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,

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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?

Storytime: Growing Pains (not the tv show)

Storytime. We have some growing pains going on around here, and I do not mean the TV show. On Friday night, Housemate and I went to Chain Craft Store for our weekly jaunt. I had a list in tow, because I am me, and the big item on that list was a personal size six-ring binder. Housemate, at the clearance section, asked me if the binder in her hand was something I could use. I took a look. It was this one:

Webster’s Pages, personal size ring binder


Not only the binder, but the entire kit, minus a few items, which probably explained why there was a Webster’s Pages binder, hanging out in clearance. No price on it, so I was leaning toward leaving it where it was, but Housemate wanted to take it up to the register and find out. Information never hurts, right? Okay, fine. We get to the register, and the cashier summons a manager. Manager gives binder a cursory look, and says she’ll let it go for one dollar. One. Dollar. That is obviously a sign. I do not have a name for this binder yet, but I did carry it around the house for a couple of days, to get to know it, and am now setting it up as my writing tracker, no household tasks allowed.

The as-yet unnamed binder joins Big and Li’l Pink, both traveler’s notebooks, from Webster’s Pages, and their jobs break down pretty much like this:


Big Pink: thinking on paper
Li’l Pink: lists and information
White Planner: writing/reading related only


:deep breath: Okay. All of that said, planner talk will now be confined to the first Monday of the month. It’s going in the schedule. Additional planner/bujo blog is in the planning stages. Until then, I will put my pen and paper pictures and ramblings thereabout, on my Instagram. I want to keep this blog focused on writing. I’m still deciding whether I want to have specific topics for Mondays and Wednesdays, but , as with the writing planner, I’m going to carry that question around for a while, and the answer will come when I need it.


As much as I love pens and paper, and I do really, really love them, this is my place to talk about writing, and, using the analogy of interests/passions being children, the baby really does need their own room, instead of bunking with the elder sibling. Siblings, really, as I am also working on the website for the books Melva and I write together. This is both a lot of work and a lot of fun. The more writing I do, these days, the more writing I want to do, and it’s the same with engaging on social media. I partly blame my YouTube binging for getting my bloggy idea hamsters all excited and running on their wheels, sometimes faster than I can write down things I want to do with them.

2018 was, in a lot of ways, a dumpster fire. 2019 looks to be better. Early days yet, but I”ll take it. This is the year of “yes, and,” after all. It’s easy to say “stop stressing.” even to myself, but anxiety and depression, and well, stress, often have other ideas about that. Sometimes, those can get in the way of the love of writing, or the ability to do it. That’s why I am making self care more of a priority in 2019, including making sure that I spend time doing the things I love. At the top of that list is romance. I have been wildly in love with the romance genre since I was eleven years old and stole my first historical romance from my mother’s nightstand. Coughty-cough years after that incident, the girl who loved reading books grew up into the woman who writes them. Reads them still, because story in, story out, is easy math.

This is all to say that there will be a few changes to this blog, and site, in the near future, all, I hope, for the best. I am talking with the fabulous Kathleen Underwood, who created the cover for my Orphans in the Storm, to help with graphics, and I could not be more excited. Kathleen perfectly captured the exact image I’d had in my mind, and brings me back, every time I see it, to that exact moment in Jonnet’s story. It reminds me of the power of fiction, and how much I love creating it. Planning is part of that, but the raw beauty of creating the story deserves a focus of its own.

What growing pains are you working through, this year?




Typing With Stuffed Paws: Planner Chaos, Writing Peace Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff for the start of 2019. Well, where Writer Chick is concerned, that is. I can tell you, right off the bat, that part of that is going to involve a trip to the office supply store, because Writer Chick started off today’s session with placing the document holder thing that she uses to hold papers to transcribe, next to the desktop, instead of on top of it. Occupational hazard, around here, but, as a cat, I am proud of her. Knocking things off a flat surface…. ::dabs eyes: I’m getting a little misty here.

But enough about that. Writer Chick has been pretty hyped about starting the new year off on the right foot. Part of that was all about getting the right planning system in place. That is a story for her to tell, because it did not turn out the way she expected that it ight, but it did, in the end, get her to the right place. More on that after we take care of this week’s compulsories.

As usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, this past Saturday, and surprises nobody when she talked about making a reading plan for the coming year. Well, that’s not actually true. She did surprise herself. If you’d like to read more about that, hop on over here and find out what went down. The caption under the above picture works, too.

Starting the year off, right

Writer Chick is stepping up her reading game for 2019, and her new Goodreads challenge goal is set at ninety-five, which is five more than last year. She’s already one book down, which, seeing as how we are only four days into the new year, is not a bad start. Her friend, H, is already mailing her the third volume of Fruits Basket -only to borrow; H made that very clear- so Writer Chick will be pouncing on that the second it arrives at Stately Bowling Manor. Time and Again, which fits into the historical fiction with romantic elements (and also paranormal/fantasy, as there is time travel) is also on loan from H, who has a pretty good bead on the kinds of stories Writer Chick might not find for herself, but would love. This has inspired Writer Chick to look for books she can press upon H, in return. I will keep you abreast on how that goes.

Okay, now we get to the planner chaos and writing peace part of our post, today. There is a traditional Dutch proverb Writer Chick has long liked, that says “Man plans, God laughs.” That is kind of what happened here. Yesterday, Writer Chick took her newly moved-into Dylusions traveler’s notebook into the wide world, and…she did not like it. Well, she di, but as an art journal, not an everyday carry, so back to Big Pink, albeit with new inserts, it is. Li’l Pink as well, for easy toting. Then there is the writing tracker she threw together out of stuff she had hanging around.

Writer Chick loves that thing. Loves it. The only problem there, is that the binder, which she also loves, is literally falling apart. She tried holding it together with washi tape, which worked about as well as you can imagine, so that is another reason to go to the office supply store. It is also part of her assignment from Graphics Chick, and the whole making sure everything looks like it comes from the same person deal.

Because the binder Writer Chick is using for the writing tracker is falling apart in her hands, we can safely say that basically none of her plans about planning panned out as she intended. The writing, however? Well, that’s a different story. Pun intended. Writer Chick met all of her writing goals for the first week of 2019. She is back at work on Her Last First Kiss. Other Writer Chick said Writer Chick needs to stop making her cry (chapter one is heavy stuff.) This delighted Writer Chick, who said she cannot make that promise. Other Writer Chick hasn’t even met the hero yet.

The first third of edits on Chasing Prince Charming‘s first edit round have gone smoothly, and Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick expect to have everything turned in on time, if not before. Then the wait comes for round two. While they’re doing that, Drama King sails into its second quarter of draft one. Keeping track of who’s doing what, and when it needs to be done, so far, is working smoothly, and being accountable for specific tasks on solo works also seems to be in the plus column. Not a bad start, all things considered. Now, if Writer Chick can only get the printer to talk to the desktop, that would be incredibly useful.

Tomorrow, Writer Chick will meet with Graphics Chick, to toss around some ideas. She may also give connecting the printer another whack, or she may just whack the printer. There is a reason Writer Chick gravitates toward pen and paper, and, really, that’s best for all involved. Trust me on that one.

Peace out,

Becoming Persephone

Happy New Year, everybody. 2018 is finally in the dust, and 2019 is ready to show us what it’s got. Hopefully good things. Though we are past the first of January, and the ornament harvest (family term for putting the Christmas décor to bed for the year) is slated for Twelfth Night (okay, the morning after Twelfth Night, so Thirteenth Morning? Is that a thing? I think it should be a thing, and have something like pancakes to soften the blow) my count of Christmas romances read, and Christmas movies watched remains the same as it was before December 25th. Zero. Oh well. I’ll get them next year.

My friend, H, gave me the first two volumes of Fruits Basket, collector’s editions. This was my first time reading manga, but a lot of the dynamics of my favorite historical romances lie within those pages, so I am well and truly into this story for the long haul. The rest of my Christmas/tucked away week reading went to The Summer Wives, by Beatriz Williams, and my feelings on this book, as with most by this author, can best be summed up with guh. Emotionally evisceration via fiction is a real thing, and, here, it is very, very, much welcome. So, that’s been my holiday 2018 reading.

As for 2018 holiday viewing, it was YouTube. All day, every day, or so it seemed. Most of my viewing fell into one of two camps; Book Tube, or stattionery/bullet journaling. In short, branding was huge on my mind, this season, especially as 2019 brings new adventures ahead. Melva and I are in the process of building our brand for our collaborative work, which of course makes me give what I’ve been doing with my own brand, a second look.

Both of these interests brought me to the same question: what sort of thing do I keep coming back to, again and again? I don’t recall where I read it first, probably on Facebook, but the text of the graphic was “Why choose between a girly and a dark aesthetic? If Persephone can be the goddess of springtime and queen of the underworld at the same time, so can you.” Yes. That. What that person said.

There were two things I noticed as I watched seemingly endless videos on the two subjects, looking for places I could twine them together. The first was that there are, to my knowledge, zero Book Tube channels about epic historical romance. Searching for historical romance on You Tube brings up a lot of fun vlogs about the current world of historiccal romance, which warms my historical romance loving heart. Deep inside that fire, though, there’ is a cranky flame (we might call it spotting a niche to be filled) that crackles with a desire to talk about some of the greats that came before, some of whom are still delivering the goods. So, there’s that.

The second thing I noticed was that I kept searching for stationery/bujo vloggers who had a certain aesthetic. No surprise, colors in the dusty rose/rose gold/ballet pink/blush family, combined with neutrals figure highly in this aesthetic. Once again, There Were Questions. What kinds of stories do I love the very, very most? Not merely what I like, but what leaves me wrung out like a wet washcloth, and happy about it? What sweeps me into its world and has me chomping at the bit to make some of that, myself?

In both cases, my next thought wasn’t “ugh, that looks hard” or “I don’t know if I can do that,” but “eh, give me a couple of pens and some paper, and I will figure it out.” That, I think, is part of taking myself seriously as a writer, and a creative being. That’s a journey that takes place one step at a time. Do I have an exact map to how this will mean gauranteed success every single time? Pffft, no. What I do know, though, is that, since i started my YouTube binge, I have been more focused on planning the actual work of writing, and have been consistentlyhitting my goals.

It’s an ongoing process. Yesterday, I opened the file for Her Last First Kiss, gave the first chapter a light spiff, and sent it in Melva’s general direction. Doing that had a similar feeling as setting up my new bujo system. Little different, but good different, still with the same feeling, even “me-er,” and …yeah. Let’s see where this takes us.


What new paths are you following in 2019?