I’m a Loser Baby

Well, after a month of waiting, 10,000 authors’ blogs will have entry fodder for the day. ABNA announced the winners of those who made it past the Pitch phase in the contest.

General Fiction
YA Fiction

I searched the YA list; not once, nor twice, but seven times to make sure my name was missing. I did a “Find” for my real name, my pen name, my birth name, my mother’s maiden name–just in case. Nothing. So, I repeated the search on the GenFic list, just in case it was mistakenly categorized. Nothing.

So, I am putting the whole experience into perspective.
1. The contest entry is really only equal to a single query submission.
2. I know the pitch I am currently including in queries is much stronger than the original I submitted to the contest.

Here’s the new tagline:

Starting over can be a good thing—unless you’ve already lived a thousand lifetimes,
and still can’t get it right.

Here’s the new Pitch:

Oblivion. Rebirth. Failure. Oblivion.

Capritare has no idea how many times he has repeated this sequence, but he knows it is time to end it. He stands before the three sovereign entities. Which one will lead him to completion: the masculine Yramid, the feminine Pheras, or the mysterious Esque? He will be granted seven such choices in his short lifetime, after which he will be judged.

He is not alone on his quest. Hundreds of others struggle with the ever-changing embellishments of wings, antlers, tentacles; and the search for a lifelong companion. In a world where girls can be masculine, boys can be feminine, and everyone can switch at any time—Capritare experiments to find a mate. His experiences lead him through the sweetness of love, and the pain of disappointment.

As the seventh cycle ends, they each must vow to only one of the entities. Capritare is drawn to one in particular, but he is afraid to eat the proffered seed that will confirm his choice. If it is the wrong one, he will return—yet again—to oblivion.

So, like all the other “losers”, I move on. Time for another querying blitz! And I’ll be trolling the blogs to see how many more response posts I can find.

[Disclaimer: At the request of a friend, I must note that this is not a self-pitying post. The title and use of the the term “Loser” are intended as tongue-in-cheek hyperbole!] ::: insert smirk here :::

ABNA Entry

My entry is in! With a mad scramble over the last month to hone my story to a presentable version, my first novel has been entered into the 2012 ABNA. There was a lot of excitement on the message boards as we awaited the starting gun on 1/23/12 at 12:01am EST.
With only a small issue with my “captcha” not showing up, the process went pretty smoothly. By 12:30am, I received my confirmation email.
Thank you for participating in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest!

We’ve received your entry, “Capritare: The Cycles Begin.”

Your unique ABNA ID is: XHF4QUTB

On February 24, Amazon will announce the round two entries at http://www.amazon.com/abna.

Good luck in the contest!

The Gender Genie

I should be revising my novel. The ABNA contest opens in less than a week. I did tweak my Pitch a bit, and will be editing as soon as this entry is posted.

Discussion threads can be so distracting! Just now, a post led me to Gender Genie which uses an algorithm to analyze a text and guesses the sex of the author. I pasted the first “Cycle” of my novel. Here are the results:

Words: 18431

Female Score: 21692
Male Score: 21345
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

Apparently, by a narrow margin, I write like a girl…

Excerpt from CAPRITARE [Cycle 1]

Alright. I feel like this passage is polished enough to post. Enjoy!

Narrowed eyes told me that others were already planning,strategizing. A six-pointer glared at me. I stared back.
Armidy lifted a large, white stone above his head. Hisarms bulged with the weight of it. The tips of his fifteen-point antlers stretchedhigher than his uplifted hands. I scanned for someone smaller than me–someone I could possibly force to touch the tree.

Armidy slammed down the stone. “Begin!”

Frenzy. There was the instant strain of muscle, bone,and roars. Scattering. My mind whirled. Run! My legs jerked. Catch. Don’t get caught. A tree. Hide. I slid, hit the ground. Lay low.
I could see struggles all around me: large groups wrestling, vying for one another, lone beasts skulking. Locked horns. Bucking hooves. Ferocious eyes. The rotting wetness of the mulch beneath me assaulted my nose. A pair of Yramidians thumped past me. An Esque, captive to their strength, struggled to break free. Her loud screeching echoed off the leaves.
Movement to my left—Neelid. Gasping. He hid with his back against a tree. I peeked out, then crawled to him.

“Cap. This is crazy! I got punched!” He lifted his shirt to reveal a red mark in the shape of a fist burning on his ribs.

“What should we do?” I asked. “Team up and try to get someone?”

“Who? The little ones have already been nabbed.” Neelid hunched lower. “You and I are probably the smallest ones left.”

“So what? We just lay low and wa—?”

I was rising. Jerked. Pressure on my chest. Heat.Tightening. Treetops whizzed overhead. Kick! Kick! I arched my back. Squirmed. Kicked—hard.

Bamm! The hardness of ground. I slowed my racing eyes. The six-pointer was already back up on his knees. His red eyes glowing. His face contorted into every shape of rage.
I leapt up and stumbled to Neelid. “We’ve got to fight him together!”
We stood side-by-side with our backs against a tree.Six lowered his head, cut his eyes up at us, and lunged. Two steps, three. Too quick to dodge.

Pain exploded in my side.

Six pulled back, sliding his antlers out of side. Hot blood ran. He took aim again. I closed my eyes to brace against the pain.

Clash. Clacking of five points on six. Antlers intertwined. A snap like the breaking of a twig. Neelid threw punches with a force beyond his small frame. Searing in my gut. Six scooped Neelid up, slammed him to the ground. Neelid kicked out his legs, knocking Six’s out from under him.

Darkness crept in at the edge of my thoughts.

Booming from afar, “We have our winners! Stop thegame.”

What game? My sight dimmed as Neelid untangledhimself from the six-pointer. White heat shaded with redness blazed at my side.A red vividness streamed out of me. Darkness eclipsed my world with black. Oblivion.


It’s Harder to Write the Pitch than the Novel

Versions of it go by a lot of different names depending on the length & audience.

  • Pitch
  • Hook
  • Synopsis
  • Blurb
  • Logline

What it all boils down to is a succint, catchy description that makes the agent, publisher or potential reader want to know more. Honestly, crafting this tiny beast has proven itself more daunting than the actual writing of the novel. My current challenge: condense 111,000 words into 300 or less.

Here is what I have learned so far. It can’t be merely plot but it has to provide an overview. The description can’t be too specific or too vague. It has to, of course, make the reader salivate for more. And, most importantly, it is hard as hell to get it right.

I am currently on approximate draft number 2,435,872. Just when I think I might have it licked, the awesome folks at Amazon’s Pitch Thread rip it to bits and expose its [many] flaws. I am grateful for the feedback, suggestions & tweaks but the whole process makes me wonder– is my book-writing as bad as my pitch-writing? If so, it looks like self-publishing may be my only option. Ahhh, but the optimistic dreamer in me won’t even entertain the thought!

Publishing Through a Contest?

Different writers have different goals for their completed manuscripts. My personal goal for my novel is to get it published. And I’m not willing to go the self-published route to do it. Depending on who you ask, I’m either a sucker, a dreamer or both.

The NaNoWriMo site doesn’t leave its participants hanging once November fades. They continue to provide resources, links and advice to those hoping to carry on into December and beyond. I learned of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award from their “Now What?” page. My next steps were to set up a CreateSpace account and read the official rules. My novel would fit. With the possibility of a $15,000 advance & a publishing contract, why not try it? Even if I don’t win, the process will be a good learning experience and there is an opportunity to get my manuscript looked at by multiple agents & publishers in a single whack.

It possibly moves me towards my goal to get published. I’m going for it.