This is a Planning Post About Planning Posts

Can you believe it’s almost November? Not only are we coming up on a new month, but the end of the current year and start of the next, which means the start of a new writing year, which means time to take stock of my planners, see what I have, how I want to use what, and what needs to find a different home. I am mostly talking about planners/planning, but it does apply to writing projects as well. Only so much time in the day, and finished is better than perfect.

i sm not keeping track of word count in Drama King (that’s Melva’s job) but I do know what scenes need writing in order to get to that point, and it’s pretty much the same with Her Last First Kiss. My best educated guess on how I am going to track writing on these projects is by scene, which works perfectly fine for me.

My original first draft of this post, handwritten in a mini composition book, because most of my first drafts are handwritten, was largely about how the midst of a months-long move is both not an advisable time to curate one’s planner repetoire, and turning out surprisingly well. Basicslly, where I hsbe landed on that one is that starting out minimally and then noting whst i wish I had, then filling that need, works decently in both writing and planning.

The planners in today’s deskscape are sll in current use. The Hsppy Plsnners are birthday gifts from Housemate, who has pulled me over to the Happy Plannerverse. She says thst mesns nothing, becsuse I am her planner dam, and thus anything she does in the planner world traces directly back to me. Fair enough. I had been snobbish about HP in the past, largely due to the disk binding, but I like the layouts and the artwork, and whst better way to find out if I do like the system or not than to use it.

I could say the same thing about trying contemporary romance, or submitting to e-pubs, both of which have turned out oksy, so i hsve high hopes for the new plsnners. Things will sort themselves out in time, usually when I’m not looking, rather going along, telling stories, playing with pens and paper , etc. There definitely can be more reading, especially as I craft what I am cslling my mission statement for Buried Under Romance, which may end up with a planner of its own.

All of thst is part of planning future blog posts. I do want to talk more about how I use planners as a writer, and still keep the focus on writing. We will see how this goes. Fiction writing comes first, and planning should, in theory, make that go more smoothly. In practice, well, we will see about that.

Typing With Wet Hooves: Pre-Release Weekend Edition

Hi, everybody. Bo Bison here, subbing for my good buddy, Sebastian, once again. As the fight against the fleas continues, Sebastian is due for a thorough vacuuming, so I, who am flea-free, will be filling in until he is cleared to resume his usual duties. Didn’t want anyone to think I was horning in on him, heh, heh.

Only three more days now…

Okay, the big news about all things Anna is that this is the last weekend before Chasing Prince Charming, the first book in the Love By The Book series, written with Melva Michaelian, through The Wild Rose Press, will be released. That’s very exciting news, and there is a lot to do in preparation for that. If you have already subscribed to the new site, then you can watch the countdown to the big day.

The big day also includes an author visit to Buried Under Romance, and wouldn’t you know, Anna is the one who gets to be in charge of that one, so she and Melva have some fancy footwork to do. Thankfully, they’re pretty good at that sort of thing, and whatever form it takes, it’s bound to be a good time.

Speaking of Buried Under Romance, click that caption in the picture above, if you want to read about some of Anna’s picks for what iconic historical romance families might be in line to catch the Bridgerton bouquet, if the upcoming Netflix series is a success. There’s a new topic every Saturday, so if you would like to join the discussion, or just listen to Anna ramble, please consider subscribing there as well, and suggestions for topics are always welcome. Who knows, you might see your idea as topic of the week.

Moving on to Goodreads, Anna is holding steady at six books ahead of schedule, with sixty-three books read out of her goal of ninety=five, putting her at sixty-six percent of the way toward her goal. Not too shabby, considering it’s been a domestic tornado-y week. That kind of week is exactly why being a few books ahead of schedule can be a good thing. With Kindle Unlimited, and Overdrive, and that nifty trick Lisa at Buried Under Romance showed Anna, to turn any book into an audio book, if it has text to speech capability, I think Anna will be pulling even further ahead.

What follows One Book July?

On the planning front, now that One Book July, which Anna actually liked a lot more than she thought she would, is over, what comes next? Apparently, there is also an All The Books August, where the goal is to use all of one’s planners/notebooks, which is an idea Anna loves, but seeing as how we’re almost half of the way through August already, Maybe she can make Some of the Books September be a thing. In the meantime, here is a sneak peek at the traveler’s notebook Anna plans to move into for the fall season, at the start of September:

Pen + Gear personal size traveler’s notebook

While Anna is all about the blush pink for spring and summer, autumn requires richer hues, so be prepared for a tour of her autumn lineup, coming to a blog post near you, in the very near future. Anna is also well on her way to moving into a project notebook for Her Last First Kiss, which she will actually use. Normally, her story binder setup goes something like:

  1. acquire three ring binder
  2. make sections for hero, heroine, villain, plot, and misc
  3. invest strongly in an aesthetic that is admittedly cohesive
  4. never touch that binder again

Could it be that story notebook peace can be found in a six ring binder? Keep eyes peeled, to find out. On that note, I am going to head on out, because it’s lunchtime, and I have a hankering for some buffalo wings. Don’t worry, they are not made with real buffalo. Actually, we buffaloes are vegetarians, so I’m mostly there for the carrots and celery.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: This Time, It’s Hooves Edition

Hi, everybody! My name is Bo Bison. You may have seen me in the corner of some of Anna’s deskscapes. That’s because I live on her desk. This week, I’m filling in for my good buddy, Sebastian. Sebastian is on a top-secret mission in the master bedroom, making sure Real Life Romance Hero gets some much-needed rest, so I’m filling in for today. Let’s get to it.

First, a little bit of housekeeping. There have been a few change around Stately Bowling Manor. The census shows a marked decrease in the flea population, but things are not flea-free quite yet. In unrelated news, Housemate has taken on a different work schedule, which means, that because Anna’s office is in the great room, which is also where Housemate does her stuff, there may be a change in the blogging schedule. Anna is looking at maybe Sunday/Tuesday/Friday, instead of Monday/Wednesday/Friday, but we will see the difference when theory becomes practice,

Speaking of which, let’s get right to that. Take a look at this badge of honor:

Plunder = Camp NaNo Win!

Even with a week off for real life related reasons, Anna still made it through fifty pages of Plunder, and shows no signs of slowing down. You know that feeling when you have to keep reading so you can find out what happened? That is where Anna is at this phase of the discovery draft, only with writing instead of reading. There will be regular updates here.

Moving along, Anna was at Buried Under Romance, as usual, this past Saturday night. Why does Anna think romance books may be some of the real-est “real books” of all? Click the caption below to find out, and leave a comment if you are so inclined.

Next, we come to Anna’s Goodreads Challenge. Currently, she is at sixty-six percent of her way to the goal of reading ninety-five books this year, with sixty-three books read. She will admit to a bit of a book hangover for When We Believed in Mermaids, by Barbara O’Neal, the newest addition to her favorites shelf. This book has a lifelong sist-mance, childhood traumas, adult healings, and a cuddly flamenco singer who makes one very level-headed ER doctor believe in love.

For those who have been asking if Chasing Prince Charming will be available in paperback, the answer is yes! It’s also eligible for Prime, so place those preorders, no matter your favored format. It’s now less than two weeks until release day, August twelfth. Both Anna and Melva are very excited to have Meg and Dominic meet all of you.

Before I sign off, I have one more achievement upon which to report. That is, that One Book July, the planner challenge to use only one planner in the month of July is now over. Anna considers it a worthwhile experiment, and plans to tell you all about it, and her plans for the turnover of summer planners to autumnal ones on her next blog. There will be glitter, color theory, and the making of inserts from scratch.

Welp, that looks like everything that wax on my list. Until we meet again, I wish you the happiest of days, the best of friends, and a TBR pile that never runs out. That’s how this buffalo roams.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Week of Little to No Energy Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all of the stuff from the week that was. It’s a rainy Friday here in New York’s Capitol Region. We’re starting a new month here (fine, everybody is; that’s how calendar months work) and wrapping up what Writer Chick probably won’t object to me calling the Week Of No Energy, because that is pretty accurate. Note the lack of battery power on the Kindle in this week’s picture. Writer Chick did not intend for that to tie in with anything, but here we are.

Even so, there’s stuff to bring you (otherwise, I would nap through this post, because this is perfect napping weather. As usual, Saturday found Writer Chick at Buried Under Romance, asking for input on the best points of entry for some popular historical romance writers that Writer Chick hasn’t gotten around to reading yet, for some reason. Follow the link to read for yourself. It’s never too late to weigh in on important questions like this.

Since this was a week of little to no energy, there was not as much writing or reading going on over here, but Writer Chick still pressed forward. Z Publishing will be including “The Fox and The Lily,” an amuse bouche of historical fiction with strong romantic elements. It’s also nudged her into fleshing out the whole of Cornelis and Lydia’s story to novel length, with two companion stories. Writer Chick does like her generational sagas, At least that takes care of the question what Writer Chick is doing next when it comes to historical romance. Probably. She has been sketching out some stuff in longhand, and of course this will give her a reason to set up a new notebook, to capture all the idea soup for this venture.

Speaking of which, the new month occurs at a convenient time, as Writer Chick finished her last morning pages book, and started in on a new one. This new one is by Punch Studio, which she loves for the pretty page factor, her pens are all ready to go. Writer Chick is big on pretty paper things, so that’s one point for things to look forward to in the mornings, I guess. I mean, besides caffeine and the company of a handsome stuffed orange boy.

Morning pages and accompanying pens

Speaking of orangeness, we now move on to her newly cobbled together blogging notebook. Writer Chick originally got this orange notebook as her daily planner, which was really fun, but took a lot of time, and then she  moved, so that kind of fell by the wayside, but she still wanted to use the book, and she can’t countenance getting a new Exceed notebook before she has used the old Exceed notebook. Since she likes writing longhand first in pretty much everything, this book is now her blogging notebook, where she can put down ideas as they come throughout the week, and hopefully cut down on the number of times she stares at the computer screen, makes that “ummmmm” sound, and then babbles until she’s hit 700 words.

Not only a blogging notebook, but a blogging folio

The week of little to no energy was also a perfect opportunity to cut some fat from the notebook habit. I know, I was shocked, too. For a lot of the last year, Writer Chick also did some brain dumping at night, aka evening pages at the end of the day as well as the morning pages at the start of it. That setup all went into a big folio, with its own pens, and, this week, she got to a point of “nah.”  Evening brain dumps can still happen when needed, but they don’t get their own book anymore, and now the folio is all about blog stuff, which makes Writer Chick more excited than tired. This will also come in handy, as Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick get all their metaphorical ducks in a row and set up their own website for their co-written work. Of course there is going to be some sort of blog going on there, so having one central place to put all of that stuff makes a lot of sense. Expect her to blather more about that later, possibly when she has this one full and it’s time to set up a new one.

Since this was the week of little to no energy, Writer Chick did not take things lying down. Well, she did spend some time lying down, but that was still kind of para-writing, as she did some longhand stuff, and listened to a lot of Book Tube videos. Note that I said “listened to” and not “watched.” Sometimes, she watched, but most of the time, it was listening, which did give her some ideas that she will probably blabber about in the future, but she will probably want to write them out in longhand in her orange book first. She had expected to spend some of that low-energy time reading, but most of that was what Dude calls “lying next to a good book.” That still kind of counts, especially if one  considers staring wistfully at the cover partial credit. Writer Chick plans to get some more of that reading done over the weekend, and there may or may not (I can’t read the orange book when Writer Chick is writing in it) some blathering on that very subject at Buried Under Romance for tomorrow’s post.

Until then, Writer Chick is taking advantage of this lovely grey day to break out paper and pen, make some tea, and keep a couple of books within arm’s reach. If she does decide to grab a nap, well, I will be ready.

Peace Out,

If I List Them, Will They Come?

I’ve been thinking a lot about reading goals. This may be, in part (large part) due to the fact that I have a new printable reading tracker, which means I do not have to draw a rough facsimile of a bookshelf in my big writing planner. The rest of the parts are my mounding TBR list, my mounding reader guilt, and the happily increasing amount of friends’ books I would like to read, even though the number of hours in the day does not change. Still twenty-four, for those who are curious. Planning is part of my process, in reading as well as writing, and it generally takes me to the place I meant to go, even if I had left the metaphorical house on an aimless ramble.

Those rambles do tend to have a purpose, which fits into my being firmly in the puzzler camp when it comes to plotter vs pantser. I can’t pick one. It’s both. Jump in, splash around, and the way will become clear. This is why, when I go to the library, with a notion to find some nonfiction, I do not go to the computer (I will always want to type “card catalog” in this circumstance) or even pay that much attention to the Dewey Decimal system. Nope, I’ll wander the stacks, peep at the books on the end of the nearest shelf, see how close to or far from the topic I want -let’s say writing- and proceed accordingly. Languages? Oh good, English is a language. I write in English. Dum de dum dum dum, poetry, getting closer, oh look, plays, annnnd here we are.

My big writing goal, right now, is to read more romance, specifically historical romance. I have a good balance of historical romance, contemporary YA, and graphic novels, waiting on my TBR shelf (in this apartment, it really is only one shelf, and the vast majority of that from the library system) and I really do want to read every single book I have borrowed, and more hot on their tails, so time to put on the big girl panties, pour a seasonally appropriate beverage, and get down to business.

I don’t want to be one of those writers who doesn’t or can’t read in the genre they’re writing, while they’re writing it, and, before, that had not been the case. If that’s changed, I suppose I will adapt, but I would prefer not to have to make that adjustment. I also don’t want to be the person who buys and/or borrows books, and then doesn’t read them, the size of the TBR piles (plural) topped only by the crushing reader guilt. Maybe that would squash everything to the same base level, in order to begin all over again? I don’t know. Maybe that’s how it works, or maybe it isn’t.

As often happens with other things in my life, what usually puts things in perspective is to make lists, and so that is what I am doing. A lot of lists, as a matter of fact, and I am very sure I am not done with said list-making. What kinds of historical romances do I like the most? What are the books that have worked the best for me? Why? What books haven’t? What are keywords that will ensure I pick up a historical romance, knowing nothing else about the book, and, the flip side, what keywords will ensure that I put that book right back where I found it, because one reader’s “meh” is another’s “woohoo!” (Sims players, I know what I said.)  Lists of questions, as well, like “how can I find books I am not currently finding?”

That’s a big one. I am fairly certain I am at least part unicorn, because I tend to have a good deal of what I will term niche loves. While I love historical romance as a whole, I get especially excited to see books set anywhere between the end of the Wars of the Roses and the end of the American Revolution. Medievals get a close second, and an honorable mention goes to the Edwardian era, on either side of the Atlantic. My ears will always perk at the mention of Australia (Candace Proctor, I have left a light on for you) or heroine disguised as male, no matter the historical period. Show me the words, “epic,” or “saga,” in the blurb, and I most definitely want to read further. I love me some angst, fairy tale retellings are wonderful, houses/locales that are almost characters in their own rights, alpha heroines are the best, and my favorite sort of series is generational. I am sure this will all end up in some sort of chart in the near future, and I will probably share it here, when it does.

Listing books I want to read, or to re-read, or to finally read, is the fun part. Narrowing it down to what I want to read right now is tougher, and toughest of all is finding the times when I can read the books I want to read, the way I want to read them. Again, same amount of numbers in the day no matter what I read, and the thought of reading fewer books of any type, to make room for another sort of book, again, no matter the type, pains me. Even so, it comes down to the whole “how bad do you want it?” question. In this case, quite a lot.

That means it’s worth the effort, and time to do thing X can be found by not doing thing Y. I already watch a lot less TV than I used to, especially when I was recapping. In fact, I don’t even know how to turn on our TV. I do have Netflix and Hulu, and do have to-watch lists for both, but it’s time to get back into the reading habit. Time to reclaim the pleasure and ritual of reading historical romance, ensuring that I block out the time I need to sink into the immersive world that I love the very best. Talking about something is always a huge incentive for me to actually do that thing, so I will probably be talking more about reading historical romance here. Hm. I’d probably better start making some lists.

Springing Forward

Quick drive-by post for today, because A) I’m writing, and B) missing two posts in one week bothers me, and getting a post up, no matter how slapdash, will eliminate B, and allow me to focus on A.

Yesterday, N and I had our weekly meeting, talking over our plans for the coming season, frustrations with the same old things that keep us back, and the requisite geeking out over paper and pens. I made her pet the Rhodia dot grid pages I had cut down for use in my new writing planner (they are insanely smooth, and take fountain pen beautifully) and we threw around some ideas for what cardstock to use to make new dividers, while lamenting that there were no non-month-bearing extra dividers included with the planner kit. I would have used the heck out of those.

This morning, Melva and I talked so long over Skype, that my phone’s battery drained. I don’t blame it. We had a lot of excited babble about how we may actually already be at the midpoint for

This morning, Melva and I talked so long on our weekly Skype chat, that my phone’s battery drained. I don’t blame it. According to Melva’s count (she is the Keeper Of Records in this regard) we may already be at the halfway point in the first draft of Drama King, even if we’re not entirely sure how that happened. Okay, we know how that happened: we wrote it. That’s not what I’m talking about. Part of our writing-together process (a big part) is excited babble and saying the same thing at the same time. One of us is known for going unintentionally blue, and then realizing it a beat later, which happens frequently, and one of us did make the other one laugh so hard today, that said other one dropped out of frame for long enough for the first one to now have bragging rights, but there is a sobering thought here.

Working out the next few scenes for Drama King, meant tying a few aspects into the idea soup for the next book, which we are tentatively calling Queen of Hearts, which lead into a discussion on something we hadn’t intentionally given Jack (Drama Kings hero) and Heather (heroine of Queen of Hearts, and sister to Dominic from Chasing Prince Charming) Jack and Heather have not met yet, but they will, and it’s very easy, very natural, to envision all three of our couples from this proposed series, maybe with some supporting characters tagging along, gathered around one big dinner table, no agenda, lots of good food (Jack, our actor-turned line cook-turned actor again would insist upon it) a toddler or two on somebody’s lap, maybe a kids’ table off in the corner. It would be loud and it would be messy, and I like the idea of it, very, very much. I would say something here about a historical equivalent for my historical characters, but, since I write in different eras, that would probably involve time travel, and the less said about em and time travel, the better.

For longtime readers who know what I’m talking about, I do fully intend to write Angus and Summer’s story in full, one day. They’d come after me and take me down, if I didn’t, but I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s not going to be exactly the way I envisioned it, mumblecough years ago. Which is perfectly okay. The only constant is change, they say, and this very well may prove to be true. Angus and Summer will go down  in my Future Projects section, along with scouting markets for A Heart Most Errant (if all of my historical characters were in one room, I am pretty sure Aline would still be doing most of the talking) and brainstorming ideas for this year’s submission to Z Publishing’s anthology.

Speaking of which, I have some outlining to do. See you next time.

State of the Planners March 2019

Monday’s post on Tuesday this week, because that’s how the week is starting out, but Tudor offers two red roses (filing that one away for a future novella title, maybe a second chance at love sort of historical thing) to welcome the new month:

Tudor has brought you roses…

First Monday post of the month now belongs to a dedicated post on planners and/or planning, so let’s have a look at what’s doing it for me this month:

Pouch, sticky notes, and notepad by Papaya Art
Binder and Traveler’s Notebook covers by Webster’s Pages

One thing I have come to learn about myself, and this applies to planning, reading, and writing, alike, is that, if a page is not working for me, that means there is probably not enough on it. This all coalesced earlier this week, while I was turning over my dissatisfaction with the current everyday carry…or everyday not-carry, because what I had thought was going to be smooth and streamlined, and all of the stuff that I go through periods of thinking stripped down is going to be easier than giving in to my natural maximalist tendencies. One would think I would have learned by now, but apparently not.

I like the idea of traveling light, and there is a practicality to that, but, for me, it’s not enough. I like to have a lot to look at, which carries over into my preference, especially in historical romance, both reading and writing, to have lots and lots of details, and lots and lots of layers. Give me lots and lots of colors and lots and lots of layers, and I will stay on that page, and the ones that come after it, all the livelong day, which is kind of the thing we want to have happen when writing, or planning for writing. . This is where I am currently learning that I need to bottle this kind of thing, or stick a (literal) sticky note on it, and add it to the metaphorical toolbox.

Right now, the picure below is the setup I have for the weekly section of my writing planner. I am fast coming to the end of the stickers that came with the planner kit, which means time to hunt down some more stickers and ephemera that have the same aesthetic. This part of the hunt also serves as some delicious nibbly treats for my idea hamster. Links to or recommendations for Etsy shops, Instagram accounts, etc, where I might find unusual, pretty things for my planners, are greatly appreciated, so drop them in the comments.

Planner kit by Heidi Swapp

While I love having one binder dedicated to writing schedules and writing schedules only, having a separate notebook for more in-detail writing notes, as in actual writing about writing, listmaking and such, does not have the same appeal. What feels much  more natural, though, is putting the blank monthly and weekly pages, and pages from months past, in some other sort of storage, and using that space for abovementioned notes.

This means that I have some work to do. First, I need to decide how I am going to divide that space. Fortunately, that was easy. I need four categories:

  1. Historical Romance
  2. Contemporary Romance
  3. Future Projects
  4. Blogging

Incidentally, Li’l Pink happens to have four inserts right the heck now. Hm, could this be an answer to my question above, even if it isn’t in the same binder? Only one way to tell on that front, and that is to jump right in, throw things at the page, and see how it goes. Which is kind of like writing, which is very often a sign that I am headed in the right direction.

TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) version: The most-most natural way for me to go about planning, and about writing, and about keeping track of how things are going with both planning and writing (reading, as well) is to notice to what areas/themes/flavors/etc I find myself naturally drawn, and then go toward that in the way that feels most natural at the moment. Of course, this is also where discipline comes into play, which, again, is a lot less tedious when the page has lovely things on it already. Maybe the first layer isn’t enough on its own, and that is okay. Let’s add something else, and see where that takes us. Soon enough, it’s less thinking and more instinct, and hey, look how far we came. How’d that happen?

How do you figure out what sort of planning suits your individual purpose? What’s working for you right now?

Unwasted Time

Second round edits of Chasing Prince Charmning are in the can. Not the trash can. We’re talking the old timey filmmaking sense here. There is nothing about old timey filmmaking in this book, or in any of my books, but Jack, the hero in Drama King, the second contemporary romance Melva Michaelian and I are writing together, is an actor, so there may be some mention of old timey movies there. Not a promise, though.

Having the second round of edits done-done means that the next step is the third round, and then galley, and then we are a real book. Been a while, but I think it’s like riding a bike. At least I hope that it is. At the same time, it’s a new venture, because new genre, new writing partnership, new publisher, so I am still getting some of those metaphorical new car smell fumes on the whole thing. We will see how I do when it comes to those galleys and cover art forms and all the like. I’m excited and a little apprehensive.

Today was always going to be, from the time I planned this week, last week, the big writing day. With both Real Life Romance Hero and Housemate working, and thus leaving the house early-early this morning, I was looking forward to the whole morning  for writing. I had sufficient caffeine lined up to see me through the morning when I would Do All The Things. Of course, this is when my body says “hey, it’s quiet here, how about that sleep thing we don’t do when it’s dark outside?” Yeah, body, that was not what I had planned. Pretty much the exact opposite.

On the bright side, A) I was rested, B) a hot shower, clean hair, caffeine and buttered cinnamon bread (highly recommend) have a way of kicking things into gear. The first thing I do, after morning pages (also highly recommend) is getting out my planners, so I can fill out my trackers and go over what needs to be done, when. As per usual, having two planners still does not drive it home to my brain that Wednesday is the day before Thursday, which is when Melva and I have our Skype chats. I have come to expect that Wednesdays are my Do All The Things days, and I am okay with that. Today’s task list looks very similar to this:

  • Write blog entry
  • Read (chapter from Melva’s solo project)
  • Send Melva chapter 8 of Her Last First Kiss
  • Finish rough draft of (Drama King scene)

Obviously the first thing I needed to do on that list, was to dig around in my planner supplies, and make this week’s spreads pretty. The results, for my household planner (in which I forgot it was the household planner for one day) are in today’s picture. My initial reaction, when I noticed what I was doing was, “Really, Anna? All that stuff to do, and you’re playing with stickers?”

There was a moment of guilt, but, as I reached for another fineliner, to add a touch of light turquoise to the pink/red color scheme, that feeling vanished. Working on something visual and instinctive allows my writer brain to go on the backburner, and, more often than not, it has sorted itself out by the time I get back. That was, thankfully, the case, this morning. Okay, early afternoon. I dashed off a couple of quick notes (the sticky note flag at the top of the page) about things I wanted to use, but didn’t have, got out the white posterboard, hauled everything to the window, to grab some natural light, snapped the picture, and plopped my bottom in my desk chair. By that time, the list that threatened to swallow my entire day had whittled down to “pfft, that’s only four things,” Far more manageable, in my opinion, especially when I remember that most of that stuff (okay, at least parts of all of it) are actually (are you ready for this?) fun.

Once again, brain and I are not on the same page (pun intentional, as are the plethora of parentheses) regarding theory and practice, but given enough caffeine and pretty paper, coupled with some background music, we do eventually get there. Like today. Here we are, closing in on the magic 700 words (self imposed minimum blog entry length, and what do you know, we’re there, surprise, surprise.) Would I have got here without playing around with stickers and fineliners? Probably, but I had fun, and messing around with such matters generally lets things fall into place, so the actual execution goes more smoothly. I’ll take that, any day.

What “time wasting” things actually help you be more productive?

Feeling Myself

The Monday after a marathon weekend is always a strange animal. Marathon weekends mean that both Saturday and Sunday are full. In this case, volunteering three times, once on Saturday and twice on Sunday. Saturday included my local RWA chapter meeting, always a highlight of my month, while Sunday meant playing host not once, but twice, konce for church worship experience, and the second time, for a community group, with a slight time overlap, which would be no problem if I were able to be in two places at once. (Spoiler: I am not.) After the second volunteer stint, Housemate and I had a few errands to run. Said errands involved me getting a higher end lip color at a very low price (and yep, it’s genuine) so, all in all, the weekend was good, but it also means coming into the work/writing week more tired than I went into it.

This is probably the point where I should mention there is also a new coffeemaker in the house, and, this morning, after a much-needed shower (I estimate that my hair is about twenty-five percent dry shampoo at the time of this writing) made my first voluntarily consumed travel mug full of coffee, because it was my one shot at being vertical. So far, so good. I am still a tea person, but if the beans will get me through at least this blog post (writing Monday’s post on Tuesday brings forth what Real Life Romance Hero calls the mini rage) and some planning, and I will consider the day productive enough.

Also in the plus column for the weekend past, is that I finished reading By Love Unveiled, by Sabrina Jeffries, first published in the early 90s, under her Deborah Martin name. I have the companion novel (there were only two in her Restoration Duo) marked to hunt down, because I may be a little in love with the hero’s friend, who is the hero of the next book, whose heroine is an actress. Helpful hint: I will always look at a Restoration period historical romance, on the period alone. Always. Add in either lead in the theatre, and that sale is a done deal. I am not even kidding. This is why I wrote my own English Civil War/Restoration historical romance, Orphans in the Storm. Neither Simon nor Jonnet is a thespian, but Simon’s BFF, Eben, a dancing master, last anyone asked, would fit very well into the theatre. Hmmm.

That, however, is for another day. Today is a Monday, which means it is blog day, and planning day, the day to look at everything I have under my weekly tasks and assign them to days. Melva and I have a target date to get the second round of edits done on Chasing Prince Charming, as well as writing new scenes for Drama King, which edges ever closer to the 50% mark. IT’s also time to get chapter eight of Her Last First Kiss ready for Melva’s perusal. There is something about having a critique partnership that is old enough to marry, own property, or join the military without parental consent, that gives a certain sense of security and trepidation when handing over a chapter. Long-term critique partners know things. That’s the best way I can put it, and are an extremely useful tool, especially in this business of getting back on the horse.

There are degrees of getting back on the horse, or maybe even different horses. At no time is this ever clearer than on a Monday. What do I need to do, and when is the most effective time to do it? Putting actual words on screen or paper are essential, of course, but, equally essential are things that fill the creative well, so that I can put the movies in my head into actual English words. Books that remind me what sorts of stories I love the very, very best, are important, as are movies or TV shows with favorite actors, following up on recommendations from friends, who know me well, and can pick out things I might like, or even love, but would never have found on my own. I have come to know the importance of what I call white space, aka doing nothing, seasonally comfortable (cozy blanket and hot beverage in winter, open window and cool beverage in spring) so that all the jumbled pieces in my head can sort themselves out.

That’s good for a Monday, too. Delegating. Pausing. Taking a step back, to survey the big picture and come up with a plan of attack, so I can charge in, guns blazing, sabres flashing, a mighty army of imaginary friends at my back, as we conquer the blank page I kind of like that image, so I am going to close with that, get this posted, and move on to the next task, before the coffee wears off. When it does, it’s reading time.

What does your Monday look like?

February Planner Post, Part Two

Wednesday’s post is here on Thursday, because it’s that kind of week. Nothing as exciting as a new planner to explain the change of posting days this time, but minor domestic tornados, mine and others’, and the second round of edits for Chasing Prince Charming landing on my and Melva’s desks. Our goal is to get those changes -there are not many- back to our wonderful editor, and move on to the next phase. That would be third round of edits, then galleys, then The Thing (aka real, live book.) Squeeze in filling out some information on cover art and such (It is a strange delight to be doing this again, after all this time) and looking at things like a joint website (Melva has a website. I have a website. Melva-and-I need a website.) Also, with setting up a new website, there are questions like what information we want it to have, what it should look like, what’s our brand, and other concerns that don’t cross one’s mind until they do, and then, well, a writer’s got to plan.

Smooth segue, huh? The image in today’s picture comes from my daily carry traveler’s notebook, which is not at all what I had expected it to be, but it’s working. I still have plans to make or purchase the inserts I originally wanted, for later in the year, but having a motley bunch of outcasts (aka most of them are from clearance sales) in my daily carry gives me the freedom to try different things, make mistakes, and step outside of my comfort zone. Which is not all that far removed from things like trying a new subgenre, writing with a partner (which I have tried before, with a different outcome) and stepping into the world of a more mainstream publisher, when my prior experience has been more boutique.

I can’t say I have a favorite amongst all that yet (maybe wait for the first royalty checks, and I may have a different story, pun intended) and I can’t say for sure for sure for sure (repetition most definitely intended) that I have a favorite planning system as of yet. My daily carry is still an A5 traveler’s notebook, though my personal size ring bound planners, for keeping on track of my daily tasks for both writing and domestic warrior queen duties, are exactly right for what I need. I still have pocket sized traveler’s notebooks waiting for their destinies, and if you notice a woman in a bookstore, placing a gorgeous premade planner back on the shelves, amd marching resolutely away from it, announcing firmly that she does not need a planner, she has planners, then that is probably me. (If in doubt, look for long, dark hair, a brown leather hobo bag, and black rimmed glasses. Red lips extremely likely.)

The page setup in the picture above is copied from the Dylusions Dyary insert that I love, but isn’t right for a daily carry, and it’s also very similar to the layout of both of my ring planners, which is one of the reasons I chose them in the first place (the next biggest reason being that they were both on tremendous discount, as well as being gorgeous.) Having the same calendar format across different planners makes it a lot easier to coordinate everything, when I need all of my information in one place. No matter where I go, in other words, I’m still me, and that applies, as well, to writing in different genres.

former writing planner, now domestic planner

Before my current writing planner and I found each other (she’s going to need a name, but she hasn’t divulged what it is, yet) I used my white Webster’s Pages personal size planner, and the setup was easy and natural, because I knew what worked for me. If, okay, who are we kidding, when, I acquire any other planner, (hopefully only for next year) odds are I am going to set up the weekly calendar pages the same way. That way, i have enough room to put in all my needed information, make my checklists, probzably on stickers or pretty paper that I glue into it, and a space to put something pretty/silly/my brand of inspirational/etc. This is what works for me, and it’s feet on the ground, when I am entering new territory.

Like a new genre, to loop things back around. Before Melva and I put our heads together to create Chasing Prince Charming, my only contemporary outings were in fanfiction, writing group exercises, and an ill-advised attempt at YA, when I actually was a YA, myself. No evidence of that last one remains, which is the best for all of us, trust me, but I consider it a badge of honor. The modern age, though, was an inherent part of the story we wanted to tell, and it’s Melva’s story home. Since mine is historical romance, that made it easy to know that historical romance would need to be part of the world in which our characters’ love story took place.

Part of the reason for this post was to share planner pron, I will admit that much up front. There’s also the fact that I am super duper tired, and promised myself some downtime after the post goes live, so that’s also incentive. It’s also to share a bit more about the writing process, and perform a virtual happy dance that Chasing Prince Charming is that much closer to being available for readers. Knowing that, soon, Melva and I will need to deal with things like cover reveals ans swag and reviews and such, not only how we handle this with a new publisher, and in a new genre. Not only how does she do it and how do I do it, but how do she-and-I do it, as two bodies with but a single mind? We are still figuring that one out. Maybe I do need another planner, after all. What are your favorite calenders, planners, agendas, and such?