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:

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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:

rubyrenderschwabplain

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:

BURweddingseason

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.

GRreadingchallenge060917

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,

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

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:

DoWhatYouLoveNotebooks

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Conference 2017 Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This week there is some degree of time travel going on with this blog. Because today is the first day of the conference, and Anty will be leaving the apartment very early so that she can meet Anty Melva in MA and then go to the conference together, and Anty has several writing things that need attention before then (also packing, because she, as of this writing, had not done that yet) this post is actually coming to you from…get ready for this…yesterday. Whoa. I know. I am not sure how Anty managed that, but anybody who can get a cat to blog for her, and manipulate time, has to be pretty smart.

First, as usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this week, and not as usual, she invited readers to play a game with her, instead of a regular post. Because there were some issues with the interwebs, not everybody got to see it or have a chance to play, but because Miss Ezrah is a warrior queen webmistress, now you can. It is here, and the link on the main page looks like this:

BURconferenceweek

Since this is conference week, I am going to give Anty some grace and not mention that she is now even behinder in the Goodreads reading challenge.  Okay, not how much behinder, but still. Anty. Read books. Between ouchy back and post-conference exhaustion, I think she may have some time to read when she gets back from the conference. I would give her partial credit for bingeing on the whole season of Thirteen Reasons Why, but that was the TV show, not the book, so it does not count. Anty, I love you, but you need to step up the reading game. Big time.

Sometimes, when Anty is watching TV, she is actually working. That happened this week, when she got to write a timeline of the Rick and Michonne romance in The Walking Dead. I like Rick and Michonne. She likes cat statues, so I think she would like real kitties, too. Rick got her a new cat statue when she did not have her old one anymore. Maybe he would also like real kitties. That post is here, and it looks like this:

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Anty likes writing this kind of timeline post, and that is a good thing, because, when she comes back from the conference, she gets to write another one, about humans on a different show. That is pretty exciting.  She also has the okay to write another post, about the books of an author she likes very, very much, and needs to finish reading one more book, so that she will have read all the books that author wrote under that name. :clears throat: Anty, do the right thing.

Well, writing has to come first, because Anty cannot sell or publish books that she has not written. That is kind of important. She has been up late at the computer the last few nights, and her back has some things to say about that, but the Beach Ball is bouncing its way to the finish line, which makes both Anty and Anty Melva very happy. Hopefully, it will make some lucky editor and/or agent very happy, as well.

With all the writing Anty has been doing, and Uncle learning, the hard way, that he was wrong about the expiration date on those sausages (he will be okay, do not worry.) things have been a little crazy around here. Landlord came by a couple of days ago, and replaced lightbulbs in almost all of the overhead fixtures. Guess which bulbs did not get replaced. If you guessed Anty’s office, you were right. Uncle and Mama both claim they did not know Anty needed new lightbulbs, but here is a clue: at nighttime, it is dark. This is okay for me, because I am a kitty, and I have built-in night vision goggles (they are pretty cool) but Anty has a bedside lamp on the desk of her hutch, which is okay for only the computer screen and desk surface, but those are not the only things Anty uses in her office. Landlord or Handyman will take care of that fixture when one of them comes over to put in the new kitchen light. I suspect Anty may want to clean things once those lights get installed. Maybe she will finally see how ugly the carpet is and want to get rid of it. A cat can dream.

Because it is conference week, Anty has something special for everybody who comes to her workshop, or is interested in blogging, but attending a different workshop (like Miss Alyssa’s) or cannot attend the conference. Miss Rhonda has made a PDF of the Power Point presentation they and Miss Corrina will use. Click on the link below, and it can be yours. You can even read it at home in your pajamas, if you are into that kind of thing.

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That is about it for this week. If you are going to the conference, feel free to say hi to Anty when you see her. If you are reading this blog, then it is no big surprise that Anty loves to talk about writing and romance novels. Also notebooks and pens and tea and gummi bears and TV shows and makeup and um, yeah. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

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skyebye

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: A Little Help From My Friends Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. There is a lot going on this week, so I will tell you about Anty’s writing first, right off the bat (nothing happened with bats, but it is October, after all, so I thought that was appropriate) before we do anything else.

Anty’s post on Buried Under Romance is all about identity issues this week. It is here:

http://www.buriedunderromance.com/2016/10/saturday-discussion-disguise-mistaken-identity-and-amnesia-oh-my.html and it looks like this:

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The crop tool in Paint was not made for those of us with paws instead of hands.

 

Anty is always happy to talk about books that she liked, and, this week, a post she wrote once upon a time, about one of those books, Watermark, by E. Catherine Tobler, got a mention on Alexis A. Hunter’s website to kick off Octoblerfest. The giveaway for that book is over now, but if you like speculative fiction, often with a romantic element, you might want to keep an eye on that website, for a chance at other books. The post where Anty’s post is linked is here https://alexisahunter.com/2016/10/01/octoblerfest-giveaway-1-watermark/. Maybe you will win the next giveaway.

I would also like to say thank you to one of my readers, Mr. Glen, who asked Anty if there had been a Feline Friday post last week. Anty assured him there was, and that I would never let my readers down. I take my duties as a mews very seriously. Thank you, Mr. Glen. In case you did miss that post, it is here: https://annacbowling.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/typing-with-wet-claws-mythical-vuvuzela-edition/ and it looks like this:

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A picture of this blog, on this blog; how meta is that?

For those who do not know, Mr. Glen is mystery author Glen Ebisch. I do not know if any of his books have cats in them, but they do have mystery and romance and you can find out more about them here: http://www.glenebisch.com/.

Okay, I think that is all of the housekeeping for this week. Well, apart from picking up my sheds, that is. I am shedding a lot of fur right now, to get ready for my super-floofy winter coat, which means our floors look like an old west ghost town. This has not prompted Anty to start thinking of western romance ideas, but one never knows. Right now, Anty is focused on Her Last First Kiss, and the Beach Ball. Also her posts for Heroes and Heartbreakers, but her novel-writing plate is full right now, and any other ideas are going to have to take a number and wait.

Last night, Anty and Anty Melva spent three times the amount of time they had set aside for their talk on Skype (I am still disappointed Skype has nothing to do with Skye pee, because I am really good at, well, you know. My once upon a time vet said he never saw so much you know what come out of one cat at one time, in his whole career. That has to be worth something.) because they decided to outline all of the scenes to take them to the end of the Beach Ball, and that is exactly what they did. They both threw their arms up in the air and shouted when they got to the end of the outline. That was loud. I am happy they are happy, though. A happy writer human makes the job of a mews that  much easier.

Now that the smoke alarms are fixed, and the new people litterbox has been installed, it is much quieter around here. Apart from when Anty plays music without her headphones, that is. I do not mind when she plays soft music. Usually, I will curl into a ball and go to sleep when she plays soft music. If she plays loud music, I will wake up and give her a look that says I am Not Happy. She will usually apologize, but she is the human, after all, and the music is part of the way she works, so if it is too loud, I will go hide under the bed until the loud part is over. There are not too many loud parts, but only every once in a while.

Now that Anty has leveled up on both books, my job is a little bit different. It is easier for her to figure out how much work should be done on a given day, when she knows exactly where she is going and how she is going to get there. When that happens, she is excited to get to work each day, and sometimes gets a little grumbly when it is time to stop. She likes to work on one scene at a time, and figures that she’ll know the details she needs to know when she needs to know them. If she has to think too hard about a thing, then it is probably not the right thing. The best stories are the ones that talk to her. It is not exactly the stories writing themselves, but it does not hurt when they carry their share of the load.

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

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Until next week…

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

Influences of Late

The last couple of days, I’ve been bingeing. Monday, I stumbled across Grace Burrowes’s FAQ section, which led to glomming on her blog, a couple of years’ worth of entries, full disclosure.  I haven’t read any of her novels -yet- but I know I have some in my TBR bookshelf, some waiting in my Kindle, and they take up a significant amount of the B shelf in the romance section at my local library branch. I started with the About Writing section of the FAQ page, and fell immediately in love, which may be a good indicator it’s time to dive into the actual books. Thankfully, there’s a suggested reading order on the author’s website, because there are a heck of a lot of t hem.

Tuesday, I investigated the Bad Girlz Write blog, whose members include the fabulous Jeannette Grey, a CRRWA chapter sister, and Heather McGovern, whose workshop on the big black moment I have  heard-but-not-actually-seen, because the day she presented at CRRWA was also the day my former pair of spectacles died, and my valiant attempt to hold them together with electrical tape and a binder clip A) did not work, and B) hurt, because electrical tape, when folded, has sharp, pointy corners, as well as C) made me dizzy and gave me a headache. I took notes anyway, but will not vouch for the legibility of same. Here, as well, I hit the back button to read blog entry after blog entry about wandering and, heck, the entire section on writer life in one go. There may or may not have been actual tears in either of the above.

There sure as anything have been a lot of tears in my other binge, Parenthood. Not the life state. The TV show. Yes, I do live under a rock, and no, I do not know how I somehow managed to never ever see a single episode of this until Netflix, but I needed a show to binge and Netflix said I might like it, because Netflix knows me, and yessssssssssss. Oh so very much yes. Only a few episodes into the first season, I had to check to make sure my OTPs (from the adult generation, that is; everybody shush on the teens, because I want to experience it myself) were going to be endgame (they were) before I could allow myself to get as deeply attached as I am wont to do in these situations.

All three of these binges brought that same reaction in my writerheart: YES. This. This is what I want to do. This is what I’m shooting for when I write. This connection. This emotional impact. This need to stop everything I’m doing and check to see if Crosby and Jasmine are going to be all right, because if they aren’t, there is no good left in the world. Also Joel and Julia. I already know a couple of things about the finale, and I am fine knowing them, but the rest, I want to discover as I go. I want to take all of this in and use it as food to fuel my own work. The tightly-knit family, made of people who aren’t perfect, who do get mad and lose their tempers and yell at little kids and shove their elders and say horrible things and lose every last shred of hope, and yet don’t give up because that’s not what they do; I love that stuff.

In the midst of all this, I noticed one interesting thing. The more I binged, the fainter and farther away the voices -and influences- of the Hypercritical Gremlins became.  Maybe Ms. Burrowes, the Bad Girlz and the Bravermans  are taking turns helping to barricade the Gremlins’ closet. Shutting out the “shoulds” is one thing, and a good thing, but there has to be something to move  into the old “should” place, or they’re only going to come back, with more “shoulds” and more Gremlins, and that only leads to paralysis and anxiety and literally ugly crying in the middle of a critique group (yes, that actually happened, and yes, in public, and yes, to me) and miscarried manuscripts and…you get the picture. But replace the “shoulds” and the forcing and the gnashing of teeth with the things that elicit that YES in every fiber of my writerheart? That brings back the joy, lifts the weight and, well, of course I can do this; it’s as natural as breathing, and I’ve been doing that for a few decades now, right? Right.

What could go wrong? Well, plenty. That’s part of life, but the encouraging part, thanks to reading accounts of others navigating the often treacherous writing waters, is that I’m not alone. I’ve done this before. I’ll do it again, and I have no shortage of fuel for the journey.

 

Call and Answer

Today almost ended up being a video blog, but I know myself, and that’s going to have to wait for later. What’s on my mind today is -are?- a bunch of things. There’s no time tomorrow, the last day before the conference, to sneak in an entry, and so it needs to be today. I have one ear open for the doorbell (as if anyone can miss a big ol’ prewar doorbell that vibrates the walls and scares the stuffing out of the cat…and the me, because yikes, that thing is loud. Effective, though.) because I’m waiting for a delivery for something Real Life Romance Hero ordered and the rest of my head is…not scattered, exactly. Lets call it multitasking.

We’ll jump right to something from my morning pages (in italics):

That’s where I feel I am now, coming back home in a different season of my life . A lot of things are changing. Some people who were always there, are now elsewhere. New people have moved into some of the vacant houses. At some point, this will be the way it’s always been.

Last night, I chatted with a writer friend, about a scene in her WIP, the emotions so finely honed that it viscerally shook me, made me first think A) well, crap, I can’t top that, and then B) I want to do that. Not top her work, because it’s not a contest. What I do want is to create my own version of that. Get that kind of response. Be that deeply involved with the characters and emotions and elicit the vivid sensory images. That kind of thing.

Her scene affected me so much that, a good night’s sleep, walk through the park, daily pages and half a blog entry later, part of me is still back there, not yet ready to leave it. Wanting to draw some of that in and make it my own and put it back out, mingled with my people and my era and their story and and and and…yeah. Writers, you know what I mean. Readers-who-do-not-write, it’s too late for us; save  yourselves.

It’s not the only thing that  has me under the influence, either. There’s a new picture in my inspiration folder, that I’m still not sure why I like it as much as I do, but I keep coming back to it, so there is something in there, even if I don’t know, at this point, what it is. I don’t have to know; figuring that out is part of the journey. There will be time spent staring at it, thinking about it, isolating different parts so that I can see them from different perspectives, trying on and discarding lyrics and quotes and looking at and looking away and thinking and feeling and not-thinking and not-feeling and putting it on the back burner until it tells me.

That’s all part of this homecoming process, knowing that, sometimes, the story tells me, rather than the other way around. It’s the difference between pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing and pushingpushingpushingpushing on a door, and reading the sign that says “pull.” Then pulling, et voila, open door. Funny how that works.

I keep coming back to this idea of homecoming, this place that is familiar-but-not. Keep coming back to the magpie stage, gathering this and that and incorporating it into what I already know. Into what I don’t yet know. It’s…not weird. Not strange. Not familiar, either, but familiar all the same. It’s part of the process. Knowing that not-knowing what I’m doing is exactly what I need to be doing, and knowing that it’s going to be different every time. Knowing that that difference is always going to be a constant. Knowing that, even though I may shy at this jump, I’ve taken it before, and  I can certainly take it again. Knowing that another lap of the place is what I need to build up the speed for that jump. Knowing that my metaphors are going to muddle. Knowing that they are going to mingle, along with pictures I don’t know why I like, songs that grab me from the first note, the scent that grabs the reins of my attention and pulls hard while I’m doing something completely unrelated, and, without my conscious effort, there I am, fully absorbed in the world of the story. Inside the characters’ skins, living their story with them. That’s home.