State of the Book

State of the thing – September 2017

Well, time flies when you’re having fun.

I did a little bit of traveling, and found that summer break does not mean vast amounts of time to spend on novel-revision. I mean I should have known, that’s what always happens.

I found a first reader for novel one. I delivered the thing to her on paper, all printed out, at the end of August but haven’t heard back yet.

By now novel two really is almost revised. I am currently doing the type-in of all the changes that I made to the paper copy. Of course I estimated that I could finish that this week. Since I’m now on page 41 with only three more days to go I might have to adjust my estimate. Maybe.

Book three is laying around doing nothing. I think I might be able to finally write the end after finishing this editing round on novel two.

Next steps will be: read through novel one aloud and then find some more beta readers, finish type-in of novel two, and then read through it again, and then finish rough draft of novel three.

Working on three novels at once does have advantages. I can make sure that book one doesn’t have anything in it that contradicts novel three but it sure feels like I’m not really making progress.

Onwards and upwards I say.

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State of the Book

State of the thing May 2017

So it’s slow going but when is it not?

The first in the „Magically Real“ trilogy is exactly in the same place as last December, only I read through it again, and I still like it, which is good. I will have to check if I can leave the song lyrics in there because of copyright issues, if not I will have to find a way to evoke the same kind of feelings with my own words instead. Aprt from checking that out my next step will be to put the novel through grammerly and to read it aloud to myself.

The second book is almost revised. Which sounds better than it is. I have started to become very weary of the word „almost“. As my husband says, „Almost done usually means about fifty percent.“ I am at the point of revision where I have a plan what I want to change and how, so that the actual cutting will be not too painful. So the next step for that will be to actually cut the manuscript and put the new things in that I think were missing and then to go through it again to look at it as a whole.

And the third book is what I’m activiely working on at the moment. I had hoped to finish the rough draft by the end of April but I still have about 5,000 to 7,000 more words to write on that. There was a big music project demanding my time and energy at the beginning of May, and that meant I didn’t write anything for two weeks. Which was okay, and which I had planned for in advance. But afterwards I didn’t quite get back to writing, and that has been rather frustrating. So that will be the next thing I tackle, finishing that first draft.

I never quite managed to do a complete outline for that book. Which is a big mistake, and I believe that’s the reason why writing this takes so long. When I have no idea what to write next I have a lot of days when I open the document, stare at it for ten minutes or so, and then I close the document again, and that’s that for the day. I always tell myself that I’ll think about the story for the rest of the day and write some at night but I never do.

But.

I did plan the next few scenes out, this time with pen on paper, and so I hope that I’ll be writing them over the course of next week, and then that rough draft will be done. I’ll implement the revisions to book two over the rest of the month, then have a quick look at book number one, and then spend July working on revising book three. I hope. I will also travel for a week in June, so I’m not quite sure how productive I’ll be then. For revision I work with a ton of worksheets and the printed out manuscript, and I don’t really want to lug that around for a week.

Maybe I should use that week to brainstorm ideas for the book after that. I’m thinking of starting a new series. That would be cool.

The new thing around the corner always feels more exciting than the old thing you’ve been working on for quite some time, doesn’t it?

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buy less books challenge

The lure of the free ebook

I made the bad mistake of subscribing to the BookBub newsletter a couple of weeks ago. Or maybe it wasn’t a mistake. It’s just that now I’m getting this newsletter once a day with books recommended to me that I will probably like, and all of these books are either free or very, very cheap. Like the four book box set of cozy mysteries I bought last month that was only 99 Cents.

So my ereader is bulging at the seams, I have more books I want to read than ever and I don’t quite know what to do.

I only get free ebooks if I’m very sure I will enjoy them because otherwise they just sit there and I feel guilty about them and they’re no fun. But I already had like 120 books on my to-be-read pile beforehand and wasn’t making any real progress with that because I kept buying new books.

And I really like the books I got, and I also like getting my books cheap when I can because buying all these books does cost quite a bit of money.

So I’m in a bit of a conundrum here. Unsubscribing from the newsletter would be good for me because then my pile of unread books might get smaller eventually. But then through the newsletter I keep finding authors that I love and books that I love for cheap.

I’m thinking there is only one course of action possible:

I will stop reading anything on the internet and from now on read only books. No blogs, no instagram, no twitter, no forums, no magazines. Books only. At a rate of maybe one book every two days.

Let me see, that would be between five and eight hours per fiction book, that’s about 400 hours for fiction, and about 300 hours for non-fiction, that’s 700 hours divided over the course of the next year, that’s completely doable.

I only need to stop buying books and read for two hours a day, and then I’ll have read every single books I own. Piece of cake…

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Books I read

Books I read In February

It seems that February was not quite as good a reading month as January. Might be because it was shorter. Also I had a week off at the beginning of January which means more reading time, and a weekend of houseguests and rehearsals in February which definitely makes for less reading time.

Non-Fiction:

  1. Peter Bregman: Four Seconds. All the Time You Need to Replace Counter-Productive Habits with Ones That Really Work*
  2. Chris Fox: 5,000 Words per Hour* (This book is also available for free when you join Chris Fox’ mailing list.)
  3. Chris Fox: Lifelong Writing Habit*
  4. Steven Pressfield: Turning Pro*

Fiction:

  1. Kim Harrison: The Operator*
  2. Lilith Saintcrow: The Iron Wyrm Affair*
  3. Lilith Saintcrow: The Red Plague Affair*
  4. Lilith Saintcrow: The Ripper Affair*
  5. Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy: Him*

So not a lot of books, and most of the non-fiction ones pretty slim too.

As always they were all excellent, otherwise I wouldn’t have finished them. From the non-fiction „Four Seconds“ really stood out to me. I do read a lot of self-help and productivity books. They always make me feel better and productive even if I don’t change anything about my life because of them.

This one had a plethora of helpful tips, every one started with a story. And at the end of each chapter there was a little box where the point of the chapter was helpfully explained in a few sentences. Very neat.

The four seconds refers to the time it takes to breathe in and out. That’s all it takes to get yourself to think before acting, to not do the things that comes instictively every time. I’m sure I will be rereading this at some point, and I found that it has already given me a way to handle some sorts of awkward social situations better.

And that’s what the book focuses on, how to handle yourself and other people and how to as it says in the title „replace counter-productive habits“ of which most of us have one or two.

As for the fiction you can clearly see that I was really liking the Lilith Saintcrow books. It is a series set in an alternate Victorian London, and it is steampunk. The main characters, Emma Bannon and Archibarld Clare, are a sorceress (there is institutionalized magic in this world) and a „mentath“, someone who is highly logical and analytical, even more so than a mere genius.

Clare is clearly inspired by Sherlock Holmes but manages to be completely different at the same time. The two of them are thrown together to investigate some strange happenings and murders. All three of the books are highly enjoyable. The world is marvelously built, very well done. And I espcially enjoyed the rather complex relationships between the characters. I had expected the two of the main characters to fall in love with each other, of course, but things were definitely more complex than that.

I really hope that there will be another book in the series. There is one connected to it, „The Damnation Affair“. I’m only a few pages in but so far it looks like it not only has a completely different setting, there have been completely different characters as well, even though it is set the same universe.

So much fun.

What did you read last month? Anything you think I might enjoy?

 

* all links are affiliate links

 

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Books I read

Books I read in January

Let’s just pretend that I actually finished writing the posts about which book I read in the motnsh between May and now as well, okay?

I was somewhat dissatisfied with the format. I’m thinking for real book reviews I should put more into it but just the title and if I liked said book. But then I thought, „How long do I want this to get?“ and „Nobody will want to read the epic 3,000 word posts.”

So I’m trying something new.

I will be making a list of all the books I read, and then I’ll talk about one or two fiction and non-fiction that I particularly liked.

And I will try to actually write these once a month.

Non-Fiction:

  1. Rachel Hoffmann: Unf*ck Your Habitat*
  2. Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck*
  3. Joanna Penn: Successful Self-Publishing*
  4. Joanna Penn: The Successful Author Mindset*
  5. Michelle McGagh: The No-Spend Year*

Fiction:

  1. S.K. Dunstall: Confluence*
  2. Ilona Andrews: Magic Steals (novella)*
  3. J.F.Penn: London Crime Thriller Trilogy*
  4. J.F.Penn: Day of the Vikings*
  5. Arthur Slade: Amber Fang. The Hunted*
  6. Seanan Mc Guire: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day*

Now first of all all of these books were excellent. There was none that I wouldn’t gladly reread. And no, I have no idea why I started the year with two books with swearing in the title.

You can see that I was on a real Joanna Penn kick, especially when you know that Joanna Penn and J.F. Penn are the same person.

I found her fabulous podcast through Rachael Herron’s equally fabulous podcast and will now be making my way through all of her books one after the other. Rachel Hofmann wrote a book on how to get a grip on your housework. Not only is it an extension of her blog with the same name, there are also most helpful tips in there. I’m not quite sure why I enjoy reading that kind of book so much but since it’s a rather harmless quirk I keep on buying and reading them.

I think „The No-Spend Year“ will be the one that will stay with me the most. In addition to my love of books about organizing, productivity and how to get a grip on housework I also adore reading about minimalism. Not that I’m planning of becoming a minimalist myself. While I am in the middle of decluttering I have too much stuff that I absolutely love and don’t want to part with.

And apart from buying too many books I’m not all that much about shopping for fun anyways.

But going so radical as McGagh who set herself a challenge for one year to only pay necessary bills, buy food and very basic toiletries (she really regretted not having made moisturizer a basic necessity after a rather short time), that was mindblowing to read. Very interesting. And like many she found the experience ultimately made her life richer for it which is contrary to what one would think.

In the past I had also read Mark Boyle’s book „The Moneyless Man“. Also very enlightening. Not that I want to live that way, again, but still. Big recommendation.

But then again I can heartily recommend any of the non-fiction books I read.

 

Now with the fiction, again, all of them were very, very good. But then if I don’t like a book I will mostly just not finish it.

As for the best I’d say that’s a tie between „Confluence“ which is the third in the Linesmen series and the stand-alone ghost story novella by McGuire „Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day“.

„Confluence“ continues the story of the two books before, of course. It is science fiction, we’re in a big universe full of planets where humans live, and they find an alien ship that uses „line technology“ to travel between the stars. Also for all kinds of technical things. The first book started with a linesman, one of the people who can control that technology, who is rather unusual. And then they find yet another ship and things get interesting. Now in the third book we’re in the middle of a conflict between different factions, alliances of planets, and the people we started to care about in the two books before end up right in the middle, of course.

The book is told from different character’s perspectives which this time threw me a bit but in the books before I had rather liked that way of telling. Anyways I’m eagerly wating for a fourth one. (I hope there will be one but I have no idea.)

Seanan McGuire now is one of the authors where it’s probably safe to read everything by her. Though I have to say that I have shied away fom the zombie novels so far, I’m not sure I want to read about zombies. But I’ve read everything October Daye I could get my hands on.

Now I don’t usually read ghost stories (though I don’t really have a reason, I just don’t) but this one was excellent. And the concept was really intriguing. The main character ist a ghost. Ghosts are people who died before their time, and they can stay on earth until their time is up. The interesting thing on top of that is that for them time doesn’t need to be linear. So they can give and take time from the living.

This particular ghost thinks she has to earn her time on earth by helping people. And then there is great big danger to all the ghosts, and she needs to jump right into the middle of that. Of course.

Very satisfying and entertaining read.

Oh, and I also wanted to add that „Amber Fang“ was extremely enjoyable and entertaining to read. I really hop Arthur Slade will write the next in the series soon.

So, what are you reading? Any tips for what I should look at?

* all links are affiliate links

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State of the Book

State of the Thing December 2016

I’m thinking I should post more often here, and I hope that I actually will. Apart from my bad book reviews (I am almost finished writing „what I read in December“ but I will have to wait until the end of December to finish it, of course) I was thinking you might be interested in how my writing is doing. Since this is my writing blog.

Now I won’t pester you with long accounts of my struggle to work on my writing. Yes, I do tend to procrastinate, yes, my life is busy enough without trying to cram creative work in there but I don’t want to write a blog about my excuses for not writing.

Currently I am working on my contemporary fantasy series. I am a little reluctant to tell you all about the premise and story yet because I feel like I should have it reasonably close to finished before doing that. I’m afraid I might jinx it.

I can tell you that the series is called „Magically Real“ for now, the protagonist is a female jazz pianist, and the thing has witches, vampires, magic, and a lot of music in it.

So far I have three books in various stages. The first one is in revised first draft, and I’m hoping to revise that once again soon. The second is in rough draft, and I’m planning to start revising that starting in January, and the third one is what I am planning right now.

I am really bad at planning stories, I used to always just start writing but then I found that that makes the process of revision much harder, and so I have become a convert to the planning. Only I still need more practice doing that.

I would really want to have all three ready for publication some time next year, I’ll keep you posted about progress.

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buy less books challenge

And then I decided to not buy books – yet again

Now I can't really get excited about this because I've tried it at least three times before. And failed.

But the thing is that a) I really need to curb my spending and b) I just sorted all the ebooks on my Kindle and it turns out I have 101 unread books on there, and then I looked at my shelf of books yet to read (and the piles around the house) and there are even more.

Now I'm thinking that every single one of these books was one that I really, really wanted to read right now at one point. There are also a few that I bought because they were really cheap but I don't do that anymore.

So. About 120 to 130 books I still haven't read around the house. (This would be the point where I think about a friend who once had to answer a survey about the books she had and had read, and they had to make up a new category for her because she had more than a hundred books at home. Yeah, me too.)

Last year I read 137 books. That is a lot for me, more than the years before. Which means that the books I have hanging around should last me for another year or so.

But then there are all those really exciting and shiny new books out there. The ones I really need to read right this instant.

I've tried it before. I told myself I could buy the books I had already on preorder like new books in series I already love and – and this is very important – nothing else!

Next thing I discovered the “Modern Witch”-series by Deborah Geary, got hooked and there went that.

But this time I'm adamant. I even wrote the rule on the “books I bought in October” page in my bullet journal. It says:

New Rule: pre-ordered books are alright, new books in series I have already started reading are alright, everything else won't be bought, there are still 120 books in the house.

Of course there are many more books in the house than 120 books in the house, these are just the ones I haven't read yet.

Underneath that rule it says,

  • “The Apocalypse Codex” 5.17€ (allowed because I'm reading “The Fuller Memorandum” right now) and then
  • “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” 9.49€

Now I heard about that one on a podcast I listen to. I'm all about self-improvement and productivity (which is a bit funny if you know me in person), and I decided that I really, really needed this book. Right now.

And I bought it even if it was against the rule I had made the day before, and I started reading it right away, and now it's all about things that aren't really relevant to me, and not looking as vitally important as it did a day ago. Also it seems I might not get rich right away after all.

But then I read the new posts on the bullet journal blog, and started thinking about handwriting, and how to improve it because that's something I've been interested in for a while, and I found this book by Rosemary Sassoon and all of a sudden I really needed that book to improve my handwriting this instant.

I am pretty proud of myself. Because despite having that urge, and feeling like I had a bad day, and needing a pick-me up,and even though it was crystal clear I needed that book – I didn't buy it. I probably will – at some point in the future. I like her writing, the book sounds marvelous, But I decided to be sensible for once and first finish reading all the other books beforehand.

Notably her other book “Handwriting of the 20th century” that's right here on my iPad. I really like it but I started reading it in 2012 and have yet to finish it. One reason for this is that with all the illustrations it's uncomfortable to read on the Kindle,and I rarely read on the iPad. But that's kind of an excuse. I still have to read 74% of that.

Yes, I was very, very sure that I would practice and improve my handwriting this afternoon but likewise I thought that buying the third “Larn how to draw”-book would make a significant difference. (Spoiler: It doesn't if your life is full to the brim, and other things are more important than learning how to draw.)

So we'll see how this goes. I am trying to not buy (many) books again.

I really need the money.

I am actually haunted by that PUB,

I am giving myself permission to not read some of the books on that pile if I happen to not like them, though.

And I will certainly buy every book in the “Laundry Files”-series for sure. Also some wicked part of me wants me to admit that downloading samples of “The Iron Wyrm Affair” and “Discount Armaggeddon” really counts as having already started reading two new series.

But it really doesn't.

And I really need to remind myself that there are so many, many awesome books on that PUB.

As I said I'll let you know how this goes.

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