Typing With Wet Claws: Rainbow Bridge Edition

Anna here. There is no easy way to begin this entry, so I’m going to get right to it. Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling (the kitty, not the book) crossed Rainbow Bridge last week, at Camp Grandma. She was and forever will be, the cat of my heart. Skye came into our lives three days after her predecessor, Olivia Jane Hart-Bowling (picture unavailable at present, but there are many) crossed Rainbow Bridge, herself. I couldn’t last any longer than that, without a baby to hold. Ironically, we adopted the un-hold-able cat, as Skye, ten months at that time, did not like cuddles. She became our near girl, showing her immense love by sitting near us, especially in the toughest of times. Somehow, she always knew, and, without a sound, there would be a fuzzy little bundle of love by the feet of whoever needed her most.

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Teal Life Romance Hero was her favorite, and she loved him the most. Housemate and I were great, of course, but Skye and her Uncle were and are a true OTP for the ages. Skye became my mews right from the start, a strong, solid presence, at a respectable distance, shooting eye-daggers at the hated carpet of my office in our first Albany apartment.

It’s hard to pick out what Skye memories I want to share here -my stats are taking a break this week- because there are a lot, and all of you readers who check in every week to read her updates, and like her photos on Instagram, mean the whole entire world. When we land (there may be another move in our immediate future) in a pet-friendly place, we humans all agree that it will be time for more cats. Hopefully, at least one will be of the blogging persuasion. Feline Fridays are going to be a little rough for a while.

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When we first brought Skye home from the shelter, on a snowy December day, close enough to Christmas to knock “Christmas kitten” off my bucket list, it took her four hours to come out of the carrier. She was a cautious girl, but her moments of bravery stick with me the most. The time, that first week or so, when my job was to studiously ignore the new fuzzball, and let her explore her new digs on her own terms, my whole body jolted with the sensation of warmth, wet, and tugging on my big toe.

I looked down. There was a creamy, black-lipped mouth around my toe, two big green eyes looking back at me. The next few seconds went something like this:

Me: Skye? What are you doing?

Skye: I was hoping you knew.

Me: Baby, that’s a toe.

Skye: :processing So…this…not…okay?

Me: Are you hungry?

Skye: :backs slowly away, until mouth is no longer around toe:

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Skye O’Malley, the kitty, not the book.

 

I have to assume that I did indeed feed her after that, and that, in the right light, my right big toe probably did look enough like a cat nipple that she figured it was worth a shot. That was her way.  Skye brought a lot of things into our lives. She brought slow blinks, happy chitters, ninja skills I do not expect any future cat to exceed, and an unending supply of floofs. She was there to see me through the loss of Olivia, the cat who saw me through the loss of an entire side of my family, and who was there for my first sale, and the unplanned detour into caregiving.

When I first committed to this incarnation of my blog, three blogs per week felt far too much for my anxious, insecure self. Giving Friday posts to Skye suggested itself, and those have been some of my favorite posts to write, because Skye always had something to say. Maybe she still will. I don’t know how the internet connection to Rainbow Bridge works yet. We’ll have to see.

Skye got her name from my favorite historical romance, Skye O’Malley, by Bertrice Small. Even though Skye-the-character was far bolder than Skye-the-kitty, the name still fit, for a beautiful, intelligent heroine, who endured great obstacles, to find true love at last. Suffice it to say that the bar for cat-ness in this family has been set, and set high. Whatever felines join us next, they will have big pawprints to fill.

That’s about it for right now. Skye remains, always, very truly yours,

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Breaking Out the Good Stuff

Stuff is going down today. I can tell because A) I am the one who planned said stuff, and B) I broke out the fancy pen. Full disclosure, said fancy pen was broken out for photographic purposes, as a quick test proved that it’s going to require cleaning and re-inking before I can actually use it. The actual pens used in today’s work will probably be one of my workhorse pens, possibly erasable because I know me, and perfectionism is the big boss to defeat before I can get into reconnecting with the meat of Her Last First Kiss, which is my assignment for the day.

Tomorrow morning, N and I will have our weekly breakfast and go over our homework, aka the pages that will enable us to kick each others’ posteriors into gear on our chosen projects. For double-digit years, I was part of a weekly accountability/critique group, that included my contemporary cohort, Melva Michaelian, and I was the only person who had something to read, every single week. There were more times than I’d care to admit, that my pages for that week were written in a white-hot burst, down to minutes before my ride came to ferry me there. There were times when I wrote pages that didn’t have anything to do with a current project, but they were pages, goshdangit, and that was what mattered.

When I moved from CT, to NY, obviously, that was the end of that. I missed it, and still do. I haven’t found a local group yet, though I’ve tried a couple, and I do have local writer friends, whom I meet with individually. I miss the group dynamic, though, so still working on that one.

Writing is often a solitary pursuit. I am an extrovert, meaning that I gain my energy from being around other people, and spend my energy when alone. Communing with other writers is a great way for me to refill that energy reserve. The internet is a great source for that. I will never, ever turn down a chance to have tea and writerly talk, face to face, with a local writer buddy, and have been known to travel, to see writer friends who are farther away than public transportation can connect.

That better have pages thing, though, I’ve been missing that. Last week, when N and I had our first regular breakfast after we both went to separate RWA events, we admitted we could both use some accountability. Hence the homework. Hence the excited skip of my pulse as I write this, glancing over the top of my monitor, at the real life version of today’s picture, only a few feet away. A new cup of tea, a pen in my hand, and it will be time, once again, to dive headfirst into Georgian England, and Bern and Ruby, and all the reasons they shouldn’t and can’t be together, which are nothing compared to the fact that they must. Are they going to admit that, though? Not without a great deal of difficulty, and that, for me, is where the fun lies.

Since I’ve already written the first draft, I know how things are going to turn out. This is for going deeper, for making the book more itself. Making Bern Bern-ier, Ruby more Ruby-licious. This is going to mean finally breaking down and setting up the printer, because I need reference pictures, and family trees, and cheat sheets, and all of that good stuff. This means ripping apart the binder I made over a year ago, that I set up in a specific arrangement, then never used.

Obviously, that arrangement didn”t work. Difference between theory and practice, and all that. This is time to fly into the mist, albeit with a general idea of what I’m doing, and the boundaries of the previous draft and a half, to bump me back when I drift too far afield. I’m excited (if you haven’t picked up on that by now) and am about half super pumped to get back to this story (a huge thank you to those writer friends who have needled me about this, because it super duper helps) and half running around in circles, arms flailing, but at least they are controlled circles.

My table/desk is not going to look this neat by the end of the day, when it’s time to clear away the writing stuff and set up for dinner with the fam.  I am okay with that. Probably, at some point, but probably not today, I will do battle with the fountain pens that were last packed when I had a different address, and bring them  back into everyday use. That’s another topic, though, for another day.

For right now, it’s time to brew some tea, pick out pens, and make a cover page for the second half of Big Daddy Precious, then start digging.

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You Asked For (Most of) It

Kitchen table seems to be my default workspace as of late, and, one week after my return from CT Fiction Fest, the normal routine is inching back into place. Since the normal routine includes candles, tea, books, pens, and paper, this is a very good thing. It also means I do the book writing thing, now equipped with my snazzy new tools gleaned from abovementioned conference.

Starting off a little differently this week, though (and not only because Monday’s entry is coming to you on Tuesday,) with answers to a few asks I’ve had in ye olde emaile inboxxe.

First, my planners. If you’re new, spoiler alert: I love planners. If you’ve been here a while, this is not news. For those who asked about my current system, I use the traveler’s notebook setup, aka one cover, holding four notebook inserts inside it.

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Webster’s Pages classic and pocket traveler’s notebook covers

My classic (aka A5) cover is blush stripe, and the pocket size is blush. I am very into blush pink at the moment (it will probably be a very long moment) which is why I had to have the blush pink Artist Loft dot grid journal from Michaels. This is where I make my monthly and weekly spreads. I used to make daily spreads as well, but A) that takes a while, and B) my dailies migrated to a whiteboard on the refrigerator, and seem happy there, so who am I to move them? I’m experimenting with a minimalistic style in this planner, which is new for me, but fits with the blush, so it may stick.

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My calendars are in Dutch, because I am learning.

Inserts for both covers are usually Moleskine cahiers or Volants, but Picadilly has some super nice A5 inserts, as well. I get both brands at Barnes and Noble. My new discovery is Yellow Paper House, on the website or Etsy, which makes gorgeous inserts with colored paper. Insert heart eyes emoji here. My favorite pens could take up another post all by themselves, but, for daily use, I like Pilot Frixion erasable pens and pastel highlighters (also erasable.) I like the clicky ones best. I am not receiving any compensation from abovementioned brands; merely fangirling over my favorites. This weekend, I plan to try my hand at making my own inserts, because A) I am a control freak, and B) I like pretty notebooks that do exactly as I want.

The next request comes from a conversation with friends, this past weekend, and the idea of top five books. This is a hard question for many readers, because how do you pick? Going with top five for right now, not of all time, and I can write more, later, in depth, about said choices, but, for today, my top five historical romance novels are:

  1. Skye O’Malley – Bertrice Small
  2. Lovesong – Valerie Sherwood
  3. Pirate in my Arms – Danelle Harmon
  4. Tyburn – Jessica Cale
  5. Wild Bells to the Wild Sky – Laurie McBain

 

Top five YA novels, right now, are:

  1. Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
  2. Every Day – David Levithan
  3. Emergency Contact – Mary H.K. Choi
  4. We Are Okay – Nina La Cour
  5. I Will Go Barefoot All Summer For You -Katie Letcher Lyle

 

I could probably break this down further, to give lists of specific kinds of historical romances, or YAs, and favorites that don’t fall into either category.  (Nick Hornby, Evelyn Waugh, and (the real) V.C. Andrews, I am looking at you.) These will probably crop up in future posts, because A) instant post topic, on days when my blogging idea bank consists of “uhhh….” B) I will get to make a separate notebook to keep track of all of these lists, and C) I honestly could blabber about my favorite books forever. Ditto on the pens and notebooks, but a gal’s got to write sometime.

I am also putting a mental sticky note on the topic of abandoned notebooks, those that I started with the best of intentions and then…umm…yeahhh…:shoves stack of notebooks under bed, with foot: Some of them come back, as with Big Daddy Precious, aka the second from the bottom in the book stack, pictured. I fell in love with this notebook on sight, needed it, longed for it, and knew that I wanted to use it for Her Last First Kiss stuff. I started at it for longer than I would care to admit, then tried a bunch of different approaches, all of which fell completely flat.

Still, I packed it in with my must-haves when we moved, and, this past week, hauled it out of its box, when N and I gave ourselves homework to get ourselves back on track with the manuscripts we loved, but had been ignoring/hiding from/procrastinating. What better book than the one I can swear is giving me the side-eye? I hadn’t noticed it at the time, but the point in this notebook where I paused writing in it? Dead middle.  Solution? One page break, new title page, begin as if this was a brand new notebook.

The one thing I have learned from these notebooks abandoned in midstream is that whatever I was using them for, and then abandoned, wasn’t the right thing. Maybe I thought it was the right thing, but it wasn’t, and that’s normal and natural, does not mean I am a failure as a writer and/or human being. All it means is that I need to turn a fresh page and try something that is not what was giving me guff. Decent advice for most things, really. I may need to make an art journal page about that.

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Typing With Wet Claws: Post-Fiction Fest Edition

 

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. The humans have been talking about Forever Apartment options, so I think camp will be coming to a close sooner rather than later. I think. At any rate, this time, last week, Anty was getting ready to hit the road and come see me. She had to stop at CT Fiction Fest first, of course, and give her workshop with Anty Melva. I am happy to report, though, that she did come through with the laser pointer, but more on that later.

Regular readers, you know the drill. New readers, I have to talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interwebs (besides here, because you are here already) for the past week. Anty would like to remind readers that the best way to make sure you get every single blog entry, even if it is posted on the wrong day (Anty is only human, and Sebastian is kind of lazy) is to subscribe, here on the blog. That way, the new entries will come right to you. Also, she may or may not be thinking of posting something special when she hits the next milestone for subscribers. (Spoiler: she totally is planning exactly that.)

Okay, here we go. First of all, Anty was, as always, at Buried Under Romance on Saturday morning. This past week, she takes a look at buzzwords. This is not a post about bees, in case you were concerned about that (I was. Bees are scary.) but about words in titles that let us know what things we might find inside those books. Think dukes, scandals, Highlanders, that kind of thing. That post is here, and it looks like this:

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There are no actual bees in this post.

Even though the only thing Anty read over the weekend of Fiction Fest were her own notes and some handouts, she still has a favorite book of the week, and that is Eliza and Her Monsters, by Francesca Zappia. Anty gives this book a full five stars. Her review has big spoilers, so beware of that if you want to read the review. It is a YA, and it has romance and fandom, and art and writing, and, although Anty got this copy from the library, she is 100& buying it so that she can read it again. Her review is here, and it looks like this:

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Seriously. Big spoiler.

If you are following Anty’s Goodreads challenge, here are the stats for this week. Anty has now read seventy-four out of ninety books, which puts her at eighty-two percent of the way to her goal, and eleven books ahead of schedule. I am going to call that well done. Keep going, Anty. Story in, story out. That is how it works.

Coming back from ta conference with a lot of new tools is how going to a conference usually works, at least for Anty. she attended a workshop on writing historical fiction/romance, presented by Melanie Meadors. Miss Melanie has some amazing fashion sense, and some very good advice on writing in other times and places, past or future. Anty took a lot of notes, in that workshop and others. I will let her talk more about that later, if she wants to share any of them.

The workshop Anty knows the most about is the one that she presented with Anty Melva, on writing through real life plot twists. Real life cooperated and threw a few plot twists Anty and Anty Melva’s way, but they made it to the hotel, and to their workshop, which, by all accounts (that they know about, at least) went very well. Some humans came up to each of them after the workshop, with follow-up questions, which made them very happy.

Another thing that made Anty and Anty Melva very happy was the professional critique Anty Melva had, on a sample from Chasing Prince Charming. Anty was not at the critique, because this was a one person at a time kind of thing, but the other humans knew that this book really has two authors. They liked the sample a lot, and had some comments on how to make it even better.

Anty and Anty Melva made good use of some pockets of times before things got started at various points through the weekend, to do some work on the next part of Drama King, and also for setting up the third book they will write together. There was even some talk about what they want to write together next, after those books are done, but that can be a topic for later.

Anty loves meeting people at conferences, best of all, and she made some new friends at this one, including another writer of historical romance. Anty has wanted a historical romance writer buddy for a long time. Maybe this is how that kind of thing happens. We will see.

No, on to the most important part of the weekend, and that is Anty’s visit to me. It was a short visit, but it still counts. I will allow that things might have been less confusing for me if there were fewer people in the room (there were three) and it was not dinnertime, but it was still a good visit. Anty spent some time grooming me (I earned my treat, let me tell you that) and then it was time for the laser pointer.

I find the laser pointer very interesting, but A) it was mealtime, and B) there were too many people watching me, so I only looked at it. I will try playing next time, when it is only me and Anty. That should be fun.

That is about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

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The Fine Art of Self-bribery

Post-conference letdown is most certainly a thing. The change from spending an entire weekend amongst others of one’s kind, where writing, publishing, and promotion are the topics of the day, to quizzing one’s family on the location of garbage bags, and other domestic matters, is a big one. Sometimes, it takes a while. Sometimes, it takes more than that.

There is, of course, the physical reserves that need to be replenished. In other words, sleep. There needs to be some. The change from hotel bed, to home bed, may be an improvement, or it may be not an improvement. Kind of a crapshoot with that one, but at least home has the familiarity of home. On the down side, family members have still not consented to put mints on my pillow. Not that the hotel I stayed at did that either, but sometimes, it’s nice to have the gesture.

There’s unpacking, which usually includes laundry. I may get unicorn points for actually liking the whole laundry process, but that may also be because laundry time = reading time. This may count in the self-bribery category, an I am more than okay with that.

Getting back into the swing of things, after a conference, for me, involves a good deal of self-bribery. It’s very rare to come back from a conference as exactly the same writer one was when one went to said conference, and, along with swag, new friends, and possible free books, a writer generally comes back from a conference with new ideas and things they want to try. Do these things always fit into the category of business as usual? Not by a long shot.

Yesterday, my goal was to write this blog entry after I got home from breakfast with N. I’d attended CT Fiction Fest, and she’d been at an all-day event with our home chapter, Capitol Region Romance Writers. Naturally, this meant that we had to compare notes. Which led to giving ourselves homework. Which meant, for me, that a trip to nearby retailers, for new office supplies. To be fair, pretty much everything is a call for new office supplies for me, so this is not as big a deal as it may be for others. Even so, the pull of playing with new pens and/or paper and/or organizing the papers I already have are enough of an incentive to get me to actually do the same stuff that was haaaaarrrrrd before the conference (or not related to a conference. I always want to go get new pens, etc.)

As a result of this venture, my everyday carry pens and highlighters are all the same brand, Pilot Frixion. As much as I love the Pentel RSVP pens, and will still use them in other capacities, A) I did not have one in green, and B) my green Marvy LePen was mostly in there for sentimental reasons, anyway. It will go into a shadowbox, with related items, later. Now, my EDC pen case is a lean, mean, writing machine. Also, an erasable one, which is extremely useful for a perfectionist, marching herself resolutely back into a draft.

Sitting across from a critique/accountability partner and coming to terms that it is high time to get back to one’s current ms in one’s favorite genre, even when the room seems to get a little smaller, and lungs get a little bit squeezy at the thought of maybe not being able to do the thing one loves, as well as one would like. Especially when the word, “homework,” comes into play.

There’s the thing, though. Homework, especially homework that involves writing in longhand, means that it needs the proper supplies. It’s going to need paper. It’s going to need pens. Highlighters, maybe. A folder or notebook, definitely.  “Shopping” from my own stash, and picking out the supplies that volunteer as tribute, is as fun as purchasing new stuff, so it’s not all about the shopping.

It’s about the focus. It’s about the commitment. It’s about honoring the story and the characters, and wanting to get myself in the very best position to see this through to the end.

So, today, I lay out the pens and highlighters all from the same maker. I checked to see if the laptop cord will reach from the kitchen table, to a power strip on a nearby wall. Spoiler: it does., I will test the Mac Book and desktop later. The thought of happy back and happy eyeballs at the same time, with the added bonus of not having to scramble to my feet, is a powerful draw. So is the chance to practice drawing (pun intended) once I have my writing goals for the day, met.

There is a new scented candle on the table now, pine, to hint of the seasons soon to begin, and a fresh cup of tea, to warm body and soul. My planners (yes, plural) are nearby, so I can have visible evidence of tasks accomplished, and a clear outline of where I need to go, to get to where I want to be. The seasonal Windows theme is new to me, and it’s fun, as well as helping to set the mood. I’m not at the point, yet, where I want a different theme, depending on the project I’m working on at the moment, but that could be a reward, trying stuff out, in that manner, for doing some of the eat the frog stuff that is also on my list.

Making up stories, and polishing the rough stuff, that’s the fun part. Poking around in electronic guts, or hauling a desktop around the common room, eh, not so much, but, if I do those things, it makes doing the fun stuff all that much easier/more efficient. The instructions for the printer are right there, on top of the box. Get that in place, and I can print pages. When I can print pages, I can three-hole-punch them. When I three-hole-punch them, I can put them in a binder. When I put them in a binder, I can see the manuscript grow, as I print out the fruit of each new session. Carrot and stick; it works for me.

Feeling Myself

CT Fiction Fest 2018 is now a memory. This will be a fairly quick post, as I am (mostly) unpacked, (almost) ready for laundry, and now navigating the murky waters of that space between the return from conference and what the humans call “real life.” The fact that I am writing Monday’s post on Tuesday should be a small taste of that.

Today is grayish, and quiet, with whisper of possible thunderstorms later on. I am highly in favor of all of this. My notes from the conference workshops, both the one I co-presented with Melva and the ones that I didn’t, are in my traveler’s notebook, ready for me to go over them with pastel highlighters and possibly copy to a computer file. I have notes from late night brainstorms with Melva, about the rest of our current manuscript together, setting up the third , which will follow this one, and there were even whispers of what we want to do after this three book cycle is finished.

It’s not a question of do we want to work together again, but of course we do, so we have a sticky note on top of what’s next. Stay in this story world, or start something new-new-new? Not sure yet, a we are focusing on what’s in front of us, but I am sure that, whatever it is, it will come about as organically as the  first three, and this, our first workshop. We’ve already talked some about proposing a workshop on writing together, once the first book is available to readers, and that feels right.

We also talked about our solo projects. On our own, we write very different things. Melva writes cozy romantic suspense, and nonfiction humor, while I write historical romance, and whatever these blogs are. We each floated out some tentative feelers for our future solo projects, during a late night plotting group. We went straight from the dessert buffet, to a ballroom with a circle of chairs, inhabited by people we didn’t know, but also knew they were our people, aka romance writers. There were no introductions, no small talk, just “do you have anything?” and yes, yes, we each did.

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I think she’s plotting something…

I trotted out the bare bones of my Hogmanay story, with the not-so-dead husband, and very much alive fiancé. Nobody pointed and laughed. Nobody bodily dragged me to the door, because I was obviously Not A Real Writer. There was only the question, “who do you want her to end up with?” to which I answered, without hesitation, that it would be the husband. There was a mention that this reminded some of the gathered writers of the opening of Poldark, which A) I love, and B) had not been thinking of when I first encountered Davey, Lennox, and Gavin. Neutral intonation. No pointing. No laughing, and everybody agreed that Poldark is awesome, now back to this story. These strangers, who were also sisters (and brother) in arms asked questions, offered possibilities, and, above all, too my word as law on all things regarding this story. If I say no, then it was no. If I said yes, everybody won. In the end, someone tossed out a “what if” that made my ears perk. I’ll have to change some bits of my original concept, but this is as it ought to be. The second draft will come out better, stronger, and have the legs to carry itself all the way to The End. Which will also be a starting point to the next story.

Though I do meet, individually, with writer friends, this brainstorming session reminded me of how long it’s been since I’ve been in a group, and how much I liked it. I’ve tried a couple, since arriving in Albany (the first time, not coming home after the conference) and though I liked all the people in those groups, the fit wasn’t right. My ideal would be all romance writers, specifically historical romance, but we will see what will happen. Conferences are great for networking, and this one was no exception.

One of the things on my post-conference to-do list is to order new business cards, because A) I gave a lot of cards out during the last few days, and B) an exploding can of Diet Coke took out most of those that remained. I love the whole trading business cards part of conferences. It involves meeting people, talking about books, and stationery. What’s not to love? There’s a certain thrill that comes from handing a business card to the person one has been chatting with for the last few minutes, and their neighbor, who was not part of the conversation, asks if they can have one, too.  There are also the sticky notes I carry, for those who have run out of cards, or don’t ha them yet. I need to restock those, too, and I am happy about that.

That, however, is a job for tomorrow. Tomorrow is a good day to stick a toe back into everyday life. Tomorrow is time to resume my weekly breakfasts with N, where we can fill each other in on the separate events we attended over the weekend, and compare notes. tomorrow is a good time to go over the notes for Melva’s and my workshop, and see where I could do better on taking our own advice. Tomorrow is time to sit at the kitchen table, with pen and paper and tea, and make the empty page not be so empty anymore. I am looking forward to that.

As for today, there is this blog entry, and there is, of course, tea. There is a stack of library books to read, and there is Netflix or Hulu, if I am so inclined. There is an Irish fisherman knit afghan and dregs of a tea-scented candle, and the day-off sounds of Real Life Romance Hero puttering about in random fashion. Today is for filling the well. Tomorrow, I draw from it again.

Typing With Wet Claws: CT Fiction Fest Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another very special Typing With Wet Claws, coming to you direct from Camp Grandma. Today is a very exciting day. because today is the first day of Connecticut Fiction Fest, where Anty and Anty Melva will be presenting their workshop. Their workshop will be at ten AM on Sunday, but today is the day Anty packs her things, and hits the road. First, she and Mama will drive to where Anty Melva Lives. Then Mama will come to Camp Grandma, to spend the weekend with me, and Anty will go, with Anty Melva, to Fiction Fest. If you are going to be there, make sure to say hi. Anty loves this whole networking thing.

The other reason today is exciting is because it is the day I will get my laser pointer. I am a little worried, because this particular laser pointer is also a pen, so Anty will naturally be drawn to it (pun unintended, but it can stay) but if I have fun with it, and Anty can see that, she will probably let me have it. Probably. I like playing with people more than I like playing with toys, and this is a toy Grandma should be able to handle. Anty wants to make sure I get enough exercise, and playing is the way indoor kitties like me do that.

Because the rule here is that I cannot talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway) let’s get to that. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about the worst thing about great books. Can you guess what it is? That post is here, and it looks like this:

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the struggle is real

Next, we come to Anty’s Goodreads challenge. Sebastian has spent most of the week in a sunbeam (to be honest, I probably would have done the same thing myself, so somebody still has to add a few dates and reviews, but, at current writing, Anty is now eighty percent of the way to her goal of reading ninety books this year. That means she has read seventy-two books, so far, and is eleven books ahead of schedule. Anty is a reading machine. Keep going, Anty. You’ve got this.

The favorite book that Anty read this week is A Map For Wrecked Girls. by Jessica Taylor. Anty loves desert island stories, shipwreck stories, and stories about friendship loss (and maybe healing) and this story has all of those things. Anty’s review of this book is here, and it looks like this:

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Anty knows very well that she will probably come home with a, um, boatload of books from the conference. Probably. She has never been to this conference before, so maybe they do things differently on that front. I know Anty, though. Anyway, even though Anty is headed to what is basically Writer Disneyland, where A) she will be busy talking to other writers most of the time, and B) there may very well be books that people just give her, she is still bringing her Kindle, and probably a library book as well. I know my Anty. She is not going anywhere without reading material.

Anty is also not going anywhere without her planners. That is right, I used the plural. Besides Big Pink (who has a new cover; Anty will show you that later) she is bringing Li’l Pink, who has new inserts. Those inserts do not include the insert Anty made from scratch, because there is a very good reason why making traveler’s notebook inserts by candlelight is not a thing. That reason is because candlelight, while pretty, does not allow for a clear view of the colors a human is using. That is why Anty picked paper that she thought was pink, was actually neon orange. Faded neon orange, but still orange. Orange is not the new pink.

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Good first try, Anty. As Miss H said, when Anty mentioned wanting to try a new creative thing, “go for it. First you’ll suck, then you’ll get better.” Miss H is pretty smart. She also recommended that Anty watch a movie called Black Panther, when Anty comes home from the conference. With a title like that, I am going to assume that this movie is about cats. I could say a lot about the need for feline representation in Hollywood, but that is for another post. Maybe if they need a sequel, Brown Tabby would be a catchy title. I cannot say it rolls off my tongue, because my tongue has bristles, because I am a kitty, but I think it’s a title that would appeal to a wide audience.

Now it is time for Anty to get packing, so that is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebye2018

 

Tabling the Issue

This morning, I sat at the kitchen table -I call it the kitchen table, though it’s really in the common room; we basically have a studio apartment, plus a bedroom-  and made a list on pen and paper, to make some sense of the blog topics swirling around my mind this morning. There were a lot.

Two nights ago, my writer friend, H, introduced me to an animated Japanese film, that is still holding onto a lot of my brain space, and, oddly enough, embodies a lot of what I love about historical romance, though the film really isn’t one. Still thinking on that, and will likely blog on that later. There’s the conference coming, and stuff I still have to o in order to get ready, much of which I will be doing after I get this  blog entry posted.

Then there’s the (probably) most mundane thing on my list, the fact that I like writing at the kitchen table, which is not really the kitchen table. It’s not in the kitchen, and it’s basically the everything table, but kitchen table it is, when I tink about it, so I’m calling it that.

Since I am a pen and paper first writer, having the table solves al ot of the between-offices issues. When the rest of the family is ougt of the apartment, there’s my uninterrupted writing time. My brain works easier on pen and paper than facing a blank computer screen, so I’m not sure why I haven’t roughed out blog entries on paper before now.

In the best of all possible worlds, I would probably want to write in longhand only, hand the pages off to somebody else to transcribe, then go over the printed pages with pens, highlighters and sticky notes, as many times as it takes to make a finished raft. Maybe that will happen someday, when I’ve sold more books, but, for now, I have to fill both roles.

Writing at the kitchen table has a few benefits. For one thing, there is a time limit. Since this is the everything table, I need to be done by mealtimes. I usually do the cooking anyway, so that limit is pretty but make-your-own-sandwich nights, and eat in feral cat mode, aka everybody retreat to their neutral corners nights, are now a thing. In that case, I get the table.) Because the table is the everything table, that also mean I can’t let any clutter accumulate. When the session is over, everything must go, and back to the place where it lives, so I can find it for the next time.

The table is also within eyeshot of the kitchen, so I am only a few strides away from tea, at any given time. Tea is an essential part of the process, so this is a huge plus. When I look up from the page, the first thing I see is the flame of the jar candle, which is another strong positive. Maybe its’ something primal about how our ancestors would gather around the communal fire, and tell stories. Maybe it’s that I like candles. Maybe Stare at the flame for a few seconds, take in the scent (iced tea scent, today) and then get back to putting ink on the page.

There are a few negatives, too. For one thing, I really like writing at the table, but handwritten manuscripts are a thing of the past. Little historical romance writer humor there. Very little. This means that, at some point, I am going to have to transcribe.

This is an issue because all of the  outlets directly under the table are occupied by router and something else with blinky lights. There are also outlets that I could reach, with an extension cord, to the left or right, but, on the right, those outlets are already occupied by TV and cable box. To the left, we have Housemate’s bed. The cord would go directly across her face. We’re good friends, but extension cord across the face is a lot to ask, even for besties. This also means that I would need to fix the Mac’s three-beep thing (which I have to do anyway, so put on the  big girl panties, Anna) and/or propping the pink laptop up with multiple binders, so it’s at the right angle, or, for the truly desperate and/or dedicated times, hauling the desktop and monitor over to the table, and then putting it back where it goes, when the transcription session is done.

When we do move, and I can get my real desk back, I want to keep it for handwriting, and get a different desk for computer work.  Since my beloved office chair has wheels, I can put each desk on opposite walls, an turn around when I want to go from one, to the other. Space permitting. If not, well, I really do like this table.

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In other news, there is an update on the War of the Roses. Tudor (or maybe Lancaster, as it is possible that somebody mixed up the pots before they got labeled) officially has a blossom. Bloom? Flower? I will know for sure when it fully opens and shows us if it’s all red, or red-and-white.  More petals than bud now, so I can’t say bud anymore, but my rose vocabulary is lacking. At any rate, I am proud of this new development. His brother has some new leaves, and there may be things going on with the stems growing new stuff, but this is the first actual flower since the great drowning of August. Maybe it’s a sign.

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Five Days, And Counting

Right now, I am ensconced in the latest iteration of my writing corner. With the addition of an improvised floor pillow, created from Housemate’s old comforter, the current setup is pretty darned close to a video game chair, which is not only useful for writing, but for computer gaming, as well. With yet another heat wave, with high humidity, forecast for this week, staying inside and writing is pretty much my entire week. This is a good thing.

Anything physical gets done in morning or evening. Days are for writing, which suits me fine. On Friday, I hit the road, to Connecticut Fiction Fest, riding shotgun for Melva Michaelian, aka my contemporary cohort. Things happen when we’re left alone together, unsupervised. Those things tend to be book-related, so it’s a pretty good deal. We will be taking not only our act on the road, but our dinner as well, (we have both agreed that the grilled cheese with hot peppers incident has to go in a book, someday. There is a lollipop bouquet incident, in Chasing Prince Charming, that actually did happen, aka That Year Anna Won Everything, Whether She Wanted It Or Not, and I have every reason to expect that this latest adventure is going to spawn an incident or two of its own.

With the way scheduling and transportation worked out, we will be arriving at the hotel around 7pm on Friday night, so we’ll be raring to go on Saturday, to pump us up for Sunday. Melva, a long-time educator, is a pro at public speaking, and I will talk to anybody, at any time. (I have vivid memories of my mother telling three year old me that there are restaurants that allow dancing and restaurants that do not allow dancing, and she would tell me which ones were which, but plopping myself down at stranger’s tables and introducing myself was not a very good idea. Yep, I was a unique kiddo.) With this in mind, public-speaking nerves are not really a thing (speaking for myself here) but there’s still a degree of nervousness.

As in, there will be an approximately fifty-minute span of time, where the entire population of a room will be looking, specifically, at me.  Okay, fine, Melva and me, plus the PowerPoint, plus their own feet, their notebooks or laptops, the weird stain on the carpet, possibly insides of their eyelids, whatever name the barista wrote on their coffee cup, etc. It’s not all about me, which is a good thing, but it is a topic that Melva and I both know a lot about. I find it only fitting that the conference will come after a heat wave, which means I had best take my own advice this week.

The plain truth is, that, sometimes, writing can’t happen. Hot, muggy days, when everything seems to crawl at a snail’s pace, sometimes fit into that category. Fingers crossed that this is summer’s last gasp, and not only because I am all about the pretty leaves, crisp air, and pumpkin everything. Summer is my least favorite season, and I don’t see that changing, but there is still some good to be found in those long, humid days, where there is so much moisture in the air, we start cracking jokes about having air fish.

I like taking care of the house, especially since Housemate and I liberated some items from the storage unit, this past weekend, and I can now make a few things a bit neater, a bit prettier, a bit easier to use. One of those things is my writing corner. I still miss my beloved desk, and I will admit that I did pet the drawers, when we saw them in storage, but I like this pile of cushions, and Ikea coffee table, too. It’s kind of decadent, really, being this comfortable, which can be, at times, extremely conducive to getting my imaginary friends out of my head (though, are they ever, really?) and onto the page. Sometimes, I even think that giving myself permission not to write on a hot day like today, actually makes it easier to do exactly that.

Kind of an escape hatch, really. I don’t have to use it every time, but it’s good to know it’s there. Today is hot. Today is muggy. Sleep was meh, and there are a million things to do, to get ready for the conference, not to mention the fact that this is a holiday, so who’s going to be reading blog entries, anyway? The world wouldn’t end if I posted tomorrow, instead of today, which is exactly when my brain propelled me from its spot in front of the box fan, to my cushion pile in front of the coffee table, to blabber in circles for a while.

At the end of this week, I will pack a bunch of black dresses in my rolling suitcase, sling my laptop bag over one shoulder, and pile into first Housemate’s car, and then Melva’s, to tumble out, in the darkening night, at a hotel I’ve never been to before. I have no idea what the badges look like at CTFF, but if there is some sort of presenter ribbon, I am going to be stoked. Some other signifier would be fine, too, and I have two anthology contributions that came out in the last thirty days. Not novels, no, but my stuff, in books, that people buy. Okay, then. Onward we go.

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Typing With Wet Claws: Fiction Fest Prep Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another very special Feline Friday, coming to you from Camp Grandma. This time, next week, Anty will be on her way to Connecticut Fiction Fest, where she and Anty Melva get to give their workshop, on writing through real life plot twists. Since Mama will be handing Anty off to Anty Melva, there is a good chance that Anty will get a chance to see me, on this visit. Probably on the way back, but I am not going to complain. Any visit is a good visit (except for vet visits) and, besides, she owes me a laser pointer.

SebastianWindow

Although Sebastian has not yet updated Anty’s Coming Soon page, there is news. Both anthologies are now available for purchase.

New York’s Emerging Writers: an Anthology of Nonfiction is available here. That is where you can read Anty’s essay, “Greetings From Boxville.”

If it is fiction you are after, you can read “Ravenwood,” the first two scenes from Anty’s novel, A Heart Most Errant, is available here, in New York’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction. If you like this excerpt, and would like to read the whole book, please consider telling that to the publisher humans.

Now, on to where you can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, this week (other than here, because, well, you already know how to get here, if you are already here, so you do not need me to tell you.) As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about when reading is slow, and when it is fast. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURslowslowquickquick

Speaking of reading, it is time to look at Anty’s Goodreads Challenge. It is not even September, but Anty would have to do some serious slacking to fall off course now, as she has read seventy-one books, out of her goal of ninety, which puts her at seventy-nine percent of the way to her goal, and twelve books ahead of schedule. Good job, Anty. Keep reading.

The book Anty liked best this week was The Love Slave, by Bertrice Small. Anty said I should mention that it is a very, very grownups-only book, with very mature themes, and younger readers, or gentle readers of any age, may want to read a different book. Anty’s review is here, and it looks like this:

GRsmalltheloveslave

Some of you may have noticed that Anty did not blog on Wednesday. That is because it was too hot in NY, and she was not feeling well. It is cooler now, and she is much better, and she acknowledges that she owes you a blog entry. She is thinking of sneaking in some updates from Fiction Fest, but that will depend on the wifi connection, and whether or not she can fix her new laptop. No big surprise, because Anty has been dubbed the computer killer.

The laptop is not dead, though. It is only doing the three beeps thing, so Anty is watching some YouTube videos of how to fix the problem at home, and then she will ask Mama to borrow a baby screwdriver, and give it a go. Anty already has figured out how she will keep all of the tiny screws straight (they are not all the same size) – she will divide a piece of paper into sections, and put each screw in its proper section, that matches where it is on the actual computer. This is where it comes in handy to be a planning sort of person.

Planning also has a dark side, though. Anty found that out this week. Even when Anty does not feel well in the heat, and does not have a lot of energy, she still has enough energy to look at her notebooks. Last weekend, Anty finally got the blush stripe cover for Big Pink, that she has been drooling over (not literally; that would be gross) for a really long time, but was hesitant to move into it, because it wasn’t exactly perfect.

That, as you might imagine, was what inspired Anty to rip all of the inserts out of the old cover (that was not very old at all; she will now use it to protect trade size paperbacks when she reads away from home) and put them into the new one. Only, she did not put all of them into the new cover. That is because the hardcover Moleskine did not fit the new cover.  That was rather upsetting, because Anty liked having the hardcover Moleskine in there, but she can buy a new cahier insert, to do the same job. She needs to get more inserts anyway, since she had filled one of them.

Anty also figured out why she could not settle on how she wanted to use the inserts she had set up in Li’l Pink. That was because Li’l Pink is, well, pink, and the inserts are in shades of blue . She’d been wanting (and still wants) to move to Li’l Pink for her everyday carry, and, while the blue inserts are very pretty, they might not be the easiest to read important information on; Anty wants pink or ivory pages for that, but she wants to use the blue pages for reading and writing things.

The same company that sells Big and Li’l Pink, also has a teal (teal is a greenish-blue color, that is very pretty) cover, that is on sale at the same store where Anty got the pink covers. Her current plan is to go to the store, get the teal cover, and put the blue inserts in that one. Then, (or maybe before; I have not seen her schedule for the evening) she will either buy new inserts for Li’l Pink (Moleskine makes a pastel assortment, that Anty likes, or Kraft paper covers are good, too) or she will find a pack of three pocket sized inserts that have pink covers, that are packed away in storage.

Thankfully, Anty was pretty hardcore about labeling the boxes that came from her office, so it should not be too hard to find the box of inserts. She might even share some of them with Mama, because she has lured Mama over to the dark side, and now Mama has a notebook cover of her own. I do not have my own planner, so far, but pocket size is also kitty size, so maybe it is in my future.

That is about it for this week.  Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebye2018