Typing With Wet Nails: Sebastian Transcribes Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with a special edition of Typing With Stuffed Paws. Turns out that the week of little to no energy was the opening act for the week of gross virus, which Writer Chick has been combatting by sleeping one heck of a lot, drinking lots of fluids, and, occasionally, writing longhand. Since this includes blog related stuff, I will take it upon myself as Cat Regent to make an executive decision, and transcribe the most recent pages for her. I am sure she won’t mind.

So, I have the rights back to my first and fourth historical romances. Now what? (reminder to self: change email signature) With the Awe-Struck chapter (pun intended) closed, I now have My Outcast Heart, and Orphans in the Storm back in my hands. I am not entirely sure what I want to do with them. My options, as I see them, are three:

One, I can trunk them both and never look at them again. Two, I can pitch them to one of my two (technically three) current publishers. Three, I can go indie, and publish them myself. All sides have plusses and minuses, so let’s take a look.

Option One: Trunk them. I do not like this option, because I do like these stories. My Outcast Heart, is, technically, a cranky teenager, struggling with identity issues. Orphans in the Storm isn’t quite there yet, but I could see it heading in that direction. Are there things I would like to change about both stories? Unquestioningly, yes. I also hope that I am a better writer than I was when I first wrote those stories, with more of an idea regarding what I am doing, what my historical romance brand should be (as in what do I intend for it to be) and less of a care about what other people will think about what I am doing.

Option Two: Offer to one of my current publishers; Uncial Press, The Wild Rose Press, or Z Publishing. I want to talk to other writers, including but not limited to, my RWA chapter sisters and brothers, who have been in the same situation, of having their grown story kids come back home after a long time away. I am not sure about the etiquette in this sort of situation. Right now, this is probably the option that makes the most sense, but then there is still the third option.

Option Three: going the indie route. Once again, I want to talk to other writers who have done the same thing, to learn about their experiences, get some pro tips, and very likely discover options I did not know existed. The organizing, um, exhibiting leadership qualities part of myself likes this option very much. I can design covers and formatting that ties all of my unrelated stories together under one cohesive brand. Once in place, I can happily keep the stuff coming. I very much like the idea of having a place where I can put historical romances that take a couple of risks along the way. The CFO of AnnaCorp (term for my brain I have only now formed, may regret that later) looks at me over the rims of her spectacles and says a flat “no.” That stuff is expensive. Getting to call all of the shots also means getting to pay all of the bills.

Thankfully, I don’t need to decide right the heck now. Right now, there is a lot of good stuff happening. Melva and I are on book baby watch, as we come ever closer to knowing the release date for Chasing Prince Charming. We are coming up on a big scene for Drama King (which may or  may not have resulted in me building our hero’s apartment in the Sims 4. I should also be finding out the release date for the new Z Publishing anthology, that unleashes Cornelis and Lydia on the world, and slipping back into Bern and Ruby’s world, in Her Last First Kiss, is a truly lovely way to spend my time. In the end, I figure I will approach the issue of what to do with my boomerang story kids the same way I approach a discovery. Run down the metaphorical dock, splash around and then see what direction I appear to be naturally swimming in, and head in that direction.

That’s where Writer Chick left off, so I assume that’s where she meant for the entry to end. Time for me to join her for some beauty sleep, so we’ll both be ready for tomorrow’s regular blog. As regular as a blog written by a handsome orange stuffed boy can be, that is. Whatever.

Peace Out,


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On the Horizon

Happy May, my liebchens. It’s Monday’s post on Wednesday, which is also conveniently time for a new planning post, which is how I set up the picture, but then I checked my email, and…drumroll please…”The Fox and the Lily” is happening, specifically in the literary anthology of Z Publishing’s 2019 literary fiction anthology. I submitted “The Fox and the Lily” as historical fiction (spoiler: it’s a romance) with the knowledge that there might not be a historical fiction anthology, per se, and my story might end up somewhere else. Which it did.. This is the first meeting of Dutch pirate, Cornelis Van Zandt, and English lady, Lydia Stoke, and the fateful encounter that changes both of their lives forever.

Cornelis and Lydia first showed up when I started on their daughter, Tamsen’s, story, and promptly embarked upon a campaign to steal every darned scene in which at least one of them appeared. A wise writer would take this as a sign that Cornelis and Lydia’s book needs to come first, but 1) I am me, 2) I was determined to make Abandon, Tamsen’s story (also Alec, who goes from Cornelis’ protege to a man on a mission. A mission to kill Cornelis, because of really good reasons. All of this is based upon me knowing exactly when and how Alec and Tamsen fall in love. For a historical romance, that is kind of important.

Every time, though, every darned time, the one thing that shifted me from staring at the screen, making a sound that can best be approximated as “uhhhhhh,” was dipping back into Cornelis and Lydia, who are clearly playing a long game on the way to their HEA. It’s a lot of things that I super crazy love: the seventeenth century, pirates, gutsy heroine, charming hero (Cornelis is a charm bomb) and the teeny problem of Lydia being actually married to somebody else at the time when they meet. It’s not insta-love, but they do have a something that sparks, and they both want to do the right thing, but Lydia[s husband has true villain potential, and yeah, I think I am going to have to write the whole book now, which is fine by me. I kind of like Plunder, if I want to stick with one-word titles.

When I set up my current blog notebook (because there is a new line of Exceed notebooks, which I very much want to try, but can’t justify until I fill the OG version I already have, sooo….) I jotted down that, if I’m going to write two pirate books, I may as well write three pirate books, and I am super curious to see how Tamsen and Alec’s kids turn out, not to mention this will allow me to have Grandpa Cornelis and Grandma Lydia. Generational series are my very, very favorite kind, and having a trilogy follow grandparent, parent, and then child, is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. Maybe that time is now.

Okay, not now-now, but soon. Melva and I are awaiting news of the release date for Chasing Prince Charming, while we are writing our way through the first draft of Drama King, and I am working my way toward the second draft for Her Last First Kiss. Add to that the fact that I now have three, count them, three, historical romances that are complete (A Heart Most Errant still needs some editing, so two and three quarters, really) and in need of homes. This is not a place where I expected to be, but I can roll with it.

This is where being a planner could work strongly in my favor. Schedules, goals, etc, I love all of that stuff, almost as much as I love writing, and both things require me to use pens and paper, so one already gives me the tools to do the other. Right now, I am rambling, and I know I am rambling, because A) I did not sleep last night (having an air mattress pop while one is sleeping on it is exactly as fun and disorienting as it sounds) and B) I am giddy from the news that Cornelis and Lydia are about to go out into the world.

My notes had some additional rambling about my summer reading plans, but then I opened my email, so that will be another post. Stay tuned, but, for now, there is a pirate ship on the horizon, and I had best be there to meet it. Maybe June’s Camp NaNoWriMo might be fun.

If I List Them, Will They Come?

I’ve been thinking a lot about reading goals. This may be, in part (large part) due to the fact that I have a new printable reading tracker, which means I do not have to draw a rough facsimile of a bookshelf in my big writing planner. The rest of the parts are my mounding TBR list, my mounding reader guilt, and the happily increasing amount of friends’ books I would like to read, even though the number of hours in the day does not change. Still twenty-four, for those who are curious. Planning is part of my process, in reading as well as writing, and it generally takes me to the place I meant to go, even if I had left the metaphorical house on an aimless ramble.

Those rambles do tend to have a purpose, which fits into my being firmly in the puzzler camp when it comes to plotter vs pantser. I can’t pick one. It’s both. Jump in, splash around, and the way will become clear. This is why, when I go to the library, with a notion to find some nonfiction, I do not go to the computer (I will always want to type “card catalog” in this circumstance) or even pay that much attention to the Dewey Decimal system. Nope, I’ll wander the stacks, peep at the books on the end of the nearest shelf, see how close to or far from the topic I want -let’s say writing- and proceed accordingly. Languages? Oh good, English is a language. I write in English. Dum de dum dum dum, poetry, getting closer, oh look, plays, annnnd here we are.

My big writing goal, right now, is to read more romance, specifically historical romance. I have a good balance of historical romance, contemporary YA, and graphic novels, waiting on my TBR shelf (in this apartment, it really is only one shelf, and the vast majority of that from the library system) and I really do want to read every single book I have borrowed, and more hot on their tails, so time to put on the big girl panties, pour a seasonally appropriate beverage, and get down to business.

I don’t want to be one of those writers who doesn’t or can’t read in the genre they’re writing, while they’re writing it, and, before, that had not been the case. If that’s changed, I suppose I will adapt, but I would prefer not to have to make that adjustment. I also don’t want to be the person who buys and/or borrows books, and then doesn’t read them, the size of the TBR piles (plural) topped only by the crushing reader guilt. Maybe that would squash everything to the same base level, in order to begin all over again? I don’t know. Maybe that’s how it works, or maybe it isn’t.

As often happens with other things in my life, what usually puts things in perspective is to make lists, and so that is what I am doing. A lot of lists, as a matter of fact, and I am very sure I am not done with said list-making. What kinds of historical romances do I like the most? What are the books that have worked the best for me? Why? What books haven’t? What are keywords that will ensure I pick up a historical romance, knowing nothing else about the book, and, the flip side, what keywords will ensure that I put that book right back where I found it, because one reader’s “meh” is another’s “woohoo!” (Sims players, I know what I said.)  Lists of questions, as well, like “how can I find books I am not currently finding?”

That’s a big one. I am fairly certain I am at least part unicorn, because I tend to have a good deal of what I will term niche loves. While I love historical romance as a whole, I get especially excited to see books set anywhere between the end of the Wars of the Roses and the end of the American Revolution. Medievals get a close second, and an honorable mention goes to the Edwardian era, on either side of the Atlantic. My ears will always perk at the mention of Australia (Candace Proctor, I have left a light on for you) or heroine disguised as male, no matter the historical period. Show me the words, “epic,” or “saga,” in the blurb, and I most definitely want to read further. I love me some angst, fairy tale retellings are wonderful, houses/locales that are almost characters in their own rights, alpha heroines are the best, and my favorite sort of series is generational. I am sure this will all end up in some sort of chart in the near future, and I will probably share it here, when it does.

Listing books I want to read, or to re-read, or to finally read, is the fun part. Narrowing it down to what I want to read right now is tougher, and toughest of all is finding the times when I can read the books I want to read, the way I want to read them. Again, same amount of numbers in the day no matter what I read, and the thought of reading fewer books of any type, to make room for another sort of book, again, no matter the type, pains me. Even so, it comes down to the whole “how bad do you want it?” question. In this case, quite a lot.

That means it’s worth the effort, and time to do thing X can be found by not doing thing Y. I already watch a lot less TV than I used to, especially when I was recapping. In fact, I don’t even know how to turn on our TV. I do have Netflix and Hulu, and do have to-watch lists for both, but it’s time to get back into the reading habit. Time to reclaim the pleasure and ritual of reading historical romance, ensuring that I block out the time I need to sink into the immersive world that I love the very best. Talking about something is always a huge incentive for me to actually do that thing, so I will probably be talking more about reading historical romance here. Hm. I’d probably better start making some lists.

This Post Was Kidnapped by Pirates

This post is only tangentially about planners, most of that due to the cover photo for today. This post, like the short story I did get submitted to Z Publishing on time, was kidnapped by pirates. Never fear, planner devotees, that post is coming, especially since the utterly awesome presentation by Lucinda Race, at this past Saturday’s Capitol Region Romance Writers of America meeting gave me much food for thought on the matter of branding.

This time, though, it’s pirates. Yep. Pirates. See, I’d had a plan in place, to craft a lovely short bit for the anthology submission, grounded in historical fact, and even return to my beloved Colonial America setting. This involved reading up on my New York history, diving into the Quartering Acts, and crafting a hero and heroine who already had a history, so that we didn’t have to go from meet-cute (though, seriously, if I’m writing historicals on my own, it’s more like meet-angsty) to HEA in a couple of thousand words. Yeeeeah, that is not exactly what happened, which will surprise nobody.

First, I had my premise. Use the Quartering Acts to fill my innkeeper heroine’s home and business with British soldiers. Second, bring my hero, her childhood sweetheart, along, newly cashiered out, and in need of a place to hang his tricorn (that is not a euphemism, but I do write historical romance, so take it as you will).) Give him a letter of introduction from his old commanding officer, addressed to officer’s wife, only to find out that said letter is addressed to the first Mrs. Officer, (it’s a couple years old) and the woman who actually gets it is the second Mrs. Officer, now widowed, annnnd everybody can unpack their emotional baggage right over there, thanks. Only, of course, it wasn’t that easy.

My first clue should have been when my first draft started coming out like this:

Hero: I can has room, plz?
Heroine: LOLZ, no. Too many soldiers.
Hero: I used to be one. See? I have the coat and everything.
Heroine: Sry-not-sry, govt can only enforce active duty dudes. Sux2BU. Bye.
Hero: I can cook.
Heroine: Hmmm…

Yes, this is how I do things in the very beginning. It’s not pretty. Suffice it to say that A) there was nothing I could do to get this heroine to let the hero into herr house, much less life, within the short story word count, B) dude has some serious wooing to do, and C) maybe this story and the Colonial-that-wouldn’t (because hero refused to be who I wanted him to be) might be the same story. Also D, An Intolerable Affair sounds like a wonderful title to me, and the Quartering Acts were part of the Intolerable Acts, sooooo….

This still left me with the need for a short piece to submit. That’s where the pirates happened. Some years back, I finished the first draft of what would become A Heart Most Errant. That’s still looking for its forever home, but if you want to read a short excerpt, and meet John and Aline now, they are waiting for you in last year’s New York’s Emerging Writers anthology. I actually cried after getting John and Aline to their HEA, and wasn’t sure how I was going to follow that. I ended up at a table in my local Panera, and started writing down things I liked in historical romance novels, randomly about the page. I am pretty sure “pirates” was high on the list.  Specifically, that my heroine would be the pirate. Good, that was settled, but what else? What about the hero? What are some things pirates do? I put down a bunch of things, as I recall, but the one that stood out was the practice of marooning, leaving a man on a deserted island, with a small amount of food, and water, and a pistol with a single shot. Hmmm. What if the marooned man survived, got off the island and wanted to settle the score? It wouldn’t be my heroine who left our hero for dead, but her dear old dad? Reluctantly, yes.

Enter said dear old dad. I had meant Cornelis Van Zandt to be only a supporting character, but then he and Lydia kept pulling my attention from Tamsen and Alec, which I did not entirely mind, because I was still a little fuzzy on some of Tamsen and Alec’s backstory. My life exploded right about then, so Tamsen and Alec’s story, working title Abandon, got set aside, Cornelis and Lydia along with it. Until this last week. With only days before the deadline, my Colonial characters firmly in the noncompliant camp, I opened the file for Abandon.

At first, I’d thought to use a couple of scenes, of Alec’s early life, his marooning, and escape, as this submission didn’t have to be a romance, only historical, but I have met me, and yes, it did. Have to be romance, that is. That decision made, there was no other choice than the first meeting between Cornelis and Lydia. I’d written his POV already, but what about hers? That, as it turned out, was not even a problem. There she was, at the rail of the ship carrying her and her husband to their new life in Bermuda, clutching her prayer book, and hoping that the speck on the horizon was, indeed, pirates. Lydia, my dear, this is your lucky day.

It was also mine. “The Fox and the Lily” was tremendous fun to write, and I look forward to spending time with Cornelis and Lydia again, once I have Bern and Ruby, in Her Last First Kiss, firmly settled in their second draft. Whether that means they get a full story all their own, or it works into their daughter’s story, I don’t yet know. What I do know, however, is that my very favorite sort of historical romance series is the generational saga. Mother, daughter, and granddaughter sounds like a perfect heroine lineup to me. What do you think?

Chasing Prince Charming Cover Reveal, and Other Stories

Big news in Anna-land this time, Liebchens. Actually more like big newses (I know, I know, not a word) so let’s get to them.

First of all, unless we hear otherwise from our amazing editor, Melva and I are, as of yesterday, no longer galley slaves. We have turned in our final-final pass of the manuscript for Chasing Prince Charming, so, now, once again, we wait. Release date is still TBA, and you will hear it here as soon as we know.

This segues nicely into the second bit of news, which is…wait for it…drumroll, please…are you sitting down, because I highly recommend that…Chasing Prince Charming cover art is here! Thanks to the team at The Wild Rose Press, and the insanely talented Rae Monet, take a gander at the cover of Melva’s and my first jointly written contemporary romance novel:

Our babies, property of The Wild Rose Press

Aren’t they pretty? I literally gasped as soon as I saw the draft of this cover, because that’s Meg and Dominic for sure. Melva and I would know them anywhere, and the hotel bar where, well, you’ll see. Soon, my Liebchens, soon. Now that Meg and Dominic are standing on their own, ready to head out into the world, there’s a grumpy fallen star and an optimistic literary agent who need some attention, so back to work on that.

Still going to ground for the short story submission thing. More on that later, because this is writing time, but, in the meantime, I do have an update for readers who have had difficulty in locating two of my historical romances, My Outcast Heart, and Orphans in the Storm.

cover art by Tim Harrison, Jr.

Awe-Struck E-Books was the first house to send The Email, an offer to purchase my first historical romance, My Outcast Heart. Thinking of how long ago it was that Tabetha and Dalby became a permanent part of my life, astounds me. I clearly remember the moment their story was conceived (in a mobile home, no less) when Tabetha took herself off into a wintry forest in 1720 New York, and I followed her, with literally no idea where we were going to end up at the end of the trail.

cover art by Kathleen Underwood

Neither did I know, when I plunked myself down at a kitchen table not my own, on a dogsitting gig, to begin Jonnet and Simon’s story, where that journey was going to lead. This is the book I have no memory of selling. Triple caregiving duties will do that to a gal, I have found, and only caught on when my editor needed the final ms…and I did not have one, because it had slipped into the void. Cue calling in hardcopies from my critique group, which did include one Melva Michaelian, as well as M.P. Barker, and frantically putting it all together on my office floor.

Good times, all, and now, for these two books, the adventure begins again. Awe-Struck E-Books, and parent company, Mundania Press, have closed their doors, and reverted all rights to their titles, to the authors. For those having difficulty locating copies of either book, that’s why. These titles are, unfortunately currently off the market.

Not, however, gone forever, as I am putting these babies back on the market. I want to read through each book before I make any firm decisions, and indie publishing is certainly an option. There are several publishers who know what historical romance readers want, and hopefully, My Outcast Heart and Orphans in the Storm will be among that number. Watch this space for updates.

In the meantime, Queen of the Ocean, and Never Too Late, are still available from Uncial Press, at most major e-retailers.

Back to work. That short story is calling.

Ten Random Things About Me and My Writing

The original plan for this past weekend was to have the apartment to myself, focus on the work that got pushed to the side by various domestic tornadoes, and greet Monday morning refreshed and current. Pause for hysterical laughter. The good thing is that I am up bright and early (or still up; not splitting hairs here) and ready to tackle Monday’s blog entry on Monday. Since coming up with a thoughtful, original blog idea is not up to my brain function at this level of caffeine, we get the wholly unoriginal Ten Random Things About Me (And My Writing.)

Thing the first: I am a big ol’ morning person. Make that extroverted morning person. This does point toward the ideal time to blog and tackle social media. Unless I only fell asleep in the wee small hours, I am up and ready to socialize at indecently early hours. I live with two non-morning-people, so imagine breakfast scenes at my place as you will.

Thing the second: I am currently watching exactly nothing on TV. I am at least one season behind on The Walking Dead, and will be going on a gigantic This Is Us binge when we get Hulu, but, right now, I don’t even know how to turn on our TV. This is odd. I do watch a bunch of YouTube, and I do a lot of scrolling through Netflix, but actually watching something? Ehh, maybe later. I do plan on watching the last season of A Series of Unfortunate Events at some point. I’m not sure what the cure to this viewing ennui might be. I figure it will show up when and where I expect it least.

Thing the third: I am not so slightly planner/notebook obsessed. Longhand over composing on computer, all day, every day, so this does tie in with writing, and I don’t acquire notebooks, etc, I don’t plan on using, but mention of pens and/or paper is a sure way to get my attention. Sifting through my planner/notebook stuff is also a surefire way to unstick the thought/writing process.If I post a lot about planners or notebooks, that means I am working something out, and there will be much writing of fiction thereafter.

Thing the fourth: My most recent purchase (actually currently pending) is a blush pink A5 Carpe Diem binder, gently used. Yes, I do have plans for it, and yes, they do involve writing.

Thing the fifth: My favorite colors are black, blush pink, and blackened reds. Blush pink and blackened reds can be considered opposite ends of the red spectrum, so black and red, for purists. Extend black into grays/greys, if we’re talking different values of color.

Thing the sixth: Romance has always been my genre, long before I was old enough to understand what it was. I credit Andrew Lang’s “color” series of fairy tale books. Many, many journeys to happily ever after, always in a “way back when” setting. I think I was hardwired for this stuff, right out of the gate.

Thing the seventh: Pretty much the same for history, thus historical romance. Writing contemporary took a little longer, and please direct thankblame to Melva Michaelian.  I would not be doing this without her.

Thing the eighth: The current writing process, when it comes to solo work (aka historical romance) is something akin to racing down the dock, cannonballing into the water, swimming around the whole darned lake, swimming back to the dock, crafting a meticulous map of said lake, and then diving back in, but this time with a sense of direction. For co-written works (at present, contemporaries with Melva) it works pretty much the same, but I tag my co-writer between dips in the lake; then it’s her turn. Insert shoving of metaphorical beach balls (fun fact: “the beach ball” was our code name for what would ultimately become Chasing Prince Charming,before it had a name.)

Thing the ninth: There is a manuscript that I will refer to only as The Time Travel (partly because it had several different titles, and partly because there is a chance that, if it hears its name, it might think I’m calling it) that worked me over rather thoroughly, mumblecough years ago. I still love the hero and heroine, and she, in particular, is probably going to come after me and finish the job if I don’t return to their story, but probably as a straight historical romance, rather than a time travel. Probably. We’ll see. Current projects first.

Thing the tenth: There will always be a part of me who is still that girl who set up TV trays and an electronic typewriter in her father’s living room, soundtrack to Camelot on the record player (yes, that long ago) and danced (ahem, wrote) like nobody was watching. She has an open invitation to drop by my writing sessions, any time.

Springing Forward

Quick drive-by post for today, because A) I’m writing, and B) missing two posts in one week bothers me, and getting a post up, no matter how slapdash, will eliminate B, and allow me to focus on A.

Yesterday, N and I had our weekly meeting, talking over our plans for the coming season, frustrations with the same old things that keep us back, and the requisite geeking out over paper and pens. I made her pet the Rhodia dot grid pages I had cut down for use in my new writing planner (they are insanely smooth, and take fountain pen beautifully) and we threw around some ideas for what cardstock to use to make new dividers, while lamenting that there were no non-month-bearing extra dividers included with the planner kit. I would have used the heck out of those.

This morning, Melva and I talked so long over Skype, that my phone’s battery drained. I don’t blame it. We had a lot of excited babble about how we may actually already be at the midpoint for

This morning, Melva and I talked so long on our weekly Skype chat, that my phone’s battery drained. I don’t blame it. According to Melva’s count (she is the Keeper Of Records in this regard) we may already be at the halfway point in the first draft of Drama King, even if we’re not entirely sure how that happened. Okay, we know how that happened: we wrote it. That’s not what I’m talking about. Part of our writing-together process (a big part) is excited babble and saying the same thing at the same time. One of us is known for going unintentionally blue, and then realizing it a beat later, which happens frequently, and one of us did make the other one laugh so hard today, that said other one dropped out of frame for long enough for the first one to now have bragging rights, but there is a sobering thought here.

Working out the next few scenes for Drama King, meant tying a few aspects into the idea soup for the next book, which we are tentatively calling Queen of Hearts, which lead into a discussion on something we hadn’t intentionally given Jack (Drama Kings hero) and Heather (heroine of Queen of Hearts, and sister to Dominic from Chasing Prince Charming) Jack and Heather have not met yet, but they will, and it’s very easy, very natural, to envision all three of our couples from this proposed series, maybe with some supporting characters tagging along, gathered around one big dinner table, no agenda, lots of good food (Jack, our actor-turned line cook-turned actor again would insist upon it) a toddler or two on somebody’s lap, maybe a kids’ table off in the corner. It would be loud and it would be messy, and I like the idea of it, very, very much. I would say something here about a historical equivalent for my historical characters, but, since I write in different eras, that would probably involve time travel, and the less said about em and time travel, the better.

For longtime readers who know what I’m talking about, I do fully intend to write Angus and Summer’s story in full, one day. They’d come after me and take me down, if I didn’t, but I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s not going to be exactly the way I envisioned it, mumblecough years ago. Which is perfectly okay. The only constant is change, they say, and this very well may prove to be true. Angus and Summer will go down  in my Future Projects section, along with scouting markets for A Heart Most Errant (if all of my historical characters were in one room, I am pretty sure Aline would still be doing most of the talking) and brainstorming ideas for this year’s submission to Z Publishing’s anthology.

Speaking of which, I have some outlining to do. See you next time.

Liar McLyingplants, Books, and Other Growing Things

First, we have an update on the Wars of the Roses. Not the historical one, to make things clear from the outset. I mean the one in my living room window. I’d been touched that the boys seemed to be reaching for each other, to make a  natural arch for the Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling Memorial Garden, but, yesterday, I found out it was all lies. Tudor (the big, big boy, with both of the rosebuds) had not been twining with his brother, Lancaster, but reaching all the way across him, to steal all of his sunlight, and climb the window. Well, then. I have since changed their seating arrangements, and, since Tudor’s higher stems (branches? New rose mom here, so I don’t know all the terms yet.) get floppy if I  move him away from the actual glass, probably some sort of support. Is this where a trellis comes in? I’ve always wanted a trellis. There’s even a scene with a trellis in Her Last First Kiss. Two of the, actually, as what goes up must come down, so this is somewhat romance novel related.

Tudor is the big one, Lancaster is the shrimp.

Most things are, these days, which is a good thing, as that’s what I do, so I will count that as a good thing. In the next week, Melva and I should have the first batch of information for Chasing Prince Charming’s blurbs and such, off to The Wild Rose Press, and then we get to fill out a cover art questionnaire (super excited for this part!) and then it will be galley time. I don’t think this part of the process is ever going to grow old. Won’t be long now before the idea that started as a way to kill time before breakfast turns into a real, live book. I love when that happens.

This time is also bittersweet. Chances of getting an ad and/or review in Romantic Times magazine (aka RT Book Reviews) are nil, because the magazine that had been a mainstay of my romance reading and writing life, closed last year. No editorials on the current plagiarism scandal that has hit Romancelandia (Nora Roberts has a better bead on it than I ever could, so go here for a closer look) from Kathryn Falk, RT’s mastermind, now in well-earned retirement, or from her close friend and one of the OG historical romance writers, the late, great Bertrice Small, a wise woman as well as an unmatched and always original writer. I’m sure ther are other romance writers, who have been around the block a time or two, with opinions and experiences to share on this front, but sometimes, one misses a specific flavor, and that’s applicable to current events at the moment.

My forays into the world of Book Tube continue, as I search out Book Tubers who specialize in the romance genre, and, specifically, in historical romance. It’s a minority, from what I’ve found, and I do love the enthusiasm I see in these predominantly young, so far exclusively women, sharing their love of the historical romances they read. Watching someone geek out about something they love is one of my big pleasures (no guilt!) and poses the question of what it might have been like if Book Tube was around in the 80s and 90s, when many of the books that made me the reader and writer I am were first available. I find the fact that it’s been an entire generation since some of the names that populate my keeper shelves have been the new kids on the block.

There are avid romance readers today, who have never seen a Traditional Regency, and/or would possibly need a minute to pinpoint the difference between a trad Regency and a Regency set historical romance. There are romance readers who have not heard of the midlist cull of long ago (to some) that sliced some wonderful authors with innovative voices and widely varied timeframes, out of the mainstream publishing world. Romance readers exist, and romance writers, as well, who don’t remember when series books were not the norm, and one writer might write -under the same name, no less- in any historical period that struck their fancy. Sure, there are some delightful historical romances that are the bookish equivalent of a romantic comedy movie, with lovely wallpaper, but that’s not the only flavor out there. Darker and grittier (but still with the all-important HEA!) angstbunny me wants to blabber, too.

Where am I going with all this? Not sure I know at this exact moment. Melva and I have our first co-written contemporary romance to see all the way home, as it were (or put on the school bus; that might be a better metaphor) while we move our second co-written book to the end of its first draft, and I am definitely feeling the historical romance love, which means Her Last First Kiss moves ever closer to the end of draft two. A Heart Most Errant, as well, is itching to go back out on the submission rounds, once its edit is done, and a couple of other opportunities are waving at me, so I am still sorting stuff out. I think it’s appropriate for the season of new growth.

How about you? Where are you stretching or itching this season?

Feeling Myself

The Monday after a marathon weekend is always a strange animal. Marathon weekends mean that both Saturday and Sunday are full. In this case, volunteering three times, once on Saturday and twice on Sunday. Saturday included my local RWA chapter meeting, always a highlight of my month, while Sunday meant playing host not once, but twice, konce for church worship experience, and the second time, for a community group, with a slight time overlap, which would be no problem if I were able to be in two places at once. (Spoiler: I am not.) After the second volunteer stint, Housemate and I had a few errands to run. Said errands involved me getting a higher end lip color at a very low price (and yep, it’s genuine) so, all in all, the weekend was good, but it also means coming into the work/writing week more tired than I went into it.

This is probably the point where I should mention there is also a new coffeemaker in the house, and, this morning, after a much-needed shower (I estimate that my hair is about twenty-five percent dry shampoo at the time of this writing) made my first voluntarily consumed travel mug full of coffee, because it was my one shot at being vertical. So far, so good. I am still a tea person, but if the beans will get me through at least this blog post (writing Monday’s post on Tuesday brings forth what Real Life Romance Hero calls the mini rage) and some planning, and I will consider the day productive enough.

Also in the plus column for the weekend past, is that I finished reading By Love Unveiled, by Sabrina Jeffries, first published in the early 90s, under her Deborah Martin name. I have the companion novel (there were only two in her Restoration Duo) marked to hunt down, because I may be a little in love with the hero’s friend, who is the hero of the next book, whose heroine is an actress. Helpful hint: I will always look at a Restoration period historical romance, on the period alone. Always. Add in either lead in the theatre, and that sale is a done deal. I am not even kidding. This is why I wrote my own English Civil War/Restoration historical romance, Orphans in the Storm. Neither Simon nor Jonnet is a thespian, but Simon’s BFF, Eben, a dancing master, last anyone asked, would fit very well into the theatre. Hmmm.

That, however, is for another day. Today is a Monday, which means it is blog day, and planning day, the day to look at everything I have under my weekly tasks and assign them to days. Melva and I have a target date to get the second round of edits done on Chasing Prince Charming, as well as writing new scenes for Drama King, which edges ever closer to the 50% mark. IT’s also time to get chapter eight of Her Last First Kiss ready for Melva’s perusal. There is something about having a critique partnership that is old enough to marry, own property, or join the military without parental consent, that gives a certain sense of security and trepidation when handing over a chapter. Long-term critique partners know things. That’s the best way I can put it, and are an extremely useful tool, especially in this business of getting back on the horse.

There are degrees of getting back on the horse, or maybe even different horses. At no time is this ever clearer than on a Monday. What do I need to do, and when is the most effective time to do it? Putting actual words on screen or paper are essential, of course, but, equally essential are things that fill the creative well, so that I can put the movies in my head into actual English words. Books that remind me what sorts of stories I love the very, very best, are important, as are movies or TV shows with favorite actors, following up on recommendations from friends, who know me well, and can pick out things I might like, or even love, but would never have found on my own. I have come to know the importance of what I call white space, aka doing nothing, seasonally comfortable (cozy blanket and hot beverage in winter, open window and cool beverage in spring) so that all the jumbled pieces in my head can sort themselves out.

That’s good for a Monday, too. Delegating. Pausing. Taking a step back, to survey the big picture and come up with a plan of attack, so I can charge in, guns blazing, sabres flashing, a mighty army of imaginary friends at my back, as we conquer the blank page I kind of like that image, so I am going to close with that, get this posted, and move on to the next task, before the coffee wears off. When it does, it’s reading time.

What does your Monday look like?

Typing With Stuffed Paws: First February Friday Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff from the week that was. This week brought yet another blizzard (winter in New York, and there’s snow? What a surprise.) as well as a big freeze, which meant lots of cancelled plans, so all the humans could stay inside and be warm. If some of that warmth included snuggling a handsome orange stuffed boy, for added coziness, well, I am not going to argue with that.

Anyway, January is now in the rearview mirror, and February has begun. Apparently, that is the month when people who don’t normally read romance novels maybe might try one, because it is human love month, or something like that. Whatever. Writer Chick likes this because it is a time when the romance genre can welcome new readers, and if some of those new readers want to buy some of her books, well, she is not going to complain about that. If you are interested in reading some of Writer Chick’s books, this is her Goodreads shelf of books that she has written, or in which her writing appears. As soon as The Wild Rose Press gives her and Other Writer Chick a release date for their first book written together, Chasing Prince Charming, she will put that up there, as well.

If you can’t wait that long, and would like to read Writer Chick’s brain blabbers about reading romance, head on over to Buried Under Romance, for her weekly discussion post. This past week, she talked about the occupational hazard of starting to read just one more chapter before bed, only to have the orange thing in the sky ruin that plan.

Back to Goodreads for a minute, to check in on Writer Chick’s reading challenge. This year, her goal is to read ninety-five books. So far, as we head into the second month of the year, she is thirteen percent of the way there, with twelve books read, and three more in various stages of reading. Please note that this list includes two historical romance novels, and a historical/time travel novel with romantic elements. Writer Chick is on task this month. She will be back on writing reviews next month, but she is definitely reading.

She is also writing. This week, she sent off chapter six of Her Last First Kiss’s second draft, and is charging ahead on that front, while writing the next scene for Drama King. She and Other Writer Chick are both keeping an eye on their e-mail inboxes, because, once the second round of edits on Chasing Prince Charming hit their desks, they are going to tear into those edits like a pack of Rottweilers on an unattended steak buffet. One would think that this would not be the best time for Writer Chick to be nosing around for tabletop RPG (role playing game) groups, but I can’t tell Writer Chick anything when it comes to this kind of thing, and H is really good at getting Writer Chick into questionable pastimes. At least the local bookstore where she might make such inquiries and/or purchase equipment, has a resident feline. I am 51% sure this is at least partly an excuse to get in a cat-petting fix. She may or may not have cat treats in her pockets. Not accusing, just pointing out the possibility.

Speaking of which, if you are interested in talking about historical romance novels, and/or can’t get enough Writer Chick, she has a Facebook group, The Lion and Thistle. It’s been kind of quiet there lately, but you’ll always get notices on her (or my) blogs, and talk about favorite tropes, settings, authors, and all of that stuff.

Here’s where the audience participation part of the whole thing comes into play. Last night, Writer Chick had the idea to make a bingo card of some of her reading goals, to read different types of historical romance, this year. Because Writer Chick is all about the bujo, she wanted to see if she could find a printable, customizable bingo card, that was also pretty. Well, she did, and entering a few of the first things that came to mind yielded this:

Writer Chick is already ticking off boxes, including the obvious Free Space, and is codifying rules if anybody else would like to play. If this version works, she already has notes on what she could put in the boxes for future iterations. That’s another reason to hop on over to The Lion and Thistle. There may or may not be prizes involved. I can state for the record that any such prizes do not include one particular handsome, stuffed, orange boy, (can’t have everything – or everybody, for that matter) but pens and notebooks and maybe even book-books and related items might be in that mix somewhere.

Yesterday, Writer Chick met with N, for the talk and writing session they usually have on Tuesdays. They both brought their AlphaSmarts, and kept pounding keys until Mr. N showed up, to collect them. Last night, Writer Chick plugged the AlphaSmart into her computer, so she could transfer the writing she did on that device, to a Word document, and all I am going to say is that there were a lot more words on that document than she would have guessed. Apparently, writing across from another human being, who is also writing, is an incentive for Writer Chick. Good thing she’s slated to do it again on Tuesday.

That about covers this week, and there is a suspicious bird hopping around on one of the big snow piles outside, so I’m going to go check on that. Peace out.