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:

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:

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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.

 

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Post-People Vet Editiom

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It has been a week of changes here, and the humans are still figuring out what some of them mean. If they are not sure, you can only imagine how it is for a kitty, but here is what I  know so far.

  1. Uncle is going to be home all the time for  a little while, while he gets better. This is good because I get to be with him all the time (I like that a lot) and he does not smell as sick as he used to smell. Kitties pick up on these things. Uncle’s regular people vet helped him figure out some of the things that made him feel really really bad, and he is doing a lot better already. It will take a little more time, but not very much, as he is learning how to take care of himself and Anty is making sure that he does.
  2. This also means that Uncle is home during Anty’s writing time. She says she can feel it when people are breathing her air. She loves Uncle and she loves the stories she is writing, and sometimes, it is a lot to juggle, so she is figuring out how to do that, especially when she is getting used to new technology.
    new computer in action

    new computer in action

    Merely because her tablet and new laptop are both pink does not mean they automatically share everything, and some files are still on the old laptop, like her Sims. It is complicated, but she is learning. The fact that the tablet and new computer are very portable is a big help. The fact that she cannot pick up Wi-Fi in the park is not that helpful, but there are ducks.

  3. Grandma’s people vets say that Grandma can go home this week, so my Mama is going back to where we used to live so that she can help Grandma get settled. Anty says she is turning Mama’s room into an art studio. That is fine by me, as long as my food bowl stays in the same place. (Sorry, Mama..) Anty could really use a room for her art, but I think she will miss Mama while she is gone.
  4. There are a lot of outside noises, and they are scary. Uncle says the city is making the street nicer, but all I can tell, because I am an indoor kitty, is that there is a lot of noise all day. Lots of loud machines and the ground shakes sometimes, and they took out all the trees on our street. Uncle says the city will put in new trees, and the birds will come back (I really like to watch birds in the morning) but that changes the light that comes in the living room window when I hang out with Anty and Mama at breakfast time.
  5.  Here is a picture of Anty’s latest library haul, except for the bottom book.
    one of these things is not like the others

    one of these things is not like the others

    That one is on the bottom because the cover curled back on itself during the really humid days last week, and she wants it to be flat. You will note that all of the books, apart from the bottom one, are YA, not historical. Anty would really like to be reading historical, but she says her brain will not go there right now, and that bothers her. She likes these books, but misses historicals. She has had a sneak peek at an upcoming historical by Kate Rothwell, whose books she really likes, so that is one thing. Anty thinks there should be more historical romances set in New York. Maybe she should write some. Well, some more. She already wrote one, My Outcast Heart. It was her first book, and there are kitties in it. I was not born yet, so none of them area based on me. The cover is not on Goodreads, which Anty will need to fix, but it does have one.

  6. Anty has discovered a new site for writers, called The Fearless Writer. They have also discovered Anty, and include some of these blog entries (not mine, so far, but maybe they are waiting for The Fearless Writer’s Cat to start, but then again, I am not exactly fearless) in their newsletter so that more people can find this blog. There are other things in it, too, but none of those people feed me, so I do not have to mention them. Put some treats in my bowl, and we’ll talk.
  7. It seems like there should be a seventh entry, because there are seven days in a week, and I blog once  a week, unless Anty needs my help more often, which she might, because of above reasons. Anty is hoping to get to watch Poldark this weekend, because it is set in the same era as Her Last First Kiss and she would like to soak in some atmosphere. If any of you know of other movie set in the 1780s, please leave them in the comments and I will tell Anty to watch them. That might help her not be so cranky about having to give season two of Game of Thrones back to the library before she has seen all the episodes.

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

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

Until next week...

Until next week…

Typing With Wet Claws: Posting Playdate With Bailey Edition

Hello, all. Skye here for another Feline Friday, and my very first posting playdate. That is where I talk to other pets and find out what it is like for them to live with their writer humans. For my first posting playdate, I am talking with Bailey, who lives with my Anty Sue Ann. Her readers know her as Sue Ann Porter. Bailey inspired me to start blogging in the first place, because of how much he helps Anty Sue Ann, so it was only polite to ask him first.

Bailey is not a cat. Bailey is a dog. That may be why all the questions are numbered one, but that is okay. He looks like this:

Smiling

My friend, Bailey

  1. How did you and your human find each other?
Mom and Dad had just moved into a new house, and decided that the backyard needed a dog. Dad called a dog breeder who specialized in Short-Hair Collies, (also known as Smooth Collies) –which is what I am. She had one puppy left-me! I was 12 weeks old, so Mom and Dad thought maybe I was the runt of the litter. But that’s ok. Dad drove way up by the Canadian Border to get me. I am a Rock Star. Wherever I go, people stop and say, “What a pretty dog!”
He does look comfortable...

He does look comfortable…

  1. What sort of writing does your human do?
My human likes to write Flash Fiction, although if I can tell you a secret, most of the stories are not fiction. But they are entertaining. She also likes to write memoir, stories that really happened. My human also writes a blog at sueannporter.com where she likes to write about Bible stories. Sometimes she also writes about kitchen disasters, life disasters. Never a dull moment in the Porter Household. Of course *I* am the Star of the Show. Mom says so often.
The nose knows. (Anty really likes Bailey's nose)

The nose knows. (Anty really likes Bailey’s nose)

  1. What things does your human use to write? (computers, notebooks, etc)
My human likes to start writing in a notebook. Mom likes to be able to scribble and cross things out. Then she goes onto the computer and inputs it. She also has a computer that is not hooked up to the internet. Mom uses that one when she has some deep writing to dig out; she plays Solitaire in one window and writes in the other window. It has something to do with right brain/left brain.
Bailey is very good with layout, but not the computer kind.

Bailey is very good with layout, but not the computer kind.

  1. How does your human get ready to write, and how do you get their attention back on you?

Well today, when my human started to answer these questions, I grabbed my rawhide bone and mad a lot of noise. My human was forced to pay attention to me then.

Recharging batteries...

Recharging batteries…

  1. What kinds of treats do they give you for being such a good helper?                                          I have little yum-yums that have like 20 calories in them. I used to get bigger treats, but I started gaining doggie pounds. I have to keep my physique in tip-top shape.
He woke up like this

He woke up like this

Thank you Bailey. That is all very interesting. I think you should get treats for being such a good guest. Helping a human write is very hard work for a pet, but it is worth it in the end, because writing makes our humans happy, and we like it when they are happy. It makes them more likely to play with us. Sometimes it gets them more money to buy our food and treats, and that is good, too. I hope you will come and visit here again. This was fun.

My Anty also prefers to start writing in notebooks. That is one of the ways Anty and Anty Sue Ann first became friends. Now they meet at the coffee house to write in their notebooks together, but sometimes, they just talk. Maybe that is because Bailey and I are not there. I stay home because I am a kitty, but the coffee house says dogs can come inside, (sometimes, the owner brings his dog) so, technically, Bailey could.

A canine and a gentleman...

A canine and a gentleman…

Another thing Anty and Anty Sue Ann have in common is how they play a game and write at the same time when they need to figure out something. Anty does not play solitaire, though. She plays Sims 3, which is basically writing, but not with words. I will explain in another post. Anty also likes to have more than one window open, so she can look at pictures or notes as she writes.

Anty wanted me to talk about computer things, too, but unfortunately, we have run out of time and it is now time for my breakfast, so that is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

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

Until next week...

Until next week…