Tag Archives: Writing and Editing

Lesson Ten from a Manuscript Red Line: Girls Rule and Boys Drool

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

Note: Originally posted two years ago. See note at bottom of post…

Let me start out by stating… if your novel has a female protagonist… I HATE YOU.

PKO_0013466 sadWell, not really, but I’m jealous.  You don’t have to worry about a side-kick, because your Girl-Power is already there.  UGH!  This is annoying.

My BP and I actually had this conversation months ago.  We talked about how annoying it is that publishers all seem to want strong female characters only.  Well, at the same time, they are complaining that boys don’t read.  Go figure.

Both my BP and I have male MCs (main characters).  My BP at least already had a female side kick, but they actually asked her to beef her up and make her one of the main voice characters.  She’s working now on making her a more dynamic character.  I guess this is a good thing.  I like her.  She’s a tough cookie, but do we always have to have a girl?

Now, I am a girl, and I happen to like to read books about boys.  Boys tend to be stronger, and I don’t have to worry about annoying sappy emotional crap most of the time. [Ha! Since this originally posted, I’ve written FIRE IN THE WOODS. You never know where your muse will take you! ] I’m wondering if more boys actually would read if there was a wider variety of decent novels out there that didn’t force-feed them GIRLS just so the novels would be marketable to a female audience as well.   Maybe publishers are shooting themselves in the foot by not letting girl-free novels into the shelves?  I guess we will never know.

Yeah, I have to admit that Meagan has gotten more and more page-time in my novel, but I’m trying hard not to let her take over.  I’m trying to have her be there, with her own ominous annoying girly agenda, without spoiling the overall plot line.  Meagan is a princess and is trying to find a loophole that will let her marry Magellan, a commoner.  This actually works in nicely, because it makes the villain (her brother) more and more angry and homicidal every time he sees them together.

Hopefully I don’t have to make her too much more integral than she already is.  I want to be published, but I want the story to be intact when I’m done as well.  The story is definitely about a confused boy with no memory that has to save the galaxy… It’s not a love story.

Anyway… the point of this all is that publishers are still looking for a strong female presence in works that they are supporting.  They simply don’t believe there is enough of a male market of readers out there to support a strictly male protagonist.  They said they realized that a writer should not focus on writing to the market only, but it is something that publishers must consider.

Ugh.

Note:  I think times have changed somewhat on this. Big houses are still looking for girl books, because that is where the bread and butter is, but the qualified smaller houses are starting to reach more for the boy crowd. I have even seen a few agents interested in finding a good boy’s book. Times change – just go with the flow.

_JenniFer____EatoN

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Lesson Nine from a Manuscript Red Line: Written Any Good (Bad) Cliché’s lately?

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

I found this photograph on Wikipedia with the definition of Cliché.  It’s pretty old, and the copy right is outdated.

You can tell, even with how old this cartoon is, that if they were making fun of some clichés this long ago, what would they think now?

I must admit, I am guilty myself of using the last one.  Now that I see it in a picture, I have to giggle.  Sometimes, I think you need to have something drawn to see the “funny” in it… Like tossing your head in the air.

The publisher who redlined the Gold Mine Manuscript marked “in a split Second”, “Looked her in the eye”, “Laid low” and “in all shapes and sizes” as  clichés.   They also said that eyes don’t meet, but gazes can meet.  (Can you picture two people’s eyes actually meeting?  Now that I have that visual, I stop every time I start typing it.)

Characters Dropping Eyeballs?

There are a lot more that are common, that we probably aren’t even aware we are using.  For me, now that I think of it… My characters always drop their eyes.  I guess I can change that to “lowered their gaze” since they aren’t actually dropping their eyeballs out of their heads.

I’ll also mention that they weren’t crazy about colloquial expressions either, as they thought they wouldn’t be understood by everyone, so use those sparingly as well.

Write on!

JenniFer_EatonF

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Lesson Eight from the Manuscript Red-Line: Magically Appearing Items in the Setting

Gold_Mine_Manuscript

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

This is really more like an amendment to Lesson Seven, but I figured I’d call it out separately, just to make it more clear.  In Lesson Seven, we discussed how important it is to make sure a character has a reason for doing what they do.

Also watch for “convenient” items popping up out of nowhere.  In a recent writers group meeting we discussed this very topic… making sure that a gun doesn’t suddenly appear in the glove compartment of an eighty year old grandmother from Ohio…  Silly things like that.

It is easy for a writer to place an item somewhere convenient…  but remember to give that item a reason for being there.

Example from my own manuscript:

Meagan has a candle in her room in the end of the novel.  It’s very important.  It’s never mentioned before, but I talk about it like it’s always been there.  I  caught mistake after digesting Lesson Seven.   I just can’t let the candle suddenly appear like that, and act like it’s always been there.

Convenient fix by me:  I needed a new chapter near the beginning of the novel, because I needed a place to SHOW that Meagan realizes that Magellan is supernatural.  (This is to avoid a “telly” section later).  I placed the scene in Meagan’s room, and actually used the candle as the driving force for that scene.  It worked wonderfully, and I killed two problems with one chapter in a neat little
package.  (And only about 550 words)

Like magically appearing characters, suddenly appearing items can be distracting, and make you lose credibility.  Give important items a reason for being where they are, and keep your settings fluid throughout your novel.

Lesson Seven from a Manuscript Red-Line: Where did that character come from?

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

This is another comment that seems silly when you say it, but when I was thinking over my own manuscript (and one of the comments that a BP made that I blew off) I think I may have one of these mistakes, too.

The publisher red-lined a scene where the phone rings, and there is a conversation, but it is never really clear why the second character called in the first place.  Yes, some important information is exchanged during the conversation, but the reason for the original call is never made clear enough.
The comment from the publisher was that all actions must have a reason from the character that created that action in the first place.

Now, thinking over my own manuscript… There is a point where Magellan and Meagan are in the Aviary when the lights go out.  They are worried about Jerric, who is also in the aviary.  Meagan calls out his name, and Jerric steps out of the bushes and says “I’m right here.”

One of my BP’s said: “that is awfully convenient.”

I think this is pretty much the same thing as the comment above.  There needs to be a reason for him to be there.  Honestly, there is.  He is watching them.  The problem is, I never SAY that, so there is never actually a reason (in the reader’s mind) for him to be able to step out of the trees so easily.

So, where I  “blew off” that comment before, because I knew why he stepped out of the trees, now I am going back to make it more apparent that he was standing there and listening.  I have to let the reader know why it is so easy for him to step out of the trees.

Always make sure there is a reason for your characters to be where they are, and a reason for them doing what they do.  Other wise, as this publisher puts it, it  ends up sounding “contrived” or, as my BP put it “too convenient.”

SUCCESS! Holy Sh— Um— Wow! BEST WEEK EVER!

Okay, I admit, I am a Twitter stalker. Some people make it easy. They use Twitter as a method to voice what they are feeling about everything from the weather to really important stuff… like editors reading submissions.

A few days ago, the editor that has had my manuscript for quite a while tweeted:

“Catching up on subs. Really like the voice and story in the YA scifi I’m reading, It’s from March. I’m so far behind.”

I tensed. My sub is a YA Sci Fi.  And I submitted in March.  I’d be lying if I did not admit my head went ka-blooey!


A few hours later an email popped up from the same editor.

Nothing definite, just a note to say she was reading AND ENJOYING my manuscript.

How_stinking_cool_is_that

Okay, deep breath. That’s good. Really good. Fingernails are now officially non-existent. Let’s hope she doesn’t have an explosion phobia!

At one o’clock in the morning the next day she tweeted:

“Stayed up late to finish a manuscript I will offer on tomorrow. Really love this story.”

Now, I’m really glad I was fast asleep at one o’clock in the morning, because there would have been no sleeping that night for me if I had read this when she tweeted it.

PKO_0001147The next morning I woke to an email sent just after that Tweet. She’d stayed up late reading because she couldn’t put it down.

Yes!!!

Now let me tell you. Spam filters can be evil. E.V.I.L. because after almost a whole day, thank goodness, she poked me to make sure I got the contract offer.

“Umm, no.”

Resend is a wonderful thing.

I spent the next half hour reading and re-reading everything she had to say about my book.  I mean, you have dreams about people going on and on about how great your work is, but you never really expect it to happen. Especially from an editor with such a great reputation in the business. I was numb. Completely numb.

Wow. Just Wow

An editor at my target publisher loves my story just as much as I do. She loves my quirky voice, and the themes blew her away. (Literally, in some cases).

Wow.__I_mean_REALLy_Wow!_00000

Now on to the nitty gritty. I hope I will have exciting news to share with everyone really soon.

_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

Write a Story with Me #50 with Norah Jansen – You’ll never believe this one!

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!

50 – Norah Jansen

Again, Morath held up a hand.

“I must ask for your patience Natalia. Yes, you will have your son, but right now the fate of all our people is in your hands. Your lineage has been kept a secret from you for the sake of your family but now it is time to tell you that your father was a noble Fae. Indeed he was my brother and would have ruled these lands if it were not for the human hand that slayed him.”

Natalia’s eyes darted from side to side, taking in the fae on one side of the great room and her stunned husband on the other. She shook her head violently.

“No. No. This can’t be true. My father was a farmer. A human farmer.”

She looked beseechingly at Yoran.

“He was. I swear he was.”

Natalia fell quiet, her hands twisting in anguish and tears spilling from her eyes. Morath reached out and stilled Natalia’s hands by taking them into her own.

“In your heart you know it’s true Natalia. Your mother wanted you to have a human life so she married your farmer father and they swore never to tell you who your real father was. You’ve known deep down that your children are different to those of your neighbours. They have abilities beyond those of humans, abilities that have never been nurtured, and now we have a boy who is destined to bring our two peoples together.”

There was a gasp from Yoran and Natalia’s heart clenched as she saw raw fear in his eyes. Morath’s voice came to her as if through a mist.

“It’s up to you Natalia. Daughter of my brother. Do you consent to share this child with all the people around you? With the Fae?”

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 – Forty Click Here

Part Forty-One – Vanessa Chapman

Part Forty-Two – Susan Rocan

Part Forty-Three – Kate Johnson

Part Forty-Four – An Elephant Can’t

Part Forty-Five - Julie Catherine Vigna

Part Forty-Six – Kai Damian

Part Forty-Seven – Richard Leonard

Part Forty-Eight – Sharon Manship

Part Forty-nine – Danielle Ackley McPhail

Part Fifty – Norah Jansen

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

  Joe Owens — 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

Write a Story with Me # 33 – What? OH NO! She didn’t! by Danielle Ackley McPhail

Last week Janelle took off — literally, leaving the old lady with Mommy bleeding to death and in a ton of trouble.  What’s gonna happen?  Here’s Danielle Ackley McPhail’s first contribution to our story!

33- Danielle Ackley McPhail – Wait, she’s who?  What?  OH NO!  She didn’t!

Morana watched her unsuspecting daughter go, her lips tightly set and her eyes sad. She remembered more than a time before the faeries were looked on as vermin…she remembered when they had been kin with humans. When all kind were linked and not separate.

How dark and grim the world had become since that time.

With a sigh she turned back to her patient. Poor Natalia, forsaken by all and sundry; all but Morana, and now that the last witness was gone it was time to see to mother and babe.

Queen Morath of the fae shed the weight of her borrowed years, shed her human form, the aches and pains and the blurring of her eyes. All fell away like flakes of skin to dust leaving the most beautiful and powerful of fae standing over the human woman, who sprawled upon the floor in her own blood, the babe’s cord still trailing from her body, wet and glistening.

“tsk…let’s clean you up, my lovely, shall we?” Nearer to human height than the diminutive size the fae had become in the after-time, Morath bent gracefully down, folded the delicate membranes of her wings back and safely away from the mess on the floor before reaching out one ivory-pale hand to trail through Natalia’s hair and down the curve of her back. Magic sparkled in the air at the touch as like recognized like deep within the two races now drastically different. Queen of life and death as well as fae, Morath ordered the woman’s lifeblood back within the confines of her veins and wicked away both sweat and blood normal to the birthing of children, and with it the memory of that night’s ordeal…all of it. Natalia remain unconscious—blessedly so—as the faerie queen scooped up the woman’s son to cradle in immortal arms.

The child cooed and burbled, making the faerie queen laugh before she grew somber once more. “Come, Verval. For your own safety and theirs, you need be the price for my healing.”
And Morath rose in a cloud of glittering motes, secreting the foretold boy away before any harm might come to him or his parents for bearing him.

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!

Part One – Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Two – J. Keller Ford

Part Three – Susan Roebuck

Part Four – Elin Gregory

Part Five – Eileen Snyder

Part Six – Mikaela Wire

Part Seven — Vanessa Chapman

Part Eight — Ravena Guron

Part Nine – Vikki Thompson

Part Ten — Susan Rocan mywithershins

Part Eleven — Kate Johnston  AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twelve — Julie Catherine

Part Thirteen — Kai Damian

Part Fourteen — Richard Leonard

Part Fifteen — Sharon Manship

Part Sixteen – Shannon Blue Christensen

Part Seventeen — Bryn Jones

Part Eighteen — Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Nineteen — Shannon Burton

Part Twenty — J.Keller Ford

Part Twenty-One — Susan Roebuck

Part Twenty-Two — Elin Gregory

Part Twenty-Three — Aparnauteur

Part Twenty-Four — Vanessa Chapman

Part Twenty-Five — Ravena Guron

Part Twenty Six — Susan Rocan

Part Twenty Seven — Kate Johnson AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twenty Eight – Julie Catherine

Part Twenty Nine — Kai Damian

Part Thirty — Richard Leonard

Part Thirty-One —Sharon Manship

Part Thirty-Two — Shannon Christensen

Part Thirty-Three — Danielle Ackley McPhail

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

Siv Maria Ottem— TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me #32 – Janelle’s Choice with Shannon Christensen

Last week the baby finally arrived, but it looks like Mommy is in big trouble!  Will she be okay?  Let’s find out!

Take it away Shannon!

32- Shannon Christensen

Janelle hesitated.

If she followed Morana’s instructions to get help, Natalia might live and the boy might grow up healthy, wealthy, and destructive. This baby could destroy them all – fairies and humans, regardless of Janelle’s help.

She considered this. The boy could turn out to be like Marci, and could be helpful to Janelle’s people. Then again, maybe not. If he were more like Bethany, then all the risks and sacrifices made by Marci, by Sian, by Janosc, by herself and so many others would be futile.

She did not have to help. She should not have helped earlier by bringing Morana. Certainly, the humans would not have helped a fairy mother. She could simply leave Natalia and the boy in Morana’s care and let luck or fate have her way.

Natalia moaned again and Morana pleaded.

Janelle watched.
As a mother, Janelle sympathized with the compulsion to care for an infant. As Marci’s friend, Janelle sympathized with the potential loss of a family member. As the new queen of the fairies, however, she understood that her own feelings were nothing compared to her peoples’ needs. She had accepted this when she ate the leaf. She had not expected to have to act so quickly on this new prioritization.

Janelle sighed. She would do what was best for the many, and not only the few.

“No.”

“But, you must!”

“No. I must not.” Janelle turned and flew away from the house for the last time.

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!

Part One – Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Two – J. Keller Ford

Part Three – Susan Roebuck

Part Four – Elin Gregory

Part Five – Eileen Snyder

Part Six – Mikaela Wire

Part Seven — Vanessa Chapman

Part Eight — Ravena Guron

Part Nine – Vikki Thompson

Part Ten — Susan Rocan mywithershins

Part Eleven — Kate Johnston  AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twelve — Julie Catherine

Part Thirteen — Kai Damian

Part Fourteen — Richard Leonard

Part Fifteen — Sharon Manship

Part Sixteen – Shannon Blue Christensen

Part Seventeen — Bryn Jones

Part Eighteen — Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Nineteen — Shannon Burton

Part Twenty — J.Keller Ford

Part Twenty-One — Susan Roebuck

Part Twenty-Two — Elin Gregory

Part Twenty-Three — Aparnauteur

Part Twenty-Four — Vanessa Chapman

Part Twenty-Five — Ravena Guron

Part Twenty Six — Susan Rocan

Part Twenty Seven — Kate Johnson AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twenty Eight – Julie Catherine

Part Twenty Nine — Kai Damian

Part Thirty — Richard Leonard

Part Thirty-One — Sharon Manship

Part Thirty-Two — Shannon Christensen

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

Danielle Ackley McPhail — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story with Me Part 30 – To Janelle’s Horror “What?” – With Richard Leonard

Surprise!  I’m changing the day for “Write a Story with Me” from Tuesdays to Mondays.  Why?  Well, ’cause I can!  Here we go!

It’s been nearly a month since we saw Marci’s poor mom go into labor all alone!  Richard Leonard throws it back to  the birth string this week.  Will Janelle get help in time?  Take it away, Richard!

30 – Richard Leonard

Janelle was already out the bedroom door before realising the old woman was still fumbling for her walking stick. She watched helplessly as Morana shuffled unsteadily across the short distance from the bed to the other side of the night-stand where her walking stick rested, using the night-stand for support. Janelle’s mood fell as she realised how frail the old lady now was. Her magic could only do so much.

“I’m sorry, Morana. I wasn’t aware you cannot -”

“I can do this, Young Fairy. I must do this”, Morana said.

Janelle, said nothing, guilt building within her. To drag this weak old dear out into the cold night to help a woman giving birth seemed to be a cruel irony. Patience, Janelle, patience. At the same time she needed to hurry. The longer Natalia was without proper assistance the more dangerous the situation becomes.

Morana finally had the support of her stick and began a steady rhythm of shuffling towards the door and out of the house. Janelle, to ease her impatience and peace of mind,  would fly up and down the street and patrol the area while Morana hobbled slowly towards Natalia’s residence. At the end of every run she would check on Natalia through the window, carefully ensuring she was still in a stable condition, sometimes offering reassurance that help was on its way.

On the way back she would arrive with relief to find that Morana had made significant progress walking up the street. This continued for several shortening laps until, to Janelle’s horror,

Oh!  The mid sentance stop!  What a way to leave it.  Someone’s quaking in their booth figuring out what Janelle saw!

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!

Part One – Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Two – J. Keller Ford

Part Three – Susan Roebuck

Part Four – Elin Gregory

Part Five – Eileen Snyder

Part Six – Mikaela Wire

Part Seven — Vanessa Chapman

Part Eight — Ravena Guron

Part Nine – Vikki Thompson

Part Ten — Susan Rocan mywithershins

Part Eleven — Kate Johnston  AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twelve — Julie Catherine

Part Thirteen — Kai Damian

Part Fourteen — Richard Leonard

Part Fifteen — Sharon Manship

Part Sixteen – Shannon Blue Christensen

Part Seventeen — Bryn Jones

Part Eighteen — Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Nineteen — Shannon Burton

Part Twenty — J.Keller Ford

Part Twenty-One — Susan Roebuck

Part Twenty-Two — Elin Gregory

Part Twenty-Three — Aparnauteur

Part Twenty-Four — Vanessa Chapman

Part Twenty-Five — Ravena Guron

Part Twenty Six — Susan Rocan

Part Twenty Seven — Kate Johnson AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twenty Eight – Julie Catherine

Part Twenty Nine — Kai Damian

Part Thirty — Richard Leonard

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

 Sharon Manship — TAG!  You are “It”