If I List Them, Will They Come?

I’ve been thinking a lot about reading goals. This may be, in part (large part) due to the fact that I have a new printable reading tracker, which means I do not have to draw a rough facsimile of a bookshelf in my big writing planner. The rest of the parts are my mounding TBR list, my mounding reader guilt, and the happily increasing amount of friends’ books I would like to read, even though the number of hours in the day does not change. Still twenty-four, for those who are curious. Planning is part of my process, in reading as well as writing, and it generally takes me to the place I meant to go, even if I had left the metaphorical house on an aimless ramble.

Those rambles do tend to have a purpose, which fits into my being firmly in the puzzler camp when it comes to plotter vs pantser. I can’t pick one. It’s both. Jump in, splash around, and the way will become clear. This is why, when I go to the library, with a notion to find some nonfiction, I do not go to the computer (I will always want to type “card catalog” in this circumstance) or even pay that much attention to the Dewey Decimal system. Nope, I’ll wander the stacks, peep at the books on the end of the nearest shelf, see how close to or far from the topic I want -let’s say writing- and proceed accordingly. Languages? Oh good, English is a language. I write in English. Dum de dum dum dum, poetry, getting closer, oh look, plays, annnnd here we are.

My big writing goal, right now, is to read more romance, specifically historical romance. I have a good balance of historical romance, contemporary YA, and graphic novels, waiting on my TBR shelf (in this apartment, it really is only one shelf, and the vast majority of that from the library system) and I really do want to read every single book I have borrowed, and more hot on their tails, so time to put on the big girl panties, pour a seasonally appropriate beverage, and get down to business.

I don’t want to be one of those writers who doesn’t or can’t read in the genre they’re writing, while they’re writing it, and, before, that had not been the case. If that’s changed, I suppose I will adapt, but I would prefer not to have to make that adjustment. I also don’t want to be the person who buys and/or borrows books, and then doesn’t read them, the size of the TBR piles (plural) topped only by the crushing reader guilt. Maybe that would squash everything to the same base level, in order to begin all over again? I don’t know. Maybe that’s how it works, or maybe it isn’t.

As often happens with other things in my life, what usually puts things in perspective is to make lists, and so that is what I am doing. A lot of lists, as a matter of fact, and I am very sure I am not done with said list-making. What kinds of historical romances do I like the most? What are the books that have worked the best for me? Why? What books haven’t? What are keywords that will ensure I pick up a historical romance, knowing nothing else about the book, and, the flip side, what keywords will ensure that I put that book right back where I found it, because one reader’s “meh” is another’s “woohoo!” (Sims players, I know what I said.)  Lists of questions, as well, like “how can I find books I am not currently finding?”

That’s a big one. I am fairly certain I am at least part unicorn, because I tend to have a good deal of what I will term niche loves. While I love historical romance as a whole, I get especially excited to see books set anywhere between the end of the Wars of the Roses and the end of the American Revolution. Medievals get a close second, and an honorable mention goes to the Edwardian era, on either side of the Atlantic. My ears will always perk at the mention of Australia (Candace Proctor, I have left a light on for you) or heroine disguised as male, no matter the historical period. Show me the words, “epic,” or “saga,” in the blurb, and I most definitely want to read further. I love me some angst, fairy tale retellings are wonderful, houses/locales that are almost characters in their own rights, alpha heroines are the best, and my favorite sort of series is generational. I am sure this will all end up in some sort of chart in the near future, and I will probably share it here, when it does.

Listing books I want to read, or to re-read, or to finally read, is the fun part. Narrowing it down to what I want to read right now is tougher, and toughest of all is finding the times when I can read the books I want to read, the way I want to read them. Again, same amount of numbers in the day no matter what I read, and the thought of reading fewer books of any type, to make room for another sort of book, again, no matter the type, pains me. Even so, it comes down to the whole “how bad do you want it?” question. In this case, quite a lot.

That means it’s worth the effort, and time to do thing X can be found by not doing thing Y. I already watch a lot less TV than I used to, especially when I was recapping. In fact, I don’t even know how to turn on our TV. I do have Netflix and Hulu, and do have to-watch lists for both, but it’s time to get back into the reading habit. Time to reclaim the pleasure and ritual of reading historical romance, ensuring that I block out the time I need to sink into the immersive world that I love the very best. Talking about something is always a huge incentive for me to actually do that thing, so I will probably be talking more about reading historical romance here. Hm. I’d probably better start making some lists.

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It’s Monday, And I Don’t Know Where My Hero’s Bathroom Is

Welp, it’s a cloudy Monday, and I am well past the time I had set aside for blogging, so let’s jump in and blabber our way to the magic seven hundred and then call it good enough, because I have a scene from Melva to read for Drama King, which may require me to draw a floor plan of one of the locations in our small shared world. I do have a couple of pictures on Pinterest, that may be of help here, and I am strongly considering building said locale in Sims 4, but Sims 4 does not have indoor ladders (or outdoor, except for the pool variety) and it really needs a ladder, because the ladder will be important, so there’s that. In short, I am procrastinatin.

I cannot, however, procrastinate everything, especially when Sebastian dropped the (hair)ball on the weekend post (also, there were domestic tornadoes; we are in the cleanup phase now) and the first few attempts at this blog entry were veering too far into the realm of planning. That is not entirely unexpected, as I spent a good chunk of the weekend, when I was not wrangling aforementioned domestic tornadoes, carrying around Li’l Pink, the traveler’s notebook I acquired over a year ago, with inserts I acquired up to six years ago, but not writing in her.

Very long story, made very short, the pretty pastel inserts I had thought were pocket size, were actually passport size the whole darned time, which is why they never lined up with the pocket sized hardcover notebooks, which, in turn, never sat right, because they had to be on the part of the elastic where the knot is, therefore not able to sit flat. Ahem. I found this out when I decided, what the heck, I’d toss in the passport sized junk journal insertI had ordered by mistake, and what ho, it’s the same size as the others. The cover clashed with the pastel inserts, but, as it turns out, tracing paper will double for vellum, in a pinch, and literally nobody on the entire planet, who is not you, is losing any sleep over this, Anna.

Okay, fine, that is not wrong, but nattering about the inserts it took me six years to figure out what size they were did get me to about the halfway mark for a full blog entry. Once the blog entry is done, I get to turn my attention to Drama King stuff. Tomorrow should be for Her Last First Kiss. Also for hauling an old air mattress to the dumpster, but nobody wants to read a blog about that. I certainly wouldn’t want to write it. I’ll stick to writing romance novels, thanks.

Sometimes, though, writing romance novels involves things one doesn’t think it would. Like the location of bathrooms, which may, in fact, drive me to Sims 4 (for research, I tell you, purely for research) When I was but a nubile ingenue (aka high school) my drama teacher told a group of aspiring thespians that we always had to know what was on the fourth wall. That is not the audience out there, it is the wall with the TV and the china cabinet and the squeaky door to the kitchen, that always swings the wrong way. It’s the front porch, or the balcony, or, well, you get the picture. Point is, it’s fixed, it doesn’t change (in realistic works) and it affects what the actors do in relation to their environment. If it’s a plate glass window, the play is set in the middle of a Minnesota winter, and a baseball sails through that window in the middle of act two, that’s an act and a half of the actors needing to convey to the audience that they are now cold, possibly dangerously so, instead of comfortable.

When we’re talking novel writing, replace “actor” with “writer,” though the character who lives in this locale is an actor, so maybe don’t. Follow your heart. No, not right now. Get back here. I’m almost done. Having all scene partners agree on what is on that fourth wall is usually a pretty good idea, because doing otherwise can lead to chaos (or some awesome improv; I’ve seen it go both ways.) This also comes into play in writing partnerships. Since Melva and I are often eerily on the same page, pun intended, I do not foresee any huge differences, and questions of “where’s thing X?” usually get met with “well, I thought it was over in place Y,” which gets met with, “oh good, that’s where I had it.” I expect that will still be the case.

And yet (there is always an “and yet”) this should not be a big deal. Our hero’s apartment is a studio, with a loft, so there is only a limited amount of places a bathroom can be, and, thanks to my experiences with my dad’s house, I know enough about where pipes go to figure out that such things narrow the options even more, so there is not a logical reason to be putting something this easy off, Anna.

Yeah, but we’re over the halfway mark, and the hero and heroine are getting ready for :drops voice to whisper: the scene.

The scene?

You know. The hero/heroine scene.

This is a romance novel. Most of the scenes are hero/heroine scenes.

Yeah, but….

If you figure out where the bathroom is, you don’t have to carry the air mattress to the dumpster.

Ever?

Today.

Eh, good enough. I’ll get the graph paper.

What Do Planner Pages and Fiction Genres Have in Common?

Still not the actual planner post, but getting closer, and, seeing as how we are over the midway point of the month, I may let this suffice and move on along because the start of yet another new month will be here before I know it.

The fact that Wednesday’s post is the first of the week should tell you all how Monday went. Nuff said about that. Let’s move on to better stuff, and by that, I mean planners and how they relate to the writing life. Last night was a big one at Stately Bowling Manor, because I learned two very important things that have me chittering like a cat at a bird sanctuary. Thing One is that the printer is now up and running, and Thing Two is that I finally figured out the exact difference between A6 and half-letter size. For the non-planner-obsessed, this sounds like Charlie Brown Adult speech. For those more planner-obsessed than myself, this may elicit a heartfelt “duh.”

If standard letter size paper is one sheet of the stuff one puts into the printer, then it follows that half-letter is half of that (folded short end to short end, specifically) and fits quite nicely into the mini binders sold at many chain office supply and/or megastores. A5 paper is the kind commonly sold for ring bound planners. Half letter paper is generally, in my experience, sold three-hole-punched, while A5 comes most commonly punched with six holes (I have seen some punched with four holes, but very seldom, and have not actually used any of those…yet.) The two are pretty darned close in size, which leads to the impression that they are interchangeable. The embarrassingly large amount of paper in my scrap file will attest. That paper will get repurposed, because I don’t like waste, but let’s move on with this bit o’ blabber.

In a reveal that surprises no-one, I love all things planner-related, and am not (yet) independently wealthy. Also, I have what we will call strong preferences. This would intimate that making my own inserts and fillers might be a good way to both save money and expand creativity. This also is where that scrap paper comes into play, or should i say existence. After longer than I would be proud to admit, of assuming that A) A5 and half letter are totally the same size, and B) the firm conviction that I have so been punching the paper according to the manufacturer’s instructions, I also took into account C) depth perception is part of my visual impairment. Maybe I might want to actually check out the dimensions the way it makes sense to me? What could it hurt?

So, going on the pro tip on how to tell black from navy blue (hold the color in question next to something that you 100$ know is black) I took a manufactured A5 page and a manufactured half letter page, each obviously different colors, put the one I suspected was smaller (spoiler: it’s A5) in front, and tapped them on a level surface (kitchen table.) Lo and behold, there it was, a bright white strip of paper above the colored A5 sheet. Mark the difference, remove the excess, punch holes, and…wait for it…boom, they line up with the manufactured A5 paper holes. This then segued into a frenzy of paper cutting and punching, culminating in me sitting back, contented as a cat in cream, looking at my handiwork.

Goodbye, pricey inserts in two different sizes. Hello, making whatever the heck I want, whenever the heck I want it. I’m off-leash at last, no fences, baby, woo. Except for the one teeny, small, infinitesimal complication that I do not have the first idea of how to create my own insert or filler, on the computer, which does throw a bit of a spanner in the works. Not a biggie, as I will figure it out, through a process of trial and error, and picking the hive mind of the interwebs. . There have to be templates out there somewhere, and where there’s templates, there’s historicals…er, tutorials. Total typo there, but I’m going to let it stand, because I am headed in that direction anyway.

But Anna, I hear those of you who live in my head asking, what does all of this have to do with writing commercial fiction? I am glad you asked that, people who live in my head, because that is an excellent question, and one I have been asking myself, until the answer naturally surfaced. Paper size is a lot like genre, in a sense. Sure, A5 and half letter may look the same to the casual viewer, and how big a difference can it be, anyway? As a quick inspection proves, quite a bit. One thing can’t fit in a container made for the other, but when we know what size is what and where all the holes are supposed to be (get your minds out of the gutter) the whole thing goes rather smoothly, and the creative mind can flood with ideas of fun things to do in all those lovely different sizes.

Some spreads that are perfect for A5 would never work in a half letter, or vice versa. Add in personal size, which is a heck of a lot smaller, but still fun and useful, and we’re talking a whole different story. Pun intentional. THat’s only talking ringbound. If we add traveler’s notebooks into the mix (strings rather than rings) we have whole new options, and whole new requirements. Do I love notebooks in general? Yes, with a wild, burning passion. Is there one objectively best format or size? Well, best for what? I’d need to ask some questions here. It’s the same for romance fiction. I would assume every other genre as well, or there wouldn’t be a need for both high and low fantasy (to say nothing of urban) cozy vs hard-boiled mysteries, hard vs soft SFscience fiction (if I’m using a wrong term for  different types of a single a genre, please let me know) and so forth.

A composition size planner is not going to fit in a tiny evening bag, and a bound notebook is not going to allow me to move pages around with ease. Genre is kind of like that. A light, humorous romance is not going to make me weep from angst leading to the HEA, while an epic historical is not going to be the best choice for a quick read that will give a case of the giggles. To paraphrase the late, great Eugenia Price, not all writers are going to please all readers. That’s why there are so many of us. I am more than okay with that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to a chain office supply store to buy printer ink. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.


Typing With Stuffed Paws: The (Stuffed) Cat Came Back Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff for the past, uh, while. Now that Writer Chick is no longer a galley slave, and has met her deadline, that gives her more time for other things, like checking to make sure I’m doing my share around here. Eh. I had a good run, and by run, I mean napping through the last couple of Fridays. Anyway, Dude is home today, he’s warm, and pretty good at napping, hi own self, so I think you know where this is going. Catnaps are always best when taken with actual cats, amirite?

Anyway, to speed us in that direction, let’s get down to business. First, as always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday, and she wants your recommendations of books that might whet her reading appetite. Click here, or the caption below, if you think you might be able to help, or if you like hearing her ramble or whatever. Click for no reason, if you want. I’m not the boss of you.

As for what Writer Chick is reading, she’s working on getting back into the swing of the whole Goodreads challenge deal. Right now, she’s only three books behind, at twenty-three out of ninety-five books, which puts her at twenty-four percent of the way to her goal. Adequate progress, but y’know, weekend, TBR, all that stuff. Make it happen, Writer Chick.

Writer Chick has made some noise about making a list of library books, to keep in one of her planners, to get around the whole thing of figuring out she has to give back a bunch of books she didn’t get a chance to read, and can’t renew them, because they were renewed already, and Dude may or may not be teasing her about what he calls the “mini rage.” Lists and goals and stuff make her happy anyway. There could possibly be stickers involved. As long as the stickers don’t come in contact with my fur, then I don’t have a problem. If they do, well, let’s say that Writer Chick might get a chance to find out why my middle name is Thunderpaws. That’s all I’m saying.

Maybe new candles are the key to posting more pictures…

There’s also the whole Instagram thing. Seriously slacking on that one, Writer Chick. There may need to be some sort of Instagram progress chart to keep her going on this one. One the one paw, I am an excellent model, because, in addition to being handsome and orange, I am awesome at posing. By posing, I mean sitting still. Unlike poo cats, I do not walk off in the middle of the shoot, and, really, she should be taking advantage of that. There has been some buzz about taking me out on location shoots. Props may be involved. Not sure how I feel about this, but Writer Chick tells me it’s part of the whole Cat Regent thing, so I suppose I can go along until they find a suitable poo cat.

Peace out,

Rage Quit Your Nightmare

This post is not the planner post, either. Tangentially. Today’s picture is technically an art journal spread, but the insert is in a traveler’s notebook. Big Pink, to be exact, though I am also thinking about what I am going to name my new A6 planner, which is now the main writing notebook, also pink, and bigger than Big Pink. That’s not this post, either. Maybe that will be the planner post for April, and hopefully that will be next week.

Right now, the day is gray, not yet rainy, but hopefully soon. Rain is my second favorite weather, after snow. Even I am done with snow for the season. It can come back in late November. In the meantime, I am very happy to see rain. My goal for today is to power through the writing tasks, so that I can be ready for a 3PM library run (fingers crossed that volume 23 of Fruits Basket will have arrived) and hang out with Housemate. In the best of all possible worlds, I will also be able to get back to my art stuff, because that is where my brain is today.

Yeah, yeah, I can hear some of you saying, get to the Rage Quit Your Nightmare part. This is that. It’s also the tangentially planner related part of this post. Part of the way I learn things is to jump in with both feet, splash around, figure out what I’m doing, while I’m doing it, climb back out, make a plan, and then jump back in. This holds true for planning and art, as well as writing. It also ties into the whole branding thing from this past weekend’s CR-RWA meeting, which is still circling around in the back of my mind.

Okay. So. I want to say that it was last year that I fully embraced the whole planner/bullet journal/art journal sort of thing. I knew that I definitely wanted to do it, but how would I do it? That’s a much more complex question. The most important thing for me, in any putting ink on paper endeavor, is that it look/feel like me. Not that I am passionately dedicated to the art of self-portraiture, which I do not. More that I want what I put out to be authentic. Even, and maybe especially, the stuff that is only for myself, not outside eyes. Which, um, :points to picture above post: is not exactly pertinent here, but I’m going to roll with it.

Focus, Anna. Okay. Part of the jumping in and splashing about was grabbing inserts and such that looked even remotely interesting, while on a budget. This means getting a chance to get creative. Pick up things that could work, with a little tweaking, then put them where I think they might belong, and add stuff until it feels right. Often, when I’m doing this, that’s when the story stuff works itself out on its own, on my brain’s back burner. As with many of us, the clearance sections of stores that sell things I can use in the ink and paper arena, are my friends. Such place is where I found the insert for this picture.

I loved the color of the pages. The price was right. I did not get it, because the outside…ehhhhh, not feeling it. Still thought about the lovely pastel ombre inside pages, though, and, when it showed up in a swap with another paper obsessed friend, I figured this was a sign. I was also trying out a new size of insert, so it was a lot of new stuff all at once. There were also words where I did not necessarily need or want words to be, and the colors of covers, etc, eh, not always my thing. The “don’t quit your daydream” bit was one of those things with words where I didn’t want there to be words. I have issues with the dream/daydream terminology, so it’s not a phrase I would choose to put on something meant to inspire my own creative process.

I also didn’t want to have to slap something over it, in “Hey! I am covering something here!” fashion. Opposite action, steer into the skid. Embrace it. Draw a flowery border. Add more words. The first question that came to mind was, “what’s the opposite of that phrase?” Hence “Rage Quit Your Nightmare.”  That, I like. I like it a lot. What, exactly, does it mean to me? I would say I am still figuring that out, but I think I do have an idea on that one.

My nightmare would be not writing. Being published is great, and I hope to publish, or have published, many, many more books. At the same time, if I knew, today, that I would one hundred percent never ever get anything published, ever again, I’d still write. I would still write historical romance on my own, and I would still want to get together with Melva, to put together our two very different styles, to make something unique and fun. If the nightmare would be not-writing, then rage quitting that would be…? Writing, I imagine. Not sitting down to a duty, but remembering the love of the game.

Speaking of which, the pages are calling.

This Post Was Kidnapped by Pirates

This post is only tangentially about planners, most of that due to the cover photo for today. This post, like the short story I did get submitted to Z Publishing on time, was kidnapped by pirates. Never fear, planner devotees, that post is coming, especially since the utterly awesome presentation by Lucinda Race, at this past Saturday’s Capitol Region Romance Writers of America meeting gave me much food for thought on the matter of branding.

This time, though, it’s pirates. Yep. Pirates. See, I’d had a plan in place, to craft a lovely short bit for the anthology submission, grounded in historical fact, and even return to my beloved Colonial America setting. This involved reading up on my New York history, diving into the Quartering Acts, and crafting a hero and heroine who already had a history, so that we didn’t have to go from meet-cute (though, seriously, if I’m writing historicals on my own, it’s more like meet-angsty) to HEA in a couple of thousand words. Yeeeeah, that is not exactly what happened, which will surprise nobody.

First, I had my premise. Use the Quartering Acts to fill my innkeeper heroine’s home and business with British soldiers. Second, bring my hero, her childhood sweetheart, along, newly cashiered out, and in need of a place to hang his tricorn (that is not a euphemism, but I do write historical romance, so take it as you will).) Give him a letter of introduction from his old commanding officer, addressed to officer’s wife, only to find out that said letter is addressed to the first Mrs. Officer, (it’s a couple years old) and the woman who actually gets it is the second Mrs. Officer, now widowed, annnnd everybody can unpack their emotional baggage right over there, thanks. Only, of course, it wasn’t that easy.

My first clue should have been when my first draft started coming out like this:

Hero: I can has room, plz?
Heroine: LOLZ, no. Too many soldiers.
Hero: I used to be one. See? I have the coat and everything.
Heroine: Sry-not-sry, govt can only enforce active duty dudes. Sux2BU. Bye.
Hero: I can cook.
Heroine: Hmmm…

Yes, this is how I do things in the very beginning. It’s not pretty. Suffice it to say that A) there was nothing I could do to get this heroine to let the hero into herr house, much less life, within the short story word count, B) dude has some serious wooing to do, and C) maybe this story and the Colonial-that-wouldn’t (because hero refused to be who I wanted him to be) might be the same story. Also D, An Intolerable Affair sounds like a wonderful title to me, and the Quartering Acts were part of the Intolerable Acts, sooooo….

This still left me with the need for a short piece to submit. That’s where the pirates happened. Some years back, I finished the first draft of what would become A Heart Most Errant. That’s still looking for its forever home, but if you want to read a short excerpt, and meet John and Aline now, they are waiting for you in last year’s New York’s Emerging Writers anthology. I actually cried after getting John and Aline to their HEA, and wasn’t sure how I was going to follow that. I ended up at a table in my local Panera, and started writing down things I liked in historical romance novels, randomly about the page. I am pretty sure “pirates” was high on the list.  Specifically, that my heroine would be the pirate. Good, that was settled, but what else? What about the hero? What are some things pirates do? I put down a bunch of things, as I recall, but the one that stood out was the practice of marooning, leaving a man on a deserted island, with a small amount of food, and water, and a pistol with a single shot. Hmmm. What if the marooned man survived, got off the island and wanted to settle the score? It wouldn’t be my heroine who left our hero for dead, but her dear old dad? Reluctantly, yes.

Enter said dear old dad. I had meant Cornelis Van Zandt to be only a supporting character, but then he and Lydia kept pulling my attention from Tamsen and Alec, which I did not entirely mind, because I was still a little fuzzy on some of Tamsen and Alec’s backstory. My life exploded right about then, so Tamsen and Alec’s story, working title Abandon, got set aside, Cornelis and Lydia along with it. Until this last week. With only days before the deadline, my Colonial characters firmly in the noncompliant camp, I opened the file for Abandon.

At first, I’d thought to use a couple of scenes, of Alec’s early life, his marooning, and escape, as this submission didn’t have to be a romance, only historical, but I have met me, and yes, it did. Have to be romance, that is. That decision made, there was no other choice than the first meeting between Cornelis and Lydia. I’d written his POV already, but what about hers? That, as it turned out, was not even a problem. There she was, at the rail of the ship carrying her and her husband to their new life in Bermuda, clutching her prayer book, and hoping that the speck on the horizon was, indeed, pirates. Lydia, my dear, this is your lucky day.

It was also mine. “The Fox and the Lily” was tremendous fun to write, and I look forward to spending time with Cornelis and Lydia again, once I have Bern and Ruby, in Her Last First Kiss, firmly settled in their second draft. Whether that means they get a full story all their own, or it works into their daughter’s story, I don’t yet know. What I do know, however, is that my very favorite sort of historical romance series is the generational saga. Mother, daughter, and granddaughter sounds like a perfect heroine lineup to me. What do you think?

Chasing Prince Charming Cover Reveal, and Other Stories

Big news in Anna-land this time, Liebchens. Actually more like big newses (I know, I know, not a word) so let’s get to them.

First of all, unless we hear otherwise from our amazing editor, Melva and I are, as of yesterday, no longer galley slaves. We have turned in our final-final pass of the manuscript for Chasing Prince Charming, so, now, once again, we wait. Release date is still TBA, and you will hear it here as soon as we know.

This segues nicely into the second bit of news, which is…wait for it…drumroll, please…are you sitting down, because I highly recommend that…Chasing Prince Charming cover art is here! Thanks to the team at The Wild Rose Press, and the insanely talented Rae Monet, take a gander at the cover of Melva’s and my first jointly written contemporary romance novel:

Our babies, property of The Wild Rose Press

Aren’t they pretty? I literally gasped as soon as I saw the draft of this cover, because that’s Meg and Dominic for sure. Melva and I would know them anywhere, and the hotel bar where, well, you’ll see. Soon, my Liebchens, soon. Now that Meg and Dominic are standing on their own, ready to head out into the world, there’s a grumpy fallen star and an optimistic literary agent who need some attention, so back to work on that.

Still going to ground for the short story submission thing. More on that later, because this is writing time, but, in the meantime, I do have an update for readers who have had difficulty in locating two of my historical romances, My Outcast Heart, and Orphans in the Storm.

cover art by Tim Harrison, Jr.

Awe-Struck E-Books was the first house to send The Email, an offer to purchase my first historical romance, My Outcast Heart. Thinking of how long ago it was that Tabetha and Dalby became a permanent part of my life, astounds me. I clearly remember the moment their story was conceived (in a mobile home, no less) when Tabetha took herself off into a wintry forest in 1720 New York, and I followed her, with literally no idea where we were going to end up at the end of the trail.

cover art by Kathleen Underwood

Neither did I know, when I plunked myself down at a kitchen table not my own, on a dogsitting gig, to begin Jonnet and Simon’s story, where that journey was going to lead. This is the book I have no memory of selling. Triple caregiving duties will do that to a gal, I have found, and only caught on when my editor needed the final ms…and I did not have one, because it had slipped into the void. Cue calling in hardcopies from my critique group, which did include one Melva Michaelian, as well as M.P. Barker, and frantically putting it all together on my office floor.

Good times, all, and now, for these two books, the adventure begins again. Awe-Struck E-Books, and parent company, Mundania Press, have closed their doors, and reverted all rights to their titles, to the authors. For those having difficulty locating copies of either book, that’s why. These titles are, unfortunately currently off the market.

Not, however, gone forever, as I am putting these babies back on the market. I want to read through each book before I make any firm decisions, and indie publishing is certainly an option. There are several publishers who know what historical romance readers want, and hopefully, My Outcast Heart and Orphans in the Storm will be among that number. Watch this space for updates.

In the meantime, Queen of the Ocean, and Never Too Late, are still available from Uncial Press, at most major e-retailers.

Back to work. That short story is calling.

Going to Ground

No fooling, dearest readers, this is Monday’s blog on Monday, though it is not my monthly planner post. There are a few reasons for this.

  1. Melva and I are still galley slaves. We are getting into the home stretch, because our editor is amazing, and there is not a lot of stuff to tweak.
  2. Insomnia Weekend is not only a great name for a garage band, but an accurate description of my actual weekend.
  3. The deadline for my submission to Z Publishing’s anthology is in less than a week. :runs in circles, screaming:
  4. I want to spend my April planner post on the planner I am creating for my and Melva’s collaborations, exclusively. Making that is a reward for completing the tasks listed above. Making a video flip through, when I am done, sounds like it might be fun. We shall see.
  5. I am still getting to know my new tablet. She is red, because pink was not an option, and her name is Robin Daggers. I have not put Facebook on her yet, and I may not, period, because that feels right, for right now. My wallpaper for this new tablet is the cover for Chasing Prince Charming, which I will be able to share, soon.

Job one, though, is to Get The Books Out, so I am going to ground, as a favorite author has often said, until the galleys are done and submission is sent. This is where I’ve wanted to be, so, even though it’s a lot of work, it’s also fun. My imaginary friends are a chatty bunch, which, for a writer, is a very good thing. It’s a good thing, as well, that there are so many of them, because that means I get more stories to tell, and more stories to share with you.

Even while I’m focusing on Chasing Prince Charming and the upcoming short story, there’s still Drama King to get to the end of draft one, and there will be sections in the collaborative notebook for Queen of Hearts, and even books beyond. We didn’t plan to be thinking two books ahead, but there was an idea, which birthed an idea, which birthed an idea, and we get the chance to work in a few things from our own experiences (not in the romantic department, though this will definitely be a romance.) There will also be a section for miscellaneous ideas, where we can dump the tidbits and leave them to put themselves together.

There is also Her Last First Kiss, because historical romance is still my first love, and, of course, books beyond. Camp NaNo snuck up on me, this time, and I am slightly disappointed that I am going to have to give it a pass (see all blabber above) but maybe the next session will be the perfect time to jump on board. I want to be thinking at least one book down the road in the historical department, because knowing what comes next is super duper fun for me.

That’s one of the reasons I had been/am looking forward to maybe doing Camp NaNo this year. This is my year of Yes, And, so it’s a good time to jump into unfamiliar waters and splash around a little. I have been playing with a couple of YA ideas (still romance) and there are a bunch of historical ideas and/or characters who have been cooling their heels in the waiting room of my imagination, for years. Some of them, for double-digit years, as a matter of fact, and they are getting increasingly testy, because I am, hopefully, a better writer now, and theoretically better able to tell their stories.

Some of them, I have begun to suspect, are cooling their heels, because of my long-standing habit of stuffing (or attempting to stuff) ten pound cats into two pound bags, when either getting a ten pound bag, or putting individual two pound kittens into two pound bags, would be the better course of action.  I’d like to play around with some of that and see how I might do some things differently now than then. I am looking forward to that.

For right now, though, I need to focus on the things in front of me. One thing at a time and it all gets done. Okay, that’s the magic seven hundred (a little bit over, actually) so time to toss this up there, and get back down to business.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Big Stuff is Coming Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you, with all the stuff from the week that was. Okay, couple of weeks. For those who are interested in why there was no post last week, it was naptime. Yes, all week. We handsome stuffed orange boys need our beauty sleep. Takes a lot of that stuff to look this good.

Anyway, Writer Chick wants me to make a couple of announcements. First, there is a new Kindle Fire on the way to her, so she will once again have a mobile device. This means she will be able to post to Instagram once more, as well as a few other things that are easier on a mobile device, like Skype with Other Writer Chick, and, most importantly, she can take more pictures of me. That’s important stuff.

The second thing is that Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick are happy to announce that they have a final cover for Chasing Prince Charming, and they will reveal it very soon, once they have properly sized images. Fair warning, she is going to post that baby everywhere. There is no cat in this picture, stuffed or otherwise, but there are shoes (and oh what shoes) and, if you ask, Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick can tell you the real life place that inspired the place where Meg and Dominic first meet and where they probably should consider as a place to take their joint author photo. The fact that they do not currently have a joint author photo kind of baffles them both, but that’s how it goes.

Writer Chick is also chipping at that reading debt for her Goodreads reading challenge, and will pick up on that when she is back on track. Since she has found that the main library in this city carries the entire Fruits Basket series, and its sequel, Fruits Basket Another, (sic) and she tears through those pretty darned quickly, so odds are that she might be back on track, if not ahead, fairly soon, possibly by the end of the weekend. There is a librarian there, who really knows her manga, so if Writer Chick can find any more mangas she likes as much as she likes this one, then numbers may end up escalating rather quickly. We shall see how that goes. Writer Chick also picked up some historical romances she has wanted to read for a while, which also may work in the favor of deeper and more frequent reading updates.

In very regular news, Writer Chick was, as always, at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday. This time, she talked about tales from the UBS (that’s used bookstore.) If you’re interested in finding out more about that, the link in the caption will take you there, so there you go.

Points for having a cat in the cover image for this post. Not stuffed, but y’know what? Close enough. A cat’s a cat for all of that, or some such tosh. Whatever.

Writer Chick is pretty focused on the whole galley thing, because, once this galley stuff is done, then she and Other Writer Chick are that much closer to finding out full details on when, exactly, Chasing Prince Charming will be out, and when/how you can catch him. Er, it. Either way, keep your eyes peeled, and you will soon see some exciting stuff.

Right now, it’s rainy, which makes Writer Chick very happy, and it’s the night when she and Other Chick head out to wreak havoc on the nearby art and craft stores. By wreak havoc, I mean they take a really long time walking through the aisles, and maybe buying a couple of things. Dude has been tasked with staying home and alert when Writer Chick goes out, so that there is not a repeat of the Christmas Present Debacle, where Writer Chick and Other Chick had to go hunting for some obscure facility where undelivered packages go. Writer Chick’s luck, this package should show about five minutes after Writer Chick jets for a couple of hours, but then it will be there when she gets back.

So yeah, that’s basically all the stuff worth sharing this week. Keep checking for the cover reveal, and brand new pictures of yours truly. Can’t ever have enough of those.


Peace out,

Technology Is Not My Friend

Last night, the battery in my phone died. This phone has been through harsher things that sitting in the charger. This is the phone where Skye became a gamer kitty, the phone that helped me set a goal of hitting one thousand Instagram posts (yeah, that one’s on hold) and hung out with me during long stretches of insomnia. It’s the phone with all those pictures of Skye on it(but yay Google Photos, for having it all.) This was also the phone I was counting on for some casual scrolling and possibly Kindle app reading before bed, so its ultimate fading to black was not what I had in mind. Time to call in reinforcements.

Those who have known me for a while, also know my history with electronics, which may point in the direction of this piece is going. I first retrieved my old PC laptop, the pink one I still love, and, someday, plan to find if there is a way to make it work without having the screen at an angle that is best described with this symbol: <

she does not display this much screen when open this far, these days

That is the angle at which I have to have the screen, if I want to be able to see it, not complete blackness. I already have the phone for that. The MacBook Pro will probably be fine after I take care of that three beep thing, which should be an easy fix, but not very helpful in the middle of the night, when I want to do some casual scrolling to wind down. Next solution was to boot my elderly tablet, which spent most of its time reminding me that it’s been a while since I turned it on, and that I have changed several passwords in the interim. Also that Google app is not responding. Google app is not responding. Google app is not responding. Etc. At least Spotify worked, so that was a happy ending in the short term.

As soon as I can stop the triple beep, this baby is back in business

The longer term solution will likely be an easy one, as well. Easy fixes for the laptop issue, acquire new phone, and then comes the phase of the process that I actually consider fun. What is the aesthetic of this new device going to be? We’re talking wallpapers, screensavers, possibly themes, if I want to go whole hog on this kind of thing, There’s arranging all my must-haves, like Spotify, my photo apps, Sims FreePlay (why did you have to die in the middle of the chocolatier quest, phone? Do you not understand the depth of my desire for that gingerbread house furniture? Have you learned nothing from the fact that my ice house has no kitchen or bathroom because those items are now locked until the next ice quest comes around again? I have staying power. I can wait, but not if all my Sims die because I can’t get to them.) and Netflix.

Hot pink bag in the bottom left corner holds my tablet. Purple case holds my Kindle, which is fine.

I will qualify this by saying that A) Netflix is still Mehflix (this is totally me, not them) and B) I can access Netflix on other devices, most notably the desktop on which I currently write, but this is the principle of the thing. I cannot take the desktop to the comfy end of the couch, and I definitely can’t tuck it in my planner and take it out into the wide, wild world. Or laundry room, because there’s that, too.

Umm, Anna, I hear a voice saying, isn’t this a good time to table the electronics thing and focus on reading paper books, and/or doing art in the un-phonable time? You don’t even like using the phone as a phone, so, y’know…not seeing the giant problem here. That voice, by the way, is probably me. I have a love/hate relationship with electronics, and I probably always will. I got dragged kicking and screaming to my first ever computer, and now I can’t imagine writing without one, even if I do usually (read: almost always) compose in longhand first. Skype allows me to collaborate with Melva, face to face, when two hundred miles apart, and Skype on the phone means I can go into the only room in our apartment where I can shut the door and not have to work around another human, while Skyping: the bathroom.

Since this is a need, we’ll be taking care of it soon, and, before long, I will be introducing the new electronic device, and/or reintroducing the restored one. This is not a question, but a fact. In the meantime, I have galleys to scour, and there is still the tick tick tick of the clock counting down to the Z Publishing anthology deadline. I am pretty comfortable with that.

TLDR version of this whole thing: Phone died. I wanted to kvetch. I have kvetched. Back to the galleys I go. (Also, if I don’t respond to messages right away, refer to whole phone thing above.)