"Who Saw the Deep"- ABNA semifinals and review

My sci-fi novel, “Who Saw the Deep,” made it into the semifinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Publishers Weekly reviewed the full manuscript and offered this review:

This novel is well written, original, and clever. Noah Heath has just completed his doctorate in computer science and his father suggests he give himself a break and help a local senior citizen with some handyman chores. Amelia is a woman that Jaime Heath has known since childhood. On Noah’s first day of work, he notices a flash in the sky, a silver needle, but Amelia denies seeing it. Even so, he hears her call her daughter, Leah, saying,”it’s happening again.” When he returns home, his father starts telling him about the family “artifacts,” a few chunks of old metal. Noah starts to question, and more importantly, believe his father and Amelia’s tales of centuries old invasion and the part their forebears played in it. That the power of computers is limited only by our imaginations makes the tale convincing; the lack of little green men and the highly plausible abilities of the villains make it wonderful reading. It’s a pity to classify this book as science fiction; it reads more like the ancient myths, or even fairy tales. The author really knows his characters and uses them beautifully. Perhaps he’s had centuries to develop them.

If you’d like to read an excerpt, go to my novel’s page on Amazon and download it for free by clicking the Buy Now button. If you’d like to leave a review, that’d be awesome.

By the way, all manuscripts are read without the author’s name, so the reference to the author as a “he” is not surprising. Additionally, the competition started with 10,000 manuscripts and have whittled the entries down to 100 for this round. Technically, I’m only competing against the other General Fiction entries, which means they started with 5000 and it’s now down to 50.

What’s next? May 22: Six finalists announced (picked by Penguin). Amazon customers vote to pick the winners.

I seriously doubt I’ll make it into the finals, but I’m delighted that someone at Penguin will be reading my manuscript.

Disclaimer: Publishers Weekly is an independent organization and the review was written based on a manuscript version of the book and not a published version.

Inquiring Minds and Other Clichés — Catherine Rogers

— a poetry interview series by Christine Klocek-Lim

Catherine Rogers

1. What is your favorite poem that you’ve written? Read?

Of my own work, my current favorite is a poem called “Crone.” It’s not necessarily my best, technically speaking, but it represents a rich time of life, and I go back to it when I find myself worried about growing older.  It’s musical, and it also uses nature imagery to good effect.  I like that in a poem.  As for poems I’ve read, asking me to name a favorite is like asking me who’s my favorite friend; I love them all for different reasons.  When I want a good sensual, optimistic wallow, I go back to my old friend Walt Whitman and “Song of Myself.”  There’s an expansive glee in it that I still find irresistible, even after many years. In a more contemporary or contemplative mood, Elizabeth Bishop’s “At the Fish Houses.”  I love the perfect balance between solemnity and humor, the beautiful sonics, and especially the Baptist seal—“like me, a believer in total immersion.”

2. Do you think there is a disconnect between academic poets/poetry and online poets/poetry?

Not so much between academic and online as between academic and popular poetry.  The common wisdom is that there’s no audience for poetry any more, except other poets, but in fact there’s a huge audience for hip-hop/rap/spoken word poetry.  Academics may look down their noses at the form, but I find a great deal of energy and freshness in it. Of course, there’s mediocrity in every genre, not to mention downright junk. But informality and accessibility are not necessarily bad things in art. And a good beat doesn’t hurt.

3. Has the rise of the poetry MFA been positive or detrimental to the art?

I think the MFA has raised the bar in terms of craftsmanship.  There’s more technical sophistication out there, and more well-trained, competent, nice young poets are producing nice, competent, well-trained verse.  The challenge remains what it always was—finding something significant, or at least useful, to say.

4. Do you write for yourself or for an audience/reader?

Yes. For as long as I can remember, which is quite a long time, I’ve written with an imaginary editor looking over my shoulder.  I’m constantly aware of how a reader might react to my writing. On the other hand, I’m my own toughest critic. If I’m willing to turn my writing loose in public, it will probably find an appreciative audience.

5. How much of what you write is inspiration vs. perspiration?

If “how much” is a quantitative question, I have no idea.  If it’s a matter of motivation, well. . . . I do wish I could be more disciplined and craftsmanlike about my writing—dedicated daily writing time, that sort of thing.  But the truth is, I can go weeks, months, even years without writing anything, and then suddenly a poem will attack me and I can’t rest until I’ve wrestled it to the ground and got it on paper.  Once I have that core idea, I can spend more weeks, months and even years whittling, polishing and refining the thing till it’s a shadow of its former self.  It’s a very inefficient process, and probably explains why I haven’t yet produced so much as a chapbook.

6. Why do you read or write poetry?

I don’t remember a time in my life without poetry. My mother loved poetry and used to read it to me at bedtime; I was hearing “The Highwayman” when other kids were hearing “Good Night, Moon.”  So I had rhyme and rhythm in my head almost as soon as I could talk. I knew my mother loved poetry, so I would make up little jingles and recite them to her—verses only a mother could love—and she would write them down.  I was given collections of poems for birthdays and Christmas—good stuff, too: Dickinson and Whitman and Sandburg and Frost.  In such company, how could one not write poems?  I progressed from little jingles through the usual teen angst; then, in my twenties, I read that only poets read poetry, and I decided I would be that audience who read but didn’t write. It was such a relief. But poems kept ambushing me from behind the shrubbery and other dark places, and eventually I gave in and started to write again. But as I was saying before autobiography intervened, I write poetry because my mother loved poetry.  She might be responsible for a certain streak of old-fashioned sentimentality in my verse, but what can I say?  She gave me the gift, and I try to return it.


Catherine Rogers holds degrees in English from Middlebury College and The University of Georgia, and a Master of Divinity degree from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.  Her poems have appeared in Kalliope: A Journal of Women’s Literature and Art and in Touch: The Journal of Healing, and online in Autumn Sky Poetry.  In 2010, her poem “Dirt” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is an Associate Professor of English at Savannah State University, the oldest historically Black university in Georgia.


Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour – click for a list of participating blogs and daily entries
Upper Rubber Boot Books is coordinating a book blog tour for April, to help promote poetry and poets for National Poetry Month. Check back here for updates throughout the month of April (we’ll also post updates to our blog, and so will many of the participating poets).
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