The Myriad Inspirations of a Snowbound Magpie

Monday’s post on Wednesday means it already comes with a story behind it. Throw in a snowstorm, some happy mail, The Oven That Would Not Cook, and a bunny trail into the world of tabletop gaming, and here we are.

Monday afternoon, Housemate and I headed to the big storage unit, to retrieve some desired office supplies, aka my favorite fineliners and my washi tape collection, version 1.0. Housemate had her own interest in this, as, over the weekend, I lured her over to the dark side of becoming a planner person. Of course this means she needs washi. The trip was a washout, though, as the boxes I needed weren’t immediately accessible, so this is going to be a job for an uncommitted Saturday morning. Library trip that was meant to make up for the storage unit fail, was similarly unsuccessful, but there was a good sized box of happy mail waiting for me, when I got home.

C, a friend I met through an online group for stationery aficionados, is from Louisiana and sent me a box of Mardi Gras, to help survive the polar vortex. That is quality friendship, right there. Housemate and Real Life Romance Hero are helping me pick out items to include in a box of Upstate New York, to send her in return. This box brought a lot of memories, all of them good. I have never been to New Orleans, or experienced Mardi Gras, (apart from something we will call The Mardi Gras Coin Incident, wherein a certain retail management team may have wanted to rethink their kids’ program for this particular holiday) in the really real world, but, back in the days of the first fandom I ever dove into, well, a few key characters certainly did.

Among the beads and the coins, and the mask and fleur de lis ornaments (you know what they say, being given three items on a certain theme means one collects them now. Guess this means I now collect masks and fleur de lis, and I am okay with that) and special Cajun flavored potato chips (they were delicious) was this fine fellow.

say hello to my little friend

His name is Iko (full name Iko Iko, naturally) and, while my original plan was for him to reside on my desk, RLRH had other ideas. Iko now resides in our room. This does not surprise me, and it does give a measure of job security, not only to Sebastian, but to Bo Bison, who lives on top of the printer, and the as yet unnamed Christmas bear who is sitting unobtrusively in the corner of the keyboard shelf, not imposing on anyone.

This is also the week where I finally carved out time (thanks, insomnia) to watch The Swimmer, which I have been wanting to see ever since a friend mentioned it, months ago. It was surreal and gorgeous and tragic and I want to dissect it. Last night was also when I could no longer resist H’s persuasion (aka relentless spamming of lore and links, not at all a complaint) and fell down a rabbit hole. That rabbit hole, aka the Critical Role webseries, in which a group of professional voice actors improv their way through a tabletop roleplaying game, may or may not be swallowing me whole, even though I have not yet seen my first full episode. Yet. I have, however, scoured the web for blush pink dice that still have some badassery about them, and whether there might be any places for a curious beginner to suss out things in person. I may or may not have bookmarked a few sites to learn more about the character creation process, because that is germane to the work we writers do on a daily basis, so I’d still be working, right?

This has also been the week when my grumbling about how my daily agenda traveler’s notebook insert will only last me one more month, and I will need to purchase another (but where?) unless I want to use the format of the one I currently have as a template and make my own, because that is totally allowable, and there are no gatekeepers on this sort of thing. Worst case scenario all I do is save myself a few pennies, by using what I have on hand. Best case, well, there’s no ceiling, now, is there?

All of this, combined with my pre-bed devourings of historical romance, once again, leads to one inevitable conclusion. I am, once again, in the magpie stage, grabbing shiny things to toss into my hoard, while moving along with getting Chasing Prince Charming through the next round of edits, second drafting Her Last First Kiss, and first drafting Drama King. This is not the time I would have picked for the magpie stage to hit, but, then again, that’s not how it works. I don’t get to pick. Maybe others do, but, if I had the chance to pick that option, I’d have to turn it down. I like the surprise of “oh, it’s happening,” that pops in at random intervals.

This time, I have learned. Last night, while Skyping with H, and pulling the trigger on my first Critical Role episode, I hit pause. I had to grab a notebook and mechanical pencil, because we magpies need a safe space to stash our shinines. (Accidental alliteration thrown in for no extra fee) Other things tumbled in, the laundry room reading session where I ignored a Kindle full of TBRs, to reread one of my own old documents, the latest feedback on the current HLFK chapter, and the signpoints up ahead that Melva and I need to hit for Drama King where it needs to be, when those two crazy kids finally figure out that they’re perfect for each other.

Sometimes, it does feel like juggling a lot of chainsaws at one time, but this kind of thing is an occupational hazard. What unexpected sources of inspiration are seeking you out this week?

Typing With Stuffed Paws: About Last Week Edition

Greetings, Foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff from the week that was. Week and a half in this case, because sick days and snow days can do a number on the ol’ blogging schedule. Thankfully, Writer Chick is mostly recovered, and the snow is pretty much just sitting there, so things are on their way back to normal, or as normal as things get around here.

Speaking of which, let’s dive right in. As per usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance this past weekend, with a timely topic. What exactly does she mean when she says these books are sick? Click the link in the caption, or right here, if you want to find out.

These Books Are Sick

Hopping over to Writer Chick’s Goodreads challenge, which is off to a fine start. As of today, Writer Chick has read eleven out of ninety-five books for the year, which puts her at twelve percent of her way to her goal, and we are not even out of January yet. This puts Writer Chick already five books ahead of schedule. Has she started off the year the way she means to go on? Stick around and find out.

This brings us to the writing portion of this blog, and Writer Chick has been doing pretty well for herself, sick days and snow days notwithstanding. Yesterday was a rain day, which is second only to snow, and a Skype session with Other Writer Chick. This is where they crunched some numbers, and found out that they are now 33% of the way through their first draft of Drama King. This, again, means it is time to crank up the stakes, which, for these two, involves a lot of evil cackling, and, for Writer Chick, making a lot of freeform notes while they brainstorm. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick are now waiting for the second round of edits to land on their desks. They plan to tackle that as soon as it does, and do that right. Writer Chick actually loves this part of the process, and Other Writer Chick is very glad that Writer Chick does.

Yesterday, Writer Chick sent off the fifth chapter of Her Last First Kiss to Other Writer Chick, whose comments make Writer Chick eager to keep going forward. Writer Chick is rather appalled at the sheer number of missing, extraneous, or misplaced commas, but good catch on Other Writer Chick finding them. This is one of the perils and pitfalls of having a critique partner who has a PhD in English. It is kind of like having a human grammar check, which is not a bad thing to have around, at all. Other Writer Chick has also said some super encouraging things about voice and detail, and those things make Writer Chick very, very happy.

Currently, Writer Chick is reading yet another installment of Fruits Basket. At this point, I am concerned about what’s going to happen once she is done with this series, because there are about twelve collectors’ editions, and she is now on volume number nine. This means she is in the home stretch, where things are getting super emotional. That is exactly how Writer Chick likes things, so that’s a check in the plus column. The question is, what is she going to read when she is done with these books? Please, for my sake, if you have highly angsty romance, with HEA ending, leave it in the comments. Writer Chick squeezes really hard when she is in the throes of a book hangover. That’s the downside of reading a series Writer Chick likes that much, but the upside, and the interesting side, is that, even though these books are set in pretty much modern day (maybe a decade or two back) Japan, and people do tend to turn into animals now and again (yes, there is someone who turns into a handsome orange boy, and he is one of the main guys, so that is a very big plus, if you ask me) but, as Writer Chick said, at length, to H, in one of their chats, these books have a lot of the flavor of Writer Chick’s favoritest historical romances. Writer Chick may explain that later.

This Kindle is full of Elizabeth Hoyt

What i can tell you is that she dove directly into a lot of Elizabeth Hoyt historicals, all set in the Georgian era, which may be part of what is fueling the fire for working on Her Last First Kiss. Right now, Writer Chick is on the hunt for Ms. Hoyt’s newest, Not the Duke’s Darling, which is the start of a new series, reading the last book in the Maiden Lane series, and has the first book in yet another series, in audio, for listening while she is doing other things. Is that a lot of books? Yes. Is that a sufficient amount of books? No.

It is, however, a sufficient amount of blogging for today. The sunbeam is moving, and I must follow. See you next time.

Peace out,

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Something About Voice Edition

Hey, everybody. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you on this rainy Friday. Rainy Fridays are Writer Chick’s favorite kind of Fridays. Check back when it snows, because she loves snow, but rain happens during every season, so I am going to go out on a limb and say it has an edge, for frequency alone.

Domestic tornado-y week around the apartment again, but we come to the end of the week with the same amount of humans as we started it. More importantly, the same amount of stuffed folk. Most importantly, me. Being Cat Regent is a tough job, but somebody has to do it, and, between you and me, I am far more qualified than the red teddy bear, or the super floppy zebra that can’t even stand on its own. Plus, I am a cat.

Anyway, on with the show. Last Saturday, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, as per usual. Most recently, Writer Chick wrote about the eternal appeal of fairy tales in romance. That post is here, and this is the picture that goes with it:


For Writer Chick’s Goodreads update, I have to call it now: she is being a cheater cheater pumpkin pie eater (she insists that I mention that A) there is not currently any pumpkin pie in the house, B) what’s up with that? and C) she is reading as fast as she can, okay? It’s been a very stressful week, and she’ll have finished the last couple of chapters by the time anybody reads this, so lay off, Sebastian. Yes, she used my name, but not the entire name, so she is probably not too irritated. Probably because she wants to get to the end of her book.)

That out of the way, Writer Chick’s pick of the week is The Iron Duke, the first entry in Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas steampunk romance series. Writer Chick says this has exactly the right blend of history and romance, even if the history is a very different version from what happened here on really real Earth. Just go with it. She is definitely going to read more of these. If you have steampunk romance recommendations, leave them in the comments, and Writer Chick will check them out.

I think that’s everything from the agenda Writer Chick gave me, so now it’s my time to riff. Wednesday was Writer Chick’s birthday-plus-one-week, which I gather is celebrated by putting on unusual clothing and going around to neighbors’ houses, begging for dessert. This is a fitting observance, though a quiet one around ye olde homestead. Maybe next year’s celebration can swap out the desserts for office supplies, because Writer Chick would be all about that kind of reboot.

It has come to my attention that National Author Day or something, was some time in the past week. Also National Cat day, but they didn’t say stuffed cat. At least I don’t t think so. I didn’t read the fine print, but I did lie on it. It was in my sunbeam. By that, I mean real sunbeam, not the artificial sunbeam, in this week’s picture, although that is good, too.

Also in this week’s picture is the business card holder that usually sits on Writer Chick’s desk. Since Writer Chick’s desk is currently in storage, that holder thingy and the pen attached to it live on the bookcase in Writer hick and Dude’s bedroom. Writer Chick gets the bottom shelf, Dude gets the top shelf, they split the middle shelf, and I sit wherever I want.

Writer Chick is kind of pumped that she needs to order more business cards soon, because she has now given out most of the ones she had before. That means networking is going okay. She is also pretty pumped that the pen takes Pilot G-2 ink refills, because she loves those pens. Bold point preferred; she’ll be very clear about that, but she’ll take medium in a pinch, fine point if she must, but she will do so with a heavy sigh.

The plaque on the base of the holder says, “I Anna-ize,” which is there because this was a gift from a friend, who froze when thinking of what to have put on the plaque. Writer Chick’s name only occurred to her afterward, but it’s all good, because Writer Chick likes that sentiment. Putting her own stamp on the romance genre has always been important to her, so this is a good reminder to make sure that goes into every manuscript.

How does Writer Chick “Anna-ize?” That’s a very good question, and there are times when her response would probably be that she was hoping you knew. Sometimes, it’s a matter of sitting down and doing the thing. Apple trees can only grow apples, and all that

For this kind of thing, it’s really best if Writer Chick doesn’t over Anna-lyze (see what I did there?) what she’s doing, and, instead, let the characters have their head (that is an old-timey phrase, meaning to let a horse pick where it wants to go, and the rider will be all “whatever” about the whole thing) and trust that they will get her to the right place, in the end.

Since Writer Chick writes romance, that end is an ever fixed mark (Shakespeare reference, for the win) but exactly how those people get to that happily ever after, well, that’s a wild card. I can respect that. It’s going to be different for everybody, which is why romance is such an interesting genre for Writer Chick to write.

That should be about everything for “Write” (heh heh) now, so keep your eyes peeled for those stray posts Writer Chick still owes. Never know when those babies are going to pop up, but they’ll be there.

Peace and Cuddles,


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,


Typing With Wet Claws: Coming Up Roses Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. I have some big mews…uh, that is news…to share with you this week. First, Any has had her essay, “Greetings From Boxvile,” accepted for publication in the New York’s Emerging Writers nonfiction anthology. If you can count (and you probably can,) that means Any will have two short pieces, coming out in anthologies, very soon. Stay tuna, um, I mean tuned, for further details. Tuna wouldn’t hurt, either. Just saying.

The other bit of news is that Any will be having another retreat with me, in August. We are both looking forward to that, very much. There has been talk of.a laser pointer. This intrigues me. Anty will spend some of the time resting, some of the time writing, and some of the time playing with me. That last one is probably where the laser pointer would come into play. I am told there will be more peanut butter, (yay) but that it is a people food (boo.) Anty Kara, who helps a lot of kitties, and is very smart, says that I can safely have a pinky-nail sized bit of the organic peanut butter Anty likes, but I cannot have any peanut butter that has xylitol in it. I do not know what xylitol is, so maybe I Had better stick to cat food, just to be safe. I am very big on staying safe.

I am also very big on following the rules for blogging here, so that I may keep that privilege (Anty, as you might imagine, is the most dominant on that matter) which means that I had better get down to business and tell you where to find Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week. There is a little problem here, and I will tell you what that problem is. That problem is that I do not yet know how to work the new computer, and so I cannot copy and paste the link to Anty’s Buried Under Romance post, or its picture. I am very sorry about that, but when you put together new technology, special paws, and a remote connection, there is going to be a learning curve.

What I can do for you is this. Bookmarking will make sure that you can always find Anty’s posts there, and read a lot of great book reviews and interviews, as well. That is a pretty sweet deal. I highly recommend it. Anyway, Anty’s post this past week was about romance novels in disguise. That is not about people in romance novels, who wear disguises, (though Anty likes those quite a lot, but that is another post) but it is about books that do not say they are romance novels, but totally are. Outlander, Anty is looking at you.

Did you figure out that the same thing applies to the links to Anty’s Goodreads challenge? You are very smart. Also, Sebastian is kind of useless as a statistician, but he is very good at cuddling, and I do not like cuddles from anybody (well, Uncle, in extenuating circumstances. He is my favorite, and I love him the most.)  I can let him slide a little. According to current count, Anty has read sixty books out of the ninety that are her goal for 2018, which puts her at sixty-seven percent of the way home, and nine books ahead of schedule. That is not too shabby, though I would be remiss if I did not point out that she needs to step it up with the historical romance reading, already.

The book Anty liked most this week was a YA novel, called Munmum, by Jesse Andrews. Anty has already read two other books by Mr. Jesse, Haters and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which she loved, so she was pretty sure she would like this one, too, even though it is what the humans call magical realism. I think that is what humans call it, when it is like our regular world, but with one thing different. That thing, in this case, is that humans are bigger or smaller, according to how much money (or munmun) they have. The little poor people are very small, like rat sized, and so are in danger of dire peril in the form of cats. Also other things, but I can only speak for cats, as I am one. Not all cats are as bloodthirsty as the cats in this book.  The ones that are, are only doing their jobs.


Another new development is that Anty (and Uncle and Mama, but we all know who’s taking care of these things) now has roses. When Anty and Mama went to buy flowers for Miss H, they did not find any that Miss H would like, but Anty did fall in love with three miniatures rose bushes, so now they live on the windowsill in For-Now Apartment. Their names are York (white roses,) Lancaster (red roses,) and Tudor (red-and-white roses.) They look like this:


Tudor, Lancaster, and York

If they are not in order, that is because Anty moves them around. Lancaster was hogging all the sun, which is why he was, at the time Anty started rearranging them, the biggest. Anty thinks everybody should get a shot at the good sunlight. Today, it is raining, so they are all out of luck, but that is the plan. For those who are worried about how the roses and I will get along, please do not. I am a floor girl and they are window guys (girls? How do you tell? Or does it no matter?) so we will probably never be on the same level.

I would say something about how rotating the roses compares to Anty working on different projects, in turn, but We are burning daylight, and Anty is making move it along motions, so I guess that means that is about it for this week. More announcements, concerning the anthologies, CT Fiction Fest, and Chasing Prince Charming, still to come. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,


Where on earth is my signify picture on this thing?

Skye O’Malley Har-Bowling
(the kitty, not the book)

Why Did It Have to Be Selkies?

When I was but a wee princess, my parents, or some well meaning family friend, gave me a book of folk tales of the British Isles. I. Loved. That. Book. I still have it, though it’s in storage right now, so I can’t refer to it, but, when I needed to pick a project to work on for July’s Camp NaNo, I landed on selkies.

Not literally. They probably wouldn’t like that very much, but, once the idea was there, it put down roots, so okay. At first, it was mermaids. There I was, on retreat with Skye, and I had my Jane Davenport Whimsical Girls book out, turned to a page with two female figures. I surveyed my color choices. The faces looked similar, so maybe two versions of the same woman? Realistic and fantasy, maybe? Human and mermaid? Ooh. What if they were half sisters?

I whipped out the appropriate medium, and let my brain do its own thing while I swooped color across the page. By itself, the story formed. It’s a historical romance, first and foremost, (not between the sisters) with some familial conflict, and it doesn’t feel so much “paranormal” as one side of the family happens to be selkies. I was thinking mermaids at first, but there is the mermaid problem, Namely, how to put this gracefully, have intimate mermaid/human relations. This would be essential, so a quick bit of searching on aforementioned folklore of the British Isles was in order.

Which brings me to the selkie problem. Not the same as the mermaid problem, because selkies seem to have it easier in the human relations department. Shed seal skin, have human form. Sorted. Selkies, in many stories, become involved with humans, reproduce, and sometimes go back to the sea. Whether or not they can take their special friend with them varies, and I’m good with that. Works out rather well for what my story people want to do, and gave me a moment of clarity on why sting named one of his albums Soul Cages.

What, exactly, you might ask, is the selkie problem? For this gal, it’s names. Naming a character is an important part of the process, and, frequently, for me, it’s more a matter of them telling me what their names are. They won’t answer to anything else. I still have an outline draft with a hero who didn’t even know his own name until the very last chapter. (I am definitely going back to that one, someday,.) What the heck does one name a selkie? What do selkies, or, in a more broader scope, mythical/legendary creatures call themselves?

Thankfully, I neglected to officially sign up for July’s Camp NaNo, so I am doing it unofficially, with my goal to figure out this whole story, and what the heck I am doing even thinking about it, because I am not a paranormal writer, and the last time I ventured into that realm, my life fell apart, and I ended up ugly crying during a critique group (that had only positive comments, by the way) in the middle of a coffee house. The ugly crying incident had nothing to do with  me moving to a different state, but it does give me a sense of security that I never have to face that barista again.

This is the part of the process where I start writing down what I know about the story, telling it to myself. Kind of folktale-y, definitely historical romance, flying into the mist sort of thing. At the same time, Melva and I are thisclose to getting Chasing Prince Charming back to the editor who invited us to revise and resubmit, then will turn our attention back to Drama King. On my own, N is not letting me squiggle out of getting back in the saddle for Her Last First Kiss  so there is no lack of things to do. So, why toss another project into the mix? \

Good question. The best answer I have at this moment is “because I can.” Consider it the writing equivalent of physical/occupational therapy. I’m glad I did my May Camp Nano the way I did, and it is still simmering, goal met, so I can figure out exactly how my couple solves their problem. What is it that makes my heroine know what she has to do? I don’t know that yet, but it will come, and likely when I am slipping into a sealskin and taking it out for a spin.

In the meantime, hit me with selkie names. I’ll take anything.


I Will Go Down With These (Fictional) Ships (Paranormal Edition)

Time to blab about some of my favorite OTPS. That’s One True Pairing, for those not versed in the intricacies of fan fiction, and/or shipping.  This has nothing to do with transporting goods by water, but is fanspeak, derived from ‘relationship.’ In honor of Thursday apparently being National Matchmaker’s Day, The Happy Ever After blog asks select author who some of their fanfic couples are, which I find very interesting reading all on its own. Since I need a topic for today’s entry, I am going to hop on this particular wagon and blabber about such matters here.  Links go to my OTPs Pinterest page, for those meeting these couples for the first time.

My first ship that I remember having was Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, from the Wonder Woman TV show. I even subscribed to a fan club newsletter. We moved after I received the first issue, and the second (and subsequent) were never forwarded. Still salty about that. I remember that having to choose between an 8×10 glossy of either Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor or Diana Prince and Steve Trevor was agony for my ten year old self. I finally settled on the Wonder Woman option, but still am not sure if I made the right choice. I was always waiting for Steve to figure out Diana and Wonder Woman were the same person, or for her to make the revelation, but never could figure out how the HEA I wanted, even then, would work out, because Amazon, super hero, mortal, dude, all that sort of stuff. I’m still not sure how I would work something like that out in any of my own writing, but I did love that the heroine had two identities, and she was the strong one, and that the hero admired her for that. No, I have not yet seen the new movie version. I know what happens to Steve.  We’ll see if the sequel changes that.

I’m not sure if it’s me, if it’s the shows I watch/have watched, the whole romance writer thing, or what, but I have had a record of falling hard for TV couples that, well, don’t get the same treatment on TV that they would in a romance novel. I came to  Highlander (TV show, not movies) fandom late, as in  after the thing that already happened in season two, maybe even in season three. Whenever it was that the grieving Duncan first met his would-be second canon love interest of the series, Anne, an emergency room doctor, and I wanted to ship them. I really, really did, but it never quite took. Neither did Anne, even after Duncan basically built her a house with his own two Immortal hands, and I thought he deserved better. Which is when I finally, and do not ask me how, stumbled on the first season, and his original love interest, Tessa, a French sculptor, who owned her own blowtorch,  and the chemistry floored me. Duncan and Tessa forever, and I do mean  forever. Any detractors can shush about her being dead. It’s a fantasy show. Anything can happen. There was Fake Tessa, Alternate Universe Tessa (and even that ended badly, but I can accept the tragedy as long as it’s only alternate) so the next logical thing is somewhere, somehow, Real Tessa. Again, fantasy. Dead doesn’t count. They could figure something out.  My one and only attempt at a Regency may or may not have been inspired by their dynamic, no paranormal elements involved. I may resurrect the core of it as a Georgian. We will see.

Most recent members of this club are Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills from the dearly departed Sleepy Hollow. These two. Seriously, these two. Eighteenth century visionary and twenty first century cop may not be the most traditional couple, and sure, there was the complication of his being still technically married (even though his wife lived 200+ years in the past, buried him alive, and didn’t tell him that A) she was a witch, B) she was pregnant) that gave their explosive chemistry a wee bit of a challenge (until Ichabod had to kill wifey to save Abbie’s life.) When Abbie had to venture into Ichabod’s time to right a great wrong, and he met her there, not knowing he’d already met her in the future, oh my word, oh my word, do you know what this does to a historical romance writer? Then the show bungled the whole deal, Abbie got killed off, and all we shippers got was Ichabod placing a single kiss  on Abbie’s ghost’s hand. Her hand. Her ghost’s hand. Yeah, not good enough. I quit watching the show after that. In my mind, they beat all the monsters, and their reward is that they get to be happy. I don’t really need specifics.

Maybe falling in love with fictional couples is par for the course when one is a romance fan, and especially when one is a romance writer, which means one is actually both. As for falling for the couples that get shafted on their HEA, I’m still not sure what that says, but I do know that the urge to barrel into the story, announcing that it’s okay, because I am a romance writer, is not something I can shut off. Every couple on my OTP Pinterest board, whether canon gave them their HEA or not, has at least one part of their dynamic that goes into the idea soup, combines with something from some other couple, a bit from this book, that song, some bit of historical tid, a what-if from current events or daily life, the cover design of a new notebook, or a whiff of scent, and then, when I’m not looking, new characters are born, with new love stories they want me to tell. Who am I to argue with that?




Typing With Wet Claws: Scary Stories Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Here I am, practicing my begging face. Are my eyes big enough? I am next to the refrigerator, so that Anty will know I want food. My food is not in the refrigerator; that is where they keep people food. My food is in the pantry, but I figured Anty was smart enough to make the connection. Today is also the day before young humans put on costumes and go begging for treats. I beg for treats every day (and I get them) so I feel sorry they only get to do it once a year.

I was not born yet when this happened, but I have an interesting Halloween story to tell about Anty. This happened back when Olivia was our family’s kitty, and Anty worked in a place called the mall. The store where Anty worked sold accessories, which was very fun for Anty. They also said that workers could wear costumes for Halloween if they wanted. Anty thought that sounded fun, but she was also very busy that year and did not have time to put a costume together.

That is not the end of the story, though. While Anty was at work, people from the mall gave her a prize for wearing an especially imaginative costume. Anty was very confused about this, because she was wearing her regular clothes. Well, regular for Anty, that is. She had on a long patchwork skirt, suede boots with zippers, a pirate shirt and a black vest. She also had a Star Trek: The Next Generation style communicator pin that she wore as regular jewelry. The mall people said that they loved Anty’s costume as a member of a Star Trek landing party in disguise. Anty figures it was very creative of them to come to that conclusion, and maybe she had subconsciously worked in that direction, so she thanked them and accepted the prize.

She also went back to sorting through the pretty toy coins the mall people gave her to hand out to trick or treaters (they could not give out eating things because of rules) because those were not toy coins at all. Anty did not know how the mall people got those coins, because those coins were from a big big party called Mardi Gras in Louisiana, and the mall was in Connecticut. What Anty did know was that some of those coins could make parents of the trick or treaters angry, because some of those coins advertised places and activities that are not okay for young humans. Places where only grownups can go, to get drinks that are only for grownups, and places where grownups can watch other grownups, um, I will say dance. I do not mean ballroom or ballet, if you catch my drift. Anty took those kinds of coins out of the basket and did not give them out.

Those are really the only two Halloween stories I know, but I know a lot about being scared. Anty likes TV shows like The Walking Dead and Sleepy Hollow. Those are only pretend scary. I will tell you what is really scary. Research is really scary, at least according to Anty. Her first book, My Outcast Heart, was set in the town where Anty was a people kitten. Her hero was a hermit and her heroine was a subsistence farmer. That meant that the expected income for that job was food. That sounds like a very good job to me. I like food.

For this book, Her Last First Kiss, Anty is not on such familiar ground. That means she has a lot of research to do. Her previous books have had what some might call outliers as main characters. That does not mean they were very good at not telling the truth. That means that they were not a part of mainstream society. The heroine of Never Too Late started out as part of society, but she left, so she falls into that category, too. Anty says I do not need to know what a mistress is, but she needs to know how one got paid and how much and how much it would cost to keep somebody in a special hospital in 1784, and what her boy story people would have studied at Oxford and how far it is from Point A to Point B..and C and D and E, and how long did it take to get a special license to get married and other things as well. I am pretty sure I heard the exact moment her brain broke yesterday. That was a very scary moment for a kitty, because Anty was the only human at home, and I still needed food. I think she is better today, but she has a big binder out and is muttering something about something about maps. She is irritated with the Romans for putting London all the way at the bottom of the country, because that does not leave her a lot of room for characters to — Anty says I should not be talking about things like that before she has them firm in her mind.

One thing Anty has learned from all the books she has started to write but did not make it all the way is that she needs to have the foundation in place, and research is part of that. When she wants to know what her people could do in that time, she can look at what people actually did in that time. Anty is writing a romance novel, not a textbook, but she also needs to know what her people’s world was like and what they could do. If she does not know what her people could do, then she gets overthinky and that scares even Uncle, so she has to find these things out.

Anty needs the computer back, so 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)

Until next week...

Until next week…

As the Unicorn Rambles

All right, my liebchens, it’s Wednesday, I’ve already done #1lineWed on Twitter, I have a chat with my fabulous critique partner, Vicki, at two, writing must be done, articles pitched, so you’re getting this ramble because that’s how I roll.

Thanks to friend and reader Mary W, I got the idea to talk about some of the books I’ve read, recently or otherwise, that do suit my tastes. Much more fun to enthuse over something I love than whine about trying to find more of it. Here’s the thing about that; some of the time, it finds us, so all that looking can, in those cases, be the same as smashing our heads against a brick wall in hopes of getting through it, when, if we’d kept on walking a few more paces, we could have found the door, garden gate, etc.

This was going to be a video post, but the cold sore that showed up overnight is not terribly photogenic, so you’re getting this instead. All righty, disclaimer aside, let’s jump into this.

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Yeah, yeah, big surprise, but hey, reissue cover, for variety’s sake

Skye O’Malley, by Bertrice Small
(the book, not the kitty)

This is my all time favorite historical romance novel, big, bodacious, sprawling over years and continents, with one kickass heroine who doesn’t let boys boss her around. Doesn’t let Queen Elizabeth I boss her around either, for that matter.  An instance of amnesia actually working in fiction, lots of grit and adventure, from sixteenth century Ireland, England, Algiers and the high seas, to the political machinations of a woman making her way in a man’s world on her own terms, this gets my story blood pumping.

As for romance, Skye has more than one love in this book, and I am okay with that. Niall, her first love, and the hero of the book, is my favorite, and that final scene where the two of them and their friends literally do ride off into the sunset, well, that’s my all time favorite romance novel ending, ever. Yes, I can recite it from memory.  Much bigger in scope than is currently in vogue, and I miss that scope, this takes Skye from her birth to her HEA (for this book; eleven others follow, chronicling Skye’s family’s adventures) and set the bar or the larger than life heroines I prefer.

For those keeping track of that sort of thing, yes, this is a sexy book, but please don’t think that’s the whole point.  The character shine here, as people of their time, and if you don’t want to stand up and give Skye, Niall and company a fistpump at the end, well, I don’t know if we can be friends. (Okay, we probably can, but I would hold it against you. I am bribable with gummi bears, though, so you may still have a shot.)

Sword Dancer, by Jennifer Roberson

Oh good gravy, this book. I resisted reading it for ages (E, how long did I avoid this one?) because I’m not into a lot of fantasy, but, trust me, this really really is a romance.  Famed warrior Tiger can be matched by no man, but (fantasy readers, you know where I’m going here) that’s kind of moot because Del is no man. From the first time the two meet, in a desert cantina, the chemistry crackles between this Southron (sic) alpha male and Northron (sic) woman who is so very much his equal and opposite that following them through seven (so far) very thick books is not nearly enough. I also know the last line of this seies by heart. It was everything I …er, he dreamed when he slept at night, among the salset. :happy sigh:

My copies are in storage, but I have written about the series for Heroes and Heartbreakers, here.  Yes, there’s magic in this book, and it’s told in first person, from Tiger’s POV, but this gal found it very easy to slip inside his head. Tiger thinks he’s tough, and he is; he earns a living with his sword, fending off challengers, but the challenge he didn’t expect was to find a woman who can do what he does…and more. Del needs Tiger’s help to find and free her enslaved brother, This relationship has a lot going against it. They’re literally from two different worlds, and each gets a chance to see exactly what the other has had to overcome in their hometowns, not to mention some huge challenges destiny throws their way. I won’t give away their secrets here, but if you want a ride or die couple in your romantic fiction, Tiger and Del are it.  This really does read like a powerful historical romance set in a place we don’t know yet, so if you’re hesitant about fantasy, this is  good place to start. Ms. Roberson has also written some excellent historical romances, so, y’know, precedent has been set.

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

Not historical romance, this one, but, well, kind of, sort of, in its way. Set in the 1980s, we could call this a period piece, because the fabric of the time is essential to the romance and shapes it in a way that one would collapse without the other.  It’s standalone, too, which is one thing I sorely miss in today’s market (though I find more standalones in YA than historical romance; what’s with that?) and absolutely everything revolves around the love story.

Eleanor and Park, high school students, meet on a school bus. Eleanor is hard to overlook. She’s fat. She has big, curly, red hair. She dresses funny. Park doesn’t want the trouble, but when he sees how badly she’s getting picked on, he reluctantly lets her share his seat. Then he notices she’s reading his comic book over his shoulder. He holds the book open wider so she can see. Swoon, right? He gives her the book, and other books, makes her mix tapes, becomes the one pure and true and good thing in her life. Eleanor needs that, as her home life is a crazy free fall of chaos with her abusive stepfather and her gaggle of siblings who look to her more than their parents for stability. Park’s family has romance cred already, as his dad loved his mother enough to go back to Korea for her, and he knows what love looks, feels, and sounds like.  He knows he’s found it with Eleanor, and he’s willing to fight for her, literally and figuratively.

The course of teen love never does run smooth, even though both know this is the real thing, and both must make a heartrending choice when Eleanor’s home life escalates. I do count this as a happy ending, and I like to think I do know what those mysterious three words in the book’s ending are. I will fight those who disagree, because, yeah, that is the hill I want to die on when discussing this book. I’ve written about Park and my other favorite YA book boyfriends for Heroes and Heartbreakers here.

That’s all the time I have for today, so I shall leave you here and scarper off to Georgian England for a while. What books can get you squealing like an excited fangirl/boy? Can you tell anything these three books or their characters have in common? Know a good cold sore remedy? Drop a line in the comments and let me know.

Typing With Wet Claws: Direcat Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for a slightly later than usual Feline Friday. Anty has been busy this week, as we get things with Uncle and people vets sorted out. I am happy to report that he still does not have to wear the cone of shame and does not have to take as many pills after we saw the most recent people vet. I imagine Anty is relieved, but mostly, right now, she is tired.

I am writing this post on Mama’s laptop, because Anty’s has decided it does not like the internet anymore, or maybe it thinks that now the tablet can do all that internet stuff. Either way, this means that Mama’s laptop is now everybody’s laptop, and the humans have to work out a schedule to share it so that everybody gets their fair shot at things. I am glad the tablet is kitty sized, though touch screens can be tricky if you have paws instead of fingers. Anty is looking at other laptops that might be better to use than trying to navigate among several computers that can each do part of the job. We will keep you updated on that search. It is going to take a lot of hunting, but things will calm down when that is settled.

One good thing that has happened in all of this is that Anty has discovered Game of Thrones. That is the TV series, not the books, at least not yet. She and Mama have started calling me their direcat. I do not know exactly what that entails, (hah, see what I did there? Entails? Because I have a tail.) but I did find this sigil generator, and I made my own sigil:


If you want to make your own sigil, too, the generator I used is here. If you do make your own sigil, for yourself, or your pet, or maybe your characters, if you write, please feel free to share a link to what they look like in the comments. Anty would love to see them.

My favorite episode so far is “The Pointy End,” because that is the episode where a kitty got away from a young human who was chasing him. I am very proud of that kitty. That was some good running. I should note that this is not a show for gentle viewers who do not like to see Bad Things happen, or Very Private Things, either. Anty is not phased. She knows it is pretend, and she likes stories with very high stakes. She says she knows this show is in the fantasy genre, but it feels more like historical fiction to her. I can see where she gets that. She did not like what happened to Lady, and she would really like to see more romance (and not between siblings, thank you) but it is still a very good story so far, and makes her want to see more of an epic feel in historical romances, because she would very much like to write something like that in historical romance.

First, though, she would like to take a nap. That will probably not happen for a while, since she has a lot of writing to do. That is not always easy when the machines on which she writes are giving her guff, as Uncle calls it. Anty says that having notebooks helps her a lot in this regard, because they only crash if they fall off the table. The worst that can happen then is that she will lose her place, but that is usually easy to fix, because that is usually where the writing stops. Unless she was transcribing, and then it might get trickier, but she does like to change ink colors for every session, so if she knows she was on pages written in red ink, that narrows things down when she needs to find her place again. That is very useful when she has to stop to tend to domestic tornadoes or feed me or other important stuff like that.

One good thing about technology is that the camera cord came in the mail today. That means that there will be new pictures of me, and probably also of ducks (Anty says that the ducklings are teenagers now; the girls have blue stripes under their wings and the boys have green heads. There are more girls than boys, if you are counting.) and probably notebooks, too. Anty has a stack of Picadilly notebooks she would like to hack, but she needs to do some more writing first. When a writer has been dealing with other things, even if they are very important,then the writer will miss writing, and they may get grumpy and short tempered. In those cases, it is best to tread carefully and let them do what they need to do. Giving kitties treats also helps, I have found. At least it helps me.  People snacks probably will help the writer, too.

Sharing one laptop  among three humans and one kitty means that we only get a certain amount of time to use it, and that is about it for my time right now. Until next week, I remain very truly yours,

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling
(the kitty, not the book)

Until next week...

Until next week…