Morning Pages Have Broken

Okay, not actually broken. More like adjusted, but we’ll get to that. Lots of pictures for this entry. You have been warned.

This morning, I headed outside at six in the morning, to shovel the sidewalk in front of our house. This is what I saw:


Good Morning, Albany.

This morning, I filled the last two page spread in my most recent morning pages book. Normally, I like to plan ahead, and have the next book all ready to go, so I don’t lose any momentum. This time, that was not the case. I love the Paris-themed book by Punch Studio, that I’ve been using; so much so that this is the second copy of that book I’ve bought. I did some online searching, and Ebay shows me that there are three other designs in that line: a different Paris-themed book, one themed around Italy, and another around New York City. Insert sound of angels singing here. Perfect. Only problem is, that I wouldn’t be able to get any of them shipped in time to start the new book.

I didn’t want to have any gaps. The longer away from any creative project, the harder it is to come back, and morning pages have been such a big help that I had to do something. All of the books I’ve had so far have rotating designs, so spread A is different from spread B, different from spread C, and so on, repeating after a short sequence. My visual brain likes that, so it’s a must when I look for a new morning pages book. This time, I couldn’t find any in stores, so I had to get creative. I had a deconstructed Studio Oh book that I’d originally intended for Her Last First Kiss notes, but book and notes were not a good fit, so I put it aside. Plain lined pages, but a lovely, slightly mottled ivory color. Add selections from my collection of design tape, et voila:

It’s not Punch Studio or PaPaYa Art, but it will do for now. What’s important is that it feels like the right place for me to start my day (as opposed to, say, shoveling knee-high snow. That is not a fun way to start a morning.) I’ve found that priming the pump with whatever my brain dumps out in the morning is usually effective, and from there, I go to planning. Here’s the current planner setup:


The small book is my eighteen month planner. Technically an academic planner, but I grabbed it because it is gorgeous and it feels like me. That’s where the day to day calendar things go; appointments, deadlines, RWA chapter meetings, etc. The larger book is a gridded page leatherette Markings book. I struggled to find a use for that one for about two years, lots of false starts and different formats, until I tried the design tape trick. Voila. Now it’s my daily tasks book, in bullet point form on one page per day. In two months, I’ve used more pages than I did in the two years previously. Think I’ve found something that works here, so sticking with it.

Which brings me to Big Daddy Precious, the Papberblanks book that holds my HLFK notes. Few false starts there, as well, but, once I figured out the single line of copper marker at top and bottom of each page, the notebook clicked with me. I started out writing in ballpoint in this book, because fancy book needs fancy pen, but it wasn’t until I switched to mechanical pencil (I do a lot of erasing) that it really clicked-clicked. The ability to erase is incredibly therapeutic, and makes it a lot easier to climb into my characters’ skins and look through their eyes. Will definitely be carrying this practice over into other projects.

The fancy twinkle lights are not on the actual page, but are an accurate representation of how it feels to be writing Hero and Heroine’s story. Which is an extremely good way for a writer to feel about the current WIP. I don’t know what it is about the visual connection that does it for me. Maybe it has something to do with being an artist’s kid, and making art, myself. When things in the really real world look similar to what’s in my head, that makes the connection stronger. Not going to complain about that.



Another week, another blog entry, and the challenge I’ve set for myseslf today is that I can’t work on Her Last First Kiss, until I post this blog entry. Absolutely no idea what to put here, but tomorrow is breakfast with N, and I want to discuss a couple of things, which means I have to write a couple of things, so I’d better get on with this one.

This morning, I sent in a piece for Heroes and Heartbreakers, about Joanna Shupe’s latest entry in the Knickerbocker Club series, Baron. When I first heard there was going to be a series of historical romances set in New York’s Gilded Age, I literally cheered, and the three stories I have read in that world so far have not let me down. I’m now working on another piece, about the Knickerbockers series as a whole, and looking forward to having that to share soon.

Ten days ago, I noticed a new feature on Sandra Schwab’s illustrator Facebook page (she is also the author of one of my all time favorite gothic romances, Castle of the Wolf. Always count the gargoyles. Always. My desk has two.) – a contest for a free heroine portrait. At first, I thought, “wow, that would be cool,” scrolled past, and then scrolled right back, because we miss one hundred percent of the shots we don’t take. I typed a description of the qualities that make Heroine special to me, and hit send before I could talk myself out of it. (I am very good at talking myself out of things like this.) Back to work, business as usual, looking forward to reading about everyone else’s heroines. I have always been a heroine-centric reader and writer, so of course I want to hear about what other writers are doing with their heroines.

Imagine my surprise, later, when my direct message box pops up, with the notification that I won. :Blink: Did I read that right? :blink: Okay, I did. :blink: Oh good gracious, now I have to talk about her. I have to say her name. Well, technically, I already did, and that gave me some nervous tingles, because it’s not like there’s some super secret character naming cabal, and Hero and Heroine’s names aren’t super weird (I hope) or super boring (I hope) but I’ve been guarding them, because they’re part of this whole book baby, and I want to do right by it. By them. I did the only logical thing. Shut the window and paid very close attention to Doing Something Else. I am also very good at Doing Something Else.

Doing Something Else, in this case, lasted only so long before the part of me that screams “Ronkonkoma,” while running down the metaphorical pier at top speed, to cannonball into the water, kicked into gear. My cannonball, in this case, was to look at the information Sandra needed for the portrait, attach a reference picture I’ve been using when I need to describe Heroine, and hit “send.” There. Done. Now Do Other Things.

Fast forward to a few days later, when my direct message box pops up again, and my breath caught at the image beneath Sandra’s “How’s this?” Oh hey, Heroine, there you are. Her face was perfect, the colors exactly right, she had her pistol, and it was her. I’d know her anywhere. Heroine. I knew exactly the point in the story this would have been, and I actually shivered. I couldn’t wait to share her with everybo….wait a minute. There’s her name. On her picture. If I put this out there, everybody will know. Doom will fall. Doooooooooooooom. Writer people, you may identify with some of this.

I took a moment to regroup. 1) since this manuscript’s ultimate destination is publication, that means that I’m going to have to put Heroine’s name out there sometime. Nobody writes “Hero” and “Heroine” throughout the entire book. People are going to know her name. 2) it’s only her first name, and it’s the name she actually uses, not the name that would be on an official document, and yes, the actually used name is indeed a period appropriate pet form of the formal name, so the history police are going to have to shush on that one. 3) this is overthinking and we are cutting down on the overthinkings.

Toward that end, Ronkonkoma:

That’s her. That’s Ruby. Heroine. Part of the prize is the ability to use the image as a teaser, so that’s the next thing, selecting a short passage to go along with the image. That will mean I’ll have a teaser to share here. To show writer friends and readers. To put on the Coming Soon page (which needs some serious updating anyway.) I can’t back out if it’s there. If it’s real. The Ronkonkoma part of me already has plans to commission a Hero portrait (hey, baby steps) because they’re a pair, the two of them, and Heroine has good aim. I do not want to be on her bad side.

So. The picture is there. The next draft is in progress. I know where I’m going, how I’m getting there, and what happens along the way.  This is not only back on the horse, but once around the ring, moving forward. It’s real. Of course, it always was. The fact that the stories and characters who populate them exist in our heads doesn’t mean they aren’t real. This only means that, now, other people know it’s real. Small change, but a big one all the same.







Typing With Wet Claws: Picking Up The Pace Edition

Hello, all. Skye here for another Feline Friday. It is a beautiful autumn day here in New York state, with many interesting things outside my window. but I take my duties as a mews seriously, so I will make my blog post before I go back to watching very important things like birds and cars and leaves. Everything is moving outside my window, and things are moving in Anty’s writing life, as well. I had better talk about that first.

First, as always, Anty’s post at Buried Under Romance, about unusual settings for romance novels, is here: and it looks like this:


What counts as an unusual setting, anyway?



Now that the regular TV season is back on the air, that means Anty is back to telling people who kissed, are probably going to kiss, or do other romance-related things on the big glowy box. This week, Anty covers some big Shamy doings on The Big Bang Theory.  That post is here:×04-shamy-heart-to-heart and it looks like this:



Sheldon and Amy under one roof? What is the world coming to?


Back when we lived in the old country, Anty belonged to the same RWA chapter as a writer human named Corrina Lawson , and they had many interesting talks. Recently, Miss Corrina asked Anty if Anty would be interested in participating in a workshop about blogging, that Miss Corrina wanted to present at this year’s NECRWA conference. Anty said yes, and so Miss Corrina sent in the proposal. The conference humans liked it, so that means Anty will be co-presenting her very first workshop, “Blogging Isn’t Dead,” at a conference. Anty finds that very exciting, and will share more when she knows more.  If you would like to know more about the conference, you can find that out here: and here is Miss Corrina’s website, if you would like to find out more about her:

Anty and Anty Melva also have a workshop that they created together, called Save the Writer, Save the Book, which is about writing through the tough times in life, but that one will be presented at another time. Anty and Anty Melva had meant to submit a proposal for that one, but, as you can imagine, life happened, and they are now looking at other opportunities. Roll with the punches, that is one of their lessons right there. Also, do not punch other humans. It is hard to write with a broken hand. I would imagine. I only have paws, and it is hard enough already. I do have special toes, though, so that might have something to do with it.

Beyond that, Anty started a new morning pages book this week. It is her fifth one, and it looks like this:



All right, that is really two notebooks. The purple notebook is by PaPaYa! Art, Anty’s favorite, and you have seen some of the pages in her desk shots this week already. The other one is for an art journaling class she is taking. Pictures from that class have to stay in that class, so she cannot share those here, but she does have to get a second copy of this book, because the one she has does not have enough pages to complete all the classwork.  Okay, technically speaking, it does, but not if she uses the pages the way she wants to use the pages, which is to put the picture on one side and then write notes about it on the other side. That is what works best for her in this format, and so she will need a second book. That will give her some extra pages once the class is over. She does not know what she wants to do with those other pages, but she will figure it out.

When Anty first got the watercolor book, it was because she inherited some Very Nice watercolors from her papa, who had been an artist. I mean Very Nice watercolors. Professional grade (because her papa had been a professional artist) which kind of intimidated Anty. She likes to make art for fun. (She used to sell altered lunchbox purses, but that was when Olivia was the kitty in this family, so I do not know about any of that.) Using the Very Nice paints to mess around felt like a waste. When her papa got these paints, he probably had plans for them. Anty does not make the same kind of art that her papa did, and she will be the first to admit she knows less than nothing about how to use watercolors, so she did not have any business using these Very Nice paints.

Except that…she wanted them. They come in glass bottles with eyedroppers, and the colors are very, very pretty. Like super pretty. Anty also used to steal her papa’s art supplies when she was a people kitten, basically all the time, and she knew enough that watercolor paints need watercolor paper. She had used the Strathmore books before, with different paper in them, but never the watercolor paper before. She did not even know what she was going to do with it, but then there was the class, and then there was the book, and the paint, and…why not? Right now, pretty much all she does is lay down some color for the background, but that is the way to get used to trying a new thing; slap something down on the page and see how it behaves. It is like that with writing, too, which may be one of the reasons Anty is okay with buying another watercolor book and seeing what happens when the class is over and the training wheels come off.

That is about it for this week, so I had better let Anty have the computer back. She has a post to write for Heroes and Heartbreakers, and she wants to play with her imaginary friends, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,


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

Treasure Box

We’re a few days into what’s usually my favorite week of the year, that tucked-away week between Christmas and New Year’s. Jury is still out on this year’s version. Normally, going to the Laundromat is a lovely pocket of time, and doing so during my tucked-away week would make it doubly so. This time? Not so much.

We’ll start with the fact that I had to put laundry in and take it out of four machines before hitting one that would actually h0ld everything and did not have any mystery detergent residue that would play havoc with sensitive skin. Add in a quick dash back home to collect more quarters, because I ended up using the industrial sized washer. On the plus side, clean bedding.  On the minus side, there was the person who asked me if I was taking the week off, and, when I said that was my plan, answered that they didn’t think that was possible. Since I work for myself, my whole life is apparently “relaxing” and I do whatever I want, whenever I want. Yeah, not the way it works, person. Seriously not. Add in another unwanted interaction,  and I was in a foul mood by the time I got home.

I’m not sure what drew me to the small cardboard box in the hallway closet, but I figured I could use some diversion. I knew it had some of my dad’s art supplies -now my art supplies- in it, and art time is usually a good de-grumper. I noticed the paint first, four small tubes of watercolors. Some pencils, of varying vintage and purpose, some tools that look like they’re for carving clay (can check with a friend whose husband is a sculptor) and then there was the pen. Which I may want to call The Pen.


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Rather plain at first sight, black cap and silvery barrel, but still a pen. I took the cap off.  Either a fountain pen or dip pen, though I can’t see where I could get the pen apart to check for where I’d refill if it’s a fountain pen. That’s when I examined the nib and found the words that caught my attention. Mont Blanc. Huh wuh? That’s a good pen, isn’t it? Quick check online and my suspicions were confirmed.

White snowflakey/star thing is present on top of cap and bottom of barrel, as well as the clip. “Mont Blanc” is on the otherwise plain nib, and “Mont Blanc Germany” is on the cap, below the clip. I’m not finding what model this is, and not sure where/how to continue the search, but when a fabulous pen falls into my lap, I’m going to take it. Whatever ink may have been in there at one time is completely gone now, and if it’s a dip pen (though I don’t see any evidence of Mont Blanc making any dip pens) then that would explain the lack of ink. This is going to require more investigation. The closest Mont Blanc store I can locate is in White Plains, which is a road trip in itself, but Westchester and tracking down the identity of a super cool pen? This may need to happen.


The paints, I think I like on their own rather than together, but this is only my smush them on the page and see what they do stage, so it doesn’t count. That’s still something hard to accept, that I can put something on a page, whether words or colors or shapes, and it doesn’t have to, and as a matter of fact, probably won’t be perfect the first time around, but treasure boxes like these are helping me deal with that.

It’s highly unlikely that I’m going to haul a box out of the storage unit and find it’s full of words, characters, plots, etc (apart from old manuscripts or boxes of books) but that same spirit of playing around, tossing something on the page and seeing what it does -What  color is this, really? What mark does this make? What happens if I get this wet? Can I scratch into it for some texture?- that can only infuse new life. Time to take a few risks again and see what comes out. There may not be gesso for the written page, but there is a delete key. First drafts are meant to be messy, same as laying down a background color; that’s only the base. Many more layers are yet to come before the finished product is ready to be seen.


Card Full

Okay, so I may have taken a lot of pictures in recent times, especially since I committed to blogging about the writing life. Mine in particular, that is. I can’t speak with much authority about anybody else’s, and that includes close writing friends and/or critique partners, because writing is a very individual sort of a thing. This morning, my brain refused to handle English after I participated in #1lineWed on Twitter, but I still had book work to do and a blog post due,so figured I’d make it easier on myself and combine tasks so I could get several things done at once and then treat myself to some well-deserved downtime. The original plan was to have everything done by noon and then the afternoon to rest…yeah, that’s not even close to happening. We’ll work around it.

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The original plan had been to get some much-needed peace by listening to an auidobook and laying down some paint backgrounds in my art books, photograph those and then blog about the benefits of art to the writing process (well, mine.)  This is where I haul out one of my favorite Dutch proverbs: man plans, God laughs. You can imagine where this is going.

I start out by taking pictures of the pages I’d left to dry last session. Four shots in, “card full.” Huh wuh? How did that happen? Well, yes, taking pictures would be the appropriate answer to that question, and, as it turns out, the right one. I seriously didn’t think I’d taken that many, but then again, I hadn’t cleared out the card, either, so set camera aside, lay down some new backgrounds, add some collage, let that batch dry. Take camera to computer and start looking through to see what can go.

Since this camera was inherited from Housemate’s lovely mother, I cannot in good conscience delete the pictures she took, in case they are ever needed at some point in the future. They haven’t been, so far, but one never knows. Pictures of hubby and kitty need to stay until I can transfer them to more permanent storage. I do take a lot of pictures of my workspace. Probably don’t need all of those. Also, food pictures. That only makes me hungry when it’s after breakfast and not yet lunch.

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My art notebooks are theraputic, personal, and a good way to let the creative part of my brain have some time off-leash while not having to deal with language. The paint backgrounds are easy; squirt different colors of acrylic paint at the top of the page, slide old credit card back and forth through them, then all the way down the page. Circles are toilet paper cores dipped in paint and stamped, and the honeycomb-ish effect is same paint on bubble wrap. I’ve been doing pages of combinations of these techniques, with whatever colors strike my fancy at the time. Some, I pick because I don’t like them, but want to see how they work together. If I don’t like a page, I can add more to it until I do, tear it out, or glue it to a facing page, so I never have to see it again. Whatever seems to work at the time.

This may not seem like it has a lot to do with writing, but it does. This is all about intiution and allowing myself to make mistakes. Maybe these colors won’t blend well together. So what? It’s inexpensive paint, inexpensive books, nobody else is going to see it (well, unless I put it on the internet or something like that) and the whole process of it is fun and relaxing. Sometimes,. story issues work themselves out while I’m laying down paint and figuring out what else might go on that page.

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For a long time, I’d look at my pitiful efforts and then the amazing work in Somerset Studio magazines and despair because I wasn’t like that. My backgrounds didn’t look like theirs, I don’t gain inspiration from the same sources as a lot of the contributors, didn’t have the fanciest tools, the word “journal” has always sounded like nails on a blackboard in my head, etc, etc.  In short, a lot like the way I used to compare myself to other writers, sometimes those who had been household names for decades, or writing in entirely different genres than my own. For some reason, getting over that hurdle was a lot easier when it came to mixed media art than it was for wriitng, but the best way I can explain it was that …it did. Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, I kept my head down, eyes on my own paper, and now, while I can appreciate and draw inspiration from others’ work, it doesn’t make me feel less than anymore.

Something I’m still learning, day by day when it comes to writing, but one thing does stand out. When my brain says  “card full,” that’s time to take a step back, take in, play a while, and get rid of the things I don’t need taking up creative space. Room made for me and for story. It’s win-win.