Is This Thing On? aka signs of life

:taps mic: Is this thing on? Okay. Hi, or hi again. I have been pill-bugging (has nothing to do with unauthorized medication, but rather emulating a pillbug insect, aka laying low) Those who have taken Depression and/or Anxiety 101, you’ll recognize this. Anyhoo, hi. Today’s task is to write a blog entry, so here we are. It’s a cold, slightly cloudy day here in NY’s Capitol Region, though because it is now March, it is also pre-spring. I am normally a fall and winter gal, but I am quite happy to say buh-bye to this past winter. This is a fancy way of saying that I am in spring cleaning mode.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

For today, that means putting away laundry and making some sense of my writing area, which, like Real Life Romance Hero’s office area, is in our bedroom. I am also eyeing a corner for a potential comfy chair because I sorely miss having a comfy reading chair, and one of my big goals for this spring is to get back to a normal reading and writing routine. Melva and I are moving forward with Queen of Hearts, having a lovely time of it, and she gave me a much-needed kick in the pants for the historical romance side of things during our chat this week.

Some of the things that have been swimming round my mind as of late:

  1. I miss Romantic Times magazine. The O.G. version, before it was RT Book Reviews, preferably in the newsprint era, tabloid size era a plus. I never made it to their annual conventions, but oh the pictures they shared for those of us who weren’t able to be there in person. I’m talking themed parties, sometimes controversial costumes, writers and readers mingling at will. It’s been said that if RWA conferences were university, RT conventions were Spring Break. I will have to take others’ word on that. I remember DM’ing my friend, Trish, who had been there, to ask if it was really true, that the founder had announced that it was all done-zo at the conference itself. Sadly, it was.
  2. Speaking of those RWA (Romance Writers of America) which while still a controversial organization on the national level, the local chapter meetings were a place where, once a month, I could get up close and in person with other career-focused romance writers. The romance part is important, as is the career focused part. Put them both together and it’s community. My local chapter voted some months ago to dissolve, and now I feel…floaty. I know there are also other organizations available for those missing that kind of company, though I am still finding out where those might be. Suggestions for online resources gratefully accepted, and DMs are open.
  3. This is the time of year that I would normally be getting ready for the New England RWA conference, the place where Melva and I conceived of the Love by the Book series because we were early for breakfast . We are currently writing book number three in that series, and have tentative plans for future books as well as other projects. Conferences are also a place where one could network and find others in one’s own subgenre, aka Extroverted Romance Writer Christmas, and not going to lie, the swag is a huge plus. Though I am delighted to know that the coveted purple pens in Hannah Howell’s swag contributions are Pentel RSVP, easily available and come in a lot of colors.
  4. It’s a good thing I love planning. Not only does it go along with the nitty gritty (pun intended) of making one’s home tidy and aesthetically appealing, but in getting all of those too-lng ignored projects in order and prioritized and researched and all of that good stuff.
  5. It’s also good that I am a blabbermouth. A very extrovert thing that I do is that talking and thinking happen often at the same time, as in thinking something through means talking it through, so I will probably be doing more blabbering, either here or on You Tube, but that’s another day.

For today, it’s this post, listening to things I’ve meant to listen to for some time now (my YT to be watched list is mighty) and then spiffy-fying my space. There will probably also be tea.

How’s your week going?


Typing With Wet Paws: Writer Chick Is Still Not at Nationals Edition

Greetings, Foolish Mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff from the week that was. I’m hanging out today with my buddy, Stripey Guy. I am also stripey, and also a guy, but you know me and names. Anyway, the title of this week’s blog entry should tell you the big thing around here. Writer Chick is still not at RWA Nationals, and she is still kind of salty about it. I am attempting to ramp that down a little by recreating some of the atmosphere. Mainly that I block her way to the bathroom, but she does seem to like it when anonymous entities put books on her chairs.

Do I have to do this at every meal?

At least she hasn’t been wearing her name badge from previous conferences, around the house. Yet. It’s important, that “yet.” The weekend is young.

On the domestic front, Writer Chick reports that the grossest thing she has found in her all out war on fleakind, is finding shed flea skins/exoskeletons. Ew. In. One. Of. Her. Notebooks. One of the fancy ones, with special paper. Yeah. It’s personal now.

Writer Chick’s internal reaction

She will not rest until there is total destruction. Of the fleas, that is, not any property, especially property she does not personally own. Everything and everybody who is not a flea is safe. That should be encouraging to those of you who are not fleas. For those of you who are, you are doomed. Consider this formal notice.

With the flea stuff and a couple of other domestic tornadoes, Writer Chick took a breather from Camp NaNo work this week, but, since she is only less than ten pages away from her goal, she’s not that bothered by it. She can make it to goal, easy. She’ll have the house to herself for a chunk of the weekend, so I would not be at all surprised if she used some of that time to hang with her imaginary pirate friends.

No shocker that Writer Chick was over at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, but there is big scandal in Romancelandia, over certain casting decisions in the upcoming Netflix series based on Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series of Regency-era historical romance. There’s kind of two posts in one, this time, because some mysterious person named Lady B (spoiler: it’s Writer Chick) piles on the hyperbole (I’m assuming; I don’t actually read these things; cuts into my naptime.) Hit the link in the caption above if you’d like to read it, and comments are always welcome.

Checking in on the Goodreads challenge, Writer Chick is eight books ahead this week, with sixty-one books read out of ninety-five, and that puts her sixty-four percent of the way to her goal. She has taken advantage of the three month free trial of Kindle Unlimited, and one of the people at Buried Under Romance clued her in on how to turn any e-book into an audiobook. Yeah, that’s a thing, and no, it is not by reading it aloud, herself. Not that she hasn’t tried that, mind you, but it’s a small apartment, and people like to sleep. Note I said people, not Writer Chick. Yeah.

So what is Writer Chick doing? Mostly, she’s writing. That’s a good thing. She is particularly fond of the part of Drama King she and Other Writer Chick are batting around, which lights a fire under her to keep going on the historicals. When not writing, or plotting flea destruction, she is probably doing stuff with her traveler’s notebooks. Spending time with those usually puts her in a good place, so we try to encourage that.

Probably about time for me to slip another book on her chair. Maybe I’ll toss in a pen or some sticky notes. I’m feeling generous.

Peace out,

Not At RWA Nationals (Again)

Welp, it’s that time of year again. July. Middle of summer. The lull between heat waves. It’s also the time for Extroverted Romance Writer Christmas, aka RWA Nationals. Several of my fellow romance writer friends post on social media about shopping for clothes and shoes, asking opinions on makeup or hair, what to pack, who can meet up where, and whether friends who are in the city (I’m in NY state: we have one City and one Island) but not going to the conference, or are going to the public parts of the conference, can meet up for extracurricular activities.

All of that stuff sounds wonderful to me, especially since real life stuff has kept me from the last two NECRWA regional conferences (CT Fiction Fest, this past September, almost a year ago now was a lifesaver) and the fact that this year’s conference is held in my home state of NY does give an extra pinch. It moves around from year to year, often in sunny locations, which are not great for me, as I am heat and sun sensitive, and have had full-on heat stroke in the past, so I have to be extra-careful in choosing summer activities. This could also be a plus, because staying in the conference hotel the whole darned weekend is entirely doable and, for me, the norm.

Spending a weekend, in this case a long weekend, locked in a hotel with a few hundred people who love the books that I love, who love writing the books that I love to write, who know what it’s like to have the voices in our heads translate into words on a page, so we can share the adventures of our imaginary friends, that’s pretty much my idea of the best vacation ever. Not that conferences, for the working writer, are a vacation, because it’s most assuredly work, attending workshops (or giving them) and discussions and networking in hallways, elevators, and hotel rooms, hotel bars, hotel lobbies, and the ever-popular, ever-crowded public hotel rest rooms.

This year, especially, it would have been wonderful to go. Melva and I have a new book, our first together, Chasing Prince Charming, coming out, in less than three weeks. Fewer than three weeks? See, there’s another reason I need to socialize with other writers. They help me do English gooder. I have one historical novella out in the querying process, and two full length historical romances that are getting ready to make the rounds again. A conference is a place where there are tons of other writers who have been in the same or similar positions, and talk stuff out with them. For the extroverted writer, talking things out is absolutely crucial. Sometimes, I don’t know what I’m thinking until I can talk about it. That’s part of the process.

So, what am I doing instead? I wish I could say we are not still fighting the battle of the bugs, but we are. Not at the same intensity as it once was. The few bugs that we see are slow moving and far fewer than earlier generations, so we are hopefully moving in the right direction. There are the normal domestic tornadoes, but manageable ones, and keeping an eye on the aforementioned social media posts from friends who are in attendance, is, in its own way, the next best thing to being there.

What can’t be experienced secondhand, though, is the connections that are only made at conferences. Melva’s and my writing partnership was born at a conference, because breakfast was late. While we waited for the doors to open, we commented to each other what a diverse lot of writers were in attendance. a writer of YA fantasy might be chatting with a writer of m/m contemporary romance, who is sitting next to a writer of erotic historicals, who is rooming with a writer who has been writing category inspirationals for literally decades, who is sitting next to a wide-eyed first-time attendee, who is almost done with the first draft of their first book. They think. How do they find a critique partner and what’s a beta reader, and OMG, that’s Big Name Writer over there.

It’s going around the table, asking what everybody’s favorite book is, answering with your own all time number one, only to be met with a shriek of joy from the total stranger across the table, who of course has to sit next to you now that you have the same favorite book, and, years later, is now a friend. It’s having the opportunity of sitting next to someone who whips out their electronic device to prove that they are actually reading one of your books right the heck now, and you try to be cool because it’s your first time seeing your book on someone else’s device.

It’s going home with an extra suitcase full of swag (Hannah Howell’s iconic purple pens are Pentel RSVP, now one of my favorite ballpoints, for those who hoard her swag pens and wish they came in more colors; they do.) and oh so many books. Some of them were free, right there on plate or chair at every meal, given away during a workshop, or as a door prize, some of them purchased at the literary signing, and personally autographed by an author who is, indeed, a lovely person. There may or may not, depending on one’s luck (I think I once posted about The Year Anna Won Everything, but part of it does happen to Meg, in Chasing Prince Charming) be some sort of gift basket (or other receptacle) to wrangle into the car, or onto some other form of transportation. Some people may be mailing things home.

When I lived in the old country, I Had a post-conference routine. I would lug my bags upstairs, then trot on down the street, to buy myself dinner, with an unsweetened iced tea, and write in my notebook about how I felt about the entire experience (of the conference, not dinner.) Coming back from a conference, I am full of energy, and buzzing, and it’s hard to come back to the everyday routine of living. Now that I’m here, a new ritual will emerge, once I get back in the conference swing. Most of all, a conference, and even writing about a conference, makes me want to write. It reminds me not only that I love to write romance, but why, and shows me ways -there are always ways- in which I might do that even better. Thankfully, when it comes to conferences, there are a lot of them, so if I’m not at this one, maybe next year.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Not at NECRWA Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling here, bringing you all the stuff for the week that was. Writer Chick is a little salty today, for a couple of reasons. First, as this week’s post title will attest, she and Other Writer Chick are not at the New England Romance Writers of America conference. Conferences are Extroverted Writer Christmas, so Writer Chick is not keen on missing one, and certainly not on missing two in a row. It’s the in a row part that makes her extra salty, because this is also the anniversary of Turbo Move 2018, we are still in For-Now Apartment, and Skye is on the other side of Rainbow Bridge.

Missing this fuzzbutt…

I can’t blame her for the saltiness, the above taken into consideration, and the aggravating factors that various humans around here have been feeling less than spiffy (everyone moving in a spiffier direction, so that’s a plus) and because, due to aforementioned less than spiffiness, Writer Chick misplaced the laundry quarters, and has been looking for them for three entire days, while the amount of available clothing dwindled and/or got stinkier. Times like this, I am glad I am stuffed. Also a naturalist, although Writer Chick did, in her search for the quarters, find my badbutt pants/sarong, so that may come back. We’ll see. Anyway, Other Chick took matters into her own hands and got more quarters, so Writer Chick can settle down and do some laundry. Also some reading, because Dude will be at his snazzy new job, and Other Dhick will be visiting Other Chick’s Mom for the whole weekend. Writer Chick plans to clean and read, and there will probably be some writing in there, because Writer Chick is Writer Chick.

Speaking of which, let’s get the compulsories out of the way. Last week, as always, Writer Chcik was at Buried Under Romance, talking about the romance of rereading. If you want to read about that, it’s here. I can’t link the photo from Writer Chick’s file, because she went on a decluttering the hard drive spree, and got a little enthusiastic. Instead, you get her name badge from a previous conference.

That “presenter” ribbon sure is pretty…

Feast your eyes on those, because conference attendees will get to see those badges (or reasonable facsimilies) and the writers wearing them, in person next year. Like these chicks are going to miss a conference when they have a brand new novel out. Pfft. Yeah, They’re talking website stuff and planning on swag, because they want to hit the ground running. At least Writer Chick plans to turn up in red heels, like the ones on the cover. Maybe I can convince Writer Chick to bring me along, since I am an essential part of the team. Try doing that with a poo cat, and you’ll regret it, that’s for darned sure. If the badge wallets are blue again next year, they should set off my orange fur to purr-fection (yeah, I went there.)

In other news, thanks to Other Chick’s work, we now have a pepper plant. I am not sure about him yet. Tudor is getting super tall, no longer exactly climbing the window, but his leaves are looking good, although there are no signs of any more buds as of yet. Lancaster seems to like having his own room (he is in the bedroom now, where he is the only plant, and gets all his sunlight.) He’s still short (may just be a short dude, no shame in that) and no buds to speak of, but it’s early days for this kind of thing.

Subtle product placement, yes?

Notebook-wise, Writer Chick has finally clicked with Li’l Pink, and figured out what she wants to to with the passport sized  Junque Journal, from Yellow Paper House,  that she put in the first string. Yes, that is the cover for Chasing Prince Charming on the back cover of that insert. Writer Chcik is kind of in love with that cover. Now she’s making eyes at the cahier size Junque Journal that she hasn’t broken in yet (except for the cover.) It’s a good thing playing with papers like this gets her idea hamster running (mmmm, hamsters :drools:) She and Other Writer Chick had an especially good Skype session this past week, and are excited about moving forward. The handsome orange poo cat in their book is going to figure prominently in the next couple of chapters. I should warn gentle readers now, there may be graphic descriptions of petting and scritches, and I can’t guarantee that nobody is going to use the Y word. That’s “yowl,” for those who do not speak fluent feline.

Since Writer Chick will not be at NECRWA this weekend, she would like those who are attending to have an extra good time on her behalf, and will be very happy to listen to conference stories, look at pictures, including but not limited to swag pron.If she ends up putting books on her seat at every meal this weekend, well, who can blame her? Some rituals must be observed, even at a distance.

Peace Out,


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

Book number five? Water bottle time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lack of a comma is tradition, now.

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

Typing With Wet Claws: Post-Fiction Fest Edition


Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. The humans have been talking about Forever Apartment options, so I think camp will be coming to a close sooner rather than later. I think. At any rate, this time, last week, Anty was getting ready to hit the road and come see me. She had to stop at CT Fiction Fest first, of course, and give her workshop with Anty Melva. I am happy to report, though, that she did come through with the laser pointer, but more on that later.

Regular readers, you know the drill. New readers, I have to talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interwebs (besides here, because you are here already) for the past week. Anty would like to remind readers that the best way to make sure you get every single blog entry, even if it is posted on the wrong day (Anty is only human, and Sebastian is kind of lazy) is to subscribe, here on the blog. That way, the new entries will come right to you. Also, she may or may not be thinking of posting something special when she hits the next milestone for subscribers. (Spoiler: she totally is planning exactly that.)

Okay, here we go. First of all, Anty was, as always, at Buried Under Romance on Saturday morning. This past week, she takes a look at buzzwords. This is not a post about bees, in case you were concerned about that (I was. Bees are scary.) but about words in titles that let us know what things we might find inside those books. Think dukes, scandals, Highlanders, that kind of thing. That post is here, and it looks like this:


There are no actual bees in this post.

Even though the only thing Anty read over the weekend of Fiction Fest were her own notes and some handouts, she still has a favorite book of the week, and that is Eliza and Her Monsters, by Francesca Zappia. Anty gives this book a full five stars. Her review has big spoilers, so beware of that if you want to read the review. It is a YA, and it has romance and fandom, and art and writing, and, although Anty got this copy from the library, she is 100& buying it so that she can read it again. Her review is here, and it looks like this:


Seriously. Big spoiler.

If you are following Anty’s Goodreads challenge, here are the stats for this week. Anty has now read seventy-four out of ninety books, which puts her at eighty-two percent of the way to her goal, and eleven books ahead of schedule. I am going to call that well done. Keep going, Anty. Story in, story out. That is how it works.

Coming back from ta conference with a lot of new tools is how going to a conference usually works, at least for Anty. she attended a workshop on writing historical fiction/romance, presented by Melanie Meadors. Miss Melanie has some amazing fashion sense, and some very good advice on writing in other times and places, past or future. Anty took a lot of notes, in that workshop and others. I will let her talk more about that later, if she wants to share any of them.

The workshop Anty knows the most about is the one that she presented with Anty Melva, on writing through real life plot twists. Real life cooperated and threw a few plot twists Anty and Anty Melva’s way, but they made it to the hotel, and to their workshop, which, by all accounts (that they know about, at least) went very well. Some humans came up to each of them after the workshop, with follow-up questions, which made them very happy.

Another thing that made Anty and Anty Melva very happy was the professional critique Anty Melva had, on a sample from Chasing Prince Charming. Anty was not at the critique, because this was a one person at a time kind of thing, but the other humans knew that this book really has two authors. They liked the sample a lot, and had some comments on how to make it even better.

Anty and Anty Melva made good use of some pockets of times before things got started at various points through the weekend, to do some work on the next part of Drama King, and also for setting up the third book they will write together. There was even some talk about what they want to write together next, after those books are done, but that can be a topic for later.

Anty loves meeting people at conferences, best of all, and she made some new friends at this one, including another writer of historical romance. Anty has wanted a historical romance writer buddy for a long time. Maybe this is how that kind of thing happens. We will see.

No, on to the most important part of the weekend, and that is Anty’s visit to me. It was a short visit, but it still counts. I will allow that things might have been less confusing for me if there were fewer people in the room (there were three) and it was not dinnertime, but it was still a good visit. Anty spent some time grooming me (I earned my treat, let me tell you that) and then it was time for the laser pointer.

I find the laser pointer very interesting, but A) it was mealtime, and B) there were too many people watching me, so I only looked at it. I will try playing next time, when it is only me and Anty. That should be fun.

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


The Fine Art of Self-bribery

Post-conference letdown is most certainly a thing. The change from spending an entire weekend amongst others of one’s kind, where writing, publishing, and promotion are the topics of the day, to quizzing one’s family on the location of garbage bags, and other domestic matters, is a big one. Sometimes, it takes a while. Sometimes, it takes more than that.

There is, of course, the physical reserves that need to be replenished. In other words, sleep. There needs to be some. The change from hotel bed, to home bed, may be an improvement, or it may be not an improvement. Kind of a crapshoot with that one, but at least home has the familiarity of home. On the down side, family members have still not consented to put mints on my pillow. Not that the hotel I stayed at did that either, but sometimes, it’s nice to have the gesture.

There’s unpacking, which usually includes laundry. I may get unicorn points for actually liking the whole laundry process, but that may also be because laundry time = reading time. This may count in the self-bribery category, an I am more than okay with that.

Getting back into the swing of things, after a conference, for me, involves a good deal of self-bribery. It’s very rare to come back from a conference as exactly the same writer one was when one went to said conference, and, along with swag, new friends, and possible free books, a writer generally comes back from a conference with new ideas and things they want to try. Do these things always fit into the category of business as usual? Not by a long shot.

Yesterday, my goal was to write this blog entry after I got home from breakfast with N. I’d attended CT Fiction Fest, and she’d been at an all-day event with our home chapter, Capitol Region Romance Writers. Naturally, this meant that we had to compare notes. Which led to giving ourselves homework. Which meant, for me, that a trip to nearby retailers, for new office supplies. To be fair, pretty much everything is a call for new office supplies for me, so this is not as big a deal as it may be for others. Even so, the pull of playing with new pens and/or paper and/or organizing the papers I already have are enough of an incentive to get me to actually do the same stuff that was haaaaarrrrrd before the conference (or not related to a conference. I always want to go get new pens, etc.)

As a result of this venture, my everyday carry pens and highlighters are all the same brand, Pilot Frixion. As much as I love the Pentel RSVP pens, and will still use them in other capacities, A) I did not have one in green, and B) my green Marvy LePen was mostly in there for sentimental reasons, anyway. It will go into a shadowbox, with related items, later. Now, my EDC pen case is a lean, mean, writing machine. Also, an erasable one, which is extremely useful for a perfectionist, marching herself resolutely back into a draft.

Sitting across from a critique/accountability partner and coming to terms that it is high time to get back to one’s current ms in one’s favorite genre, even when the room seems to get a little smaller, and lungs get a little bit squeezy at the thought of maybe not being able to do the thing one loves, as well as one would like. Especially when the word, “homework,” comes into play.

There’s the thing, though. Homework, especially homework that involves writing in longhand, means that it needs the proper supplies. It’s going to need paper. It’s going to need pens. Highlighters, maybe. A folder or notebook, definitely.  “Shopping” from my own stash, and picking out the supplies that volunteer as tribute, is as fun as purchasing new stuff, so it’s not all about the shopping.

It’s about the focus. It’s about the commitment. It’s about honoring the story and the characters, and wanting to get myself in the very best position to see this through to the end.

So, today, I lay out the pens and highlighters all from the same maker. I checked to see if the laptop cord will reach from the kitchen table, to a power strip on a nearby wall. Spoiler: it does., I will test the Mac Book and desktop later. The thought of happy back and happy eyeballs at the same time, with the added bonus of not having to scramble to my feet, is a powerful draw. So is the chance to practice drawing (pun intended) once I have my writing goals for the day, met.

There is a new scented candle on the table now, pine, to hint of the seasons soon to begin, and a fresh cup of tea, to warm body and soul. My planners (yes, plural) are nearby, so I can have visible evidence of tasks accomplished, and a clear outline of where I need to go, to get to where I want to be. The seasonal Windows theme is new to me, and it’s fun, as well as helping to set the mood. I’m not at the point, yet, where I want a different theme, depending on the project I’m working on at the moment, but that could be a reward, trying stuff out, in that manner, for doing some of the eat the frog stuff that is also on my list.

Making up stories, and polishing the rough stuff, that’s the fun part. Poking around in electronic guts, or hauling a desktop around the common room, eh, not so much, but, if I do those things, it makes doing the fun stuff all that much easier/more efficient. The instructions for the printer are right there, on top of the box. Get that in place, and I can print pages. When I can print pages, I can three-hole-punch them. When I three-hole-punch them, I can put them in a binder. When I put them in a binder, I can see the manuscript grow, as I print out the fruit of each new session. Carrot and stick; it works for me.

Feeling Myself

CT Fiction Fest 2018 is now a memory. This will be a fairly quick post, as I am (mostly) unpacked, (almost) ready for laundry, and now navigating the murky waters of that space between the return from conference and what the humans call “real life.” The fact that I am writing Monday’s post on Tuesday should be a small taste of that.

Today is grayish, and quiet, with whisper of possible thunderstorms later on. I am highly in favor of all of this. My notes from the conference workshops, both the one I co-presented with Melva and the ones that I didn’t, are in my traveler’s notebook, ready for me to go over them with pastel highlighters and possibly copy to a computer file. I have notes from late night brainstorms with Melva, about the rest of our current manuscript together, setting up the third , which will follow this one, and there were even whispers of what we want to do after this three book cycle is finished.

It’s not a question of do we want to work together again, but of course we do, so we have a sticky note on top of what’s next. Stay in this story world, or start something new-new-new? Not sure yet, a we are focusing on what’s in front of us, but I am sure that, whatever it is, it will come about as organically as the  first three, and this, our first workshop. We’ve already talked some about proposing a workshop on writing together, once the first book is available to readers, and that feels right.

We also talked about our solo projects. On our own, we write very different things. Melva writes cozy romantic suspense, and nonfiction humor, while I write historical romance, and whatever these blogs are. We each floated out some tentative feelers for our future solo projects, during a late night plotting group. We went straight from the dessert buffet, to a ballroom with a circle of chairs, inhabited by people we didn’t know, but also knew they were our people, aka romance writers. There were no introductions, no small talk, just “do you have anything?” and yes, yes, we each did.


I think she’s plotting something…

I trotted out the bare bones of my Hogmanay story, with the not-so-dead husband, and very much alive fiancé. Nobody pointed and laughed. Nobody bodily dragged me to the door, because I was obviously Not A Real Writer. There was only the question, “who do you want her to end up with?” to which I answered, without hesitation, that it would be the husband. There was a mention that this reminded some of the gathered writers of the opening of Poldark, which A) I love, and B) had not been thinking of when I first encountered Davey, Lennox, and Gavin. Neutral intonation. No pointing. No laughing, and everybody agreed that Poldark is awesome, now back to this story. These strangers, who were also sisters (and brother) in arms asked questions, offered possibilities, and, above all, too my word as law on all things regarding this story. If I say no, then it was no. If I said yes, everybody won. In the end, someone tossed out a “what if” that made my ears perk. I’ll have to change some bits of my original concept, but this is as it ought to be. The second draft will come out better, stronger, and have the legs to carry itself all the way to The End. Which will also be a starting point to the next story.

Though I do meet, individually, with writer friends, this brainstorming session reminded me of how long it’s been since I’ve been in a group, and how much I liked it. I’ve tried a couple, since arriving in Albany (the first time, not coming home after the conference) and though I liked all the people in those groups, the fit wasn’t right. My ideal would be all romance writers, specifically historical romance, but we will see what will happen. Conferences are great for networking, and this one was no exception.

One of the things on my post-conference to-do list is to order new business cards, because A) I gave a lot of cards out during the last few days, and B) an exploding can of Diet Coke took out most of those that remained. I love the whole trading business cards part of conferences. It involves meeting people, talking about books, and stationery. What’s not to love? There’s a certain thrill that comes from handing a business card to the person one has been chatting with for the last few minutes, and their neighbor, who was not part of the conversation, asks if they can have one, too.  There are also the sticky notes I carry, for those who have run out of cards, or don’t ha them yet. I need to restock those, too, and I am happy about that.

That, however, is a job for tomorrow. Tomorrow is a good day to stick a toe back into everyday life. Tomorrow is time to resume my weekly breakfasts with N, where we can fill each other in on the separate events we attended over the weekend, and compare notes. tomorrow is a good time to go over the notes for Melva’s and my workshop, and see where I could do better on taking our own advice. Tomorrow is time to sit at the kitchen table, with pen and paper and tea, and make the empty page not be so empty anymore. I am looking forward to that.

As for today, there is this blog entry, and there is, of course, tea. There is a stack of library books to read, and there is Netflix or Hulu, if I am so inclined. There is an Irish fisherman knit afghan and dregs of a tea-scented candle, and the day-off sounds of Real Life Romance Hero puttering about in random fashion. Today is for filling the well. Tomorrow, I draw from it again.

Typing With Wet Claws: CT Fiction Fest Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another very special Typing With Wet Claws, coming to you direct from Camp Grandma. Today is a very exciting day. because today is the first day of Connecticut Fiction Fest, where Anty and Anty Melva will be presenting their workshop. Their workshop will be at ten AM on Sunday, but today is the day Anty packs her things, and hits the road. First, she and Mama will drive to where Anty Melva Lives. Then Mama will come to Camp Grandma, to spend the weekend with me, and Anty will go, with Anty Melva, to Fiction Fest. If you are going to be there, make sure to say hi. Anty loves this whole networking thing.

The other reason today is exciting is because it is the day I will get my laser pointer. I am a little worried, because this particular laser pointer is also a pen, so Anty will naturally be drawn to it (pun unintended, but it can stay) but if I have fun with it, and Anty can see that, she will probably let me have it. Probably. I like playing with people more than I like playing with toys, and this is a toy Grandma should be able to handle. Anty wants to make sure I get enough exercise, and playing is the way indoor kitties like me do that.

Because the rule here is that I cannot talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway) let’s get to that. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about the worst thing about great books. Can you guess what it is? That post is here, and it looks like this:


the struggle is real

Next, we come to Anty’s Goodreads challenge. Sebastian has spent most of the week in a sunbeam (to be honest, I probably would have done the same thing myself, so somebody still has to add a few dates and reviews, but, at current writing, Anty is now eighty percent of the way to her goal of reading ninety books this year. That means she has read seventy-two books, so far, and is eleven books ahead of schedule. Anty is a reading machine. Keep going, Anty. You’ve got this.

The favorite book that Anty read this week is A Map For Wrecked Girls. by Jessica Taylor. Anty loves desert island stories, shipwreck stories, and stories about friendship loss (and maybe healing) and this story has all of those things. Anty’s review of this book is here, and it looks like this:


Anty knows very well that she will probably come home with a, um, boatload of books from the conference. Probably. She has never been to this conference before, so maybe they do things differently on that front. I know Anty, though. Anyway, even though Anty is headed to what is basically Writer Disneyland, where A) she will be busy talking to other writers most of the time, and B) there may very well be books that people just give her, she is still bringing her Kindle, and probably a library book as well. I know my Anty. She is not going anywhere without reading material.

Anty is also not going anywhere without her planners. That is right, I used the plural. Besides Big Pink (who has a new cover; Anty will show you that later) she is bringing Li’l Pink, who has new inserts. Those inserts do not include the insert Anty made from scratch, because there is a very good reason why making traveler’s notebook inserts by candlelight is not a thing. That reason is because candlelight, while pretty, does not allow for a clear view of the colors a human is using. That is why Anty picked paper that she thought was pink, was actually neon orange. Faded neon orange, but still orange. Orange is not the new pink.


Good first try, Anty. As Miss H said, when Anty mentioned wanting to try a new creative thing, “go for it. First you’ll suck, then you’ll get better.” Miss H is pretty smart. She also recommended that Anty watch a movie called Black Panther, when Anty comes home from the conference. With a title like that, I am going to assume that this movie is about cats. I could say a lot about the need for feline representation in Hollywood, but that is for another post. Maybe if they need a sequel, Brown Tabby would be a catchy title. I cannot say it rolls off my tongue, because my tongue has bristles, because I am a kitty, but I think it’s a title that would appeal to a wide audience.

Now it is time for Anty to get packing, so that is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,



Five Days, And Counting

Right now, I am ensconced in the latest iteration of my writing corner. With the addition of an improvised floor pillow, created from Housemate’s old comforter, the current setup is pretty darned close to a video game chair, which is not only useful for writing, but for computer gaming, as well. With yet another heat wave, with high humidity, forecast for this week, staying inside and writing is pretty much my entire week. This is a good thing.

Anything physical gets done in morning or evening. Days are for writing, which suits me fine. On Friday, I hit the road, to Connecticut Fiction Fest, riding shotgun for Melva Michaelian, aka my contemporary cohort. Things happen when we’re left alone together, unsupervised. Those things tend to be book-related, so it’s a pretty good deal. We will be taking not only our act on the road, but our dinner as well, (we have both agreed that the grilled cheese with hot peppers incident has to go in a book, someday. There is a lollipop bouquet incident, in Chasing Prince Charming, that actually did happen, aka That Year Anna Won Everything, Whether She Wanted It Or Not, and I have every reason to expect that this latest adventure is going to spawn an incident or two of its own.

With the way scheduling and transportation worked out, we will be arriving at the hotel around 7pm on Friday night, so we’ll be raring to go on Saturday, to pump us up for Sunday. Melva, a long-time educator, is a pro at public speaking, and I will talk to anybody, at any time. (I have vivid memories of my mother telling three year old me that there are restaurants that allow dancing and restaurants that do not allow dancing, and she would tell me which ones were which, but plopping myself down at stranger’s tables and introducing myself was not a very good idea. Yep, I was a unique kiddo.) With this in mind, public-speaking nerves are not really a thing (speaking for myself here) but there’s still a degree of nervousness.

As in, there will be an approximately fifty-minute span of time, where the entire population of a room will be looking, specifically, at me.  Okay, fine, Melva and me, plus the PowerPoint, plus their own feet, their notebooks or laptops, the weird stain on the carpet, possibly insides of their eyelids, whatever name the barista wrote on their coffee cup, etc. It’s not all about me, which is a good thing, but it is a topic that Melva and I both know a lot about. I find it only fitting that the conference will come after a heat wave, which means I had best take my own advice this week.

The plain truth is, that, sometimes, writing can’t happen. Hot, muggy days, when everything seems to crawl at a snail’s pace, sometimes fit into that category. Fingers crossed that this is summer’s last gasp, and not only because I am all about the pretty leaves, crisp air, and pumpkin everything. Summer is my least favorite season, and I don’t see that changing, but there is still some good to be found in those long, humid days, where there is so much moisture in the air, we start cracking jokes about having air fish.

I like taking care of the house, especially since Housemate and I liberated some items from the storage unit, this past weekend, and I can now make a few things a bit neater, a bit prettier, a bit easier to use. One of those things is my writing corner. I still miss my beloved desk, and I will admit that I did pet the drawers, when we saw them in storage, but I like this pile of cushions, and Ikea coffee table, too. It’s kind of decadent, really, being this comfortable, which can be, at times, extremely conducive to getting my imaginary friends out of my head (though, are they ever, really?) and onto the page. Sometimes, I even think that giving myself permission not to write on a hot day like today, actually makes it easier to do exactly that.

Kind of an escape hatch, really. I don’t have to use it every time, but it’s good to know it’s there. Today is hot. Today is muggy. Sleep was meh, and there are a million things to do, to get ready for the conference, not to mention the fact that this is a holiday, so who’s going to be reading blog entries, anyway? The world wouldn’t end if I posted tomorrow, instead of today, which is exactly when my brain propelled me from its spot in front of the box fan, to my cushion pile in front of the coffee table, to blabber in circles for a while.

At the end of this week, I will pack a bunch of black dresses in my rolling suitcase, sling my laptop bag over one shoulder, and pile into first Housemate’s car, and then Melva’s, to tumble out, in the darkening night, at a hotel I’ve never been to before. I have no idea what the badges look like at CTFF, but if there is some sort of presenter ribbon, I am going to be stoked. Some other signifier would be fine, too, and I have two anthology contributions that came out in the last thirty days. Not novels, no, but my stuff, in books, that people buy. Okay, then. Onward we go.