10 January 2012

Am I a Masochist? Entering ABNA 2012

It is that time of year once more, the season of the contest! The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards!

I did it last year, on a whim. My book, a literary novel about a doomed relationship (A Beautiful Chill), did not get very far at all in the process. Nevertheless, the contest proved beneficial. Through associations I made I was able to get that book in the hands of a publisher and the book will be available later this year. I also was able to offer another novel (After Ilium) to a different publisher I met through contest participation. After Ilium is now available for purchase in ebook and print formats.

Although I may not show it by jumping up and down in the bookstore aisles (not yet, anyway) or putting my editors in my will, I am pleased with the way things are moving along.

Now it comes again: the Contest. 

I have nothing else to offer that has not already been spoken for in other venues...except one.

Based on last year's rough, cutthroat, backstabbing, heartshredding experience (somewhat for me and distinctly more for some of my colleagues), I know some of us do not relish the idea of diving back into those shark-infested waters, to use a dumb cliche. Some of us don't mind, of course, because we are, by nature, masochists.

Is it oxymoronic to use the words 'writer' and 'masochist' together? Perhaps. Especially in instances where a writer offers up his or her "baby" to the judgment of strangers. Yes, I am speaking of competitions and contests, typically of the sort where hopeful wordsmiths submit their manuscripts to the scrutiny of others. We work hard on a story, crafting it in ways that we believe render it effective and entertaining. That's what we believe, anyway. To be sure of it, we share it. But the process is a little strange.

Imagine if we took our child and treated him or her the way we treat our books? I've worked on this child for several years. We've changed hairstyles, fashions, interests and abilities, but it still has basically the same plot. And we did move from one setting to another, which may have some influence on the latter years. Still waiting to see what happens. So...what do you think? Good? Do you want more? Oh, I can dress him like a girl, if that's what you want. I can also make her talk like a grumpy old man. I can change anything, just please, love my child!

Fortunately, the book baby is a bit easier to deal with. I can take plenty of criticism about myself, my behavior, my quirks, my misanthropic tendencies (in writing, that is), but darned if I'll sit back and let people who don't know me and have no vested interest in what I do or do not do paste their judgments for all to see! Then again, that is part of the process. This is what we expect:

I made this book (that much is obvious). I worked hard on it (perhaps in futility; length of effort does not always correlate with improvement). I like how it turned out (which can possibly be confused with simply being glad that the thing's done). Now I want to know what you think of it (which in many cases seems to be an invitation to shower praise). --Really? That's what you think of my book?

And we swiftly unfriend. And start a new book. Because we are masochists. Because we are writers. Because masochist and writer are synonymous.

So, on that happy, uplifting conclusion, let me announce that for this year's Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, I will offer up for sacrifice the first volume of my sci-fi trilogy The Dream Land. One slant that I shall cleverly take is to label the novel a psychological thriller rather than a work of science-fiction.

The story, you will see if you check here, is about an ordinary guy who quite likely is venturing through an interdimensional portal to another world where he is a lover and a fighter. Or he may be dreaming it all. This matters to folks back home because some people have gone missing and he is the last to see them. Did he accidentaly leave them on the "other side", or have they been conveniently murdered? Ah hah! you might be thinking. I get it! Psycho thrilla masquerading as sci-fi!

In case you are not convinced of my ultimate Winnerness, please consider this cute girl (click her to receive a happy thought)!

Good luck to everyone entering ABNA 2012... but better luck to me!

(C) Copyright 2010-2012 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.


  1. Good luck to you! I am entering my novel again too... not sure why sometimes, why I like the pain of rejection, but there's always the hope that it will do better.

  2. The pain of rejection; ay, there's the rub!

  3. Hi Stephen. Stumbled across your blog when I Googled ABNA 2012 to try and obtain some inside info (if there is such a thing). I'm entering for the first time this year and I'll tell you what: by the looks of it, I wish I hadn't. The blogs are full of doom and gloom and scary stories about broken hearts. Okay, maybe not that bad. Anyway, bottom line, I am petrified of having my 'child' molested :)