Typing With Wet Paws: Mid-December Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. This is also getting ever closer to Christmas, which is probably going to be pretty exciting for me, because it’s my first proper Christmas with these guys, and everybody’s first in this apartment. The aunts went to the storage unit earlier in the week, and had second thoughts about doing the archaeology needed to get to the existing Christmas tree, since it’s in a box near the back. In other words, behind heavy stuff. Instead, they plan to buy a new one probably this weekend. Maybe a tabletop version, even though Aunt Anna has a lot of lights at the ready.

What she did pick up at the unit, though, was the rest of her pen collection (well, the most used ones, anyway) and I helped her sort through them and get them put away.

one of the many jobs of a purr-sonal assistant

There is a high possibility that I will give Aunt Anna a pen for Christmas. Last year, I gave her a lightbulb, but that’s only because we were visiting Aunt Linda’s family, and we were shut in the guest bedroom and that was the best thing I could find. Aunt Anna loved it, though, so I guess I did good anyway. There is also a possibility that I know something about where her morning pags notebook and brand new kraft paper notebook are (she is pretty sure they are together) and could surprise her when Christmas comes.

Pile of Assorted Novel Books
thanks for the picture, Pexels

Aunt Anna had a great chat with Miss Lisa over at Buried Under Romance, and they are super excited about lots of fun stuff they have planned for 2021. For now, there is the most current Saturday Discussion, and Miss Lisa’s review of the newest Christmas romance from Jenna Jaxon. Click those links if you want to take a look.

As for the whole Goodreads challenge thing. Sorry, Aunt Anna, we have to go there. It’s time. As of right now, Aunt Anna has read 77 out of ninety books, putting her seven books behind schedule if she wants to make it to her goal by the end of the year. That means she has thirteen books to go, with twenty-one days to go. Doable. There may be some fussing, because the big reader energy is still not back yet, but she has a few ideas.

  1. Move the goal post. As in get in there and change the number to something more manageable, like 80 (or even 77, where she currently is) and be done with it. There are bigger fish to fry, after all. Mmm, fiiiiiiiish.
  2. Push through, everything else be, um, danged. Get to that arbitrary number no matter the cost because there is a reputation to uphold.
  3. Audiobooks. All the time. Even when writing and stuff like that.
  4. Novellas. All the novellas. Don’t care if she wants to read them or not, they’re short.
  5. Say the fluff with it and not even try. Losing isn’t the end of the world. It’s 2020. There are naps to take.

Yeah, she’s not going to do that last one. It’s going to be one of the others. Which one would you pick if this were you in this situation? Drop your answer in the comments. I will say that she is getting more reading time since she still has to share the computer with Uncle Rheuben and that means she doesn’t get a lot of or sometimes any Sim time, so reading is more accessible. We’ll see what happens. She’s not thrilled with being this far behind after being that far ahead as she once was, but hey, it’s 2020. These things happen.

Uncle Rheuben’s desk

Before you ask, that is not a flatlay. That is just how his desk usually looks. He’s a tidy dude. There is usually a laptop there, but since it isn’t working, it’s in its box for the time being. Hopefully a short time, because computer sharing makes Aunt Anna a little loopy, if you catch my drift.

That did not, however, keep her from having a great video chat with Aunt Melva. They have set a goal to be done with the first draft of Drama King by Christmas, which is super exciting. After that, there is going to be a poopload of editing but Aunt Anna likes that part, so it’s all good.

That’s probably about it for right now. Aunt Anna wants to get to the big business at hand for her Capitol Region RWA chapter, because it’s member appreciation time, and she gets the super fun job of shaking virtual pompoms in everybody’s direction, reading off all the great things they’ve done in this sucktastick year. She normally does that in person and gets to hand out treats and presents. That’s going to be a little different when done virtually, but I bet it will still be fun, especially with a very high chance of a calico photobomb.

Headbonks!

December Planner Post – Non-Planner Edition

The view from the motel lobby

Yesterday, I busted some old friends out of jail. Still dealing with adult-y things, which is progressing, and also demanded that I go to a sure-fire mood booster; stationery. Housemate and I swung by the storage unit, so I could get my Papermate Flair pens all in one place.

Pretty, but lonely. I think they need friends, aka colors I don’t have yet. Not bothered with having a few duplicates, as that means readily available backup. All the fun of pen shopping, without the sticker shock, because they are already mine. Some days, a pen lover needs a fix. Yesterday was such a day. I have not yet had a chance to actually play with these pens since their jailbreak, but they are meeting up with my planners later on, as we are now in a new month.

I also busted out Big Pink (standard size Websters Pages traveler’s notebook) and Spinebreaker (B6 size Pen + Gear traveler’s notebook) both of which I have used as planners in the past. Neither of them are planners right now. I didn’t know if I had any concrete plans (hah) when I grabbed them, but I did know I couldn’t see them and leave them there. I’m using mini and classic size Happy Planners for actual planning, but I could not in all good conscience leave the girls alone

First thing I did when I got back to the motel was to ensconce myself on the bed, and rip everything out of each cover. Everything. Every insert, every accecssory, pouch, piece of deco, etc. Everything. Doing that, one finds that one has a heck of a lot of…stuff. Stuff one may not remember what it was doing there in the first place. Clear the decks, and then start adding.

I knew right away that Spinebreaker was for the B6 notebook I received from N and Mr. N. I use that for morning pages.

The green covered insert was there when I put Spinebreaker away, and could not have gone better with the other book, so it stays. This one is dot grid, and will be used for trackers. That will probably let me play some with my Flairs, or maybe some other pens. We’ll see.

I’m liking the UK theme for the pocket deco, so we’ll see how that develops. No pen in the pen loop yet, but it will probably be a basic black ballpoint or gel pen, unless I go with a multipen, but that’s for another post.

Big pink was where I had the biggest “huh” moment, because she had been my main planner, but I am using the Happy Planners for that now, and redundant calendars make me itchy. Also, I had mis-numbered December anyway, so no calendar insert for her this time. I also have a dedicated Happy Notes set up for writing stuff, so she wasn’t going to be for that, either. :drums fingers on desk:

Since the pink elastic I had for her closure had stretched out, and my only options for replacement (on hand) were turquoise and purple, I figured this would be a great time to dive in and make her a pastel Christmas themed sort of thing. Second thought was to make her gothy. Couldn’t decide, so now she’s both.

No lined paper in this TN at all, as of this point, which surprises me, but it does give me the chance to try some different art-y journal things, the kind with paint and fancy lettering and :waves hands vaguely: special stuff that isn’t only bare bones handwriting. I have pockets filled with stencils and stickers and ephemera, a washi tape sampler, and we will see what this actually turns into, but it feels right for now.

Sometimes, when “real life” gets chaotic, a little creative chaos can help put things back into focus. Play matters. There will probably be another insert or notebook section for Sims games, as I want to plot out all of my households I want to play, and in which iteration, before I actually play them, or it gets to be too muddley. There may also be a reading schedule/tracker put in place, but we will see how that develops organically as I mess about with these girls. The process is part of the fun.

See you next time!

Typing With Wet Paws: Midnight Yowl Edition

Hi, Storm Troopers! It’s Feline Friday once more, so I am taking over Aunt Anna’s blog. I planned for that when I took over her planner. My version of helping her plan, or write, is often to lie on the paper, steal the pen, or bat it with my paw, while she is trying to write with said pen. It’s lots of fun, and I am sure has a profound effect on her productivity.

She is in hardcore planning mode right now, because this was a different kind of week. Uncle did not feel so great for a big chunk of it. He is better now, so now Aunt Anna is looking to see where she can put in some extra effort and get things back on track. I commend her for this. She is several belly rubs behind, and that cannot stand. More on that later.

First, however, I have to talk about Aunt Anna’s writing, so let’s get to that. This week, she did not get to meet with Aunt Melva, but she did get to go over a bit of a scene Aunt Melva sent her for a new thing they are playing with, outside of the Love By the Book series. Still contemporary romance, and you know Aunt Anna is going to work something historically adjacent in there somewhere. She has also been doing some longhand work on Drama King, and feeling really, really guilty about Her Last First Kiss, which means it’s getting some for-sure time this coming week. I will let her talk about that later.

As usual, Aunt Anna was at Buried Under Romance this past week. This time, she noticed a curious trend in her market research. If the picture above isn’t enough of a clue, maybe this will help. That’s right, this time, Aunt Anna is talking about Australian romance, both stories set in Australia (or New Zealand) and by Australian or NZ authors. Do you have a favorite in either category? Drop on by nd leave a comment.

How many of these can Aunt Anna get through in one weekend?

On the reading challenge front, there is actually something to report, as Aunt Anna formulates a cunning plan (she will talk about that in tomorrow’s post over at Buried Under Romance, so keep an eye open) to get up to date, and maybe even ahead, because now it is personal. As of this post, she is only seven books behind, at seventy-five books read out of ninety-five. This feels doable. It may require cutting back on Sims 4 play, but it will be worth it. Story in, story out, and all that stuff.

Happy Planner mini, horizontal layout

Speaking of plans, Aunt Anna is rather happy with the way her mini planner spread looks for next week, mostly before the pen. I helped with this one (can you tell?) and there was a minute there where we almost had an incident with stickers and my paw fur, but Aunt Anna is super fast. The spread was done without incident. We will see how that goes, when she fills it in with all of her writing stuff for the week to come.

my buddy, Mousie!

Now for the important part of this post, which is why there is a midnight yowl in the title. In case you were wondering, I was the one yowling, loud nd long. Aunt Anna was the only one (I think) who woke up, and got out of bed. She found me in the dark and asked me what was wrong. I won’t say the whole thing of what happened, but the problem was that (I am okay, don'[t worry) I wanted to play Mousie, and there were no humans up to help me with that. Intolerable! Yes, Aunt Anna did play Mousie with me, so I know that trick works, but she was not happy about it. Eh, I’m still cute. It’s all good.

Mousie is my bestest bud (besides the humans) and he was a present from my mom, so I have a little bit of her, which is nice. You can tell how much I love Mousie because I chewed off most of his face, his tail is long gone, and his string is tied around his tummy because I am a fierce hunter and catch him a lot. I mean a lot. You don’t even know how much. I do have a few balls my aunts and uncle gave me, but nobody beats Mousie.

Headbonks!

#calicolovestorm on IG

Reverse Hibernation (aka My Summer Happy Place)

I am not a summer person. Not even close. Not even a little. I am sun and heat-sensitive, so, on weeks like this, when all of the daytime temperatures are in the nineties, a form of summer hibernation makes a whole lot of sense. Reverse hibernation, as I call it, works very well with the nocturnal phase of summer, when I am more active at night, sleepier in the daytime, which actually is a good thing, because summer usually sees me sadder, less energetic, and all-around-itchy.

Yesterday, I found my happy place, at least where writing during the summer is concerned. My worktable, once my dining room table, faces the living room window, open now, with a view of my houseplants, trees outside, and my beloved notebooks, pens, and a big jar of washi (decorative tape) in shades of pink. There will be a cool drink at my left hand, possibly a salty snack at my right, and a cookbook holder (vintage) holds my tablet. The box fan whirs, cool air on my bare legs. The whir of the fan may be the only sound, as I put pen to paper, or I may have my tablet tuned to music, podcast, or ambient sounds. My favorites in that department tend to be nature sounds, or atmospheric, like “coffee house on a rainy day,” with my all time favorite being a combination of rain, fireplace, and purring cat. One day, I hope that will be the actual sounds in my actual environment, but, for now, that reasonable facsimile will do.

Back to yesterday. I had a scene due for Drama King, and my Camp NaNo work to do, blog entry shoved off until today, because fiction has to come first, and I didn’t so much think about this new sort of work environment; it happened, all on its own. I opened my Drama King notebook, no need for headphones, as I had the apartment to myself, and off I went, the scene spilling out onto the page. After that, I didn’t want to go right back to the computer, and my Alphasmart was right there, so, once again, the bloop effect comes into play.

The writing flowed, the transcription flowed, and the touch of a button moved the transcribed pages from Alphasmart to word processing program. From there, it was a quick spellcheck, a change of formatting, and, once again, bloop, over to Melva, for her approval, in more than enough time for our weekly chat.

This is not a magic switch, by any means, but there is something special about having a creative space that is mine, where writing can be not in the same place where I watch You Tube and answer emails. It’s writing, not typing (sorry, Dad) and, for me, that makes a difference. This feels natural. This feels right. I can get to the end of a writing day, feeling satisfied instead of drained, and I look forward to settling in for the next session, pen to paper first

This kind of thing is organic for me. I have to splash around in the shallows until I start swimming, and then, after that, its’ all potatoes. (Family term, meaning “everything will be easier after X.”) I get to the end of my list, and then it’s time to take a break, most likely to watch aforementioned You Tube videos, mostly about traveler’s notebooks and/or bullet journaling. Sometimes I watch Book Tube videos, which makes me think about how fun it is to make video blogs, and that may happen, but, for now, it’s fiction first. After that? A long summer’s nap sounds lovely.

One Week Into One Book July

This is the closest I am going to get, this Monday, to having all of my ducks in a row. This weekend just past was a weekend of three (count them, three) flea bombs, over the course of two days. Judging from the peaceful night’s sleep we all had, presumably free of microscopic vampire bugs, that should mean a peaceful Monday morning, but au contraire, it meant a Monday morning of shaking out bedding, moving things back where they go, rescuing things-that-touch-food from their cabinet bunkers, and hauling trash and recyclables to the refuse room down the hall. (For new readers, we live in an apartment building, and this is a magic place where gallant maintenance workers whisk away our rubbish on a daily basis, not that we have a room full of trash in a private residence. Nobody wants that.)

Okay. Focus, Anna. While work continues on Camp NaNo and Plunder, with notes on researching Catholicism in the Caribbean, in the late seventeenth century (yes, that is important for the romance, Karen. (Metaphorical vernacular “Karen,” not any specific person named Karen, even if she does want to see the manager.) because a certain part of the story will be a whole lot easier for me, if not my characters, if I can plop a fictional convent where I want to plop a fictional convent. So far, the answer should be yes, especially in non-British-held islands, and my hero is Dutch, sooooooo……

:deep breath: What was that I said about focus? Right. Okay. One Book July, as it applies to planning, has no official rules, but the commonly accepted guidelines are to use one planner/bullet journal for everything during the month of July. Some participants add other challenges, like using only one pen. That one, I would normally have a hard time doing, but that pen in the picture below? I get two of them for about seventy cents, and they are comparable to Pilot G2s, so yeah, this is the pen I am using as everyday carry for this month.

Webster’s Pages, pocket size, blush cover

Please note, (pun unintended) that I have fallen in love with that flower-crowned vixen (saving that line for a future hero’s lexicon) and, when I fill the insert she graces, I am taking the cover off and putting it on the next one. I know a good thing when I see it. That particular insert comes from a national chain craft store, in packs of three, for about two dollars (less, if there is a sale) and I am already stockpiling them, because, although I was hesitant about A) passport size, which is even smaller than pocket, and B) white pages, when I strongly prefer ivory, these guys are absolute perfection for my daily pages. Bullet point tasks on the right hand side of the spread (please insert my mother’s voice here, clarifying that it is my right, not the viewer’s right. Thanks, Mom.) and then the left/facing side is for notes.

I didn’t mean to set up my daily insert like that. It happened, on its own, as did finding the perfect balance for Li’l Pink (yes, I name my planners, and yes, they have genders) is three passport size inserts, and then I don’t know how to count the pocket sized inserts, because we have some buddy bands in there, and printables and covers I ripped off and covers I made, and it works, okay, does it really need a label, Karen? Ooh, labels.

My name is Anna, and I am a notebook addict.

Even though it is One Book July, it is also the time when I finally caved in to my curiosity about the B6 size of insert/notebook, above. Same company that makes the fox insert (ooh, do they make a B6 version of the fox? Now I have to go in search of; if I don’t return, I love you all.) makes B6 inserts, same paper -plus lined, plus graph (which I did not get, but will, this weekend) – and they were on sale for a mere dollar apiece, so of course I had to indulge, and, well, I love them.

I do not, however, own a B6 traveler’s notebook, so now I will need to start looking in that direction, but, in the meantime, these inserts are looking happy enough in my spare regular size Webster’s Pages, that I was wondering how I was going to use, so that will work out fine until I can settle the cover issue. I didn’t even have to think about what I’m going to use these inserts for, because they presented themselves. I now do have a notebook-notebook, to keep track of all things stationery (if anyone is taking bets on when that would finally happen, whoever had July 5th, 2019, gets the prize.) There will be another insert for household information, one for sketches/doodles/etc, and one for random brain dumps. I know exactly what pens I want to use with it, and it’s rather satisfying to have a whole endeavor land in my lap like that, a single bloop, and there it is.

Writing is like that, sometimes, and when it is, it is wonderful. More often, it’s like that pocket notebook that is my everyday carry/my one book for July. Trial and error. Will this work? No? Well how about that? Oh no, that’s worse. Rip that out, hide the evidence, try this weird thing because why the heck not? Well, look at that. That actually works. Okay, then. Onward we go.

No deep wisdom on writing today, Karen (or is there?) but I do learn a lot, about myself, about visual arts, about creativity in general, and other things, from my notebook adventures, which is why I do see them as part of the writing process.

Oh wait, there is one practical tip. If you see an oddly placed sticker in my July planner pages, there is probably the evidence of a dead bug under it. This gal does not tear out pages from a sewn binding. I’m not a monster. (usually)

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Pre-Galley Slave Edition

Greetings, Foolish Mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff for the week that was. Writer Chick can’t believe it’s the first of March already, but with all the planners she has, this should not be a big surprise, but here we are. This also means that Writer Chick’s next post is about the state of at least one of those planners. I would say the whole planner obsession keeps her out of trouble, but we both know that isn’t true.

Writer Chick insists that I put the big news up front. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have sent in all of the manuscript information and cover art information, so now they get to take a break and wait for the galleys to land on their desks. When that happens, it is their last chance (I think; I only skimmed the emails) to catch anything egregious before things go from manuscript to BOOK. Writer Chick insists I clarify that those weeks before they become galley slaves are not vacation time. They have to keep working on Drama King, and each of them have their own solo projects, so it’s really more of one less chain saw to juggle,

Since there will be one less chain saw to juggle, let me put it out there that Writer Chick could use some of that free time to focus on reading, because she is now two books behind schedule on her Goodreads Challenge. Good thing she has the weekend to get current on that one. Since she already has a loaded Kindle, and an audiobook on Overdrive, so she can technically read two books at the same time (she has not tried that, but she might, if she gets desperate enough. It could happen.)

As usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, this past Saturday (she will be there again tomorrow) and this time, she talked about having nothing to read, because there is too much to read. If you’re looking for something to read, hit the link in the caption, and you can read that.

Earlier in the week, Writer Chick went to the local storage unit, with one task in mind: liberate three to five paperbacks from the first box of books she could reach, and bring them home. She is happy to report that her quest was successful, and will probably go a long way to bringing her Goodreads numbers back up to acceptable levels. Her criteria for choosing those books were few. A) she needed to be able to reach the box with the books in it. B) she had to be able to get the books out of the box, and C) they had to each have one thing (at least one thing) that she could point to and say that was why she was interested in that book.

Some of the criteria that could make the list would be things like: geographic setting, historical era, vague memories of reviews that said the book was highly emotional, a favorite character type, or stuff like that. Writer Chick will explain more about that later, either here or on Buried Under Romance. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of reasons Writer Chick might think she could like a particular book, and want to read it. Focusing there is a lot more fun than focusing on what isn’t lighting her fire.

Speaking of lighting fires, and today being the first of March (smooth transition, eh?) today is also the start of one of Writer Chick’s favorite workshops, 31 Days and 31 Ways to Jumpstart Your Abundance, courtesy of abundance coach Eryka Peskin. This workshop is free, and it is fun. Apparently, Writer Chick may get a bonus chance at a drawing or something if you join because of her, but it’s a great place to go to have people tell you you’re awesome, on Facebook. There is also the chance to catch more Writer Chick babble, if you’re into that sort of thing. Punch your paws on this link, below, to get more information, and/or join:

http://www.eryka.com/index.html

In other news Writer Chick took this family photo of most of her turquoise pens (yes, there are more of them that are not in this picture) to compare it against a turquoise pen sampler she saw at an online retailer. She does not accidentally have all of the pens in the sampler, but she does have enough of them that her better bet is probably to buy the pens she doesn’t have, individually. She also has some that are not in the sampler, so there’s that. May I point out her good taste in choosing pens that perfectly complement any handsome stuffed orange boys that might be lying around her work area? She’s very considerate about that. There may be hope for her yet.

This isn’t even all of them…

In review, Writer Chick needs to read more, has a lot of pens, and will soon become a galley slave. I’m off to stare at squirrels.


Peace out,

February Planner Post: Part One

Normally, I would say that Monday’s post on Tuesday was the result of some domestic tornado, but, this time, it was a planner. (Note: this is not a sponsored post. I babble because I love, that’s all.) Sunday night’s weekly Michaels stroll led to the discovery of possibly the most Anna-est personal size planner I have seen to date, on serious clearance. Meet Magnolia Jane, from Heidi Swapp (I think the planner is discontinued, but look at those gorgeous other things in the line) I tried to reason myself out of it, as I already have my Webster’s Pages planner, which was also on serious serious clearance, but I have come to recognize this as The Sign. Planners find me. I don’t fight it anymore.

Needless to say, a bunch of Monday was spent putting this beauty together, moving into her (yes, my planners have genders) and us getting to know each other. Mostly. I still have no idea what I want to do with this page, that starts off every month:

Suggestions always welcome…



The black washi tape is my addition, but, from top, left, we have a blank section, a dot grid section, and bottom left, gridded section, then the stripey section. Right now, I got nothing, but Housemate, who was actually the one to find this beauty, said it looked like my historical romances, and I have to say she is not wrong. So, home it came, and it is now my writing planner. The white Webster’s Pages is now for household use.

Bare bones, again

The washi tape is my addition (also another serous bargain; it’s from the three rolls for a dollar bin at Michaels) and I do want to find some prettier way of marking off the days than bare X marks. Possibly a good place to track progress on various projects, once I figure out a decent legend for that. I’ve found these things work best when I let them happen organically. Carry it around naked (the page, not me; it is winter in NY. I will be wearing many, many clothes) for a while and then, bloop, I’ll know what belongs where.

weekly planning spread

This section, I have mostly figured out. I clicked with this sort of weekly layout in my Dylusions agenda (repurposing as an art journal, now) but wanted some better use for the extra space, as I tend to write vertically. These are better suited to how I work, with half blank, and half gridded sections on each day.

This planner is only for writing tasks/habits, so the weekend, which is not a workweek (not to say that I won’t write on a weekend, and my CRRWA meetings are always on Saturdays) gets blocked off. I’m still figuring out what I want to use to record the daily tasks for the rest of the week. Right now, scrap paper “stickers” are fitting the bill, and the circular sticky notes are for writing related dates/appointments. Both the white circles and pink flags came with the planner kit.

UniBall Signo pens, Recollections pouch 

For this planner, I will be using the Uni Ball Signo pens in blackened colors. Very, very dark versions of red, brown, violet, blue, and green, make my heart happy. The outside pocket of the pen pouch has white, gold, and rose-gold pens, for writing on dark backgrounds, so I am set to go on that part. I have not yet figured out the highlighter situation, but probably will use Zebra Mildliners. in curated colors.

This does not by any means imply that I have the whole thing figured out, or that having certain planners or pens or ephemera will magically make me a better writer (cool if that would happen, but that’s not how it works.) For some, a plain ballpoint pen and blank white paper would work much better, and, for them, I say an enthusiastic “go for it!”

What does make me a better writer (yes, of course, writing; I’m getting to that) is that, since I’ve become involved in the planning community as a whole, I want to write more. Playing with the pretty paper and pen toys combines beautifully with wanting to play with my imaginary friends, and, if I am going to be spending hours a day staring at a page or screen, they may as well be pretty pages and screens. This may have something to do with why I like writing heroes and heroines who are creative in some way; write what you know and all that. After all, I’ve already had one hero spring to life (Bern, from Her Last First Kiss) thanks to my fountain pen obsession, and his heroine, Ruby, would be all over the whole bullet journal thing. Maybe she was actually there first, because, hey, she’s in the eighteenth century. Who knows who else may be lurking in my stationery stash?

Watch this space for part two, and a closer look on how I actually use these pretties.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Something About Voice Edition

Hey, everybody. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you on this rainy Friday. Rainy Fridays are Writer Chick’s favorite kind of Fridays. Check back when it snows, because she loves snow, but rain happens during every season, so I am going to go out on a limb and say it has an edge, for frequency alone.

Domestic tornado-y week around the apartment again, but we come to the end of the week with the same amount of humans as we started it. More importantly, the same amount of stuffed folk. Most importantly, me. Being Cat Regent is a tough job, but somebody has to do it, and, between you and me, I am far more qualified than the red teddy bear, or the super floppy zebra that can’t even stand on its own. Plus, I am a cat.

Anyway, on with the show. Last Saturday, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, as per usual. Most recently, Writer Chick wrote about the eternal appeal of fairy tales in romance. That post is here, and this is the picture that goes with it:

BURfairytales

For Writer Chick’s Goodreads update, I have to call it now: she is being a cheater cheater pumpkin pie eater (she insists that I mention that A) there is not currently any pumpkin pie in the house, B) what’s up with that? and C) she is reading as fast as she can, okay? It’s been a very stressful week, and she’ll have finished the last couple of chapters by the time anybody reads this, so lay off, Sebastian. Yes, she used my name, but not the entire name, so she is probably not too irritated. Probably because she wants to get to the end of her book.)

That out of the way, Writer Chick’s pick of the week is The Iron Duke, the first entry in Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas steampunk romance series. Writer Chick says this has exactly the right blend of history and romance, even if the history is a very different version from what happened here on really real Earth. Just go with it. She is definitely going to read more of these. If you have steampunk romance recommendations, leave them in the comments, and Writer Chick will check them out.

I think that’s everything from the agenda Writer Chick gave me, so now it’s my time to riff. Wednesday was Writer Chick’s birthday-plus-one-week, which I gather is celebrated by putting on unusual clothing and going around to neighbors’ houses, begging for dessert. This is a fitting observance, though a quiet one around ye olde homestead. Maybe next year’s celebration can swap out the desserts for office supplies, because Writer Chick would be all about that kind of reboot.

It has come to my attention that National Author Day or something, was some time in the past week. Also National Cat day, but they didn’t say stuffed cat. At least I don’t t think so. I didn’t read the fine print, but I did lie on it. It was in my sunbeam. By that, I mean real sunbeam, not the artificial sunbeam, in this week’s picture, although that is good, too.

Also in this week’s picture is the business card holder that usually sits on Writer Chick’s desk. Since Writer Chick’s desk is currently in storage, that holder thingy and the pen attached to it live on the bookcase in Writer hick and Dude’s bedroom. Writer Chick gets the bottom shelf, Dude gets the top shelf, they split the middle shelf, and I sit wherever I want.

Writer Chick is kind of pumped that she needs to order more business cards soon, because she has now given out most of the ones she had before. That means networking is going okay. She is also pretty pumped that the pen takes Pilot G-2 ink refills, because she loves those pens. Bold point preferred; she’ll be very clear about that, but she’ll take medium in a pinch, fine point if she must, but she will do so with a heavy sigh.

The plaque on the base of the holder says, “I Anna-ize,” which is there because this was a gift from a friend, who froze when thinking of what to have put on the plaque. Writer Chick’s name only occurred to her afterward, but it’s all good, because Writer Chick likes that sentiment. Putting her own stamp on the romance genre has always been important to her, so this is a good reminder to make sure that goes into every manuscript.

How does Writer Chick “Anna-ize?” That’s a very good question, and there are times when her response would probably be that she was hoping you knew. Sometimes, it’s a matter of sitting down and doing the thing. Apple trees can only grow apples, and all that

For this kind of thing, it’s really best if Writer Chick doesn’t over Anna-lyze (see what I did there?) what she’s doing, and, instead, let the characters have their head (that is an old-timey phrase, meaning to let a horse pick where it wants to go, and the rider will be all “whatever” about the whole thing) and trust that they will get her to the right place, in the end.

Since Writer Chick writes romance, that end is an ever fixed mark (Shakespeare reference, for the win) but exactly how those people get to that happily ever after, well, that’s a wild card. I can respect that. It’s going to be different for everybody, which is why romance is such an interesting genre for Writer Chick to write.

That should be about everything for “Write” (heh heh) now, so keep your eyes peeled for those stray posts Writer Chick still owes. Never know when those babies are going to pop up, but they’ll be there.

Peace and Cuddles,

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Writing Lessons From My Art Journal

Happy Halloween, and/or day before National Novel Writing Month, to all who participate. The extrovert in me loves the community of NaNo, and the competitive side of me loves the pounding toward a goal, hell-bent for leather, as my Aunt S used to say, but anxiety is not as thrilled about the pressure, so, for me, doing the slow and steady thing works better, so I will cheer on all who are participating from the sidelines, and keep on going at my own pace..

Once again, we have Monday’s blog on Wednesday, and I am okay with that. Domestic Tornado Season is, hopefully, winding down, fingers crossed. In the meantime, butt in chair, fingers on keyboard and/or pen to paper whenever possible.

Lately, I’ve been using my art journals to destress, and, as usual, they’ve taught me a few things about the writing life. I don’t know how I settled on it, but, in the middle of one of the bigger tornado surges, I took out the nearest art journal to hand, and turned to a fresh page.

First of all, I did not draw anything on these pages. Both pages are stencils, by Jane Davenport, whose art supplies I love, love, love. The notebook cover and insert are both from her collection, as well. No compensation here, just a fan, sharing what works for me.

I’ve tried to start this blog entry many times, and I always get in my own way, so I am going to go ahead and throw whatever is in my head onto the page, which is generally how the best stuff happens, anyway.

Earlier, this week, I grabbed the art journal, pictured above, some face stencils, and a Pitt artist pen, and started throwing stuff down. These stencils have options as to what features I can put, and where. Usually, I start off placing the eyes too high. Moving them around before I actually set down any ink helps, and keeping a small notepad next to my art journal also helps, because working with art stuff is a great way to get my story brain on the back burner, which is when my imaginary friends often do some of their best stuff, while I’m looking at lines and shapes and colors.

Right now, it’s already after 3PM, which means that the ideal posting times have passed for the day, and I could call myself now two entries behind and promise that I’d take care of it tomorrow. I know this is bull, because tomorrow is already booked (no pun intended) and a post written after the ideal posting times is going to get more hits and reach more readers than the post I’m going to write, eh, sometime. This is also the first thing that my recent art journal experience has taught me about writing:

* Put Some Stuff On The Page. 

This is important, because, without that, nothing gets done. The idea stays in my head, and, no matter how many people I tell about it, nobody will get the full experience. Including me. As long as the idea stays in my head, it stays perfect, and I can’t fail. Once I commit ink to paper (or the digital equivalent) the ball is actually in play. If I don’t like what I made, A) nobody has to ever see it, and B) I can open to a new page and start again.

*Use What You Already Have. 

I love going to art or craft stores, looking at all the pretty stuff, imagining what I can do with it, and petting the packaging. Sometimes, some of it even comes home with me, which means I can actually use it. I can also actually let it sit there and taunt me with its un-touched-ness, but I don’t get to find out what it can really do, unless I bust it out of the packaging and put it on the page. See first point, above. Those craft store displays and online adverts are very tempting, buuut know what? That box of stuff is right here, and everything in there was the shiny new thing once. It came home for a reason. Time to actually let it fulfill its purpose, or, at the very least, see what it can do.

*Experiments Are Good

When I first started using the traveler’s notebook system of covers and inserts, I was very adamant that I only wanted one particular size, about five by eight inches, because that was the size of notebook I already liked. Two sizes, if we count pocket. Then, I had to have this particular cover, which came with this particular insert, which is standard size, eight inches square, folded in half (my brain is not going to do the math) but this was the insert that came with the cover, and it was marker paper, and I have markers, and what’s the worst that can happen?

In this case, I can fill the entire thing in a record amount of time (I am one spread away from filling the whole insert) and then start making my own, from paper I already have on hand, because I love what my brain does when I am art-ing, which leads to the next point.

*Take Notes

This one, I cannot stress highly enough. My story brain works best in a fertile environment. If I’m making art, I have a pen in my hand already, so, if there is a pretty piece of paper (or the back of an old envelope) nearby, it’s ready to catch any thoughts that pop into my head. I am also usually listening to something while I art, and, recently, that’s included a lot of You Tube videos on writing and/or reading.

This is normally where I want to wrap the post together and relate it directly to writing, but I’m not going to do that right now. I’m going to leave it where it is, hit “post,” and grab a notebook or two.

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Use It If You’ve Got It

Yesterday, I picked up a new notebook for my morning pages, as I am rapidly nearing the end of my current notebook. Current book has a unicorn on the front, pastel rainbow pages inside, and I usually go for glittery gel pens when writing in it, because what else is one going to use in a pastel rainbow unicorn book? There is a lot of pink, purple, and turquoise.

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In contrast, the new book is by Punch Studio, who have the key to my maximalist heart, now and forever. I knew, from the moment I first saw this book, in a bunch of other books on a shelf, that I would need this one fo rmy next round of morning pages. I already know which pens belong with this book, and there will be some purple involved, but a blackened purple. All of the pens that go in this book will be blackened versions of their colors: red, brown, green, blue, purple. That feels welcoming and comfy and right. What comes after that book is finished? Ask me when this book is full.

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Contrast with the other book I picked up last night, which is almost definitely going to be my new traveler’s notebook/bujo setup for 2019. For the last year and change, I have been drawing my own planners, which, while I love the result, takes a whole lot of time that could go toward writing, so a purchased planner really is in my best interest.

That may have something to do with why and how the entire Dylusions Dyalog system fell into my cart, when it was on clearance at a well known craft store. I thought I’d saved pictures of the one spread I have completed so far, but there were technical difficulties. I’ll add those later. Point is, the aesthetic of this creator is not my usual thing, but there’s an energy about it that keeps drawing me back, and, equally importantly, I already have it. Never mind that it’s a size of notebook I’ve never used before, and I am not sure yet what pens go with this paper. I need an agenda, this has an agenda, and, if I don’t use this system, why to I have it, hm? Hm?

Now. Writing. You knew this was going there, right? I have characters and plots and settings and tropes, all tapping their collective feet in the waiting room of my imagination, and I am wracking my brain for new ideas? Some of that stuff is so old, it could vote, on its own, without me. I am letting it gather dust, why, again? Right now, I am having trouble finding an answer, which is probably an answer in itself.

What am I saving them all for, anyway? The pretty notebooks, the fancy pens, the star-crossed lovers, the family saga, all of that good stuff? I am waiting for what, again?  A special occasion? Define special. When I am good enough? At what?  By whose standard? When the constantly changing market is right? Right by what standard? Is there some criteria I haven’t mentioned? Probably. It’s probably a complicated question, but the answer could be an easy one.

Maybe writing romance novels, and writing morning pages aren’t that different, after all. Maybe it’s as easy as finish one book, and start on the next. If they seem like complete opposites, or strange bedfellows, at first glance, that’s perfectly okay, as long as there’s that core of love there, that feeling that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and the thought of getting up every morning, to face these particular pages for months at a time, fills me with enthusiasm, rather than stress.

Maybe that’s too facile a comparison, but, for today, I’m going to go with it. Not that this is going to stop me from acquiring new notebooks, or new ideas. That is flat out not going to happen, because A) I have a birthday this week, and B) writers spontaneously generate ideas, a lot of the time. Neither ideas,  nor notebooks, however, do much good if they aren’t put through their paces. Not everything is going to be a winner, but we never know until we try.

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