Typing With Stuffed Paws: The (Stuffed) Cat Came Back Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff for the past, uh, while. Now that Writer Chick is no longer a galley slave, and has met her deadline, that gives her more time for other things, like checking to make sure I’m doing my share around here. Eh. I had a good run, and by run, I mean napping through the last couple of Fridays. Anyway, Dude is home today, he’s warm, and pretty good at napping, hi own self, so I think you know where this is going. Catnaps are always best when taken with actual cats, amirite?

Anyway, to speed us in that direction, let’s get down to business. First, as always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday, and she wants your recommendations of books that might whet her reading appetite. Click here, or the caption below, if you think you might be able to help, or if you like hearing her ramble or whatever. Click for no reason, if you want. I’m not the boss of you.

As for what Writer Chick is reading, she’s working on getting back into the swing of the whole Goodreads challenge deal. Right now, she’s only three books behind, at twenty-three out of ninety-five books, which puts her at twenty-four percent of the way to her goal. Adequate progress, but y’know, weekend, TBR, all that stuff. Make it happen, Writer Chick.

Writer Chick has made some noise about making a list of library books, to keep in one of her planners, to get around the whole thing of figuring out she has to give back a bunch of books she didn’t get a chance to read, and can’t renew them, because they were renewed already, and Dude may or may not be teasing her about what he calls the “mini rage.” Lists and goals and stuff make her happy anyway. There could possibly be stickers involved. As long as the stickers don’t come in contact with my fur, then I don’t have a problem. If they do, well, let’s say that Writer Chick might get a chance to find out why my middle name is Thunderpaws. That’s all I’m saying.

Maybe new candles are the key to posting more pictures…

There’s also the whole Instagram thing. Seriously slacking on that one, Writer Chick. There may need to be some sort of Instagram progress chart to keep her going on this one. One the one paw, I am an excellent model, because, in addition to being handsome and orange, I am awesome at posing. By posing, I mean sitting still. Unlike poo cats, I do not walk off in the middle of the shoot, and, really, she should be taking advantage of that. There has been some buzz about taking me out on location shoots. Props may be involved. Not sure how I feel about this, but Writer Chick tells me it’s part of the whole Cat Regent thing, so I suppose I can go along until they find a suitable poo cat.

Peace out,

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Rage Quit Your Nightmare

This post is not the planner post, either. Tangentially. Today’s picture is technically an art journal spread, but the insert is in a traveler’s notebook. Big Pink, to be exact, though I am also thinking about what I am going to name my new A6 planner, which is now the main writing notebook, also pink, and bigger than Big Pink. That’s not this post, either. Maybe that will be the planner post for April, and hopefully that will be next week.

Right now, the day is gray, not yet rainy, but hopefully soon. Rain is my second favorite weather, after snow. Even I am done with snow for the season. It can come back in late November. In the meantime, I am very happy to see rain. My goal for today is to power through the writing tasks, so that I can be ready for a 3PM library run (fingers crossed that volume 23 of Fruits Basket will have arrived) and hang out with Housemate. In the best of all possible worlds, I will also be able to get back to my art stuff, because that is where my brain is today.

Yeah, yeah, I can hear some of you saying, get to the Rage Quit Your Nightmare part. This is that. It’s also the tangentially planner related part of this post. Part of the way I learn things is to jump in with both feet, splash around, figure out what I’m doing, while I’m doing it, climb back out, make a plan, and then jump back in. This holds true for planning and art, as well as writing. It also ties into the whole branding thing from this past weekend’s CR-RWA meeting, which is still circling around in the back of my mind.

Okay. So. I want to say that it was last year that I fully embraced the whole planner/bullet journal/art journal sort of thing. I knew that I definitely wanted to do it, but how would I do it? That’s a much more complex question. The most important thing for me, in any putting ink on paper endeavor, is that it look/feel like me. Not that I am passionately dedicated to the art of self-portraiture, which I do not. More that I want what I put out to be authentic. Even, and maybe especially, the stuff that is only for myself, not outside eyes. Which, um, :points to picture above post: is not exactly pertinent here, but I’m going to roll with it.

Focus, Anna. Okay. Part of the jumping in and splashing about was grabbing inserts and such that looked even remotely interesting, while on a budget. This means getting a chance to get creative. Pick up things that could work, with a little tweaking, then put them where I think they might belong, and add stuff until it feels right. Often, when I’m doing this, that’s when the story stuff works itself out on its own, on my brain’s back burner. As with many of us, the clearance sections of stores that sell things I can use in the ink and paper arena, are my friends. Such place is where I found the insert for this picture.

I loved the color of the pages. The price was right. I did not get it, because the outside…ehhhhh, not feeling it. Still thought about the lovely pastel ombre inside pages, though, and, when it showed up in a swap with another paper obsessed friend, I figured this was a sign. I was also trying out a new size of insert, so it was a lot of new stuff all at once. There were also words where I did not necessarily need or want words to be, and the colors of covers, etc, eh, not always my thing. The “don’t quit your daydream” bit was one of those things with words where I didn’t want there to be words. I have issues with the dream/daydream terminology, so it’s not a phrase I would choose to put on something meant to inspire my own creative process.

I also didn’t want to have to slap something over it, in “Hey! I am covering something here!” fashion. Opposite action, steer into the skid. Embrace it. Draw a flowery border. Add more words. The first question that came to mind was, “what’s the opposite of that phrase?” Hence “Rage Quit Your Nightmare.”  That, I like. I like it a lot. What, exactly, does it mean to me? I would say I am still figuring that out, but I think I do have an idea on that one.

My nightmare would be not writing. Being published is great, and I hope to publish, or have published, many, many more books. At the same time, if I knew, today, that I would one hundred percent never ever get anything published, ever again, I’d still write. I would still write historical romance on my own, and I would still want to get together with Melva, to put together our two very different styles, to make something unique and fun. If the nightmare would be not-writing, then rage quitting that would be…? Writing, I imagine. Not sitting down to a duty, but remembering the love of the game.

Speaking of which, the pages are calling.

This Post Was Kidnapped by Pirates

This post is only tangentially about planners, most of that due to the cover photo for today. This post, like the short story I did get submitted to Z Publishing on time, was kidnapped by pirates. Never fear, planner devotees, that post is coming, especially since the utterly awesome presentation by Lucinda Race, at this past Saturday’s Capitol Region Romance Writers of America meeting gave me much food for thought on the matter of branding.

This time, though, it’s pirates. Yep. Pirates. See, I’d had a plan in place, to craft a lovely short bit for the anthology submission, grounded in historical fact, and even return to my beloved Colonial America setting. This involved reading up on my New York history, diving into the Quartering Acts, and crafting a hero and heroine who already had a history, so that we didn’t have to go from meet-cute (though, seriously, if I’m writing historicals on my own, it’s more like meet-angsty) to HEA in a couple of thousand words. Yeeeeah, that is not exactly what happened, which will surprise nobody.

First, I had my premise. Use the Quartering Acts to fill my innkeeper heroine’s home and business with British soldiers. Second, bring my hero, her childhood sweetheart, along, newly cashiered out, and in need of a place to hang his tricorn (that is not a euphemism, but I do write historical romance, so take it as you will).) Give him a letter of introduction from his old commanding officer, addressed to officer’s wife, only to find out that said letter is addressed to the first Mrs. Officer, (it’s a couple years old) and the woman who actually gets it is the second Mrs. Officer, now widowed, annnnd everybody can unpack their emotional baggage right over there, thanks. Only, of course, it wasn’t that easy.

My first clue should have been when my first draft started coming out like this:

Hero: I can has room, plz?
Heroine: LOLZ, no. Too many soldiers.
Hero: I used to be one. See? I have the coat and everything.
Heroine: Sry-not-sry, govt can only enforce active duty dudes. Sux2BU. Bye.
Hero: I can cook.
Heroine: Hmmm…

Yes, this is how I do things in the very beginning. It’s not pretty. Suffice it to say that A) there was nothing I could do to get this heroine to let the hero into herr house, much less life, within the short story word count, B) dude has some serious wooing to do, and C) maybe this story and the Colonial-that-wouldn’t (because hero refused to be who I wanted him to be) might be the same story. Also D, An Intolerable Affair sounds like a wonderful title to me, and the Quartering Acts were part of the Intolerable Acts, sooooo….

This still left me with the need for a short piece to submit. That’s where the pirates happened. Some years back, I finished the first draft of what would become A Heart Most Errant. That’s still looking for its forever home, but if you want to read a short excerpt, and meet John and Aline now, they are waiting for you in last year’s New York’s Emerging Writers anthology. I actually cried after getting John and Aline to their HEA, and wasn’t sure how I was going to follow that. I ended up at a table in my local Panera, and started writing down things I liked in historical romance novels, randomly about the page. I am pretty sure “pirates” was high on the list.  Specifically, that my heroine would be the pirate. Good, that was settled, but what else? What about the hero? What are some things pirates do? I put down a bunch of things, as I recall, but the one that stood out was the practice of marooning, leaving a man on a deserted island, with a small amount of food, and water, and a pistol with a single shot. Hmmm. What if the marooned man survived, got off the island and wanted to settle the score? It wouldn’t be my heroine who left our hero for dead, but her dear old dad? Reluctantly, yes.

Enter said dear old dad. I had meant Cornelis Van Zandt to be only a supporting character, but then he and Lydia kept pulling my attention from Tamsen and Alec, which I did not entirely mind, because I was still a little fuzzy on some of Tamsen and Alec’s backstory. My life exploded right about then, so Tamsen and Alec’s story, working title Abandon, got set aside, Cornelis and Lydia along with it. Until this last week. With only days before the deadline, my Colonial characters firmly in the noncompliant camp, I opened the file for Abandon.

At first, I’d thought to use a couple of scenes, of Alec’s early life, his marooning, and escape, as this submission didn’t have to be a romance, only historical, but I have met me, and yes, it did. Have to be romance, that is. That decision made, there was no other choice than the first meeting between Cornelis and Lydia. I’d written his POV already, but what about hers? That, as it turned out, was not even a problem. There she was, at the rail of the ship carrying her and her husband to their new life in Bermuda, clutching her prayer book, and hoping that the speck on the horizon was, indeed, pirates. Lydia, my dear, this is your lucky day.

It was also mine. “The Fox and the Lily” was tremendous fun to write, and I look forward to spending time with Cornelis and Lydia again, once I have Bern and Ruby, in Her Last First Kiss, firmly settled in their second draft. Whether that means they get a full story all their own, or it works into their daughter’s story, I don’t yet know. What I do know, however, is that my very favorite sort of historical romance series is the generational saga. Mother, daughter, and granddaughter sounds like a perfect heroine lineup to me. What do you think?

Chasing Prince Charming Cover Reveal, and Other Stories

Big news in Anna-land this time, Liebchens. Actually more like big newses (I know, I know, not a word) so let’s get to them.

First of all, unless we hear otherwise from our amazing editor, Melva and I are, as of yesterday, no longer galley slaves. We have turned in our final-final pass of the manuscript for Chasing Prince Charming, so, now, once again, we wait. Release date is still TBA, and you will hear it here as soon as we know.

This segues nicely into the second bit of news, which is…wait for it…drumroll, please…are you sitting down, because I highly recommend that…Chasing Prince Charming cover art is here! Thanks to the team at The Wild Rose Press, and the insanely talented Rae Monet, take a gander at the cover of Melva’s and my first jointly written contemporary romance novel:

Our babies, property of The Wild Rose Press

Aren’t they pretty? I literally gasped as soon as I saw the draft of this cover, because that’s Meg and Dominic for sure. Melva and I would know them anywhere, and the hotel bar where, well, you’ll see. Soon, my Liebchens, soon. Now that Meg and Dominic are standing on their own, ready to head out into the world, there’s a grumpy fallen star and an optimistic literary agent who need some attention, so back to work on that.

Still going to ground for the short story submission thing. More on that later, because this is writing time, but, in the meantime, I do have an update for readers who have had difficulty in locating two of my historical romances, My Outcast Heart, and Orphans in the Storm.

cover art by Tim Harrison, Jr.

Awe-Struck E-Books was the first house to send The Email, an offer to purchase my first historical romance, My Outcast Heart. Thinking of how long ago it was that Tabetha and Dalby became a permanent part of my life, astounds me. I clearly remember the moment their story was conceived (in a mobile home, no less) when Tabetha took herself off into a wintry forest in 1720 New York, and I followed her, with literally no idea where we were going to end up at the end of the trail.

cover art by Kathleen Underwood

Neither did I know, when I plunked myself down at a kitchen table not my own, on a dogsitting gig, to begin Jonnet and Simon’s story, where that journey was going to lead. This is the book I have no memory of selling. Triple caregiving duties will do that to a gal, I have found, and only caught on when my editor needed the final ms…and I did not have one, because it had slipped into the void. Cue calling in hardcopies from my critique group, which did include one Melva Michaelian, as well as M.P. Barker, and frantically putting it all together on my office floor.

Good times, all, and now, for these two books, the adventure begins again. Awe-Struck E-Books, and parent company, Mundania Press, have closed their doors, and reverted all rights to their titles, to the authors. For those having difficulty locating copies of either book, that’s why. These titles are, unfortunately currently off the market.

Not, however, gone forever, as I am putting these babies back on the market. I want to read through each book before I make any firm decisions, and indie publishing is certainly an option. There are several publishers who know what historical romance readers want, and hopefully, My Outcast Heart and Orphans in the Storm will be among that number. Watch this space for updates.

In the meantime, Queen of the Ocean, and Never Too Late, are still available from Uncial Press, at most major e-retailers.

Back to work. That short story is calling.

Going to Ground

No fooling, dearest readers, this is Monday’s blog on Monday, though it is not my monthly planner post. There are a few reasons for this.

  1. Melva and I are still galley slaves. We are getting into the home stretch, because our editor is amazing, and there is not a lot of stuff to tweak.
  2. Insomnia Weekend is not only a great name for a garage band, but an accurate description of my actual weekend.
  3. The deadline for my submission to Z Publishing’s anthology is in less than a week. :runs in circles, screaming:
  4. I want to spend my April planner post on the planner I am creating for my and Melva’s collaborations, exclusively. Making that is a reward for completing the tasks listed above. Making a video flip through, when I am done, sounds like it might be fun. We shall see.
  5. I am still getting to know my new tablet. She is red, because pink was not an option, and her name is Robin Daggers. I have not put Facebook on her yet, and I may not, period, because that feels right, for right now. My wallpaper for this new tablet is the cover for Chasing Prince Charming, which I will be able to share, soon.

Job one, though, is to Get The Books Out, so I am going to ground, as a favorite author has often said, until the galleys are done and submission is sent. This is where I’ve wanted to be, so, even though it’s a lot of work, it’s also fun. My imaginary friends are a chatty bunch, which, for a writer, is a very good thing. It’s a good thing, as well, that there are so many of them, because that means I get more stories to tell, and more stories to share with you.

Even while I’m focusing on Chasing Prince Charming and the upcoming short story, there’s still Drama King to get to the end of draft one, and there will be sections in the collaborative notebook for Queen of Hearts, and even books beyond. We didn’t plan to be thinking two books ahead, but there was an idea, which birthed an idea, which birthed an idea, and we get the chance to work in a few things from our own experiences (not in the romantic department, though this will definitely be a romance.) There will also be a section for miscellaneous ideas, where we can dump the tidbits and leave them to put themselves together.

There is also Her Last First Kiss, because historical romance is still my first love, and, of course, books beyond. Camp NaNo snuck up on me, this time, and I am slightly disappointed that I am going to have to give it a pass (see all blabber above) but maybe the next session will be the perfect time to jump on board. I want to be thinking at least one book down the road in the historical department, because knowing what comes next is super duper fun for me.

That’s one of the reasons I had been/am looking forward to maybe doing Camp NaNo this year. This is my year of Yes, And, so it’s a good time to jump into unfamiliar waters and splash around a little. I have been playing with a couple of YA ideas (still romance) and there are a bunch of historical ideas and/or characters who have been cooling their heels in the waiting room of my imagination, for years. Some of them, for double-digit years, as a matter of fact, and they are getting increasingly testy, because I am, hopefully, a better writer now, and theoretically better able to tell their stories.

Some of them, I have begun to suspect, are cooling their heels, because of my long-standing habit of stuffing (or attempting to stuff) ten pound cats into two pound bags, when either getting a ten pound bag, or putting individual two pound kittens into two pound bags, would be the better course of action.  I’d like to play around with some of that and see how I might do some things differently now than then. I am looking forward to that.

For right now, though, I need to focus on the things in front of me. One thing at a time and it all gets done. Okay, that’s the magic seven hundred (a little bit over, actually) so time to toss this up there, and get back down to business.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Big Stuff is Coming Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you, with all the stuff from the week that was. Okay, couple of weeks. For those who are interested in why there was no post last week, it was naptime. Yes, all week. We handsome stuffed orange boys need our beauty sleep. Takes a lot of that stuff to look this good.

Anyway, Writer Chick wants me to make a couple of announcements. First, there is a new Kindle Fire on the way to her, so she will once again have a mobile device. This means she will be able to post to Instagram once more, as well as a few other things that are easier on a mobile device, like Skype with Other Writer Chick, and, most importantly, she can take more pictures of me. That’s important stuff.

The second thing is that Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick are happy to announce that they have a final cover for Chasing Prince Charming, and they will reveal it very soon, once they have properly sized images. Fair warning, she is going to post that baby everywhere. There is no cat in this picture, stuffed or otherwise, but there are shoes (and oh what shoes) and, if you ask, Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick can tell you the real life place that inspired the place where Meg and Dominic first meet and where they probably should consider as a place to take their joint author photo. The fact that they do not currently have a joint author photo kind of baffles them both, but that’s how it goes.

Writer Chick is also chipping at that reading debt for her Goodreads reading challenge, and will pick up on that when she is back on track. Since she has found that the main library in this city carries the entire Fruits Basket series, and its sequel, Fruits Basket Another, (sic) and she tears through those pretty darned quickly, so odds are that she might be back on track, if not ahead, fairly soon, possibly by the end of the weekend. There is a librarian there, who really knows her manga, so if Writer Chick can find any more mangas she likes as much as she likes this one, then numbers may end up escalating rather quickly. We shall see how that goes. Writer Chick also picked up some historical romances she has wanted to read for a while, which also may work in the favor of deeper and more frequent reading updates.

In very regular news, Writer Chick was, as always, at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday. This time, she talked about tales from the UBS (that’s used bookstore.) If you’re interested in finding out more about that, the link in the caption will take you there, so there you go.

Points for having a cat in the cover image for this post. Not stuffed, but y’know what? Close enough. A cat’s a cat for all of that, or some such tosh. Whatever.

Writer Chick is pretty focused on the whole galley thing, because, once this galley stuff is done, then she and Other Writer Chick are that much closer to finding out full details on when, exactly, Chasing Prince Charming will be out, and when/how you can catch him. Er, it. Either way, keep your eyes peeled, and you will soon see some exciting stuff.

Right now, it’s rainy, which makes Writer Chick very happy, and it’s the night when she and Other Chick head out to wreak havoc on the nearby art and craft stores. By wreak havoc, I mean they take a really long time walking through the aisles, and maybe buying a couple of things. Dude has been tasked with staying home and alert when Writer Chick goes out, so that there is not a repeat of the Christmas Present Debacle, where Writer Chick and Other Chick had to go hunting for some obscure facility where undelivered packages go. Writer Chick’s luck, this package should show about five minutes after Writer Chick jets for a couple of hours, but then it will be there when she gets back.

So yeah, that’s basically all the stuff worth sharing this week. Keep checking for the cover reveal, and brand new pictures of yours truly. Can’t ever have enough of those.


Peace out,

Technology Is Not My Friend

Last night, the battery in my phone died. This phone has been through harsher things that sitting in the charger. This is the phone where Skye became a gamer kitty, the phone that helped me set a goal of hitting one thousand Instagram posts (yeah, that one’s on hold) and hung out with me during long stretches of insomnia. It’s the phone with all those pictures of Skye on it(but yay Google Photos, for having it all.) This was also the phone I was counting on for some casual scrolling and possibly Kindle app reading before bed, so its ultimate fading to black was not what I had in mind. Time to call in reinforcements.

Those who have known me for a while, also know my history with electronics, which may point in the direction of this piece is going. I first retrieved my old PC laptop, the pink one I still love, and, someday, plan to find if there is a way to make it work without having the screen at an angle that is best described with this symbol: <

she does not display this much screen when open this far, these days

That is the angle at which I have to have the screen, if I want to be able to see it, not complete blackness. I already have the phone for that. The MacBook Pro will probably be fine after I take care of that three beep thing, which should be an easy fix, but not very helpful in the middle of the night, when I want to do some casual scrolling to wind down. Next solution was to boot my elderly tablet, which spent most of its time reminding me that it’s been a while since I turned it on, and that I have changed several passwords in the interim. Also that Google app is not responding. Google app is not responding. Google app is not responding. Etc. At least Spotify worked, so that was a happy ending in the short term.

As soon as I can stop the triple beep, this baby is back in business

The longer term solution will likely be an easy one, as well. Easy fixes for the laptop issue, acquire new phone, and then comes the phase of the process that I actually consider fun. What is the aesthetic of this new device going to be? We’re talking wallpapers, screensavers, possibly themes, if I want to go whole hog on this kind of thing, There’s arranging all my must-haves, like Spotify, my photo apps, Sims FreePlay (why did you have to die in the middle of the chocolatier quest, phone? Do you not understand the depth of my desire for that gingerbread house furniture? Have you learned nothing from the fact that my ice house has no kitchen or bathroom because those items are now locked until the next ice quest comes around again? I have staying power. I can wait, but not if all my Sims die because I can’t get to them.) and Netflix.

Hot pink bag in the bottom left corner holds my tablet. Purple case holds my Kindle, which is fine.

I will qualify this by saying that A) Netflix is still Mehflix (this is totally me, not them) and B) I can access Netflix on other devices, most notably the desktop on which I currently write, but this is the principle of the thing. I cannot take the desktop to the comfy end of the couch, and I definitely can’t tuck it in my planner and take it out into the wide, wild world. Or laundry room, because there’s that, too.

Umm, Anna, I hear a voice saying, isn’t this a good time to table the electronics thing and focus on reading paper books, and/or doing art in the un-phonable time? You don’t even like using the phone as a phone, so, y’know…not seeing the giant problem here. That voice, by the way, is probably me. I have a love/hate relationship with electronics, and I probably always will. I got dragged kicking and screaming to my first ever computer, and now I can’t imagine writing without one, even if I do usually (read: almost always) compose in longhand first. Skype allows me to collaborate with Melva, face to face, when two hundred miles apart, and Skype on the phone means I can go into the only room in our apartment where I can shut the door and not have to work around another human, while Skyping: the bathroom.

Since this is a need, we’ll be taking care of it soon, and, before long, I will be introducing the new electronic device, and/or reintroducing the restored one. This is not a question, but a fact. In the meantime, I have galleys to scour, and there is still the tick tick tick of the clock counting down to the Z Publishing anthology deadline. I am pretty comfortable with that.

TLDR version of this whole thing: Phone died. I wanted to kvetch. I have kvetched. Back to the galleys I go. (Also, if I don’t respond to messages right away, refer to whole phone thing above.)

Galley Speak and Other Stories

Monday morning, not quite noon, and my mind is all cattywampus. That is due, in part, to the fact that Sebastian blew off his Friday blogging duties (which surprises no-one) and in part due to the fact that the life of a galley slave goes to some interesting places. Most recently, it went to me being on time and ready for a Skype session with Melva, to discuss the first batch of galley stuff, only to get an email reminding me, kindly, that our chat was early this evening, not this morning, which resulted in me staring at my screen for a few minutes, my only thought, “well, what do we do now?”

That’s we, first person plural. I know what Melva is doing, as A) this is her usual schedule, and B) she told me. Technically, I know what i am doing, because I am Planner Woman, and I have it all written down, correctly, so I am not sure where I got the morning chat idea. I have also poured a cool, refreshing drink (as we are in that odd time of year where the seasonally appropriate beverage switches from hot to cold and back again, several times during the day) along the side of my face, instead of into my mouth, as intended. If I am getting to the missing my own mouth phase of thigs, it really is a good reason to retreat to the comfy end of the couch, with a blanket, yesterday’s library haul, and a beverage of choice (probably with a straw, as I am not to be trusted with liquids, today.) I have no idea who the rest of “we” might be, but my question was definitely “we,” not “I.” Maybe Sebastian? Who can tell? It’s Monday. Things are allowed to be fuzzy on Mondays.

This cattywampusness turned to making lists, as most of my dilemmas often do, and I spent a few minutes poring over the new binder for The Wild Rose Press stuff (but that is another post) and letting my conscious brain do its own thing on the back burner of my mind, while I sorted through stationery options. Touching paper is usually a good way for me to reboot my thought process. Talking, whether out loud, on paper, or virtual paper, for that matte,r usually helps, as well, so here we are, forging ahead, babbling into the wilderness.

Galley work goes rather well, all things considered. Our editor is amazing, my co-writer has a PhD in English (useful!) and we’ve been over this book so many times that I am farily confident that, at this stage of the game, things are pretty darned good. Our names are at the top of every page, and the action of noting the (very few) changes, only a word or two, her or there, by page and line, what the word is, and what we would like the word to be, actually has a soothing sort of rhythm to it. It’s straightforward, keeping an eye for shifting eye colors, characters who change costume midscene, without authorial permission, and how there are more different ways to spell “Haley” than either Melva or I had expected (though we did pick one and stuck with it, long before the galleys landed.)

I like this part. It’s painstaking and needs a lot of concentration, but it’s also a thing that we get to do, because we stuck with the process, from the first spark of idea, through a messy first draft, several revisions, several rejecctions, and then, miracle of miracles, having two acceptances at the same time and the very difficult choice of choosing which offer we would accept. After this, there are more adventures, the thrill of the release, and the promotion of our same, and putting the shoulder back to the wheel (doing that now) and getting Drama King ready to follow in its big sibling’s footsteps.

There’s also the excitement of diving back, more fully, into the world of Her Last First Kiss, and the deadline for my short story submission is subtly clearing its throat, as it creeps ever-nearer. I am still not sure about Camp NaNo for this session, but leaning toward “why the fluff not?” and cannonballing off the end of the metaphorical dock, once again. It’s kind of my thing.

Confessions of a Galley Slave (the writing kind)

Melva and I are, as of yesterday, officially galley slaves. The galleys for Chasing Prince Charming have landed in our in-boxes, which means the journey from “beach ball” (our code name for the initial stage of this venture) to “actual book” is nearing the home stretch.

This is both exciting and scary. This morning, I opened the file, to have my first look and there they were, our names, our title, our copyrights. This is real. This is happening. There’s the credit for the cover art. We have not yet seen the cover art, but it appears we got our first choice of The Wild Rose Press’ cover artists (and was that ever a hard choice to make) and there are ISBN numbers and everything. There’s the pressure of knowing this is our last, last, last chance to make any changes, spot any errors, because, after this, it is all set in stone. That’s the scary part. What if we miss something big? What if the whole editorial team misses something big? (Not thinking that’s very possible, honestly) What if it actually stinks, and everybody hates us?

Yeah, not thinking that last one is very possible, either. That’s where the exciting part comes into play. On the one hand, we have to go through the whole thing, checking for extra spaces, wandering commas, changing eye colors (I think I found one of those, actually) and other such occupational hazards of the writing life, but on the other hand, we get to read Our Book as an actual book. This is what it’s going to look like when readers who don’t know us in real life, who pick the book up because they want to read Meg and Dominic’s story, are going to see it.

The thought of people out there in the world, willingly exchanging actual monies for what began as two hungry writers waiting for breakfast (truly though, I am sure that applies to many jointly written novels) is enough to make one (or two, in this case) giddy. Nevertheless, we had a special Skype session, to plan out how we’re going to tackle the work, so that we can get it in quickly and accurately. This is actually one of my favorite parts of the process, because it does mean that we are almost at the finish line. I told Melva that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we go through this more quickly than we expect, and she agreed that we probably will.

Though we called the meeting to talk about galley edits, that was pretty straightforward, and so conversation soon turned to Drama King, and Queen of Hearts, which will come after that. We spoke, even, of an as yet untitled other project, with as yet unnamed characters, but somebody (probably the heroine) is going to be a professional organizer (which of course begs that her counterpart be if not a professional mess, close to it.) We batted around a few ideas, including a flash of a scene I’d had. Melva told me she thought she knew how it was going to go, but wanted me to say it anyway. That, of course, was exactly what she had thought, and we can’t wait to get started on that book, as well.

Melva did chide me for being two books ahead, but I reminded her that I’m waiting on delivery of a special binder that will hold only papers pertaining to our jointly written novels. There will be a Chasing Prince Charming section, a section for Drama King, one for Queen of Hearts, and then one for future projects. (Update: binder has arrived, and she is gorgeous, and I will post “baby” pictures once I have her set up with papers and such.) It doesn’t seem at all unusual or scary to think of writing future books with Melva. On the contrary, it feels very natural, and gives me an excuse to natter on Skype with a longtime friend, make up stories that never would have occurred to me, alone, in a million years, and honestly say that I am working. I consider that a pretty sweet deal.

Sp. where does this leave me on the historical romance front? Honestly? More in love with it than ever. I consider that a side effect of the year of “yes, and…” Back when I was a baby reader (and baby writer) I often felt that a historical writer also writing contemporary was a betrayal of sorts. Now, I don’t think that way. If a writer no longer wants to write historical, for any of number of reasons, and contemporary gives them joy, I say go for it. Follow the bliss. For me, that bliss takes me to a place where I want to write all of the books. Know what? I might, at that.

Ten Random Things About Me and My Writing

The original plan for this past weekend was to have the apartment to myself, focus on the work that got pushed to the side by various domestic tornadoes, and greet Monday morning refreshed and current. Pause for hysterical laughter. The good thing is that I am up bright and early (or still up; not splitting hairs here) and ready to tackle Monday’s blog entry on Monday. Since coming up with a thoughtful, original blog idea is not up to my brain function at this level of caffeine, we get the wholly unoriginal Ten Random Things About Me (And My Writing.)

Thing the first: I am a big ol’ morning person. Make that extroverted morning person. This does point toward the ideal time to blog and tackle social media. Unless I only fell asleep in the wee small hours, I am up and ready to socialize at indecently early hours. I live with two non-morning-people, so imagine breakfast scenes at my place as you will.

Thing the second: I am currently watching exactly nothing on TV. I am at least one season behind on The Walking Dead, and will be going on a gigantic This Is Us binge when we get Hulu, but, right now, I don’t even know how to turn on our TV. This is odd. I do watch a bunch of YouTube, and I do a lot of scrolling through Netflix, but actually watching something? Ehh, maybe later. I do plan on watching the last season of A Series of Unfortunate Events at some point. I’m not sure what the cure to this viewing ennui might be. I figure it will show up when and where I expect it least.

Thing the third: I am not so slightly planner/notebook obsessed. Longhand over composing on computer, all day, every day, so this does tie in with writing, and I don’t acquire notebooks, etc, I don’t plan on using, but mention of pens and/or paper is a sure way to get my attention. Sifting through my planner/notebook stuff is also a surefire way to unstick the thought/writing process.If I post a lot about planners or notebooks, that means I am working something out, and there will be much writing of fiction thereafter.

Thing the fourth: My most recent purchase (actually currently pending) is a blush pink A5 Carpe Diem binder, gently used. Yes, I do have plans for it, and yes, they do involve writing.

Thing the fifth: My favorite colors are black, blush pink, and blackened reds. Blush pink and blackened reds can be considered opposite ends of the red spectrum, so black and red, for purists. Extend black into grays/greys, if we’re talking different values of color.

Thing the sixth: Romance has always been my genre, long before I was old enough to understand what it was. I credit Andrew Lang’s “color” series of fairy tale books. Many, many journeys to happily ever after, always in a “way back when” setting. I think I was hardwired for this stuff, right out of the gate.

Thing the seventh: Pretty much the same for history, thus historical romance. Writing contemporary took a little longer, and please direct thankblame to Melva Michaelian.  I would not be doing this without her.

Thing the eighth: The current writing process, when it comes to solo work (aka historical romance) is something akin to racing down the dock, cannonballing into the water, swimming around the whole darned lake, swimming back to the dock, crafting a meticulous map of said lake, and then diving back in, but this time with a sense of direction. For co-written works (at present, contemporaries with Melva) it works pretty much the same, but I tag my co-writer between dips in the lake; then it’s her turn. Insert shoving of metaphorical beach balls (fun fact: “the beach ball” was our code name for what would ultimately become Chasing Prince Charming,before it had a name.)

Thing the ninth: There is a manuscript that I will refer to only as The Time Travel (partly because it had several different titles, and partly because there is a chance that, if it hears its name, it might think I’m calling it) that worked me over rather thoroughly, mumblecough years ago. I still love the hero and heroine, and she, in particular, is probably going to come after me and finish the job if I don’t return to their story, but probably as a straight historical romance, rather than a time travel. Probably. We’ll see. Current projects first.

Thing the tenth: There will always be a part of me who is still that girl who set up TV trays and an electronic typewriter in her father’s living room, soundtrack to Camelot on the record player (yes, that long ago) and danced (ahem, wrote) like nobody was watching. She has an open invitation to drop by my writing sessions, any time.