HANNIBAL, Mo. -- A local writer is hoping that an Amazon contest will lead to her first published novel.
Kalyn Surls, who writes under the pen name Dana Lockhart, is participating in Kindle Scout, a reader-powered publishing format for new, never-before-published books. Surls submitted her manuscript, "The Un-Life of William Moore," for Amazon's January-to-February contest, and if her book receives enough votes, Kindle Press will publish it.
"I finished the book six years ago, and it's been sitting on a shelf ever since," the Hannibal author said. "I've submitted it to agents before and have been rejected. I feel like this contest is the closest shot I have to getting it published."
"The Un-Life of William Moore" follows college student Kaylah Rhodes, who meets vampire William Moore. William offers to tell Kaylah the story of his "un-life" if she lets him drink her blood. But when people start turning up injured or murdered and William doesn't have an alibi, Kaylah wonders whether William really is a gentle soul or secretly a monster.
"If I had to boil the story down into a sentence, it's ‘Friendship can be hard when you live forever,'" Surls said. "I was inspired to write the story because I think the monster genre is being over-romanticized. I wanted to write about a vampire who's just like you and me and socially awkward. The monster in my story is the most human character in the book."
Since the Kindle Scout contest started Jan. 3, the Dana Lockhart novel has been doing well. Amazon updates the contest's statistics daily, and Surls said her book has received about 1,500 views already. It's also a good indication, she said, to have a book labeled "hot and trending" on Kindle Scout's home page.
"Only 20 books in each (genre) category can be ‘hot and trending,' and my book has trended for several days," she said.
If Surls' book isn't selected for publication by Amazon, she plans on self-publishing it as an e-book. She sees the eventual publication of "The Un-Life of William Moore" as a step toward becoming a novelist.
"As a writer, I enjoy telling good stories that also have hidden meaning behind them," said Surls, who writes creatively every day. "I'm happy that I'm pursuing my dream of publishing a book."
To nominate the Dana Lockhart book for publication, visit KindleScout.Amazon.com/p/QCD68QEN6NXC. To stay up to date with the author and her progress in the contest, visit Facebook.com/AuthorDanaLockhart.
Voting for "The Un-Life of William Moore" continues through Feb. 3. If the book is published, people who nominated it will receive a free e-book copy.