Make A Decision and Move Forward

Tuesday morning breakfasts with N is always a highlight of my week, and yesterday was doubly so.  Yesterday, we got our notebooks out and made a plan to organize our writing for 2019, before it starts. Part of that was kicking around ideas for a second blog, dedicated to planning/bullet journals/related miscellany, and keeping this focused on the journey of the writing life. 

Third blog would actually be more accurate, because Melva and I had a long discussion on our Monday night Skype meeting, about what we want our joing author website to look like. What is our combined brand? (Spoiler: “uhhhhh” is not an acceptable answer.) What content do we want the site to have? So far, we are agreed on a bookshelf, with three shelves; Melva books, Anna books, and Melva-and-Anna books. Same with the author bios, and that puts the partnership bio on the top of the to-do list for that one. 

Today, after I finish this blog, possibly while I do laundry, I will start getting my notes ready for the first Tuesday in January, where N and I will attack 2019. We both have manuscripts we want to get to The End this year, so we need to plan for after that. I already know the next project Melva and I will tackle, but for my solo historicals (which I am definitely feeling, once again; getting a win will do that for a gal) there are a lot of options. Since I tend to overthink, this is where a logical plan of attack comes in handy. Time to take a step back and get some perspective. 

Between now and then, I get to muck around in my imagination, and haul the characters, plots, settings, tropes, etc, that I’ve kept in my writerbrain attic, out into the natural light, and take a good look at what I’ve got. What excites me the most? What would require the most research? What do I still need to connect the dots on before I know what I’m doing? What needs brainstorming? Am I trying to stuff a ten pound cat into a two pound bag, anywhere? (Definitely.) Can two things that aren’t fully fleshed out be combined into one cohesive whole?

Once everything is spread out, we take a good, hard look at it. That’s probably my favorite part of audition weeks on TV talent competitions. Everybody’s good, or they wouldn’t have made it to the week where the judges winnow down the best to the cast of the new season. There’s headshots and notes on performances, and each judge has their own things they look for in a finalist. Is it too much to have three ballroom girls in the top ten? Can the self taught dancer pick up choreography? How does the amazing freestyler do with partner work? I honestly would be thrilled to watch the unedited footage of this part of the process, or be there when it’s decision time. 

N has a sign near her desk, that reads “make a decision and move on.”  She’s unleashed it a time or two on me, when I get caught in overthinking, and it really does help. Make a decision. Move forward. This or that. Yes or no. Stick in a placeholder and come back to it later, but keep moving. I”ll let you know how it goes. Writer readers, what’s your favorite tip for plannign ahead? 

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Five

Probably my favorite CRRWA meeting of the entire year (they are all pretty great, though) is the December meeting, where we recognize the achievements of all of our members. “Did not quit writing” is an achievement, as is “started writing for the very first time.”  There is recognition for a lot of the hard work that goes into the writing life, especially for those of us who are pursuing it as a career. Get a contract? Yay! Queried, and got a no thanks? Also yay! Published your first book? Yay! Published your twenty-fifth book? Yay! Hired an editor, cover artist, or other professional to help you on the indie publishing journey? Yay! Tehre are lots of other things that matter, and there are milestones to recognize, when reached. This year, one of them was mine. 

Book number five? Water bottle time!


Meet the five-book water bottle. I’ve wanted one of these babies ever since they first became part of the program. Since I had come into my membership in this chapter with four books under my belt, this goal felt, at the same time, very close, and unattainable. Close, because I came into my membership in this chapter with four titles to my credit, so one more is not that far away. Only, it was, because my life had exploded, and whether one wants to call it writer’s block, or emptiness, or what-have-you, my general connection to writing was, at the time, 

There was the time travel I put on the back burner (and is still there) and the Regency I tried to write, but couldn’t connect with, until I admitted I had set it in the wrong period. There was the American Revolution romance I tried oh so hard to write, until I admitted that my hero didn’t want to be on the side of the conflict I had selected for him. I ended up stealing his and his heroine’s (first) names for another project (we are getting to that. There was other stuff, too, that didn’t go anywhere, in terms of getting me to a fifth contracted/published work, but that’s not to say those things didn’t serve any purpose. 

Finding out what doesn’t work has value, too, as does taking a risk when that risk feels right. The official story is this: Melva and I were at an NERWA annual conference, and were early for breakfast. We plopped ourselves in a couple of comfy chairs near the breakfast room, so we’d be there when the doors finally opened. We people watched, and talked about how varied romance fiction is, and how those unfamiliar to the genre might think it’s all the same, but look, there’s an inspirational author talking with an author of m/m erotica, and that one writes historical, and that one writes paranormal, and that one writes YA, and that one writes multicultural, and that’s a winner of multiple Rita awards (romance fiction’s Oscar/Hugo/etc) and that person only found out RWA existed yesterday, and, and, and, and….

“What if,” one of us asked, because all great stories begin with “what if?” a writer thought they could attend a couple of workshops and pound out a romance novel real quick, but then found out it wasn’t that easy?” The other one of us glomped on to that. What if they fell in love? With whom, though? Obviously, the worst possible person would have to be the answer. A huge romance fan, someone for whom this genre is, almost literally, life. What would be the worst possible time for tehse two to meet? Originally, we made it at a pitch session, but we tweaked that, and that’s when Chasing Prince Charming was conceived. 

At this most recent meeting, I sat next to fellow The Wild Rose Press author, Ginny Frost, and squealed and giggled, and got to wear a sparkly tiara (as did all members present, even the gal at her very first meeting, ever) as the fabulous K.A. Mitchell played MC, and boasted everyone’s accomplishments. I get to play Vanna White and hand out the prizes -everybody gets one- and the whole atmosphere is so encouraging and celebratory that it is like catnip. 

There is no special prize for a sixth book, but there is for making a sale, or publishing independently, so my goal for the next year is going to be that, among other things. Book number five is my first contemporary, and my first co-written with Melva Michaelian, and my first book intentionally written as part of a series. We are about at the 25% mark of the next book, Drama King, and are already talking about what we want to write next, after these first three books are done. 

We have also talked about what we each want to achieve this coming year, in our solo work. Cozy roantic suspense, and humorous nonfiction for her, historical romance for me. How do we keep all the balls in the air for our solo and joint work, and how do we handle being a debut author, as two bodies with but a single mind. We both have books out that are just our own, and Melva has co-written before, but this new stuff? Totally new territory. 

I look forward to figuring it out. This past Saturday, we had fun. We handed out prizes, applauded each other, snacked, and, best of all, wound up talking in various bunches, about writing and reading and all that goes with it, where we are goimg and where we have been, and, maybe most importantly, where we are right now. 

The lack of a comma is tradition, now.

 I like having a shiny red reminder of what happens when I ride out the urgh, and keep going. Keep trying new things, that, surprise, make the old things even better than they always were. No telling now, what I’ll be posting here next year, but I know, whatever it is, it will be good, or headed in that direction. Writing readers, what acheivements would you like a pom-pom shake for this year? Leave them in the comments, and I can offer virtual cake.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Planning Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you with all the stuff on the week that was. I wanted to call this edition “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Sebastian,” but Writer Chick says this blog is about her writing, not my handsome self. Go figure. 

Anyway, best to get the compulsories out of the way first, so let’s get to it. As always, Writer Chick babbles on about something, over at Buried Under Romance, every Saturday, and this one is no exception. Last week, she talked about when a reading slump really isn’t one. What’s that all about? Hop on over here, and find out.

Who can say no to that face?


This leads directly into our other update, that of Writer Chick’s Goodreads challenge. Getting down to the wire now, and looks like she might actually make it. As of this writing, she has read eighty-six books out of ninety, which puts her at ninety-six percent of the way there. Four more books, three more weeks; will she make it? 

Writer’s favorite read this week was a surprise. It was also How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff.

Writer Chick says the S mug in this week’s book picture is for Skye, but Sebastian also starts with S, so I’m claiming it. Not right now. Right now, it’s full of tea. The box of lights is mostly there to block out the view of what’s behind the box of lights and the mug, but it’s also a sign that we are moving into a different time of year, and that would be Christmas. Writer Chick loves Christmas. I’m okay with it. For all I know, I was a Christmas present (the exact circumstances of me ending up with this bunch are a little fuzzy. Heh. Fuzzy. Classic Sebastian.) and a first Christmas in a new place is definitely important.

None of the decorations are up yet, but there is a tree, and there are ornaments. I have heard it is traditional to gift the family cat with their own presents on Christmas, and I am going to assume that extends to Cats Regent. It better. 

current and future planners, covers

I am going to go out on a (Christmas tree) limb here, and assume, also, that Writer Chick will be receiving planner and/or art journal stuff for Christmas. She is definitely going to use the tucked-away week between Christmas and New Year’s, to get her 2019 planning stuff in order. This includes moving essential stuff from the stripey planner, to the big eyes planner, as well as starting a separate planner that is only for writing. Possibly one for her co-written contemporaries with Melva Michaelian, and then another for her solo historical romances. These are the everyday planners, in which she will be planning how she plans the new year. 

Current and new planners, guts

Blah blah, different sizes, blah blah, aesthetics, blah blah, DIY, etc. Whatever. She went over the specifics, but I wasn’t listening. Long story short, do what works. Even if it looks weird. Maybe especially if it looks weird. There will be more updates on where Writer Chick is, in her ongoing WIPs, as soon as she figures out how to measure that progress, and updating the Coming Soon section would not be a horrible thing, just saying. 

So, yeah, that’s basically what’s going on here at Stately Bowling Manor. Waiting on confirmation, but looks like Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have cleared a milestone in their draft of Drama King, and are already talking about what they want to do for their combined author website (this one is staying right where it is) so there will be updates on that as they come along. 


Peace out, 

Finding Neo

Yesterday, we got a new family member. No name yet, as we are still getting to know each other, but, yesterday, at breakfast, N and her husband, Mr. N, presented me with a lovely Neo2, a relative of the device that has increased N’s productivity since she got hers. Will this do the same thing with me? I am looking forward to finding this out. 

So, what’s a Neo? I know I am late to the party on this one, because these lovely devices aren’t produced anymore. Maybe I get hipster points for this. If I get enough hipster points, I get a free chai tea latte, possibly with coconut milk. I’m not entirely sure how that works, either, but N explained it as being somewhat like a smart typewriter, and I am all about that. I actually do miss the days of firing up eye olde typewriter and making with the clickety clack. I did that for a long time, and did okay with it, so I am interested to see how this new adventure is going to go. 

Though I have been dubbed, in my storied past, the computer killer, this Neo is not technically a computer, nor does it even strictly count as electronic. It runs on batteries (I have been known to go through those fairly quickly, too) and has a handy cable that will allow me to dump whatever I have written on the Neo, into the writing program of my choice. Not sure which program I will be using for that, at this point, but leading contenders are Google Docs and Scrivener. 

Here’s what I am looking forward to the most about working with a Neo: the tiny screen only allows me to view five lines at a time. Much easier to go forward than to scroll back and go over the same thing a thousand times. Not impossible, but not worth my trouble, either. The Neo allows me to keep up to eighty thousand words on it at a time, and that can be all in one place, or I can distribute it amongst a total of eight documents. This means I can tote around both historical and contemporary romances, assorted blog entries, a bath or two of idea soup for the future, private correspondence, and possibly other things. 

The whole thing is insanely portable, very light, fits in my tote, and will probably benefit from finding some sort of sleeve to keep it protected in its travels. Does this mean I am giving up pen and paper? Ohhhh no. They are my loves. I still need to do some fiddling with the MacBook, to get that back in fighting trim, and I am more than happy with the current desk setup for my desktop computer. Having my hands typing at a natural lap level is a real game changer for being comfortable while I type, as is using my ergonomic kneeling chair. 

Adding a new tool to my writing toolbox, as we approach the start of a new year feels about right. I am getting ready to transition into the everyday carry traveler’s notebook bullet journal for the winter season. This is going to mean a different size, and a new cover, while I let Big Pink take a long winter’s nap and come back in the spring with an all pastel theme. 

So, what does this all have to do with writing? For starters, all of the above are things I use to actually do the writing, so that’s relevant. Additionally, I crazy stupid love these kinds of things. Pen and paper, I could happily run off with, for several months, and finding the traveler’s notebook bullet journal method clicked into place with the songs of angels. I love picking out covers and inserts, finding the right spreads that make sense to me, and making them visually appealing. I can get into the zone with that, very easily, and that does something I have trouble putting into actual English words. 

The best way I can put that is that it puts the fiction writing part of my brain on autopilot, on the back burner, and, when I come back to actually writing whatever story or project was stuck, things are neater and more interesting, and I am ready to put them on the front burner, once more. Which is a good thing as I look at moving into 2019.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Desk Tour Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff that’s fit to share (and probably some that isn’t, because that’s how I roll) We are at the end of November, staring December in the face. This is when the holiday crunch gets real. It is also when Writer Chick is more likely to break out the holiday romance collections. We will see how that goes for this year. This week, we have a tour of Writer Chick’s new desk setup for you, but before we get to that, and the important stuff (aka my stuff) let’s get the compulsories out of the way. 

This week, as usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she blabbered about finding stuff she didn’t expect in romance novels. This is not always a bad thing. You can real all about that here, and this is the picture that goes with it: 

Now, it’s time to drop in on Writer Chick’s reading progress, specifically her Goodreads challenge for this year. Too early to call it, of course, but Writer Chick is now at 94% of the way home, having read 85 out of 90 books.

For this week, her favorite read was Pulp, by Robin Talley, which is a YA contemporary/historical hybrid, with romantic elements. She is currently reading a historical romance, Trapped at the Altar, by Jane Feather. There is a picture of it, but the new WordPress editor is not as stuffed paw friendly as I would like, so click on the link to see. Writer Chick is cross because the whole bare legs thing with modern shoes is not historically accurate. Where is Cover Chick’s historical underwear? This is important. Maybe that is covered in the book. 

Writer Chick’s current read and beverage (it’s tea)

Now, on to the meat of this post, which is that Writer Chick is actually happy with her current desk setup. She gets to have the computer monitor at a comfortable eye level. Her hands are at a comfortable, natural lap level, with optional lap desk, in case she needs to break out some handwriting (or planning, there is always planning) and she can keep all of her needed pens right at hand. She is kind of surprised that she likes this setup as much as she does, because: 

A) this desk is actually a bookcase
B) it is light wood
C) it is plain/modern in design
D) Ii is actually next to the TV, in the living room

When Writer Chick is in an actual office type private room, she wants to have a computer desk, probably this one, and then a writing desk, probably the old one that she had in the last office, and one wheeled office chair that can switch between the two, at will. There is also the fact that she does not have a ton of stuff on her desktop, right now, but that may be something to save for the writing desk, in the next place. 

Top Level with monitor
Middle keyboard level, with lap destk and Cat Regent

Bottom level with pen/ mini legal pad storage

There is a high chance that Writer Chick will see, later this weekend, if the printer will fit on the lower shelf. If it doesn’t, that may be where the planners (yes, planners, plural) go, but that all remains to be seen. 

Colored pencils, for filling in daily trackers

Writer Chick may also take advantage of her and Other Chick’s shopping excursion this evening, to invest in some fairy lights and command hooks, because it would add both to the holiday mood, and garner her hipster points. There will probably be a Christmas tree added to the apartment sometime in the next seven days. Since they gave the previous tree and ornaments to another family, when they moved out of the old apartment, that means that they will have to get new ones for this year. Those might not be their forever Christmas stuff, so Christmas Tree Regent? I will investigate and keep you updated, once it arrives. 

There is also a poster that Writer Chick grabbed out of storage, of a book cover illustration, done and signed by her favorite romance cover illustrator, Elaine Duillo. Writer Chick would put this over her desk, if she had an actual office room, but it is not exactly Dude’s thing, so that may have to wait. She also wants to put a decent mat down on the poster, and probably choose a different frame. All of this means that she will, in the near future, be able to grab one of their art prints out of storage, and put that there. I suggest a portrait of a handsome stuffed ginger boy. That would inspire anybody. 

Speaking of which, some of you may have noticed that I am wearing pirate pants this week. That is because I have been paying attention to when Writer Chick visits personal style websites. Apparently, it is a thing to dress to reflect the inner self. I personally, am a real badbutt. There is another word that means the same thing as butt, but has fewer letters. I am not allowed to say it, so badbutt it is. Skull and crossbones pants say badbutt, right? Writer Chick says true class doesn’t advertise, but she’s also researching promo, soooooo….just going to leave that there, ‘kay?


Peace Out, 

Of Instagram, Identity, and Branding

This morning, when I sat at the kitchen table, to write my morning pages, there were two thoughts at the front of my brain.

Thought One: My brain is a total blank, right now. 

Thought Two: I haven’t posted much on Instagram, since Skye passed.

Needless to say, thought two pushed thought one to the back burner, which, technically, takes care of thought one, so I am one step closer to having a topic for today. It’s true that my posting has fallen off, since my mews crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and we do, one thousand percent, absolutely, plan on adding another furry family member, as soon as we can move to a pet-friendly apartment. That isn’t too-too far away, and we are all in agreement that the first thing we are going to do, as soon as we get keys, is get ourselves to a shelter and come home with a new fur baby (or two.)

In the meantime, though, there’s the rest of it. :gestures to life, in general: I am now officially one half of an author at The Wild Rose Press, and Melva and I are not only hard at work on Drama King, and already talking about what we are going to write next, once this trilogy is finished. Also, when we want to start that next project, and all the behind the scenes stuff of getting set up for our new roles as co-authors.

This also includes making sure we work, not only on our combined brand, but our individual brands, because our combined brand will combine parts of our  individual brands, but not all of them, and it will be something new, of its own, as well. At this time, both of us respond to the question of what, exactly, that brand might be, with deer in the headlight stares, and awkward silences. Can deer in the headlight stares and awkward silences be a brand? That may be worth looking into, at least as a place to start.

Where to go from there, though? That’s the question. Having Sebastian sit in as Cat Regent, until the next cat joins the family, feels right, but one stuffed cat does not a visual brand make. Which means the big question: who am I? As a writer, that is, not a person in general, which is a whole other topic. Pen geek, planner fanatic, devotee of classic historical romance, makeup lover, amateur style maven, diehard shipper (I have a fleet of them) and a lot of other things. How many of them travel over to the author side of things, and how many are best left for private life? I am still figuring that one out.

One step in that direction, is to start posting regularly on Instagram again. I miss it. I feel guilty every time I get a new follower with “Maine Coon” in the username, because A) I am very happy to see them, and B) I am currently between Maine Coons, and, well, it’s going to be a while before I can post any more MC pictures. What if people are only there for the Maine Coons, and don’t give a fig about pens and notebooks and whatever I have my tea in that day, and they all leeeeaaaavvvvvve meeeeeeeeeeeeee?

Um, wait a minute. This is getting precariously close to the way I think about historical romance, as I am getting ready for my and Melva’s contemporary debut. Okay, my contemporary debut, as Melva has co-written contemporary with another author, Lorene Morin, and this is my first professionally published outing in both contemporary romance, and co-written fiction. I’m very excited about both of those things, and yet, at the same time, I am still passionately in love with both historical romance and Maine Cons, both of which I am still moving toward getting more of, even if there isn’t a new one out, right this minute.

N and I had to take a break from our weekly breakfasts yesterday, but, when we meet next week, our focus (foci? Is it still focus, if it’s plural? I am not the half of this writing partnership with a PhD in English.) will be on getting our current manuscripts – hers in YA fantasy, and mine in historical romance- all the way to the end of their next drafts. We both need the push, and to hold each other accountable. Melva and I are also discussing accountability measures for our own solo outings. Historical romance for me, cozy romantic suspense for her; both are important, because that’s where we come from, to the place of being able to write together, and that plays directly into how Chasing Prince Charming came to be set in the world of historical romance writing and publishing.

When we discuss what we want to use as the basis of our next combined venture, it also raises the questions of what we want to write for our next individual adventures. I’ve got a few ideas stewing about; the Hogmanay story, something about selkies, a few long-dormant partial manuscripts that may, at this very moment, be clawing their way out of premature entombment/experiencing birthing pains at last/possibly both at the same time/etc.

I’m not sure how to wrap this up at the moment. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and leaning toward adding a video component to the blog/site/brand/etc, but still sorting all of that stuff out. What would you readers/fellow writers/pen fanatics/other assorted magnificent unicorn sisters and brothers of the creative realm? Drop suggestions in the comments, like and subscribe (see, I’ve been paying attention to at least that part of vlogging) and we’ll figure this out together.

020418deskscape2

Time of the Season

Welp, we are officially in the Christmas season around here. Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror (and it was a good one) and the question of where the heck do we put a Christmas tree in this new apartment has started to bat itself around, especially as I am in a moving furniture around phase. My pillow pile is probably on its way out, as it’s not quite the same with the bookshelf-turned-desk here. Also, Real Life Romance Hero likes to keep the bedroom toasty (as in thermostat. The rest is nobody’s business.) so this may be me moving to winter quarters. Probably.

There is most of a huge (I am not exaggerating on this) pumpkin pie In the refrigerator. In a household where one person is watching their sugar intake, and another isn’t that keen on sweet things in general, this pie may outlast us. Any Albany area friends want to come over for pie? We also have tea, and I will let you play with my colored pencil, while we talk about books. Reading or writing, I’m good for both. There is also tea.

Anyhoo, it’s Monday, which means that I am getting ready for a 7PM Skype chat with Melva, where we talk all things Chasing Prince Charming, and plot the next week’s work for Drama King. Odds are very high that I will be having my end of the conversation here, at the kitchen/dining room table:

261118tableread

This is also where I do the majority of my planning, though it’s sometimes on the other side of the table. Feel free to mentally flip the image for an idea of what that looks like, because that would be accurate. The planner I’m using right now is going to go down for a long winter’s nap, maybe in December, definitely in January, to come back in the spring, with all pastel colored inserts, standard size instead of the current A5. It will most likely be succeeded by this one, which I had no intention of getting until I saw the whole line on clearance, and then, well, things happened:

20181126_102450261118planner

The art isn’t exactly my style, but I like to mix things up, now and again, and I love the feel of the fabric cover. I like the challenge of trying something new, and diving all into it, but not completely on my own. I like to have some sort of guide I can refer to, when I feel uncertain. (Everybody say it with me now) It’s like that with writing. I don’t think I would have ventured into contemporary romance on my own. (We will not speak of my first time travel effort, which is still burning off its half life.) Writing it with Melva, though, that’s a whole different animal. Though we come from two different backgrounds, we know each other’s voice, and things kind of fall together. I have not, as of yet, given any thought to trying to lure her over to the historical side (come to the historical side; we have comfits?) but never say never. The future stretches ahead.

That future does include getting back to my solo historicals, and that’s both exciting and scary. On the one hand, the longer one spends away from a manuscript, the longer the road back may be, but, at the same time, time and distance can also offer perspective. How that works, I am not exactly sure, but I do know that switching between being two different writers (or one and a half?) does give writing a sort of hybrid vitality. Focusing on one genre can make the other one seem fresh and exciting again, when I get back to it, and there are benefits to both going it alone, and having a writing partner, ready to pick up the ball and run with it, when I’m not sure where to go next.

This time of year is my favorite-favorite, for a lot of reasons, and this year is extra special. This year, I have a book contract again. This year, I am working on two novels at the same time, one with a partner, and one on my own. To be fair, I was doing that last year, too, but this time, I have the added boost of knowing that I can do both. I love the idea of figuring out what Melva’s-and-my brand is, setting up our website, and connecting with our readers, who may not be the same as my readers or her readers, though I hope there will be some crossover.

When I set up the new planners (yes plural) for the coming year, there will be a section of the writing planner that is dedicated to future projects. There will be workshops in the works, and I look forward to going forward as an author and a half. Right now, a lot of it looks like utter chaos, but making order from chaos is kind of my things. Spread everything out in front of me, see what wants to go together, and then make it happen.

I am one thousand percent sure that the coming year is going to have its fair share of surprises. Hopefully, most of them will be good.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Wolfenoot Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you on this first ever Wolfenoot morning. Even though I am a cat, and of the stuffed persuasion, I have to endorse this new holiday. I have known a lot of stuffed dogs in my time, and they deserve the honor. No, there is not currently a cat holiday, stuffed or otherwise, to my knowledge, but I’m not really bothered by that. I mean, yesterday was all about eating and sleeping, and eating foods that make you sleepy, and that’s a large part of catting, so I can appropriate that one, which, again, is very cat.

Since we are now post-Thanksgiving, in the midst of Wolfenoot, which is also Black Friday (Other Chick and Real Life Romance Hero are out holding the retail lines, so customers can get the goodest deals) while Writer Chick is pounding the keys. When you put the holiday season, a week with multiple days when it snowed, the excitement of end of year and beginning of new planner season, and a new contract, all together, Writer Chick is pretty hyped. Which means she is doing stuff. Like a lot of it.

This is, of course, going to mean that I have to do more work, updating readers on how the road to the release of Chasing Prince Charming is coming, as well as the usual stuff. This will require extra nap time. Anyway, let’s do the compulsories first. As usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, this past Saturday. This time, she had a letter to send out to authors who aren’t authoring (or aren’t authoring romance) anymore. What’s she got to say? Pop on over here and find out.

BURdearwritr

Now, it’s Goodreads update time. Writer Chick actually finished reading a book this week, and she had a lot of feelings about it. David Levithan always does that to her, and she has been pretty invested in this whole “day” series, which took a few turns she was not expecting, in this volume. Check out her blabberings here.

This book puts Writer Chick at ninety-two percent of the way to her goal of ninety books in this calendar year, with eighty-three books read out of that ninety. She is currently three books ahead of schedule, which makes her nervous, because that’s close to on track, which is close to behind. This is where it is useful to have a Cat Regent. I will have Real Life Romance Hero assist me in ensuring that Writer Chick gets enough reading time, by putting me on her, when she picks up a book. She can’t get up if there is a cat in her lap, right? Yeah, didn’t think so. You’re welcome.

Writer Chick’s current reads, for this week, are below. The light blue book, that does not photograph well, was her evening pages book, but she finished it last night. What book will she use to write her PM brain dumps? We won’t know until later tonight. This should be interesting.

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Okay, so, Chasing Prince Charming update time. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have now officially handed in the final manuscript of this particular book…which is not really what readers are going to see, some months from now. What happens next is kind of like a tennis game. Bap! Writer Chicks send book to Editor Chick. Bap! Editor Chick, after doing her thing, sends book back to Writer Chicks. Bap! Writer Chicks then do the things Editor Chick asked them to do. Bap! They send it back again. This goes on a couple more times. I am assuming they are looking at different things on each round.

Since this is the time of year when Writer Chick gets to set up new planners (yeah, plural, more than one, etc. That’s how she rolls.) it stands to reason that she’s going to make some writing planners, that she will actually use. That is the important part. Her process for getting to the finding out what works point, is pretty messy, involving a lot of trial and error, partially used notebooks that then get shoved in random places, It also involves a lot of sticky notes and index cards and You Tube videos (watching, not making, though she hasn’t ruled that out) but then…at some point, it all comes together. Usually in the middle of a big hairy mess of index cards and Spotify playlists and a Skype chat in the background.

In short, the good stuff comes when overthinking doesn’t happen. Funny how that works,. One would think that Writer Chick would have figured that out by now, but one would be wrong. That is one of the duties of a Cat Regent; to remind her of that. That will also be one of the first duties handed off to the next mews, when they are old enough. I will still hold onto the cuddling stuff, and the lap occupation during reading things, because I was literally made for that kind of thing.

Right, right, one more thing. Writer Chick wanted me to remind you that hitting the subscribe button is the best way to make sure you get every post on this blog (hers, as well as mine, even though we all know I am The Stuff. Heh. See what I did there?)  Okay, that’s really it for this week. Have a howly Wolfenoot.

Peace out,

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Thankful

Here we are, the day before American Thanksgiving. Stately Bowling Manor is about as ready for the holiday as it’s going to get. This means that we have some form of the traditional foods, a table at which to eat them, and chairs in which to park our backsides, while we eat abovementioned foods, at abovementioned table. This will be a cozy holiday, with myself, Real Life Romance Hero, and, of course, Sebastian.

There’s not a lot of prep left to do, over here, which suits me fine, because, as great as Thanksgiving food is, it’s not the whole point of the day. I am thankful for my family, very much so, though the absence of a real-life fuzzy buddy does pinch. Next year, we hope to have one or two four-legged family members parked beneath the table, ready to take care of any food that may fall and/or be surreptitiously slipped to them.  Maybe we’ll station Sebastian nearby, to fill the gap.

This morning, I had my weekly breakfast with N. After the usual getting current on each other’s weeks, we turned our attention to how writing is going for each of us, and where we would like it to go. This year, I am very thankful for the fact that I am going into this holiday season, as a contracted author, once again. Complete honesty, I needed a “win,” and this definitely counts as one. The fact that I get to do it along with Melva, who has been friend and critique partner for coughty-cough years, makes it even better. Today, it means that I get to finalize (for now) a scene for Drama King, that cranks up the stakes, and leads into the next part of the book.

I am thankful that there is a next part of the book to get into, and that this is the second book in the series. I am thankful for the structure that comes not only with writing a series, with a partner, but for the structure that comes with the pre-publication process. This past week, Melva and I finalized the extra scene we needed, and the manuscript is now moving on to the next waypoint on our journey.

As I’m getting my bullet journal/traveler’s notebook ready for next year, I get to set things up for our progress along the road to release for Chasing Prince Charming. I get to set up a notebook to keep things straight with all things related to this collaboration; who’s writing what, and when it’s due, when edits are expected, what they are, and all of that good stuff. This is going to mean choosing and/or making notebook inserts, and accompanying pens, highlighters, and ephemera.

Though I won’t say I won’t be doing any shopping (especially Black Friday) for any of these items, because I have a decently robust collection of such items, I will say that I am immensely thankful for the huge boost this past year has brought me, in my love of all things pen and paper. For those who have been gently (and not so gently) suggesting I blog more about pen and paper, I will say maybe. The more I play with pens and paper, the more notebooks I fill and pens I empty, the more I want to write, and the more fun writing has become. If that means, along the way, that I pause every now and again, to pet a notebook cover, and stare off into the distance, it also means there is stuff going on in my story brain while I do so. I’ll take that.

I am thankful for my RWA family, fellow romance writers of all ilks, who have been supportive and encouraging, from the first day the new gal with the thousand-yard stare slunk into the business meeting and mumbled something about the time travel that was kicking her butt, to now friends, critique partners, and colleagues. I am thankful to be writing romance, because I get to fall in love every single day, and take a million different paths to happily ever after. Now and again, I get monies for it.

I am thankful for the writer friends I don’t get to see every day. Some, I have never seen as anything other than words on the computer screen. Still, we are family. I am thankful for the romance writers, whether or not we have ever spoken in actual conversation, written or verbally, whose books entertained and inspired me, from the day I first stole my mother’s then-new copy of The Kadin, to an overflowing TBR shelf. Those still keep me going, and are a great carrot on my stick.

I am thankful for the mistakes I have made along the way. As my mother often said, broken bones heal stronger. Would I change some of those, if I could? Probably so. Not all of them. Some. Today, after I get this blog posted, I get to have lunch with Real Life Romance Hero, and then I get to sidle into a too-small billiard room, where flirty banter pings off the walls. After that, I get to reward myself with a good cuddle under a warm, fuzzy blanket, with a good book, a cup of tea, and let a part of my brain drift toward tomorrow.

Not only the part of the day that smells like turkey gravy and hot buttered rolls, but the tomorrow that comes after that (okay, and after Black Friday) and means clearing the decks and making a new notebook for Her Last First Kiss, another for my work with Melva, and look toward the year to come. That’s the year when I will be able to measure the time since my most recently published novel, will be counted in months, not years. I am thankful for new chapters that await, on the page, and the writing life.

Also, pie.

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Desk-ish

Coughty-cough months after moving into the current apartment, and I finally have an actual desk, set up in the common room. Well, desk-ish. Technically, it is a bookcase. There are precisely zero books on it, which does not do much toward my goal of neatening the room, but for my ease of and attitude toward writing? Huge improvement.

Right now, I am perched atop the ergonomic “kneeling” chair, that I have had for hm, let’s see, basically forever. Long ago, I had visited a family friend/successful author, and she told me to sit at her desk, in her kneeling chair. I needed some instruction on how that sort of chair worked, and I was hesitant to put  my bottom there, because this was where the magic happened. This was where she sat to create the stories that enthralled me. My butt was not worthy. She insisted, though, so I parked it, and….oh. This was where the magic happens. 

Skip forward a few years, to when I worked retail and plunked down a chunk of one of my earliest checks, to get that same sort of chair. Not only was this an emotional/aspirational touchstone to abovementioned butt plunking, but my spine had a very clear memory, and extremely strong opinions about sitting in a kneeling chair. These opinions were strong enough that the whole “id doesn’t have a back, can nobody else see that?” thing faded into the background.

Of course, when I got said chair home, it was not the best of matches for the desk I used at the time, nor was it a good match for the antique secretary desk I could finally claim as my own, in our most recent apartment before this one. I went through a couple of improvised alternatives, until a lovely reader/RWA sister gifted me with a fabulous office chair with high back and comfy seat, which I fell deeply in love with, and will use again when I can get it and the secretary desk out of storage, likely in the next apartment. I didn’t know how I was going to use the kneeling chair in our current place, until another friend gifted us with a gorgeous kitchen table. (No, you do not have to give us furniture to be our friend, but we probably will not say no, either.) As we had come to the point of figuring out who would get to use the folding chair, an additional chair became a necessity.

The kneeling chair was at the front of one of the storage units, so home it came. Now, it is the most hotly sought-after chair in the apartment. Go figure. Real Life Romance Hero turns it the other way around, to watch television. He used to hate this chair, but now finds it comfortable. Housemate used to use it as a place to change footwear, but a cushion for the folding chair greatly cut down on such instances. Note that I did not say eliminated. Even Sebastian will randomly appear on seat or knee rest.

On Saturday, Housemate and I ventured into the dark wilds of the large storage unit, to retrieve winter clothing, and, hopefully, this particular bookcase. I knew exactly where I wanted the bookcase to go, and Housemate figured out how to make it fit. I surveyed the bookcase, deciding what was going to go where, and my gaze drifted to the monitor, on the coffee table, in my pillow pile corner. Hm. What if the monitor were on the top shelf, and the keyboard were on the second shelf? Third shelf would be enough space for my knees, and maybe the printer (testing that one out later) and what the heck, let’s see how that works.

As it turns out, I had the same reaction as when I plopped my butt in that long-ago other kneeling chair. Oh. This is where the magic happens. I am physically comfortable. I don’t have to strain back or eyes. I am facing the wall, so I am not distracted by anything anybody else is doing in the rest of the room. Granted, I am writing this at a time when everybody else is out of the house, so there are no interruptions. I don’t have to use headphones. I don’t have to maneuver around any other bodies in the kitchen, when I want more tea. I go through a lot of tea when I’m writing.

Also when I am not writing, but this is definitely a writing day. Melva and I have this week to get the final tweaks done to the manuscript of Chasing Prince Charming in to our editor. Our editor. I had to type that again, in bold, because it is a beautiful phrase to see, after a long spell between contracts. After that, we have a few rounds of editing, filling in art sheets, and other stuff to be done, that contracted novelists do. We also have a draft of Drama King to write, because A) it’s fun, and B) writing the next book is key to keeping this author thing going.

There’s also the whole thing about getting back in the groove with Her Last First Kiss, and keeping an eye on the next thing I want to do with historical romance. This is going to require a lot of organization and planning. Convenient, then, that organization and planning are two of my hobbies.  Okay, those and art journals, but they collide nicely, so I think I am going to be all right. I also think that, this time, computer desk and handwriting/art desk are going to be two different things. There will, in time, be a new photo for the end of blog posts, but today? Today is for actual writing work. I think that’s a pretty decent way to start a week.

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