Tag Archives: Writers Resources

It’s my website’s second anniversary! Yay!

It’s my website’s second anniversary!

Yay1!

Wow.  Two years already.  Where has the time gone?  Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask for anything crazy like you guys writing a story with me, because a bunch of you are still doing that! (If anyone wants to join up, we’ve always happy to see new writers. Click here to join.)

Anyway… For this anniversary I’m setting a challenge for MYSELF instead.  I feel really behind now, because I took nearly two months to write a query and synopsis for Fire in the Woods.

Did you hear that??? TWO MONTHS.  I still want to smack myself in the head.

**That’s crazy**

It’s two months of trying to control my creative juices, and keeping down the new story idea that crept into my head. (I admit I did take two days to outline the idea so it would stop screaming at me to be written.)

Today, I am sitting down for the first time in months and digging back in to the work in progress that I had put on hiatus.  Optimal Red is a Dystopian novel for the New Adult market.  It is a Prequel to “Last Winter Red”, my first-ever published story in the “Make Believe” Anthology from last year.

Yep. I’m excited too.

I’m starting today with 14,000 already written words, and giving myself a challenge to finish the first draft by mid to late September.  It’s going to be tight, because Paper Wishes releases in three weeks (and yes, I am doing a full blog tour to support my baby – Cover should be ready soon!)

I still have final sign-offs to do on The First Day of the New Tomorrow (Which will release in September)  and a blog tour for that baby as well.  Yep, Mommy’s going to be busy.

But nothing will keep me from writing this time.  It’s what we do, right?  Although I’m incredibly anal and have plotted out how many words I need to write, and on which days… I look forward to getting back into my world, and my writing routine.  I missed it.

Who else out there needs a little kick in the butt to finish????

Race ya to the finish line!

Ready.  Set.  Go!

Happy writing!

_JenniFer____EatoN

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Rule #11 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 #11

11: Avoid sounding ‘writerly’. Better to dirty up your prose. When you sound like a writer, your voice has crept in and authorial intrusion is always unwelcome. In the best writing, the author is invisible.

My take on this, is to not always be perfect.

I have to admit… I’ve started sentences with “and” and “but”.  Correct?  No, of course not.  So why do it?

VOICE.

Voice is very important, especially in first person. Your character is narrating the entire story.  Do YOU think in complete sentences?  No, of course not.

We need to write how it is believable.

I recently had an editor try to “correct” this paragraph of dialog:

“You’re pretty, and have nice legs, and beautiful brown eyes, and an amazing smile if you’d ever use it, but you can’t see all these great things because you’re always too hung up on wishing you had what everyone else does.”

They wanted me to change it to be grammatically correct.  Their suggested edit:

“You’re pretty, have nice legs, beautiful brown eyes, and an amazing smile if you’d ever use it…”

The reason I pushed back on this is because the character is very emotional and upset.  He is rattling off a list of things popping into his head (and not thinking at all what he is saying)  The editor’s suggested change made it sound like he was dictating a letter with no emotion at all.

Luckily, despite not being ‘correct’ – my dialog stayed.  It is more believable this way, and conveys ten times the emotion.

Have you ever had to defend your choice of “bad” grammar/style?

Click here to tweet: Write bad to write good. Rule #11 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever from @jennifermeaton

_JenniFer____EatoN

If you are thinking of entering a contest – READ THE FINE PRINT

I was going to keep my big alligator mouth shut, but I can’t.  I just can’t.

A call for submissions was recently announced that is an incredible opportunity…  A contest to write a prequel to one of the classic children’s movies from the 1980’s. How cool would that be. Right?

A group of friends and I gathered our kids, and we watched the movie.  We brainstormed, and we were excited.

Afterwards, I breezed over to the web-site and looked up the history of the time period that they provided as a basis for the world-building… and ideas started to flow.

Then I checked the fine print

As I looked over the terms and conditions, a few things popped out at me as HUGE red flags.  I thought, “Hmm, this is a major publishing house, and a big American iconic company.  There’s no way that I can be reading this right.”

So, I did the smart thing, and contacted a lawyer.

I’m so glad I did.  What they told me, horrified my socks off.  Really, it did.  Those suckers flew right across the room.

In a nutshell, whether you win or lose… if you enter the contest they have the right to use your story, and your name to sell it at any time.  Even years later… once you’ve hit it big.  They have a story by you that they own… and there’s not a dern thing you can do about it.

Here’s the worst part — We writers enter these things all the time.  We figure that if we don’t win, we can change the names and the world and sell it as something else, right?

Nope.  You can’t. NEVER. They own your story for eternity.

I’m going to give you the direct quote sent to me. If you re-write the story and publish it with different names and change the world…

“Are you sitting down? – they can sue you for using your own story that they now (and forever) own, and they would 100% win in court.”

That’s insane. And I’m ashamed.  I’m ashamed because I LOVE the brand behind this contest and everything having to do with them.  I grew up with them and I was uber-excited to have a chance at being part of it.

Not anymore.

In respect of the brand that I love so much, I will not tell you who it is.  If you don’t know, then you are not in danger, but if this sounds familiar, and you are considering it, PLEASE take a look at the terms and conditions.

Do I still think this is an incredible opportunity?  Yes, I do.  But you need to weigh the risks against your chances.

If I spend six months creating a masterpiece, and it is not chosen, I deserve the right to revise and use my story elsewhere.  In my mind there is no such thing as a story “Dependant on” the original.  Anything can be revised.

If you are going for it, good luck.  I wish you the best.

Sadly, I will not be any competition.

JenniFer_EatonF

When to say “Enough is enough” – Coming to the end of your query rope

As many of you know, I have been in what I’ve called “Query Hell” for over a month now.   One month and eleven days, to be exact.

It hit me a few days ago.  I finished the first draft of Fire in the Woods in 40 writing days. It was 40,000 words at the time. (After three months of editing and beta reading, it is nearly 68,000 words)

That means that it took me the same amount of time to write 40,000 words as it took me to write this 249-word query (mainly, the 155-word blurb inside it)

How crazy is that?

A few days ago, I said. “Enough”.

This is my problem — I know I am not good at queries, so I had requested a lot of help.  Seriously – I think people were cringing. (With smiles on their faces, I hoped)

But the problem was… I was getting SO MUCH feedback, with contradicting opinions, that I was getting NOWHERE.

A few weeks ago, I complained about this process on Facebook, and an acquisitions editor at a small publishing house commented “Just write the back cover copy of the book.  That’s all we want to see”

Well, yeah, I know that.  That’s what I was trying to write… but people kept saying I needed more.  A little more voice here, a little more danger there.  It was getting TOO LONG.

A few days ago I sat down, cleared my head… thought about all the suggestions people have made… and I just wrote the dern thing.

Funny, the best parts of all their suggestions just flew out of my fingers… and I sat there and stared at it.

Wow.

I mean, I think Wow… but I’d thought Wow before… so I (being the glutton for punishment that I am) send it to three people (leaving out the person who always found flaws)

I got two enthusiastic thumbs up, and a slight modification.

I made the modification (which fixed something I was uncomfortable with anyway) and asked for one last check – including the most critical person this time. (Who I love by the way-if you are reading this)

Triple thumbs up.  And all around “I’d ask for this in a heartbeat”

**Whew**

You can’t believe the sigh of relief.  Part of me feels like I have wasted a month and a half.  I could be nearly done my new novel, but part of me realizes I have made an important first step to getting where I want to go.

The truth is, Fire in the Woods is too important to me to be flippant with the query.  I’m going to be reaching higher than I have before.  I need to take my bumps and bruises just like anyone else.

So… if you are writing your query, or your synopsis… and feeling the pain… I sympathize.  But believe that you can get to the finish line.  Believe me, if I can write a decent query, anyone can.

Science is moving faster than Science Fiction

There used to be a time when science fiction writing was safe.  The Earth didn’t have any really cool technology.  Times are changing.  As writers, we need to think up new and exciting things.  Our imaginations need to be bigger and better!

I recently read the attached article from Popular Science.  Click on over if you want details, but in a nutshell, MIT has created a synthetic/organic muscle that will respond to light.  They think they can create robots with this that will move fluidly.

Good thing?  Bad thing?  I’m all for progress.  But there’s a “but” in here somewhere.  What that “but” is will be up to the individual reader.

What I love when an article like this comes out, is the banter in the comments.  Some people make good points, some are just crazy.  Either way, it’s good entertainment.

If you like to write Sci-fi with robots, take a click on over and read the article.  There is definitely a great novel brewing in there.  – Just watch yourself, because there is fiction written about stuff like this that is forty years old or more.

I’ll pass on this, thanks… I like organic aliens, thank you very much.

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-08/light-activated-muscle-could-make-robots-move-real-creatures

JenniFer_EatonF

Rule #1 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

One of the on-line writing groups I belong to has devoted several chat sessions to the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie. Unfortunately, my schedule has not allowed me to participate in any of the discussion thus far, but I did take the opportunity to read the article—and I’m so glad I did.

For the next several weeks, I’m going to dissect this article/essay and really think over each section.  Since I remember things better when I write them down, I figured I might as well post them up here as a series and discussion topic.  This way we can all chat, and maybe learn from each other as well.

I can’t stress strongly enough that writing is subjective. We all strive for different goals. Consequently, we all need our own set of rules—and some of us don’t need rules at all! Personally, I like rules. If nothing else, it’s fun breaking them.  [Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie]

So let’s chat about number one, which defines that wacky word I’ve never heard of before…

1: Avoid pleonasms. A pleonasm is a word or phrase that can be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning. For example, in “Hunting Down The Pleonasm”, ‘down’ is pleonastic. Cut it and the meaning of the sentence does not alter. Many words are used pleonastically: ‘just’, ‘that’ and ‘actually’ are three frequently-seen culprits (I actually just know that he’s the killer can be trimmed to I know he’s the killer), and phrases like ‘more or less’ and ‘in any shape or form’ are redundant [Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie]

Now, I KNOW I don’t use “more or less” or “in any shape or form” because they would both set off my cliché alarm.  I have caught myself using “just” once in a while… but I’m not sure about the other two.  I’m going to go run a search on my nearly completed manuscript FIRE IN THE WOODS for these words.  You go take a look at yours, and let’s meet back here.

swish skid mark

Okay… Here’s the scoop.

There are 203 cases of “just” in my novel.  Probably too many for 270 pages, don’t you think?  It seems that most of them are in dialog, but let’s take a look at a few that aren’t:

Staying in the house was just too much to ask. This was the story of a lifetime. I just couldn’t let it slip by without getting something on film.

Okay, taken out of context the two “justs” next to each other scream at me. The second one will definitely go.  Now the first one… does the sentence sound fine without it?  Yes, of course it does, but I think the “just” in this case, is part of the teenage voice in the novel.  For now, I think the first one will stay—but knowing me it will start annoying me now, and get deleted eventually.

Here’s a “that” instance…

You promised that you wouldn’t let anything happen to me

Each switch up to “You promised you wouldn’t let anything happen to me”

swish skid mark

Here are my total counts:

Original appearances of “Just” = 203 (85% in dialog)

# After search/edit = 114 (mostly dialog)

swish skid mark

Original appearances of “Actually” = 22 (only 5 outside dialog)

# After search/edit = 21 (only 4 outside dialog)

swish skid mark

Original appearances of “That” = 448 (Yikes!)

# after search/edit = 395 – most in dialog, but only 63 could be removed without messing up the sentence. I will look at this again in the final read-through.

How’d you do?  What other words have you come across that can be deleted without changing the meaning of your sentence?

JenniFer_EatonF

Please don’t send me to the slush pile! I’ve been good!

A temporary goodbye to the Little Blue Lady from Mars

PKO_Alien 3 0003387You are going to shove me into your hard drive and never look at me again.

No, I’m not!

I promise!

Alien Smile CloseBut I’m a rehabilitated alien! 

I made cookies last week and everything!

It’s not that.  Your interviews have been great. Hundreds of people have clicked on over to read them. I’ve gotten a great response—even when you’ve been abrasive, which is a bit odd.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Then what’s the problem?

.

Time is the problem.

Did you know it takes a few hours to do one of those interviews?

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Ha!  You’re not doing anything.  I’m doing all the work. 

You’re just whining and complaining in the background.

Yes, but as much as I love you,

there is a little work involved in bringing you to life.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387So?

.

Well, I’ve got writing to do, you know.  I’m starting the sequel to Last Winter Red this weekend, and I have three books out to query now, and Fire in the Woods will be going to query in a few weeks.

Alien Huh CloseThey are more important than me?

Hmm. At the moment, yes, they are.  But listen, I promise to set up an interview for you at least once a month.  Twice once I get a little more acclimated to my new schedule, okay?

PKO_Alien 3 0003387[Sigh]

I guess I really don’t have a choice, do I?

Sorry.

.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387I’ll miss you.

.

I’ll miss you too.

But I’ll see you in a few weeks, I promise.

Free_Fridays!

Alien SmileOkay. 

How about for the last Free Friday for a while, we give away a copy of “Make Believe”.

Great!  That would be awesome.

You know, the reviews for my story Last Winter Red in this anthology have been “off the charts crazy” good!  And several people have asked about more from the Last Winter Red world.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Well, I’m happy for you, but not happy that writing the sequel means I have to go back into the hard drive.

Hey, I will keep my promise.

I even have an awesome author all lined up for April.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387All Right. 

.

Make Believe

Please bid the Little Blue Lady goodbye for a few weeks, and everyone commenting below will be in the running for an ebook copy (your choice of format) of the “Make Believe” anthology including my story LAST WINTER RED.

.

.

The Little Blue Lady From Mars © Jennifer M. Eaton.

JenniFer_Eaton Sparkle__F

Writing Madly to a Deadline, and then NOT submitting

I recently jumped into the running for another anthology, which means writing to a tight deadline.  I tripped up my schedule for a few weeks, finalizing my novel for the Amazon Break Through Novel Contest, and was two-weeks behind schedule. I DID finish in time (barely), but now I sit here the day before the deadline, with a completed manuscript in my hands, second guessing myself.

Do I think it’s not good enough?  No.  The opposite.  It’s tight. It’s precise….

And if you could have seen the look on my son’s face after reading it— Dang.  I haven’t seen him this excited about something since finishing the Hunger Games (Not that mine is even remotely like the Hunger Games)

So what’s the problem?  Submit the dern thing!

Here’s my problem… It’s too long.  I did not make the word count.  I contacted the publisher, and they said they would consider it at the higher word count, but it definitely would have to be cut down by 1500 words for publication in the anthology (If it were chosen)

I searched for those 1500 words, and found a possible 500 to cut, but editing out those 500 would have affected the “mood” of the story.  And if another 1000 words were cut after that, the whole story would seem rushed.

If my son had said “Meh, it’s okay.  I’ve read better.” (Which he has done to me in the past) I would have sliced and diced the 1500 words out of the story and sent it in.

But he didn’t say that.  He asked for more.  My kid the voracious reader said:  “It was really great.  I’ve never read anything like that before.  When will you write another one?”

I thought about what those forced changes would do, and decided to take the creative high road.  I am passing on the anthology, and am now embarking on a search for a publisher of Young Adult Paranormal Short/Novellas.

Ugh!  I hate passing up an opportunity, but I think this particular story needs to find a more suitable home than the confines of an anthology.

I am all for editing… all stories need to be edited, but I don’t want to “cut” just for the sake of “cutting”.  I’d rather have words cut because they don’t belong there… not because there is a stipulation on word count.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this?

If not, do you think you’d submit anyway, or search for a new home?

_JenniFer____EatoN

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”

Have you ever lost interest in something you were writing?

I’m in a little bit of a rut.  I know I can easily write 1000 words a day (I only have about an hour a day to write) but for the past few days, I just can’t seem to do it.

For some of the time, it is because my thoughts keep straying to a different story that I want to write.  I KNOW that if I followed my muse I’d be spitting out 1000+ words an hour.  But if I did that, I know I probably would never get back to what I’m writing.

Is there anything wrong with what I’m writing?  No.  It’s just not “calling to me”—You know what I mean?

The funny thing is, I am around the bend of the “rising action” and I am staring my climax in the face.  Just two more scenes until I start blowing things up. Oh, Yes! This one will make the Little Blue Lady from Mars very happy!  It will make me happy… but I’m just “bored” in the process of getting there.

Is my story boring?  I don’t think so (of course no one has read more than the first 500 words during Sunday Snippets.)

I know, I know… set it aside for a while and follow my muse… but I can’t.  I’m writing to a deadline again.  I have only a few more weeks to finish, go to beta, revise and submit… and I’d like to give myself a little extra time in case they ask for a re-write before the deadline.

Ugh.

I think part of it is that I can’t motivate myself to start, and once I get the motivation, I only have about 25 minutes of writing time left… so I dump about 450 words on the page and then have to stop.  If I had more time in a sitting, I would probably be able to keep going.  I guess that’s the sob story of everyone with a full time job, and a part time job plus a family to take care of.

So what about you guys?  Have you ever tired of something you were writing when you were so close to the “good part?”

_JenniFer____EatoN