Wednesday, August 24, 2011


You have no idea how to-the-letter this article is to my life. This is exactly what I needed to read! Savannah J. Foley, yet again another post that oddly connects with my current needs.


Monday, August 22, 2011

I decided.

There is no reason why I can't get 1000 words per weekday. So whatever my excuse du jour, suck it up and get it done. Bleed onto the page, Gina!

Titles can suck it

It feels good to be reading again. I haven't been bringing my computer to work with me, because it's heavy in my bag and I haven't been writing on the train anyway. I've been devoting my train time to reading.

As I said earlier, I'm reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman. People have been ranting and raving over this book in equal parts, but so far I am really enjoying it. It's laid back and easy, but still interesting. I can see why a lot of people hated it, though; I'm past halfway and the plot still has yet to pick up. I know what happens already (unfortunately) but honestly I think I would have guessed it anyway. But it's just... enjoyable. It's Harry Potter on steroids - the college version with alcohol and sex. It's the familiar formula of going to school and learning the craft, and I'm sure Mr. Lev is annoyed at being compared to Harry Potter but frankly that's what he wrote. And I'm fine with that.

If I was reading this at another point in my life I may not have enjoyed it very much, for all the reasons the haters are hating. But right now I am trying to focus on my writing, and my reading has been booted because of that. This book is enjoyable and I can relax while I read and really fall into the story. That's the reason I read, and the reason I started writing. But it hasn't been happening because I've been stressing myself over the writing.

The worst part is, I need that stress if I want to get any writing done. I work full time, sit on a train for almost three hours every day, plus have all the normal "Do the laundry, clean the room" tasks that everyone else has. If I don't stress myself out about not getting any writing done, it will also get swallowed by Real Life. Right now it's all about finding the balance between everything.

I would love to be able to sit down and bang out four thousand words in a day. But I can't do that yet. So until I can, I have to make do with the alternative, getting as many small chunks in as I can.

Point of View Issues

Even though I am almost 23k words into my book, I am still not sure if it will be better to continue writing in up-close-and-personal third person or to make the switch into first.

I think I find first person easier to write in, but I've already spent so much time in third person for this story that it feels foreign to make the switch. For some reason the third person is simply more appealing.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a great example of super-close third person. I'm trying to keep the feeling and the ebb and flow of that story in my head as I write. But sometimes I can't help but write a few paragraphs in first person, only to go back and change all the I's to Bernie's and the me's to she's.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Malevolent Soul Theme Song

The Lonely - Christina Perri

And because this song is fucking awesome and my favorite on her album... Tragedy

The Bad Side of Writing

As it is with anything you decide to devote serious time to, other things in your life need to be pushed back. For me, it was reading. I spent my childhood with my nose buried in a book, and my love of reading is what got me started in the whole writing thang anyway. But it seems like writing and reading use the same frequency of mental energy, and doing one always seems to push back the other. Since I've been forcing myself to spew out word vomit as much as possible, reading takes the hit.

Oh, the books I started and abandoned this summer...

Echo City - Tim Lebbon
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Zafon Ruiz
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Palimpsest - Catherynne M. Valente
The Madness of Angels - Kate Griffin
Solstice Wood - Patricia McKillip

And what was the one book I finished? Passion by Lauren Kate. And it wasn't even good. And these book weren't just read a chapter and put it down, these were all halfway to three-quarters finished before they fizzled out or I got bored and picked up something else.

This make me sad.

I love reading! It's my thing, more than writing is my thing. I haven't gotten lost in a book since Wise Man's Fear came out in April (ish), and I seriously miss it. Not to mention the lack of stress-reducing reading before bed hasn't been awesome either. I've been watching a lot of TV shows on Netflix instead. I've found some awesome shows, but it's just not the same as a book.

But I have to focus on my small successes in writing. 20k! That's the furthest I've ever made it into a story, and I'm showing no signs of giving up on it. I hope it lasts! That is worth a summer without reading, but only as long as I finish writing Malevolent Souls. Otherwise this will all have been a waste of valuable reading time. I guess I have another reason to finish. I'm hoping revising will be easier on my poor little brain, and I'll be able to write another story (maybe not till the third draft of Malevolent Soul) or at the very very least start reading and enjoying it again!

P.S. I'm currently reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman. It's good so far. I'm trying to devote "reading time" the same way I've been devoting "writing time," so that I don't feel like I'm taking away from my writing to sit down and read. It's working so far.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Love me some motivation

Look away from the Shiny

Also, I remembered that a while ago I said I would write a series of articles about something. Motivation, I think. But sadly, I honestly can't remember.

Here's your motivation, folks: SIT YOUR ASS DOWN AND WRITE BECAUSE IT'S BETTER TO DO THAT THAN FOLD THE LAUNDRY. See what I did there? I sacrificed the well being of your house for you so you can write without guilt. Because let's face it, all us writers are slobs in real life. And is it that much harder to pull a shirt out of a basket than the drawer?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Journal is finished!

Stayed home from work with a blazing headache today (you'd think I'd have enough asprin in me to dose a horse) but at least that gave me lots of time to finish my current bookbinding project. It's not that I needed that much time anyway, I was halfway finished sewing last night. This open spine method goes a lot quicker than the traditional method, probably because you don't have the drying time between several steps that you do in the other. Also, since this was a journal I didn't have to paint a cover, I just used a loud fabric instead. Sometimes I had to pull out a signature and resew it differently, but it worked out fairly well in the end. The only thing I couldn't figure out was how to go from one signature to the next. Here is a picture of the finished product!
The book block is very sturdy, which I'm proud of. When I first started they were quite loose, but got tighter the more books I made. If you look closely at the braids on either end, you can see the errant string loops between the signature. At the end of a signature (a folded group of pages) the string is inside, but it also has to start on the inside of the next signature, so I simply pushed the needle through a few millimeters away from the braid and stuck it back in the next one. It doesn't look very good, but I didn't feel like figuring it out this round since I had no idea how it would turn out to begin with.

This is partway through the sewing. Notice how I use the big paper clamp things, they really work wonders for keeping the book block together while you are sewing it. There's this loom thing you are supposed to make for traditional bookbinding and you can make one out of a chair, but I always just sewed "in hand" and used clips all over the block. This also lets you clamp the string down if you want to stop so it doesn't start to lose tension and unravel itself. It's sturdy to travel too, I could just throw it in my bag and go.

This is just a picture of the cover boards, but I wanted you to be able to see the pretty fabric.  I finally bought aerosol glue (I don't know I waited so long, it's like four bucks) and it is SO MUCH EASIER! Not to mention, I can immediately go to the next step, and I don't have to wait overnight for the cover to dry with weights on it to ensure the boards don't warp, since the cardboard doesn't absorb any moisture from the glue.
Behold, my finished journal! Like I said before, someday I will post instruction and step by step pictures. I'll do the traditional method first, even though this was easier, it was only easy because I went through the learning curve already. The sewing is much simpler in the traditional binding.

It was a bummer I didn't get to use my new chisel and trim the edges, but having to cut the cover boards before sewing the book blocks, they would have ended up way to big once I trimmed them. I'll probably make a copy of The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson next, so that will be my test for the chisel. Though maybe not that book, because if I fucked it up I'd be pissed. I guess I can just fold some scrap paper and give it a go first.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And this is where my OCD becomes painfully obvious

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I like to bind books. Typsetting, sewing the signatures, painting a cover and title onto fabric, the whole bit. I've made a couple, the first one's were pretty shitty but they've gotten much better since. I'd like to do a long post on how I do it, complete with pictures.

In any case, I'm trying something new. Open-spine binding. (I totally made that name up.) But instead of having the cover wrap around and have a board over the spine, there is NO spine, the front and back covers are separate, the sewing looks like a nice braid and you can see the folds of the signatures. Pretty cool, but I'm completely winging it. I saw a journal in the bookstore bound like this (super ugly journal though) and thought I'd give it a try. I'll be sure to post pictures when I'm done.

I'm making a journal, but it's more a notebook for my calendar and things to remember and my writing notes. I would have totally dropped forty dollars on one of the beautiful leather-bound journals in Barnes and Noble, but I really hate lines. I write too small so it's easier and more efficient for me to just use unlined paper. And here is where I run into the problem.

It seems like every time I start a new story I start a new method of keeping my notes together. A file on the computer, a notebook, loose pages in a folder, sticky notes on a posterboard... nothing seems to stick. (This is the OCD part. It really is bad. I have so many elaborate systems that I abandoned after a week.) The intention with this journal is to have all my various projects in one place. They'll get their own little section and I can flip between them easy as pie. That is, of course, as long as I keep using the journal and don't give up on it after a month.

But I super excited for several reasons about this book. One, the new way of binding, which if it turns out right will look really cool. Two, I bought a bunch of new tools over the weekend, a chisel for those goddamn "artistic edges" and aerosol glue for pasting the fabric to the cover boards. I have no idea why I haven't bought aerosol glue before this, it took about 30 secs to do 25 minutes of annoying, messy work, AND I could immediately move onto the next step instead of waiting for it to dry overnight. The chisel is to shave off about a millimeter to three around all the edges of the book block. When you fold them the outer edge gets all uneven, like some of the hardcovers you get in the store. Plus, the top and bottom can get a bit off just from little inconsistencies in the sewing. I don't know if I'll be able to do it for this book, because of the step order the covers will be attached. I'll have to figure something out with my vice.

Can't wait to show you the book. I should be done tonight. I started sewing last night with the plain heavy-duty thread I usually use, but since it's going to be showing I ripped it all out and grabbed some nice purple embroidery floss that matches the cover fabric, and I am going to use that instead.

One of these days I'll get links and instructions and a supply list together, in case anyone is interested in doing it themselves. (It's expensive to start out, but once you have all the neccessary tools it's super cheap to make an individual book. Plus, there are ways around steps if you don't feel like buying certain tools.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

So, are you a REAL writer?

One of the biggest pieces of advice given to new writers is to write every day. Authors stand behind this with a pike and shotgun (covering all their bases) and tell you if you don't write every day you're not a real writer.

I don't write every day. I know I'm only starting to get serious, but I'm a big fan of having breaks. Like a mental health day. During the week, yes. I try to write every day. And most of the time that happens. But during the weekends I barely get anything down.

My main goal for August NaNoWriMo was to write every day. I did really well the first week, until the weekend hit. Then I wanted to run around, work on my quilt, I watched Phil & co. brew a beer for the first time (which was really interesting and a learning experience), and I started a new book (binding-wise, not writing) and bought a whole pile of really cool tools. I think I wrote 100 words on Saturday...

But now it's Monday, and I'm ready to get back in the swing of writing. I'm refreshed from my break and excited to start the next chapter.

So what I'm trying to say is that it's okay if you don't write every single day. The new week will start with a fresh slate, and as long as you pick it back up again come Monday, you'll be fine. If you're anything like me, you'll have a better word count for taking a day or two off. It gives your subconscious a chance to work things out on it's own, and it lets you finally fold that pile of laundry that's been sitting in the basket for a month...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I got all of my daily writing done at lunch today. That just feels good. Especially because I didn't bring my computer with me because 1. I didn't feel like carrying it, and 2. it's supposed to be raining on the way home, but really just because I didn't feel like carrying it. But it's also good because I have my first quilting meeting (I'm making my first quilt!) and that will take up my night. Bummer I won't have my computer on the train home because now I want it, but oh well. Designated reading time. I know my word count drops if I don't keep up with my reading, so this is a good thing. Makes sense, creative people are usually creative in different ways, so feeding one aspect will help refresh another aspect. (ie, reading and quilting will be a good break from writing that will help in the long run, even if I would rather be writing at the time.)

I came across two quotes today that I liked, and one while working! (It came from one of our books!) The other was from the always awesome Advice to Writers.
Writing to any kind of deadline is difficult; writing to a self-imposed deadline is torture. - G. M. Stewart
I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork. PETER DE VRIES

Keep on writing, everyone! You'll be amazing how quickly writing a little bit every day can add up. (Now all I need to do is take my own advice!) So far I haven't heard from anyone in our cabin for Camp NaNoWriMo, but oh well. Other people have lives and can't check it ten times, like me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Lilith Saintcrow's awesome series on motivation and process that I have been reading religiously over and over. I don't know why, but they just get me moving. More than anything else. I print them out and stick them in each project folder. Sometimes it just helps to flip through them. Why? Because writing fucking sucks and I have no idea why I do it but it's like cocaine and I have to go back to it. Except it's awesome and doesn't kill people.
Process, Part 1
Environment, Process Part 2
Finishing Requires Finishing  **One of my favorites!
Finishing without hurting yourself
Recovering from finishing
Also, an article she mentions, by John Scalzi.

And an article from the Atlantic on YA, courtesy of Savannah Foley.

I can't wait to get home and continue writing/cleaning in alternating timechunks. I'm washing fabric for my very first quilt tonight! And writing Malevolent Soul and brainstorming Dreamless. It must be one of my hobbies to try out every writing process I come across, but hey, maybe one of these it will get me to finish something. I love that I was super interested in malevolent Soul, then hit a slug and didn't write for almost two weeks (eek) and now am super excited for it again! Yay!

And last but not least, because being a dick rocks.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back from vacation, and goal for August

Happy August! I am freshly returned from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where I spent time at a crazy-nice pool where people served you drinks and no one played Marco Polo, Dogfishhead Brewery, and a ridiculously nice house in a rich neighborhood that was like a foreign country, and zero time at the beach.

3 days, 27 beers, 500 dollars.
The guys had their sour tasting that they've been looking forward to for months. After months of searching out rare beers, they finally got to drink them. This would have been awesome except I really hate sours. Blegh. But split between four people, this actually amounts to not very much beer. The vacation was awesome except that we never made it to the beach and there was a power surge that knocked out the air conditioning and we didn't figure out how to fix it until the last day. (Just had to flip the breaker, go figure.) But I finally got to see Sucker Punch, which was awesome.

After five days of no reading and no writing, I'm really itching to get a workin'. (But of course now that I'm home all I can think about is cleaning my room.) So here's my plan: today I am going to take turns between writing and cleaning, to appease both sides. And for the month of August, I am going to NaNoWriMo it up!

I'm not going to follow the normal NaNoWriMo rules, because they are too extreme for me. I secretely have my own goals:
  1. Write every day
  2. Write 600 words a day
  3. Write 1000 words a day
I know getting 50k in a month is way too much for me, and 1000 in a day is probably too much. But I want to write SOMETHING every day. And by something I mean at least 100 words. Just enough to make sure I am thinking about it and making time every day. I need to get back in the swing of writing on the train, and I also want to start carving out time at night to write. If I only make the first goal, I'll still be happy. If I make the second goal, I'll be fucking amazed. Be my friend! I'm gmr0824 on the Camp NaNo site. I've never done a NaNo, so I'm still figuring out the site and specifics.

I'm also going to be working on two stories: Malevolent Soul, and Dreamless, which I just started brainstorming last week. Dreamless is my shameless magical-boarding-school knockoff. But I'm okay with that. The main writing will be on Malevolent Soul, but I think it will be nice to have a break every once in a while to work on something else.

Wish me luck! Time to write! (And time to clean...) Tomorrow, it's back to real life.

Oh yeah! I won a contest online! It was amazing. It involved me typing my name and e-mail. But I got a kickass set of hardcovers from Fantasy Cafe. The Relic Master series, by Catherinne Fisher. I highly recommend you check out the site. In addition to being a great review site, she holds lots of giveaways. Now don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of putting my name in the hat even when I'm not that interested in the books, but I'm actually really excited for these. Fisher is the author of Incarceron, which I wanted to read but never got around to it. Anyway, check out her blog, because it rocks.
Relic Master Series by Catherine Fisher
So excited! And they're HARDCOVERS!