Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Better Luck Next Time

This morning, Amazon announced the 100 semi-finalists in their Breakthrough Novel Award contest. I am not one of them. Since my sales pitch was good enough to get me past the first round, I’m thinking I should send it out as a query to a few agents and see if it generates any interest.

And now maybe I can focus my brain on my next writing project. I mean, it’s high time I started another novel. I have an idea that’s been rolling around in my head for a month or so. I guess it’s time to put pen to paper and see what comes of it.


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About a month ago I entered my first novel, Black Destiny, in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. The contest is for unpublished novels, with the grand prize being a contract with Penguin for publication and a $25k advance. I figured that since my novel was complete, I may as well give it a go.

I labored to write a 300-word sales pitch in the few days I had before the entry deadline, and ended up with something that was relatively pleasing. The first stage of the contest had the editors at Amazon cutting the initial entries (up to 10,000) down to the top 2,000 based on the sales pitch. Then, volunteer reviewers read the excerpts (2 reviews per excerpt) and based on their scores, the pack was whittled to the top 500 quarter-finalists.

This morning I learned that I made it to the quarter-finals. (Whoo-Hoo!)

The first chapter of my novel is available for free download. Anyone who would like to read it and provide a glowing review (or even an honest review) is more than welcome to, and it would be greatly appreciated.

Over the next month or so, professional reviewers from Publishers Weekly will be reading the full manuscripts of the top 500 and based on their reviews, the two professional reviews from round one, and the reviews/ratings from Amazon customers, the top 100 semi-finalists will be chosen by judges at Penguin. NO PRESSURE THERE!!

After that, the Penguin judges will select the three finalists. At that point, Amazon customers will vote for one of the three and the one with the most votes will be the winner.

I’m just excited to a) still be in the running, and b) have my book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Hopefully my nerves can hold out until April 15th (when they announce the semi-finalists.) Good thing I already filed my taxes. 😛

Also, for anyone wondering, the NANOWRIMO didn’t go quite as planned. I’ll write more about that later, perhaps. (Like when the next one rolls around. )

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OK, Now Where Was I?

Over the past four months, I’ve been kind of sidetracked from my normal novel-writing progress. I met a woman and fell in love. We’re engaged now, and she moved in with me a couple weeks ago. During that time, she’s been just about as distracted from writing as I’ve been. (Of course she’s a writer, what else would you expect?) Now that we’re together, we’ve both got the writing jones and should be back in the swing of things before long.

To that end, we’ve both signed up for the National Novel Writing Month. For those who are not familiar with it, the NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge for writers to crank out a 50,000 word novel entirely within the 30 days of November. I’ve never written that much in that short amount of time, but I figured it would be a good way to get back into the groove.

For the NaNoWriMo, I plan to write a horror novel. A while back, I had an idea for a horror story, which I had planned to make my next novel, but it was turning into more of a police procedural, which I didn’t want. I threw the idea back into the bucket and worked on something else. A couple days ago, I got an idea for how the story should go, so I’m going to roll it around in my head for the rest of the week and then on Saturday I’ll start bashing it out and see how it goes.

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Progress, Behind The Scenes

When I started this blog back whenever, October I think, I decided that if I found it was interfering with my writing, I would stop posting. That’s what’s been going on these past few weeks. I didn’t make a conscious decision not to post here, but all of my free time has been devoted to actually writing, instead of writing about writing.

As a result, I’m making some decent progress on the current project. I completed step six, which was to expand the one-page synopsis into four pages. The cool part was that while I did that, I was able to refer to the character storylines that I wrote in step five, so I could see how the various plot lines and sub-plots started to tie together. For the most part, the synopsis went very quickly because of it.

Next, I’ll be expanding the character descriptions that I wrote earlier, filling in the details of their lives, which may or may not appear in the novel, but which will make them who they are.

The best part is that I don’t even know if this method will work. I won’t really know until the first draft is finished, and that’s a ways off yet.

NOTE: If you missed my post about this new (for me) method of novel writing, check it out here.

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New Story

I finally got off my lazy butt and posted a new story over on my stories page. It’s my vision of where corporate America is heading as wages stagnate and jobs become harder to find here, while other countries see their wages soar, especially in the tech fields that we outsourced in the interest of saving a few bucks.

Check it out on the stories page, or just click here.

All comments are appreciated.

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Let It Snow

I finished up the dossiers for the five main characters in the new novel. The last item on each was a paragraph that explained that character’s storyline. Funny thing was that when I got to the end of the fifth one, I realized that none of them matched all of the details (where people met, etc.) so I went back and tweaked them to bring the mini stories more in line with one another.

Step Four, then, was to expand on the basic storyline I created in Step Two. That was fun; I had to go back several times and adjust details about the characters and even the main story arc. It took three or four tries, so I guess it’s not exactly writing itself (stupid lazy story, making me do all the work.) I think the story that’s forming is a good one, so the extra effort is paying off.

Step Five is to write a one-page synopsis of the story from each character’s point of view. This should be where the details of the story become solidified. Each character has a role to play, so it will be interesting to see how each perceives his or her place in the grand scheme. I should also start to see where minor characters will be needed to provide supporting roles.

All in all, things are going well. I’ll only be able to tell if this method is working once the final product (the rough draft) is complete, but so far I have a good feeling about it.

Well, back to work.

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As I mentioned last time, I began work on my next novel using the “snowflake method.” I got as far as Step Two (of ten) and started spinning my wheels. Step Two is where I take the simple one-sentence storyline that I wrote in Step One and expand it into a paragraph. My original inspiration for this new novel was a shocking moment that would build into a horror story. The concept veered off that path pretty quickly, and the story seemed more like a suspense thriller than a scary tale.

As I worked on Step Two, the story idea morphed once more, this time into a detective procedural. That’s totally not what I wanted to write. I worked at it for a while, but I can’t seem to get away from the detective thing.

So I’m chucking the story back into the bucket of ideas. I’ll let it sit for the time being and see if it eventually becomes what I need it to be. In the meantime, I pulled another idea from the pail and started working on it. It’s pure science fiction, which I enjoy writing. I’ve quickly moved to Step Three, where I flesh out the characters. I already like the protagonist and have a good feeling about his two companions. The bad guy is still little more than a sketch, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a total badass.

The storyline came together very quickly (it almost wrote itself, as they say.) If I take the time to think it through, I have a feeling the story will be huge. I just need to pace myself and build a believable world that’s big enough to hold the yarn that’s unraveling in my head.

Now if only I could spend my days writing instead of going to work…

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