Plans and Deviations

If I can get this blog entry written and up in exactly twenty-nine minutes, that means I can still stay on schedule. For someone highly motivated by planning, this is the carrot on the stick. Hitting the page with no particular topic this morning, but am tired of writing about not having a topic, so off I go, into uncharted territory, and, somehow, we will fill the magic seven hundred words needed to call this post done, and then I can have lunch. Sounds like a good plan to me.

It’s Monday, the start of another week, which means that my ideal plan was to spend the majority of Sunday making my weekly and daily planner pages. No, I am not going to talk about making planner pages. That is highly fascinating to people who are into that sort of thing, dead boring for those who are not, and oddly confusing for everybody who isn’t sure if they fall into either category, and isn’t this technically a writer’s blog, anyway?  Specifically romance writing; I mean, really, it’s right there in the title.

Okay, technically right under the title. If we’re going only by the title, this could be construed as a blog about typing (or nail care) which would probably have delighted my father to no end. What we get instead, is one romance writer-slash-blogger making her way back onto the bookshelves after a life detour. Anything under that umbrella (and it is a pretty big one) is fair game. Which is useful on blabbery mornings like this one. I am going to leave out the stuff that would actually be interesting if this were a blog about planning (and I have not ruled one of those out, but books come first,) like how my default lettering style seems to owe a lot to American traditional tattoo art. That can probably be explained by my affinity for Ink Master, but is not actually applicable until whenever it is that I have a hero or heroine who actually has or creates tattoos. So far, we are at zero for that one, which means we are stopping this bunny trail now.

One thing I have learned when creating my own planner (I am not turning this into a post on planning, I promise. Stick with me here.) is that deviations are going to happen. Write a first draft, start on the second, and this will become eminently clear. I have, thankfully, banked enough pages to bring to critique session with N that I can put this particular puzzle on the back burner, but there’s that moment when I’m tapping my pencil against the well-worn surface of the now bonus-office-buddy-free desk (please please please be a bonus-office-buddy-free desk) and staring at chapter sixteen of Her Last First Kiss and kind of one-eye-squinting at the screen (also a reminder to visit optomestrist, because eyeballs are kind of important) trying to figure out why this second draft scene is not gelling (note: whenever a writer puts a note that reads some variation of “figure this out later” that writer should remember that later always arrives.) and a particular bit of useful but annoying advice comes back into play.

That bit would be to go back to the last place things absolutely worked. There was a decision made somewhere in there that sent something off on a wonky  track. This is also known as the place where that missing piece is probably waiting, tapping its foot and wondering what took the writer so danged long to get back to it. Sure enough, if Character X had y’d before they z’d, then Character A could be aware of the y-ing and boom, there’s where chapter sixteen wraps.

If this were a planner or bujo or art journal page, I would slap a piece of washi tape over the mistake and move on along. Washi tape does not work well with computer screens, so this requires going back to the previous chapter and making a different decision. It’s an easy fix, so why is it scary? Why the overthinking and avoidance? Why not do the writing equivalent of slapping down some washi tape – backspacing, maybe, or strikethrough, if this is a discovery draft- and keep on going? If I had the answer to that, I would not be pushing the goal date for getting A Heart Most Errant to beta readers back another week, but what I can do is start from where I am, and keep on moving in the right direction.

Boom. Back on schedule. See you Wednesday.

 

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Typing With Wet Claws: Save the Dates Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. I tried to convince Anty to wait to take my picture until Uncle was awake, so I would be perkier, but she said something about a schedule and took my picture anyway. It is hard being a mews sometimes. I have been hard at work this week, so we had better get down to business.

Before I can talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway,) I have to tell you where on the interwebs, besides here, that you can find Anty’s writing this week.  As usual, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. Her theme for September is Back to Romance School, because it is always a good idea to brush up on the basics. (As long as that brush is not on me, I am fine with that. I am a sensitive girl, and brushing makes me licky.) What two elements does every single romance novel ever published have to have? Anty’s post covers it all. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURbacktoschool

Now that the new TV season has begun, Anty will have many more chances to write about kissy stuff on TV shows, and it all kicks off with her recap of the season three premiere of Outlander, “The Battle Joined,” at Heroes and Heartbreakers. That post is here, and it looks like this:

HandHOutlanders3e1

but what about Frank?

Next, we move on to the reading portion of the post. Anty is now one book behind in her Goodreads goal, but I am willing to cut her some slack, because it has been a very full week, and she is almost done with the latest Marsha Canham book. Anty can read Ms. Marsha’s books pretty fast, because Ms. Marsha is one of Anty’s favorite writers. The weekend is here, Anty’s Kindle is full, and I expect good things ahead. Anty is not a total slacker, as she wrote a review of the one book she did finish reading this week. That book was this one:

 

 

 

This week was a good one for Anty, because she got to add a few things to her schedule, and Anty loves putting new things on her schedule. That is why she made a new banner, so that I can add a Coming Soon section.

Here are some things Anty will be doing very soon:

Anty will also be recapping the odd-numbered episodes of Outlander all season long, while Elizabeth Poteet will recap the even-numbered episodes. On even weeks, Anty can make popcorn and watch, as a fan. That should be pretty fun, too, and, because she will not have to take notes while watching, she can have her hands free to pet me. I prefer head scritches, thank you, but chest is okay too, if she is very gentle.

Because this has been a very busy week, Anty  has pushed the date of getting A Heart Most Errant to beta readers back to September 21st, so maybe I should put that on the calendar, too. Maybe after my nap. Being a good mews takes a lot of energy. Anty would have preferred to have the book in readers’ hands already, but then she has to remind herself that A) there is no deadline on this one, and B) she would rather take the time and do it right than rush and then wish she had fixed things. I would tell her not to worry, that her beta readers will find things she can fix, but that generally does not come across as a big help.

Now that it is fall, Anty is in her groove, so keep an eye on the coming soon section to see what else she may be up to in the near future. Frankly, I am surprised that her love of planning has not carried over to the site before this, but, then again, she did not consult me on this matter. I could have told her that keeping that section up to date means that she gets to have another sort of calendar. That is my tip for this week: writers, listen to your cats more. Especially when they ask for food or head scritches.

Okay, that looks like everything on my list, so now it is time for Tuna Roll’s Thought of the Day. Take it away, Tuna Roll.

0825TunaRoll

If you find yourself swimming in circles, that will always take you home. -Tuna Roll

Thank you, Tuna Roll. That is very reassuring. That is also about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebyenew

see you next week

 

I Can Do Anything For Fifteen Minutes

Yesterday, I got home from my weekly critique session with N, and noticed that I was ahead of schedule. We’d started early, because we had to finish early, because N needed to be home when the window guy came to see what he could do about one of the windows in casa N. The actual numbers on the clock didn’t register with me, because N and I focused on the pages in front of us, and, as usual, had a productive meeting. Then Mr. N showed to retrieve N, and drop me home. That’s when I noticed what had felt different all morning. I was ahead of schedule. For someone who loves planning, this is both cause for celebration and mild alarm.

What am I going to do with all this extra time? Granted, the extra time amounted to a whopping thirty minutes, and I would be lying if I said that my use of that time did not include Sims Free Play, and posting a picture of Skye to Instagram. No regrets. I am not going to pretend, either, that I remember exactly where it was that I read an article on the habits of productive people, but what stuck with me was the efficient use of time, so I’m going with that for today’s topic.

I’ve always liked to have things in order. Older family members can attest that I had a love of putting things in boxes from the day I discovered fine motor skills, as well as my leaving folded and scribbled-upon pieces of paper all over the house. When asked about said papers, I always identified them as “books,” and that I was the author. This may have been a sign of things to come.  A once-upon-a-time friend introduced me to Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, and her concept of one-inch picture frames. Pretty much the same thing as the old joke about eating an elephant one bite at a time. In other words, tree, not forest. Focus on one small thing at a time, and the rest can wait their turns.

When, sometime in the recent, unspecified past, I read that article on productive people, I noticed I’m already doing some of the things right, which is encouraging. Regular morning routine? Check. Keeping a paper notebook? Check plus plus plus plus plus, infinity (well, not quite, but I do love my notebooks, and use a lot of them.) Keeping a daily schedule? Check, but there’s more. This article talked not only about keeping an hourly schedule, but breaking those hours into fifteen minute chunks. Hmm.

This is the point where the writer who loves to plan squints at the pages of the dot grid planner spread in front of her. I already have my day broken down into one hour units, and there happen to be four rows of dots in each hour, which corresponds to four fifteen minute units. This is also the point where there is a whispered voiceover from K.A. Mitchell (okay, maybe not whisper in this case) and one of her previous workshops, on writer’s block.  “I can do anything for fifteen minutes,” that voiceover says, and it’s true.

Fifteen minutes fit very nicely into one-inch picture frames, from where I’m sitting, so what if I tried breaking those hours into quarter hours? Hmm. This may be worth a shot. Not that I’m going to micromanage my day into precise fifteen minute blocks, but, on days when getting into the groove needs a little help, or things haven’t quite gelled in the ol’ writerbrain, fifteen minutes is a manageable chunk. Pen on paper or fingers on keys for fifteen minutes, then we can do something else. Sure, I don’t always want to stop at the end of the fifteen minutes, and I don’t have to stop; there’s no law on that.

The other thing that stood out to me about this article was the practice of touching a task once. I stink at this task.  This one is going to take some work, but, again, fifteen minutes for email, and then I am done? That, I can do. This also encompasses the practice of assigning certain tasks to certain times and leaving them the heck alone when it isn’t their turn. This one may also take some practice, but that’s okay. I like structure.

There’s one more habit, as well, that stuck in my mind, which tells me I may remember more about this article than I think I did, and that’s assigning the most important task to an uninterrupted two hour chunk in the morning. For me, this would be the WIPs. Add pages to the second draft of Her Last First Kiss, and move A Heart Most Errant toward being ready for beta readers. I’m waiting on Melva’s pages for the start of Drama King, so my work on that book can go grab a cup of tea and wait until it hears its name called.

Put stuff on the pages. That’s all I need to focus on at a particular time. Not Must Get Career Back In Motion, not eve Write The Whole Book, but right here, right now, do this one thing. As my writer friend, H, says, it’s just riffing. For fifteen minutes? I can do that, easy.

A New Notebook, Some Love Scenes, and an Ex-Mouse

Welp, it’s Monday again. No big surprise. This weekend went by fast. Saturday started out with the discovery that I have had a bonus office buddy for an undetermined amount of time. Said bonus office buddy had shuffled off this mortal coil before I came across what he left behind (aka his earthly remains) while looking for Post It notes to put in my new notebook, for CR-RWA meetings only. My desk is a secretary style desk, with a fold-out writing surface, and cabinet space beneath. Since dear departed bonus office buddy was kind of carpet-colored, it took me a few seconds to process what lay before me. There was no necropsy performed, but from what I can tell, Bob (let’s call him Bob) was on his way out of the lower part of my desk, when his little mousey heart gave out. His exit, both from my desk,  and his corporeal existence, seems to be fairly recent.

He might have been on his way to look for foodstuffs, because I do not keep any in my desk, so going elsewhere really was his best bet, but he’d have been out of luck anyway, since all food is secured. Bob was not our first rodent roommate, that’s all I’m saying. I can at this time, confirm that Skye had nothing to do with Bob’s demise, as there was a carpet between them. Skye’s hatred of my office carpet is strong enough to keep her from de-rodenting my desk, but I do suspect some of her intent stares in my general direction during Bob’s tenure may have been at least partly for him. I prefer not to think about the duration of that tenure. I also prefer not to think about the amount of times I rested my bare feet inside that open cabinet over the last few months. I am going to assume that Bob and I have never touched.

That was how my weekend started. I did get the notebook put together, and I am rather proud of the results. Pictures to follow, because I didn’t have time to set up everything right off the bat, but turning to a fresh page of lined, cream colored paper, with the date stenciled at the top, and posting the cap to a fountain pen, adds a certain gravitas to the taking of notes. Ballpoint on notebook paper doesn’t have the same effect. This month, the topic was love scenes, by the wonderful K. A. Mitchell, which is excellent timing, because the love scenes in both of my current historical manuscripts, Her Last First Kiss, and A Heart Most Errant, are going to need some work, and my contemporary co-author, Melva, and I haven’t even talked about the love scenes for Drama King. 

Though we had a Skype session slated for Sunday afternoon, the connection (computer, not personal) was wonky, and we had to reschedule the meeting. Didn’t help that anxiety was rampaging through my brain like a herd of water buffalo, and there was still the Outlander recap to do at the end of the night. No spoliers if you haven’t yet watched, but suffice it to say season three is off to an excellent start.

Which brings us back to Monday, and the fact that I have blabbered my way through most of this entry without a firm topic, so I will keep on blabbering until at least that magic seven hundredth word. This weekend had a few surprises. I brought a new writer friend (who is both a new friend and a new writer; hi, Erin :waves:) with me to her very first RWA meeting, where I met another new friend (hi, Terry :waves again:) who also writes historical, and makes a mean Butterfingers cookie. My beloved pink laptop may require either a system restore or trip to the computer doctor, which was not a snag I had anticipated, but will be worth the effort if it gets her back in fighting trim. Now that I have been introduced to the wonders of Skype (and of video blogging; I have not forgotten that) I don’t want to go back, and not going back means, well, going forward.

Going forward sometimes means going into the unknown. I’d say ask Bob, but Bob’s not answering anything right now. Sometimes, reaching into the recesses of one’s desk for a Post-It means finding an ex-mouse first. Not expected, not pleasant, but better to know about those things as soon as possible rather than waiting for the what’s-that-smell stage of the game. One disposes of the ex-mouse, obtains the Post-Its, and proceeds to the meeting and keeps on going.

Today, I am tucking in with some of the changes I need for this next section of Her Last First Kiss, figuring out how the puzzle pieces fit together. Thanks to K.A. Mitchell’s expertise, I have the seeds of this book’s first love scene on the pages of that new notebook. There’s a while yet before I can get there; one house party that now needs to be a specific event, in a specific place, with specific people, rather than what it had been before, but I know where I’m going. I’ll take that.

Really Fall Now Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It very much feels like September now, with cooler air, the very young humans (some live on our street) back in school, pumpkin spice things coming home from the grocery store (along with pen and paper things, because Anty loves back to school supplies.) Uncle even closes some of the windows, sometimes. In case you do not know him, this is big. The biggest sign, though, is that my shedding has now entered the “how much hair do you have, kitty?” territory. Anty thinks all of my shed fur migrates to my neck from other parts of my body, and possibly also from other cats. I can neither confirm nor deny that theory.

As per our agreement, before I can talk about anything else (even though that is usually Ant’s writing, anyway) I have to talk about where you can read Anty’s writing on the interwebs, other than here. The past Saturday, like every Saturday, she was at Buried Under Romance, with the last entry in this year’s romance appreciation month theme, the power of the HEA (that means happily ever after, in case you do not read a lot of romance novels; that means that the humans in love will be okay at the end of the book.) That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURpowerofhea

Anty also had a post on Heroes and Heartbreakers this week. Many historical romances are set in the nineteenth century, which include two distinct historical periods, Regency and Victorian. If you are not clear on how to tell which is which when reading a romance novel, Anty has a post that may be of some help. That post is here, and it looks like this:

HandHRegencyVsVictorian

Now it is time to talk about how Anty did with reading this week. She is still on track, for the fifth week in a row, with sixty-one out of her goal of ninety books for this year. That puts her at sixty-eight percent of her goal. Go, Anty. Keep going. You got this. The books Anty read and reviewed this week are:

and

 

This is also the time of year when things tend to get moving for Anty, writingwise. That is a very good thing. Anty will be making her  very first author visit at Buried Under Romance on the eighteenth of September, to talk about Orphans in the Storm. The teaser for that one looks like this:

OrphansInTheStormTeaser

 

This Sunday is the debut of the new season of Outlander, and Anty will be recapping the odd-numberd episodes all season long. I will make sure to post links to her recaps here.

The middle of the month will see another deadline for Anty. That is when she has to have her edits done on A Heart Most Errant, so that she can send it to her beta readers. There will probably be a teaser or two by that time, if I know Anty, and I know her pretty well.

Anty is also working on a historical post for a site she has never blogged for before, but has read for a while. That site is called Dirty Sexy History, and Anty will be writing about a special law that England passed a long, long time ago, to say who could marry who, and when and where. Apparently, this was a big enough problem that something had to be done about it.  I am not sure I understand everything involved in this law, but I think it is a good thing that I am fixed, and do not have to concern myself with such things. Apart from helping Anty with writing her post, that is. I will post on here when it goes live.

This week, Anty has to do some research on house parties in Georgian England, because, believe it or not, “some social event” is not specific enough to put in an actual novel. Readers actually want to go with the characters when important things happen, and so Anty has to come up with a whole house full of people for one of her story people to try to avoid for a bunch of days. Spoiler alert: they will not succeed in avoiding these people. Maybe Anty’s character should try hiding under one of the beds. That is what I do. Anty’s character would fit, because those old timey beds were huge. Seriously. Works for me every time. Beds with long bedspreads are the best for hiding. Just a suggestion.

On Sunday, Anty and Anty Melva will talk about how they want to start Drama King, share character backgrounds and go over some possible first few scene ideas. I am excited about this one, because there is a kitty in it. Anty should write more books with kitties in them. She has a lot of experience, with yours truly, so she should have a lot of material for cat characters. I will take my share of the profits in treats.

Speaking of treats, it is always a treat to have Tuna Roll’s Thought of the Day. Take it away, Tuna Roll.

0825TunaRoll

As long as you wake up on the right side of the bowl, the day is off to a good start -Tuna Roll

Thank you, Tuna Roll. That is definitely food for thought. That is also about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebyenew

see you next week

Unexpected Journeys

Some blog entries begin in funny places. This one began in the laundromat. Rainy laundry days are my favorites, even the ones where the laundry starts about the time I would like it to finish, which means I need to use the dryer cycle time to write a blog post in longhand, even if I have no idea what that post is going to be about, and not use the time for reading, even though my reading tracker says I am behind and need to step up my game in that department. This morning, I woke up later than usual, which meant my feet hit the ground in go, go, go mode right from the start. This wasn’t the schedule I’d planned for the day, but it’s the one I got.

When I grabbed a random ballpoint to get some ideas flowing, one of the first ideas that flowed to the top was my upcoming author visit to Buried Under Romance. I’ve been there as a blogger for long enough that I’d have to think really hard to remember when I wasn’t, but, this week, I was asked if I’d like to make an author visit. I said yes, because it’s a great site, and I will take basically any opportunity to blabber about romance novels, especially my own.  I am now on the calendar for September eighteenth. This has me both excited and apprehensive. Since I have anxiety, this is pretty much my normal state, but this is different.

Right now, my first co-written contemporary romance (along with the fabulous Melva Michaelian) , Chasing Prince Charming,  is now under consideration with Carina Press. This means it is one teeny tiny fish, swimming in the same giant ocean as elebenty billion other teeny tiny fish, and the fishing crew will get to it when they get to it. Melva and I can expect to hear back within one third to one fourth of an entire year. Our joint attention now goes to Drama King, where a misanthrope actor who isn’t acting clashes with an uber-optimistic literary agent. When people tell me they didn’t know I also wrote contemporary, my usual answer is “neither did I.” Would I have written contemporary on my own? Nope. Not wired that way, but when Melva and I both got the same idea at the same time, we went for it, and it worked out so well we’re doing it again.

While Melva works on her own solo projects, I get to return to my historical stomping grounds, which, right now, involves hopping between two different time periods. No, I am not talking about time travel at the moment. Right now, I am reading A Heart Most Errant, my medieval novella, for the umpteenth time, one eye on the calendar, because beta readers are waiting, and hey, it wouldn’t hurt to look at potential cover art options while I am procrastina…uh, I mean at it. Is this book going to shove itself past my overthinking and find some way to publish itself? I can neither confirm nor deny that possibility. Right now, my job is to get it ready for beta. I will deal with the rest, later.

Fast forwarding to Georgian times, I brought so many notes to critique session this week that N had to mark the spot on my giant stack of pink pages, to mark where we can pick up next week. I see scene cards and sticky notes and Scapple in my future, and I am okay with that. That’s what a writer gets when a generic supporting character turns into a specific supporting character with a job to do, and a scribbled note about “some social event” turns into a house party that lasts several days, and it is time to start ripping up floorboards and putting in drywall because this story structure is getting significant renovation, and it is getting it now.

The book I will be promoting on my author visit, Orphans in the Stormis not a brand new release. I wish it were, and I wish it weren’t. I wish it were, because new releases are exciting and fun, and get applause at RWA chapter meetings, and sometimes a special token to take home and cherish, as a visual reminder. I don’t wish it were a new release, because the book I wrote coughty-cough years ago is not the book it would be if I were to have written now.

OrphansInTheStormTeaser

 

The plot would be the same, the characters, and the historical period, but I can think of two scenes, off the top of my head, that I would like to rewrite. One is a love scene and one is not. Neither would be significantly different, but they would be better. I would at least hope I am a better writer now than I was when I first put pen to paper on Jonnet and Simon’s story, able to add a few more layers and finer details than I know how to do back then. That’s how it goes, though, in this writing life. Plot twists happen in life as well as in fiction, and we grow and adapt along with them. Best thing I have found, in my own experience, is to steer into the skid when possible, and enjoy the ride.

 

TheWriterIsOut

September Song, aka Pressure

This post has nothing to do with music. Okay, I do have a playlist on Spotify, titled A Working Day, that I do sometimes play to get myself in the key pounding mood, but we’re not talking about that. Well, not totally about that. If the first of September is when my own personal autumn begins, and the return of superpowers is expected, then Labor Day is the real stake in the ground. The calendar date of the official change of seasons never registered with me much. When I was but a wee little princess, the distinction was easy. In summer, I was not in school. In fall, I was. Do not try telling me that most of September is actually summer, because I am not buying that, not even with a coupon.

Right now, I am sitting at my desk, planner open in front of me, my second dose of Lapsang Souchong about two thirds drained from my pink skull and crossbones mug. I have taken my deskscape for the day, edited it, morning pages are written, and now it’s time to assign the day’s tasks. That’s some pressure. It’s September. I’m drinking hot tea. I am wearing a sweater.  Tomorrow is critique meeting. I have only nine more days to get A Heart Most Errant ready for beta readers. That’s a lot of pressure. : screams, runs in circles, arms flailing:

Apart from the critique session, those deadlines are self-imposed. Even with the critique session, that’s a mutually agreed upon date, and either N or I have the ability to move it when life so requires, which it may. We will see. This is the part of Her Last First Kiss where writing the first draft showed me that some things need to work differently in the second draft, and that always brings up a lot of concerns. Can I do this part of the story justice? Am I up to this? Do I need to write through splayed fingers, horror-movie-watching style (extremely difficult with either pen and paper or keyboard, possibly do-able with speech to text) because this part of the book hurts, both for Ruby and her Hero.  I know things will turn out all right. I already wrote the story.  This should not affect me this way.

Aha. Should. My old enemy, we meet again. Should has dragged me into a lot of trouble before, and I am not giving up my Labor Day for that kind of folderol. I should have had these pages already written. I should breeze through this with nary a care, because that’s what real writers do. I should sit down at the keyboard and bang out x thousand words in a session. I should write this or that or the other thing. I should, I should, I should…STOP.  Yeah, we’re not should-ing over here. Not today. Not when leaves are starting to turn, and I have pretty notebooks and fountain pens that need ink, and a faithful mews curled in my doorway, engaged in some pretty serious fur maintenance.

Not in September, the month I’ve been waiting for all summer, the month I wait for every summer. One would think that, since I know I get me-er in September, there wouldn’t be this feeling of pressure, but here it is, and the question becomes, what am I going to do with it? One of the things I like about breaking my day down by hour (that’s what the numbers and lines in my planner are) is that it lets me see that I really do have plenty of time.

Normally, when I set up my daily pages, I color code the hours, from light gray to dark gray, the one shot of color at noon and six, meal times. I like the rhythm of that, knowing that the darkening or lightening of the gray means the day is progressing. This morning, I was distracted, and colored in all the numbers in the color of the day. This tells my brain that everything is of the same importance, which may be sending a “do it all right the heck now” signal, which also tells me I don’t want to do that again.

What I do want to do is get this blog entry written, posted and publicized, and then take a step back from this section of Her Last First Kiss and make a plan for exactly what form the changing scenes need to take. Right now, my heart aches for Ruby and her Hero, now that they both know how they feel, and how impossible being together is, because of things. Hero aches because he really does believe there has to be a way to make this happen, and Ruby aches, because, deep in her pragmatic heart, she’s convinced that’s not how life works for people like her. She’s wrong, of course, because this is a romance novel, but, for where she is in the story, her only choice is to put up that emotional armor and soldier on, the only way she knows how. I will say this for her: she has a unique work ethic.

This is going to require some research for me, since I have hit on one of the “eh, I’ll figure that out later” things, and, well, it’s later. It’s September. Labor Day. Crunch time. We are past the point of no return on this draft, and I want to do this right. For both of them. For the readers (to which I am tempted to also add “both of them,” but that’s another matter.) For me, because I want the happy ending, too. There’s no feeling for writers that comes even close to typing The End on a final draft. Getting towards The End for a second draft is an important step in that journey, and every step in that direction counts.

So, today, I have my planner open, my A Working Day playlist on Spotify, and a third cup of tea in my immediate future (not Lapsang, though, because I know my limits; good ol’ Typhoo to the rescue) and then it’s time to head back to the eighteenth century.

Typing With Wet Claws: Hello, September Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Today is September first, not yet autumn by the calendar, but it is autumn for Anty, so that is what counts. Anty is very happy today, because she gets to start not one but two notebooks, and she and Anty Melva had their first session on writing a brand new book, but more about that later.

As always, before I can talk about anything else, which is usually Anty’s writing anyway, I have to talk about where you can find her writing on the interwebs, besides here. She is at Buried Under Romance every Saturday, and would love to see you there. Last week, she talked about the power of romance novel heroines. One of the reasons Anty started reading romance in the first place is because romance is the genre where the woman always wins. That post is here, and it looks like this:

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Because the old month is now over, the people at Heroes and Heartbreakers get a chance to say what their favorite reads of August were. Anty had to think really hard about this one, because she read a lot of good books this month, and had to limit herself to books that are already published. I do not know how hard or easy it was for any of the other bloggers, but Anty does have a few more books to add to her own TBR list now. That post is here, and it looks like  this:

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Now, because it is the start of a brand new month, it is time to see how Anty is doing on two challenges. First, we will look at how she did at Goodreads. So far, Anty is on track for the fourth week in a row. She has read fifty-nine books out of her goal of ninety. Go, Anty. Read those books. Keep going. You got this. This week, she left a review for North of Beautiful, by Justina Chen. She liked that book very much, and has started trying to draw compass roses in her notebooks. There may be a learning curve to that. Her review is here, and it looks like this:

GRnorthofbeautifulChen

Now we look at how Anty is doing on her goal of reading mostly historical romances. The one book she finished this week (to be fair, she had a big week) was YA, and it had a romance in it, but it was not historical, but we need to look at the overall picture.

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So far, Anty has read 59 books, according to Goodreads, and 29 of those have been historical romance. Figuring in for the romantic historical fiction (Beatriz Williams, I am looking at you) that is about a 50/50 on that score, but then we have to also figure in the historical romance novel Anty beta read, that will not be out until next week, and that gives historical romance a slight edge. Go, Anty. You are meeting those goals.

Because Anty insists, here are pictures of the inside and outside of her new morning pages book. The pages in this book are mostly the same, but she is going to use different colors of ink to differentiate the pages, so she will not get un-comfy with pages being all the same. She has a thing about that.

 

Okay, I think those are all of that kind of update. Now it is time for book talk, and by that, I mean Anty’s books. This week, Anty Melva sent Chasing Prince Charming off to Carina Press, to see if maybe they would like to publish it. The answer to that one might take a few months, so it is a good thing that Anty and Anty Melva are now officially working on Drama King. They had their first Skype session this morning, and Anty has several notebook pages filled with scribbles about things she needs to get done in time for next week’s meeting, so that they can get started with the actual writing of this book. Anty is pretty sure that the writing will go faster this time, because now she and Anty Melva know how they write books together. She also knows that they need to do a better job of keeping track of the parts of the book while they are writing it, so nobody (especially not Anty) has to go digging around in the hard drive for that scene where that person did the thing and the other person found out about it.

Because Anty had to go to the people vet earlier this week (she is okay) she has moved her goal for finishing her once-over of A Heart Most Errant to two weeks from today, September fourteenth. That is a nice round number, a fortnight. That is an English word for two weeks. Anty likes English words. That is probably because she writes in English, but a lot of her stories also take place in England, so there is that, too. There is also laundry to do (Anty will do the laundry, not me; my tongue would get tired really fast) I had better wrap things up, so that means it is time for Tuna Roll’s Thought of the Day. Take it away, Tuna Roll.

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If you have to live with your natural predator, but they don’t climb, you’re still ahead of the game. –Tuna Roll

 

Thank you, Tuna Roll…I think. That is about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

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see you next week

 

 

I Will Go Down With These Ships (Non-Paranormal Edition)

Romance Appreciation/Awareness Month is drawing to a close, (but it’s always romance appreciation month as far as I’m concerned0 and National Matchmaker’s Day is tomorrow, so now it’s time for me to gush on some of my favorite regular-people ships. No ghosts, no vampires, no super powers, only flesh and blood people. Whittling this down to only a few was even harder than the previous version, and I may have to update these posts with an additional post for honorable mention, because, when one is a romance aficionado, that stuff is everywhere, and picking favorites is not as easy as it sounds. So, I am jumping in, in no particular order, with the first couples who come to mind. As before, all links go to my OTPs (One True Pairing) page on Pintrest, where you can see a more comprehensive list.

First up, Max and Kyle from Living Single. Kyle is smooth, fashionable, self-assured, very much in love with himself, and torn between corporate life and his buried musical aspirations. Max is also self-assured, brash, impulsive, a lawyer with a strong sense of ethics (even if those ethics may be particular to her; she still hews to them) and it’s pretty much hate at first sight. These two cannot stand each other, and it is very much a case of when both lady and gentleman doth protest too much, because egads, the chemistry. They fight, they love, they break up, Kyle moves an ocean away, Max totally goes off the deep end, and makes an impulsive decision to become a single mother through IVF (which is not as easy in real life as in sitcomland, but stay with us on this one.) The donor she picks, blind? One guess, romance fans, and when Kyle finds out, oh my my my. The moment when these two finally decide to go for it and admit their true feelings gives me the down-deep shivers. The only thing better than that scene is a brief cameo in another sitcom, a few years later, when we find that Max and Kyle are still happily married, with a mini-them who has the best and worst of them both in one sharply-dressed package. The rare canon HEA, with epilogue.

I could not make this post without one historical couple, and (sorry, Jamie and Claire, you’re in a time travel, so you count as paranormal) Ross and Demelza from Poldark have no competition. From the second we meet Demelza, disguised as a boy, desperate to save her dog from a dogfighting ring, and Ross steps in, the chemistry crackles. Demelza is a scrapper, who gives as good as she gets, and she and Ross do not get off to an easy start, especially as he’s still hung up on his cousin’s wife, Elizabeth. Demelza, however, isn’t going anywhere, and not only because her only alternative is to return to her truly horrible family. Their marriage starts out as convenience, but, somewhere along the way, a true, deep, and abiding love forms between these two strong-willed people, neither of whom wants to give an inch of ground. We see them go through the joy of welcoming their first child, the grief of losing her, and, my favorite scene so far, Ross racing off to drag Demelza back from her, um, freelance fishing job while she is in active labor, only to find that she saved her own self while he was on the way, daft man. They bicker, they clash, they stand by each other when the worst happens again and again and again. Though season two ended on an extremely unheroic note for Ross, these two see each other through the most destructive of storms, so I have faith they’ll get through this one as well. How? No idea, but they’ve always found a way so far.

The couple that caught me most by surprise, in all of ship-dom is Barney and Robin, from How I Met Your Mother. Finale denier for life here; I reject all of it. Barney and Robin are still out there, still together, still living awesomely ever after, until death do them part. Where to start with these two? Even though they’re in a fairly bright and bouncy sitcom, the backstories grabbed my heart and refused to let go. The always nattily dressed corporate shark, Barney, has a secret past as a chaste hippie, hopelessly devoted to the college sweetheart who broke his heart and shattered his soul? (Not to mention the troubled childhood he and his brother endured with their groupie mom and absent dads.) Robin is his best friend’s dream girl (well, off and on, for a while) and grew up with a father who insisted on raising her as the boy he’d always wanted, instead of the girl she really was, and her secret shame is a teenage popstar career that went down in flames, in an extremely public venue? I am there for that, forever and always. Watching two people who didn’t even believe in true love, marriage, or anything of real substance, slowly fumble their way to each other, through breakups, other partners, an infertility diagnosis (hers) to combine a deep, abiding friendship and powerful attraction, well, :happy sigh: That’s the stuff. I’ll take the alternate finale if I must, where it’s strongly implied that things work out at long last, but these two giving up on each other? Nope, not buying that, not even with a coupon.

When I teach my workshop, Play in Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys, one of the first exercises I give is to ask students to list their favorite shows/ships/characters, then ask the question – what do they all have in common? What’s the common thread? What do we find in each one of these cases, be the stories set in the past, present, future, or otherworldly realm? There’s a core story there. While any factors from cancellation, actors’ departure, bad writing, etc, can derail even the most outstanding TV couples, in romance novels, the HEA is a dead solid guarantee. No matter what life or the writer throws at the couple in question, by the last page, they are going to be on their own personal mountaintop, together, and happy to be there, and so are we.

What are some of your favorite ships that deserve the romance novel treatment?

I Will Go Down With These (Fictional) Ships (Paranormal Edition)

Time to blab about some of my favorite OTPS. That’s One True Pairing, for those not versed in the intricacies of fan fiction, and/or shipping.  This has nothing to do with transporting goods by water, but is fanspeak, derived from ‘relationship.’ In honor of Thursday apparently being National Matchmaker’s Day, The Happy Ever After blog asks select author who some of their fanfic couples are, which I find very interesting reading all on its own. Since I need a topic for today’s entry, I am going to hop on this particular wagon and blabber about such matters here.  Links go to my OTPs Pinterest page, for those meeting these couples for the first time.

My first ship that I remember having was Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, from the Wonder Woman TV show. I even subscribed to a fan club newsletter. We moved after I received the first issue, and the second (and subsequent) were never forwarded. Still salty about that. I remember that having to choose between an 8×10 glossy of either Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor or Diana Prince and Steve Trevor was agony for my ten year old self. I finally settled on the Wonder Woman option, but still am not sure if I made the right choice. I was always waiting for Steve to figure out Diana and Wonder Woman were the same person, or for her to make the revelation, but never could figure out how the HEA I wanted, even then, would work out, because Amazon, super hero, mortal, dude, all that sort of stuff. I’m still not sure how I would work something like that out in any of my own writing, but I did love that the heroine had two identities, and she was the strong one, and that the hero admired her for that. No, I have not yet seen the new movie version. I know what happens to Steve.  We’ll see if the sequel changes that.

I’m not sure if it’s me, if it’s the shows I watch/have watched, the whole romance writer thing, or what, but I have had a record of falling hard for TV couples that, well, don’t get the same treatment on TV that they would in a romance novel. I came to  Highlander (TV show, not movies) fandom late, as in  after the thing that already happened in season two, maybe even in season three. Whenever it was that the grieving Duncan first met his would-be second canon love interest of the series, Anne, an emergency room doctor, and I wanted to ship them. I really, really did, but it never quite took. Neither did Anne, even after Duncan basically built her a house with his own two Immortal hands, and I thought he deserved better. Which is when I finally, and do not ask me how, stumbled on the first season, and his original love interest, Tessa, a French sculptor, who owned her own blowtorch,  and the chemistry floored me. Duncan and Tessa forever, and I do mean  forever. Any detractors can shush about her being dead. It’s a fantasy show. Anything can happen. There was Fake Tessa, Alternate Universe Tessa (and even that ended badly, but I can accept the tragedy as long as it’s only alternate) so the next logical thing is somewhere, somehow, Real Tessa. Again, fantasy. Dead doesn’t count. They could figure something out.  My one and only attempt at a Regency may or may not have been inspired by their dynamic, no paranormal elements involved. I may resurrect the core of it as a Georgian. We will see.

Most recent members of this club are Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills from the dearly departed Sleepy Hollow. These two. Seriously, these two. Eighteenth century visionary and twenty first century cop may not be the most traditional couple, and sure, there was the complication of his being still technically married (even though his wife lived 200+ years in the past, buried him alive, and didn’t tell him that A) she was a witch, B) she was pregnant) that gave their explosive chemistry a wee bit of a challenge (until Ichabod had to kill wifey to save Abbie’s life.) When Abbie had to venture into Ichabod’s time to right a great wrong, and he met her there, not knowing he’d already met her in the future, oh my word, oh my word, do you know what this does to a historical romance writer? Then the show bungled the whole deal, Abbie got killed off, and all we shippers got was Ichabod placing a single kiss  on Abbie’s ghost’s hand. Her hand. Her ghost’s hand. Yeah, not good enough. I quit watching the show after that. In my mind, they beat all the monsters, and their reward is that they get to be happy. I don’t really need specifics.

Maybe falling in love with fictional couples is par for the course when one is a romance fan, and especially when one is a romance writer, which means one is actually both. As for falling for the couples that get shafted on their HEA, I’m still not sure what that says, but I do know that the urge to barrel into the story, announcing that it’s okay, because I am a romance writer, is not something I can shut off. Every couple on my OTP Pinterest board, whether canon gave them their HEA or not, has at least one part of their dynamic that goes into the idea soup, combines with something from some other couple, a bit from this book, that song, some bit of historical tid, a what-if from current events or daily life, the cover design of a new notebook, or a whiff of scent, and then, when I’m not looking, new characters are born, with new love stories they want me to tell. Who am I to argue with that?