Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013, Entering: Stupid Questions

I decided to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition for the third year in a row, but I am doing so with my newest novel: Stupid Questions.

This contest’s a little weird because if you win you have to sign their contract with full knowledge that it can’t be negotiated. Once when I heard agents talk about their clients entering it, one of them said “I wish her all the best but I hope she doesn’t win.” There’s still a lot of good stuff to be had in the experience of entering, but yeah, that “you have to sign the contract no matter what” thing does give me pause. Oh well. I entered.

This book is the shortest one I’ve written, and it’s in one of the adult categories—science fiction—instead of the YA category like the last two years I’ve entered. I don’t know how well I’ll do here, since I have a suspicion that my story arc could be interpreted as a navel-gazer of a romance rather than a book with a plot, but we’ll see if I make it through to the second round.

The contest has changed this year in that it no longer offers a chance to win a publishing contract with Penguin.  It is now a traditional publishing contract through Amazon’s publishing group itself (not the same one that handles self-publishing, though), and there will be FIVE winners—one in each category—with one of those five winning a larger advance. The international Amazon contest stops taking entrants once it hits 10,000 people.  Each of us has to send in a pitch statement, a bio, an excerpt, and a full manuscript.

The second round will involve the 10,000 entrants being cut down to 2,000 Second Round competitors based entirely on our pitch.

This is my pitch statement:

Camera guy Nick Harris lives in a rational world—or so he thought. He’s no longer sure what’s real when the enigmatic Summer Astley appears on his news show displaying genuine telekinetic powers . . . and a charming smile. As mutual attraction brings them together, Summer reluctantly trusts Nick with her secret doubts and heartbreaking loneliness, leaving him puzzling over how to chase a down-to-earth romance with a girl who can fly.

But Summer isn’t the only one with unusual abilities. Nick’s got a knack for understanding other people—sometimes to the point that he accurately guesses their thoughts. Summer, eager to connect with someone like herself, presses Nick to accept that his “good people skills” are far from ordinary, but Nick isn’t buying it. And he certainly doesn’t want it to be true. After all, being too perceptive creeps girls out and gets guys dumped.

As a strained long-distance relationship develops between them, Summer and Nick face shared challenges and personal demons. Summer struggles to balance her supergirl public image with her love life, and she fears getting attached in the wake of a recent loss. And Nick feels disconnected communicating across state lines without the subtle cues he’s used to—not to mention he may be unable to handle the occupational hazards of dating a super-powered celebrity. As they learn what it will take to keep their unsteady partnership alive, these exceptional people find themselves asking as many questions as they answer.

With a refreshing lack of superhero hijinks, Stupid Questions presents an everyday romance between extraordinary people. Combining science fiction elements and an original male perspective, the story breathes new life into the classic “boy-meets-girl” scenario. Readers who prefer romance without a side of fluff will appreciate this authentic character-driven tale of outsiders yearning for connection.

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