Monday Stream of Consciousness

Jumping into this post with no actual plan, because A) blog is under the “low hanging fruit” category of stuff I need to do today, and B) if I don’t do it now, it will nag me throughout doing anything else.

Usually, Sundays are my planning afternoons. Yesterday, though, had a few different influences. A) I am still getting used to new medication, so surprise slumber parties for one are a thing; B) yesterday was also a full house, with all family member hone in a smallish space, and C) I am not at all sure that my plan to coast along from April through June on mini planners and no classic planners is going to work as well as I thought.

That last one is the easiest to fix: hop on over to a craft store that carries my planner of choice, grab a currently dated one from the clearance section, hand over a pittance and jump right in, back to the usual method. That leaves mostly just today to be free floating in no classic planner land. I could technically re-date older pages, but that is far too labor intensive when what I want to do is jump in and lay out for my plan of attack.

I like seeing things laid out, where I can tell at a glance what jobs I need to do, to get to where I am. Making it aesthetically pleasing is a plus, and, with the new YouTube channel, I have a lot more ideas of what I want to not only talk about, but write about as well. I don’t normally do TBRs but I see those are frequent on BookTube, and look like they may indeed work toward my goal of reading more historical romance. They also look fun. I could use some more fun, and, after a very long time without it, fun is something I can do these days.

See the source image

Over the last couple of nights, I binged Picnic at Hanging Rock on Amazon Prime. Loved it. Australian Gothic is a thing, and I want more of it. Which reminded me that I very much do want to rereach On The Jelllicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I refuse to use the shortened American title, because that’s not its name. Yes, I will die on that hill. I also want to see On the Jelicoe Road made into a movie (I don’t usually) with an all-Australian cast, on location, with 80s film effect on the 80s timeline. Failing that, I would like to hear it on audio, with two Australian narrators.

Thankfully, I can carry that over into historical romances set in Australia, by Australian authors, like Cadace Proctor and Alison Stuart. Ms. Stuart also writes Engilsh Civil War historical romance, which is one of my all time favorite settings.

In the meantime, I get to do mundane adulting things, such as putting away laundry and straightening my work area, both things that are super good for letting my creative brain do stuff on the back burner where I am not looking.

I am a little disappointed that I won’t be doing Camp Nano this round, but July is not that long away, and it’s also when I can bust out my brand new eighteen month planner, so I take that as a sign. What do you think?

The Myriad Inspirations of a Snowbound Magpie

Monday’s post on Wednesday means it already comes with a story behind it. Throw in a snowstorm, some happy mail, The Oven That Would Not Cook, and a bunny trail into the world of tabletop gaming, and here we are.

Monday afternoon, Housemate and I headed to the big storage unit, to retrieve some desired office supplies, aka my favorite fineliners and my washi tape collection, version 1.0. Housemate had her own interest in this, as, over the weekend, I lured her over to the dark side of becoming a planner person. Of course this means she needs washi. The trip was a washout, though, as the boxes I needed weren’t immediately accessible, so this is going to be a job for an uncommitted Saturday morning. Library trip that was meant to make up for the storage unit fail, was similarly unsuccessful, but there was a good sized box of happy mail waiting for me, when I got home.

C, a friend I met through an online group for stationery aficionados, is from Louisiana and sent me a box of Mardi Gras, to help survive the polar vortex. That is quality friendship, right there. Housemate and Real Life Romance Hero are helping me pick out items to include in a box of Upstate New York, to send her in return. This box brought a lot of memories, all of them good. I have never been to New Orleans, or experienced Mardi Gras, (apart from something we will call The Mardi Gras Coin Incident, wherein a certain retail management team may have wanted to rethink their kids’ program for this particular holiday) in the really real world, but, back in the days of the first fandom I ever dove into, well, a few key characters certainly did.

Among the beads and the coins, and the mask and fleur de lis ornaments (you know what they say, being given three items on a certain theme means one collects them now. Guess this means I now collect masks and fleur de lis, and I am okay with that) and special Cajun flavored potato chips (they were delicious) was this fine fellow.

say hello to my little friend

His name is Iko (full name Iko Iko, naturally) and, while my original plan was for him to reside on my desk, RLRH had other ideas. Iko now resides in our room. This does not surprise me, and it does give a measure of job security, not only to Sebastian, but to Bo Bison, who lives on top of the printer, and the as yet unnamed Christmas bear who is sitting unobtrusively in the corner of the keyboard shelf, not imposing on anyone.

This is also the week where I finally carved out time (thanks, insomnia) to watch The Swimmer, which I have been wanting to see ever since a friend mentioned it, months ago. It was surreal and gorgeous and tragic and I want to dissect it. Last night was also when I could no longer resist H’s persuasion (aka relentless spamming of lore and links, not at all a complaint) and fell down a rabbit hole. That rabbit hole, aka the Critical Role webseries, in which a group of professional voice actors improv their way through a tabletop roleplaying game, may or may not be swallowing me whole, even though I have not yet seen my first full episode. Yet. I have, however, scoured the web for blush pink dice that still have some badassery about them, and whether there might be any places for a curious beginner to suss out things in person. I may or may not have bookmarked a few sites to learn more about the character creation process, because that is germane to the work we writers do on a daily basis, so I’d still be working, right?

This has also been the week when my grumbling about how my daily agenda traveler’s notebook insert will only last me one more month, and I will need to purchase another (but where?) unless I want to use the format of the one I currently have as a template and make my own, because that is totally allowable, and there are no gatekeepers on this sort of thing. Worst case scenario all I do is save myself a few pennies, by using what I have on hand. Best case, well, there’s no ceiling, now, is there?

All of this, combined with my pre-bed devourings of historical romance, once again, leads to one inevitable conclusion. I am, once again, in the magpie stage, grabbing shiny things to toss into my hoard, while moving along with getting Chasing Prince Charming through the next round of edits, second drafting Her Last First Kiss, and first drafting Drama King. This is not the time I would have picked for the magpie stage to hit, but, then again, that’s not how it works. I don’t get to pick. Maybe others do, but, if I had the chance to pick that option, I’d have to turn it down. I like the surprise of “oh, it’s happening,” that pops in at random intervals.

This time, I have learned. Last night, while Skyping with H, and pulling the trigger on my first Critical Role episode, I hit pause. I had to grab a notebook and mechanical pencil, because we magpies need a safe space to stash our shinines. (Accidental alliteration thrown in for no extra fee) Other things tumbled in, the laundry room reading session where I ignored a Kindle full of TBRs, to reread one of my own old documents, the latest feedback on the current HLFK chapter, and the signpoints up ahead that Melva and I need to hit for Drama King where it needs to be, when those two crazy kids finally figure out that they’re perfect for each other.

Sometimes, it does feel like juggling a lot of chainsaws at one time, but this kind of thing is an occupational hazard. What unexpected sources of inspiration are seeking you out this week?


Typing With Wet Claws: Retreat Debriefing Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another very special Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. Today’s entry is special, because Anty is still recovering from said retreat. While Anty had a wonderful time, alone with me, alone time can be draining for some extroverts, like Anty, and she may need a couple days to be her regular self. This means that the real debriefing may take place on Monday, so I am allowed to do some rambling here. I do not have a problem with this.

First of all, Anty has an announcement to make. New York’s Emerging Writers: an anthology of fiction, is now officially published, and ready for purchase. This is the anthology that has Anty’s novel excerpt, “Ravenwood,” in which you can meet John and Aline, the hero and heroine of Anty’s postapocalyptic medieval historical romance, A Heart Most Errant. If you read the excerpt, and would like to see the whole book, consider letting the publisher know. If you would like to get that, and maybe discover new fiction writers, in a variety of genres, from the Empire State, you can purchase your copy here.

As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance, this past Saturday, talking about why favorite books are favorite books. She has been thinking about that a lot, and may talk more about it in the future. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURwhyfavorite

Do you?

Anty did a LOT of reading, during this retreat, and that is probably a whole other post in itself, but here are the basics. Anty read five books while on retreat, and they break down like this:

  • 2 historical romance
  • 2 contemporary category romance
  • 1 contemporary YA (not romance)

Her Goodreads challenge is now twelve books ahead of schedule, with sixty-eight books read out of ninety, putting her seventy-six percent of her way to her goal. That is more than two-thirds of the way done. This does not mean Anty is going to coast for the rest of the year, because she is still on a reading tear. Since she has come back from retreat, she has downloaded three new-to-her e-books, all historical romance. She is going to have to put some more in her Amazon account before she can download more, but there is probably going to be a new notebook to keep track of this sort of thing.

Anty had not read anything by Terri Brisbin for a while, despite having attended several of Miss Terri’s workshops, at various conferences over the last few years. Then she saw a deal on one of Miss Terri’s books that she had started the first time around, then did not get to finish, because life exploded, and she had to give the library back their copy. She got that book for her Kindle, then read it all in one day. As soon as she got off retreat, the first thing she did was to get the next book in that series, and then pick up two more standalones. She also has a couple more books by Miss Terri on her Kindle already, so I sense a theme here. Anty also has some of Miss Terri’s books in paperback, but they are in storage.

Anty also watched four movies. Two, she liked, very much. One, she needs to understand better before she knows if she likes it or not, and the fourth, was not for her, although she had hoped it would work better for her. That is the way it goes, sometimes. Anty needs to go through a few different levels before she can fully asses a work. She will tell you more about that, and about the books she read on retreat, later. After the weekend, she will probably be up to her usual talkative self.

The reason this retreat is taking a little longer to bounce back from is that an airline made some mistakes when Mama tried to buy her and Grandma’s plane tickets. I will not go into specifics, but it ended up that A) Grandma and Mama ended up on separate flights, on separate airlines, and B) Grandma’s airline kind of lost her for a few hours. Maybe stranded is a better word, but, even though Mama’s flight was supposed to arrive a couple of hours after Grandma’s, back in Grandmaland, that is not what happened. What happened was that Grandma’s return flight got delayed and delayed, and she missed a connection, and Mama was already on her plane, so it was kind of scary for Grandma for a while. She eventually got back to Grandmaland, many, many hours after Mama was already there. I am sorry Grandma had to go through all of that, but it did mean more time with Anty, so it was not all bad.

Thanks to Anty, I have a new toy. Anty and Mama could not find a laser pointer before this retreat, so they will bring one next time. The new toy is a very fun toy, and it is called Empty Mint Holder. It is super fun. It can spin, and roll, and slide across the floor like a hockey puck. It even has two doors, and Anty is thinking about putting some of my treats in it next retreat (hm, I wonder if “re-treat” means “to treat again.” I could get on board with that. I love treats.) and see if I can get them out, on my own. I think that might be fun, but for right now, I like watching humans slide it and spin it. Greenball, of course, is a classic, and there is also Yellow Ball. It can do most things Green Ball does, but A) it does not make noise, and B) it bounces.

The best part of retreat, though, was when Anty took a nap, and I snuck close enough to ninja-cuddle her. Once, I even ninja-spooned her and I was the big spoon. That was new, because I had never done that before, and Anty was surprised to find me cuddling her from behind. She gets concerned when she wakes up and can’t see me. This is one of the reasons why, but she did not mind too much. Ninja cuddles mean that I can sneak in some extra love beams and inspiration.

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

20180815_181957

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

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Off The Grid Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another very special Feline Friday, coming to you from Camp Grandma. This is a special post, because it is a special day, and that special day is because Anty is getting ready to come and spend most of the next week with me. Because Camp Grandma does not have interwebs, apart from the remote connection, Anty will be off the grid (and on the floor, with me, because I am a floor girl) and therefore will not be posting on Monday. She has mentioned some vague ideas of writing a post on Monday anyway, and seeing if she can upload it when Anty Melva comes to camp to take Anty to lunch (I will stay in my bunk and have fish jelly, because that is the best lunch ever. Except for peanut butter, and I already know Anty put peanut butter on the grocery list) but Anty said not to make any promises, but she is keeping a retreat diary and will share some of that when she can.

The day that Anty goes back to Right-Now Apartment is also a very special day, because that day is also Uncle’s birthday, aka the best day ever. I do not know what Anty is getting Uncle for a present, but I already know what I am giving him. I think he would like a shed whisker, maybe a claw, or a glop of early fall shed fur. What do you think? Maybe I will give him all three. Anty will take pictures of me, but nothing beats the real thing, amirite? All three it is. Probably. We may have to see what happens on the laser pointer front first. Worst case scenario, the ghost cats have mentioned something about a flashlight that is rumored to be almost as good as a laser pointer, but only at night.

Being off the grid until Uncle’s Birthday will not affect Anty posting on Buried Under Romance on Saturday, because she knows how to travel through time, and already set up that post. I do not know how she does it. Probably something related to planning, because she has been doing a lot of planning lately. Like, a lot, but that is a whole other post. Her most recent Saturday Discussion post is here, and it looks like this:

BURwhyfavorite

Um, no, actually, that is the picture that goes with Anty’s next post for Buried Under Romance, but I will leave it there, because Anty has a very strict schedule for today, and the “help Skye with her blog post” section is a lot smaller than I would normally like, but I do get Anty 24/7, apart from her lunch with Anty Melva, and possibly a walk to the post office (that would be Anty walking to the post office, not me, because I am an inside girl. I spent the first six months of my life outside, because I was born wild. Trust me, it was not that great. Inside only for me from now on, thankyouplease.)

When it comes to Anty’s Goodreads Challenge, this entry will be very brief. Thanks to Anty’s new discovery of Book Tubers, she has been adding a lot of books to her To Be Read lists. As of today, she is ten books ahead of schedule, having read sixty-four out of ninety books, which puts her at seventy-one percent of the way to her goal. Since Anty has a fully charged Kindle, and a whole bag filled only with books, I think it is safe to say that she is going to be reading a lot during this retreat. Sometimes, she does read out loud to me, which I very much appreciate. If there is a kitty in the book she reads aloud, she does do the kitty voice. She has a funny accent, but she does okay.

Another thing Anty does okay, and would like to do okay-er is art. I like watching Anty do arty things, because it is very interesting. Her hands move a lot, she usually has music playing, and, sometimes, her supplies have interesting smells. Some kitties like to help their humans by batting the supplies around, but I do not do that. I sit nearby and observe, because I am a good girl. Anty and I have some of our best talks that way. Often, when I help Anty do arty things, that lets the story part of her brain free-float, and then some of her writing problems work themselves out, on their own. Bloop, all solved. Anty is very much looking forward to that part of the retreat. Maybe I can sneak some peanut butter, if she is absorbed enough in arty things while her rice cake is left unattended.

DylusionsTN

Anty has not made any art here yet. These books and pocket are made by Dyan Reavely

I am not sure if Anty is bringing that particular art book with her (it is very cool, though, and she looks forward to playing with it) because she has a theory that keeping the supplies on hand to a carefully curated minimum will encourage her to use them in more ways, but I figured this post could use another picture, and she had that one hanging around, so that’s what you get.

Anty is also bringing a bunch of movies, that we can watch together. It is very thoughtful of her to have a laptop that plays movies, because Grandma keeps her TV in Big Carpet Room, in which I am not allowed. I like watching TV with my humans, but Big Carpet Room is a no-kitty zone. That is because of what Michelangelo, one of the ghost cats did (back when he was a non-ghost cat) and Grandma has concerns that it will give me ideas. I cannot say exactly what it was, but I strongly believe it has to do with, um, stuff. Grandma has me 100% on my stuff habits, and she is not taking any chances. Grandma’s house, Grandma’s rules, so Anty and I will have movie dates in my room.

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

20180622_111952

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

Common Threads at the End of the Day

It’s a Monday. I had vague plans about a topic for this blog, and then life happened, so here I am, at the end of the day, rather than the beginning of it, the vague idea long gone. I’m not surprised. It was a full weekend, and these things happen. Instead, I’ll go with the first thing that comes to mind, which is a big chunk of how I spent my Saturday.

I look forward to my monthly CR-RWA meetings. A whole afternoon, spent mingling with others of my kind (romance writers) and learning how to advance our careers, write more, write better, etc, meet with friends who do what I do, and meet new people who do what I do. Also, there are snacks. This post isn’t about the snacks.

What this post is about, is part of the workshop we had this month. The lovely and talented Marie Lark spoke about using the movies and TV we love, to pinpoint common themes in our core story, the things we come back to, time after time. Core story has been on my mind a lot lately, and a similar exercise is part of the Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys workshop I’ll be teaching in March, so this workshop had my attention on two different levels. Three, when we broke into small groups, because I love group dynamics.

Our first assignment was to list five of our very, very favorite movies and/or TV shows, the ones we watch multiple times, because we love them that much. My ears pricked, because this sounded like fun, and then I stared at the blank page in front of me, because there is one thing that always comes when I’m asked this kind of question. Throw one of these questions at me, and I immediately feel as though I’ve never met myself. It’s a big question, and “favorite,” to me, means the very top tier. Are we talking about of all time here, or right now, or is there something in the middle of those two qualifiers? I have to sift through the possibilities, weigh them against how they might be received by the small group, by the room, by…I don’t know, them.  Generic them.

What I finally wrote on the page was, in no particular order:

  • Saturday Night Fever
  • How I Met Your Mother (finale excluded)
  • Love Actually
  • The Walking Dead
  • Brideshead Revisited (1981 miniseries)

When instructions came for the next part, I felt, well, naked. The other group members were to look at the works listed and pick out commonalities. The person who wrote the list was not to contribute at this phase. Within my group, I have a slight acquaintance with one person, had met another for the first time at the start of the meeting, and the fourth, for the first time, during the exercise. So, basically, a bunch of strangers are seeing me virtually naked for the purpose of this exercise.

Two things jumped out at the group at first: ensembles, and coming to terms with a dying world. Still thinking on the ensemble part, because, when I write, I’m focused on the hero and heroine, though the supporting cast is important. The second part, though, coming to terms with a dying world, ding, ding, ding. That one, yes. A once upon a time friend once said that all of my stories are about moving on after a loss, and they are not wrong. I live for that stuff. That, and star crossed lovers, who, somehow, make it work.

I’m still looking at this list, letting it roll around in my head, and thinking of what another group member asked, about what didn’t make the list. Remains of the Day, that’s one. Book and movie, both. The first two seasons of Sleepy Hollow. Maybe it’s too soon to add Poldark to the list, because I’ve only seen the first two seasons once, still haven’t watched any of the current season, and I’ve seen more of the Outlander TV series than I’ve read the books, so do I even qualify to add that? There’s the span of the entire Degrassi franchise, all the way back to when Principal Simpson was in junior high. What about shows I love, but haven’t been back to for a while? Mad About You, Cold Case, Remington Steele, Moonlight, Lost, the first season and a half of Highlander?

Picking only five is a small sample. For those curious, an ever-growing Pinterest board of my favorite OTPs (One True Pairing) can be found here. A lot more choices there, and yet they all have something that draws me back to them, even if I stare blankly at the page for a moment when asked to pinpoint what it is. This may require further study.

What common threads do you see?

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: New Year’s Eve Eve Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday, the last one of 2016. This has been -well, it still is, because it is not over yet- Anty’s tucked away week, and it is going pretty well, all thing considered. Anty likes to use this time to collect herself and rest and refill her creative well, so that she can come into the new year at her best. So far, so good. Right now, it is snowing, which is Anty’s favorite weather of all time. Anty loves snow, so it makes her very happy to have some during her favorite week of the year.

Even though Anty likes to relax during her tucked away week, that does not mean she does not write things. She has actually been doing a fair amount of writing things. Let me share some of them with you. First, as always, she is at Buried Under Romance, and this time, she is talking about favorite holiday reads. One reader who commented is reading the holiday book that is up next on Anty’s list. Anty will take that as a recommendation. The post is here and it looks like this:

bur2dec16

Anty has been doing a lot of reading during this tucked away week, which was her plan all along, so that is a good thing. It is also part of her plan to share her reviews on Goodreads more. This week, she posted four of them. That is a lot for a kitty to screencap, but I will do my best. There will only be three pictures, because Anty forgot to write a review for one of them. Oops. I apologize on her behalf (also for the greatest hits photo of me, because A) I am camera shy today, B) Anty has a lot to do, even if it is tucked away week, and C) the spare picture of me she had in reserve in case I was camera shy, which I am today, is stuck in a Gmail queue and won’t send, so you get this one again.)

Anty’s review for A Pirate for Christmas, by Anna Campbell is here, and it looks like this:

pirateforchristmas

Her review for The Fox and The Angel, by Danelle Harmon, is here, and it looks like this:

foxandangel

Her review for We Know It Was You, by Maggie Thrash, is here, and it looks like this:

weknewitwasyou

Anty also read What Light, by Jay Asher, but she has not written a review for that one yet. I do not know why, because it has romance and a troubled hero and it is set in the world of Christmas trees. She will probably get to that later, because leaving reviews is not only good for the reader, or for other readers, but for the author as well. If you have read any of Anty’s books and would like to leave a review, her “I Wrote It” shelf is here

Now that it is New Year’s Eve Eve, the day before the last day of the entire year, Anty’s focus begins a shift from relaxation toward action. That means she is looking at what she can do when the new year begins. Normally, she and Mama (and sometimes Uncle, if he has the time off from work) get in the car and go a long way, to spend the day with some friends at a book swap. Humans do not have to bring a book to the party (Anty always does. Sometimes, she brings a lot.) but that party got postponed this year, so it will happen at another time. That means a couple of things.

First, it means that Anty does not have to go away, and she can spend all day home with me. I think that is a reason to celebrate right there. Anty will probably leave the house at some point, because, although I fill her kitty meter, she also has to fill her people meter. That is okay, though, because I know she will come home. The other thing that Anty spending the day here instead of away will mean, is that she needs to come up with a plan for how she is going to spend that day.

Anty does well with plans. She likes plans. That is one of the reason she collects notebooks, so that she can plan things out in them, and write about what she is going to write, before she writes it. Trust me, if she  tries to skip that step, it will not turn out well for anybody. Since Anty has not spent any time with Netflix yet this week, she will probably watch at least one movie on New Year’s Day. She has not decided which one yet, or maybe some special episodes of a favorite TV show or two. What is important is that she need to take in story, so that she can put out story.

This is especially important because of something she will be starting this week. This week, Anty and Miss N are putting themselves on a schedule, or having pages to show to each other every week. Back when we lived in the old country, Anty met every week with Anty Melva and Anty Michele, and Anty knew that, when Wednesday night came along, she had better have some pages, and she made sure that she did. Anty does very well with outside pressure like that. I would not recommend getting too close to her if it is a couple of hours before critique time and she does not have her pages yet, because she gets snarly when she does all that furious typing stuff. Better to wait that out under the bed or somewhere else that is safe like that. When things get to that point, all she cares about is getting the pages ready for her critique partners to see, so best to leave her alone and let her get that done, if you want to end the day with the same amount of body parts you had when you got up that morning.

Anty is also still on the hunt for a historical romance critique partner, someone who reads historical romance and writes it, and loves it the very, very mostestest. The way she figures it, she misses one hundred percent of the shots she does not take, so she is going to be very noisy about that for a while. By “for a while,” I mean until she finds a historical romance critique partner, so if you do not want to keep hearing about that, please consider spreading the word, or getting in touch, if you want one, too.

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

 

skyebye

Until next week…

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

 

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Black Friday Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for our regularly scheduled Feline Friday. The picture for this blog entry is a Greatest Hits picture, because I was not having any part of any picture taking today, even if it is my blog day. Nope, no way, not even for Anty. She got a couple of pictures of my butt, because I kept walking away from the camera. That is how I tell her I would prefer not to participate in her photoshoots at any given time. This may or may not have anything to do with the fact that I had regular cat food yesterday, because somebody did not write down that Mama and Uncle should get me special turkey flavored cat food when they bought Thanksgiving stuff. It also may or may not have anything to do with the fact that Anty took a movie of me washing myself and put it on Instagram. Granted, it did get a lot of likes, and I am super, super fuzzy, so my modesty is intact, but still, are there no limits?

Anyway, even when sick, Anty wrote her post for Buried Under Romance. She did, however, forget to post about it (that is an occupational hazard with bad colds like the one Anty is getting over) so this may be the first people have heard of it. It looks like this:

bur25nov16

and you can read it here:

http://www.buriedunderromance.com/2016/11/saturday-discussion-favorite-families-in-romance.html

If you had seen Anty this week, you would not blame her for forgetting to post about her post.  It was a pretty rough week. She is doing better now, and she did finally get enough brain together to watch things on Netflix. One of the things she watched, besides Thanksgiving themed TV show episodes,  was a movie called Results, which actually did have a kitty in it. It also had a dog in it, and, of course, some humans, but the kitty part is the part that mattered. Anty liked the characters and storyline, and thinks the actors all did very good jobs throughout the whole movie. My favorite part was when the kitty walked out of the loud human party at the end. I love movies with happy endings. I like to think he went under a big bed. where it was quiet, and had lots of treats.

Even though I had regular flavor cat food (it is really good, so I am not complaining) I did get lots of treats, too. That makes it a good Thanksgiving. In case you were wondering, here is what the humans had for dinner. Uncle says not all the food made it into the picture (also, this is only one plate, and yes, it is on top of a legal pad, because the humans ate in the living room. Anty needed to be under her blankey.)

fudthankgsiving2016

Uncle had a very good time making everything. The humans had to put other things on their plates when they finished the first ones, because Uncle made a lot. Then there was pie. I do not eat pie, because I am a kitty, but the humans seemed to like it. Anty threw me a napkin that smelled like the birdie the humans were eating, and I was very interested in that. I considered pouncing on it, but then I got distracted. Maybe another time.

I sometimes forget how to play, and my humans have to teach me again, but I do not think they mind. I catch on sooner or later, and then it is fun time. Anty has said she thinks I might like a toy that moves on its own, because I am interested in the toys she throws me as long as they are moving, but when they stop moving, I lose interest. Anty thinks that is because playing is really hunting practice, and I am not interested in hunting things that are already dead (because not moving =  already dead.) She is pretty smart, so she may be on to something here. I guess I will find out on Christmas, which is not that far away. Anty, Uncle and Mama talked mostly about what to serve for Christmas dinner, while eating Thanksgiving dinner.

Anty is doing Black Friday a little differently this year. Since Mama has to work the morning shift, and Anty is getting over the cold (but still determined to get out and do stuff; a week of Anty being inside all the time is driving all of us nuts) they are going to go and see what deals they can get in the afternoon. I have seen the list, and “cat food” is one of the first items on it, so I am not bothered about anything else they might get while they are out buying that.

Until then, Anty is bundling under her blankey and reacquainting herself with this whole writing thing. A non-writing Anty is not a good thing for anybody. so I will not let that happen. I must return to m y mews duties, so that is about it for now. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebye

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

Flowing Into the Next

Yesterday, I ran out of white index cards.   Yesterday, I saw two mallards swimming in the lake. when I walked home through the park after my weekly meeting with N. I’m not saying that ducks and index cards are related in any specific way, but that’s what came first to mind when I opened the window to write today’s blog.

Today, I danced in the Laundromat, listening to my Broadway selection playlist while I waited for the dryer cycle to complete. Today, I had a brief chat with the Laundromat’s other patron, because I always peek to see what book someone is reading, when caught doing so out in the wild. This time? Shanna, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. I gave Other Reader a thumbs up and told her that was a great book she had there.

Other Reader responded that she loved everything she’d read by Ms. Woodiwiss, but this wasn’t the whole book. Someone had thrown it out somewhere, and a chunk was missing out of the end. Readers who love particular books know how big the book is, and this did not look anywhere near thick enough to be all of Shanna. I loved the determination in Other Reader’s voice when she informed me her next step would be the library, to pick up or request a whole copy of the book.  I heartily approve of such actions.

Oddly enough, or maybe not, the book I was reading at the time, Angel in a Red Dress, by Judith Ivory (aka Starlit Surrender, by Judy Cuevas) is also falling apart. It was like that when I got it from the library, chunks of pages unglued from the spine (it’s a paperback) and part of me wants to ask the librarian if I can just have it if it’s going to be destroyed for said falling-apart-edness. Sign of a well loved book, to be sure, and I know, I could go buy my own copy, and probably will, but we’ve bonded, the two of us (but I’ll still do the right thing and return it; I’m not a savage, well, not in that respect.)

I got to page 338 of this particular edition, and I gasped out loud when certain information was revealed. This was one of those “I-did-n0t-see-that-coming” and “of course, how did I not know that all along” moments at the same time. This is a book that makes me gasp and choke and sniffle and want to bash heads and want to hug the pages back together and a number of other reactions non-readers would never understand, but readers and writers do understand. This. This is why I do what I do. This is why I write historical romance. This is what I’m aiming for when I open notebook and/or computer file, every day.

This is why I sat down yesterday, after passing the ducks on my way home after meeting with N, popped Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (okay, I had to watch the movie then, because it was my only chance before the library wanted the DVD back) into my old laptop and got out my stash of index cards, a black Sharpie, and wrote a short description of each scene I know is in Her Last First Kiss on each card. I ran out of cards before I ran out of scenes, which surprised me, but this does mean I get to buy more index cards. They look solid there, in their pile. Hefty, even. Substantial. Like a real book, because they are, encapsulated, the foundation of a real book.

It’s been a while since I had that feeling. The miscarried manuscripts never got to that stage, never put down that root. Maybe because I didn’t know that particular root needed to be there, but, once I started, there it was. One scene spilling into the next, into the next, into the next. Color coding the scenes, when I copied each one onto a sheet of graph paper, with felt-tipped pens, showed me where I have multiple chunks of Heroine scenes. What’s Hero doing through all of that? X, obviously. I’ll figure out the particulars of that later. I’ll know what I need to know, when I need to know it.

What I do know, right now, is that the focus, for me, doesn’t have to fit any prescribed shape, method, or form. Only what works for me. Life is going to happen (the alternative doesn’t make for a lot of writing, really, so good thing there) but  as long as I move from  Once Upon a Time to They Lived Happily Ever After, it’s all good. Ducky, even.

12801283_1140160539357309_6012874925866468332_n

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Creative Differences Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Anty and I are having some creative differences this week. There was a topic Anty had suggested for me to write about, but I had to exercise my duties as a mews, and let her know (gently, because this insomnia thing makes her grumpy) that her idea was not very interesting, which it was not. Fridays are my day to blog, and Anty needs to trust me to do the job she asked me to do. At the moment, she is too busy chair dancing to “You’ll Be Back,” from the Broadway musical, Hamilton, to put up much of an argument anyway.

One of the things Anty has come to realize about days when it is difficult to focus is that she probably needs more stimuli. New music is always a good thing, and when it comes highly recommended by people whose opinion Anty values, that is a good sign she may want to have a listen. Anty has not seen Hamilton, but she loves when things people may not think go together -the American Revolution, Broadway, and rapping? What?- do go together, and not only work, but work far better than one would expect.

So far, Anty is only a few songs into Hamilton, but she has already listened to this song five times. No, wait, it is six now. When Anty finds a song that clicks with her, she is going to listen to that a LOT of times in a row, and she does get something new from each listen. I think it has something to do with that whole more layers thing.  I probably should remind Anty that she has her DVD of Idlewild sitting on the DVD shelf in her office, and the combination of Prohibition and hip hop probably is going to jog something loose in her brain. Movies and art journal time are very good for things like that.

Anty has also never seen A Knight’s Tale, but that is on her list, too. She did not see it when it first came out, because it had too much of a modern slant – fighting for the honor of the queen, sure, but to the music of Queen? Uh, no, they did not have Queen in the middle ages, thankyouverymuch. Anty’s  outlook has changed some since then. Now, she is more concerned with the feel of the story world, verisimilitude instead of strict accuracy.  People who lived in other centuries wanted the same things as we do today, but the ways they got them were different.

Now that Anty thinks on it, some of these creative mismatches are the truest of all. Anty loves Elton John and Tim Rice’s version of Aida. Did I mention how one of Anty’s favorite-favorite tropes is star-crossed lovers? Well, it is. It is probably her favorite of all. Anty’s best definition of historical romance, the way she writes it and likes to read it, is a love story worthy of history. She thinks “Written in the Stars” has to be one of the greatest star-crossed lovers songs of all  time. I will give you a spoiler here: Aida and Radames do not get a happy ending (well, not in this life) but in a historical romance novel, they absolutely would. I should amend Anty’s favorite trope as “star-crossed lovers who make it work.” She cannot get enough of that stuff, so she has to make more, of her own.

When Anty finds it difficult to put out story, then it is time for her to take some in, to fill her well. What well needs to be filled can vary from time to time. Sometimes, she needs an infusion of emotion. Other times, it is a grounding in the world of the time of the story. That does not mean facts and dates, which may surprise some. For Anty, it is the way the world felt.

Anty’s favorite research session ever, she thought was going to be a very boring one. She had gone to Old Mystic Seaport, with two other writer friends, who were excited to use the research library, and the people who could help them find the books they needed. When Anty got to the library, she felt like the walls were closing in, and didn’t know how to answer the person who asked how he could help  her find what she needed. She didn’t know what she needed from all those books, so she told her friends she had to take a walk. It was cold and very, very windy, and Anty soaked it all in for hours.

She stood at the shore and watched the tide come in, walked through the completely deserted shipyard and inhaled its scents, picked up shells from the tide pools, and picked the brains of every costumed interpreter she encountered. There were not many of them, because it was really cold and really windy, but Anty did not mind. When she read, in her pamphlet, that an  to talk about what life was like for a house slave in that era, she ran to the right building, so that she would not miss anything. By the time her friends met her for lunch, Anty was full of ideas and stimuli, and couldn’t wait to get all of it into her story. The story she was working on at the time -and hopes to again, in the future- was not set in the time or place of the museum, but that did not matter. What mattered was that they were near the sea, and there were the skeletons of ships, and that was the same centuries and an ocean away.  Getting the feel right, knowing why a certain character loved ships more than anything else, that was what Anty had come for, and she got it.

That all feels vaguely subversive, but Anty likes it that way. It has been said that well behaved women never made history. Maybe the same thing applies to writing historical romance, as well. What is it some humans say, play by the rules, miss all the fun? I am not sure Anty is not having a little too much fun, listening to Hamilton. “Helpless” is playing, and this degree of chair dancing cannot be safe on that kind of chair. That had better be about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

 

i1035 FW1.1

Until next week…

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

 

 

 

 

 

Writershead Revisited

“I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.”
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

My favorite movie of all time is the original 1980 Brideshead Revisited. Okay, technically speaking, it’s a miniseries, as it ran on PBS and clocks in at a whopping twelve hours, but to me, it’s a movie, and so I am counting it as such.

If you’re a purist and insist on theatrical releases, my preferences are thus:

  • Comedy: Love Actually
  • Drama: Remains of the Day
  • Other: Saturday Night Fever
  • Obscure: Lords of Flatbush

People who know me in the really real world, am I forgetting anything? I have not seen the Emma Thompson theatrical version of Brideshead Revisited, nor do I plan to,  because I do not mess with perfection. Sorry, Emma, not even for you. I’ve read the novel by Evelyn Waugh (Hevelyn, for those in doubt about which Evelyn wrote this one) and will correct any who try to call the building known by non-devotees as “Castle Howard.” They are wrong. It’s Brideshead. I know. I’ve lived there, with Charles and Sebastian and Julia, and I have deep emotional scars from the first time I saw the graffiti on Charles’s mural and the empty :sorry, I need a minute: fountain :sniffle: with barbed :I can’t, I seriously can’t: wire. Sebastian drove that car around the bend of the road on that first school break, and BAM, I, as well as Charles fell deeply, irrevocably in love.

It’s the same feeling I had when I stole the then-new copy of The Kadin by Bertrice Small from my mother’s night table and read it under the bed in the guest bedroom during a power outage. I knew then and there that I’d found what I wanted to read and write for the rest of my life. The same way a lot of my SF/F reading/writing friends fell hard for Star Trek, Ray Bradbury and others, that’s how I fell for historical romance, and that’s what’s been, increasingly strongly, calling me back home.

Today, I took the bulletin board off my office wall. If I haven’t been utilizing it in the three years and change I’ve had this office, that’s not where it belongs. Later, I’ll take the items off it, find them new homes, and figure out the board’s new purpose. There will be one, because I crazy love vintage office supplies. In its place, I put the Union Jack poster above, purchased at a local art store about two years ago. it’s been rolled in brown paper, waiting for “the right time.” Which would be when, exactly? When we could spring for a fancy frame? The right fancy frame? When life calms down? When (fill in the blank?) If there’s one thing loving historical romance and historical fiction has taught me, it’s to seize the moment. So, up it went, with blue tacky stuff holding it to the place where whoever painted the room a lovely moss green had obviously painted around the mirror that Real Life Romance Hero took down for me the day we moved in. Much as I like to work on my selfie game, I don’t want to stare at myself the whole time I’m writing.

Taken in a different room, but it would be pretty much this.

Taken in a different room, but it would be pretty much this.

I also unearthed a pub sign that I honestly don’t remember when I acquired it, and had been waiting for, you guessed it, the right time and perfect place to put it up. Maybe the right kind of hook, whatever, whatever. Baloney. I still has blue sticky stuff, so I slapped some on the back and then affixed the sign to the door. My office may technically now be the King’s Head Pub, and I am fine with that. We even have a pub cat instead of a pub dog, and I am fine with that, too. The two Georgian era prints I kept from my dad’s house and had wanted since I was a wee little princess, do need to wait for command hooks to come home before they can go on the office wall, but when they do, up they go. The right time is now.

This means I'm allowed to have pub food at home, right?

This means I’m allowed to have pub food at home, right?

Doing things like this gets me excited, makes me want to dive headlong into the story world, climb inside the characters’ skins and see through their eyes. Writing longhand with a fountain pen, at least initial notes, is another way I find I can connect. Today, I also added another notebook to my shelf of the usual suspects on top of my desk’s hutch. It’s one of those story ideas I’ve been on and off with for years, and, as the flip side of the bulletin when story ideas and characters and settings and such have been in my head for long enough that they are old enough to vote, drink, marry or join the military without parental approval, they probably aren’t leaving, period. Better for me to get their rooms ready. That feels right.

Today, I met my Ravenwood editing goal a lot earlier in the day (for the day, not the whole project) because I wasn’t focused on word count or verb tense, but telling the story and living in that story’s world. This afternoon, I jump to Georgian England and Her Last First Kiss, and I’m excited about that, too. I don’t consider myself old, ugly or miserable, but dusting off things I love and displaying them proudly in the now, that’s a piece of the puzzle sliding into place. The road to The End, on both of these current projects, and others, has never seemed clearer.