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,

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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?

Happy Almost New Year

Welp, it’s December 31st. New Year’s Eve. Crunch time for planner aficionados, like myself. The tucked-away week between Christmas and New Year’s has not felt particularly tucked away this year, as real life has butted its nose into pretty much every aspect of it, but I do not expect any less for 2018, but 2018 is almost over. 2019, we have expectations for you. Don’t be 2018, and we should be fine.

Granted, the year has not brought only bad things, as I have edits for a contracted book on my desk, one invitation already, to speak at an RWA chapter, and, this morning, I finished reading The Summer Wives, by Beatriz Williams, which reminded me not only why I love reading historical romance (though I would shelve this one as historical fiction with romantic elements) but why I love writing it, as well, and that’s appropriate for the year when I am making a concerted effort to not only flourish in my new venture of co-writing contemporary romance, with Melva Michaelian, but returning to my historical romance roots, and pumping up the volume in that department.

Since this is technically part of the tucked away week, and thus, technically a holiday, I do want to spend some of it in relax and refill mode, which does include reading, there’s also the knowledge that tomorrow begins the new year (though technically a holiday itself, but we will see how that shakes out in reality) and all the new calendars, trackers, and other related thingamaboodles. I will admit that, this year, I am overplanning.

Not, mind you, in the sense of micromanaging my own writing (though, let’s be honest, I probably will do some of that at some point) but in the sense of having a planner identity crisis. I have my calendars and some trackers set up in the traveler’s notebook I planned to use for the winter months, and I have my writing tracker binder all set up, but, this morning, when I took my 2018 inserts out of Big Pink, I didn’t want to put her away. In the spirit of “yes, and,” that’s fine. Let me find some inserts for her, and she will find a purpose along with what I’ve already planned.

Does this mean I’m going to be all over the place this year, spending more time planning than actually writing? I don’t think so. I’ll use what I end up using, and I will set aside what doesn’t work (at least at the time; it may work very well, for another purpose, later.) This is, not so oddly enough, in line with how I intend to pick my next historical romance project. Toss everything that looks appealing into the mix, stir, brainstorm, babble, see what rises to the surface, what I keep coming back to. Odds are, that will be the one.

2019 is the year of Yes, And, and it’s the year of coming back to myself, on multiple levels. It’s time to rediscover old loves, and discover new ones. It’s the year to try, fail, try, fail, and, in time, try, succeed. Maybe the tucked-away week will find itself tucked somewhere else this year, probably where I would least suspect.

What does 2019 hold for you?

Typing With Stuffed Paws: End of Year Edition

Greetings, Foolish Mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff about the week that was. This was a different sort of week, thanks to the Christmas holiday. Writer Chick spent some of her time volunteering, and there was some kerfluffle in getting particular gifts to the right people, but, in the end, it turned into a pretty good holiday, and now, Writer Chick can turn her attention to the close of this year, and the start of the next year to come.

Observant readers will notice that I am not alone in this week’s picture. Still getting to know the new kid. He’s not much of a conversationalist at the moment, but I like the cut of his jib. Other Writer Chick asked if Dude got him as a friend for me. I prefer the term, “minion.” He has not yet told me his name, but I think he’s trainable. I will keep you updated.

Speaking of updates, let’s get to it. This past week, as always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance. This time, she talked about the true gift of romance reading, and how a ghost of Christmas past dovetailed with a gift she received this year. Check that out here.

Now that Writer Chick has completed her 2018 reading challenge, she is turning her attention to what she wants to do for 2019. Should she stick with the tried and true goal of ninety books, or step it up to ninety-five, with an eye toward one hundred when 2020 rolls around? She is still figuring that one out, but if you are interested in how her reading year has gone, pop on over here. New Goodreads friends are always welcome.

Writer Chick also has some Christmas historical romances queued up on her Kindle and Kindle app, but those are hard to photograph, especially this close to naptime. I’ll let her fill you in on those, later.

This is the part where I bring you up to date on actual writing stuff, and, knowing Writer Chick, there will probably be some sort of banner or something to go here, next week. She is starting a whole section in her writing planner about blogging, and that’s probably covered in there, somewhere. I am afraid to look.

Anyway, Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick got a special present from the person we will refer to as Editor Chick, and that was their first round of line edits. Writer Chick is absurdly happy about this, because she loves this part of the process. This week, she and Other Writer Chick are going over the first twenty-five percent of the suggested edits, and accepting, correcting, or questioning each one. Like I said, Writer Chick is into this, so we’ll go with it. This brings Chasing Prince Charming one step closer to readers, so that counts as a step in the right direction.

Another step in the right direction is that Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick are working on rolling out their joint website. That apparently involves more than putting their individual websites alone in a candlelit room, with Al Green music and a box of chocolates. To my knowledge, they have not yet tried that approach, so we cannot rule it out.

This brings us to the most important part of the goal setting for the year ahead (no, Writer Chick, not picking out stationery) – the writing. She’ll talk more about exactly how the writing breaks down, later, but the focus for this coming year looks something like what we have here:

* Take care of pre-release stuff for Chasing Prince Charming
* Complete second draft of Her Last First Kiss
* Get Drama King (her second ms with Other Writer Chick) to the end of the first draft
* Pick next historical romance project and get started on that

That’s about it for this week. There is a suspicious squirrel outside, and I need to train the new kid, so that’s going to be it for me right now.


Peace out,

This Post Is About Planning (Writing)

As if the title weren’t enough to give it away, in the interests of full disclosure, this post is indeed about planning. It’s specifically about planning writing, which I hope is the way things are going to go this year, but there is always room for surprises.

Yesterday was Christmas. Normally, I like to do this holiday BIG, but this was a quiet Christmas, which was fine with me. That was one of the first surprises. What was not a surprise was that the rest of my family wanted a very very very quiet day, which left me, for a large part of it, to my own devices. Those devices, as they are wont to do, led me toward planning and writing, and planning writing.

My gift to Housemate, this year, was a bullet journal starter kit (Housemate does not write, but she knits amazing sweaters/blankets/scarves, etc) which put me in the mood to work on my own bujo stuff for the year ahead. I’ve been talking about it for some time now (apologies to those who are only here for the writing talk; the balance will soon shift) and it led me to a surprising place. Let me backtrack.

Ever since I got my planner case, I’d been trying to shove my blush pink notebook into it, with a black/white/blush/grey aesthetic, into it, and It Was Not Working. Well, boo. If only I hadn’t wasted my berry covered gridded notebook on the TV tracker that went on for precisely seven pages, before it, too, Did Not Work. :pause: Wait a minute. Did seven pages have to mean the whole thing was down for the count? A little washi tape, some markers, and let’s see what we’ve got.

One ink color for the entire year felt too restrictive, but one color for each month? That, I liked. One family of colors per season? That sounded like fun.

Umm, Anna, this is all pretty and stuff, but what about the actual, you know, writing? We have come to that part. I am the type of writer who likes to know where she’s going, so I like the whole year at a glance thing. On Christmas Eve, Melva and I got a target date for the first round of edits on Chasing Prince Charming, so that needs to go straight into my future log. That also lets us break up the work into manageable bites, so it’s less running around in a circle, screaming, and more “Okay, this is today’s bit.”

Anna. Writing. That is a picture. You have an Instagram for that kind of thing. Focus.

That is also a picture, and there is some obscuring of personal information, but what this all came down to is, this is what I want to write in the year 2019. Chasing Prince Charming is on its way to being a real, live book. Drama King is past the 25% mark. Her Last First Kiss needs to make it to the end of its second draft, and I need to pick a historical romance to follow that one. Taken as a whole, it does seem all a bit much, but broken down into small manageable bites? Okay, that, I can do.

The trick is to figure out what parts go where. Since most weekday mornings see me with the apartment to myself, that is prime writing time. Evenings when there are three bodies in a small space, not so much. I’m still not sure how I want to track my writing this year, as I did not use the tracker I made for writing, last year. What’s probably going to happen is that I’ll write down what I wrote at the end of the day, and then figure out what I’m doing from there. Patterns will emerge, and then I can set goals, to stretch and do more.

Part of that stretching will mean a few changes for the look of this blog, and keeping a better balance between the writing and planning talk, though the two do often intertwine. Is intuitive planning a thing? Maybe 2019 is the year I find out. How are you planning your writing or otherwise creative year?

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Writer Chick Smells Like Real Cat Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you, from under the as-yet undecorated Christmas tree. This week, I have news. N and Writer Chick moved their meeting, this week, not only to Friday, but to N’s house, instead of Panera. How does this affect me, you may be asking? Writer Chick came home, smelling of Real Cat. Specifically, this one:

This cat was not, as one might think, my relief. My tenure as Cat regent needs must continue for the foreseeable future. The pictured cat is one of three cats who live with N and Mr. N, but she was the only one who marked Writer Chick as her own, by means of headbutts, ankle weaves, and attempting to disappear into the black of Writer Chick’s coat. It did not work. At least there are no young pretenders for my spot under the Christmas tree. That will probably help me endure my ongoing duties. Probably.

Time for the compulsories for the week. As always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This time, she reached out to her faithful readers to end her Christmas romance drought, and they did come through. What was the recommendation and was it enough to spark Writer Chick’s interset? Find out here.

As much as the Goodreads updates have meant to me, over the last few months, those are now over. Writer Chick has not only completed the challenge, but exceeded it, with ninety-one books read to date, out of ninety. That is four books ahead of schedule, and more than a week to spare before the end of the year. Not too shabby, Writer Chick. Bring it on for 2019. If you need a reading pillow, I make a good one. If you’re intersted in getting a closer look at teh whole shebang, here it is.

Writer Chick is seriously considering upping the goal for next yaar, to ninety-five, with an eye on one hundred in the next year or two after that. We will see what happens, but she’s feeling\\ng challengey, so watch this space for future details. Her most recent review of the year is actually for a historical romance, Trapped at the Altar, by Jane Feather, which had a lot of elements that make Writer Chick do a happy reading dancce. I am not allowed to show that footage here, but I can share a link. Her most recent read is a 20th century historical YA, Lies We Tell Ourselves. She doesn’t have a review up for that one yet, but have a look at that cover.

This morning, Writer Chick, and N, and probably N’s cat (I don’t know; she looks clever, and I wasn’t there, because nobody invited me. Stuffed guys like a little change of scenery too, you know.) had people food and people beverages and had to each lay out plans for what they mean to do in the coming year. What their goals are, and how they intend to achieve them. What it all boiled down to was “pick the thing you are most excited about, do that until it’s done, and then do the next thing.”

This should hold them over through the holidays, because they will meet, next, in January. At which time Writer Chick plans to show off the writing progress tracker she designed, and made a version of, on dot grid index cards. Writer Chick is hardcore like that. She is also, as I have gathered, pretty hardcore about Christmas in general, though that has not been much in evidence until last night.

Last night, Writer Chick unboxed the Christmas tree. I, of course, immediately claimed it as my own. She says she’s going to put some ornaments on it, once Dude is available. Normally, Writer Chick likes to spread out her Christmas preparation across the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but, this time, she seems to be cramming it all into the next few days. Call it turbo-Christmas. I am not sure what turbo-Christmas entails, I am pretty sure it’s going to involve twinkly lights, and some garland. She already found where Netflix keeps the Christmas movies. Something tells me there here is no stopping her now.

Peace Out

The Year of “Yes, And….”

This post is not going to be about planning. Okay, not really. This is because I have met me, but it is also about writing.

Jack, the hero of Melva’s and my current contemporary WIP, is an actor who isn’t acting (at the moment) but still can’t turn off who he truly is. Without giving away too much, let us say that improv ensues. As Jack tells Kelly, his very much not an actress heroine, the first rule of improv is to never say “no” to your scene partner. Instead, the correct answer is, “yes, and…” Accept what your partner offers, and then add to it.

Fans of The Big Bang Theory may remember the classic episode where Penny tries to instruct Sheldon in improv (spoiler alert, it all goes horribly wrong.) Penny has set up the scene as taking place in a shoe store. Sheldon’s character enters the scene and requests frozen yogurt. In the spirit of “yes, and,” Penny’s character replies that he’s fortunate to have come to her shoe store that is also a frozen yogurt parlor. Chaos ensues from there, but you get the point. Okay, but how does this relate to writing? Glad you asked.

For some writers, including myself, the creation of a first draft is, essentially, improv. There’s a degree of flying into the mist (thanks to the late, great Jo Beverley, for that term) which is very similar from improv. I did a bunch of theater in high school and college, and if I had to go back to college, or do it over again, I would pick theater as my major. (I majored in early childhood education. It did not end well. Cas in point: I am doing this, instead.) In my very short student theater career, my favorite-est things were auditions and improv. Both have an amazing energy to them, that I palpably felt in my physical body.

It’s a difficult feeling to describe, but I recognized it, easily, when I first sat down in my Vermont College dorm room, with an electronic typewriter and a ream of typing paper (yep, that long ago) to start work on my very first historical romance novel manuscript. The resulting pages live in a storage unit now, where they cannot hurt anybody, but that feeling, of standing on the stage, facing my scene partner(s) and knowing that anything, literally anything could happen…. I want that again.

That’s why 2019 is my Year of “Yes, And….” Time to unpause, explore new things, revive old ones that have lain dormant far too long, test, and stretch (because isn’t that how muscles grow?) On Friday, N and I will brainstorm future, individual, projects. What are we each most passionate about, and how can we bring those stories to life, aka put them in the hands of readers? This is also the year where Melva and I are going to push each other, not only on our collaboration, but in our solo work as well, and maybe even beyond that.

Does this mean that every idea is going to work out? No. For every improv sketch that ends with the whole troupe and audience on the edge of losing collective bladder control and/or the ability to breathe, for laughing that hard, there is an awkward silence, a few deer in the headlight expressions, and an unspoken agreement never to speak of this again. There’s no way to tell which it’s going to be, in advance, but there’s also no way to find out except to head into the breach and take on all comers. What are you saying “yes, and….” to in the upcoming year?

Monday Morning Chaos and Order

This past weekend, we had a sick Housemate, Real Life Romance Hero adjusting to his new work schedule, and me at a point of exhaustion where most of my available hours were spent cruising YouTube, to mark videos to watch later. Needless to say, I did not meet my weekend writing goals. Sebastian didn’t have any goals, so he’s not terribly bothered about missing Friday’s post (I’ll make him make up for it later.) 

Most of the videos I flagged were on bullet journaling, so when I needed something to kickstart my brain this morning, I made some tea, and hauled out planner supplies, to move around some planner guts, so that the right guts made it into the right covers. This may have been more complicated than it sounds, but, as soon as I quit thinking about it, and let instinct lead, well, what do you know, I Have my entire sleep tracker for 2019 all set out, one notebook set aside for practical information, and another, with so far no entries, for reading and writing use. 

The reasons this book has no entries as of yet is because that’s about when my brain fizzled out, and I needed to hop in the idea generator, aka shower, before I could plop myself back at ye olde kitchen table and figure out what the tasks for the day would be. Going to bed (note, I did not say “back” to bed, because hello insomnia) and then do what needs doing. 

When asked if I am a plotter or a pantser, I usually say puzzler, because that’s how I work best. Take this thing over here, take that thing over there, which go together I don’t know how, at the moment, but I know that they do. For instance, last night, while I babbled to a captive audience of Sick Housemate (she knows where her tea comes from) about why I haven’t been able to use the planner case I’d been wanting to use, and have right the heck there, it was that I was trying to combine blush pink and berry color schemes, when I really wanted two separate books, one blush and one berry. Oh. Once that lightbulb went on, the whole process was a lot clearer, and I was able to, this morning, move the right guts into the right cover, and actually get started on filling pages. 

Savvy readers will get where I am going with this. One of the notebooks I’m setting up for the coming year is for writing related stuff. I’m not sure what, exactly. The first step is to make some lists. What are my obligations? Chasing Prince Charming, of course, and related things at The Wild Rose Press. Getting back on the horse with Her Last First Kiss, to get it from partially second-drafted, to ready to shop around, and figure out what my next historical romance will be. 

What that figuring out looks like, however, is often a mystery, until it isn’t. I need, I have found, to cannonball off the dock, break the surface of the water on my way back up, and then figure out where the heck I am and how far it is to shore. Maybe someday, I will be able to explain it better, but the best work happens when I am doing, and not thinking. That used to be a lot easier, like when I was pounding out x number of pages every day on a typewriter on a tv tray in my father’s living room, because, well, nobody had told me I couldn’t. I didn’t know any better, and so I cannonballed in, splashed around, and off I went. Many of us have heard of Beginner’s Mind, which is a very useful thing, and I would like to add to that, Beginner’s Bravado, which is something I’m actively working to cultivate in the now. Re-cultivate, I should probably say. 

Ironic, then, when I sit at my desk to work on today’s entry, and find that Pixlr Express has changed its whole method of operation, and I am, once more, flailing about in the shadows. Where are my frames? Why does the picture warp when I apply an effect? I am certain I will figure this out, soon enough, but I found it amusing. 

The end of a calendar year brings a lot of changes. It still doesn’t feel like the holidays yet around here. Our tree and ornaments are still in their boxes, I have read zero holiday romances, though I did finish a historical romance with some pivotal scenes at Christmas, and my Christmas playlist has, so far, been silent. This is not like me. I’m not worried, though. It will come around, and the writing for the year to come, will take its own shape, as long as I keep showing up and doing my part. Also, playing with pretty pens and paper doesn’t hurt. 

Time of the Season

Welp, we are officially in the Christmas season around here. Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror (and it was a good one) and the question of where the heck do we put a Christmas tree in this new apartment has started to bat itself around, especially as I am in a moving furniture around phase. My pillow pile is probably on its way out, as it’s not quite the same with the bookshelf-turned-desk here. Also, Real Life Romance Hero likes to keep the bedroom toasty (as in thermostat. The rest is nobody’s business.) so this may be me moving to winter quarters. Probably.

There is most of a huge (I am not exaggerating on this) pumpkin pie In the refrigerator. In a household where one person is watching their sugar intake, and another isn’t that keen on sweet things in general, this pie may outlast us. Any Albany area friends want to come over for pie? We also have tea, and I will let you play with my colored pencil, while we talk about books. Reading or writing, I’m good for both. There is also tea.

Anyhoo, it’s Monday, which means that I am getting ready for a 7PM Skype chat with Melva, where we talk all things Chasing Prince Charming, and plot the next week’s work for Drama King. Odds are very high that I will be having my end of the conversation here, at the kitchen/dining room table:

261118tableread

This is also where I do the majority of my planning, though it’s sometimes on the other side of the table. Feel free to mentally flip the image for an idea of what that looks like, because that would be accurate. The planner I’m using right now is going to go down for a long winter’s nap, maybe in December, definitely in January, to come back in the spring, with all pastel colored inserts, standard size instead of the current A5. It will most likely be succeeded by this one, which I had no intention of getting until I saw the whole line on clearance, and then, well, things happened:

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The art isn’t exactly my style, but I like to mix things up, now and again, and I love the feel of the fabric cover. I like the challenge of trying something new, and diving all into it, but not completely on my own. I like to have some sort of guide I can refer to, when I feel uncertain. (Everybody say it with me now) It’s like that with writing. I don’t think I would have ventured into contemporary romance on my own. (We will not speak of my first time travel effort, which is still burning off its half life.) Writing it with Melva, though, that’s a whole different animal. Though we come from two different backgrounds, we know each other’s voice, and things kind of fall together. I have not, as of yet, given any thought to trying to lure her over to the historical side (come to the historical side; we have comfits?) but never say never. The future stretches ahead.

That future does include getting back to my solo historicals, and that’s both exciting and scary. On the one hand, the longer one spends away from a manuscript, the longer the road back may be, but, at the same time, time and distance can also offer perspective. How that works, I am not exactly sure, but I do know that switching between being two different writers (or one and a half?) does give writing a sort of hybrid vitality. Focusing on one genre can make the other one seem fresh and exciting again, when I get back to it, and there are benefits to both going it alone, and having a writing partner, ready to pick up the ball and run with it, when I’m not sure where to go next.

This time of year is my favorite-favorite, for a lot of reasons, and this year is extra special. This year, I have a book contract again. This year, I am working on two novels at the same time, one with a partner, and one on my own. To be fair, I was doing that last year, too, but this time, I have the added boost of knowing that I can do both. I love the idea of figuring out what Melva’s-and-my brand is, setting up our website, and connecting with our readers, who may not be the same as my readers or her readers, though I hope there will be some crossover.

When I set up the new planners (yes plural) for the coming year, there will be a section of the writing planner that is dedicated to future projects. There will be workshops in the works, and I look forward to going forward as an author and a half. Right now, a lot of it looks like utter chaos, but making order from chaos is kind of my things. Spread everything out in front of me, see what wants to go together, and then make it happen.

I am one thousand percent sure that the coming year is going to have its fair share of surprises. Hopefully, most of them will be good.

Desk-ish

Coughty-cough months after moving into the current apartment, and I finally have an actual desk, set up in the common room. Well, desk-ish. Technically, it is a bookcase. There are precisely zero books on it, which does not do much toward my goal of neatening the room, but for my ease of and attitude toward writing? Huge improvement.

Right now, I am perched atop the ergonomic “kneeling” chair, that I have had for hm, let’s see, basically forever. Long ago, I had visited a family friend/successful author, and she told me to sit at her desk, in her kneeling chair. I needed some instruction on how that sort of chair worked, and I was hesitant to put  my bottom there, because this was where the magic happened. This was where she sat to create the stories that enthralled me. My butt was not worthy. She insisted, though, so I parked it, and….oh. This was where the magic happens. 

Skip forward a few years, to when I worked retail and plunked down a chunk of one of my earliest checks, to get that same sort of chair. Not only was this an emotional/aspirational touchstone to abovementioned butt plunking, but my spine had a very clear memory, and extremely strong opinions about sitting in a kneeling chair. These opinions were strong enough that the whole “id doesn’t have a back, can nobody else see that?” thing faded into the background.

Of course, when I got said chair home, it was not the best of matches for the desk I used at the time, nor was it a good match for the antique secretary desk I could finally claim as my own, in our most recent apartment before this one. I went through a couple of improvised alternatives, until a lovely reader/RWA sister gifted me with a fabulous office chair with high back and comfy seat, which I fell deeply in love with, and will use again when I can get it and the secretary desk out of storage, likely in the next apartment. I didn’t know how I was going to use the kneeling chair in our current place, until another friend gifted us with a gorgeous kitchen table. (No, you do not have to give us furniture to be our friend, but we probably will not say no, either.) As we had come to the point of figuring out who would get to use the folding chair, an additional chair became a necessity.

The kneeling chair was at the front of one of the storage units, so home it came. Now, it is the most hotly sought-after chair in the apartment. Go figure. Real Life Romance Hero turns it the other way around, to watch television. He used to hate this chair, but now finds it comfortable. Housemate used to use it as a place to change footwear, but a cushion for the folding chair greatly cut down on such instances. Note that I did not say eliminated. Even Sebastian will randomly appear on seat or knee rest.

On Saturday, Housemate and I ventured into the dark wilds of the large storage unit, to retrieve winter clothing, and, hopefully, this particular bookcase. I knew exactly where I wanted the bookcase to go, and Housemate figured out how to make it fit. I surveyed the bookcase, deciding what was going to go where, and my gaze drifted to the monitor, on the coffee table, in my pillow pile corner. Hm. What if the monitor were on the top shelf, and the keyboard were on the second shelf? Third shelf would be enough space for my knees, and maybe the printer (testing that one out later) and what the heck, let’s see how that works.

As it turns out, I had the same reaction as when I plopped my butt in that long-ago other kneeling chair. Oh. This is where the magic happens. I am physically comfortable. I don’t have to strain back or eyes. I am facing the wall, so I am not distracted by anything anybody else is doing in the rest of the room. Granted, I am writing this at a time when everybody else is out of the house, so there are no interruptions. I don’t have to use headphones. I don’t have to maneuver around any other bodies in the kitchen, when I want more tea. I go through a lot of tea when I’m writing.

Also when I am not writing, but this is definitely a writing day. Melva and I have this week to get the final tweaks done to the manuscript of Chasing Prince Charming in to our editor. Our editor. I had to type that again, in bold, because it is a beautiful phrase to see, after a long spell between contracts. After that, we have a few rounds of editing, filling in art sheets, and other stuff to be done, that contracted novelists do. We also have a draft of Drama King to write, because A) it’s fun, and B) writing the next book is key to keeping this author thing going.

There’s also the whole thing about getting back in the groove with Her Last First Kiss, and keeping an eye on the next thing I want to do with historical romance. This is going to require a lot of organization and planning. Convenient, then, that organization and planning are two of my hobbies.  Okay, those and art journals, but they collide nicely, so I think I am going to be all right. I also think that, this time, computer desk and handwriting/art desk are going to be two different things. There will, in time, be a new photo for the end of blog posts, but today? Today is for actual writing work. I think that’s a pretty decent way to start a week.

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