Getting Serious About Series #4

One of my reading goals for 2019 has been to knock some of these off the list; I’ve made some serious progress so far, but I still have quite a ways to go because at one point, my total number of incomplete series was over twenty, and the number of first-in-series books I own on top of that is substantial.

Halfway through the year, how am I doing?

Trying to keep this organized from update to update is a challenge, but as before, completed series from last time have been removed, completed series this time will gain strike-through, items that changed categories will be in blue, and new entries will be added in red.

Both Started and Finished Since the Last Time I Posted

  • [nothing this time around]

Waiting for the Next Book to Be Published (still)

I Own Them/Can Borrow Them From the Library But Haven’t Read Them All Yet [read/total]

  • Preacher: 1/9 (Garth Ennis)
  • Saga: 2/9 (Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples)
  • Starbound: 2/3 (Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner)
  • Pivot Point: 1/2 (Kasie West) [didn’t realize there was a sequel when I read the first one]
  • The Edge: 1/4 (Ilona Andrews)

I Own Some But Not All [read/unread/unowned]

I’ve Read the Ones I Own But Not the Rest [read/unowned]

I Own The First One (or More) But Haven’t Started Yet

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End of the Month Wrap-Up: June 2019!

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Quick, somebody toast me!

June was fantastic. June saw me getting more comfortable at my day job. Exercising more. Eating better. Feeling good.

In no small part, because I finished the rewrite of #spookyromancenovel.

Writing: Yeah, you heard me. This draft is done. It grew from 97K to almost 115K–my first pass always ends up longer because I’m a chronic underwriter for setting and description. My rough drafts always focus on character and dialogue with just enough plot to string everything together, and it turns out #srn had some serious plot holes and a wonky ending. Not anymore!

Reading: I worked hard, but I let myself have time to relax. I read seventeen books. (I did mostly give up playing video games, but I was reading a lot of very excellent books instead.)

Everything else: I’m running. I’m eating more fruits and veg and fewer junky snacks. I’m sleeping well, except for when the heat is NUTS. I won’t bore you with more detail than that.

So, July Goals:

  1. Read up on the beta process. My method for the first three books I published got increasingly difficult as my dedicated betas from book one dried up by book three. I intend to use BetaBooks, but that’s just by word-of-mouth recommendation: I haven’t done any real investigation to see if that’s my best option, I may go another route.
  2. Set up the beta and find readers!
  3. Start a new book. Yeah, good old nose-to-the-grindstone drafting process: I don’t expect to put out a huge wordcount on this while managing the beta as well, but I also know I can’t spend all my time obsessing over the feedback, or waiting for it. I’ve got to have something new to work on.
  4. The Reading Frenzy’s July Circus-a-thon Challenge! I’m reading Anansi Boys right now.

Bonus for productivity: my husband’s going to be away for a week, while I’m at home. I’ll miss him, but I intend to get so. much. done.without our usual daily routine in place.

This Week, I Read… (2019 #26)

81 - The Secret Keeper

#81 – The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton

  • Read: 6/19 – 6/21/19
  • Challenge: Virtual Mount TBR (25/48)
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

Too long for the story it told, which I found needlessly complicated. Even the inciting incident, the memory of an unknown man’s murder by the main character’s mother, was so drenched in nostalgic, atmospheric prose that it didn’t have any urgency.

I’ve been giving up on a lot of books lately, though, and enough of me did want to find out the “why” of it that I kept reading. At times, I questioned my decision, because with every new reveal, the story changed, and my theory about who the man was (before that was discovered) and/or why he was killed was supposed to change with it, I guess, and keep me hooked.

Problem was, the information we start with is so vague, and the first section of the book includes so many characters being deliberately vague, even to themselves in internal monologue, that I had no real idea what was going on, and the later theories I developed, I wasn’t particularly attached to. “It couldn’t be that easy,” I told myself. And ultimately, it wasn’t.

Granted, I was skimming by the end, because I just could not deal with entire chapters of journal entries and letters that conveniently contained precisely what the character reading them, years later, need to know. But if I’d been paying closer attention, would I have figured out the final plot twist that sets everything on its head at the bitter, bitter end? Honestly, probably not. It recontextualized everything, yet I don’t remember clues leading up to it, and I can see a different ending to the book where it didn’t happen quite easily. It’s just out of left field.

I’m not impressed.

82 - After We Fall

#82 – After We Fall, by Melanie Harlow

  • Read: 6/21/19 – 6/22/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (54/100); PopSugar Reading Challenge
  • Task: Two books that share the same title (2)
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

A solid opposites-attract romance in terms of the leads’ personalities, but where I felt like this fell flat was in the narrative style. The book is written in dual-POV structure, common to romances, but in first person perspective, and I thought Margot and Jack simply sounded too much the same.

Especially when they both express their anger the same way! With lots of short sentences! Punctuated by many exclamation points! And they get pissed at each other often! So I had to read these passages quite frequently!

That sort of deliberate stylistic quirk feels to me like the sort of thing one character should do while the other doesn’t, rather than just the way the author writes.

Overall, I was entertained, but I’m not itching to read it again or particularly inclined to check out the author’s other work.

83 - The Sister

#83 – The Sister, by Abigail Barnette

  • Read: 6/22/19 – 6/23/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (55/100)
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

After a hiatus of more than three years, I’ve returned to The Boss series. I bought this (and #7, The Boyfriend) when they were released, but somehow didn’t get to them. Early on, it was because I was still reeling from the events of The Baby and wasn’t ready for more potential heart-rending. Later, buried other under books. But because I’m making it a priority to wrap up partial series in my queue, here I am.

And I’m vaguely disappointed by my mixed reaction.

If I were judging this on the can-we-make-a-thruple-work storyline with El-Mudad, I loved it, but that came out of left field for me. One of my major issues with The Baby was that by the end of the book, after all El-Mudad had done for Sophie in her times of trouble, he felt forgotten about–he had declared his intention to be exclusive with them, if they were on board, but then other things happened (the entire plot!) and he got put on hold. I was thrown when there was no sort of closure for him.

Jump to this book, where they’re talking about how the last year has brought them all closer together, and I just don’t see it, he was barely a presence in the last book and now he’s a central figure in their lives. Which I’d like, polyamory isn’t something you see explored seriously in romance or erotica, it’s often a setup for sexy hijinks but the emotions involved are relegated to the background or ignored entirely. And this book is full of emotion on that score.

The other major plot thread, the titular sister(s) that come into Sophie’s life, I liked less. It felt rushed and kind of shallow, how awkward and antagonistic everyone but Molly was, while Molly was the super adorable teenage charmer for Sophie to instantly fall in love with. That isn’t to say Sophie didn’t experience character growth from it–she realized she didn’t have to justify her anger about her father’s abandonment, that she didn’t need anyone’s permission to feel how she felt, and that’s definitely something I can empathize with (as I’m sure many other women can.) But getting there felt trite.

On the other hand, in Sophie’s professional life, Deja’s blow-up at her was long overdue, with the story well-paved with hints that it was coming. Sophie’s sudden decision to give up her position felt both like something she would absolutely do (she’s been known to make impulsive decisions, even if she was deliberately taking her time pondering the kidney donation elsewhere in this book) and the culmination of her internal struggle with finding herself filthy rich, an issue threaded throughout this series.

So I liked it, except when I didn’t. Because I’m such a sucker for El-Mudad, he’s the biggest softie and I love him, I’m excited to finally get to The Boyfriend next, but also wary of how messy Sophie’s life has become and what that means for the plot moving forward. Because I don’t think this book was as good as previous entries in the series, and I’m hoping that downward trend won’t continue.

84 - Making Handmade Books

#84 – Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures, & Forms, by Alisa Golden

If you missed it on Wednesday, this review got its own post, check it out here.

85 - White Oleander

#85 – White Oleander, by Janet Fitch

  • Read: 6/23/19 – 6/26/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (57/100)
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

Strongly mixed feelings that are going to take a lot of unpacking, so bear with me, this is going to be long.

Pro: a “literary” novel by a woman, concerned solely and entirely about women’s lives, especially re: mother-daughter relationships. Even twenty years later, we still need more of these and less of Old White Men writing Old White Men stories.

Con: filled with ambiguous stances on problematic issues. The presence or absence of racism in the book is so complex I can’t parse it, as a white person–some characters are unabashedly racist, and Astrid doesn’t think she’s one by comparison. Yet one of her mother figures is black, and also a prostitute…but her white mother figures aren’t depicted as morally superior because of that, they’re all flawed in their own ways, so maybe it’s a wash? And then the dual symbolism imposed on the color white, on whiteness itself–beauty and death–carries its own racist underpinnings. I’m aware that I’m no scholar of racism in literature, so I’m not best qualified to really unravel this, but I couldn’t help but be both aware of it and made uncomfortable by it.

Then, there’s the sex. On the one hand, this novel acknowledges the desires of teenage girls to explore their sexuality, to even have sexuality in the first place and not be pure precious snowflakes, which I’d argue is good; but it’s debatable whether or not Fitch does enough to really portray pedophilia as immoral. Astrid’s relationship with Ray is one of her best memories for a time, something she longs for, even though they both knew it it was wrong; Ray is depicted in an incredibly sad, sympathetic light as a kindly man who knows his attraction isn’t healthy but is so unappreciated by his actual, adult girlfriend that it’s okay he’s screwing a fourteen-year-old girl. And then a slightly older Astrid goes down the same path with Sergei, though it’s not an innocent or idolized fairy tale of love this time, sleeping with a) an adult man who is also b) her foster mother’s boyfriend. I can’t make the argument here which causes me to abandon so many other works (usually by male authors, often “classics,”) that the pedophilia is normalized or even glorified. It’s not. But I don’t know that it’s condemned, either, as it should be. I don’t think Fitch is wrong to write Astrid as a troubled girl with a complex relationship with sex, but I do think it could have been clearer than Ray and Sergei were in the wrong and taking advantage of her.

Pro: Ingrid is unabashedly evil, and that’s just fun. How often do female characters get to be this narcissistic, this arrogant, this villainous, without restraint? And while I haven’t seen the movie, I enjoyed picturing Michelle Pfeiffer as Ingrid, hearing her voice delivering those acid-etched words.

Con: By contrast, Astrid spends most of the book coming off as insipid or downright bland. I understand this, to an extent–this is her journey, and she needs to find herself, so she can’t be fully formed to begin with. If her mother weren’t such a blazing light, I don’t think Astrid would be in as much shadow, but I do think it’s an issue when the protagonist isn’t nearly as captivating as the villain.

Pro: Some of the language was beautiful and memorable.

Con: Some of the language was overdone and ridiculous. (I know the appreciation of linguistic style is a matter of personal taste, but I experienced both the good and bad extremes over the course of this novel. I cringed at a line nearly as often as I stopped to be transported by one.)

Final pro: I always enjoy books that display appreciation for art. Ingrid is a poet, and while her style isn’t precisely to my taste, I didn’t hate her poetry, either. A major thread in Astrid’s journey is finding herself through her art, and while the ending fell a little flat for me in most respects, I was enthralled by the depiction of her salvaged-goods, mixed media pieces. That’s my jam, I cut things up and slap them back together differently, I made things out of other things, I get that. I knew Astrid better then, than I did for the entire rest of the book.

86 - The Boyfriend

86 – The Boyfriend, by Abigail Barnette

  • Read: 6/26/19 – 6/27/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (58/100)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

What a way to bounce back!

This time around, the story focused almost entirely on the difficulties of maintaining a stable polyamorous relationship while also hiding it from a society, and especially the family members, who won’t necessarily understand or approve of it.

I felt this book. Seriously. These emotions are strong and believable.

And I want to say this is realistic, too, though I’ve got to stick the caveat on there that Sophie is in love with two billionaires and money solves a few of the problems they might have otherwise. Not all of them, and not the big ones, but it’s a little easier to vacation as a thruple when you own your own yacht.

If the story started here, rather than having six books behind it to show how Sophie got to this relatively charmed place in life, I wouldn’t say it’s believable at all, but that’s the strength of following one character through so much of her life.

More minor bits of plot involve Sophie struggling to find direction in life (again) while adjusting her attitude towards the wealth she now has at her fingertips. I like where this is headed, but it’s not explored in depth yet–I imagine it’s going to be part of the next book.

And El-Mudad continues to be way more to my personal taste than Neil ever was, so yay for more of him.

Bookish DIY: I’m Still Making Books, and a Bonus Book Review

84 - Making Handmade Books

#84 – Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures, & Forms by Alisa Golden

  • Read: 2016 – 2019
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (56/100)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

It didn’t actually take me three years to read it. But I bought it in 2016, scratching the itch I wrote about almost four years ago, and decided I would make an example of every book from it. Because I’m ambitious(dumb) like that.

In the beginning, that was easy, because the binding styles go in a rough order of increasing complexity, the first section being devoted to folded books that require very little in the way of time or supplies. I think I cranked out the first four models in one afternoon.

But they weren’t satisfying. I bought this as a reference book for multiple types of bookbinding, and it is–but it’s also written by a book artist and geared towards those wishing to make books as art. Whereas I, who loves both books and art, wanted a book to teach me to make books to make art in. I want to make journals, not art projects.

That sounds like a criticism, but it’s not really–there’s no reason I couldn’t use the books I made however I wished, and the model art works provided as examples were inspiring, even if that’s not what I aspired to.

As I worked through the projects, I began to skip the forms that didn’t suit my needs for journaling–the pop-up books, scrolls, Jacob’s Ladder, and so on. But it’s great that they’re there, that the book is so exhaustive in cataloguing and providing instructions for so many types of bindings.

There are still forms in here I want to try, but lack the materials for–I haven’t invested in “proper” bookbinding tools, as most of the simpler projects can easily be made without them, or with makeshift tools borrowed from other crafts (of which I have many.) And as this book is such a comprehensive overview of styles, I don’t feel the need to buy any other works on bookbinding any time soon–possibly never, unless I get the craving to go more advanced and need something more specialized to teach me.

So while it’s geared towards artists in tone, it’s an excellent introduction to the craft for hobbyists like me; and for such a large book packed with detailed instructions, I found incredibly few errors, none of which threw me off for longer than it took to double-check a diagram or reread a few sentences.


Time to share a few of my favorites. This is the Concertina, an accordion-style form where the pages are glued together at their outer edges. I made it from book pages cut from my art journals for space, many of which had been painted over randomly to use up mixed paint I couldn’t scrape back into its bottles. I made it more journal-like by adding a wrapped softcover, a page from this years Shen Yun tour (a traditional Chinese dance company, which I have never seen, but they come to Detroit every year and I always get mailers and their photos are beautiful.)

This is the Crown Binding, where the pages are actually removable, held in only by the folded tabs that create the spine. While I don’t need a journal with removable pages, it was an interesting structure to learn. I finished the book blank with individual hardcovers.

This was a fun one. It’s called Piano Hinge with Skewers, and the signatures are notched at the spine edge so they can be interwoven along bamboo skewers. It’s not the best for journaling–the spine is incredibly thick compared to the book block, and it doesn’t lie flat to write in. But it’s pretty, so I’ll use this one and probably not make another.

Exposed Stitch Binding

My first try at the Exposed Stitch Binding. I see this one a lot in journals for sale on Etsy and the like–it’s not difficult, it’s pretty, it’s sturdy, and for thin books like this one, it lies flat quite well. I made this last week to keep records of my latest batch of experimental recipes–I always need one of these in my kitchen! Also, in my last fallow period between batches of books, I had the brainwave to use completed coloring-book pages to make my covers, and this was a perfect opportunity to try it.

Secret Belgian Binding

Finally, the one I made last night while I was thinking about finally making this post! It’s the Secret Belgian Binding, and aside from the Coptic Stitch books I taught myself all those years ago, it’s the most complex thing I’ve attempted. The spine of the hardcover (done in another old coloring-book page) is actually free-floating inside the stitches keeping the front and back cover together, and the signatures are laced to the inner spine through those stitches. It’s clever, it’s gorgeous, but it’s a little trickier, and my tension isn’t perfect. But this might be my favorite so far, because it feels like a “real” book and lies flat to work in!

The Reading Frenzy July 2019 Challenge: Circus Read-a-Thon

Reading Frenzy July 2019 TBR

To help me stay excited about my huge, year-long reading challenges, I’ve been participating in as many mini-challenges as I can, and one of my online book clubs, The Reading Frenzy, has just posted its July challenge!

The prompts are circus-themed, and we are encouraged to read circus-related books for them if we can, but I’ve already read several of the suggestions (Water for Elephants, The Night Circus, etc.) so I’m just going straight for the prompts.

1. Menagerie: Read a book with an animal in the title — Butterfly Swords, by Jeannie Lin
2. Big Top: Read a book with red and white on the cover — Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman
3. Cotton Candy: Read a light and fluffy book — Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith
4. Flyers: Read a book about/set in space — Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
5. Grandstand: Read a hyped book — Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor
6. Ringmaster: Read the first book in a series or a standalone — Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb

I’ve participated in a few of these challenges before, but failed to make a big deal of them: May’s was the “Try a Chapter” challenge, which is why I DNF’d so many books that month, and right now in June we’re reading books with color names in the title–I didn’t do a formal TBR for that because I simply had too many books to choose from! Pulling from my owned TBR netted me over a dozen, and if I factored in potential library books, I had almost thirty on the list. So I read a few but didn’t make a big deal about it.

If this sounds interesting and you want to participate, The Reading Frenzy is an open-admission Goodreads group, just hop over and ask to be added!

This Week, I Read… (2019 #25)

78 - Stories of Romance

#78 – Stories of Romance from the Age of Chivalry, by Frederick J.H. Darton

  • Read: 6/12/19 – 6/15/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (52/100)
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

The only thing that got me through this was a determination to read medieval and Arthurian tales I wasn’t already familiar with. I honestly didn’t gain much by doing so. Maybe there’s a reason I’ve never heard of the ones I had never heard of? They weren’t that interesting.

Part of the problem I had with them might be the way the prose “translations” of the original poems read in the flat tone of many fairy tales, but these stories lacked the internal logic and visceral satisfaction I expect from a good fairy tale. Plot holes abounded, characters did things for nonsensical reasons or no obvious reason at all, and if I could detect any morals or messages, which I often couldn’t, they were usually directly at odds with my worldview. (Not that I expect tales from this time period, repackaged for “modern” consumption in the early 1900’s, to be feminist or anything like that. I don’t. But I also can’t agree with a world where chivalric honor is the highest ideal, especially when the idiot knights can’t even uphold it themselves.)

There’s value in these, I’m sure, to anyone more interested in the period, or in studying them for some scholarly purposes. I found no real value in reading them for fun, though.

79 - The Unbound

#79 – The Unbound, by Victoria Schwab

  • Read: 6/15/19 – 6/16/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (53/100)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

I loved The Archived far more than I expected to, so I had both high hopes and concrete worries when diving in to the sequel, especially as I already knew a third book is planned, but won’t be released for some time. (At the time of this review, Schwab has stated on Goodreads that she will likely to wait until the rights for the first two to revert to her, then publish all three. So it might be a while yet.)

For most of this book, I was enjoying myself, but still worried. I liked it, but I didn’t see how it could possibly end on anything but a cliffhanger, and while I’m not heavily opposed to those, with no third book in sight, it was going to be frustrating.

And yet! Here I am! Giving it five stars! That ending! So satisfying! Totally didn’t see how it was all going to come together, yet it made perfect sense when it did.

Also, I adore Wesley even more now than I did in the first book. Give me a teenage boy who’s not afraid to show he cares, who’s irreverent but respectful, who’s fun but thoughtful. He’s all-around awesome.

And Mackenzie! No, I don’t always agree with her decision to keep her issues to herself, to lie, to try to solve (most of) her problems without help. But I can see why she does. She’s been through so much, she’s had her trust betrayed, she’s been duped, she’s been traumatized. But she keeps going, and when push comes to shove, she does get help with some things, while maintaining as much secrecy as she can to protect herself and others. I was so proud of her, and occasionally so heart-broken for her.

I really, really, really want the next book. I’m going to set these two on my shelf and wait to reread them until book #3 is (hopefully)(eventually) announced, so that I can get myself hyped.

80 - Saga, Vol. 2

#80 – Saga, Vol. 2, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

  • Read: 6/17/19 – 6/18/19
  • Challenge: Virtual Mount TBR (24/48)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

The second arc of the story did not disappoint, after how amazing I thought the opening was. Hazel’s grandparents. Marko and Alana’s meeting as captive and jailer, but bonding over a (terrible) romance novel. Marko dropping everything to rescue Isabel. It was fun, it was weird, and most of all, it was full of real emotion underneath the snark and sass and action.

If it’s all this good, I think I’m in for a wild ride.

Writing Homework #20: Create a Style Sheet

correcting-1870721_1280

With my rewrite for #spookyromancenovel entering the home stretch, I’ve been thinking increasingly about the future line-editing stage and what I can do to make it easier on myself.

Looming large in my list of regrets from previous novels is the fact that I never made a style sheet.

From Romance Refined: “A manuscript style sheet is a critical tool for authors, editors, and proofreaders to use for ensuring consistency within a single manuscript or across a series. Traditionally, a copy editor creates a style sheet as they edit, and they pass that style sheet to the proofreader so they can adhere to the same conventions.

I’ve nudged at the edges of this topic before, but never covered it completely, so here goes.

In a traditional author-publisher setup, the style sheet, as described above, isn’t something you’d generate yourself, since you’re not your own editor. However, for independent authors who, whether by choice or necessity, do some or all of their own editing, this is going to save you time and stress throughout the editing process. And, of course, even most traditionally published authors spend a lot of time polishing their manuscripts before sending them in, so it’s not a bad idea to work up a personal one to ensure your submission is as clean and shiny as you can make it.

So what goes on a style sheet? Anything that will help you provide consistency in tone and appearance throughout your work.

That’s vague, but some of it will depend on your writing style and the project itself. I can give you some good places to start, however, based on my own experience:

  1. Any word or phrase where you choose your preferred usage. I covered this in my post on multiple accepted spellings. If you have to decide between two or more options, make a note of which you choose, so you’re not like me, looking it up again later, or worse, doing a Ctrl+F in your first book’s file to hunt down what you decided when you need to refer to it again in book three.
  2. Any word or phrase you’re deliberately avoiding. Not to be conflated or confused with filter words; let me explain. The best example I have from my own reading is Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Universe series. In it, she never uses the word “thing” to refer to an object, situation, or concept–“Thing” is reserved for use in the Viking/Icelandic sense of a governmental meeting. The base culture of her alternate-history fantasy is French, and simply doesn’t have that word as we use it in modern English. If that seems like a pretty big ask for an author, it is; “thing” shows up on overused-word lists all the time. But your “do not use” word list doesn’t have to include anything so fundamental or pervasive–in fact, you might not start out with any prohibited words at all.
  3. Anything that defines character voice. For this, an example from my own works. In the What We Need series, Paul starts his sentences with “Well,” a lot. In the early drafts of What We Need to Survive, that wasn’t specific to him; during edits, I eliminated it from other characters to clean up the dialogue overall while giving him a more pronounced vocal style. I kept this up until book three, when, through long exposure, Nina has unconsciously picked up this tic and uses it occasionally.
  4. How you handle ellipses. Three periods with no spaces? With spaces between? Are there spaces before and after, or not? I’ve read various articles debating the truly “correct” form for ellipses, but I’ve seen several ways of handling them across published works, so there’s still probably an element of choice, at least if you’re an indie author. Note down whatever you decide on.
  5. Any special punctuation or formatting guidelines stylistically unique to your project. I’ve seen books that italicize internal monologue (common) but plenty that don’t, leaving it in plain text like so: “She thought, I don’t want to be here right now.” I’ve seen books that use alternate characters in place of quotation marks when the characters are using telepathy to communicate, like so: *This is stupid,* she thought at him. (Granted, that was ages ago when I was a kid, but I remember it, because it was so strange.) A much more modern issue–how do you format conversations via text? I just read a book that uses actual text bubble images, to make it look authentic, but in plenty of other works I’ve seen it handled exactly like dialogue, only the tags or context around it mentions it’s a text message; I’ve seen texted conversation formatted in bold, both with and without quotation marks; I’ve seen italics as well, though less commonly, since (as above) many authors use that for internal dialogue and don’t want to confuse the reader by making italics perform double duty.

What all of these examples boil down to is essentially this: if you have to make a decision about how you want something to be handled in your manuscript, then it probably needs to go on your style sheet so that a) you remember what you chose down the line, whether you’re coming back to the project after a break, or writing a long-running series; and b) during the editing process you can make certain your style is consistent.

As you continue to write, you might find yourself splitting your style sheet into a master sheet and a project-specific sheet would be helpful. You’re not that likely to want to change how you handle ellipses, but anything character-specific won’t transfer between projects that don’t have the same characters. This leads me to my last piece of advice: label and DATE your style sheets so that you know what they are and when you created them. Your style might evolve over time; you might decide there’s a better way to do something in your next book. That’s fine. But you wouldn’t want to refer to an outdated style sheet for a new project, in that case, and with the amount of note files and draft versions and other associated digital junk that can accumulate around even a single book project, a style sheet is something you wouldn’t want to go missing or use incorrectly, when its entire purpose is to make your writing better.