Typing With Wet Claws: After The Book Swap Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. The weather here in New York’s Capitol Region is crazy. Today, we have rain. Sometimes. Yesterday, we had snow. The day before that, the temperature was seventy degrees. I am very glad that I am an indoor kitty, and do not have to be outside in all of that madness. Being inside also gives me a front row seat (I guess there will only be a back row when I get a kitty brother, and he sits behind me, so for now it is an only row seat) to what Anty is doing, which is one of the reasons she lets me blog for her, once a week.

Since I am not allowed to talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway) I have to talk about where readers can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, other than here. If you are reading this, then you already know how to find here.

First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talks about the difference between a romance novel and a love story. It is a pretty important difference, so if you are not sure, this post may be helpful. It is here, and it looks like this:

BURlovestory

Next, we come to the part of the post where I tell you about Anty’s reading this week. It was a pretty full week on the domestic front, but Anty still did pretty well. The book that she read and reviewed this week, is the book that she hoped would get her back into reading historical romance again, and, guess what, it did. That review is here, and it looks like this:

Since this book is the second in a trilogy (Anty already has, and has read the first one) Anty now has to track down the third one, although it was published a while back, and so is not sold in new bookstores anymore, so she will have some looking to do. She does not mind that kind of looking very much, and it reminds her that there are still four more books by Miss Blythe, beyond that (three are related to each other, one is not related to anything) for her to read in the future. This is very encouraging.

Right now, Anty has read thirteen out of ninety books for the year, which puts her at fourteen percent of the way toward her goal. That means that she is on track, when it comes to the number of books. She still has a way to go in the historical romance department, though, as only three of those books are historical romance. I have faith in Anty, though, because now she has the scent of the genre again, and she has come back from the book swap party that she goes to every year.

Coming back from that party always gives Anty a boost. Not only does she get to see Anty Melva, her co-writer for the contemporary books, but there is a whole room with books for anybody to take,whatever they want. I should mention here that there are many different kinds of books, not only romance. This is a good thing, because the people who go to this party like a wide range of books. It also means that Anty has, if not first pick of the romance novels brought by other people, it is pretty darned close. This year, she only took home a few books, but one of those books, Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton, has Anty excited for a couple of reasons.

I do not know if there are any actual dragons in this book, but probably not. That is good, because dragons are scary. That is, I imagine they would be. I do not know any dragons. Maybe some of them are nice. Anyway, Anty wants to read this book, because it, along with other books by Miss Anya, and similar authors, paved the way for the kinds of historical romances Anty loves the very best. This book was written in 1944, which is, umm, a lot of cats ago. It also takes place in the Hudson Valley, which guess what, is an area we kind of know a few things about, so that should be interesting. I do not know if there are any cats in this book. I guess Anty will find out. If Anty likes this book, she will read other books my Miss Anya. I do not think any of them are related, so that is a plus. Anty is very big on standalone books.

That does not stop her from planning to study some favorite, connected, books, and take notes on that reading process. That is both to learn how to focus on what Anty loves best about historical romance, so she can bring it into her own writing, and to use a super cool notebook with a hipster kitty on it. Anty already shared a picture of this book, but I am sharing it again, because it has a kitty on the front.

1902hipsterkitty

A stripey kitty, so it will probably remind her how much she loves me and that she should give me more treats whenever she opens it. At least that is the plan.

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

skyebye2018

 

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Typing With Wet Claws: Encouraging Word Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. First of all, I would like to say welcome to our new readers. It is very nice to have you with us. My posts are always on Fridays, and, sometimes, I help Anty out during the week, as well. I will try to get her to put more pictures of me in her regular posts, because, you know, everybody likes kitties.

Since the rule here is that I have to talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, other than here, before I am allowed to talk about anything else, I had better get right to that. I usually end up talking about Anty’s writing anyway, but it is the principle of the thing. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. Her topic this month is beginnings. This week, she talked about the different ways romance novels have started their stories over the years. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURsoitbegins

Next, we move on to Anty’s Goodreads reading challenge. Anty is currently one book behind, at three books out of ninety, but it is the weekend now, and she is reading a bunch of books at the same time, so one of them is going to reach The End soon. One book behind is not that mug of a lag, so I will not chastise her this time. So far, she is at about 33% historical romance reading, which is pretty good. She also currently has two historical romances, one time travel romance, and one YA in her reading rotation. No, three historical romances. I counted wrong. That is an occupational hazard of having special paws.

This week, Anty read and reviewed her first YA novel of the year. It is this one:

 

 

That may look like a compact week for Anty, and there have been a fair share of domestic tornadoes, but there is also some encouraging writing news. This morning, Anty Melva emailed Anty. That is not an unusual occurrence, because they write books together. Anty first thought that Anty Melva had told her that another publisher or agent had said no thank you to Chasing Prince Charming, but that was not the case. Before anybody gets too excited, it was not an offer on the manuscript, but it was still a good enough thing that I got to take a picture of Anty’s happy face. It looks like this:

 

AntysHappyFacereviseresubmit

Anty’s happy face

What made Anty have a happy face was that, even though the publisher was not asking to buy Chasing Prince Charming as it is right now, they had some suggestions about how Anty and Anty Melva could make it even better. If they want to make those changes, then the publisher would like to see it again, because there were things they liked about it very much. Anty and Anty Melva told the publisher people that they will be happy to make those changes and try again, so that is what they are doing now.

Right when anty got the email, she got out her notebook for that story (which was carefully chosen by Anty Melva putting it in her hand before they started one of their road trips, and telling her it was the notebook for that story. Do not question Anty Melva.) and made some notes about what the publisher said they would like to see done differently. She and Anty Melva will both think about those suggestions, and then talk next week, and make a plan to actually make the changes.

If you think that one of the first things on Anty’s mind was “yay, more planning,” then you are right. Anty loves to plan, and Anty loves to revise, so planning revisions is, if not quite a big party, then pretty close to it. That does not mean it won’t be a lot of work, because it will but it is writing work, and Anty likes that kind, and she likes Anty Melva, which is kind of important because they write books together, so things should work out okay. I will be sure to keep everybody up to date on any new developments.

In the meantime, it is business as usual with the regular writing. Anty and Anty Melva are both working on scenes for Drama King, and Anty will have pages to show Miss N, for Her Last First Kiss. With all of that time Anty will spend, looking at her glowy box and all of her notebooks, that means she will not be using her phone during those times, so I can hone my Mouse Hunt skills. I also like the game with the laser pointer (the humans have talked about getting me a pet-safe one for the really real world) and another game, where I catch a fly. There is also a birdie game, but I do not care about that one. Anty says I am honing my gaming palate. We will have to try more games and find out, for sure.

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

skyebye2018

 

Seven

If, for any reason, anybody needs to know how many paramedics can fit into the hallway and one very small room of our apartment, the answer is seven. One guess as to how I know. Thanks to aforementioned first responders and the hospital staff, Real Life Romance Hero will be fine, but that was not the way anybody wanted to start off the new year. Though I am posting this entry on Wednesday, it is technically Monday’s post. I will figure out where the Wednesday post goes, later.

Right now, there is laundry to do, and a long-awaited e-book on my Kindle, to read while said laundry is doing its thing. After that, it is time to check on RLRH at the hospital, and, most likely, convey him home. As Housemate often says, at least we are not bored. She is right: we most certainly are not even remotely close to bored. Tired, yes, but not bored.

This may not, objectively, seem like the best time in the world to participate in a month-long writing challenge, but, almost predictably, that is exactly what I am doing. I highly suspect I may be a unicorn in this particular group, as other participants seem to have a wide array of writing goals that do not involve commercial fiction (or fiction at all) but that’s fine. This isn’t that kind of challenge, at least not at this point. We will see how things go, but, so far, two assignments given out, two completed, so I will consider myself off to a decent start. Begin as one means to go on, and all that stuff.

Usually, for me, the big winter holiday is Christmas, and that’s still my favorite. I have every plan of having a more traditional celebration next year. This year, though, it’s the new year that has me excited. A friend and I stayed up, over Skype, on New Year’s Eve, to watch 2017 die. It’s been that kind of year. With a new year come new possibilities. Foremost among those is reclaiming my writer identity.

It’s easy for the writing self to get lost along the way, especially when domestic tornado chains rip through one’s family and debris takes its time in settling. Don’t ask me what it is about this particular year that makes it different, but this year, there was a firm, quiet, “no,” when it came to that getting lost thing, and that is probably why I clicked the button to join this challenge. Okay, that and the fact that I know the woman who’s running it, personally, and I may or may not have started writing one of my novels in her kitchen, once upon a time. Spoiler alert: I totally did.

Today’s lesson was on morning pages, which I’ve been doing for a couple of years now. If I dug into my archive of completed notebooks, I could tell you the exact day. Since there is rather a lot of laundry that needs immediate attention, I am not going to do that (at least not today) but I am going to take a moment to highly recommend the practice of morning pages, and the related practice of a brain dump, which can be done at any time. I will be bringing my traveler’s notebook/bullet journal/should probably give it its own name so that I don’t have to figure out how to refer to this thing with me, so there probably will be a brain dump at the laundromat as well.

There is also an equal chance I will flick my Kindle on as soon as I have deposited the last quarter in the washing machine, and spend the entire time with my attention fully focused on Pirate In My Arms, by Danelle Harmon.  There are a few reasons for this. I stayed up until midnight on January first, so that I could make sure, as the calendar flipped to January second, the date the e-book version of this historical romance, first published in 1992, would be available. I didn’t know that, only a few hours later, I would be reading it while crammed into a corner of a tiny room in the Emergency Department, while RLRH let the medication do its work. When Housemate came to join us, she looked at my Kindle, and asked, “Pirate In My Arms?” I told her she knew me well, and then went back to eighteenth century Cape Cod, to watch a proper colonial maiden and a fabled English pirate find that their ragged edges fit together into one unbreakable whole.

I did gobble this book when it first came out, in what seems like another lifetime, so it’s both an old favorite and a new adventure at the same time. That’s what writing fiction feels like, as I look at 2018. I’ve been here before, but it’s still new. Not sure exactly what to take from that, but to keep going straight on through it, eyes fixed on the ultimate goal. By the end of 2018, I want to have at least one new book out there, in the hands of readers, or at least on its way. It’s been said the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and there’s truth to that. It’s a thousand single steps, one after the other, aimed toward the ultimate destination.

Typing With Wet Claws: My Brother Has Fins Edition

Hi, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Anty has a lot on her mind this week, so we had better get down to business. She is going hardcore on the whole talk about her writing thing before I get to talk this week. It’s best to go with her on this one.

First off, Anty is at Buried Under Romance every Saturday, so stop by and see her there. This week, she will be talking about the power of romance heroines. Last week, she talked about the power of romance heroes. That post is here, and it looks like this:

0825BURfabio

 

Anty has some exciting things in the works over at Heroes and Heartbreakers. Look for her post on how to tell whether that nineteenth century romance novel you are reading is Regency or Victorian, coming soon. I would put the link here, but it is not up yet. Anty will also be recapping half of the episodes of Outlander this season, alternating with Elizabeth Poteet. Anty considers herself in most excellent company.

On the reading front, Anty is doing pretty well. She has had to add a flap onto her reading tracker in her not-a-bullet-journal, because she already filled all the slots for her August reading tracker, but it is still August, and she still keeps reading books. That is one of Anty’s super powers that comes back in the fall. Stress allows her to read really, really fast.

0825grchallenge

Goodreads says Anty is on track with her reading challenge, but she may actually be ahead. One of the books she read this week, Heir to the Sea, by Danelle Harmon, Anty cannot put that on her Goodreads challenge, even though she likes it very, very much (it is actually one of her favorites of Miss Danelle’s, and Anty really, really likes all of Miss Danelle’s books.) because it will not be published for another week or so. Anty read this book as a beta (not betta) reader. She will put up her review once the book is published. In short, she loved it.

Anty also loves me, which is why she lets me talk on her blog every week. Also because I am cute, and pictures of cute kitties always get attention. I am much cuter than my ne brother, Tuna Roll. For those who want to know how I am adapting to not being the only pet anymore, thank you for your interest. I am mostly unphased by this new addition. This may be because Tuna Roll lives in a bowl on Uncle’s desk, and I cannot see him from my vantage point on the floor. I basically have no opinion, as his presence does not affect me all that much. Let me rephrase that. Tuna Roll makes Uncle happy, and since Uncle is my favorite, and I love him the most most most, then I love Tuna Roll by association. We have a deal. I do not try to eat him, and he does not try to eat me. So far, so good.

Back to Anty’s writing for a minute. This week, Anty and Anty Melva are going to have a different topic when they have their Skype session. This time, they are not going to talk about Chasing Prince Charming (spoiler alert; they caught him, or their heroine did) but they will be talking about their second book together, Drama King. There is a cat in this book, and even he gets a happily ever after, so this may be my favorite book of either of theirs, by that alone. It is nice to see my kind represented in romance fiction.

Anty also worked on an important scent in the second draft of Her Last First Kiss. This part of the book is perhaps the biggest deviation from the first draft, but Anty thinks it is a good change, because things get messier. This is the part of the book where the two humans know that they are in love with each other, but they are also convinced that they can never, ever be together, no way, no how. That is what Anty calls angst. Anty loves angst. Characters can never be completely happy until the very end. Anty says not to worry; this is  a romance novel, so that happy ending is guaranteed.

If you hear a clock ticking around here, that is because Anty has not one, but two beta (not betta) readers lined up for A Heart Most Errant, once she is done giving it a once over. The avoid-y part of Anty mumbled something about “a couple of weeks,” but then it got steamrolled by the part of Anty that makes her own planner from scratch. That part said “great, two weeks it is.” The avoid-y part is now hiding under a blanket fort, clutching a stuffed animal and rocking back and forth while making whimpery sounds. The planner-from-scratch part is ignoring the avoid-y part and breaking down the manuscript into chunks, then going over each chunk once, and only once. The planner-from-scratch part would like to get this ball rolling. I like rolling balls. They are fun to watch. Sometimes, I bat them with my paws. Sometimes.

Since today’s schedule is all upside down, we are still on a break from video blogs. Instead, I will introduce a new feature. I call that new feature Tuna Roll’s Thought of the Day.  Take it away, Tuna Roll.

0825TunaRoll

Eat more chicken. Or beef. Or pork. Or anything that is not fish. Especially not me. Tuna Roll

 

 

 

Thank you, Tuna Roll. That is about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebyenew

see you next week

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: On Top of The Milk Crate Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This has been an interesting week in our home, but then again, I think every week is interesting. Either I really do have an interesting family, or I am very easily impressed. I am not sure which, maybe both. Before I am allowed to talk about anything else, though, I have to talk about where you can read Anty’s writing on the interwebs, besides here, so let’s get to that.

First, as always, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about the importance of friendship in romance fiction. That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

BURfriends

Please pardon the awkward cropping. These things are hard when one has special paws.

 

This brings us to Anty’s Goodreads activity. Anty will tell you more about her reading habits in the video below, but I am happy to report that her reading challenge progress now looks like this:

GR4690

Anty is now 51% of the way through her goal of 90 books read in 2017, and she is now only one book behind schedule. Considering that this is the weekend, I have every faith that she can not only get back on track, but maybe even pull ahead. That would be very exciting. This week, the books she read were these:

 

Click on the links below each picture, to read Anty’s reviews of these books. In case you are counting, that is one historical romance this week, and one contemporary inspirational category romance. I should point out that, even though “category,” has the word, “cat,” in it, there are no cats in this book. I may have to have Anty talk to Miss Jean about that, because they are in the same RWA chapter. Can a book without cats truly be all that inspiring? Maybe there are cats in other books by this author.  I will give Miss Jean the benefit of the doubt. She does have a lot of books, so odds are that there should be a cat in one of them. I suppose we will see.

This week, Anty had a surprise during her Monday marathon session for her work on Her Last First Kiss. The actual second-drafting went pretty well, but Anty learned an important lesson about how to get through hot, muggy days and nights. She found out, the hard way, that it is indeed possible to drink too much water at one time, because it makes humans sick, which does not help with the writing process. I think this may have something to do with her drinking water out of a travel mug and not out of a bowl. I have never had too much water at one time, and I always drink out of a bowl. Just putting it out there.

Needless to say, this has given Anty serious thoughts about how she can best avoid the need for these Monday marathons. The obvious answer is to do more of the work over the course of the week, so she does not have to cram it all into one day. That makes a lot more sense, and it also involves her keeping better track of how she uses her time. Anty believes that we can always find the time to do what matters most, and in her case, that is writing. I suspect this may affect my routine somewhat, but I am willing to take one for the team if it makes for a happier Anty, and as long as it does not affect my treat schedule. Anty and Uncle know that I always know when it is twelve noon and ten at night. I find time for what is most important to me, too.

Today is cool, gray and rainy, (well, rainy off and on. Right now, birds are chirping.) which is Anty’s favorite summer weather, which generally means good things for her writing. That may not always show on the writing tracker, because, well, Anty does not like this particular writing tracker. I will let her tell you about that, and how her writing has gone this week:

Thank you, Anty. That was very interesting. I will not tell the people how many takes it took for you to get that video made, or the backup video you made on your phone, but I will keep it safe, in case of emergencies, like me needing more treats. What I will tell them is that Mama had a very good suggestion, that Anty should prop her laptop on top of a milk crate, instead of the makeup case and all of those books. As it happens, Uncle gave Anty a fancy wire milk crate for Christmas (it did not have milk in it, unfortunately, but it did have other things. Uncle is not a monster.) and, while she is still figuring out what she wants to do with it for real, it works very well as a booster for the laptop. She still has to use the binder to correct the angle for the screen, but this is a lot easier than the other way, so there may be more videos.

I should note that Anty has not been getting out of the house as much as she would like, and so she  may be going a little loopy with the whole needing people thing. Having an extroverted writer does present some challenges for even the most dedicated of mews, but the internet is a big help.

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

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Planapalooza Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is a gray and sometimes rainy day here in New York’s Capitol Region, which is the best kind of summer weather for Anty.  There are still a few domestic tornadoes to wrangle, but Anty is making use of planning and organization to take care of most of them. I will get to that later.

First, as always, before I can talk about anything else (which is usually related to Anty’s writing, anyway) I need to talk about where you can find her writing on the interweb, besides here.  As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this week. This time, she talked about author websites. Do you like to visit author websites? Have a favorite? Have different expectations for websites from veteran and debut authors? That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

 

BURComputerDog

Buried Under Romance

 

This week, Anty was very excited when one of her favorite bloggers, Rose Grey, blogged about her. Well, one of her blog entries, but that is basically the same thing. Some readers may remember that Anty blogged about one of Miss Rose’s entries, about writing rituals, a few weeks ago, which made Miss Rose very happy. Anty’s post on that is here.  Imagine Anty’s surprise when she got a private message from Miss Rose, telling Anty that Miss Rose had returned the favor. Miss Rose mentioned Anty’s post on brush pens and planning. That post is here, and it looks like this:

 

RoseGreyBooks

Rose Grey Books

 

Now it is time to look at Anty’s Goodreads Challenge. If you would like to follow that, you can do so here. Anty said some grownup-only words when she saw that, although she had read another book this week, she was now three books behind schedule. Anty does not consider this acceptable. At first, she thought she could cram in a few rereads and get back on track before this post, but that was not realistic, so she turned to her planner. She does not have the tracking system ironed out yet, but here is what she came up with for a manageable reading plan:

  • She wants to read more books. (this is too vague, so she made it more specific.)
  • She wants to read two books per week. 
  • Assume that each book has an average of 350 pages. 
  • Each week has 7 days.
  • 700 pages, divided by 7 days, means Anty needs to read 100 pages per day. 
  • This can be broken down into 4 sessions of 25 pages each. 

That feels a lot more specific than “read more books,” and Anty can zip through twenty-five pages, easy. She plans to record this for a month and see how the plan works. If it works well, she will continue it for two more months. If that works, then it becomes part of the regular routine.  So far, it seems to be working pretty well, but she only devised that plan yesterday, so it needs more time before anyone can make that call.

Anty’s review of the book she did read, The Shattered Rose, by Jo Beverley, is here, and it looks like this:

 

ShatteredRoseReview

The Shattered Rose, by Jo Beverley

 

This week, we have a special request. Anty Sue Ann, who readers might know as blogger/author, Sue Ann Porter, read Anty’s post on brush tip markers, and asked what the tips of those markers looked like. I am not purr-sonally  allowed to touch Anty’s art or planning supplies, but I can share a picture.  The tip of a brush marker looks like a pointy paintbrush, as you can see here:

BrushTipPenTipsTombow

Tombow Brush Markers

 

Okay, I think that is it for updates. This has been a week of domestic tornadoes, for Anty and also for those around her. Both Anty Melva and Miss N had changes in their schedule this past week, which means that there needed to be changes to the regular schedule, because regularly scheduled meetings would not work. They are still figuring that out. This coming week has a holiday in it (I do not like Fourth of July at night; it is too loud, but Anty and Uncle like to watch the fireworks from the balcony. I hide until it is over. Fireworks cannot find me, if I am under the bed.)

To figure out the best time to plan the times to meet again, after disruption in the routine, Anty needs to look, not only at her calendar, as well as Miss N’s, and Anty Melva’s, but at the time it will take to deal with domestic tornadoes, and time to rest and refill the creative well. As usual for Anty, this will mean getting out pen and paper and putting all the information where she can see it in one place. Then, she will be able to make good decisions about how to best use her time.

Even when life gets interesting, writing is still Anty’s happy place, and that makes it very easy to focus. Her goal is to get both Her Last First Kiss and Chasing Prince Charming into the hands of readers, whether that mean traditional or independent publishing. She is still looking at what needs to be done with the book that is currently called Ravenwood (that is her postapocalyptic medieval romance novella) to get it ready to find its way to readers, so that is going to mean more work, but that is the kind of work she does not mind one bit.

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

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

The Art of Being a Tease(r)

This past Saturday,  author Marianne Rice was our guest speaker at our monthly CR-RWA meeting.  The topic? Book teasers. What I knew about them? Zero. Okay, not really zero, but close enough. I knew they were pretty, that I liked seeing them, and the Greek chorus in my head, this time comprised of my dad, a lifelong artist, retired commercial art director; and cover art queen, Elaine Duillo, would not remain quiet. Here’s what they said:

Dad: Advertising is the art of telling people what they want.

Elaine Duillo: A cover’s job is to get the reader to cross the store to pick up that book (paraphrased, from a phone interview that I still fangirl over,  coughety-cough years after the fact.)

It’s not possible to think of those two bits of wisdom, without also thinking of the anecdote that prompted the Duillo quote/paraprahse. I’d been perusing the new releases in the romance section of the Waldenbooks (see, I told you this was ancient history) down the street from where I lived at the time. Two little girls arrived about the same time I did, far too young to be romance readers themselves, as in write their ages in single digits young. Girl A pointed excitedly to one cover. “Ooh, I’ll be her,” she squealed. Girl B pointed to another cover. “I want to be her.” Over and over again, through the selection, picking out their favorites, until their big person summoned them, or they ran off on their own; I don’t remember which.  I wanted to pick out my next reads, so their ultimate destination wasn’t my concern, though I suspect they may well have become romance readers, and I hope that they are.

What I do know is that I was those girls when I was their age, and my Aunt Lucy’s visits always included a big brown paper grocery bag full of historical romance novels, as a gift for my mother. My job was to take the bag to the laundry room and de-bag the books, for Mom to look through later. I was forbidden to read them, as I was too young, but those covers were fair game. I spent a lot longer than I strictly needed on that job, crafting stories in my head, based on the cover images and back blurbs, even if I didn’t know what all of the words about the more, ah, intimate, sides of the story, meant. Fast forward coughty-cough years, and I am not only a romance reader, but a romance writer and blogger. I write romance, and about romance, and, though it’s been a while since my last release, I do still have a backlist and several projects in the works, so this workshop on teasers was more than relevant to my interests.

Because I learn best by doing, I was angry at myself for not having brought my laptop to the workshop, as Marianne Rice gave us the opportunity to create a book teaser on the spot, and I love that kind of thing. Both the nifty playing with graphics, and the chance to make something at the drop of a hat, and showing off one of my book babies wouldn’t hurt, either. I tried. Canva is not compatible with my Android phone, so I seethed, then took out a Post-It and sketched a layout. As soon as I got home, I put the new knowledge to the test, and made my first ever teaser:

QueenOfTheOceanTeaser

Now I want to read this again.

Not bad for a first time at bat, if I do say so myself, and there was a very similar feeling when I hit “save” as the first time I saw the first version of the cover. It’s real, or, in this case, it’s still real. My baby is still pretty, and I still want to pump a fist in the air when I think of Mateo and Frances sailing off into the sunset, for real. Okay, the sun was already down, but give me this one.

Queen of the Ocean gave me the chance to play with one of my favorite tropes, reunited lovers, which works super well for novellas, and dip my toes into the waters of one of my favorite eras, the sixteenth century. No Court intrigues in this one, but I still get a delicious shiver when I think of the opening scene, of Frances at the water’s edge, staring down the only way she saw to escape the grim reality of life among a family of wreckers. She clings to the memories of Mateo, her childhood best friend and first love, spirited away by his seafaring father, out of her life forever…until the same sea that took him from her dumps him at her feet when his ship runs afoul of her family’s plans.

All of that came rushing back when I browsed through images free for commercial and personal use.  Add a small blurb, the title, pop the cover in there, and there we have it. My name was the last thing I added, because it hadn’t crossed my mind to do so before, but it’s mine. I wrote it. I’m proud of this story, and if doing something I’d do for fun anyway (playing with pretty graphics) could get Frances and Mateo into the hands of new readers, well, that’s a win for both counts, from where I’m sitting.

For today, my trip back in time takes me not to sixteenth century Cornwall, with Frances and Mateo, but eighteenth century London, with Hero and Heroine, and Her Last First Kiss, because critique meeting is tomorrow, and if I want N’s feedback, I have to have pages to show her. Even so, making the Queen of the Ocean teaser reminded me that I have this lovely graphic, by the amazing Sandra Schwab (who also wrote my favorite gothic, Castle of the Wolf) still waiting for the right text:

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Image by Sandra Schwab

The first time I opened the email with this image in it, my first thought was, “there she is,” and there I was, in the scene where she takes out her pistol and aims it at…well, that would be telling. It would also be writing, or in this case, re-writing, because we’re on draft two of this now, Ruby and her hero and I, and every day’s work brings us one step closer to getting that story in the hands of readers, too.  Seeing a visual representation of that journey, even while it’s still in progress, can provide a much needed creative boost. If it whets some reader appetites along the way, well, we’ll take that, too.

What do you like to see in a book teaser?

TheWriterIsOut

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Controlled Chaos Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday.  As you may have noticed from my picture above, Anty’s image editing program is giving her guff, but she does not have time to deal with that guff today, so she will deal with it later. Good thing she has me to take care of the blogging for her on days like this.

Anyway, before I get into any of that, I need to talk about where you can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, besides here. As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this week, and this week, she talked about what the humans call wedding season. I have never been to a wedding, because I am a kitty, but I gather that they are a big deal for some humans, both in books and in the really real world.  Anty’s post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

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Now it is time to check in on Anty’s Goodreads reading challenge.  Anty is still on track, for the second week in a row. Good job, Anty. Normally, I would encourage her to do better, because A) she only reviewed one book this week, and B) it is not a historical romance, but there are extenuating circumstances. One of the books Anty is currently reading is Shanna, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, and that book is very, very big.  Anty first read it when she was an almost-grownup, so it is a little bit like reading it for the first time, but with remembering some parts of it.

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Anty has read thirty-nine books out of the ninety she has set for herself this year, which is pretty good, and keeps her on schedule. She is also reading The Wild One, by Danelle Harmon, which is also set in the eighteenth century, so she gets points for staying with her additional goal of reading more historical romances set in the era in which she is currently writing.  That book, she has on her Kindle, so it can go with her everywhere, as opposed to Shanna, which, at over six hundred pages, and being hardcover, is not as portable. That is the big downside to re-reading some of the classics in this genre.

The book Anty did review this week is Hello, I Lied, by M. E. Kerr.  It is a YA novel, about a very interesting summer in the life of one almost-grownup human. It also has a reclusive rock star character in it. Anty loves that kind of thing – humans who were once great at what they did, but stopped doing it and now do not want to see anybody- so she was curious to see how that would play out in this book. She kind of wants to reread Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby now. Her review is here, and it looks like this:

GRHelloILied

If you know about any other books with reclusive once-great humans in them, especially with historical settings, please let Anty know about them right away, or tell me in the comments, and I will pass the recommendations on to her.

Anty says she is not messing with the banner until she can make the editing thingy stop giving her guff, or until she finds another editing thingy, so I will jump right into the topic at paw. This week, Anty and Anty Melva got some bad news that is really not that bad. One of the humans who wanted to look at Chasing Prints Charming had some very nice things to say about what they read, but ultimately said no thank you to looking at more. That is disappointing, but Anty prefers to look at the very nice things. There are many other humans who look at books that are not yet published, so this is not the end of the road. Anty is very happy to be working with Anty Melva,  and they will talk on Skype later this week. I am still salty that Skype is not short for Skye Pee. I think they have a missed opportunity there.

Most of the time, I work as Anty’s mews, but I am also a nurse when it is needed. Uncle is not feeling that great today, and Anty and Mama may be taking him to the people vet. He will feel better after he goes, but I can only imagine what Anty and Mama have to do to get him to go into the carrier. It takes both of them to get me into my carrier, and Uncle is a lot bigger than I am, plus he has opposable thumbs. No tail, though, so those things might cancel each other out. Maybe if Anty puts a treat inside the carrier, he will go inside to get it, and then she and Mama can close the door.  They usually put the carrier on its end and stuff me in, when it is my turn, but the people carrier is really big, and its doors are on the sides, so I do not think that would work this time.

That is about it for right now, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

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Until next week…

Do What You Love

I’m going to thankblame Rose Grey for this one. I first met Rose a few years back, when we ended up at the same table for one of the meals at NECRWA’s annual conference. The entire table clicked, and we became the Last Call Girls, after the time we shut down the dining room at another meal, because we’d been so involved in our conversation that we did not notice that A) the meal was over, and B) we were literally the only people in the room not employed by the hotel. The staff hadn’t wanted to disturb us because they thought we were having an important business meeting, which we totally were. I’m not going to say what kind of business, but that’s the story we’re sticking to on this one.

Anyway, Rose is delightful in person, and I jump on her new blog entries like a starving hyena  would chow down on an unattended plate of Kobe beef.  Besides blogging and providing fascinating dinner conversation, Rose writes contemporary romance, and she does it at a desk that sounds a lot like mine.  Before I read Rose’s  blog entry on writing rituals, I hadn’t thought much about not having my secretary desk all the way open, all the time. That way, I could always be ready, wouldn’t have to set up anything, but then there were those words about adding a sense of ritual to the writing process, and hmm.

If I closed my desk at the end of a session, I’d be free to do other things. Leave the office, go home, as it were even though my office is already in my home. If the desk were closed, then I could open it at the start of the day. This wasn’t possible with the monitor in front of the cubbyholes,. and I do love my cubbyholes. Combine that with my other friend, H, getting used to her contacts and our resulting discussion on being nice to eyes and how it is a good thing for writers, and double hmm.

Because this desk predates my time on this earth, it has developed a few idiosyncracies over the years. One of which is that the chains which had always held the work surface open finally gave their all, about the time we moved back to New York, and, if I wanted to have a work surface, period, I had to find some other way of supporting it. The answer was close at hand; the drawers beneath it. Open one. Boom, support. You’re welcome. I am not proud that it took me until Monday (as in the Monday that is two days ago) to figure out that, if I opened the left drawer instead of the right one, I would have somewhere to put my legs. Hopefully, I will be quicker on the uptake next time.

Having somewhere to put my legs makes both computer work and handwriting a lot easier, which makes the whole process of writing my morning pages that much easier. Since I’m still early pages into my current morning pages book, I boost the writing surface on the facing page with another notebook, so it’s at the same level as the pages with hundreds of others to support them. This morning, as I put said notebooks away, I noticed I had a theme going on, that I had not intended:

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Do we see a theme here?

Okay, okay, I get it. Message received. This does not surprise me. Since today is #1lineWed on Twitter (I love #1lineWed) I had that on my daily task list, and figured that was as good a time as any to pop the pages from my Monday marathon session into the master document, and then search for my lines that fit this week’s theme. Figured as well, that it was probably a good time to make sure the font is uniform (writers are excellent at finding plausible reasons to procrastinate) and so did a select all so that I could do exactly that. Normally, I don’t count words at this stage of the game, because that is a guarantee that my focus will shift to playing a numbers game, sweating over every keystroke, and, if left unchecked, end up in creative paralysis, which totally sucks, and I do not recommend it. This time, however, the count was there, and…well, the actual word I said was, shall we say, colorful, so I won’t use it here, but the result did surprise me. I’m further along than I thought. A lot farther.

So, how did I get there? It wasn’t that long ago that the bulk of my novel-related writing was me  filling an endless stream of Moleskine Cahiers with some variation of “I can’t do this, why can’t I do this?” My writing soundtrack was my Hypercritical Gremlins singing me the song of their people. While I’m not saying the Hypercritical Gremlins will never find their way back to my office closet, they have been quiet in recent days.

The difference, I think, is in forgetting the shoulds, and doing what I love.  If that means reading decades-old books rather than the new, hot thing, okay. If that means futzing around with my desk, if that means taking the time to pick out pretty paper and the right pens to write with on it,  while my imaginary friends perform their own rituals so they’re ready to meet me when I open desk and notebook, I am fine with that.  I can close the desk at the end of the day, tuck my imaginary friends into bed (often with each other, because, hey, romance writer here) and know we’ll both be in the right place when it’s time to open for business once again.

In the meantime, the ducks in the park probably have babies by now.  I could maybe go look for them, once today’s work is done.

TheWriterIsOut

 

Planting the Seeds Anyway

Paris notebook is still on my desk, as I’m still figuring out what its purpose will be, if it’s not my new morning pages book after all. The pages are pretty, but, apart from quotes about travel sprinkled throughout, all the same design. I think the next morning pages book will be one of two I saw at Barnes and Noble, so if only one of them is there next time I am, that’s the one. There really is no such thing as too many notebooks, and I am okay with that.

This week, I’ve had a few different conversations with writer friends, which have little to nothing to do with each other, except for the topic: all of them mentioned wanting to reconnect with their work, or were dealing with a lack of inspiration. One of these days, I am going to have to search through my completed notebooks, to find the quote from Lin-Manuel Miranda, that always springs to mind here. Possibly also comb through blog archives, because I am super sure I used it as an opening quote on a post in the not too distant past.

To whittle it down, Mr. Miranda was taking questions on Twitter, and one person asked how he deals with writing when there is a deadline, but no inspiration. His advice was to throw stuff down on the page without inspiration and then sift for nuggets afterward. I need to find that quote and make a graphic of it, because A) I find myself referring to it a lot, and B) it’s true.

This isn’t the same as “just do it,” which sounds simplistic. I have had periods in my own writing life, when the only response to that advice is to internally scream (expletives deleted)  and fantasize about punching the slogan-spouter in the throat, (What? Why are you so sensitive? I’m trying to help here.) because, in those instances, the writer flat-out can’t, even though there is nothing in the entire world they would like to do more. It would be like visiting an injured athlete, who is in traction, and telling them to get up and run a few miles. Yeah, not helpful.

Hamilton dude, though, he’s on to something.  We can’t all be perfect all the time. Sometimes, the inspiration isn’t going to be there, or is hard to find, and that’s okay. I could probably build a decent sized tower of the notebooks I filled with some variation of “I can’t write, where did it go, this is hard, etc” but I am not a masochist. That gentle acknowledgement of the issue, combined with the encouragement, makes all the difference, because it doesn’t focus on the problem, but the solution. Put it on the page anyway, and sift for nuggets later. That comes with the conclusion that there will be nuggets to sift. That they’re in there. That the stuff isn’t gone, only under a bunch of stuff that’s been piled on top of it.

None of the friends in question are in that absolutely can’t phase, which is a good thing, but a constant state of  “enh, enh” (universal sound made by beings reaching for something that is…a…ridiculously…small…distance…out…of…reach) is frustrating in its own right. I find it interesting that multiple people are in the same boat at the same time, even if said boats are sailing different oceans, but if I could say only one thing to them all, it would be that.

Okay, not inspired? That’s fine. Put something on the page. Write about not being inspired. Need to connect or reconnect? That’s actually a good place to be, as that means it’s time to dive headfirst into the things we love, the things that fill our tank and give us what we need to get back in the saddle and take a few loops around the ring. If writing is hard, read. If reading is hard, rearrange keeper shelves. If even the thought of looking at words on paper is a giant nope, pick a favorite show and binge watch. Take a walk. Play with a pet. Have a seasonally appropriate beverage. Do something creative that doesn’t involve language at all.

I’m not completely thrilled with this blog post, as a matter of fact, but Melanie Meadors gave an awesome presentation on creating effective web content, and I want to try out her suggested prime posting times, so here I go, tossing stuff down on the page and putting it out there. Maybe something nifty will rise to the surface, and, if not, pfft. It’s one post. I got a million of them. Maybe, though, there’s a seed here that I’m planting, that I don’t even know about (apart from the combination of the Union Jack and Paris-themed notebook and travel mug. I know about my weird aesthetic, and maybe that will grow into something book-worthy some day.) and this is only one step in its journey.

Also, I have a pirate duck on my desk, now. Real Life Romance Hero knows what I like. Pirates and rubber ducks at the same time definitely earns him some husband points, and it makes my desk that much more me-er, which is a very good thing.