In the Absence of Wirkshop X

Right now, I am between two loads of laundry, which means two trips to the laundry room, which means using the first trip to teach me what I want to bring on the second trip. I am still learning the new apartment, the new apartment building, the new apartment complex, the new neighborhood, and a whole bunch of other news. Sleep has been not-great, which means a lot of time, in the dark, thinking about life, both writing and otherwise.

June is a ninja. Spring had only started, and now, wham, look, it’s summer. June 1st is my date with Charter Oak Romance Writers, on a topic I feel both eminently qualified, and wholly unfit to present. Allow me to ‘splain.

Save The Writer, Save The Book (STWSTB,) or Writing Through the Tears (WTTT,) depending on who you ask, came about when Melva Michaelian and I both missed the notices that Workshop X (so called, because I cannot, for the life of me remember what the actual topic was, or the name of the presenter who was unable to make it that year) had been cancelled, and thus sat in an empty conference room for an hour. At first, we figured maybe everybody else was late. They were not, because we were it, because there was no workshop. There may or may not have been discussion of going to the workshop offered in place of Workshop X, or maybe another workshop, but we wanted the one that wasn’t, and we were tired, and things do tend to happen when we are left on our own at conferences. (CT Fiction Fest 2018 attendees, you have been warned) what we landed on was that we should have our own workshop.

STWSTB is a catchy name, and it does borrow from the tag line of the TV show, Heroes, which I have never seen. I don’t know if Melva has; you’d have to ask her. At the time, we were both caregivers to multiple relatives apiece, along with juggling other flaming stress chainsaws of life, and we both had the same question: how the fluff do yoy keep writing, with all this stuff going on?

I know, I know, dangling proposition above, but it’s appropriate. How do you keep writing? I want to know this. How do I? I want to know that, perhaps, even more. No offense; I am sure you are very interesting, and I could probably ask far too may nosy questions, but I am the only one who can write my books. I am half of the team that co-writes Melva’s-and-my books, so focusing on myself is probably a wise decision on my part.

I am not where Beginning Writer Me thought she/I would be, at this point in her/my career. We rather thought we would have a bit more to show for our efforts by now. We thought we would be writing from behind an antique dedk, in an off-site office, by now, walls covered in glossy posters of our book covers, not tapping out blog entries on our phone, from the air mattress in an apartment with blank cream walls, but, today, that’s what we’ve got.

There’s an old proverb, Japanese, I want to say, that says, fall down five times, get up six. That, I can do. Though, as with many adoptees, my genetic makeup is a mystery, I am fairly certain that I am at least thirty-five percent Weeble. Knock me down, and I get back up, because that’s how I’m made. Maybe that’s why I liked the punching clown toy as much as I did, when I was but a wee princess. Smack it down, and up it comes. Every. Time.

Sometimes, writing is easy. Sometimes, writing is hard. Sometimes, the answer to “how do you keep going?” is, that, sonetimes, you don’t. Not in a lie in a ditch and stop existing sense, but in a take a step back, drink root beer floats in a blanket fort and watch Netflix all afternoon sense. Or reading. Reading is good. Also doodling, or lying on your back, eyes closed, listening to music; all of that is good stuff. When I can’t put out, that usually means I need to take in, instead. Feed my senses. Feed my story brain. Talk to other writers, talk to other readers. Talk to four-legged (or finned or feathered) family members, because they are very good listeners and not at all pushy with advice. Talk to myself (I do that one a lot.)  Talk to the voices in my head, which, for most of us writers, are our characters, and, when the time is right, they will talk back. That’s how they’re built, too.

 

 

 

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Typing With Wet Claws: Grandma is a Snitch Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, bringing you yet another Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. Grandma and I are getting along okay, but she is no Uncle, and there is the small matter of her calling the v-e-t on me ( do not worry, I am okay) so I will be glad when Forever Apartment becomes available. More on that later.

Even though I am at camp, I still have to talk about Anty’s writing before I can talk about anything else. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about the surprise shut-down of RT Book Reviews magazine and associated ventures. I have heard that the magazine was very nice to lie on, so I am sure many kitties will miss it. That post is here, and it looks like this:

http://www.buriedunderromance.com/2018/05/saturday-discussion-hail-and-farewell-romantic-times.html

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As you can see, remote blogging has a bit of a learning curve, but a good mews never lets a little thing like distance to get in their way. Next week, Anty will come and visit me when she speaks to Charter Oak Romance Writers. Anty and I are both looking forward to that. Uncle has to work, so he cannot come, but Anty will bring me something that smells like him, which is a good consolation prize. I will probably send her back with some shed fur, and maybe a whisker I am done using. A mews has to do what a mews has to do.

One of those things is to cheer Anty on when she is doing the right thing. Besides submitting two pieces to an anthology that asked her to submit, she has also got some good news: she and Anty Melva will be presenting their workshop, Writing Through The Tears, also known as Save The Writer, Save the Book, at CT Fiction Fest in September. For more information, and maybe to guess the workshops Anty hopes most are not opposite hers, visit the conference site here:

http://www.ctfictionfest.org/workshops.html

Anty has returned to her regular schedule of meetings with fellow writer humans, which feels very good, after that whole moving interruption. The interwebs connection here is much better, so Anty got to have her whole conversation with Anty Melva without weak signals or anything. That was exciting, even if Anty did have to carry on her end of the conversation from the edge of the bathtub.

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That is how Anty has to set up the laptop so that Anty Melva can talk to Anty’s face instead of her, umm, shirt, but writers, like their mewses, do what they must.  Also, Sebastian tells me it is very echoey in the For-Now apartment, so going into a different room is probably the best way to go.

Although I am still working out how to link Anty’s Goodreads challenge in this whole remote business, I can let you know that she is currently 41% of the way to her goal, with 37 out of 90 books read. She may have read more, but I will have Sebastian run the numbers later. Her two most recent reads were both historical romance:

Lady in White , by Denise Domning

And

The Prince of Midnight, by Laura Kinsale

I will have Sebastian add the links later, as those are tricky to do here at camp. It looks like DomningNation is a go, because, now, Anty is reading Winter’s Heat, also by Miss Denise, and she has all of the four books that come after it already on hrr Kindle, plus some other books by Miss Denise, so Anty is all set on that front.

This weekend, Anty and Mama hope to get Anty’s desktop out of storage, so nobody has to listen to Anty’s whining about….umm, I mean Anty will have an easier time doing her work. That will also let Anty play her games again. A gaming Anty is a happy Anty, and it might help her to miss me less if she could make a Sim version of me to keep her Simself company. We will see how that goes. This coming week is for Anty bringing herself up to date on her current projects, and that is much easier on a desktop computer.

In case you were wondering about the whole Grandma being a snitch thing, I should mention that Grandma and I have had a difference of opinion as to where I should do my, um, stuff. Grandma was worried that I was not making stuff at all (I totally was) so she called the local vet, who was my old vet, before we moved, and told her I had not made any stuff since I started camp. I am eating and drinking fine (Grandma gets a A+ on water bowl replenishment) so the vet told Grandma that I am not sick, just in a strange place, and want to be sure I am safe. Anty or Mama will probably find my stuff spot right away, and let Grandma know where I want my stuff spot to be. Mama also rold Grandma to talk to her before any vets (the vet could not see me, anyway, without Mama’s permission) and that I am fine. Not exactly happy, but fine.

Uncle is doing much better after his own stay at the people vet, and, apart from me being at camp, things are pretty good. The humans are moving things into For-Now apartment on an as needed basis, which Sebastian says makes for some interesting arrangements as they figure out what is a need-need and what would be nice.

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Of course, getting me home is the biggest need, but, in the meantime, Sebastian is doing a pretty good job of providing a facsimile of a feline presence. That window is his favorite spot. I remain, even at camp, a floor girl .

That is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling

(The kitty, not the book)

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Packing In Reverse

Yesterday, I submitted two pieces of writing. Though it hasn’t been that long since my last gig, hitting that “submit” button felt a lot like I was doing so for the very first time. It wasn’t, of course. Four books, a whole lot of blog posts for various sites, both my own and otherwise, and, still, the stomach butterfly ballet was in fine form.

First submission in the new apartment, though, which is certainly something. Tonight, I will have my first Skype meeting from the new apartment, to talk with my contemporary co-writer, and co-presenter of our Save the Writer, Save the Book, Melva Michaelian, about how we’re going to handle the presentation to Charter Oak Romance Writers, and, beyond that, how we want to approach the same workshop at Connecticut Fiction Fest, this fall. We’ll probably touch on Chasing Prince Charming and Drama King, as well, because A) we are us, and B) as with the whole submission thing, coming back after a time away is both exciting, and a little scary.

On Wednesday, I will meet with N, and we will look at what it takes to get to The End. Draft two of Her Last First Kiss for me, and a new draft of a paramormal YA for her. Maybe other projects as well, but we have each declared our focus, and will hold each other to that.

When I first started packing the old office, I put all of the paper I needed for HLFK in one box. This past Saturday, I busted it out of storage and brought it home. Right now, my “desk” is a TV tray, my office chair, a folding chair. I can get the whole stripped down aesthetic, and I even appreciate that I have, on the desk/table front, come full circle, back to writing on a TV tray, in a quiet house, when the rest of the family is out.

Now that we are in the home stretch to the end of our first month here, it’s time to recalibrate and find the new normal. That’s easier said than done, and pretty much the writing version of taking the first step into a new apartment on moving-in day. By itself, the statement a blank slate makes is not a strong one, but it can be intimidating. Where to start is an important consideration, but it’s too easy to become overwhelmed by what goes where.

In this apartment, I don’t have a dedicated office, unless I claim the postage stamp sized “storage” room that also holds the water heater. That’s going to require some changing around of longstanding habits. While I will be rescuing my desktop computer (and printer) from storage  hopefully this week, it will still ( probably) be set up on the TV tray, I am currently doing most computing on my phone. New writing works best in longhand, which has not changed one bit, from one home to the next. The transition from one way of doing things, to a new way of doing things isn’t always smooth.

Right now, the books I have in this apartment are either e-books, or belong to the library. No spinning the chair around, to  brush fingers over old favorites. No RT magazine back issues (or RT, period, alas) to pet, or flip through for inspiration. It kind of feels like moving into a college dorm. It’s temporary, as we are looking dor a pet-friendly forever home, but, while we’re here, we need to focus, not on what has always been, or how things are, or how things are going to be in the fututre. Time to, as with the rest of the moving process, do the thing that is in front of me. Write the blog post.  Go over notes for the Skype chat, and put the HLFK materials in the right order. Read through the manuscripts to date, and make notes on what needs more attention.

Falling in love with the stories again, that part is easy, and it’s also hard. It’s hard because it means acknowledging that there has been time away, and the books and I do need to get reacquainted. This means mornings over endless cups of tea, reading through handwritten pages, taking apart the binder I constructed, because I constructed it in the wrong way, the way it “should” go, instead of the way that works for me.

I may be a while before everything is back on an even keel, but that’s to be expected. This is packing, in reverse. Taking the stuff, both literal and figurative, out of where I’ve stashed it, and see where it belongs now

Typing With Wet Claws: Tales From the Air Mattress Edition

Hello, all Skye here, coming to you remotely from Camp Grandma, for another Feline Friday.  Please note that the title of this week’s blog is spelled t-a-l-e-s, because those of us who have actual tails, also have actual claws, and claws and air mattresses are not the best of friends. Also, I am at Camp Grandma right now, and the humans and their air mattresses are in the for-now apartment. I like Grandma okay, especially when she feeds me, but I will be very happy when we get Forever Apartment, and we can all be together, all of the time. Anty misses me a lot, and the feeling is mutual.

Tomorrow would normally be the day that Mama would come and visit me at Camp Grandma, and take pictures of me (Anty makes her; last time, Mama even took a movie of me, which went over extremely well with Anty and Uncle) but I will have to wait one more week, because tomorrow is also the day Anty and Mama get the rest of their things out of Mr. D’s house, and, maybe, get some furniture into the For-Now Apartment. Right now, what they have is a couple of air mattresses, one folding chair (for Uncle, more on that later) and Anty’s armrest pillow, that she shoves in a corner, so she can use her laptop, which she busted out of storage this week. She hopes to get her desktop, and her desk, or a reasonable facsimile, out of storage, as well, because she has some writing to do. This brings us kind of on track, to talk about Anty’s actual writing.

Before I get too much farther, I would like to say hello to all  of our new readers. It is very nice to have you here. The way things work, normally, is that Anty will post on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I post on Fridays. Sometimes, life gets interesting, and things are different, but that is the regular plan Speaking of regular, Anty was indeed at Buried Under Romance, this past Saturday, talking about reading in the calm after the storm. That post is here, and it looks like this;

BURreadubgafter

The image in the picture above is the library Anty goes to most, and where she and Mama had to go, to get interwebs, until they got it installed at the For-Now Apartment. That was an adventure, because the human who lived there before them had done a few things differently, and the interwebs people had to send a human out to set everything right. I am just as glad I was at Camp Grandma for that one. Anty now has interwebs at home, and  can focus on getting back to business as usual.

As usual, I should say, as it gets around here, because, last week, Uncle had to go to the people vet, with an owie paw. He did not have to wear the cone of shame, but he did have to stay at the people vet for a few days, and take a lot of pills. I do not envy Anty, having to give them to him. especially when Anty has work to do. This week, Anty will be updating her Coming Soon section of this site, because she has some news. On June second, she will speak at Charter Oak Romance Writers, with the workshop she and Anty Melva created, “Save The Writer, Save the Book.” That is about writing through the tough times of life. Anty and Anty Melva both know a thing or two about that. There will also be more news about Anty and Anty Melva giving their workshop at another conference, as soon as Anty has specific details. She is pretty excited about that.

Sunday is the deadline for Anty to submit to the anthology that invited her, and she is kind of nervous about fitting that in, but the word count is low, and Miss N gave her a good pep talk. Miss N gives very good pep talks. What this anthology wants is a short piece that gives the flavor of Anty’s writing, and might inspire readers to go look for more things Anty has written. Anty is in favor of getting new readers, so she will have something to send off to them soon. It might get in under the wire, but it will get in; she is determined on that front. Okay, on several fronts, but this is, technically, a writing blog.

It is also, technically, a romance writing blog, because that is what Anty writes, and there have been some big doings in the romance genre over the last couple of weeks. Anty does not have much to say about Cockygate, and she is still thinking about her position on the state of the Golden Heart awards, but she does have a lot to say about the end of RT/Romantic Times, which came as a very big shock. Romantic Times (it will always be Romantic Times to Anty) has been a big part of Anty’s romance reading and romance writing life, and she is somewhat salty that it is now a sure thing she will never get a review in that magazine, but she also wants to bust part of her collection of back issues out of storage, and spend some time studying them. It is complicated, to say the least, but I will leave that for her to tell.

Now that the humans are settled, and Anty has at least her laptop on hand, we should be back to regular updates on Anty’s Goodreads challenge, and a deeper look at what she is reading these days, and why. Some of this, I may delegate to my assistant, Sebastian Catbutt Hart-Bowling, who is on the scene (and usually in the window) to keep an eye on the humans and make sure Anty is doing writing things. An author cannot be without a mews, after all, or at least a reasonable facsimile.

SebastianWindow18mei18

Okay, I think that is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain Very Truly Yours,

skyebyenew

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Uncle’s Shirts Smell Like Betrayal Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for a very wet Feline Friday. We are still on the move this week, currently staying with a friend whom I will refer to as Agent X. Uncle is still working out the wholr hunt for a new apartment thing, so this will be another very special blog entry, that does not follow the usual format.

In the time since we left our old apartment, I have become a seasoned traveler. Two motels in the last week, and now Agent X’s lair. I did have to spend more time than I wanted in the carrier yesterday, but Anty fogured out that, if she opened the carrier dooor, but kept the car door closed, there would be enough room to get her hand in there, so she could pet me or feed me spoonfuls of cat food. That part was kind of nice.

Anty is almost at the end of her page goal for Camp NaNo this session, and that is even with all of our travels. I think she is doing all right with that, and that, probably, writing the whole thing on longhand does make it go smoother than using the computer. Her desktop is currently in storage, and she misses it very much. She has Big Pink, though, and her laptop is accessible, so being away from her desktop does not mean she is not writing. She is almost done with her current morning pages book, which is always an achievement. Add that to a very likely Camp NaNo win, and those will be two good things coming out of our adventure.

On the reading front, Anty is tearing through realistic YA books at an impressive pace. This does not go very far in advancing her goal of reading more historical romance novels, but the tide will turn, especially once we are settled in a new apartment and the carrier is put away for a long, long time. Maybe I care more about the carrier patt than Anty does, but here is a fun fact: in a pinch, the top of my carrier makes a decent desk/dinner table. We did not know that before this week.

For those who wonder where the smell of Uncle’s shirts comes into play, it is here. Usually, Anty gets me into the carrier by turning it on its end, so the door is on top. Then she grabs me and stuffs me inside, closes the door, and off we go. Usually after a valiant efgort on my part.

Not this time. This time, Anty learned a new trick. That first method comes from one of Anty’s own antys. This new one, I think she read somewhere, and it is the work of an evil genius.

One might think that Uncle’s shirts (and other personal garments, but I am only going to say shirts, because maybe not everybody wants to read about Uncle’s unmentionables) smell of happiness and love, and they do, but they also snell of betrayal. I haf seen the carrier already, so I knew we were in for something, but I expect3d the old way, not this.

This time, Anty put the carriet on the floor, with the door open. Then, she put the shirt and other garment Uncle slept in, into the carrier. I, of course, investigated, because of the wonderful smell. Then, Anty shoved my backside all the way in, and bam, closed door. I did not see that coming. It worked the next time, too. It will probably work every time, to be honest (I am always honest) because Uncle is my favorite and I love him the most.

This is probably the part of my post where I bring the part about my week around to Anty’s writing. This is also, I think, the weekend of NECRWA’s conference, which is one of Anty’s favorite parts of the year. This year, she is not there, because we have our travels, and it is an adventure. She does miss all of the free books and swag, but she has stayed in two motels, rather than one hotel, so she has that going for her, and the interwebs allows her to talk with her writer friends anyway, and get conference updates wherever she is.

Most importantly, there is writing. Anty can do that anywhere, and if she can do it in the middlebof this, I do not think there is any stopping her.

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

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling

( the kitty, not the book)

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:

 

 

 

White Space

This is the view from our balcony this morning:

0702snowscape

I don’t know what it is about this season that snow days and sick days tend to fall on the same day, but, as the sugarless cherry cough drops on my desk indicate, that’s what we’ve got. Domestic tornadoes are not gone, but are slowing, and coming farther apart, which does leave more wiggle room, and time, for that writing thing I have heard I do.

On Monday’s Skype session with Melva, we went over our plan to revise and resubmit Chasing Prince Charming. If things go according to plan, which they should, we should be done by the end of March. That seems both very soon and very far away. We also decided that we were having too much fun with Drama King to truly put it aside while we work on the revisions, so we will continue, albeit at a more relaxed pace, until the revisions are done.

At my Tuesday breakfast with N, we both set goals for getting our current (solo) projects in gear. For her, it’s mapping out exactly what’s needed to tie up all loose ends in her contemporary romance, and, for me, it’s getting back to serious work on Her Last First Kiss. We talked, a lot, about what it takes to bring a story from okay to special. It’s not only words on a page, though that is obviously important, but the life in the characters, so that readers care about their story, what happens to them, if they’ll get what they want. Even though we’re both writing romance, which means that yes, our lovers will absolutely end up together at the end, and be happy about it, the very best books have that moment of “oh crap, maybe they can’t.” Getting them from that point to “heck, yes, they did,” that’s the best part. That’s the goal.

With all of the above, March is going to be full, with not only a lot of writing, but my online workshop with Charter Oak Romance Writers, Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys, but Eryka Peskin’s free workshop, 31 Days and 32 Ways to Jump-start Your LifeLi’l blurb on that one, in Eryka’s own words, here:

Find out how transforming your relationship with your health, money, activism, spirituality, love, mindset and more can jumpstart your LIFE and change the world. For more info and to sign up, go to http://eepurl.com/bAQ0jf

It starts March 1st, so make sure you sign up right away!

I’m not sure yet, if the NECRWA conference is going to be possible this year, but I am (mostly) okay with that, because there’s no way to sell a book that isn’t written, and very few first drafts are ready to make the cut. This may require figuring out other ways to see my conference people, which is not a bad thing.

That’s all the future, though, and, since the snowstorm and cold have teamed up to nix plans for the afternoon and evening, what I have for the present is a large supply of tea, warm, fuzzy blankets, and a fully stocked Kindle, along with a TBR shelf that mocks me, from its space behind my office chair. Since I know me, there will also be a notebook or legal pad, and a handful of pens. The only big question I have today, is “what?”

Sick snow days are perfect fro TV/Netflix bingeing, but my search for something braimless I could background watch, and possibly nap through, led me to Les Revenants, a French drama that is, you guessed it, in French. Also, not dubbed. I do not speak French. I can pick out a few words, but that’s it. Thankfully, there are English subtitles, but that means actually looking at the screen.

Okay, there’s reading, then, and I do not lack for books, nor, specifically, historical romance books, but I want a particular sort, and I don’t feel like sifting through the TBR shelf or doing internet research. This may mean that a chunk of the day is spent curled under one of aforementioned fuzzy blankets, with aforementioned cup of tea, pen and paper within reach, and staring at Skye, the living room in general, or the insides of my eyelids. I call this white space.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is nothing. Not exactly nothing, obviously, because blanket and tea and kitty who loves playing computer games, but the hitting pause on the plan to get from here to there, and letting the brain settle. Letting it sift through all the stuff that is rolling around in there, pushed out of the way by things like trash day and rescheduling doctor appointments and crunching numbers, and what and how much to make for dinner, depending on who’s going to be home and/or awake.

White space is quiet. It’s still. It’s snow falling outside, and the voices in my head (aka characters, aka story people, aka imaginary friends, aka fill in your own term here) wandering about at will. Sometimes this focuses on the current project, but usually not. It’s touching the past and the future at once, and it may result in a few notes, or a few pages, or a few dozen pages, but that’s not a requirement. white space usually comes to a natural end, stuff sorted out, and ready (perhaps after a nap, or reading a few chapters, or watching an episode or two of subtitled TV) to take on the next adventure. Not a bad journey to take from the depths of a comfy chair.

 

Aiming For Real

Welp, RWA Nationals are over for another year, and July is almost in the rear view mirror. The best thing about not going to a writer’s conference is the lack of conference hangover when it’s over. Summer has never been my favorite season, and August counts more as pre-fall than actual summer. Back to school supplies are everywhere, and tomorrow means I get to start on a whole new month in my planner. No, this is not going to be another post where I blabber incessantly about planners. I am considering a separate notebook blog, but that has to get in line behind fiction writing, which is the next thing on my schedule after getting this blog written, so we’re going to traipse off in that direction, with only the vaguest of ideas on a theme for this entry.

Not going to a conference means there is nothing to unpack. I will allow that I did laundry this morning, but that brought with it a chance to finish reading one book on my Kindle and start in on another. I am not going to claim full awakeness at that phase of the morning, or even this one, but I know what’s on my list, and checking off the items on it gives me a sense of satisfaction, so here we go All I have to do is babble my way to the magic seven hundred and then I get to go play with my imaginary friends. I should probably also have some sort of lunch, because bodies (and brains) need nutrition, and it dovetails nicely with Skye’s lunch (she is not eating doves, either whole or tails-only; she is eating her regular fish jelly. She wanted me to make that clear.)

This weekend, our family did a fair dab of decluttering and donating. All that physical clutter comes with mental/emotional clutter, and, when it’s gone, we get some much needed breathing room. I moved a hanging file from the dining room, into my office, and, while I’m still sorting out exactly how I’m going to use it, knowing it’s there gives me a boost. One of these days, I am going to have to sit down with Netflix and a big pile of notes and handouts from conferences gone before and organize them by topic and date, but that day is not today.

Today is giving a final once-over to the first twenty five pages of the second draft of Chasing Prince Charming, and then getting the next segment of Her Last First Kiss‘s second draft ready for critique session with N in the morning. This time, I’m going in with detailed, hand written notes, and bullet points, written in present tense and what I am going to call a rather casual vernacular, and throwing them all on the page. I’m not even thinking, at this point, of making it pretty. If there’s time for that before I can get to bed at a decent hour, then that’s gravy. Not aiming at perfect here; aiming for real.

Real, in this case, means shutting out everything outside of the world of the story, so that it becomes the real world, so that I feel the tremble in Hero’s hand the second before he touches Ruby’s hair for the very first time. It means combing the Internet until I find out what the phase of the moon would have been that particular night, so I know exactly how much of her Hero Ruby could actually see.  (http://www.moonpage.com/ is insanely useful for this sort of thing) It means forgetting about the overhead fan and the construction crew outside my window, and slipping back into an earlier age and the moment when two broken people suspect that their broken edges might actually fit together into a brand new whole. That’s the good stuff.

I might not have a suitcase full of swag, or enough new books that I had to mail them home, but I do have a library haul and a fully stocked Kindle, so that’s almost as good, and no extra expense of dry cleaning special occasion clothing. That’s always a plus. What I do have from the conference I didn’t attend, thanks to all those who shared their experiences on social media, is a renewed sense of purpose. The mere fact that there is a gathering of those who love to do the same thing I love to do, write romance fiction and get it in the hands of readers, makes me want to get that butt in chair and fingers on keyboard and keep on going. It conjures the voice of my high school gym teacher, Ms. Napier :waves to any Suffield High alums who may be reading this: encouraging a class full of girls who would pretty much rather be doing anything but the cross-country run she had us on that day, that we couldn’t quit if we saw the finish line.

With today’s work on Her Last First Kiss, I will be over the halfway point on draft two. That means the finish line will officially be closer than the starting point, and Ruby and her Hero will be closer to Happily Ever After than they are to Once Upon a Time. There will be some achy writing muscles, that’s for sure, but what’s stronger than the ache is the gift of a second wind. Onward.

Not At Nationals (Again)

Some days, a writer needs a cat on her desktop. Since my actual cat, Skye, is a floor girl, I will have to make do with having her as my desktop image. It’s that time of year again, meaning that it is time for Romance Writers of America’s annual national conference, and, once again, I am not there. Conferences are like Christmas for the extroverted writer, and the RWA national conference is the great grandmamma of them all for us romancey types, so yes, part of me is going to grumble when I see pictures of friends at the conference, dropping tidbits about workshops and networking and parties and mountains of giveaway swag.  This doesn’t even take into account the issue of conference outfits and/or shoes, or the magic that happens when one winds up at a dinner table with a bunch of complete strangers, not knowing that they are in the presence of soon to be lifelong friends. Last Call Girls, I am looking at you.

So yeah, part of me is peeved. Maybe next year. Whole year to plan/save, and who knows, I might have something new to flog in 2018 (how did next year get to be 2018 already? :sobs softly:) and I’m doing what I can to move in that direction, so no use dwelling on what I’m not experiencing. Right now, I’m working on two books that I absolutely love, I am getting my ducks in order to have some fun new posts on Heroes and Heartbreakers in the near future, and I’m finding new ways to plan and organize so that I don’t fall into the trap of chaos and paralysis that comes from not knowing what to do next. I really, really, really do not like not knowing what to do next, hence all the focus on planning lately. I assume that, at some point, I will taper off, but for now, you get things like random pictures of my daily carry.

 

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Packed to stay home. Yes, this was taken at the laundromat.

 

If  RWA attendees can post pictures of their week, I can post pictures of mine. Above is my daily carry. From the top, the gray thing is my current favorite bag, because it goes with literally everything. Top hot pink thing is my makeup case. Purple thing is my Kindle. Next row, blush pink still-not-calling-it-a-bullet-journal-because-I-am-stubborn notebook, black pouch full of ballpoints, even though I am pretty much over ballpoints (but they still have ink in them; I cannot waste ink,) black wallet (needs more green things in it, hence motivation to write more) and hot pink bag that actually came with my tablet (not pictured, as it lives in my nightstand) but does not fit my tablet, so it holds my phone when I take said item on the road.

This is an extremely stripped down version of what I used to carry, and I am surprised how much I like it. I once won a “mom purse” contest (it broke out spontaneously on a ferry headed for Long Island, when a bunch of romance writers got antsy) over a mother of five and two grandmothers. I will allow you to imagine the criteria for yourself, but suffice it to say that this is a big change. Will it stick? I hope so, because I like having everything I need, close at hand, easily portable, and not all jumbled together.

Is it an indicator of how the writing life is going? Again, I hope so. The flip side of hating not knowing what I’m doing is…knowing what I’m doing. Organization and planning helps a lot with that, as does talking with writer friends who get me and get the stories I tell, at whatever phase of the journey. Having pretty stuff means I’ll want to look at it more, and, as N and I have discussed at length, there is a connection she and I both get when we turn off the computer and hunker down away from electronics, with pen and paper, and our story people get chatty. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t still feel like I’m fumbling around in the woods, with a bucket on my head and oven mitts on my hands (not feeling the rotten logs on my feet, so I’ve got that going for me) at times, but those times are fewer and farther between. I’m going to call that a good thing.

While I am going to miss the workshops presented at Nationals, it’s the people that would have me most excited. In person time with social media contacts would be fun, and getting to actually meet writers whose work I have admired for, in some cases, decades, would be amazing, but, if I were in attendance this year, I would have one goal that would outrank the others. Since I have never been to Nationals, I have no idea if it is socially acceptable to station oneself in the lobby, holding a large poster board with “Historical Romance BFF/Critique/Brainstorm Partner Wanted: Apply Below,” but I am pretty sure that, with number and variety of people who go to these sorts of things, I would probably get a few takers. Or one. I would take one.  A gal can feel a little unicorn-y from time to time, with this sort of thing, but it’s only a matter of looking, when romance writers congregate in large numbers, before one finds other with the same favorite flavor, no matter what that flavor may be.

So, this year, I’m not there. Too soon to call it on next year, or beyond, but what I can do is keep on eye on social media for vicarious conference hits, and the other eye on my own paper, as I move my current WIPs toward the finish line of their respective drafts. Potential historical romance buddies, you know where to find me; I’ll be here all week.

TheWriterIsOut

Typing With Wet Claws: Back to Business Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is now one week after the start of NECRWA 2017, conference hangover mostly worn off,  but inspiration still in full force. That is how it works with Anty and conferences. Her back is feeling better, which means that she can bend more easily, to feed and pet me, and also sit in her office chair without pain. These are all good things, because going to conferences and being with other people who love to do what she loves to do gives Anty a big burst of wanting to do writing stuff. It has not yet inspired her to get rid of the office carpet, but I think that a workshop on how to make a writer’s office pet-friendly would be an interesting topic for next year’s conference. In the meantime, I have found a way to curl up on the small sliver of hardwood so that only my fuzzy parts are on the (ugh) carpet, and my feet are on the hardwood. That is an okay way to be in Anty’s office with her, but I still want the carpet gone. We will work on that one.

Before I am allowed to talk about anything else, I need to talk about where you can read Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week, apart from here. First, as always, she was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday, and will be there again tomorrow. Her most recent post asks readers to share what they think makes for a good series. That post can be found here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

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This week, Anty actually finished reading a book. That is progress. Her review of Untie My Heart, by Judith Ivory is here, and it looks like this:

 

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There are sheep and horses in this book, but no cats.

In case you were wondering, finishing that book means that Anty is now only nine books behind in her Goodreads challenge. Still single digits, so go, Anty. If you are interested in following her challenge, it is here, and it currently looks like this:

GRreadingchallenge041417

We will see how she does in the coming week. Since she will spend part of today planning for next week, I hope she will put some reading time in there, so that she does not get to the end of the day and then find that she is too tired. That happens far too often for her liking, but I have my treat by then, so it does not affect me very much.

Thank you to those who asked if there was a Feline Friday last week. There was, but I made a mistake. I meant to schedule the post to go up on its regular Friday time, but it is very difficult to hit the schedule button on WordPress, when one has paws (special paws, at that) instead of hands, and I posted it on Thursday, by accident. If you did not see it, that is probably why, and I am very sorry. That post is here, and my picture on that post looks like this:

 

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Me, from last week.

Okay, I think that is everything about that.  Time to move on to the meat of the post, which I hope is tuna. I really like tuna. Beef is also good, and I can appreciate turkey in gravy, but I do not get food with gravy very often. I do not think that is the kind of “meat” Anty means, which disappoints me. Did I mention that I really like tuna?

Now that Anty is back from the conference, she has some new perspective on writing and writing related things. First, she and Anty Melva need to get their material together for the two requests to see more of Chasing Prints Charming. When an editor or agent wants to see part (or all) of a manuscript at a pitch session, it is smart for the writer (or writers) to get that out as soon as possible, so that the editor or agent remembers who they are and what they liked about the book, because they will have seen many more writers and many  more books between the time they heard the pitch and the time they get that material. So, Anty and Anty Melva want to get a move on with that.

The other big thing for Anty is reconnecting with Her Last First Kiss. Since she and Anty Melva spent a lot of the conference talking about Chasing Prints Charming, and getting ready for the next book, which they will call Drama King, Anty needs to get her mind back in the eighteenth century so that she can get Hero and Heroine’s story all the way through the second draft. Right now, she is still working out how she is going to manage that balancing act. I do not think it can be easy to be a writer and a half (because Anty Melva is the other half of that partnership) but I am sure that Anty will find a way. Maybe reading more historical romance will help. I think that it might. I will do my duty as a mews and sit very, very close to Anty while she does, for extra inspiration.

That is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebanner01skyebye