Writing Homework #16: Housecleaning

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Is your writing folder as messy as mine, overflowing with WIPs, notes for ideas, multiple drafts, and non-writing materials?

I’ve got promotional images for my published novels stashed in five different subfolders, even though there are only three books.

So here’s the homework assignment for May: clean it up.

I want to be clear, I’m not saying get RID of anything. You can if you find files that are truly useless, or, say, if you combine all your plot bunnies into a single file, sure, delete the individual ones. But DO NOT get rid of any actual writing.

Organize it.

The system you choose is up to you. Some people go by year, if they’ve been writing a long time–last time I organized (years ago) I tried it this way, shoving all my writing prompt responses from my time at /r/WritingPrompts into folders dated for each month, because I was attempting the 365-day response challenge, so that made the most sense. I made a folder for the previous year and shoved everything else I had into it, because that’s when I wrote it, and I wasn’t working on any of it anymore.

But as I started working on larger projects over longer periods of time, I began the switch to project-based organization. I have a mega-folder for the What We Need series, named “Seeking Shelter” because that was first (potential, discarded) title for What We Need to Survive. Inside, each book has its own subfolder, and within those, I have divisions for early drafts and rewrites, the final drafts for publication in all formats necessary, the cover and other graphic files I commissioned, plus random other junk that accumulated around the books through their publishing process–author questionnaires and interview transcripts, my author bio, ARC files for reviewers, excerpts, and so on.

I can find what I’m looking for with some digging, but honestly it’s a mess that’s grown over the past three years. You know who doesn’t clean up their room for three years straight? Hoarders.

So, I’ll be taking a look at my bloated Writing folder and seeing what I can do to tackle the clutter. I invite you to do the same, to impose a little order on what could very well be the messiest corner of your hard drive. I know mine is!


Need to get caught up on your assignments?

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Down the TBR Hole #7

Down the TBR Hole is a (very) bookish meme, originally created by Lia @ Lost In A Story. She has since combed through all of her TBR (very impressive) and diminished it by quite a bit, but the meme is still open to others! How to participate:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by Ascending Date Added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or let it go?

Up for debate this time around:

#1 – The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, by Jenn Bennett

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Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

I remember adding this to my TBR over two years ago because someone on Tumblr said something interesting and unique about the book they were reading, but didn’t give the title. I was intrigued and messaged them for it. And it was this book.

What I can’t remember is what that interesting thing was. And since Tumblr’s messaging system was crap then, and has changed since, I don’t have the record of it anymore. Trying to find the original post that hooked me, without the name of the poster or the title of the book included in the post, is even worse than a needle-in-a-haystack situation, because it could have been literally anything, and I might not even recognize it if it showed up on my dash tomorrow.

Based on what the blurb says, this could be good, or it could be all melodrama and angst. Based on a sampling of reviews, I’m seeing “quirky” and “manic pixie dream girl” too often for my taste. It goes.

#2 – The Blindfold Club series, by Nikki Sloane

I read and reviewed the first two books in the series, and currently there’s a novella, then three more novels. I did enjoy the first two books (4- and 3-star ratings, respectively) but I have so many unread romances I already own, and the blurbs for books #3 + 4, especially, don’t suit my tastes: Three Little Mistakes is an older man/younger woman, forbidden romance story, and Three Dirty Secrets is apparently as much romantic suspense as much as it is BDSM, and I’ve had bad luck with that particular subgenre. Since I’m not absolutely dying to read these, I think I should concentrate on what’s already on my Kindle. They all go.

#3 – A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for Irene

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

A) This sounds fascinating, and B) tons of my Goodreads buddies and Booklr mutuals adore this book, sometimes to the point of obsession. I know I’m sometimes disappointed by hype (yeah, Uprooted, looking at you) but still, this seems worth a shot. It stays.

#4 – The Abyss Surrounds Us, by Emily Skrutskie

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Cas has fought pirates her entire life. But can she survive living among them?

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

Well, I trusted the hype around this one enough to buy it when the Kindle edition went on special. It stays. Lesbian space pirates for the win!

#5 – Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence

13057750Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.

From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father’s castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

Mark Lawrence’s debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, and sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.

I saw this on a trip to a non-local library, and I wanted to get it but couldn’t. The dark fantasy aspect of it intrigued me enough to toss a cheap copy onto a past Thriftbooks order, so I own it, so it stays. But digging a little deeper into it, it’s apparently got some troubling aspects that might make me regret the impulse buy. I guess we’ll see what I think!


I went back through my previous posts and counted the books I’ve eliminated so far–nineteen! Given that my current to-read list is 804 books long, that’s a good thing. Life’s too short to waste on books you’re not interested in or excited about!

As always, if you’ve read anything on these lists and want to share your opinion, talk me into or out of reading one of them, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

This Week, I Read… (2018 #17)

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#60 – Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey

I was a show-watcher first, and I can’t fully separate my experience of that from reading the book. I saw the actors’ faces and heard their voices as I read.

However, I’m confident in saying that even if I had read the book first, I still would have adored it.

Aside from hand-waving some of the medicinal advancements (what the hell kind of drug would save Miller and Holden from otherwise-lethal radiation exposure? but hey, it’s the future) this takes an incredibly hard tack on the science in science fiction. Physics aren’t ignored in favor of travel speed, as they are in so many other space-going settings. Everything in this feels real, at times uncomfortably so.

And our heroes get hurt. They get irradiated, shot, their bones broken, their bodies compressed by high g’s. There is almost always danger, and our heroes don’t escape from it unscathed. Which I love.

Two things were definitely portrayed better in the book than in the television adaptation, for me: Miller’s inner life, which makes both his slow spiral downward and his obsession with/love for Julie much more understandable; and the complicated relationship between Holden and Naomi. In the show, I felt their “love” story was rushed and lacking a solid ground to stand on–in the book, it’s much better developed.

Also, having been a show-watcher first, I was astounded to see how faithful the adaptation was. Yes, a few minor things were changed here and there (most notably the relative balance between how often Miller’s two security partners were around–Muss was basically nonexistent in the book compared to the show, while Havelock seemed much more prominent.) It was only when I got to the end and saw that the author name is a pseudonym for a writing team who also were heavily involved in adapting their work for the screen that it all made sense.

And another thing–the pacing was killer. I was halfway through the book before I realized that the show scenes happening on the inner planets weren’t a part of this story at all. Where was Chrisjen, one of my favorite characters? But apparently that’s all in book 2, and I definitely see the wisdom of adapting the two stories to run concurrently. No shame on the book at all, because following the Miller/Holden antics all the way through to Venus made a hell of a lot of sense on the page.

Basically, it’s fantastic, and it makes me want to re-watch the first two seasons of the show (I haven’t started the third yet) as well as immediately dive into the second book (which I don’t yet own, sadly.)

Do you like space opera? Interesting and often deeply flawed characters? Hard science instead of technobabble? READ THIS BOOK.

End of the Month Wrap-Up: April 2018!

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The biggest news from April was my Camp NaNo win, squeaking by on the last day with 50,188 words. Go me!

But I’ve already talked about that. What I haven’t really mentioned was that I’m finally exercising regularly again. Over the last year and a half, with all the stress, grief, and depression I’ve been suffering, I definitely let myself go. I over-ate, because comfort eating, and I had little energy to put into taking care of myself. But I’m not happy with the weight I’ve gained, and motivation came from a surprising place–my new smartphone.

I had a cell phone before, but not a smartphone, and I’ve discovered the joy of apps. I have one for running, one for yoga, one for note-taking that has completely replaced my beloved little bullet journals, and of course, a handful of puzzle games of different types, because I’m me and puzzle games are the best.

In April I did just over 7 hours of yoga (20-30 minutes per day, most days). I’m only just getting back into running, the weather is finally cooperating, but I hadn’t been doing yoga regularly for years and even though it’s been less than a month, I already feel so much better physically. Fewer headaches, less back pain, less foot pain, the works.

Going back to book-related happenings, I read eight books, more than the greatly-lowered monthly goal I set myself due to Camp NaNo (six.) Lots of them weren’t that great, but I had my first five-star read of the second quarter, Steering the Craft, an almost workbook-style guide to writing by one of my favorite authors, Ursula K. Le Guin.

No trips to the library–those will resume soon, because I couldn’t slot books I already owned into every PopSugar Reading Challenge tasks, just most of them.

My goals for May:

  1. Finish the first draft of my Camp NaNo project. (I’m about half done, near as I can tell.)
  2. Pursuant to that, make time to write every day, even if it’s only five minutes. I skipped too many days in April, which put extra stress on me at the end of the month.
  3. Maintain my new exercise schedule.
  4. Read at least 10 books.

What are some of your May goals? I keep seeing advice that says if you state them publicly, you’re more likely to follow through, because you feel accountable–so share!

Camp NaNoWriMo April ’18 Progress Report #4

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I wrote 7,269 words today. Not the most I’ve ever written in a single day–I think that still goes to an 11K+ plus day during the What We Need to Decide NaNo–but definitely the most I’ve ever done on the last day to catch up, because I’ve never let myself fall this far behind before.

In graph form, those 12 zero-count days I had just mock me.

I could blame a busy schedule. I could blame exercise–this month I told myself I wouldn’t prioritize writing over my health, so if I only had half an hour free and hadn’t worked out that day, guess what, get out the yoga mat or the running shoes.

(Since I was off the day job, I both ran and did my usual afternoon yoga. I didn’t, however, get the groceries. I’m not sure yet what’s for dinner.)

But really, I can only blame myself for almost not making it, because I didn’t budget my time better. Yes, I had a lot on my plate, but so what? Time to write isn’t just going to make itself.

The full end-of-the-month report will be up on Wednesday, because hell if I was putting one up today instead of WINNING CAMP NANO.

My major goal for May will be finishing this draft, I can tell you that much. It’s a romance, and my pair haven’t even kissed yet!

This Week, I Read… (2018 #16)

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#58 – Pretending He’s Mine, by Lauren Blakely

Too short for real character or relationship development, which is too bad, because I thought the premise had real potential, and I’m a sucker for fake dating turned real.

But both leads were too glib, everything felt tongue-in-cheek, and when it’s revealed at the end that one of the minor characters was a voyeur who was watching their various semi-public sex acts…

Gross. I’m not shaming voyeurism as a kink, but this was non-consensual, they had no idea she was there until far after the fact. (Though I suspected her right away, because the foreshadowing was pretty obvious.)

59 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

#59 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

DNF on page 107. I wanted to like this book, and a few pages in, I was so impressed with the vivid, dense prose style that I was prepared to love it.

But it was so slow. It was over forty pages before the main character was even introduced (also before I realized the first-person narrator is NOT the main character, which stylistically is a fascinating and unusual choice.) At 100 pages, just over a third of the way through the book, the “plot” (McMurphy’s war with Nurse Ratched) is only just beginning.

Because our narrator is both not the MC, and also an unreliable narrator, there are long chunks of what I can only assume are hallucinations or other manifestations of the narrator’s mental illness, which at first I wasn’t bothered by, because they gave so much atmosphere to the story. But I tired of them quickly, because once what life on the ward is like was established, those bits don’t do anything to move the story forward. I simply couldn’t finish.

Camp NaNoWriMo April ’18 Progress Report #3

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Look at me working hard and not quite managing to catch up! Still 5K behind as of yesterday, but I WILL MAKE MY GOAL.

Honestly, it’s not lack of motivation or ideas that’s holding me back right now, it’s quite literally time. I don’t have as much time to put in as I’d like, and that’s even with me barely reading at all (I might only have one book review to post Friday? What?)

But I’m loving my characters and I’m digging my worldbuilding; I just love working with and almost real world, and changing things here and there to suit my needs.

This draft is going to be a hot mess to edit, and at 35K I still feel like I’ve just barely started, but I’m having a blast now that I’m finally rolling.

Keep writing, my lovelies, whether or not you’re doing Camp NaNo. Get those words in your head down on the page!