Survival Drama Binge Babble

Right now, I am sitting at my laptop with wet hair, because, somehow, in the midst of all the Monday stuff, I am coloring my hair. I don’t remember the last time. I am listening to summaries of horror movies I will never watch, on YouTube, because A) I work better when hearing human voices, ;and B) it’s pretty good at getting my brain in storytelling mode, without the risk that any of it would naturally seep into my own work. Hm. Maybe that’s why I read as my contemporary YA as I do. Hm. I’m going to put a sticky note on that.

Okay, the historicals do get kind of dark. I will admit that. It’s part of my charm. It may also be one of the reasons I have been bingeing on survival dramas on various streaming services. Bonus points if the show is not American. Subtitles are fine, as I would rather listen to the original language and read the English translation than listen to dubbed dialogue. Then again, there are some dubs that are right up there with the original language.

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Currently, the show of choice is season two of Into the Night, a Belgian show where a solar event has ended most life on earth, but for a few plucky survivors (seriously, I am 100% there for a small band of plucky survivors in the midst of a disaster) who were on a hijacked airplane when it all went down. The title comes from the fact that our survivors have to fly during the sunlight hours, always away from the sun (aka into the night) so they can touch down in darkness and scramble to get any fuel they need for themselves and their plane. Sometimes they pick up stragglers along the way. Sometimes those stragglers are Not Nice People.

Case in point: touching down in an airport in Scotland to get more fuel. They have more fuel. Yay. They also have three British soldiers, some of whom can do Plane Stuff. Yay. They can come with. This will take some of the workload off Original Pilot (who only has one working hand) and Substitute Co-Pilot, who used to fly helicopters for the French military, but is new to the plane thing. Once in the air, though, one of our Plucky Survivors learns that New British Soldiers are actually war criminals, recalled for a court martial for Very Bad Crimes. Oh noes. What to do, what to do? Also, if we have a standard for them, what does that mean for Turkish Man who has a shady professional past, but is also bonding big tie with Ill Russian Boy, and IRB’s lovely young mum? Thankfully for IRB, there is a nurse on board, a home health worker who lost her own patient early on in the adventure.

When the first season ended, our Plucky Survivors have found an underground military bunker, where they can hunker. Yay. Only, they are not alone. Uh oh. A politician and soldiers are also hunkering there, but they seem friendly. Yay? Then Bad Things happen, including a fire that wipes out most of their food supply. Oh noes. Suffice it to say that I am not bored. The cast is diverse, not only from country of origin, by walk of life. Every episode, we get a glimpse at somebody’s life Before. I love that stuff, because it’s new information and gives new insight to the choices the character makes now in the worst nightmare scenario.

This is all probably going into the idea soup for my second medieval historical romance, which takes place in the wake of the plague. Other ingredients for idea soup will include medieval romances, because romance. Still backburner at this point, but it’s all part of the process.

Where am I taking this all? I write about survivors. Well, obviously, as otherwise they would be zombies, ghosts, or necrophiliacs. That Thing, though, that people hang on to in the midst of the worst, that Thing that keeps them going; I love finding out what that is for a character. For two characters. Discover the way their Things can work together, make something good even when good things are not the thickest things on the ground.

That’s where the start of this week finds me. How are you doing?

September

The fans are off today, though the windows are still open. I have leggings and a sweatshirt on as well as one of RLRH’s oversize t-shirts. I am making hot tea. Bed is made and laundry put away. I have the first point on my list of edits for A Heart Most Errant running on my brain’s back burner as I do these things, and things I have stressed over since literally February, are falling naturally into place. This feels right.

On Tuesday, I had a wonderful four and a half hour “lunch” with an IRL friend who is now also a writer friend. We both spoke of wanting an in-person writing buddy to talk at(this is extremely important for extroverts, as talking and thinking often happen at the same time) and, well, we were in person, and we are both writers. We don’t exactly write the same sorts of stories, but close enough, and we obviously mesh well, so we are giving biweekly Zooms a try. That starts next week

On Wednesday, I had a three hour video chat with another bestie, Our conversations go allll over the place, and this was no exception. After that I crashed. Hard. Then Real Life Romance Hero came home and ordered delivery (meatball subs from a local establishment, which were amazing) and I spent some time playing Sims 4, then actual sleep. Nine hours. No fan, no earbuds. Also amazing.

Which brings us to today. Not going to lie, I am thrilled that I can wear a sweatshirt (and I will need more as the season progresses.) Abovementioned bestie sent me a treasure trove of perfume samples, which I am wearing every day. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of moving into this apartment. That also means it will have been about two years since I had been presenting myself the way I would prefer to do. As in makeup, clothing, jewelry, hair, etc. That this happens at the same time spooky stuff is showing up in stores is not a bad thing by any means. Not that I plan to suddenly turn this into a style blog, but style is something I love. Being able to express it again is an absolute delight, especially when some areas mean basically starting from scratch.

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The blog I had planned for yesterday would have been about my fascination with survival dramas (Lost, Dark, The Rain, The Walking Dead universe, etc) and I still plan on doing that in the future, but the special thing about today is how regular it feels. I like that about today. I am already thinking of another cup of tea. Maybe. It’s not quite fall enough to start baking cookies but I think it is indeed getting there. I can get used to that. After dinner tonight, I have a date with a good book. Swell, more than one. Reading one on the front burner, letting the writing questions about others sort themselves out on the back burners.

No real point to this post, which is okay. Sometimes a stream of consciousness is what feels most authentic, so that’s what goes on the page.

How about you?

Asking the Right What Ifs

On Wednesday, it will be September. In our family, that means the unofficial start of autumn, and maybe more importantly, the return of my superpowers. It’s also the time for the seasonal turnover of planners, which took up a lovely portion of my Sunday afternoon. I love that ritual, of curating my planning supplies, moving from summer vibes (as much as I do, which isn’t much, as it’s not my favorite season) and into my natural environment. Bring on cool days, warm afghans, hot tea, big books, and all that good stuff.

In a writing perspective, that includes writing those books as well. Another part of the afternoon was me going over my edits letter from Safeword Author Services, which I cannot recommend highly enough for any author looking to hire an editor. Awesome encouragement, excellent insight, and I actually agree with the changes my editor proposed…so why haven’t I made them since February? That’s kind of a while.

First, let me introduce you to my non-besties, Anxiety and Depression, and the common author challenge of mind numbing terror when it comes to working on some of the tough stuff. But is it really? Sometimes, it’s as easy as asking the right questions. When I set up my writing notebook for historicals, I made sections for A Heart Most Errant, and Her Last First Kiss, with another for general tips and ideas for future project. For AHME, the first thing in there is the editorial letter. I read it through, then highlighted the areas I needed to address, color coded for hero (blue) heroine (pink) and general writing (green.) If I had a villain POV, which this book does not, then that would get a yellow highlight, because yellow is my least favorite color.

When I have Character A flip flopping from X to Not X a couple times throughout the story, making that decision for them wasn’t going to do. Instead, I turned to a fresh page and asked myself, “How does Character A feel about X, really?” Pros. Cons. Why they can hold both beliefs at once. Both hero and heroine in this book are trauma survivors (which is probably true for most of my characters in any story) so that is going to play into how they react to things, even good things. There’s also whether Character B would really focus on Y at a given moment. If they don’t focus on Y, then what would catch their attention instead? What would be more important? How does Not-Y fill a more urgent need than Y?

The only way to find that out, for me, is to do what I did when I wrote the beginning of My Outcast Heart, my first published historical romance (out of print right now; stay tuned for reissue talk) — follow my character as they run off on their own and write down what they do. It’s not entirely pantsing, as I can tell them “okay, here’s what has to happen next,” but usually, they figure out how they are going to that on their own, in their own particular way. It’s also not always in order. When I wrote Orphans in the Storm, my fourth historical (also out of print right now) I wrote both ends against the middle. I knew how it started, I knew how it ended, but connecting those two?

That was a matter of connecting “what happened after that?” with “what happened before that?” Repeat until the two ends meet. (I do not recommend the other notable thing about this manuscript, which was losing the whole file, after I had already sold it, but if you do, be sure to have an awesome critique group with hardcopies.) In this case, it’s translating to “okay, if X didn’t work, what could be Y?” Not what is, necessarily, but what could be? In the words of an online writer friend, “it’s just riffing.” Have fun. Chuck some ink on that paper and see what transpires. For my money (and that which I hope comes from it) it’s well worth the trip.

How are you getting ready for September?

Mid-August Recalibration

Welp, we are now officially past the halfway mark for August. Shelves are stocked with back to school supplies, which is pure heaven for us stationery aficionados. The fact that loving stationery and being a writer are not mutually exclusive makes this an especially delightful time of year. Well, ecept for the heat. It’s been brutal here in NY for the last while, and temperatures that are in the range of “do not kill the heat-sensitive” are extremely welcome.

August has not been the best month for productivity. Insomnia has been raging, with seven sleepless nights out of the first fourteen. My local RWA chapter voted this week to dissolve. That hit me hard. Harder, even than I would expect. It’s not entirely gone-gone, as there will be some sort of non-affiliated group, though not under the auspices of Romance Writers of America. I’m not sure what the future of the national organization will be, and that’s another big sad. I’m not even over the loss of Romantic Times magazine (the OG RT, not the RT Book Reviews it was at the end.) The thought that the organization that was The Thing back when I was but a wee princess could be floundering into nothingness sticks. A lot.

Melva and I also recieved news about our current submission that was less than we had expected. That doesn’t at all mean that nothing will happen with Drama King. On the contrary, we are meeting tonight to discuss our options. Whatever we choose, I am sure it will make Jack and Kelly’s book an even beteter one. I won’t say more until we have had a chance to talk between ourselves, but we are writers, and writers write.

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The same applies to historical romance. The best way to feel connected to it is to, well, connect with it. Read lots, and of the sort I want to produce, and then proceed to write horrible first drafts. Then turn those into slightly better second drafts.

There is still the part of me who set up a TV tray in my dad’s living room, propped an electronic typewirter (yes, that long ago) popping the soundtrack from Camelot on his hi-fi, and confidently pounding my way through a set number of pages, because that’s what one of my favorite writers of historical romance did. Easy peasy.

Only not. Part of me wants to stamp my foot and grumble about being here again, not exactly at the start of the road, but boy does it feel like it at times. There is only one way around that, and that’s to wite. Keep writing. Then write some more. Then more than that. Write pages that are steaming piles of poo, because piles of poo can be shaped, but blank pages can’t. For the extroverted writers like moiself, (yes, I know that’s not a word) staring, hands on hips, at the place where my RWA chapter used to be (well, on Zoom now) and tapping foot, this means going back out there into the wilds of other writerdom. Critique group/partner applications are now open. Must love historical romance, grit over fluff, and have a taste for the epic. I’m serious. Talking and thinking happen at the same time with this gal, and talking with other writers of historical romance is now a priority. We will see how that goes.

Well, then. This is the pat of the post where I sum things up in some sort of order and/or sense, but I have to be honest; I am thinking about how many episodes of The Walking Dead I can get in before conference time. I am about three episodes from the end of Season Ten. After that, I can go back to where I left off with Fear The Walking Dead, which isn’t the same, but close enough to scratch the itch. Maybe I can call it research for the post-plague medieval world of A Heart Most Errant. Yeah, we’lll go with that.

Insert Title Here (yeah, she’s loopy today)

Surprise Thursday blog. I know, I’m as perplexed as you are, but I am writing this from my new office chair (pink leather; Housemate and I put it together last night, and are still friends.) with the laptop stand holding the keyboard and screen at an angle and eight that are much easier on my eyeballs, hands, and back. I made my cursor and mouse pointer HUGE and bright pink, which means I can spot them without a search party. I have been cruising through the to do list today, gettnig the office as is set up for optimal use, and it feels…good.

This is perhaps my favorite part of writing. Spoiler alert, I am going to say that about many different aspects of the craft. You have been warned. I have Big Pink, my beloved traveler’s notebook, back in use, her first insert almost filled. It’s got notes on where Melva and I need to be on the same page for me to write my next Queen of Hearts scene, wher to pick up with the A Heart Most Errant edits, and how to haul myself over the stile of the eternal buffering of Her Last Firt Kiss. A lot of those notes lead to “talk it out on paper or to a person” which may actually be my favorite part. I have an assignment of fat least coming up with some bullet points to talk through with Melva about HLFK, as she knows me, she knows the book, and I can send links to any historical stuff she might want to know better.

As of right now I do not have a critique group, and I am feeling the lack. Finding the right critique arrangement (or brainstorming) is a tricky endeavor, much like dating, only this time, a point by poit critique of intimate moves is actually a good thing. Go figure. Fictionally, that is.

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In some ways, I have been here before. In some ways, I havve been here forever. Not going to lie, there are many times when I want to kick myself and utter something along the lines of “stop buffering!” Which is not that easy.

Though I have no interest in the Olympics, I am mad about Simone Biles, wondering if Simon Biles would have faced the same load of bullpucky. I love the idea of a female athlete, especially one so young, earning GOAT status (Greatest Of All Time) and I really do hope there are a bunch of little Simones in kindergarten classes five years from now. I am cheering for her choosing the difficult path of putting her mental and physical health first. Big cost? Oh yes. Heroine inspiration? For sure.

I’m sitting here looking at the time, and it’s after five PM already? Weird. Not that I mind, because that means reading time. Family will begin trickling in anytime now. The last two days were family days, which means not writing days, because my office right now is a corner of the bedroom if Real Life Romance Hero is not sleeping, and noves to the kitchen table if he is. People walking behind me while I am trying to write is a big NO. So, the time is for other things. Also for giving the family enough Anna that they won’t mind alittle space when I need to be playing with my imaginary friends and doing the clickekty keys thing.

That’s probably enough for today. Definitely babbling, so time to rein things in and segue into the evening. Still not watching any streaming shows, but very happy to dive into my library hoard.

How is your week going?

Investments and Options in the Writing Life

Last week, Housemate confirmed that my desktop, or at least its monitor, had gone to the great AV room in the sky. Laptop is working perfectly, and we are keeping our eyes peeled for Black Friday deals. Not going to lie; gaming will indeed be a consideration, but the old desktop served me well, and having a new machine to take on the next phase of my writing career is not only welcome, but smart.

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Sometime today, I should be able to trade in the state of the art laptop stand I have been using for the past while (empty Amazon box) for an actual laptop stand that will hold the screen at the angle that is best for me. Tomorrow should see the delivery of my own office chair, pink and comfy and full of back support. No more hunching and squinting, which I am fairly certain is going to ramp my productibity by quite a bit. I am also shopping for a document holder, as I compose longhand and then transcribe, and we have already addressed how I feel about hunching and squinting.

I have not tried speech to text software yet, but it is on the list of things to investigate. More tools in the toolbox, more tools I can use. I would probably still start out composing on paper, but reading that into a computer so it could do the typing? I don’t hate that idea, not at all.

There’s also the old school option of getting another human to do the typing for me. I actually like this option a lot. Is that from being an extrovert? Maybe so. I can barter with a friend, or I can hire someone, likely a college student, as we have several universities in the immediate area. Before my hypercritical gremlins start whispering about a typist stealing my work, uh, no. This is why contracts exist, and any typist I don’t already know personally, would be thouroughly vetted first. Again, college town, and references are a thing.

Since we are here at the end of July, August is right around the corner, and before we know it, we will be in pre-fall. Not fall as in the opposite of rise, but fall as in autumn. That’s when my super powers activate, and productivity rises.

For today, this blog is the low-hanging fruit, and then I turn my attentions to Queen of Hearts. After that, it’s make a plan to tackle the remaining A Heart Most Errant edits and make them happen. That’s where I will leave this entry for today, because I can’t wait to get down to business.

What’s on tap for your week?

Against The Current

This is one of those multipurpose titles (hopefully; it’s at least my intent) where one group of words can stand for multiple meanings. It’s been a weird week. Sunday was ugh. A fun Monday outing with Housemate got derailed before it could get started, when her just-“fixed” windshield wipers stopped working while we were driving, in the rain. Yeah. Not fun. Cue another round of Housemate wrangling the car fixer people. We did manage to salvage part of the day but at the cost of most of our collected energy. Crossed wires on the now-weekly video chat with one of my besties, on Tuesday, but we had a great chat, only a little later than usual. Sometime in there, basically our entire bathroom stopped working. Toilet went on perma-flush, and bathtub clogged

Real Life Romance Hero definitely proved why he gets that title, as he shooed me off to Panera so I could chill while he did domestic warrior king duty, dealt with bathroom fixer person, and I could get some work done in peace and quiet. If you thik you sense an incoming “but,” you are right. If you didn’t know, I have a visual impairment, so reading menu boards behind a counter is a big nope. Thankfully, most food selling places these days also have their menus online, which means if I’m on my own, it takes but the click of a button to read the menu. This only really works if I actually put my tablet in my tote. Cue frantic patting around contents of purse. Planner, traveler’s notebook, makeup pouch, annnnd that’s it. Oh crud. Ended up asking counter person to tell me what the three kinds of bagels left by that time were, which sorted out well. I ended up writing ten pages in my traveler’s notebook, and maybe sorted out my wrong turn at Albequerque in Her Last First Kiss. That will be helpful if theory translates to practice.

Speaking of translating, I have a whole scene from Queen of Hearts to transcribe and send off to my contemporary writign partner, I very much want to do this, but when insomnia medication gets confused to the difference begtween AM and PM, we get sleeeeepy summer days, which really, brain? We’re doing this now? Really?

Also throw in guilty looks at the TBR books, annnnd the video I’ve been meaning to film for mmm, two weeks now? Yeah. There’s that. Not an insurmountable thingamaboodle by any measure. Calling back to Anne Lamott and Bird by Bird. In Anna Dreamspeak, wash one dish. This blog is my dish. If I end up transcribing one page at a time, that’s okay. Still gets done, and one page is one page more than didn’t even try. For the reading thing, pick up one book. Read one chapter. That still counts.

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Which brings me to another meaning of against the current. A bunch of the library books I borrowed are new releases, because well, one should (if you’re a longtime reader of mine, you know where I am going here) be reading. Well, no. Could read, yes. If one wants to. What I am excited about, as my guided journal I use at the end of the day often asks about, is doing a deep dive into some of the classic historical romances that cemented my love of the genre, as a reader and a writer. Big, sweeping epics that cover years (or even decades) and continents and bore witness to the spirit of the times, which could be anywhere from the ancient world to the early 20th century.

I picked up one new book that I was excited to see, by the author’s name and the cover, then, a few pages in, waaaait a minute. Who are these people the current people are talking about? Oh, right. I have walked into not only the middle of one series, but two (or three?) intertwined ones. This is not a bad thing, as I do want to read all of them, but when spoons are low, I don’t want to have to do research before reading. Still, it also has one of my favorite tropes for that subgenre, so yeah, I’m reading and will figure out the rest later.

I am a big proponent of story in, story out, so getting on that track and staying there is a priority, and I need to do what it takes to keep a firm footing on that route. Again, not a bad thing. I don’t summer well, it’s true, but we are halfway through July at this point, which for me is the middle month of summer, so we are now approaching that nebulous August moment that ushers in pre-fall. The Back to School stuff is making its appearance in stores which I find delightful and energizing. I want all of the stationery, not for school, but to tell love stories, in our time and others.

Someplace around here is where my k-12 teachers would say that I need to put the closing sentence/statement/paragraph. Okay. Tihs week has been weird. I’m muddling through. School supplies are everything. Read more romance novels. Especially mine. Or someone else’s. There’s good stuf fout there.

The Sims, Romance Writing, and Stream of Consciousness

Very quick stream of consciousness post today, since I am most assuredly in the zone for working on Queen of Hearts today. If all goes right, I can have a rough version of the next scene for my weekly conference with Melva. We agreed that this book is going to go a lot quicker than Drama King did, and I want to make sure it does.

Fourth of July was pretty quiet around here. As in I did a lot of napping, and I regret nothing. We cannot see the fireworks from this apartment, but we certainly heard them. This year, hearing them was enough, as I had my eyeballs pinned to my current Sims 4 save. I’m giving the Legacy Challenge a shot. Not doing any scoring whatsoever, as I am not in this for the math, but the basic idea is to start with a single Sim, on a big, empty lot, with very little money, and then use them to build a dynasty that lasts ten generations. I am on the fourth generation now, and having a lot of fun with it.

Fiona and Osvaldo, generation four

There are lots of variations on this legacy. I decided from the start that I wanted this to be a matriarchy, as in everything goes through the maternal line, aka firstborn girl inherits. If there are no girls in a generation, then the firstborn male may hold the spot for his firstborn daughter. Pictured above are my current generation, the lovely Fiona and her (townie) husband, Osvaldo. They currently have one daughter, Alexa who is child age, and fingers crossed she makes it through, because Osvaldo has the “hates children” trait, but he was frequently the one to autonomsously tend Alexa when she was a baby, so maybe he’s a masochist? Anyway, Fiona is going to university for her art degree, so Osvaldo can stay home to tend Alexa and their vast garden.

What does all of this have to do with writing? On the surface, not much. A little deeper, quite a bit. Generational sagas have always been my favorite sort of linked stories/series, especially in historical romance, where we can see the legacy of love build from the first two progenitors, and see how the family progresses thrugh years, decades, even centuries. Follow one family from medieval times to the turn of the 20th century? Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss. With a gauranteed happily ever after for each individual couple in every story, the sort of HEA that only gets HEA-ier as the young lovers become parents, then in-laws, then grandparents.

This does bring in the issue of character death, since our medieval progenitors are not going to be alive in the Belle Epoque. I’m actually okay with that, as my taste in historical romance hews more to the dramatic than rom-com. In a more lighthearted series, death of a main character (after many years) would seem out of place to a lot of readers, and many lighthearted series tend to focus on one generation at a time, so maybe it doesn’t come up all that much? I have seen the demise of older heroes and heroines done well, and done poorly, but it’s part of life, and those generationgs outside of the current characters’ living memory can take on a legendary tone, so that is actually a plus in my book.

Ah. Aha. Wait. I found a connection. Heather, the heroine of Queen of Hearts, lives in the shadow of her mother’s reputation. Jessica Stewart was a legendary author of epic historical romance, and Heather now has the responsibility of running the publishing house her mother started. Heather is not a writer, but she’s passionate about the historical romance genre, its books, its writers, its readers, its, well, history. She’s trying to figure out where she fits into all of that, while raising a precocious six-year-old on her own, and very gingerly sticking her toe in the dating waters after a painful divorce. For those who love a genuinely good hero, have no fear, her best friend, Rob very much fits the bill. He’s very different from Dominic from Chasing Prince Charming, or Jack from Drama King, which is exactly how I want it to be. The historical heroes, as well, are a whole other story, pun intended.

Okay back to writing I go. Cover me, I’m going in.

Talking ‘Bout My Genre-ration

Happy Wednesday, feral and domesticated cryptids. On Monday night, Melva and I hashed out a rough outline for our third co-written (or to be co-written) contemporary romance, Queen of Hearts. I don’t think I would have added contemporary romance to my repetorie on my own, but with Melva, it makes sense. It also has a tie to historical romance, because I need that. Heather, the heroine, is named for Heather, the heroine of The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, the first modern historical romance as we know it. The Heather in Queen of Hearts is an editor of historical romance, a genre she adores.

I am extremely thankful to Ms. Woodiwiss for writing the story of her heart and putting it out there in the world. I am extremely thankful to Nancy Coffey, the editor who wanted to take only one submission home with her over the weekend, and picked the biggest manuscript from the slush pile. Boom. Kicked the bedroom door (and other things) off the hinges, and things have never been the same. How many of the original Avon Ladies (having nothing to do with cosmetics, and everything to do with historical romance. One of them wasn’t even a lady. His name was Tom.)

Now that Drama King has been put on the schoolbus, as it were, and Queen of Hearts is a darling baby who sleeps through the night and wakes to the playtime that is discovery drafting, it’s time to turn attention back to my troubled teens, aka historical romances that have been on hold for far too long.

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A Heart Most Errant is soooo close to being done with the first round of edits. I started John and Aline’s story a long time ago. Not long enough that it was a contemporary when I sat down to write it, but I lived in a different state then, in a time that feels like another life. I won’t say that it doesn’t feel odd to be getting back in touch with characters that, if they were people born when I first put them to page, would be old enough to…well, let’s say cross the street by themselves. Among other things.

Image by Sandra Schwab

They are not that much older than Bern and Ruby (image by the fabulous Sandra Schwab) the hero and heroine of my Georgian romance, Her Last First Kiss, which I have missed like a deep sea diver misses air. Been a while on that one, too, but I am beyond eager to get back to it, and probably use as my focus for Camp NaNo this year. It’s one of those things where I got the whole thing outlined, then the writing-writing got to a certain point and then…stopped. I chalk it up to life being in-bloody-sane for the last few years. We’re back, now, though, and that’s what matters.

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Whiiiiich brings me to the whole genre thing. I’ve been watching a lot of You Tube videos about historical romance. Like, a lot. I love watching these mostly young women getting excited about my favorite genre, and doubly excited to see them discovering classic historical writers like Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, and Johanna Lindsey. Not yet a lot of non-J-named writers, but that will come, I am sure.

It’s this development that makes me think that maybe historical romacne does have a divide that I don’t yet know how to name. Many of these videos mention prefering historical romance that is light and funny and rom-com-y, historical accuracy either not a priority or even a detriment. Can’t say I can get my head around that but if those are the books that get a reader’s motor running, read on.

The historical romances that have a permanent home in my heart are of a different ilk. Darker rather than lighter, historical versimilitude a must, big thick bug squasher books that have heft and weight. Plots where the history is a major player, as in plucking this couple from medieval France and dumping them in modern times, the old west of the US, or ancient Rome, would not work at all, because they are people of their time.

A lot of the shining stars I see in these You Tube recommendations are great at weaving the nineteenth century backdrops with keen observations on the fads and foibles of modern life. The covers of these books have what are commonly referred to as “prom dresses” on the heroines, often with titles modeled after references to popular modern works, and in very modern-looking fonts. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s its own genre, and a pretty darned popular one, so rock on and keep going. Is it my taste, though? Weeeeel….I’m okay with that.

I’m also more than okay with accepting that my personal preference is for those big thick bug squashers, whose covers have historical garb on their humans. Often standalones, and often with authors who not only didn’t stick with one family or friend group, but spread it out over several different centuries and continents. An author could come on the scen with a Victorian historical, but the next book is sixteenth century pirates, then a western, then ancient Rome, then colonial Maine, then the early days of Australian penal colonies, back up to Gilded Age New York, then the English Civil War, and….:happy sigh: I love that. I miss that. I want to do that.

Love can happen any time, any place, as an online historical romance friend often says, and I abundantly agree with that. New school or old, traditionally published or indie, series or standalone. What absolutely must, must, must be there is the love story that is intrinsically intertwined with the time in which it occurs, and bonus points to the couple coming So Close to losing it all that I forget that the HEA is a gaurantee and then, at the last second, BOOM, they make it work. They get to the top of that metaphorical mountain, not without some bumps and bruises along the way, some bittersweet losses likely, and I pump my fist in victory.

At least that’s the plan, and that’s why I am working on my Anna Log You Tube channel, to talk about some of the stuff that I love that may not be the newest kid on the block, but my word, the staying power. Which reminds me, time to get to work on that.

Last week was, in a word, disgusting. Mostly for the heat, though there are most assuredly worse ways to spend days where the temperature reaches the nineties than sprawled in front of a box fan, mainlining coconut seltzer. That’s as close to a tropical vacation as I care to get, as I am pale and heat sensitive. Big plans to plow through my mini library haul were for naught, and I made only slow progress on e-reading as well. That’s all okay, though, as Drama King is now in the hands of its potential editor, and I am currently getting ready for tonight’s video chat with Melva where we will get the ball rolling on an outline for Queen of Hearts. This also means I now have brain space to give back to historicals, whihc I have sorely missed.

None of that is news to the regular readers here, but sometimes the best way to get the ol’ brain in working gear is to write stuff one already knows. That’s not a bad thing at all. Firm footing and all that. Another thing that helps here is to get my plans down in a visually appealing manner. Here is the desk planner for the week, mostly before the pen.

This is my first ever time covering the left hand (my left) side with scrapbook paper and totally ignoring everything pre printed on the page. I have heard this is not an uncommon issue but for some reason I always thought I was “supposed to” deal with what was printed on the page, the way it was printed on the page. This is the same me who would be the first person to tell someone else to white it out, cover it, but don’t stare at the page and feel dumb becuase they’re not making it work. Ahem. Yeah.

So. Part of all that was spending a big chunk of Sunday putting together my first Frankenplanned writing notebook to see me through the stretch from July to January. I’ll share pictures and maybe a flip through later. Don’t ask me about specific goals at this point. Still working on those, and I am pretty sure I know how I want to deal with Camp Nano. Pretty sure I’m going to be in the rebel encampment for that one but very much looking forward to the cameraderie and shaking pompoms in the general direction of any potential cabinmates. Would love to end up in a cabin full of historical romance writers. That hasn’t happened yet as far as I know. Well, for me that is.

For now, I have a hot date with a cool drink and a good book before I get ready for my chat with Melva and the requisite color coded highlighters and index cards. Tonight, we lay the foundation.