Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Books Read in 2014

Time for my annual roundup! I read 103... things... this year, including a few comics and short stories I hesitate to count as a "book". 

103. That blows my mind, man. When I started this blog, my goal was 25 books a year.

First I'll list everything by category and then yammer a bit about my favorite reads of the year. 


Middle Grade Fiction (read with The Son): 20

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

The Roman Mysteries: The Colossus of Rhodes by Caroline Lawrence
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Interrupted Tale by Maryrose Wood
Beowulf adapted by Robert Nye
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger
The Battle for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The Secret of the Fortune Wookie by Tom Angleberger
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett by Tom Angleberger
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights retold by Howard Pyle
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
A Samurai Never Fears Death by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Young Adult Fiction: 8

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Vintage Veronica by Erica Perl
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Powers by Ursula K. LeGuin
Feed by M.T.Anderson

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Adult Fiction: 34

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Slash and Burn by Colin Cotterill
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Call by Yannick Murphy
Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach
Long Shots by Christine d'Abo
Honor's Knight by Rachel Bach
Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The Alleluia Files by Sharon Shinn
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Lexicon by Max BarryHeaven's Queen by Rachel Bach
The Family Man by Elinor Lipman
The Woman Who Wouldn't Die by Colin Cotterill
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
The Thirteenth House by Sharon Shinn
The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman
The Billionaire Submissive by Joely Sue Burkhart
Dear Sir, I'm Yours by Joely Sue Burkhart
Hurt Me So Good by Joely Sue Burkhart
Yours to Take by Joely Sue Burkhart

Non-Fiction (including books read for professional development): 12

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
Complications by Atul Gawande
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Writing the Fiction Series by Karen S. Wiesner
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life by Pam Withers and Cynthia Gill
Twelve Assignments Every Middle School Student Should Write by Gary B. Chadwell
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
I Read It, But I Don't Get It by Cris Tovani

Elements of Fiction: Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

Comics/Graphic Novels: 27

Saga Vol. I by Brian Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Saga Vol. II by Brian Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Zahra's Paradise by Amir and Khalil
Saga Vol. III by Brian Vaughn and Fiona Staples

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell
Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key: Clockworks by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Legend of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
The Impostor's Daughter by Laurie Sandell
Explorer: The Mystery Boxes edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Rat Queens, Vol. I by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch

Sex Criminals, Vol. I by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Explorer: The Lost Islands edited by Kazu Kibiushi
Explorer: The Hidden Doors edited by Kazu Kibiushi
Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibiushi
Amulet: The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibiushi
Amulet: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibiushi
Amulet: The Last Council by Kazu Kibiushi
Amulet: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibiushi
Gunnergrigg Court by Tom Siddell

Short Stories: 2
"Hunting Monsters" by S.L. Huang
"Enoch" by Robert Bloch


Instead of Doing Hits and Misses, I'll just do recs for each category. And anyway, I have have way fewer Misses now that I have thrown off the chains of the "Must Finish All the Books" tyranny.

Middle Grade:
Book Everyone Should Read Immediately: The True Meaning of Smekday
Book Destined to Be a Classic: The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass (books 2 and 3 of the His Dark Materials Trilogy)
Book That's Just FUN, Dammit: The Lost Hero (Book 1 of the Heroes of Olympus Series, and the debut of my new book boyfriend, Leo Valdez)

Young Adult:
Book Everyone Should Read Immediately: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Book Destined to Be a Classic: Feed
Book That Challenged my Genre Expectations: Graceling
Book of Jaw-Dropping Mastery: Powers (Ditto for the first two books in the Annals of the Western Shore Trilogy)

Book Everyone Should Read Immediately: Bel Canto
Book That Challenged my Genre Expectations: Mystic and Rider
Book That Turned my Brain Inside Out: Lexicon
Book of Jaw-Dropping Mastery: Cryptonomicon
Book That's Just FUN, Dammit: Fortune's Pawn, Honor's Knight, and Heaven's Queen (Paradox Trilogy)

Book Everyone Should Read Immediately: Nothing to Envy
Book That Made Me Grow the Most as a Teacher: I Read It, But I Don't Get It
Book That Made Me Grow the Most as a Writer: Wonderbook
Book That's Just FUN, Dammit: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Graphic Novels:
Book Everyone Should Read Immediately: Saga
Book That Turned my Brain Inside Out:  Locke & Key
Book That's Just FUN, Dammit: Rat Queens

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Arcs Completed (Mostly)

The Political Intrigue arc is long and complicated, yo.

The good news, part 1: I think the first half of the book is 95% sound. There's one scene I'll need to chuck, and will need to tweak and add little clues and misdirections here and there.

The good news, part 2: the last quarter of the book is about 75% sound. A few scenes will need to be shifted and overhauled, but other than that the same basic sequence of events occurs.

The bad news, part 1: the third quarter of the book is going to need a more extensive overhaul. Most scenes will need work, some will be cut, and a few totally new scenes will have to be added.

The bad news, part 2: I still have a few plot holes in my Political Intrigue arc. Just a few steps I've starred because I know what needs to happen, but I don't yet know how to make it make sense. My goal for tomorrow is to make some progress on those stars.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Arc Plotting for Fun and Profit

One tip from Writing 21st Century Fiction: if your story is two or three or four different kinds of stories threaded together, plot out each story arc individually to make sure it is rich enough (and makes enough sense) to be a story on its own. 

I have three story arcs in TOB: a Political Intrigue arc, a Coming-of-Age arc, and a Romance arc. Today I mapped out the Coming-of-Age and Romance arcs, and was pleased to see that aside from a little Act III shuffling I already knew I'd have to do, both arcs are pretty sound already. I think the Political Intrigue arc is going to need some real rethinking, though. I have some logic holes going on there. We'll see when I get to work on it tomorrow.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

At Least I've Figured Out the Problems

I'm not gonna try to put a pretty face on it: the second half of 2014 has been a big fat noveling fail, and I am thoroughly disgusted with myself.

January has typically been a month of great forward momentum for me. I'd like to capitalize on that, but  before I try to move forward I need to understand what's been holding me back. I think I've narrowed it down to four basic problems:

1) Lack of time. Since June, I've been working more weekly hours than I have since The Son was born. I am blown away that so many people manage to finish books while having full-time jobs. My sense of dedication to my art and willingness to sacrifice downtime have clearly not been up to snuff.

SOLUTION: There is no solution that will magically add hours to my day. However, I can commit to an hour a day. That will be my goal for January-- no page or word count goals. If I wind up just staring at the screen for an hour, so be it, but that's all I'm allowed to do for that hour.

2) My embarrassing magical-thinking problem I talked about in my last post. The less said about that the better.

SOLUTION: Take the pressure off to go back to work on EN the instant TOB is done. Also, stop being a weirdo. You do not have magical powers.

3) Shiny new story idea. They always strike when you're fed up with your current project, and I got a doozy back in the fall. I've been fighting it for a while, but then all these separate story ideas I had floating around in my head, but have tried to ignore because they don't fit with the Science Fiction world of EN and TOB, suddenly clicked together to make a whole new story world, with a four-part series just waiting to be written. Alternate Historical crossed with Fantasy crossed with Polyamorous Romance. For about six weeks, it was all I could think about.

SOLUTION: This was a risky move, but I decided to just go with it for a while. I started doing character work for my quartet of protagonists, and took books on 19th century manners and Abenaki Indian culture out of the library. I also started outlining the first book, the first quarter of which was unfolding effortlessly in my mind, like watching a movie. It was SO FUN. It's been a long time since I had fun working on TOB, since I worked on it because that's what I'd most like to do with my free time and not because oh god, I've been working on this book forever and every month I don't finish it makes me that much more of a loser.

Like I said: risky, 'cause I've already bailed on a book for a Shiny New Idea once. But I had a hunch that wouldn't happen here. The future project, which we shall call T for now, is a complicated high-concept premise that will take a lot of intricate plotting and some serious research to pull off. I knew that eventually it would get hard, and the rose would lose some of its bloom. And that's just what happened. So I set it aside, and now have a nice start to return to some day.

4) Issues in TOB itself. I so hate to say this, but it's no coincidence that I ran out of steam editing Act III. That Act has always been the trickiest to figure out, and it still has issues. Not scrap-the-whole-Act issues, but may-need-a-serious-shuffle issues.

SOLUTION: While I was Christmas shopping, I bought myself a copy of Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass. I have Maass's two previous books and have found them to be among the most insightful and valuable writing guides I have ever read (and I have read many). This one seems to have been written exactly for me at the moment I find myself in with this book. It's all about transcending genre, connecting emotionally with your work, and taking a less predictable path to the end. I've realized I have some plot points that are formulaic, and I need to be willing to shake that up, even if it means more rewrite work for me. The books has reminded me that I don't want to just write a passable soft Sci-Fi novel; I want to write something awesome. TOB can be awesome, and the Maass book has me fired up to make it so.

So that's the state of the writing, on the brink of 2015.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In Which I Make a Confession That Makes Me Sound Like a Whackaloon

So, I've been writing, and I'll say more about that soon, promise-- but that's not what this post is about. This post is about a weird mental block I've been having for the last six months, that I haven't wanted to talk about because it makes me sound like a crazy person. But I think it's actually messing me up more than I'd like to admit, so I'm taking a deep breath and confessing:

My plan has always been to get back to work on Eleven Names as soon as I finish The Owl Bearer. EN is the next book in the series, after all. And it's the Book of my Heart: the core story is the one that launched me on this crazy spec fic journey nearly two decades ago.

From the very first NaNo draft of EN, I knew my main character Somi had a son, and that she lost her son when he was eight years old. He didn't die, but she lost him anyway. Then I had a son, and that son got older and older, and I started to feel a stab of irrational fear in my gut-- fear that I'd be punished for inflicting such a devastating plot point on my character. Fear that something awful would happen to my son on his 8th birthday. And as insane as this sounds, a part of me has not wanted to finish TOB, because then I would be writing EN while my own son is eight.

Stephen King once wrote that the only book that has freaked him out so badly he had to stop writing it was Pet Semetary, because the kids in the book were same sexes and ages as his own kids, they lived on a busy road, and he was constantly worried about their toddler getting hit by a truck. When he reached that scene in the book, he couldn't go on. He felt that by writing it, he would make it happen to himself. He had to put the book aside until his kids were older.

I think some of that is going on with me. Every time I sit down to work on TOB, I think of how I need to get back to work on EN as soon as its done.

Today is The Son's 8th birthday. And I really want to finish TOB. I am so, so close to being done.

So I have decided that I will not work on EN again for another year. I will finish TOB, and then I will work on the first book in a new series I have growing wild in my brain. New genre, new world... and none of my characters have kids.

Slinking off now...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaPaADaMo, Day 1

That's National Page a Day Month, if you're curious.

Don't worry, I won't keep calling it that all month.

Day 1 has gone as planned. One more page edited. Hurrah.

Friday, October 31, 2014

'Twas the Night Before NaNo...

Okay, clearly I have to do something. My new work schedule has me thrown completely off my game, and I need some kind of kick up the backside to get me moving again.

There's no way I can 50,000 words this month--not even of editing. I'm hosting book club this Monday (which means cleaning the house all weekend). The Son's epic Jedi-themed birthday party is coming up this month. Not to mention Thanksgiving, which I also host. Oh, and I'm teaching an intensive SAT prep course the week of Thanksgiving, too. Plus continuing to, y'know, work and parent and stuff.

However, there are people far busier than I who manage to finish books.

One page of editing a day, folks. That's all I can manage for this particular challenge.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Checking In

Did one hour today, and got through another section... and, almost on impulse, wound up deviating from the second draft scene quite a bit. I was never completely happy with this little bit of the book, though. I think what I wrote today has more life to it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Officially Re-Entered!

Did my 30 minutes, and finished a section.

Tomorrow I need to tutor in the morning, so I will pack lunch and do an hour afterwards. I'll check back in then.


It's no surprise, I'm sure, that this summer has been disastrous for writing. I started a new job last spring, and while it's still only part-time it's doubled the number of hours I was working before. Plus, The Son did half-day camps again this summer, so the few kid-free hours I had were spent tutoring and doing admin for the tutoring company. I did some editing work here and there, but never built up momentum.

Time to get back on track. School starts today, which means 7 kid-free hours a day. I'll have to work 2-4 of those hours depending on the day, but that still leaves plenty of time for writing. What worked for my best last year was dropping The Son at school, then coming home to get some dishes and laundry started and do about an hour of admin work, then head to the library when it opens at 10:00 for two hours of editing. Then home for lunch, and more admin work if need be. The two mornings a week I tutored at the library, I would bring my lunch and do my two hours of editing after I ate.

I'm easing back to that schedule now. My goal for today is to be at the library when it opens, and edit for 30 minutes. Tomorrow I'll do an hour, and by Friday I should be back up to 2 hours.

I'll report back each day to stay accountable.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Three Years On

I meant to do a whole Three Year Retrospective thing on June 26, since that's the anniversary of the day I started work on TOB. I was in the thick of planning and packing for our vacation, though, and forgot about it. And frankly, I'm a little depressed by it. I so, SO wanted to be done by now, and a lot of the reason I'm not is my own lazy fault. I just turned 45 and I really want to FINISH something for once in my life, dammit!

So what do I do in response to this feeling? Avoid working on the book for two weeks, of course!

I'm back at it now. I finally bit the bullet and decided the troublesome bit had to be moved back into Act 2, so yesterday I opened the document and just did that, plus added a few more ripple-effect lines to a few more scenes. Today, I opened the document again and finished the scene I was stuck on. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to edit the next scene. Keep moving forward, and I'll get there eventually. Right?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Back from Databaseville

I've been in a bit of a slump this last week. First I had to pull out the 250 trick. Then I took the weekend off for my birthday. Then fell off a cliff into agentland. I've been bookmarking websites of potential agents for years now, and I suddenly got a bug up my butt to create a database with all their contact info and requirements and whatnot. I got totally sucked into it and spent every waking, non-tutoring moment of the last two days working on it. As distractions go, it wasn't a total waste of time-- this would've needed to be done eventually-- but it was also definitely not staying on track. I think it also lit a fire under my ass to finish, though, 'cause I wrote for an hour today.

I know the problem-- it's this scene. I just plain ol' don't feel like making up any new shit right now. Plus, there's an important plot point I'd decided to move here, and now that I've written it I think I actually need to take it out and move it back to Act II-- not as far back as it was originally, but far back enough to have a ripple effect of a few lines needing to be added here and there. I'm going to sleep on it, and see how I feel about it tomorrow.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Ol' 250 Trick

Yesterday I took the day off and focused instead on catching up with everything else I was behind on. Today, I am still having a seriously acute attack of the I-don't-wannas, coupled with the there-are-so-many-other-things-I-need-to-dos, and a sprinkle of I'm-really-not-feeling-that-well-maybe-I'll-just-go-lie-downs. And we all know where THAT's heading. So I dusted off an old trick from me draftin' days: just write 250 words. That's it: 250 words of forward motion on the scene, and then I get to go on my merry way for the rest of the day, feeling good about myself for meeting my goal. If need be, repeat on day 2 with 300 words. Etc.

It doesn't get you anywhere fast, this trick. But it keeps you from stalling.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Ugh. I am stuck. I've reached one of the two new scenes I need to add to this Act, and I am all out of words.

This isn't even really an entirely new scene; it's made of pieces cut from other scenes that I've sewn together and moved here. But now I have to breathe life into my Frankenscene creation, and I am not feeling breath-of-life-y. I am exhausted (I had a migraine last night, and my migraine medication has caffeine in it so I slept for shit) and overwhelmed (everything in the world is due this week and must be done right now), and I just want to go sit in a hole, like Dwight from Origami Yoda.

Monday, June 16, 2014

That Scene

I worked on THAT scene today. The one I knew had to be there when I was sketching out the plot, but couldn't visualize at all. The one I couldn't make a scene card for. The one I summarized in the first draft. The one I made too melodramatic in the second draft.

Yeah. That one. Almost done editing it now, after two hours at the library. Also managed to cut 1,000 words already. Phew!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Notes on Act 3

I finished making notes on the hard copy of Act 3 today. Just like Act 2, I'm going to need to do more shifting, trimming, and adding than I anticipated in my initial read-throughs. I need to add two complete scenes, and cut a LOT of rambling. Acts 1 and 2 came at 25,500-26,500 words. Act 3 is currently sitting at nearly 30,000, which makes me gulp. I have at least 2,500 words to add, which means I'm going to have to cut a whole freaking lot and make it as tight as I possibly can to make the length what it needs to be.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Onward to Act 3

This has been a hectic week, what with all the end-of-the-year special events at The Son's school, and my new job picking up steam. Did I mention I took a part-time admin position with the tutoring company I work for? It's a great opportunity, but there's been a learning curve, technical snafus, and a readjustment to my daily schedule. I hadn't gotten anything done on TOB since I finished ACT 2, but today I managed to get through making notes on the first two chapters of Act 3. Tomorrow I'll do at least another 2 chapters.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


The third draft is 50% done! Act 2 is edited, checked, spellchecked, and sent off to Sharon. Anyone else who's willing to beta read in installments, don't be shy! Speak up and I'll send it off to you.

I have a whole whiny post in me about how long this whole process is taking and how I'm definitely going to die before I can write all the books I have in my head now... but it can wait for another day. Today, I'll just be happy I finished Act 2.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lucky Thirteen

Thirteen chapter edited! Now I just need quickly read over Act 2 for clunkers, repeated words, typos, failures to indent (I noticed a bunch of those in the Act 1 I already sent to Sharon-- sorry!), and all that careless stuff.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Twelve Chapters Edited

One more to go and I'll be at the halfway mark of this draft!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Checking In

Almost done with chapter eleven, and the scene continues into chapter twelve, so momentum should carry me for a while. I'm nearly through the weeds, people. Chapters thirteen and fourteen are all straight line-editing-- none of this shifting and rethinking stuff.

I'm in a really good groove, workwise. I've been putting in two hours a day, at the library (that's key), and I'm planning to do an hour a day over the weekend like I did last weekend.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Moving Forward

Ten chapters edited, and I'm halfway through the Act.

I worked for an hour yesterday and an hour today, and plan to do an hour tomorrow before getting back on my regular weekday 2 hours daily.

I know what the first and last scene of chapter 11 should be, but the middle-- and the beginning of chapter 12-- is a big question mark right now. I need to look at the all the stuff I've cut and see how much of it needs to be reworked back into the story, and then figure out how to do that.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I am allllllmost done with chapter ten. I've got maybe a page more to write, and I will have vanquished the problem scene. I am stoked.

I've done two hours a day T-F this week. I'm not sure what's going to happen over the long weekend; we're doing a cousins-sleepover at our house tonight, Saturday night is at-home date night, The Son is doing some cub scout thing at a parade on Memorial Day, the library is closed Monday, and I have to tutor here and there. I'm going to shoot for an hour a day, and try to come up with somewhere else I can escape to. At this stage of things I am working so much better out of the house.

Checking In

I have the first part of the trouble scene all fixed now, with all the drawn-out introductions very much condensed. And I've smoothed out the ending of the scene, which didn't need much work. I'm still a little fuzzy on what goes in the middle, so I've barreled on ahead and edited the next section, and now am beginning the last scene of the chapter. Once I hit the end of the chapter, I'll go back and tackle that tricky ~500 words.

That's the plan, anyway.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hacking Away

I'm in the thick of the first problem scene. I wound up just copying and pasting it into a new document, which has made it easier to rip it apart.

It's day one of summit talks, which means a whole slew of characters being introduced, and a lot of sitting around a table talking-- not all that dynamic. I had some infodumping here that I've moved to an earlier scene, so now I need to axe everything that led into the infodump. I also had lots of description and some dialogue for the five other envoys... but only two of them really matter to the story. This means there's like a 1,000 words that need to be massively pruned and condensed. I'm more in the hacking apart stage, but I feel like I know what I'm doing. We'll see if I still feel that way when I get to the putting back together stage.

Nine Chapters Edited


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mantra Time

After a 6-day stretch of working on the book 2 hours a day, I had an attack of the lazies and did nothing Sunday or Monday. Just finished my two hours for today; I am a few sentences away from finishing chapter nine, so I will probably come back later and do that, just for the sense of accomplishment.

I'm heading smack into the messy, muddled middle of Act 2. I have some good ideas about shuffling a few of the scenes around, but there is one giant scene that I just don't know what to do with-- but I do know it has to be there-- plus a chunk of "time passes" exposition that has to be vastly improved. It's going to be a slog for the next week or two.

Deep breaths. Repeating my mantras:

"It's only a few extra weeks."
"It's making the book better."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Checking In

I've edited for 2 hours a day for the past five days, which is awesome and I'm proud of myself.

However, I'm not even a third of the way through Act 2. This is not as awesome.

I just need to accept that this draft is going to take longer than I thought. I'm working consistently, making progress, and improving the book-- so I guess I'll just go on being proud of myself!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Good Day

Today was a good writing day. I worked for two hours, nearly finished chapter 8, and untangled some of the pacing problems in this Act. I had a scene in this chapter that needed both beefing and spicing up... and I had a scene in a later chapter that was coming off as forced and slowed down the action. I sliced that later scene up, and dropped the best bits into this one, and I think it's the perfect solution. I still have some chunks left over that I can't just drop, so I'll have to figure out where to fit them in. Plus, this means chapter 11 will have to be pretty much completely rewritten, which *sigh*. But it's worth it if it makes the book better, right?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Back to Work

I did my two hours today, and got the first section of chapter 8 edited. I feel better about where I'm at than I did a few days ago. Taking another look at Act 2, I realized that of the six chapters, only the middle two are a real mess; the others need editing for flow and so forth, but all the right things are happening in the right order. I'm not sure yet how to fix the problems in the middle of the Act, but I hope that once I've finished editing the next two chapters I'll have a better sense of what needs to be done.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Reading Week

At my alma mater-- the tiny but fantastic woodland wonderland known as Bard College-- we had something called Reading Week. For the week before midterms, classes would be canceled so that students could devote themselves to studying-- which for most of us entailed catching up on mountains of reading. I've often wished that adult life included a Reading Week now and then, a temporary suspension of all responsibilities in the name of devoting oneself to the written word.

All this is just a pretentious way of saying I read a lot this week instead of working on the book.

I am almost through making my notes on the hard copy, and it's a little depressing. This Act needs way more work than I realized after the first read-through. I've enjoyed my Reading Week, but it's over after tomorrow. Now that I have Act I in the hands of an actual reader, I can't flake out. I'm making myself a week-by-week work plan, starting with 2 hours on Monday.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Well, THAT Took Forever

Act I is edited, spellchecked, and e-mailed to the first of the beta readers.

It took a month. That's kind of ridiculous.

For Act II, I am going to try to cut that in half. I know it'll take two days to make notes on the hard copy, and two days at the other end to do the read-aloud edit. That leaves me 10 days to do the main meat of the edit. That should be doable.

Whether I'll actually do it is another story...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ha! In Your FACE, April!

I have blogged before about April always being a horrible writing month for me. I am pleased to pronounce that streak broken. I didn't make as much progress as I hoped to last month, but I did work consistently the entire month and am now a day away from having an edited Act I to send to Sharon-- and anyone else who offered to beta read for me and doesn't mind getting it in installments.

I'm done with on-screen editing (and I managed to trim about 2,000 words, which is great news); now, I'm going to read it out loud to myself just to see if I can catch any clunkers, missed words, inconsistencies, etc.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Beefing Up Security

Six chapters edited! One more to finish Act I.

The next section is the bit of the book that needs the biggest overhaul. It's an escape scene, and when I read the draft I was rolling my own eyes at it. You know how sometimes in poorly written action movies, the hero (or villain) gets out of a supposedly tight spot waaaaaay too easily? Like: if this person is considered a legitimate threat then why is there just one drunk guy guarding him, armed with only a stick? Yeah, it was like that. Basically, I couldn't think of a smart way for my characters to escape, so I made their captors stupid.

Now I need to figure out how one young woman can use her intelligence and a concealed weapon to capitalize on a confused situation and free a badly beaten stranger who is tied to a tree and guarded by five heavily armed villagers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Haven't found the perfect Whedon-worthy line yet, but I did come up with something better than what I had before. Now I've just about finished the first section of chapter six.

20% through the MS. I am really going to have to pick up the pace soon.

Paging Joss Whedon

I am one sentence away from finishing chapter five.

But it needs to be a killer, Whedonesque, awesomely-witty-in-the-face-of-mortal-danger sentence.

Nothing is coming to mind.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


And four chapters done. I've also cut almost ten pages so far.

I just got through a tricky bit with a lot of heavier rewriting. I am hoping that when I get past Act I the edit will pick up speed, since most of what I'll be doing is true editing and not cutting/rewriting.

Goal for the next week: get to 25%/end of Act I.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Chugging Along

Three chapters edited. *rousing cheer*

Twenty-three more to go. *dramatic sigh*

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Ah, the return of the % posts.

Yeah, I'm 10% through the line edit. And yeah, I'd hoped to be farther along by now. When don't I hope to be farther along? The article ate up my writing time for the last few days, but today I got back to it.

My revised goal is to make it to 15% by the end of the weekend.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Checking In

Two chapter edited! It's going faster now.

My new goal is to be done with Act I by this time next week. I have to write an article this weekend, so I won't have any extra time to edit, but next week The Son is off school for April break and has 3 mornings of art camp, and I have practically no tutoring kids.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lesson Learned, Part 1,162

Yesterday I had plenty of opportunity to write, but I managed my time poorly and only worked on the edit for 15 minutes. But it wasn't a total loss, because I learned something about the way I need to be working on this draft: I need to work at the library. This editing demands a high level of focus, and there are too many distractions and other things I should be doing at home. If I've had a good editing session at the library and I'm on a roll, then I can sometimes get more done at home later; but for now, I need to get my 1-2 hours a day at the library or I can't guarantee it's going to get done.

Today my schedule was packed, but I had two free hours between my morning and afternoon tutoring students, so I ate lunch at my table (shhhh... against library rules) and worked on the book for two hours. Made some great progress! I'm planning to do two more hours at the library tomorrow.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Got through another hour of editing today, and am just about done with chapter one. I know: 4+ hours to edit one chapter = no bueno. But like I said, I hope this is because the beginning is so fiddly, with so much to balance and set in motion. If the pace doesn't pick up soon, I reserve the right to panic.

Tomorrow I'll do two hours, and see where that takes me.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Another hour of line editing today. I'd planned to do two hours tomorrow, but now I'm realizing my day is going to be way more busy than I thought-- volunteering in The Son's classroom, some tutoring hours, an appointment with the tax preparer-- so I'm going to stay flexible. If I only get an hour done, that's fine.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


My unplanned hiatus from draft 3.0 was definitely for the best. Today I got to work line editing, and it was so much fun. FUN, I say! Instead of being like, "Crap. This isn't brilliant prose, and I don't know how to fix it uuuuggggghhhh," I was like, "Wheeeeee! Line editing! I don't have to make any shit up; I just need to make the shit that's already here sound better! Easy-peasy!" I actually wound up working on it for 2.5 hours instead of only 1, because I was enjoying it. Slow going, but I'm not panicking over that yet; the beginning is always really fussy to edit.

Tomorrow's plan: another hour at the library.

Friday, April 4, 2014


450 more words of description today.

Tomorrow I'm diving into the actual nitty-gritty of rewriting the draft. Since I don't yet have any clue what rate I'll get through the pages, for this first week I'm setting a time-based goal. I will work on rewriting either one or two hours, depending on the day. For tomorrow, I plan to go to the library for one hour.

I'm excited to be at this stage of the edit! A little terrified, but mostly excited.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day Three

Two descriptions chunks down, one to go.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Day Two

On track so far: Today I drew a map of a Brandmark village (they're grown via nanotechnology, so they all look the same), and wrote 450 words of description.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fuck Yeah Editing

I kind of hate to admit it, but I think there's something to the oft-repeated advice to let a draft go cold before trying to edit it. When I made my first stab at this back in Feb., I could only read a few pages of the MS at a time before I started feeling discouraged and depressed. The writing seemed so far from what I wanted it to be, and I was overwhelmed at the thought of all the work left to do.

Today I dove back into making line editing notes on the remainder of Act I, and was shocked at how much better I felt about it. It totally feels like someone else wrote it, which makes the problems seem much more fixable, and also makes it easier to see what is working.

As I said yesterday, I don't really have a long-term plan here; I'm just going to feel my way through it this month. In the short-term, I'm going to spend the next 3-4 days drawing maps and writing 250-500 word blocks of description. One conclusion I've reached from all the reading I've done lately is that I skimped way too much on the description. I think I took warnings about overly detailed descriptions too much to heart. In the end, you gotta write the book that you'd want to read, and I liked me some well-written description. I don't plan to dump 500-word chunks of description whole into the story, but if I have more detail than I need it'll be easier to insert sentences where I need them. I think.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Creeping Back

Okay, so March sucked on many levels. But things are settling back down, and in the past few days I have amazed myself by feeling actual enthusiasm for returning to work on draft 3.0.

I am going easy with the goal setting for the time being. April is often my nemesis, so I'm wary of anything that smacks of hubris. Tomorrow I am going to finish making line editing notes on the printout of Act I. And I'll plan to blog every day of the month to keep me honest.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I never reviewed Cryptonomicon by Neal Stepehenson, the last book I read for 2013 Shelf-Sitter Reading Challenge, mainly because I just finished it yesterday. I know the challenge is over, but holy crap, I need to say a few words about this book.

I'll begin by making a bold declaration: Cryptonomicon is to Science Fiction as Infinite Jest is to Literary Fiction.

I've never read Infinite Jest, but I've read accounts of people reading it, and the impression I've taken away is that it is very long, very dense, brilliantly written, full of insight into the human condition, hilariously funny, heartbreakingly sad, and will almost definitely take you much longer to read than you think it should.

All of this is also true of Cryptonomicon. It's 910 pages but seems much, much longer because it is so dense. It took me seven months to read this book. I'd have that thing where you read for a long time, totally engrossed, and feel like you've made tremendous progress... and then you check and it's like ten pages. Nothing can be skimmed; if you skim a paragraph, you will be lost three paragraphs later and have to go back and really apply your entire mind to reading the paragraph you skimmed in order to understand what's going on.

It's about war, and money, and evil, and freedom, and why and how technology really can save the world. It made me cry, which is a rare but good thing for me. On almost every page is a line or five so clever and funny I longed to read it out loud to someone. It is packed with metaphors and similes; when Stephenson really gets going, he can have strings of metaphors one after another, or similes that go on for pages, like the one about how a character's experience having his wisdom teeth out is like the conversation he just had. And yet they are all so hilarious and apt, I was never like, Enough with the metaphors, Neal.

But what's it about, you ask? Naturally, the plot is insanely complicated, but if I was forced to sum it up I'd say it's about two guys serving in WWII-- one an Aspergers-y code breaker, the other a badass Marine-- whose paths cross briefly while they work on different aspects of the same project; and also about their grandchildren fifty years later-- one a geeky hacker, the other a (female) badass shipwreck diver-- who are working on different aspects of a business venture that at first seems to have nothing to do with their grandfathers' experiences during the war but which turns out to have everything to do with them. It's one of those books that takes place all over the world: China, the U.S., Hawaii, England, the Philippines, Sweden, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Japan. There are also three love stories, only one of which is tragic.

This book is not for everyone-- and I don't mean that in a sneery superior way. There are many, many brilliant readers out there who would not enjoy it. It's Historical Science Fiction, a niche market if there ever was one. And it's a very male book; there are very few female characters, no female POV, and the overall viewpoint on women seems to be that for the most part women don't do anything meaningful (like math and killing people), and that their priorities are pointless, which is mostly okay as long as they don't try to make men give a shit about any silly thing they think is important. Also, the book is perhaps overly technical in places. I've heard Stephenson's work described as a "cool kids' club"; homeboy has no interest whatsoever in being accessible. He assumes a certain set of knowledge about math, cryptology, computer hacking, and WWII, and if you don't have it, too fucking bad for you. Go look it up or something, or muddle through with an incomplete understanding of those parts of the book.

But if all that doesn't put you off, I recommend this crazy genius masterpiece highly. The lack of female perspective almost never bothered me, because I accepted at the outset that this was to be a Manly book about Men doing Important, Manly Things. Likewise, the technical bits didn't throw me; I am in no way cool enough to be in Stephenson's cool kids' club, but as a HS Math-and-Science dropout who loves hard Science Fiction, I'm accustomed to muddling through. You know how in the Star Trek scripts the writers just put [tech] for any dialogue that needs to be crafted by the science consultants? Well, there are parts of this book that are just [tech] to me. Neal strikes me as the kind of guy who would probably hunt me down and stab me in the face if he knew that.

If you like stories about WWII, stories about code breakers, stories about hackers, stories about searching for lost treasure, and stories about the labyrinthine world of international business-- and you like a reading challenge-- then give this a whirl. It's really goddamn good.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Life. Don't Talk to Me About Life.

Had to bust out the Marvin the Paranoid Android quote.

Things have not been going well on the writing front, guys. The Husband had minor surgery three weeks ago, and because he's The Husband there were freak complications, which led to him getting a virus, which led to an aggressively nasty sinus infection. I started a whole 50-hour Editing Month Challenge on Absolute Write, and I've only done like 3 hours for the month.

So now I'm stressed out, with a sick husband out on disability, trying to keep the household running and meeting my work obligations while filling out forms and chasing down doctors, PLUS I feel like crap for not just sucking it up and working on the book anyway. I mean, that's what real writers have to do, right? No matter what shit life throws at them, they still have that deadline to make. This is something I need to learn to do.

I guess that for now, I just need to accept that this is my reality. I'm married to a guy with a chronic illness. When he's sick, my ability to motivate and focus on my writing goes to shit. Eventually everything goes back to normal, and I go back to the book.

At least I've been reading a lot. I need the escape!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Life Intervenes

I thought, when I originally made my third draft plan, that I should probably wait a few weeks after finishing the second draft before I got started-- y'know, get some distance, come at it with fresher eyes. But then, as always, the "waste" of time made me itchy-- I'm like eight months behind schedule here, people! No time for distance!

Well, life intervened in a major way this week, enforcing a break. The Husband had skin cancer surgery and of course there were beaucoup de complications, involving bad drug reactions, extra trips to the hospital, and a sleepless night for me; we had a big ice storm, rendering our Dante-esque driveway and walkway a serious threat to life and limb; and now I'm miserably sick with something that may turn out to be strep throat. All I have done this week (besides deal with the above) is watch the  Olympics, look at personal style blogs, and read comic books. The book is so far out of my head I can barely remember what happens in it.

I am not doing shit on it until I can swallow without agony and I've shoveled the house out from under the mountain of crap that has resulted from me not having time to clean for a week. So now I'm thinking NaNoEdMo? 50 hours of editing in March-- that could do it!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Notes From the Trenches

Today I took all the "maybe edit this" notes I made on the computer as I was writing, as well as all the notes I made in my notebook while I was reading, and typed them into a Word document under the headings Act I, Act II, Act III, and Act IV. Then I grabbed a blue felt-tip pen and started making my second round of notes. This isn't a full read-through; just quickly skimming to find the places where I need to make a correction or scribble a note to myself in the margins. I got about halfway through Act I.

Tomorrow The Son is going to a birthday party for most of the afternoon, so I may drop him off and hit the library for a few hours and see if I can finish this stage of the edit.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Read-Through Done

I'm finally through the initial read-through. Man, it was a struggle to just read the thing without going to town with the line editing, but I really wanted to just read it as a reader-- as much as possible, anyway.

Here are my general impressions of the draft, act by act:

Act I:
This is the Act that will need to be the most aggressively edited. There's a lot of dead wood to be cut: actions that don't need to be on the page, beginnings of threads that got dropped later, unnecessary dialogue tags-- that sort of thing. The dialogue in two scenes needs to be rewritten (because now that I've written the rest of the book I know there are more future-plot-relevant things for them to discuss), and I need to add probably two pages' worth of backstory and worldbuilding in order to explain things that didn't make it from my brain to the page. I have one plot hole that I've already figured out how to fill. And the pacing needs to be sorted out-- some scenes are longer than they need to be, some are shorter.

One strength of this Act is the tone. It has this kind of low-key folksy cadence to it that's close to how Willa would actually speak. I like it a lot, but it totally vanishes after Act I. So part of my line editing for Acts 2-4 will be to bring more of that tone back into the writing.

Act II:
More dead wood, more pacing issues, although neither as extensive as in Act I. I'll need to cut and add, and make some decisions about how deeply I want to portray the other envoys at the summit, but it's mostly line editing here, focusing on tone and on more authentically exploring emotions.

Act III:
The pacing, plot elements, and emotional resonance works for me here. There's one unnecessary minor character that I have decided to combine with another minor character, and one scene that is currently summarized and needs to be dramatized instead, but other than that it's line editing-- tone, and general polishing.

Act IV:
The writing gets stronger the further I get into the draft. This Act is basically fine. Some of the angsting will have to be cut (it's tiresome), and I have had a change of heart about a minor character introduced here that will mean completely re-casting the part and changing the scenes s/he appears in accordingly... but other than those tweaks, just line editing. Except for the final scene, which I wrote at the beginning of the process, and therefore kind of sucks. That thing is going to need to some Extreme Makeover shit.

And now I have exhausted and slightly depressed myself.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Onto Draft Three

Today I made my final master list of what all the made-up people, places, and things in TOB are called. Then I read Act I, with a red pen in hand.

I have a plan for how to proceed with this draft, but I'm not going to bother posting it because I am sure it will change drastically once I see what actually needs to be done. However, I am sticking with the first step, which is to read the entire MS to get a feel for the story as a whole. The only edits I'm allowed to make in this read-through are spelling, grammar, and continuity errors. I'm also making notes about what I might want to change next time through, when I really get into ripping it apart.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


The Owl Bearer has been hole-punched and secured in a ridiculous orange-pink 3-ring binder.

I have to finish up a beta read in the next two days, and then I can start working on the third draft this weekend.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Just taking care of some housekeeping stuff with the book before I dive into the line edit. Yesterday, I spellchecked. Today, I changed a few names. I had way too many characters with "A" names. First, there's Akenam, who is the only character whose name hasn't changed since the first word I wrote on this project. The name came to me out of nowhere and it's perfect for him. But then I also had minor characters named Arden, Aya, Avner, and Aidau, which is officially too many names beginning with A for one book. Only Arden got to keep her name.

Today I did some test print pages. I wrote the book in Courier 12-point double-spaced, which is submission format. But that turns out HUGE when you print it. It helps me to read it "fresh" in a new font, so I changed the font to Times New Roman (also acceptable for submission), and made it 1.5-spaced. That's totally readable, and knocked the page count from 597 to 364! More manageable, and cheaper to print.

Other than that I've been reading (both for book club and a beta read), cleaning my house, and trying to shake the feeling that there's something I'm supposed to be doing.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014


1,913 words today.

20,129 for January.

112,444 for the completed draft.

The Home Stretch

Man, I was SO wiped out last night. I was yawning my face off by 9:00, and barely made it to my bed. I feel a little silly being so dramatic-- after all, Joely finishes like three books a year and I don't recall her ever whining about it as much as I am-- but this whole week I have truly felt like I am in some kind of altered state.

Okay. So today is probably another 2K day. I have to tutor for one hour, and wrangle The Son for a few hours in the late afternoon, but other than that I have all day to write. First up, I need to finish climax 1:
a) back up and add a few lines of set-up to the previous chapter 10:52
b) write a few paragraphs of action leading up to the big dialogue exchange 11:41 --breaking for lunch now.
c) add attributives and beats to dialogue 3:45  975 words so far today.

Once that's done, I have one more shortish section to write.

Deep breath...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Done for the Day

Finished the dialogue for climax 2.

1,931 words today. (Yikes!)

18,216 for January (Not too shabby.)

110,531 words in the draft. (Holy Shit.)

One More Chapter to Go

I finished climax 1. 1,242 more words on it today. Great googly-moogly.

That finishes up chapter 24. I've lost another chapter since my last shuffle, so the next one is the last I need to write for this draft. It consists of two sections: climax 2-- which is considerably shorter than climax 1, thank dog-- and a wrapping-things-up section.

Plowing ahead with the dialogue for climax 2. The scene is practically all dialogue, so if I can get it done today I'll be in good shape.

Plan for the Day

I'm abandoning word count goals; I'll definitely write more than 500 words today and tomorrow, and what matters now is completing sections.

Today I need to finish climax 1, and then write all the dialogue for climax 2.

I just dropped The Son at school and had my breakfast; now I'm going to clean the kitchen, start a huge pot of bone broth, write a few work e-mails, and then get going.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


541 words today.

16,285 for January.

108,600 for the draft.

I'm tired and grouchy, and annoyed that anyone has the gall to expect anything of me this week beyond finishing the draft. I'm a joy to be around, really.

Tonight I was trying to explain to The Husband how I feel, and I said that it's like I've finally reached the end of an exhausting and frustrating day-long car journey, only to discover that the directions were wrong and my destination is actually another 30 minutes away. It's not that big a deal-- I know how to get there, and everything will fine once I do-- but I'm exhausted and starving and my ass hurts and night is falling, and I just want out of the damn car.

On the up side, I think some of what I'm writing this week might actually be awesome.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


...or it would be, if I weren't running long. *SIGH*

1,023 words today.

15,744 for January.

108,036 for the draft.

Good progress today-- finished all the dialogue and most of the attributives and beats for climax 1. The scene probably has another 500-1,000 words before it's completed, though-- there's an action-y gunfight bit at the beginning that I haven't written yet, and I'm not sure how long it's going to turn out. It features the return of a character not seen since the opening, which I just decided last night was the way to go-- still making at changes at this 11:59 hour!

Tomorrow I'll probably only have time to do 500 words, but Thurs. and Fri. I should have basically all day. I'm feeling confident that I can get it done on schedule.

Monday, January 27, 2014


646 words today.

14,721 for January.

107,036 for the draft.

So, there are four days left to the month, and I definitely have more than 2,000 words left to write. It's probably more like 3-4,000. I'd planned to bump up my goal to 750-1,000 words a day, but today I spent an hour on the phone with the health insurance people, and then I had to work, and then my car broke down while I was picking up The Son from school, and we sat in the lobby twiddling our thumbs until The Husband could get off work to pick us up. Bleagh.

Good thing I've decided to cut climax 2 by about half. The first climax has a lot of characters onstage, with danger and drama and weapons, and I'd packed the second climax with more of the same. I think it'll be a lot more effective if it's just a conversation between two adversaries that leads to the same moment of closure as the original version.

Now I just have to find the time to write it.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


502 for today.

14,075 for January.

106,390 for the draft.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


572 words for today.

13,573 for January.

105,888 for the draft.

Friday, January 24, 2014


507 words today.

13,001 in January.

105,316 in the draft.

I went back and added a short section after the sex scene. I skipped it in my anxiousness to get to The End, but I think it needs to be there. Then I jumped back to the climax build-up; Willa and Akenam are on a plane with a dozen genetically engineered soldiers, a missionary, and a three-legged dog, about to return to where the story began.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


689 words today.

12,494 for January.

104,809 words in the draft.

Warming up to the first big showdown.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


540 for today.

11,805 for January.

104,120 for the draft.

I finished the sex scene! And I think it doesn't suck (pun unintended).

On to the climaxes (um... pun unintended again). This mofo will be DONE by Feb. 1, or my name isn't PJ McSlackerson.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


509 today.

11,265 for January.

103,580 for the draft.

Things are, uh, proceeding with my sex scene.

Monday, January 20, 2014


643 words for today.

10,756 for January.

103,071 for the draft. Phew.

The way is clear for the three! last! big! scenes!  First up: a sex scene. Seems like it should be easy and fun to write, but it's damn tricky. The first draft version is pretty hideous. Since then, though, I have been fortunate enough to stumble upon author Stacia Kane's 25-part series on writing sex scenes, which   I can't recommend highly enough. I hope I've learned enough to pull it off. This is a big, life-changing moment for my characters, and I really want the scene to work.


Can you believe it?

Sunday, January 19, 2014


507 words today.

10,113 for January.

102,428 for the draft.

Today I would have kept writing past 500 if I could; I'm so close to end of this section and I'm anxious to get on with the BIG SCENES. However, I have an article deadline tomorrow, so working on that ate  up the rest of the day. The Son doesn't have school tomorrow, but I'm already planning to bribe him with a movie to give me a chance to write.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


506 for today.

9,606 for January.

101,921 for the draft.

Friday, January 17, 2014


527 words today.

9,100 for January.

101,415 for the draft.


Today I crawled and pecked my way through the words. It's the "good guys start to win" scene that follows the turning point of Act III. Most of the minor characters from the story are on stage at once, but there's not a lot of action. I don't want to dramatize all of it-- or even most of it-- but at the same time, I don't want to be like, "And then they all went into a room and negotiated treaties and agreed to join forces and ONWARD! to the climaxes!"

Thursday, January 16, 2014


544 for the day.

8,573 for January.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mid-Month Report

Ha! Like I haven't been boring you with reports every damn day.

548 words today.

8,029 for January.

Assuming my estimations are correct (and I will cry fat tears if they are not), I am exactly on track to finish the draft by the end of the month. I am as stunned by this uncharacteristic bout of work ethic as anyone.

I passed 100K today, which makes me feel like a badass.

Do You Know What Happens When Your Document Hits 100,000 Words?

Your word count DISAPPEARS from the bottom tool bar! Arrrrrgggh!

This is not a catastrophe; just a pain in the ass I don't particularly need with 8K left in the second draft of my novel. I need to be able to keep track of my daily count! In the end, I cut the final scene and pasted into a new document (titled "second_draft2"), which leaves me with almost 3K of wiggle room to finish the scene I'm on before moving to The Owl Bearer Part 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Bah. WTF, Word for Mac? It never occurred to you that someone might use your program to write something with a six-digit word count?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Twenty-Three Chapters Done...

...including the final chapter, which I wrote immediately after I wrote the opening. I either have three or four more chapters to write, depending on where I decide to put the breaks.

604 words today.

7,481 for January so far.

Monday, January 13, 2014


534 words today.

6,877 words for January.

I strongly suspect that a lot of what I wrote today will get axed in the line edit. It's one of those little threads I thought would be really cool, but now that it's come to its completion I think it's cheesy and obvious. We'll see how it reads when I go through the draft.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


508 words today.

6,343 for January so far.

I'm still shuffling things around. I came to a part of my scene outline and realized that it belonged way back in Act II; it's important backstory info, but I had dropped it too late in the story. I've got no room for anything that's not directly related to the main plot.

The scenes and chapters are getting shorter as the end of the book approaches.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


529 words today.

5,835 words for January.

God willing and the creek don't rise, less than 10,000 words until "The End"!

Today I worked a long time for that 529 words of progress. I realized that some dialogue I'd planned for this scene belonged in an earlier one, and that some of the dialogue from that earlier scene belonged in this one. I spent a while switching it up and trimming it, and wound up -40 words from where I'd started. But I made it up!

Two more smallish scenes and then one omgBIG scene that I can't decide if I'm thrilled or terrified to write.


Forgot to mention last night that I passed the 90% mark!

I am stoked.

Friday, January 10, 2014


517 for the day. 

5,306 for the month so far.

Today I'm 1/3 through my Finish the Damn Book Already challenge, and so far I'm right on track.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


507 for the day.

4,789 for January so far.

Willa's past her catharsis and ready to kick ass again.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


517 for the day.

4,282 for January.

I wasn't sure how to start this chapter, and to my surprise it's wound up being a rather large chunk of angsty introspection. It might get cut in the final edits, but for now it feels organic to have it here. Willa's been kind of a pill for all of Act III thus far, and I've reached the moment where she starts to pull her shit together and comes to terms with the role she has to play... and also begins to acknowledge that her feelings for a certain someone (whose name starts with "A") are deeper than she's been admitting to herself. It's all pretty much bang-bang action from here on in, so this is really the last moment in the story I can spare 500 words for angsty internal monologue leading to epiphanies.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


697 for the day.

3,765 for January so far.

I'm on chapter twenty-two now. There's a bunch of stuff that I know needs to happen here, but I'm still not sure what order it's going to wind up in. I know how the chapter ends, and from there it's two little scenes, one big important scene, and the two-headed climax, a poignant farewell, and I am DONE done donedonedone.

Monday, January 6, 2014


505 words for the day.

3,068 for January.

I'm on the verge of finishing chapter twenty-one. Five more chapters to go-- but they're short ones, praise dog.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


516 for the day.

2,597 for the month so far.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


534 words today.

2,081 for the month so far.

My blog posts tend to be really dull in January. Sorry.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

1/2 Check-In

526 words for today.

I'm officially book-fatigued, people. I realized I got a small detail of plot point two wrong, and that if I change it to my better idea it also means adding a few lines to the scene I just finished... and maybe 2% of me was like, "Yay! A tiny way to make my book a tiny bit stronger!" while 98% was like, "UGH. Will this draft never END?!"

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Month, New Goal

The goal for 2014: finish the damn book already.

The goal for January: finish the damn draft.

To that end: 500 words a day.

Today's count: 502.