Typing With Wet Claws: Three Days to Christmas Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is really almost Christmas now, because today is Friday, and Christmas is Monday. Anty and Uncle have been doing a lot of human stuff to set up for the year ahead, but they did remember to get me a big bag of treat, so I can forgive them. There have also been rumors of turning on space heater and letting me watch special movies that are made only for kitties, on Anty’s tablet for Christmas. This meets with my approval, but more on that after I get the other stuff out of the way, first.

The deal with me getting control of the blog once a week (at least) is that I have to tell readers where they can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, besides here, before I can talk about other (more interesting) things (like me; everybody loves kitties.) This week, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. Her post this week was about holiday magic. You will have to go read the post if you want to find out what kind of holiday magic she means (hint: there is more than one kind.) That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURholidaymagic

Even though I said I was done with reporting Anty’s reads for 2017, since she has already met her goal, she is kind of kicking backside with the reading, as you can see here:

GRreadinggoals

We will have a few words, later, on the YA to historical romance balance, but, even though this was a very full week for Anty with non-book-related things, she still managed to read and review Things I’m Seeing Without You, by Peter Bognanni. That review is here, and it looks like this:

GRthingsimseeingwoyou

Our Christmas tree, which is now up, looks like this:

Christmastree2017

The snowflakes are a frame for the picture; they are not really inside our house. There is snow outside our house, though, because it is snowing as I write this. We are nice and warm inside, so I do not mind the snow. Anty likes it, and it helps her feel energized. Some humans, like Uncle, find that the wintertime makes them miss sunshine, but, for Anty, it is the other way around. Anty loves when it is cold and grey and snowy. That is a very good thing where writing is concerned.

This has not been the easiest year for that, but there is a whole new year ahead, and Anty is looking forward to that. For the next few days, though, it is all about Christmas. I will make sure that includes time for Anty to burrow under a fuzzy blanket and read some Chrisrmas romances, and maybe watch one of her favorite Christmas movies. She has seen only one so far this season, and it made her laugh, but probably not in the way the creative team intended.

Tomorrow, Anty will do laundry and bake Christmas cookies. These are both very good things for her writer brain, because they let the front part of her brain focus on the thing that she is doing (for example, washing clothes, or baking cookies) and that is the time that her imaginary friends (some people call them “characters”) get to play in the back part of her brain. To some, this does not look like anything other than washing clothes or baking cookies, but writer humans understand that there is something more at work here. Writer humans know that this is part of the writing process, even when it is farther along than a first draft.

Sometimes, this is part of re-connecting with the story after real life demands the writer’s time, and sometimes, it is some special one on one time (or one on two, because romances generally involve two humans besides the writer) with the writer and their characters. Of course, there are times when all it is, is laundry or cookies, which are both good things on their own, but, when it comes to writing, there is usually something else going on, and that is usually how it goes with Anty. When she is baking cookies, then I can be in the kitchen with her, to supervise. Sometimes, she will talk out loud about the story and tell me parts of it. Other times, she is all in her own head, with or without music playing on her phone.

Somewhere in all of that, connections are made that she might have missed if she were actively looking for them. I do not know exactly how that works, but it does. When it is a holiday, that can get magnified, so I would not be surprised if some of that reading time under Anty’s fuzzy blanket turned into writing time instead (or alongside it.) Either way, clean clothes and cookies can only help.

In the meantime, forget Disneyland. The real happiest place on Earth for me is with my Uncle. I do not normally like being picked up, but, sometimes, it happens. This week, it did, and I got to be in Uncle’s arms. I will stay with him longer than I will stay with any other human, because he is my favorite, and I love him the most. Other kitties can have Santa pictures, but I will take my Uncle picture over that, any day. I mean, look at him:

SkyeOMalleyCatWithUncle

Anty, Uncle, Mama and I, all hope that, whatever holiday you are celebrating this season, you are doing it with those that you love. A few good romance novels wouldn’t hurt, either, because those things are all about love. Seriously. I can recommend Anty’s.

That is about it for this week. Until next week, I remain Very Truly Yours,

skyebyenew

see you next week

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Heroinecentric

The image in the desktop wallpaper I am currently using is not me, nor is it mine. (It isfrom Pinterest, and it is here.) The notebook, with the Eiffel Tower and the woman with the red umbrella is, again, not me, not my picture, but it is my notebook, because I bonded with it, sitting there in a travel themed display in Barnes and noble. The notebook was sitting there in the display, I should mention. I was standing on the floor, like a normal person. Like a  normal person. Writers are not normal people. Some of us bond with notebooks in bookstore displays, for one thing. That should be an indicator right there, forming bonds with inanimate objects.

Not that it’s the objects themselves (not all the time, anyway) but what the objects represent, and, if they have one (or more) of the writer’s favorite motifs, then chances for bonding are higher. In this case, both images show a lone female figure, facing away from the viewer, and there is some sort of inclement weather situation. There is also outerwear. Throw those all together, maybe toss in a dreamy sort of filter, and it is a perfect storm. That sucker will draw me like an industrial strength magnet.

I don’t know when I first noticed that I liked this sort of image, but it does fit with my preference for stories, especially historical romance, that are heroine-centric. Not that I’m not into the dudes. Real Life Romance Hero is a dude. In fact, he is my favorite dude, and that includes all dudes who ever duded, hence his status as Real Life Romance Hero. Most of the romances I’m into include a dude, and so do the romances I write. I, however, am not myself a dude (RLRH can attest to this) which may be part of the reason I gravitate to heroines first, most of the time.

Not that I don’t love the heroes in my (and others’) books. That’s kind of mandatory when writing romance. These are 100% the heroine’s guys, but I have to be in author-love with them, or it’s going to be difficult to get said dudes to their HEA in believable fashion. I need to fall in love with them through the heroine’s eyes, because, let’s face it, she’s really the one who’s in love with them, and it’s her HEA as much as his. Theirs. This is not my day for pronouns, at least not until I have had more caffeine.

As far back as I can remember, it’s been the heroines that are my anchors to stories, whether read or written. The heroine’s skin is the first one I tend to climb into when I write, though there are exceptions. The hero and heroine of Her Last First Kiss came to me at the same time (convenient when they’re considerate like that, and, with these two, I would like to say that they walked into my office, already holding hands, though they don’t even know each other for the first couple of chapters. Time works differently for this sort of thing, but that’s another story.) and there is one back-burnered story, another Georgian historical romance, where the hero crashed what was supposed to be a regularly scheduled writing session for A Heart Most Errant, a medieval, turned the chair opposite me around, straddled it, and informed me I’d be writing about him that day, instead. Can’t argue with a hero like that, though, and, since I write romance, I knew that a heroine befitting him would not be far behind. (Spoiler alert: she wasn’t, and I look forward to getting back to their story soon.)

One of these days, I am going to track down the blog post (and do not ask me on what blog, because, at this point, I am starting to think it was probably a guest post) where Ilona Andrews wrote about teacup romances (books where characters, especially the heroine, could carry a cup of tea throughout the entire book and never spill a drop) and slapping kings (self-explanatory) and probably print it out and post it where I can see it every day, because yes. This. (Well, That.) As much as I love tea, and, generally being British, and generally living in periods when tea was known to and available in the British Isles (and other parts of the empire) they do drink tea, which therefore means that they are likely to carry teacups at some point, if I have a choice between carrying teacups and slapping kings, it’s king slapping, every time. Full disclosure: I have not read any of Ilona Andrews’ novels, as SF/F can be a hard sell for me, but never say never. I suspect I might like the kind of heroine she writes. (They write, as Ilona-the-writer is really Ilona and Gordon.)

There’s one more thing that draws me to these sorts of images, and, perhaps, to these sorts of stories. I love the heroine’s journey. Life was not always as easy for women in previous eras (not that it’s a cakewalk now, by any means) and finding out how the heroine is going to get what she wants, within the strictures of her time and society has always caught my interest. Figures, then, that when I need to figure out things in a story of my own, getting outside and taking a good long wander usually gets things going. So far, I have not been able to convince any photographers to follow me, but, again, never say never. For romance heroines, (and, one would hope, their writers) anything is possible.

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Somewhere in our family photos, there is a picture of baby me, all of two months old, dressed in red velvet dress, with poofy white sleeves, under my very first Christmas tree. Since that album is in storage, I can’t include that picture here, but I do remember the look of utter befuddlement on my face, the baby version of “WTF is going on here?” Granted, two-month-olds have that reaction to a lot of things, because, at that age, basically everything rocks their worlds, because they are only two months old and literally everything is new.

It has been a while since then. The tree is not yet up in the living room of present-day me and family, but fingers crossed for tonight. We do have the white lights around the arches that connect living room to dining room and Real Life Romance Hero’s office, and Skye frequently has her hopeful/worried look, so, in that way, the circle is complete.

RLRHoffice

This entry is my fifth attempt at blogging today, and, whatever it turns out to be, this is what I’m sticking with, because, otherwise, we edge into overthinking territory, and I am not willing to do that. Not one week before Christmas. Okay, not any other time, but I am going to hang onto the Christmas cause for right now, and trust that it’s going to take me in the right direction.

As of today, I am two stories and change into my first Christmas historical romance anthology of the season. Late start for me, but I did read one independent novella already, so maybe the start isn’t that late after all. I still have my annual viewings of Love Actualy and The Holiday to fit in somewhere, not to mention Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (which was, incidentally, the first movie I ever saw.) RLRH is doing much better, back at work, and wrangling a few household things. My cold is on its way out, and we are now in the last week before my favorite holiday of the year.

This year is going to be an intimate holiday, with immediate family only, which is fine, because it’s been a stressful few months, and we’re all tired. Since past experience tells me there will be a point where the other humans will retreat to their neutral corners, (no telling who Skye will follow) odds are good that I will have some free time on Christmas day. Part of this, I have no doubt, will be spent watching a movie with a friend, over Skype, and there is every chance that I will, at some point, dress my Sims in ugly Christmas sweaters and make them have a more raucous celebration than there will be in what is commonly called “the real world.”

The other thing, that I know for sure is going to happen, is that I am going to drop in on some of my imaginary friends for their Christmas celebrations. I’ve always done that, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Since one of my goals for 2018 is to write a Christmas story, the first step along that trail is to identify what kind of Christmas stories I like to read. That’s probably the sort of story I would like to write, as well.

So far, I’ve got “historical.” That’s a given, because I am me, and the time period will likely be sometime between the medieval era and the end of the eighteenth century. Out of that selection, I like the Tudor era the best, but not picking teams at this time. Too early in the game for that, but narrowing the scope down to a span of a few centuries is a good place to start.

Since star-crossed lovers who make it work is my all time favorite trope, that’s another likely suspect, and, when working with the shorter length of a novella, having the two lovers have a previous or existing relationship comes in handy. Second chance at love (with the same person?) could fit in nicely here. There are a few couples who have been bopping around inside my head for up to double digit years, who might appreciate a chance to come out and play in the snow, so that would also count as a bit of prep work done ahead of schedule. Which ones, though? That’s the question, and there is ample time to figure it out. This may or may not involve American Idol type auditions in my head (Christmas Romance Idol, anyone?) but I would not consider that a bad thing.

I do not currently own a red velvet anything, and outright refuse to wear puffy sleeves, and the only way I would fit under our current Christmas tree (once we set it up for this year) is if we put it on the window seat and I sit on the floor in front of the radiator (which is actually pretty cozy this time of year) I suspect that I may, on occasion, have the grown-up version of the WTF face from my first Christmas, as I embark upon the adventure of my first Christmas romance. I think that’s part of the process.

I should probably start writing this down somewhere, maybe even in one of the extra special notebooks I’ve been saving for exactly the right project. Newsflash: there may be no such thing as exactly the right project, but there are projects that become exactly what they should be, with time and attention, and, maybe a dash of the Christmas spirit.

 

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Ten Days to Christmas Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for our regularly scheduled Feline Friday. It has been a quiet week here, as Uncle continues to get better, Anty continues to battle the cold, and Mama gives both of them a wide berth, because somebody has to be healthy in this family. With the lack of human supervision, I have found the winter and holiday frames for pictures, so I will play with those for a while. Nobody here is going to stop me.

Even though I am not supposed to talk about anything else before I tell readers where they can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs (besides here, though even this is mostly me, this week) I do not think she will mind me taking a minute to wish Happy Hannukah to all of our Jewish and Messianic friends. Hannukah is a wonderful time of year, filled with the richness of history, the importance of faith, and, best of all, dreidels, which are the perfect size and shape for kitties to bat around the floor, especially when the humans are all in bed. Our family is not Jewish, so I have not had the pleasure myself, but that is what I have heard from kitties whose families are. Happy Hannucat, and bop one under the couch for me, okay?

This week, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about the gift of romance, in more ways than one. What ways you ask? Pop on over to Anty’s post, and see. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURthegiftofromance

Now it is time to talk about Anty’s progress on Goodreads. Since she has already read past her goal of ninety books for the year, we can count that a success and start looking ahead to next year. Anty did not get a lot of reading done this week, understandably (although she did make good use of Netflix, and has been taking some good naps) but she did read her ninety-second book of the year, and wrote a review. That review is here, and it looks like this:

GRthedisenchantments

Anty has been eyeing a few historical romances as she battles this cold, so I am sure that she will have more to say on that front by this time next week. Writing should be better this week, as well, as Anty gets her brain back, Uncle returns to work, and the Christmas season kicks into gear. Normally, by this time, Anty is in full Christmas mode, but it has been an unusual week. There are, as of yet, no decorations up, but Anty plans to get things more festive looking by the start of the new week. She had better, because that is the last week before Christmas. She has pulled off better in less time, so I have no doubts. A couple showings of Love Actually and The Holiday, and she should be good to go.

One encouraging sign in that direction is that, today, Anty finished writing in her overflow notebook. Every morning, Anty writes morning pages, and when she is done with those morning pages, she has to stop. Sometimes, though, she does not want to stop, or she wants to do a brain dump at a time that is not morning. That is where the overflow book comes into play. Anty first started writing in this book in 2010.

Overflowbook151217

I do not mean that it took Anty seven years to fill one notebook. She was not sure at first what she wanted to use this notebook for, so she had several false starts. She would write a few pages, feel it was not right, stop, put it away, sometimes for years, and then take it out, to try again. At first, it was lists of things Anty likes, then some other things, and, in time, it became the overflow book. Today, when she saw she had only a couple of pages, she used those pages to set some writing goals for the year to come.

I will let Anty tell you about those in a future blog entry, but she likes that she was able to write down some concrete goals on the last page of a book she started a long time ago, not knowing what the book’s purpose would be. Now, she gets to look through her notebook stash and pick another. I do not think it will take her seven years to fill this next book, especially since she now knows what an overflow book is.

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

skyebyenew

see you next week

 

Sixty-Two

This time, I am not bothering to move the tissues out of the picture. They are part of my life now. Many thanks to Skye for filling in for me on Tuesday. I am somewhat more vertical today (somewhat) and Real Life Romance Hero is doing quite well. Today, mostly, I have been forgetting where I leave my tea mug (Real Life Romance Hero says he always knows) which results in me wandering the length of the apartment, wondering where I left the darned thing, hoping I can find it before it gets cold and I have to make more tea. So far, I have found my mug on top of the dresser outside of Housemate’s room, on the edge of the bathroom sink, and on the shelf in front of the doors on the china cabinet in the hallway. That’s only today.

Needless to say, if I can’t keep track of a mug of tea (anybody who knows my love of tea can attest to this) keeping track of fictional characters is a stretch, so this is not my best novel-writing day. Which means, of course, that I turn to my next big love, planning. Back in June, I stuck my foot in the bullet journal waters, and now, as we approach the end of the year, I am also approaching the end of the first notebook I set aside to track various aspects of life, and of the writing life.

So far, I have not found a writing tracker that works, which is okay. That means I am ruling out trackers that do not work, and my right one is out there somewhere. Not all of my trackers are going to make it to the 2018 book, but all have served a purpose. When I sat down to decide what would carry over and what would not, it felt natural to divide things into categories. That way, all the health pages could be together, all the writing pages could be together, all the reading pages, etc, etc, etc. After figuring out which sorts of pages I wanted to make for the new notebook, I had to figure out how many pages I’d need to set aside for each one. This involved counting and math.

I do not trust my counting, and I am not great at math. Prevailing theory is that I opted out of the math unit, and had extra stories take up that brain space instead. At least that’s the explanation that makes the most sense. I would mention how many times I went over these numbers, but, again, math and counting, and, when I finally noticed that the edge of overthinking loomed perilously close, I came up with a good enough number, sixty-two. Really? Was I sure? Eh, not entirely, but again, good enough.

So. Sixty-two pages, to keep track of goals and essential information. Some of that is personal, so, instead, we are going to skip right to the important stuff. Writing and reading. My reading tracker, for pages read and books read, are carrying over, because I hit the right ones the first time. The writing trackers, ehhh, I found two this year, that don’t work. I’m disappointed at that. Somewhere in those sixty-two pages, there should be something to track what I love to do the most, and what I am fully intending to make my life’s work. I have six pages allotted for that, though exactly what is going to be on those six pages, I have no idea.

This both bothers and excites me. Bothers, because I like to know what’s going to happen before it happens, and excites me because it means there are unlimited possibilities (except for the two trackers I tried already; sorry, guys) ahead. That’s kind of like my writing process in general. Right now, I know that, in 2018, I want to get the second draft of Her Last First Kiss finished and off on submission, or figure out an indie publishing plan. I want to get A Heart Most Errant to good enough status and off to its very patient beta readers. I want Melva and I to complete a first draft of Drama King, and, hopefully, find a home for Chasing Prince Charming. I would like to write a historical romance Christmas story, and find that a home. Finding a new freelance blogging gig would be pretty sweet, too, so we’ll put that on the list.

That’s good enough for now. If those are the goals, then the way to get there is clear. Take one step at a time, in that direction, and try not to over think it. There is a Yoda voice in the back of my head, that says “do or do not, there is no try,” but I’m not listening to Yoda right now. Part of that is due to a stuffy head from this cold, and part of it is due to stubbornness from being me.  I don’t know what 2018 is going to hold, and I do know that it probably won’t fit neatly into sixty-two pages, but that’s okay. The discovery is part of the journey.

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Special Snow Day Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for a special Tuesday edition of Typing With Wet Claws. This entry is already special, because it is Tuesday instead of Monday, and it is special because I am blogging for Anty. It is also special because today is a snow day. Anty loves snow days. My picture today was taken when Anty informed me I would be blogging today, instead of her. There are a couple of reasons I am writing her blog today.

Yesterday, we took Uncle to the Right Now Human Vet. He did come home, and was not wearing a cone of shame, so I gather they helped him feel better. He is napping right now, but he people vets are very good at making humans feel better. Anty is not napping, even though she is tired, because she has a cold.  It is the kind of cold that makes her forget where she put things (including important things like her water bottle and box of tissues) and she is not sure if she wants to wash the mountain of laundry or stick a flag in it and claim it for Mars. Claim them for Mars, really, because there are two laundry baskets, but only one is overflowing. I think they smell fine, but the humans have other ideas. I do not understand humans.

Even though Anty took a picture of me waking up from a nap, she would not let me take a picture of her in return. At least I think that is Anty under the pile of blankets. Every once in a while, a hand comes out from the blanket pile, to grab a tissue or book, so it is probably her. She may drag herself to her desk and make some attempts at writing. Her desk currently looks like this.

Deskscape121217

Anty insisted on removing the tissue box before taking this picture.

When Anty first dragged herself out of bed this morning, the outside looked like this:

Snowscape121217

This is the view from our balcony. I am not allowed on our balcony.

Anty loves snow, and she especially loves snow days, when plans get canceled because there is so much of the white stuff on the ground that humans (I should say most humans) prefer to stay inside rather than go out in all of that. Since I was rescued when I was six months old, I have never been outside in winter, so this is all hearsay, but I have been told that white stuff is cold, and makes snowballs on the fur of us fuzzy kitties who do go outside. No, thank you. I will stay inside, sit in front of space heater, and ask Anty to turn it on for me. Not for the humans (okay, maybe Uncle, because he is my favorite and I love him the most.) For me. We cats put the “creature” in “creature comforts.”

Normally, Anty would be out in all that white stuff, probably taking pictures, and, in the best of all possible worlds, she would somehow manage to time things so she could walk through all the holiday lights in the park, at sundown, with a takeout cup of hot cocoa from her favorite coffee house, to fuel her. That is not happening today. What is happening today, instead, is that she will stay inside and drink a lot of liquids, stay under her blanket pile, and read books. I, as her dedicated mews, will stick close by, in case she needs comfort, inspiration, or love beams. Unless Uncle gets up, that is, because he is my favorite and I love him the most.

Anty can still have the hot chocolate, because we have some in the pantry, and there is an outside chance (pun intended) that she may pile on the outerwear and head to the laundromat anyway, because 1) Anty does not appreciate the fragrance of a good laundry pile, and 2) she actually finds laundry relaxing, and uses the wash and dry times to read and write. Both of those things are things that she can do here, with me nearby, so I do not see the need for venturing out.

What I do see the need for, and I think Anty would agree, is taking advantage of what might seem like downtime. We cats know that naps are important. We did put the “cat” in “catnap,” after all, and it is often in those quiet moments, where a person is not really awake and not really asleep, maybe even a little fuzzy-headed, (by this, I mean inside their brain, not fuzzy like kitty fur) that the internal critics are also taking the day off, wrapped in their own blankets, feet in fuzzy slippers, sipping cocoa, and criticizing each other instead of the writer humans. When this happens, the writer’s imaginary friends are free to play, without the governing eye of those critics. Since Anty is feeling out ideas for maybe writing a Christmas story next year, this could be the start of something.

Personally, I think she should start space heater and then open another pouch of cat food, but that is only a suggestion.

I think that is all for today, so, until Friday, I remain very truly yours,

skyebyenew

see you Friday

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Challenge Completed Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. We are now into the second week of December, here in New York’s capitol region (well, and everywhere else, but that is where we live, for those readers who are new) and it already feels like winter. The humans do not have the decorations up yet, although there are discussions about when Anty and Mama will put up the light on the living room arches, and when Uncle will be available to help with the tree. It will not be long.

Since the rule is that I am not allowed to talk about anything else on this blog, before I talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interweb (besides here) I had better get to that right away. First, as always, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about holiday romance anthologies. That is very timely, because it is the holiday season, and because one of those anthologies is next in her historical romance reading list. We have had a talk about boosting those historical romance numbers, but more on that later. Anty’s post is here, and it looks like this:

BUTanthologyseason

extra points for the kitty picture

This is the last time I will report on Anty’s 2017 Goodreads reading challenge, because she has completed it, and ahead of schedule. She has, as of today, read ninety-one out of ninety books for this year, and, by the size of her TBR list, she is not stopping there. This is a good thing, because story in means story out. She is still thinking about what her reading goal will be for 2018, but she gets an A+++ for 2017’s reading. Here are the books Anty read and reviewed this week. Two of them get a spot on her all-time favorites shelf That is pretty good for a single week’s reading.

 

 

That was a very good reading week for Anty, and she finishes the reading challenge at seven books ahead of schedule. She even had to make extra space in her reading log to hold the titles of subsequent books, because she already filled her space for December. Anty finds that reading the kinds of books with which she connects this strongly not only entertains and engages her as a reader, but makes her want to write even more. She says that reading this much gets her idea hamster running. That is a metaphorical hamster, not a real one. I checked. There is no real hamster. This disappoints me.

What also disappoints me is, that, since Landlord installed the brand new boiler (we are nice and toasty now) the humans think they do not need the space heater in the living room anymore. I show them the error of their ways by sitting in front of it, even though it is not turned on, or even plugged in at all, and give them baleful looks. They’re the ones (okay it was Landlord) who brought the space heater in here. I can see it. It’s warm. I love it. They should turn it on.

Yesterday, Anty did. She says it is because I am too cute to resist. (This is true.) She plugged in the heater and turned it on, but I did not notice, because I was too intent on watching what Uncle was doing at the other end of the apartment. Uncle is my favorite, and I love him the most. Anty and Mama tried to get me to notice that the space heater was on, but I was focused on Uncle. Then, after Anty and Mama went on an errand, and Uncle came into the living room (Anty asked him to spend time with me in the living room, so the heater could stay on, because it is not safe to run it without humans in the room) I did notice it. Okay, I first noticed Uncle, because he is my favorite and I love him the most. I love space heater second after Uncle, so, when Uncle moved his chair next to the space heater, I definitely noticed that, and the three of us had a fine time.

It is kind of like that with Anty and writing right now. With reading, yes, because she is reading very, very fast, and very, very much, but also because those books she is reading, the ones that make a deep connection with some aspect of the book, remind her not only what she wants to do, but what she can do, and how naturally it can come. All the times she, or others, try to get her interested in something, or a certain way of approaching work, but it doesn’t connect, and then, bam, it does. There’s the star crossed lovers who make it work trop that Anty loves. There’s the use of a historical period not often used in romance these days. There’s the use of a piece of fiction literally hundreds of years old, reinterpreted for a modern audience. There’s distinct voice. There’s grief, laid out in its beauty as well as in its pain. All of that makes Anty want to snuggle close to everything that is the consumption and creation of fiction, and add to the narrative. For a writer, that is pretty much the whole point.

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

skyebyenew

see you next week

Ninety

My primary reading goal for 2017 was to ready ninety books by the end of the year. Yesterday evening, while waiting for my doctor appointment, I finished reading book number ninety. Bonus points for book number ninety being a historical romance, as my secondary goal was to have at least half of my reading this year classified as historical romance. I will probably come close to that, and then carry that goal over to next year.

I am a firm believer in story in, story out, and I like a good challenge. Last year, I had set my goal at eighty books. Do not ask me how I came up with that number. I blew past it, by a wide margin, which led to me raising the reading bar for 2017. Hitting that mark, three weeks ahead of schedule, does give reading bragging rights, and I will admit that, when I took my Kindle out of my purse, I had a sense that picking the right book to be number ninety would be important. I wanted to finish the challenge on a historical romance, which I did, and I wanted to get started on reading Christmas romance, which I also did. Handy, that, when they both come in the same package.

I also wanted to read more in historical periods that especially appeal to me. A Secret Christmas, by Lauren Royal, fit that bill, because it’s set during the English Commonwealth/Lord Protectorate, aka the time when England had no king because Oliver Cromwell had other ideas (which did not turn out all that great, spoiler alert.) Said other ideas included stomping out frivolous things like sports, music, theater, and Christmas. Definitely not a setting one sees for a Christmas story all that often, and it works quite well in this novella. This is listed as number eight in Lauren Royal’s Chase family series, but is actually the prequel, the story of the parents of the “first” generation, so I’m counting it as the start. For readers who prefer the bedroom (or in this case, other room) door closed, a sweet/clean/kisses only version is available under the title, The Cavalier’s Christmas Bridewritten with co-author Devon Royal.

Which is another thing. I’ve wanted to find more historical romance that is not a subsequent book in a long line of related stories, and, if I can’t find a true standalone (of which I think there are not nearly enough, but that’s another story, pun intended) the a first book, or prequel, will do quite nicely. The mother-daughter team is now working on an even earlier branch of the fictional family tree, that will take place during the Renaissance era, and that has me excited.

When I first began reading historical romance, which is also when I first knew I would be writing it as well, or, more appropriately, when I knew that “historical romance” was the name that fit the kind of story I’d always loved, the field was wide open as to exactly when the happily-ever-after would take place. Authors would pour details of daily life in their chosen period onto the page, the everyday things as well as the big things like wars and coronations and oh, hey, look, there’s another whole continent over there. I loved that stuff, and I still do.

Last night, as I read, the story framed by an introduction, and an author’s note about the real history behind the customs, that spark flickered. What I wanted to do was go home and flip through the new issue of RT Book Reviews, which will always be Romantic Times to me, but the paper version of the magazine doesn’t exist anymore. There are still back issues, though, and the website has lots of resources, and maybe I can bring some of what I loved about the magazine here. We’ll see.

This year, I read ninety books, and I have no intention of not-reading for the rest of the year, so we have some time to watch that number grow. Reading books fills the creative well, essential for those of us who are, ourselves, writing. I am still experimenting with what writing trackers work best to keep me motivated, but one of the best motivations is that, in writing my own books, I get to “read” the story as I go. There is , of course, the re-reading of what’s already written, but it’s more than that. It’s having the characters meander around inside my head when I’m doing other things. Normal, everyday, not necessarily related to writing, or fiction in any way sorts of things, and bam. There they are, my imaginary friends, ready to let me follow them around for a while, and take notes as we go.

I haven’t written ninety books…yet. There’s a new year ahead, and anything is possible.

Taking The Long Way Home

According to Goodreads, I am ninety-eight percent of the way to my goal of reading ninety books in 2017. Since it is the fourth of December, with a bunch more days left in the month, and only two more books needed to reach my goal, I think it’s safe to say I am probably going to make it.

What interests me about tracking my reading this year is that I have been reading a lot more YA than I had expected. The last historical romance novel I read was To Love Againby Bertrice Small, a reread, and it most certainly did hold up from my first reading. I’ve read seven books since then, all YA, Between that reread and the last historical romance prior, Tyburn, by Jessica Cale, I read nine books, again all YA. This past weekend, though I have two historical romances in my currently reading shelf, and am eager to read two more historicals, written by a writer friend, and had happily scooped four historical romances (three novels, one Christmas anthology) from the shelves on my last library run, Friday saw me without any YA reads, which meant another trip to the library for another armload. I’ve read two of those books since then.

This definitely bears some examination, especially since my secondary reading goal for this calendar year was to have at least fifty percent of my reading consist of historical romance novels. Am I going to make that one? Maybe. If not, I’ll be close. Does almost count in reading goals, like it does in horseshoes and hand grenades? We’ll find out at the end of the year, I imagine.

The first question that springs to mind is whether I still want to read historical romance, period. The answer to that is easy, and immediate. Yes. Absolutely yes. Oh so very much, yes. The fire that lit in my gut, oh so many years ago, under the brass bed in the guest bedroom, with a paperback pilfered from my mom’s nightstand is an eternal flame. Historical romance is what I love to write the most, and it’s what I love to read the most, so why this big shift in reading this year?

When I look at the assortment of books that I have read over the course of the year, what stands out to me are the common themes. Let’s take genre out of the picture. Several of the YA novels I’ve read and loved have romance in them, even if it’s not the central issue, and/or does not have an optimistic and emotionally satisfying ending. That doesn’t mean they haven’t had the right ending for their individual stories. Some of the stories that resonated the most with me have been unambiguous tragedies. What is common, across the board, though, is what I am going to call grit.

Life in these books isn’t always pretty. In fact, it’s pretty darned rough. The body count is high; siblings, parents, first loves, and yet, our heroes and/or heroines keep going. I like that about a viewpoint character. They’re Weebles. They wobble, but they don’t fall down. If they do, they get back up again and keep going.

To Love Again is set in the age of Roman Britain, and our heroine does some traveling. Not only that, but she has to make the difficult choice between the life she once led, and the new normal, and there are convincing reasons for both choices. Even though I’d read the book before, I didn’t remember what her choice actually was, and I kept turning pages to find out what path she would actually choose. In Tyburn,  set in Restoration England, our heroine is a sex worker. Not the fake kind. The hero moonlights as a highwayman, because he’s not getting paid in his regular job as a tutor, which he took when funding fell through for his continued medical education. There’s one scene, early on, where both are doing their jobs on opposite sides of a shared wall, before they’ve met each other, and knowing who they were, knowing that they were that close gave me physical chills.

That’s what I want in my historical romances,. I want those chills. I want the chance to visit multiple times and places, where life isn’t always fair and relationships are, if not everything, a pretty darned big slice of the pie. I want the chance to read one story, complete in itself, focused on the protagonists of this particular story. All of those things can happen in historical romance.  This may be a signal that I want to look back to the times when I could find those things, in historical romance, on a regular basis. I’m a big believer of story in, story out. Taking in the kind of story I want to put out is usually a good idea.

Does this mean I want to write YA as well as historical romance? I don’t know. Maybe, if the right characters and story make themselves known, it could be fun. Half the time I read YA, my brain starts a side trail about how the story would play out if it were in a historical romance, what could be translated, what could carry over. I can’t turn this stuff off, and I don’t want to, if that were a possibility. I won’t lie; sometimes, it does make me feel a little unicorn-y. When the market says one thing, and my brain pulls, strongly, in a different direction, there can be some frustration there.

The best thing I find, when that frustration hits, is to focus on the love. Not only the romantic relationships in stories of any genre, but the reasons I love historical romance as much as I do. Forget anybody and anything else. Remember the magic that happened when history and romance collided. In the end, it’s all about the love.

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: The Heat is (Back) On Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Yesterday was not my favorite day, but it ended well. I do not know entirely what went on between the first doorbell and the heat going back on, because I was under the bed for most of it, but I will get to that later. The important thing is that the heat is back on in the apartment, and it is very nice. I do not know how I am going to break it to the space heater that I love the regular radiators now that they work again, but maybe we can still be cuddle buddies, unless the humans do not use it any more, and give it back to Landlord.

Anyway, before I can get into any more details about that adventure, I have to talk about where you can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, apart from here. If you are reading this blog, then you already know Anty writes here. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about a subject near to my heart (and stomach): food. Even though fictional food is not “real,” that does not mean we cannot partake in it. That post is here and it looks like this:

BURfictionalfood

Even though we had a very big week in the domestic tornado department, Anty was not a slacker this time, when it came to reading. As of today, which is the first of December, she is ninety-six percent of the way to her goal of reading ninety books in this calendar year. She has read eighty-six books out of that ninety, and is currently four books ahead of schedule. Go, Anty, go. She finished reading, and reviewed, three books this week, and here they are:

 

 

 

Because this is the first of the month, this is also where we do a tally of how many historical romance novels Anty has read this month. Anty thinks I cannot see her, when she hides behind her splayed fingers, but I can. Anty has been on a YA binge for quite some time now, and needs to tuck in with some historical romance novels, if she wants to bring those numbers up to an acceptable level.

hr-challenge-2016-badge

Anty’s goal was to read at least 50% historical romances this year. With thirty-nine out of eighty-six books counting as historical romance. she is close. If I count historical fiction with romantic elements, that number goes up to forty-three out of ninety, which is almost there. Almost all of the YA books Anty has read so far are either romances, or have romantic elements, but they are not historical. She does usually ask herself how something in the YA books would work in a historical romance, so she is getting historical romance inspiration, but I cannot count YA books as historical romance novels, because they are not historical, even if they are romances.

Okay, I think that is everything on that list so far. Anty also wants me to mention that, yesterday, in the midst of all the commotion, she still managed to set up the first week in her new planner. Anty loves working with her planner things. Here is what her weekly spread looks like, before she puts any information in it:

PlannerWeekly011217

Anty almost went with a more Christmassy color palette, but would have had to mix marker brands, and that is a no.

Yesterday morning, Anty was not even done getting ready for the day when the doorbell rang. For new readers, our house is very old, and the doorbell is very loud. It makes the whole house vibrate. I ran under one of the beds, while Anty went downstairs to see who it was. This was a good visitor, because it was Landlord. He wanted to let Anty and Uncle know that the workers were here, to put in the new boiler. He also needed Anty to unlock the back door, so that the workers could come upstairs and do some of the work.

Well. I did not like this at all. Not only were there multiple strange humans in my home (and some of them were very tall) but they had to open the radiators. This meant taking the radiator covers off, which meant taking off things like the window seat and all the decorations on the radiator covers in the dining room and Uncle’s office. This also meant that furniture like Mama’s chair had to be moved into the middle of the living room. My house does not look like my house right now, and I am not okay with that. I am sticking close to Anty and Uncle until they put things back the way they belong.

Anty says this might be a good chance to move some of the furniture around even more. I think the cold may have gotten to her. We kitties like things to be The Same. Moved-around furniture and changed decorations are not The Same. Anty says that sometimes, new ways of doing things are better. I am not too sure of that. Granted, the new boiler is nice, but did they have to move the furniture? Next thing you know, they’ll be talking about different furniture, and then who knows what else? There is a lot to be said for consistency and tradition.

Since it is now December, and the new boiler is installed, Anty will probably be putting up the Christmas decorations soon. I will not mind that too much, because I like to look at the lights, and the shiny ornaments. I do not touch them, because I am a floor girl, and I am also well behaved. Also modest. I am not sure exactly what the living room will look like when the humans are done with it, but it will, no matter what, turn into a cozy spot for Anty to bump that historical romance number as she reads in her comfy chair. See what I did there, tying back in to the reading thing? Maybe some of the Christmas romance anthologies and novellas will inspire Anty to read more in that genre.

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

skyebyenew

see you next week