Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Are you going to send out queries during Christmas break?

I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are finishing up their novels (some of them from Nano) and are going to query their brains out during their Christmas vacations.

Me?  Nope!  No Way!

First of all, even though I am done, I want to get one more round of good solid beta reads in.  But there is another reason.

I remember reading something a long time ago that made a ton of sence, and it really stuck with me.  Oddly enough, I came across the article by accident the other day.  (The link is below) Re-reading it again made me feel even better about my timeline skipping right over Christmas and starting to query in a few months.

Nathan made some really good points in this article.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Nathan Bransford, he used to be an agent, but recently left the agenting business and is now an author.

Nathan said there are not any good or bad times to query, with two exceptions.  You can read the full article below, but for those of you who are terrified of little links, here it is in a nutshell:

Don’t query if you know the agent is out of the office. Also don’t query around major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.

The reason is that many people have off, and a lot of them are using their time to send out queries… to agents that are not there because they are on vacation, or are leaving for vacation.  This means the agents are rushing through their submissions so they can finish before they leave, or they are just coming back to a pile of work that they have to RACE THROUGH to get caught up.

As Nathan said “take it from me — you don’t want to be part of a massive query pile when an agent is feeling a time crunch.”

“Ideally, sure, we’d give all queries equal time, consider every one similarly, whether we’re reading a pile of 10 or a pile of 500.  Ideally. 

“Reality: human nature is human nature.  When faced with a mountain that feels like it won’t move, you start moving a little quicker, take fewer chances, etc. etc.  I really aspire to keep a constant pace regardless of my workload, but it’s hard not to adjust how many partials you’re requesting based on how much work awaits.”

“Just don’t do it.  Avoid the weeks around major holidays.  It’s better to be part of a trickle than a flood. “

I think these are sound words of advice, especially since he wrote this when he was still an agent.

So, are you querying now?  Are you planning on querying next week?   Please, by all means do!  (She grins and giggles with her evil witch laugh)

I will be more than happy to tip-toe over you lightly in a few months if you are sitting in the slush pile.

Please check out Nathan Bransford’s site, and his first novel, Jacob Wonderbar.

Nathan Brandsford:  Is there a best time to Query?

A tough decision-Making a Big Change in your Novel

I’m here.  Crunch time.  My novel is pretty much done.  I love everything about it.  Now it is time to make those big decisions that I’ve been putting off.

When I started writing this novel, Magellan was six years old.  I really loved the idea of a really young child being ripped away from his parents.  He lived with the King for four years before going to school at ten years old.  The problem was… huge jumps in time.  The King’s Residences are just “Act One”.  Act two has Magellan in school for several years.  Act Three is him coming home, and facing ??????  the climax.

My big problem is that Magellan is sixteen in act three.  That age is solid.  It can’t change.  The final section deals with a lot of more YA/adult content than Act One.  I had a Middle Grade beginning and a Young Adult ending.  Two very distinct genres.  Not good.

I toyed with the idea of cutting HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT into two novels.  There is a climax at the end of Act One/Beginning Act Two, but I couldn’t “summarize” what was going on.  Magellan didn’t “have to do anything” yet.  (Other than dodge the overly affectionate princess,  and stay alive while the homicidal prince keeps trying to kill him)

The first change I made was to “age up” Magellan to eight.  This left me with a two-year span in Act One.  Everything else stayed the same.  It still wasn’t working, though.  There were still time jumps in Act Two that I wasn’t quite comfortable with.  I was still struggling with the age question.

My challenge was to make Magellan more “marketable” to a YA audience in the beginning.  Eight wasn’t cutting it either.  So, I hunkered down.  I made the big decision.

Magellan is now Eleven when he is taken, and I have shortened my timeline.

I had to re-write a few segments to make him a little less weepy, but it flowed fine.  He now only spends a year in the Kings residences in Act One.  A year, I found, was plenty of time for him to become best friends with the younger price, have the princess fall in love with him, and make her older brother so mad he becomes homicidal.

This also fixed Act Two.  I no-longer need to quickly age Magellan a year as soon as he goes to school.  There is no longer a need for a time jump.  The first climax that sends him “on his way” can now happen in the first year.  He is thirteen. (Just turned thirteen—that’s two years older than in the first draft at this point)  That makes it easier for him to make the big decisions that he makes.  He is mature enough.  The age progression up to sixteen, then, feels natural as everything starts happening around him.

Now that I’ve done it, I am shaking my head.  Just changing his age, and narrowing my timeline, has filled so many holes.  It’s now more fluid.  It makes more sense.  Now, I finally have that “Omigosh, did I actually write this?” feeling.

I realize that most of you have never read HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT, but I am telling you this for two reasons:

#1 – to get it all straight in my head and

#2 – to let you know NOT TO BE AFRAID of the “big decision”.

If you are struggling with a possible change, and you “feel it in your gut” you are probably right.  I knew this needed to be done last year, but I fought against it.  Now that it is done, I want to smack myself.

Think over your novel.  What is bogging it down?  What are you clinging to that just might not work in the end?  Whatever it is… Make the Big Decision.

Good luck!

Jennifer Eaton

Great Opportunity if your Manuscript is Finished… but it’s tomorrow! (Monday)

Robin Weeks tuned me in to this great contest.

“An Agent’s Inbox Contest”

Unfortunately, I will not be giving her any competition, although I’d love to take a shot at this.  For those of you lucky enough to be working tomorrow, (Monday) this might be tough (My company’s security won’t even let me access the internet on my own laptop.  Ugh.)  But for those of you who are free tomorrow…

If you have a completed, polished manuscript, you can post your query and first 250 words to this site just like you were submitting them to an agent… and guess what… YOU WILL BE.

Taylor Martindale of Full Circle Literary will be reviewing the queries and making comments on them.  It’s a great opportunity to get advice from a real agent on your query…  and BONUS — since she is a real agent, if your stuff is good, she can always ask you for a little more to read!

That’s almost enough to make me want to take a day off!

Good luck to all of you who are able to enter!

Jennifer Eaton

Finish Your Story Already!

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published” (Click here to read my post from that night), I got a great piece of advice from best-selling author Jonathan  Maberry.

With all this NANO buzz going around, I am reading multiple blogs that say many of you are writing “really fast” just to get your word count in, and then going back and editing it so it sounds better, and then you plow forward again to make your word count (now even more stressed because you took up your writing time editing).  REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT.

Jon’s advice was not to re-write too soon.  He said to write your first draft all the way through. Once you are done, then you can go back and revise.  This is what he calls the “art of writing”.  He said that your first draft will concentrate on the substance… This is where the best part of the story comes out on the paper (or screen).

Don’t worry if it’s perfect… just get it all down and out of your head.  Once you have your idea all down in front of you, then you can concentrate on the “craft”.

Now is the time to add setting and character description if you missed  them the first draft.  Look at your punctuation, and watch for writing crutches and clichés.  Cut out scenes that don’t fit.  Re-write what’s just plain bad.  All this is part of the “craft” of writing.

So, if you’re NANOing, or just out there writing a great story at your own pace…  Don’t stress over it.  Enjoy the art of writing.  This is the best part for an author… having your vision materialize for others to read.

Worry about making it sound good later.  You will have plenty of time to edit when you’re all done.

Jennifer Eaton


Here is an interesting article on finding time to write by Sandra Madeira  My writing notebook I love the idea of seeing how many hours are in the day, and what time you have to write and when.  For some … Continue reading

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