Typing With Wet Paws: Workshop Prep Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. The main focus this week is Aunt Anna getting ready for her workshop that is tomorrow. If you are curious about this or wish you could be there, guess what, you can. There is a link to learn more about attending as a guest, orrrrr you can get personal attention for the entire course at her Patreon, on the Play In Your Own Sandbox tier.

greatest hits picture of me, because Aunt Anna is wrangling with WordPress about pictures

Things are doing pretty well around here. The windows are open sometimes, and I can smell wonderful things. Getting into the window is tricky, as Aunt Anna has moved some stuff around, and they are bringing furniture in here. Aunt Anna is making what she calls a rustic bookcase from wooden crates. I think that I could probably make good use of those as scratchy things, but we will see about that.

Aunt Anna says people may want to pardon the dust on her Patreon, as she is making some changes, as things like pick a blog or video topic aren’t up yet, but you definitely can ask.

Okay. Reading challenge on Goodreads is pretty much holding steady, but that doesn’t mean Aunt Anna went without consuming any stories. This past week was for binge watching three shows on Amazon Prime, The Wilds, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Thirteen. She recommends the first two, with some reservatins on the first one, and needs to rewatch the second one if she wants to truly form an opinion on it, but it’s great for background voices while playing Sims.

Aunt Anna really likes Sims

Aunt Anna has been having a great time putting Sims 4 on her new laptop. It reminds her of when she was a people kitten, and her teacher, in an open classroom, noticed that Aunt Anna did a lot better on days when people kittens were allowed to bring their own toys for free play time. Aunt Anna brought Barbies on thoe days. Can we spot the future writer here? I would have brought Mousie, or maybe a jingle ball.

This week is also when Aunt Anna takes part in a Reclaim Your Dreams workshop with Eryka Peskin. In case you are wondering what that means, you can find out more about it and even register for a virtual retreat if that sounds like your thing, here. This is not a sponsored post; Aunt Anna finds she gets a lot out of Eryka’s workshops and even sometimes coaching.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

Of course the most important thing this coming week is the writing. Even though Aunt Anna usually gets her superpowers back in fall, they seem to have been on backorder this year, which is completely understandable. She feels a lot more in her groove these days, which is due to a lot of things. Faith, modern medicine, family, friends, a computer that actually works, reliable housing, me. You know, the important stuff. It’s an interesting phase to watch, and from what I hear, thisis how writers get books. Me, I just sit on them. So it’s win-win.

Headbonks!

still working on the signoff picture thingamaboodle

Cautiously Optimistic

Today is a very Monday-y Tuesday, but that has ceased to phase me. Internet may be spotty this week, but blogging feels normal, so I want to get an entry up on as regular a schedule as possible. The offline times are good for writing longhand, so I am not complaining at all. As much as I love winter, this has been a tough one, and I will not be that sorry to see it go. I am ready for a new season.

The title of today’s post comes from a discussion Real Life Romance Hero and I had earlier this week. We are pretty sure that the light at the end of the tunnel is not, this time, a train, so we are moving in that direction. That also means that the Patreon will indeed be a go, and, for the first time, setting up tiers doesn’t seem as scary as it once did.

This past weekend, I presented Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys, at Capitol Region Romance writers. I learned a couple of things. First, I really do need to use visual aids, for myself as well as the people taking the workshop. A dry erase board usually does the trick, and I probably should learn PowerPoint. I will add that to my list. The second thing I learned is that, when visually impaired, and knowing darned well one needs high contrast, do not attempt to work, in front of a group, from handwritten notes, if the only inks available are pink and turquoise.

Even so, I crazy love this workshop, and the CRRWA chapter, and I came away from the experience remembering how much I really do love writing romance. When I got home, a chapter was waiting for me from my contemporary collaborator, Melva, which has me excited to work on Drama King. I also need kick in the behind to get Her Last First Kiss back in action, because those pirate books are chomping at the bit. That’s part of what I’m taking care of this week.

I know how to do this. I know how to write books. I know how to write good books. This is the thing I wanted to do more than anything else in the world for as long as I can remember. It’s easy, though, to lose sight of that when life gets crazy, and boy howdy, has it ever this past year and change. I am hanging onto the “change” part. I have mad, mad, mad respect for the productivity of authors like Sandra Sookoo and Kathryn LeVeque, the staying power of Cynthia Wright and Kimberly Cates, and yes, there is most certainly a seat at that table for me. It comes by putting butt in chair (or passenger seat) and pen to paper and telling those stores. Dump from brain to page, rough and raw, and make it pretty later.

Right now, I am tired and stressed and hopeful, and very much in love with my chosen genre. I have added an ebook edition of the material for PIYOSKATT (pee-yose-cat? Pie-yose-cat?) as a Patreon perk for a middle tier, because now, it feels like a reachable goal, and actually kind of fun. Small online class offerings may also be in the offing, because I also crazy love teaching workshops, both on my own and with other talented author type people. It’s a good place to be.

see you next time

Five of These Things

I did take a deskscape for today (okay, it was a lap deskscape) but there were technical difficulties, so let us all appreciate stock photos and photo editing software.

At any rate, I’m back. Our stay off the grid extended itself due to a couple of factors, but that’s life. Apart from the virus that converted all of my energy into super gross eye boogers, the whole thing did pretty well. I had a great working lunch with Melva Michaelian. We are oh so ready to get Jack and Kelly all the way to their HEA, so it can be Rob and Heather’s turn next, and we do know what comes after we finish this group of three.

Longhand really does work best for me, for composing/drafting, and the lack of internet distraction did allow me more time to get at least some of the ducks in a row. That does involve plotting out the bones of the gazebo story, which is taking a turn I didn’t expect (still a romance, don’t worry) and I actually have all of my pirate trilogy longhand notes in one container. ,I will do a post later, on the plotting method/template I used, and the modifications I’m making to it, but for this week, I have another focus.

Even though the whole future of RWA (Romance Writers of America) is a big question mark right now, I am super excited, and a little nervous, about the meeting of my local chapter, Capitol Region Romance Writers, because this month, I am the one presenting the program. I am honored and psyched that my fellow members not only asked me to present the workshop a few years back, but asked me to present it again.

Come to think of it, the workshop I presented back then was at a February meeting as well, so one more time, and it’s tradition. I could live with that. The chapter has changed in the intervening years, and so have I, so it stands to reason that the workshop has undergone a few changes of its own. Bob and Jane (if you’ve taken one of my workshops before, you know who they are) will be making an appearance, and there will be a few surprises as well. That’s usually what happens when we creative types dump a bunch of stuff we love in the kiddy pool of our imaginations and splash about with reckless abandon.

“Um, Anna,” I hear some of you saying, “the title mentions five things, and I don’t see any numbered lists here, just saying.” I hear you, dear readers, so I will get right to this wee listicle of five things that have made me happy recently:

1) photo editing
2) Sims (3 and 4)
3) getting back into my travelers notebooks
4) historical romance with adventure and pageantry
5) contemporary YA that makes my heart ache

To use a phrase one will hear often in my workshop, what do these things all have in common? Either with each other or as a whole. Anybody? Anybody? Beuller? The list took only a few seconds to come up with, because those things have been very near the surface over the last couple of weeks. It’s been a rough few months IRL, so that means that getting some of the good stuff is even more important, not only for creativity’s sake, but for emotional survival.

I will probably go into more detail on each item above, but for now, I’m going to be more general. I have been watching a lot of photo editing videos online, most with a very particular aesthetic. Take a look at the picture above and guess which one. The fact that I have been listening to a lot of The Smiths while I try to see if I can apply what I’ve learned to my own work probably says something.

Erik was born in-game, a while back.

Sims games are eerily similar to writing, and with custom content, I can -hey, like photo editing- make the picture on my screen look more like the picture in my head. Said picture does absolutely have a lot to do with those historical romances and YA novels that play my emotions like YoYo Ma plays the cello, and I can oh so happily spend hours getting a Sim or a house, etc, exactly right. I probably have the save with the above simulated gent in it, saved in the cloud, and if not, I have his parents; they always make gorgeous offspring.

is the return of Big Pink imminent?

Though I believe I have found planner peace with my current planner, I still very much miss Big Pink, and Li’l Pink, my travelers’ notebooks, so that probably means it’s time to get back to them. I don’t want to duplicate my7 calendar, but that only means that the next logical step is to make them something else. That, I can do. Not sure what, but I will start with my old faithful Moleskine cahiers, rather than the standard size pictured above.

That’s pretty much the gist of the workshop. Find what you love, and find a way to make it uniquely one’s own. No two combinations are ever going to be the same I find that exciting.

see you soon!

Only one month now until I present my workshop, Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys, at Capitol Region Romance Writers. If you’ve heard me talk, before, about From Fanfiction to Fantastic Fiction or On Beyond Fanfic, the cores of the workshops are the same. The execution, though, is constantly evolving. I love that.

This morning, I opened the file for the workshop, to nab my bio and a blurb to send to CR-RWA’s esteemed webmistress, and next thing I knew, it was a couple of hours later, and I had accidentally edited some of the chapters, and slid, when I wasn’t looking, into “could I make this into an ebook?” mode. I think I probably could, possibly with a PDF version of t he exercises. This is partly for the workshop’s participants, and partly for my own use. Probably my own use first. After that, then we’ll see. Could be a cool Patreon perk, could be an indiepub, could be a couple of other things. That’s not what’s important right now.

Right now, what’s important is the accepting and embracing of what I love, and seeing how I can take what inspires me and make it my own. There are some tropes I am always going to jump on like a starving hyena with an unattended hot dog stand. Heroines disguised as male, especially if there are seafaring adventures to be had, yep, I’ll take that. second chance at love with the same couple, especially if there has been a decent length of their intermission. Mention of Bedlam Asylum or Newgate Prison. Tudor, Stuart, Commonwealth, early Georgian, skip up to the Belle Epoque/Gilded Age era, I am in my happy place. One or both lovers with a creative talent or profession will guarantee a second look on my part, and those are all things I either have or would love to include in my own writing. Angst. I love angst. Give me all the angst, as long as there is an HEA at the end of it all.

Grit in my settings, I want that, too. Also in the people. Life isn’t easy, and a love story where the hero and heroine have to fight more than their feelings, that adds a whole other dimension for me. That’s one of the reasons I’m keeping track these days of my media habits, of specific traits of the books, TV, podcasts,. etc, I consume, of what I love and why I love it. Will that be ready to share in some form by the time of the workshop? I am not sure, but I think it could be fun.

There is a quick and dirty version of this in the workshop in its current incarnation, so the idea is not totally unrepresented. Thing is, I’m feeling the itch. I want to know why it is that I’m bingeing the Council of Geeks podcast reviewing Cowboy Bebop. I have not (yet) seen the anime, so I have no idea what the host is talking about, but I fell in love with his analyzing style on the Council of Geeks YouTube channel. Do not ask me how I found the channel, since it largely talks about fandoms of which I am not a part, but I feel welcome, and that goes a long way. It’s the excitement and unabashed delight in a story, yet still able to discuss what could have been better yet, or what could have been different.

I want to do that for the romances I write, make them accessible both for those who already love the genre and those who may be new to it, or even merely curious. Fans of SF/F franchises have an enthusiasm I would love to harness that enthusiasm and do some high powered cheerleading for all the things I love most about romance. Maybe that starts with my own stuff.

Sweetest Workshop Hangover

Happy Monday, all. It’s a lovely seventysomething here in New York’s Capitol Region, and I am in my comfy chair, laptop in my lap (lap desk needs replacing, as the cushion has deflated, the handle is hanging loose, and the coating on the surface of the desk is cracked and peeling; this desk has served me well) and actually have a topic. This all bodes well, so let’s see how it goes.

I spent my Saturday here:
http://cr-rwa.org/2016/09/before-you-hit-send-workshop-with-angela-james-is-this-saturday/

and can very highly recommend Angela James’s workshop, which, oddly enough, I am probably not going to talk about much here, even though that was kind of my entire point. I have masses of notes and some hefty handouts on self-editing, to go over and put into heavy use when I get to the self-editing stage. Right now, I am focused on writing and co-writing these two WIPs, and all the rest comes after I type/co-type The End. What I’m blabbering about instead, is the experience. Also the stuff, because I am all about pens and paper, and hey, they outright give them to you at these things, even if you bring your own.

I love conferences and workshops, because I love writing romance, and I love people, and being in a hotel or part of a hotel, filled with other people who also love writing romance, and are there for the same reason I am, to improve our craft and advance our careers, is about as good as it gets. This was probably the least prepared I have ever been for an actual RWA event, and, surprisingly, I was fine with that. Presenter was Angela James, who is pretty high up the ladder at Carina Press, so she presumably knows her stuff when it comes to editing (she does.) I knew I was riding in with N, conveyed by her lovely husband, Mr. N, and had plans to meet up with Sue Ann Porter, and several of my CRRWA chapter sisters and brothers (yep, we got dudes.) Potential to meet new friends, and did find the lovely surprise of meeting with one of my Last Call Girls, M, (don’t have permission to use her name yet, which, in retrospect,  I probably should have secured beforehand, but then again, maybe I can make being an initial on my blog can become some kind of thing. Yeah. We’ll go with that one. Some pictures of me hanging out with beautiful blondes. That’s Sue Ann Porter in the pink, and the lovely Miss M in the snazzy specs.

 

Most important thing I learned about taking all day workshops came at the registration desk, when I realized there was only one place to put my name tag. Clip on name tags and V-necked shirts provide a unique challenge. I will remember this for next time and bring an actual jacket with me, for name tag purposes, and in case the venue’s air conditioning is set to Polar Bear. I appreciate that it was ninety-three degrees outside and so humid that I am fairly certain I saw air fish. We will not discuss the weather on Saturday night, but I am extremely thankful for the cooler weather that came after.

One of the best parts of any conference or workshop is getting a good group at one’s table at meals, and this was no exception. Me, Sue Ann, M, and N, one tiny table in this room:

diningroom

Snazzy, huh?

When we got back from stuffing ourselves with the bounty of a respectable sandwich bar and dessert buffet, we found a nice surprise waiting at our seats.

 

Carina Press brochure, some fun reading-themed stickers, Carina Press pen, and vintage Harlequin cover themed notepads. Do they know me or what? There were different titles for the notepads, but The Widow Gay seemed to be the hot property of the day. I am highly in favor of book covers on notebooks. Heck, I am highly in favor of notebooks, period. The notebook I brought, and filled nineteen of its pages, I’ve had for a while. The pages are horizontally striped, one line blue, the next white, so a lot easier for my eyes to focus on and find where I am when I look away and then back. I used the same gel pens I keep on  hand for my commonplace notebook, and found that rotating through the colors, one per subject, should make finding pertinent sections easier when I go back to study them.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, all well and good, and you’ve  hit your precious magic seven hundreds, Miss Talky Talk Writer Person, but what did you learn? Well, several things. Writer things. A good, comprehensive review of the basics of self editing, which I will definitely put into play once these two books are done, because I’m looking forward to that phase. For right now, what’s most important is to get from Once Upon a Time, to Happily Ever After. What I got from this workshop the most is that I am on the right track. If I’m not all the way back on the horse (how on earth do we measure that, anyway?) I’ve got at least one foot in the stirrup. I’ll take that, and gladly.

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Falling Into Place Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. I did not want my picture taken today, because I was more interested in watching Uncle get ready for work than in taking pictures, so Anty has to use a picture from a different day. I am a kitty, after all. It is in my job description to be mercurial, but I am normally a very good girl.

To show what a good girl I am, I will start by talking about Anty’s writing this week. Her post at Buried Under Romance talks about some ways we learn things about our own reading habits. Anty has found that tracking not only what she is reading, but how far along in that reading she is, helps her see patterns in the way she reads. Her post looks like this:

bur

and you can find it here:
http://buriedunderromance.com/2016/09/saturday-discussion-what-have-we-learned-about-reading.html

Anty is also working on some posts for Heroes and Heartbreakers, which I will tell you more about when they are live, and also on Her Last First Kiss. That one had some excitement this week. At first, Anty thought she had lost outlines for a couple of new scenes, so she looked everywhere for them. One of them she found, exactly where it was supposed to be, and she is still not sure how she missed it, so that is good. The other one, she needs to reconstruct, but it will not be that hard. She has had it in her head for a long time, so getting it into place is pretty easy. That is a good feeling. Moving Hero and Heroine along the road to their Happily Ever After makes Anty very happy, even if Hero and Heroine are not, at this stage of the story. It is all right, though. Anty writes romance, and that means all will be well in the end. Until then, though. she makes no promises, and may be known to let out an evil cackle or two. At one point, Miss N told Anty that Anty needs to give Hero and Heroine some small successes at this stage of the game, because, otherwise, that part of the book will be very depressing. Anty sees no problem with that, but she also sees Miss N’s point. Small successes, it is. Very small.

ROBINDAGGERS - WIN_20150811_110539

Vintage photo of Grumpy Anty, torturing her characters. I tried to make it smaller, but I could not. That is the downside to having paws instead of hands. My apologies.

 

Even though there are still a few hot days to come, Anty has a surprise for Saturday; it cannot get her with its sun and  heat, because she will be in an air conditioned hotel all day, at a workshop for writers. You can read more about that here:

http://cr-rwa.org/2016/09/before-you-hit-send-workshop-with-angela-james-is-this-saturday/

Anty loves going to workshops for writers, because it lets her combine her love of writing with her love of being around people, especially people who love the same thing she does. Those two things are great on their own (and Anty loves being around people, in general; social interaction gives her energy that she can then spend on writing) but when they are put together, it is like catnip for her. Or so I am told. I do not care about catnip. I have heard that is unusual for a kitty, but, then again, I am an unusual kitty. I am also in full shed, which means I leave gifts of my summer coat fur basically everywhere. Anty calls running the Swiffer, while I am in shed, “the tumbleweed harvest.” I cannot say she is wrong. I shed a lot of fur, but do not worry. I will grow a very thick winter coat. Two of them, actually, because I am a Maine Coon. Having a built in two layer coat comes in handy on these New York winters, but it is not the most fun for humans who have to keep the floors tumbleweed-free.

That did not have much to do about Anty’s writing, except for the part where I mention she likes to use mundane activities such as tumbleweed harvesting to work out story things in her head. Most humans like spring cleaning, but, for Anty, it is fall cleaning that she likes, getting the house ready for cool days and long nights. She is actually excited that Mama will be bringing  home some of the good cleaning supplies, because she has plans for them. Some of these plans, I am told, involve putting me in a different room so that I cannot get things on my paws that are not good for kitties. I do not like being away from her -part of being a mews means following my Anty around as much as possible (or until Uncle comes home, and then I switch to him, because he is my favorite)- but I do appreciate her looking out for my welfare. The vet is nice, as vets go, but that does not mean I want to see her any  more than is strictly necessary. I prefer to stay at home. That is my happy place.

For Anty, the whole fall season is her happy place. Her super powers come back, she can be outside more, pumpkin flavored everything is everywhere, the same with apple cider, she can wear comfy sweaters and jackets, it is more comfortable to sleep at night, and things feel, in general, right. It is also the time of her birthday in October, and then Haloween, and then Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving is the start of Christmas season, and, well, that is a whole other thing in itself. We will see how this one goes. Anty wants to start planning now. Anty says it is never too soon to plan.

It is also never too soon for Anty to get back to work on Her Last First Kiss, so that is about it for this week. Anty would like to wish a happy 50th anniversary to all Star Trek fans; live long and prosper. She may write about that later on, but I am not throwing away my shot. (Yes, Anty is still listening to Hamilton a lot. Maybe it is time for an all-cat production. We could call it Catmilton. I’ll see myself out.) Until next week, I remain very truly yours,

i1035 FW1.1

Until next week…

 

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

Typing With Wet Claws: Cat On a Hot Tin Everything Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. While Feline Fridays are, obviously, my normal days to blog, it almost feels like filling in for Anty, because this has been a very hot week. Anty does not do heat very well, so this means she has had to scale back some, which she does not like at all. Yesterday was very, very hot, so she took a flop day and concentrated on staying cool. I feel somewhat guilty about not offering her my flop space next to the big wooden thing outside my mama’s bedroom, but only a little, because that space is kitty sized. and Anty is bigger than that. Besides, I know how important it is for her to know that I am cool, so, really, my staying in my flop space was for the best.

Since the deal is that I have to talk about Anty’s writing first, her most recent Buried Under Romance post is here, and it looks like this:

BUR

How far do you dig for your next great read?

Anty is very much looking forward to tomorrow, when she gets to go to her CRRWA meeting. There, she gets to be among others of her kind (by which I mean romance writers) and she will learn some new tricks for making her books even better. Miss K.A. (Mitchell) will talk about putting one’s characters to work. She will put Anty and the other humans to work, too, which Anty likes very much. Anty is also looking forward to seeing Miss N and Anty Sue Ann and her other friends. They will be happy to see her too, and hopefully not only because she brings snacks, but I am sure that is part of it. I am always happy when she feeds me, so I assume that would carry over to others. Anty talks with some of her writer friends on the glowy box pretty much every day, but it is different, being with other writers in person. Anty likes that best of all, especially when they talk about their stories and characters.

While some writers work best when they do not talk about their work, that is not how it goes for Anty. She needs to talk to process her thoughts. When Anty was a people kitten, the worst punishment (or most effective discipline, depending on whom one asks) her mama could give would be that Anty was not allowed to talk to her for a certain number of minutes. For a talker like Anty, that was excruciating, and she did learn that doing the things that earned her the periods of not-talking were usually not worth it.

That carries over to writing, too. Anty tried, for a while, to not-talk about her stories and characters, but what happened was that they did not feel real to her, and it was like moving paper dolls around a cardboard box stage. Anty tried not-talking after talking too much got one of her books (it was the time travel) all jumbled with too many other voices in her head, and she could not get through all those other voices to hear the characters anymore. Some of the too-many voices echoed very, very loudly, and she put the story on the back burner until those voices got quiet. They are not all quiet yet, so it needs to wait a little longer. If talking too much is bad, and not-talking at all is bad, then it means that there is some place in the middle that hits the right note.

For Anty, that means talking to only a few people, and trusting herself to know how much to share, and with whom. That is why, here, she will talk about Hero and Heroine, or Guy and Girl. Their names are still private at this stage. It is the same way that she cannot put her Pinterest boards or Spotify playlists for current projects where others can see them. Those need to stay private until the book is done, and Anty does not have to guard against the wrong things getting inside. She likes to keep her own vision clear. That is one of the reasons she does not especially like fantasy casting her stories. Her story people have their own faces already, and other people trying to tell her that her character looks like some other human vexes her. I do not know if these people do the same things with kitty characters, because Anty does not have any prominent kitty characters in either of her current projects. Hmph. Maybe the next one. If Anty ever writes a Viking story, then she  can have Norwegian Forest Cats. Those are the ancestors of Maine Coon Cats, which is what I am. So, if she needed a kitty model for the cover of that book, she would not have to look very far. Maybe that would make the writing process easier. I am a good mews and want to look out for my Anty’s peace of mind.

 

That is about it for this week, as it is very close to my lunchtime, so I need to stare at Anty (or Uncle, because he does not go out to hunt until later, but probably Anty) until she knows what time it is. I will report on what she learned from the workshop next week Unti then, I remain very truly yours,

 

i1035 FW1.1

Until next week…

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

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:

CaseMateWithGelPens

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:

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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.

I Can See Clearly Now: An Allegory

On Friday night, my glasses fell apart in my hands. I didn’t do anything to them, only took them off, and the left lens clattered into the sink. No biggie, I figured, and kept calm as I retrieved the lens. The screw had been loose for some time, so likely enough I hadn’t remembered to tighten it that day. All I’d have to do would be stick the lens back in, maybe find the screw if it had also fallen out, use my thumbnail as an impromptu screwdriver, and I’d be back in business. Easy. Only, that’s not how it went.

The screw was perfectly fine, but the left arm of the frame dangled at an odd angle, the frame itself having snapped. Well. This was a pickle. No, I did not have a backup pair, and no, I did not have contacts. My Saturday was already booked full; CRRWA meeting in the morning, Tulip Festival date with Real Life Romance hero, to begin the second I got back from the meeting, and then an online viewing party for a favorite TV show with friends who are similarly inclined. None of this was going to be easy when all I could see were blurry blobs of color.

Even so, I tried, because I am me. I have two friends in the medical field who are super sure I actually broke my right foot during Caregiveapalooza, and, since there was no time to get myself checked out, I bound my own foot and hobbled around as best I could. So, I would do the same thing here. I first tried using a binder clip to keep the lens in the broken frame, which was serviceable enough for an hour or two, but uncomfortable. Next attempt was electrical tape, which technically kept the lens in the frame, but also wreaked havoc with my peripheral vision and depth perception. Also, the corners of electrical tape, when poking one in the eye socket and/or cheekbone, provide a feeling I am going to describe as discomfort, but I was not going to miss that meeting. (Heather McGovern spoke on using character and conflict to heighten the black moment, and I am all about the black moments.)

Twice, at the meeting, I jumped in surprise when friends approached me from the left. I did not see them there. Clearly, this was not going to be a workable solution, but I took notes as best I could and will compare them with a friend’s later, to catch anything I missed. Friend was able to drop me in front of my house, despite the festival traffic, and, after  short pit stop, I informed Real Life Romance Hero he was going to be my guide for the afternoon; we were going to be holding hands the entire time, and not just to show affection. He told me he’d been planning on doing exactly that. Good man.

If you’ve never attended an outdoor festival sans corrective lenses, let me give you an overview. There will be a lot of shapes and colors coming at you from all directions, and you will not be able to tell what they are. Assume they are people, and none of them know you can’t see a thing beyond blobs. There will be a small twinge of apprehension, because, if you let go of the hand you’re holding, you are likely going to be toast. After a while, you’ll start to get a feel for what it’s like; you’ve traversed this ground before, under different circumstances, so maybe you’ll be only lightly toasted, not actual toast, if your guide parks you someplace somewhat out of the way-ish, to get a couple of the best hot dogs on earth. You learn to ask questions when needed. Are there condiments? (this is always an important question) What about napkins? Is that a dog? (most of the time it was a dog; once it was a small child. Real Life Romance Hero thought that was vastly amusing.)Since I can see only blobs, will someone else please take a picture? Things like that. Food still tastes good, company still good, and questions posed to festival staff will help point you in the right direction when you suspect a favorite vendor may be present, but cannot see them because blobs of color and all that. A few modifications, but you still come home with a purse full of kettle corn and a tower of horseradish samplers, so still good.

If you’re suspecting I’m going to turn this into some allegory on writing, you’re right. Housemate and I spent the entirety of Sunday at the optometrist. The utter destruction of my former spectacles garnered some interesting comments from the staff, who were sympathetic and understanding of the entire affair. They even worked out a small discount and pushed to get me lenses that day, rather than let me swim through the fog any longer than I absolutely had to, so, overall, a positive experience there. There is the matter of something the optometrist found and would like to keep an eye (pun intended) on and discuss later, but that’s another story.

What this story is about is clarity of vision. BFF and I took a lunch break, then as soon as she steered be back into the room, I heard a chipper “They’re ready! We did it!” BFF steered me to the appropriate seat, and the person who first greeted my foggy-eyed self rushed over to see the end result. Staff member handed me my new frames, I put them on and there it was. Sight. That’s what the world looks like. Relief. Adjustment, because my brain had started to figure out how to maneuver around the blobs of color, but having the right outlook makes it all that much easier to go about my life.

It’s like that with writing, as well. The colored blobs of uncorrected vision can be like all the vague ideas that come at a writer in the early stages of a new project. Who’s that? What’s that doing there? Where are we going in this strange new land? Are there condiments? Genre can be a guide. I write romance. I know where this is going. My lovers are going to get through all obstacles, to go home together, and happy to be there. I’ve been this way before. I’ve written romance novels. I read them. I know where this is going, and I know I’m going to get there, so I can trust myself and my guide and enjoy the experience. Not too bad a lesson to learn (relearn?) when I’m pumped from conference, meeting, and have a new-to-me desktop on the way. Think somebody is trying to tell me something here?

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Conference Week Edition

hereLet Your Imagination Take Flight conference,Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This is the last week before Anty heads off for the annual Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference, put on by the New England chapter of Romance Writers of America. A whole weekend in a hotel full of people who love the same things that Anty loves is something she looks forward to every year, even if that is also a hotel empty of kitties. At least she has pictures of me to tide her over, and many of the other writers like to talk about their kitties, too, so she is not totally doing without. I will, however, expect extra scritches when she gets back. I think that is only fair.

This week means it is time to prepare for the conference. Besides picking out what outfits and other personal items she is going to bring, there is also the task of the elevator pitch. If you do not know what that means, I will explain. An elevator pitch is a very short description of one’s manuscript, quick enough to tell someone (hopefully an editor or agent) during the span of an elevator ride. This means whittling the whole story down to its very basic parts, while still whetting the appetite so that the other person will want to hear more. As you can imagine, this can sometimes be quite the challenge.

For Anty, this week, it may be even more of a challenge, because she is dealing with a spring cold. This cold is the kind that makes her brain all foggy, and her body want to take go to sleep at times that are not nighttime. Nighttime, during colds like this, is for staring at the ceiling, and thinking about story things. Also going through a lot of tissues, though she does that during the daytime, too.

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Pen guts for Pilot Plumix and MontBlanc Noblisse

Anty thought that getting some of her pens ready for new ink would be a good idea. That is not exactly what happened. The part of the Mont Blanc that takes ink does not work, and Anty thought she could put the standard cartridge from Jinhao in that pen, instead. It went in, but she is not yet getting the new ink to show. That is okay. She will put the pen, capped, nib side down, in its cup and then try again later. The Pilot cartridges should arrive later today. Uncle will probably check for her, because he is home, and does not have a cold. Also, he ordered Chinese food. I do not eat Chinese food, because I am a kitty. I eat kitty food. Speaking of which, I think I have some humans to stare at once I get this blog entry posted.

In case you missed it last week, Anty’s most recent Buried Under Romance discussion post is here, and it looks like this:

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What kinds of books do you wish your favorite (or new) writers would write? Anty is always interested in hearing answers to questions like that, even when she has a new topic. I would like to see more books with kitties in them, but maybe that is just me. Humans probably have different answers.

Anty will find a lot of humans with different tastes in reading and writing at the conference, but they all have a love of romance fiction in common. Anty loves the energy she gets from these conferences, and says that Saturday morning breakfast, is extroverted morning person Christmas. A room full of people, who love what Anty loves, want to talk to other people, plus endless caffeine and breakfast foods? That is about as good as it gets in that respect. There will be old friends and new friends and free books and lots of swag, plus the ride there and back, with Anty Melva, where they can talk about the story they are writing together. Best of all, Anty will get new stories to tell, both about the conference, and maybe even some seeds for new books yet to be written.

Since Anty will be getting a late start on her pre-conference preparations, I will be standing by, in case she needs me to take on one of her regular blog entries in the upcoming week. That is part of the duties of being a mews, and so is making sure Anty gets enough rest. To do that, I curl into a ball and sleep right in front of her chair, so that she cannot get up without waking me. I had better get to that, so that is about it for this week.  Until next time, I remain, very truly yours,

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Until next week…

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