Typing With Wet Paws: I Feel a Draft Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. The draft I am talking about here is not coming through any doors or windows (our building is very well insulated, which is very much appreciated) but drafts coming from Aunt Anna. By this I mean of the booik variety, of course.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com
(not Aunt Anna)

Drama King

As you may have read in Aunt Anna’s blog, Drama King is now officially a draft. Aunt Anna is a little dazed over that because, well, 2020 was horrible. Now it’s time for the editing phase, which Aunt Anna actually likes. Strange, I know. It also means time for a new notebook setup for laying the groundwork for Queen of Hearts. Oh what hardship. (I am being sarcastic here.) There will probably be new pens and highlighters, too, or, more likely, appropriating some that Aunt Anna already has. One of the really fun things Aunt Anna is looking forward to is getting together things that remind her of the character she will be writing for Queen of Hearts, which, this time, will be the heroine. She really loves the heroes Aunt Melva writes, so this is going to be fun.

It also serves as a nice balance to the much more technical work of the editing process, filing in holes, smoothing out transitions, making sure that the best character (a cat!) has enough scenes and all that kind of stuff.

A Heart Most Errant is now in the hands of an actual editor, and in about two weeks, it will be back in Aunt Aunna’s hands. That means she will have some more tinkering to do, but there will also be formatting and cover art, which sounds an awful lot like…a real book. The kind that can be sold directly to readers, if you’re into that sort of thing.

This means that she needs to start thinking, now, about connected books, which is not normally a thing she does, but the market is what the market is. Trying new stuff is fun, and the idea of writing more books in that setting means that A) she has a really good excuse to read more medieval romances, and B) get back on track with The Walking Dead, because the whole concept of this story world is “post-apocalyptic medieval.” It takes place after the Bubonic Plague whomped out basically half of Europe. This is either incredibly good timing for this sort of story or incredibly bad timing. Aunt Anna figures it will all work out in the end, and she’s happy to be writing historical romance, period, so on with the show.

Reading

First, the good stuff. (well, Aunt Anna says all reading is the good stuff) Aunt Anna is currently one book ahead of her Goodreads Reading Challenge, with six books read out of her goal of ninety. That puts her at seven percent of the way home.

The thing that gives her pause (as opposed to paws; I provide the paws around here) is that all six of those books are YA (or NA) – two romances and four scary books. With all of them, she has, at one point or another, or multiple points throughout, wondered how that sort of thing would work in a historical romance. Maybe this counts as some sort of research? This can be mildly concerning when one remembers this was also the week of…

Historical Romance Readathon

Yeeeeaaaah. Aunt Anna did not do great here. Not going to hold it against her, though, because A) this has been a rough week with raging insomnia, and B) that kind of led into feeling pressure-y about hewing to her readathon plan, so she is going to call this a deferred readathon and still do it this week, although albeit unofficially. That’s how she rolls.

All is not lost, though, because Aunt Anna acquired a super neat thing this week: a weighted blanket. That means that it’s a blanket, filled with lots and lots and lots of tiny glass beads. The weight is often very good for people who have anxiety (which Aunt Anna does) and make it easier for them to sleep. This one, I am happy to report, works. I even tried it myself.

Hooman tested, kitty approved

Also, Aunt Anna has another anthology ready for weekend reading, Regency in Color (vol 1!) which has a story from Jessica Cale, who is one of Aunt Anna’s favorite historical romance authors. This bodes extremely well. She can confirm that reading historical romance under a weighted blanket, with a hot cup of cinnamon tea, and a beautiful, purring calico girl makes for a super duper cozy time. Aunt Anna is very much into this sort of thing. Possibly with extra pillows and a scented candle set well away from any place aforementioned calico girl can get to it. I am never ever ever left unsupervised around candles.

Okay, I think that’s about it. That weighted blanket is super snuggly, and I have a lot of napping to do, if I am going to be any sort of purr-sonal assitant. What’s on tap for your weekend?

Headbonks!

A Tale of Two Manuscripts

First draft of Drama King is done. Complete. Finished. Melva and I agreed during our video chat on Monday, and then I promptly crashed. Monday was also the day that A Heart Most Errant is now safely in the hands of an independent editor. Over the next two weeks, there will be editing, formatting, cover design, and then my baby will come back to me and it will be time to think about the next steps.

Storm says nap time is now required.

For Drama King, that will mean going over the whole thing in fifty page chunks, filling in some places that need plumping, tying up loose ends, working on a lot of transitions, but we did it. We. Did. It. Once we send that to our editor at The Wild Rose Press, who holds right of first refusal (or acceptance!) and we see how that goes. We are also laying the groundwork for the third Love By The Book book, Queen of Hearts. After that, we do know what comes next, and we are feeling pretty good about that. Add to that the fact that we are reviving our website, including some upcoming workshops. Super fun.

With A Heart Most Errant, having book one off in the hands of an editor, that means that it’s time to think about book two…which I never thought about before. I normally think in terms of standalones for historicals, but the market at present is heavily geared toward series, so now I get to do a new thing. That’s both exciting and scary, and also gives me a really good reason to reread some favorite medieval romances (and discover new ones) and honestly say that I’m doing market research.

Speaking of standalones, Her Last First Kiss is going to require some surgery, because when things flat out won’t move past a certain point, that means somebody is trying to drive the story in the wrong direction. (Me. That person would be me.) It’s not a big thing, but if it’s derailed a story I love for this long, them maybe it probably is. Le sigh. But one story at a time, which is why this is not titled A Tale of Three Manuscripts. That, I am sure, will come soon enough. Which is okay. It feels good to be moving.

Today also sees me in the middle of the Historical Romance Readathon week, with my nose in two anthologies, and, hopefully, I will be able to finish them both. Not that I don’t like either of them, because I like both, but because it’s been an annoyingly insomniac week. I have a new weighted blanket that should help a lot. It’s also super cozy for reading, with a bunch of pillows and a cup of cinnamon tea.

Feels pretty good, after this past year, to report favorably on two projects in the same post. Maybe a deep dive into reading some historical romance will help with the whole coming up with new medieval stories thingamabobble, and see how other authors of historical romance decide on how to pick the next connected project.

Comments, concerns, tips, all happily accepted in the comments below. Comments int he comments…yeah, definitely reading time.

Typing With Wet Paws: Sleepy Week Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. As the still-holliday-themed picture will tell you, Aunt Anna still needs to work on a new header picture for me, but she’ll get to that. It’s been one of those weeks. Nothing much wrong, just not the greatest on the writing front Aunt Anna is salty about that. These kinds of things happen to everybody, so chalk it up to experience and keep on going.

Or take a nap. Naps are good.

In that vein, let’s look at some things that did go well this week. First up, Mr. Kurt, the property manager, came over early in the week, to take care of the clogged kitchen sink, and we now no longer have a clogged kitchen sink. Yay for Mr. Kurt. Needless to say, a day with all the humans home, plus an extra human, and plumbing issues, meant that Aunt Anna’s writing week did not start off the smoothest. Reading, though, t hat’s another matter.

Even though writing wasn’t t he best this week, reading went great. So far, Aunt Anna is two books ahead of schedule on her Goodreads Challenge goal of reading ninety books in this year, with five books so far. As of now, they are all YA, but that is about to change, because…drumroll…it’s…

Historical Romance Readathon!

Aunt Anna is SO HERE for this adventure, which starts TODAY. Run by Jess at PeaceLoveBooks, Lisa from Remarkably Lisa, and Lacey from LaceyBooklovers. There is a bingo card, which is technically a bing card, since there are only four rows in any direction. If you would like to see thing bign card, and maybe even play along, you can head on over to Lacey’s Instagram (Aunt Anna follows her; do you? It’s a fun account.) Click on HR Readathon, and Bob’s your uncle. Well, literally, if one of your parents has a sibling named Bob. Otherwise, only metaphorically.

Originally, Aunt Anna planned to do some intense research and plot out her TBR to a fare thee well, but see mention of the week getting away from her, and yeah, not so much. As of today her TBR is…no TBR. She is going to start with an anthology, which will give her the highest likelihood of hitting the most squares. After that, she will strategize. Also, having an anthology, she can break the reading into four different stories, which feels more handle-y. I don’t think that’s a word, but whatever. I’m a cat. Here’s the book:

Aunt Anna will admit to slacking on the Christmas books last year, but Christmas romances are good any time. This book hits several of the squares. The squares for Joanna Shupe, and blue on the cover are right next to each other, so Aunt Anna is halfway to bing already. It’s also a recent release, as it was new this past Christmas, and a used book, as it is a library book, but those are on different lines, but recent release may also give her bing with only one more book. The other three boxes in that line are: has a stepback; shirtless man on cover or stepback; and standalone. Aunt Ana LOVES standalones. A standalonepublisehd before 2000, which is probably wehre the majority of standalones fall, is highly likely to have a stepback and/or shirtless dude, so chances are good on that front. We will see how it goes.

Aunt Anna will also be posting on Buried Under Romance tomorrow with updates, so keep an eye out for that. If you are participating, or you have any recommendations to help her get to bing, drop your suggestions in the comments below.

Takes a lot of beauty sleep to get this beautiful

Now for the important news, aka the news about ME. Aunt Linda has a co-worker who bought her cats some fancy cat food. They didn’t like it. She gave it to Aunt Linda to give to me. I love it! This other human’s cats must have horrible taste, because this is not only the second batch of food I inherited, but they didn’t like a cat bed, and so gave it to me, via Aunt Linda. I crawled right into it and purred and purred and purred.

Here is where we have an issue in feline/human communication. When we first got the cat bed, we put it at the foot of Aunt Anna and Uncle Rheuben’s bed, which, at the time, was an air mattress right on the floor. Then they got the Real Bed. Which is not on the floor. I stopped using the cat bed that same day, even though I love to be on the actual bed with them. They have been moving the cat bed all over the place, hoping to find a lace where I wil like it again, but they aren’t getting it right. Does anybody who can speak cat and human help me let them know? It’s kind of stressing Aunt Anna out.

Headbonks!

Nothing

Planner Stack 2021, pt 1

Heigh ho, Plannerinos. The January clearance sales are a holiday all their own for us planner types, and when we are both writers and planners at the same time, well, then, it is the most wonderful time of the year. Almost a second Back To School, and exact6ly what we need for looking at the year to come. This year, one of my favorite blog or vlog topics ha been the planner stack. I love seeing planner stacks. Don’t care whose. I want them all. So, here’s mine:

“the girls”

Okay, it’s not exactly a stack per se, but I like files over piles, so this is what we get, and no, it does not live in the middle of the bed. I am mostly sticking to one color palette, but ignore the teal traveler’s notebook (TN) on the end: it’s getting switched to a pink cover for February. I almost switched it today, but we are burning daylight, and I already wrote and accidentally deleted this post, so moving right along. These are the girls.

Everyday Carry (EDC)

My everyday carry planner for this year. This one lives in my purse. The cover is a Pen + Gear traveler’s notebook (TN) cover, and the planner itself is a gift from a planner friend. It’s actually a 2020 planner, so I am re-dating as I go. Not entirely feeling the blue planner cover, though it is definitely pretty, and I like the sentiment, so I may swap it out for another in the next day or two and see how I like it. The contents are basically the same information that goes in my catchall planner, only portable.

Catchall planner, Happy Planner classic

Catchall planner for the first half of 2021 is the same catchall planner as my last half of 2020, and even uses the same (re-dated) pages that I didn’t use for the first half of last year. The deluxe cover (gold cover from the group picture) I had hoped to get this deluxe cover in the berry shade, but the gold is nice, too, even if I’m not entirely sold on the mint -y interior. Might paint it, might try some decorative paper or fabric. We’ll see. I love the pockets for sticker books and storage for frequently used sticker sheets (like my favorite blogging and writing stickers) and the all important pen loop. Even more than that, having that cover on the planner feels a lot more solid and professional and right. I don’t think Happy Planner makes this format anymore, so I am now on the lookout for substitutes, and would especially love if I could find something in real leather.

morning pages, not pictured

Currently wrangling with my computer to cough up my historical romance planner (large berry cover in group photo) so we will cut to the camera shy morning pages book. Once again, Pen+ Gear TN cover and Happy Notes inside. I love Julia Cameron’s idea of morning pages, and I find my own version works super well to get my brain in gear. Some adjustments, though; I believe she has a different paper size than I use, and I have combined my morning pages with a daily planning page.

Happy Planner Minimalist daily page

My favorite part of this is the top three tasks. If writing isn’t one of them (except on weekends) then something has to be rearranged. Seeing what specific scene, bit of research, chapter to edit, etc, helps a lot. Once I know where I am going, metaphorically, for the day, that primes the pump, and if I can’t think of anything I want to write for those pages, I can word vomit about my plans for the day. By then, I’m in the right mindset, and getting down to business feels like the most natural thing in the world.

the most essential accessory of all

Storm says that is quite enough blogging until we can retake the other planner/notebook pictures, so those will hopefully be here for Wednesday. There is still writing time before the family returns home, and we are burning daylight.

Typing With Wet Paws: Happy Mew Year Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers, and Happy Mew Year! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. We are all doing well here, and happy to have 2020 in the rearview mirror. I have as of yet made no moves toward the Christmas tree, though that may be because it is on the kitchen table, and I am not allowed on the kitchen table. Still salty about that, buy next year, maybe they’ll have the tree on a coffee table. Then, I’ll have news.

We had a really nice Christmas and New Year. Now we are getting back to the business of regular life. Well, with one exception. Since my humans love me very much, of course I got presents. The wrapping paper was super fun. I played with it all morning. I even got gushy food. There was one present, however. It came from Aunt Mary, Uncle Brian, and cousins Andrew, (Leah, who will get married to Andrew in a little while) and Aiden, who is a fur cousin. He is a dog, but I am okay with that. I really have no words for it, so here:

Does anybody notice the resemblance?

Please note the absence of nose arrow. That is how you can tell us apart, although our blacks and oranges are on opposite sides of our face. So that’s another way. Also, she doesn’t talk much. Like at all. Aunt Anna says that’s because Esme (her tag says she’s called Esmerelda, but we are calling her Esme, because she is smol) is stuffed. Hmpf. Honestly, I have never seen her eat a thing. I would also like to be stuffed. Which I have been, as Uncle Rheuben got some people tuna, specifically to share with me, and I think that speaks highly of him.

Anyway, Esme lives in Aunt Linda’s room, since I usually want to be around Aunt Anna. There were plans on the agenda to get a photo of “the twins” (which we are not) but calico said cali-NO. I don’t hate Esme, but she’s going to have to put into this relationship, know what I mean? Yeah. This was as close as Aunt Anna could get.

Hm, this does prove that I am now not the only one who can leave black, white, and orange fur sheds at the scene of an…um…incident. Like maybe with a hypothetical Christmas tree on a hypothetical coffee table next year. Okay, she may have her uses. She can stay.

In the getting back to day to day business, things are also going pretty well. Aunt Anna and Aunt Melva will be finishing Drama King oh so soon, and then begins the first round of edits.; And the second round of edits. Then submission, because their editor at The Wild Rose Press already said they could send it. Then if they want it, there will be more edits. Aunt Anna actually likes that part, Aunt Melva not so much, but it all gets the book to you, so it’s all good. If the publisher doesn’t feel the book will be a good fit, then they have other options, which would also be good, and they have a nice slate of stuff to see them happily writing through the new year.

They will also be reviving melvaandanna.com, because there is new stuff coming. Not only the very soon writing of THE END to Drama King, but their first video workshop of the year in February, and being the authors of the month in a book club in March. Then they will start on Queen of Hearts.

Aunt Anna is also, as I have said before, super excited about getting back to historical romance. She’s throwing around a lot of terms like “pirates” and “medieval” (but not medieval pirates. At least not at this point.) and picking out what projects would be fun to drag out from the mothballs (I don’t know what mothballs are, but I like balls. They’re fun.) There are notebooks and papers and ideas, and I am on point for assisting her every step of the way. By assisting, I usually mean sitting on whatever notebook or planner she has opened most recently.

One of those planners is her reading journal, which is what you see above. She’s still working on the setup, so it’s a work in progress. The printables are from Jesenia Printables (she got the Reading Set and loves it very much) and she plans to get them printed professionally rather than letting her printer and visual impairment duke it out over home printing.; Plus this will allow her to print extra book pages and record everything she wants to record. She also wants to make a different paint chip bookmark in colors that more closely agree with the pink/black/white color palette, and this time skip the stickers. Probably also round the corners, because she is fancy like that.

Along with recording how many books Aunt Anna reads this week, she is going to keep track of the genres/subgenres that she reads. She would like for historical romance to be the biggest category, but then also keep track of how many of what sort of historical romances she reads the most. Of course that is centered on what books she has access to, because one of the sucky things that happened in 2020 was being permanently parted from her classic romance collection, except for two boxes of favorite favorites.

So far, she has read three books out of a projected ninety, putting her two books ahead of schedule, though we are in the earliest of days. These three are all YA, two of which have strong romances, and two are scary. There is some overlap. She is currently reading a historical, with more on the way, so things will balance out very soon, Also, she has made a couple hours in the evening set aside for reading, and I am definitely here to do my part and sit on her to ensure feline paralysis, which goes really, really well with reading.

I t hink that’s about it for this week, and my sunbeam is here, so catch you next week.

Headbonks!

Re-Me-Ification in 2021, pt 1

Hello, Liebchens, and welcome to 2021. We made it. 2020 is in the rearview mirror, its planners packed away/recycled/burned in a bonfire/other means of nonexistence, and we are looking toward the future. For those of us in the planner community, that means showing off the new babies, aka planners, and not only getting all of our ducks in a row (or squirrels at a rave, as it may be; as long as my squirrels are all at the same rave, I will count it as a win.) I had originally intended to have today be a writing and a blogging day, but insomnia and resulting morning crash said today is blogging, because there is no benefit to piling on the pressure, when the work can still get done with some rearranging.

Happy Planner mini, vertical layout

My purse planner (do I lose planner community points for not liking/using the phrase, “on the go?”) for 2021 is a gift from HappyChappy on Instagram. I’ve never used the mini vertical layout before, so was a little apprehensive, and I’ve never redated a whole planner (this was originally a 2020 planner, but S0 Pretty, I don’t care) I was madly in love with last year’s planner, which had a lovely, classy floral/naturey/cozy theme, and a dashboard layout, but I was also madly in love with the first min planner I had, which had a horizont5al layout and really no theme, but rather colors. The lesson here? I will adapt. Also, as soon as I put in my Rong Rong page finder, this planner felt like home.

we are going to call the gauzy effect intentional

Chances that I will eventually pick a different dashboard (blue plastic thing that holds my sticky notes) are high, because bright blue is not my thing. I have two aesthetics when it comes to planning: dark/gothy/classy and pastel. There are not many points in between.

Really into winter pastels at the moment

Still working on that. I am also getting more into DIY-ing my planner stuff for 2021, which makes a lot of sense, because it’s all part of getting my collective squirrels to the same rave. It’s especially true when it comes to writing, which is why I am trying two new things for the writign squirrels.

I do not have a photo of my writing planner, as that is still a work in progress, but this is the first year I am trying a social media planner. Part of that is researching what the fluff a social media planner actually entails, and as I go into my first full week of actually using said planner, I have to second guess myself because I love my social media planner (antoher redated 2020 mini vertical) but want to add a notes section and this puppy is already full, with just the pages that came with it, and stickers and such (I love decorative planning) is only going to make it fuller.

first partial week of the year

I have already filmed a partial flipthrough of the general setup :salute: of this planner, which will go up as soon as I finish editing. Getting back to video blogging is another goal for this year, and makign my topics more far-reaching that only what I, personally, am doing, delightful as I am. If the notes section gets too big, I may either move half the months into storage and go nuts with the notes, or use a second notebook for notes alone. We will see how that goes. I will keep you updated.

Originally, I had wanted to show you all the regular notebook page where I had scribbled down my goals for writing and blogging for the coming year, but A) technical difficulties say the photo I took is no bueno, which is fine because it was super fuzzy and kind of personal(ish) and B ) you know what they say about laws and sausages. Maybe it’s the same with planner pages. Says she who has been binge watching planner videos for the past umm, while. Yeah. That happens. A lot. So does watching romance oriented Book Tube videos, because, well, romance.

Then there’s writing. Hoo boy, there is writing. The last year was not great for writing, but now, it’s different. We are in a lovely apartment, Real Life Romance Hero and Housemate both have jobs that take them out of said apartment, and that means I have time where the only other living being in my space has four legs and is prone to day napping. I think…I think I can work with this.

There’s always a temptation to dive into “new year, new me” thinking, but I’m more of the type of “new year, more authentic me.” How can I be me-er? Well, I’m a writer. Writing would be great. Telling the love stories that I want to tell, telling them until they are told, and getting them into the hands of readers, who will give me monies for them, because planner supplies and Sims expansions are not free. Planning is one of the tools that helps me get to a place where that is easier to do.

Planning is definitely not the only thing (if only it were that easy, and full of stickers) so there will be some rambly wanders along the way. Company is most assuredly appreciated.

End of Book Daze

2020 has been a ride, for sure and for certain, and perhaps the wildest thing of all is that, right now, I am furiously scrawling ink and pounding keys on my very last scene for the hero’s POV on Drama King. Yikes. This feels surreal, and about dang time. Wow. It’s not going to be the final scene of the book, as that honor goes to my amazing writing partner, Melva Michaelian, who I know is going to knock it out of the park and give me all of the feels.

The end of a book is a weird place to be. For the reader of a romance novel, there may be some sniffles, maybe a heart clutch, some laughs, depending on the sort of book, and/or situation, and, at the end of it all, is the tried and true, happily ever after. We know this couple is going to be together for the rest of their lives and they are very much okay with that. For the writer, there is all of that too, but a whole lot more.

Self-doubt is part of it for sure. Did we forget something? Are there dangling plot threads? How can we make this scene unique to these two lovers, to bring their individual arcs and their arc as a couple when this is literally the defining thing that makes a romance that makes a romance a romance. Okay, one of two. (1) the love story is the central focus, and 2) there is an emotionally satisfying and uplifting ending.)

Originally, I’d had the outline for the blog post I wanted to write here, spotlighting one of my planners for the coming year. That will still happen, but I have to get out of the fog first. Then I have some thoughts on the Bridgerton series on Netflix. I haven’t seen the series yet, and I didn’t originally plan to, but I don’t feel I can join the conversation without watching at least the first episode, to experience it for myself. I have not read the Bridgerton books proper, but I have read the four prequels about the previous generation, which was…okay. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, but those don’t have anything to do with the series, which I definitely want to watch while alone, and take pen and paper notes, because this could be a Thing. A good Thing. I hope. See self doubt above.

The end of one book always means, at least for me, the start of a new book. This time, it’s a return to Her Last First Kiss, which was put on pause, due to things like bedbugs, homelessness, shingles, anxiety, depression, and helping to clear out my bestie’s childhood home when her mom moved to a super nice apartment. We also ended up moving into a super nice apartment, which is my favorite place I have ever lived, so that’s pretty swell.

Melva and I had decided we wanted to wrap Drama King before the end of the year, because we both need a win, individually, and as a team, and it looks like that is actually going to happen. Huzzah. There are emails and DMs flying back and forth, and a good deal of my initial composition takes place from the safety of a blanket burrito, with spiral notebook and felt tip pen (and feline assistant providing soundtrack and extra warmth.) I have growled at family members to get out of my air space (yes, exact words) so that I can get the darned thing finished.

Today, that’s exactly what happened. Housemate conveyed Real Life Romance Hero to his place of employment, and promised to stay away until it was time to convey him back home again. There may or may not be prepared food coming with them. If not, RLRH will be cooking. I will not be cooking, because I know myself, and I will be, by that time, a wrong out washcloth, sad that I wrote my last scene for this book, and triumphant that I wrote my last scene for this book, I won’t say that I will miss Jack and Kelly, because Melva and I will be spending a lot of time with them as we edit and get them through the end of draft two.

It’s also time to look ahead to laying the framework for the next Love By the Book story, Queen of Hearts, with my first shot at writing the heroine of our couple. Heather is the sister of Dominic, the hero of Chasing Prince Charming, and I look forward to helping to guide her to her own happily ever after.

Love By The Book, #1

Once this scene is off to Melva, it’s time to turn my attention (after a nap!) to setting my writing goals for 2021. I’m treading a line between ambitious and realistic, and will probably end up somewhere in the middle, with a few stumbles along the way. It’s times like this when I remember my high school gym teacher, Ms. Napier. We weren’t close. I was probably a bane of her existence, as I loathed physical education as much as she loved it, and she loved it as much as I love writing romance. Even so, it’s her voice that comes into my head at this stage of the game, as it were. I can see the finish line. I can’t quit if I can see the finish line.

Where’s your finish line for 2020?

Planning Home Stretch

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is my favorite week of the year, not only beause it’s my beloved tucked-away week, but also because it is the most wonderful time of the year for planner aficionados like myself.

This week is when planner people have only mere days to get their planner systems together, pick or refine themes, acquire the materials, and put the whole thing together so it will be ready to roll in the new year. I wasn’t able to do that in 2020, but this is a whole new ballgame we are looking at, so I am very happy to be back in this particular saddle.

So, what planners do I want for 2021? I’m figuring that out as I go. Until 1AM this morning, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do about my catchall planner, but then my penchant for organization provided the answer. I’d started my classic Glam Girl Happy Planner in July of 2020, so January through June were as yet untouched. Score. Glam Girl rides again as my cover, and I love that because it’s gorgeous.

they call it classic for a reason
The week in progress. Send sticky notes!

I am still setting up my everyday carry planner, a Happy Planner mini that lives in my purse, but I am pretty darned proud of my first try at a social media planner. I definitely want to keep a better hand on my social media this year, find out what’s fun for me, and concentrate on those thing. This may or may not incorporate a writing tracker, but it is the subject of my very first flipthough video. Link to that when I have it all sorted out; you’ll hear it here first.

pastel vibes for the win

I had a first draft of this post written out in longhand, all ready to transcribe, but over the last couple of days, I wandered my way into getting the whole thing a lot more under control than I had thought I would in so short a time. Like with many other things (like writing) with me, that involves running down the metaphorical dock at top speed, shouting “Ronkonkoma!” (family version of “cowabunga,” etc) and cannoball-ing into the midst, then figuring out how to swim to shore. Then I make a map for next time.

So far, where I have landed is this, each of which will get its own post:

  • Catchall planner
  • Everyday Carry mini planner
  • Mental health tracker/journal
  • Reading tracker
  • Social media planner

My main writing notebook is still in the gooey amorphous blob stage, which is perfectly understandable as I currently have tunnel vision to get the three scenes needed to call it on a rough draft of Drama King. Melva has done her part, and as soon as I am done with these, that means we can move on to the editing stage, which I kind of love. I may be breaking the writing stuff into two sections, historical, which I write on my own, and contemporary collaborations with Melva Michaelian. The division makes sense in my head, so we will see how that goes.

No matter how things shake out plannerwise, know that they will all be conducted under the watchful eye and fuzzy butt of one Storm Bacon Truss O’Malley Hart-Bowling. She has declared herself planner inspector emeritus, with a particular interest in whatever I am currently neeeding to use most.

Sleeping on the job?

Okay, the minutes I have of alone time at the computer are ticking away, and I have a scene to transcribe (when I am done with the first draft of Drama King, I can dive back into the whole Her Last First Kiss draft thingamaboodle. Super excited about that.) Talk amongst yourselves, or to me in the comments. How are your planner plans progressing?

Typing With Wet Paws: December is a Lawless Wasteland Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. It’s also the end of December, right before Christmas, and the humans are okay, but draggy. It also doesn’t hurt that on Monday, everybody’s schedule got thrown out of whack when the front door froze.

too much soft focus?

Yep. You read that right. Uncle Rheuben went downstairs to head to work, and the doorknob wouldn’t turn. At all. So Aunt Linda tried it. Then Aunt Anna tried it. I would have tried it, but A) I don’t have thumbs, B ) I don’t know how to open doors by the doorknob, and C) I am not allowed downstairs (plus I don’t know how stairs work anyway.) That meant Uncle Rheuben had to make phone calls. He called Mr. Kurt, the property manager, and Mr. Quentin, the maintenance human. As it turned out, Mr. Kurt was on vacation, but Mr. Quentin was right outside, blowing snow and he called a locksmith, and then the humans were no longer trapped in the house. Uncle Rheuben’s boss gave him the day off, because trapped in the house because of a frozen door is a pretty good reason that doesn’t have a lot of arguments.

That was also the day Aunt Linda got her days on and days off mixed up, so I ended up having everybody at home, which was super cool. It was also when Aunt Anna completely gave up on getting anywhere near the keyboard that day, though it was going to be a big writing day. She knows when it’s time to just roll over and go to Plan B. Thankfully, Uncle Rheuben has mad cooking skills, so he made super melty grilled cheese and other human foods, and that went a long way in smoothing things over for everybody. I am allowed to sniff human food, but not eat it, because I am a kitty and kitties eat kitty food.

Anyway, we do have a Christmas tree, which, as of now, I am content to view from a safe distance. It hasn’t made a huge impact on me yet, but does that mean I am not hatching plans that would indicate otherwise? I can neither confirm nor deny that.

Portrait may consist of: This be night, plant an' indoor
better picture coming later

Update: I have no comment on the single Christmas tree light bulb that turned up in Aunt Anna’s and Uncle Rheuben’s bed. There are a million reasons a lightbulb could be in their bed. I mean, at least five. Why does everybody always suspect the kitty?

Anyway, we had a big, big snow. Probably a few cats deep. I wouldn’t know how many, because I am not allowed outside. I am okay with that. Outside is cold, and snow is white, and I am partly white. If I for some reason lay on the snow with my belly up, nobody would see me. Aunt Linda got a nice neighbor to help dig her car out of the snow. People around here are helpful like that. Aunt Anna went to Aunt Linda’s work pl,ace, where we used to amp in the summer, to put out some dry food for the ferals who live there, but she couldn’t get to the actual shelter, because there was a *lot* of snow, and she couldn’t see where she was goings, so she left some as close as she could get. They’ll find it.

Aunt Anna had meant to go to Goodreads and just move the fluffing goalposts already for her challenge for this year, but then she saw that she was farther head than she had thought, with eighty four out of ninety books read, and that’s only six more books, which is only one more than five more books, and five more books is a totally do-able thing, especially when she has a soft, purry calico reading buddy (aka me) to spur her along. This means that if she focuses on things she can read very quickly, like graphic novels/manga, novellas, or rereads, she can totally make her original goal, despite what 2020 has thrown in her direction. By now, it has become a point of honor.

New doings are also in the works with Buried Under Romance, in the new year, with more reviews, and editorial content, because that editorial content stuff is what Aunt Anna lives for when it comes to book blogging. She is even dusting off her classic interview questions from the very first book blogging gig she ever had, because those interviews were a whole lot of fun. We could all use more fun. For me, that means cat toys, both commercial and found, but humans, you do you.

With the reading goal set in place, the attention now goes to the writing aspect, and part of that falls into the lawless wasteland that is December, when we’re all tired and want to dive into our new planners and the new year and all that. That, Aunt Anna is looking forward to tiredly, but looking forward none the less. She and Aunt Melva will be done with Drama King by new year’s, and after that, they will be starting a fun side project, and Aunt Anna can have some brain space for historical romance, which she has sorely missed.

Aunt Anna also wants to thank the fabulous Kathleen Underwood, aka cover artist for the original publication of Orphans in the Storm, for the nudge to mention Aunt Anna’s Lion and Thistle Discord channel. She is Snowbound Mermaid over there, and apparently the numbers that go with that are 5324. Drop on by and help her natter about reading and/or writing historical romance.

Basically, the humans are kind of cruising until the holiday is over, and I totally respect that. I also will be keenly interested in the wrapping paper that will be mine, all mine, on Christmas morning, plus string and boxes. Stay tuned for a cat’s eye view of Aunt Anna’s favorite day of the year. I’ll be taking notes.

Headbonks!

Historical Romance Writing for 2021

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be having a video chat with my contemporary romance writing partner, Melva Michaelian, about getting Drama King to the first draft finish line. January is for a fun new co-written project and a revamp of our joint website, then moving on to the discovery draft of Queen of Hearts. I am looking forward to all of that, and also looking forward in 2021 to getting back to writing historical romance.

I will admit to a certain amount of trepidation about getting back into Her Last First Kiss after so long away, but the last year wreaked havoc on the writing life and life in general. I know I am not the only writer to go through this. I am also very much looking forward to getting Bern and Ruby to their Happily Ever After at last, even if there may be a slight detour along the way. Part and parcel of being a historical romance writer, which I very much still am.

Thanks to the year in which my historical romance is set, there are only three ways I can get my hero and heroine legally married. Option one is an absolute no-go. Options two and three are both possible, and I did have a preference, which I thought was the only choice, but…maybe it’s not? This is one of the reasons I am on the search for historical romance writing buddies to brainstorm/critique. Maybe this will mean joining something like the Hearts Through History online organization. That sounds like a lot of fun. If I am not moving forward in a work where I want to move forward, that means there is a block in the way, and I need to know what that block is, in order to find a way around it.

Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

Her Last First Kiss is, at present a standalone. That’s the format I prefer, but the market does not at present share my preference. Which is okay. A Heart Most Errant is headed to an editor in 2021, the first of a projected trilogy, with maybe a short story to round things out. Plunder will be the start of a generational trilogy (my favorite form of series) and dealing with one of my favorite tropes: pirates. This got me thinking that it might be fun to plan on a few mini series all themed around certain tropes or settings. I don’t know if I have it in me to write Regency, Victorian, or western, but I am totally here for other tropes like highwaymen, maybe Highlanders, Restoration, Tudor, Stuart, etc. I wouldn’t totally hate it if there were an overarching family or two. We’ll see how that goes. Also a bunch of Georgian standalones that maybe could connect, or there could be a Georgian standalone series? :shrug:

One of the best things to come out of my You Tube binge of 2020 was a statement from one favorite You Tuber, the phrase “when I was writing the script for this video…” I don’t remember which You Tuber, but that got me excited. Writing. The. Script. Writing. I had a brand new spiral bound notebook with heavyweight paper and a bucket full of ballpoints, which now live on the kitchen table. There’s something about writing everything down in rough form first – blog entries as well as fiction.

How much of a difference does it make? Actually, a lot. That kind of surprises me, and kind of doesn’t. I am using the heck out of the margins, in a different color from the text, as a note to self to look for notes to self, etc. Is it some kind of magic? Well, no, but I think it’s going to make going forward and keeping a regular blogging schedule – here, on MelvaandAnna.com and on Buried Under Romance, which is also going through a 2021 overhaul.. It’s also an added impetus to keep searching in the storage unit for my AlphaSmart or procuring a new one, as well as looking into testing out some speech to text, because that feels like it might make things get from brain to screen all the quicker.

2020 has been a flaming dumpster fire roller coaster ride, and there are no gaurantees about 2021 being better, but it is looking pretty good, and these are all things that I can control.