Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2011, Semi-Finals: Finding Mulligan

Finding Mulligan was cut from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition at the semi-final round.  I will not be moving on.

Here is the (rather unflattering) Publishers Weekly review:

Cassandra is looking for an apartment for her freshman year of college when she sees a painting that seems extremely familiar. She immediately realizes that the painting is of someone she knows from her dreamland. Cassandra (Dia in the dreamworld) has been visiting the dreamland in her sleep ever since she was a child. But until she sees Mulligan, the man in the painting, she’s never met another resident in the real world. Cassandra quickly falls for Mulligan and decides she must track him down. Meanwhile, she also discovers that her dreamland is not the safe, perfect place she thought it was. Finding Mulligan has a simple enough solution, one that is actually clearly described in the first chapter. Yet the author insists on explaining the world in detail through tedious dialogue in the subsequent chapters. This heavy-handed and rambling style of prose permeates the manuscript, making it a clunky and repetitive read. On top of this, Cassandra isn’t especially likable, especially when she makes a habit of taunting her younger sister (who has kidney disease).

As the author of this novel, I actually have absolutely no idea what the reviewer means by “a simple enough solution.”  There isn’t actually a “solution” of any kind in the book, so I’m baffled.  But the rest of this stuff will be taken to heart and used to revise the book for next year.  Hooray!

Also, on the positive side, my customer reviews for the first chapter on Amazon:

From Stiggles:

This was a very interesting excerpt and very well-written.  I was hooked almost immediately by the mystery of wondering exactly what the deal was with Cassie and her… ability.  You really played the “man on the door” thing quite well – giving us just enough to speculate and then wowing us with that monster of a revelation at the end! I enjoyed Cassie’s personality and how she interacted with her parents. For them, she’s just going off to school. For her she’s finally going to have a chance to be… who she is. Obviously I’m having a very hard time articulating all the little things I loved about this story without giving away everything so I’m just going to close this by saying how much I did indeed love it, and hope I get the chance to finish reading the rest someday.

From Lizette Glass:

I was quite impressed with how the writer began this chapter in this small excerpt offered. Setting the scene and situation was vivid in description yet concise, packing each sentence with information seemingly effortlessly.
For young adult target audiences I find it intriguing, engaging, and using age-enticing language.
Already, I have a picture in my mind and a curiosity about the protagonist’s past, that of her sister and of Cassie’s immediate future. The story line is well plotted with an excellent flow showing the thought process of this young girl.
This is a real page turner! I can’t wait to find out how the painting on the door reaches out, what Cassie’s “selves” are, what are the bells telling her…so many questions!
I hope I get to know more. I need to know more.

From Rufus A. Partlow III:

I’m not sure if it’s fair to judge an entire novel based on just the first chapter, so I will try to keep my review to only what was presented in this excerpt.

The characters seemed rich and dynamic, not just fill-in-the-blank clichés.  I liked how the main character and her parents (even her unseen sister and the realtor that refused to stop his pitch for even a breath) seemed to have things going on that haven’t been completely revealed yet.  Cassie seems to be flitting between dimensions and almost gives off the qualities of a changeling with secret other worldly abilities of which her Earth parents remain unaware.  There also seems to be something going on with her sister that the parents have some knowledge of, perhaps a side effect of the duality?

As I read this excerpt I was reminded of one of my favorite movies, Labyrinth.  There’s an older daughter with a sense of magic and a love for fanciful dresses or costumes, a mother that seems to be focused on cutting that whimsy out of her daughter’s life, a sibling rivalry that seems stemmed on sharing the attention of the parents (or rather, not wanting to share), and a mysterious other worldly stranger.  Though to be fair I don’t know yet if the man on the door is Cassie’s “Goblin King” or if he is even more than a painting for that matter.  I guess I’ll have to wait for the rest of the story to find out if the man on the door will offer Cassie wishes and magic crystals or to find out if she’s part fairy, switched in the crib for a human baby, but with the power to travel to her own world when she chooses.


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