That’s how many pens I now carry with me on a daily basis. Fifty-nine pens. No, you may not borrow one. I probably need to keep a couple of decoy pens on hand for when the question inevitably arises. It always does. Real Life Romance Hero knows to come to me first when it comes to office supplies, before heading to Staples or Office Max. He knows well enough not to ask, “do you have an X?” but “do you have a spare X?” Smart man. For those wondering if this is a post about pens, the answer is: partly.

To give some context, this is the latest addition to my daily carry:



The first time I saw it, I thought it was a planner. Easy mistake. It was in with a bunch of planners, the only pen case of its kind in the entire display. It even had a bunch of assorted gel pens already inside, in case the rows of pink elastic loops inside were not indicator enough. Three compartments. Ten loops on each side of each compartment. I did some quick math. If I played my cards right, I could carry sixty pens with me, every single day. Um, yes, please. Sixty pens, literally wrapped in motivational soundbytes? Double yes, please. Triple yes, please, because it coordinates with Big Pink.

Immediately, my mind swam. Sixty pens, yes, but what sixty pens? That’s the important question. Pencils? No, not in here. I love the pale pink interior too much. Pencil smudges would be a distraction. Pens, then. Also highlighters. Ooh. I have that set of pastel highlighters that has been, so far, hiding in a pouch, along with some fineliners. The workhorse pens, the ones I reach for the most, those could go in there, too, but what about the rest of the spaces?


There were a lot of attempts at filling those slots before I finally figured out that the highlighters were more substantial than regular pens, and an empty loop is not going to be the end of the world. Originally, the highlighters and workhorse pens were going to be on the side where the Stabilo fineliners (yellow barrels and colorful caps) now sit, because it took me a while to decide what had to go where.

Not what I wanted to go where; there’s a difference. My initial idea was that all twenty slots in the first compartment would be for workhorse pens/highlighters, the second for a set of markers, and the third would be my special pens that people who are not me better not even think about borrowing. The problem there was that I do not have twenty workhorse pens/highlighters. I’m not using bright highlighters right now, and I very rarely use ballpoints. (Purple Hannah Howell promo9tional pen, excepted) and I like to have pens next to each other look like they belong together.

The markers were the easy part. I had twenty Crayola Supertips, and twenty spaces in each compartment. Bam. Not too difficult at all.


(Mostly) rainbow order, like with like, as my mother would say (that phrase drove me bonkers when I was a kiddo, but I now see its use) and everything where I need it. This is a color coder’s dream. Never mind that I had to move everything over into the third compartment a few minutes later.

Part of that was because A) I didn’t want to carry twenty of my favorite pens around where anything could happen to them, and B) I counted my Stabilo fineliners, sitting next to my desk, in their original packaging, which I love, but rarely use (the pens, not the packaging, though that, too.) There are thirty of them. Hm. If I moved a few things around, I could have thirty spaces available, and then I could have them with me, literally all the time.  Cue image of me shuffling pens around (also of dropping package of fineliners between chair and wall, then crawling around, searching for them, and counting to make sure they’re all there) and then slipping thirty pens into thirty slots.


“Um, Anna,” I hear some of you saying, “this post is literally all about pens. Or pen cases. Kind of a niche. That stationery blog might be something to think about, mkay?” I hear you, and I get it. Thing is, getting these pens in order, while simultaneously gearing up for Camp NaNo helped me notice that organizing writing implements and organizing writing have more than a few things in common.

What’s most important to me? What do I want to carry with me on a daily basis? Does it all flow together in a way that feels comfortable to navigate? Does what I want to fit in this space, actually fit in this space? Exactly what do I need to accomplish what I want to accomplish? Do I know how I want to use what I already have? Do I need anything that I do not currently have, and, if so, how and when do I intend to obtain it?

This case is for pens, and pens only (I count markers as pens.) I also love pencils, but those go in pencil cases, not a pen case. I also love sticky notes, but there’s no place for sticky notes in this case. No place for gummi bears, either,  no matter how much I love them, so stuffing them in there would make no sense (and result in gross pen case and potentially inedible gummi bears; nobody wants that.) Maybe this is merely an excuse for me to play with  art/office supplies, but maybe it’s more than that. Maybe it’s all part of getting closer to being the writer I want to be.


Typing With Wet Claws: Pre-Skye-athalon Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, the wind is blowing, and I am cute. Anty’s online workshop, Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys, is winding to a close, although Anty could probably keep on going. She loves this sort of thing, and hopes to be able to offer the workshop again, soon. Next time, she will probably present it over a longer period of time, because two weeks goes a lot faster than one would think it might. Anty likes teaching these workshops, because it is fun to see ideas develop and learn more about what other people find inspiring. Personally, I like sunbeams, birdie sounds, and treats. Also Uncle. He is my favorite, and I love him the most.

One of the rules of this blog is that I am not allowed to talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing, anyway) until I have brought readers up to date on where they can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, besides here. People who are already here, do not need to know how to get here, because they are already here.

As usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This time, she talked about virgin heroines. That post is here, and it looks like this:


Now is when I bring readers up to date on Anty’s Goodreads reading challenge.  As of today, Anty has read eighteen out of ninety books this year, which brings her to twenty percent of the way to her goal. Seven of those books are historical romance, historical fiction with romantic elements, or time travel romance, with action in the historical timeline.  Anty has started a historical fiction board at Goodreads. I will put a link in another post, when Anty has had a chance to put more books on that shelf.

The book Anty read and reviewed this week, is The Queen’s Lady, by Barbara Kyle. This was Anty’s first book by Miss Barbara, but it will not be her last. Miss Barbara’s Thornleigh saga is part of Anty’s so-called short list of twenty-seven books to read in the near future. This is not a historical romance, but historical fiction with romantic elements, but it is does have a strong heroine at the center of the story, and the action moves from England to Germany and other places, and it is based in the history of the time, which is one thing Anty very much likes in her historical romance and fiction. That review is here, and it looks like this:


Now that Anty is done with this book, she is now free to start what she wanted to call her O’Malley-a-thon. I am renaming it the Skye-athalon, for obvious reasons. Anty picked out my name, because the first book in that series, Skye O’Malley, is her favorite historical romance. It also starts a series that is really two series, that are really one series. It is kind of complicated for a kitty to explain, but the books are by Bertrice Small who is also the first historical romance author Anty ever read. Anty does not have inside information on these books, but they are favorites of hers, and taking notes on her rereads of them will help her get a better handle on what she likes in a historical romance, and how she can bring her own work to the next level. When she is done with her Skye-athalon, then she will do the same thing with other books, by other writers.

I do not know how much of that Anty will want to share here, but, knowing Anty, she will say at least something. Anty will use her Hipster Kitty notebook to take her notes, and I will use its picture to indicate where updates on the Skye-athalon will be.


I think this is possibly the best notebook Anty has ever had, because it has a kitty on it, and because that kitty is stripey, like me, so it will remind her of me, and that I need treats and pets and for her to sing me my special song. If that doesn’t work, I will sit directly behind her and chirp until she turns around and looks at me. I could do that all night. Sometimes, I do.

Today, I need to be especially attentive to my mews duties, as Anty has a lot of writing to do. She did some outlining of A Moment Past Midnight, her Camp NaNo project. I will be keeping tabs on how Anty is doing, and report on that each week during Camp. Anty also gets to write her Buried Under Romance post, and then post to her workshop, because it is almost over. She may need some extra slow blinks to deal with that last one. Thankfully, I am the kitty for that job.

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



A Moment Past Midnight (probably)

Yesterday, I had my weekly breakfast with N, at our local Panera. Coffee for her, tea for me, each with our breakfast item of choice. Asiago cheese bagel, with butter, for me, this week, and I have learned that holding the foil cover of the butter packets against the side of the paper cup that holds my tea melts the near-frozen butter much better than tromping over to the microwave beneath the coffee urns. This is not a post about Panera, I promise. (Unless they’d like to make me a spokesperson, in which case I am listening, and being paid in bagels is a viable option.)

The first part of our time together is always for getting current on the other’s life over the past week; domestic tornado management, how real life romance heroes and feline companions are doing, etc. There’s a transition period of geeking out over pens and notebooks, especially if one or both of us have acquired a new toy since we saw each other last. There is the obligatory petting of notebooks, trying out of any new pens, highlighters, or other mark-making implements, and then the talk turns to writing.

Though we both write in different genres -contemporary romance and paranormal YA, as well as general fiction for her; historical and contemporary romance for me- we’re both juggling multiple projects, and both want to increase our productivity this year. We know how to write books. What we need to do is write more books, closer together. This is one of the reasons I’m doing Camp NaNo this April. The other reason is that I accidentally signed myself up for this. The other-other reason is that I need a win, and, since I can set my own goal, I should have a fighting chance.

Yesterday, I gave N the bare bones of my idea for my Camp NaNo project, which I am calling A Moment Past Midnight. I did debate calling it Untitled Hogmanay Story, but that is probably one of the least romantic working titles for a historical romance, ever, at least that I, personally, have almost used. Nobody has any names yet; I am still in the phase of calling them Hero, Heroine, Heroine’s Parent, That Guy, etc. I’ve done some cursory looking around at various name resources, but no names have stuck yet. I fully expect that at least the principal players will tell me what their names are, before I start actually writing. Since this will start on April first, they get one day to tell me they’re joking, and provide actual names, or I’m picking for them. Nobody has faces yet, either, but that’s not important at this stage of the game. I have other projects that need my attention, so I can’t spend too long on one thing. When I do that, I get too far into my own head, and there comes a point when the weeds choke the flowers out of the garden, so to speak. I’m done with that.

Today, I woke to this:


Don’t ask me how long I stood there, head under the blinds, staring out at All That Whtie, but that is a lot of snow. The snow on the actual power lines did give me some pause, but where my eye went, naturally, was all the fluffy white stuff on the bare tree branches, the railing of the balcony on the house next door, the roof of the building across the street. There is every possibility that there will be shoveling today, but this looks like the soft, floofy kind of snow, so it should be possible to move it without back injury, and, besides, this stuff is flat out gorgeous.

I can’t look at a snowfall like this without thinking of that snowy night Real Life Romance Hero and I bailed on our plans, and I navigated unfamiliar, hilly territory in stiletto heels, while a whole world put itself together inside my head. I don’t know if  this new story will have any snow in it, because I’ll have to dig around and see what the weather actually was like in the general area where I put my fictional village, in the year when the story takes place (once I figure out what year that is) before I deal with any weather related ramifications, but that will come, in time.

The world of Her Last First Kiss is sliding into early spring at present, and I’ve skipped ahead a bit to when spring is in full flower. That’s a bit different inside my head than what’s outside my window, but I’m not complaining. My mind compartmentalizes that kind of thing fairly easily. For these people, it’s spring, and Ruby’s hero does blow into her life on a cold March wind, so rather timely on that one.

The calendar says really real world spring is right around the corner, so I’m going to bask in this snow while I can. Maybe, if I meet my writing goals for the day, I can byndle myself in knitted layers and waterproof boots and go out to tromp through the white stuff. The park near our house is beyond gorgeous with this kind of snowfall, so it may happen. Even if it doesn’t, I want to harness the feeling of that night with stilettoes in the snow, that feeling that anything is possible, and the rules of how things “ought” to be are, for the time being, suspended. That’s where some of the best stuff comes from, after all.

Hogmanay, They Said

We’re almost halfway through the month, which means Camp NaNo is only a smidge over two weeks away, and I need some idea of what ,my project is going to be. Since I’d wanted to write a Christmas story for a while now, that seemed like a good idea (insert N’s comment that it doesn’t have to be Christmas) but then there came two shadowy figures who drifted into my office, drew close, and whispered into my ear.

Them: Hogmanay.

Me: What?

Them: Hogmanay. It has to be.

Me: Oh it does, does it? Let’s see what our old friend, Google, has to say about that. Hm. Scots word, referring to the last day of the year. December thirty-first, then, still close enough to Christmas, caps off Christmas week, part of the whole twelve days thing. Okay, New Year’s Eve, I can do. I was going for more of a Christmas Eve kind of vibe, but endings, beginnings, I can work with that. We have to talk about the Scotland thing, though.

Them: ….

Me: Yeah, see, the last time I tried to write a Scottish story, it did not go well. Book down in flames, me creatively paralyzed, lots of crying. I mean, that was before your time, so you probably couldn’t have known about that, unless you had to go through the backburnered characters waiting room, in which case, who knows what you heard, but the whole Scotland thing…yeah, no.

Them: …

Me: I mean, Scotland is great, and all. Essential part of the British Isles. Great Britain. United Kingdom. Tartan. Bagpipes. Shortbread. Kilts. Neighbors. The closest neighbors when w moved into our first house, were Scots. I don’t remember my first impression of them, because I was nine months old, but, from about age four and onward, I remember them as lovely people. Um. Um. Hannah Howell. Now, there’s your gal for Highland stories. Not that all Scots are Highlanders. Far from it. Lowlands. Borders. The colonies. Pamela Clare sent her Scotsmen to the American colonies. She’s mostly doing contemporaries and romantic suspense these days, but I’m sure she’d–

Them: Hogmanay.

Me: :sigh:  You two aren’t going to budge on this one, are you?

Them: :both shake heads: Hogmanay.

Me: Fine. Have it your way. Hogmanay has to be the least romantic name of a holiday, ever, but sure. Hogmanay it is. Let’s see, what are we working with, here? Hm, first footing.  That sounds — oh, don’t look at me like that. I know what first footing is. Hm. I could work with that. Tall, dark-haired male, that’s pretty standard, so no problems there, but what if it was the wrong tall, dark-haired male? Huh. That could have potential. Gifts are involved. That’s pretty Christmassy. This could happen.

Word of warning, though. I am not creating an entire clan this time. That’s kind of ambitious. Says here, they have Hogmanay in northern England, too. Similar concept on the Isle of Man, even. So, theoretically, I could put this in a remote English village. I can give somebody a Scots parent, if we’re being particular about this whole Hogmanay thing. No chance I can turn this into a New Year’s Story, is there?

Them:  Hogmanay.

Me: Can you two say anything other than “Hogmanay?” If either of you answers that with “Hogmanay,” I am deleting your file. Okay, first, I have to create a file, but then I’m putting this entire conversation in it, and then deleting it. Anything else would be great, though. Names, what year it is where you come from. Name of the village; that would be good, too. How you two know each other, because you definitely know each other.

Them:  ….

Me: Why am I not surprised, here? I’m sitting here, in my office chair, candle burning, cherry seltzer at hand, I have an online workshop that needs my attention, and then you two wander in, and the only thing you have to say to me is the name of a holiday that is different from the holiday I actually intended to write about. Not giving me a lot to go on with an attitude like that. New Year’s Eve, basically, gifts, wrong dude at the door. Do I at least get to see your faces?

Them: Hogmanay.

Me: If you mean I actually have to wait until December thirty-first of this year (2018, by the way, in case we’re exchanging what year it is in our respective realities. Throwing that out there as an icebreaker. Feel free to reciprocate at any time.)  that is not going to work. I’m writing historical romance. Faces are going to come into play at some point.

Them: Hogm–

Me: Don’t say it. I get what you’re after. Your story plays out over Hogmanay. Fine. Here’s how this venture of ours is going to work. I’m going to head on over to Camp NaNo and create the project. I will, by choice or happenstance, be put into a cabin with other writers, hopefully of historical romance. You guys get a notebook, maybe a legal pad, and a pen. When the calendar flips over to April, I start writing. You guys have until then to get chatty, or I’m doing my own thing. Got it?

Them:  :both nod:

Me: Okay, then. Glad we had this conversation. You two do your part, I will do mine, and we’ll see what we have at the end of the month.


Typing With Wet Claws: I Do Not Play In Sandboxes Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is currently snowing here in New York’s Capitol Region, but I do not know if we will get as much snow this time, as we did a couple of days ago. On the one paw, I am an indoor kitty who sleeps in front of the heater (except for when I am sleeping near my humans’ beds, to make sure they are only sleeping and not actually dead, but on the other paw, weather can be unpredictable this time of year. Either way, it is good weather to stay inside and write, if you are a writer, or read, if you are a reader. I, personally, am a kitty, so I like taking naps in front of the heater, and listening to the sounds coming from Anty’s glowy box.

Before I talk about anything  else, which is usually Anty’s writing anyway, I have to tell where to find Anty’s writing, besides here, on the interwebs, this week. As usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance, this past Saturday. Since March is International Women’s Month, Anty will be focusing on heroines in romance fiction. She starts off the month by asking what makes a romance heroine. That post is here, and it looks like this:


Now is the part of the post where I bring everybody up to date with Anty’s Goodreads challenge. Her goal is to read ninety books this year, and to have at least fifty percent of that be historical romance. I have decided that I will allow historical fiction with strong romantic elements, and time travel romance, where at least some of the story takes place in the past. As of today, Anty is at nineteen percent of the way to her goal, having read seventeen out of ninety books. So far, six of those are historical romance. Still a ways to go, but that is good progress. Keep going, Anty.

The books Anty read and reviewed this week are:



Anty’s workshop, Play in Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys, is in full swing, and Anty hopes that the people taking the workshop are having as much fun as she is, giving it. Personally, being a kitty, a sandbox is not something I would like to play in, and I do not want to keep or play with anything I might find (or put) in there,  (certainly not my toys)but I suppose it is different with humans. I prefer playing my mousie game on the glowy box, and batting at strips of paper that are left over from when Anty cuts fancy paper for her art things. Those things are the best. I get on my hind legs and then I  lift my paws and go batbatbatbatbatbatbat, Sometimes, I bite the paper strips, and, sometimes, I can even get the strips away from Anty. I am not that interested in the strips once I get them away from her,  because they stop moving, but, until then, it is super fun.

Do you know what else is fun? Reading is fun. Writing is also fun. Anty has been doing a lot of both lately, and she has figured out, more or less, what she would like to work on for her Camp NaNo story in April. By more or less, I mean she has a trope, and it may be more of a New Year’s story than a Christmas story, but she will have to do some research first. She also has to figure out what the setting of the story will be, and who, exactly, the characters are, but at least she has the seed of an idea, so we will see how that goes. It is probably about time for her to create her project, so that she can get into a good cabin. I will share more details on that as they become available, and keep readers apprised of Anty’s progress. We are almost halfway through the month, so the clock is ticking.

Today, while Anty washed a lot of laundry, she did not bring a book to read. Okay, she did bring her Kindle, and there is a Kindle app on her phone, but she did not read any of those things. Instead, she took out Big Pink, and a fineliner pen, and she wrote part of a scene for Her Last First Kiss. It was an out of order scene, but that is okay, because Anty is what writer humans call a puzzler. She likes to work on one bit of something over here, one bit of something over there, something else in this other place, and then smush them all together, in the right order, when she is done. Because she did this writing on the detachable pages from Big Pink, she will need to tear those out and attach them to the pretty legal pad she wrote the start of the scene on, and then transcribe it all into her glowy box, then print it, so that she can show it to Miss N. That means that one of the humans has to get the printer working again, since it was on the old modem, and we now have a new, faster one. This may have exciting ramifications for my mousie game, but the humans are more concerned with printing things like Anty’s stories.

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


Whiteout (not the office supply)

This still counts as Wednesday’s entry. I’m writing it on Wednesday, for one thing. Okay, it’s near the end of the day (4:25 by my clock) rather than the beginning, as I’d planned, but there is white stuff falling from the sky outside, at an impressive rate, and the day had to be re-apportioned accordingly. This meant a morning spent at the laundromat, oddly deserted for the morning of a storm, and other domestic matters. It’s all good, though, as we are amply stocked with tea and candles, I have a fluffy blanket on my lap, and a perfectly firm pillow in the small of my back. and a few things on my mind.

Most of them are related to reading and/or writing, specifically historical romance, so I still count this as technically on time and on topic. Though my immediate to=be-read list stood at twenty-seven as of yesterday, it has grown since then. Other books by two of the authors on my shortlist are partly responsible for that growth. Another contributor is my recent viewing of an Australian TV series, Glitch, that made me remember how much I love reading a good Australian historical romance (of which there are far too few available these days, hint, hint, especially Australian writers, hint, hint) and the fact that I am but one chair swivel away from some select Candace Proctor titles in my TBR bookcase. I am currently reading two Tudor-era titles right now, one historical fiction with romantic elements, and one historical romance. The historical fiction has six subsequent books (to date) and the historical romance, one more. Then there’s my upcoming O’Malley binge, and who knows what after that.

Yesterday, at my weekly breakfast with N, I rambled about a vague idea for a holiday historical romance. This is the vaguest of ideas, at present, no historical period attached as of yet, but hey, a blizzard could work in there, sure. I’ve been wanting to write a Christmas story for ages, but this one might actually work better as a New Year’s story (still counts as during the Twelve Days of Christmas, so I may still be on task.) I don’t know who my hero and heroine are. I don’t know what era their story takes place in, but I know it’s a winter holiday; that’s a start. It’s also probably going to be my Camp NaNo story, but I’m not quite ready to declare at the moment. Give me a couple more days of pretending there’s an out.

There isn’t, of course. Getting a story from vague wisp of an idea, to bullet point draft, in a specified period of time, scares the stuffing out of me, so of course that’s what I’m looking forward to doing. Kind of like a twenty-seven item and counting “short’ list for the foreseeable reading future. Right now, I’m listening to songs from a playlist I’ve been studiously ignoring for coughty-cough months now, because a story (or two) is haunting me (not the Christmas/New Year/Camp NaNo story, because that would make sense) and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that.

Write it, of course, because the not-writing has not worked out terribly well. Goes hand in hand, is my educated guess, with the re-examination of favorite books, and books I’ve been wanting to read long enough for said desires to be old enough to vote. Apparently, they did, and the vote was to quit messing around, and get down to business. Maybe it’s the snow. I have fond memories of walking around a town whose name and location I have long since forgotten, with Real Life Romance Hero, after we bailed on the evening’s planned activity.

I was not equipped for tromping through heavy snow that night, in a pair of stiletto heels and knee length skirt, but my coat was warm, and I had RLRH. The night was dark, the falling snow glittered in the streetlights, and, somehow, though the streets we wandered (never too far from the venue from which we bailed, because the other couple we came with was our ride) up and down unfamiliar hills, an idea took shape. That idea eventually became a story that became my first novel length fan fiction, and unleashed a whole lot of writing, and paved the way to my first published novel (no relation to the stilettos in the snow story.) We did eventually return to the venue, and I’m still not sure if the other couple knew we were gone. They asked if we had a good time, we said we did. I vaguely recall diner food after that, and then we went home.

Right now, it’s white outside my office window. A quick check of a weather app says we are due for upwards of twelve inches of snow. I do have stilettoes, and RLRH is home, but we’re staying inside tonight. There will be comfort food, and there will be reading, and there will be writing, and then we will see what the morning brings. My educated guess is that it will bring the shoveling of aforementioned snow. Depending on whether our downstairs neighbors, young men who have a step troupe, are home, I may not have to be the one wielding said shovel. If I am, that’s fine, because shovel time is mull over story stuff time. I could do with some of that.


Today is the first day of my online workshop, Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys. I’m excited (Yay, workshop! Yay, new people! Yay, I get to blabber about stuff I love, to a captive audience, and ask them nosy questions! Yay, they will give me money for the privilege of allowing me to blabber and ask nosey questions and look at their work!)) and nervous (who the heck am I to be teaching a workshop? I haven’t done this in a while. What if I forgot how to do this, or I stink, or they hate me? :runs around in circles, screaming:) This is standard operating procedure for the first day of an online workshop for me, but, if I know myself (and I should say that I do) I will soon be riding high on the energy of the other participants, and the whole darned thing will click.

The sticky notes below the monitor are a throwback to my college days, when I didn’t know any better, and blithely pounded out several pages at a time, said notes (probably a often note paper with thumbtacks as sticky notes, back then,) and used said notes as mile markers, or the writer’s equivalent of Burma Shave signs. I have never seen a Burma Shave sign in the wild, but, as the child of mature parents, I became culturally literate in a few things from a prior generation. This is one of them. Signposts may be a better term, or mile markers. Each note has a goal to write toward. When I reach that goal, the note comes down. When all the notes are down, I am done (yay!) and get to play with my new watercolors. I am extremely bribable with art or bujo supplies.

I am also easily bribable with reading time, now that I am back on the scent of historical romance. My current read, The Queen’s Lady, by Barbara Kyle, is set during the time when Henry VIII was dead set on divorcing his first wife, but the Catholic church was not on the same page as Henry. After that, I start my O’Malley-a-thon, all of Bertrice Small’s O’Malley/Skye’s Legacy books (as a fan; I claim no insider knowledge of these books, or how they came to be written) which largely take place in Elizabethan times, and the days, and decades that follow. Have I ever mentioned how generational sagas are my very, very, very favorite sort of historical romance series? I finished my most recent Kindle read, Letter of Love, by Virginia Henley, also Elizabethan, and went looking for my next Kindle selection. I looked at my To Finally Read list, and saw Winter’s Fury, by Denise Domning, which is medieval, searched my library by author, and…waaaaait a minute. My attention fell (okay,  was drawn like an industrial strength magnet) to Lady in Waiting, the first book in her Lady duology, which has a -you guessed it- Elizabethan setting. Well, okay, then. Can’t fight that. Lady books now, Season books after. That is my next seven Kindle reads.

Because Barbara Kyle follows The Queen’s Lady with six more books in her Thornleigh saga, also a generational tale, those are on my list, after I finish with my Small binge. I am chain-bingeing historical romance novels now, which is a big change from whining about how I can’t seem to get into anything. I will take that change, even though doing the numbers is a wee bit on the scary side. Smushing the O’Malleys and their legacy, the Thornleighs, the Ladies and the Seasons into one place, that’s about twenty-seven books I have promised myself I am going to read in the near future. Twenty-seven. Twenty. Seven. When the sam hill am I going to read twenty seven books, when I have a workshop to give (I am actually posting my intro after I post this) and am working on three books, and Camp NaNo is breathing down my neck (why did I ever think that was a good idea?) Not to mention all the YA reads I want to get in there, along with various stuff, like finally getting around to reading Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton, and spring cleaning and domestic tornadoes and and and and and…..

I’m not going to say “breathe” here, because when people tell me to breathe, I want to punch them in the throat. Instead, I’m going to head in the general direction of a sign-off for this post and mention something about how doing what comes naturally works a lot better than trying to cram myself into somebody else’s box (which I am apt to do, far more often than I would like.) U didn’t mean to go on a nearly-thirty-book Tudor binge, but that was the first era a ever truly loved in historical romance, and it never hurts to go back to the source, and revisit a first love every now and again. Sometimes, poking a few embers is all that’s needed to get a fire going.


Typing With Wet Claws: Hello, March Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another (very snowy) Feline Friday. This is the first blog entry for the month of March, which means that Anty’s online workshop, Play in Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys, will be starting in only a few days. It is on the other side of the weekend, as a matter of fact. If you want to learn how to use the media you already love, to create new, original fiction of your own, then this workshop might be right up your alley. If you would like to know more, or sign up  for the workshop, you can do that at the workshops page for Charter Oak Romance Writers. If you are in the northeast US, and you are interested in writing, you may want to bookmark that page, for future details about Anty presenting there in person, later this year. If you do cannot make a bookmark, do not worry. I will tell you when the date and topic are confirmed.

Since I already talked about Anty’s work above, I think I am allowed a minute to talk about the weather. If you are new to this blog, we live in New York’s capitol region. Earlier this week, we had windows open, and humans went outside without elebenty billion layers of outside clothes. Then, today, Anty (and Uncle, and Mama) woke to this:


It is snowing right now, as I write this, but the snow should turn to rain later on in the day. Probably about the time one of the humans opens my second pouch of food. (I get two, spread over the course of the day, because that was how they socialized me when I was first adopted, and I figured that is the way things go. They have tried putting me on two meals a day. It did not go well.)

Back to business. This week, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. She closed out the month of February, talking about multicultural romance, which can mean a lot more than some humans might think it does. It is fun to read, but not fun to play hide and seek when it comes to finding in some bookstores. That post is here, and it looks like this:


Now, we come to the part of the post where I tell you about Anty’s progress on her Goodreads challenge. I am very proud of Anty this week. Anty has read fifteen out of ninety books, which puts her at seventeen percent of the way to her goal. Out of those fifteen books, four are historical romance, so Anty still has a way to go in that department, but I cannot blame her. There are some excellent YA books out there, and a lot of them are romances, or have love stories in them. This week, the books Anty has read and reviewed are:



There is not really a hole in that last picture, or in Anty’s review. There was an ad there, and I was not sure if I should have a picture of an ad, so I covered it.  I was going to put a picture of me there, but I am not in Miss Danelle’s book, and that would be misleading. I would not want anyone to be disappointed. Come to think of it, Anty has not put me in any of her books, either. I think that she should. I am soft and furry, I am very good at catching mousies (even electronic ones) and I am a constant source of moral support, as well as making sure Anty always knows when it is treat time.

There is no update, as of yet, on Anty’s project for Camp NaNoWriMo (April edition) as of yet, but Anty is trying something that will make it slightly less scary. Anty now has a book where she writes down how much she wrote, over the course of the day, or any writing related things that she did. I suspect that part of the reason this seems to be working is that Anty gets to keep track of things in a special planner (though, because she is writing down what she already did, maybe that makes it a planned-er) and she gets to pick what colors go in the pictures on the facing pages. (She is not done with this picture yet.)


Anty says that having a list of things that she already did is more encouraging than striving for a number that seems far away, and it is easier to think about the story. She will probably find some way to turn this into a tracker for her bullet journal, as she saved some pages for a writing tracker when she figures out what format works best.  Right now, though, this seems to be working, to let the numbers be in their place, and let Anty focus on the stories she is telling. It would not hurt if she put more cats in them, either. Especially very fluffy stripey ones, who are very good at catching mousies.

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


A Camping I Will (Possibly) Go

The last day of the month is exciting for us bujo types, because that means new month. For those of us starting a now notebook/journal/planner (no, this is not a post about notebooks. I promise it isn’t; read the title) it means we get to break out all the good stuff: pens, pencils, rulers, stencils, stamps, washi tape (oh so much washi tape) and look at our vision of the ideal month ahead. Looking past that month, to the month that follows, only makes sense. In this case, that next month is April, and April, for many of us writer types, means Camp NaNoWriMo or at least it could.

Normally, I don’t do NaNo anything, because, although I like the idea in theory, if I focus too strongly on word count, I get paralyzed, and every day, fall farther and farther behind, which means everybody else is a better writer than I am, why did I do this, oh woe, etc, etc. You know the drill. So why is it, this year, that I had the thought float into my mind, “I think I might like to try camp this year.” The April version, specifically. Jury’s still out on July. I don’t remember when the idea first slipped in there, but, yesterday, at my weekly breakfast with N, I put it out there, to test the waters.

Me: I’m thinking for doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April this year.

N: (after ascertaining that I had not A) been replaced by an alien doppelganger, B) somehow managed to get my hands on a funny bagel, or C) sustained a head injury: Will you be working on Her Last First Kiss, or Drama King, or something new?

Me: :deer in headlights stare: Um, I don’t know.

Because I didn’t. The hazy idea never got that far. Now that I actually accidentally signed up for this session, while trying to see if my account was still valid, I still don’t. This is not like me. I am the opposite of a pantser. One would think that would mean plotter, but not always. I, personally, identify as a puzzler; this scene over here, that idea over there, this kind of character would be fun, I’ve always liked that other thing, so let’s put them all on the table and see how they fit together. I want to know where I’m going, how I’m going to get there, and when I should expect to arrive.

Now that I am apparently in for April, I should probably figure out a few things. Which project I want to work on, for one. The dreaded word count for another. My best guess is that I will set the bar low, so it’s an easy “win,” because these sorts of things awaken my competitive side. When I belonged to a once upon a time RWA chapter, we had an annual NaNo-ish exercise, where we competed to see who could write the most pages in that month. Challenge accepted. I think the month could have been January. I don’t remember, but that feels right-ish. Every year that I participated in that venture, I either took second place (said chapter had some very prolific writers while I was there; probably still does) or won, and it was never any problem. I felt energized, not paralyzed. I’m not sure why that was.

I have a few theories, though. It’s much less intimidating to count pages than words. Any pages counted, and it didn’t have to be a brand new project; ongoing works were fine. I do know the rules for Camp are looser than for NaNo proper, and the ability to set my own goals very much appeals. What I’m looking forward to most is the community. At some point (after I have created a project, because I have no idea what my WIP will be for the duration) I will be sorted into a cabin, whether by choice or by chance, and I can talk to other people as neurotic about the whole process of shooting for a specific number during a specific calendar month.

This is dependent on me not finding a way to delete my account in the month before Camp starts in earnest, but I think I want to go ahead and see what happens. Probably. Possibly. In a way, it feels like being a little kid on the edge of the high dive, my toes curled around the end of the board, taking a couple of experimental bounces, and looking at that water, far below.




:sounds of polite throat clearing from people behind me:

Sure, there is the possibility of climbing back down the ladder and getting a cherry popsicle from the snack bar (which, to be fair, one still can do when one gets out of the pool, after diving: but that would A) tick off all the people waiting in line, one of which may already be climbing the ladder, even though the lifeguard is blowing their whistle and advising against premature climbing, and B) if I don’t try, I won’t know.

So, maybe I won’t dive. Maybe I’ll jump. Jumping is fine. Jumping can be fun. The important part is coming back to the surface. The important part is swimming. Which, oddly enough, is an activity often associated with going to camp. Maybe I’ll see you there.

If it’s (Almost) March, These Must Be Llamas

Spring and I have a complicated relationship. We don’t like each other much, but I live with two spring-lovers, Real Life Romance Hero (for him, spring is tied with fall for his favorite) and Housemate. I’m happy for them, that their favorite season is almost here, but for me, it means my lovely, cozy autumn and winter are done, and the season of avoiding the burny orange thing in the sky Is right around  the corner. On the other hand, spring is also baby ducks season, I have my upcoming online workshop starting March 5th, and, though it looks like I won’t be able to make NECRWA’s conference this year, plans are in place for some out of state writing besties to converge upon my domicile (and possibly the Schuyler Mansion) later in the season.

Said writing besties are the same critique/accountability group I had been in for coughty-cough years, the same one where I was the only person who never came to the table without some sort of pages, the same one where I would feel like I was flying on the car ride home, full of, well, pure, top grade love of writing. Plus, they’re all pretty darned nifty in their own rights, and write in genres as diverse as historical YA fiction, cozy romantic suspense, and picture books. I can promise there will not be a dull moment, there will be hugs, and at least one of us is going to cry when it’s time for them to go home at the end of the day.

The other bright spot that comes from staring a new season in the face is that I get to start a new planner.


Oh hey, there, Hypercritical Gremlins. It’s been a while. What’s up?


My blog, my topics. It’s writing related, I promise.


As I was saying, I finished my last February pages in my current planner, last night, which means time to start a new one, at the start of March. As a true Leuhtrumm convert, I planned to get another notebook by the same maker, but there was one small problem; I did not get anywhere near the one store, locally, that sells them (to my knowledge.) Quelle horror. That’s when my eyes drifted to my unused notebook shelf, and spotted the orange Exceed book I didn’t end up using last fall. Love the pages, sturdy book, but it’s orange.


Ahem.  Anyway, I’d been vacillating on the theme for March pages. I’d originally wanted gray, but then remembered there’s St. Patrick’s Day. I’d feel weird having an orange planner in a month when Irish heritage and culture is at the forefront, and, besides, orange and green, together, remind me of peas and carrots, specifically the canned variety, and, um, nothankyouplease. I will cut through the craft shop trawling for washi tape for another, unrelated project (my O’Malley saga reread; have to prepare for something of that magnitude) and go straight to the moment I saw these puppies on an endcap, at one third the usual going rate:


Cue heart-skip. Yes. This. Black, white, gray, and red, smidgen of green, a few sparklies. Also, llamas. Llamas make me think of my friend, H, whose favorite animal is the llama, and who is always great for some tough writing love. Other tapes include elephants and hippos, both gray, some flowers, some geometric shapes, some glitter. Boom. Perfect. Layouts unfolded in my head, and I couldn’t wait to get home and put those plans into action. One of the tapes even says “wild and free,” over and over, in different fonts.


Did I ask for your input?


What did you say?


Better. This morning, I had the same heart-skip while scrolling through Facebook. A post from Susan Elizabeth Phillips showed on my feed, asking for recommendations of genre romance novels, happy ending and all, with elements that broke away from some of the conventions of the genre. My mind raced. Simple Jess, by Pamela Morsi, with a mentally slow hero, Morning Glory, by LaVyrle Spencer, with an ex-con hero, and, shall we say working class heroine, who is already pregnant with baby number three when they meet, in the years around WWII. Laura Kinsale’s heroes who survive strokes and PTSD and the heroines who see the whole person, not only one aspect. Yes. This.

This kind of thing gets my motor running. Granted, exactly what the “norm” is, will differ from person to person, depending on whom one asks, but that kind of thing gets me excited. Do my characters and my stories fit under that umbrella? Right now, Drama King has a grumpy actor-turned-line-cook intent on emotional self-flagellation, and the optimistic literary agent who is sure she can turn almost any mess into something beautiful. Her Last First Kiss has a heroine who is already another character’s mistress when the story begins, and a “portrait painter” hero (the air quotes are important) with family issues, plus the mutual friend caught in the middle. Chasing Prince Charming, which Melva and I are preparing to resubmit, has a hero who is a passionate advocate of the romance genre, and a heroine who may need some convincing. A Heart Most Errant has a jaded knight-errant, and the extroverted (and possibly delusional) baker whom he has to escort to a destination that may or may not exist. It also has a monastery that is not as abandoned as they thought it was. (Oopsie.) Did I mention this is after the Black Plague knocked out half the population of the British Isles in around twenty years?


:Ah, but it does. There are, as of yet, no llamas in any of my stories, historical or contemporary, solo or co-written, but the spirit of the llamas is there. Bullet journaling has taught me a few things that carry over into the writing of commercial fiction. Mistakes happen. Inspiration will lag. When it does, it may be time to take a long walk through a favorite craft or office supply store. Stop and smell the Post-Its (or maybe just look at them. The vast majority are not scented.) Stroke the creamy ivory pages of notebooks far outside your pay grade. Quickly grab an awesome roll of clearance washi before anybody else gets a chance to know it exists. Be open to new ideas, and, when all else fails, go back to the well. Re-read old favorites. Play with an idea that always seemed like fun. Do what you need to refill the well, so that you can draw from it. If the method of choice involves llamas, well, that’s a bonus.


Thank you, it does. Now back in the basement, you go. I have writing to do.


You can’t have the closet anymore; I keep my bullet journal stuff there now. Out the back door, all the way down the stairs, to the room with the dirt floor and the hot water heater.


I know. :puts in earbuds, opens document: