The Laundry Basket Novel

Posted on March 12th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: Writing

Anyone who has been following me for a little while has probably heard/read me make mention of “the laundry basket novel.” It’s even referenced obliquely in the dedication of Saving the Dragon when I promise my mother “no more laundry baskets.” But what was the laundry basket novel?

The laundry basket novel was an epic fantasy titled “The Magic Book.” It was my first attempt at writing a full novel-length work, and I was in 8th or 9th grade when I started it. The entire thing was written on a typewriter that I was so excited to get for Christmas. Sure, home computers were definitely a thing by then, and my family had one, but I’ve always been an old soul. Typewriters appealed to me on a visceral level. To this day, I prefer the clackitiest keyboard I can get for writing. (Yes, I know clackitiest isn’t a word.)

To be clear, I was maybe 13 and had no idea what I was doing. But I had read and re-read Holly Lisle’s writing articles. I had my map. I had my rules for my magic system. I had encyclopedic articles about all the major political bodies and cultures in my world. I had the beginnings of a fantasy language. I had everything, and it was mostly hand-written on crinkled pieces of paper all hodge-podged together in a laundry basket.

Let’s face it, 13-year-old me was no more organized than 31-year-old me.

My mother, in her defense, had absolutely no idea the labour that went into all that paper. She had no idea that barely contain mass of scribbles was my entire world-bible and what I estimate now to have been roughly 25K typewriter written words. What she saw was a laundry basket being used in place of a waste basket and she <whimper /> threw it all away.

I cannot begin to express the heartache and tears when I discovered it was all gone. All of it, except for a tiny percentage of the manuscript that had been copied (by re-typing it!) to the computer and saved to a floppy disk. To this day I want to cry if I think about it too hard for too long.

Over the years I’ve re-written a lot of The Magic Book. Several times, in fact. Adeirea is a much different world now from the one I envisioned almost 20 years ago. The characters are older, more mature. The overall tone is different. I won’t say that I really know what I’m doing at this point, but I do feel that I am more the writer today to actually tell the story my younger self first conceived of.

The legacy of The Magic Book is that it taught me how to do the business of writing. It taught me not to get bogged down in revisions and edits before the first draft is complete (although I admit, I still struggle with this lesson). It taught me the importance of back-ups. Saving the Dragon then went on to teach me about LABELING those back-ups appropriately. It taught me what it takes to build a world that big. And so many other things.

I do plan to publish The Magic Book (and hopefully its sequel) one day. I don’t know when that day will be. There’s still a lot of Adeirea I need to rediscover. And there’s still some growing I need to do as a writer before I can really tell Michele and Jennifer’s stories the way I feel they deserve to be told.

In the meantime… no more laundry baskets.

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February 2021 Update

Posted on February 26th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: News, Writing

Let’s get non-writing updates out of the way first. We’ve been at a bit of a stand-still with the house reno just because it’s so. freaking. cold. Matt did get the carpet ripped out of the office and we slapped some paint on the walls, so it’s usable. With any luck, I’ll be including some photos in my March Update.

Here are the milestones I accomplished in February:

  • I re-released an updated version of Saving the Dragon. More details on that can be found here.
  • I also got involved with a fast-approaching anthology project. I wrote a whole post about that. You can find the pre-order here.
  • The first revision for Courting the Dragon is done. I am currently waiting on beta reader feedback.
  • I wrote an unusual amount of short fiction.

A big area of focus for me this past month has been figuring out what I want to do with the blog. As of now, I have a tentative content schedule planned for the next few months that will have me posting once a week on Mondays. I’m thinking of adding Fridays to the rotation.

Along with the blog content, I’m working to revive my stalled attempt at a YouTube channel. I recently posted a review of The Fires of Treason by Michele Quirke to the blog (I filmed a video, but due to technical difficulties have not been able to finish editing it). My goal is to keep that up as much as possible; one review per month. I will be reviewing indie/small press books only for the foreseeable future. Even if I cannot get a video out for some reason there will be one book review blog post each month.

I’ve started doing some preliminary writing for book 3. Mostly so far I just have notes about things I want to include and a brief sketch of the overall plot. It’s definitely a different sort of story than CtD, and I’m excited about telling it. I don’t currently have any sort of timeline in mind as to when it will be released.

That’s it for February!

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January 2021 Updates

Posted on January 17th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: News, Website Updates, Writing

Where do I even begin? 2020 was a crazy year for me in more ways than one, and not just the obvious. You would think being largely trapped at home I would have had plenty of time to get some writing done, right? Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

So let’s just hit the highlights. Last year in August I married the love of my life.

Matt and I at our wedding

Matt and I at our wedding

Before that we adopted a kitten. Her name is Zoe and she’s spoiled rotten. She loves her big brother Mayhem.

Zoe and Mayhem

Zoe and Mayhem

I went back to school for my bachelors. That’s been a trip. I may have a post about that in the future if anyone is interested.

And finally, we sold our house (finally closed this month) and moved into my childhood home. The first thing we did upon moving in was replace the flooring. A lot of flooring. We still have the room that will be my office to go. I hope to be uploading some pictures of my sweet new office set-up by the end of the first quarter. In the meantime I am doing my writing and my normal day job sitting at a desk crammed in the bedroom. Since I sometimes start work super early in the morning my poor husband has learned so sleep with me typing literally three feet away. The things we do for love, right?

But Sara, what about your writing? Are we ever going to get that long-promised sequel to Saving the Dragon?

Yes, my friends. I have finally had a breakthrough and am once again making good progress. I’ve been stuck in this sort of in-between state where I’m not really revising but also not really writing the first draft anymore and it has been hell. At this point I am writing the “first draft” of the remaining scenes that are needed to complete the ending and go back and fill in some things I now know I need back at the beginning. Once that is complete I have a list of revisions I know I need to make to the first 2/3s based on some serious character changes. After that I can go into a full, normal revision pass and work on cleaning it up before getting it to some beta readers. I am optimistic about getting the draft completed sometime in the first quarter. Be on the look-out for a new release date announcement.

In other news, I’ve started working on an overhaul of the website. I know that doesn’t seem like a productive thing to be doing in light of the unfinished writing I have, but hear me out. In addition to being a part of my platform as an author, my website also serves a more practical purpose. It gives me a real-world project to experiment with for skills that apply to my day job, the thing that still pays the bills (because let’s face it, writing ain’t paying no bills right now). So the website re-write has been an on-and-off work in progress for a while. I’m playing with a framework I have some experience with, but have never built a site from scratch with before. I have to say it’s been quite fun (and frustrating). I hope y’all like the finished product. If I’m lucky I might be able to coordinate the launch of the new website with the release of Courting the Dragon.

I think that’s pretty much it for this update. As part of my plan to get back into the game here I will be trying to post at least one monthly update to the blog, plus some meatier posts as the opportunity arises. So stay tuned, and Happy New Year!

 

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Website Updates & Audiobook Giveaway

Posted on May 10th 2019 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: Audiobook, Website Updates, Writing

Happy Friday, everyone! A couple of quick updates.

First, I haven’t got my words in today for either the new WIP or CtD simply because there were some things to take care of this morning. I’m hoping to get 500 in on the new WIP before bed. Tomorrow is Saturday so I will have plenty of time to hit the CtD rewrites hard.

Second, I’ve started working on the website revamp that I’ve been procrastinating on for ~2 years. It’s coming along nicely. Leveraging some new tech, so that’s exciting. If anyone has any suggestions for the site, please submit them through the website Contact form.

Finally, I currently have a giveaway running for a free Audible copy of Saving the Dragon. You can find all the entry details for that on my Facebook page. Look for the pinned post. Please read the entry details. A lot of people are liking the post but not commenting, which is pretty much the opposite of what the entry requirements as for. That closes May 31st. I may actually do the drawing as a Facebook Live thing. We’ll see, haha.

And I think that’s pretty much it.

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Updates

Posted on May 9th 2019 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: News, Writing

There are so many things going on right now that I don’t even know where to begin.

First, I am currently in the process of buying a house, so things are a little bit chaotic right now. I’m hoping to have that all squared away in the next couple of weeks. From there I will be able to get my office set-up and devote some major time to writing through the summer.

Second, I have an update on Courting the Dragon. Over the course of attempting to revise it – and fix the gaping plot hole that was causing it to bleed out all over my hard drive – I came to realize that some things with the story were fundamentally broken. Large chunks of the first draft are just going to see the trash bin and whole new swaths of story are in the process of being written. And it wasn’t just one thing. There were multiple problems. I really needed to get to know one of the villains better and think through his motivations, for one thing. So that project is underway at a pace of about 1000 words a day. The general synopsis I have posted on the website is still correct.

Thirdly, I have sent the first third of The Foundling to a beta reader for feedback. That story is also stalled out with a problem annoyingly similar to CtD’s plot hole. The good news is, I don’t think that story is fundamentally broken, I just suck at outlining.

Finally, I have started (or I suppose restarted) a new WIP (work in progress) to give myself something with no castle storming. It’s coming along at a pace of about 500 words a day, although I hope to pick that pace up a bit next month. That will largely depend on how stubborn CtD is in mending its ways. I tried a different pre-writing/outlining process for this one that I will talk about more in a later blog. I feel pretty good about this one. My hope is to have it ready sometime in November. But, as we have all learned, my hopes don’t mean a whole lot when life decides to come knocking.

Oh, and finally-finally, I am going to be trying to keep the blog updated more often, even if it’s just a quick status update on the office, CtD, etc.

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