Beware Nesting Authors

Tomorrow begins a new month, which means that part of my day today is for making sure I have my June planners (plural) are in good working order. My list for the week’s shopping includes things like an audio cable for the external speaker/microphone, and a decent reading lamp for my nightstand, lightbulb that gives off warm light essential. Once I have this post posted, I get to wrestle my dinosaur desktop to transfer some files to my laptop, and take a good long look at Scrivener and decide whether I want to purchase a new copy or look into resurrecting my HP stream laptop that has it already installed. (Resurrecting the ancient MacBook Pro is also an option, which would require buying Scrivener for Mac.) I have various electronic devices charging, including my OG (to me) Kindle-Kindle, Methos Junior (she’s a girl, though) for easy electronic reading without the temptation to constantly check social media and find the perfect background audio.

The bed has clean sheets on it, in preparation for work done in the “soft office.” This is also why I have finally accepted that I will have to A) figure out where to buy a replacement LED unit for the lamp I had by my bed, and B) how to change them, and C) buying a decent lamp with a real bulb will probably be my best course to take here. Props to the home decorating You Tube videos I have been inhaling for reminding me that lightbulbs come in different temperatures of light. The office chair search continues, as I scour FB Marketplace for a likely candidate, or can come up with a solid enough plan to justify renting a bigger vehicle to move actual furniture from storage.

Tonight, I will be racing the remaining hours on a historical romance I have on electronic loan from the library, as the historical romance reading mojo seems to be thinking about returning from its smoke break. I ripped the bandage off my Netflix block a couple nights ago, and watched all of Harlan Coben’s the Woods in one night. (Polish adaptation of an American novel) most of it with Storm sphinx-ing on top of me so that she can watch, too. Follow me for more dark European creepy drama reccommendations. I am going to be a big girl and get to my This Is Us backlog, even though I know what happens in the season finale. I do not intend to write Kate and Toby fanfiction, but I am willing to if they force my hand. Ditto Kevin and Sophie, and when are we going to get to see Rebecca and Miguel’s love story? I know he’s no Jack (who could be?) but he’s a good guy, and I am here for Rebecca having not one but two big loves in her life. Oh, and Uncle Nicky/Sally second chance, please. I think that’s all. :consults list: If they touch Beth/Randall, I riot. Oh, and that better be Malik who is Deja’s flash-forward partner.

Reading devices are loaded with next YA e-book, audiobook, and historical romance reads. Tomorrow, the libraries in our area open. One guess who is going to be there with a big tote bag.

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For clarity, I mean me, not Hillary Duff. Unless you’re in California. Then more likely her than me, but it’s a big state.

It’s the idea that counts. I have missed the library like I’d miss air if I were locked in a trunk. Tomorrow is a family day, but I have days after that blocked out on my calendar as Writing Days. Capitol W, capitol D. In boldface. Not only is there the draft to look over for Drama King (and my first ever crack at looking for sensitivity readers) but my return to A Heart Most Errant edits, and next up, a return to Her Last First Kiss, where I can make right what once went wrong.

This time, I am not overwhelmed. I am excited. My prep work for Queen of Hearts is underway. As I suspected, it would mosey on in when I was doing other things. That seems to be the way things work around here. My “A Working Day” playlist is playing (follow on Spotify if you want to know what the inside of my head sounds like.) I expect that it will grow, which is always a sign of life.

Appropriate for the start of a new month, at least for me. Regardless of what the calendar or almanac says, Memorial Day starts summer in our family. This year, though, I highly suspect that comfy apartment, shiny new laptop and a realistic writing plan will keep me well occupied for most of the season. After that, fall, and the return of my super powers, fall being my favorite season. It’s not that far away at all.

Spring Thaw?

This past weekend, I had a raging case of insomnia, felt-like-subzero temperatures, two clogged sinks, one smoke alarm that is lasagna-sensitive, one pair of glasses gone walkabout (and then brought back home) an opportunity to improve family communication, two power outages in the same day, and a general feeling of swamp-edness. In short, pretty much what one would expect for the end of February.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

All of this did tospyy-turv-i-fy my plans to kick butt and take names in the realm of double edits, and, after a talk with the magnificent Melva, sticking a toe into new writing for Queen of Hearts. :Ulp: This week also brought a-in retrospect, hilarious- DM conversation with a person inviting me to present a virtual workshop for Organization A, when I thought they were asking for Organization B, Oopsie. Thankfully, both parties were able to laugh about it, and there are now not one but two workshops in my reasonably near future, one in April, and one in one of the autumn months. More details on those as they are confirmed. Having a workshop to give in April makes up, to some degree, not being able to attend a regional RWA conference in person, like I did in the Before Times. Hopefully soon, we will be in the After Times, and I will once again be picking our conference shoes and packing an extra bag to bring home all the free swag and signed books.

Right now, I am looking at doing my start of week planning (writing related) in the middle of the week, which feels…weird. Chalk it up to the change of seasons. Before Times Me would be inclined to say “eh, this far into the week, write it off (no pun intended) and slack until Monday, then come out of the gate swinging.” Not going to lie, that option is still appealing. Especially so, since Real Life Romance Hero has the windows open, for some gorgeous fresh air, which we definitely couldn’t do back when the temperatures were in the single degrees. Welcome to March in New York.

March in New York means that leaving the house requires a few special considerations. Bring along your parka, bikini, umbrella, sunblock, hair ties (if your hair is long, because wind is brutal) plus sunglasses, a sweater or three, rain boots, and a travel mug that can handle hot and cold beverages, because there will be times during the day when you will want both. Possibly both at the same time, but we can’t have everything. Before I know it, there will be baby ducks i n the lake in the park that is a few minutes’ walk down the street. No Tulip Festival this year, because Covid, but I am expecting the flowers to be there anyway. Things are coming back, and I am happy to see them come as they will.

One thing that came back, unexpectedly, was watching TV. I binged the third season of Disenchantment. The end of that season came far too soon, so I am now in the position of finding another show to do the same thing, but this is why I set up my catchall journal/commonplace book with lists of shows and movies I want to see on the streaming services we have. Actually, there are a couple of titles I need to add. Maybe reading historical romance will be next. I did, however, finish Maya Rodale’s Dangerous Books For Girls , which is nonfiction about the stigma against romance novels, and where it came from, as well as how to handle it. Working on a review of that, but I do want to look through my reference books in storage and find some of my older books about the romance genre. Some things are wildly different than they were in the 80s and 90s, and some things never change. I have thoughts about all of it.

Spring is also time to check out all of the new pastel and floral stationery things that are coming out, beause pretty stationery makes me want to use all of it, which works out well when I am writing and editing a lot of things. Which is what I am doing, come to think of it. April is Camp NaNo, after all, and I think I want to participate this year. We’ll see how it goes. Sometimes preparing a project notebook is like getting a garden ready for planting season. At least that’s what I remember from what my mom used to do in the spring.

Spring is not my favorite season, but I do like the aspect of coming back to life, which is very much in line with a lot of my, well, life, these days. I don’t hate that. Also, I have hot pink kitty ear headphone with lights, so those alone are a fun reason to gt back to the keyboard. Pictures forthcoming.

Anna

End of Book Daze

2020 has been a ride, for sure and for certain, and perhaps the wildest thing of all is that, right now, I am furiously scrawling ink and pounding keys on my very last scene for the hero’s POV on Drama King. Yikes. This feels surreal, and about dang time. Wow. It’s not going to be the final scene of the book, as that honor goes to my amazing writing partner, Melva Michaelian, who I know is going to knock it out of the park and give me all of the feels.

The end of a book is a weird place to be. For the reader of a romance novel, there may be some sniffles, maybe a heart clutch, some laughs, depending on the sort of book, and/or situation, and, at the end of it all, is the tried and true, happily ever after. We know this couple is going to be together for the rest of their lives and they are very much okay with that. For the writer, there is all of that too, but a whole lot more.

Self-doubt is part of it for sure. Did we forget something? Are there dangling plot threads? How can we make this scene unique to these two lovers, to bring their individual arcs and their arc as a couple when this is literally the defining thing that makes a romance that makes a romance a romance. Okay, one of two. (1) the love story is the central focus, and 2) there is an emotionally satisfying and uplifting ending.)

Originally, I’d had the outline for the blog post I wanted to write here, spotlighting one of my planners for the coming year. That will still happen, but I have to get out of the fog first. Then I have some thoughts on the Bridgerton series on Netflix. I haven’t seen the series yet, and I didn’t originally plan to, but I don’t feel I can join the conversation without watching at least the first episode, to experience it for myself. I have not read the Bridgerton books proper, but I have read the four prequels about the previous generation, which was…okay. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, but those don’t have anything to do with the series, which I definitely want to watch while alone, and take pen and paper notes, because this could be a Thing. A good Thing. I hope. See self doubt above.

The end of one book always means, at least for me, the start of a new book. This time, it’s a return to Her Last First Kiss, which was put on pause, due to things like bedbugs, homelessness, shingles, anxiety, depression, and helping to clear out my bestie’s childhood home when her mom moved to a super nice apartment. We also ended up moving into a super nice apartment, which is my favorite place I have ever lived, so that’s pretty swell.

Melva and I had decided we wanted to wrap Drama King before the end of the year, because we both need a win, individually, and as a team, and it looks like that is actually going to happen. Huzzah. There are emails and DMs flying back and forth, and a good deal of my initial composition takes place from the safety of a blanket burrito, with spiral notebook and felt tip pen (and feline assistant providing soundtrack and extra warmth.) I have growled at family members to get out of my air space (yes, exact words) so that I can get the darned thing finished.

Today, that’s exactly what happened. Housemate conveyed Real Life Romance Hero to his place of employment, and promised to stay away until it was time to convey him back home again. There may or may not be prepared food coming with them. If not, RLRH will be cooking. I will not be cooking, because I know myself, and I will be, by that time, a wrong out washcloth, sad that I wrote my last scene for this book, and triumphant that I wrote my last scene for this book, I won’t say that I will miss Jack and Kelly, because Melva and I will be spending a lot of time with them as we edit and get them through the end of draft two.

It’s also time to look ahead to laying the framework for the next Love By the Book story, Queen of Hearts, with my first shot at writing the heroine of our couple. Heather is the sister of Dominic, the hero of Chasing Prince Charming, and I look forward to helping to guide her to her own happily ever after.

Love By The Book, #1

Once this scene is off to Melva, it’s time to turn my attention (after a nap!) to setting my writing goals for 2021. I’m treading a line between ambitious and realistic, and will probably end up somewhere in the middle, with a few stumbles along the way. It’s times like this when I remember my high school gym teacher, Ms. Napier. We weren’t close. I was probably a bane of her existence, as I loathed physical education as much as she loved it, and she loved it as much as I love writing romance. Even so, it’s her voice that comes into my head at this stage of the game, as it were. I can see the finish line. I can’t quit if I can see the finish line.

Where’s your finish line for 2020?

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.

Ten Random Things About Me and My Writing

The original plan for this past weekend was to have the apartment to myself, focus on the work that got pushed to the side by various domestic tornadoes, and greet Monday morning refreshed and current. Pause for hysterical laughter. The good thing is that I am up bright and early (or still up; not splitting hairs here) and ready to tackle Monday’s blog entry on Monday. Since coming up with a thoughtful, original blog idea is not up to my brain function at this level of caffeine, we get the wholly unoriginal Ten Random Things About Me (And My Writing.)

Thing the first: I am a big ol’ morning person. Make that extroverted morning person. This does point toward the ideal time to blog and tackle social media. Unless I only fell asleep in the wee small hours, I am up and ready to socialize at indecently early hours. I live with two non-morning-people, so imagine breakfast scenes at my place as you will.

Thing the second: I am currently watching exactly nothing on TV. I am at least one season behind on The Walking Dead, and will be going on a gigantic This Is Us binge when we get Hulu, but, right now, I don’t even know how to turn on our TV. This is odd. I do watch a bunch of YouTube, and I do a lot of scrolling through Netflix, but actually watching something? Ehh, maybe later. I do plan on watching the last season of A Series of Unfortunate Events at some point. I’m not sure what the cure to this viewing ennui might be. I figure it will show up when and where I expect it least.

Thing the third: I am not so slightly planner/notebook obsessed. Longhand over composing on computer, all day, every day, so this does tie in with writing, and I don’t acquire notebooks, etc, I don’t plan on using, but mention of pens and/or paper is a sure way to get my attention. Sifting through my planner/notebook stuff is also a surefire way to unstick the thought/writing process.If I post a lot about planners or notebooks, that means I am working something out, and there will be much writing of fiction thereafter.

Thing the fourth: My most recent purchase (actually currently pending) is a blush pink A5 Carpe Diem binder, gently used. Yes, I do have plans for it, and yes, they do involve writing.

Thing the fifth: My favorite colors are black, blush pink, and blackened reds. Blush pink and blackened reds can be considered opposite ends of the red spectrum, so black and red, for purists. Extend black into grays/greys, if we’re talking different values of color.

Thing the sixth: Romance has always been my genre, long before I was old enough to understand what it was. I credit Andrew Lang’s “color” series of fairy tale books. Many, many journeys to happily ever after, always in a “way back when” setting. I think I was hardwired for this stuff, right out of the gate.

Thing the seventh: Pretty much the same for history, thus historical romance. Writing contemporary took a little longer, and please direct thankblame to Melva Michaelian.  I would not be doing this without her.

Thing the eighth: The current writing process, when it comes to solo work (aka historical romance) is something akin to racing down the dock, cannonballing into the water, swimming around the whole darned lake, swimming back to the dock, crafting a meticulous map of said lake, and then diving back in, but this time with a sense of direction. For co-written works (at present, contemporaries with Melva) it works pretty much the same, but I tag my co-writer between dips in the lake; then it’s her turn. Insert shoving of metaphorical beach balls (fun fact: “the beach ball” was our code name for what would ultimately become Chasing Prince Charming,before it had a name.)

Thing the ninth: There is a manuscript that I will refer to only as The Time Travel (partly because it had several different titles, and partly because there is a chance that, if it hears its name, it might think I’m calling it) that worked me over rather thoroughly, mumblecough years ago. I still love the hero and heroine, and she, in particular, is probably going to come after me and finish the job if I don’t return to their story, but probably as a straight historical romance, rather than a time travel. Probably. We’ll see. Current projects first.

Thing the tenth: There will always be a part of me who is still that girl who set up TV trays and an electronic typewriter in her father’s living room, soundtrack to Camelot on the record player (yes, that long ago) and danced (ahem, wrote) like nobody was watching. She has an open invitation to drop by my writing sessions, any time.

Typing With Wet Claws: The Big One-One Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Normally, Anty makes me talk about her writing before I am allowed to talk about anything else, but this is a special occasion, so she is relaxing the rules a little bit, for this post only. That is because the reason this is a special post is because Valentine’s Day, February fourteenth, which was not my day to post, was also my birthday. It was probably my birthday. I was born wild, so my first vet had to guess how old I was when I got rescued, and by that guess, I was probably born sometime around February fourteenth, so that is when the humans decided they would celebrate my birthday.

This year, I hit the big one-one. That means I am eleven years old. A Level Eleven Feline, if you count in terms of levels instead of years. I think Level Eleven Feline sounds powerful. I will go with that way of counting. Some people say being a Level Eleven Feline makes me an experienced kitty, but I do not feel that way. The humans say I am their perpetual baby, and that, I agree with. They know me best. I do not like big fusses, so my birthday was pretty quiet. I had cat food and treat (I love cat food and treat) and I got to play my mousie game (I am super good at the mousie game) Here is a picture of me playing my mousie game on Uncle’s phone. He is my favorite, and I love him the most.

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Happy (probably) birthday to me.

There has been some talk about a pet-safe laser pointer, but I will believe that when I am chasing it around the living room. Until then, that glowy box mousie better run when he sees me coming. I will catch him one day. I thought I did, once, but it was actually one of my own floofs. I think that still counts.

Now for the Anty part of this post. As usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This time, she talked about um, grown up fun times in books. I, personally, am fixed, so some of that stuff goes right over my head. Also, I am short, so most things go right over my head anyway. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURtalkaboutsexscenes

Now we come to the part of the post where I tell you about Anty’s reading progress. I am not sure I counted everything this week, with the tail end of Anty’s cold, and my (probably) birthday and all of that, but, at current count, Anty is ahead of the numbers game, with twelve books read out of ninety for the year. This week, the books that she read and reviewed were:

GRiftheresnotomorrow

If There’s No Tomorrow, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

GRthetruthofrightnow

The Truth of Right Now, by Kara Lee Corthron

As you might have guessed, both of those books fit in the YA genre.  Anty has not forgotten our talk about reading more historical romance, and she actually has a plan in place to do exactly that.  Part of that plan will involve making a tracker, so that will combine two things Anty loves very much; historical romance and bullet journaling. She is reading some historical romance novels right now, and will have reviews on those, once she is finished reading them.  There will be much more time for reading, now that Anty is done watching a French TV show, called Les Revenants. That means “the returned,” or “the ghosts,” depending on how it’s translated (probably; I do not speak French. I speak kitty.) and it is scary but not bloody. Anty loves the dark aesthetic, both in subject matter and in the amount of light used in filming. There is an American remake, that only lasted one season. Anty is kind of watching that, too, but she likes the French version better, and will probably watch that again.

Anty is paying special attention, right now, to the kinds of stories she likes to read and watch, and making notes about what it is that she likes about them. Some of this will come into play when Anty teaches her workshop with Charter Oak Romance Writers next month. Anty thinks it is very important for writer type humans to take in the kinds of stories they want to write, and to be aware of what sorts of things make them excited about putting into their own stories. This all requires very close attention for a mews, which means I had better step up my game in reminding Anty how much I hate the office carpet, and want it gone, so that I can sit right next to her chair and send love beams from the shortest possible distance. Anty says she is concerned that she might roll over my tail, because I am a ninja kitty, and do not always let her know when I am right next to her. She may have a point there. My tail is very fluffy, but I do want to be as close to Anty as possible. I may have to think about this in more detail. (So that I do not get de-tailed, in the process.)

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

skyebye2018

 

Blabbity Blab, Theory and Practice

Helpful hint: going out to do laundry and run errands in the freezing rain does not hasten Martian Death Cold out the door any more quickly. Even so, I think I’m going to live. Right now, I’m at my desk, the too-bright sun that comes after yesterday’s lovely greyness, poking through the slats in the blinds. Wind is whipping the branches outside. The big candle is pretty well burned down, which means it is probably time for a new big candle, or at least a nice votive or tealight. My mug is empty now, and I am debating whether it is time to put the kettle on for more tea, or to grab my water bottle.

In short, it’s a winter Monday. Outside my closed office door, there are cat and Real Life Romance Hero. On today’s schedule: this blog entry, then work on the second batch of edits/rewrites for Chasing Prince Charming. I have my weekly Skype conference with Melva tonight, and breakfast with N tomorrow, so I need to get some Her Last First Kiss in there somewhere. The temptation to burrow into a blanket nest and binge watch the remaining episodes of Les Revenants (creepy French drama, on Netflix, which I deeply love, and will probably gush about in more detail at a later date) is strong, though not as strong as the biggest lesson I took away from this past weekend’s CR-RWA meeting; treat writing like a business.

That means that writing time is writing time, and nothing else happens during that time. New rule for this week: blog entries get one hour of my writing time, maximum. This may result, at least in the near future, to an increase in free form rambling, but that kind of stuff tends to sort itself out in time, with the right amount of practice.

My original plan was to have a defined topic for this blog entry, but I got to sleep at the lovely hour of four in the morning, because Martian Death Cold does not respect circadian rhythms, and I am burning too-bright daylight here.  I am looking forward to seeing what Melva has don e on this next chunk of Chasing Prince Charming, and what notes she’s made on my segments, so I can do my share in making a good thing even better. I actually like rewriting. Sometimes, I like rewriting more than writing. There’s less pressure, and I’m not as concerned about making everything perfect, as I am when creating a first draft.

That seems somewhat backward, as the whole point of revising/rewriting is to make the writing better, but go figure. Writers are weird. Granted, we are at the part of the book where there are not a lot of changes to make, and we are likely approaching the section that is going to need the most work. Stay tuned for that one, because there will probably be much to say on that matter.  There may or may not be muffled sobbing at some point, but we have our sights set on the end of March to get the whole thing spiffed and back to the lovely people at The Wild Rose Press, and we’ll see how that goes.

For today, I have fewer than two hundred words to get to my magic seven hundred, which, thanks to some scheduling math, figured out in the margins of my notes from Saturday’s CRRWA meeting, now means at least seven hundred words in sixty minutes, tops. This is where preparation would come in super handy, So would another bag of sugar free cherry cough drops, because I recently squeezed said bag, and the cough drop count has gone down to three. I am good on tissues, though, which may come in handy if I hit on any especially emotional parts of the manuscript this afternoon. I would give it fairly high odds, because I know this story, I know Melva, and I know me. It’s pretty much a sure thing, and I am more than okay with that.

Almost to the magic seven hundred. I want to promise that Wednesday’s post will be more structured (unless anybody actually looks forward to my free-form rambles, in which case, today is your day. Break out the bubbly.) Blabbity blab, theory and practice, hey, look, there we go, enough words now. Time to open the file and see what wonders may be wrought.

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

 

White Space

This is the view from our balcony this morning:

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I don’t know what it is about this season that snow days and sick days tend to fall on the same day, but, as the sugarless cherry cough drops on my desk indicate, that’s what we’ve got. Domestic tornadoes are not gone, but are slowing, and coming farther apart, which does leave more wiggle room, and time, for that writing thing I have heard I do.

On Monday’s Skype session with Melva, we went over our plan to revise and resubmit Chasing Prince Charming. If things go according to plan, which they should, we should be done by the end of March. That seems both very soon and very far away. We also decided that we were having too much fun with Drama King to truly put it aside while we work on the revisions, so we will continue, albeit at a more relaxed pace, until the revisions are done.

At my Tuesday breakfast with N, we both set goals for getting our current (solo) projects in gear. For her, it’s mapping out exactly what’s needed to tie up all loose ends in her contemporary romance, and, for me, it’s getting back to serious work on Her Last First Kiss. We talked, a lot, about what it takes to bring a story from okay to special. It’s not only words on a page, though that is obviously important, but the life in the characters, so that readers care about their story, what happens to them, if they’ll get what they want. Even though we’re both writing romance, which means that yes, our lovers will absolutely end up together at the end, and be happy about it, the very best books have that moment of “oh crap, maybe they can’t.” Getting them from that point to “heck, yes, they did,” that’s the best part. That’s the goal.

With all of the above, March is going to be full, with not only a lot of writing, but my online workshop with Charter Oak Romance Writers, Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys, but Eryka Peskin’s free workshop, 31 Days and 32 Ways to Jump-start Your LifeLi’l blurb on that one, in Eryka’s own words, here:

Find out how transforming your relationship with your health, money, activism, spirituality, love, mindset and more can jumpstart your LIFE and change the world. For more info and to sign up, go to http://eepurl.com/bAQ0jf

It starts March 1st, so make sure you sign up right away!

I’m not sure yet, if the NECRWA conference is going to be possible this year, but I am (mostly) okay with that, because there’s no way to sell a book that isn’t written, and very few first drafts are ready to make the cut. This may require figuring out other ways to see my conference people, which is not a bad thing.

That’s all the future, though, and, since the snowstorm and cold have teamed up to nix plans for the afternoon and evening, what I have for the present is a large supply of tea, warm, fuzzy blankets, and a fully stocked Kindle, along with a TBR shelf that mocks me, from its space behind my office chair. Since I know me, there will also be a notebook or legal pad, and a handful of pens. The only big question I have today, is “what?”

Sick snow days are perfect fro TV/Netflix bingeing, but my search for something braimless I could background watch, and possibly nap through, led me to Les Revenants, a French drama that is, you guessed it, in French. Also, not dubbed. I do not speak French. I can pick out a few words, but that’s it. Thankfully, there are English subtitles, but that means actually looking at the screen.

Okay, there’s reading, then, and I do not lack for books, nor, specifically, historical romance books, but I want a particular sort, and I don’t feel like sifting through the TBR shelf or doing internet research. This may mean that a chunk of the day is spent curled under one of aforementioned fuzzy blankets, with aforementioned cup of tea, pen and paper within reach, and staring at Skye, the living room in general, or the insides of my eyelids. I call this white space.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is nothing. Not exactly nothing, obviously, because blanket and tea and kitty who loves playing computer games, but the hitting pause on the plan to get from here to there, and letting the brain settle. Letting it sift through all the stuff that is rolling around in there, pushed out of the way by things like trash day and rescheduling doctor appointments and crunching numbers, and what and how much to make for dinner, depending on who’s going to be home and/or awake.

White space is quiet. It’s still. It’s snow falling outside, and the voices in my head (aka characters, aka story people, aka imaginary friends, aka fill in your own term here) wandering about at will. Sometimes this focuses on the current project, but usually not. It’s touching the past and the future at once, and it may result in a few notes, or a few pages, or a few dozen pages, but that’s not a requirement. white space usually comes to a natural end, stuff sorted out, and ready (perhaps after a nap, or reading a few chapters, or watching an episode or two of subtitled TV) to take on the next adventure. Not a bad journey to take from the depths of a comfy chair.

 

Somewhere In Between

This is a very Monday-feeling Wednesday. No need to go into details, but I know that, on the other side of this entry, there is a trip to the library, and there is nothing better than an entire building full of books (and, hopefully, series four and five of Being Human‘s UK edition; I’m watching the US version right now, and it’s good, but not the same.) I am not going to count the number of false starts I have had on today’s entry, and no idea when I am actually going to post the entry still owed from last Monday, but these things have a way of righting themselves.

Making a segue to books not writing themselves would be a natural transition, but I’m not feeling that right now. I would make tea, but there isn’t enough time for tea and putting on outside clothes and/or makeup, and making tea, even if I drank it on the fly, so the only answer is to power through, post, and then go to the library and browse some stacks. When putting out creativity gets difficult, that usually means it’s time to take something in, instead.

I’ve done a lot of putting out today, already. I wrote my regular morning pages, and then double morning pages, for the writing workshop I am taking this month. Those pages are writing about writing, and then, if I still have time left in the hour set aside for workshop stuff, then I need to keep writing, on or about my current projects. So far, this week, it’s been about, though I would prefer on, but that happens sometimes. Best thing to do in these cases is not to push things. Take a break, read a book, watch a movie, play a game, and know that the story will come back.

There’s a cycle to this sort of thing, a natural rhythm. Domestic tornadoes are still passing through, though some days are less tornado=ey than others. Some days are somewhere in between. My educated guess is that today is one of those. The fact that it is a Monday-feeling Wednesday should be an indication, and then there’s the whole write tons of morning pages about writing, and balk at the mere thought of writing a blog entry about writing about writing.

There are other things that can fit in this blog. I can write about books and writers that have influenced me and my writing, talk about writing the books/stories I’ve already written, and about the books I’m writing now. The Christmas story is happening this year, though I still have absolutely no idea of the setting or idea or characters, but I want this year to be the year I tick Christmas story off my list (or first Christmas story, I should say, because I have heard these things can be addictive) and, most importantly, getting my time and energy refocused on a career in commercial fiction (specifically romance, specifically historical romance on my own, as well as my collaborations with Melva Michaelian.)

Some days are easy, to put the pen to the page, and some are more nothing doing, put feet up, boot Netflix or Kindle, or pick up a paperback and take a sniff of that heady book smell and remind self what it is about fiction that is so great that the trip back to regular writing after (or, and sometimes especially during) a real life detour is worth the trip. Other days are in between. They involve liberal use of the backspace key, eraser, or violent striking out of words that do not look as great on the page as they did in one’s head. I think this is one of those.

I’m not complaining. These in between days mean that I am leaving the one place and moving toward the other. They mean moving forward, even when I don’t feel like it. There’s still time left in the day, and, if more writing about writing comes into my brain, I am going to honor it, get it all down, and skim it off the surface of my story brain, which I will nourish with books and streaming TV and cups of tea and an office buddy who is always ready to help:

100118SkyeOMalleycat

You got this, Anty.

This post isn’t my favorite, and it didn’t add new pages to any existing (or new) manuscript, but it still counts as writing, and that’s good enough for today.

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

Middle of the Week, End of the Day

Middle of the week, and, once again, I am making this blog entry at the end of the day instead of the beginning of it. This bothers me, but, if I’m staying with the common threads theme, so the later posting time gets reframed as in keeping with the theme.

Yesterday was critique meeting day, with N, who also attended the workshop where we had to find common threads in our favorite viewing matter. Naturally, we had to compare lists. They were different, no choices in common, though we were more or less familiar with each other’s choices, or could fill in the blanks enough to get the gist of what appealed to the individual.

What we both agreed on, though, was that we would have liked to have made longer lists. The more examples, the easier it is to spot a pattern, but five was a good number when discussing in small groups. We also discussed the criteria for giving something favorite status. Does it have to be something watched multiple times, or can we count the moment when, during a first viewing, that we know a moment on the screen (or page) has crossed the border from something we watch or read, to something that is a part of us. Sometimes, a moment is all it takes.

Two characters who wouldn’t appear to be potential romantic partners at first lock eyes in the right circumstances, maybe brush hands in the briefest of touches, and that’s it. Boom. Never saw it coming, but, now, we will go down with this ship. A car drives around a bend in the road, we see the first view of the stately manor house, and now a part of our heart will always live there, no matter what else happens, in the story, or in life. Scenes stick in our mind. Sometimes, they hang out there for a long time, waiting for other pieces of the puzzle, to join them and become something new.

Both N and I discussed keeping longer lists of these films and TV that catch our interest on that level, and how I expand the concept in my Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys workshop, to include not only visual media, but books, music, and other miscellaneous media – computer games, graphic novels, etc. On the surface, they may not seem like they have much in common, but get them all in one place, and start looking for the common threads, and, surprise, there they are. Later that same day, I chatted with another friend, H, who mentioned a new option in a favorite game. It now has an arctic survival factor. Sold. I don’t need to hear any more than that. The first novel-length fanfic I ever wrote was set on an arctic world, for the mere reason that I love snow. If I have to create an alien world, there is going to be snow on it. Everywhere on it.

I love the idea of core story, not that it’s a formula, or one author doing the same thing time and again, but that readers know what they’re getting from a particular author. Hopefully, it’s the stuff that the author loves, and, ideally, at the spin-around-in-a-field-of-daisies level. Readers can tell. Trust me on that. For me, that basically breaks down to include (but not limited to) the following:

  • full immersion historical atmosphere – this is far past long dresses on the female characters. I’m talking the era as almost a character in itself, where characters think and act like people of their time. I want to be steeped in the period, feel it in my blood, and, for the space of the story, live in that world instead of our own. I have my favorite eras, but as long as we get full immersion, I can go pretty much anywhere/when.
  • star-crossed lovers who make it work – this is my catnip. If I could only write one kind of story for the rest of my life, this would be it. Give me two lovers who belong together, but have the entire world against them (or so it seems) only to find out that the world is no match for true love. I am perfectly fine if this takes years, or, in the case of sagas, decades. Hard-earned happily ever afters are my favorites.
  • house as character – do not get me started on this one. Usually a stately English home, but there are a few on the other side of the Atlantic as well. Double points if this is in a generational saga, and we get to see the house change with the different generations of occupants. Triple points if house falls out of family’s possession, and then back in after some time away. If I ever (who are we kidding, when) I get to write a family saga, there is going to be at least one of these in there.
  • survivor characters – I like my people to go through some stuff. Their emotional baggage, more times than not, comes in coordinated ensembles and may, in fact, need a luggage cart, or small pack animal, to carry it through the whole book. Hauling around all that baggage does develop some emotional muscles.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, though that may be something to consider as I study the idea of core story. Always good to know what tools are in one’s toolbox. What’s in yours?