Category Archives: Row 80

Digging through the monotony of writer’s block. Yes! It can be done!

I was recently a ROW 80 sponsor.  This is a re-blog of the post I did for Row 80, in case some of you didn’t bop over there.  Enjoy!

So, how are we all doing?  Having trouble getting started?  Ugh!  I hate that too.

Personally, I don’t believe in writer’s block.  What you need is just a little inspiration.  Where do you find inspiration?  Well, anywhere.

A good solid writer can make a story out of anything.  You just need to take that first step forward.

But how do you take that step?

Did you see a billboard or magazine advertisement this morning?  Take the person in that picture and write about them.  Are you stuck in the middle of your novel and don’t know where to go?  Read on, my friend, read on…

Here is my method of getting started.  It has never failed me.  You need to start with a character or a setting.  Who or where does not matter.  Just start.

If it is a character, have them take a step.  If it is a scene, just show your reader where they are.  I am going to grab a name out of the air, and see what happens.  Okay?  John is the name.  Here we go:

“John shivered as the cool breeze slapped at his cheeks.  The walk ahead was long and hard, but he needed to make this journey.  More than anything else, he needed to find Geraldine.”

Now, I had no pre-conceived idea in my head when I started.  I just grabbed the name “John” out of the air, and added a setting element.  Within a few seconds, he was looking for someone named Geraldine… and that was completely unplanned.

Now, I just need to let the story “happen”.  The seeds have been planted.  John has to walk in the cold.  Where is he going?  Dunno, but I know it leads to Geraldine.  Isn’t that exciting?

The way I’ve use this method in the middle of a novel, is I take a character, have him sit outside a door, and actually write his thoughts as he figures out what he needs to do.  He doesn’t know what’s going to happen… you don’t know what’s going to happen either.  Just work it out together.

Now, you might not actually be able to use that 2-3 paragraphs that you write in that character’s POV, but just writing and “getting into their head” will start the creative juices flowing.

The important thing is to get words on the page.  Once they start flowing, you might be surprised how hard they are to stop.

Unfortunately, now I’m DYING to know more about John and Geraldine.  Ugh.  Another story begging to be written.

Good luck!

Hey! Look at me! I’m a ROW 80 Sponsor!

Wahoo!  We are well into Round 2 of Row 80, and I am proud to be one of the sponsors helping out the lovely and talented Kait Nolan on her ambitious endeavor to keep writers writing.

Today, you can find me ranting about how to get started on a new work, or how to write your way out of writer’s block over at the Row 80 site.  (Just scroll down after Kait’s Wednesday check-in to see my words of wisdom)  Hop on over and give a look.

As for me?  Where am I?

I am struggling to keep my head above water… that’s where I am.  I was hoping to have a sports-free spring, but that didn’t work out.  Why do parents suffer when kids want to do sports?  My goodness… I want to support my kids, but what a time suck!  Don’t these other parents have writing to do after their normal workday?  Blogging?  Publisher’s deadlines?  Critiquing?  Oh… I’m the only one who does that.  Ergghhhh.

I am sticking with my one goal for 2012.

And guess what?  If you haven’t heard… YES!  I am getting published!

See that pretty little book cover to the right?  Yep, that’s my name!

But signing the contract does not mean the work is done.  I’m busy editing and reworking right now, and working through my marketing plan.  It’s tons of work.

I’m also playing around with a new idea in my head.  I need to get it outlined so I can start the fun of exploding things writing something new.  I guess that is my short-term goal… get through the outline so I can get to the fun part.

How are things in your writing world?

Row80 — I Finished My Novel!!!!!!

Well, the Header post says it all.

I am all grins and giggles galore.

Can you guys see me smiling all the way in Argentina?  Canada?  UK?  Well, if you were wondering what that bright light was here in the USA its ME!

Here are the final stats for all you who’ve been traveling this journey with me.

109,812 words, 411 pages

I was trying to edit down to 100,000, but that was just so I could submit to a single publisher who maxes out at 100,000.  I started this mad edit at about 120,000 words, and when I got it to where it is now, I decided to heck with it.  This is my novel, and it is perfect.  Taking anything else out at this point would make the story suffer.  I will always take creative critisizm, and am ready for it, but this is where I am staying for now.

Edit stats:

65,724 words cut from the first draft.  That’s 233 pages.  Funny, I think the first draft was only a little over 350 pages.  It shows you what kind of roller coaster ride you can take on the way to perfection.

My Row 80 goal for the end of the year was to finish HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT, and here I am.  Wow.  What an amazing feeling.

I’m going to submit my one and only recent Short Story to a magazine shortly.  I have a few comments from Betas to look over, and am waiting for my “subject matter expert” to get back to me to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes.

I need to pick some new beta readers and “just plain readers” to do one last read of HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT now that it is complete.  Some of it has been changed so drastically that no one but me has read many of the chapters, and I need to take my own advice and NEVER query anything that hasn’t been fully and completely Beta-Read.

Anyone interested?

If you are, send me an email.  (there’s a “contact” button in my header bar.)  I better note that I can’t do a mutual beta exchange with EVERYONE who follows this blog.  I’m not Wonder Woman (although my kids think I am) but I can take on 5 Beta partners if you think your manuscrupt is ready.

Thanks everyone for your support.  I hope your week has been as exciting!

Row 80 12-4-2011 I’ve Been SOOOO Behind!

First of all, I need to start this off with a GREAT BIG  I’m sorry.

I have been so stinking behind this week I can’t stand it!  I feel really bad, because this is an interactive blog, and I’m supposed to COMMENT, but this week, it was just not meant to be.

It started out with a big surprise getting the Versatile Blogger Award (Thanks Again!)  Then, of course being anal as I am, I stressed over it, mulling through all the blogs I like and making sure I picked out the good ones that were also visually appealing and friendly.  Wow… I probably over thought that.

Honestly, I have not even had a chance to tell everyone who I nominated, although it looks like a few of you found out already. Congrats, guys!

Then, my computer goes and dies and holds a month’s worth of work for hostage.  See my post on freezing my computer.  It actually worked, and it is working absolutely fine now… too funny.

On the writing front, I wanted to finish the final read of my novel this week, and I came pretty close, but losing my computer for a day really put me behind, as well as a minor medical problem that lost another day.  The Holiday selling season has taken up a lot of my time at night, too.  So my next few weeks may be a bit of a struggle as well.

The good this is that I was able to hold to my blog schedule (only one day behind on “Gold Mine” due to my frozen computer)

I was able to read 85 percent of my novel prepping it for the final beta read round.

I also made a decision on the Matt’s hair chapters.  Guess what?  They stay.  Sorry.  What I figured out is that totaling it all up, this chapter and the references were only 2,000 words (not 4,000 like I originally thought)  The big problem is, if I take them out, I will need to insert something else, because there are three dream sequences that are broken up by those scenes.  So… Why cut 2,000 words that work to add another 2,000 words to make the story flow well?  I know someone will say that this scene does not drive the plot of this novel, but it does drive the plot of the series.

Deep down, I know that some editor is probably going to flag this theme, but for now, Matt is going to cut his cog-biting hair!

I guess the same as last week, minus the cuts.  With all that is going on right now I just want to finish reading, and hopefully give that blessed “The End” marker on my final draft so I can get it out to some beta-readers.  (One has a head start and is around half-way through)

On December 8th you’ll be seeing my entry post for Brenda Drake’s Can we guess your character’s age contest.  I never met a contest I didn’t like!

Oh Yeah!  I also need to let the rest of the people who haven’t found out yet that I nominated them for Versatile Blogger!

Ugh!  I hate being behind!

Jennifer Eaton

ROW 80 Update for 11-27-2011

For the first time, I can actually say I completed ALL MY GOALS for this week… probably because I only gave myself one really nasty one… just to make sure I did it.

#1:  I finished the ever-elusive “Matt” scene.  This is one of those “big bang” scenes that really needs to work and read well.  It was originally too long – almost 7,000 words.  Now it is trim and lean and cut to 850 words.  I took out all the detail that everyone was finding confusing, and went just for the action.  I think it works much better.

#2:  I wanted to put a big dent in Jennifer Hubbard’s THE SECRET YEAR.   I am happy to say that I finished it.  I am trying to decide if I should do some kind of review on it or not… especially since it is the first book that I’ve actually managed to read cover to cover and not start something else in a long time.  Thinking about it.

I’m going to leave it simple again this week, maily because I am so derned close to being done with my novel, and also, I own a toy store, and you can guess how busy my weekend was.

So, here it goes…

1.  Do one final read for flow and readability.

2.  Save the final draft as a “definitive vision” (Maybe even get a copy printed for myself)

3:  Go back and edit another 4,000 words (The part about Matt cutting his hair) — it’s not as stupid as it sounds, really it’s not.  I love this scene!

At the moment, I am down to 110,000 words.  I had a soft goal to get it down to 100,000.  After the edit above, I expect to be around 106,000 which is pretty close.  Can I cut 6,000?  Maybe, but I’m not sure I want to.  The “Matt’s Hair” scene is the last part in the novel that doesn’t directly push the plot forward.  I think if I cut anything else, it will definitely be lacking.

Happy Row-ing!

Jennifer Eaton

Row80 Update 11-20-2011

I giggled when I looked at my list of goals for this week.  One of them I forgot about completely after going on a rampage of doing other things.  I need to check back on my goals every few days at a bare minimum so I keep pushing myself to do some of those things I’m cringing over.

1.  Two blog posts?  Yea!  I did three, and one of them really hit home for a lot of people.  Glad everyone is out there MAKING THE BIG DECISION.  Thanks for all the feedback here and on Twitter, guys!

2.  Re-write the dream sequences to richen the character of Darkness.  OMG!  I like him so much better than I used to.  I think I actually managed to create a “Love to hate” character.  I think I also opened up a can of worms with him.  Such a fun character.  I was going to explore him more in book two.  I’m so glad I decidied to personify him earlier.  Great fun!

3.  Start the beta read I’ve been sitting on for two weeks.  DONE!  Yea!  I haven’t heard back from him yet.  Hope he doesn’t hate me :-(

Re-write the scene where Matt gets his memory back…  Ummmm…  Forgot.  Probably half on-purpose.  This is big decision #2–right after Magellan’s age.  Yeah, I gotta do it.  I know, I know.

1.  Rewrite that stinking Matt scene.  Gosh, I just don’t know what to do with it.  Don’t you hate it when you have a pivitol scene that just isn’t working?

2.  Rewrite the Matt scene again

3.  and again

4.  and again.

5.  When I’m not pulling my hair out over Matt, I’d like to make a dent in Jennifer Hubbard’s THE SECRET YEAR.  Yes, very out of my genre, I know.

I’ve been hearing that you should spend time with novels outside your genre.  This way I am doing this, and supporting one of the authors I recently met that was nice enough to give me some tips to push me in the right direction.

Happy Rowing!

Jennifer Eaton

Row 80 Check in 11-13-2011

Here’s my update:

1.   Blog Posts:   Two regular blog posts completed (a Manuscript Red-line post, and a writer’s advice post from the Q&A session)

2.    Reverse-Nano goal:  My novel started at 119,479 words.  Now I am down to 114,713

3.    Inserted the new “Stuck in a Closet” beginning (Increased the word count Ugh.)

4.  Completely re-wrote my ending (again) It’s much more intense now, but yikes do I need someone to read it to make sure I’m not nuts.

5.  Finished a complete edit/read of the entire novel.  Eliminated about 11 unnecessary Points of View.

1.   Jury’s still out on cutting that scene with the King and Magellan.

2.  I didn’t cut the Matton meets the mercenary scenes.  This is about 2,500 words of the 4,500 I wanted to cut this week.  I’m going too, though… as much as I don’t want to.

1.  Do two blog posts on cutting Points of View (Gold Mine Manuscript tips)

2.  Re-write one of the dream sequences to richen the character of Darkness slightly

3.  Re-write the scene where Matt gets his memory back.  This is one of those huge-decision-things.  I will probably be reverting back to my original draft.  The current idea seems to be confusing, and too information-intense.  This will probably cut quite a few words, too.

3.  At least start the beta read I’ve been sitting on.  (I promise I will start it this week, J)

Happy ROWing!

Jennifer Eaton

Row 80 Check-in 11-06-11

I really don’t feel accomplished this week as far as writing goes.  There was just too much going on.  Soccer season is winding down, but Dog Training is starting, and my two youngest sons signed up for Wrestling…. There goes three hours on Tuesday, Three hours on Thursday, and an hour and a half on Wednesdays.  Saturdays are still shot with Soccer until Thanksgiving, and my oldest might be showing Chloe in a dog show in January, too, which means Show Training on top of basics.  Ugh.

I really want to finish HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT by the end of the year, but unless I take off from work to do it (which I might—I have the time) I’m not sure I will make it.

What I did get done, though, is decent… I just didn’t get to it all.

I went to the NJ Writers Q & A.  Check out my Blog post for Wednesday if you want to hear about it.  That was GREAT.  I was also pleased that a few of the authors stopped by my blog and posted. I also got a few personal emails from them.  Very nice.

I cut 1,687 words from my novel, and noted another 4,372 that I can cut – some inspired by my talks with the authors on Tuesday, and their emails afterwards.

For those of you who have done a beta-read… the scenes being cut are the two scenes in Harris’s mother’s POV (Mommy meltdowns).  Matt meeting the mercenary, and the whole cutting his hair scene (he will have short hair from the beginning, now) and Harris talking to Daniel Hyelven after he hurts the girl in the alley.  I am on page 300, so there are 100 pages to go in this sweep.  This will get me down to 113,000, but I might add words when I re-write a chapter that started with a conversation about Matt’s hair.  (That sounds really silly taken out of context.)

I did not start that beta read I have been sitting on (sorry again, “J”)

I did not exercise – unless you want to count Trick or Treating, which was an hour of walking

I did not keep to my blog schedule

I’m not sure if I am going to be able to keep posting ROW 80 twice a week.
It think it’s too much, and detracts from the point of my blog.  I don’t think  a Wednesday check-in is really all that helpful for me.  So… Sundays I will give my results, and my goals for the next week.  This way, I can get back on my twice a week blog schedule, plus a Sunday ROW80, and I won’t be under as much pressure.

1.    Two regular blog posts (a Manuscript Red-line post, and maybe a writer’s advice post from the Q&A session)

2.    Cut 4,372 words from my novel

3.    Insert the new “Stuck in a Closet” beginning (which I just remembered has more words than the current beginning.  UGH!)

4.    Decide whether or not to cut the scene where Magellan gets
tutored by the King.

Happy ROWing!

Jennifer Eaton

ROW80 check in 10-30-2011

Here were my goals and stats for this week:

1:  Decide on the beginning on my novel

Thanks everyone who took the poll.  Results were 77% for Stuck in a closet, and 23% for fruit throwing.  This actually made me feel good, because I was leaning toward “Stuck”.  I am going to review all the comments now, and spruce up “stuck” a bit before I officially place it in the manuscript.

2:  Finish my short story – First draft done.  My first short story in over eight years.  Yeah for me!

3:  Do at least one, maybe two “Manuscript Rejection” lessons on my blog – Squeezed the second on in last night.  Done

4:  Begin editing 19,000 words from my novel- Glad my goal was just to “begin”.  150 pages are edited, and I am only down about 200 words.  That’s a little scary because “stuck in a closet” is actually longer than the current beginning.  Erghhhh.

This week’s goals:

1.  Re-vamp “Stuck in a closet” and finally insert it into my manuscript.

2.  Try to attend a “Getting published” seminar on Tuesday as long as it doesn’t snow again.

3.  Host a session for my writer’s group on how to build a successful blog. (Still shaking my head that they asked me.)

4.  Try to work out at least once (I think I might have to count Trick or Treating to get this done-That’s 1/2 mile of walking)

5.  Cut 1,000 words out of my manuscript

6.  Start a beta read that I have been sitting on (Sorry, J)

7.  Do one regular blog, and two ROW Check-ins.

ROW 80 Check in 10-26-2011

What a week!  And it’s only Wednesday!

I actually finished the first draft of my short story.  It ended up at 2,259 words.  I originally wanted it for a writing contest that was 1500 words.  I could probably cut it down, but I would lose the feel and emotion of the story, so I guess this contest is out for me.  Stinky.  Anyone know of any 2500 word short-story contests?

My Beta-Buddy Jenny Keller Ford won first place for her short story “Baby” on the Midlife Collage Writers contest.  She was also a semi-finalist for Brenda Drake’s  Can you leave us breathless” contest.  Be sure to scoot over to her site and give her a cyber high-five.  She’s on a roll!

No, I was not a finalist in the “breathless” contest.  I read just about every entry.  I was the only middle grade story, so I was not surprised.  I couldn’t compete with sensual kissing, demons, death, gore, drugs, and murder.  Nope, even I will not do that to my kids J.    No biggie.  As usual, I learn something from every contest.  I think I even picked up some new followers from this one “Hi guys!”  I actually enjoyed reading a lot of those entries.  There are a lot of talented people out there.

Jury’s still out on the 50 word synopsis contest.  That one’s being judged by an agent… still holding my breath on that one.  HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT is more up the right alley for that contest.

Ugh.  The bad news.  I started out with 119,567 words in my novel, and I wanted to cut it down to 100,000.  Well…  Sigh. I was doing really great until I hit about page 100.  I had to remove an unnecessary POV and change it to the MC.  In the first draft, the character looks up and sees the MC doing something supernatural.  It was quick, it was easy.  Now, the MC has to feel it, experience it, all from within this huge encompassing scene.  Honestly, I really like how it is coming out.  There is much more feeling.  HOWEVER… now I have 119,845 words.  And that’s after 100 pages of editing done already!  Ugh.  I am in trouble.

Still not daunted!  Trucking along!

Jennifer Eaton