An Unexpected Writing Retreat Appears

Funny how things work in the writing life. I will skip over the family life details and get right to the pertinent part. This upcoming week, I get an unexpected writing retreat, as I get to join Skye at Camp Grandma for the better part of next week. One interesting thing about Camp Grandma is that it does not have internet, so I will be mostly off the grid for days at a time. Oddly enough, my first concern was for the pets in my Sims Free Play game, but I will be connecting with at least one friend in the area, for lunch and an internet fix, so cyberpets should be fine, while I focus on the in-person, fuzzy one.

Though time away from Real Life Romance Hero has not been high on my list (especially when there is people vet tie involved) the idea of time spent with my story people, without the  lure of Facebook, Google, and all the rest, is pretty exciting. Not going to lie, the first day will likely be spent taking cat naps near an actual cat, and I am bringing a good supply of books, art supplies, and the charger for my Kindle, because part of this retreat is going to be one heck of a well-filling session. I need it. I have been in the empty, and I have been in whatever it is that lie beneath the empty. Not every day, but there have been some doozies, and the prospect of hanging out with my mews and concentrating on nothing but sending stuff down to the girls in the basement, so they can play with books and movies and sparkly pens and pretty papers and all that, then send some good story stuff back up to me.

Laptop and lap desk are coming, too, as are notebooks and pens, and at least one legal pad. Yes, there will be lists and bujo spreads about what I want to bring on this retreat, because this will not be the only such instance in my lifetime. Retreats won’t always mean Camp Grandma (especially when we are in Forever Apartment, and Skye is with us every day) but the thought of a whole chunk of days, where there is nothing to do but concentrate on story, both the writing and reading of same, that’s too good to keep to a one time deal.

I have never been on a “real” writer’s retreat, as in pay money, go to lovely, picturesque place in the mountains/by the shore/etc, where there are other writers for socialization, brainstorming, and talking about the writing life. Not that I am opposed to that kind of thing, but, as of yet, that has not been possible. On the other hand, the last time I went on this sort of retreat, I apartment/dogsat for musician friends, and, at their kitchen table, two rescue dogs standing by, I wrote what would be the beginnings of Orphans in the Storm.There’s a precedent here, and I like that.

Being an extrovert, the internet is great. A whole world of people, only keystrokes away, 24/7, and special groups for people who like things I like? Godsend. Also distraction. I’ve been thinking about trimming down my Facebook feed, to cut down on extraneous noise. Once again, it’s clean slate, more layers, and I am looking forward to that. I don’t have page count goals (but let’s say more than two) or concrete plans on what scene in what project will get the bulk of my writing focus, but the thing I do know is that there will be something. There will be fiction.

Over the last few months, with the move, and some health challenges for RLRH, and assorted happenings, I have done a lot of free writing in various notebooks, in various places. Laundromats, motel rooms, friends’ apartments, fast food places and coffee shops, waiting rooms (oh so many waiting rooms) and, as much as I am grateful for those times, and all the pages I have filled with the stuff inside my head, fiction is still my first love Especially romance .Especially historical. That has taken a back seat to other concerns, but, when I first knew this retreat was going to happen, my heart skipped.

Yes This. Take in some good stuff. Put some good stuff back out. Play with the kitty. Nap on the sofa. Hang out with a writer friend, when there is no time one of us has to dash off and handle domestic concerns. A few days is a good stretch of time. Respite. Palate cleanse. Catch breath. Gain strength. Regain sea legs, as it were. Try new things, and revisit old loves, to give them new life. Let them give me new life, in return.

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We Have a Desktop…Now What?

There is, technically, a desktop computer in the house. Setting it up is farther down on my list for the day, but I am eyeing the TV tray (still the only one of its kind in the Stately Bowling Manor summer quarters.) The inner editor is strong today, but the crackle of energy that comes with having my machine back is stronger. Inner editor can go stuff herself, because I am tired of her bullpoop.

This past Saturday, I attended my local RWA chapter meeting (CR-RWA) and had a chat with the lovely and talented Eden Mabee, on a couple of topics. First, was a discussion of  where new romance readers, and writers, might come from, and then, as another friend joined the conversation, about the books that got us into romance reading in the first place Historical romance, in particular. At some point, I mentioned that I have not only a TBR list (actually that is only codified in Goodreads. I am not sure I possess enough notebooks to write down every book I want to read, but a To Be Re-Read list, and a To Finally Read list. As I’ve gone through the turbo move, I’ve found myself skittering around the edges of both, though I checked off my second TBFR title this weekend…after first reading a duology by the same author, that had nothing to do with the book on the TBFR list. The book on the list actually starts off a quintology, with the author now writing books about the next generation of the family covered in the first five books. I am a sucker for generational sagas. Hero and Heroine of book one as parents of hero or heroine in a subsequent book? :makes grabby hands: See them again as grandparents, later on? Yes. Give. Me. That. Not to put pressure on this author for a third generation, when she’s already started on the second, and I have only dipped my toes in the first, but this falls in with you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Eden suggested that I might consider putting those lists on my site, which I will be doing, and maybe think about writing a post on my most re-read novels. I am all over that.  The idea of picking a top five floated around for a while. I want some more time on that, though I could name the top two, maybe three, right off the top of my head, no problem, no hesitation. I’m not  re-reading anything right now, though I am reading two authors I’ve been meaning to read for literally years. Double digit years, in one case Maybe both.

While I was at CR-RWA, Housemate went to the storage unit, and unearthed, among other things, my desktop computer and my box of desk babies, those special pens and notebooks that lived on my desk in the old apartment. Cue little kid on Christmas morning feeling. Pens, pens, beautiful pens. Hello, notebooks. I sifted through the boxes within the box, to make sure everybody was okay (yes, my pens are “everybody,” not “everything”) and heaved a sigh of relief when I ascertained that they were, in fact, all fine I am certain the same thing will happen when I bust the desktop out of its cardboard prison. In the past, when I’ve come back from a period of not having computer access, I’ve described it as like finally getting my voice back. This time,  and I don’t know precisely why yet, I would say it’s my hands.

Maybe that’s because of Real Life Romance Hero’s recent battles with his own extremities. Maybe it’s because I use my hands when I use both computer and pen and paper. Maybe there’s some other reason, but, this time, it’s hands. Fine by me. Hands do a lot of the work of writing, or a lot of the work of writing that involves getting the story in a form where others can read it . Important, that. I am not opposed to a good old-fashioned storyteller/bard kind of setup, and anybody who has known me for more than five minutes knows that I can talk pretty much forever, especially if there are stories involved, but there’s something in actually reading the written word, and in actually writing it, as well, that doesn’t come through any other means.

Maybe it’s because there is something therapeutic in whipping out the utility scissors and slicing through the packing tape, then opening the cardboard flaps, and uncovering what has been hidden away for far too long.

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Writing in the Aftermath

Disclaimer: This is the computer I am currently using, though not the room in which I am using it. Usually. This is the setup for my weekly Skype session with Melva Michaelian, to go over our weekly assignments for the Chasing Prince Charming revise and resubmit request. Right now, I am on my back, on Housemate’s air mattress, lap desk on my chest, fuzzy cow pint blanket over me, because today did not get the memo that it is June now (I do not mind this) and I have lost track of the number of cups of tea I have downed today, in an effort to stay awake. Real Life Romance Hero is puttering in the kitchen behind me, so imagine the sounds of potato chip fragments rattling in their can as you read this.

Friday afternoon, on our way out of town, Housemate and I had to drop Real Life  Romance Hero at the hospital (we stayed with him until the doctor arrived) then packed in a hurry and got on the road. Please note the packed in a hurry part, as it will be important later. I remembered, when we’d been on the road exactly long enough to rule out turning back, that I had forgotten the new lipstick I had bought especially for the occasion. First world problems for sure, but it was also a portent of the way things would go. When we got to the motel, two hours later than expected, I discovered that I had not, in fact, packed my pajamas. What I had packed was the dirty laundry, which was mostly t-shirts. I could not sleep in my travel outfit, because the skirt from said  outfit had dipped into a bathroom fixture that should never have a skirt in it, and I was not about to sleep in my outfit for the next day, so I did what any rational person who has skin sensitivities around unfamiliar linen would do. I lined up the least dirty t-shirt for the length of my body, used my jacket as a cover, and went for those three hours of sleep like a boss that I am.

The next morning, I hopped in the shower, excited to revisit my first ever RWA chapter, this time as an invited guest speaker. Shower, moisturize, apply product to hair, turn on motel-provided hair dryer…I said turn on motel-provided hair dryer. Is this thing pliugged in? Uh huh. Correct buttons pushed on everything? Looks like. Allrighty then, we are having interesting hair today. Fits the topic, and may even count as a visual aid, especially since all the real life plot twists of the day before meant that I did not have my taking points on index cards, and  would have to be that person, who reads their notes fro their phone. This becomes extra challenging for those of us with eyeglass prescriptions that need serious updating.

I arrived at the meeting place to find e had an intimate group. Six, including me. Since we all knew each other anyway, I dispensed with the bios and inroductions, and got right to the meat of the matter. A lively discussion ensued, followed by an excellent lunch (did you know chicken alfredo lasagna is a thing? Because it is. A delicious, delicious thing.) in good company. Not a bad outcome for the weeks of nervousness and preparantion. As I’d thought, when it was time for the presentation, I did fine. I know the subject, and the delays and detours of that weekend, down to the non-functioning hair dryer and absent co-presnter, served to illustrate my point.

The writing life is not an easy one, and there are times when it seems that the whole of creation is set on keeping us from creating. yet here we are, still doing it. We turn a utility closet, TV tray and folding chair into an impromptu office. We  tap out new chapters a letter at a time on our phones, when that’s our only option. We carry pen and paper  because they never crash, even when we do. We lie on our backs with lap desks on our chests, if we have to, and do the same job as when we’re nestled in a comfy office chair, behind a desktop, at desks that have been in the family longer than we have.

Right now, the weekend is a memory. RLRH is home, and will be going back to work tomorrow, one diagnosis and change in medication and lifestyle later. Skye is doing well at Camp Grandma, and this visitors’ weekend only strengthened our resolve to have her back home ASAP. It also gave that extra push to get the current WIPa from WIP o new release. What this weekend showed me most was that I am in this. Even with the real life plot twits, there’s a fair amount of writing going on, which may or may not need to be rewarded with a few new bujo supplies and a few good books.

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Typing With Wet Claws: I Smell Ghost Cats Edition

ello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Once again, I am coming to you from Camp Grandma, but this is no ordinary day at camp. That is because Anty is coming to visit! Mama is coming, too, and they are bringing boxes of my food, so that Grandma does not have to worry about getting the right kind. We are all very excited. Anty will have special time with only her and me, and maybe a toy that belonged to the ghost cats who live here. Did I tell you there were ghost cats? Well, there are. I smell them.  More about them later. First, I have to talk about Anty’s stuff, and, this week, there is stuff to tell. I had better get right to it.

Of course, the most important thing Anty is doing this week, is coming to see me. She wants to take some new photos. I guess I will not mind that, if I get extra treats. It has been a while. I hope that Anty will want to read or write or nap in the comfy chair, so that I can curl up by her feet and have a really good snooze. Those are the best. Anty might also see if I remember the trick she taught me before I went to camp. She taught me how to take one single treat from her fingers. I learned that one very fast, but got shy when there were other humans around, and would not do it. Maybe when it is just me and Anty, I will give it another try.

Oh. Right. Anty’s writing stuff. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about the different kinds of romance book covers, and what she thinks about them. I think they could use more cats. That post is here, and it looks like this:

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As luck would have it, Mr. Fabio was on the cover of one of the books Anty read recently. and, I am happy to say, she is doing pretty well in her goal to make up for lost time in reading historical romance novels. Let’s take a look at her Goodreads challenge. Right now, Anty is one book ahead of schedule, having read 38 out of 90 books. That puts her at 42% of the way to her goal a respectable achievement, all things considered. Out of those 38, 11 are historical romance. Still room for improvement there,  but Anty is almost done reading the  first book in Denise Domning’s Graistan Chronicles of historical romance, with the rest of those books queued on her Kindle, so Domning Nation is going to raise those numbers. Also, Anty read To Love a Wicked Lord (do not worry, he was not that wicked) by Edith Layton, and remembered how much she likes Miss Edith’s books, so she will soon be looking for more of them. She has missed a few. Oksy, more than a few. This endeavor may need a catchy name of its own. Lay, Layton, Lay, as an homage to Anty’s favorite Bob Dylan song? I will have to think about that. Anyway, that review is here, and it looks like this:

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This book got Anty to thinking, a lot, about what makes a good historical romance for her, both as a reader and as a writer. There is some of that in the review, but she will talk about it more in depth on her own, later. Right now, she has a nice big stack of historical romances by some of the greats: Mary Jo Putney, Virginia Henley, and Madeline Hunter, lined up for the coming week, and that is only in paper books. I think she is making some excellent headway. Speaking of heads, I do like head scritches. in case Anty needs a reminder. It has been a while.

It has been a while, too, since Anty has been to Charter Oak Romance Writers, but they were her first ever RWA chapter. She is looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, getting to meet new people, and, hopefully, share a few tricks for writing while real life plot twists threaten to derail her train of thought. Also, there may be lunch after. I am always in favor of lunch. Anty and Anty Melva had hoped to have handouts for the workshop, but life got life-y today, and they will probably make a PDF instead. I think that fits fine with the theme of their workshop.

But. Skye, you say, what about the ghost cats? People generally do not forget ghost cats, and Camp Grandma has two. Their names are Michelangelo and Francesca, and they lived with Grandma from when they were four, until they each crossed the rainbow bridge, after long and happy lives. Some of their toys may still be around here, and Anty knows where they would be, because she was their cat sitter, when Grandma was out of town. Grandma has friends and family in many places. She is very nice. Even though Michelangelo and Francesca were done being kitties in the having bodies sense, that does not mean that they are gone.

First, there is fur. They were both Maine Coons, like me, but Michelangelo was orange all over, and Francesca was black and white. I am brown tabby, so I know that when I see orange or black and white sheds, they are not mine. Francesca’s favorite chair is in my room, and, sometimes, I feel her looking down at me, from her perch on top of that chair. Michelangelo’s loud purrs still echo. I do not purr at all (I did not learn that when I was a baby, so I chirp when I am happy, instead. Maybe I will chirp for Anty today.) so I know that sound is not me. Grandma says I am imagining that, and that she will ask Mama to help her vacuum, but there is not enough Febreze in the world to cover the scent of ghost cats. I know they are here. As long as they do not try anything with my treat, I have no problem with them. Plus, Michelangelo says the feather on a stick toy is super fun. If Anty can find it, I may give it a try.

That is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

SkyeByeTemp

 

 

 

 

 

In the Absence of Wirkshop X

Right now, I am between two loads of laundry, which means two trips to the laundry room, which means using the first trip to teach me what I want to bring on the second trip. I am still learning the new apartment, the new apartment building, the new apartment complex, the new neighborhood, and a whole bunch of other news. Sleep has been not-great, which means a lot of time, in the dark, thinking about life, both writing and otherwise.

June is a ninja. Spring had only started, and now, wham, look, it’s summer. June 1st is my date with Charter Oak Romance Writers, on a topic I feel both eminently qualified, and wholly unfit to present. Allow me to ‘splain.

Save The Writer, Save The Book (STWSTB,) or Writing Through the Tears (WTTT,) depending on who you ask, came about when Melva Michaelian and I both missed the notices that Workshop X (so called, because I cannot, for the life of me remember what the actual topic was, or the name of the presenter who was unable to make it that year) had been cancelled, and thus sat in an empty conference room for an hour. At first, we figured maybe everybody else was late. They were not, because we were it, because there was no workshop. There may or may not have been discussion of going to the workshop offered in place of Workshop X, or maybe another workshop, but we wanted the one that wasn’t, and we were tired, and things do tend to happen when we are left on our own at conferences. (CT Fiction Fest 2018 attendees, you have been warned) what we landed on was that we should have our own workshop.

STWSTB is a catchy name, and it does borrow from the tag line of the TV show, Heroes, which I have never seen. I don’t know if Melva has; you’d have to ask her. At the time, we were both caregivers to multiple relatives apiece, along with juggling other flaming stress chainsaws of life, and we both had the same question: how the fluff do yoy keep writing, with all this stuff going on?

I know, I know, dangling proposition above, but it’s appropriate. How do you keep writing? I want to know this. How do I? I want to know that, perhaps, even more. No offense; I am sure you are very interesting, and I could probably ask far too may nosy questions, but I am the only one who can write my books. I am half of the team that co-writes Melva’s-and-my books, so focusing on myself is probably a wise decision on my part.

I am not where Beginning Writer Me thought she/I would be, at this point in her/my career. We rather thought we would have a bit more to show for our efforts by now. We thought we would be writing from behind an antique dedk, in an off-site office, by now, walls covered in glossy posters of our book covers, not tapping out blog entries on our phone, from the air mattress in an apartment with blank cream walls, but, today, that’s what we’ve got.

There’s an old proverb, Japanese, I want to say, that says, fall down five times, get up six. That, I can do. Though, as with many adoptees, my genetic makeup is a mystery, I am fairly certain that I am at least thirty-five percent Weeble. Knock me down, and I get back up, because that’s how I’m made. Maybe that’s why I liked the punching clown toy as much as I did, when I was but a wee princess. Smack it down, and up it comes. Every. Time.

Sometimes, writing is easy. Sometimes, writing is hard. Sometimes, the answer to “how do you keep going?” is, that, sonetimes, you don’t. Not in a lie in a ditch and stop existing sense, but in a take a step back, drink root beer floats in a blanket fort and watch Netflix all afternoon sense. Or reading. Reading is good. Also doodling, or lying on your back, eyes closed, listening to music; all of that is good stuff. When I can’t put out, that usually means I need to take in, instead. Feed my senses. Feed my story brain. Talk to other writers, talk to other readers. Talk to four-legged (or finned or feathered) family members, because they are very good listeners and not at all pushy with advice. Talk to myself (I do that one a lot.)  Talk to the voices in my head, which, for most of us writers, are our characters, and, when the time is right, they will talk back. That’s how they’re built, too.

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Grandma is a Snitch Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, bringing you yet another Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. Grandma and I are getting along okay, but she is no Uncle, and there is the small matter of her calling the v-e-t on me ( do not worry, I am okay) so I will be glad when Forever Apartment becomes available. More on that later.

Even though I am at camp, I still have to talk about Anty’s writing before I can talk about anything else. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about the surprise shut-down of RT Book Reviews magazine and associated ventures. I have heard that the magazine was very nice to lie on, so I am sure many kitties will miss it. That post is here, and it looks like this:

http://www.buriedunderromance.com/2018/05/saturday-discussion-hail-and-farewell-romantic-times.html

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As you can see, remote blogging has a bit of a learning curve, but a good mews never lets a little thing like distance to get in their way. Next week, Anty will come and visit me when she speaks to Charter Oak Romance Writers. Anty and I are both looking forward to that. Uncle has to work, so he cannot come, but Anty will bring me something that smells like him, which is a good consolation prize. I will probably send her back with some shed fur, and maybe a whisker I am done using. A mews has to do what a mews has to do.

One of those things is to cheer Anty on when she is doing the right thing. Besides submitting two pieces to an anthology that asked her to submit, she has also got some good news: she and Anty Melva will be presenting their workshop, Writing Through The Tears, also known as Save The Writer, Save the Book, at CT Fiction Fest in September. For more information, and maybe to guess the workshops Anty hopes most are not opposite hers, visit the conference site here:

http://www.ctfictionfest.org/workshops.html

Anty has returned to her regular schedule of meetings with fellow writer humans, which feels very good, after that whole moving interruption. The interwebs connection here is much better, so Anty got to have her whole conversation with Anty Melva without weak signals or anything. That was exciting, even if Anty did have to carry on her end of the conversation from the edge of the bathtub.

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That is how Anty has to set up the laptop so that Anty Melva can talk to Anty’s face instead of her, umm, shirt, but writers, like their mewses, do what they must.  Also, Sebastian tells me it is very echoey in the For-Now apartment, so going into a different room is probably the best way to go.

Although I am still working out how to link Anty’s Goodreads challenge in this whole remote business, I can let you know that she is currently 41% of the way to her goal, with 37 out of 90 books read. She may have read more, but I will have Sebastian run the numbers later. Her two most recent reads were both historical romance:

Lady in White , by Denise Domning

And

The Prince of Midnight, by Laura Kinsale

I will have Sebastian add the links later, as those are tricky to do here at camp. It looks like DomningNation is a go, because, now, Anty is reading Winter’s Heat, also by Miss Denise, and she has all of the four books that come after it already on hrr Kindle, plus some other books by Miss Denise, so Anty is all set on that front.

This weekend, Anty and Mama hope to get Anty’s desktop out of storage, so nobody has to listen to Anty’s whining about….umm, I mean Anty will have an easier time doing her work. That will also let Anty play her games again. A gaming Anty is a happy Anty, and it might help her to miss me less if she could make a Sim version of me to keep her Simself company. We will see how that goes. This coming week is for Anty bringing herself up to date on her current projects, and that is much easier on a desktop computer.

In case you were wondering about the whole Grandma being a snitch thing, I should mention that Grandma and I have had a difference of opinion as to where I should do my, um, stuff. Grandma was worried that I was not making stuff at all (I totally was) so she called the local vet, who was my old vet, before we moved, and told her I had not made any stuff since I started camp. I am eating and drinking fine (Grandma gets a A+ on water bowl replenishment) so the vet told Grandma that I am not sick, just in a strange place, and want to be sure I am safe. Anty or Mama will probably find my stuff spot right away, and let Grandma know where I want my stuff spot to be. Mama also rold Grandma to talk to her before any vets (the vet could not see me, anyway, without Mama’s permission) and that I am fine. Not exactly happy, but fine.

Uncle is doing much better after his own stay at the people vet, and, apart from me being at camp, things are pretty good. The humans are moving things into For-Now apartment on an as needed basis, which Sebastian says makes for some interesting arrangements as they figure out what is a need-need and what would be nice.

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Of course, getting me home is the biggest need, but, in the meantime, Sebastian is doing a pretty good job of providing a facsimile of a feline presence. That window is his favorite spot. I remain, even at camp, a floor girl .

That is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling

(The kitty, not the book)

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Packing In Reverse

Yesterday, I submitted two pieces of writing. Though it hasn’t been that long since my last gig, hitting that “submit” button felt a lot like I was doing so for the very first time. It wasn’t, of course. Four books, a whole lot of blog posts for various sites, both my own and otherwise, and, still, the stomach butterfly ballet was in fine form.

First submission in the new apartment, though, which is certainly something. Tonight, I will have my first Skype meeting from the new apartment, to talk with my contemporary co-writer, and co-presenter of our Save the Writer, Save the Book, Melva Michaelian, about how we’re going to handle the presentation to Charter Oak Romance Writers, and, beyond that, how we want to approach the same workshop at Connecticut Fiction Fest, this fall. We’ll probably touch on Chasing Prince Charming and Drama King, as well, because A) we are us, and B) as with the whole submission thing, coming back after a time away is both exciting, and a little scary.

On Wednesday, I will meet with N, and we will look at what it takes to get to The End. Draft two of Her Last First Kiss for me, and a new draft of a paramormal YA for her. Maybe other projects as well, but we have each declared our focus, and will hold each other to that.

When I first started packing the old office, I put all of the paper I needed for HLFK in one box. This past Saturday, I busted it out of storage and brought it home. Right now, my “desk” is a TV tray, my office chair, a folding chair. I can get the whole stripped down aesthetic, and I even appreciate that I have, on the desk/table front, come full circle, back to writing on a TV tray, in a quiet house, when the rest of the family is out.

Now that we are in the home stretch to the end of our first month here, it’s time to recalibrate and find the new normal. That’s easier said than done, and pretty much the writing version of taking the first step into a new apartment on moving-in day. By itself, the statement a blank slate makes is not a strong one, but it can be intimidating. Where to start is an important consideration, but it’s too easy to become overwhelmed by what goes where.

In this apartment, I don’t have a dedicated office, unless I claim the postage stamp sized “storage” room that also holds the water heater. That’s going to require some changing around of longstanding habits. While I will be rescuing my desktop computer (and printer) from storage  hopefully this week, it will still ( probably) be set up on the TV tray, I am currently doing most computing on my phone. New writing works best in longhand, which has not changed one bit, from one home to the next. The transition from one way of doing things, to a new way of doing things isn’t always smooth.

Right now, the books I have in this apartment are either e-books, or belong to the library. No spinning the chair around, to  brush fingers over old favorites. No RT magazine back issues (or RT, period, alas) to pet, or flip through for inspiration. It kind of feels like moving into a college dorm. It’s temporary, as we are looking dor a pet-friendly forever home, but, while we’re here, we need to focus, not on what has always been, or how things are, or how things are going to be in the fututre. Time to, as with the rest of the moving process, do the thing that is in front of me. Write the blog post.  Go over notes for the Skype chat, and put the HLFK materials in the right order. Read through the manuscripts to date, and make notes on what needs more attention.

Falling in love with the stories again, that part is easy, and it’s also hard. It’s hard because it means acknowledging that there has been time away, and the books and I do need to get reacquainted. This means mornings over endless cups of tea, reading through handwritten pages, taking apart the binder I constructed, because I constructed it in the wrong way, the way it “should” go, instead of the way that works for me.

I may be a while before everything is back on an even keel, but that’s to be expected. This is packing, in reverse. Taking the stuff, both literal and figurative, out of where I’ve stashed it, and see where it belongs now

Typing With Wet Claws: Tales From the Air Mattress Edition

Hello, all Skye here, coming to you remotely from Camp Grandma, for another Feline Friday.  Please note that the title of this week’s blog is spelled t-a-l-e-s, because those of us who have actual tails, also have actual claws, and claws and air mattresses are not the best of friends. Also, I am at Camp Grandma right now, and the humans and their air mattresses are in the for-now apartment. I like Grandma okay, especially when she feeds me, but I will be very happy when we get Forever Apartment, and we can all be together, all of the time. Anty misses me a lot, and the feeling is mutual.

Tomorrow would normally be the day that Mama would come and visit me at Camp Grandma, and take pictures of me (Anty makes her; last time, Mama even took a movie of me, which went over extremely well with Anty and Uncle) but I will have to wait one more week, because tomorrow is also the day Anty and Mama get the rest of their things out of Mr. D’s house, and, maybe, get some furniture into the For-Now Apartment. Right now, what they have is a couple of air mattresses, one folding chair (for Uncle, more on that later) and Anty’s armrest pillow, that she shoves in a corner, so she can use her laptop, which she busted out of storage this week. She hopes to get her desktop, and her desk, or a reasonable facsimile, out of storage, as well, because she has some writing to do. This brings us kind of on track, to talk about Anty’s actual writing.

Before I get too much farther, I would like to say hello to all  of our new readers. It is very nice to have you here. The way things work, normally, is that Anty will post on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I post on Fridays. Sometimes, life gets interesting, and things are different, but that is the regular plan Speaking of regular, Anty was indeed at Buried Under Romance, this past Saturday, talking about reading in the calm after the storm. That post is here, and it looks like this;

BURreadubgafter

The image in the picture above is the library Anty goes to most, and where she and Mama had to go, to get interwebs, until they got it installed at the For-Now Apartment. That was an adventure, because the human who lived there before them had done a few things differently, and the interwebs people had to send a human out to set everything right. I am just as glad I was at Camp Grandma for that one. Anty now has interwebs at home, and  can focus on getting back to business as usual.

As usual, I should say, as it gets around here, because, last week, Uncle had to go to the people vet, with an owie paw. He did not have to wear the cone of shame, but he did have to stay at the people vet for a few days, and take a lot of pills. I do not envy Anty, having to give them to him. especially when Anty has work to do. This week, Anty will be updating her Coming Soon section of this site, because she has some news. On June second, she will speak at Charter Oak Romance Writers, with the workshop she and Anty Melva created, “Save The Writer, Save the Book.” That is about writing through the tough times of life. Anty and Anty Melva both know a thing or two about that. There will also be more news about Anty and Anty Melva giving their workshop at another conference, as soon as Anty has specific details. She is pretty excited about that.

Sunday is the deadline for Anty to submit to the anthology that invited her, and she is kind of nervous about fitting that in, but the word count is low, and Miss N gave her a good pep talk. Miss N gives very good pep talks. What this anthology wants is a short piece that gives the flavor of Anty’s writing, and might inspire readers to go look for more things Anty has written. Anty is in favor of getting new readers, so she will have something to send off to them soon. It might get in under the wire, but it will get in; she is determined on that front. Okay, on several fronts, but this is, technically, a writing blog.

It is also, technically, a romance writing blog, because that is what Anty writes, and there have been some big doings in the romance genre over the last couple of weeks. Anty does not have much to say about Cockygate, and she is still thinking about her position on the state of the Golden Heart awards, but she does have a lot to say about the end of RT/Romantic Times, which came as a very big shock. Romantic Times (it will always be Romantic Times to Anty) has been a big part of Anty’s romance reading and romance writing life, and she is somewhat salty that it is now a sure thing she will never get a review in that magazine, but she also wants to bust part of her collection of back issues out of storage, and spend some time studying them. It is complicated, to say the least, but I will leave that for her to tell.

Now that the humans are settled, and Anty has at least her laptop on hand, we should be back to regular updates on Anty’s Goodreads challenge, and a deeper look at what she is reading these days, and why. Some of this, I may delegate to my assistant, Sebastian Catbutt Hart-Bowling, who is on the scene (and usually in the window) to keep an eye on the humans and make sure Anty is doing writing things. An author cannot be without a mews, after all, or at least a reasonable facsimile.

SebastianWindow18mei18

Okay, I think that is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain Very Truly Yours,

skyebyenew

 

 

 

Sheeeeee’s Baaaaack

Or close enough to it. One week and two days ago, we landed in our new apartment, but there is still another move ahead of us. Though the ad that led us to our current apartment said this was a pet friendly location, that was a mistake, so Skye is staying with Housemate’s mother, while we wait for a place that will fit all four of us. We do not expect that to be long, but there is still the question of what to bring into our current abode, and what we want to leave in storage until we are settled-settled, and the adventure continues.

Right now, my desk is my lap desk, my chair is the floor, with an armrest pillow behind me, and a fluffy throw tossed in for good measure. My computer is my phone, desktop to follow, when A) I can find it in the packed to the gills storage unit, and B) I can also find my desk, or a reasonable substitute, in the same unit. What is not under lock and key, however, is the desire, and the need, to write.

Because my life would not be my life without Unexpected! Drama! I am ensconced in my writing corner, waiting for pest control to return and drop off their item, and, at the same time, keeping one eye, and one ear, on a recovering Real Life Romance Hero, sprung from the hospital the day before yesterday, after a four day stay to treat an unfortunate incident. He is responding well and already wants to get back to work. Same with me.

Yesterday, I had my first breakfast with N, since moving out of the old apartment. Most of that time, I spent staring in deer in the headlights mode, due to stress and exhaustion, interpersed with sucking down possibly the largest iced tea I have seen in real life. There was also a bagel involved, but the real meat of the matter was writing, and where we each wanted our focus to be, in this coming season.

We talked of unfinished manuscripts, what makes them that way, and the experience of looking at things we had written in our respective way-back-whens. Sometimes, it’s “hey, this is pretty good.” Sometimes, it’s, “what was I thinking?” Sometimes, it’s “I can do this better/differently now.” Sometimes, there are no words, and the sentiment can be ezpressed only by pulling a sweatshirt hood over one’s head, and puling the drawstring,so that one’s face is comletely consumed by said hood, with possibly only the nose tip even visual to the casual observer.

We talked of how, sometimes, it isn’t possible to go back to a particular project, because we aren’t that person anymore, or we are no longer that writer. We did not speak of projects we mourn, but I have some, and I am sure she has some. I am even surer we are not alone in that, and that adds some substance to the feeling that we are in this together. (Inclusive we, for those keepng track of this sort of thing.)

There are days left, now, until the deadline for an anthology that asked me to submit to them, and, as I told N, at this point, I have no idea what I am going to send. The word count is low — a little more than flash fiction- and the fact that they found me bodes in my favor, so it’s as good a place as any to climb back on the metaphorical horse.

I have been writing, in the interim. Morning pages first thing (or as near to first as I can manage,) Camp NaNo pages, for the win that I needed that badly, and many, many btain dumps in between. A couple of nights ago, I started a bedside brain dump book; evening pages, if you will, as “bed,” right now, is an air mattress. So far, it mostly has notes on my experience of reading two different Laura Kinsale novels at the same time (no complaints) and what this kind of reading does to me (only good thngs) and how I want writing to go in this new phase of life.

I have a new neighborhood to explore, and, in the not too distant future, another one still. I have not been to the park across the way yet, or the corner bodega, but I know two ways to get to the Rite-Aid, and have already got on the wrong bus once, which led me to the right bus, so maybe it was not wrong after all.

While the desk and desktop and related accoutrements may still be in a holding pattern, the essentials are, at last, in place. Something to write with, something to write on, and smeone to write it, aka me. Feels good to be home.

Typing With Wet Claws: Camp Grandma Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for a very special Feline Friday. It is special, because, this week, I am coming to you remotely, from Mama’s Mama’s house. That is because, while the day to move into the new apartment finally came, Uncle learned that the new apartment was not, in fact, pet friendly. That was not news anybody wanted to hear (especially me, because I am the pet) but that does not mean we are apart forever. The humans are looking into some pet-friendly apartments that will be ready very soon, and, in the meantime, I get to stay at Camp Grandma, and carry out my mews duties from there.
So that my humans are not entierly kitty-less while they are in the for-now apartment, I have deputized Sebastian, who is a stuffed kitty. For those who are parsing the semantics, I mean that Sebastian has always been stuffed, not that he was once a real kitty, who stopped being a real kitty, and then got stuffed. That would not work in this situation. The upside of having Sebastian around is that, now, the humans have a kitty they can cuddle, even after we are all together in Forever Apartmen. Spoiler I will still be a lloor girl in Forever Apartment, so Sebastian better get used to being the cuddle kitty.
For-Now Apartment will be getting interwebs in the next few days, which will make Anty very happy, and allow her to resume her regularly scheduled blogging, and allow me (or Sebastian I may let him do the paws on stuff, since my only job at Camp Grandma is to stay on the floor, be fluffy, and eat what Grandma puts in my dishes) to keep you all up to date on where to find Anty’s writing, and on her reading challenges, so those things will be back soon. One of us will also update the coming soon section, because there is news there, as well.
On June second, Anty and Anty Melva will be presenting their “Save the Author, Save the Book” workshop, which is about self care for writers during the interesting surprises of life. Trust me, they know whereof they speak, and it is very easy for each of them to make the other laugh, so, if you are in the area on that day, consider dropping by and joining in on the fun. There will be funny stories and encouragement, and, hopefully, some useful tools.
Now that Camp NaNo is over, I am happy to report that Anty reached her goal of writing fifty pages by hand , and doe not hate writing, her story, or herself. This is progress. Go, Anty. She is letting those pages sit for a while, and deciding if she wants to continue with the same story for the next Camp NaNo session, or use that time for soemthing else. She has some time to figure that all out, and she will probably consult with Miss N, when they resume their Tuesday morning breakfasts this coming week. Because it is pretty much summer, they will move their meeting time to summer hours, one hour later.
Anty has been asked to submit to an upcoming anthology featuring New York writers. The I human who asked Anty to submit, found Anty though this blog, and asked Anty to send in writing, because the other human liked what they read. There is a deadline, so now Anty is woking on what she would like to send them. If they like what they see, and want to include Anty, then I will keep you all posted about the details. If they would rather pass, then Anty will probably ask me to pretend this didn’t happen, and never speak of it again.

This week, Anty plans to get back into the swing of actual writing. Most of the furniture will come into the For-Now Apartment this coming Saturday (that is, next week, not tomorrow) and, then, Anty will set up her desk, and see what kind of routine she can fit into the new daily schedule. On Tuesday, she and Miss N will review Her Last Fist Kss (partdon the lack of italics) and get Anty back on track to a completed second draft..
That is about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,
Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling (the kitty, not the book)