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.

Bits of Fun

Writing Habits Questionnaire

Saw this over at Jodie Llewellyn’s blog and, well, I’ve always been a sucker for a good survey, so here goes!

1. Typed or Handwritten?

Mostly typed these days, though it was not always so. Between the ages of 11 and 18 I filled about two dozen five-subject notebooks with reams upon reams of handwritten stories (a lot of Star Wars fanfic, a lot for various Broadway musicals, but a lot of original stuff, too). At first it was because I didn’t have a computer of my own (oh, the days of sharing time on the family desktop), plus it was, well, easier to sneak writing in during classes, since it just looked like I was taking notes. I know; I was terrible. My punishment is that I never learned how to calculate terminal velocity. (At least writing fanfic during class kept my narcoleptic self awake).

2. Cursive or Printed?

Hybrid. Sort of a connected print, I guess? Perhaps because I used to handwrite so much, my handwriting is, er, pretty distinctive. Here, I’ll just show you…


Yeah. It’s been described many times by various unconnected people as “beautiful, but completely illegible”. I can read it. (Most of the time). And there are patterns to its oddities. Internal vowels tend to disappear. I forget to dot ‘i’s — or else I will dot an ‘i’ that got omitted in the word itself (this happens in my signature all the time). Anything with a lower loop is going to seriously encroach upon the line beneath it. I show a definite right-leaning slant. I have a really strange tendency to add serifs to capital letters. The words “if” and “it” often morph into single characters, as has “ng”. And any word with more than one loopy or bumpy letter in a row is just pretty well doomed to turn into a helpless squiggle (another problem with my signature).

All of which is why if I actually need to handwrite for someone else’s eyes, I tend to use block letters.

3. Show us your favourite pen.


Blue ink Pilot G-2s all the way, baby. Since, like, ever.

4. Where do you like to write?

The beach. Not literally on the beach, sand not being particularly conducive to laptops, but my parents have a house on the Outer Banks, and it’s pretty much my favorite place in the world. I either write upstairs, at a lovely big table, or out on the deck. Both are comfy, conducive to spreading out any reference material I need, and within easy distance of the snack cabinets and drinks cooler.

Unfortunately, with that option only open to me about two weeks out of the year, I spend most of my time writing at the card table that currently serves as the centerpiece of my living room. I have a desk. But it’s currently in a room I don’t like being in as it’s mostly used for storage, so… yeah, lack of functionality there. I also sort of feel like it’s worn out its styling for me.

Here’s my desk at my day-job office. I just switched to this one from something much larger and bulkier, and I quite like this — something like it would be okay for home, though I’d really love if it could be something convertible to a standing desk.


5. Who are your five favorite authors in terms of authorial style?

Neil Gaiman, Catherynne Valente, Jacqueline Carey, Julia Quinn, Preston&Child (counts as one). A couple of those do, I know, trend towards somewhat effusive prose and overblown rhetoric, but, well, so do I.

6. What are you your three favourite books on writing?

Honestly? I haven’t read many. None that I could tell you the authors of off the top of my head. I know I had a couple of really excellent screenplay writing guides back in undergrad, but screenwriting is a different beast. The pattern and form is everything; originality is of less value. Mostly I figure when it comes to novels, you get better at writing by writing and by reading a lot of excellent voices (see above). Not through instructional guides.

7. Have you ever competed in NaNoWriMo?

Many times! Off and on since 2002. I think the years I missed were when I was directing a play, when I was writing a Master’s thesis, and… I can’t remember the third, but I feel like there was one. And I’ve done several Camp Nanos, too, often to help round out projects I started during Nano proper.

8. Have you ever won NaNoWriMo?

Several of those many times. Every time in the last few years, since I’ve been out of school and have been able to get really serious about my output.

9. Have you ever had anything published?

Fiction? Working on it. 😉 Nonfiction – a couple of articles and papers in my day-job field, along with 18 teacher’s guides which my company has self-published.

10. What projects are you working on now?

Working on the second book of Aven, since we’re currently subbing Book 1 to publishers, so that if, y’know, all goes well, I’ve got a head start on myself. Also working on The Antares Project, a steampunk novel (in case all doesn’t go well with the first project; I’m a firm believer in always having another project to fall back on).

11. What is your soundtrack to writing?

Documentaries. I actually have another post in the pipeline about this, but I’m someone who definitely needs background noise. Sometimes special-made playlists will do the trick — I tend to make new ones for new projects, characters, themes, etc — but often, I turn to Planet Earth, The History of Britain, and others of that ilk. I like them because I can tune them out so readily, but when I need a brain break, I can tune back in and learn something.

12. Do you have a writing pump-up song?

The second half of this:

Here I go and there’s no turning back
My great adventure has begun

I may be small but I have giant plans
To shine as brightly as the sun
I will blaze until I find my time and place
I will be fearless
Surrendering modesty and grace
I will not disappear without a trace
I’ll shout and start a riot
Be anything but quiet