Ripped From The Journal Pages

Yesterday was a good writing day. Like, a really good writing day. The super functional monthly view of planning my writing tasks seems to be working super well, on this second week of doing it. Okay, the edges of the pages are decorated, but every daily box is only black ballpoint bullet lists of writing stuff I want to accomplish. There’s household stuff in there, too, so for June, I will be splitting those into two different calendars. It usually stays on the kitchen table (my temporary desk) next to me, open, for easy reference, especially when new things like deadlines or interviews crop up during the day.

trust me, there is a lot more written in those boxes now

It’s also already allowing me to spot patterns. The day after my weekly chat with Melva is usually best as a lighter day. Since this week, we met on Tuesday, that means that today is a lighter day. It’s also a blog day. I can bypass the “what do I blog about” problem by noting beforehand things I find interesting and want to blabber about for an entry. Yesterday, it was this from my morning pages:

Today is a writing day!!! Not staring at a blank wall and cranking out words (Editing Anna interrupts: if that is your best way to work, this is not a drag on that. You do you. Crank on, you magnificent cryptid.) I would rather deck a sylvan glade with fairy lights and invite my imaginary friends (aka characters) to dance. The band would be Right Said Fred

and classic era Monkees

Coin flip for who headlines and who opens. I’m good either way. The dance floor lights in tune to the music, and there is a bottomless buffet off to the side, with mismatched chairs and settees arranged in conversation groups around an assortment of small tables. Besides their own songs, the bands cover “Dance With Me” as well as “Moondance” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.”

The air is not too hot and not too cold. It’s a night that could last forever, and, technically, it can. That’s one of the things I love about writing romance. Happily ever after means forever.

I’ll stop it for there, since I have been called back to the dance floor, as it were. The bands are jamming, the lights are twinkling, and the breeze feels like a kiss on my skin.

One more thing: you, yes you, are most definitely invited.

https://www.patreon.com/posts/historical-40142765check out this historical era poll on my Patreon

Raiding The Lost Archives

Low key Monday, my background sounds a crackling hearth ambient sound thingamaboodle, tea in my favorite mug at hand, and a loose list of things to get done in the first half of the week at the ready. So far, so good.

I can’t believe it’s already going to be December tomorrow. We are, as a family, in a much better place, both mentally and physically, than we were last year, and it’s still in the getting used to it phase. The longer away, the farther the road back, some may say. In a lot of ways, that’s true. There are also times when it’s an instant transition like a Star Trek transporter. That happens, without warning, when one makes frequent trips to the storage units when settling into new digs after a long time away.

My keeper historical romance novels are still in the unit somewhere, but we will be retrieving them hopefully soon, as A) I want to read them, and B ) I have some plans for both Buried Under Romance and my return to vlogging, and I am pretty excited about both A and B. Pens and paper and various stationery items are steadily coming home to roost, and falling organically (I love when that happens) into their own patterns and methods of use. When asked if I am a pantser or a plotter, my answer is “puzzler,” which has elements of both. To put in Dr. Who terms, it’s a wibbly wobbly time wimey flying into the mist, picking up breadcrumbs as I go sort of thing. That means frequent ambushes of hibernating ideas, ninja memories, not only launch surprise attacks when I think I am doing things as mundane as unpacking dishes, but they gang with things I didn’t think I had any interest in before, but when they are hanging out with Thing I Already Like or Thing I Forgot I Like (or both) well, that’s a different story.

Playing (highly customized) Sims 4, listening to commentary on The Last of Us
(adult content warning for scary things)

Story, of course, being the key word. There’s the feeling of a glimmer of…something when one least expects it, a “hmm, that’s interesting,” and then, before one knows it, one is cannonballing into a rabbit hole, five tabs open at once, listening to commentary on video games one has never played on in the background, looking for custom content in a game one does play, to capture the same mood and/or aesthetic, but make it romance, and…yeah. A writer’s mind is a messy but beautiful place, and in this season of gratitude, I am very thankful I have one.

It happens in a moment, listening to ambient sounds, playing a game with the sound off because the other sounds are better, and one looks away from a moment, and one’s instinctive “noooooo!” turns to “hm, what if…?” I like those moments. They move quite naturally, when all aligns, from screen to pen and paper, to keyboard and back to screen. To readers, one day. Getting to that place, it would seem is not such a long road back at all.

Typing With Wet Paws: Let’s Get Moving Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. This past week was better for Aunt Anna, anxiety-wise, but there has been a lot of adulting, a very warm hotel room that would be quite cozy in winter, but it’s not winter (don’t worry, the owner/manager is on the case, and it will be back to normal soon; he is only making sure the place will be warm in winter.) and the newest thing: we may be able to get into New Apartment *sooner* than we had expected. Not official yet, but a strong possibility.

Coming back from bad anxiety can take a while, and it’s more a bunch of baby steps in the right direction until, oh hey there, she’s writing again. A lot of it was playing Sims while listening to You Tube videos. For this past week, a lot of it was from the channel Heart Breathings, which is where author Sarra Cannon shares how she does what she does. One of the things Ms. Sarra said was that having beautiful stationery makes her want to look at the pages more, which is exactly how Aunt Anna feels.

so we’re doing this now…

I should mention that the pages you see here are not from Heart Breathings, but from Aunt Anna’s Writing Helps Pinterest board. She did print out a bunch of stuff from M. Sarra’s board, though, and will talk about that more later. Big life changes affect writing a lot more than a human might like, so trying new things may be a good way to get back into a routine that works best for the writer a person is, now.

I should also mention that, at this time last year, besides not knowing me yet (we call that the Dark Ages) Aunt Anna thought the Happy Planner line was silly and ew, plastic discs. Then she got two for her birthday, and now she loves it, especially the notebooks,. and has found a use for every size they offer, from big to micro. She likes metal discs better than plastic, which is fine by me, because I think the plastic ones will be perfect for playing with in the new apartment. We all know that’s going to happen.

Anyway, there is a questionnaire she printed about how to reconnect with a story after time away, and boy does she ever need that one. Some of those questions are hard, but also look like they can pinpoint what went wrong and how to fix it. For Aunt Anna, a lot of the time, the big stumbling block is “I don’t know.” We are working on that and while it’s kind of scary, nothing can be as scary as the year just past, so she’s up for the challenge. NaNoWriMo is not a go but it’s not off the table, especially in an unofficial capacity. Right now, she’s counting progress in “units” which she will explain later, and seems to work pretty well so far, and, most importantly, does not need to be perfect. She is also kind of salty that she thinks she might like to try a writing group again, but NY is still taking precautions, so maybe online groups might be a good idea.

As you can imagine, this is one of those drive-by posts but Aunt Anna wanted to show signs of life, and it is Feline Friday, after all. More details to come as she has them, including a review of how these new tools work for her and the way she writes now.

Headbonks!

Summer of Love Standout Standalones

Many thanks to all who responded to my last post on a blogging deep dive on some favorite romance series. I had so much fun with that post and the feedback, that my first thought was, “why stop there?” So, I won’t. My first and fiercest love in historical romance (or any fiction) is the standalone. One story, one book, that’s all she/he/they wrote. There’s something special about closing the cover on a book that doesn’t have companion volumes, and letting my own mind fill in the happily ever after, waving our lovers off into the sunset and on with the rest of their lives. Once upon a time, that was the norm. Right now, series drive the market. What will come next? Who knows? What doesn’t change, however, is the power of a great story, . If it’s full and complete in itself, well, for me, all the better, so I want to take you on a tour of some of my very favorites. Since standalone books are naturally shorter than entire series, I am sharing five examples instead of only three, for your consideration. Once again, in no particular order:

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The Wind and the Sea, Marsha Canham

Nobody, but nobody swashes the buckle like Marsha Canham, and I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw this cover in person, and knew I had to have this book. I will always look at a pirate story, and if it’s a female pirate, that book Is on my shelf of its own free will. Add in a Barbary Coast (North Africa) setting, the US Navy (set in 1806) and the big, thick doorstopper size I prefer for books of this nature, this is an adventure for the ages. Canham has other seafaring stories (among others) both series and standalones, but for this particular project, this gets the nod.

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A Woman of Passion, Virginia Henley

Far and away my favorite Henley standalone (though there are a couple I still need to read, so favorite standalone presumptive?) Straddling the line between historical romance and historical fiction, the heroine, Bess, is based on the historical figure, Elizabeth Hardwick. No, she’s not the “Elizabeth” in the Elizabethan era, in which this is set (Elizabeth Tudor, AKA HRH Elizabeth I, is) but man oh man does she have a life. Or should that be men, oh men, because Bess doesn’t marry just once but four times. But is it still a romance? There have been discussions, but I’ll let you decide for yourselves…or read along with me and let’s talk it out.

Can’t get enough of Tudor-era romance? I know I can’t (remember when that used to be a thing? Who wants to help bring that back?) Love shipwreck stories? How about love on a deserted island? No, not Gilligan’s. This is the tale of Lily Christian, who grew up on such an island after a shipwreck stranded her small family, and Valentine Whitelaw (one of my favorite romance hero names ever) the courtier tasked with bringing her home. Lily is smart, strong, resilient and resourceful, Valentine is a man of his time, and there is intrigue aplenty, unmaskign the true reason behind the accident that changed Lily’s life forever. This also has one of my top three romance endings ever.

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Broken Wing, Judith James

Those with small children may want to occupy the kiddos in another room for this one because hecking fluff, doe James ever go there. Where exactly is “there?” Oh sweet summer child. Let me tell you about this book. Gabriel St. Croix is the last person who would consider himself a hero. He has lived and worked (yep, doing exactly what you think, his clients not restricted to one gender) most of his life in a brothel. He’s thisclose to finally being free of that living hell, when a young boy arrives to become his replacement, and, well, Gabriel can’t let that happen. If he stays on, will the boy remain untouched? Yes. Okay, then. That’s not all, though. His reason for staying is about to be ripped away from him, as Sarah Munroe, the boy’s sister, has finally found him, and will be taking him home. Not only that, but Gabriel can come, too. Culture shock? To say the least. Sarah is unconventional herself, and when these two wounded souls meet, the click together to form an incredible romance. Yes, there is an HEA.

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Tapestry, Karen Ranney

Laura cannot imagine ever not loving Alex, not from since she was a little girl, and certainly not after he returns home from the war so scarred that he shuts himself away and wears a leather mask to shield himself and his scars, both physical and mental/emotional, from the rest of the world. But Laura isn’t the rest of the world. She is a take charge heroine who is not going to let a little thing like that stop her from rescuing Alex from himself. If that means putting aside her identity as a daughter of the nobility to sign on as the new housekeeper so she can get close to him, well that’s what she’s going to do. Her job isn’t easy, either, and this is an extremely emotional read…which is one of the reasons it’s on this list. I am sorry to say that the author, Karen Ranney, passed away recently, so a reread of this feels both timely and bittersweet.

So there you have it, five standout standalone historical romance novels that I would love to deep dive into with all of you. Which one catches your fancy? Drop suggestions in the comments, or message me at annacbowling@gmail.com or come join the Lion and Thistle group on Facebook, and tell me your favorites.

Anna

Summer of Love (Stories)

Back before the whole vagabonding thing began, I had planned a Skye-athalon. I would re-read not only my all time favorite historical romance novel, Skye O’Malley, by Bertrice Small,

Always. :sigh:

but the entire two series that flowed from it, first to last, top to bottom, no interruptions, and blog about the whole darned thing. From Tudor era Br4itish Isles to the high seas, Northern Africa, and back again, up through the Restoration that followed England’s Civil War, this is an epic. I love epics. That’s no surprise.

Ah, notebook, we will meet again one day

I was super hyped for that, bought a special notebook and washi tape to keep all my notes in, picked a dedicated pen, and even had the namesake of my favorite novel, Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling, the kitty, not the book, to cheer me on while I read the book, not the kitty.

Fur-ever the queen.

Then life happened. Then it happened again. Then it turned into a dumpster fire, and while all my O’Malley books are safely in storage, my O’Malley books are in storage, so getting to them and the notebook and washi would take some doing, but I still like the idea, so why not do a similar thing with a different series by a different author? That, I can definitely do.

This means I am now in one of the fun parts (spoiler: they are all the fun parts) and that’s picking which series I want to read and share with all of you. I love watching deep dives and readthroughs on BookTube, and t his may indeed be a natural way to jump back into video blogging.

While most of such vlogs I’ve seen are dedicated to some of the brightest stars of today (Julia Quinn, Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, et al) I would love to bring that treatment to some of the grand dames of historical romance, some of which may actually be new to newer readers of the genre. Since I am still vagabonding, I cannot, unfortunately, do this with actual physical books, but that also opens up the whole wide world of the e-reader, and all of Kindle Unlimited is at my disposal. If this works out well, I’ll want to do the same thing with an indie author’s work, and see where things go from there.

So. Which books? Here are a few peeks at my shortlist of possibilities:

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The DeMonteforte Brothers – Danelle Harmon

5.5 books, including novellas, Georgian England. 1770s. aka what the British were doing during the American War For Independence.

Gather the Stars (Culloden's Fire #1)
Culloden’s Fire
Kimberly Cates

5 books. This series is also called the Jacobites, which should give a clue as to the setting, but there are also a few surprises. British Isles

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Fire series
Anita Mills

Also 5 books (I am seeing a trend here) and this one’s medieval, and follows more than one generation.

These days, my cheering section looks like this:

#calicolovestorm

and I am still much more likely to do a thing if I have told the internet I am going to do it, so here we go. I will be reading/listening to all books on my Kindle Fire, through Kindle Unlimited. Shoutout to Lisa at Buried Under Romance for telling me about text to speech so every book can be an audiobook. This will greatly help, as I have found listening to historical romance while playing Sims 4 is my sweet spot.

Which of the three above would you most like to see me cover?

Anna

Typing With Wet Paws: Summer’s On Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. Even though the calendar says summer does not officially start until later in the month (I am only two, so I don’t know a lot about calendars) for Aunt Anna and the other humans in my family, this counts as summer. It is Aunt Anna’s least favorite season, but our basecamp, as Aunt Anna calls it, has air conditioning, so the summer really doesn’t bother her or Uncle Rheuben at all. They have also found that they share a desk really, really well. If I am feeling especially sproingy, we can all three share the same workspace. That’s what I call efficient use of space.

Even though summer is usually Aunt Anna’s worst time when it comes to productivity, she had a super good writing day yesterday. It all started with hauling herself over to the computer with the promise that if she could write some notes on the stinkybad movie in Drama King, and then send it to Aunt Melva, then she could play Sims. Aunt Anna is super easy to bribe with Sims, especially since she had to reinstall stuff when the latest patch broke pretty much everything (whoops) and she had to start fresh. Surprisingly, she did not mind that at all.

Aunt Anna says making this stuff helps her think

Starting from scratch was actually kind of fun, and she got to use one of the premade families to test out some new gameplay features, fiddle with custom content, and maybe a mod or two. If you think that sounds kind of like writing fan fiction, you are not wrong. Aunt Anna sees that, too. As a matter of fact, Aunt Anna had Sims stuff open in the background while she read a lot of Wikipedia articles about movies (stinkybad or otherwise) to know what kind of information goes into such a thing, laughed a lot while using name generators to get over herself already, slap down a placeholder and move forward, and refresh herself on the recipe for a romantic comedy movie, plus all the ways one could go wrong.

In the middle of doing all that, she also had Scapple open. It is kind of like a whiteboard on the computer. If you don’t know what Scapple is, click here to read about it on Ginny Frost‘s Apps For Writers blog. (Miss Ginny also writes contemporary romance for The Wild Rose Press, so check out her books while you’re over there.) While Aunt Anna had the seeds of a scene on her mind, she might as well get a few things down where she would be able to easily access them.

That’s when something clicked open, and a whole bunch of stuff came out of her head and onto the screen. It’s kind of messy, mixing tenses and Aunt Melva (who has a PhD in English) may have a headache from switching from script form (many of Aunt Anna’s first-first drafts of dialogue are in script form when they fall out of her head) to dialogue and narration but then again she knows how Aunt Anna works and still wants to write books with her anyway, so there’s that.

That stuff is now in Aunt Melva’s hands, so Aunt Anna is now turning her hand to writing a faux Wikipedia article for a different fictional movie, and getting ready to do the same thing with Her Last First Kiss, but there won’t be any movie stuff in there, because there were no movies in 1784. Probably no YouTube mouse videos, either. It was the dark ages.

Speaking of mice, Aunt Anna and Aunt Linda got me some! Uncle Rheuben stayed behind to give me pets while the other humans went for groceries, and they found themselves in the cat toy section. Ever since my red dot died, I have taken to going to the corner near the door and giving big kitty eyes, to indicate that I really need a new red dot. Well, the store didn’t have any (the nerve!) but they did have a package of three catnip mice. Aunt Anna figured they’d see how I liked them, so she threw me one as soon as she got back, and I LOVE IT. I call them all “Prey.” When I bring Prey to a human, the human is to throw Prey, which I will then chase and CATCH, and then I have no idea what comes next, but a nap comes after that, and the whole thing starts over again.

Before I fur-get (hah, see what I did there?) Aunt Anna was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday, with a topic that comes to a lot of readers’ minds this time of year (or so I have heard. Again, I’m two.) and that’s weddings. Are they really needed in cotemporary romance? If that is a topic that interests you, read about it here, and pull up a chair in the comments to chime in with your opinion. Aunt Anna already talks to herself enough. Trust me on this one. Part two will be about historical romance, and probably will go up Saturday but might be Sunday because she just got done being sick and is running a little behind.

Okay, I think that’s it for now. No Goodreads update, because mostly Aunt Anna read a little bit of stuff and fell asleep and then her loans expired, so she is starting new books now. Maybe I will start telling you when she starts reading a book and then what happened to it. First, though, this Prey isn’t going to chase itself.

Headbonks!

Meat Loaf, Muscle Memory, and Writing Romance (Also Sims)

Most importantly, the Meat Loaf of which I speak is the singer, not the food. I did get to meet Meat for about five seconds, at an autograph signing. I blurted out that he broke my creative block. He immediately lit up like a Golden Retriever at hearing “who’s a good boy?” and asked which song, and how, and what genre did I write, which was when his handler gently apologized to both of us and said he had to move the line along. That stuck with me, though, and cemented my love of the Loaf. Which brings me to last night.

I was not listening to Meat Loaf last night. I was listening to a Sims 4 Let’s Play video, which is probably my current favorite viewing material. Even so, I had no intention of writing-writing (cue amused chuckles) as I listened, and managed custom content, and fiddled with my Sims journal, shown here in the charge of my co-worker:

That thing is packed full of altered index cards, because a) they are sturdier, and b) with my vision, dot grid only works if it’s about an inch from my face, and crooked writing is a big no. Every card is a Sim, their aspirations, goals, traits, spouses, children, and ultimately, when they move to the “graveyard” section, causes of death. No overthinking on this stuff, because it’s a game. So, there I am, thinking that I’m going to have to cut down and punch more cards, because we’re moving into the next generation, and then I’m grabbing one of those discarded dot grid pages, to make notes for the cards I’m going to want to make for the Sims 2 and 5 versions of what I’m doing.

Still no Meat Loaf. There was, though, at some point, a frantic pat through the dark (ah, the joys of motel writing when Real Life Romance Hero is asleep) for my writing-writing notebook. After that, a lot of ink came out of the pen in my hand, as notes on a long-overdue scene from Drama King filled the formerly empty pages. Pages. Plural. When I am done with this post, I will transcribe and send the scene off to my long-suffering contemporary writing partner, Melva.

Still not listening to Meat Loaf while I wrote that, but as soon as I set down notebook and pen to try and get some sleep (my brain throws slumberless parties on a regular basis) the first notes of this song trickled into my subconscious:

this song is relevant to my interstes

One thing that has stuck with me was a tidbit from an interview, where Meat talked about his songwriter, Jim Steinman. He said that what audiences need to remember is that everything Jim writes is part of a universe in his head, that is basically an epic vampire opera. I believe some of it was produced as an opera, in Germany. Possibly in German, which does not sound out of the realm of possibility.

What does this all have to do with muscle memory or romance writing? Actually, a lot. In the midst of custom content and screenshots and Let’s Plays and other things that are still creative but not focused on producing pages, my brain gets to free-float and do its story stuff wihout me getting in its way. Ad the facilitator of a long-ago writer’s group often said, once we put pen or pencil to paper, we were not allowed to stop it moving. The process would beget the product.

With things like this, my brain goes “storystorystorystorystory” and “atttttmosssspheeeeeeereeeee” until I am darned near besotted with it. When that happens, oh look, how did all that writing get on the page? I better get more paper. Not just for one book, because while I was furiously scratching out dialogue for Drama King, Bern and Ruby, from Her Last First Kiss were at the edge of my vision, tapping their feet, and next to them, Cornelis and Lydia from Plunder. All of them with lists grievances….uh, adjustments I need to make so that they look the say they do on the page as they do in my head. Not only physically, but you get the drift.

One of my Sims notes is to set aside time (after writing) to learn Reshade (lighting editor…ish?) and fine tuning presets I didn’t even know could be fine-tuned but make all the difference from bright and cartoony (which is fun, too, when I have the taste for it) to…my people. It is like that with reading and writing, too, as recent conversations with bookish friends have confirmed. Keep at it, when it’s possible. Put the pen on the paper. Keep it there. Sooner or later the muscle memory will kick in, and therein likes the tale. Literally.

Anna

Intravenous Baby Steps

Writing during a pandemic is something most of us do not have a lot of experience in doing. Keeping a productive writing schedule during a pendemic, when between permanent addresses, with one’s entire family in close quarters, with a high energy cat, making frequent 200 mile jaunts across state lines, dealing with spotty interwebs, two depressions and an anxiety, insomnia, a spouse whose job doesn’t exist during lockdown, is, well…something. Can’t make this stuff up, and frankly, I wouldn’t want to, even though making stuff up is kind of the whole point of this fiction writing thing.


On the one hand, I can defintely relate to feeling behind pretty much everything, as there are days when writing is just…no. On the other hand, I am already more than sixty percent of the way to my goal of ninety books on my Goodreads challenge, I am getting my bearings on Buried Under Romance, and the micro size Happy Notes I set up as my Sims journal for my current gameplay is getting, for lack of a better word, chonky.

I have gone hardcore into this play style, having downloaded a save file of the base game neighborhood of Simsd 2 reinterpreted for Sims 3, with a rotational play system, free will on high, story progression (aka Sims I am not controlling doing their own thing) and an ever growing cache of custom content. Plus mods. Oh the mods. Basically, it’s writing, only with pixels. Also a dystopian lighting mod, but that’s another story.

I am writing this post with a full “house” -aka hubster and bff home, cat reminding me that we did promise to get her a new red dot. I am in my pajamas, still, because insomnia turned into “may as well turn on the computer,” which turned into “eh, boot Sims,” which turned into “listen to Journeys of Romance podcast while playing,” which turned into catching the love of writing, which led to opening this Word Pad document while doing all of the above, and here we are.


Breakfast/lunch is a bag of microwave popcorn, positioned to the left of the keyboard, beverage of choice positioned to the right, notebook on top of the CPU, under the monitor, color coded getl pens at hand, to catch the its of story and “real” writing that trickle in as I do all of the rest. There are a bunch of notes for the Drama King scenes I owe my co-writer and I am going to have to do some reconstructing on Her Last First Kiss, but, with these intravenous baby steps, one thing at a time, it feels…doable.

Typing With Wet Paws: Mid-May Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. Can you believe it’s the middle of May already, and the next month is going to be June? I don’t have a lot of experiences with these month things, because I am only two, but the humans, and especially Aunt Anna, seem stymied by where we are on the calendar. She is not overly fond of summertime, but if she can stay indoors most of the time (hopefully writing, definitely under feline supervision, aka me) then things should be okay.

All of the stuff from Chez Grandmere is safely and neatly stashed in storage, and there is still plenty of room, which means Aunt Anna is looking at moving some stuff from the first storage unit to the second one, to decrease congestion. In storage, that is, not anybody’s respiratory system. One of her priorities is to get at one of her keeper books, A Love So Bold, by Annelise Kamada, because one of the books she rescued from Chez Grandmere, A Banner Red and Gold, is the sequel to that one, and she wants to read them back to back. As far as Aunt Anna knows, Ms. Annelise only wrote the two books, or only had those two published, so they are especially valuable as there aren’t any others. She is kind of salty about that. Even so, she is pretty excited about the prospect of doing a deep dive into some of the older/classic/first wave of historical romance, and keeping notes on what works and doesn’t for her, what inspires her, and what she would like to do.

Right now, reading the sorts of stories that get her excited about writing is high on that list. Apparently (I can only go on the materials left by Big Sister Skye, because this is my first almost-summer with Aunt Anna and my first as a Mews) summertime is not Aunt Anna’s best time, but I think we will get through it okay.

there is not a lot of pressure on the reading front, as Aunt Anna is already 25 books ahead of schedule with her Goodreads reading challenge. That means that she has read 58 out of 90 books, and puts her at 64% of the way to her goal. For those who have asked if she is going to increase that goal, she is not sure as of yet. Ask her again when she gets closer to 80 or so. An early win would not be a bad thing, all things considered. Also, that makes more time for Simming.

There is no grass growing on top of Buried Under Romance, as there are three new reviews, as well as Aunt Anna blabbering about her usual stuff (aka the book haul) so go check that stuff out. Frankly, I am impressed. Aunt Anna would like me to give a shoutout to Miss Lisa, Miss Amy, and Miss Evelyn from Buried Under Romance, for their super revewing powers. They only use them for good, I promise.

Speaking of good, let’s go to the part about me. I know there are graphics that normally go here, but I don’t feel like accessing them. Anyway, I don’t know if I told you, but Uncle Rheuben has a butt warmer. He calls it a laptop. He is taking care of it until Aunt Anna needs to do a video conference with Aunt Melva, or do Zoom meetings or make videos. Anyway, he makes sure it is running well. Sometimes, he gets up to do something else, and that is when I make my move.

Clearly, the thing is a butt warmer. It is the same color as (most of) my butt, so that’s a sign, right? It is apparently not okay to use the keyboard as a scratching post. One guess as to how I found that out. I am not telling how I learned how to close his windows, but I can. Biggest Brother (Sir) Ginger said I can’t give away trade secrets like that. What is knowledge to felines is mystery to humans. So is how I know when it is time to yell at Aunt Anna to go to bed already and then sit on her and purr when she finally does. That is a pretty good bookend to when she sits down at the glowy box and starts making with the clickety clack. I do not even try warming my butt on the desktop keyboard. Well, okay,. I may have tried, but a) it wasn’t warm, and b) Aunt Anna said it is for writing (and gaming) only. Says her.

Headbonks!

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Rainy Days and Mondays

When I was but a wee princess, back in the days when I only needed one digit to state my age, and, I believe, in the grade that comes after K, my parents (or perhaps the NY educational system) put me into one of those newfangled open classrooms. Basically a mishmash of traditional education with a dash of Montessori is a decent description, and we kiddos were often allowed to pick our own activities for part of the day (as long as work was done.) This allowed the teacher (whom I saw as Grown Up, but was likely in her midtwenties at best) to observe young humans in their natural state (um, that came out wrong. I did not mean naked.) and note what activities and/or behaviors affected their traditional learning, for good or for ill.

Surprising nobody, I did better when I spent time in the book corner (spot the baby writer for one hundred, Alex) and the art area (artist’s kid, no-brainer) but where I showed the most marked improvement in my worksheets and cuisinaire rods learning was on the days when we were allowed to bring our own toys, and I pretty much always brought fashion dolls. I won’t mention the brand, but my preferred dolls stood eleven and one half inches tall (when my friend, V and I did not remove their legs to make them stand in for kid dolls, usually their own kids, or kid-selves. Yes, we knew how to get legs off and on safely. That’s not at all creepy. We could do heads, too.) could swap clothes like nobody’s business, and took on more roles in one afternoon than Meryl Streep in a good year.

Once again, Spot The Baby Writer gets another point. Unfortunately, subsequent classrooms did not hew to this model, and my plastic repertory company was relegated to my room at home, and occasional play dates. I did try collecting as an adult, but not being made of money, or having limitless space, and needing to do adult things, as well as discovering actual writing, that chapter, alas, needed to close. Merely having the items in question wasn’t the same as actually having hands on and acting out the stories in my head with reasonable facsimilies of human beings.

But then — because there is always a But Then- I discovered a few things. Fandom, especially fanfic (ah, so that’s what I had been doing all by myself with Wonder Woman, The Bay City Rollers, and reruns of Family Affair, all along. Not at the same time, mind you.) Finding the plot holes (did you know that the fate of the father in The Partridge Family was never addressed? He doesn’t even get a first name or cause of death. It’s established that he’s dead, but that’s it. When? How? Were he and Shirley happy? Was he musical, too? Did they want a big family from the get go, or did it just kind of happen, because Shirley and Whatshisname loved each other very very much? Come to think of it, what did Mr. Partridge do, to be able to afford that big house and still allow Shirley to be a stay at home mom to five? I still want to know these things.)

Fanfiction was a huge discovery, though I never wrote for any of the above fandoms. I did hunt down licensed Partridge Family novels and comics in used bookstores and flea markets, and Wonder Woman does count as my first fandom, as I collected anything I could about the comic and TV series, and blew through two of the fashion dolls. Yep, I fanned that hard. The first fandom in which I wrote was Star Trek: The Next Generation, and even then I had to do it my way, creating an original love interst for a canon character, and I never budged from that. They are canon to me. They were also some of, if not the very first characters I made when I ventured into my next discovery: The Sims.

Sim versions of a (non-Trek) OTP

Since I am getting chatty on this one, I will stop here for now and pick up again on Wednesday. Need to get some novel work under my belt before I can play (and by play, I mean my current save of the Sims 2 adapted to Sims 3, which is far more fun that should be allowed, but more on that later.)