Talking ‘Bout My Genre-ration

Happy Wednesday, feral and domesticated cryptids. On Monday night, Melva and I hashed out a rough outline for our third co-written (or to be co-written) contemporary romance, Queen of Hearts. I don’t think I would have added contemporary romance to my repetorie on my own, but with Melva, it makes sense. It also has a tie to historical romance, because I need that. Heather, the heroine, is named for Heather, the heroine of The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, the first modern historical romance as we know it. The Heather in Queen of Hearts is an editor of historical romance, a genre she adores.

I am extremely thankful to Ms. Woodiwiss for writing the story of her heart and putting it out there in the world. I am extremely thankful to Nancy Coffey, the editor who wanted to take only one submission home with her over the weekend, and picked the biggest manuscript from the slush pile. Boom. Kicked the bedroom door (and other things) off the hinges, and things have never been the same. How many of the original Avon Ladies (having nothing to do with cosmetics, and everything to do with historical romance. One of them wasn’t even a lady. His name was Tom.)

Now that Drama King has been put on the schoolbus, as it were, and Queen of Hearts is a darling baby who sleeps through the night and wakes to the playtime that is discovery drafting, it’s time to turn attention back to my troubled teens, aka historical romances that have been on hold for far too long.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Heart Most Errant is soooo close to being done with the first round of edits. I started John and Aline’s story a long time ago. Not long enough that it was a contemporary when I sat down to write it, but I lived in a different state then, in a time that feels like another life. I won’t say that it doesn’t feel odd to be getting back in touch with characters that, if they were people born when I first put them to page, would be old enough to…well, let’s say cross the street by themselves. Among other things.

Image by Sandra Schwab

They are not that much older than Bern and Ruby (image by the fabulous Sandra Schwab) the hero and heroine of my Georgian romance, Her Last First Kiss, which I have missed like a deep sea diver misses air. Been a while on that one, too, but I am beyond eager to get back to it, and probably use as my focus for Camp NaNo this year. It’s one of those things where I got the whole thing outlined, then the writing-writing got to a certain point and then…stopped. I chalk it up to life being in-bloody-sane for the last few years. We’re back, now, though, and that’s what matters.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Whiiiiich brings me to the whole genre thing. I’ve been watching a lot of You Tube videos about historical romance. Like, a lot. I love watching these mostly young women getting excited about my favorite genre, and doubly excited to see them discovering classic historical writers like Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, and Johanna Lindsey. Not yet a lot of non-J-named writers, but that will come, I am sure.

It’s this development that makes me think that maybe historical romacne does have a divide that I don’t yet know how to name. Many of these videos mention prefering historical romance that is light and funny and rom-com-y, historical accuracy either not a priority or even a detriment. Can’t say I can get my head around that but if those are the books that get a reader’s motor running, read on.

The historical romances that have a permanent home in my heart are of a different ilk. Darker rather than lighter, historical versimilitude a must, big thick bug squasher books that have heft and weight. Plots where the history is a major player, as in plucking this couple from medieval France and dumping them in modern times, the old west of the US, or ancient Rome, would not work at all, because they are people of their time.

A lot of the shining stars I see in these You Tube recommendations are great at weaving the nineteenth century backdrops with keen observations on the fads and foibles of modern life. The covers of these books have what are commonly referred to as “prom dresses” on the heroines, often with titles modeled after references to popular modern works, and in very modern-looking fonts. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s its own genre, and a pretty darned popular one, so rock on and keep going. Is it my taste, though? Weeeeel….I’m okay with that.

I’m also more than okay with accepting that my personal preference is for those big thick bug squashers, whose covers have historical garb on their humans. Often standalones, and often with authors who not only didn’t stick with one family or friend group, but spread it out over several different centuries and continents. An author could come on the scen with a Victorian historical, but the next book is sixteenth century pirates, then a western, then ancient Rome, then colonial Maine, then the early days of Australian penal colonies, back up to Gilded Age New York, then the English Civil War, and….:happy sigh: I love that. I miss that. I want to do that.

Love can happen any time, any place, as an online historical romance friend often says, and I abundantly agree with that. New school or old, traditionally published or indie, series or standalone. What absolutely must, must, must be there is the love story that is intrinsically intertwined with the time in which it occurs, and bonus points to the couple coming So Close to losing it all that I forget that the HEA is a gaurantee and then, at the last second, BOOM, they make it work. They get to the top of that metaphorical mountain, not without some bumps and bruises along the way, some bittersweet losses likely, and I pump my fist in victory.

At least that’s the plan, and that’s why I am working on my Anna Log You Tube channel, to talk about some of the stuff that I love that may not be the newest kid on the block, but my word, the staying power. Which reminds me, time to get to work on that.

Kicking B*utt at Making Names?

This morning, I found an important truth about my writing process. I would rather name a dozen historical characters than one contemporary one. Please remind me of that when it is time to name the heroine from A Heart Most Wanton, which will probably come sooner than I expect, because the way I am scheduling writing times now seems to be working.

Anyway, Melva and I are working on a contemporary collection with three stories. One hers, one mine, one ours. We have the ours one all worked out, and I can’t wait to see what her story will hold, which leaves only mine. Since I have met me, I know this has to have some sort of historical connection, or it is not at all happening. Do I know what that connection is? Ehhh, maybe? Kind of? Possibly? Whyever would I know something like that? Oh look, a kitty.

Make of that distraction what you will. As of this writing, my contemporary character naming process is not all that different from my historical naming process. Since all of my reference books are still in storage :weeps softly: that means I head to the interwebs. Figure out what year the character would have been born, find a list of most popular baby names from that year for their country of origin, and then open a random number generator. Generate a few numbers, write down the names that correspond to the numbers. Re-roll if needed, if you’ve hit a name that is on your automatic “no” list, or if it won’t fit this particular character or story. I personally don’t like to have hero and heroine’s names to start with the same initial, so whichever one of them comes first, that initial is out.

Melva’s and my collaborative process is a lot different. We throw names at each other and see what sticks. Seems to be working all right so far. With Chasing Prince Charming, our base for Meg’s name was that we wanted a one-syllable name. Since we had a heroine with a one-syllable name, we wanted to contrast that with a multi-syllable name for the hero, which is how we found Dominic.

Doing it on my own is…different. The vast majority of my contemporary romance reading is YA instead of adult, so I’m not finding adult names much in the contemporaries I read. For me, naming a character is important; grabbing popular names at random and slapping them down is not going to work for me. As a matter of fact, my list of “no” names for historicals (and probably carry them over to contemporary as well) are very popular in the genre…but they don’t work for me. It is what it is. So, what does work?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

That’s a very good question. The name has to fit the character. That’s essential. Some characters do come with a name already, sit themselves down in a chair across from me, and introduce themselves. I am one hundred percent fine with that. I encourage it. I encourage it even when it involves a character telling me he doesn’t know what his name is, meaning the one given at birth. He has a thing that he’s called, sure, but it’s not his name. There is a difference. Yes, that has happened, and that’s one of the historicals I look forward to writing. Historical characters are pretty good about this sort of thing. I know where they come from, when they were born, which gives me a clear direction as to where to look for their names. Sometimes I will have to read through the entire section of possible/probable names until I find one that hits. Sometimes none of the contemporary to them (remember, historical characters don’t know they’re in a historical; they think they’re in a contemporary) and I go back an era or even more, to find a “traditional” name that may feel out of place for their time, but could well be a family name. the

With contemporary characters, of course I have an even longer span of history to work with, so it should be theoretically easier. Names I hear around me in everyday life. Names of friends, or their offspring, or even, for younger characters, their offspring’s offspring. Even so, I usually end up at “uhhhhh…..” as a starting point. Knowing the name helps me see the character in a visual sense. I don’t usually fantasy cast (and don’t get me started on the whole new barrel of worms that would be naming fantasy characters, so hats off to fantasy authors that do that every day) but I do have an image in my head. Height, frame, complexion, hair, eyes, facial features, manner of dress, etc.

Sometimes the image comes first, and the character makes me figure out their name, a la Rumplestilskin. None of my characters to date have actually been named Rumplestilskin. This is probably a good thing. Beyond the actual name, how do they feel about the name? Is that a name they like to hear? Do they feel that it fits them? Would they rather be called something else? If so, what? It’s not as simple as slapping a “hi, my name is X” (none of my characters to date have actually been named X yet, either.) on their shirt and calling it good enough.

Today is Housemate’s birthday, so it’s going to be a day of cavorting with some of her favorite activities. In the back of my mind, though, I am gestating the heroine for the “mine” story in the upcoming collection. Well, the proposal for it. Something to bring to the table when we confer. Anything can happen from there. What we call it, well, we’ll find that out.

So, I Have a YouTube Channel

Happy Wednesday, my liebchens. In keeping with the spirit of trying new things this year/spring, I finally made good on my threat to start a YouTube channel -different from my short-lived vlogging channel-AnnaLog is finally a thing.

AnnaLog

Over the last year, I watched a lot of YouTube. I mean a LOT of YouTube, often BookTube, and out of that, I found a lot of creators I like and follow, but I didn’t see a lot of talk about the more vintage side of historical romance. Aha. Heeeere’s Anna.

Check out my answers to the historical romance book tag

I am very obviously learning here, from angle of the laptop screen to topics and tagging and such, so pleae pardon my dust, and get comfy, because this will be a place for me to blabber about all the things I love -and some that I don’t- about historical romance novels, as a writer and a reader.

The first thing I wanted to cover, apart from a chapter header, was the historical romance reader book tag, created by Jess from PeaceLoveBooks on You Tube. Basically, if you ever wanted to pick my mind about historical romance, this is your opportunity. Only the tip of the iceberg, naturally, but tons of fun to make, and, I hope, to watch as well. Like, subscribe, share, all that good stuff, and yes, I am available for hire on my Patreon, to make a video on the historical romance topic of your choice. This is already lots of fun, so strap in, it’s going to be quite the ride.

Camp NaNononoooo

My workload made the decision for me for this round of Camp Nano, starting tomorrow. Eep. As much as I was looking forward to writing something newnewnew for camp this year, my editor’s notes for A Heart Most Errant cleared its throat and tapped its foot, so my April will be, historical romance-wise, has to be that. Contemporary-wise, it’s edits on Drama King, so my plate is full.

I am okay with that. I like direction. I have some ground to cover before I am, productivity-wise, where I want to be. One day at a time, one page at a time, and the video channel to remind me why I love historical romance as much I as I do. Getting back to one’s roots is always a good thing when one is so inclined, and I am so inclined, indeed.

Going to leave it at that for today, as adulting awaits, and after that, dun, dun, dun, the formation of a writing plan for April that will get me where I want to be. Yes, this involves planners and color coding and all of that good stuff, and yes, I will be sharing that here. Until then, behave yourselves, but I will not say how, so use your own discretion.

Typing With Wet Paws: End of January Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. It’s zero degrees here in New York, and zero is exactly the number of us who want to go outside today. Aunt Linda and Uncle Rheuben both have to go outside to go to their jobs, but Aunt Anna and I get to work from home, so that is pretty cool, that we can stay warm. See what I did there? I got a million of them.

Speaking of warm, I have become very interested in Aunt Anna’s weighted blanket. Of course I love sleeping on it (Aunt Anna prefers under it, but eh, you do you, Auntie) but also I am super super super interested in what’s inside the blanket. Aunt Anna says that it’s glass beads and I should not be digging at it, even though it is fun fun fun (and a little frustrating.) The humans have been talking about getting a cover for the blanket, so I can’t make a hole in it and let the glass beads out. Aunt Anna says they would get everywhere. I will probably like the cover, too, and it may even distract me from the blanket itself, but I must lodge my protest anyway. The blanket does help Aunt Anna sleep, and that gives me a lot more cuddle time, so that’s good.

Aunt tested, kitty approved

For those who wanted to know what blanket she got, it is the Tranquility blanket from Wal-Mart, the twelve pound version. She thinks it is the twin size, even though her and Uncle Rheuben’s bed is either double or queen (they aren’t sure.) Uncle Rheuben doesn’t need the weighted blanket, so it goes on Aunt Anna’s (and my) side only.

Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com
aka not Aunt Anna

Now we come to the reading part of our blog Aunt Anna has reluctantly noped out of even a deferred version of last week’s historical romance readathon, because it was one of those weeks. She is pumped to get some more historical romance standalones under her belt, either rereads or finally reads, and has a bunch of historical romance audiobooks lined up, along with some contemporary YA, tending toward the darker ones. As usual, the “hm, how would this work in a historical romance?” thing happens a lot. She likes audiobooks right before bed, which coincides with kitty cuddle time, so I am all for that.

As far as the Goodreads challenge is concerned, Aunt Anna is currently one book ahead of sche3dule, with eight books read out of ninety. That puts her at nine percent of the way to her goal, which is not bad at all. She did manage to read two historical romances:

No Rest For the Wicked, by Lauren Smith (Pirates of Brittania connected world)

and

Duke of Desire, by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #12)

On the writing front, things are moving right along, or should I say, write along? Heh. She and Aunt Melva are fifty pages into the first edits of Drama King’s first draft. It’s going pretty well, although we had something that may be called the Empanada Incident, because a whole scene scarpered off from the working copy of the full manuscript, and Aunt Anna only found it because it was the only scene in the book that contained the word, “empanada.” Phew. They also did some plotting on Queen of Hearts, which was super fun.

Next weekend, they will be teaching their workshop on how to write through the tough times, for Charter Oak Readers and Writers. While Aunt Anna and I are in New York, and Aunt Melva is in Massachusetts, there is still no travel involved, even though CORW is in Connecticut. As with many things these days, they will be conducting the workshop virtually. They will be sure to give all the highlights on their own website, MelvaAndAnna.com, which is newly updated, with more stuff to come.

As for the historical romance side of things, that’s progressing as well. Aunt Anna is now eyeing the calendar for when her A Heart Most Errant manuscript comes home to roost, and then she can take the next step in the indie process. To get in the medieval mood, she’s planning to dive not some old favorite medievals, and some from the brave new wave of modern medieval writers. Do you have a favorite medieval? Let her know in the comments.

Okay, that’s all I have on the agenda (well, the part i haven’t shredded yet) so I am going to go take another crack at that weighted blanket. Maybe it’s filled with kibble!

Headbonks!

Planner Changes, Writing Changes

Hello, lieblings. Monday’s post on Monday, because I have it in my planners (plural) and some things are about to be a little different.

Everyday Carry Planner

We will start with my everyday carry planner. This is the one that lives in my purse. I promised myself that I would give myself a solid month to try the mini vertical layout to see how I liked it, and…I have issues.

ironically, I like this spread

Being one month into a new sort of planner means I’ve had a chance to know what works for me and what doesn’t. I was thrown at first by the new vertical format in a mini size. It’s okay, and I think I’m actually getting the hang of it, because this week’s spread, that one I like. What I don’t like is having to completely re-date every single page, every single time. Not saying that this won’t be something I’m into later on, but for right now, I want to keep my energy focused on the whole writing thing because 2020 was not great for it, and things are a lot better now.

Then they pull the pink foil on me.

Here’s where I’m torn: February is a gorgeous pale pink confection, which I adore. This would still require complete re-dating, but the dominant color would be pink, which works really well with me for February for all the Valentine-y, month of love stuff. Especially for a romance writer. Right now, I am looking at getting ready to see two different projects go to the editing phase, and the first draft attention goes to totally new stuff.

Well, not entirely new, as some of it is venturing into the world of linked books, which is still kind of new to me (as Drama King was indeed my first planned connected book) and the most important thing to consider when planning is figuring out how I can best make this work for me. Sometimes that involves trying a lot of different tuff and finding a lot of t hings that may not work the very best. It’s all part of the process.

okay, so this thing
:drums fingers on table:

Sharp-eyed readers may notice I haven’t mentioned my social media planner yet, because that’s one of the things that I am reconsidering. I found the skinny mini planner above on a deep discount (yay, end of January planner prices!) and fell totally in love with the watercolor floral theme, and I like the compact space for writing/decorating. I am probably going to fake plan in one (or more) of the expired weeks and see how that feels. I also may try putting social media back into the regular planner, or possibly some other arrangement. We’ll see.

Now on to the writing. This is the week where I get all of the pens and papers together and sticky notes and index cards and throw ideas out there. The Lion and Thistle has Sunday night Discord chats, and last night’s was themed around Medieval or Pirates?

Since my first medieval is now in the hands of an indie editor, I’m naturally thinking about what do I want to do for any connected stories in this world. I do have an idea of the hero for book two, an old comrade of the hero’s, but the heroine? IDK. Zip. Zero. Nada. Not. A. Clue. I want to meet her, I really do. Guy deserves some good love. Maybe it will all pop into my head when I get the edits back, because the right editor can make absolute magic.

It’s pirates!

Yeah, these guys. I started on a pirate story called Abandon some years back, and figured out when I was elbow-deep, that I was writing the wrong story, because the heroine’s parents kept taking over the story. As a dear writer friend pointed out during a chat, those parents have strong voices, and they really do need to come first. The whole trilogy is pretty clear in my brain, the only nebulous stuff the third book, because that heroine is the daughter of the couple in book two, and that feels okay. I need to let her grow up on her own.

Contrast that with the “ummmm” about the medievals. Part of my brain says shove those pirates way, way down and get through the medievals. Why do I have to “get through” a project? I do fully find a way to fall in love with the medeivals, especially finding my groove after a while away. Maybe this kind of thing is normal. Maybe it’s normal for me.

There is a very big part of me that wants to tackle all of it at once. Do I want to splash around in all of it and see where I naturally gravitate (and yes, I naturally gravitate to the things with deadlines) and let the priorities sort themselves out. We’ll see. There are only so many hours in the day, and things have to fit into all of the rest of life. That’s definitely one of the reasons I love planning as much as I do, and how much I love how it intersects with writing. Let’s see how it goes.

Typing With Wet Paws: I Feel a Draft Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. The draft I am talking about here is not coming through any doors or windows (our building is very well insulated, which is very much appreciated) but drafts coming from Aunt Anna. By this I mean of the booik variety, of course.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com
(not Aunt Anna)

Drama King

As you may have read in Aunt Anna’s blog, Drama King is now officially a draft. Aunt Anna is a little dazed over that because, well, 2020 was horrible. Now it’s time for the editing phase, which Aunt Anna actually likes. Strange, I know. It also means time for a new notebook setup for laying the groundwork for Queen of Hearts. Oh what hardship. (I am being sarcastic here.) There will probably be new pens and highlighters, too, or, more likely, appropriating some that Aunt Anna already has. One of the really fun things Aunt Anna is looking forward to is getting together things that remind her of the character she will be writing for Queen of Hearts, which, this time, will be the heroine. She really loves the heroes Aunt Melva writes, so this is going to be fun.

It also serves as a nice balance to the much more technical work of the editing process, filing in holes, smoothing out transitions, making sure that the best character (a cat!) has enough scenes and all that kind of stuff.

A Heart Most Errant is now in the hands of an actual editor, and in about two weeks, it will be back in Aunt Aunna’s hands. That means she will have some more tinkering to do, but there will also be formatting and cover art, which sounds an awful lot like…a real book. The kind that can be sold directly to readers, if you’re into that sort of thing.

This means that she needs to start thinking, now, about connected books, which is not normally a thing she does, but the market is what the market is. Trying new stuff is fun, and the idea of writing more books in that setting means that A) she has a really good excuse to read more medieval romances, and B) get back on track with The Walking Dead, because the whole concept of this story world is “post-apocalyptic medieval.” It takes place after the Bubonic Plague whomped out basically half of Europe. This is either incredibly good timing for this sort of story or incredibly bad timing. Aunt Anna figures it will all work out in the end, and she’s happy to be writing historical romance, period, so on with the show.

Reading

First, the good stuff. (well, Aunt Anna says all reading is the good stuff) Aunt Anna is currently one book ahead of her Goodreads Reading Challenge, with six books read out of her goal of ninety. That puts her at seven percent of the way home.

The thing that gives her pause (as opposed to paws; I provide the paws around here) is that all six of those books are YA (or NA) – two romances and four scary books. With all of them, she has, at one point or another, or multiple points throughout, wondered how that sort of thing would work in a historical romance. Maybe this counts as some sort of research? This can be mildly concerning when one remembers this was also the week of…

Historical Romance Readathon

Yeeeeaaaah. Aunt Anna did not do great here. Not going to hold it against her, though, because A) this has been a rough week with raging insomnia, and B) that kind of led into feeling pressure-y about hewing to her readathon plan, so she is going to call this a deferred readathon and still do it this week, although albeit unofficially. That’s how she rolls.

All is not lost, though, because Aunt Anna acquired a super neat thing this week: a weighted blanket. That means that it’s a blanket, filled with lots and lots and lots of tiny glass beads. The weight is often very good for people who have anxiety (which Aunt Anna does) and make it easier for them to sleep. This one, I am happy to report, works. I even tried it myself.

Hooman tested, kitty approved

Also, Aunt Anna has another anthology ready for weekend reading, Regency in Color (vol 1!) which has a story from Jessica Cale, who is one of Aunt Anna’s favorite historical romance authors. This bodes extremely well. She can confirm that reading historical romance under a weighted blanket, with a hot cup of cinnamon tea, and a beautiful, purring calico girl makes for a super duper cozy time. Aunt Anna is very much into this sort of thing. Possibly with extra pillows and a scented candle set well away from any place aforementioned calico girl can get to it. I am never ever ever left unsupervised around candles.

Okay, I think that’s about it. That weighted blanket is super snuggly, and I have a lot of napping to do, if I am going to be any sort of purr-sonal assitant. What’s on tap for your weekend?

Headbonks!

A Tale of Two Manuscripts

First draft of Drama King is done. Complete. Finished. Melva and I agreed during our video chat on Monday, and then I promptly crashed. Monday was also the day that A Heart Most Errant is now safely in the hands of an independent editor. Over the next two weeks, there will be editing, formatting, cover design, and then my baby will come back to me and it will be time to think about the next steps.

Storm says nap time is now required.

For Drama King, that will mean going over the whole thing in fifty page chunks, filling in some places that need plumping, tying up loose ends, working on a lot of transitions, but we did it. We. Did. It. Once we send that to our editor at The Wild Rose Press, who holds right of first refusal (or acceptance!) and we see how that goes. We are also laying the groundwork for the third Love By The Book book, Queen of Hearts. After that, we do know what comes next, and we are feeling pretty good about that. Add to that the fact that we are reviving our website, including some upcoming workshops. Super fun.

With A Heart Most Errant, having book one off in the hands of an editor, that means that it’s time to think about book two…which I never thought about before. I normally think in terms of standalones for historicals, but the market at present is heavily geared toward series, so now I get to do a new thing. That’s both exciting and scary, and also gives me a really good reason to reread some favorite medieval romances (and discover new ones) and honestly say that I’m doing market research.

Speaking of standalones, Her Last First Kiss is going to require some surgery, because when things flat out won’t move past a certain point, that means somebody is trying to drive the story in the wrong direction. (Me. That person would be me.) It’s not a big thing, but if it’s derailed a story I love for this long, them maybe it probably is. Le sigh. But one story at a time, which is why this is not titled A Tale of Three Manuscripts. That, I am sure, will come soon enough. Which is okay. It feels good to be moving.

Today also sees me in the middle of the Historical Romance Readathon week, with my nose in two anthologies, and, hopefully, I will be able to finish them both. Not that I don’t like either of them, because I like both, but because it’s been an annoyingly insomniac week. I have a new weighted blanket that should help a lot. It’s also super cozy for reading, with a bunch of pillows and a cup of cinnamon tea.

Feels pretty good, after this past year, to report favorably on two projects in the same post. Maybe a deep dive into reading some historical romance will help with the whole coming up with new medieval stories thingamabobble, and see how other authors of historical romance decide on how to pick the next connected project.

Comments, concerns, tips, all happily accepted in the comments below. Comments int he comments…yeah, definitely reading time.

Typing With Wet Paws: Sleepy Week Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. As the still-holliday-themed picture will tell you, Aunt Anna still needs to work on a new header picture for me, but she’ll get to that. It’s been one of those weeks. Nothing much wrong, just not the greatest on the writing front Aunt Anna is salty about that. These kinds of things happen to everybody, so chalk it up to experience and keep on going.

Or take a nap. Naps are good.

In that vein, let’s look at some things that did go well this week. First up, Mr. Kurt, the property manager, came over early in the week, to take care of the clogged kitchen sink, and we now no longer have a clogged kitchen sink. Yay for Mr. Kurt. Needless to say, a day with all the humans home, plus an extra human, and plumbing issues, meant that Aunt Anna’s writing week did not start off the smoothest. Reading, though, t hat’s another matter.

Even though writing wasn’t t he best this week, reading went great. So far, Aunt Anna is two books ahead of schedule on her Goodreads Challenge goal of reading ninety books in this year, with five books so far. As of now, they are all YA, but that is about to change, because…drumroll…it’s…

Historical Romance Readathon!

Aunt Anna is SO HERE for this adventure, which starts TODAY. Run by Jess at PeaceLoveBooks, Lisa from Remarkably Lisa, and Lacey from LaceyBooklovers. There is a bingo card, which is technically a bing card, since there are only four rows in any direction. If you would like to see thing bign card, and maybe even play along, you can head on over to Lacey’s Instagram (Aunt Anna follows her; do you? It’s a fun account.) Click on HR Readathon, and Bob’s your uncle. Well, literally, if one of your parents has a sibling named Bob. Otherwise, only metaphorically.

Originally, Aunt Anna planned to do some intense research and plot out her TBR to a fare thee well, but see mention of the week getting away from her, and yeah, not so much. As of today her TBR is…no TBR. She is going to start with an anthology, which will give her the highest likelihood of hitting the most squares. After that, she will strategize. Also, having an anthology, she can break the reading into four different stories, which feels more handle-y. I don’t think that’s a word, but whatever. I’m a cat. Here’s the book:

Aunt Anna will admit to slacking on the Christmas books last year, but Christmas romances are good any time. This book hits several of the squares. The squares for Joanna Shupe, and blue on the cover are right next to each other, so Aunt Anna is halfway to bing already. It’s also a recent release, as it was new this past Christmas, and a used book, as it is a library book, but those are on different lines, but recent release may also give her bing with only one more book. The other three boxes in that line are: has a stepback; shirtless man on cover or stepback; and standalone. Aunt Ana LOVES standalones. A standalonepublisehd before 2000, which is probably wehre the majority of standalones fall, is highly likely to have a stepback and/or shirtless dude, so chances are good on that front. We will see how it goes.

Aunt Anna will also be posting on Buried Under Romance tomorrow with updates, so keep an eye out for that. If you are participating, or you have any recommendations to help her get to bing, drop your suggestions in the comments below.

Takes a lot of beauty sleep to get this beautiful

Now for the important news, aka the news about ME. Aunt Linda has a co-worker who bought her cats some fancy cat food. They didn’t like it. She gave it to Aunt Linda to give to me. I love it! This other human’s cats must have horrible taste, because this is not only the second batch of food I inherited, but they didn’t like a cat bed, and so gave it to me, via Aunt Linda. I crawled right into it and purred and purred and purred.

Here is where we have an issue in feline/human communication. When we first got the cat bed, we put it at the foot of Aunt Anna and Uncle Rheuben’s bed, which, at the time, was an air mattress right on the floor. Then they got the Real Bed. Which is not on the floor. I stopped using the cat bed that same day, even though I love to be on the actual bed with them. They have been moving the cat bed all over the place, hoping to find a lace where I wil like it again, but they aren’t getting it right. Does anybody who can speak cat and human help me let them know? It’s kind of stressing Aunt Anna out.

Headbonks!

Nothing

Typing With Wet Paws: Happy Mew Year Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers, and Happy Mew Year! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. We are all doing well here, and happy to have 2020 in the rearview mirror. I have as of yet made no moves toward the Christmas tree, though that may be because it is on the kitchen table, and I am not allowed on the kitchen table. Still salty about that, buy next year, maybe they’ll have the tree on a coffee table. Then, I’ll have news.

We had a really nice Christmas and New Year. Now we are getting back to the business of regular life. Well, with one exception. Since my humans love me very much, of course I got presents. The wrapping paper was super fun. I played with it all morning. I even got gushy food. There was one present, however. It came from Aunt Mary, Uncle Brian, and cousins Andrew, (Leah, who will get married to Andrew in a little while) and Aiden, who is a fur cousin. He is a dog, but I am okay with that. I really have no words for it, so here:

Does anybody notice the resemblance?

Please note the absence of nose arrow. That is how you can tell us apart, although our blacks and oranges are on opposite sides of our face. So that’s another way. Also, she doesn’t talk much. Like at all. Aunt Anna says that’s because Esme (her tag says she’s called Esmerelda, but we are calling her Esme, because she is smol) is stuffed. Hmpf. Honestly, I have never seen her eat a thing. I would also like to be stuffed. Which I have been, as Uncle Rheuben got some people tuna, specifically to share with me, and I think that speaks highly of him.

Anyway, Esme lives in Aunt Linda’s room, since I usually want to be around Aunt Anna. There were plans on the agenda to get a photo of “the twins” (which we are not) but calico said cali-NO. I don’t hate Esme, but she’s going to have to put into this relationship, know what I mean? Yeah. This was as close as Aunt Anna could get.

Hm, this does prove that I am now not the only one who can leave black, white, and orange fur sheds at the scene of an…um…incident. Like maybe with a hypothetical Christmas tree on a hypothetical coffee table next year. Okay, she may have her uses. She can stay.

In the getting back to day to day business, things are also going pretty well. Aunt Anna and Aunt Melva will be finishing Drama King oh so soon, and then begins the first round of edits.; And the second round of edits. Then submission, because their editor at The Wild Rose Press already said they could send it. Then if they want it, there will be more edits. Aunt Anna actually likes that part, Aunt Melva not so much, but it all gets the book to you, so it’s all good. If the publisher doesn’t feel the book will be a good fit, then they have other options, which would also be good, and they have a nice slate of stuff to see them happily writing through the new year.

They will also be reviving melvaandanna.com, because there is new stuff coming. Not only the very soon writing of THE END to Drama King, but their first video workshop of the year in February, and being the authors of the month in a book club in March. Then they will start on Queen of Hearts.

Aunt Anna is also, as I have said before, super excited about getting back to historical romance. She’s throwing around a lot of terms like “pirates” and “medieval” (but not medieval pirates. At least not at this point.) and picking out what projects would be fun to drag out from the mothballs (I don’t know what mothballs are, but I like balls. They’re fun.) There are notebooks and papers and ideas, and I am on point for assisting her every step of the way. By assisting, I usually mean sitting on whatever notebook or planner she has opened most recently.

One of those planners is her reading journal, which is what you see above. She’s still working on the setup, so it’s a work in progress. The printables are from Jesenia Printables (she got the Reading Set and loves it very much) and she plans to get them printed professionally rather than letting her printer and visual impairment duke it out over home printing.; Plus this will allow her to print extra book pages and record everything she wants to record. She also wants to make a different paint chip bookmark in colors that more closely agree with the pink/black/white color palette, and this time skip the stickers. Probably also round the corners, because she is fancy like that.

Along with recording how many books Aunt Anna reads this week, she is going to keep track of the genres/subgenres that she reads. She would like for historical romance to be the biggest category, but then also keep track of how many of what sort of historical romances she reads the most. Of course that is centered on what books she has access to, because one of the sucky things that happened in 2020 was being permanently parted from her classic romance collection, except for two boxes of favorite favorites.

So far, she has read three books out of a projected ninety, putting her two books ahead of schedule, though we are in the earliest of days. These three are all YA, two of which have strong romances, and two are scary. There is some overlap. She is currently reading a historical, with more on the way, so things will balance out very soon, Also, she has made a couple hours in the evening set aside for reading, and I am definitely here to do my part and sit on her to ensure feline paralysis, which goes really, really well with reading.

I t hink that’s about it for this week, and my sunbeam is here, so catch you next week.

Headbonks!

End of Book Daze

2020 has been a ride, for sure and for certain, and perhaps the wildest thing of all is that, right now, I am furiously scrawling ink and pounding keys on my very last scene for the hero’s POV on Drama King. Yikes. This feels surreal, and about dang time. Wow. It’s not going to be the final scene of the book, as that honor goes to my amazing writing partner, Melva Michaelian, who I know is going to knock it out of the park and give me all of the feels.

The end of a book is a weird place to be. For the reader of a romance novel, there may be some sniffles, maybe a heart clutch, some laughs, depending on the sort of book, and/or situation, and, at the end of it all, is the tried and true, happily ever after. We know this couple is going to be together for the rest of their lives and they are very much okay with that. For the writer, there is all of that too, but a whole lot more.

Self-doubt is part of it for sure. Did we forget something? Are there dangling plot threads? How can we make this scene unique to these two lovers, to bring their individual arcs and their arc as a couple when this is literally the defining thing that makes a romance that makes a romance a romance. Okay, one of two. (1) the love story is the central focus, and 2) there is an emotionally satisfying and uplifting ending.)

Originally, I’d had the outline for the blog post I wanted to write here, spotlighting one of my planners for the coming year. That will still happen, but I have to get out of the fog first. Then I have some thoughts on the Bridgerton series on Netflix. I haven’t seen the series yet, and I didn’t originally plan to, but I don’t feel I can join the conversation without watching at least the first episode, to experience it for myself. I have not read the Bridgerton books proper, but I have read the four prequels about the previous generation, which was…okay. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, but those don’t have anything to do with the series, which I definitely want to watch while alone, and take pen and paper notes, because this could be a Thing. A good Thing. I hope. See self doubt above.

The end of one book always means, at least for me, the start of a new book. This time, it’s a return to Her Last First Kiss, which was put on pause, due to things like bedbugs, homelessness, shingles, anxiety, depression, and helping to clear out my bestie’s childhood home when her mom moved to a super nice apartment. We also ended up moving into a super nice apartment, which is my favorite place I have ever lived, so that’s pretty swell.

Melva and I had decided we wanted to wrap Drama King before the end of the year, because we both need a win, individually, and as a team, and it looks like that is actually going to happen. Huzzah. There are emails and DMs flying back and forth, and a good deal of my initial composition takes place from the safety of a blanket burrito, with spiral notebook and felt tip pen (and feline assistant providing soundtrack and extra warmth.) I have growled at family members to get out of my air space (yes, exact words) so that I can get the darned thing finished.

Today, that’s exactly what happened. Housemate conveyed Real Life Romance Hero to his place of employment, and promised to stay away until it was time to convey him back home again. There may or may not be prepared food coming with them. If not, RLRH will be cooking. I will not be cooking, because I know myself, and I will be, by that time, a wrong out washcloth, sad that I wrote my last scene for this book, and triumphant that I wrote my last scene for this book, I won’t say that I will miss Jack and Kelly, because Melva and I will be spending a lot of time with them as we edit and get them through the end of draft two.

It’s also time to look ahead to laying the framework for the next Love By the Book story, Queen of Hearts, with my first shot at writing the heroine of our couple. Heather is the sister of Dominic, the hero of Chasing Prince Charming, and I look forward to helping to guide her to her own happily ever after.

Love By The Book, #1

Once this scene is off to Melva, it’s time to turn my attention (after a nap!) to setting my writing goals for 2021. I’m treading a line between ambitious and realistic, and will probably end up somewhere in the middle, with a few stumbles along the way. It’s times like this when I remember my high school gym teacher, Ms. Napier. We weren’t close. I was probably a bane of her existence, as I loathed physical education as much as she loved it, and she loved it as much as I love writing romance. Even so, it’s her voice that comes into my head at this stage of the game, as it were. I can see the finish line. I can’t quit if I can see the finish line.

Where’s your finish line for 2020?