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.

WAIT A MINUTE! YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT NOTEBOOKS AGAIN! WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THIS SO-CALLED “WRITING BLOG?”

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

NOT YOUR WORD COUNT, THAT’S FOR SURE. ALSO, NOTEBOOK TALK, AGAIN?

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

WE’VE HEARD THAT BEFORE.

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.

NOTEBOOK POST. CALLED IT.

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:

01llamatape

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.

:COUGH; NOTEBOOK POST :COUGH:

Did I ask for your input?

NO.

What did you say?

NO, MA’AM?

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?

NONE OF THAT HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH LLAMAS.

: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.

OKAY, THAT KIND OF FITS TOGETHER>HMPH.

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

WE LIKE THE CLOSET.

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.

HEY! THAT’S WHERE YOUR STEPPER NEIGHBORS REHEARSE, WITH ALL THE STOMPING AND THE SHOUTING.

I know. :puts in earbuds, opens document:

 

 

 

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