Category Archives: Senseless Ranting

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 

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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The scary, but exciting journey of starting something new

Last weekend, after spending over a year writing the Fire in the Woods Series, I jumped into unknown territory. I started writing something brand new.

No___PressureIt suddenly struck me that the last two novels I’d written were contracted before I’d even written them. There was no query process. No doubt. No decisions to make (other than what to write the book about.)

It was kind of weird, come to think of it. Since they were already sold, the only person I really had to prove anything to was myself. (And ultimately, I suppose, the readers.)

Should_I_be_nervous

Huh womanBut now I was back in “unknownville”. I could write whatever I wanted. I could create entirely new characters. I could reach for different themes.

With a basic idea in mind (a solid premise, and a very defined ending) I set out to write just the first few pages of the book.  Before doing so, I did some basic character studies. I listed them out, decided who they were, what their goals were, and what their quirks might be. How do these characters know each other, and how would their interaction draw the main character through the story.

With that set, I wrote the first page. My goal was just to get out the “set up”, or the beginning of the novel, because this is always the hardest part for me.

1430695 YAY CHEERI was pleasantly surprised how the new characters flowed. The characters instantly came to life, developed their own voices, and added on to their character studies in ways that I hadn’t intended.

While I was writing, I found I could pare down the story slightly by combining two characters into one. An interesting concept, to combine these two very different characters, but I think it will give my story a touch or originality.

PKO_0010650 pink robe clockAll this so say, I ended up with a solid 3700 words written that first day. I was thrilled! I really wished that I had my last contracted manuscript handed in on time, because I would have loved to stick with it and kept the story going, but the back of my mind kept screaming “deadline”.

So, yes, I forced myself to go back to edit. But now I am totally excited for the day I hand in Book Three of Fire in the Woods, because I have a brand new world waiting for me.

The_Synopsis

Yes, I will have to write a query, and the dreaded synopsis, and I will have to start the query process all over again once this new project is done… but I even look forward to that.

I am all juiced up to get back to the fun of creating something new.

Have you ever been super excited about a new project like this?

JenniFer_EatonF

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Writer’s Retreat! Woo-hoo!

PKO_0004442 Nervous ScaredWrite a story with me guyJust a quick wave “hi” on the way to my writer’s retreat.  I’m heading back up to internet-free woods of PA to an old house in the middle of nowhere where for three days, without interruption:

 

NOTHING

BUT

WRITING

1430695 YAY CHEERI am totally ready to sit back, relax, and open myself up to a brand new world.

It’s been so long since I’ve had the chance to create brand new characters. Not that I don’t love Jess and David from me FIRE IN THE WOODS series, but the thought of starting something new just makes me all a-tingle.

If you even get a chance to get away with creative people, I highly recommend it. I’m really looking forward to this trip!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Jennifer___Eaton

My resolution is bigger than your resolution

It’s that time of year where everyone is making resolutions. In most cases, I don’t so much make resolutions, as much as I make plans.  One of these “plans” though, smacked me in the face.

In 2013, I read 21 books. Read-hold up PKO_0016876Oddly enough, without even trying, I also read 21 books in 2014. So when Goodreads popped up and asked me how many books I wanted to read in 2015, I answered with “21”.

But great googly-moogley! Then it showed me what everyone else’s reading goals were. Holy cow!  100 book in a year? SERIOUSLY?

Scrolling through, I realized that my goal was the lowest of anyone’s on my friend’s lists. It left me feeling lacking… but only for a second.

I could have typed in 100 books, but that isn’t realistic. Not for me. I’m not one of those people who can find the time to sit down and finish an entire book on a Saturday afternoon. It’s just not in the cards for me. Reading a book in about ten days is realistic to me. So why didn’t I enter 35 books?

Well, I normally read about 10% of a book in a day, but I don’t always have time to read every day.

I don’t want reading to be a chore, or to end up one of those people grabbing for novellas just so I can add another “finished” to my list. I’d rather read slowly, relax, and enjoy. I don’t ever want reading to be a competition.

Education Concept. Read Books Sign.What I do want to do this year is read more top-selling, five-star young adult novels. I want to see what the trends are. I want to make sure that I am keeping up with the styles that are making people scream for more.

Here are 10 of the books I have already purchased to read this year. I’ll leave the other ten open for new releases or new books that get buzz going about them.

The 5th Wave

Origins

Doon

A thousand Pieces of You

Alienated

White Hot Kiss

Snow Like Ashes

Lifer (Not a best-seller yet, but I hear it’s good)

These Broken Stars

Gravity

What’s on your bucket list to read this year?

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JenniFer_EatonF

Looking back at 2014. Wow, what a year for me!

It was quite a year for me writing wise. I came into 2014 having queried FIRE IN THE WOODS for quite some time, and I had pretty much decided that the dystopian I was finishing up would probably be my debut novel. I had three more publishers on my bucket list to send FIRE to, and then I was going to tuck it away for a rainy day.

Fire-in-the-Woods-Cover 3DSo the big news, or course, is signing the three book deal for FIRE IN THE WOODS.

Plus, with the help of my publisher, Month9Books, I edited and marketed and did two complete blog tours for FIRE IN THE WOODS, bringing FIRE to #6 on Amazon’s ALIENS best sellers list in the UK, and #45 on Amazon’s YA/Aliens best sellers list in the USA.

Whew! Part of me still has trouble digesting that.

But this is what I also accomplished:

  1. Finished a nearly-final draft of a dystopian (That will need to be re-edited)
  2. Started a dragon shifter novel (That I needed to set aside because I got a contract)
  3. Finished the first draft of a middle grade contemporary
  4. Finished the first draft of an adult contemporary sci-fi murder mystery
  5. Completed and submitted ASHES IN THE SKY (Book 2 of FIRE IN THE WOODS)
  6. Completed 28,000 words of the first draft of book three of FIRE IN THE WOODS
  7. Outlined two complete contemporary sci-fi YA romances
  8. Conceptualized two additional contemporary science fiction novels
  9. Conceptualized (in infancy) a YA demon novel

That’s a lot. Probably the most I’ve ever done in one year writing wise.

It’s been quite a roller coaster. Here’s to entering into 2015 with the same great luck and support I had in 2014. It was a wonderful year.

What was your greatest accomplishment of 2014?

JenniFer_EatonF

Is Rewarding Mediocrity Ruining Our Youth?

I will always remember a line from the movie THE INCREDIBLES. They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity!” My husband and I always laughed at this, because as the parents of three grade-school boys, we knew this to be very true.

I’m not only talking about all those graduation ceremonies for moving from the three-year-old room to the four-year-old room in daycare. I’m talking about things like getting a trophy just for participating in sports, even if you come in last place. I’m talking about that school somewhere (I can’t remember where) who decided to stop naming someone valedictorian because it makes the other kids feel bad they didn’t “win”.

Huh

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but many kids these days grow up believing they are “entitled” to what they want. I think this is the result of all the coddling they get in the early years of their lives.

Seriously… Why work your butt off, sweating in your sports game if at the end the winner is going to get exactly the same trophy as the team that ends up in last place?

This reared its ugly head for me personally this morning.  My husband called me to let me know that the middle school had called. Middle Dude had to be taken out of homeroom because he did not make the soccer team. He was devastated.

My heart broke.

The more I thought about it, the more angry I became— not at the school or the coaches, but at all the previous schools and coaches Middle Dude has encountered.

They dropped the ball in preparing my kid for the real world.

The truth is, the real world is not all rosy. When he graduates college, chances are he will not get the “dream job” he’s been fantasizing about. If he does get a job, he will be expected to over-preform, not under preform… and if he doesn’t do his job, no one is going to pat him on the back and say: “that’s okay, we’re going to give you a raise anyway. Don’t feel bad.”

This was a big wake-up call to me. Middle Dude had no conception of the possibility of not making the team. Up until now, everything had been handed him on a silver platter.  Probably the only people who have said “no” to him were his parents, and no matter how many times we tell our kids what “the real world” is like, they always just grin and shake their heads at us…

Because the real world gives them everything they want, and celebrates their achievement of nothing.

In their minds, we, as parents, know nothing.

It makes me sad. Really sad. It is fine for Middle Dude to be upset about not making the team. I remember in high school how I felt when I didn’t get the part in the play that I wanted. BUT I ALWAYS UNDERSTOOD THERE WAS A POSSIBILITY OF THE PART GOING TO SOMEONE ELSE.

It is a different day. I applaud many of the things that government and schools have come up with to protect our kids physically and emotionally. But there is such thing as over-protecting them.

The world has not changed. In fact, it is probably a much worse place than it was when I grew up. But my kids don’t believe that.

They are the generation of entitlement. And I am so afraid for them.

The real world entitles no one.

JenniFer_Eaton Sparkle__F

Sometimes life just gets in the way.

I admit I am mildly psychotic. I give myself goals, and once I see them on paper, they might as well be chiseled in stone.

I hit them.

Always.

No matter what.

It’s something that was driven into me since I was very young. I thank my father for this most of the time. Being driven has helped me get to where I am today.

But I have trouble dealing sometimes when I realize what I challenge myself with is sometimes too much.

PKO_0008514 SICK GUYLike this week, when I was thrown a little curve ball.

I got sick.

Really dern sick.

Flat out in bed, can’t move, stricken-with-a-chill sick. Then sweating-to-death can’t- turn-down-the-temperature sick. Horrible… zig zagging back and forth.

Yep, I even looked like a guy.

It’s terrible to have to take off from work, waste vacation time, and get NOTHING DONE.

Arghhh! Picture

It drove me crazy, laying there under piles of blankets, sometimes with a fifty-pound poodle on top of me for extra warmth… doing nothing when there is piles of work to be done in real life, as well as my writing world.

I couldn’t even THINK of my scenes. I couldn’t formulate a plan for when I could get out of bed. My mind was dead. Caput.

My poodle all fifty pounds of her. Isn't she cute?

My poodle – all fifty pounds of her. Isn’t she cute?

What a terrible couple of days.

I’m better now, thank goodness. But now I have to take stock.

First things first.

I just completed my immediate need: The interviews/blog posts requested by wonderful people who signed up with my marketing company to help promote FIRE IN THE WOODS.

Whew… That was a lot of work.

Today, I do something I have not done in a VERY long time.

I set the writing aside.

No aliens. No space ships. No conflicts (except a few real life kids)

The book will be there tomorrow, and I know the first thing I am going to do is look at my goal sheet (yes, I have one, with word counts for each day.)

I will see that I am now a month behind, with a deadline looming.

I will not panic. (You hear that? I WILL NOT PANIC)

Life happens. Vacations are needed. Current books need to be marketed. And hey, there’s not much you can do about getting sick.

Tomorrow I re-align my goals, and I suppose I should start lining up beta readers, because if I do manage to hit my publisher’s deadline, it is going to be close.

Deep breath. This can be done.

How do you dig out of a hole when you realize you’ve fallen far behind?

Jennifer___Eaton

Why Teal? Take a moment to think about Ovarian Cancer

This weekend Littlest Dude and I drove down the road and saw a group of girls tying teal ribbons on trees. About an hour later when we returned, the entire street was lined with teal.

“What does that mean, Mommy?” Littlest asked.

Well, I remember yellow ribbons–and pink ribbons pop up every year. But teal? That was a new one for me.

A few miles down the road we found another group tying ribbons to a fence near a nice safe place to pull over, so I safely parked the car, and I asked what the teal was for.  A very nice gentleman explained that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and they were trying to blanket the town in teal in memory of his Mom.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness 2Well, that’s certainly something I could get behind, so Littlest Dude and I drove away with our own little packet of ribbons and information.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness 1This group was from the Susan Marie Rupp Foundation, SMRFteal.org and they were full of smiles in their teal shirts with long ribbons flapping like capes around their necks… yeah, maybe super heroes in their own rights.

Did you know that 1 in 71 women will develop ovarian cancer in their lifetime?

Each year, 20,000 women are diagnosed,

and about 15,000 women die from ovarian cancer.

Say What?

That sure made me want to be more wary of the signs, because the survival rate is better if the cancer is found early.

The following information is from the http://smrfteal.org/ website

The symptoms include:
◾Bloating
◾Pelvic or abdominal pain
◾Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
◾Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

The ribbon to support Ovarian Cancer Awareness on my front porch

The ribbon to support Ovarian Cancer Awareness on my front porch

Women with Ovarian Cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies. The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer. Several studies show that even early stage Ovarian Cancer can produce these symptoms.

Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.

This is kinda scary stuff.  I mean, I hear about breast cancer all the time, but not ovarian cancer.  This is news that everyone should know — if not for themselves, how about to help someone they love?

The ribbon to support Ovarian Cancer Awareness on my Neighbor's tree.

The ribbon to support Ovarian Cancer Awareness on my Neighbor’s tree.

So here is my humble support for their mission. Please spread the word about Teal. Facebook, Twitter, Blog.  Talk. Letters. Choose your rallying cry. If you can find yourselves some teal ribbons. Tie them around.

And if you don’t have time to create a post, feel free to reblog this one.

Even one life saved would make it worth your while.

If you’d like to donate to the cause, or find out more about please visit http://smrfteal.org/get-involved/donate/

JenniFer_EatonF

An Impromptu, One in a Million Chance to Live a Scene from Your Novel

I love hiking. It’s one of my favorite wind-down hobbies.  That’s probably why “the woods” are usually a staple in my writing. This past weekend, while hiking with my husband and my pepped up poodle, I had an unexpected surprise.

There is a scene in FIRE IN THE WOODS where my MC, Jess, is walking along the side of the street and sees a deer grazing near the woods. Jess takes off into the woods after the deer, and ends up with more than she bargained for.

Back to “real life.” — While crossing the road from one part of the woods to the other Saturday, imagine my surprise when, about twenty feet from me, a deer crossed as well… heading for the same woods we were.

Luckily for me, the doe was quiet, and my poodle didn’t see her, or I would have been at the mercy of fifty pounds of barking, solid muscle tearing after a wild animal.

As the doe trotted beneath the canopy, I instantly made the connection with the scene in my novel, and I wondered… just how hard would it be to chase a deer in the woods? 

Research time!

I handed the leash off to my husband.

“You’re kidding, right?” he said.

“Nope!”

And off I went.  It would have been wonderful it this had been a buck, like in my novel, but the female deer was just as exciting for me, because in all the years I have been hiking, I have never actually seen one. It was a very cool experience. And, yes, I found out, you CAN chase a deer into the woods with some success. But like my character, Jess, I lost my fluffy-tailed friend about a quarter of a mile in.

After re-joining Hubbs and my pup, we finished our five-mile trek, and we saw the deer three more times. (or “a deer” I have no idea if it was the same one)  Pup even got to chase our woodland friend once. (That was the last time we saw the deer.  Smart deer.)

So… unexpectedly I discovered that you CAN chase a deer in the woods, and you can also see the same (or another) deer multiple times on the same day.  This sequence of scenes is now totally validated for me. Very cool – and it gave me a warm and fuzzy inside.

Have you ever had an unexpected chance to relive a scene in a book you have read?

JenniFer_EatonF