Desk-ish

Coughty-cough months after moving into the current apartment, and I finally have an actual desk, set up in the common room. Well, desk-ish. Technically, it is a bookcase. There are precisely zero books on it, which does not do much toward my goal of neatening the room, but for my ease of and attitude toward writing? Huge improvement.

Right now, I am perched atop the ergonomic “kneeling” chair, that I have had for hm, let’s see, basically forever. Long ago, I had visited a family friend/successful author, and she told me to sit at her desk, in her kneeling chair. I needed some instruction on how that sort of chair worked, and I was hesitant to put  my bottom there, because this was where the magic happened. This was where she sat to create the stories that enthralled me. My butt was not worthy. She insisted, though, so I parked it, and….oh. This was where the magic happens. 

Skip forward a few years, to when I worked retail and plunked down a chunk of one of my earliest checks, to get that same sort of chair. Not only was this an emotional/aspirational touchstone to abovementioned butt plunking, but my spine had a very clear memory, and extremely strong opinions about sitting in a kneeling chair. These opinions were strong enough that the whole “id doesn’t have a back, can nobody else see that?” thing faded into the background.

Of course, when I got said chair home, it was not the best of matches for the desk I used at the time, nor was it a good match for the antique secretary desk I could finally claim as my own, in our most recent apartment before this one. I went through a couple of improvised alternatives, until a lovely reader/RWA sister gifted me with a fabulous office chair with high back and comfy seat, which I fell deeply in love with, and will use again when I can get it and the secretary desk out of storage, likely in the next apartment. I didn’t know how I was going to use the kneeling chair in our current place, until another friend gifted us with a gorgeous kitchen table. (No, you do not have to give us furniture to be our friend, but we probably will not say no, either.) As we had come to the point of figuring out who would get to use the folding chair, an additional chair became a necessity.

The kneeling chair was at the front of one of the storage units, so home it came. Now, it is the most hotly sought-after chair in the apartment. Go figure. Real Life Romance Hero turns it the other way around, to watch television. He used to hate this chair, but now finds it comfortable. Housemate used to use it as a place to change footwear, but a cushion for the folding chair greatly cut down on such instances. Note that I did not say eliminated. Even Sebastian will randomly appear on seat or knee rest.

On Saturday, Housemate and I ventured into the dark wilds of the large storage unit, to retrieve winter clothing, and, hopefully, this particular bookcase. I knew exactly where I wanted the bookcase to go, and Housemate figured out how to make it fit. I surveyed the bookcase, deciding what was going to go where, and my gaze drifted to the monitor, on the coffee table, in my pillow pile corner. Hm. What if the monitor were on the top shelf, and the keyboard were on the second shelf? Third shelf would be enough space for my knees, and maybe the printer (testing that one out later) and what the heck, let’s see how that works.

As it turns out, I had the same reaction as when I plopped my butt in that long-ago other kneeling chair. Oh. This is where the magic happens. I am physically comfortable. I don’t have to strain back or eyes. I am facing the wall, so I am not distracted by anything anybody else is doing in the rest of the room. Granted, I am writing this at a time when everybody else is out of the house, so there are no interruptions. I don’t have to use headphones. I don’t have to maneuver around any other bodies in the kitchen, when I want more tea. I go through a lot of tea when I’m writing.

Also when I am not writing, but this is definitely a writing day. Melva and I have this week to get the final tweaks done to the manuscript of Chasing Prince Charming in to our editor. Our editor. I had to type that again, in bold, because it is a beautiful phrase to see, after a long spell between contracts. After that, we have a few rounds of editing, filling in art sheets, and other stuff to be done, that contracted novelists do. We also have a draft of Drama King to write, because A) it’s fun, and B) writing the next book is key to keeping this author thing going.

There’s also the whole thing about getting back in the groove with Her Last First Kiss, and keeping an eye on the next thing I want to do with historical romance. This is going to require a lot of organization and planning. Convenient, then, that organization and planning are two of my hobbies.  Okay, those and art journals, but they collide nicely, so I think I am going to be all right. I also think that, this time, computer desk and handwriting/art desk are going to be two different things. There will, in time, be a new photo for the end of blog posts, but today? Today is for actual writing work. I think that’s a pretty decent way to start a week.

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Typing With Stuffed Paws: Snow Day Edition

What up. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you. There is snow on the ground. A lot of it. Writer Chick loves snow. Like really, really loves snow. This is not dampened by the cold she has had all week. Dude isn’t feeling that hot at the moment, but Writer Chick managed to get a load of laundry done. I, of course, am in favor of fresh laundry, as it is warm, and ideal for napping. Those of us who are of the stuffed persuasion can internalize the heat and stay toasty for hours.

As usual, Writer Chick did the blabbity-blab on Buried Under Romance, on Saturday. This time, she talks about saving a good book for a rainy — or snowy — day. Little did she know how appropriate that would be. If you want to read more, it’s here, and this is the picture if you need to find it that way, or appreciate her book and mug photography skills.

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Speaking of reading, which is something Writer Chick is very wont to do, we move now to her Goodreads challenge. Writer Chick has been doing a lot of napping, this cold week, but she did make a respectable library haul, and historical romance actually dominates. That’s for another post, though. Right now, she is ninety-one percent of the way to her goal of ninety books, with eighty-two books read. Skye would be impressed. Me, I just report the numbers. Then I nap.

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weekend reading and then some

Besides being a sick week, in which Dude proved himself a pretty decent nurse/personal chef, Writer Chick had her first week as a contracted co-writer. This involved a lot of thinking really hard about getting up and going to the computer. Sometimes, she actually made it. These are usually the times when she managed to get the really strong tea. Anyway, the times she did make it to the computer, she talked with Other Writer Chick, and they talked about Stuff.

Some of that Stuff included a scene that the publisher humans would like them to put into the book, where it was only implied before. All I am going to say is that the action of that scene would require turning around any stuffed animals in the room with the human characters. I have not read the scene in question, but it is my understanding that there are not any. Yet another instance of stuffed erasure in contemporary fiction. W are real, we are cuddly, and we will not be ignored. We’d make more noise about it, but, well naps. Some of us have squeakers, though. That floppy zebra in the other room? Squeaks like a new pair of shoes on freshly cleaned linoleum.

Another thing Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick had to talk about, was who they are, as a writer. Singular. Writer Chick writes historical romance on her own, and Other Writer Chick writes contemporary with a strong suspense element, and humor, on her own, and when the two different writers collide, it makes something entirely new. That comes with a lot of new questions.

One of those questions is about their combined author brand. Both of them had put a lot of thought into their individual author brands, condensed into catchy taglines, that let readers know what kinds of stories lie between the covers. Together, though? That’s something new, and they are working on figuring out exactly what that is. They already know they are going to need a joint website, which means they are going to need to pick out colors, motifs, a look that tells readers what they might find from this particular tag team.

That’s where I got to find out what it sounds like when two different writers make the “uhhhhh” sound at the same time.  Writer Chick made some notes, and Other Writer Chick made a suggestion that they get their individual brand statements together and see if they can combine the two. We will see how that goes. Writer Chick is going to give this another go once she has full brain back, which should be in time for their weekly Skype session, but that isn’t even their main concern.

That’s kind of evenly split between working on the expanded scene for Chasing Prince Charming, and moving along with Drama King, because they always have to keep looking at the next book, while this one is getting ever closer to publication. There’s also the matter of keeping each other accountable on their different solo projects, because if they can drag each other through one book, they can drag each other through more books.

Maybe drag isn’t the word, but you get the picture. Thankfully, Writer Chick’s penchant for planning and notebooks is super useful when it comes to keeping things like this straight. She will probably have more to say on that. As long as her notebook covers are soft, and the paper is crinkly, I’m good, and, in the end, isn’t that all that really matters?

Oh look, squirrels.

SebastianWindowBye

 

 

Love Scene Time

For the last few days, my main occupation has been putting sweaters on, and then immediately taking them off again, then falling asleep in unexpected places. This means one ting. Cold season has arrived. Add massive amounts of tea, many bottles of water, and a blanket that comes with me when I move from pillow pile to couch and back again. Not exactly the way I intended to  spend the first week after signing a new book contract, but it’ll do.

This morning, I saw this outside the window:

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first snow 11/18

Snow has always been, and will always be, my favorite weather, and the fact that, because we live in a complex now, shoveling is not on the agenda. Every car for itself when it comes to clearing off personal vehicles, but I am still counting this as a win. Skies are clear, so the dusting is all we are likely to get for today. For mid-November, I can take that. Since this is also the day when tat first glimmer of brain pierces through the cold fog, I am taking this 9these, as I mean both the snow and the glimmer of brain) as a good sign.

This means climbing back into the writing saddle. Now that contracts are signed, the clock begins ticking. Melva and I now get to figure out how we write a completed love scene, together, and we have a date when said love scene has to be done. I have never co-written a love scene before, so this is going to be a new experience. I have already accepted the fact that this is probably not going to be possible to write with my fingers splayed across my eyes, horror-movie-watching style.

Melva and I have shared a lot over the years, as critique partners, conference roomies, and friends. Put it bluntly, we are both well stocked with blackmail opportunities, but, then again, neither of us could afford said blackmail, and we each know where the bodies are buried, because we helped move them. Writing a love scene together, though? That’s new.

Not that we’re squeamish/prudish. We are both grown women, happily married, and have been reading romance for long enough to, well, know what we’re doing. Granted, my own love scenes have, to date, been of the fade to black, maybe a leetle beyond, variety. Her Last First Kiss is going to require me to follow my hero and heroine into the bedroom, because that’s a part of the character development, and part of the romance. , and not including that part of their story would feel incomplete.

When Melva and I first conceived of (pun very much intended) of the story that would ultimately become Chasing Prince Charming (spoiler: our heroine catches him) we did address the issue of love scenes. Our plan was to cross that bridge when we came to it, and do what came naturally, which we also hoped our characters would ultimately do. Isn’t that the whole idea? We had the option of telling the story in a sweet fashion, without any love scenes whatsoever, but we knew we didn’t want to go in that direction. Meg and Dominic taking the very big step of becoming physically intimate, and what led up to it, were too important to leave out of the story, and, so, love scene time. It’s Meg and Dominic’s first time, true, but it’s also Melva’s and mine.

This is also my first time writing a contemporary love scene, as well as writing with another author. Everybody involved is probably going to learn a new thing or two. Both of us agree that we want the love scene to be exactly that; it’s more about feelings than body parts, and the scene needs to move both the story and the relationship to a new level. Thankfully, since we already have the whole book written and contracted, what we have here is a matter of connecting the dots. That came out more salacious than it was intended, but that’s par for the course when Melva and I write together. There is sometimes unintentional blueness, we are scarily on the same page, and things somehow manage to fall together.

Which is pretty much how things can potentially go in a love scene, the sort where the characters take over, do their own thing, and let us write it down for them.  That kind of thing doesn’t feel scary at all. More like business as usual. It also reminds us to keep our brains open, and a notebook on hand (that notebook part may be only me, but when don’t I have a notebook at hand, anyway?) to catch ideas for the couples from  subsequent books, because they’re going to need love scenes, too, and this kind of thing is different for every couple, even if they are in the same series.

This also means that I get to start cobbling together a series bible, to keep track of whos where and doing what, mapping out romantic arcs and the like. Since stationery is one of the great loves of my life, a very close second to romance writing, this is also on my list of awesome perks of writer-hood. It will also gibe me topics for a few blog entries, which is, with the current cold-induced brain fog, a very welcome constant.

Writer friends, what’s your best tip for writing love scenes? Reader friends, what makes a good love scene for you? Stationery nerds who are only here for the deskscapes, the turquoise pen is by Jane Davenport.

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Typing With Stuffed Paws: Recently Contracted Edition

Hey. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling,  here on the windowsill, bringing you the latest edition of Typing With Stuffed Paws. There’s some stuff to talk about this week, but first, let’s get the compulsories out of the way, because it’s a cloudy Friday, and I feel a nap coming on in the very near future.

As always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance on this past Saturday. Last week, she talked about the promise of romance fiction. If you’re curious about what that ight be (besides the Happily Ever After, that is) you can read it here, and this is the picture that goes with it:

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Next we come to the part where I usually update about Writer Chick’s Goodreads updates, but it has been a week. More on that later. Instead of saying she is cheating again on her Goodreads challenge, she would prefer if I said that she is currently reading Heart of Iron, by Ashley Poston. More details on what Writer Chick actually thought of the book, when she has actually finished reading it (she is almost there.) She picked it because she liked another book by this author, Geekerella, which is a Cinderella retelling, but modern, with teenagers, no magic, and fandom. Heart of Iron is a retelling of the whole Anastasia thing, but in space, and with romance. Writer Chick says it reads like a really good medieval romance (actually two romances) but with space and I guess robots or something, but whatever.

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Writer Chick also filled one morning pages book and started another. This one has birds on it.

Okay, I think that’ all the stuff I have to say before the big things. The first of which is that Skye came home. Well, sort of. She is the one in the box. It is kind of sad for the humans, because Skye is still on the other side of Rainbow Bridge, and also kind of nice, because there is now something to touch when they want to feel closer to her. In today’s picture, you see me trying to play nice with my sister. So far, so good. We both have exactly the same degree of interest in the green ball, so we have that going for us.

Now, we come to the next part. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick now have a book contract. I cannot guarantee that Writer Chick will not blabber about this in a video blog (we thought she forgot about those things, but she has been watching a lot of vlogs, lately, so I can promise nothing.) Chasing Prince Charming, their first co-written contemporary romance novel, is now contracted by The Wild Rose Press

Since this whole thing is super new, as in this week new, there is not a lot of information to share as of yet, like when the book will be out, so you can buy it, or what the cover art will look like (you will have to wait for the art humans at The Wild Rose Press to make it first, which means Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have to fill out some more paperwork when the publisher people send t to them) etc. If you are interested in this kind of thing, hit the subscribe button, to make sure you don’t miss any updates as they come along. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick (humans call her Melva Michaelian) worked really hard to get this book to this stage of the game, and there is still a whole lot of work left to do.

First, there was paperwork. There is always paperwork. That is one reason I am glad to be stuffed. We never have to do paperwork. Not so for writer humans. There is even math involved. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have signed their contracts, and now the fun begins. Writer Chick actually likes the process of doing edits. Other Writer Chick doesn’t like it so much, but that’s probably one of the reasons it’s good that there are two of them. Writer Chick hates tracking submissions and things like that, so this probably shakes out to about equal.

Both Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick are still writing their own, solo, novels. Historical romance for Writer Chick, and the love child of contemporary romance and cozy mystery for Other Writer chick. In case you were wondering what is at the crossroads of combining both of those above genres, Chasing Prince Charming would be it. One of the things Writer Chick has on her agenda for this upcoming week, is to look into a joint website for herself and Other Writer Chick, because that is a different writer than only Writer Chick by herself and Other Writer Chick by herself. Do not ask me to explain the specifics. I don’t know if there will be a blog, but Writer Chick is involved in this, so draw your own conclusions.

There are a lot of things to figure out when this whole kind of two-headed writer thing  gets some momentum. Writer Chick knows what she has, for aesthetic and somewhat in the neighborhood of branding and all of that good stuff, and she could probably pretty accurately put something together for Other Writer Chick, because they have been friends for basically forever, and conference buddies for almost forever, not to mention co-writers for one whole book and part of another already. (I will not mention the “what are we going to do for the next series?” conversations that I may or may not have overheard, during Skype sessions. Public Stuffed Service Announcement: we stuffed guys can hear everything you’re saying, so please keep that in mind, and yes, please turn us around if you plan to do things that cannot be unseen.) What the two of them together look/sound like, though? Yeah, that’s new.  Writer Chick is probably going to use this as an excuse to play in one of her art journals, but, to be fair, she does that with pretty much everything else, anyway. It is what it is.

That’s also about it for this week, so I am going to call it naptime.

Later days,

SebastianWindowBye

 

Days Like This

Greetings on this rainy Tuesday afternoon. Monday’s post on Tuesday isn’t  too bad, all things considered, Right now, I am ensconced in my blanket nest, in the corner of the living room, casting longing glances at a recently repurposed notebook, and thinking about tea. I am usually thinking about tea, so that is not such an unusual thing.

Skye’s ashes came home this weekend, in a lovely container, and a thoughtful card from the animal hospital. We have her on the windowsill, next to the green ball she loved to watch, and it honestly does feel like she is around-er, so I am going to call that good. Still not the same as having a cat-cat around, but still counts for the mews factor.

I have the newest episode of one of my favorite current TV shows paused, because, while I want to see what’s going on in this story world, and how the characters are handling it, I also want to listen to the silence. Silence, in this case, that consists of traffic on wet pavement (one of my three all time favorite sounds) and rain and the clickety-clack of fingers on keys.

It’s a writing kind of day (but aren’t they all, for us writers?) so it was the perfect time to get current-ish on blog entries. I had breakfast with N this morning, as usual on a Tuesday. We talked about current and future projects, and, more than once, I had to whip out a sticky note and make a few quick scribbles, because inspiration works like that. I came home, hoping to transfer sticky note scribbles into their proper notebooks, which will still happen, though I now also have two pages of notes from an impromptu Skype session with my contemporary collaborator. Collaboration works like that, sometimes. There will be some arrows drawn on my weekly schedule, to move things around, but that only means I get to play with more pens, so still a win.

Real Life Romance Hero’s work would have been outdoors today, which means surprise day off, due to the rain. I will not complain, as this means impromptu lunch date, even if I had to make the lunch, but I digress. I want the sounds of my own stories in my head right now, so the TV and even Spotify remain silent. A few strips of washi tape turned the notebook in front of me from a utilitarian object that elicited a lukewarm “meh” response, into a welcoming receptacle for some words.

In a few minutes, I will get up and make tea. I will think, as I do, of the jolt of pleasant surprise, when I saw the same model of mugs we use, as props on another TV show. I know where you shopped, Property Master. I have no idea why this pleases me as much as it does, but, today, I will take it. Later, I will vote. The poling place is so close to our apartment, here that we could walk, and we may. That depends on how heavy the rain is at that time. I have asways bene partial to rain, but my suede-ish shoes beg me to reconsider. Leopartd print rain boots are still in storage, no doubt laughing at me, because couldn’t I have seen this rainy season comin?

Maybe so, but there have been things going on, okay? Here is a tip for any new writers among us: there will always be things going on, always somebody who needs a minute, etc. I could say that we need to learn to let them roll off us like water from a duck’s back, but that’s an easy comparison, facile, even (please read that with a disdainful sniff; it conveys the proper tone that way) and Get Stuff Done. That is, usually, the plan. Theory and practice, though? Not always the same thing.

Which brings us back to today. I am here, still wearing my responsible adult going outside disguise, because I am not changing twice, today. There is only so much time I have today, before voting and other errands, and I want to make the time count. Blogging is part of that, but not all. There is also research to be done, questions to bounce off my RWA sisters and brothers, to glean wisdom from more experienced minds than mine. There are the click and the whir and the hum of my CPU, inches away from my ear,and I am reminded of why getting up for tea when I work from my blanket nest, is as important as it is. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, one of my feet is going to go to sleep, which means I will have to shake it out, pull myself to standing, walk for a bit, (definitely get that tea) and then settle down, once again, to get in some more time of playing with  my imaginary friends, before I turn my attention to things like civic duty, and ensuring that RLRH can have something more than the last sleeve of Ritz crackers, that crumble at human touch.

There are days when writing feels very far away and out of step. This is not one of those days. This is the kind of day when being a writer is the most natural thing in the world, and I will be more than a little grumbly, when it is time to power down and head outside. Until then, I can post this blog, tick that off my list, make that tea, and, if I play my cards right, spend a few minutes, warm cup in my hand, eyes closed, listening to the music of ran and road and computer hum. Ideas grow there.

Tea time.

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Typing With Stuffed Paws: Something About Voice Edition

Hey, everybody. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you on this rainy Friday. Rainy Fridays are Writer Chick’s favorite kind of Fridays. Check back when it snows, because she loves snow, but rain happens during every season, so I am going to go out on a limb and say it has an edge, for frequency alone.

Domestic tornado-y week around the apartment again, but we come to the end of the week with the same amount of humans as we started it. More importantly, the same amount of stuffed folk. Most importantly, me. Being Cat Regent is a tough job, but somebody has to do it, and, between you and me, I am far more qualified than the red teddy bear, or the super floppy zebra that can’t even stand on its own. Plus, I am a cat.

Anyway, on with the show. Last Saturday, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, as per usual. Most recently, Writer Chick wrote about the eternal appeal of fairy tales in romance. That post is here, and this is the picture that goes with it:

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For Writer Chick’s Goodreads update, I have to call it now: she is being a cheater cheater pumpkin pie eater (she insists that I mention that A) there is not currently any pumpkin pie in the house, B) what’s up with that? and C) she is reading as fast as she can, okay? It’s been a very stressful week, and she’ll have finished the last couple of chapters by the time anybody reads this, so lay off, Sebastian. Yes, she used my name, but not the entire name, so she is probably not too irritated. Probably because she wants to get to the end of her book.)

That out of the way, Writer Chick’s pick of the week is The Iron Duke, the first entry in Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas steampunk romance series. Writer Chick says this has exactly the right blend of history and romance, even if the history is a very different version from what happened here on really real Earth. Just go with it. She is definitely going to read more of these. If you have steampunk romance recommendations, leave them in the comments, and Writer Chick will check them out.

I think that’s everything from the agenda Writer Chick gave me, so now it’s my time to riff. Wednesday was Writer Chick’s birthday-plus-one-week, which I gather is celebrated by putting on unusual clothing and going around to neighbors’ houses, begging for dessert. This is a fitting observance, though a quiet one around ye olde homestead. Maybe next year’s celebration can swap out the desserts for office supplies, because Writer Chick would be all about that kind of reboot.

It has come to my attention that National Author Day or something, was some time in the past week. Also National Cat day, but they didn’t say stuffed cat. At least I don’t t think so. I didn’t read the fine print, but I did lie on it. It was in my sunbeam. By that, I mean real sunbeam, not the artificial sunbeam, in this week’s picture, although that is good, too.

Also in this week’s picture is the business card holder that usually sits on Writer Chick’s desk. Since Writer Chick’s desk is currently in storage, that holder thingy and the pen attached to it live on the bookcase in Writer hick and Dude’s bedroom. Writer Chick gets the bottom shelf, Dude gets the top shelf, they split the middle shelf, and I sit wherever I want.

Writer Chick is kind of pumped that she needs to order more business cards soon, because she has now given out most of the ones she had before. That means networking is going okay. She is also pretty pumped that the pen takes Pilot G-2 ink refills, because she loves those pens. Bold point preferred; she’ll be very clear about that, but she’ll take medium in a pinch, fine point if she must, but she will do so with a heavy sigh.

The plaque on the base of the holder says, “I Anna-ize,” which is there because this was a gift from a friend, who froze when thinking of what to have put on the plaque. Writer Chick’s name only occurred to her afterward, but it’s all good, because Writer Chick likes that sentiment. Putting her own stamp on the romance genre has always been important to her, so this is a good reminder to make sure that goes into every manuscript.

How does Writer Chick “Anna-ize?” That’s a very good question, and there are times when her response would probably be that she was hoping you knew. Sometimes, it’s a matter of sitting down and doing the thing. Apple trees can only grow apples, and all that

For this kind of thing, it’s really best if Writer Chick doesn’t over Anna-lyze (see what I did there?) what she’s doing, and, instead, let the characters have their head (that is an old-timey phrase, meaning to let a horse pick where it wants to go, and the rider will be all “whatever” about the whole thing) and trust that they will get her to the right place, in the end.

Since Writer Chick writes romance, that end is an ever fixed mark (Shakespeare reference, for the win) but exactly how those people get to that happily ever after, well, that’s a wild card. I can respect that. It’s going to be different for everybody, which is why romance is such an interesting genre for Writer Chick to write.

That should be about everything for “Write” (heh heh) now, so keep your eyes peeled for those stray posts Writer Chick still owes. Never know when those babies are going to pop up, but they’ll be there.

Peace and Cuddles,

SebastianWindowBye

Writing Lessons From My Art Journal

Happy Halloween, and/or day before National Novel Writing Month, to all who participate. The extrovert in me loves the community of NaNo, and the competitive side of me loves the pounding toward a goal, hell-bent for leather, as my Aunt S used to say, but anxiety is not as thrilled about the pressure, so, for me, doing the slow and steady thing works better, so I will cheer on all who are participating from the sidelines, and keep on going at my own pace..

Once again, we have Monday’s blog on Wednesday, and I am okay with that. Domestic Tornado Season is, hopefully, winding down, fingers crossed. In the meantime, butt in chair, fingers on keyboard and/or pen to paper whenever possible.

Lately, I’ve been using my art journals to destress, and, as usual, they’ve taught me a few things about the writing life. I don’t know how I settled on it, but, in the middle of one of the bigger tornado surges, I took out the nearest art journal to hand, and turned to a fresh page.

First of all, I did not draw anything on these pages. Both pages are stencils, by Jane Davenport, whose art supplies I love, love, love. The notebook cover and insert are both from her collection, as well. No compensation here, just a fan, sharing what works for me.

I’ve tried to start this blog entry many times, and I always get in my own way, so I am going to go ahead and throw whatever is in my head onto the page, which is generally how the best stuff happens, anyway.

Earlier, this week, I grabbed the art journal, pictured above, some face stencils, and a Pitt artist pen, and started throwing stuff down. These stencils have options as to what features I can put, and where. Usually, I start off placing the eyes too high. Moving them around before I actually set down any ink helps, and keeping a small notepad next to my art journal also helps, because working with art stuff is a great way to get my story brain on the back burner, which is when my imaginary friends often do some of their best stuff, while I’m looking at lines and shapes and colors.

Right now, it’s already after 3PM, which means that the ideal posting times have passed for the day, and I could call myself now two entries behind and promise that I’d take care of it tomorrow. I know this is bull, because tomorrow is already booked (no pun intended) and a post written after the ideal posting times is going to get more hits and reach more readers than the post I’m going to write, eh, sometime. This is also the first thing that my recent art journal experience has taught me about writing:

* Put Some Stuff On The Page. 

This is important, because, without that, nothing gets done. The idea stays in my head, and, no matter how many people I tell about it, nobody will get the full experience. Including me. As long as the idea stays in my head, it stays perfect, and I can’t fail. Once I commit ink to paper (or the digital equivalent) the ball is actually in play. If I don’t like what I made, A) nobody has to ever see it, and B) I can open to a new page and start again.

*Use What You Already Have. 

I love going to art or craft stores, looking at all the pretty stuff, imagining what I can do with it, and petting the packaging. Sometimes, some of it even comes home with me, which means I can actually use it. I can also actually let it sit there and taunt me with its un-touched-ness, but I don’t get to find out what it can really do, unless I bust it out of the packaging and put it on the page. See first point, above. Those craft store displays and online adverts are very tempting, buuut know what? That box of stuff is right here, and everything in there was the shiny new thing once. It came home for a reason. Time to actually let it fulfill its purpose, or, at the very least, see what it can do.

*Experiments Are Good

When I first started using the traveler’s notebook system of covers and inserts, I was very adamant that I only wanted one particular size, about five by eight inches, because that was the size of notebook I already liked. Two sizes, if we count pocket. Then, I had to have this particular cover, which came with this particular insert, which is standard size, eight inches square, folded in half (my brain is not going to do the math) but this was the insert that came with the cover, and it was marker paper, and I have markers, and what’s the worst that can happen?

In this case, I can fill the entire thing in a record amount of time (I am one spread away from filling the whole insert) and then start making my own, from paper I already have on hand, because I love what my brain does when I am art-ing, which leads to the next point.

*Take Notes

This one, I cannot stress highly enough. My story brain works best in a fertile environment. If I’m making art, I have a pen in my hand already, so, if there is a pretty piece of paper (or the back of an old envelope) nearby, it’s ready to catch any thoughts that pop into my head. I am also usually listening to something while I art, and, recently, that’s included a lot of You Tube videos on writing and/or reading.

This is normally where I want to wrap the post together and relate it directly to writing, but I’m not going to do that right now. I’m going to leave it where it is, hit “post,” and grab a notebook or two.

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Typing With Stuffed Paws: Post-Birthday Edition

Hey. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling< Cat Regent, coming at you for another Friday blog. Writer Chick was kind of busy on Wednesday, because it was her birthday, which is basically her second favorite day of the year, which is second only to Christmas. Which is also technically a birthday. She will probably make some extra blog posts, or toss them my way, in the next week or so, maybe more, because the holiday season has technically begun. Writer Chick counts from her own birthday. I get that. I would, too, if I knew what my birthday was. Best guess, it was somebody’s birthday, or Christmas, which we have already established is technically a birthday. So there’s that.

Okay. So. Somewhat looser edition of the weekly roundup stuff, because Writer Chick has to get some work done on Drama King, because schedules and writing and all that kind of stuff. She also needs to make sure this week’s Buried Under Romance post is ready. Last week’s is on feeding the hunger for reading a particular kind of romance novel. If you’re interested in finding out what that is, or just like clicking links, that post is here, and it looks like this:

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Still crunching some numbers about the whole Goodreads Challenge thing, and things may move around a little, because somebody, and I am not going to say who (it was Writer Chick) did some (and by that, I mean a lot) of one-clicking late at night and now has a bunch of new reads lined up on her Kindle. We are not going to talk about the shelf full of library books, but this is the time of year when staying inside and reading (especially with a super cute cuddle buddy, preferably orange and stripey,) to share in the experience, is a very appealing option.

One book Writer Chick really liked recently, was What If It’s Us, by Becky Albertalli, and Adam Silvera. Writer Chick still has to write her review, but it’s got two authors she likes, and it’s like a YA rom com in book form. So far, she has read eighty out of ninety books for her goal for the year, which puts her at eighty-nine percent of the way there. That’s pretty decent progress.  There may or may not be a library and/or bookstore run this weekend, because birthday weekends are kind of a thing around here.

Something else that is kind of a thing this time of year is NaNoWriMo. Writer Chick has a complicated relationship with NaNo. She did think about it this year, but it’s going to be a NaNot for 2018, and she is okay with that. Writer Chick does like the idea of starting something new, but, right now, it’s all about getting the current WIPs to the end of their drafts.

For her work on Drama King, that means a lot of contact with Other Writer. For Her Last First Kiss, that means a few different things. part of it is reconnecting with the characters, their story, their time, and writing on her own, rather than with Other Writer.

That can be kind of scary, but, once she gets started, it gets to be fun. Being between cats (of the peeing type) can be a tough thing for a writer. It requires a lot of cat videos on You Tube, which help part of the issue, but not all of it. Like reading a lot of books helps get back in the historical romance vibe, buuuut the only thing that is really going to get it off and running is the actual writing of historical romance.

Fortunately, Writer Chick already has a plan on this one. N, her Tuesday morning writer breakfast buddy (who, it should be noted, has three cats of the peeing variety, herself) is kind of in the same boat, with her manuscript. The solution? Sit across from each other, in public, with paper and pen, and Write The (Expletive Deleted) Book. Plus, they get to visit, and have bottomless cups of caffeinated beverages. Writers often run on caffeine.

That’s going to be it for this week. Sunbeam is in the window, and the mini roses smell extra delicious today.

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Use It If You’ve Got It

Yesterday, I picked up a new notebook for my morning pages, as I am rapidly nearing the end of my current notebook. Current book has a unicorn on the front, pastel rainbow pages inside, and I usually go for glittery gel pens when writing in it, because what else is one going to use in a pastel rainbow unicorn book? There is a lot of pink, purple, and turquoise.

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In contrast, the new book is by Punch Studio, who have the key to my maximalist heart, now and forever. I knew, from the moment I first saw this book, in a bunch of other books on a shelf, that I would need this one fo rmy next round of morning pages. I already know which pens belong with this book, and there will be some purple involved, but a blackened purple. All of the pens that go in this book will be blackened versions of their colors: red, brown, green, blue, purple. That feels welcoming and comfy and right. What comes after that book is finished? Ask me when this book is full.

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Contrast with the other book I picked up last night, which is almost definitely going to be my new traveler’s notebook/bujo setup for 2019. For the last year and change, I have been drawing my own planners, which, while I love the result, takes a whole lot of time that could go toward writing, so a purchased planner really is in my best interest.

That may have something to do with why and how the entire Dylusions Dyalog system fell into my cart, when it was on clearance at a well known craft store. I thought I’d saved pictures of the one spread I have completed so far, but there were technical difficulties. I’ll add those later. Point is, the aesthetic of this creator is not my usual thing, but there’s an energy about it that keeps drawing me back, and, equally importantly, I already have it. Never mind that it’s a size of notebook I’ve never used before, and I am not sure yet what pens go with this paper. I need an agenda, this has an agenda, and, if I don’t use this system, why to I have it, hm? Hm?

Now. Writing. You knew this was going there, right? I have characters and plots and settings and tropes, all tapping their collective feet in the waiting room of my imagination, and I am wracking my brain for new ideas? Some of that stuff is so old, it could vote, on its own, without me. I am letting it gather dust, why, again? Right now, I am having trouble finding an answer, which is probably an answer in itself.

What am I saving them all for, anyway? The pretty notebooks, the fancy pens, the star-crossed lovers, the family saga, all of that good stuff? I am waiting for what, again?  A special occasion? Define special. When I am good enough? At what?  By whose standard? When the constantly changing market is right? Right by what standard? Is there some criteria I haven’t mentioned? Probably. It’s probably a complicated question, but the answer could be an easy one.

Maybe writing romance novels, and writing morning pages aren’t that different, after all. Maybe it’s as easy as finish one book, and start on the next. If they seem like complete opposites, or strange bedfellows, at first glance, that’s perfectly okay, as long as there’s that core of love there, that feeling that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and the thought of getting up every morning, to face these particular pages for months at a time, fills me with enthusiasm, rather than stress.

Maybe that’s too facile a comparison, but, for today, I’m going to go with it. Not that this is going to stop me from acquiring new notebooks, or new ideas. That is flat out not going to happen, because A) I have a birthday this week, and B) writers spontaneously generate ideas, a lot of the time. Neither ideas,  nor notebooks, however, do much good if they aren’t put through their paces. Not everything is going to be a winner, but we never know until we try.

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Typing With Stuffed Paws: Going Medieval Edition

Yo. Friday again. That means Sebastian time. You’re welcome. This week, I’ve been helping Writer Chick with her writing this week. Here, you can see me checking on her pen storage and morning pages book. Writer Chick is going to need a new morning pages book, around the first of November, so she is now interviewing candidates. Dude says the humans call this “shopping.” Potato, potahto. Whatever it’s called, what Writer Chick puts in this kind of book gets her in gear to do other kinds of writing during the day.

Some of that writing turns up on Buried Under Romance, in Writer Chick’s weekly Saturday Discussion post. This week, it was all about curiosity in reading.It’s here, and looks like this:

Gorgeous featured image on this one, amirite? If I were the poo-ing kind of cat, instead of stuffed, I’d want to look a lot like that. Only more handsome, but I’m already there, so that part would be moot.

Speaking of reading, Writer Chick is now eighty-eight percent of the way to her Goodreads goal of reading ninety books in this calendar year. She has read seventy-nine books, putting her eight books ahead of schedule, and it is only October. I foresee success in her future, unless I am lying on top of the books she wants to read, in which case…okay, she will probably pick me up and move me, because I am stuffed, but whatever.

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A Memory of Love, by Bertrice Small

Writer chick is also making good progress on her goal of reading more historical romance, and, lately, she’s been concentrating on re-reading books she remembers liking, but hasn’t read in a while, and a bunch of those have turned out to have something in common.  Her last three historical romance reads have been by Bertrice Small, the author who got her interested in historical romance in the first place, they have all been standalones, and they have all been medieval. She also has a medieval historical romance quintet, the Graistan Chronicles, by Denise Domning, on her Kindle, and a bunch of Terri Brisbin medieval novellas on her phone, so this is becoming kind of a thing.

Writer Chick has already written one medieval romance novella, herself, and if you want to read a part of that, you can, in New York’s Emerging Writers: an Anthology of FictionWriter Chick’s novel excerpt, “Ravenwood,” is in there, and she has the whole book ready to roll, and resume submission rounds. Even though she hadn’t expected to write anything else related to that story, now she is thinking that, maybe, that might be fun to try in the not too distant future. If you read the excerpt and like it, consider letting the publisher know.

It’s not big a stretch. Writer Chick’s medieval hero left his best bro in an abandoned abbey, filled with plague survivors. That isn’t really as mean as it sounds. Book Dude did what he had to do, and Other Book Dude was fine with it, so I’m going to call that solid. It’s also part of what Writer Chick likes about the whole medieval romance thing. The world was rougher, then, depending on who one asks, and there is definitely enough history to influence the plot.  Castles, villages, wars, picking up after a giant up-ending of life in general, and rebuilding again. As. Many. Times. As. It. Takes. Writer Chick can relate to that.

So, how does this tie into the Georgian era stuff she’s currently writing? First, going from 1066 to 1766 (which is still fairly early in the eighteenth century) gives Writer Chick a whole lot of history to play with, here.  Seven. Hundred. Years. How great is that? So. Much. History. So many things that can affect the love stories, that there is not even a chance of running out of ideas that could actually have happened. So many love stories, as well, that she can tell, for generations to rise and fall, time to pass, children from previous books to grow to adulthood, and all of that good stuff. She’s kind of into all of that.

She’s also kind of into getting the current WIPs done and on their ways, so that she can get to the new, shiny stuff. This means there is a lot of planning she can do, to make that kind of thing happen. If you have guessed that this is going to involve pens and notebooks, you are right, but that’s for Writer Chick to tell. Dude wants to take a nap, and if you think I’m not going to get on in on that, I don’t even know what to say in response.

Catch you next time.

SebastianWindowBye