This Is a Good Book Thursday: June 28, 2018 except now it’s August 2

Note: For some reason, I did not schedule this on the right day.  Happy belated, George.  And now I must go write about dogs . . . .

If you haven’t read George Booth’s cartoons, you are missing out.  I love Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.  I love Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County,  But George Booth is the cartoonist who really knows my life.  For example . . . Continue reading

The Minimalist Office

Over the years I’ve posted pictures of my office, usually to the horror and amusement of everyone, especially Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Noted Neat Freak, who always replies by posting pictures of her lavish office which is professional and spotless.  If you haven’t see the pictures ( 2005 here, 2007 here, 2016 here) my office always looks like Staples threw up in it.  But my entire cottage has now reached critical mass, so I’m rethinking everything, including whether I even need an office (“Why do we even HAVE this lever?”). 

I’ve decided I don’t. Continue reading

It’s a Good Day to Write

It’s truly autumn here now.  Still not coat weather, but lovely and brisk.  Leaves all over the place.  And today it’s overcast and blowsy, a day made for curling up in blankets with hot chocolate and dogs and making stuff up about demons and humans and other animals  

I’m never tempted by sunny days, probably because I’ve spent my entire life fighting allergies and asthma–breathing, it’s a good thing–but when the weather turns in spring or fall, I come alive.  There’s just so much promise in the air in spring, so much last-ditch energy in autumn when everything’s trying to get its act together for winter.  Winter here is beautiful and thanks to global warming, not nearly as cold as it used to be.  Summer is amazing, but spring and autumn are the times when things move.  

Which makes me think of story structure.  (Everything makes me think of story structure.) Continue reading

A Stagger Down Memory Lane

I read a lot of my books this week, starting with the first one published.  Somebody had said once that she read her own books when she got stuck on a story (I’m not stuck), and I thought, “Well, why not?”  It was a lot like looking through an old photo album, the writing equivalent of “Look how thin I was in 1993!” but the big takeaway was that the good ones were pretty good although not as good as I remembered, and the bad ones weren’t that bad at all.  Also, I skim my sex scenes when I read, so obviously those weren’t working, at least for me now.  Like any other memory journey, though, it ended up being an analysis of loss and gain. Continue reading

I Completely Understand Pratchett’s Bulldozer

Terry Pratchett wanted his unpublished manuscript partials destroyed, so his daughter did it with a bulldozer.

Good for her.

There’s a reason writers don’t want their unpublished stuff published after death, and it’s the same reason they didn’t want it published during life: it’s bad.  Even if it’s an early draft that could have turned into something good, it’s still bad.  And no writer wants her or his last publication to be bad, or even mediocre, especially if he or she already knows it’s bad or mediocre.  Destroying unpublished manuscripts is a good thing; just ask Harper Lee.   Continue reading

Susan Elizabeth Phillips Is a Goddess

Have I ever mentioned how important it is to have good writing friends?

I was working on the latest draft of Nita this morning (you all haven’t seen this one), thinking “This will never work,” and SEP e-mailed me about something, and I told her that I was worried because my heroine was drunk in the first scene, and she wrote back “Drunk heroines are fantastic! They get in all kinds of trouble that way. And you know how much I love heroines in trouble. . . . I swear to God I’m going to get on a plane and pull that frickin’ next book out of your head! Be afraid.”

So I sent her the first scene to show her I was writing and got this back:
Continue reading

The Rewrite Trap

Somebody once said that no books are ever finished, they’re just abandoned, and I have found that to be so true. I just get to the point where the book is dead in my brain, I’ve worked on it for too long, and even though I know it’s flawed, that I should keep trying to improve it, I just can’t any more. That’s when it goes to Jen, and she sends me a brilliant editing letter, and I fix everything she tells me is wrong, and it goes to copy edit, and I go through the copy edit–still doing rewrites on small things–and then it’s gone forever set in stone, or at least in paper and digital ink.

Then I found Laura Miller’s article in Slate about Karen Hall rewriting a book she’d published twenty years before. Continue reading

The Office, Week Four: Joy and Need

Note: This is a draft, the post was never finished and yet SOMEHOW I scheduled it to post. I’ll get the progress photo up shortly. ARGH.

One great thing about getting everything out of a space so you can paint the floor is that when you go to put things back in, you can get rid of a lot of stuff. It’s one part Marie Kondo’s “What gives me joy?” and one part Julie Morgenstern’s “What do I need?”
Continue reading

The Office: Week Three

My big move this week was to clear the floor at the end of the office, the part in front of the couch and the back door, and begin painting there. Except for some reason, I didn’t check the can of Rustoleum White that I picked up. It didn’t go very far and when I finally put my glasses on, I saw that I’d found the only can of boat paint in the house. It looks just like the latex I’d bought except there a very small boat on the label. The good news is, that stuff’ll last. The bad news is, it’s oil based so I can’t put latex over it without a lot of prep. So I ordered four more cans of the stuff (not cheap) and it’s coming on Friday. It takes forever to dry, so I’ll be moving into the front of the house while the floors back here cure. And it has to be done this weekend before the temps get so low again that it’s not above 50 degrees on the back porch.

In other words, I made progress but . . .