Unprecious

The first draft of this blog post found its origin yesterday, in the laundromat, while I waited for the first dryer load of the day to do its thing. No laptop for these laundromat trips, and, earlier in the morning, I’d balked at the thought of lugging my whole bullet journal (I use a traveler’s notebook setup, with four smaller notebooks inside one cover that holds them all.) Even without that notebook of notebooks, I would be lugging a double load across two crossings (we live kitty corner from the laundromat) and, after that first foray, would be repeating the journey again, with a larger load.

This clearly meant that I needed one notebook for my bag, so I’d have something to write in, without the big pink monster (Big Pink? Would that work for a bullet journal’s name?) tagging along. Not wanting to delay my start any longer, I grabbed a spiral notebook I’d snagged from a Michael’s dollar bin some years ago, with grand intentions of using it for a novel that is currently in a resting phase. I only had to tear out a few pages (no worries, this is a ring-bound notebook) to make it a completely blank book once more. Blank except for the designed heading on each page, that is; give me a pretty page, and I have a biological urge to put my handwriting on said page. This is a proven fact. Add the clicky black gel pen I snagged when Housemate cleaned out her pencil cup (yes, singular) and off I went.

Since I didn’t have any idea what to write in that book, I went to my fallback, writing about writing, of which I am doing a lot, anyway, with the current writing challenge. When I’m starting a new notebook, like this one, destined to be a commonplace book, and I truly have nothing on my mind, I start writing about the notebook. This particular notebook, I’d grabbed because I couldn’t, at the time, get the notebook I really wanted for that particular project (hardcover deep pink Moleskine, 5×8 inch size, lined pages, for those keeping track of this sort of thing) and, surely, the deep pink background, plus pretty pages (also lined in deep pink) should be enough, right? Eh, not so much. since I only had to tear out a few pages in order to make the notebook “new” again.

Writing about the history of the notebook brought up a lot of feelings; frustration, anger, despair, and, most importantly, the love of writing. My pen filled page after page. I’d thought about transcribing what I wrote, word for word, but that book is at the other end of the house, where Real Life Romance Hero is taking care of a few things, and I’d rather not get in his zone at the moment. The spirit of those pages will have to do.

If this notebook were a child, it would be in elementary school by now. That’s how long I waited for the “right” time to go back to it. I do plan to get back to that story someday (today is not that day, but someday) but the notebook itself was too pretty to let sit. I’d hauled it all the way from the old country when we moved, and I didn’t want that to be for nothing. It wasn’t. Yesterday, I needed a portable notebook of that size and thickness, preferably with pretty pages, so into the purse it went. The pen, too, was from a brand I’d been wanting to try forever (Sarasa,) and, when Housemate plucked it from her cup and asked if I wanted it, I wasted no time making with the grabby hands.

I could have saved the pen for a proper pen test, in my swatch notebook (pen/paper nerd, so, yes, I have a swatch book for pens/markers/highlighters) but what good would that have done? I’m over saving the good stuff for a special occasion. Today can be a special occasion. I’m writing. I’m making something that never existed before. That’s special. Sure, great things have been written on the back of the security envelope from the electric bill, in generic blue ballpoint, but, for me there’s an extra layer of lusciousness that comes from using the good stuff.

Up until now, I’d preferred to save the really good notebooks, the really good pens, for the really good ideas. That meant publishable fiction, naturally, the kind that flows from pen to page, ready for bestsellerdom. The kind, as it turns out, that does not exist. So what was I waiting for, then? Something that would never come? That doesn’t make much sense. I got the good stuff -good, as in it makes me happy to look at it, touch it, put ink on paper, not good as in expensive, because that’s not going to happen right now)- because I love it, not because I want it to sit in a box. I got it so that I could use it. Interestingly enough, that’s pretty much why I have this writing part of my brain. No sense keeping that in a box, either.

Keeping certain pens, certain notebooks, certain ideas on a shelf marked “precious,” to be saved until some nebulous time in the future, when something will be good enough, that’s…well, it’s been standard practice for a while with me, but, now, I’m not so sure. That’s a lot of pressure to put on an inanimate object, and a lot of pressure to put on a writer.  Better, by far, to ink that pen, open that notebook and splash down some ink.

 

 

Advertisements

Typing With Wet Claws: Gamer Kitty Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Today, the weather is warm and rainy, here in New York’s Capitol Region. That is very different rom the deep freeze we have been having lately, but I will stick close to the heater anyway. One never knows.

Because the deal is that I am not allowed to talk about whatever I want to talk about (which is usually Anty’s writing, anyway, go figure) I have to talk about where readers can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs (other than here, because you are already here, if you are reading this, and I do not have to tell you how to get here, where we already are. There would be no point.)

First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. Last week, she talked about the magic of new beginnings. Those do not only happen to characters, but readers, and writers, as well. Anty loves to talk anything related to romance reading, so feel free to drop by and chat with her. That post is here, and it looks like this:

bursoitbegins1

Now that it is a whole new year, it is a whole new reading challenge for Anty at Goodreads. If you want to follow her reading progress this year, you can do that here.

GR2018

This year, Anty wants to keep the same goal as last year, ninety books. So far, she has read two books, and is right on track. Those books are:

GRbeautylikethenight

Beauty Like the Night, by Joanna Bourne

GRheresnegan

Here’s Negan, by Robert Kirkman, et al

That is quite a combination, but it fits Anty. The reading year is off to a good start. Right now, Anty is reading one historical romance, one time travel romance, and one YA novel. I do not know how I want to count time travel when it comes to historicals. I may have to do some research and set a standard.

This morning, Anty and Anty Melva had their first Skype (which still does not have anything to do with Skye Pee, to my eternal displeasure) session of the new year, and they set their goals of writing one scene each during this coming week. Drama King is back on, and Chasing Prince Charming is still making the rounds. Anty and Anty Melva are also considering going indie with their jointly written books, so keep an eye on this page for new developments.

Now for the important part of this post, the part about me. As of this week, I am a gamer kitty. My favorite game so far is called Mouse Hunt, and you can see it on YouTube, here. I like other games, too, where I can chase a laser or some buggies, or a squirrel, but the mice are my favorite, because they are mice. I have done some real mouse hunting, in our old house. There are no real life mice in this house, but that is okay. I like the game.

SkyeOMalleyCatgamerkitty

Anty and Uncle try to play with me, by throwing pieces of crumpled paper at me. That is really super fun, until the crumpled papers stop moving. Then I am no longer interested. Nobody wants to hunt things that are already dead. Especially not me. These games, though, those are a different story. The mice in the game keep moving. Sometimes, they tease me from the corners of the screen, and then they zip across it. That is very exciting. When I see the game mousies, I am riveted to the screen. I bap them with my paws, and try to bite them (the biting part has not worked so far, but I will keep trying.) A couple of times, I have even grabbed Anty or Uncle’s phones (they both play with me like this) and dragged them toward me, so I can get the mousies even better.

That is usually when Anty or Uncle takes the phone away from me and says that it is time for a break. I am not so sure about that, but they are the ones with opposable thumbs. That is also about the time when they give me food, so that I am not too irritated about game time being over. Come to think about it, that generally works on Anty, too, if she has to leave a writing session, especially when it takes her time to get into one. There had better be food (or at least tea) if she has to be interrupted.

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

skyebye2018

 

 

 

 

Somewhere In Between

This is a very Monday-feeling Wednesday. No need to go into details, but I know that, on the other side of this entry, there is a trip to the library, and there is nothing better than an entire building full of books (and, hopefully, series four and five of Being Human‘s UK edition; I’m watching the US version right now, and it’s good, but not the same.) I am not going to count the number of false starts I have had on today’s entry, and no idea when I am actually going to post the entry still owed from last Monday, but these things have a way of righting themselves.

Making a segue to books not writing themselves would be a natural transition, but I’m not feeling that right now. I would make tea, but there isn’t enough time for tea and putting on outside clothes and/or makeup, and making tea, even if I drank it on the fly, so the only answer is to power through, post, and then go to the library and browse some stacks. When putting out creativity gets difficult, that usually means it’s time to take something in, instead.

I’ve done a lot of putting out today, already. I wrote my regular morning pages, and then double morning pages, for the writing workshop I am taking this month. Those pages are writing about writing, and then, if I still have time left in the hour set aside for workshop stuff, then I need to keep writing, on or about my current projects. So far, this week, it’s been about, though I would prefer on, but that happens sometimes. Best thing to do in these cases is not to push things. Take a break, read a book, watch a movie, play a game, and know that the story will come back.

There’s a cycle to this sort of thing, a natural rhythm. Domestic tornadoes are still passing through, though some days are less tornado=ey than others. Some days are somewhere in between. My educated guess is that today is one of those. The fact that it is a Monday-feeling Wednesday should be an indication, and then there’s the whole write tons of morning pages about writing, and balk at the mere thought of writing a blog entry about writing about writing.

There are other things that can fit in this blog. I can write about books and writers that have influenced me and my writing, talk about writing the books/stories I’ve already written, and about the books I’m writing now. The Christmas story is happening this year, though I still have absolutely no idea of the setting or idea or characters, but I want this year to be the year I tick Christmas story off my list (or first Christmas story, I should say, because I have heard these things can be addictive) and, most importantly, getting my time and energy refocused on a career in commercial fiction (specifically romance, specifically historical romance on my own, as well as my collaborations with Melva Michaelian.)

Some days are easy, to put the pen to the page, and some are more nothing doing, put feet up, boot Netflix or Kindle, or pick up a paperback and take a sniff of that heady book smell and remind self what it is about fiction that is so great that the trip back to regular writing after (or, and sometimes especially during) a real life detour is worth the trip. Other days are in between. They involve liberal use of the backspace key, eraser, or violent striking out of words that do not look as great on the page as they did in one’s head. I think this is one of those.

I’m not complaining. These in between days mean that I am leaving the one place and moving toward the other. They mean moving forward, even when I don’t feel like it. There’s still time left in the day, and, if more writing about writing comes into my brain, I am going to honor it, get it all down, and skim it off the surface of my story brain, which I will nourish with books and streaming TV and cups of tea and an office buddy who is always ready to help:

100118SkyeOMalleycat

You got this, Anty.

This post isn’t my favorite, and it didn’t add new pages to any existing (or new) manuscript, but it still counts as writing, and that’s good enough for today.

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

The Gift of January

Second week of the new year. We’ve had some arctic cold, a bunch of snow, a few domestic tornadoes, but, hopefully, they will soon be winding down.  I’m starting thus entry far later in the day than I had planned, as we have a full house today. Real Life Romance Hero is eager to get back to work, and Housemate is down with a winter bug. Skye is ensconced in her favorite spot in front of the living room radiator, possibly dreaming of how she will finally catch the mousies that live in my phone, the next time I load one of her cat games. Light snow is falling outside, and, by Friday, the subzero temperatures will be replaced by the near-tropical forecast around the fifty degree mark.

Welcome to January. When I went to set up my planner pages for the coming week, I didn’t want to stick with the same color palette that had seen me through fall and this much of the winter. I’d wanted to use a more Christmassy color scheme for December, but, as December was pretty much a poop show, I never got around to that, but it’s January now. There’s a new calendar in the kitchen, RLRH is on the mend, and my schedule is filling with things like critique and writing dates, scheduling a Skype session with Melva, a thirty day writing challenge, and, generally, a return to a focus on the writing life.

JamuaryColorScheme

The sugar skull does not actually appear in my planner. It’s a sticker I slapped over some notes that are of no interest to anybody but me. I’ll fill in the actual events and appointments for the week later; the blog entries due (one, still, from last week) and times when, as per instructed in the workshop, I need to shut the door and do nothing but write.  Last night wasn’t about the planning, or the writing. Last night was about the January-ness of the next three weeks.

I hadn’t thought about January-ness much before. Last night, though, it was all about rifling through my stash of markers, to find the perfect mix of colors that would ground my brain in this particular part of the year. “Icy” colors weren’t right. I didn’t want to feel oold when I looked at my week, or at each individual day. I want to feel present and want to look at the page, want to do the things I have written on it. For some, this isn’t important, but, for me, it is. The right colors help me feel grounded. I am here. I am doing this. Marking off the sections for each day, each heading, stenciling in the letters (my days of the week are in Dutch) and numbers is part ritual, part recreation.

What it is, mostly, is foundation. While I’m normally a December kind of gal, this year, it’s all about January. Kind of cold, but I like cold weather. Kind of gray, but gray is one of my favorite color. This time of year is for new beginnings, and resolutions, and getting (back) in gear, and I can very much identify with all of that. Maybe it doesn’t come with as many sparkly lights as the Christmas season, but I do have a string of white fairy lights that will, at some point, be going up around my desk area. January does, however, come with calendars and planners, of which I highly approve.

Right now, the only writing tracker I have going is titled Did You Write? One box for each day. If yes, it gets filled. If no, it gets an x. So far, it’s all solid colors. I’m calling that good. Said colors started out in an icier palette, which put me too much in mind of Disney’s Frozen, which I have not seen, but the colors from my planner; those feel right. Those bring the January-ness to the fore, and make me want to fill in those boxes.

The start of a new year has a lot in common with getting back to normal life after a crisis. Some of the dust takes a while to settle, but the whole start as you mean to go on thing has a lot going for it. Even if I’m not feeling it on a particular day, that hour (at least) with the door closed, when I cannot do anything but write, that’s as important as the rest of the things on my schedule.

That’s the gift of January; the barrier of a closed door, the open page, the invitation for imaginary friends to come and do their things, no matter how crazy “real” life has been. How crazy it still is, for that matter. For me, this January comes wrapped in warm greys, soft blues, and muted greens, in pages and possibilities, and the invitation to, for at least that hour each day, leave the “real” world on the other side of the door. January sticks a stake in the ground, to mark the importance of story time, and my dedication to it. I think January may become one of my favorite months.

TheWriterIsOut

Typing With Wet Claws: Uncle Smells Like Vet Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for the first Feline Friday of 2018. It is very cold here, in New York’s capitol region. Yesterday, we got a lot of snow, so much that Anty and the writer friend she was supposed to meet for lunch had to move that meeting for next week, because the humans had to stay home and stay safe. Tomorrow will be very, very cold, so Anty and Mama plan on staying put (Uncle will probably have to go to work) with blankets and hot drinks, and, hopefully, some books, but that is not the most important thing I want to talk about this week.

Normally, I have to talk about Anty’s writing first, but this week is an exception. This week, Uncle got very sick, and Anty had to call special humans to come and help him get to the Right Now People Vet. Anty put me in Mama’s room, with two bowls of water, before they came, so that I would not get in anybody’s way, or get too scared. I could still hear things, though, and Uncle smelled very sick. It took seven humans and a special chair to get Uncle into the carrier, and then to the Right Now People Vet. They kept Uncle there for two nights, to make sure that he was really okay. They did a good job, because, yesterday, Uncle came home. He did not smell sick anymore, but he did smell like vet.

I do not like the smell of vet, and that includes people vet, but I do like the smell of Uncle. He came home yesterday morning, in the middle of all the snow. I had been curled up in front of Heater, and then I heard a human at the door. Then the door opened, and it was Uncle. I ran to him, at top speed. He is my favorite, and I love him the most. I was not happy while he was gone. Today, I went to Anty and cried, when Uncle stepped outside for a minute. Then he came back and fed me, and I was happy again. I let him know I do not like closed doors, because I need to be sure that he is okay and that he is still here. I even let Anty know that I do not like her and Uncle being at different ends of the apartment, because I want to see both of them at the same time. I will calm down pretty soon, but, right now, I want to keep making sure.

It is kind of like that with Anty and writing. I am going to save the real start of the year post for next week, because Anty’s attentions have been mostly elsewhere this week. She did post at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, taking a look back and a look forward, at the same time. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURhappynewyear

Normally, this is the place where I bring you up to date on Anty’s Goodreads reading challenge, but this has been a special week, so I will stat off the 2018 reports next week. Anty only got a little bit of reading time this week, and she ended up DNF-ing two different books. DNF, in the reading world, means did not finish. Anty does not like to do this to book, but, this week, that was the right thing to do. Anty does not want to say which books they were, but both of them were anthologies. One was historical romance, and the other was YA. Maybe Anty will try them again, later. Right now, she is reading the new version of a favorite classic historical romance, and that will probably be her first review of the new year.

All told, Anty read ninety-nine books in 2017. Because of all the commotion this week, I did not get an exact percentage of historical romances in Anty’s reading this year, but if Anty did not make her goal of fifty percent, she came close. If I count the historical fiction with strong romantic elements, I think she probably did, but it was close. Part of that is because Anty found a lot of new authors in YA fiction this year.

For this coming year, she will still be reading a lot of YA, but she also wants to tighten her focus on historical romance, and, specifically, the kinds of historical romance that remind her why she is in this writing business in the first place. Because Anty’s second love, after writing, is planning and organizing, she came up with the perfect tool:

bujpreadomggpa;s2018

 

The TBRR stands for To Be Re-Read, and that means reading books that she has already read, that made a special impact on Anty, with an eye to taking note of what, exactly, made that impression, and how it did that. The TFR should probably be TBFR, which stands for To Be Finally Read (or To Finally Read, either way.) Those are books Anty has always meant to read, but never got around to reading before now. There are twelve in each list, one for each month in the new year. The plan is that, when Anty hits a lull, or she does not k now what she wants to read, she can pick one book from these lists, and, by the end of the year, have them all completed. Since that would be twenty-four books, that would also make a nice dent in her goal of ninety books (she is keeping the same goal for this coming year) in 2018.

Mrandmrsgothyclaus2017

Happy Holidays, from Mr. and Mrs. Gothy Claus.

Now, back to writing, because that is the bigger focus. When Anty and Mama came home from the people vet, where Uncle had to stay, Anty immediately put on some special gloves and took a trash bag and collected things that the Right Now People Vet Helpers had left behind. There were wrappers from things they had to unwrap, to help Uncle, and some other things that do not make good kitty toys. Getting those things out of the way was part of getting everything back to normal, so that we could all do what we needed. It is kind of the same thing with writing. Once a crisis is past, it is time to pick up the debris, and get back to business. I think that is a good way to start the new year.

That is about it for this week, but there is a whole year of Feline Fridays ahead. Let’s make it a good one. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebyenew

see you next week

 

Seven

If, for any reason, anybody needs to know how many paramedics can fit into the hallway and one very small room of our apartment, the answer is seven. One guess as to how I know. Thanks to aforementioned first responders and the hospital staff, Real Life Romance Hero will be fine, but that was not the way anybody wanted to start off the new year. Though I am posting this entry on Wednesday, it is technically Monday’s post. I will figure out where the Wednesday post goes, later.

Right now, there is laundry to do, and a long-awaited e-book on my Kindle, to read while said laundry is doing its thing. After that, it is time to check on RLRH at the hospital, and, most likely, convey him home. As Housemate often says, at least we are not bored. She is right: we most certainly are not even remotely close to bored. Tired, yes, but not bored.

This may not, objectively, seem like the best time in the world to participate in a month-long writing challenge, but, almost predictably, that is exactly what I am doing. I highly suspect I may be a unicorn in this particular group, as other participants seem to have a wide array of writing goals that do not involve commercial fiction (or fiction at all) but that’s fine. This isn’t that kind of challenge, at least not at this point. We will see how things go, but, so far, two assignments given out, two completed, so I will consider myself off to a decent start. Begin as one means to go on, and all that stuff.

Usually, for me, the big winter holiday is Christmas, and that’s still my favorite. I have every plan of having a more traditional celebration next year. This year, though, it’s the new year that has me excited. A friend and I stayed up, over Skype, on New Year’s Eve, to watch 2017 die. It’s been that kind of year. With a new year come new possibilities. Foremost among those is reclaiming my writer identity.

It’s easy for the writing self to get lost along the way, especially when domestic tornado chains rip through one’s family and debris takes its time in settling. Don’t ask me what it is about this particular year that makes it different, but this year, there was a firm, quiet, “no,” when it came to that getting lost thing, and that is probably why I clicked the button to join this challenge. Okay, that and the fact that I know the woman who’s running it, personally, and I may or may not have started writing one of my novels in her kitchen, once upon a time. Spoiler alert: I totally did.

Today’s lesson was on morning pages, which I’ve been doing for a couple of years now. If I dug into my archive of completed notebooks, I could tell you the exact day. Since there is rather a lot of laundry that needs immediate attention, I am not going to do that (at least not today) but I am going to take a moment to highly recommend the practice of morning pages, and the related practice of a brain dump, which can be done at any time. I will be bringing my traveler’s notebook/bullet journal/should probably give it its own name so that I don’t have to figure out how to refer to this thing with me, so there probably will be a brain dump at the laundromat as well.

There is also an equal chance I will flick my Kindle on as soon as I have deposited the last quarter in the washing machine, and spend the entire time with my attention fully focused on Pirate In My Arms, by Danelle Harmon.  There are a few reasons for this. I stayed up until midnight on January first, so that I could make sure, as the calendar flipped to January second, the date the e-book version of this historical romance, first published in 1992, would be available. I didn’t know that, only a few hours later, I would be reading it while crammed into a corner of a tiny room in the Emergency Department, while RLRH let the medication do its work. When Housemate came to join us, she looked at my Kindle, and asked, “Pirate In My Arms?” I told her she knew me well, and then went back to eighteenth century Cape Cod, to watch a proper colonial maiden and a fabled English pirate find that their ragged edges fit together into one unbreakable whole.

I did gobble this book when it first came out, in what seems like another lifetime, so it’s both an old favorite and a new adventure at the same time. That’s what writing fiction feels like, as I look at 2018. I’ve been here before, but it’s still new. Not sure exactly what to take from that, but to keep going straight on through it, eyes fixed on the ultimate goal. By the end of 2018, I want to have at least one new book out there, in the hands of readers, or at least on its way. It’s been said the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and there’s truth to that. It’s a thousand single steps, one after the other, aimed toward the ultimate destination.

Typing With Wet Claws: End of the Year Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for the last ever Feline Friday of 2017. Next week, it will be 2018, the start of a brand new year. It is very cold here, in New York’s capitol region, so the humans are staying inside as much as possible, which is fine by me, because then they are available to feed me and give me head scritches. I like to be petted on my head only, nowhere else. Their comfy chairs are in the living room, near the Christmas tree, which has sparkly lights, and is very close to the heater. I love the heater. It is my happy place. The humans tried to put the popcorn tin (my Mama’s mama gives us one every year) there, because it is close to all the chairs, but it is my happy place, so sorry, popcorn tin.

Before I talk about anything else, I have to tell readers where they can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week, other than here. If you are reading this, you already know about here. As usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week’s post was about  surprises in holiday-themed romance reading. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURsurprisekoala

Readingwise, Anty is going for broke this year (that is not a dig at her book spending habits, because she is actually pretty good about that, and libraries are our friends) as she is currently nine books ahead of schedule, with ninety-eight books read out of ninety. Go, Anty, go. The one hundred book mark (as opposed to one hundred bookmarks, though Anty would not object to having one hundred bookmarks. Maybe she already does. I have not counted.) is close, and there are still a few days left in 2017.

The books she read this week were all historical romance, which means she has taken my words to heart (pun unintended) about beefing things up in that area (and I do like beef.) and they all take place in or soon after the eighteenth century, and are all Christmas stories. I think Anty is doing pretty well on that front. Here are the reviews to the books she read this week:

 

 

Anty is a little sad that she cannot post her favorite book of the year on Heroes and Heartbreakers anymore, because their run is now complete. She will miss that site very much, but I will be here, to tell you her favorite read of the year, next week. It will be a difficult choice, so she may need to split that into romance and YA. Tbat is one of the perks of writing on her own (well, our, because, let’s face it, without me, she’d have to write all her own posts) blog. She is also looking at other paid blogging opportunities, so I will hopefully be able to share more posts of Anty’s here in the future.

Since it is the end of the year, the future is greatly on Anty’s mind. Most specifically, the future of writing. Because Anty likes money, she already has a short list of sites she thinks might be a good fit for her, and is working on some ideas for posts for those. That is a different kind of writing than writing commercial fiction, which is still Anty’s great love. The commercial fiction, that is. Well, after Uncle, of course, and me. Also stationery. Anty really, really loves stationery. Yesterday, she filled two fountain pens, and is still deciding what use she has in mind for the notebook and pen a writer friend gave her for Christmas. She is still not sure.

What she is sure of, though, is that I will be earning my treats this year with top-level mews duties. This year, Anty’s plan is to get two books to complete second drafts, and to either place one for publication through an established publisher, or independently. She is okay with either method, as long as she gets a new title out there. Anty says this falls into the category of “high time.” I am not entirely sure what that means, but rest assured, I will be here for her. Right here. In easy range for head scritches and feeding. Those are both important parts of the creative process.

The popcorn may fit in there somewhere, but it is not as important as having a dedicated mews on duty, or having a clear idea of what kind of story Anty wants to tell. Since Anty writes genre fiction, that part is pretty easy; her stories are romance. No matter what else happens, or when the stories are set, by the end of the book, the two humans will be together, and happy about that fact. Other than that, anything goes. Since one of the books Anty is writing (well, co-writing, with Anty Melva) does, in fact, have a cat in it, I suspect this is going to be a very good year.

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

skyebyenew

see you next week

 

Not So Tucked-Away Week

Normally, in our family, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is referred to as the tucked-away week. This year, not so much. This year, we have some domestic stuff to wrangle, and our annual gathering with friends, that usually marks the new year, will be happening a bit later; this year, it will be in the middle of February, shortly after Valentine’s Day. For me, that caps the winter holiday season, so that’s ending things in grand style. Until then, it’s a bit of an adventure.

My Christmas historical romance binge continues apace, and my planner now has two full pages, listing historical romance novels to re-read, and to finally read, in the year to come. Writing-wise, big goal is to get at least one book out there in 2018. Finding more freelance blogging work would be fabulous, too, and, once the dust settles, that’s definitely on the agenda. None of that can happen, though, without regular work on the works in progress.

That’s easier said than done sometimes, especially when there are hoops to jump through and processes to follow, and getting a stretch of time when one is both conscious and uninterrupted feels like the true holiday miracle. Note that there was no mention of “inspired” or “in the mood.” Sometimes, the anxiety beast has to run itself into exhaustion, and, when that happens, there isn’t a lot of energy left to get excited about much of anything. Thankfully, though, there is a sort of creative muscle memory, and, if I get a pen in my hand, and some paper in front of me, sooner or later, the two are going to connect. I would say butt in chair and fingers on keyboard, but A) Facebook, B) blinking cursors are easy to stare at for hours on end.

I would be remiss here, if I did not mention the irritation of logging into Netflix for my much-needed Being Human fix, only to find that, sometime in the night, a door had apparently appeared and the whole show walked through it.  Pause here for an audible “humph.” Cue fingers drumming on desktop, and half-hearted watching of a British period comedy that should have caught my interest, but, over halfway in, has not. I may need to brew yet another cup of tea and retreat under a fuzzy blanket with yet another Christmas novella, and, maybe, a new notebook.

Those who know me, know that pens and paper are my natural environment, and, given the same, I will produce something. At the moment, I’m not entirely recalling what the official stance is on the writing of commercial fiction during the tucked-away week. My best educated guess is that it permissible, and possibly encouraged, which I will take as a sign that moving in that direction (possibly after a suitable interval of reading, cat in close proximity, is a good idea, and a likely eventuality.

So far, this year, I have watched precisely one Christmas movie. It was an older Hallmark movie, decently cast, but I have several questions about some of the writing choices. Both my Christmas mainstays, The Holiday, and Love Actually, are readily available, on DVD, as well as streaming. Three, if I count About a Boy, which I do, though, again, I have not watched this year. Okay, four, with the Jude Law version of Alfie. Not technically a Christmas movie as such, but it does have a pivotal plot point at Christmas, so that counts for me. Okay, five, with Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, which very much is a Christmas movie, as well as the first movie I ever saw, so double nostalgia points.

This year,  the tucked-away week does not feel all that tucked away, but I still like to think that the spirit of it remains, even if concentrated in small doses, instead of evenly spread out across a long, lazy week. There are still plenty of Christmas cookies, and holiday leftovers, which are an essential part of the week, and the new month, and new year, start on a Monday, which is an absolute delight for migrating to my new bullet journal/planner. Maybe that’s the best part of the tucked-away week (even when it’s not so much tucked away)  the looking forward and looking back, at the same time. The putting to bed of one year and the fresh start of the next.

At this point, some bloggers would stop writing, pick up their cat, and sing “The Circle of Life,” but I am not one of those bloggers, Skye is not one of those cats (she is a floor girl) and I was kicked out of robe choir in high school, for having a bad voice (teacher’s own words) in front of the whole class (I did not mind terribly, as I got to read -you guessed it, historical romance novels- instead of singing, while everybody else proceeded with business as usual.) Instead, I will put the kettle on the stove, plop a fresh teabag in my cup, and rest in the knowledge that a librarian will have series three of Being Human ready for me in a matter of days, and I can work my way down my movie list, with Christmas movies nudged to the top. Probably.

The tucked-away week probably started as a way to extend my favorite holiday, Christmas, but turned into its own thing, at some point I can’t and don’t want to pinpoint. More than anything else, it’s a time to pause from all the rest of life and focus inward, on family and friends, imaginary friends included, and gear up to start the new year with a fresh perspective. This year, I am more than okay with that.

TheWriterIsOut

Happily Ever After, Plus

After inhaling several Christmas romance novellas over the holiday, I think I finally know what it is I like about Christmas romance. The first part is obvious. I like Christmas. I like romance fiction. Therefore, it stands to reason that I would like Christmas romance fiction, but it’s not as cut and dried as that.

In any work of romance fiction, we know we are going to get a happy ending (whether that is Happily Ever After or Happy For Now largely depends on author and subgenre, but we’ll focus on the “happy” part for now.) When we add Christmas to the occasion, everything gets cranked up to eleven. Romance gets HEA (or HFN,) so turn that dial in an upwards trajectory, and bam. Christmas romance brings HEA (or HFN) plus. HEA plus sparkly lights, plus presents with big floppy bows, plus friends and family gathered around the hearth, plus peace on earth and goodwill towards men (and women.) HEA plus grudges set aside, plus sparkling snowfall, plus the music of church bells, plus the biggest feast of the year, plus reunions and reconciliation, plus restoration and second chances, and coming home, in a literal or metaphorical sense.

My favorite minute of the year is 6:01 PM on December 24th. It has been, for years. Stores close. The shopping rush is over. Time to go home, to friends and family, and, for the next twenty-four hours plus, the grind of everyday life gets put on hold. Life hits the snooze button, in a manner of speaking. Christmas has always felt, to me, to be a time set apart. Normally, I refer to the week between Christmas and New Year’s as the tucked away week, because that’s how it feels. Expectations are relaxed, the rush of the holiday is over, and the next thing on the horizon is bidding farewell to the old year, and seeing in the new one.

This year, we have a few things to deal with, so I can’t vouch for how tucked away this particular week is going to feel, but the spirit is there, and is probably something I would want to carry over into a Christmas romance of my own. What could be more romantic than a whole week that fits into that unique slot of time out of time, with drifting snow, glowing candles, the warmth in the middle of winter, the air fragrant with scents of spices and evergreens (even though my historical romance fiction, at least to date, pre-dates Christmas trees, evergreen boughs still count0 and the whole holiday, at its core, based on love, hospitality, and reconciliation?

I think that’s a pretty good place to start.  For all romantic fiction that comes out of my noggin (or partly out of my noggin, as I could not write contemporaries without my writing partner, Melva Michaelian.) HEA-plus. This is not a term I intend to fling around at pitch sessions or in query letters (trust me, “historical-adjacent” gets some funny looks; I have learned my lesson) but it fits the sort of stories I gravitate to, both as a reader and as a writer. It fits, though. Adding history to my romance is already a plus, and I do like to have my historical romance, whether read or written, come with generous helpings of both romance and history, and for the history to shape or at least affect the romance.

This means that it’s not a matter of swapping out the togas of a couple from ancient Rome for an Empire waisted gown and a pair of polished Hessian boots, and presto change-o, now it’s a Regency. For me, that would not work. There’s a world of difference between ancient Rome and nineteenth-century England. Close to two millennia and coughty cough miles, a good deal of water, and an entirely different belief system, not to mention government and class structure, developments in literature, science, the arts, etc, etc, etc. The ancient Roman couple would probably not have a heck of a lot to do in a Christmas story, unless we’re talking the very first Christmas, which could fit nicely into an inspirational historical (or even a few decades after; that would also work) but they would still have a lot of that plus factor. Plus gladiators, for one thing. Maybe one of those flood the whole arena for a sea battle deals, complete with boats and octopi.

Every period has its own unique flavor, which can add to the romance, and I am grateful for that. The possibilities really are endless. Historical characters don’t know they’re in a historical. They think they’re in a contemporary. Those aren’t costumes they’re wearing; those are their clothes. The way things are done is the way everybody does them (apart from those who buck the rules, with varying degrees of effectiveness.)

This is veering away from the Christmas romance topic, but it does nail down what makes these stories special to me. The HEA-plus definitely does expand past only one day out of the year, and it’s more than merely the period in which the story is set. Give me a romance with two damaged people, each of whom has a driving passion that is independent of the developing love relationship, flavored by the world in which they live, and I am one happy camper, no matter what side of the story I might be on for this particular experience.  If there’s snow on the ground, and mistletoe in the doorway, then that’s even better.

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Three Days to Christmas Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is really almost Christmas now, because today is Friday, and Christmas is Monday. Anty and Uncle have been doing a lot of human stuff to set up for the year ahead, but they did remember to get me a big bag of treat, so I can forgive them. There have also been rumors of turning on space heater and letting me watch special movies that are made only for kitties, on Anty’s tablet for Christmas. This meets with my approval, but more on that after I get the other stuff out of the way, first.

The deal with me getting control of the blog once a week (at least) is that I have to tell readers where they can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, besides here, before I can talk about other (more interesting) things (like me; everybody loves kitties.) This week, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. Her post this week was about holiday magic. You will have to go read the post if you want to find out what kind of holiday magic she means (hint: there is more than one kind.) That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURholidaymagic

Even though I said I was done with reporting Anty’s reads for 2017, since she has already met her goal, she is kind of kicking backside with the reading, as you can see here:

GRreadinggoals

We will have a few words, later, on the YA to historical romance balance, but, even though this was a very full week for Anty with non-book-related things, she still managed to read and review Things I’m Seeing Without You, by Peter Bognanni. That review is here, and it looks like this:

GRthingsimseeingwoyou

Our Christmas tree, which is now up, looks like this:

Christmastree2017

The snowflakes are a frame for the picture; they are not really inside our house. There is snow outside our house, though, because it is snowing as I write this. We are nice and warm inside, so I do not mind the snow. Anty likes it, and it helps her feel energized. Some humans, like Uncle, find that the wintertime makes them miss sunshine, but, for Anty, it is the other way around. Anty loves when it is cold and grey and snowy. That is a very good thing where writing is concerned.

This has not been the easiest year for that, but there is a whole new year ahead, and Anty is looking forward to that. For the next few days, though, it is all about Christmas. I will make sure that includes time for Anty to burrow under a fuzzy blanket and read some Chrisrmas romances, and maybe watch one of her favorite Christmas movies. She has seen only one so far this season, and it made her laugh, but probably not in the way the creative team intended.

Tomorrow, Anty will do laundry and bake Christmas cookies. These are both very good things for her writer brain, because they let the front part of her brain focus on the thing that she is doing (for example, washing clothes, or baking cookies) and that is the time that her imaginary friends (some people call them “characters”) get to play in the back part of her brain. To some, this does not look like anything other than washing clothes or baking cookies, but writer humans understand that there is something more at work here. Writer humans know that this is part of the writing process, even when it is farther along than a first draft.

Sometimes, this is part of re-connecting with the story after real life demands the writer’s time, and sometimes, it is some special one on one time (or one on two, because romances generally involve two humans besides the writer) with the writer and their characters. Of course, there are times when all it is, is laundry or cookies, which are both good things on their own, but, when it comes to writing, there is usually something else going on, and that is usually how it goes with Anty. When she is baking cookies, then I can be in the kitchen with her, to supervise. Sometimes, she will talk out loud about the story and tell me parts of it. Other times, she is all in her own head, with or without music playing on her phone.

Somewhere in all of that, connections are made that she might have missed if she were actively looking for them. I do not know exactly how that works, but it does. When it is a holiday, that can get magnified, so I would not be surprised if some of that reading time under Anty’s fuzzy blanket turned into writing time instead (or alongside it.) Either way, clean clothes and cookies can only help.

In the meantime, forget Disneyland. The real happiest place on Earth for me is with my Uncle. I do not normally like being picked up, but, sometimes, it happens. This week, it did, and I got to be in Uncle’s arms. I will stay with him longer than I will stay with any other human, because he is my favorite, and I love him the most. Other kitties can have Santa pictures, but I will take my Uncle picture over that, any day. I mean, look at him:

SkyeOMalleyCatWithUncle

Anty, Uncle, Mama and I, all hope that, whatever holiday you are celebrating this season, you are doing it with those that you love. A few good romance novels wouldn’t hurt, either, because those things are all about love. Seriously. I can recommend Anty’s.

That is about it for this week. Until next week, I remain Very Truly Yours,

skyebyenew

see you next week