NaNot, Mislaid Plan(ners) and Other Stories

Once again, I am not doing National Novel Writing Month, though I am peeking through the cracks in the fence. Maybe next year? Maybe so. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know the last couple years have been quite the trip. Several of them, as a matter of fact, so that staying home now is actually kind of exciting, because I have a home to stay in, which I figured would have some sort of effect on my productivity.

If we are talking about blogging, I am doing okay. If we are talking about journaling, I am absolutely crushing it. We’ll talk more about that later. If we’re talking about writing romance fiction, that’s where it gets a little murkerier, and yes, I did put that distancing phrase in there on purpose. Melva and I completed one contemporary romance novel, which we now need to do some surgery upon before we can give it another shot with our current publisher. That’s not a bad thing. We are currently working on another one, and starting a new contemporary series after that. We are working our way to a new sort of schedule as both of us have had changes in our day to day routines, but we are getting into the swing of it, and it’s good.

only the tip of my big bag of books iceberg

For historical romance, that’s where I feel the most guilty, meaning that I’m not where I thought I was going to be at this point. I mean, it’s in sight, and I am getting my way back there. I am now in a two person critique group with a local writer friend, who is newer to the game. We write different subgenres, but both under the romance or romantic elements umbrella. I do read the genre that she writes in, though she is new to historical romance, and I am very interested to see what I can learn about historical romance from seeing it through fresh eyes. So it’s steps in the right direction. Historical romance is also a very common topic on my weekly three hour chats with my friend, Mary, who gifted me a huge bag of classic historicals on her recent visit. I also owe a letter to another writer friend, which is all moving in the direction of getting back to talking about my work, which, for me, is definitely a thing. #extrovertlife

The writing planner I had set up for the last six months of this year is sitting in its cover, glaring at me. Not to say that the planner isn’t working. What it means is that that method is not working for me, and I need to find the one that does. Which means trial and error and blabbering about it here, because, metaphorically, I have a microphone and you all have to listen to everything I say. (The Wedding Singer is a work of genius; fight me.) In short, all part of the process. As we near the end of the year, the planner possibilities are endless, and I will find the right one at the right time. For now, it’s going to be more a matter of blundering into the forest with oven mitts on my hands, and recording what actually worked for me. That tends to be how I work. Stumble my way halfway in, survey, and make a plan. I am bound and determined that A Heart Most Errant is not going to have a birthday of sitting in my documents file, edits unaddressed. Nope, nope, nope. February is not that far away, which means I need to get on it.

How does yoeur week look?

A Good Place To Be

Today is a lovely, chill, and grey Monday in October, which is to say exactly my kind of day. This may also be why it is almost three pm when I sit down to write this post. I spent all of the time prior alternating between setting up my planners and turbo napping. I am not exactly done with the plan-ification because I acquired a new planner this weekend, an early birthday gift from the friend who gave me my first Happy Planner, thus creating the monster that is now me.

The new planner is a “skinny” planner, same length but half the width of the classic version, which is here:

photo: Anna Carrasco Bowling

I haven’t taken any pictures of the new planner yet, (not this design, but this size) because A) I am still deciding how I want to use it, and B) I’m not decorating it until I figure out its purpose. The friend who gave it to me doesn’t use a planner, but uses this sort of planner as a notebook. I do know it’s the same theme as my catchall planner (the one above is my writing planner) and the coordinating sticker book. My friend says she likes that size for toting around in her purse, so I might try that. It also fits perfectly in the zip folio that would be bulky in my purse, but never felt right with anything else. I have also done squat all for months with the dot grid notebook (though it has delicious thick, smooth paper; I think I’m not a dot grid person) I put in there a few um, months ago.

I hate having partially used notebooks lingering in my possession, but they also aren’t exactly salable or re-giftable, so I am still figuring out what to do with that sort of thing. Maybe scrap paper? IDK.

There’s something about birthdays and planners and trackers and calendars and journals and that sort of thing. Combine that with an online workshop on resilience I am taking right now, which is highly relevant to my interests, of coming back into myself. I very much like knowing why somebody else likes something they like, and inviting me to experience it too, well, that’s special. It also still doesn’t bring me any closer to knowing what I want to use this new planner for, but eh, that’s kind of how I operate anyway. Jump in, splash around, and then sort it out in some sort of organic fashion.

That’s a heartening thought as I look at the writing week ahead, especially since it’s Housemate’s staycation. We do have some fun stuff planned, and some time set aside where she is doing her thing and I am doing mine, aka actually writing.

Ever since I started having weekly video chats with one of my besties, I have felt ever so much Anna-er. Ditto with the fledgling critique partnership I have with a local writer friend, also via video. Bonus points for said writer friend also being a big ol’ extrovert. I even have some pen and paper letters in the works, which is something I have always found both a necessity and a delight. It also means I get to dive neck deep into pretty stationery, pens, stickers, ephemera, et al. It’s a good place to be.

How is the start of your week looking?

If The Ears are on, I’m Working

It’s funny, the things we remember sometimes. This morning, when I set aside time to fully plan out my week (I hear the voice of an aunt in my head: “I don’t mind clutter, but I can’t stand chaos.” I may well be turning into my aunts, which is fine, because they were all awesome.) my brain informed me that the first time I knew (American) football was a fall sport was on my first day of maybe second or third grade, when a fall themed bulletin board included football imagery.

Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur on Pexels.com

The reason my brain thought I might like to know this was probably because I had laid down some autumn leaves scrapbook paper, because having an image on the page anchors my attention, making the actual planning a lot easier. Insomnia has been raging this past week, meaning that I do have some ground to recover, and planning is the way I figure out how that happens. Planning is also great for focusing on something that is creative but not storytelling creative, which gives that part of my brain some room to do its own thing without me in the way.

There’s also the fact that I can see my week laid out, mark the family days (two per week) that I will have a full house (not the tv show) so those are very unlikely to have writing time unless I leave the house. This is one reason I look forward to having a dedicated office, with a door I can close, in our next apartment, but we will be here for a while. Not at all complaining about that. I will make do with cat ear headphones. If the ears are on, leave me alone. This actually works because if eyes are on me, then I know I have to actually produce something.

For those who may be wondering, this post has nothing at all to do with football. I neither watch nor play, so it doesn’t affect me in any way I can relate. Why did it show up on my mental feed, then? I am not sure. Maybe because I am training myself to get back into writer mode, after being in survivor mode for so long. There is executive dysfunction, which is basically “I need to do the thing. I want to do the thing. I know how to do the thing. I have the stuff I need to do the thing. It is right over there. I should do the thing,” and then….not doing the thing. Gets annoying after a while, by which I mean immediately, and every time.

The only way through this kind of executive dysfunction with writing is to actually do the writing. Which means writing bad pages. Knowing that I am writing bad pages. Write bad pages until I write good pages. Lather, rinse, repeat. Feels like I have been doing that a lot lately. Probably boring and/or annoying people, because geez, get on with it, woman. Not always that easy, but there is indeed a path through. Insert the maxim about not comparing someone else’s chapter thirty to one’s own chapter five. Even if chapter five seems really long. It happens.

The point of al of this? Eh. An item off my list. Seeing things on a list, especially a visually appealing list, makes the Big Scary Task look and feel a lot more palatable. So. It’s here. So am I. I call that a win. Planner open at the ready, now off to Google Docs and some time with my imaginary friends.

How does your week look?

Anna

Summer, Is That You?

Saturday afternoon, I took my first summer nap of the year. That means snoozing through the heat of the day, then being up and doing stuff in the afternoon and evening. This week, Housemate and I will brave the wilds of storage to retrieve what summer clothing remains and did not get worn to death last summer during our vagabond time. Temperatures should be in the mid 80s by the middle of this week :whimper: and friends have been posting baby waterfowl pictures, so odds that the young ones will be present in the lake in the park near our house are high.. That sounds like a morning thing.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Not this morning, as what’s left of it is dedicated to the blog, and then it’s time for domestic warrior queen side quests. I’d hoped to get more work done on the two Drama King scenes I have to revise, but I had also planned to do my weekly planning on Sunday. That did not happen because it turned into a do nothing day. I hate do nothing days. I want the day to have some purpose. Preferably with other people around. I ended up playing Sims, due to an empty tank, and then tackled the planning this morning.

Well, first wave of planning. I am totally over the vertical lined layout in my classic planner, and I am itchy to dive into my bright, shiny new July start classic planner, with its sophisticated florals and vertical layout sans lines, but we still have June to get through first. In between, for a writer who loves to plan, is madness. I’m not too concerned, though, because figuring stuff out is kind of my thing, and I will probably find something nifty to tide me through and carry over, even.

When I was a kid, summer seemed like three months of freedom (except for day camp, which probably saved my mother’s sanity, even if it was a mixed bag for me. Stay at home parents of gifted kids, we salute you.) and the one summer we lived in Pound Ridge, I discovered the joys of walking in from the scorching heat of the day into the air conditioned family room, which I liked so much that I did, upon occasion, repeat that action several times in a row merely for the delight of the difference. Delight on the air conditioned side, that is, because I am hard no on hot weather.

One of the perils of naming a heroine in a book that gets back burner-ed for an extended period of time after a season is that every time that season rolls around, her name rolls around, and that results in some serious shifty eyes between writer and manuscript.

Oddly enough, the name of said heroine is Summer, though she has nothing to do with the Zooey Deschanel movie (which I still need to see) I originally conceived of her story as a time travel, but I don’t know if it is anymore. Quite possibly, what I tried to do and then couldn’t do, was shove a ten pound cat into a two pound bag. Maybe a whole litter of cats. I have said before that I will have to write her story, because if I don’t, she will come after me and drag me back into it. She’d do it, too, so it’s on the list, though absolutely no idea what it will ultimately be. Her and her hero, that’s the core. Anything else is extra.

Insert your own ice cream topping analogy here. That seems summery enough. What’s on the docket for your week?

Monday Stream of Consciousness

Jumping into this post with no actual plan, because A) blog is under the “low hanging fruit” category of stuff I need to do today, and B) if I don’t do it now, it will nag me throughout doing anything else.

Usually, Sundays are my planning afternoons. Yesterday, though, had a few different influences. A) I am still getting used to new medication, so surprise slumber parties for one are a thing; B) yesterday was also a full house, with all family member hone in a smallish space, and C) I am not at all sure that my plan to coast along from April through June on mini planners and no classic planners is going to work as well as I thought.

That last one is the easiest to fix: hop on over to a craft store that carries my planner of choice, grab a currently dated one from the clearance section, hand over a pittance and jump right in, back to the usual method. That leaves mostly just today to be free floating in no classic planner land. I could technically re-date older pages, but that is far too labor intensive when what I want to do is jump in and lay out for my plan of attack.

I like seeing things laid out, where I can tell at a glance what jobs I need to do, to get to where I am. Making it aesthetically pleasing is a plus, and, with the new YouTube channel, I have a lot more ideas of what I want to not only talk about, but write about as well. I don’t normally do TBRs but I see those are frequent on BookTube, and look like they may indeed work toward my goal of reading more historical romance. They also look fun. I could use some more fun, and, after a very long time without it, fun is something I can do these days.

See the source image

Over the last couple of nights, I binged Picnic at Hanging Rock on Amazon Prime. Loved it. Australian Gothic is a thing, and I want more of it. Which reminded me that I very much do want to rereach On The Jelllicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I refuse to use the shortened American title, because that’s not its name. Yes, I will die on that hill. I also want to see On the Jelicoe Road made into a movie (I don’t usually) with an all-Australian cast, on location, with 80s film effect on the 80s timeline. Failing that, I would like to hear it on audio, with two Australian narrators.

Thankfully, I can carry that over into historical romances set in Australia, by Australian authors, like Cadace Proctor and Alison Stuart. Ms. Stuart also writes Engilsh Civil War historical romance, which is one of my all time favorite settings.

In the meantime, I get to do mundane adulting things, such as putting away laundry and straightening my work area, both things that are super good for letting my creative brain do stuff on the back burner where I am not looking.

I am a little disappointed that I won’t be doing Camp Nano this round, but July is not that long away, and it’s also when I can bust out my brand new eighteen month planner, so I take that as a sign. What do you think?

Re-Me-Ification in 2021, pt 1

Hello, Liebchens, and welcome to 2021. We made it. 2020 is in the rearview mirror, its planners packed away/recycled/burned in a bonfire/other means of nonexistence, and we are looking toward the future. For those of us in the planner community, that means showing off the new babies, aka planners, and not only getting all of our ducks in a row (or squirrels at a rave, as it may be; as long as my squirrels are all at the same rave, I will count it as a win.) I had originally intended to have today be a writing and a blogging day, but insomnia and resulting morning crash said today is blogging, because there is no benefit to piling on the pressure, when the work can still get done with some rearranging.

Happy Planner mini, vertical layout

My purse planner (do I lose planner community points for not liking/using the phrase, “on the go?”) for 2021 is a gift from HappyChappy on Instagram. I’ve never used the mini vertical layout before, so was a little apprehensive, and I’ve never redated a whole planner (this was originally a 2020 planner, but S0 Pretty, I don’t care) I was madly in love with last year’s planner, which had a lovely, classy floral/naturey/cozy theme, and a dashboard layout, but I was also madly in love with the first min planner I had, which had a horizont5al layout and really no theme, but rather colors. The lesson here? I will adapt. Also, as soon as I put in my Rong Rong page finder, this planner felt like home.

we are going to call the gauzy effect intentional

Chances that I will eventually pick a different dashboard (blue plastic thing that holds my sticky notes) are high, because bright blue is not my thing. I have two aesthetics when it comes to planning: dark/gothy/classy and pastel. There are not many points in between.

Really into winter pastels at the moment

Still working on that. I am also getting more into DIY-ing my planner stuff for 2021, which makes a lot of sense, because it’s all part of getting my collective squirrels to the same rave. It’s especially true when it comes to writing, which is why I am trying two new things for the writign squirrels.

I do not have a photo of my writing planner, as that is still a work in progress, but this is the first year I am trying a social media planner. Part of that is researching what the fluff a social media planner actually entails, and as I go into my first full week of actually using said planner, I have to second guess myself because I love my social media planner (antoher redated 2020 mini vertical) but want to add a notes section and this puppy is already full, with just the pages that came with it, and stickers and such (I love decorative planning) is only going to make it fuller.

first partial week of the year

I have already filmed a partial flipthrough of the general setup :salute: of this planner, which will go up as soon as I finish editing. Getting back to video blogging is another goal for this year, and makign my topics more far-reaching that only what I, personally, am doing, delightful as I am. If the notes section gets too big, I may either move half the months into storage and go nuts with the notes, or use a second notebook for notes alone. We will see how that goes. I will keep you updated.

Originally, I had wanted to show you all the regular notebook page where I had scribbled down my goals for writing and blogging for the coming year, but A) technical difficulties say the photo I took is no bueno, which is fine because it was super fuzzy and kind of personal(ish) and B ) you know what they say about laws and sausages. Maybe it’s the same with planner pages. Says she who has been binge watching planner videos for the past umm, while. Yeah. That happens. A lot. So does watching romance oriented Book Tube videos, because, well, romance.

Then there’s writing. Hoo boy, there is writing. The last year was not great for writing, but now, it’s different. We are in a lovely apartment, Real Life Romance Hero and Housemate both have jobs that take them out of said apartment, and that means I have time where the only other living being in my space has four legs and is prone to day napping. I think…I think I can work with this.

There’s always a temptation to dive into “new year, new me” thinking, but I’m more of the type of “new year, more authentic me.” How can I be me-er? Well, I’m a writer. Writing would be great. Telling the love stories that I want to tell, telling them until they are told, and getting them into the hands of readers, who will give me monies for them, because planner supplies and Sims expansions are not free. Planning is one of the tools that helps me get to a place where that is easier to do.

Planning is definitely not the only thing (if only it were that easy, and full of stickers) so there will be some rambly wanders along the way. Company is most assuredly appreciated.

Springing Forward

Spring is not usually my favorite season. It still isn’t, but a new season is a good time for a new start, and, after seven of the craziest, weirdest, hardest months I have ever had, it looks like the light at the end of the tunnel may not be a train. Not that there aren’t still question marks, because there certainly are, but fewer ellipses (… -= those things) so I am going to count that as good. I have every faith that we may soon be nearing the end of our vagabond days, and I am very much ready for it.

On the fifth of March, we have been officially between apartments for seven months. Longer than I had thought or expected, but also, we are, as Skye would have said, badbutts, because we are still standing (cue Elton John) and, as Mr. Rogers’ mother said, looking for the helpers is always good advice. Storm is a travel kitty extraordinaire, and I have become far more adept than I ever thought in breaking down a desktop computer and reassembling it in another location, and knowing for sure and certain that longhand really is the best way for me to compose.

Writing, yes, can be done anywhere (seriously, anywhere) but the part that goes beyond composing, the transcribing, the editing, the polishing and submitting and/or planning out an indie pub (independent publishing, where the author is also the publisher) strategy, those things need a home base. It’s getting there. Before too long, there will be a new location for Stately Bowling Manor, a new office to move into, books to bust out of stuff jail (aka storage) and set into place. Time to know and declare that the new normal is now within reach. Not here yet, but within reach.

Which comes to the often sticky part of writing, finishing. When I first started writing romance, a starry-eyed seventeen-year-old with an electronic typewriter and a dream, of course I could finish a book. A lot of books. Now, I could be the parent of a seventeen-year-old, with some wiggle room. (I am not. Real Life Romance Hero and I decided early on that all of our kids will have four legs and fur.) Life and writing are not always that easy. That girl with the stars in her eyes and correction ribbon on her fingers had read once that Valerie Sherwood wrote twenty pages at a session, so okay, that’s a normal pace. The more seasoned writer now also remembers that Valerie Sherwood also said that any writer who says they write thus and so every day is lying.

There are days when the words, when the story, don’t come, and life has proven that, in heaps. There are also days when they do, and those are the days that I want to nourish. This past weekend, spent at Chez Grandmere, I took an outdated planner I inherited from Housemate, and ripped out the guts but for the monthly dividers (setting aside the unused guts to repurpose as plotting charts) and cutting down plain white office labels to cover the names of the months, and now it’s my general writing :salute: notebook/planner.

Writing each area of focus on each label – historical romance, contemporary romance, blogging, Buried Under Romance, Patreon, even “paper” (one can never have enough filler paper) — felt…good. Right. A few weeks ago, I posted on Facebook that I had a finger hovering over a stock image on a cover art website, because the couple in it? Could very well portray John and Aline from A Heart Most Errant. My first thought when I figured out what I was thinking was, “Anna, what are you thinking?” because, well, vagabond days. Vagabond months. Independent publishing isn’t cheap. I have never done it before.

Hm, though, but have I? In the intro to my “Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys” workshop, I mention that I spent well over a decade amongst Klingons, Newcomers, Immortals and others, not only writing for fanzines, but also, in time, publishing my own. I didn’t know what I was doing back then, either, when I started on that (huge props to my friend, the awesomely talented E. Catherine Tobler, who did a lot of very patient hand holding and talking me down from ledges of various heights) journey, so, maybe…cannonball? I don’t know.

What I do know is a page a day is a book in a year. I know I don’t have to reach every reader (and can’t, and shouldn’t) but only my readers, who are going to respond with, “please, miss, may we have some more?” The answer I want to give is “yes, of course, here you go.” I know I am too fond of italics and need to brush up on my comma use (thankfully, my contemporary cohort, Melva Michealian, has a PhD in English, so odds are I am going to catch on sooner rather than later.) There comes a time, and I think this is it, as my finger hovers over cover stock, and I have sussed out to get myself as bottom of the line webcam, because starting somewhere is better than not starting at all.

Which all feels pretty on-brand for spring. New life. Things blooming. Baby ducks. Baby ducks make everything better, and if we end up somewhere near Washington Park once more, there will be baby duck pictures aplenty. Even if not, there will be stories. That’s what I do. That’s who I am.

see you next time

Plan as We Go January

Hey. Hi. Hello there. Here we are in the second week of January, first full week, and for those of us who are into the whole planning thing, this is the big show. This is where the rubber meets the road, or rubber cement meets the paper. At the very least, where the pen meets the paper. While some aspects of planning tick all the tried and true boxes, this year, there is also some uncharted territory.

Last year, I waffled between ring binders and traveler’s notebooks (rings vs strings, the eternal struggle) and was admittedly snobby about discbound systems, including but not limited to Happy Planner. This year? I am actively designing my own discbound planner. Probably printables at first, because manufacturing these things is far outside my pay grade at the moment, but the fact that I am researching tools and costs and components, that’s a very new thing.

That kind of makes sense, because this year is full of a lot of new things, so doing new things the old way is probably not the wisest approach. I have one notebook for current projects that are active: my contemporary romances with Melva Michaelian, my historical romances on my own, and the uncharted (for me) wilds of starting a Patreon. How much time do I have, how can I best spend it, and what has the chance of being a decent return? Since my chosen field is that of commercial fiction, there is a real chance that the right answer is “ahaha, none of it,” but it could also be “never try, never know,” and that’s the view I naturally take.

2019 was, in many ways, a dumpster fire. That’s in the past. 2020 is only six days in, and the better I plan, and carry out those plans, the better I feel. It’s not so much finding a system that works for me so much as creating it as I go. That means paying attention wo what comes naturally versus giving myself headaches trying to shove myself into some sort of box that I think I’m supposed to do. Beginner’s mind is essential in endeavors like this.

What seems to be working best for me when I start a new notebook or planner, is to carry the thing around, empty, for a few days, and then take note of what I wish it had inside it. Using a system that I have never used before, aka discbound, fits well with that mindset, at least for me. I love that the pages aren’t stuck in place, and if I want to move something to a different section, or a different book, I can do that, no problem.

Yesterday, Housemate came to the conclusion that she is a mini size Happy Planner person, and gave me her classic size planner from last year, mostly unused, and the classic size Happy Notes (same system, notebook paper instead of planner paper.) I sat there, looking at them for a minute, with a little bit of a Christmas Morning feeling (what planner geek doesn’t want this sort of thing dropped in their lap?) before I started to think about possibilities.

What was I going to do with a notebook that has twelve sections? Well, take the old planner pages out, obviously (and set them aside because there is this cool tutorial by Sarra Canon) and then stare at the empty tabs and think about what I want to have in there. At the moment, I’m thinking it could be a catchall for future projects that are still in the idea stage, where I can put notes, pictures, etc, as they come to me, and then they’ll be there when it’s time to actually start the writing.

That’s the thing that’s newest about how I want to approach writing this year. It’s time to Get Stuff Done, push past the Hypercritical Gremlins as best I can and remember what it felt like to throw the movies in my head onto the page, without paying attention to what could go wrong. That’s still kind of scary, but it’s scarier to think of never getting the stories and characters who are as real to me as people I can see and hear and touch, and introducing them to readers.

Since I do well with this kind of structure, my plan (hah) is to focus on one slot per month to give a closer look into what I’m doing, planning/notebook-wise. Some of that may end up on Patreon, and we’ll figure out what works, together. One area I’m keeping in focus for this early stage is to record the ideas that I’ve been carrying around for a while, that I would like to see all the way through. Something tells me I may surprise myself along the way.

How about you? What systems do you use for reading or writing? Pull up a chair in the comments, and share.

Two Hundred and Fifty

Welp. Last post of 2019. I will not be sorry to see this year in my rearview mirror. While 2019 did have some standout moments – the publication of Chasing Prince Charming, adding Storm kitty to our family, the support and love of amazing friends when real life plot twists took some crazy turns – the bar for 2020 is not on the dauntingly high side.

IRL challenges aside, there is the whole RWA debacle, about which I have a lot of feelings, and feelings about those feelings. Romance Writers of America has never been a perfect organization, but the new developments that have come fast and furious, over the holiday week, those raise a whole lot of questions. As it stands now, I am waiting for my next CR-RWA meeting so that I can learn more and be around other people who are going through the same thing, before I say much more. The fact that this is all happening at the same time we learned of the passing of one of the OG historical romance superstars, Johanna Lindsey, makes it all that much more surreal.

As the great Beverly Jenkins has said, and Nora Roberts has pointed out that the middle word in “Romance Writers of America” is “Writers,” this is a time to keep going forward. Keep writing. Keep writing romance. That seems like a good note on which to start a new year. While yes, there is still adulting to do, and we are doing that, writing has taken a back seat while dealing with IRL matters, and it’s time now, to pick it back up once again.

I have said on many occasions that I am not a word counter, and I am not. Right now, however, when I went to figure out how to get myself back in Serious Writing Mode, what came to mind was that a page a day is a book in a year. That’s something I can do whether I am at a computer keyboard or working with pen and paper only, and it’s pretty easy to measure. Get to end of page, that’s the minimum required for the day. If anything more is too much, I can kick off for the rest of the day, read, adult, stare off into the distance, whatever is needed. One page is roughly two hundred and fifty words, which is not that daunting. Even counting words, two hundred and fifty of them in one place are not really that much.

Morning pages do not count for this requirement. It has to be fiction. Morning pages are their own thing, though I can use parts of them to prime the pump for the day’s fiction. Naturally, I plan to write more than one book this year, as this is a reality for a career in commercial fiction. Baby steps, though, are always a good place to start, or re-start. Neither does any writing that is not actual fiction writing count. Pump priming, list making, that sort of thing can get me to where I can write actual fiction, but it’s only the fiction that is going to count.

This year, I want to tap back into the writer who didn’t know any better, the one who knew how to shut out everything else and throw that story onto the page with all she’s worth. Maybe even more than that. Strike the “maybe.”

There are a lot of stories ahead in 2020, to be read, to be watched, to be written, risks to take in all of those things. Writing, reading, and watching romance has been a driving force in my life since I was eleven years old and stole my first historical romance from my mother’s nightstand. I have had the wonderful experience of writing about all of that for blogs both personal and commercial, and I look forward to bringing some of that over to my Patreon-to-be, which is in itself a daunting yet exciting prospect. On the one hand, who am I to ask people to pay me to, well, be me, but on the other, this fits right into the idea that I don’t have to put the pressure on myself to appeal to everybody. Maybe doing what I do and focusing on people who like that sort of stuff is s more liberating way to go.

We’ll find out, one page at a time.

Writing Notebook: Discovery Draft

In college, I studied early childhood education. The most important thing I learned in four years was that early childhood education and I were a horrible, horrible match. Hence several years in retail and family caregiving. All the while, I knew what I wanted to do with my life: write.

I had known that I wanted to write historical romance since I was eleven years old. More accurately, that was when I found out what it was called. I am pretty sure I was hardwired for this right out of the gate. I would not at all be surprised were I to find out my biological mother loved historical romance. Maybe we’d even have some of the same favorite books. I wrote my first historical romance, very much a pastiche of the author who first captured my attention in this genre, but that’s how we learn, right? By copying the masters when we first start?

When I was twenty=three, I submitted that first book, and got my first rejection. I was also dealing with some raging, undiagnosed depression and anxiety, so I didn’t notice the important bit about that rejection- the editor asked me if I had anything else. At the time, I did not, so that was the end of that, right? Wrong. Depression got much, much worse, real life sucked, and there were time that I thought I would never be able to write the stories I loved with all of my writerly heart. That’s when I discovered Star Trek: The Next Generation.

With absolutely no idea of what I was doing, I started writing first humor, then fan fiction, for a newsletter and fanzine. I wrote. A lot. I made friends, talented writers all, with whom I am still friends, and still a fan of, today. Even then, I described my fanfics as “historical romance with blinkies,” blinkies being a term for any futuristic equipment that had blinking lights.

I wrote and sold four historical romances after that, and even my first co-written contemporary, Chasing Prince Charming, is set in the world of historical romance, so do we see a trend here? What’s stayed the same all that time? Yeah.

When Melva and I meet, via Skype or Messenger, each week, we set out plans for what the next week should hold. Who’s writing what, if there’s anything we need to set up for the other, etc. We know we are heading to the end of draft one for Drama King, and getting the idea soup stock started for Queen of Hearts. We want to write a summer novella, and a trio of Christmas stories, and that’s probably a good 2020 for the two of us.

I want to get a similar plan in place for my historicals. I have been admiring prolific authors of late, many of whom are self-published/indie, and putting out the kinds of books they love the very, very best. That’s where I want to be. I don’t know, yet, if I want to self publish. Part of me thinks it would be an interesting experience, and part of me does not want to crunch any numbers in the outlay department, but there’s plenty of time to deal with that. What’s most important is that I get historical romance novels written and finished, before I can sell or publish them anywhere.

The how of that? Well, that’s where the whole discovery draft of a writing notebook comes into play. What do I need to get from where I am, to where I want to be? Flying into the mist with that one, and I look forward to sharing that process here. The first step? This is it, putting it out there. Next step? Setting up the actual notebook. Throw ink on paper and see what happens when I do.

See you next time