Category Archives: Author Advice

Omigosh! This book stinks! [Gasp] But I’m the author who wrote it!

The last two months have been eye opening. I remembered THIS POST and had to come to terms with what really made me write the words: For the first time in my life, typing “The End” felt like a huge relief rather than an epic accomplishment.

Now that I’ve worked with a professional developmental editor, and had a face-to-face chat with my publisher’s managing editor, I had to come to terms with how nicely they were telling me that my book wasn’t quite up to expectations.

Yikes!

And as I read over the editors comments, and read the manuscript again after a several month hiatus, I had to agree. What I thought I’d written, and what was actually on the pages, were two excruciatingly different things.

Ugh_Back_to_the_drawing_boardLuckily though, it was not the story that was a problem. It was the execution in some sections, and a missing link that made the crux of the story confusing. (Among other smaller mistakes)

Several times I’ve explained that my writing process is this:

  1. Write/finish book.
  2. Write/edit/finish something else to “cleanse my pallet” from book #1
  3. Then go back and edit book number one.

The reason behind this is simple… I need time to get away from a story so I can look at it objectively. I did not have this precious time for this novel. I wrote it in two months, and then immediately edited it and submitted it in order to make the tight deadline.

Even at that time, I was a little unsure about the novel. Something seemed wrong, but I was unable to step away and give myself the needed time to think it over … and it was glaringly obvious.

Getting ready for the overhaul

PKO_0002742Knowing I was walking into a TON of editing work, I immediately asked for a one month extension (two months of editing time rather than only one—the same amount of time it took me to write the first draft!) This gave me the breathing room to go over all the suggestions and make easy changes in the first read through; make wider, more sweeping changes and rewrites in the second read-through; and then take a third read through to tweak scenes to make them more engaging.

After that third read, I must admit, I was smiling.

Don’t ever discount the value of a good developmental editor who is not afraid to tell you that there are problems… also, don’t beat yourself up over those problems … just look at them as an opportunity.

Looking back, I still wish that I’d submitted a much better manuscript to begin with, but now I know that with enough time, I can make sure that the words on the page actually relay the story that I intended to tell, and not just the story that I thought I’d told.

Finishing this edit did not feel like a “huge relief” as it did when I first submitted the novel. I feel accomplished and extremely excited by the FIRE IN THE WOODS series again.

And guess what? There are a couple of teenagers hiding inside me waiting to save the world at least one more time. And now I can say with a smile that I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble they get into next time.

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Dear Mr./Ms. Publisher: May I have my rights back, please? Getting a Rights Reversion for Your Book.

Now Available from Jennifer M. Eaton

Cover Copyright MuseItUp Publishing

For the last three years, I’ve been scratching my head over the lack of sales for The First Day of the New Tomorrow. Even the success of Fire in the Woods did nothing to trigger interest in this little treasure trove of paranormal explosive happiness.

I volunteered for promotions, dropping the book down to $.99 for a short time, but nothing seemed to have a lasting effect.

In April, 2016, my contract was due to rollover. After long, hard deliberation, I decided to ask for my rights back.

The market is a very different place now than it was three years ago. In a world where so many people are placing full length books on sale for $.99, (or free) the novella format is really taking a hit.

I mean, I get it. I wouldn’t pay $2.50 for a novella when I could get a longer book for $.99. It really doesn’t make sense.

But writing that “Dear Publisher” letter was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Part of me likes seeing multiple titles available. It boosts my inner ego. But I had to be honest with myself. The truth was, nothing was happening with a story that I love. No one was reading it.

A story that is not read is like a puppy not getting any love.

It’s wrong, and I owe it to those characters and the world that I built to give them the chance to be read.

I couldn’t do that at the $2.50 price point.

PKO_0013466 sadThankfully, a few days after my request, my publisher agreed that due to the changing market, this was probably the best thing to do. There was no yelling, no ranting and raving, no challenge that I still have four months left in my contract. All of the sudden, The First Day of the New Tomorrow just started to disappear from distributor cyber-shelves. (Note: this is not always typical. I’ve heard of publishers holding on to rights until the end of the contract no matter the sales.)

Yes, having New Tomorrow leave distribution makes me sad, but now I have the power to offer this story to readers as I see fit. happy smileIt is already written and edited for publication. The hard part is done. Now I can set off on a new adventure … Hopefully where the story can be read by a wider market.

I hope it’s a fun ride.

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How the heck do you write all this stuff?

Last week I shared my writerly “To Do” list, which included:

  1. 1 novel about to release
  2. One in developmental (publisher) edits
  3. Two completed novels just sitting in my computer
  4. Four first drafts
  5. One 95% complete work in progress
  6. Five 5000-10000 word outlines of soon to be written novels

I discussed a little about how I ended up having so many “almost complete” books, and I wanted to discuss the madness of my writing process a little.

My MO used to be:

  1. Write a first draft
  2. Leave #1 to simmer while I write a first draft of something else or edit something else
  3. If I edited, send completed piece out to query. If I wrote, let that one simmer.
  4. Go back to draft in #1 and start editing
  5. Rinse, repeat.

Basically, I liked to distance myself from something before I started editing. It worked well for me for quite a few years, until I suddenly found myself with three contracted novels to write, edit, submit (on time) and publish/promote an all that good stuff.

While writing the series has been a blast, it’s given me WAAAAY to much “simmering” time on all the other projects that I have. And when I had some “down time” from FIRE IN THE WOODS, all I wanted to do was start something new in a completely different world. THAT’S why I am 95% through with a novel that I just love the stinking alien pants off of. (Does that even make sense? Aww, who cares?)

So, will I ever get back to all those first drafts?

I sure hope so, since each of them adds up to a significant hunk of writing time, and a story that meant a lot to me.

But another thing that I am very aware of, is that I learn something every time I write a book. Also, my style changes exponentially.

I am a hugely different author now than I was just a few years ago. Part of me is AFRAID to go back to those works, because I know I will not be as happy with them as I was when I wrote them.

So what is really on tap after I finish book three?

My #1 goal is to finish and submit the novel that is currently 95% done. I think the timing is perfect for that one, and I know Fire in the Woods fans will just love it.

I have one more publisher project that I will probably have to work on soon after that is done.

Then the next project after that will be the Adult Science Fiction Horror that is in first draft form.

Why that one?

Well, for one thing, it is one of the later things I’ve written, so I hope it is in the best shape. Also, I think it is wildly original. The idea still makes me want to read it.

After that is done, yes, I will probably start something new, because I don’t like to do that much editing back to back. I prefer to switch things off once in a while.

The best-plans are meant to be broken

I’m smiling as I write this. Plans are made to be broken. Especially in publishing. Because all that would have to happen to completely blow this plan out of the water would be for one more title to get published. (Which, of course, would be great.)

Come to think of it, I really HOPE that my plans get ruined again this year.

 

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Being an Author is a Full Time Job

Today I needed to sit back and come to the realization that being an author is a full time job.

When I already have a full time job, and a part time job that becomes a full time job in November and December, I need to take a deep breath and realize that something’s gotta give.

PKO_0010650 pink robe clockIf there are 168 hours in a week and I have three jobs that take 40 hours a week, plus I need to sleep eight hours a day… well, if you do the math, we come up short.

That is why I haven’t been blogging all that much, and while I love popping in and chatting here, I need to be realistic.

Now that I am a published author I have things like editorial deadlines, appearances, and marketing all on top of my daily 500-1000 words a day writing goal. (Plus, of course, the full time job and part time job that pay the bills)

 

That is an awful lot to keep up on.

PKO_0013466 sadWhen ASHES IN THE SKY was pushed back 6 months, I realized that I wasn’t writing for myself anymore. There are people out there in the world waiting to read my next book, and when it doesn’t make the original pub date, there are a lot more people than just me disappointed. So-even though the ASHES delay was out of my control, I need to make sure I make every deadline to keep my books moving on schedule.

So, as you might have guessed, blogging is one of the things that’s gotta give. But I won’t be abandoning this site. I still love it here. I just can’t commit to a schedule. While I love a challenge, adding another thing on to what I “have to do” would just be insanity.

I will be popping in to provide words of wisdom, or to laugh at my idiocy. Because hey, the therapeutic value of coming here and hanging out totally has its value too. I will try to pop in at least once a week, but if I don’t make it, blame the aliens.

Back to the trenches I go.

Now that ASHES IN THE SKY is complete, I’m working with my editor on book three of Fire in the Woods. (Yes, already. Can you believe it?)

Plus I am plugging away a scene at a time trying to finish book one in my new series.

Yes, writing is a full time job. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

An Author’s Work Is Never Done. No, Seriously… It’s not. You have NO idea.

As I squeezed out the final edits of ASHES IN THE SKY, I was ready to sit back, relax, and coast through the holidays. Wow, was I looking forward to taking a break, relaxing with my family, and maybe even finishing my new book!

But my bubble popped when less than a week after handing in the final copy of ASHES to be sent to the formatter, the developmental edit of Book Three of FIRE IN THE WOODS appeared in my email.

Seriously

I was floored. The developmental edit is usually the most time consuming, and while it is not as tedious as fine tuning, it will definitely suck up most of your life. And my due date was only forty days away.

Goodbye, Christmas break.

After a discussion with my lead editor, we decided that another month would not hurt the schedule. Where that did not leave me “off the hook”, it did certainly take some of the pressure off. Especially since some of the changes were going to be extensive.

Alien Huh CloseSo I dug in, getting about a quarter of the way into the manuscript… before the final formatting proof of ASHES IN THE SKY came back. [head hits desk]

Yep, it’s a funny business like that.

Subtract one week from that extra month of editing, because I now needed to re-read book 2 word by word to make sure there were no problems.

Thankfully, I have finished that proof as of this post. I’m not sure if I’ll have to look at it again since I did require some changes.

So, for now, I am back to those developmental edits.

PKO_0002742

 

If anyone tells you being an author is easy, let me know their name.

I will write their character into a book and Torture them a little.

Hey, it’s the least I can do. {smiles}

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Rekindling your writing mojo after taking an unplanned hiatus

I’m a stickler for goals. I love them.

I love achieving them more.

But sometimes life gets in the way, and goals need to be realigned.

I’m currently 70,000 words into a 50,000 words YA science fiction novel. Yup, that was right – 20,000 words over goal, and I probably need another 15-20,000 to finish.

Think GirlThis was problem #1: I carefully planned out when I needed to finish my novel before my edits came back for ASHES IN THE SKY. Yes, I achieved my 50,000 words on time… but when I got there, my story wasn’t finished. So I kept writing—Even took a writer’s weekend in hopes of finishing the book before I needed to start editing again… but even that only got me smack up against the beginning of the climax, where my main character is staring down at her worst nightmare come true.

A very BAD place to stop writing.

At the most important place in my novel to KEEP WRITING, I was forced to stop for a two-week marathon run of editing, which in of itself would have been fine. But then life problem #2 happened. A huge project at my day job had me working through my precious lunch breaks, and even far into the evenings, leaving my precious characters stagnant, facing horrible trauma and impending doom for an additional two weeks.

An entire month without writing something new

It was a month to the day when I finally got back to my story, and I sighed seeing where I had left my characters. So I did the only thing I really could do.

I opened up to page one, and I did an editing run.

Wait----What

 

 

You should always finish your book before editing! Yes, this is true, but after being away for so long, I needed to re-familiarize myself with the characters, the plot, the tone, and the voice (Especially since I had spent a few week’s back in Jess Martinez’s quirky head)

The deep edit on those 70,000 words took about a week, and even then, I found myself at a loss when I came to the end.

Was this book still inside me? With the kind of tension build I created over all those chapters, would I be able to deliver the goods in the climax?

I knew I had to shake it off, but instead, I kept going back to earlier chapters and revising something else.

Then, finally, I got back to the last scene that I’d written a month ago. That first sentence was the hardest sentence that I’ve ever written. It took me about an hour to type 100 words. Horrible.

Welcome back, muse!

But then the magic muse finally took hold. The characters reignited in my brain. I jumped back on the rollercoaster, ready to sprint to the finish line with them.

Yes, I am excited about this story again. I’m excited to get it out in the world.

All I had to do, was force myself through those pesky 100 words to get myself started.

Yup, feels good to be hanging out with imaginary people again.

 

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One Stop for Writers – Something New from the Authors of the Emotion Thesaurus

We all know just how much sweat, courage and persistence it takes to write a book and then release it into the world.

Writing is tough, isn’t it?

I mean, who says I can’t use the word “sad” fifteen times on the same page?

My character is SAD Dangit!

Ha!

I don’t think there are too many authors out there these days that have not heard of the Emotion Thesaurus.

Mine always sits snug at my side while I’m editing.  That’s why I’m kinda excited about One Stop For Writers.

This site, coming to you from Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, and Lee Powell, creator of Scrivener for Windows is being touted as a “powerhouse online library is filled with one-of-a-kind descriptive thesaurus collections, tools, tutorials and much more, all geared to provide the resources you need to strengthen your prose and write more efficiently.”

Normally I wouldn’t give something like this a blink, but I’ve learned to trust Becca and Angela. Because woe to anyone who tries to steal my Emotion Thesaurus.

So that’s why I’m helping to spread the news on this new site. If you are a writer, hop on over and give it a look. You might be glad you did.

Writers Helping Writers is hosting the Launch Week festivities (October 7-14th)! If you know Angela, Lee and Becca already, you probably can guess there will be some great prizes, and probably a bit of paying-it-forward too.

Have fun and good luck!

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The development of a writer: Are you getting any better?

I just had a realization that has me bashing my head against my keyboard.

I think I might be a better writer now, then I was a year ago.

How did I come to this epiphany?

Ashes Teaser postponedAs some of you have noticed, Ashes in the Sky is late. Ashes, Book Two in the Fire in the Woods Series, is now (I think) on its third editor (Maybe the fourth. I’m losing count.)

This is both good, and bad.  It’s good, because I am getting extra eyes on the book, and each of the umpteenth editing rounds I do, the book gets infinitely stronger. (It’s not the editing rounds that are making it late by the way. Publishing is a fickle business. “Things” happen.)

So what’s got bugs in my bonnet?

Ashes1I jut started my final (I hope) round of edits before the proofread. Since this has been through SO MANY editing rounds, the novel should be pretty near perfect, right?

It’s not.

I’ve already gone through the entire manuscript and accepted, rejected, or revised according to the editor’s suggestions. The hard part is over.

Today, I started reading from page one, giving one final check before the proofread.

Here is where the banging my head part comes in.

I’m stunned at how many changes I am making, and I’ve only gotten through the first fifty pages of so.

I see things I didn’t see before. I am finding sentences that could be stronger. I’m replacing lazy verbs with robust ones. I’m finding paragraphs that don’t read quite right, and making them flow. And I even found a scene that had to be completely re-organized to make it make sense chronologically.

Could it be that I am incredibly picky and hard on myself?

PKO_0005301Well, yes. If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you already know that is true. But I think the BIG difference is that I finished this novel November 2, 2014. That is almost a year ago, and since then I have completed two more novels. You always hear that practice makes you better. I think this is the case here.

Now that have two more novel’s worth of experience under the keys on my keyboard, and I am unwilling to let ASHES go to press when it’s not as perfect as I can get it.

Will it ever be perfect?

No, of course not, but I’m working darn hard to make sure it lives up to who I am now as a writer, and not who I was a year ago.

This kinda makes me nervous to think that I have three more novels that I completed BEFORE the contract offer for this series that I left on the back-burner to edit and submit another day. I shiver to think about the editing of those. I might have to set them aside as learning experiences.

Or maybe use them as 80,000 word detailed outlines, and start over from scratch.

Has this happened to you? Do you see yourself developing the more you write? Try reading something you wrote a long time ago, and let me know what you see.

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Newsletters. Are they really worth all the effort? Part 1

The big buzz out there in marketing land right now is newsletters.

I’ve heard of newsletters before. I even have a newsletter signup in my sidebar, but I haven’t really promoted it on my blog. After all, you read me here every week. Why would you want to get my newsletter?

BullyAdmission of guilt: The truth is that even though I had a sign-up, I hadn’t actually ever written a newsletter – so I wasn’t all that worried about it.

Anyway, a few months ago a friend of mine linked me in to a group of sci-fi authors that were joining forces for a massive newsletter promotion. I figured for an entry fee of $10, the worst that could happen was I’d lose ten bucks. And the best thing that could happen was I’d sell a few books, or one of my wonderful 15 newsletter subscribers might win one of the three Kindle Fires or the gift cards they were giving away. So I joined up.

And then the learning process began.

Before the promotion went out, I did something I’d never done before. I felt bad that I only had 15 subscribers to add to the “pool” that would be getting this massive promotion. (Some of the authors had thousands—one had 22,000 subscribers. Crazy)

Anyway, I wanted to pull my weight, so I got on my biggest fan-based social media (Instagram) and announced I had a newsletter if anyone wanted to sign up.

Say_What

Imagine my surprise when 50 people signed up over the weekend. Say what? That was score number one that I could have achieved at any time I wanted. I just had no idea that anyone would even be interested!

That, in of itself, was worth the $10.00! I only wish I’d known sooner!

So take away number one is that it doesn’t hurt to ask. You might be surprised how many people might actually be interested in hearing from you in a newsletter.

I’m going to split this into two post so I don’t take too much of your time, but you might find the rest of this story very interesting. I know I did!

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Writing (or not writing) in Omnipotent POV (Or is that Head Hopping?)

I recently was contacted by a friend who I did a beta read for, asking for help.

She wrote her manuscript from an “omnipotent” point of view, which means you are inside every character’s head, and hear all their thoughts.

Think GirlApparently I was not the only one who cautioned her against this. She asked for tips on how to fix her manuscript to not make it sound like “head hopping”.

As I typed up my lengthy response, I figured it might be beneficial to others as well.  Hope this helps … and before anyone starts yelling, remember that SEVERAL beta readers had told her that the head hopping in her manuscript was jarring.

This was my response:

Omnipotent POV is very hard these days. In my opinion, it is a very “old” kind of writing. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Many classics are written in this fashion.  The problem with omnipotent in contemporary writing is that readers have become accustomed to a deeper experience. And from what I’ve seen, the deeper the better. This can only be done effectively with one POV per scene.  More than that and the reader gets confused, and it is harder for them to immerse themselves in the story.

When I was trying to defend my own Omnipotent manuscript a few years ago, (a mutual friend) recommended a romance novel to me, written by a best selling author that had sold a gazillion copies.  I read it, but to be honest, even though she was trying to help me defend omnipotent, it made me completely change my mind. The “head hopping” was far more distracting than I ever thought it would be reading a professional book.

All this to say… that most (not all) publishers will be more comfortable with third person or first person POV, and having only one POV per chapter (or a scene break, but I personally prefer one per chapter

Has omnipotent been done? Of course. Has it sold?  Yup. Is it as good as deep POV from a single character? – debatable, and depends on what you think is good. From what I have seen, It looks like the people doing it are well established, and publishers (and readers) will buy their books no matter what.

For newbies like us, you might want to be cautious.

However, if you love the omnipotent, and think you NEED it, go for it! It might end up excellent. You could start a new trend.

(Note: I did show her in her novel that almost every scene cold have easily been written in one character’s POV, or switching up with a scene break)

Just do so with caution, knowing that it could potentially be an instant deal breaker for some pubs and agents. (As any POV could be, but more so than the more accepted methods these days.)

I did read an article written by an agent last year (cannot remember who is was, sorry) that said that omnipotent was “lazy writing” and put it out there in the category of manuscripts with show verses tell issues

Will everyone think that way?  No, of course not.

Again, this is just to make you realize what you might be up against. If you do choose to do omnipotent, it needs to flow fluidly from one character to another so it is not jarring. I think this is something that will just take a lot of practice until you get it right

Best of luck whatever you decide!

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