BookCon – The book lover’s event to end all book lover’s events

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BookCon. If you haven’t heard of it, take a moment to try and fathom 10,000 people converging on one convention center for two days with the sole purpose of meeting authors, listening to authors speak, and taking in panels on all things related to books.

BookCon Crowd

It’s book mania!

If anyone told me a year ago that I would be signing books at an event this big, I would have laughed uncontrollably. Especially since this time last year I was still querying Fire in the Woods.

Omigosh, I really was still querying! I’m shaking my head. What an insane year this has been!

So, yes, believe it or not, little old me will be there with some of the biggest authors in the world, signing books and meeting fans. (And maybe fangirling a little myself)

Part of me still can’t believe it. It will probably sink in when I get there, complete with a panic attack. Don’t worry, Hubbs is coming with me to give me oxygen.

Soooo, if any of you are coming to New York this weekend, I’d love it if you could stop and say hi! I will be signing FIRE IN THE WOODS at 1:00-1:45 at booth 2579 (The Month9Books booth)

 

Just got off the phone with @iamgeorgiamcbride discussing BookCon 2015 in New York City. Things are getting really exciting!

A photo posted by Jennifer M. Eaton (@jennifer_m_eaton) on

 

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Lesson Thirty from a Manuscript Red Line: Finale! Summing it all up

Wow.  We’ve been looking at this manuscript (again) for 30 weeks. My does time fly!  I think at this point I have hacked up and drilled everything they had to say as much as possible.  The rest of their comments are just repeats of the same mistakes throughout the work.

Sooooo….. This is the last one.  Thirty posts in all.

Announcement!

I have good news to share! The Gold Mine Manuscript (My friends manuscript that all these posts were based on) has been picked up for publication in 2016!  Woo-hoo! Here is proof that one rejection is not the end all of everything. Just dust yourself off, make changes where necessary, and get back into the race!

 

So, did this help you?  Did you learn from this?  I totally did.  My novel is much more crisp, clean, and fluid as a result of all this information.  I hope you have benefitted as well.

Now the only problem is…. What do I post about on Monday nights from now on?

**GACK**  I have no idea!

Here are all the lessons in a sparkly package for you.  If you missed one, I’d suggest going back and taking a look.  Heck, maybe read them over again to get a fresh perspective.

I hope that you have all benefitted from these lessons as much as I have.  I’d also like to send out a special “thanks” to the brave author who was nice enough to allow me to slice and dice her red-lined manuscript for all the world to learn from.

Just out of curiosity, which lessons helped you the most?

I truly hope all of you will have the opportunity one day to add the revised version of the Gold Mine Manuscript into your own libraries.  Once it is published, (with the author’s permission) I will let you know so you can all see the value of good clear suggestions, and the results of hard work and editing.

Introduction

Lesson One:  Write without Looking

Lesson Two:  Do we like your main character yet?

Lesson Three:  Action Action, where is the Action?

Lesson Four:  And Then there was a Conjunction, or Was There?

Lesson Five:  Let’s keep it in the past

Lesson Six:  Watch that Voice!

Lesson Seven:  Where did that character come from?

Lesson Eight:  Magically Appearing Items in the Setting

Lesson Nine:  Written Any Good (Bad) Cliché’s lately?

Lesson Ten:  Girls Rule and Boys Drool

Lesson Eleven: Pre-Telling

Lesson Twelve:  How Are Your Characters Feeling Today?

Lesson Thirteen:  Keeping inside the Point Of View, Part 1

Lesson Fourteen:  Keeping inside the Point Of View, Part 2

Lesson Fifteen:  How Many POV’s Can You Have?

Lesson Sixteen:  Cutting down your Point of View Characters

Lesson Seventeen:  Who are we talking to?

Lesson Eighteen: What makes your story Unique?

Lesson Nineteen: Don’t annoy the reader

Lesson Twenty: Don’t make things so easy

Lesson Twenty-One: Common, and Cliché Themes

Lesson Twenty-Two: Does your Protagonist “Grow Enough?”

Lesson Twenty-Three from a Manuscript Red Line:  Kindle Syndrome

Lesson Twenty-Four: Remembering where your characters are

Lesson Twenty-Five: Bullying for Bully’s sake

Lesson Twenty-Six:  Capital Letters

Lesson Twenty Seven: Fluidity in Action-The Art of a Good Fight Scene

Lesson Twenty-Eight: Very Discreet Point of View Switches

Lesson Twenty-Nine:  Watch your Synopsis

Don’t forget to let me know which one you enjoyed the most!

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Gah! So much going on!

 

What

Omigosh! I have so much going on I totally forgot to post today!

I’m finishing up second round edits on ASHES IN THE SKY, and writing up a formal outline for book four of FIRE IN THE WOODS to submit to Month9Books.

I should know by June 30th whether or not my publisher wants to pick up a fourth book in the series (She chews her nails)

Some big things are coming up.

Saturday, May 23 at 2:00 at Doylestown Books in Doylestown, PA I am going to be part of a huge YA Fantasy book signing event!

This is going to be the first big event I have had the opportunity to be a part of as a Month9Books author. Doylestown Books is quite a hot spot for authors. They’ve hosted some pretty big names so I’m thrilled to be a part of this event.

So exciting!

 

And next weekend is something so huge I still can’t quite get my mind around it. I’ll fill you in on that one in a few days.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful and productive writing week!

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Lesson Twenty-Nine from a Manuscript Red Line: How’s your synopsis?

Side note: This is a repost from February of 2012. At that time, I was finishing a novel that I had spent several years on. I smile when I read things I had to say about that story, realizing that I have written six (yes, six) novels since then, and three novellas. I would never have believed that was possible four years ago when I wrote this.  –Just crazy.

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The publisher talked a lot about the synopsis in the closing comments of the Red-line.  I found this really strange, but I thought it had merit to mention it.

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

The reason I found this strange, was because they’ve already read the manuscript.  They’ve already made comments, and asked for it to be re-submitted.  Why are they even talking about the synopsis?

What it seemed like to me (being an optimist) is that they were actually being helpful.  They probably knew that there was a chance that the author may not make all the changes to their satisfaction, and that she might submit to other avenues.  They were nice enough to point out problems with the synopsis that might help her if she sent it somewhere else.

(Honestly, after reading all their synopsis critiques, I was wondering why they even asked for a “full” in the first place.  I guess you never know.)

So, this is what they said…

They went through a laundry list of what the story “is not”.

It is not about this, it is not about that either.  (Quoting what was mentioned in the synopsis)

It is not a character study on the main character.

The quest is not fleshed out…

These are some of the comments.  I am guessing they are saying that the synopsis was too in-depth and talked about the side plots in the story.

I can totally understand this.  It took me months of writing and digging and cutting and beta-bashing until I finally realized what my story is about…

Magellan Talbot has to save the world.  Too bad he doesn’t know it.

Boom.  Done.  Now, there is a lot of other stuff going on that is SUPER important and makes the story unique, but you wouldn’t believe how hard it was for me to boil it down to the above.  I kept getting bogged down by the details.  The crux of the story is simple.

To save the world he has to save the Goddess.
To save the goddess he needs to fight for her.
To fight for her, he needs to find the Rapier.
To find the Rapier, he needs to remember his dreams…
The catch?  He can never remember his dreams.
Or anything else about who he really is.

There is also a lot of other stuff going on.  There is a love story, and a jealous brother trying to kill  Magellan… but simplicity is the key for the synopsis… I need to use only the elements that draw the story forward that are closely attached to Magellan saving the Goddess.

The publisher’s next comment in the Gold Mine Manuscript was “If the story is about saving (the alternate world) then that’s your focus and everything that happens in the story needs to lead to that point.  And the synopsis needs to be focused on all the activities that happen to get to that point.  Tie in every character that is introduced to get there as well as why and how (the MC) is the true key… build that up and show how that’s important.  Show us through actions and scenes that push the story forward.”

After reading this, I think I may have edited my own summary down too far.  I bought it down to the bare bones of the fewest characters involved that draw the main plot line forward.  And I also think I centered on the WRONG plotline.  My current synopsis is straight and to the point, but it is more centered on the jealous brother… which is important, but not the center.  I also took out Harris, who is probably equally as important in the novel as Magellan is.

Honestly, I am just not qualified to give anyone advice on a Summary.  I am just as lost as the rest of you.  I have helped out others with suggestions, because sometimes it is easier to have someone else boil down your story for you.  The best I can do is give you the exact quote that the publisher wrote for the Gold Mine Manuscript. (above)

Read their comment over carefully, and do your best with it.  And… when you get lost… remember that you have friends in the blogosphere who are always willing to help.

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Wow. Just wow 

Something happened last night that blew my mind. I sat in my car, staring at the email, crying. 
Don’t worry. They were happy tears. 
There are many steps in a writer’s journey. And while I always “hoped” certain things would happen, deep down, I never really expected them to.

I’m not sure what I can share yet, but I wanted to let you guys know : anything can happen.  (especially when you are backed by a publisher that works hard to support their authors and grow their brand)

Have a wonderful weekend!

😊😘😊😘😊😘😊😘😊😘

Jennifer M.Eaton 

Lesson Twenty-Eight from a Manuscript Red Line: Very Discreet Point of View Switches

I’ve talked about this before, but the second time might be a charm.  I think a lot of people are having trouble with discreet POV switches.  The big ones… where we pop heads for half a chapter are easy to find.  The one-liners may be harder to spot.

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

Let’s go back to my little flash fiction scene.  Remember Jason and Eric fighting?  Let’s add a line to that.  (In bold)

Jason grunted as his fist swung toward Eric’s face.  Eric tried to dodge, but instead felt the sting of the older boy’s ring cutting into his jaw.  He fell to the floor with a muffled thump, and groaned as he rolled over. 

Jason wiped his chin and laughed.  “I told you to stay down.”

Eric pushed up onto his knees.  “Why, so you can just pummel me?”  He popped up and swung at Jason, but missed.

Jason ducked and swung at the same time.  There was no time for Eric to react.  His head creaked back, and his jaw rattled as he crumpled to the floor.

Jason breathed heavily, mopping the sweat from his brow.  He grunted and chose his words carefully.  “I told you to stay down, idiot.”  He snickered at the pitiful scene before him, and walked away.

There you have a short-one paragraph POV switch.  The scene is in Eric’s POV.  How would Eric know Jason was choosing his words carefully?  How would Eric know he was snickering at how pitiful he looked?  (Remember Peanut butter and Jelly Syndrome?)  Jason could have just remembered a funny joke.  Eric has no idea what he is really thinking.

The reason I used “Chose his words carefully” which might be a little odd in the example above, was because those were the words used in the POV switch in the Gold Mine Manuscript.  We were in character #1’s POV, and then another character “chose his words carefully”.  They flagged it as a POV switch.

Honestly, before reading their comments, I would have read right over this… I have also seen it in published works, but it is a switch in POV.  Do your best to keep an eye out for little things like this.  It will set your novel apart.

Hope this helps!

 

No, I am not crazy. I’m just really, really anal.

Last week I posted an article about word clouds and how you can use them to spot overused words.

One of the comments, from a dear friend and fantastic author, was this:

Think GirlOk, 300 – 400 times out of 80,000+ words? That’s like what, .005% of your words are the same? seriously woman? You crack me up. 

It got me thinking. “Am I crazy?”

Well yes. Just ask my kids.

But also, no.

I don’t look at 400 occurrences as .005% of the words being the same. My mind calculates the problem as “that word appears at least once a page”.

But, you might say, the words won’t be on EVERY page.  Yes. This is true. However, that means if I skip one page, there might be a page somewhere that has the overused word twice in it. Even worse if there are places where the word might appear more than twice on a page.

And in my worst nightmares, something like this happens. This is an actual screenshot of a page in on of my manuscripts, pre-editing.

1 book page

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Here is the thing: Repetitive use of a word stands out to the reader. Especially when the words appear close together.

As a rule, I try not to use a word more than once every ten pages.

Say_What

Well, that’s what I shoot for. It doesn’t always happen. If I can’t do ten pages (and I try very hard to hit this mark) I try to not repeat in less than five pages.

On rare occasion, I do go less.  But 5-10 pages is what I shoot for.

Is it crazy?

It can take me a week to get rid of a very frequently used word. Sometimes when I’m doing this kind of edit I want to give up and not care… but the end product is unbelievably worth it. I find myself rethinking paragraphs. I find new and interesting ways to describe things. Being this detail oriented takes my writing to a whole new level.

Crazy? Yes.

But for me, it’s a good kind of crazy.cropped-fire-banner-final2.png

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Lesson Twenty-Seven from a Manuscript Red Line: Fluidity in Action – How to write a good action scene

Disclaimer – I have a “rewritten” fight scene below.  It is FAR from well written. There are a few show verses tell issues in it that I hadn’t noticed a few years ago when this originally posted. But I think it still gets its point across. (And I don’t have time to re-write it since this post is already late. Ha!)

An example of a poorly written action scene:

Jason punched Eric in the face.  Eric fell to the floor.  Eric groaned and rolled over.   Jason wiped his chin and laughed.  Eric popped up, and Eric swung at Jason, but missed.  Jason ducked and swung at the same time.  Eric crumpled to the floor.

(Yes, I totally made this paragraph up.)

The publisher’s comment on a similar (but not as poorly written) sceneThis is a very stilted fight scene. It reads action, next action, next action, next action without the fluidity that’s needed for a fight scene.

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

I have to admit, when I read the action passages in the Gold Mine Manuscript, I had the same comment.  The author was satisfied with the speed of the scenes though, and only made moderate changes.  Not being an expert, I backed off and figured it was just a “style choice”.  Guess not.

This fits in very well with my recent post on “Art of the Conflict”.  This scene is not about dialog, but this is definitely a conflict.  This one needs something inserted to break up the action, rather than action inserted to break up the dialog.

Now, I am not going to put a lot of time into this, since the scene is totally fake.  But let me add a little “art” to make it “flow”.  Fluidity is what they asked for.  Okay, here it goes…

Jason grunted as his fist swung toward Eric’s face.  Eric tried to dodge, but instead felt the sting of the older boy’s ring cutting into his jaw.  He fell to the floor with a muffled thump, and groaned as he rolled over.

Jason wiped his chin and laughed.  “I told you to stay down.”

Eric pushed up onto his knees.  “Why, so you can just pummel me?”  He popped up and swung at Jason, but missed.

Jason ducked and swung at the same time.  There was no time for Eric to react.  His head creaked back, and his jaw rattled as he crumpled to the floor.

Better, huh?  Not perfect by a long shot, but not bad for three minute flash fiction.  Can you feel the difference?  The staccato choppy “This happened-That happened” feel is gone, and the scene “flows”.

Of course, this is a first draft.  In editing, I would have to remove the “ing” word and the telly “felt”.  I would also insert a little emotion when Eric realized he missed, but this is definitely better by far than the first.  The art draws you into the scene.  You experience it, rather than just watching it.

The art of the conflict… If you don’t have it, go get it.

If you want to see a great published example, pick up a copy of  THRONE by Phillip Tucker and open up anywhere in the last hundred pages or so.

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Finding the helpfulness in fun things. AKA: Fun and easy ways to improve your writing

About four years ago I posted about a cool website called Wordle (http://www.wordle.net/) that will make a cloud of words from the most used words in your manuscript.

The words that you’ve used the most (AKA the words you may be overusing) will appear the biggest.

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I don’t know what made me think of this suddenly, but I decided to drop the novel I am currently editing with my Month9Book editor into the program.

This is what spit out.

ASHES Wordle2

 

I guess I am not alone in struggling with overused words. I think everyone does to some extent. But I found this very enlightening.

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The largest word is the word that appears the most frequently in the novel.
“David” was not a surprise. The novel is in first person, and Jess spends most of the novel with David.

Runners up

The runners up, though, are cause for concern.  “Eyes” “Like” “Back” and “Dad” all appear equally high, tying for the number two position.

I used search and replace to see how frequently they appeared.

Yikes!

“Eyes=322″ “Like=356″

“Back=406″ and “Dad=390″

“Dad”, like “David”, is probably not a concern, but 300-400 instances of Eyes, Like, and Back certainly are a concern. “Pulled” and “Just” are pretty high up there as well. I will definitely be looking at those, too.

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While word clouds are, for the most part, just fun, you can also use them to point out stuff like this.

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I’d missed this during my own editing before turning in the manuscript. “Back” wasn’t even on my radar screen.

It is now.

Try dropping your current WIP into a word cloud generator. You might be surprised what you find.

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Lesson Twenty-Six from a Manuscript Red Line: CAPITAL LETTERS

2015 note:  The post below is a reblog from 2012. I wanted to note that my current publisher Month9Books does allow all caps, but they must be formatted as smallcaps. (Check Word formatting) In general, though, I would suggest using with caution, and sparingly.  Now on with the post!

Do you use Capital letters when your character yells?  Do you use them for casting spells?  Do you use them for inner thoughts?

Me?   No, Jennifer. 

I would never do such a thing! 

Well, I might… and I have.

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

I briefly mentioned CAPS in my first post on the Manuscript Red Line. (That was over Five months ago… Wow)  Anyway… here is the explanation.  The publisher said:

“The use of capital letters to show emphasis in a scene is not acceptable.  Especially don’t use it with magic, since JK Rowling did it that way.” (The Gold Mine author used caps as the character cast his spells)  “Come up with something new.  This is the key to fantasy – be unique – try not to do what was already done.”

Don’t shoot the messenger… this is their red-line, not mine.

In my novel, the characters don’t cast spells, but I did catch a few YELLING once in a while in CAPITAL LETTERS.  I got so used to looking at it that I liked it, but I have to admit, it works much better as “Get out!” rather than “GET OUT!”.  I use caps a lot for emphasis in my blog, so they may have wiggled their way into my novel.

For all you spell casters out there:  You can do better than JK Rowling.  She had her idea.  Now you need to come up with yours.  What are you going to come up with that everyone else wants to copy?