Tag Archives: Fiction

Rejection. Sometimes coming to grips is harder than others.

Like everyone, I’ve had a lot of rejections. Usually form rejections. I brushed myself off and moved on. But none of them stung as badly as this one.

83 days— twenty three days over their posted “get back to you” deadline, all leading to a form rejection.

Rejection.

Wow. I was speechless. Took me a while to get over it. I mean, I understand that publishers are busy, but when they have had the manuscript so long that they probably read the whole thing, and maybe even had several people read it, and then getting a form rejection?????

Ouch.

I’d just love to know— was it good enough? Did they have two alien novels on their desk that were great, and someone flipped a coin? Do they have an explosion phobia? Do they not like the color purple? What was it?

It took me a full day to get over this. Once I did, I dusted myself off and started reading my novel from page one.

Picking myself up, and getting back to it.

You know what?  I was amazed. After not reading my novel for several months, I found myself instantly engrossed, and stunned when I realized “Hey, I actually wrote this.”

I know why the publisher had it so long, now.

It’s good. Damn good.

I was probably rejected for one of those silly reasons you read about… like they already signed a sci-fi this month, or someone spilling their coffee or something.

My novel just needs to find the right person. Someone who loves the idea as much as I do.

I’m fine. I’ll get there. Patience has never been my strong suit. In the immortal words of Yoda “You must learn patience.”

There is still one more publisher on my “wish list” reading my baby. Maybe they are “the one”.

So I sit back, relax, and hunker down into my new novel.

This sucker ain’t gonna get written on its own.

 

Jennifer___Eaton

Unexpected High Points While You’re Waiting on a Submission

The torment of waiting can have its high points

The clock is ticking on a manuscript I submitted now 51 days ago. Within another week (hopefully) I will hear something. It’s good they have it a long time, right? If they hated the first few pages, they would have stopped reading and rejected it by now. Right?

Right? Right? Right?

But what if they are just behind? What if the editor has been out sick, and papers have piled up? What if she gets back from a vacation or something and then just rejects everyone just to get current again!?????

Ergghhhhhh!

It can totally get to you. I swear.

Anyway, I got a bright little flicker of hope today.

In response to an earlier query, I got a request for full from another publisher I’ve targeted for their awesomeness. For non-writerly-types, that means they have asked to read the entire manuscript.

Yay!

It feels good, having my completed manuscript in the hands of two publishing houses that I have had my eye on for a while. But even with a few successes under my belt, I still bite off my nails.

Publishing is so subjective.

Woman Erg PitchforkThey could take a manuscript just because their boss yelled at them and said “More aliens!”

Likewise, they can reject a fantastic manuscript because they spilled their coffee, missed the bus, or their boss just yelled at them: “We have enough aliens!”

It can leave you pulling your hair out. I swear it can.

Go_through_the_motions

So now I am at Day 51 with one publisher, and Day One with another publisher.

And the waiting goes on.

Anyone have any antacid? I ran out a week ago.

_JenniFer____EatoN

If you are skimming a book, why even read it? What the ease of self-publishing has done to the “great” novel

I recently picked up a book that I was really excited about.  The premise was new to me, and the cover was stunning.  The five-star reviews on Amazon helped a bit too.  So I nestled down with my E-reader and delved into this wonderfully imagined tale.

swish swivel squiggle

***My bubble soon popped***

The idea of this story was great… elves live among us.  They look just like us, only a little shorter, and they are all quite beautiful.  The story is about an elf girl who is predestined to marry a particular elf, but they cannot meet until her eighteenth birthday. (Of course that gets screwed up or there wouldn’t be a story.) There is also this great buildup of a huge battle between dark and light elves.

(In respect to the author, I am not going to reveal the title or author. No one likes a bad review. And everyone should form their own opinion.)

The story sounded so exciting, but as I read, I had to wonder where all these five-star reviews came from.  Has the influx of bad novels stilted people’s reading so much that they would consider an average novel to be extraordinary?

I found tons of things wrong with this novel.  Long, unnecessary conversations with friends that have nothing to do with the story, several typos in the first few pages. (missing words) Scenes that seemed placed into the text just for page count that had nothing to do with the story, and so on.

But I delved on.  I figured all these stars had to come from somewhere.  So I started to skim, and skim, and skim. Then all of the sudden, the hero (future husband) pops up and gets jealous of a drunk guy hitting on his future bride (who he has not even officially met yet)…

AND HE KILLS THE DUDE!!!!! 

Yeah… cold blooded murder. And then there is a conversation with his Dad about how it really didn’t even bother him to have killed someone.

Say_What

Whaaaat?

I sooooooo don’t like this guy anymore. And I should like him, because the main character loves him. Right? (Or am I an old fogey and it is okay these days to have a murderer for a fiancée?)

I was resolved to see how the author would write her way out of that one… but she never did.

At the end, when I reached the big battle, I stopped skimming, but continued to be dissatisfied.

When I was done I shook my head.  How was this possible?  Why did I dislike this book so much when the premise seemed so good?

I looked back and checked to see who published it.  Yes, there was a publisher listed, so I looked up their website.  Guess what? No website.

[[Smacks herself in the head]]

Yep, I was duped.  This appears to be a self-published book with a fake publisher name to hide behind.  And the author did a great job…  good marketing and a gorgeous cover. I think they paid more attention to the cover and marketing than writing and editing.

Now… I am in no way shape or form saying that there is anything wrong with self-publishing.  There are some great self-published books out there. I think I gave a four star review to Sweet Blood of Mine.  It deserved it.

I know that many self-published authors paid their dues, learned their craft, and produced great works of art.  The problem is, these people are getting swallowed by the influx of people producing skim-worthy… or just plain HORRIBLE books.

I don’t even know what my point is. I guess I would not have been so bothered if there weren’t something like 250 five-star reviews on this work.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have never edited your manuscript, or had a beta reader other than your mother, or if you did have a few real beta-readers, and you ignored their shouts of “Show Verses Tell” or their requests to delete a scene, or NOT HAVE YOUR LOVE INTEREST KILL SOMEONE.  (Yeah, that part really bothered me)

Anyway… If any of the things above apply, but you went out to query anyway, and your received rejections, you may not want to take the easy way out and self-publish. Maybe you should really look at your writing, and try to figure out WHY you are getting rejections.

This book could have been AWESOME. The writer just needed a heavy line edit, and a proofreader. A good developmental editor could have made this sucker EPIC.  I mean seriously, this book could have been stupendous!

Was it that bad?

Well, no, but the work reads like little or no attention was given to make this story sparkle.

Yes, self-publishing may give you personal satisfaction.  Yes, most of your friends will not know the difference and they will be excited for you… but all these books out there make it really hard to find a good novel these days.  And with all those five-star reviews on this one particular book, I have to wonder if readers, in general, are losing their capacity to even notice a well crafted book when they read it.

It makes me sad.

Then again, maybe what a “good book” is has changed. Maybe I’m the one who needs to catch up with the times.

Jennifer___Eaton

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Write a Story with Me #76: When the Sparkle Fades by Danielle Ackley McPhail

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each time.  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!

76 – Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Morath settled the babe in the crook of the Gleaming Tree. She watched him, her brow furrowed but her lips tipping upward in a faint smile stronger than even her worry. He was a bonny boy and deserved a life of joy and discovery, not intrigue and deceit, and yet her farsight revealed much turmoil ahead for them all, and most assuredly for the son of Yoran and Natalia.

“Feel your power, little one, know it in your heart,” she murmured over his fretting form. “Mother’s arms will wrap around you soon, but first you must take this step to safeguard yourself.” Morath regretted the need to spark the little one’s magic at so young an age, but she could do little else to ensure he come to no harm in the days to come. The Gleaming Tree now recognized him as one of its own and no matter how far events might take him away, the seat of all magic would rally in his defense should any raise force against him.

With an amused burble, the child thrashed his legs and stared in wonder as the swirls of magic swaddled him, nuzzled his cheek, and settled a fae sparkle deep within is babe-blue eyes. When all but the sparkle faded, the Fae Queen swept the boy into her arms and descended from the Tree’s branches, taking the boy to her chambers to await the arrival of his frantic mother.

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 – Sixty-five Click Here

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Part Sixty-Nine – Norah Jansen

Part Seventy – Shannon Burton

Part Seventy-One – Vanessa Jane Chapman

Part Seventy-Two – Susan Rocan

Part Seventy-three – Kate Johnston

Part Seventy-Four – Richard Leonard

Part Seventy-Five – Kai Damian

Part Seventy-Six – Danielle Ackley McPhail

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

Norah Jansen — 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
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

1 swivel

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #5

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal (See previous post)

3.       Caring about others (See previous post)

4.       A special gift or talent. (See previous post)

5.       A handicap

Oooooo.  That’s a good one.

Here’s a good one. Even though you might not be handicapped, you can imagine what it would be like, right?  You feel for someone with a disability.

This came up recently in a comment on my blog, when someone mentioned that the horrid character on the TV show House was softened because he had a handicap.

How about a phobia?

A phobia is a good one two… something they need to overcome in order to fulfill their purpose of hero in the story.

Or something even more simple and relatable

Maybe it is something simple, like they need to run for their lives and the only car available to flee in has a stick shift, but the character does not know how to drive a stick.

Anything wrong with your character is an easy way to make them relatable. No one wants to read about someone who is perfect, right?

Unless you are Mary Poppins.  (But she was only practically perfect, right?)

That’s it!

Five ways to create the ever-important care-factor.  Give your readers characters that they can care about, and they will scream for more!

Think about the main character in your favorite novel. Pinpoint exactly what it was that made you engage with them. What was it? Come on, share the ideas!

_JenniFer____EatoN

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Learning from someone else’s mistakes – How to NOT write a novel

I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels lately. Not because it is my favorite genre, but to help strengthen my skills in writing inner-thought and making an emotional connection between the reader and the character.

I recently read a book that was AWESOME at this.  I was totally engaged. I liked the heroine. I cared about her. I liked the hero even more. They were both complex characters with faults that drove their characterization, and I completely believed them and felt like part of their lives. It was everything I wanted in a novel. This author totally deserved the “bestselling author” splash on her advertising.

At the end of the novel, there was one of those lovely magic buttons nice and handy so I could buy the next book.

Did I buy the next book? No.

Wasn’t I interested in the story? Didn’t I want to know more?

Yes. I totally did. I was ready to stay up late and read more.

So why didn’t I buy the next book?

The author, despite being incredibly talented, lost my trust. The story was not complete. Not by a long shot.

The heroine is being threatened by her brother and a former boyfriend who raped her. She had been in hiding for years, but they found her. She needs to go home and face them because her mother is dying. The hero of the story agrees to go home with her so she is not alone. BAM. It’s over. If you want to see what happens, you need to buy the next book. There isn’t even a neat, tidy closing thought to make the novel feel like it ended, like “I would be fine, I knew I would be fine because we would face this together.”

Nope—a closing line like that was not there. The chapter just ended, and the next page prompted you to buy the next book.

Seriously?

Now, if this had been a free read, I totally would have cut the author some slack. I would have purchased the next book. Call me snobby, but I expect a story to be complete when I pay $5.00 for it.

But maybe I was wrong. Maybe I misunderstood. So I checked to make sure there was not a worded warning like “part one” that I overlooked.

Nope. Nada.

I went from being a wildly enthusiastic fan to a lukewarm, disappointed reader in a matter of seconds.

But the novel was great. Why wouldn’t you buy the next one?

Like I said, she has lost my trust. Will the next book finish the story, or will I be prompted to buy another book? I don’t know. I cannot trust that I will ever see a satisfying ending.

For now and probably forever, I will see this author’s name and red flags will pop up all over the place.

Why not just tell the truth?

Now, if it was stated up front that this was an add-on series, a work in progress available in installments (and priced at $.99 rather than $5.00 each) I would have totally slipped the next book in my cart. In fact, I think that’s an awesome idea.

But you just need to be honest about it.

Don’t lie to your readers.

Would I recommend this book? No. Absolutely not.

I sure did learn from it, though.

What would you think if you finished a book, and it totally left you hanging… Holding you ransom until you paid to find out what happened?

JenniFer_EatonF

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #4

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal (See previous post)

3.       Caring about others (See previous post)

4.       A special gift or talent.

A special gift or talent can be tricky

This one can be tricky, but it can be used when the others fail. A special talent, I think, needs to be part of the plot to make it work.  Like a person loves to draw, so we want to see them become a successful artist.  If they don’t, then why did they have the talent mentioned in the story to begin with?

Make sure it has meaning

This needs to be all about fulfillment. They need to use the talent to make something happen in the story.

Yes, this could be a great device, but be careful to make sure it fits inside your plot and story arc.

What recent special talent have you read that really drew you in to a novel?

_JenniFer____EatoN

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #3

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal (See previous post)

3.       Caring about others

Even the most horrible person on the planet has to care about someone, right?

Well, maybe not the most horrible person on the planet. I suppose you could create a noteworthy character who does not care about others, but the more I think of it, even the greatest villains of all time cared about something.

A villain can be a big softie

The guy in Psycho was pretty twisted, but that was okay, because he really loved his grandma. The Dude in Despicable Me wanted to be the greatest villain of all time, but these kids that he cared about kept getting in the way.
I think the idea is that in most cases everyone cares about someone. It may be trivial, or it may be gruesome, like keeping your beloved dead grandma… but it is that “care factor” that a reader can relate to.

Taking the easy way out

The handout talks about easier versions of caring, like taking care of a baby or helping an old lady cross the street.  So, if your character is a nice person, just make sure we can see them doing something that shows that they care for others.  They will get brownie points from your readers for their trouble.

Think about a novel your recently read that you loved. What did the main character care about?

_JenniFer____EatoN

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Write a Story With Me # 74: Mamma? by Richard Leonard

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!

74 Richard Leonard

After much agitation and discomfort caused by the harsh talking, baby lay amongst the warm comforting folds of a great source of love. The calm soothing voice and the stroking of his head and back produced an intense feeling of peace and tranquility in him. No place felt safer. This was Mamma.

Sleeping, he dreamed of lovely colors, beautiful shapes and calming sounds, still meaningless in his young mind. Yet he knew he felt peaceful and secure, far more so than earlier that day while awake.

His dream suddenly changed. The shapes became edgier, the colors brighter, blindingly so. Sounds were higher pitched, sharp and painful. Yet he could not scream. But Mamma would protect him, he knew this instinctively. He was safe with Mamma. There was something not safe nearby. It wasn’t just his dream. He knew this too, somehow.

He felt himself being torn from Mamma, a great force was pulling him away. It was the coldness he noticed first. Mamma’s warmth and touch vanished and he was enveloped in a stiff cold breeze as some unknown force moved him quickly yet carefully away from her. Again he tried to scream but could not. Many random incoherent thoughts rushed through his immature little mind. He could not make sense of them. Fear encased him. He recognized fear. It was inherent. His Mamma was gone and he was traveling somewhere again. He knew this much. Traveling fast through the air.

Then there was darkness. He was alone. Suddenly he felt a great power. His own power. But is mind was too feeble to understand what it was for and how he should use it.

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 – Sixty-five Click Here

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Part Sixty-Nine – Norah Jansen

Part Seventy – Shannon Burton

Part Seventy-One – Vanessa Jane Chapman

Part Seventy-Two – Susan Rocan

Part Seventy-three – Kate Johnston

Part Seventy-Four – Richard Leonard

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

Kai Damian — 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
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

1 swivel

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #2

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal

Ugh. Goals. We all have them, right? We all have something we need to do every day. Some goals we like, others we labor over.  The point is, we can all relate to having to do something.

If your character is wandering around in circles with no clear intent, the reader will not be able to engage.  Even before the inciting incident that is the real start to your story… your character has to have a reason for being… a goal of something that needs to be done (it can be simple, like making dinner)

But soon you should hit the “big goal” that will carry your reader along for the rest of the journey. We have to know what the goal is and have a vested interest in the character getting there.

By the way, the “big goal” needs to materialize in the first 25% of the book or earlier.  This may seem like a given to most of you, but I’ve read some works in progress lately where the author did not understand this. Think about your character’s goal, and make sure it is apparent to the reader.

Everyone wants something.

A reader can connect and care if they have the opportunity to root for your character to get what he/she wants.

So go ahead, give them a goal!

What was the character’s goal in your favorite novel? Do you think this is what made it your favorite?

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