Grouse

The fact that today’s picture is an off-center banner image should say pretty much everything. The calendar says today is Wednesday, though it was also Tuesday, as N and I moved our meeting this week, to accommodate both our schedules. My brain also says it is Tuesday extension, as, thanks to a sinus headache (thanks, barometric pressure,) I did not sleep last night. This may be one of the reasons I am considering going to bed at slightly after 3PM. I thought about moving today’s blog to tomorrow, but my internal calendar is muddled enough already, and tomorrow is Buried Under Romance post writing day, as well as fiction writing, and I know myself well enough to know when I’ve reached my limit in the stuff-on-my-metaphorical plate situation.

Today, when I walked through the park, on my way to meet N, I noticed a green haze of buds on the willow tree near the lake, and, on the lake, ducks swam. The mallards are back. It’s March first. Even a winter person like me has to admit that all looks pretty spring-like. Had to happen sometime. I could do without the sinus headache, though, but I could not do without my weekly critique session.

Quote from my morning pages, on the pages I brought for N to read:

I have nine pages today, and they are not my favorites, but they are a second draft, and I will make them better on the third pass.

Part of  me wanted to tell N straight out that I wasn’t sure about these pages. That I wanted to take them back and do better. Was sending Heroine to a different part of the house to completely lose her, um, stuff, then take another whack at the whole rational adult thing stupid, ineffective, or insert own personal pet fear here? There are few units of time longer than the time between one’s critique partner putting down the pages and their mechanical pencil, saying “well,” and then completing the sentence with “this is the best chapter so far,” or words to that effect. The parts I was most nervous about were the ones that seemed to work the best for her, which means this may be something I want to do more of in the future, because I love that squidgy butterfly stomach feeling. Hopefully, next time, I can manage something more cool and sophisticated than the squeak of “really?” that actually came out of my mouth. Or maybe not. Maybe that’s the appropriate response, and I should roll with it.

What stands out to me most about the difference from this chapter and the previous ones of this draft, is that I didn’t write it, as much as write it down. I don’t mean that I wrote it in longhand, though I did, in mechanical pencil, in my Big Daddy Precious notebook, but that following Heroine was all I needed to do. I handed her the metaphorical reins, and off she went. She did not mind her language. She got mad. She threw things. She dug up old (metaphorical) bones and wanted something she couldn’t have, and got mad about it. She got loud. She got petty, and she knew she got petty, and she didn’t care, because she’d had one of those days, and y’know what, no regrets. Well, not in that scene. There’s still a lot more story to go, but, for right then…yeah. It felt right. For both of us.

Next chapter is Hero’s POV, and he has no idea any of this has happened, though he has his own issues. It’s going to be an interesting contrast, and, hopefully, some time with a mechanical pencil and Big Daddy Precious (along with some extra research into bathtubs of the eighteenth century) I can take what’s already there and make it better. If it weren’t for the headache, I’d probably be doing that right now, but will retreat to the bedroom with caffeine and Ibuprofen and wait for the weather to break.

Maybe I’ll read, or maybe I’ll lie there with eyes closed and a light blanket. It’s in the sixties, so I don’t need the warmth, but  I like the weight of the blanket. As with writing, go with what works.

 

 

 

 

Breathing Room

Yesterday, I played Sims 4. All day. That was it. No regrets. I’m playing this current (game) world rotationally, or, more accurately, pinging back and forth between households, to  ensure that each of my families makes it to the next generation. We will not mention the one Sim I forgot about since he was a teen, and stumbled across, living by himself, as an elder, with none of my created or born in game female Sims of childbearing age unattached. I had him adopt a child, then married a widowed elder female Sim, merely because I want to see how many husbands she can go through before her own time runs out. This dude is her third. I played long enough that a teen aged up to young adult, solving the dilemma of my second adult aged bachelor. The third one is still on his own, but he has two older sisters who have descendants, so I’m not worried about him. He can meet a nice townie, or adopt.

bottleofink

Saturday, I picked up my first bottle of fountain pen ink. I’ve had samples before, and cartridges, but having a whole bottle feels different. It’s a commitment. I am a Fountain Pen Person now. I was before, because I wouldn’t have had a need for the ink if I didn’t already have fountain pens in need of the same, but I have a bottle now, and a box that’s probably going to find itself, at least in part, stuck in an art journal, because it’s beautiful in its wornness. This also means I am going to have to buy some converters, and possibly a syringe (to refill the technically disposable Pilot Varsity pens I hoard like a dragon hoards treasure) but that is for another day.

Today is time to get pages of Her Last First Kiss ready for N’s critique. Tuesday is Wednesday this week, which does not help  my disorientation regarding what day it is but I am glad to have the extra breathing room, to make sure I turn out the best pages that I can. Breaking the habit of holding back can be difficult, though I am up for the challenge. Hero and Heroine have to live out their story the way that it goes, and that means I have to write what happens in the movie in my head. If this means putting stuff on top of stuff, then I need to make sure that’s what I’m doing.

morningpagesaltered

This weekend also brought a trip to the craft store, which meant Tim Holtz stuff is probably going to come home. This time, it was a canister with several rolls of decorative tape inside it. That’s two different tapes used in the frame on the pages above. This particular book had several false starts before I figured out what its true purpose was (my daily task list.) The original pages were too plain, even with the grid lines. Meh. Nothing to see here. Add some interesting borders, though, pattern on pattern, color on color, and now we’re talking. With two weeks left in my current morning pages book, I’m thinking I might consider taking an existing book with ruled pages and adding the interest myself, with tape and a few other mediums.

Which is basically what I’m doing with this draft of HLFK. The basic pages are there already. What they need are the extra touches that make this story unique. Time to climb inside Hero’s and Heroine’s skins and look at the world through their eyes. Sub out any other character for either of them, and we would not be having this story, because those different people would do different things. Those richly textured historical romances, dripping with atmosphere, are the things I love to read the very most, so they need to be what I put out there in the world.

I don’t like veering from schedule very much, but there are times, like this one, where even a smidge of breathing room comes in handy. That gives room to stretch, to observe, to pick out patterns, layer together things that might be two great tastes that taste great together, or they could be a colossal mistake. Thing is, with that breathing room, there is time and space for course corrections when needed. Time to move things around and make sure all is well with the fictional world. It’s not an excuse to slack off, but a chance to make sure things are done as well as they possibly can be done. At least that’s the theory. We’ll see how practice goes.

Typing With Wet Claws: A Writer’s Mind is a Terrible Place Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Anty  had to check to make sure it is Friday, because it has been one of those weeks. Anty already talked about that here, so I will not go over it again. Suffice it to say that she has been using her calendars more than usual this week, because it has been more than a little confusing. Part of today is still part of yesterday , part of tonight may get moved to Sunday, because Saturday night is the new Sunday morning, and Anty still has not had that nap. She also has not been to her favorite coffee house in two weeks, by her best guess, and that makes her crabby. Nobody likes it when Anty is crabby. That is when she needs an extra dose of mews therapy, which is where I come in. Well, actually, I will come in anywhere as long as the door is open. Yes, that includes the bathroom. If the door is closed, I will sit outside it and wait. I can do that for hours.

One thing that has not changed is that I have to talk about where you can read Anty’s writing from this week, other than here. As always, Anty posted at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she wrote about the escapist nature of romance fiction. Anty does not like that term, escapist, because she does not find it accurate, but you can read more about that in her post. That post is here, and it looks like this:

bur240217

Anty did not put any new reviews on Goodreads this week, because it was a crazy week, and she mostly wrote before bed instead of read. She hopes to do better on that this coming week, but if you are interested to see what Anty is reading, and you do not already follow her on Goodreads, you can find that out on her Currently Reading page. That page is here, and it looks like this:

grcurrentlyreading

Hmph. Okay, it looks similar to this. There is a reason cats are not widely known as graphic designers. There is not a picture of me on the page. I put it over reviews by other people, because I do not have permission to put their reviews on this post. That is because I did not ask, and, anyway, there can never be enough pictures of me. Some of these books, Anty started reading a while ago, and then life exploded, but that does not mean she is not interested in finishing them, if that is all right with the universe. Anty sometimes yells that part, even if I am the only one around. I know she is not yelling at me, so do not worry about that.

This week has been an interesting one for Anty, which means it has been an interesting week for me. For one thing, Uncle was home a lot more than he usually is. I liked that, because he is my favorite. I do not care that much what he is doing; being around him is enough for me.  Anty likes having him around, too, and he is pretty good about understanding that a closed office door means only knock if there is an emergency or food. Uncle starts his new job this afternoon, so it will be me and Anty again, which is kind of normal. Anty thinks she will probably go to the coffee house so that they know she did not fall into a sinkhole, but she will probably take a notebook instead of her laptop. Sometimes, Anty has to unplug.

When Anty feels all rushed and crowded, then she knows it is time to unplug. Turn off the computer (unless she is playing Sims or chatting with friends) and open a notebook, book or make some art. That is not wasting time; that is filling her well. When she identifies a picture of otters on the computer as “puppies,” then she knows it is time to shut the whole day down and go to sleep. She is still not sure if she has to, at some point, identify  actual puppies as “otters,” to reset the balance, but that is the kind of thing that goes through the mind of a writer when she is stressed.

There is a good side to that, too, though. Another thing that goes through Anty’s mind when she is stressed, is that she needs to write things out to process them. It is like talking on paper for her, which is useful when she gets this need in the wee hours of the morning and all the other humans are still asleep. Later today, after she crosses her essentials off her to do list, she will fill the last two detachable pages of the Moleskine she keeps in her purse. That still leaves her with the decision of what to do with the non-detachable pages, as the whole point of having that book was so that she could take out the pages when she needs to transcribe them, but she will deal with that later.

For now, it is time for her to take the computer back, so that is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebanner01skyebye

 

Unbalanced

This week, Saturday was Sunday, Sunday was New Year’s Day, Monday was Saturday, Tuesday was Monday, Wednesday was Tuesday, though I’m writing its post on Thursday, and I could use another nap. Well, nap, period. In the words of Alice (of Wonderland, not Mel’s Diner) I haven’t had one, so how could I have another? The forecast says we may hit sixty-six degrees today. In northern NY. In February.  It’s kind of a mess.

I don’t like messes. My ideal weekend, in fact, would include cleaning and organizing my office. Maybe the dining room too, if I get really wild. I want to put things where they go, turn piles into files; that sort of thing. Yesterday, I kept forgetting what day it was, and exclaimed, “oh, puppies!” when I saw a picture of otters. It’s probably a good thing I am not a veterinarian, if I can’t tell the difference between otters and puppies, and definitely a sign that I need one of those nap things. Also, to get out of the house and be around people who do not share my mailing address. My people meter is low.

Tomorrow, Real Life Romance Hero starts a new job, so Friday will, hopefully, look like a normal Friday.  I could use the routine. Today is part Wednesday, a little Tuesday, definitely Thursday, and my writing/critting commitments for the day take me through past, present and future. This is enough to make me throw up my hands and retreat to a blanket fort, but that would probably be too hot at sixty-six degrees, so blanket fort is not a viable option, even if the blanket fort does have Netflix.

Because Sunday was New Year’s Day, it wasn’t a writing day, or writing prep day, and that made Monday a grumbly, frantically preparing pages for Tuesday morning critique day. Which ended up being moot, because the one time N doesn’t check her email, so she doesn’t see my message, asking if she could please print my pages, because the family car is committed to RLRH’s job interview (this is the job he starts Friday) and I still can’t find what’s jamming the printer that is right next to my desk, so this means there is still a part of Tuesday out there, ready to pop out at me at some yet to be determined time, after N has had a chance to read and comment on said pages.

Tuesday night, which my brain remembers as Monday, even though I know it was Tuesday, I didn’t watch This Is Us, which I love, because I was working on Her Last First Kiss, and, while part of the reason I stayed at the keyboard instead of shambling off to the living room was that I wanted to stay with the story (because N’s comments, when she had me talk to her about the new scene, even though the pages were cozy in her inbox, got me going and I wanted to capture them) another part of it was that my brain was too flat out tired to switch from writing mode to watching TV mode.

Right now, I have a cable knit blanket in my lap, not because I am cold (though I am sitting directly under a ceiling fan) but because I feel more comfortable with something on me, and also because it’s normal. This has not been a normal week. This week also brought the passing of a cousin I hadn’t seen in quite some time, though we had recently reconnected on FB, as well as renewing acquaintances with two other cousins. One of them now lives in the same city where I attended college for two years, and where I met RLRH. Small world.

Today’s task list is a mishmash of things from other days, shuffled around, grafted in and cobbled together. As much as I like making order out of chaos, this feels like a lot of chaos. This is where Anne Lamott’s famous one inch picture frames come into use, as well as Barbara Samuel’s “in this moment,” writing prompt. What do I need to do right now? Do that. Everything else can wait its turn. Right now, it’s this blog entry. After that, tea.

Technically, slipping out to the coffee house this afternoon is actually last Friday, in case my personal timeline wasn’t spiraled enough, but I know there will be tea and I will plug in my earbuds and open a notebook or turn on my laptop, and, as a once upon a time writing group facilitator often said, the practice begets the product. Her rule was that, once our pens hit the pages, they had to keep moving until she called time. It didn’t matter what we wrote on those pages, only that we kept the pens moving. Our brains knew how to write, and, they know that’s what happens when pen is on paper.

There have been many times this week, when I didn’t know what day it was, or 5PM felt like 10PM, 2AM felt like 6AM and 9PM at the same time, but the one thing that has remained a constant is the writing. Hero and Heroine, Girl and Guy, know what they’re doing, where they’re going, and how they’re going to get there. Think I’ll let them drive.

 

 

Off-ish

Yesterday, I went to a New Year’s party. A bit later than the usual New Year’s party, yes, but these things happen in life. The dynamic was different than most years, but the company was still good, there were bacon wrapped figs (or maybe they were dates; it does not matter, as they are gone now, and they were delicious) and there were books to swap, which absolutely did happen. I not only came home with an armful of Patrick O’Brien books for Real Life Romance Hero, but a couple of big, thick, emotional historical romance novels, as well as two containers of leftovers, a lovely gift from our hostess, the lovely and talented M.P. Barker, and my brain, or perhaps my body (possibly a collaboration between the two) not entirely sure this was not an actual holiday. I was doing holiday things, after all, and went to a holiday place, where I saw holiday people and ate holiday food. Ergo, holiday.

The calendar is not giving me clear signals in either direction. The block for today says President’s Day, but it also says Monday, and I did haul my tired bones to the laundromat, where I gobbled nearly a third of a Barbara Samuel Georgian historical romance I have been wanting for literally years. We will not go into the brain fog that required me to fashion an impromptu scooping system out of the detergent box I got from the vending machine, so I could scoop the skin destroying remains of detergent a previous patron had left behind in the place where my hypoallergenic detergent goes. That brain fog, though, did give me a clear direction. I emailed N and asked if we could move tomorrow’s crit session to another day this week. N was amenable, and we picked a date.

Then, I took a nap. Hung out with Real Life Romance Hero, who also needs some downtime today. Had lunch delivered, consumed same with the two of us standing at the kitchen counter. Watched one of the food shows on the DVR. Figured I may as well mosey on into the office and get the blog post written, so I could say I did something today. Well, there was laundry, but I mean writing things. There’s a difference.

Though the honor of spending time in M.P Barker’s lovely home now means that it is a holiday, time to stuff myself with food, talk to people I don’t get to see every day, and go home with at least one book I did not possess before, there were many years when being in that house meant that it was Wednesday night, and that meant nag group, which meant I had better have pages ready. Though they weren’t always for the WIP of the moment, there were always some pages to bring, and I greatly appreciate the input I received from the others around that table.

Though I have my Tuesday mornings with N and email check ins with Critique Partner Vicki, I do not have a new version of nag group in my current location, a question I answered a few times yesterday. I will admit to some nostalgia, and I did float the idea of resurrecting some virtual form of those gatherings via modern technology, so we will see where that takes us. I had the chance to chat with some old friends, who are on different writing paths, and meet new people, two of whom asked where they could find my blog. I handed out a couple of cards, and do hope they’ll drop by. :waves hi, in case they are reading this right now:

When the sun set, Housemate and I headed for home (and The Walking Dead, because we have our priorities.) My brain drifted (no worries, I was in the passenger seat) from story ideas, to memories of writing groups past, to current WIPs and the upcoming NECRWA conference, my very first shot at co-presenting a conference workshop. By the time I got home, I had enough energy to watch The Walking Dead and pour myself into bed immediately afterward. I fully intended to push through and do all the stuff I planned on for a regular Monday, but this isn’t a regular Monday, and the week that went before is certainly anything but regular, so maybe a break from routine might not be the worst thing I could do.

Still, I’m  here, writing this, because, dangit, Monday is blog day, and I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t post something. So, this is here. Not really on, not really off, more like that comfortably aimless in between that I usually associate with the tucked-between week. Not that I’m thinking I’m going to get a whole week of that, because tomorrow is indeed a regular Tuesday, and there are chapters to write, that last Golden Heart entry to judge, pages to print, and laundry to put away, but, for today, I’ll take a moment or three, refill the well, so I have something to draw from tomorrow. Tomorrow, it’s on.

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Did Not See That Coming Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This week, Anty was very crafty with her picture taking. She sat on the floor, in the doorway of my room, while I ate, waited for me to finish, and then she took my picture. I was not prepared for that, but it did give room for me to play with adding graphics, so that is a good thing, even if I did not expect it. This week had some unexpected things in it, but before I can get to that, I have to talk about Anty’s writing first, so I will get to that right away.

As usual, Anty was on Buried Under Romance this week, and this time, she talked about the changing definition of Happily Ever After. Does that mean that the humans never have any problems because they are in love, or does the fact that they are together enough? Does it mean something else? What about Happy For Now? Anty’s post on that subject is here, and it looks like this:

bur170217

Anty was also very excited to read her first Juliana Gray historical romance, because Miss Juliana is also Miss Beatriz. That’s Beatriz Williams, whose historical women’s fiction Anty loves, so she could not wait to see what the same author could do with an actual historical romance. She was not disappointed. You can read her review here, and it looks like this:

aladyneverliesreview

Now we get to the unexpected part of our post, but, since I already said in the title that things were unexpected, you probably expected that. This proves you are smart. I will start with the Anty part. If you read Wednesday’s post, then you know Anty did not expect to twist her ankle inside Panera, when she’d taken pains (see what I did there?) to avoid injury on her way to the place, but that is what happened. Thankfully, it was not a bad twist, and Anty did not even need the wrap on the second day, so it was not a big adjustment, but she is glad that writing involves sitting, and that her office chair is very comfortable. It is cat approved, by its previous owner, but not this cat. I still hate Anty’s office carpet and am trying to guilt her into having it taken out.

The other unexpected thing happened yesterday. Uncle got a phone call to come in to work ahead of his shift, along with everybody else. He was not expecting that, but he did suspect what it might be, and he was right. The company Uncle worked for closed down many of their locations in our region, and Uncle’s workplace was one of them. Nobody had expected that, but that is what happened. Uncle and Anty are not worried, because Uncle is smart and very good at what he does, and he has a plan.

Having a plan helps a lot when the unexpected occurs, which, Anty believes, one should expect. Emergencies and accidents very rarely give advance notice. That is why there is a backup bag of treats in the pantry, and I do know about the kitty laxatives they said we were all done with. Even though we all hope I will not need them again, in case I do, they are there. I should hope I would get one of those emergency treats afterward. But I digress.

Anty likes plans. She likes them a lot. Plans help her stay on track when the unexpected occurs. Get up in the morning, write morning pages, make task list for the day, do the things on the list. That stays the same no matter what happens. It is like an anchor that keeps a ship in place. Sticking to her plan yesterday helped Anty stay calm and trust that things are going to be okay even with Uncle’s big news. When it was time to work on Her Last First Kiss, Anty opened her notebook, got out her pencil, and figured out what the scene needed to make it better.

Plans also help Anty with her goals. Anty loves her sessions with Miss N and Anty Melva, and would like to make faster progress with each draft of these books. That means she needs to find a way of tracking what she is already doing and focusing on the things that will help her do it best. For some writers, setting a word count is very helpful. For Anty, not so much, but if she keeps track of different things about each session, then she can see the patterns emerge. What time of day is best for her (hint: that is morning, even if there are other humans around, so this may require leaving the house on some mornings) and worst (after 2PM, she gets sluggish, and do not ask her for anything between 9-10 PM unless you like to be snarled at; I,personally, do not.)

One thing that has worked for Anty in the past is setting a page count goal. She does not know how this came to be (much like how her electronics came to be pink whenever possible) but she and Miss N generally exchange six pages at a time each week. Anty finds that a comfortable amount to exchange, but she would like to step things up a bit. Maybe not shove a whole pile at Miss N at once, but we are past the initial draft here, and Anty’s story people are eager to meet their readers. It is her job to facilitate that meeting.

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

skyebye

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling
(the kitty, not the book)

 

 

What if I Fall?

This week, N and Mr. N picked me up for the weekly critique session, so I wouldn’t have to tromp through the arctic tundra of the park, and risk bodily harm in the ice and snow. Good people, those Ns, but what actually happens? I twist my ankle on my way from microwave (occupational hazard of extroversion; food goes cold while blabbering, and needs to be reheated) to seat. I do not remember exactly what happened, but apparently, I was airborne for a second there.

I do remember my bagel getting some serious air and landing, thankfully, on the table, so no bagels were harmed, but my ankle is another story. My favorite Panera worker rushed over to make sure I was okay and had not hit my face on the table. I had not. I remembered enough to remove my boot in case of swelling (I saw none at the time, Housemate said there was some, when she got home that afternoon) and ask Panera Worker for an ice pack. Panera worker dashed into the back and returned with an impressive bag of ice, and the admission that they live with a nurse, so they know how to make these things. I propped my foot on an empty chair, plopped the ice bag atop it, and returned to bagel preparation. This particular ankle has been noodley since I was but a wee little princess, so this honestly was no big deal for me. Had worse, had wrap for ankle at home, had crutches if needed, I’m there, N is there, we have pages, let’s do this.

Since N and I have been doing this critique thing with each other for a while now, it’s no surprise that we’ve picked up on patterns in each other’s work. The word, “more,” comes up a lot. In Her Last First Kiss, Hero is an artist, and N and Mr. N are both artists, and one of Hero’s preferred mediums is one of Mr. N’s preferred mediums -I did not plan that, it happened that way, as such things sometimes do- so this is an extremely useful connection. In this scene, Hero is one gobsmacked fellow, unprepared for encountering Heroine for the first time, especially in the place and context, and he’s knocked off his axis by the experience.

N marked this passage as one of my “more” places. Hero needed to see more. Sure, it’s nice that Heroine has symmetrical features, but it’s more than that. Her hair isn’t  only “brown,” but sienna and umber and the color a perfect cup of tea is before the milk goes in, and he doesn’t have all his paints with him, but he’s in London, so he’ll have to go buy them and he doesn’t have a painting room here yet and uh, what did the other people in the room just ask him? He wasn’t really listening. Oh crud, she looks impatient. How long was he off in art world? Stuff like that.

This is good. This is stuff I need to know, to bring Hero and Heroine’s story and their world to life on the page. It’s also scary. That lush detail stuff is what I love in historical romance. 1784 people are not 2017 people. They have a whole different frame of reference. Hero is always going to see in terms of lines first and then colors. Heroine is always going to want to make order out of chaos (and Hero is pretty much a whole lot of tall, ginger, misunderstood chaos on two legs) so that’s always going to affect the choices they make, and the windows through which they observe, and participate in, their world. This is why I go for emotionally complex historical romance over, say, funny contemporary (which is a whole other skill set.)

At the same time, it requires silencing (or at least muting) years of “whittle it down” and “make it simple” and “fast, fast, fast” and other commonly heard pieces of writing advice, some of which are not as well suited for this kind of story. There is no writing cabal that has hard and fast compulsories on this kind of things. To put it in terms Hero can understand, I get to color with all the crayons in the box. The good thing about that is that the combinations are endless; I can dive in, go nuts, put hot pink next to red-orange and scribble gray on top of the whole thing. I can work it so that the difference between blue-green and green-blue makes total sense, throw a neon in with a pastel if that’s what the particular picture needs.

The scary thing about that is also that I can go nuts. More combinations means more combinations that could go wrong, and what if “they” don’t like it? Oh, but, what if they do? Ships in harbors and all that rot. I’d rather take the chance than be safe. As Critique Partner Vicki once said, “intentionally go too far.” It’s easier to take out than to put in, very much so. So that’s what I’m doing now. Making notes on where I can do that whole “more” thing, and then moving along as though I had already made those changes. I’ll get those on the next pass. My goal is to get this book out in the world, on an editor/publisher’s desk, or on the road to indie release, before December.

Am I going to fall somewhere on that road? Yes. That’s not what matters. What matters is that I get back up, ice that twisted extremity, and dive in as deeply into the characters and their world as I possibly can. Kind of appropriate that my ankle twisted before the critique session began, in that regard. By the time Mr. N came to collect us, I was ready to see if I could put weight on my ankle (I could) and Panera Worker came back by our table with a big smile and a free pastry ring, to make the day better. I’m pretty sure not all rewards of keeping on keeping on in this writing game come with cream cheese and cherry filling, but, sometimes, they do.

pastry-ring

Perspective

Yesterday, it snowed. A lot. I don’t have any numbers to track the exact measurements, but this is what the view from my stoop looked like around four in the afternoon:

snowydayinalbany

Today, I am stuffing a ten pound cat into a two pound bag, timewise. Sunday afternoons are often used for errands that couldn’t get done when there were other engagements on Saturday, which is the case this week, since I had my CRRWA meeting. No regrets on that one, as I got to see friends, meet new people, and learn how to use social media more effectively (you are forewarned.) I also love snow, and no, I did not at all mind shoveling in front of our house, because that’s the grownup version of playing in the snow. It did, however, also mean that the emergency load of laundry I had planned on doing Sunday turned into the two emergency loads I’m doing today, which collide with the hunker down and whip chapter four into shape session I had originally planned for today. Something is going to feel the bite, because I have not yet figured out how to stop or expand time, and if that ends up being writing work, that, as well as the weather, may affect my plans for tomorrow morning.

That would not make me happy, as I love my Tuesday morning critique sessions, especially since we set a time limit on chitchat so that we can get down to the business of getting these books done. Life happens, however, and there are times when the sane thing to do is go to Plan B. Move the critique session to another morning, so we can have time to give our work some actual brain, instead of keeping one eye on the clock, which is prone to attracting Hypercritical Gremlins (mine have been largely silent lately, so I do not want to show up on their radar.) Postponing could also give me the chance to get some sleep (did not last night) because sleep is also essential for braining. Right now, I don’t know.

What I do know is that the time between laundromat trips is for getting this blog written and posted, for charging my phone, because I’m going to need it, and for getting all the handwritten notes for various projects in one place, so that they will be there when I get back from Laundromat 2.0. Right now, I feel crowded and overwhelmed, which I have lately learned is a signal that I need to step back,. reassess and then prioritize. Since lack of laundry would mean naked family, and this is winter in northern NY, nakedness is not a highly desirable option. Since lack of writing would mean lack of new book, that is not a highly desirable option, either.

Laundromat waiting time is good for reading (works toward my goal of reading more historical romance novels) and making notes in longhand (works toward progress on writing projects) so it is possible to do something while laundry is doing its thing. This is not the day I had hoped to have, but it is not the end of the world, either. I can do something. Maybe not everything, but something.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody ever spat out a four hundred page piece of popular fiction, that was both critically acclaimed and a fan favorite, plus provided the writer with a living wage, over the course of one morning, with no effort whatsoever, so that is not a realistic expectation. What is realistic is taking stock of what I’ve got on a particular day and doing what I can with it, to the best of my ability. Today, that means get this blog entry up, do laundry load #2, come back, work on as much of chapter four as I can, and, if it’s going to make me miserable and cranky and snappy and anxious, I have the option of giving myself, and my critique partner, more time.

On the one hand, posts like these are not always the kind I intend to write. On the other, sometimes, they happen. This is one of those. When I first moved Typing With Wet Nails to this new platform, it was with the intention of talking through the whole process, good, bad and ugly. Today, I feel rushed and crowded. Saturday, an idea pounced me before I could head off to my CRRWA meeting, so I scribbled down the bare bones. Later that night, I scribbled down a bit of muscle and connective tissue. At some other point, I will put those together in a file and very likely start a future ideas notebook, but, for now, my focus has to remain on what’s currently on my plate; Her Last First Kiss, the Beach Ball, and blog posts, here and elsewhere. Those are the essentials, even on double laundromat days.

Typing With Wet Claws: Cinematic Appreciation Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Yesterday, we had a lot of snow. I mean, a lot. One of Anty’s friends said he had fourteen inches at his house. Another friend said she had eighteen inches where she was, and that, at that time, the snow was not done snowing. It is done snowing for now, but we may get more tonight (or maybe some rain) and then more again on Sunday. I guess it really is winter now. Good thing I am a Maine Coon cat, descended from Norwegian Forest Cats, who were built for this kind of weather. Also, good that I live indoors, in an apartment with walls and a ceiling and heaters in every room, with humans who feed me every day, and care that I am happy. I even have my own blog. How many cats can say that? Only the ones with blogs, I would imagine.

But enough about me (just kidding, there can never be enough about me) before I can talk about anything else, I have to talk about Anty’s writing, because that is the price I pay…um, I mean the privilege I enjoy. Yes. That is what I meant. As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this past week, talking about those times when a reader considers bailing out of an ongoing series. Anty had that thought herself this week, because she read a book where Very Bad Things happen to kitties (she would not tell me what they were, and I am not going to ask) and she almost stopped reading that author because of it. She is not going to say it here, because everybody’s reading experience is different, and she understands why that author put those things in the book, so the post talks about the principle of such reading dilemmas. It is  here, and it looks like this:

burdoserieshaveofframps

Next, Anty read another book after that one, to make her not think about how the Very Bad Things made her feel, and she liked that book very much. That one is Duke of Pleasure, by Elizabeth Hoyt, and she wrote about it on Goodreads. That review is here, and it looks like this:

grdukeofpleasurereview

For those of you who are keeping track of these sorts of things, Anty is on track for her goal of reading 90 books in 2017, and she has another goal, to help her read more historical romances this year. That is the Historical Romance Reading Challenge, at the I Heart Romance & YA blog. That challenge is here, if you are interested in participating, and the badge, which Anty will figure out how to put where it can be seen all the time later, looks like this :

hr-challenge-2016-badge

Anty is going for Queen level, which means she needs to read at least fifty historical romance novels this year, including one from each of the following categories (note: romances with cats is not one of the categories, which I find misleading, because it has “cat” right there in the name, but whatever) : medieval, Regency, Victorian, western, pirate, historical romance with a diverse main character, and time travel. Anty has read nine historical romances so far, and can already cross off Regency, Victorian, western, and historical romance with a diverse main character. Anty is already thinking of making her own challenge next year, with more challenging categories. She would add more historical periods, and maybe some plot elements or character types. I will be updating everyone at least once a month on how Anty is doing on this challenge.

We are still in negotiations as to how much I am allowed to share about Anty’s works in progress, so more on that later, but since we have hit the me portion of this entry,. I will go right to that. This week, Anty did something amazing. She found some movies on YouTube, that are made especially for kitties. it is about time. My favorite, so far, is called Koi in Their Winter Tank. It is full of action, which I like, because I am a sight girl. It also has some mystery to it; where does the orange fishie go when he swims off the screen? I know what you are thinking, and you are wrong (do not worry, I was, too) he is not behind the computer. I checked. If the movie is on a tablet or phone on the floor, he is not next to it, either. I checked that, too. Must be some amazing special effects. It is here, and it looks like this (screenshot, because Anty is making wrap-it-up noises and I will learn how to embed video later):

koiintheirwintertank.png

 

This  movie is great. I shift my paws and boop the screen with my face e every time I see it. Anty has shown me other movies, but I like this one the best. She has shown me movies of other animals, like birds and mice (there were real  mice in my old apartment, and they were not pets. I will allow you to fill in the details on that one)   Those movies had sound, though, and I prefer the silent films. When there is sound, I get too confused, looking for the animal that is making the sounds, and do not watch the screen. Maybe if Anty can make the mouse and bird movies silent, then I might watch those, too. Anty says that, later, she will show me movies with kitties in them, and see how I like those. I liked kitty halftime at last year’s Puppy Bowl, so Anty thinks I might like movies of kitties, too. It is always affirming to see people like oneself in movies. Representation is important.

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

skyebye

 

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling
(the kitty, not the book)

 

Past Present Future

I had plans for this blog entry, took pictures of some of the tools of the trade I use every day, a clever trick I adapted from a notebook blog (which blog, though, I neglected to write down; ironic, that) and give a behind the scenes peek, as it were. What actually happened is that I somehow launched said pictures into space (okay, they are trapped in my draft folder) and it’s blog time, (also that I used the deskscape with a bunch of my paper things already, when I thought it would save the time of taking a new one) but the current desktop wallpaper is one of my very, very favorites (not quite Abbie and Ichabod level, but close) so let’s go with that for today’s theme.

Last week, after I’d finished my critique session with N, I got a text from Housemate, asking me what I was doing. Odd, that, because she should have been at work, and her work directly involves customer service, so sending “what are you doing” texts to household members during work hours is not exactly encouraged. Long story short, mental health day, and did I want to go out and do something? Since A) snow is my very, very favorite weather, and B) this is what it looked like outside at the time:

surprisesnowday310117

I took her up on her invitation. Remember the scene in Gilmore Girls, where Lorelai says snow is like catnip to her? Yeah. Same. Show me the white stuff, and I immediately have all the energy. am in a good mood and want to go do stuff. Preferably stuff that involves me going outside for at least a little while. We do not have snow today. We had some lovely gray clouds, and may get a snowstorm tomorrow, but I see sunshine outside my office window right now. I don’t like sunshine. I’ll consider this a lull between yesterday’s snow/rain and tomorrow’s snow.

Yesterday, I had another critique session with N, and came home energized, as usual. I made notes in my big daddy precious notebook

20151106_093133

Paperblanks silver filigree journal, Maya Blue Grande

this time, with my nifty trick of drawing a line at top and bottom of each page -so the page isn’t blank anymore- in copper metallic marker -so it’s fancy; I love fancy- and then on to the next task on the list, bouncing the Beach Ball around, very much outside my comfort zone. I did have my doubts, and no, the scene was not perfect, but I sent it off to Melva; she’s my partner on this one, so she’s the other half of the writing of this book, and she can point out what needs spiffing. This was one of those feel the fear and do it anyway moments. I am learning to embrace those moments and steer into the skid.

Earlier this week, Rhonda Lane, one of my co-presenters for “Blogging Isn’t Dead,” and the brave volunteer to put together our Powerpoint presentation (I have never done Powerpoint, so this will be another new adventure) asked if I would like to feature one of my books in my part of the …um…intro…thingy…where…they…tell people who we are, or something like that. My first inclination was to say no, my books are too old, but then I pulled up my big girl panties and sent the cover and information for Orphans in the Storm. I love that book. I’m proud of that book. That was the best book I could write at the time, when life was in chaos, and would continue to be for several years afterward, and I still love Simon and Jonnet, and am honored to have been the one to help them along the road to their happily ever after. It also has my favorite cover of any of my books. I mean, look at this gorgeousness:

 

orphansinthestorm

Cover art by Kathleen Underwood

 

Could I write a better book now, :coughtycough: years later? I certainly hope so. I’ve had a whole world more of life experience, some good, some bad, and I’ve written more, read more, taken in more information and influence and and and and…you get the picture. Do I plan on rewriting Simon and Jonnet’s story? Right now, no. They’re fine where they are. They’re happy. They’re good. That’s the beauty of writing a standalone novel; the happily ever really is exactly that. They’re together, they’re happy, they have an estate to manage, probably a gaggle of mini-thems by now, they have friends and family, and they’re better for what they’ve been through, even if they didn’t think that’s how things would turn out at the time they were actually going through it.

Would I like to revisit the seventeenth century at some point in the future? Absolutely. Right now, though, my focus is on the century that comes after that. I’m writing Hero and Heroine’s story, and there’s a seventeenth century tie to Guy and Girl’s story (not time travel; that’s a whole other kettle of fish) and I’m slowly gathering things I might like to play with for the next phase of the journey. That’ll get me where I need to go.