June Planner Post

Monday’s post on Tuesday once again, so that says a lot about how the weekend went. The start of a new month means setting up new planner sections, and, this month, I am trying something different. The last month, even last week, have put a few more things on my plate, so I am going down to one weekly planner instead of two. I wasn’t feeling the setup in my white Webster’s Pages ring bound personal planner, though I still love the binder, so I will probably be repurposing said binder as a different sort of notebook.

Okay, June, let’s do this.

I am surprised that I have not named my Heidi Swapp ring bound planner, but maybe that will come as we get to know each other better over the summer. While I had originally planned for this to be only my writing planner, juggling two ring bound planners was getting to be too much, so I am streamlining. We will see how long that lasts, but, for now, everything is going in here.

The current setup…I think

During several of the slumberless parties my brain has thrown over the past month or so (aka insomnia) I have watched a lot of planner videos on You Tube, and discovered that I strongly prefer a vertical weekly layout over horizontal. Guess what every planner I own has for weekly layouts. Horizontal. Do-not-want-al. Good thing, then, that this particular planner can kind of fake it, with the horizontal boxes broken into two parts, blank and grid.

The grid part is clicking immediately. The blank part, eh, not so much, but it’s a good place to put stickers and possibly work on some sketching/visual art stuff. Maybe. I am looking at some printable horizontal layouts for next year, because I can’t bring myself to entirely throw out a whole half year’s worth of pages, but I allow that I may crack.

Right now, my days are pretty full, and I like it that way. Melva and I are going over the last-last-last-last galley copy, with the knowledge that this is it, no changing anything once we go to print, it is there forever, and pause here for us both to run around our respective homes, screaming, arms flailing, before we sit our butts down in our chairs and look over it One Last Time. We have been discussing series names (eep) and What Comes Next, such as the choosing and obtaining of swag, getting our joint site up and running, planning publicity and get Drama King to The End, so we can turn that in and start on Queen of Hearts.

There are also two historical romances whose rights are once again my own, plus a post-apocalyptic medieval novella, who all need homes, and as soon as Her Last First Kiss gets to the end of draft two, that’s another story that needs to go find its way in the world. There is a pirate trilogy hot on its heels, with other ideas, old and new, waiting in the wings.

In the midst of all of that, and the domestic tornadoes of everyday life, I am excited to be a part of rebooting Buried Under Romance to its 2.0 version. This makes it even more important to get my ah, stuff together, and I am hoping that I will fumble my way towards efficiency. I expect a lot of trial and error. My traveler’s notebooks are back in use, the purpose constantly evolving, so check back in July to see what’s up with those.

That’s going to be about it for this post, because my fingers are itching (literally; we are buying a flea bomb later today, even though we live in a no-pet building. Pest control will be here tomorrow; they are used to the writer lady who meets them at the door so she can get back to the keyboard ASAP.) to get back to my imaginary friends, and that galley has a deadline.


A Tale of Three Notebooks

This post is totally about stationery, and it is also totally about writing.  This past weekend, I picked up three notebooks, all dedicated to writing. Here’s the family photo, all three in one place:


We’ll start with the unicorn. The morning pages book I started on my friend, EC’s floor, is now full. Three pages, as soon as possible after waking, every day, no exceptions. Whatever is in my head goes onto the page. That’s the rule. Julia Cameron, who first came up with the idea of this discipline might quibble with my version, because my pages are not the exact size specified; for me, it’s all about the pretty paper. If it’s pretty, I’ll want to write on it. That’s how I roll. Seriously, who could resist these inside pages?


Gorgeous, right? Kind of like a sunrise, if one is so visually inclined. I also love that, unlike my usual choices, this book is wire bound, which means I can fold the cover back and always deal with only one page at a time. I could get used to that.

A more recent addition to my notebook arsenal is the bookend (pun intended) to the morning pages, which I call evening pages. For this one, blame Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose good morning and good night tweets popped up in my head, late one stressy night, when I desperately needed both sleep and reassurance. Evening pages are my pep talks to myself, a quick rundown of the good points of the day, and encouragement for the day to come. I started writing those in a pocket sized hardcover book, that I thought was going to be part of Li’l Pink’s arsenal, but, when I got the new book for morning pages, it felt right to get one for evening pages, as well. Also, the blue book, which I always read as “Trust Your Butt,” was on ridiculously low clearance, so I could not leave it there. No inside pages picture, because these inside pages are plain, lined, white. Nothing to see here. I actually like the idea of very plain pages to close out the day; it feels restful, so I’m going with it.

The newest member of the Pink family does not have a name yet (suggestions welcome, in the comment section) but she is replacing the orange planner, who is taking early retirement. This orange planner and I have been through a lot together. I felt pangs as I put him in his box while packing the old apartment, and was impatient to get him back when we did land in For-Now apartment. Trouble is, dude has, how shall I put this delicately, bad juju. It’s time for a fresh start.

This new, pink, planner has white pages, unusual for me, because I usually require ivory or colored, but, this time, I like the difference. Also different is the fact that the tools I wanted to use for this planner were clear from the first; I’m going minimal. Black pen, one set of pastel highlighters, only a dash of a single color per page. Very much not me, and, yet, very much me, at the same time.

The biggest difference, and by this I mean biggest, biggest, can I really pull this off, difference, is that this planner is focused, not on domestic duties, moving, or other domestic concerns, but writing. Sure, some non-writing appointments will be in there, but mainly as a way to remind me that I have to put the writing time in elsewhere. It’s a new approach for me, and somewhat scary, but exciting, too.


Future Log Pages

The first thing I put in the book was a quick calendar for the rest of the year. No spaces to write things down, just numbers in a square, so that I know what day of the week goes with what day of the month. Next is the future log section, a rundown of dates that are already spoken for, on a regular basis: weekly breakfasts with N, blog posts for this blog, and for Buried Under Romance. Plenty of space to add in other things as they arise. Since we’re coasting into the end of July, I don’t have July things on there, like Skype sessions with Melva (but will be including those, going forward) and the upcoming release of the New York’s Emerging Writers fiction anthology, but, putting it out there, Connecticut Fiction Fest is but a handful of heartbeats away. Definitely time to get my ducks in a row, for that particular pond. I have seen Melva’s PouwerPoint, and it is magnificent.

This week, she and I are putting our final-final-final touches on Chasing Prince Charming, and then back out it goes, in search of a good home. When that happens, we are taking a short break for Melva to focus on her super fun humorous nonfiction, and me to focus on Her Last First Kiss. I already hear N’s voice in my head, reminding me to set a target date for the completion of draft two, and potential markets for same. September brings Fiction Fest, and then, whammo- bammo, it’s October, season of my birthday, Halloween, the clocks rolling back to my beloved early sunsets, and then the holiday season will be upon us.

Said holiday season includes November, which has not only Thanksgiving, but regular National Novel Writing Month, and I need to start preparations now, if I want to participate. At this point, I don’t know. Is that the selkie story’s time, or do I want to have A Moment Past Midnight ready for actual Hogmanay? (That would involve me closing a few plot holes, but nothing a couple of good brainstorming sessions wouldn’t handle. Takers, pop your contact info in comments, and I will return the favor. )

It’s not possible to plan for every aspect of the writing life, but, for me, a fresh start, clear expectations, and a calendar are big steps in the right direction. Not sure yet how I am going to track progress, but I’ll let you know when I figure it out.


Typing With Wet Claws: Need a Bigger Teapot Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Anty did not want to chase me around the apartment this morning, to get my blog picture, so, instead, she edited one of my greatest hits from Instagram this week. Personally, I question her dedication if she switches to Plan B that easily, but I did not make it easy for her, either. She has a bunch of pictures of my blurry turned head, so I kind of see her point, but still…

Anyway, I know the rules around here. That means I need to tell you where you can read Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week, besides here. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday. This week, she talked about when e-books travel in packs, aka box sets. Are they the electronic equivalent of paperback anthologies? Do you read them? Do you like them? Her post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:


Those of you who have been following Anty’s Goodreads challenge will be happy to know that she is now officially back on track. Anty did a very good job on reading this week, and I am proud of her. Now to work on the historical romance side of things, because time for reporting her progress on that is coming soon, on the first week of the month. Tick tock, Anty. This week, Anty read:

Gentlehands, by M. E. Kerr (YA)

Stormswept, by Sabrina Jeffries (historical romance)

Just One Night, by Gayle Forman (YA romance)


Together, they all look like this:


This is a very interesting mix. There is a character in Gentlehands, who is named Skye.  I appreciated that.  She is not a kitty, though. (Also, a bad thing happens to a doggie, and a human who did very bad things is a big part of the book.)  Gentlehands is not exactly a historical book, and it is not exactly a romance, but it was written in the 1970s, which was a long time ago (especially in kitty years) and things that happened in the 1940s, which was even longer-ago (also especially in kitty years,) are very important to the story, and it has romantic elements.

Both Stormswept and Just One Night have strong Shakespearean connections. The male human in Just One Night is a Shakespearean actor, which is to say he is a modern day actor who performs the plays Shakespeare wrote many centuries ago. The story in Stormswept was inspired by what could have happened in Romeo and Juliet, if some things had gone differently, and it is set in the eighteenth century, which is Anty’s focus right now, so she gets points for that.

Anty also says I have to apologize for the fact that comments were submitted, but not posted. Miss Rhonda, and Miss Angelina, I am very sorry. I honestly thought the contact form was an easier way to leave comments. Apparently, it is actually an easier way to send emails. That is now a new thing that I know. Miss Angelina, I will answer your email, because Anty helped me find it again. Miss Rhonda, Anty does not know how I managed to delete your email entirely, but she said it might help if I reminded you that posting can be tricky when one has paws instead of hands. Also, that I am cute. Being cute goes a really long way around here.

Notebook coordination


It has been almost a whole week since Anty got her not-a-bullet-journal notebook cover, and things are going pretty well with that. She still pets the cover, but not as much as she pets me, so I am okay with that. She actually does have a list of lists to make in the gridded notebook that is for lists and tracking, but that does not surprise anybody around here. So far, she is making good use of all the different sections, and has managed to color-coordinate her notebook, notepad, pen, and folder, for Her Last First Kiss critique pages.

This week, Anty had a headache that made it not great for writing in time to meet Miss N on Tuesday, so they moved their meeting to Thursday. Anty told Miss N that this was a hard week to write, because of the headache and domestic tornadoes, but that she was not worried, because Miss N is a very good critique partner, and they would figure out what Anty needed to do, to make the scene work. Thankfully, that is what happened, and Anty spent a lot of time yesterday, writing in one of the notebooks inside the pink cover, to dig deeper into Heroine’s head and turn the emotional thumbscrews. Anty loves turning emotional thumbscrews. On fictional characters, that is. She does not do that in real life, at least not intentionally.

Anyway, about this week’s pages, Miss N pointed out to Anty that Hero and Heroine have basically twenty minutes, tops, to go from being people who both know the same other person, to having a relationship of their own. I was not there, because this happened away from home, but I have been home when Anty has had similar reactions, and she usually makes a very interesting sound, and then requires more tea. This challenge made her think she might need a bigger teapot, because she is going to need a lot of tea.

Even so, she is looking forward to taking a metaphorical scalpel to the pages she has already written, and getting in there, deeper, to work the pulse of this scene. It is not going to be an easy one for Hero or Heroine, because they have to come to a place of trusting each other, and neither of them are very good with trusting other people. I cannot say I blame them. When I was a kitten, and mama brought me home from the shelter, I stayed in my carrier for four whole hours until I finally got hungry and figured it was safe to come out. Mama and Anty say my legs were on backorder, because I stayed super close to the ground for a couple of weeks. Then I figured out they were my humans, and it was probably okay to show them how tall I really was. It is like that for Hero and Heroine, but with feelings.

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



Until next week…


The (Quasi) Bujo and Me (Sort of)

First off, I don’t technically keep a bullet journal, as per the actual system, and second, the term, “bujo,” is one of those nails on a chalkboard words for me. Third, if we’re getting into a list format, because it’s Monday and why not, what actually inspired me to get the nifty item I’ll be blabbering about today is the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, which is not what I have. My cover is by Molly and Rex, and it will probably go through some form of customization, once I can stop petting it, because this thing is soft.

I’ve joked for a long time about needing a notebook notebook, and this isn’t that, not exactly. What it is, is this:



I’ve wanted, for a long time, some way to get all my various notebooks that leave the house with me, in one place, so, when I saw this cover, with four elastics inside, that would allow me to do exactly that, I jumped on it. I didn’t know what I was going to fill it with, at first, and what I have at present will probably change, but here’s the tour of the current arrangement:


Plain pages come first, for idea mapping, whiteboard or Scapple-style. This notebook is handcrafted, no marks on it, a gift from a friend, and I do not know the kitty on the cover, but kitties make everything better, so I have no complaints. Okay, one. White paper is glare-y, but this was what I had on hand for unlined pages. When this book is filled, I plan to replace it with a Moleskine Volant, because A) ivory paper, and B) perforated pages.


Lined pages come next, in a Moleskine cahier. I have a lot of notebooks in this size nd format, (from this maker and others) so I am well prepared for this section. The lined pages are for freewriting/brain dumps, so perforated pages are not needed (though the last…I want to say sixteen…are. These books are for me, to get the rust out of the faucet. Similar to morning pages, but at any time of the day, and more mobile.


Third section is a gridded page Moleskine Cahier, for checklists, goals and tracking. I’m still not sure how I’m going to organize this, but having one place to keep lists of movies to watch, art techniques to try, future character names, etc, feels very stable, so we will see how this turns out. As with the lined Cahier, last few pages are perforated, so I can use them to experiment before I do anything irreversible to the permanent pages.


Last segment is the Moleskine Volant, with lined pages, that has become my latest all purpose notebook. I still don’t entirely appreciate the feel of the cover, as opposed to the cardboard cover on the Cahier, but where the Volant has it over everything else is that all the pages are detachable. All. Of. Them. What is this madness? Perfect for a notebook-loving writer person who has several things going at once, likes to make notes on the go, and then wants to file them with their appropriate notebooks/files/ephemera. Make the notes, rip them out, put them where they actually belong. Genius.

This setup feels right, and it’s much easier to pick up one book and transfer it into the tote of the day, as well reference from one book to another, than search for the right book or try to remember where I put what. This doesn’t take into account my morning pages, planner, or notebooks for individual projects, but, when I need to get something down when away from home, this seems the most efficient, not to mention sanest, way, to fill that need. Plus, it’s pretty, and if it’s pretty, I’m going to want to look at it.

Still not an actual bullet journal, as there’s no key, none of the system symbols or such, but I know what’s where, I can take it all with me, and I will figure the rest out along the way. I’ll know what I need, and find a way to make that happen. I don’t know if intuitive planning is a thing, but maybe I can make it be. Having all this stuff in one place should save time that would be spent looking for what I need, and I can use that time for playing with my imaginary friends instead.

Now if only there were the same sort of cover for my actual office space….


Right Now

Right now, I am in the comfy chair, bare feet up on the footrest, an ice pack on my lower spine (for heat regulation, not injury; I’m fine.) My Paris travel mug sweats on the table to my right. It’s almost empty. I’ll need to get up and refill it soon. On my left, a box fan sits in the open window. Ominous gray clouds lurk low over the old brick building across the street. There was a wonderful pub there when we moved in; it’s empty now. Its neighbors, a bodega and a liquor store, remain. I am listening to a new-to-me singer, Levi Kreis, on my phone, because Spotify can be patchy when using the web player on my laptop, and I’m still hypervigilant about memory, so downloading very little to the hard drive. I suspect that the multiple YouTube videos H sent me, of the Danish Royal family (it was all for writing, really it was) may have left their ghosts in my cache, because there is a full GB less of space than there was the day before, and I clean caches daily. I’ll deal with that later.

Right now, I have enough time to focus on this entry, because it is a domestic tornado day. One of these days, I may start naming our domestic tornadoes. If I start here, this one will be “Anton.” Well, maybe not Anton, because the Anton I know in real life is the owner of my favorite coffee house, and, while he does wear a lot of hats (metaphorically and literally) he has nothing to do with today’s tornado. So, maybe not Anton. Maybe I’ll start naming tornadoes some other time, when I am not actually in the middle of one.  Not entirely sure if that is ever going to happen, so maybe it’s more of a juggling act.

Right now, I want to squeeze in as much blog entry as I can before I have to shift back to family mode. What I would like to do is pack up laptop and legal pad, ensconce myself at Anton’s establishment and delve into my eighteenth century world, but that’s not what this afternoon is going to be. Okay. Can’t change that. What I can change is my response. The day is what it is. I like my family, and spending time with them is not a bad thing. We all work together to make a good life for all of us, and, for every tornado, there is going to be a calm (or at least an eye.) So, it’s going to happen. Not a zero sum game. Since I have my purse notebook, all necessary accoutrements in the accompanying pouch, I can take my show on the road. I seriously think this may become my new default notebook:


All that ink on paper…soooooo calm. Insert happy sigh here.

Margins are perfect for making short lists, and notes on what’s on the rest of the page, where needed. Highlighting dates and headings means I can go immediately to what I want, which I like very much. Seriously considering drawing margins on the pages of other notebooks that do not have them already. Anything at all can go in these all purpose books, and the fact that my newly discovered music crush has some songs that would fit beautifully for Hero in certain situations, should there ever be a Her Last First Kiss musical (hey, I can dream) means that musing on same is perfectly fair game. Anything specific to a particular project, I can copy into the proper book when the time comes, and there’s always transcription to computer file, but I know myself. Longhand is best.

Speaking of longhand, I am locking in these PaPaYa! Art notebooks as my next two morning pages book, since I am now on the second half of the book I am currently using:


Notebook and a half, actually

The “Fearless” book is really half a book, since it belongs to the “uh, no, I actually don’t want to use this book for that purpose” family. It’s about halfway filled, maybe a little less than that, with ramblings in purple ballpoint, which, while a pen I love (promo pen from Hannah Howell) also one that doesn’t show up well on the surface of these pages. The “Love You to the Moon” book, I have been saving for a special occasion. Today, I decided that right now is special enough.


This Saturday, I get to have the great good pleasure of attending my monthly CRRWA meeting, made all the better by a workshop with the luminous K.A. Mitchell, who always puts us to work, which I greatly appreciate. Writer people, if you ever get a chance to take one of her workshops, do. Anyway, a tidbit from her workshop on breaking creative blocks feels appropriate for right now: use the good stuff. Use it now. Beautiful notebook, fun idea, character who won’t shut up; use them now. Don’t wait. There will be more. That’s how creativity works.

Morning Pages, the Heir Presumptive, and the Young Pretender



With one week left in my current, much-beloved morning pages book, the time has come to decide on which book will be its successor, and I’d like to say I’m closer, but a young pretender has entered the fray.  Going by only what I currently possess, the heir presumptive is this lovely bird and flower themed Punch Studio book:


That’s the endpapers in the first picture, internal pages in the second. Same images on all spreads, where I do prefer that they rotate. Banastre Lobster has no opinion on that.

Normally, the issue would be settled, but we have a young pretender to the throne, this spiral-bound Papaya! Art (the exclamation point is part of the name) gorgeousness, which would continue the Paris theme:


Banastre must, of course, investigate.

My heart did a skippity-skip when I first saw this on the shelves at Barnes and Noble, and I don’t remember when the precious actually came home, but I knew I wanted to save it for something special. Since I still have absolutely zero ideas for any Parisian historical romances, morning pages would fit the bill. Inside pages are not lined, but are lovely.

First, we have this inside cover and first page, which presents a challenge when the discipline is one two-page spread for each day:



Name and address on inside cover, obv, but facing page?


After that, we have these:


None of the pages are lined, but those backgrounds…guh. Gorgeous. I want to put things on them. On the one hand, I think Hero would heartily approve of my appreciation of a pre-prepared background, because he used to do that kind of thing, but then again, his experience in Paris (hey, there is a connection!) was not exactly his favorite part of life. He wouldn’t know about the Eiffel Tower, though, as it was a century after his time. The clouds, though, and the design elements, those he knows, and the floral motifs fit nicely for a Georgian gentleman (and his lady.)

The question for me  here is, would the lack of lines be a problem? Also, what sort of pens do I want to use on these pages? They’re thicker than regular paper-paper, but not thick enough that I’d feel comfortable using Sharpies, at least not without an ink test, but I don’t want to sacrifice a page for that. Even so, the rotating designs excite me, and since I plan to increase to seven entries per week instead of six, that’s almost two rotations every week, but not exactly, so monotony would not be an issue. If the pages are visually inspiring, I am going to come to them with a better outlook, and, if stuck for what to put on the page, the images have suggestions right there. If I really need lines, I can draw them on with pencil and ruler. Fountain pens or rollerballs are my best educated guess on the pen issue. I’ve tried another book by this same maker, a different design in this line, with ballpoint, and I was so unhappy with that, that I set the book aside. Will need to resurrect that one, with a better selection of pen.

As I am writing this, I am listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. A writer friend will be traveling from Canada to NYC to see the show live this coming week. Right after the original cast departs, which does bring a pang, but, then again, there will be the energy of of the new cast making their debuts, and there will be the PBS documentary in October, and the original cast has been filmed, (I would totally go see this in theaters, if it were to be distributed that way) so it’s possible to get the best of both worlds there. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack, first as an Independence Day celebration (I know, Banastre, I know. Mama still loves you.) and then as part of my “immerse myself in the zeitgeist” plan of working through this draft.

Her Last First Kiss is set in England, in 1784, and Hero is not a soldier; he’s an artist, and he’s spent the pertinent years on the Continent (see Paris experience, above) so he’s pretty far removed from that business in the Colonies, but he does exchange letters with a cousin, relocated to Canada from New York, because expulsion of British and all that. Heroine is the product of a Russian father and English mother, was raised in England and identifies as British. These two have latched onto me in a way I’d been afraid I wouldn’t experience again after the time travel stalled, and I want to give them the very best story I can, which means I need to let their world seep into my writerblood.

The thing with writing historical romance novels is that the characters don’t know they’re in a historical. They think they’re in a contemporary. For Hero and Heroine, 1784 is their now. They aren’t wearing costumes; those are their clothes. People are people, no matter what century in which they do their people-ing, and that’s what I want to bring to live the most. If Hero were a 21st century person, he’d probably be glued to his phone, but he’s an 18th century person, so he carries around a portable lap desk so he can write letters and sketch/doodle. That was actually the first thing he showed me about himself, that desk. Writers, you understand how that works. Once he saw I was going to treat the desk right, then he came a little bit closer, like a stray cat when their benefactor moves the food dish an inch closer to the porch every day, until both cat and human are astonished that they are cuddling in the porch swing together.

If I were going to let Hero pick the new daily pages book, he’d pick the spiral bound. Which is, obviously, a lot thinner than the heir presumptive. Which may lead me to the same dilemma sooner, rather than later. I am not complaining.


Flop Day and Morning Page Rambles

Today is a flop day. The temperature, at last consult, was ninety-three degrees. The sun is bright. I am fair, and sun-and-heat-sensitive. This means stay the heck inside, wear light, loose clothing, stay hydrated, and plop self in front of box fan for the duration. Since I am a writer, this is not that difficult a task. I have reading to do for various upcoming Heroes and Heartbreakers posts, and two ongoing WIPs. Well, official ones. I have back burners. Lots to keep me out of trouble, and in range of cool, moving air. Real Life Romance Hero is at hand, and, later in the afternoon, the whole household (minus Skye, who stays home, because she is a kitty) will decamp to an air-conditioned car and air-conditioned venue for an extra dose of cooling.

Mornings are the easiest parts of flop days, as it’s not as hot yet as it’s going to be, and I’m a morning person anyway. My morning beverage is cold instead of hot on these days, and comes with me when I write my morning pages. In two more weeks, I’m going to have filled my current morning book, and will need to choose another one. This may or may not be from my current stock. A peek, first, at previous and current notebooks:


Book with the river scene is my previous book; book with burgundy damask flap is current.


The Eiffel Tower theme was not intentional, so not strictly necessary for the new book to continue that tradition, but both do have a rotation of designs on the interior pages, and that is a requirement. That’s where the indecision comes into play. I do very strongly prefer writing on beautiful pages, and having rotating designs on each two page spread reinforces that I am writing two pages and two pages only for this purpose. I could have sworn I had a third Paris-themed book (not the one in today’s featured picture, though that is the new baby; those pages are plain lined ivory, and the only thing I know is that I will be writing on them with red and turquoise Pilot Varsity pens, no clue as to content) at hand, with a black/white/red color scheme, that would be the natural successor, but the book in the crate where I thought it was has plain lined pages, not rotating designs that I remembered. Either I filed it in the wrong crate, or I was engaging in some wishful thinking. Bottom line here is, I need to pick a new morning pages book. I do have two books with rotating designs, as shown below:


Candidates one and two from current stock


I did take pictures of the covers, but it refused to load, and I am not taking pictures of every design in both books, so use your imagination. Assume the art style remains consistent within each book and on its covers. The larger book is Paris-themed, but I’m not sure it’s clicking with me at this precise moment. Neither book has lined pages; some are unlined, and some have grids. The larger book has some pages where the design takes up the entire page, and I’m not sure where I’d even write on those pages. Designs in the smaller book take up part of the page, so that would cut into the writing space, and that’s more thinking than I want to do first thing in the morning, unless it’s one of those days where I get to start off by having breakfast with my imaginary friends. Neither book is out of the running, because A) I have them, and B) I do want to use them one day, but I’m not sure if they belong to this purpose.

There is one other contender currently on hand, and I already know what pen I would use to write in it (turquoise Pilot Varsity, as shown.) :


Absolutely gorgeous, though the spread is the same on all pages. Could get monotonous after  while, but I could possibly alternate with the sepia Pilot Plumix (once I fix the jammed-too-far-into itself cartridge; last week was not good for refilling fountain pens.)for the sake of variety. Still thinking on that one, and I do  have some time. I’d prefer to use something already on hand, but there are some lovely books out there, so the field is still open. Maybe I’ll even find I didn’t imagine the black, white and red Paris book.

When the time comes, the book will be there. This time around, I’m going to increase my days to seven rather than six. I’ve found I miss doing daily pages on Sundays, and have toyed with having a special Sunday book (which would press another book into service, so maybe not an entirely bad idea there) but keeping everything one place seems the more efficient option. Who knows? I’ll know when it’s time. That’s part of this whole finding my way part of the journey, and if it’s paved with more notebooks, all the better.


In the Pen

I have a lot of pens. I mean a lot of pens. I probably picked up some of this from my dad, who was an artist, as I have vivid memories, still, of sneaking into his studio when I was but a wee princess, stealing various mark-makers (pens, pencils, higher end markers, etc) and putting them back exactly where I had found them so he wouldn’t know I’d even been there. If he did know, he never said, but I do suspect I was mostly successful. My pilfering of his papers was harder to camouflage, because, well, paper, but suffice it to say, if I were a dragon, I have no doubts what I would hoard. Pens and stationery. Well, books, too, but that’s another story. Pun intended.

My family is well aware, that, in case of Walking Dead style zombie apocalypse, we are heading to NYC, because I want to loot the Moleskine store. Also any other stationery vendors we encounter along the way, because Papaya! Art, Punch Studio, Markings, Picadilly, Anna Griffin, etc. I am hardwired for this stuff, and make no apologies.

Most recently, I have fallen down the fountain pen rabbit hole, and am waiting for two different orders of ink cartridges to arrive in the mail. I’ve said before, how writing longhand, and specifically with a fountain pen, adds an extra something to getting in the historical world of my characters -though I can also be found making notes on my phone, so I’m not a total Luddite- and I have seriously considered trying a dip pen, to get even further connected to the methods of writing my characters would have known.


The fountain pen gang, as it currently stands, minus my Pilot Plumix, which started the whole love affair, and is now in hiding. Perfect timing, as I have an order of sepia cartridges for that particular pen winging their way to me right this very minute. Ahem. Pilot Plumix, Mommy loves and misses you very much. Please come home. All is forgiven.

ETA: My plea worked. Plumix has returned.

Current roster is:

  • six Pilot Varsity disposable-yet-potentially-hackable pens
  • one Pilot Plumix (now out of hiding)
  • one Jinhao (actual name escapes me, but we are in love, okay?)
  • one vintage MontBlanc Noblisse (thanks, Dad)
  • two ink samples, which names escape me.


On the way are:

  • blue cartridges for the Jinhao, which currently has a converter and lovely purple ink
  • sepia Pilot Namiki cartridges, for Plumix, which is in hiding. Show of hands who thinks I should order another one for backup?




N has helped me troubleshoot the MontBlanc, and suspects that the reason it’s not drawing ink is that the suction on the converter may be all done, a small rubber part having given all it can. Considering that this pen was made in 1971, I suspect it’s had a good run. I’ve done some research on what refills it might take, and have my eye on a lovely set of burgundy cartridges by MontBlanc. Failing that, it looks like the pen should take international standard size, so there’s that option.

I am very new to the whole fountain pen world, still a wide-eyed newbie, and yet, I have an excitement that sparkles my blood when I babble about, use, look at, research, etc my pens. Inking the MontBlanc or Jinhao is a special ritual, one I look forward to, that honors the writing I do, both personal and commercial. It’s not the tool that makes the craftsman, not by any means, but there is a certain recognition, a this is mine knowledge that goes beyond mind, into heart and soul. Does that have an impact on the content of the writing? For me, I have to say yes.

The featured image  at the top of the page is not a fountain pen, but a rollerball, a gift, as part of a business card holder with plaque, that was a gift from a once-upon-a-time friend. I’d loved the pen, and was disappointed when the ink ran out. I want to say there were a couple of refills included, but that was another life, and the mist is heavy between that time and this. Nevertheless, I hoped I’d track it down someday, and, recently, by accident, I did.

I’d hoped to get a refill for a totally different pen, and picked up the wrong refill. I tried it anyway, but pen and refill were not compatible -different makers- and, again, I was sad. then I had a whim – why not try it on that pen? I did. Perfect match, and, as is super important to those of us who love pens and are not independently wealthy, super affordable. Win-win. I wasn’t sure what I was going to use it for, but, when I sat down this morning to write to a friend, my gaze drifted from the cup of fountain pens, to the glossy black barrel, then down to the pad in front of me. Then the pen was in my hand and we danced. The pen did, that is, and by danced, I mean moved across the paper, but pens don’t do much without hands to move them, and, before I knew it, seven pages were ready to wing their way to their intended recipient. It felt right.

Last night, I chatted via Skype with a writer friend, partly about a scene that wouldn’t come and wouldn’t come and wouldn’t come. The computer had eaten the original document the scene was from, jump-drive-that-is-on-its-last-legs says that copy is corrupted, and really, that’s pretty much a sign when that happens. I told my friend that I knew what I had to do next. Shut off the word processing program, plug in my earbuds, and break out pen and paper. Time to dance.





Typing With Wet Claws: Z is for Zoomies Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. My day started early this morning, and, because of that, so did Anty’s. What happened was that I had a case of the zoomies. That means I had too much energy, and I needed to run. A lot. Very fast. I needed Anty to know that I was running, so I would run up to her, chirp, and run away again. I kept that up until she knew it was time for up, which means time for feeding me. As you can imagine, I worked up quite the appetite with all that running. Uncle thinks it is cute when I get the zoomies, but he is not the one who has to deal with the aftermath, which is usually my, um, stuff. Needless to say, Anty required more tea than usual to get her brain into gear after a start like that.

In case you missed them, Anty has two posts at Heroes and Heartbreakers this week. Her post about the second-to-last episode of this season of Sleepy Hollow is here, and her post about the first book in Charis Michaels’ Bachelor Lords of London series, The Earl Next Door, is here. They look like this:


There is a new member of the family that joined us this week. The Jinhao fountain pen Anty ordered online came in the mail. She was super excited, because she did not know it came with a converter, which meant she did not have to wait for the cartridges to arrive. She could ink it right away, which is exactly what she did. The ink is purple, which is very good for writing in Anty’s daily pages book. Here is the pen, resting on that book. Anty gets grumbly when she reaches the end of a two-page spread, because she usually wants to keep going, but that only means she is ready for the real writing of the day.


deskscape, with new pen and daily pages book


Yes, that is Henry VIII peeking out of the top of the Paris notebook. Anty likes to live dangerously. This is one of the perils of being a historical romance writer with various interests. Although Anty does not write her books in her daily pages book, sometimes, she writes about them. That is kind of like zoomies of the brain, when she has so much in her head that she has to dump some of it out on paper. It is fitting that she does that with a fountain pen, because filling those can sometimes be messy, the same as it is putting things down on the page for the very first time. Also, going over the same thing multiple times, exploring new layers, from different angles, until Anty gets what she needs.

Another way of getting things out of her head and onto a page is with her art journals. Those do not always involve words at all, and the supplies smell very interesting, so I like to stay close when she is working on those. This is a current page in progress:

2016-04-08 09.46.03_resized

Anty says that the Picadilly paper is not very good at taking wet media, so she probably will not use it again in this book. That only means she can get a different book, with watercolor paper, so she can use wet media in that one. Pencils and stencils and magazine papers are better matches for this sort of paper. Anty has put more things on this spread since this picture was taken, but we do not have pictures of that new layer right now. There will probably be more by the time she is happy with it and ready to move on to the next spread. She also needs to find stencils that can make different shapes from the ones she used here.

It is kind of like that with writing. In the stage where Anty is with Her Last First Kiss, the bullet point draft, it is only when Anty drops things onto the page and mushes them around, that she can tell what the story still needs. This week, she found out she misplaced a certain character for several chapters, so that, when she needed that character later on in the book, she had no idea where that character would be. This will involve reading through what is already there and finding out how fast that character’s injury would heal, so she knows if they would be able to move around on their own or not. She also is working on a scene where she knows the beginning and end points, but does not know the middle of the scene. She has worked both ends against the middle before, so that is not a new thing, even if it can be aggravating at times.

Anty is also getting ready for the Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference, which will be at the end of the month. If you are going to be there, Anty would love to talk to you. She will have pictures of me on her phone, if that is an incentive. Maybe even some videos.

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

i1035 FW1.1

Until next week…

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

Draw Shapes

We have snow. In April. I am going to have to go outside and shovel the sidewalk. In April. Even though snow is my favorite weather, it had the whole season of winter to show, and it didn’t. I live with two springophiles, and they’re sad at the loss of their favorite season, which makes it hard to enjoy this unexpected dose of mine, so this is an interesting conundrum. I may need to take a snow day.



view from our balcony



For my fellow Sleepyheads, my recap of Sleepy Hollow‘s latest episode, “Delaware,” is up at Heroes and Heartbreakers. Man, this episode. Two particular Ichabbie scenes could count as love scenes -donuts and boat, for those who have seen- because the connection is that strong, and sure, and understated and all the more obvious for it. If this were a book, I would have sticky notes on those chapters, so I could see how they did it and learn to do it for myself. Still no word on whether the show will be renewed or not, so next week’s season (and hopefully not series) finale should be interesting, not to mention cause for great speculation. It is here, and it looks like this:


New member of the (notebook) family came home this weekend, when I saw this gorgeous specimen at Barnes and Noble, in the red dot clearance section:


new art journal – what can I do to it?


I’ve always wanted to try an unlined Picadilly, and one of their larger notebooks, so when I saw this, and it announced it was my new art journal, (because notebooks talk to me; don’t they do that to everybody?) I fell in love with the creamy pages, and spent a rather blissful chunk of time at the kitchen counter, slapping down seemingly random things that were within easy reach, and I’m rather pleased with the results.

Though I don’t remember who actually said this particular gem, I want to say it was in an issue of Art Journaling magazine. In every issue, multiple contributors are asked the same question about their creative process. That’s probably my favorite feature, as I love finding out how different people do the same thing. In one issue, I want to say the question was something like, how to get started when ideas aren’t coming.

One answer stuck with me.  “When you don’t know what to draw, draw shapes.” I am fairly certain I’m paraphrasing here, and probably need to go back and find the actual quote and artist’s name, because that had a big hand in getting me out of a creative funk. Draw shapes. Well, that’s easy. Anybody can draw shapes. So, today, when I sat down with a two page blank spread in front of me, that’s what came to mind. I stuck down a piece of scrapbook paper, tried out some long-neglected stamps, with a longer-neglected ink pad (that pad has earned all the RIPs in the image) and then…nothing. Which is where the shapes came into play.

I grabbed an old stencil that was, apparently, made by IBM, for…IBM-related something, I imagine; my dad probably bought it for art use, and now it’s mine…and started tracing shapes. Then I filled them in with an old #2 pencil, which I’d found in the same box of stuff. I didn’t think, didn’t plan, only let one shape flow into the next one, my mind drifting along with the music, picking out the stories from the songs, the snapshots of emotion captured in sound, and that told me where to go next. When I got to the point of “done” with shapes, I looked at the blank space for a while. It needed a figure. I grabbed a stack of pages torn from old magazines, cut out the first one I saw, glued it down, added some shade, then sat back.

Words. I needed words on that page, but didn’t want to overthink it. What ended up going on the page were the lyrics that played at that exact moment. It worked. Done. I liked the whole process a lot, and will probably do that again, because it gets my creative brain in gear. So, what does that have to do with writing? Other than inspiration, that is, because there was definitely that.

It’s the blank page. It’s the shapes. It’s knowing that I know how to  do this. Once there is a shape on the page, once there is a splash of color, or even a single mark, the page isn’t blank anymore. The first step will invite the next one, which will make the page an entirely different thing from that, and once I get in the groove, it’s easier to keep going than it is to stop. It’s trusting myself and knowing that  what works for me, works for me. It’s feeling the doubt and going ahead anyway, because otherwise, what else is there to do but stare at a bank page? Put something down. Anything. Fix it later. Add to it later. Cover it later. Rip it out later, if you want, but put it down there. Use a template if you need. Go freehand if you want, but start. Make your mark. Draw a shape. Write a word. I dare you.