Writing Tips

A Lesson in Backing Up Your Books

I recently hit THE END in my young adult contemporary, my first book since my baby was born. It was an exciting moment. I formatted it and sent it off to my betas, ready to sit back and work on a palette cleanser until I got their notes so I could start revising. 

What is a palette cleanser, you might ask.

Well, right now, I’m writing issue-driven contemporary, and it’s very heavy. I like to work on something lighter, preferably something fantastical, to give my imagination a chance to step back. It was during this recent palette-cleansing moment that I flipped through my many WIPs. I thought about finishing my dark academia monster book—I’m only five chapters away from THE END, after all—but I didn’t want to get swept up in it. Putting it aside, I started to have a bit of an identity crisis. Maybe because this particular week was also the anniversary of my mom’s death. I wasn’t in the best of head spaces. In all honestly, I was feeling a bit like I failed her by not having more books published by now. I was craving that validation. So, I looked back. Way back. 

I pulled out copies of my published books. 

For those of you who’ve been here a while, you know about the Timely Death trilogy, the Bad Bloods series, and the Tomo trilogy. I like to return to them every now and again, just to remind myself what I’m capable of. I tend to flip through Minutes Before Sunset the most. But this time, I picked up Bad Bloods. I flipped through all four books, reminiscing. It was a lot of fun…until I got to the end of Bad Bloods: July Lightning (#4), and recalled the outline for books #5 and #6. 

October Blood and Bone…or was it October Mist and Fury? 

I couldn’t remember. 

All I knew was that Ami and Skeleton were going to tell those two books and that I’d started writing it, only to shelve it when I decided to pursue Big Five publishing. I had put it down to write a book that I would use to query literary agents. It has been six years since then, but Ami and Skeleton’s story still rattles around in my brain occasionally. That afternoon, it was LOUD. I wanted to open it and see if I could play with it for fun.  

Anyway, I went to my folders on my laptop, and…couldn’t find it where I thought it’d be. So, I opened my older folders. And my older, older folders. And my oldest folders. 


I started to feel uneasy. 

Another hour passed and I only managed to find a tiny document on my notes app. Not nearly as much as I remembered writing. I knew I had a Scrivener project somewhere, with a few chapters written. 

I checked my Google Drive and Dropbox. Nothing. I checked my email servers. Nothing. I then pulled out the big guns—my ultimate backup—my My Book External Hard Drive. My folders there are labeled by years. I found nothing in 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, or 2018. It was 2017 that had it. 

BAD BLOODS, it said. OCTOBER, it called out. 

I clicked on it and got my answer. 

I had originally titled it October Mist & Fury (to follow the weather titles of the previous books), but realized while drafting that Ami and Skeleton demanded something a little bit more dramatic. For my monster girl who can pull off your skin and my boy who walks around with his bones on display, October Blood & Bone felt more fitting.

I’d written 10,000 words, too—with a full outline. Just like I remembered. 

In the end, I only ended up adding a few thousand before closing it all back down again. But I had a great afternoon of exactly the type of writing I wanted to do. I felt energized and excited again. (And well-rested enough to jump back into my contemporary when I got my notes back!) 

If I hadn’t backed it up all those years ago, I might’ve lost that moment. I might have even lost more than that. I mean, who knows? Maybe one day I will get around to finishing October Blood & Bone or the sequel to the Timely Death trilogy I’ve dabbled in here and there. You never know what you might pursue next. Having that backup could be the best thing you’ve ever done. 

Now back to writing…


P.S. I am teaching three great workshops soon! They are all virtual and free. One is about my issue-driven middle grade novel-in-verse, the other is about starting a writing project, and the last one is about revising. Check them out here.

8 thoughts on “A Lesson in Backing Up Your Books

  1. OMG, I know that terror of not knowing where a file is. Searching through folders, wondering what the hell I did with it. Argh!
    Thankfully, I’m pretty organized, but I still fear those files who go and hide.

      1. I’m the worst for looking for a file about an idea, then wondering if I even put in the computer, is it still in my head, or in my note book or on a piece of paper…? hahaha
        Glad you found the file.

  2. The horror of finding you’ve not backed up! I’ve crossed continents, have a mountain of hard drives, numerous ‘clouds’ and have a collection of old lappies. All for the fear of losing something important. Nevertheless, accidents (like clumsy puppy German Shepherd dogs knocking your lappy flying and smashing it beyond repair) do happen and still files get lost. Oddly I find the most reliable thing to do is email your books to yourself. The files remain in place for years and it is easy to search for emails…

    1. The email trick is so important! I always email final drafts to myself, but I need to start emailing earlier drafts (like when I decide to put it away for some time), just in case I want to come back to it one day.
      P.S. Gotta love our doggies and kitties! They are lovable chaos. lol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s