Tag Archives: writing to a deadline

Taking a deep breath and admitting “I can’t do it.”

“I can’t do it.”

Wow… coming from a neurotic, over-achiever-based upbringing, you would not believe how hard it was for me to type those words … or how hard it was for me to contact my publisher and ask for an extension.

When I was offered a three-book-deal for FIRE IN THE WOODS, I knew it came with some pretty serious deadlines.  But being the psycho I am, I took it as a challenge.

The first challenge was to come up with a concept for Book Two, outline, write the book, beta the book, polish and submit ALL WITHIN 4.5 MONTHS. (While promoting the high-speed release of book one)

Wow. 

But I made it! It was tight, but I did it.

However, in order to make the deadline for book three, I needed to start the next book during the beta-reading process of book 2.

That DID NOT happen.

But I thought I would be okay.  I still had four months to write book three. (Same deal: come up with a concept, write the book, outline, write the book, beta the book, polish and submit)  Heck, it was only two less weeks. I could pull that off, right?

WRONG.

In act two, I got hung up. The writing came slowly. It was not writer’s block, per say, but I just SLOWED DOWN.  On such a tight deadline, it killed me.

Did I finish the book on time?  Yes–and no.

I did finish the first draft two days before the deadline, but it was just that — a first draft. No one had read it but me.

I am in no way vain enough to think I can write a perfect first draft in four months and just hit the submit button. Nope. No way.

Enter my beta-reading army, who had already been through the first fifty pages by then (I do not recommend sending out part of your book to beta before you are done – I did this only out of necessity)

PKO_0013466 sadAnyway… These people have lives of their own, and it was unrealistic to ask them to finish a concise developmental edit and proofread in a few days.

So I had to take a deep breath,

suck it up,

and ask my publisher for an extension.

I'm_not_above_begging

I now have an extra month to get the final draft in.

Whew! What a relief…

Until my bubble burst and my edits for Book Two came back.

 Both novels are now due on the same day.

Seriously

Arghhh! PictureHa!  No pressure.

No pressure at all!

The good news is the developmental changes are minor for book two. I actually let them sit for a week while I finished reviewing beta comments for the third book.

And at this point, I firmly believe I will be handing both books over with a smile in three weeks.

No___Pressure

Anyway… Lessons learned:

  1. Wow. I can seriously write fast if I need to.
  2. Don’t make myself write that fast if I don’t have to. It made it “not fun”
  3. The relationships I’ve made along the way have totally paid off. I have friends who are wildly talented and willing to help. (And now I get to see their work before the rest of the world to pay back the favor. Woo-hoo!)

Soooo

Sooooo… that’s where I am.  A little bump in the road, but I don’t think it is a production-stopper.

Fire-in-the-Woods-Cover 3DA year ago, if you told me there would be three FIRE IN THE WOODS books I would have laughed at you… and here they are. And even though one is not completely polished yet, I am pretty proud of them. There is a whole lot of trouble that two teenagers can get into if I put my mind to it.

How’s your writing been going?

JenniFer_EatonF

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The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. Did you enter?

The window for submitting to the Amazon Breakthrough novel contest has closed.  Did you enter?  Did you even know about it?

With a $50,000 first prize, it does cause quite a stir.

When I first found out about it months ago, I brushed it off because my current WIP, Fire in the Woods was complete, but hovering at a pitiful 42,000 words and didn’t make the minimum word count.  Then a few weeks ago people started talking about it again as the submission window opened, and guess what?  I was now ABOVE THE REQUIRED WORD COUNT.

So, did I enter?  You bet your left butt cheek I did!

Do I have high hopes?  Well, 1 in 10,000 is really not all that bad in odds, if you consider that 50% of the entries will probably be junk.  I’m a realist though…

Round one is based on your pitch.  Pitching is not my strong point.  I like my pitch, but I have no idea if it is good enough to be selected as a top choice.  When I looked at the pitches of past winners, I had to scratch my head.  If I saw some of those, I would have passed them over… so who knows what they are REALLY looking for (or were all the others really that bad?) Ha!

So, I have no idea how I will do… but what this did force me to do is speed up my editing process, and completely re-write my beginning.  My manuscript is a lot sharper now than it was a few weeks ago, so if anything, that’s a plus for me.

Do I have a chance of winning?  Well, I kind of look at it like this… I looked at past winners, and I felt the same way as I do about the Oscars.  Movies that win an Oscar are the ones that I would rather get a root canal than have to sit through.  To me, Oscar=boring.  That’s the way I feel about a lot of the past Breakthrough Novel winners as well.  I am sure they were well written, but not “my cup of tea”.

So, no…. Fire in the Woods is not the “Artsy” type that usually wins this type of thing.  But I entered.  At least I tried — and I did a lot of polishing to get it there.

Who knows?  This year might be the year of the manic chase/explosion novel!

Good luck to everyone who entered!

_JenniFer____EatoN

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN? You betcha! Part Two

Yes, here we go again.  When I left you I had five weeks to write a story from scratch and submit.  Here’s how I did it.

Check out yesterday’s post by clicking here to see how I got myself into this mess.

Okay, so this is how I did it…

I took two days to come up with and outline the story.

I gave myself 1,000 words a day of writing time by placing FIRE IN THE WOODS on hold.  Within Ten days (two weeks in to the process—I don’t write on weekends) I had a rough draft.

Three more weeks until Deadline.

I posted the first half of my story on Scribophile, took general comments, and did a mild revision.

Two weeks until deadline… and no one had even seen the second half.

Now it was time for my writing buddies to jump on board.  They all read it in full.  One ripped me a new one.  It almost felt like a “keep out of genres you don’t write” kind of critique.  Ever gotten one of those?

One beta said it was good, but when I asked her about the harsh comments I received from the other person, she agreed with many of them. (Ugh!) Later the same day, two glowing betas came back with mild changes only.

Talk about contradicting criticism!

I mentioned that I was now unsure, and was considering an overhaul… and one buddy… let’s call her multi-published Romance Writer #1 said:  “DON’T YOU DARE!  This is your story, not hers.  Tweak if you must, but don’t change. Always go with your gut.  Your gut likes what you wrote. The publisher will, too.”

So, I thought it over, and agreed with Romance Writer #1.  If I made the drastic changes to both my characters to make everyone happy, it would be sappy, and not really what I wanted.  So I stuck to my guns.  Tweak, polish, complete.

One week and three days until the deadline.

Oh Crud!  I need a query!

I wrote up a query really fast and sent it to my query gnome.  (If you don’t have one, find one)  She slashed my blurb and re-wrote it for me, but left the rest in-tact.  I tweaked slightly to keep in my voice and posted it to my Scribophile group.

Multi-published Romance Writer #2 jumped in and tweaked it some more.

You know what? I ended up with something that even made ME want to read it, and I don’t read Romance. (It’s great having friends that like to write queries.)

One week to deadline:

Yes, I pressed the submit button, and I did it one week early.  Funny, I was not as stressed about this one. I’m not sure why.

I learned a few things through this process…

Well, maybe not learned, but it reiterated things I already knew:

1.        I can write under incredible pressure.

2.       You need more than one beta, get many opinions and go with majority… don’t try to make them all happy

3.       Go with your gut.

4.       Writing buddies are incredibly important.  My friends knew I had a deadline, and they dropped what they were doing to critique.  Know what?  I will do the same for them.  If you don’t have writing buddies, find them.

Thank you Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens!

(Note… all my buddies are “on-line” friends.  Social networking.  It ROCKS!)

So, that ends the tale of my latest madness writing adventure.  Will it work out? Dunno.  But I do know that push comes to shove, I Can do this.

My advice?  Challenge yourself. You don’t know what will happen or what you can do until you try.

Row 80 4/2 Writing to a Deadline Part 6: “Writing from the Outline”

My goal is to get published.  At the moment, I am working on a novella for an Anthology.  This is where I am:

If you’re just hopping into the insanity that is my writing life, check out my previous “Writing to a Deadline” posts or this won’t make sense.

I’d love to tell you that this outline is absolutely useless, but I’d be lying.  I think it is actually helping me.

I keep referring back to it, which is good, because it is keeping me on track.

Since I have my story clearly outlined, I know all of the “little carrots” that need to be dropped early in the story so they are not “big surprise veggie bombs” later.  I even caught myself forgetting one, and I had the chance to re-write a conversation that included that little snippet before it was too late.

In the first three scenes, I set up my world (and clearly defined it since it is a Futuristic Dystopian).  Introduced all the characters.  Gave the conflict of the main character and all subordinate characters.

I looked at my word count— 2,685.

Hmmmm.  The submission guidelines say the story needs to be between 5,000 and 10,000 words.  Can I finish it in that parameter?

My outline has 26 items/scenes/”things that need to happen”.  Some are more in depth than others.  I very carefully looked over the list, and placed a word count next to each number.  This is how many words I think I will need to get each idea down.

300 here, 500 there, 1000 there, 2000  for the climax.  You get the idea.

When I totaled it all up it came to 9,685.  That was a bit of a surprise.  I thought it would be higher.  However, I am also brutally aware that I only have 315 words to spare.

Now, my challenge is to hold to those numbers.  If I can’t finish each item it the allotted word count, I need to subtract words from somewhere else.

The writer’s retreat is here.

Two full days of writing with a goal to finish.

Too lofty a goal?  We’ll see.

Writing to a Deadline Part 2: “I still got Nothing.”

In Part One, I told you about this publisher’s writing prompt.  I told you I decided to pass, even though it was a great opportunity.  It nagged at me, though.  I have written two Epic 400,000 word series.  Why the heck couldn’t I do something with this picture?

I opened the web site back up.  I stared at that picture.  I was brutally aware that I was now two-weeks behind all those happy writers that seemed to be all over this story.  I could do this.  I stared at the picture some more.  I put it on my desktop.  Looked at it all the time.  Thought about it all the time.

Had I lost my touch?

“Just do it,” my son says. “Just write it.  Get it over with and see what happens.”  I ground my teeth as my own words came back to haunt me.  (See my previous post)  Problem was… this was a publisher, not a fourth-grade teacher.  They wouldn’t be happy with a “B”.  This needed to be “A” grade work.

I had no idea where to start, so I used a trick that I’ve used in my novels when I’m not sure how to start a new chapter.  I took the character in the picture—  I knew nothing about her, just what she was wearing and a setting.

I sat down to my keyboard, and had her take a simple step.  The wind whipped up around her.  Her shoes got dirty in the mud.  The air chilled her face… I engaged myself into her setting.  I allowed myself to feel her.

You know what happened?

Within one paragraph, I knew who she was.  I knew where she was going.  I knew how she had to get there.  I knew why she was going.  I knew what she had to do.  Her character snowballed in my mind.

Do  have a story?  Well, no.  Not yet.  I need more characters.  I need to develop those characters.  I need conflict.  I need antagonists.  I need explosions.  I need overlying theme and plot.

But I had a start.  And, to my surprise, I was suddenly interested in that woman in the picture.

Stay tuned.