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?

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?