53pm AST (8:53am PST) -- I was sitting at my desk in the kitchen, laptop open, right next to the phone. It rang. I looked at the call display. It said "Long Distance" and there was a phone number. A previous finalist on the ABNA boards had mentioned that when she was called, it said "Amazon" on the call display. I did not know the area code for Seattle, so I thought it was a survey or something. I picked it up, and the following occurred: 

Amazon Lady: May I please speak to Rebecca Phillips?
Me: This is Rebecca.
Amazon Lady: This is _________(I forget her name) calling from Amazon. I'm excited to tell you that you're a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
Me: ................................
Amazon Lady: .................................??
Me: ........................ (some articulate sound like "gahhhblurgugh")............Are you serious?
Amazon Lady: (probably thinking, "No, I have nothing better to do that call random people and trick them into thinking they're finalists.") Yes, I'm very serious. We're going to fly you to Seattle for the awards ceremony on June 16.
Me: ..................................
Amazon Lady (probably wondering about what kind of freak she was dealing with): I hope you're sitting down?
Me: my God............blubber babble babble snerg blargh.

There was more but I honestly don't remember it in detail. She told me to keep the news to immediate family only until public announcement on May 22, mentioned something about Penguin loving Out of Nowhere, gave me the phone number for Thom Kephart (ABNA admin), I babbled some more, she said congratulations and we hung up. I then proceeded to have a nervous breakdown.

I can tell you, with 100% honesty, that I have never been so shocked in my entire life. I felt like I was going to pass out. I was shaking. I was crying. My tongue was numb. My first coherant thought was Holy crap I have to get a passport like NOW. I do not have a passport. I'm Canadian. I need one to get into the US.  So I started googling passport processing times. That was when my husband came upstairs (he works from home). I said to him, "Looks like I'll have to get a passport." He was like "Huh"? And I was like "We're going to Seattle." And then he put the pieces together and all of a sudden I was standing up and we were hugging. He had tears. I had tears. He was proud. I had more tears. I was still in shock. My tongue, however, had thankfully regained feeling.

Next I told my parents, then my friend Shannon (not immediate family but she was the first person to read Out of Nowhere and helped me make it the best it could be), then my kids when they got home from school, all of whom I swore to secrecy. Then, if you can believe it, I did more laundry. I do not recall folding and putting away said laundry, but I did. Laundry needs to be done, even when you feel like you've been pummeled with bowling balls.

I did not and could not eat dinner. Even though it was leftover BBQ ribs from Mother's Day.

That evening, I received some legal forms in my inbox. Now it was really real. I wasn't dreaming. I spent the rest of the evening getting my passport photo taken, filling out a passport application, and printing, signing, scanning, and sending all those Amazon forms back. At 11pm I collapsed into bed and watched a couple of episodes of Seinfeld until I finally dropped off to sleep. 


That morning I went to Passport Canada and provided the necessary papers. Passport should be in well before the middle of June. One thing down. 

In the evening I received a call from Thom Kephart, the ABNA administrator. He was very nice. He told me a little about what would happen next, ie. travel, PR, the awards in Seattle, etc. 

I did eat dinner, but not much.


Shock had completely worn off by then, but every once in a while it would hit me (I AM A FINALIST!!!!) and I'd feel very overwhelmed. NOW I was expecting a call from Amazon, but only to tell me that they'd made a huge mistake.

That evening I got another email from Thom, requesting travel information and detailing what would happen on June 16th: first a breakfast meeting with him and all six finalists, then a gala awards event at 6:30. During this gala, there would be dinner and several speakers, including the finalists, who are asked to read a passage from their book (!!!!!!). Then the winner would be announced. I was DYING to know who the other finalists were, but like everyone else I had to wait until May 22.

After American Idol (They were in the top 3 phase too! Funny, since ABNA is often considered the American Idol of writing contests), I emailed my info and went to bed.


Got an email from Thom, thanking me for the travel info. Can't believe I'm going to Seattle! I've never been.


Morning - Got an email from the publicity person at Penguin (Penguin! Is emailing! Me!!!), telling me to expect a call later that afternoon (Penguin! Is calling! Me!!!) She also asked for a picture of me and a two-line bio for the contest announcement/press release. I sent the picture that my husband took of me about three or four years ago, for an article I had published in Today's Parent magazine. Not the best picture of me, but when you're as unphotogenic as I am, you learn not to be too picky. I still look basically the same now, only I have a few extra pounds residing in my rear somewhere.

Penguin called in the afternoon and I spoke to three extremely nice people who asked me a few questions about myself and my book. I was nervous, of course. I mean, this in the 2nd largest publishing house IN THE WORLD. Talking to ME. At one point in the conversation, I was asked which YA authors inspired me. Of course, right away I mentioned Sarah Dessen, who has been a huge inspiration to me and is basically the main reason why I decided to seriously write YA. Penguin was excited to hear this because Sarah is a Penguin author! So is John Green, who I also adore (I mentioned him too). Then, after I got off the phone, I realized I was just talking to people who probably talk to Sarah Dessen and John Green on a regular basis. I may have hyperventilated a little.


Amazon put the finalist list up really early. I'm just over the moon about my experts' reviews. Two of them picked me to be the winner! Again, this is extremely surreal.  Big thanks to my family, friends, Amazon, CreateSpace, and Penguin. What an amazing experience this has been, from beginning to end.

Vote for Out of Nowhere!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Just You v.2.0

I decided a while back that I was going to self-publish my first two books. All I need is a couple of book covers. My husband, who is good with that sort of thing, promised me he'd make them for me. He's super busy with work right now so while I wait, I've been going over my first book. It was written three years ago and damn, I've gotten better since then. I look at at what I've written and think OMG what was I thinking?? I do not want to put my name on this disaster and release it to the public just yet! So for the past few days I've been busy revising it and already, it's better. More of a plot, more emotion, tighter writing, more vivid personalities. It looks more like me now.

Hopefully, both books will be on the virtual bookshelves sometime this summer.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Work in Progress

I noticed I have some new readers this week. Welcome and thanks for looking!

In the weeks before the ABNA finalist announcement, I've been keeping busy outlining my fourth book. You know, naming characters, figuring out what they're going to look like, creating character traits/personalities/flaws/etc, jotting down themes and plot ideas, etc, etc. This will be yet another contemporary YA but with more of an edge. People like edge. Teens like edge. Publishers and agents like edge. So I'll give it edge. Less Sarah Dessen, more Courtney Summers. Less Adele, more Metallica. Less oatmeal, more salsa. You know what I mean. Edge.

Now I just have to figure how to execute it.