Tag Archives: Arts

Living a week in an agent’s shoes

I recently had the opportunity to judge a writing contest.  I, and two other brave souls, volunteered to read all the anonymous entries, and choose one winner who would win “the pot” collected from the entry fees.

I am going to admit that this was a grueling experience at times.  I swore, somewhere around the seventh entry, that I would never do this again.  My relief when I’d finally read the last entry, and made my choice for winner, was overwhelming.

Then I got to thinking.  What I went through is probably not unlike what an agent or a submissions editor goes through every day.  They get a mailbox full of submissions, and they have to review them all and choose only one, or none.

Now, consider this.  The people who entered this contest paid an entry fee.  This is one of the reasons I volunteered.  I mean, seriously… if you are going to fork up ten bucks to get into a contest, you gotta know your writing is good enough to have a chance, right? I imagined my mailbox filled with fantastic, wonderfully imagined and carefully crafted stories.

Did I get that? Ummm… Not always.

Now, this is not to say that there were not some great entries. There were. But at times, I held my hand to my head and thought, “What was this person thinking”?

The good thing that came out of this is the realization that what you hear is true. There is a lot of poorly written or poorly executed work out there in the query-sphere.

If you can honestly look at your work and say:

1.       It has been edited multiple times

2.       It has been critiqued multiple times

3.       It has been beta read by multiple readers

4.       I have listened to critiques/beta comments and made changes without thinking “they just don’t understand me” and ignoring them.

5.       I have a story arc with a beginning, middle and end.

6.       There is a journey/change in the main character that makes the story worth reading.

7.       There is conflict.

I could keep going, but I’ll stop there.  If you can say “yes” to all of the above, then you at least have a chance of getting read by an agent or editor. If you work stands out as well written and conceptualized, you will be in the 25% or so that will actually be considered.  This is the place where good writing is a given. This is where you are in competition for the best story.

This is where you want to be. If you answered “no” to any of the list above, and you are querying and getting rejections, there is a possibility you are just wasting their time. (And yours)

What I realized judging this contest is that there must be hundreds of thousands of people out there that are wasting their time by submitting before they are ready.

Do your research. Make sure you have learned your craft.

Don’t be afraid to ditch a story you have worked on if it is not marketable.  Move on to something else. Every time you sit down to write you are better than the last time. Be patient until you can honestly say “This is my best work.”

_JenniFer____EatoN

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What makes you abandon a novel you are reading?

I recently finished a novel that was truly painful. In respect to the author, I’m not going to name it… but it was NOT an enjoyable read.

All the other novels I have lined up were screaming “Try me! I’ll be better, I promise.” And I was pretty sure that ANY of them I picked would have scaled higher on the enjoyment factor.

Was it written poorly?

I don’t think so.  You see, I purchased this book because it was by one of my favorite authors. In fact, this is someone I’ve reviewed and given five stars to, and if you hang here you know I don’t give away five stars all that freely.

I almost gave it up on this story five times, but I continued reading hoping that the author that I’d fallen in love with would shine through.

It didn’t happen.

What didn’t I like?

Well, I think it was a lot of things. This was a western. I detest westerns, but I’d read one last year that I really enjoyed, so I figured my favorite author could pull it off, too.

Ah, no.

The main character also had an annoying name. “Jazzy”.  Yeah, I’m serious. Don’t you want to smack her upside the head already?  I hoped my favorite author could overcome the annoying name.

Nope, didn’t happen.

In the end, I forced myself to finish. Probably because I purchased the book and wanted to get my money’s worth. Probably because I was waiting for some kind of a Sixth Sense ending that would make it all worth my time.

Didn’t happen.

In the end, though, something about the background came out that made me sympathize with Jazzy. Interestingly enough, I suddenly connected. Unfortunately, it was in the last couple of pages… thousands of words too late.

I’m wondering that if I had known this little tidbit of information in the beginning of the story, if the necessary connection between reader and character would have happened… that maybe, just maybe, I would have cared enough about her that I would have been worried when the stagecoach got overrun by bandits. I would have worried when the gun was pointed in her face. I would have cared if Mr. Perfect saved her scrawny butt…

The problem is that I suddenly cared to late, and it did not fix the rest of a very uninteresting read to me.

Have I given up on this favored author? I don’t think so, but I will be much more leery of picking up another title of hers. It’s a shame.

What did I learn?

I try to take away something from every novel I read. In this case, I will remember that if there is a secret or something in a character’s past that may help reader connection, I will push that little tidbit up front.  Late revelations are just that. Late. In this case, too late for me.

What about you? What makes you stop reading a book you have paid good money for?

Jennifer___Eaton

An Example of Nailing the Setting

I recently picked up a historical novella to clear my head between longer novels.  Terri Rochenski wrote a short story in the Make Believe anthology that I really enjoyed, so I reached for her newest work “Alone No More”.

From the title, you get the gist.  Our MC is alone in love, and at the end she gets her man.  Romance never has a surprise ending, does it?  It’s probably the only genre where this is completely acceptable.  It’s the journey to the couple getting together that is the fun.

So, let’s talk about the setting.  Rochenski has a way of drawing you into her world in the first few pages, and never letting go.  Be it the costumes, technology, language, or just the general feel of a world or time period, Rochenski nails it.

Normally for me, this would be a drag.  I hate too much detail, but Rochenski is one of those authors who has figured out how to gently weave in the important parts of the world without slapping you in the face with laundry lists of details.  You envision a character walking through a room and noticing things around her, or you travel down a dirt road in a swaying cart. The details are interspersed inside the action.  Very well done. I like to read works like this on hopes that some of that setting flair rubs off on me.

If you are looking for a short, quiet historical I would highly recommend this.  Adrenaline junkies would find the middle of  “Alone No More” a bit long and uneventful, but this does happen in love sometimes… especially in an authentic historical setting.  I would recommend this book for the setting in itself.

Pick up a copy of “Alone No More” for some quiet holiday reading (Only $1.49 on sale at the White Rose Web Site.)  Everyone loves a sale this time of year!

AMAZON   /  The Wild Rose Press

JenniFer_EatonF

I really didn’t like this book – but I’m still giving it four stars

I finished “18 Things” by Jamie Ayres a while ago, and decided to let it sit a simmer before I wrote a review. I considered not writing a review at all, because I’m not sure how to give this book, and the brilliant author, the justice she deserves. The fact is, I really didn’t like this book at all, but I’m still going to give it four stars. Let me explain.

This book grips you from the very first page and thrusts you into a nearly unending roller coaster of emotion. The story is about a girl who witnesses a tragic accident that takes her best friend and secret love’s life. (That’s not a spoiler – it happens in the first few pages.) From there on out, the book is about dealing with loss—overcoming this loss by creating a “bucket list” of 18 things to do.

Crud! Just writing that brought tears to my eyes again!

This is the thing. I read for enjoyment – to escape everyday life. This book is NOT THAT. I cried pretty much from the first page to the last page with a very brief tear-free intermission in the middle. Let me tell you – I have enough problems…I don’t need to be depressed while I’m reading, too!

Disclaimer – I sent this review to the author before I posted it… and she was surprised that I cried so much. She felt the “middle” was fun and light. I did feel the “intermission” but it was short lived for me. (Sorry)

But see, here’s the problem. I wouldn’t give a book a low rating because it was written so well it made me cry. I think it had exactly the emotional response that the author wanted. I couldn’t even deduct a star for lack of explosions, because there was one in the first few pages (well, kind of anyway)

So, why four stars instead of five?

For one thing… this is supposed to be a YA paranormal. I’d forgotten the genre while I was reading, because nothing paranormal happens. I understand why it was placed in the paranormal category (Can’t explain or I’ll spoil it), but this IS NOT a paranormal. If you only enjoy paranormal, you will probably cry through this and be frustrated – but I think that is a category error, not the author’s fault. So I’m not subtracting a star for that – I just thought I’d mention it.

All that aside — Here’s the reason for four stars…

As the novel was winding down, I started to feel safe again. Everything came together nicely. I was readying myself to give it five stars, but at the same time explaining that I didn’t enjoy reading it.

Then…

We hit the last chapter.

Did you hear that annoying sound? It was me grinding my teeth.

I’m one for a great surprise in an ending. Totally love a twist – in most cases. This one, however, kind of bothered me. To be completely honest, I felt cheated. Does that make it not brilliant?

No. It was brilliant.

It just made me a tad miffed. No… I had it right the first time. I felt cheated. I also started crying my eyes out again.

My husband kept feeding me tissues and told me to stop reading. I said “No! I need to finish this so I can stop crying!”

So I am subtracting a star for the ending, although I realize it was needed to set up the possibility for a sequel. To me though, it felt added on to make room for the next book. I’d have given 18 Things five stars without the last chapter.

So, this is the scoop: This book is a brilliant piece of contemporary fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again. While there is a slight paranormal edge that you might miss if you blink, this is NOT a paranormal novel.

Readers of contemporary YA will probably love this. I, unfortunately, cried myself silly though the whole thing.

Cut your weakest player — Rule #26 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #26

26: When you finish your book, pinpoint the weakest scene. Cut it. If necessary, replace it with a sentence or paragraph.

I have contradicting views on this.  If I was reading this with my first novel (that I pantsed) in my hands, I’d say “yes”… and to probably more than one scene.  However, now that I am outlining and clearly plotting my novels, I’m not so sure this is true.

I’d agree to cut it is it has no conflict, or does not draw the story forward. That’s a given.

My fear is that if everyone follows this rule, they will take out important scenes, and replace them with three sentences of summary… which is a form of tell.

I’m going to put my foot down and NOT agree with this one.

What do you think?

Jennifer___Eaton

Write a Story With Me # 66 – “Strong Insult” by Joe Owens

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

Part 66 – Joe Owens

“Protector Sumner, you were in great danger. We overestimated the strength of their forces. They have added to their contingent above our estimates,” a supporting officer spoke.

“The queen, Morath, has incredible powers. We must remove her from the equation. The young queen will not be as formidable as a foe.”

“You took a very big chance with this plan. The Establishment is pleased with your commitment.”

Yoran turned to look at the officer, a question in his mind. The question morphed into a feeling of uneasiness as the younger man continued to speak.

“It was almost like you knew nothing would happen to you. No one else offered to take your place and there are several officers my age who need to prove ourselves for the chance to be promoted. A man so important to our cause as you should not be taking such chances.

“Is there something you want to say son?” Yoran asked, irritation flowing with his words. To call another officer son was a strong insult, one Yoran used frequently.

“I think the confidence you had in the plan comes from more than just a belief in our forces.”

Yoran’s gut tightened with this statement. He blinked silently, which the young man took as an invitation to continue.

“Perhaps you have an advantage none of the rest of us have. A connection that means you have no reason to fear contact with our enemy.”

“Are you excusing me of consorting with our enemy?”

“Yes sir, I am.”

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Fifty Click Here

Part Fifty-One – Joe Owens

Part Fifty-Two – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Fifty-Three – Jennifer Eaton

Part Fifty-Four – Shan Jeniah Burton

Part Fifty-Five – Jenny Keller Ford

Part Fifty-Six – Susan Rocan

Part Fifty-Seven – Susan Roebuck

Part Fifty-Eight – Elin Gregory

Part Fifty-Nine – Nicky Wells

Part Sixty - Vanessa-Jane Chapman

Part Sixty-One – Ravena Guron

Part Sixty-Two – Julie Catherine

Part Sixty-Three – Kai Damian

Part Sixty-Four – Richard Leonard

Part Sixty-Five – Danielle Ackley McPhail

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Shayla Kwiatkowski — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

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It’s release day for my young adult story “The First Day of the New Tomorrow”

Yay! Release day is finally here!

I’m uber excited to release my very first published young adult title into the world.THEFIRSTDAYOFTHENEWTOMORROW-Banner

In “The First Day of the New Tomorrow” Seventeen-year-old Maya wakes up one morning to a bigger than life surprise– powers beyond her wildest dreams, but when things begin to go horribly wrong, will she find the strength to do what needs to be done?

Alien PKO_0003410And YES!  You will finally get to see me explode something!  The Little Blue Lady is so proud of me she could just spit, and that’s saying a lot.

The First Day of the New Tomorrow medium 333x500I hope you’ll hop on over to Muse it Up to pick up your copy today for the bargain new release price of $2.00 (available in all e-book formats)

You can also click on over to Amazon
or Barnes and Noble to pick up your copy. (They may go live later in the day)

After all, what’s a little explosion among friends?

I hope you love my  first romp in the wonderful realm of young adult literature!

JenniFer_EatonF

Write a Story With Me #60— Vanessa-Jane Chapman “I can’t do it!”

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

60— Vanessa-Jane Chapman “I can’t do it!”

Jenelle wrestled with the confusing emotions that surged through her. Morath was wise, the wisest one, and if she said that is what must happen, then who was Jenelle to disobey? And yet, to perish her, it was unthinkable.

What would Janosc do? Oh Janosc, what would you do?

“I can’t do it Morath, don’t ask me to, it’s not fair!”

“It has nothing to do with fairness. I’m not asking you to do it, I’m telling you to, it is the only way.” Morath gripped Jenelle’s wrist, and placed a gleaming silver dagger in her palm. Instinctively Jenelle’s trembling fingers closed around it. “There is no choice child! And no more time. Do it now.” The steely determination in her voice drove through Jenelle.

Jenelle was aware of the trail of tears streaking down both sides of her face, and a pain deep in her gut. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her arm raise up high, dagger clenched tight. She felt dismembered from it, and yet the dagger was hot and burned into her skin. Held high, her arm shook violently, white knuckles protruding.

“Do it!” Morath’s voice pierced through the air and she buried her face into the dirt, certain of her fate. A fate that may have come to fruition had it not been for the breeze from the East. Fae legend told tale of the breeze from the East; nobody knew for sure what it was, only that it would come when the time was due. It arrived first at ground level, whirling its way snake-like around Jenelle’s feet and swiftly moving up her legs. Morath felt it too, her head lifted from the ground as Jenelle’s dagger-clenched hand dropped limply to her side.

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Fifty Click Here

Part Fifty-One – Joe Owens

Part Fifty-Two – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Fifty-Three – Jennifer Eaton

Part Fifty-Four – Shan Jeniah Burton

Part Fifty-Five – Jenny Keller Ford

Part Fifty-Six – Susan Rocan

Part Fifty-Seven – Susan Roebuck

Part Fifty-Eight – Elin Gregory

Part Fifty-Nine – Nicky Wells

Part Sixty - Vanessa-Jane Chapman

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

  Ravena Guron — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

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Rule #16 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_NovelI’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #16

16: Start scenes late and leave them early.

This is something that seems to come naturally to me, but I have seen people struggle with it.  This goes the same for “condensing” a dialog to make it appear like a longer conversation, but only giving the key points.

You don’t have to show the whole conversation from “hello” to “goodbye”.  It is completely acceptable to “fade out” once the important information has been relayed to the reader so you don’t have to bore them with the dull stuff that doesn’t matter.

The trick is to do it in a way that doesn’t make the reader feel like they have missed out on anything.

This is an art form, and the best way to learn it is to read, and read a lot.  While reading, flag the conversations that you really liked, and go back to them when you are done, and look at them out of context.

Why did they work for you?  Did the author convey unnecessary “fluff”? Did they get to the point and fade out?

Learn from what others have done, and try to work it into your own writing.

Remember:  Only the important info. Take the meat and leave the potatoes behind.

Jennifer___Eaton

Write a Story With Me # 56 – “A Secret Door” by Susan Rocan

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

56 – Susan Rocan “A Secret Door”

Natalia, horrified, stared at him.

“It’s not true, is it, my beloved?”

Yoran’s shoulders slumped.

“I’m afraid it is, my dearest Natalia. I had to remove the devices so the troops would not track me to this place, although I fear I may have removed them too late.”

On cue, a thunderous crash rattled the windows, then another – closer this time. Shrieks of terror could be heard amidst more sounds of bombardment.

The courtroom erupted into chaos, as all participants tried to get through the exits. Yoran grabbed Natalia’s arm and directed her to the rear of the building, his daughters following close at his heals. Morath waved to them, exposing a secret door.

“This tunnel will bring you and your family beyond the city limits, where you may be safe. I pray that Janosc and his army are ready to handle this.”

With that, Morath slid the panel shut behind them.

Yoran led his family through the dimly lit passage, his throat constricting with claustrophobia. As each canon shot hit its mark, the ground shook and dirt sprinkled down from the ceiling. Yoran prayed the tunnel would not collapse, burying them all alive.

Meanwhile, Janosc headed for the Establishment’s Airborne Contingency, dodging the laser streams threatening to vaporize his fleet. Morath and Jenelle stood in the tallest castle tower holding hands with other female fae, pooling their energies to form a protective shield over the city. A glow rose up, surrounding the buildings, but would it be strong enough?

****************************************

Click to Tweet: As each canon shot hit its mark, the ground shook and dirt sprinkled down from the ceiling. Write a Story with me! via @jennifermeaton

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Fifty Click Here

Part Fifty-One – Joe Owens

Part Fifty-Two – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Fifty-Three – Jennifer Eaton

Part Fifty-Four – Shan Jeniah Burton

Part Fifty-Five – Jenny Keller Ford

Part Fifty-Six – Susan Rocan

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

  Susan Robuck — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

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