Chinese Food in a Darkened Room (With Chasing Prince Charming update)

On Valentine’s Day morning, I wanted to smash my head through a wall. Well, hello there, sinus headache. Great timing. Which also explains Sebastian’s absence on Friday. Lying around is in his job description, after all. When the Writer Chick is away, the handsome orange sutffed boy will…probably take a nap in a sunbeam. Which is why his post did not appear on Friday. He will make up for that later.

How doea a romance writer spend Valentine’s Day? If Christmas is my favorite holiday, and my birthday my second, Valentine’s Day is probaby next. This means that sinus pressure that can only be relieved by smashing the left side of my face into a firm pillow, is not at all the way I want to spend any part of the day, but that is, this year, what I got. Thankfully, smashing only the left side of my face into the pillow meant that my right eyeball was free to view my phone screen. Unthankfully, my attention span was miniscule, so I mostly watched makeup tutorials. On the plus side, my eye contour is markedly improved. This has nothing to do with writing, but I thought it worth a mention.

Real Life Romance Hero earned his name, by bringing home Chinese food, which we consumed with the shades down. He gave me the lion’s share of the wonton soup. There may or may not have been some program with Gordon Ramsey in it (no idea which one, due to aforementioned face in pillow) but, all in all, I am going to call this Valentine’s Day a good one.

This past week also gets a plus for a more writerly reason. Chasing Prince Charming is now headed to the galley phase. This is both exciting and scary. This week, Melva and I need to do the final bits of paperwork, so that The Wild Rose Press has all the pertinent details, and the cover art questions are coming up soon. This means that we should have a release date in the not too distant future, which, in turn, means that Meg and Dominince are soon to make the acquaintance to readers who do not know Melva or I in person. Hopefully, a few whom we do, as well, but we are talking about the general public here. Off Meg and Dominic go, into the world at large, I can promise they’ll behave, but I make no promises as to how.

Drama King moves ever closer to the fifty percent mark of draft number one, while Her Last First Kiss continues toward draft number two. Weekdays have fallen into a natural rhythm. Writing time is writing time, and I know where I”m going, because taking time to pinpoint what, exactly, I am working on for a particular session, takes out a lot of the guesswork. Soon enough, Melva and I will have new tasks to perform, once the publication date is set. I am looking forward to that phase of the journey.

Right now, though, it’s one foot in front of the other. The characters know what they have to do, I, or Melva and I, know them well enough to know which directions to nudge them in, when we come to a fork in the roads of a first draft. Her Last First Kiss is a second draft, which I sometime like better than the first draft, because, the second draft, I already know how what has to happen, has to happen. That gives a framework, which I can scramble aroun, hither and yon, hang from, upside=down, like a monkey (or Monkee; those guys are pretty fun) and, in the very best of all possible worlds, build new framework to expand it all, and construct something new, while I’m at it, focused on what is, to give what will be, room to grow on its own.

How was your Valentine’s Day? What are you reading? What are you writing? What’d I miss?


Unwasted Time

Second round edits of Chasing Prince Charmning are in the can. Not the trash can. We’re talking the old timey filmmaking sense here. There is nothing about old timey filmmaking in this book, or in any of my books, but Jack, the hero in Drama King, the second contemporary romance Melva Michaelian and I are writing together, is an actor, so there may be some mention of old timey movies there. Not a promise, though.

Having the second round of edits done-done means that the next step is the third round, and then galley, and then we are a real book. Been a while, but I think it’s like riding a bike. At least I hope that it is. At the same time, it’s a new venture, because new genre, new writing partnership, new publisher, so I am still getting some of those metaphorical new car smell fumes on the whole thing. We will see how I do when it comes to those galleys and cover art forms and all the like. I’m excited and a little apprehensive.

Today was always going to be, from the time I planned this week, last week, the big writing day. With both Real Life Romance Hero and Housemate working, and thus leaving the house early-early this morning, I was looking forward to the whole morning  for writing. I had sufficient caffeine lined up to see me through the morning when I would Do All The Things. Of course, this is when my body says “hey, it’s quiet here, how about that sleep thing we don’t do when it’s dark outside?” Yeah, body, that was not what I had planned. Pretty much the exact opposite.

On the bright side, A) I was rested, B) a hot shower, clean hair, caffeine and buttered cinnamon bread (highly recommend) have a way of kicking things into gear. The first thing I do, after morning pages (also highly recommend) is getting out my planners, so I can fill out my trackers and go over what needs to be done, when. As per usual, having two planners still does not drive it home to my brain that Wednesday is the day before Thursday, which is when Melva and I have our Skype chats. I have come to expect that Wednesdays are my Do All The Things days, and I am okay with that. Today’s task list looks very similar to this:

  • Write blog entry
  • Read (chapter from Melva’s solo project)
  • Send Melva chapter 8 of Her Last First Kiss
  • Finish rough draft of (Drama King scene)

Obviously the first thing I needed to do on that list, was to dig around in my planner supplies, and make this week’s spreads pretty. The results, for my household planner (in which I forgot it was the household planner for one day) are in today’s picture. My initial reaction, when I noticed what I was doing was, “Really, Anna? All that stuff to do, and you’re playing with stickers?”

There was a moment of guilt, but, as I reached for another fineliner, to add a touch of light turquoise to the pink/red color scheme, that feeling vanished. Working on something visual and instinctive allows my writer brain to go on the backburner, and, more often than not, it has sorted itself out by the time I get back. That was, thankfully, the case, this morning. Okay, early afternoon. I dashed off a couple of quick notes (the sticky note flag at the top of the page) about things I wanted to use, but didn’t have, got out the white posterboard, hauled everything to the window, to grab some natural light, snapped the picture, and plopped my bottom in my desk chair. By that time, the list that threatened to swallow my entire day had whittled down to “pfft, that’s only four things,” Far more manageable, in my opinion, especially when I remember that most of that stuff (okay, at least parts of all of it) are actually (are you ready for this?) fun.

Once again, brain and I are not on the same page (pun intentional, as are the plethora of parentheses) regarding theory and practice, but given enough caffeine and pretty paper, coupled with some background music, we do eventually get there. Like today. Here we are, closing in on the magic 700 words (self imposed minimum blog entry length, and what do you know, we’re there, surprise, surprise.) Would I have got here without playing around with stickers and fineliners? Probably, but I had fun, and messing around with such matters generally lets things fall into place, so the actual execution goes more smoothly. I’ll take that, any day.

What “time wasting” things actually help you be more productive?

Feeling Myself

The Monday after a marathon weekend is always a strange animal. Marathon weekends mean that both Saturday and Sunday are full. In this case, volunteering three times, once on Saturday and twice on Sunday. Saturday included my local RWA chapter meeting, always a highlight of my month, while Sunday meant playing host not once, but twice, konce for church worship experience, and the second time, for a community group, with a slight time overlap, which would be no problem if I were able to be in two places at once. (Spoiler: I am not.) After the second volunteer stint, Housemate and I had a few errands to run. Said errands involved me getting a higher end lip color at a very low price (and yep, it’s genuine) so, all in all, the weekend was good, but it also means coming into the work/writing week more tired than I went into it.

This is probably the point where I should mention there is also a new coffeemaker in the house, and, this morning, after a much-needed shower (I estimate that my hair is about twenty-five percent dry shampoo at the time of this writing) made my first voluntarily consumed travel mug full of coffee, because it was my one shot at being vertical. So far, so good. I am still a tea person, but if the beans will get me through at least this blog post (writing Monday’s post on Tuesday brings forth what Real Life Romance Hero calls the mini rage) and some planning, and I will consider the day productive enough.

Also in the plus column for the weekend past, is that I finished reading By Love Unveiled, by Sabrina Jeffries, first published in the early 90s, under her Deborah Martin name. I have the companion novel (there were only two in her Restoration Duo) marked to hunt down, because I may be a little in love with the hero’s friend, who is the hero of the next book, whose heroine is an actress. Helpful hint: I will always look at a Restoration period historical romance, on the period alone. Always. Add in either lead in the theatre, and that sale is a done deal. I am not even kidding. This is why I wrote my own English Civil War/Restoration historical romance, Orphans in the Storm. Neither Simon nor Jonnet is a thespian, but Simon’s BFF, Eben, a dancing master, last anyone asked, would fit very well into the theatre. Hmmm.

That, however, is for another day. Today is a Monday, which means it is blog day, and planning day, the day to look at everything I have under my weekly tasks and assign them to days. Melva and I have a target date to get the second round of edits done on Chasing Prince Charming, as well as writing new scenes for Drama King, which edges ever closer to the 50% mark. IT’s also time to get chapter eight of Her Last First Kiss ready for Melva’s perusal. There is something about having a critique partnership that is old enough to marry, own property, or join the military without parental consent, that gives a certain sense of security and trepidation when handing over a chapter. Long-term critique partners know things. That’s the best way I can put it, and are an extremely useful tool, especially in this business of getting back on the horse.

There are degrees of getting back on the horse, or maybe even different horses. At no time is this ever clearer than on a Monday. What do I need to do, and when is the most effective time to do it? Putting actual words on screen or paper are essential, of course, but, equally essential are things that fill the creative well, so that I can put the movies in my head into actual English words. Books that remind me what sorts of stories I love the very, very best, are important, as are movies or TV shows with favorite actors, following up on recommendations from friends, who know me well, and can pick out things I might like, or even love, but would never have found on my own. I have come to know the importance of what I call white space, aka doing nothing, seasonally comfortable (cozy blanket and hot beverage in winter, open window and cool beverage in spring) so that all the jumbled pieces in my head can sort themselves out.

That’s good for a Monday, too. Delegating. Pausing. Taking a step back, to survey the big picture and come up with a plan of attack, so I can charge in, guns blazing, sabres flashing, a mighty army of imaginary friends at my back, as we conquer the blank page I kind of like that image, so I am going to close with that, get this posted, and move on to the next task, before the coffee wears off. When it does, it’s reading time.

What does your Monday look like?

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Hungry For More Edition

Greetings, Foolish Mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you, with all the stuff on the week that was. Valentine’s Day is less than one week away now. Writer Chick loves Valentine’s Day, and Dude is well aware of that. My only wish for that holiday, is that they either turn me around, or put me in another room. I don’t care which one. The utility closet would be fine. The living room would probably be best, because Writer Chick’s desk chair is Sebastian-sized, and it’s also the room where the TV is. Granted there is no Stuffed ANimal Channel (yet) but technology is making strides every day. Also, best case scenario, Other Chick will want to scoot out somewhere, and I can bring in my entire posse for a stuffed animal party. I’d tell you what kinds of stuff we get up to at such gatherings, but trade secrets and all that.

As always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday. This time, she talked about how a blank bingo card led her to a new plan for her romance reading. Yeah, she’s weird like that, sometimes, but if you’re into that kind of thing, link is in the caption.

Will you rise to the challenge?

Next up is the update on Writer Chick’s Goodreads challenge, which is holding steady at twelve books read, out of ninety-five. That puts her thirteen percent of the way to her goal, and two books ahead of schedule. This was not a very big week for reading, which Writer Chick does not particularly like, but these kinds of things happen. She’s not too worried about it, because, even though we are coming up on her marathon weekend (second weekend of the  month is always a big one around here) these weeks of not much reading find their complement in weeks of lots of reading. Since her friend, H, said the last few volumes of Fruits Basket should be on their way sometime this next coming week, and that Writer Chick may want to reread the whole thing, after she has seen how it all turns out, to catch all of the foreshadowing, my prediction is that there will be a sharp uptick in her pages read. This may also mean that she might finally get around to making her reading trackers for this coming year, because she has not done that yet, apart from a page count for January only. Granted, she did meet her pages read goal, and she has been hopping around through a few different planners, but really, Writer Chick, settle.

Speaking of which, the second round of edits have landed on Writer Chick and Other Chick’s desks, and they are getting through them pretty darned quickly. This may be due to a really good editor, but the big show is getting ever closer for Chasing Prince Charming.  Writer Chick is also getting through her second drafting of Her Last First Kiss Probably would be in her best interests to form some sort of tracker for that kind of stuff, too, but that will come in time. These kinds of things generally tend to show up in Writer Chick’s head when she needs them. She will probably show you all pictures of them, when they arrive.

All of Writer Chick’s appointments this week got moved around, so there were days when she wasn’t sure what day it actually was, which is not at all that uncommon with a lot of writers, I would imagine. It’s never the same day, exactly, in their heads as it is on the calendar. They are often removed by time and distance from so-called “real life,” which accounts for the slight delay as the writer’s forehead wrinkles, and they do some quick (or not so quick) mental gymnastics or mental arithmetic (I am not sure which one, and I am not particularly bothered by it, so pick whichever one fits your purposes best) to readjust and align their brains with the dairy aisle of the grocery store, or the instructions for the new blender, vacuum cleaner, or whatever, when only seconds before, they were on a pirate ship in the middle of the ocean, or whatever it is their story people are doing, and are going to continue doing, but without the writer person, so make it snappy, because they don’t want to be too far behind when they do get back to it.

Writer Chick, in particular, is still salty over that one time, when she was a teenager, and her father took her to Yankee Stadium, and she left her book in the car. Writer Chick is not into baseball, and she most certainly was into that book. To this day, she can tell you which book, and at what point, and how that was the one thing on her mind the entire elebenty billion hours the baseball people ran around the grassy patch in the middle of all the bleachers. All these years later, that is her one takeaway from that visit. All right, there was a blue and gray Yankees baseball shirt, and she liked that (it was comfy) but it made a break for the great beyond at some point. We both wish it well. It made a brief appearance in Writer Chick’s time travel manuscript (which is still taking a break) as the heroine’s favorite nightshirt. So far, it has not occurred to her to purchase another shirt of that variety, but maybe it has not occurred to her that blue is the complementary color to orange, as in handsome stuffed orange boy, so there could be aesthetically pleasing cuddling going on while she gets current on her reading goals. No pressure, but I’ll leave that thought right there. Couldn’t hurt.

Peace out,

February Planner Post, Part Two

Wednesday’s post is here on Thursday, because it’s that kind of week. Nothing as exciting as a new planner to explain the change of posting days this time, but minor domestic tornados, mine and others’, and the second round of edits for Chasing Prince Charming landing on my and Melva’s desks. Our goal is to get those changes -there are not many- back to our wonderful editor, and move on to the next phase. That would be third round of edits, then galleys, then The Thing (aka real, live book.) Squeeze in filling out some information on cover art and such (It is a strange delight to be doing this again, after all this time) and looking at things like a joint website (Melva has a website. I have a website. Melva-and-I need a website.) Also, with setting up a new website, there are questions like what information we want it to have, what it should look like, what’s our brand, and other concerns that don’t cross one’s mind until they do, and then, well, a writer’s got to plan.

Smooth segue, huh? The image in today’s picture comes from my daily carry traveler’s notebook, which is not at all what I had expected it to be, but it’s working. I still have plans to make or purchase the inserts I originally wanted, for later in the year, but having a motley bunch of outcasts (aka most of them are from clearance sales) in my daily carry gives me the freedom to try different things, make mistakes, and step outside of my comfort zone. Which is not all that far removed from things like trying a new subgenre, writing with a partner (which I have tried before, with a different outcome) and stepping into the world of a more mainstream publisher, when my prior experience has been more boutique.

I can’t say I have a favorite amongst all that yet (maybe wait for the first royalty checks, and I may have a different story, pun intended) and I can’t say for sure for sure for sure (repetition most definitely intended) that I have a favorite planning system as of yet. My daily carry is still an A5 traveler’s notebook, though my personal size ring bound planners, for keeping on track of my daily tasks for both writing and domestic warrior queen duties, are exactly right for what I need. I still have pocket sized traveler’s notebooks waiting for their destinies, and if you notice a woman in a bookstore, placing a gorgeous premade planner back on the shelves, amd marching resolutely away from it, announcing firmly that she does not need a planner, she has planners, then that is probably me. (If in doubt, look for long, dark hair, a brown leather hobo bag, and black rimmed glasses. Red lips extremely likely.)

The page setup in the picture above is copied from the Dylusions Dyary insert that I love, but isn’t right for a daily carry, and it’s also very similar to the layout of both of my ring planners, which is one of the reasons I chose them in the first place (the next biggest reason being that they were both on tremendous discount, as well as being gorgeous.) Having the same calendar format across different planners makes it a lot easier to coordinate everything, when I need all of my information in one place. No matter where I go, in other words, I’m still me, and that applies, as well, to writing in different genres.

former writing planner, now domestic planner

Before my current writing planner and I found each other (she’s going to need a name, but she hasn’t divulged what it is, yet) I used my white Webster’s Pages personal size planner, and the setup was easy and natural, because I knew what worked for me. If, okay, who are we kidding, when, I acquire any other planner, (hopefully only for next year) odds are I am going to set up the weekly calendar pages the same way. That way, i have enough room to put in all my needed information, make my checklists, probzably on stickers or pretty paper that I glue into it, and a space to put something pretty/silly/my brand of inspirational/etc. This is what works for me, and it’s feet on the ground, when I am entering new territory.

Like a new genre, to loop things back around. Before Melva and I put our heads together to create Chasing Prince Charming, my only contemporary outings were in fanfiction, writing group exercises, and an ill-advised attempt at YA, when I actually was a YA, myself. No evidence of that last one remains, which is the best for all of us, trust me, but I consider it a badge of honor. The modern age, though, was an inherent part of the story we wanted to tell, and it’s Melva’s story home. Since mine is historical romance, that made it easy to know that historical romance would need to be part of the world in which our characters’ love story took place.

Part of the reason for this post was to share planner pron, I will admit that much up front. There’s also the fact that I am super duper tired, and promised myself some downtime after the post goes live, so that’s also incentive. It’s also to share a bit more about the writing process, and perform a virtual happy dance that Chasing Prince Charming is that much closer to being available for readers. Knowing that, soon, Melva and I will need to deal with things like cover reveals ans swag and reviews and such, not only how we handle this with a new publisher, and in a new genre. Not only how does she do it and how do I do it, but how do she-and-I do it, as two bodies with but a single mind? We are still figuring that one out. Maybe I do need another planner, after all. What are your favorite calenders, planners, agendas, and such?

February Planner Post: Part One

Normally, I would say that Monday’s post on Tuesday was the result of some domestic tornado, but, this time, it was a planner. (Note: this is not a sponsored post. I babble because I love, that’s all.) Sunday night’s weekly Michaels stroll led to the discovery of possibly the most Anna-est personal size planner I have seen to date, on serious clearance. Meet Magnolia Jane, from Heidi Swapp (I think the planner is discontinued, but look at those gorgeous other things in the line) I tried to reason myself out of it, as I already have my Webster’s Pages planner, which was also on serious serious clearance, but I have come to recognize this as The Sign. Planners find me. I don’t fight it anymore.

Needless to say, a bunch of Monday was spent putting this beauty together, moving into her (yes, my planners have genders) and us getting to know each other. Mostly. I still have no idea what I want to do with this page, that starts off every month:

Suggestions always welcome…

The black washi tape is my addition, but, from top, left, we have a blank section, a dot grid section, and bottom left, gridded section, then the stripey section. Right now, I got nothing, but Housemate, who was actually the one to find this beauty, said it looked like my historical romances, and I have to say she is not wrong. So, home it came, and it is now my writing planner. The white Webster’s Pages is now for household use.

Bare bones, again

The washi tape is my addition (also another serous bargain; it’s from the three rolls for a dollar bin at Michaels) and I do want to find some prettier way of marking off the days than bare X marks. Possibly a good place to track progress on various projects, once I figure out a decent legend for that. I’ve found these things work best when I let them happen organically. Carry it around naked (the page, not me; it is winter in NY. I will be wearing many, many clothes) for a while and then, bloop, I’ll know what belongs where.

weekly planning spread

This section, I have mostly figured out. I clicked with this sort of weekly layout in my Dylusions agenda (repurposing as an art journal, now) but wanted some better use for the extra space, as I tend to write vertically. These are better suited to how I work, with half blank, and half gridded sections on each day.

This planner is only for writing tasks/habits, so the weekend, which is not a workweek (not to say that I won’t write on a weekend, and my CRRWA meetings are always on Saturdays) gets blocked off. I’m still figuring out what I want to use to record the daily tasks for the rest of the week. Right now, scrap paper “stickers” are fitting the bill, and the circular sticky notes are for writing related dates/appointments. Both the white circles and pink flags came with the planner kit.

UniBall Signo pens, Recollections pouch 

For this planner, I will be using the Uni Ball Signo pens in blackened colors. Very, very dark versions of red, brown, violet, blue, and green, make my heart happy. The outside pocket of the pen pouch has white, gold, and rose-gold pens, for writing on dark backgrounds, so I am set to go on that part. I have not yet figured out the highlighter situation, but probably will use Zebra Mildliners. in curated colors.

This does not by any means imply that I have the whole thing figured out, or that having certain planners or pens or ephemera will magically make me a better writer (cool if that would happen, but that’s not how it works.) For some, a plain ballpoint pen and blank white paper would work much better, and, for them, I say an enthusiastic “go for it!”

What does make me a better writer (yes, of course, writing; I’m getting to that) is that, since I’ve become involved in the planning community as a whole, I want to write more. Playing with the pretty paper and pen toys combines beautifully with wanting to play with my imaginary friends, and, if I am going to be spending hours a day staring at a page or screen, they may as well be pretty pages and screens. This may have something to do with why I like writing heroes and heroines who are creative in some way; write what you know and all that. After all, I’ve already had one hero spring to life (Bern, from Her Last First Kiss) thanks to my fountain pen obsession, and his heroine, Ruby, would be all over the whole bullet journal thing. Maybe she was actually there first, because, hey, she’s in the eighteenth century. Who knows who else may be lurking in my stationery stash?

Watch this space for part two, and a closer look on how I actually use these pretties.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: First February Friday Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff from the week that was. This week brought yet another blizzard (winter in New York, and there’s snow? What a surprise.) as well as a big freeze, which meant lots of cancelled plans, so all the humans could stay inside and be warm. If some of that warmth included snuggling a handsome orange stuffed boy, for added coziness, well, I am not going to argue with that.

Anyway, January is now in the rearview mirror, and February has begun. Apparently, that is the month when people who don’t normally read romance novels maybe might try one, because it is human love month, or something like that. Whatever. Writer Chick likes this because it is a time when the romance genre can welcome new readers, and if some of those new readers want to buy some of her books, well, she is not going to complain about that. If you are interested in reading some of Writer Chick’s books, this is her Goodreads shelf of books that she has written, or in which her writing appears. As soon as The Wild Rose Press gives her and Other Writer Chick a release date for their first book written together, Chasing Prince Charming, she will put that up there, as well.

If you can’t wait that long, and would like to read Writer Chick’s brain blabbers about reading romance, head on over to Buried Under Romance, for her weekly discussion post. This past week, she talked about the occupational hazard of starting to read just one more chapter before bed, only to have the orange thing in the sky ruin that plan.

Back to Goodreads for a minute, to check in on Writer Chick’s reading challenge. This year, her goal is to read ninety-five books. So far, as we head into the second month of the year, she is thirteen percent of the way there, with twelve books read, and three more in various stages of reading. Please note that this list includes two historical romance novels, and a historical/time travel novel with romantic elements. Writer Chick is on task this month. She will be back on writing reviews next month, but she is definitely reading.

She is also writing. This week, she sent off chapter six of Her Last First Kiss’s second draft, and is charging ahead on that front, while writing the next scene for Drama King. She and Other Writer Chick are both keeping an eye on their e-mail inboxes, because, once the second round of edits on Chasing Prince Charming hit their desks, they are going to tear into those edits like a pack of Rottweilers on an unattended steak buffet. One would think that this would not be the best time for Writer Chick to be nosing around for tabletop RPG (role playing game) groups, but I can’t tell Writer Chick anything when it comes to this kind of thing, and H is really good at getting Writer Chick into questionable pastimes. At least the local bookstore where she might make such inquiries and/or purchase equipment, has a resident feline. I am 51% sure this is at least partly an excuse to get in a cat-petting fix. She may or may not have cat treats in her pockets. Not accusing, just pointing out the possibility.

Speaking of which, if you are interested in talking about historical romance novels, and/or can’t get enough Writer Chick, she has a Facebook group, The Lion and Thistle. It’s been kind of quiet there lately, but you’ll always get notices on her (or my) blogs, and talk about favorite tropes, settings, authors, and all of that stuff.

Here’s where the audience participation part of the whole thing comes into play. Last night, Writer Chick had the idea to make a bingo card of some of her reading goals, to read different types of historical romance, this year. Because Writer Chick is all about the bujo, she wanted to see if she could find a printable, customizable bingo card, that was also pretty. Well, she did, and entering a few of the first things that came to mind yielded this:

Writer Chick is already ticking off boxes, including the obvious Free Space, and is codifying rules if anybody else would like to play. If this version works, she already has notes on what she could put in the boxes for future iterations. That’s another reason to hop on over to The Lion and Thistle. There may or may not be prizes involved. I can state for the record that any such prizes do not include one particular handsome, stuffed, orange boy, (can’t have everything – or everybody, for that matter) but pens and notebooks and maybe even book-books and related items might be in that mix somewhere.

Yesterday, Writer Chick met with N, for the talk and writing session they usually have on Tuesdays. They both brought their AlphaSmarts, and kept pounding keys until Mr. N showed up, to collect them. Last night, Writer Chick plugged the AlphaSmart into her computer, so she could transfer the writing she did on that device, to a Word document, and all I am going to say is that there were a lot more words on that document than she would have guessed. Apparently, writing across from another human being, who is also writing, is an incentive for Writer Chick. Good thing she’s slated to do it again on Tuesday.

That about covers this week, and there is a suspicious bird hopping around on one of the big snow piles outside, so I’m going to go check on that. Peace out.

The Myriad Inspirations of a Snowbound Magpie

Monday’s post on Wednesday means it already comes with a story behind it. Throw in a snowstorm, some happy mail, The Oven That Would Not Cook, and a bunny trail into the world of tabletop gaming, and here we are.

Monday afternoon, Housemate and I headed to the big storage unit, to retrieve some desired office supplies, aka my favorite fineliners and my washi tape collection, version 1.0. Housemate had her own interest in this, as, over the weekend, I lured her over to the dark side of becoming a planner person. Of course this means she needs washi. The trip was a washout, though, as the boxes I needed weren’t immediately accessible, so this is going to be a job for an uncommitted Saturday morning. Library trip that was meant to make up for the storage unit fail, was similarly unsuccessful, but there was a good sized box of happy mail waiting for me, when I got home.

C, a friend I met through an online group for stationery aficionados, is from Louisiana and sent me a box of Mardi Gras, to help survive the polar vortex. That is quality friendship, right there. Housemate and Real Life Romance Hero are helping me pick out items to include in a box of Upstate New York, to send her in return. This box brought a lot of memories, all of them good. I have never been to New Orleans, or experienced Mardi Gras, (apart from something we will call The Mardi Gras Coin Incident, wherein a certain retail management team may have wanted to rethink their kids’ program for this particular holiday) in the really real world, but, back in the days of the first fandom I ever dove into, well, a few key characters certainly did.

Among the beads and the coins, and the mask and fleur de lis ornaments (you know what they say, being given three items on a certain theme means one collects them now. Guess this means I now collect masks and fleur de lis, and I am okay with that) and special Cajun flavored potato chips (they were delicious) was this fine fellow.

say hello to my little friend

His name is Iko (full name Iko Iko, naturally) and, while my original plan was for him to reside on my desk, RLRH had other ideas. Iko now resides in our room. This does not surprise me, and it does give a measure of job security, not only to Sebastian, but to Bo Bison, who lives on top of the printer, and the as yet unnamed Christmas bear who is sitting unobtrusively in the corner of the keyboard shelf, not imposing on anyone.

This is also the week where I finally carved out time (thanks, insomnia) to watch The Swimmer, which I have been wanting to see ever since a friend mentioned it, months ago. It was surreal and gorgeous and tragic and I want to dissect it. Last night was also when I could no longer resist H’s persuasion (aka relentless spamming of lore and links, not at all a complaint) and fell down a rabbit hole. That rabbit hole, aka the Critical Role webseries, in which a group of professional voice actors improv their way through a tabletop roleplaying game, may or may not be swallowing me whole, even though I have not yet seen my first full episode. Yet. I have, however, scoured the web for blush pink dice that still have some badassery about them, and whether there might be any places for a curious beginner to suss out things in person. I may or may not have bookmarked a few sites to learn more about the character creation process, because that is germane to the work we writers do on a daily basis, so I’d still be working, right?

This has also been the week when my grumbling about how my daily agenda traveler’s notebook insert will only last me one more month, and I will need to purchase another (but where?) unless I want to use the format of the one I currently have as a template and make my own, because that is totally allowable, and there are no gatekeepers on this sort of thing. Worst case scenario all I do is save myself a few pennies, by using what I have on hand. Best case, well, there’s no ceiling, now, is there?

All of this, combined with my pre-bed devourings of historical romance, once again, leads to one inevitable conclusion. I am, once again, in the magpie stage, grabbing shiny things to toss into my hoard, while moving along with getting Chasing Prince Charming through the next round of edits, second drafting Her Last First Kiss, and first drafting Drama King. This is not the time I would have picked for the magpie stage to hit, but, then again, that’s not how it works. I don’t get to pick. Maybe others do, but, if I had the chance to pick that option, I’d have to turn it down. I like the surprise of “oh, it’s happening,” that pops in at random intervals.

This time, I have learned. Last night, while Skyping with H, and pulling the trigger on my first Critical Role episode, I hit pause. I had to grab a notebook and mechanical pencil, because we magpies need a safe space to stash our shinines. (Accidental alliteration thrown in for no extra fee) Other things tumbled in, the laundry room reading session where I ignored a Kindle full of TBRs, to reread one of my own old documents, the latest feedback on the current HLFK chapter, and the signpoints up ahead that Melva and I need to hit for Drama King where it needs to be, when those two crazy kids finally figure out that they’re perfect for each other.

Sometimes, it does feel like juggling a lot of chainsaws at one time, but this kind of thing is an occupational hazard. What unexpected sources of inspiration are seeking you out this week?

Typing With Stuffed Paws: About Last Week Edition

Greetings, Foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff from the week that was. Week and a half in this case, because sick days and snow days can do a number on the ol’ blogging schedule. Thankfully, Writer Chick is mostly recovered, and the snow is pretty much just sitting there, so things are on their way back to normal, or as normal as things get around here.

Speaking of which, let’s dive right in. As per usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance this past weekend, with a timely topic. What exactly does she mean when she says these books are sick? Click the link in the caption, or right here, if you want to find out.

These Books Are Sick

Hopping over to Writer Chick’s Goodreads challenge, which is off to a fine start. As of today, Writer Chick has read eleven out of ninety-five books for the year, which puts her at twelve percent of her way to her goal, and we are not even out of January yet. This puts Writer Chick already five books ahead of schedule. Has she started off the year the way she means to go on? Stick around and find out.

This brings us to the writing portion of this blog, and Writer Chick has been doing pretty well for herself, sick days and snow days notwithstanding. Yesterday was a rain day, which is second only to snow, and a Skype session with Other Writer Chick. This is where they crunched some numbers, and found out that they are now 33% of the way through their first draft of Drama King. This, again, means it is time to crank up the stakes, which, for these two, involves a lot of evil cackling, and, for Writer Chick, making a lot of freeform notes while they brainstorm. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick are now waiting for the second round of edits to land on their desks. They plan to tackle that as soon as it does, and do that right. Writer Chick actually loves this part of the process, and Other Writer Chick is very glad that Writer Chick does.

Yesterday, Writer Chick sent off the fifth chapter of Her Last First Kiss to Other Writer Chick, whose comments make Writer Chick eager to keep going forward. Writer Chick is rather appalled at the sheer number of missing, extraneous, or misplaced commas, but good catch on Other Writer Chick finding them. This is one of the perils and pitfalls of having a critique partner who has a PhD in English. It is kind of like having a human grammar check, which is not a bad thing to have around, at all. Other Writer Chick has also said some super encouraging things about voice and detail, and those things make Writer Chick very, very happy.

Currently, Writer Chick is reading yet another installment of Fruits Basket. At this point, I am concerned about what’s going to happen once she is done with this series, because there are about twelve collectors’ editions, and she is now on volume number nine. This means she is in the home stretch, where things are getting super emotional. That is exactly how Writer Chick likes things, so that’s a check in the plus column. The question is, what is she going to read when she is done with these books? Please, for my sake, if you have highly angsty romance, with HEA ending, leave it in the comments. Writer Chick squeezes really hard when she is in the throes of a book hangover. That’s the downside of reading a series Writer Chick likes that much, but the upside, and the interesting side, is that, even though these books are set in pretty much modern day (maybe a decade or two back) Japan, and people do tend to turn into animals now and again (yes, there is someone who turns into a handsome orange boy, and he is one of the main guys, so that is a very big plus, if you ask me) but, as Writer Chick said, at length, to H, in one of their chats, these books have a lot of the flavor of Writer Chick’s favoritest historical romances. Writer Chick may explain that later.

This Kindle is full of Elizabeth Hoyt

What i can tell you is that she dove directly into a lot of Elizabeth Hoyt historicals, all set in the Georgian era, which may be part of what is fueling the fire for working on Her Last First Kiss. Right now, Writer Chick is on the hunt for Ms. Hoyt’s newest, Not the Duke’s Darling, which is the start of a new series, reading the last book in the Maiden Lane series, and has the first book in yet another series, in audio, for listening while she is doing other things. Is that a lot of books? Yes. Is that a sufficient amount of books? No.

It is, however, a sufficient amount of blogging for today. The sunbeam is moving, and I must follow. See you next time.

Peace out,

Wednesday Live (Writing)

This morning, N and I sat across our usual Panera table from each other, no conversation, apart from notifications that one of us is getting up to refill beverage, or make room for more beverage. The rest of the time, we had fingers on the keyboards of our AlphaSmart Neos, making with the tippity tap. N counted the words she added to her document during this session, and came up with a pretty good number. Do not ask me what it was, but it was good. I did not count, only kept moving forward, with occasional breaks to stretch, and would have happily kept going, had not Mr. N arrived to whisk N away and drop me home.

At some point, I will connect Neo and desktop, and make some sense out of what I typed into the new file, ove multiple cups of tea. I hadn’t gone into this session with a game plan, which is unlike me, but, when N discovered that she’d brought the wrong file with her, and announced she would start a new one, I told her I would do the same, in solidarity.

For both of us, this was the telling ourselves the story phase, where we are shoveling sand into the metaphorical sandboxes and we will craft it into dragons, castles, or whatever, later on, when it’s time to add water and shells and all that good stuff. At first, I thought I’d draft this blog entry during our live writing session, but that’s not what ended up happening. As writing sessions often start, I began this one by brain dumping into the file, (aka blorching) and trusting that, in time, I would make something resembling actual fiction at some point. Which is what happened. For this particular session, it ended up being me reaching into my long-term memory, because the actual notes I wanted to go with were stored in a chat log I did not have access to at the time (partly because I was not on the internet. This is one of the benefits of the  AlphaSmart, and why I will be using it more often, in the future.)

I think I did okay on this one, and N reports that she is also satisfied with her own results. We’ll be doing this again in the future. N also asked me to blog about procrastination, and, ironically, I will be doing that later because this morning’s acting as if I knew what I was doing turned into –surprise, surprise- me actually knowing what I was doing, I am now in the groove, and want to hold onto that. Call it priming the pump, warmups, authorial appetizers, whatever, all I know is that , today, it worked.

Today’s picture is the bottom shelf of my bookshelf-turned desk. I did take a regular deskscape, but don’t think I’ve shared the bottom shelf, at least since it found its current iteration. Tallest to shortest, we have my Her Last First Kiss binder, (in need of complete overhaul, but that’s another story, pun intended) desk planner, Dylusions traveler’s notebook (for daily agenda,) big pen case, small pen case, silverware organizer that is now a pen organizer, because it is too big for our kitchen drawers. The binder found its place this morning, on my way out the door, to meet N, because the way it was floating around my corner of our common room was driving me crazy, and it needed a home already.

Having the items I need, at arm’s reach, in order, and easily accessible, makes the business of writing a lot smoother, and a lot more fun. When I came home, I put the AlphaSmart (it lives in its bag) in its appointed place, so what I wrote there can have some time to mellow, and I can concentrate on what’s next on my list. Today, it’s this entry, and then I have a scene to edit for Drama King. After that, I have Melva’s notes on the latest chapter of Her Last First Kiss. Having someone to be accountable to for this project helps keep me focused, and I like being able to give a positive answer for how things are going for Bern and Ruby (hint: not smooth sailing for them at this point, but I am having a blast.)

Okay, that’s the magic seven hundred (self imposed minimum blog word count) so time to pop this entry on the blog, grab some lunch, and then off to play with my imaginary friends. What are you up to, this fine midweek?