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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Posted in goals and planning, life, the business side, writing, tagged goals, Joey, marketing, Overamped, planning, platforms, publishing, revising, writing on December 5, 2012|
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Erin M. Hartshorn tagged me in a meme that’s going around, The Next Big Thing. The quickmeme entry seems to have been hacked by somebody with a Newt Gingrich fetish, but some googling turned up this as the main question list:
What is the title of your next book?
Where did the idea for the book come from?
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
What other books of the same genre would you compare yours with?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s geared to writers who are published, with a new book coming out soon, so many of the questions aren’t very relevant to me yet.
I have several projects under way that I’ll begin submitting in the new year.– short stories, a couple of novellas, and a novel titled “Overamped,” about a professional snowboarder dreaming of Olympic gold who gets the woman of his dreams instead. If I took out all Joey’s sex fantasies and all the f-bombs and other modern terminology, the book would shrink significantly, so it’s not a romance 🙂 I’ll probably just bill it as mainstream when I start to market it. I plan to start with conventional publishers, which means finding an agent. Self-publishers have done well in genres, but mainstream is still pretty much the property of, well, the mainstream.
I also have a bunch of ghost story/dark fantasy/somewhat erotic short stories and novellas to go out. I’ll use a different name for those and I’m planning to focus on small online publishers, at least to start.
It doesn’t take me very long to write a first draft. It’s the second and third that take forever. Generally the “first” draft is more of a proof of concept, to make sure the characters are interesting and complex enough to sustain the story, and there’s enough story there. So throwing out an idea after first draft is pretty common for me. Then I’ll expand it in the second draft. Way overexpand it, usually. Then the third draft will be about locating the heart of the story and cutting out non-essential stuff. Usually I wind up combining subplots and characters. For instance, in Overamped, Joey owns a small sporting goods store. In one scene he waits on a customer with a small kid. I was able to combine that woman with the mother of a kid on the snowboard team to turn two “furniture” characters into a bit of emotional trouble for Joey.
I’m not going to tag anybody in particular. If you’re reading this, and it sounds like something you want to blog about, consider yourself tagged.
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If anybody’s into New Adult fiction (fiction for and about characters in their late teens and early twenties), check out the new blog at NA Alley. They’re celebrating the start by giving away books, blog graphics, and critiques — go check it out!
I’m excited to see New Adult finally gaining its niche. I hope that means Overamped can find a home there. Joey and his friends are getting lonely just sitting on my hard drive.
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I spent years trying to learn how to outline so my first drafts would be cleaner and I wouldn’t have to spend so much time on revision. It took several complete disasters to make me realize that for me, revision is the writing process.
First drafts can be fun when the new idea takes over and just flows onto the page, the way Overamped did, but the first draft is no more than the starting point. I’ve even started calling them exploratory drafts rather than first drafts. I look at what I wrote, poke at it, probe it, explore option and character interactions. What happens if the girl who dumps Joey before the book opens is also his friend and rival on the snowboard circuit? Rhonda jumps out, ready to take her pleasure wherever she damn well pleases. (If I write a sequel, it’s gonna be Rhonda.) Can I restructure the timeline so the pace is quicker, so the tension builds more?
Gradually the real story emerges from the morass, like a fine pot emerging from a blob of clay. And like clay,the story can be punched back down to the blob and reworked again and again. That’s what I’m doing with Not Forgetting for NaNo — going back to the blob and reworking it from a different perspective, with a different time line.
With the ghost novel, I’m taking a slightly different approach. In a way, it’s been in a revision phase from the beginning. I look at what’s there and add what I know. Bits here, scenes there. I put it aside for a while, take it out again, poke at it some more.
Writing this way is time consuming. I’m never going to be a novel-a-year wonder. But I like the work I produce this way, and I am once again enjoying writing in a way I haven’t for a long long time.
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My muse, ever cooperative and helpful, has decided she doesn’t want to work on novels for now. She wants to work on short stories. She gave me one good idea based on a conversation I overheard at the coffee shop, and then dug around through some old unfinished ideas that she now knows how to make work.
It’s all great, I said, but what about Joey?
Who? she said, throwing another idea onto the pile.
I told her we have to finish Overamped and get it out to agents before she can go play like this. Now she’s sulking.
I don’t believe she wants to work on short stories. She just doesn’t want to work hard. It’s worse than getting teenagers to mow the lawn…
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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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