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Archive for the ‘Joey’ Category

Overamped is done!

I just finished submitting Overamped to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. 

Here’s the blurb: 

Joey Talmadge’s career as a professional snowboarder is taking off, but the rest of his life is a shambles. His mother drinks. His father is cold and unemotional. His sister is addicted to her career, one cousin is suicidal and another has a drug problem. His beloved grandmother has cancer.

And then his brother Jason is arrested for killing his own wife. He pleads guilty to manslaughter. Joey reluctantly promises not to try to see Jason while he’s serving his time. His mother persists, however, even tricking Joey into driving her to the prison where Jason’s being held.

On top of that, he’s afraid his girlfriend Alyssa is pregnant. He can’t imagine putting a kid through the kind of hell he went through growing up. With a family like his, what chance has he got? He’s glad to escape to Colorado’s high mountains for the start of the competitive season. But he finds himself unable to fall into the old life. The party scene interferes with his training and he keeps thinking of Alyssa and the baby.

An injury, an unexpected visitor, and news from Jason combine to push him to the brink. The only thing scarier than life with Alyssa is life without her. It’s too late to bail now and there’s no place to bail to. Can Joey stomp the landing, or will he wipe out on the biggest hit of his life?

 

 

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124,177 words after edits. Still some cleanup and final spellcheck to go. Plus I have to write a blurb. But Overamped should be in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest on Friday. Assuming they haven’t reached 10K entries before that…

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You know how sometimes when you’re just chatting with various people, the same topic comes up two or three times in the same day? Yesterday, one of my non-writing friends commented on how exciting it must be to have things like a writing website where people could actually talk to the author, and that’s you! And how much fun it must be doing things like author chats and giveaways. (I had to tell her I’m not really at that level yet, but that’s a different topic.) Not five minutes later, another friend was complaining how she spent all day just working on the outline for one story and the edits for another, and she never gets to write any more. This morning another friend said basically the same thing, only she counted the outlining as real writing.

And that got me to thinking about what I consider to be “writing.” It’s not just sitting down to generate new words that never lived anywhere but my head before. For me, editing and rewriting are integral parts of writing, as much a part of the process as the wildest 5K day during NaNoWriMo. I have issues with editing that I don’t usually have with new words, but a day spent polishing Overamped and making it a story that lives and breathes is just as satisfying as a day spent drafting a new idea. Maybe more so, because the draft is always so far from the story in my head.

But there’s also, as my friend who loves author websites pointed out, “writing” as a profession. Back when I was making a living as a freelance technical writer, I found I needed to spend one hour on overhead activity (market research, job listings, maintaining skills, bookkeeping, etc. etc. etc.) for every billable hour. Sometimes that went up to two hours of overhead for every productive hour. Other professionals I’ve talked to have said that’s about their ratio, too. People don’t hire you to write computer manuals if they don’t know about you and the skills you have to offer. [Aside: one of the advantages of working in a corporate environment is that the company assumes much of the overhead.]

The same is true for fiction writing. People won’t buy my fiction if they don’t know I wrote it.

When I think about it that way, the whole cloud of amorphous tasks related to “building a platform” suddenly make a lot more sense. Of course I’m going to have to present a professional image that targets the people I expect to become clients. I’m going to have to network and be involved in shared activities and generally do the same things that any other professional does. And if I don’t find all those activities as enjoyable as the core writing tasks, it’s going to be a difficult slog.

Of course I do have the option of continuing to write as essentially a hobby — finishing a few things and sending them out now and then just for the satisfaction, the way I’ve been doing. I don’t need to earn a living and nothing says I can’t be just an “artist.” But if I’m going to take the other path, I need to look at it more seriously and see what work needs to be done to do it right.

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Joey’s done!

I finished polishing Joey’s draft and sent it out to my beta readers today. Wooohoo!!!!!!!!

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11 paragraphs

The Joey edit this week progressed by a whopping 11 paragraphs. Several of them are only one sentence. It’s not unusual for certain sections to give me trouble, but this was different — in the earlier draft, I had several minor scenes with very little tension or drama; they were mainly there to show some necessary events and fill in enough time to get to the next major scene. Obvious candidates for deletion, and the main story flows much better without them.

The trouble is, the reader has to have the information, which means some kind of transitional or flashback scene. In an ordinary narrative, it wouldn’t have presented much problem. But Overamped is in first person present tense, and an ordinary summary or reflection didn’t work. Joey just doesn’t do that kind of long narrative.

I tried putting it in the form of a letter to his brother in jail, but that didn’t work because there wasn’t enough going on. I tried having him tell Alyssa. It was too much like another scene. I tried having him think about it while he was running, which almost worked.

Eventually I got deep enough into his head to figure out the main emotional thread of the scene I was tying into. He’s lonely, he’s horny, and he’s having trouble with the idea of being in an exclusive relationship. Once I figured that out, the scene wrote itself in only a couple of hours. Fringe benefit, it even provides some extra motivation in the next scene.

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