Typing With Wet Claws: After The Book Swap Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. The weather here in New York’s Capitol Region is crazy. Today, we have rain. Sometimes. Yesterday, we had snow. The day before that, the temperature was seventy degrees. I am very glad that I am an indoor kitty, and do not have to be outside in all of that madness. Being inside also gives me a front row seat (I guess there will only be a back row when I get a kitty brother, and he sits behind me, so for now it is an only row seat) to what Anty is doing, which is one of the reasons she lets me blog for her, once a week.

Since I am not allowed to talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway) I have to talk about where readers can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, other than here. If you are reading this, then you already know how to find here.

First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talks about the difference between a romance novel and a love story. It is a pretty important difference, so if you are not sure, this post may be helpful. It is here, and it looks like this:


Next, we come to the part of the post where I tell you about Anty’s reading this week. It was a pretty full week on the domestic front, but Anty still did pretty well. The book that she read and reviewed this week, is the book that she hoped would get her back into reading historical romance again, and, guess what, it did. That review is here, and it looks like this:

Since this book is the second in a trilogy (Anty already has, and has read the first one) Anty now has to track down the third one, although it was published a while back, and so is not sold in new bookstores anymore, so she will have some looking to do. She does not mind that kind of looking very much, and it reminds her that there are still four more books by Miss Blythe, beyond that (three are related to each other, one is not related to anything) for her to read in the future. This is very encouraging.

Right now, Anty has read thirteen out of ninety books for the year, which puts her at fourteen percent of the way toward her goal. That means that she is on track, when it comes to the number of books. She still has a way to go in the historical romance department, though, as only three of those books are historical romance. I have faith in Anty, though, because now she has the scent of the genre again, and she has come back from the book swap party that she goes to every year.

Coming back from that party always gives Anty a boost. Not only does she get to see Anty Melva, her co-writer for the contemporary books, but there is a whole room with books for anybody to take,whatever they want. I should mention here that there are many different kinds of books, not only romance. This is a good thing, because the people who go to this party like a wide range of books. It also means that Anty has, if not first pick of the romance novels brought by other people, it is pretty darned close. This year, she only took home a few books, but one of those books, Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton, has Anty excited for a couple of reasons.

I do not know if there are any actual dragons in this book, but probably not. That is good, because dragons are scary. That is, I imagine they would be. I do not know any dragons. Maybe some of them are nice. Anyway, Anty wants to read this book, because it, along with other books by Miss Anya, and similar authors, paved the way for the kinds of historical romances Anty loves the very best. This book was written in 1944, which is, umm, a lot of cats ago. It also takes place in the Hudson Valley, which guess what, is an area we kind of know a few things about, so that should be interesting. I do not know if there are any cats in this book. I guess Anty will find out. If Anty likes this book, she will read other books my Miss Anya. I do not think any of them are related, so that is a plus. Anty is very big on standalone books.

That does not stop her from planning to study some favorite, connected, books, and take notes on that reading process. That is both to learn how to focus on what Anty loves best about historical romance, so she can bring it into her own writing, and to use a super cool notebook with a hipster kitty on it. Anty already shared a picture of this book, but I am sharing it again, because it has a kitty on the front.


A stripey kitty, so it will probably remind her how much she loves me and that she should give me more treats whenever she opens it. At least that is the plan.

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




Of Notebooks and Novels

Today, the temperature may get as high as seventy degrees. The votive candle on my desk is burning low, in a funny shape, because of all the months it spent stashed in a place it shouldn’t be (I’m sure sticking it in one of my art supply boxes made sense at the time, but do not ask me how, now, because I have no earthly idea.) Hipster Kitty is still on my desk, even though I’m still not sure how I want to use him, (this notebook is apparently a boy) and don’t want to put him away quite yet, either. This morning, I finished my current morning pages book, and am down to the final two candidates for its successor. This also reminds me that it is crunch time for my daily planner book, because the month will be ending soon, and I need to set up March, though I am still seeing candidates for the next planner notebook.

There’s a second decision related to starting a new daily planner book, more important than whether I want dot grid paper, kraft paper (but then what about my already planned pastel color scheme for the start of spring?) or admit to myself that I am a Leuctrumm 1917 convert, and that’s what I really want, even though I am trying to be good and use what I already have. Do I want to use my daily planner as the fourth insert in Big Pink, or do I want it to live on my desk? If I want it to live on my desk, then my options are wide open. If I want it to be insert number four, then it needs to fit inside the notebook cover, and will change the weight and heft of Big Pink in general.

“Um, Anna,” some of you may be saying right about now, “this is all very interesting for notebook people, who would totally follow you to a notebook-only blog, by the way, but some of us are writers and/or readers, who are not into notebooks, and could you please talk about writing or reading now? Kthanx.” I hear you, and I can bring this around. Right now, as a matter of fact.

Yesterday, at my weekly breakfast with N, N made me write. Okay, technically, she said she was going to write, which I knew she was going to do, and she took out notebook and pen and started doing exactly that. Well. I can’t resist that sort of thing. I had debated bringing along a variety of notebooks and/or one legal pad, for when this moment came, but it was also one of those mornings when getting out the door was complicated by a fuzzy shadow that thought everything I was doing was A) extremely interesting, and B) might possibly involve cat food. What I had on hand was the current fourth insert of Big Pink, a Moleskine Volant, which has detachable pages, and is, theoretically in Big Pink for exactly that reason, so I can write on the fly and then remove pages to go where they actually go, or transcribe and recycle.

Well, okay then. I put pen to paper and worked on a scene for Her Last First Kiss, making notes of opportunities to go deeper in an early chapter. I ended up having to prep more pages than I thought I would (prepping, in this case, means a bold line of marker or washi tape (this time, it was marker) at the top and bottom of the page. This gets around the blank page problem, because voila, the page is no longer blank.) Is it perfect? No. Is it written? Yes. Do I get to transcribe it today, and take those pages out of the book? Yes, sir or ma’am, I do. Longhand works best for me, and longhand under pressure, with an audience, works even better. Clearly, this insert needs to stay, but is it maybe making the other lined insert, which does not have detachable pages (okay, it has a few, but only in the back) redundant? Maybe so.

The evolution of a notebook system is kind of like the evolution of a writer, especially the writer who is using the notebook system. Trial and error is a big part of the process, and there are going to be times we get halfway through a project, or even make that first mark on the paper, and get the immediate “nope,” or that zing of recognition. That “Yes. This,” that picks us up from uncertainty and carries us until we’ve got our bearings. For the first time, or again; it works well both ways.

Starting new books, and redoing Big Pink feel appropriate for where I am, writing-wise, these days. It’s kind of like the back to school feel of new school supplies, which never gets old, even decades after any sort of connection to any sort of school. The fact that it hits around the same time as spring cleaning, well, that’s kind of one of the big holidays for us organizational types. Organizing writing makes perfect sense. It feels right. I’m excited to reclaim tools and space and energy. I’m excited to be reading historical romance again, and keeping my focus where it belongs. Not on the market (although of course that’s important, for those of us doing the whole writing career thingyboo) or what anybody else is doing, but what I’m doing, and what works best for me. If that involves stationery, all that much better.

The Queen’s Lady, the Hipster Kitty, and Me: A Love Story

Today does not feel like a Monday. My planner says it is, so we’ll go with that and get at least seven hundred words of blabber into this text box, within the next hour, because crossing a task off my to-do list is one of the very best ways to kick off a Monday (or any other day, come to think of it.) Maybe I’m still riding on weekend fumes, because this was a pretty good weekend, especially for my focus on reconnecting with historical romance and growing the blog.

Friday nights are BFF nights, which means Housemate and I grab some sort of dinner, then trawl craft stores for geeking out over art supplies. Watercolor pencils for her (though she has yet to actually use them as watercolors) and anything bujo/art journal related for me. This week, that included picking up a copy of Artful Blogging magazine. Articles on connecting with one’s creative side and particular bloggy “voice,” be that writing or photography, resonated. I actually started petting the magazine while still in the store, so that’s a sign that the issue had to come home. This has a few different levels to it; there’s the drooling over pictures level, the taking in advice I probably already know but have made excuses not to act upon, because acting on such knowledge would be scary level, and the actually applying what I’ve learned to my actual blog level.

Saturday meant sneaking in more craft store trawling in the midst of errands (Housemate has a life goal of owning all the watercolor pencils in the world. I support her in this, because A) I want my friend to be happy, and B) I have permission to use them when she is not using them.) Saturday also meant that I got to take out the magazine and lay it on the table between us at lunch, and natter endlessly over how gorgeous the pictures are, and how I want to get to that level with my own blog, or possibly blogs, as I’ve been thinking of starting a second blog, devoted to all things pen and paper, while this one would be reserved  for writing talk. We will see how things go.

Sunday found me, along with Real Life Romance Hero, and Housemate, at our friend, M.P. Barker‘s annual book swap party. The most important thing about these parties is that the bacon-wrapped figs are mine, mine, mine. Okay, maybe that is not the most important thing, but it is a strong contender for the number two spot. They are stuffed with goat cheese, and are delicious, and I would happily pay whoever makes them, to make me a small batch. A truckload or two would do. For starters. I would say I am digressing here, but these are extremely good bacon wrapped figs. Or maybe they’re dates. I get the two confused sometimes.

Enough of that. The really important thing about this party, every year, is that it gives me a chance to reconnect with my best writing self. M.P., my contemporary co-writer, Melva Michaelian, and I spent many years’ worth of Wednesday nights, gathered around the same dining room table where, yesterday, I scarfed bacon-wrapped figs (or dates) and gabbed with Mona, a reader friend, about our shared love of reading historical romance. What we like, what we don’t, how we had each finished reading (two different) Harlequin Historical romances within the last twenty-four hours, and needed to choose our next reads pretty darned quick. This is where my love of reading and my love of planning come together and make beautiful reading plan babies.

Before the start of the new year, I made a list of books to re-read, and books to finally read, all historical romance. First up from the TFR list is The Queen’s Lady, by Barbara Kyle:



Tudor era, start of a family saga, plot that unfolds over years instead of months or weeks, and a heroine name to make me sigh with happiness. Honor Larke. Yep, I’m sold. I’m not sure why I haven’t read this before, and I’m intrigued that it was, IIRC, originally published as historical romance, though the spine on this edition classes it as historical fiction. We shall see how this goes.  After that, it’s back to the well, and a small detour from my TBRR list, as I plan to reread the entire O’Malley/Skye’s Legacy series, by Bertrice Small. That’s twelve books, with both series combined, so picking out historical romances to read is not going to be that difficult a task for me in the foreseeable future.

My heart is already going a little pitty-pat at the reading journey ahead of me, and what it’s going to do for my writing, this spring. (Can you believe it’s almost spring already? Has to be, though, as, in the next two weeks, I will be starting both a new morning pages book, and a new daily planner book.) That’s where the Hipster Kitty comes into play:


See how perfectly he fits with the rest of my “me” stuff? I normally don’t seek out things that are yellow, or books with white pages, but this book has me completely heart-eyes over it. I already know I want to write with black pen, and use yellow highlighter, and, since I want to take notes o n my epic O’Malley re-read, well, this seems like perfect timing. There’s still a chance I might end up using a different book for that, but even if that’s what happens, this is for something special. Maybe it’s for notes on the proposed cyber-revival Melva, M.P. and I talked about, of the weekly critique/nag group meetings that got us all through multiple manuscripts.

The weekend just past was wonderful, filled with re-filling, and re-connection, bringing me to the start of a new week, with the challenge of putting all that good stuff into practice. That’s still a little scary, but scary in the good way. I did get an offer of beta-reading from my reader friend, so I have to give her something to read, don’t I? Thought so. time to make another cup of tea, and slip back in time a few centuries.

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.


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:


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:


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



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,



Valentine’s Day Rambles (of the writing variety)

So, it’s Valentine’s Day, which means built in blog topic for romance writers. Woo hoo.  On hour, seven hundred words, let’s go. Okay. No big plans for the day, as such. I’m writing, which is worthy of celebration, because my brain is returning from the fog of Martian Death Cold, and it’s time to write some of the rust out of the faucet, so to speak. This also means I get to spend some extra time tucked in a comfy chair (probably my office chair, which is plenty comfy and has great back support) and snuggle under a fuzzy blanket, with a cup of tea (pink skull and crossbones mug today) and the day’s soundtrack is a mixture of my Spotify daily mix and Real Life Romance Hero doing dishes on the other side of my office door. Heck yes, romance heroes wash dishes.

Okay, maybe not medieval knights or nineteenth century English noblemen. Probably not pirates, either, but, y’know, everybody does what they have to do on a pirate ship because there are only so many people to do a lot of different jobs, so maybe pirates, after all. Who can tell? Me, next time I write a pirate book? Maybe so. We will see. The point is, romance heroes do a whole lot of things. Heroines, too. That came out wrong, but I’ll let it stand, because I am in that sort of a mood.

Romance gets a lot of jabs this time of year, often from people who aren’t fans of the genre, often because they haven’t tried any recent romance fiction, or classic romance fiction, or fiction with romantic elements (though, let’s be real, that romance stuff is everywhere, and gets into many different genres, to varying degrees, but I digress.) Think pieces of this sort (of which there often does not seem to be a whole lot of thinking going on) have become commonplace enough that I can look at them, and, meh, another one of those? Okay. Whatever. What I’d really like to see is the excited discovery of a new romance reader – hey, look at all these great stories, where the focus is on the relationship and there’s history and suspense and sex and faith and it’s funny and it rips my heart out and puts it back together, and, seriously, anything can happen to these characters, as long as they end up happy and together, and, y’know what? They do. Every single time. How amazing is that?

Pretty darned, is all I’m saying. Yesterday was my weekly meeting with N, and we talked about reconnecting with what we want for our writing careers, about reconnecting with what makes a story, be it read or written, special. For me, this means a concentrated effort in reconnecting with what I love most about historical romance. If I’m going to go back to the source, the moment I fell in love with the genre, it would be when eleven-year-old me snuck a book from my mother’s nightstand, and cracked it open, by flashlight, under the brass bed in the guest bedroom. It also takes me back to countless used bookstores, where I would crawl around on the floor, inspecting the lower shelves for stories set in the sixteenth century, scanning for keywords that would catch my attention. Any mention of larger than life, or epic, or sprawling, or…:satisfied sigh:

Yeah, that. When I think of historical romance, that’s my happy place. I’m sure there’s something to be said about the role of the floor in all of this. The floor of the guest bedroom, under the big brass bed, the floors of countless bookstores, usually ending up in a tucked away corner, books spread out around me, so I could whittle down the selection to fit within the budget for that trip. To a lesser extent, there are the countless spins I made of the spinner racks in the fiction section of the library closest to my dad’s house when I was in high school, checking for fat paperbacks that meant historical romance, and the distinctive, slim spines that meant traditional Regencies, or gothics. As long as there was history, and there was romance, I was happy.

Am happy, because, decades after that first filched paperback, which now has a place of honor on the bookshelf behind me as I write, the same bookcase which once held the picture books of my preschool days, I still get that thrill. Give me two lovers who have to be together, but can’t, and I am there. If I am the one entrusted to making sure the lovers’ stars un-cross, that’s another level of fun. Frustration, sometimes, because story people can be tricky little badgers, making choices of their own, the second they hit the page. That only means they are real and alive in the sense that it becomes a collaboration between the writer and their imaginary friends. In that way, no romance writer is ever truly alone,  no matter what day it is.

Over the magic seven hundred now, and time to wrap this puppy, which can get tricky when I go on this sort of ramble. As N and I discussed, sometimes it takes a while to write the rust out of the faucet, and putting down anything is better than putting down nothing, especially when putting down anything runs smack into a wall of resistance. Even so, keep at it long enough, and the faucet runs out of rust. That’s a happy ending right there.


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.





Typing With Wet Claws: Tough Fuzzy Love Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Anty is down with what the humans call Martian Death Cold, which is pretty noisy with all the coughing, and smells a lot like cherries. Cherry cough drops and cherry gelatin are big features around here right now, and Anty just finished some cherry blossom body wash. Anty also has a lipstick called Cherry Picking, but she has not been wearing much lipstick this week. That is how we know it is Martian Death Cold. I cannot get Martian Death Cold, because I am a kitty, and it is a people thing, but the one upside that I can see is that Anty gets some extra napping time, usually next to a good book.

Before I am allowed to talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway, let’s be real) I first have to tell you where you can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs. Besides here, that is, because, if you ate reading this, you are already here. As usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about the think pieces humans wo do not read romance often write about romance, this time of year. Writing about books a human does not read does not make sense to me, but then again, I am a kitty. Maybe you should read Anty’s post, instead. It is here, and it looks like this:


Anty would like to thank Sabrina Jeffries for recommending Anty’s post to her (Miss Sabrina’s) readers, on Facebook. Anty considers this high praise, as Miss Sabrina is a well established romance writer, who knows whereof she speaks.

Now is the part of the post where I bring you up to date on Anty’s Goodreads challenge. As of today, Anty has read ten out of ninety books for the year. This puts her at eleven percent of the way toward her goal, and one book ahead of schedule. Well done, Anty. Keep reading. Sick time is very good for reading time, and it is perfectly okay to nap in between chapters, especially when there is a fuzzy Maine Coon kitty nearby.

The books that Anty read and reviewed this week are:


Forever, by Judy Blume



Recovery Road, by Blake Nelson



The Last Forever, by Deb Caletti

As you can tell, all three of those books are YA, which brings us to the meat of today’s post. (I like meat. Tuna is the best, but beef is also good, as are most kinds of birdie.) One of the most important duties of a mews is to keep their writer human on the right track. Last night, it was time for some tough, fuzzy love. Right now, Anty has one hundred YA novels logged on her current Goodreads account, and ninety-one historical romances. This does not count historical fiction with romantic elements, so the two may not be that far apart when we include the second cat-egory (sorry, I could not resist) but it is enough that I could not let it pass without addressing the issue.

While it is purr-fectly (sorry, again. That is the last one, I promise. For now.) fine for readers’ preferences to change, and that does happen, including switching genres, I did not think that was what was happening here. I have seen the way Anty looks at her TBR shelves, so we had a discussion. That discussion was about historical romance, and the point of the discussion about historical romance was that Anty needs to read more of it.

Part of the discussion was asking Anty why she has been avoiding her favorite genre lately. We kitties, especially those of us with big green kitten eyes (I am really good at big green kitten eyes. By that I mean that the eyes are green, not the kittens. Kittens should never be green. If your kitten is green, please go to the vet, or at least the groomer.) can say a lot with the right look, and we are very good listeners. I can understand Anty’s reasons, but, because it is my duty as a mews to keep Anty moving in the right direction, I could not leave it at that. Those reasons are hers to tell, and I made her write them down in a notebook, so she can refer to that the next time something like this happens.

Earlier this week, Miss N gave Anty the assignment to reconnect with historical romance. Well, Anty’s own, specifically, but reading more historical romance and remembering what it is about that genre that Anty loves enough to write her own, well, that’s important, too.  Anty agreed with me (and with Miss N) but I could still tell she was a little scared and/or confused about where to jump back into the whole pool. That is where having a mews comes in handy. At times like this, the only thing that can be done is to head straight toward the loved and scary thing and jump right into it.

For Anty, this meant taking one of those books off her TBR shelf and actually reading it. For this venture, we picked Captive of the Border Lord, by Blythe Gifford. Anty has read many of Miss Blythe’s books, and liked them a lot, so it is a very good bet that she will like this one, too. It is the second book in the Brunson Clan trilogy, and Anty has already read the first one. We tried to find a standalone book, but those are kind of rare these days, so second out of three is kind of close to that. It is also a Harlequin Historical, which means that it is not a very thick book, and Anty should be able to read it fairly quickly, without feeling intimidated by a big, thick book, with a lot of pages. For bonus points, this book is set in the sixteenth century, which is one of Anty’s very, very favorite eras for historical romance.

This goes along with the philosophy of not saving the good stuff for “someday.” Read the good stuff now. Write the good stuff now. If not now, then when? The practice begets the product. We kitties would not lie about this sort of thin.

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



White Space

This is the view from our balcony this morning:


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.


Dialogue With a Hypothetical Bouncer

Last night, I legit finished an art journal. Granted, only the last couple of spreads are worth showing to anybody, because a big chunk of it is lettering practice, Tests of pens and stencils, ideas that did not translate well to the page, layouts for my planner that I may or may not have implemented, more pen tests, and, at last, the lightbulb moment when I finally figured out two important things at once.

First important thing: I finally, finally, finally figured out how to use Distress Inks and blenders to make the kind of backgrounds I’ve slavered over for literally years. Second important thing: this quest took me so danged long that most of my Distress Ink collection was no longer viable. As in dried out, not transmitting color anymore, pining for the fjords. All that stuff meaning those pads got a one way trip to the circular (actually rectangular, if we’re talking my specific office trash receptacle) file. Not exactly what I had planned.

Sure, there are other inks in that line, still available, probably most of the colors I had to toss, as a matter of fact, not to mention some new ones, and even a new oxide formula (don’t know exactly what that does, but if it looks pretty and grungy at the same time, I want it.) Since the mini size of these inkpads are sold in bundles, frequently at stores with pretty nifty coupons on a regular basis, it won’t cost a fortune to build up a decent palette or two. It’s the principle, though. I wanted to use those pads. I picked out those pads, those particular colors. While I can probably get mot of the same colors, they won’t be the same pads. That bugs me.

What I turned out with what I had on hand wasn’t bad. As a matter of fact, it was this:


This is the only page I’m showing.

That’s three clinging-to-life inkpads, one homemade stencil (dress form) with one commercial stencil (damask pattern) and one commercial stamp (face.) Also ten very inky fingers, and one sense of accomplishment. This particular art journal lives in my traveler’s notebook, Big Pink, so, at some point today, I will need to slide out this insert and put in a brand spanking new one. I haven’t done that yet, but I did, finally, give myself permission to haul out a precious, hoarded item (okay, two of them, but the pens have only been here for a week or so):


That’s a Moleskine sketchbook, with smooth, thick pages, and the thirty pack of the Stabilo fineliners. Real, grownup artist tools, and the only artist around here is :shifty eyes: me. I have vivid memories of sneaking into my father’s art studio when I was but a wee little princess, and pilfering his art supplies (pro quality is far superior to kiddo quality; I knew this even in preschool) and putting them back where I found them, because I didn’t want to get caught.  Now, the only one here to “catch” me is me.

This is the part of the post where I steer it back toward writing, because the two are so closely related they can’t get married without a papal dispensation. Impostor syndrome is real. I think Mondays are its natural habitat. What do I think I’m doing, sneaking into fictionland, to play around with characters and plots and settings, all willy-nilly, with either willful ignorance or clear disregard (maybe both) of proper practices and/or market trends? Huh? Going to need to see some ID here. RWA membership? Okay, I guess that’s something, but are you published? You are? Could’ve fooled me What books? Cute backlist, honey. Don’t you have some laundry to fold?

Well, hah. Joke’s on you, Hypothetical Bouncer, because I already folded the laundry, and put it way, so no, I do not. I’m here at this desk for the same reason I snuck into my dad’s studio about elebenty billion times. I have to. There’s no way around it. Forget “want.” We’re talking “need” here. It didn’t occur to kiddo me, that my dad was a professional, and I wasn’t, that he had over three decades of experience and education ahead of me. I didn’t care that he’d painted murals and book covers, mainly because I didn’t know that at the time. What I did know was that I loved the feel of the white paper with the black and gray markings in one corner, that he kept in the bottom drawer of the green filing cabinet. I knew I loved the smell of the markers that had not one but two tips, even if I was not supposed to smell them on purpose. I couldn’t draw a realistic face, and even my box houses with triangles for roofs left a lot to be desired, but I loved the pen in my hand and the color on the paper, and, so, I kept at it.

Which brings us to today, Monday, and me at my desk, fingers on keyboard, not one but two projects in front of me; the revise and resubmit on Chasing Prince Charming, and Her Last First Kiss. I’m not that bothered about working on Chasing Prince Charming, because A) I’m doing it along with my co-writer, Melva, and B) I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, so there’s not a lot to which I can compare this project.

Historical romance, though, hoo boy. Whole other animal. If I spin my chair around (and I can, because spinny office chairs are the best office chairs; I will fight dissenters on this one) I will see the bookshelf filled with Bertrice Small historicals, and another bookshelf with historical romance novels I intend to read, once I can get past the darned bouncer in front of that one.  Oh hey there, YA reader girl. Looking for a historical romance, are you? Yeah, I’ve seen your Goodreads. You think you can play with the big girls? Some of the books on this shelf are old enough to go to kindergarten, and you haven’t read them yet. Not going to learn much about current market trends on this shelf. You sure that’s what you want?

Something akin to, “um, yeah actually, I do,” perches on the tip of my tongue, because I do want to read those books, and I don’t like that bouncer’s tone. That’s when I take a closer look at her. She looks kind of familiar. Long, reddish brown hair, black glasses, rose gold hoop earrings, exactly like the ones in my jewelry box. Umm, wait a minute. Wonder if I could distract her with some professional quality art supplies.




Typing With Wet Claws: Hello, February Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday, which is actually Saturday, because this post did not post on Friday, even though Anty and I tried, but that is when I wrote it. . It is cold here, in New York’s capitol region, and the wind is blowing. Days like this make me glad to be an indoor kitty. As always, I am working hard as my Anty’s mews, making sure she has plenty of inspiration and fortitude and all that other stuff writers get from cats. I let her know that I am not pleased with all this wind, by constantly talking to her. Sometimes, this results in her getting up and feeding me. That is the best response she could give. Of course, I will depart in a hot minute if Uncle becomes available, because he is my favorite, and I love him the most.

Before I am allowed to talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing, anyway, because she is the one who makes the rules here, and I am her mews, after all) I have to tell you where to find Anty’s writing on the Interwebs, other than here, because, if you are reading this, you are already here. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday. This week, she wrapped her series on beginnings with the new beginning that comes after some other beginning’s end. That might give you a clue as to one of Anty’s favorite songs. If the clue is not enough, you can read the post and find out. That post is here, and it looks like this:


Now comes the part of the post where I tell you how Anty is doing on her Goodreads reading challenge. You can follow that here. So far, her progress looks like this:


So far, Anty is eight percent of the way to her goal of reading ninety books this year, with seven books total, and her first historical romance read of the year. Only took her a month. Hopefully she will do better on the historical romance front, because she is once again going for fifty percent of that genre. We will see how that goes. This week, the books Anty read and reviewed are:




Pirate in My Arms, by Danelle Harmon

Okay, I think that takes care of that part of the post for now. That part will get bigger when Anty finds more paid blogging gigs. In the meantime, I will tell you a couple of things that will soon be on the Coming Soon page, because Anty has a couple of things in the works.

First, registration is now open on Anty’s online workshop with Charter Oak Romance Writers, Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys. In that class, Anty talks about how to find what we like, why we like it, and how to turn that into new, original fiction. That class will run from March 5th, to March 17th, and it costs only fifteen dollars. Part of that fee goes toward my treats, in case that is important information to anybody. To register, or find out more, you can go here.  Anty’s picture on that page looks like this:


As if that were not enough, Anty has another bit of good news, but it is vague, because not all of the details are worked out yet. Anty will also be speaking to Charter Oak Romance Writers in person, later this year. CORW was Anty’s first ever RWA chapter, and has a very special place in her heart, so being asked to come speak made her very happy. Topic and date are both To Be Announced, so keep an eye on the Coming Soon section. If you do not feel like going over there, that is okay. I will keep everyone up to date in my posts.

Anty and Anty Melva are both hard at work on making some changes to the manuscript of Chasing Prince Charming, to see if it can get a second chance at this particular publisher. More news as it happens on that one. Anty is also working on Her Last First Kiss, and doing some research on future projects. That is not always easy with domestic tornadoes doing their thing, but that is okay. The important thing is that Anty keeps going, and she does.

Part of that is making sure she is taking in what she wants to put out. That means that she needs to be reading more historical romance novels. Sometimes, that means reading newly released books, to see what the current market looks like, but there is something funny about that. The books that we see right now, and think are new, were actually written about two years ago. It takes a while for traditionally published books to make it from author to reader. Of course, with the advent of electronic publishing, it does not always take quite that long, and, with independent publishing, it can take even less time. Anty kind of likes that idea, and part of her reading focus is to see how other authors do that, and do it on a regular basis. Anty does believe in taking time to do something right, but she is also impatient (and she likes money. I especially like the money that buys cat treats.)

That is about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain Very Truly Yours,