Fiction Writing Journal and Workbook (Review)

If you’re a hands-on person and you’re starting from scratch as a newbie writer or you need to capture and organize all your random thoughts and scribbles to prepare to write your next novel, then Robin Woods’ Fiction Writing Journal & Workbook is meant for you.

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Fiction Writing Journal & Workbook by Young Adult author, Robin Woods, is organized with a reasonable, progressive flow to construct your novel, yet it’s easy to navigate back and forth between sections to suit your writing approach.

It’s full of all kinds of writerly information, graphic organizers, worksheets, and plenty of room for journaling to get your novel up and running.

So …

I recently decided to quell a trilogy plan I had been working on for a while that accompanied the current novel I’m querying. (Yep, I’m still hanging in there.) Instead, I am pressing forward with a sequel that can function as a stand-alone by branching a new love story from two minor characters in the first novel. In other words, I’m going with a two-part series.

My reasoning for this big change is because the premise for the third novel is just too exciting to keep it waiting, and the guts of the second novel could, with a little nip and tuck, easily serve up an overall better plot if I use that premise as the inciting moment and just move on.

Enter Robin Woods’ Fiction Writing Journal & Workbook.

It happened to be a happy accident that I was ready to delve into making sense of my independent sequel (is that even a term??) simultaneous to my long-time friend offering me a free copy of her workbook. Yes, you read that right, we’re friends, for, like, decades.

So …

Instead of just reading through the informational parts of the workbook and blasting an unbiased review all over the Internet once I’d finished (no doubt garnering some eye rolls and tsks or wonderings about whether friends ever really give friends ‘honest reviews’), I thought I’d show how I actually used the workbook and prove why I give it the maximum stars.

You see …

I have all these colorful spiral notebooks—a stack of them to be exact, and they have all kinds of disorderly information in them that, when pulled apart and mixed around, make perfect sense to me. Character studies, setting notes, plot points—you name it—and somewhere in my stack of madness there might actually be a method to this budding new sequel I want to pursue.

In addition to my teetering stack of stuff n’ stuff full of all kinds of random this n’ that I have accumulated over the last year, I also have lots of tidbits on my iPhone in the Notes App full of my thoughts-on-the-go, and I even have two Word Docsx outlines I had once planned for the trilogy plus oodles of rough draft writing to boot.

In other words, I’m hands-on and all over the place when I prepare to write. I just am.

And …

I was in need of a singular place to vet and compile before typing everything up into a functioning outline because I was dying to get this WIP rolling in the right direction.

Can you see how it was destiny? My mess and Robin Woods’ workbook were made for each other.

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I was not kidding when I said BIG stack. 

HUGE.

Just look at it. ———————————>

All kinds of random going on in that mess. Two books’ worth of ideas that I needed to boil down into one poignant, romantic plot …

… Then this happened.

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I found this workbook satisfied my need to write things down in a journal. Don’t get me wrong—I love using my laptop for all parts of the writing process—but this workbook helped me scratch that itch to put pencil on paper, so that I could compile my final outline. The fact that it has everything I need in graphic organizers to help me reel in the stack of madness makes this workbook the bomb.

Here’s a peek at the table of contents to give you a better idea of what the book contains to help you organize your future best seller:

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Robin Woods’ website, http://www.robinwoodsfiction.com, also contains lots of helpful information for writers of all genres. She’s a YA author of The Watcher Series and has six novels and one work of non-fiction under her belt. Definitely, check out her site, and, if you like a hands-on approach to organizing your fiction ideas, her book is the tool you need.

Dating When You’re Married

Valentine’s Day  launched me into a week long vacation. Not so much for my little darlings—the subtle differences in working for one school district and having our children attend another. Once I got over the sheer horror of being at home without the girls (they’re only five and eight … practically babies … and I’m an over-protective mama … so yeah), I started taking advantage of all this free intelligence-based babysitting courtesy of the state of California.

I have gone on more dates this week with my husband than in the last few years. (For the record, we’ve been married for nine.)

With the children safely tucked away in school, we’ve been restaurant hopping each day this week. I’ve been wined and dined so much I’ve added a two-plus-mile-a-day walk to my not-so-busy schedule just to combat the extra calorie dump.

I’m not even embarrassed to say we took advantage of our free one-week trial of Hulu just to watch The Goldbergs show from the very beginning. We were late bloomers in discovering this awesome 80’s laugh-out-loud sitcom, so it’s been totally bitchin’ to get caught up on it. TV binging has been kinda fun. 🙂

In the midst of spoiling myself silly, I even wrapped up an extensive edit on my manuscript, fine-tuning a couple of elements. Then, I did something either completely bonkers… or just plain smart. (Time will tell.) I resubmitted the updated version to the agents who have my full MS and haven’t responded yet.

Nudging is nerve-racking, to say the least—right up there with querying. But this business takes time. And, if these agents want to squat on my manuscript for months on end, so be it. Like I said, time will tell.

As the weekend fast approaches, I’m getting a little restless. Diving back into work is like jumping head first into the Bering Sea. We all need to warm up to the daily grind, but I did leave us on a cliff-hanger with the novel I’m teaching (not on purpose, in case you just shrieked right now), and I’m hoping Monday will be kind … to all of us.

Until then, there’s one more day left before we head into a weekend of family fun. My husband is picking tomorrow’s dining experience … and he said something about catching a movie, too. Fun. So much fun!

Oh, and the cliffhanger … Ponyboy is about to become a hero. (I know, I know, but I might have Monday inadvertently in the bag.)

2 Out of 3 Trees Agree–Christmas is Over

A lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth happened earlier today as we dismantled the decorations and packed up the Christmas trees…two out of three of them, at least.  The pink one gets to stay.  It became our shrine to all things girly during a season of more dramatic colors after my young daughters begged me to buy it for them when they saw it on the shelf among all the garlands at Target.  I admit, I was just as thrilled to bring it home as they were.  It’s a dinky, little, sparkly statement piece that begs for attention, so we doted on it like a princess.  Being a mere two feet tall, she traveled well, migrating between two bedrooms, mine and the girls’.  Wherever we were hanging out, we brought her along and found a way to help her fit in.

Today, we dressed her up in heart-shaped ornaments and tucked her into the corner of our dining room, insisting that she should stay awhile as Valentine’s Day is just around the corner now, and the occasion wouldn’t be complete without a festive Christmas tree in disguise.  Letting go of Christmas is never an easy accomplishment, especially in this household, but we managed today to make the best of it by convincing ourselves that our little, pink princess still belonged.

The whole situation reminds me of the editing process.  You know the one precious scene that you doted on for weeks…the one that you adorned with fancy words and kept close to your heart as you tried to fit it in somewhere because it was just too cute to delete…yeah, that one.  But, no matter how much you want it around, everyone else wants you to get rid of it because it just doesn’t belong in the story anymore. Only you just can’t quite give it up yet, so you cram it in the corner of a polished chapter and change it up a bit, hoping no one will mind.

I am in the process of adjusting my manuscript’s word count (READ: gutting scenes I’ve vested hours into crafting) and collaborating on which sparkly, little princesses get packed up and put away.  It’s a painful process with plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth, just like earlier today.  Letting go of something we adore is never easy, but just like the other two Christmas trees, the edited material may find its way back into another season of writing someday.  For now, though, I will keep editing as needed by the light of our little, sparkly, pink tree, at least a little while longer before I finally put her in a box in the garage once and for all.  (Then, of course, I’ll unpack the gumdrop tree, as soon as Easter rolls around.)