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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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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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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Experiment: I’ve made an appointment with myself to tackle the difficult part of Joey’s chapter one. I signed up for the edit marathon at Forward Motion, and starting Monday morning I’ll tackle the edit.
I’ve not had good luck with trying to impose outside deadlines or schedules on myself, but maybe I’ll have better success with a simpler technique. We’ll see.
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