14 January 2013

Let the ABNA begin!

Now, finally, the new year has begun in earnest--with the opening of the annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition!

I have entered again. This is my third year. Unlike past years, I feel smugly confident this time.

In 2011, I didn't know what I was doing and solicited a lot of advice and feedback and changed my pitch and excerpt significantly with every suggestion. I don't know what I ended up with when someone from the competition finally read them, but I did not go anywhere. My literary fiction work was seen by a publisher, however, and I had some satisfaction playing the "under consideration" author for a while.

In 2012, I switched to sci-fi, the first of a trilogy. Other than a few minor corrections I did not solicit or accept feedback. I trusted my instincts. I got through the pitch round and in the excerpt round, I got a good review and, unfortunately, a second review which seemed "phoned in" and too general to really apply to my particular book. Out.

This year, I've returned with my 2011 entry, literary fiction again but newly revised, especially at the beginning. Regardless of the adventure I had with it the past year-plus, I think it is better, tighter now, and more compelling at the start than the previous version. So I feel confident in its success, both in the pitch and the excerpt rounds. Past those, all bets are off.

Here's my pitch:

Just get home safely, thinks Eric as rain pummels his car. When he offers a ride to a rain-soaked girl, he discovers she’s the art student he met a month earlier at an exhibit. Tonight, however, everything changes.
Iris is a refugee from an abusive youth in otherwise idyllic Iceland, and further abused on the streets of Toronto--until she sees her art talent as a way to escape. Now with a scholarship, she drifts from depression to nightmare to Wiccan rituals to the next exhibit. There’s a lot she must forget to succeed in a life she refuses to take responsibility for.
Eric is still settling in at Fairmont College, starting a new life after being twice betrayed and left heartbroken. Divorced and hitting forty, he has a lot to prove--to his father, his academic colleagues, and mostly to himself. The last thing he needs is a distraction--and there’s nothing more distracting than Iris.
With the campus a battlefield of gender politics and Eric’s colleague charged with sexual harassment, these wounded souls find comfort together. In the light of day, however, Iris returns to her student life, ready to forget him, while Eric becomes obsessed. Just as Eric gives up, he finds Iris in his class the next semester with secrets for sale.
Realizing they are trapped by fate, Eric persuades Iris they should become a couple. Yet as Eric tries to tame her, Iris pushes him to be more outrageous. The tug-of-war escalates until, on a spring break trip, their relationship explodes into a cruel mind game that could destroy both of them.
A BEAUTIFUL CHILL (117,000 words) is a postmodern cross between "Pygmalion" and "Lolita" that deconstructs an impossible relationship between opposites and cruelly crushes campus love story memes while snowballing to its stunning conclusion.

Link to excerpt:


Good luck to all my fellow ABNA contestants, but slightly better luck to me!

Related post: Am I a Masochist entering ABNA 2012?

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 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.

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