The manuscript for my second novel, The Hiding Girl, advanced to the semifinals of the 2017 Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize Contest, where it received near-perfect scores (9.5/10).  Of 700 entries, The Hiding Girl was one of 35 books in seven genres, one of five in the Mystery/Thriller genre, and the only unpublished adult manuscript to advance to the semifinals.

We all know how subjective book-liking is. I was lucky that the Publishers Weekly critic for The Hiding Girl was someone who “got it.”

Here’s the Critic’s Report:

2017 BookLife Prize–Semifinalist

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10

Plot: This dark and gritty novel is an exceptional, heart-pounding story full of raw emotion, deep-seated fear, and an undercurrent of hope and innocence.

Prose: Deeply atmospheric without extraneous detail, the prose leaves plenty to the imagination. Even though the story featured a young girl placed in very adult situations, she never lost that young freshness of voice.

Originality: The novel is without peer in contemporary mysteries/thrillers. Oddly—it’s neither of those, and both of them, at the same time. That contradiction is what makes it work so well. It calls back to movies like The Professional and Disney’s The Journey of Natty Gann while being wholly and freshly contemporary.

Character Development: Watching the characters evolve (and devolve, in some cases) was absolutely amazing. Subtle nuances were plentiful and guided the reader into horrified admiration and a desire to protect them all.

What’s The Hiding Girl about? Here’s a short synopsis:

Twelve-year-old Emily was a God-fearing, confessed goody-two shoes before the day the two men came to kill her family. Somehow she escaped. Only they know. On the run, psyche splintering, she finds refuge with an unlikely ally, an inner-city ruthless gang member. Driven by guilt, determined avenge her family, she persuades him to train her to kill before launching a perilous journey for justice. Every step brings new nightmares and further descent into trauma-induced madness. Somehow, through it all, she retains a sense of hope and innocence.

I self-published my first novel, Psycho-Tropics, but am seeking an agent for The Hiding Girl.

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