Not At RWA Nationals (Again)

Welp, it’s that time of year again. July. Middle of summer. The lull between heat waves. It’s also the time for Extroverted Romance Writer Christmas, aka RWA Nationals. Several of my fellow romance writer friends post on social media about shopping for clothes and shoes, asking opinions on makeup or hair, what to pack, who can meet up where, and whether friends who are in the city (I’m in NY state: we have one City and one Island) but not going to the conference, or are going to the public parts of the conference, can meet up for extracurricular activities.

All of that stuff sounds wonderful to me, especially since real life stuff has kept me from the last two NECRWA regional conferences (CT Fiction Fest, this past September, almost a year ago now was a lifesaver) and the fact that this year’s conference is held in my home state of NY does give an extra pinch. It moves around from year to year, often in sunny locations, which are not great for me, as I am heat and sun sensitive, and have had full-on heat stroke in the past, so I have to be extra-careful in choosing summer activities. This could also be a plus, because staying in the conference hotel the whole darned weekend is entirely doable and, for me, the norm.

Spending a weekend, in this case a long weekend, locked in a hotel with a few hundred people who love the books that I love, who love writing the books that I love to write, who know what it’s like to have the voices in our heads translate into words on a page, so we can share the adventures of our imaginary friends, that’s pretty much my idea of the best vacation ever. Not that conferences, for the working writer, are a vacation, because it’s most assuredly work, attending workshops (or giving them) and discussions and networking in hallways, elevators, and hotel rooms, hotel bars, hotel lobbies, and the ever-popular, ever-crowded public hotel rest rooms.

This year, especially, it would have been wonderful to go. Melva and I have a new book, our first together, Chasing Prince Charming, coming out, in less than three weeks. Fewer than three weeks? See, there’s another reason I need to socialize with other writers. They help me do English gooder. I have one historical novella out in the querying process, and two full length historical romances that are getting ready to make the rounds again. A conference is a place where there are tons of other writers who have been in the same or similar positions, and talk stuff out with them. For the extroverted writer, talking things out is absolutely crucial. Sometimes, I don’t know what I’m thinking until I can talk about it. That’s part of the process.

So, what am I doing instead? I wish I could say we are not still fighting the battle of the bugs, but we are. Not at the same intensity as it once was. The few bugs that we see are slow moving and far fewer than earlier generations, so we are hopefully moving in the right direction. There are the normal domestic tornadoes, but manageable ones, and keeping an eye on the aforementioned social media posts from friends who are in attendance, is, in its own way, the next best thing to being there.

What can’t be experienced secondhand, though, is the connections that are only made at conferences. Melva’s and my writing partnership was born at a conference, because breakfast was late. While we waited for the doors to open, we commented to each other what a diverse lot of writers were in attendance. a writer of YA fantasy might be chatting with a writer of m/m contemporary romance, who is sitting next to a writer of erotic historicals, who is rooming with a writer who has been writing category inspirationals for literally decades, who is sitting next to a wide-eyed first-time attendee, who is almost done with the first draft of their first book. They think. How do they find a critique partner and what’s a beta reader, and OMG, that’s Big Name Writer over there.

It’s going around the table, asking what everybody’s favorite book is, answering with your own all time number one, only to be met with a shriek of joy from the total stranger across the table, who of course has to sit next to you now that you have the same favorite book, and, years later, is now a friend. It’s having the opportunity of sitting next to someone who whips out their electronic device to prove that they are actually reading one of your books right the heck now, and you try to be cool because it’s your first time seeing your book on someone else’s device.

It’s going home with an extra suitcase full of swag (Hannah Howell’s iconic purple pens are Pentel RSVP, now one of my favorite ballpoints, for those who hoard her swag pens and wish they came in more colors; they do.) and oh so many books. Some of them were free, right there on plate or chair at every meal, given away during a workshop, or as a door prize, some of them purchased at the literary signing, and personally autographed by an author who is, indeed, a lovely person. There may or may not, depending on one’s luck (I think I once posted about The Year Anna Won Everything, but part of it does happen to Meg, in Chasing Prince Charming) be some sort of gift basket (or other receptacle) to wrangle into the car, or onto some other form of transportation. Some people may be mailing things home.

When I lived in the old country, I Had a post-conference routine. I would lug my bags upstairs, then trot on down the street, to buy myself dinner, with an unsweetened iced tea, and write in my notebook about how I felt about the entire experience (of the conference, not dinner.) Coming back from a conference, I am full of energy, and buzzing, and it’s hard to come back to the everyday routine of living. Now that I’m here, a new ritual will emerge, once I get back in the conference swing. Most of all, a conference, and even writing about a conference, makes me want to write. It reminds me not only that I love to write romance, but why, and shows me ways -there are always ways- in which I might do that even better. Thankfully, when it comes to conferences, there are a lot of them, so if I’m not at this one, maybe next year.

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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.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Officially Summer Edition

Greetings, Foolish Mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart- Bowling once again, coming at you with all the stuff from the week that was. Since today is the Summer Solstice, it makes sense that we have hit that time of year when Writer Chick turns nocturnal. That means zero chance of sleep at night (yep, she is already talking to her people vet about this; should all be sorted soon) but as soon as morning hits, slumber party for one. A few hours after that, we get what Dude calls the “mini-rage,” or Writer Chick’s displeasure that her favorite and most productive part of the day is now past

This will all even out soon, as the days grow shorter once more (aka the darkness returns, bwahahaha, as Writer Chick puts it) and we get ever closer to that wondrous time of year, autumn, when Writer Chick’s super powers come into play. This is perfect timing, because the release of Chasing Prince Charming is on August 12th (12th August if you are British. Writer Chick is not British, but the family’s closest neighbors when Writer Chick was learning some basic life skills -aka toddlerhood- were from Scotland, and Writer Chick’s mom’s best friend was British, so this may explain why Writer Chick naturally writes her dates day/month/year instead of month/day/year, and sometimes puts extra L’s and U’s in odd places.)

That UK influence got in there early.

As you may be able to guess by the different tone of today’s post, and the fact that I have a Greatest Hits picture up top, instead of a new one, we have also hit the very first Sebastian’s Choice entry, which is different from the usual Friday blogs in that I get to talk about whatever I want. For those who have asked about preorders of Chasing Prince Charming, Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick say thank you, and they will get that information to you, as well as the link to their brand new website, ASAP.

Available August 12th, ordering information ASAP

Since having an upcoming release, having stuff out on queries/submissions/etc, preparing for Camp NaNo in July, and One Book July (a planner thing) is a lot to handle, Writer Chick is tearing her planners down to the bare bones and remaking them, to serve her in a more efficient manner. This means some ring binders will no longer be planners, but regular binders, as they get assigned to one particular project, and some may go up for sale, as will some planner guts (aka unused pages) but sorry, readers, no handsome stuffed orange boys are in that lot. Cat Regent is an appointed position, and not transferable.

Naptime is fast approaching, so if you’re here for Writer Chick stuff, her Buried Under Romance post this week is about classic historical romance authors who are still bringing the goods in this modern, indie-publishing age. Click the caption to go to it.

For Writer Chick’s Goodreads challenge, she has passed the fifty percent mark (I think I said that already) and is now fifty-two percent of the way to her goal, with forty-nine books read our of her goal of ninety-five. As you may presume, reading is an excellent way to get through those slumberless parties Writer Chick’s brain throws on summer nights.

Welp, time for me to go watch the birdies/let the breeze blow through my tummy fur/take a nap, so catch you on the flip side. If you see a black-garbed wraith roaming the stacks of a Barnes and Noble (maybe craft stores, too) with a water bottle in one hand and a planner in the other, that is probably Writer Chick.

Peace out,

Summer Thoughts

Monday’s post on Tuesday again, and I am okay with that. Yesterday was spent writing on Drama King, then my weekly Skype session with Melva Michaelian. My weekly breakfast with N is on Thursday this week, so the morning was found time to knuckle down and write…until I got a message from Sue Ann Porter, telling me she was five minutes away, and did I want to hang out? Umm, yes. We hadn’t had a chance to be face to face since January, so, around my kitchen table, and seasonally appropriate beverages, we got current.

We talked writing, and books. I cracked open Goodreads to recommend Panic by Lauren Oliver, and my heart swelled when Sue Ann told me how much she loved My Outcast Heart, and would love to see it as a Hallmark-ish movie. That would be fun. Right now, I’m focusing on getting it a new home in book form, which still needs to take a number.

We were joined, after a short while, by Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, Cat Regent and discussed having Sebastian join us for a proposed vlog about our shared appreciation of Poldark. I need to get current, because life last summer was kind of hectic, but, this year, it looks smoother. We discussed how much we like the verisimilitude of the historical atmosphere of the story world, and how we both like our historical romances to have a strong historical influence along with the romance, what makes a good romance novel, and what it takes to get a reader to want to come along for the ride, in any genre of fiction.

There was also a surprise visit by a local candidate, friendly and charismatic, encouraging voters to get to the polls. All too soon, Sue Ann and I both had to go back to life as planed, but I told her this was exactly the kind of summer I want to have. Filled with writing, and reading, and hanging out with good friends, coming away from the visit, not stressed over work time that was missed, but energized to get back to it, refreshed and refueled. I could get used to that kind of thing.

Cusp

Around our apartment, there are various deposits of crumpled black socks. These are mine. I will not take pictures of them (nobody wants to see that) but I do have a habit of toeing my socks off, forgetting that there were socks in the first place, and going about the rest of my day, often with the aid of the herds of flip flops that also seem to roam at will throughout Stately Bowling Manor. I do not know how this first came to be, but I do know that, by this age, that is probably going to be how things are from here on out. Future apologies to whomever gets the pleasure of dealing with me in my golden years.

This is not a post about my footwear. This is a post that I am writing before I get the laundry into the basket, and hauled down to the laundry room. Hence the collection of sock piles, and my eternal gratitude to the day I made the executive decision that my socks would only be black, even in summer. This ensures that they all match. This may be balanced out by Real Life Romance Hero’s predeliction for novelty socks, but he wears them well. This post is actually about writing.

This week, I accidentally acquired a new project, with a great team of smart, creative, like-minded women. This project will be work, yes, and it will also be fun, the fun part being the part that got me to yes. More on that in future posts. This is also the week that Housemate is out of state for over a full week, RLRH is doing some cool stuff, including making awesome quesadillas, and my planning system is getting one heck of a workout. Not that I mind, exactly, because I would much rather have too much to do than too little, and the act of organizing stuff makes me want to do more stuff, so I am calling it all good.

Yesterday was one for the books. Pun intended. A two hour (maybe more?) chat via messenger for new venture dovetailed with a domestic tornado chain, now past, which involved a stress bomb (now diffused) and an anxiety attack for me (fine now) and the whole thing reminds me of when I was but a wee princess, and my mother would bundle me in seasonally appropriate garments on the first day of blue sky, and go out to see what things looked like after the storm. This post is kind of like that.

Several times this week and I am probably not done yet, I have used the phrase, “I am an author, first,” and I am probably not done saying it yet. I can do other things, but writing my own fiction does, and has to, come first. When asked what two words I would say to my younger self, my answer is always the same. Keep writing. Whether the younger self in question is six, twelve, twenty-three, forty-five, or whatever, my answer is always the same. Keep writing. To elaborate, tell the story until it’s told. If I can tell her a couple more things, a recent addition is to do one thing at a time, give it full attention, and then move on to the next. Scheduling is great for this, and it comes with lots of pretty planning toys.

Follow the love, that’s another good one. For me, romance fiction is a big, big love, so aiming my time and talents in that general direction is going to work for the common good. This means writing it, reading it, spreading the love of it. I am totally up for all of that, and managing my time and energy so that the best of me goes to the best of that. Keeping my blogging schedule and focus is a big part of that. Which is why you’re getting this before I head off to play with my imaginary friends. Good stuff is coming, and clean socks, I hope, will be part of that.

Tabled

Yesterday, Real Life Romance Hero came home from his morning walk with a table. A big, round, heavy, black wooden dining room table. He did this while I was in the shower. He did not intend to obtain furniture, but, when I shut off the shower, there was the key in the lock sound, followed by the something big is coming through the door sound, and, by the time I had my robe on, and head out the door, there was the love of my life and a huge black dot.

imagine seeing this first thing in the morning

RLRH identified the dot as our new dining room table. I pointed to our existing dining room table, and asked where this new piece of furniture came into his possession. In our building, there is an area where people who no longer need large items, can put them up for adoption. Such was RLRH’s encounter of said table. He knew we didn’t need it right now, but we will want a bigger table when we move (in a few months; we are not planning to move right now-now) so he brought it home.

The first question that came to mind was, “where are we going to put this?” In our future apartment is the obvious answer, but we are in our current apartment, which already has a table, which we already love, and the only place we can possibly put it is what I will call our great room, because it is dining room, living room, my office, my studio, Housemate’s workspace, and Housemate’s bedroom. It is a very small space. We also all had places to be, so we tabled the issue (pun intended) and headed off to take on the day. Then we came home, and were faced with the reality of the big black thing that would not allow both Housemate and er parcels through the door at the same time.

Cue much rearranging of furniture. The old dining room table is now my work table, on the opposite side of the great room, directly under our window, with Tudor Rose Hart-Bowling, our as yet unnamed pepper plant (currently, I am liking “Queen Boudica,” and she is quite liking the sunlight. Lancaster has been relocated to the bedroom, where he can get his own sunlight, without his brother, and presumably, new sister, trying to choke him to death.} This also allows me to have my planners and related paraphernalia in one, permanent place, where I can see them all, all the time, as well as have plenty of room to spread out and not bump over salt shakers, bump into anybody else’s work, etc. My kneeling chair scoots from computer to work table, to dining table with ease, and it all very much does contribute to the “room of one’s own” feeling. I have not had that since we left the old apartment. Before, that, really, so this feels all that much lovelier, to have my own corner of the world.

new table, reporting for duty

Still early days yet, so i will still have to see what effect this has for my productivity, but I am optimistic. At the very least, it has worked well for today, and I think that’s a pretty good start. With the weather we’ve had here in NY for the last couple of days, it feels as though summer has plopped itself down , which makes the whole new season thing feel very, very natural.

Next up on my list is website wrangling, as in actual whole website, with hosting and all that other good stuff, for Melva’s and my work, both separately and together. There will be posts on that later, because that’s a whole new adventure. Typing With Wet Nails (and/or Stuffed Paws) will remain the same, and Melva and I are working on some fun stuff to bring our readers, and hopefully convince her readers and my readers to become our readers, the whole Melva and Anna experience.  Chasing Prince Charming creeps ever closer to release, as the final galley template is in the works, and we should learn more in about two weeks.

The best way to fill the time between now and then, is by writing. Melva and I are both looking forward to a productive season, with new and current projects, and, if the place I do that from has a view of lush greenery and a cool breeze, then so much the better.

The Mondayest Monday That Ever There Mondayed (Okay, not really)

Welp, it’s Monday. An extremely Monday-ish Monday, as a matter of fact. Allow me to explain. When I started off this day, I had a plan. I had a schedule. I like both of these things. By nine AM, both of them were moot. It is a full house here at Stately Bowling Manor. Both other adults are home for the day, with no plans, theoretically able to fend for themselves. THere may or may not be a pharmacy run in the afternoon, and, technically, this could be a good time to drag the bottles to recycling, which may not, at the first glance, have all that much to do with writing, ut I am determined to find a way to make that happen. A lot of us writers can’t turn that stuff off, so we have learned to live with it and steer into the skid, so to speak.

This is where being a planner person can come in handy, because the moment a domestic tornado chain blows through the combination living room/dining room/my office/Housemate’s bedroom (let us call it the Great Hall, shall we? That feels very much in keeping with all things historical romance-y, so it’s going to stay.) the instinctive response is not “aaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!” but “let me move a few things around.” Writing has to take precedence, so blog entry happens first, then I need to knock off a rough scene, because I know me, and I know that, if I don’t, I am going to be kicking myself through whatever else it is that the day might bring. This is the sort of day when the writer shoves leftovers in the general direction of all present family members, and plops themselves in front of the computer, to make the most of the time one does have.

Cryptic, I know, but my goal here is to blorch out the magic seven hundred words, move on to a scene for Drama King, and then the world of practical concerns can have some of my attention. Some of it. Only two days ago, I sat in a darkened library conference room, listening to a Damon Suede, workshop on backstory (recorded, not in person, alas. If you ever get a chance to see Damon Suede teach on anything writing related, take it. That is all.) that left me with pages full of notes, and the confidence that yes, I really am ready to start gathering questions and assorted stuff for exploring and expounding on Cornelis and Lydia’s story, whom readers can meet in “The Fox and the Lily,” in the upcoming anthology from Z Publishing. I’m still liking Plunder for the title of the full length novel, and knowing exactly what goes down with Cornelis and Lydia will lay the foundation for their daughter’s (and, ultimately grandchild’s) story.  

That’s not for today, though. Today, though my plans have been changed, there is still stuff I can do (Melva and I touch on exactly this kind of thing in our Save the Author, Save the Book workshop) so I don’t feel entirely shoved out of the way, writing-wise. Lists definitely help. I want all my tasks out where I can see them, and the week as well, so I can move things around when I need to do that. Domestic tornadoes do not mean that the things cannot get done, only that they will not get done at the time or in the way I had originally thought. This is also one of the reasons I like to have more than one project going at the same time, at different stages.

Polishing a scene into traditionally readable form may not be possible on a day like today, but can I hole up on the couch (or lock myself in the bathroom, because that, too, is a thing) and rough a scene out in longhand? I most certainly can. Sometimes, the best stuff gets born that way. Not always. It’s not a guarantee, but definitely more of a plus than a minus. When the active brain is required elsewhere, I can “look up X online” and convey information to the person who requested it, which will leave me feeling marginally accomplished enough to move on to the next task. The fact that my imaginary friends do tend to tag along on mundane errands also works in my favor. Sometimes they are helpful and sometimes they are not, but I am glad to have them, in either event.

Time to wrap this blabbery post and move on along. The sky outside is beautifully cloudy and gray, but I’m still burning daylight. TLDR takeaway from this post: if my goal is having written, then writing is the only thing that will get me there. By blabbing here, I don’t have to look at the note in my planner that oh no, I didn’t blog again on Monday, I suck, what am I even doing here, etc. Nope. Blog does not have to be perfect. Blog has to be written, and that it is, so I will count that as a success. At least that’s what I am telling myself.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Week of Little to No Energy Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all of the stuff from the week that was. It’s a rainy Friday here in New York’s Capitol Region. We’re starting a new month here (fine, everybody is; that’s how calendar months work) and wrapping up what Writer Chick probably won’t object to me calling the Week Of No Energy, because that is pretty accurate. Note the lack of battery power on the Kindle in this week’s picture. Writer Chick did not intend for that to tie in with anything, but here we are.

Even so, there’s stuff to bring you (otherwise, I would nap through this post, because this is perfect napping weather. As usual, Saturday found Writer Chick at Buried Under Romance, asking for input on the best points of entry for some popular historical romance writers that Writer Chick hasn’t gotten around to reading yet, for some reason. Follow the link to read for yourself. It’s never too late to weigh in on important questions like this.

Since this was a week of little to no energy, there was not as much writing or reading going on over here, but Writer Chick still pressed forward. Z Publishing will be including “The Fox and The Lily,” an amuse bouche of historical fiction with strong romantic elements. It’s also nudged her into fleshing out the whole of Cornelis and Lydia’s story to novel length, with two companion stories. Writer Chick does like her generational sagas, At least that takes care of the question what Writer Chick is doing next when it comes to historical romance. Probably. She has been sketching out some stuff in longhand, and of course this will give her a reason to set up a new notebook, to capture all the idea soup for this venture.

Speaking of which, the new month occurs at a convenient time, as Writer Chick finished her last morning pages book, and started in on a new one. This new one is by Punch Studio, which she loves for the pretty page factor, her pens are all ready to go. Writer Chick is big on pretty paper things, so that’s one point for things to look forward to in the mornings, I guess. I mean, besides caffeine and the company of a handsome stuffed orange boy.

Morning pages and accompanying pens

Speaking of orangeness, we now move on to her newly cobbled together blogging notebook. Writer Chick originally got this orange notebook as her daily planner, which was really fun, but took a lot of time, and then she  moved, so that kind of fell by the wayside, but she still wanted to use the book, and she can’t countenance getting a new Exceed notebook before she has used the old Exceed notebook. Since she likes writing longhand first in pretty much everything, this book is now her blogging notebook, where she can put down ideas as they come throughout the week, and hopefully cut down on the number of times she stares at the computer screen, makes that “ummmmm” sound, and then babbles until she’s hit 700 words.

Not only a blogging notebook, but a blogging folio

The week of little to no energy was also a perfect opportunity to cut some fat from the notebook habit. I know, I was shocked, too. For a lot of the last year, Writer Chick also did some brain dumping at night, aka evening pages at the end of the day as well as the morning pages at the start of it. That setup all went into a big folio, with its own pens, and, this week, she got to a point of “nah.”  Evening brain dumps can still happen when needed, but they don’t get their own book anymore, and now the folio is all about blog stuff, which makes Writer Chick more excited than tired. This will also come in handy, as Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick get all their metaphorical ducks in a row and set up their own website for their co-written work. Of course there is going to be some sort of blog going on there, so having one central place to put all of that stuff makes a lot of sense. Expect her to blather more about that later, possibly when she has this one full and it’s time to set up a new one.

Since this was the week of little to no energy, Writer Chick did not take things lying down. Well, she did spend some time lying down, but that was still kind of para-writing, as she did some longhand stuff, and listened to a lot of Book Tube videos. Note that I said “listened to” and not “watched.” Sometimes, she watched, but most of the time, it was listening, which did give her some ideas that she will probably blabber about in the future, but she will probably want to write them out in longhand in her orange book first. She had expected to spend some of that low-energy time reading, but most of that was what Dude calls “lying next to a good book.” That still kind of counts, especially if one  considers staring wistfully at the cover partial credit. Writer Chick plans to get some more of that reading done over the weekend, and there may or may not (I can’t read the orange book when Writer Chick is writing in it) some blathering on that very subject at Buried Under Romance for tomorrow’s post.

Until then, Writer Chick is taking advantage of this lovely grey day to break out paper and pen, make some tea, and keep a couple of books within arm’s reach. If she does decide to grab a nap, well, I will be ready.

Peace Out,

What Do Planner Pages and Fiction Genres Have in Common?

Still not the actual planner post, but getting closer, and, seeing as how we are over the midway point of the month, I may let this suffice and move on along because the start of yet another new month will be here before I know it.

The fact that Wednesday’s post is the first of the week should tell you all how Monday went. Nuff said about that. Let’s move on to better stuff, and by that, I mean planners and how they relate to the writing life. Last night was a big one at Stately Bowling Manor, because I learned two very important things that have me chittering like a cat at a bird sanctuary. Thing One is that the printer is now up and running, and Thing Two is that I finally figured out the exact difference between A6 and half-letter size. For the non-planner-obsessed, this sounds like Charlie Brown Adult speech. For those more planner-obsessed than myself, this may elicit a heartfelt “duh.”

If standard letter size paper is one sheet of the stuff one puts into the printer, then it follows that half-letter is half of that (folded short end to short end, specifically) and fits quite nicely into the mini binders sold at many chain office supply and/or megastores. A5 paper is the kind commonly sold for ring bound planners. Half letter paper is generally, in my experience, sold three-hole-punched, while A5 comes most commonly punched with six holes (I have seen some punched with four holes, but very seldom, and have not actually used any of those…yet.) The two are pretty darned close in size, which leads to the impression that they are interchangeable. The embarrassingly large amount of paper in my scrap file will attest. That paper will get repurposed, because I don’t like waste, but let’s move on with this bit o’ blabber.

In a reveal that surprises no-one, I love all things planner-related, and am not (yet) independently wealthy. Also, I have what we will call strong preferences. This would intimate that making my own inserts and fillers might be a good way to both save money and expand creativity. This also is where that scrap paper comes into play, or should i say existence. After longer than I would be proud to admit, of assuming that A) A5 and half letter are totally the same size, and B) the firm conviction that I have so been punching the paper according to the manufacturer’s instructions, I also took into account C) depth perception is part of my visual impairment. Maybe I might want to actually check out the dimensions the way it makes sense to me? What could it hurt?

So, going on the pro tip on how to tell black from navy blue (hold the color in question next to something that you 100$ know is black) I took a manufactured A5 page and a manufactured half letter page, each obviously different colors, put the one I suspected was smaller (spoiler: it’s A5) in front, and tapped them on a level surface (kitchen table.) Lo and behold, there it was, a bright white strip of paper above the colored A5 sheet. Mark the difference, remove the excess, punch holes, and…wait for it…boom, they line up with the manufactured A5 paper holes. This then segued into a frenzy of paper cutting and punching, culminating in me sitting back, contented as a cat in cream, looking at my handiwork.

Goodbye, pricey inserts in two different sizes. Hello, making whatever the heck I want, whenever the heck I want it. I’m off-leash at last, no fences, baby, woo. Except for the one teeny, small, infinitesimal complication that I do not have the first idea of how to create my own insert or filler, on the computer, which does throw a bit of a spanner in the works. Not a biggie, as I will figure it out, through a process of trial and error, and picking the hive mind of the interwebs. . There have to be templates out there somewhere, and where there’s templates, there’s historicals…er, tutorials. Total typo there, but I’m going to let it stand, because I am headed in that direction anyway.

But Anna, I hear those of you who live in my head asking, what does all of this have to do with writing commercial fiction? I am glad you asked that, people who live in my head, because that is an excellent question, and one I have been asking myself, until the answer naturally surfaced. Paper size is a lot like genre, in a sense. Sure, A5 and half letter may look the same to the casual viewer, and how big a difference can it be, anyway? As a quick inspection proves, quite a bit. One thing can’t fit in a container made for the other, but when we know what size is what and where all the holes are supposed to be (get your minds out of the gutter) the whole thing goes rather smoothly, and the creative mind can flood with ideas of fun things to do in all those lovely different sizes.

Some spreads that are perfect for A5 would never work in a half letter, or vice versa. Add in personal size, which is a heck of a lot smaller, but still fun and useful, and we’re talking a whole different story. Pun intentional. THat’s only talking ringbound. If we add traveler’s notebooks into the mix (strings rather than rings) we have whole new options, and whole new requirements. Do I love notebooks in general? Yes, with a wild, burning passion. Is there one objectively best format or size? Well, best for what? I’d need to ask some questions here. It’s the same for romance fiction. I would assume every other genre as well, or there wouldn’t be a need for both high and low fantasy (to say nothing of urban) cozy vs hard-boiled mysteries, hard vs soft SFscience fiction (if I’m using a wrong term for  different types of a single a genre, please let me know) and so forth.

A composition size planner is not going to fit in a tiny evening bag, and a bound notebook is not going to allow me to move pages around with ease. Genre is kind of like that. A light, humorous romance is not going to make me weep from angst leading to the HEA, while an epic historical is not going to be the best choice for a quick read that will give a case of the giggles. To paraphrase the late, great Eugenia Price, not all writers are going to please all readers. That’s why there are so many of us. I am more than okay with that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to a chain office supply store to buy printer ink. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.


Typing With Stuffed Paws: The (Stuffed) Cat Came Back Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff for the past, uh, while. Now that Writer Chick is no longer a galley slave, and has met her deadline, that gives her more time for other things, like checking to make sure I’m doing my share around here. Eh. I had a good run, and by run, I mean napping through the last couple of Fridays. Anyway, Dude is home today, he’s warm, and pretty good at napping, hi own self, so I think you know where this is going. Catnaps are always best when taken with actual cats, amirite?

Anyway, to speed us in that direction, let’s get down to business. First, as always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday, and she wants your recommendations of books that might whet her reading appetite. Click here, or the caption below, if you think you might be able to help, or if you like hearing her ramble or whatever. Click for no reason, if you want. I’m not the boss of you.

As for what Writer Chick is reading, she’s working on getting back into the swing of the whole Goodreads challenge deal. Right now, she’s only three books behind, at twenty-three out of ninety-five books, which puts her at twenty-four percent of the way to her goal. Adequate progress, but y’know, weekend, TBR, all that stuff. Make it happen, Writer Chick.

Writer Chick has made some noise about making a list of library books, to keep in one of her planners, to get around the whole thing of figuring out she has to give back a bunch of books she didn’t get a chance to read, and can’t renew them, because they were renewed already, and Dude may or may not be teasing her about what he calls the “mini rage.” Lists and goals and stuff make her happy anyway. There could possibly be stickers involved. As long as the stickers don’t come in contact with my fur, then I don’t have a problem. If they do, well, let’s say that Writer Chick might get a chance to find out why my middle name is Thunderpaws. That’s all I’m saying.

Maybe new candles are the key to posting more pictures…

There’s also the whole Instagram thing. Seriously slacking on that one, Writer Chick. There may need to be some sort of Instagram progress chart to keep her going on this one. One the one paw, I am an excellent model, because, in addition to being handsome and orange, I am awesome at posing. By posing, I mean sitting still. Unlike poo cats, I do not walk off in the middle of the shoot, and, really, she should be taking advantage of that. There has been some buzz about taking me out on location shoots. Props may be involved. Not sure how I feel about this, but Writer Chick tells me it’s part of the whole Cat Regent thing, so I suppose I can go along until they find a suitable poo cat.

Peace out,