Bits of Fun

Book Meme

Another survey borrowed from Jodie Llewellyn.

What are your top three book pet hates?

1. The virginity/hymen myth getting perpetuated in romance novels. It’s bad enough to keep telling the people reading them (many of them young women who may not have sexual experience yet – it’s certainly where I got plenty of my early sex ed from) that a woman’s first time should be painful, but the fact that these female authors don’t even seem aware of the basic anatomy of the situation just drives me up the wall. Spoiler: the hymen isn’t a couple of inches inside the vagina, and in almost all women, it’s not a barrier, but rather a membrane that already has perforations and has generally stretched plenty enough to accommodate invited appendages (or, y’know, tampons, for that matter). If it is a barrier, that’s an actual medical condition it generally requires surgery (not intercourse) to perforate it. The internet is full of debunkings for further reading, yet almost all romance authors still get this spectacularly wrong, thus perpetuating the misinformation to millions of girls and women each year.

2. First person present tense. It takes a *lot* to get me to stick with a book written that way.

3. When the climax and denouement are all crammed together into the last three pages of the book. (Looking at you, Mercedes Lackey). I have no problem with it taking a while to get there, I like backstory, I like world-building, I don’t mind tangents if they’re interesting — but once we get there, I want my investment to pay off.

Describe your perfect reading spot

This right here:


The beach at Corolla Light, NC. When the sun is just right and it’s not too blazingly hot, about 80-odd degrees, with a nice breeze off of the water. Of course, if it’s too hot outside (as it often is in July and August), then our house has the second-best place: a white chaise lounge on the top floor underneath a ceiling fan.

Tell us three book confessions

1. I’m a book hoarder. I have trouble getting rid of books even when I know damn good and well I’m not going to read them again. (Though most things on my shelves I have re-read at least once).

2. I tend not to like “literary fiction”. I’m definitely a genre girl. Things that are too real, too present bore me.

3. Nonfiction puts me to sleep. I don’t know why. I suspect it has something to do with being mildly narcoleptic. Even when I’m super-interested in the topic, like Roman legions or Tudor fashion or what have you, I can rarely get through many pages before I nod off. (This occasionally makes research really difficult, and gave me no end of trouble during college and grad school).

When was the last time you cried during a book?

A couple of days ago, while reading Son of the Shadows by Julliet Marillier. There’s a character death that hit me super hard. But I’m a sentimental wretch; I cry at everything.

 How many books are on your bedside table?

Three at the moment. Two books on my bed (because I have a queen-sized mattress and sleep alone except for the cat, so really the other half of the bed is there for storage). And then there are eleven on the shelf above my radiator, right next to the bed — they’re divided into “things I just read and haven’t re-shelved yet” and “things I’m going to read next in more or less the order I might read them”.

 What is your favourite snack to eat while you’re reading?

Goldfish crackers. But that’s my favorite snack for anything.

 Name three books you would recommend to everyone

1. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

2. The Orphan’s Tales, by Catherynne Valente

3. Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman

 Show us a picture of your favourite bookshelf on your bookcase

Couldn’t pick just one, so you’re getting three:

Harry Potter shelf of my Favorites case (all 7 books, all the supplementary books, my con journal, con programs, various bits of memoribilia, and also a couple of swords)


medieval shelft of my history bookcase (complete with knights to guard it)
medieval shelf of my history bookcase (complete with knights to guard it)

one of my overflowing romance shelves (haters to the left)
Write how much books mean to you in just three words

Friends. Fantasy. Felicity.


New Podcast Recommendation

The British History Podcast

I’m only about twenty episodes in, but I’m really enjoying this one so far. For one thing, the depth of the detail on Roman Britain is wonderful.


Once more unto the revisions…

Time to re-attack the manuscript, armed with a shiny new outline and a compressed timeframe. The goal this go-around is to heighten the danger and sense of threat that the characters are in and to give the plot more driving energy. To that end, I’m changing the end goal a bit to something more… obvious? I’m not sure that’s the right way to put it, but it’s a simpler mark to hit. Less esoteric. Less ambiguous. And doing that is allowing me to streamline the challenges the characters will face along the way.

The first thing I’ve done is just to hack out the chapters that are quite clearly not going to survive into the next incarnation of the manuscript. Most of these are things rendered irrelevant or redundant by the changes I’ve made to the outline, or because I’ve compressed the timeframe from about 16 months into about 6.

books089 (wyns_icons)Starting Word Count: 139,808 (admittedly on the chunky side, though not truly egregious considering the genre)

Word Count after the Cut: 110,065

Nearly 30k gone in a mere half an hour’s work! There will be more to cut out, of course — this was just the blunt amputation of entire chapters. Next I’ll be going in with a scalpel to trim out partial chapters and smaller moments that won’t work now and to adjust all the continuity issues. But, there will also be quite a bit of new material to add in. So we’ll see where the new draft ends up, numbers-wise. If it’s a bit more slender than the last draft, that certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing.

I am going to have to have a few of what Connor and I are calling “Come to Proserpina” moments about some bits of the plot and some scenes that I really love. During the amputation process, I definitely saw smaller things that’re going to have to go. I just have to remember — taking it out of this draft doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. If I have to get rid of a conversation I really love, I can still find a way to put in something elsewhere that gets at the same emotions and the same connections between characters. If I have to kill off a set piece that’s fun but not really plot-advancing, maybe I can bring it back in another books. I’ve never liked the phrase “kill your darlings” — that’s always seemed rather melodramatic and self-important, and though I know we writers, as a breed, are prone to such things (myself not least among them — I’m an actress, too, after all), it’s never just seemed accurate. It’s not killing them. It’s more like putting toys back on the shelf that I don’t need right now — but they’ll be there, waiting for me, later, to be used or re-shaped or re-imagined.