Of Instagram, Identity, and Branding

This morning, when I sat at the kitchen table, to write my morning pages, there were two thoughts at the front of my brain.

Thought One: My brain is a total blank, right now. 

Thought Two: I haven’t posted much on Instagram, since Skye passed.

Needless to say, thought two pushed thought one to the back burner, which, technically, takes care of thought one, so I am one step closer to having a topic for today. It’s true that my posting has fallen off, since my mews crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and we do, one thousand percent, absolutely, plan on adding another furry family member, as soon as we can move to a pet-friendly apartment. That isn’t too-too far away, and we are all in agreement that the first thing we are going to do, as soon as we get keys, is get ourselves to a shelter and come home with a new fur baby (or two.)

In the meantime, though, there’s the rest of it. :gestures to life, in general: I am now officially one half of an author at The Wild Rose Press, and Melva and I are not only hard at work on Drama King, and already talking about what we are going to write next, once this trilogy is finished. Also, when we want to start that next project, and all the behind the scenes stuff of getting set up for our new roles as co-authors.

This also includes making sure we work, not only on our combined brand, but our individual brands, because our combined brand will combine parts of our  individual brands, but not all of them, and it will be something new, of its own, as well. At this time, both of us respond to the question of what, exactly, that brand might be, with deer in the headlight stares, and awkward silences. Can deer in the headlight stares and awkward silences be a brand? That may be worth looking into, at least as a place to start.

Where to go from there, though? That’s the question. Having Sebastian sit in as Cat Regent, until the next cat joins the family, feels right, but one stuffed cat does not a visual brand make. Which means the big question: who am I? As a writer, that is, not a person in general, which is a whole other topic. Pen geek, planner fanatic, devotee of classic historical romance, makeup lover, amateur style maven, diehard shipper (I have a fleet of them) and a lot of other things. How many of them travel over to the author side of things, and how many are best left for private life? I am still figuring that one out.

One step in that direction, is to start posting regularly on Instagram again. I miss it. I feel guilty every time I get a new follower with “Maine Coon” in the username, because A) I am very happy to see them, and B) I am currently between Maine Coons, and, well, it’s going to be a while before I can post any more MC pictures. What if people are only there for the Maine Coons, and don’t give a fig about pens and notebooks and whatever I have my tea in that day, and they all leeeeaaaavvvvvve meeeeeeeeeeeeee?

Um, wait a minute. This is getting precariously close to the way I think about historical romance, as I am getting ready for my and Melva’s contemporary debut. Okay, my contemporary debut, as Melva has co-written contemporary with another author, Lorene Morin, and this is my first professionally published outing in both contemporary romance, and co-written fiction. I’m very excited about both of those things, and yet, at the same time, I am still passionately in love with both historical romance and Maine Cons, both of which I am still moving toward getting more of, even if there isn’t a new one out, right this minute.

N and I had to take a break from our weekly breakfasts yesterday, but, when we meet next week, our focus (foci? Is it still focus, if it’s plural? I am not the half of this writing partnership with a PhD in English.) will be on getting our current manuscripts – hers in YA fantasy, and mine in historical romance- all the way to the end of their next drafts. We both need the push, and to hold each other accountable. Melva and I are also discussing accountability measures for our own solo outings. Historical romance for me, cozy romantic suspense for her; both are important, because that’s where we come from, to the place of being able to write together, and that plays directly into how Chasing Prince Charming came to be set in the world of historical romance writing and publishing.

When we discuss what we want to use as the basis of our next combined venture, it also raises the questions of what we want to write for our next individual adventures. I’ve got a few ideas stewing about; the Hogmanay story, something about selkies, a few long-dormant partial manuscripts that may, at this very moment, be clawing their way out of premature entombment/experiencing birthing pains at last/possibly both at the same time/etc.

I’m not sure how to wrap this up at the moment. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and leaning toward adding a video component to the blog/site/brand/etc, but still sorting all of that stuff out. What would you readers/fellow writers/pen fanatics/other assorted magnificent unicorn sisters and brothers of the creative realm? Drop suggestions in the comments, like and subscribe (see, I’ve been paying attention to at least that part of vlogging) and we’ll figure this out together.

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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:

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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.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Wolfenoot Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you on this first ever Wolfenoot morning. Even though I am a cat, and of the stuffed persuasion, I have to endorse this new holiday. I have known a lot of stuffed dogs in my time, and they deserve the honor. No, there is not currently a cat holiday, stuffed or otherwise, to my knowledge, but I’m not really bothered by that. I mean, yesterday was all about eating and sleeping, and eating foods that make you sleepy, and that’s a large part of catting, so I can appropriate that one, which, again, is very cat.

Since we are now post-Thanksgiving, in the midst of Wolfenoot, which is also Black Friday (Other Chick and Real Life Romance Hero are out holding the retail lines, so customers can get the goodest deals) while Writer Chick is pounding the keys. When you put the holiday season, a week with multiple days when it snowed, the excitement of end of year and beginning of new planner season, and a new contract, all together, Writer Chick is pretty hyped. Which means she is doing stuff. Like a lot of it.

This is, of course, going to mean that I have to do more work, updating readers on how the road to the release of Chasing Prince Charming is coming, as well as the usual stuff. This will require extra nap time. Anyway, let’s do the compulsories first. As usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, this past Saturday. This time, she had a letter to send out to authors who aren’t authoring (or aren’t authoring romance) anymore. What’s she got to say? Pop on over here and find out.

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Now, it’s Goodreads update time. Writer Chick actually finished reading a book this week, and she had a lot of feelings about it. David Levithan always does that to her, and she has been pretty invested in this whole “day” series, which took a few turns she was not expecting, in this volume. Check out her blabberings here.

This book puts Writer Chick at ninety-two percent of the way to her goal of ninety books in this calendar year, with eighty-three books read out of that ninety. She is currently three books ahead of schedule, which makes her nervous, because that’s close to on track, which is close to behind. This is where it is useful to have a Cat Regent. I will have Real Life Romance Hero assist me in ensuring that Writer Chick gets enough reading time, by putting me on her, when she picks up a book. She can’t get up if there is a cat in her lap, right? Yeah, didn’t think so. You’re welcome.

Writer Chick’s current reads, for this week, are below. The light blue book, that does not photograph well, was her evening pages book, but she finished it last night. What book will she use to write her PM brain dumps? We won’t know until later tonight. This should be interesting.

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Okay, so, Chasing Prince Charming update time. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have now officially handed in the final manuscript of this particular book…which is not really what readers are going to see, some months from now. What happens next is kind of like a tennis game. Bap! Writer Chicks send book to Editor Chick. Bap! Editor Chick, after doing her thing, sends book back to Writer Chicks. Bap! Writer Chicks then do the things Editor Chick asked them to do. Bap! They send it back again. This goes on a couple more times. I am assuming they are looking at different things on each round.

Since this is the time of year when Writer Chick gets to set up new planners (yeah, plural, more than one, etc. That’s how she rolls.) it stands to reason that she’s going to make some writing planners, that she will actually use. That is the important part. Her process for getting to the finding out what works point, is pretty messy, involving a lot of trial and error, partially used notebooks that then get shoved in random places, It also involves a lot of sticky notes and index cards and You Tube videos (watching, not making, though she hasn’t ruled that out) but then…at some point, it all comes together. Usually in the middle of a big hairy mess of index cards and Spotify playlists and a Skype chat in the background.

In short, the good stuff comes when overthinking doesn’t happen. Funny how that works,. One would think that Writer Chick would have figured that out by now, but one would be wrong. That is one of the duties of a Cat Regent; to remind her of that. That will also be one of the first duties handed off to the next mews, when they are old enough. I will still hold onto the cuddling stuff, and the lap occupation during reading things, because I was literally made for that kind of thing.

Right, right, one more thing. Writer Chick wanted me to remind you that hitting the subscribe button is the best way to make sure you get every post on this blog (hers, as well as mine, even though we all know I am The Stuff. Heh. See what I did there?)  Okay, that’s really it for this week. Have a howly Wolfenoot.

Peace out,

SebastianWindowBye

 

Thankful

Here we are, the day before American Thanksgiving. Stately Bowling Manor is about as ready for the holiday as it’s going to get. This means that we have some form of the traditional foods, a table at which to eat them, and chairs in which to park our backsides, while we eat abovementioned foods, at abovementioned table. This will be a cozy holiday, with myself, Real Life Romance Hero, and, of course, Sebastian.

There’s not a lot of prep left to do, over here, which suits me fine, because, as great as Thanksgiving food is, it’s not the whole point of the day. I am thankful for my family, very much so, though the absence of a real-life fuzzy buddy does pinch. Next year, we hope to have one or two four-legged family members parked beneath the table, ready to take care of any food that may fall and/or be surreptitiously slipped to them.  Maybe we’ll station Sebastian nearby, to fill the gap.

This morning, I had my weekly breakfast with N. After the usual getting current on each other’s weeks, we turned our attention to how writing is going for each of us, and where we would like it to go. This year, I am very thankful for the fact that I am going into this holiday season, as a contracted author, once again. Complete honesty, I needed a “win,” and this definitely counts as one. The fact that I get to do it along with Melva, who has been friend and critique partner for coughty-cough years, makes it even better. Today, it means that I get to finalize (for now) a scene for Drama King, that cranks up the stakes, and leads into the next part of the book.

I am thankful that there is a next part of the book to get into, and that this is the second book in the series. I am thankful for the structure that comes not only with writing a series, with a partner, but for the structure that comes with the pre-publication process. This past week, Melva and I finalized the extra scene we needed, and the manuscript is now moving on to the next waypoint on our journey.

As I’m getting my bullet journal/traveler’s notebook ready for next year, I get to set things up for our progress along the road to release for Chasing Prince Charming. I get to set up a notebook to keep things straight with all things related to this collaboration; who’s writing what, and when it’s due, when edits are expected, what they are, and all of that good stuff. This is going to mean choosing and/or making notebook inserts, and accompanying pens, highlighters, and ephemera.

Though I won’t say I won’t be doing any shopping (especially Black Friday) for any of these items, because I have a decently robust collection of such items, I will say that I am immensely thankful for the huge boost this past year has brought me, in my love of all things pen and paper. For those who have been gently (and not so gently) suggesting I blog more about pen and paper, I will say maybe. The more I play with pens and paper, the more notebooks I fill and pens I empty, the more I want to write, and the more fun writing has become. If that means, along the way, that I pause every now and again, to pet a notebook cover, and stare off into the distance, it also means there is stuff going on in my story brain while I do so. I’ll take that.

I am thankful for my RWA family, fellow romance writers of all ilks, who have been supportive and encouraging, from the first day the new gal with the thousand-yard stare slunk into the business meeting and mumbled something about the time travel that was kicking her butt, to now friends, critique partners, and colleagues. I am thankful to be writing romance, because I get to fall in love every single day, and take a million different paths to happily ever after. Now and again, I get monies for it.

I am thankful for the writer friends I don’t get to see every day. Some, I have never seen as anything other than words on the computer screen. Still, we are family. I am thankful for the romance writers, whether or not we have ever spoken in actual conversation, written or verbally, whose books entertained and inspired me, from the day I first stole my mother’s then-new copy of The Kadin, to an overflowing TBR shelf. Those still keep me going, and are a great carrot on my stick.

I am thankful for the mistakes I have made along the way. As my mother often said, broken bones heal stronger. Would I change some of those, if I could? Probably so. Not all of them. Some. Today, after I get this blog posted, I get to have lunch with Real Life Romance Hero, and then I get to sidle into a too-small billiard room, where flirty banter pings off the walls. After that, I get to reward myself with a good cuddle under a warm, fuzzy blanket, with a good book, a cup of tea, and let a part of my brain drift toward tomorrow.

Not only the part of the day that smells like turkey gravy and hot buttered rolls, but the tomorrow that comes after that (okay, and after Black Friday) and means clearing the decks and making a new notebook for Her Last First Kiss, another for my work with Melva, and look toward the year to come. That’s the year when I will be able to measure the time since my most recently published novel, will be counted in months, not years. I am thankful for new chapters that await, on the page, and the writing life.

Also, pie.

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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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Typing With Stuffed Paws: Snow Day Edition

What up. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you. There is snow on the ground. A lot of it. Writer Chick loves snow. Like really, really loves snow. This is not dampened by the cold she has had all week. Dude isn’t feeling that hot at the moment, but Writer Chick managed to get a load of laundry done. I, of course, am in favor of fresh laundry, as it is warm, and ideal for napping. Those of us who are of the stuffed persuasion can internalize the heat and stay toasty for hours.

As usual, Writer Chick did the blabbity-blab on Buried Under Romance, on Saturday. This time, she talks about saving a good book for a rainy — or snowy — day. Little did she know how appropriate that would be. If you want to read more, it’s here, and this is the picture if you need to find it that way, or appreciate her book and mug photography skills.

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Speaking of reading, which is something Writer Chick is very wont to do, we move now to her Goodreads challenge. Writer Chick has been doing a lot of napping, this cold week, but she did make a respectable library haul, and historical romance actually dominates. That’s for another post, though. Right now, she is ninety-one percent of the way to her goal of ninety books, with eighty-two books read. Skye would be impressed. Me, I just report the numbers. Then I nap.

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weekend reading and then some

Besides being a sick week, in which Dude proved himself a pretty decent nurse/personal chef, Writer Chick had her first week as a contracted co-writer. This involved a lot of thinking really hard about getting up and going to the computer. Sometimes, she actually made it. These are usually the times when she managed to get the really strong tea. Anyway, the times she did make it to the computer, she talked with Other Writer Chick, and they talked about Stuff.

Some of that Stuff included a scene that the publisher humans would like them to put into the book, where it was only implied before. All I am going to say is that the action of that scene would require turning around any stuffed animals in the room with the human characters. I have not read the scene in question, but it is my understanding that there are not any. Yet another instance of stuffed erasure in contemporary fiction. W are real, we are cuddly, and we will not be ignored. We’d make more noise about it, but, well naps. Some of us have squeakers, though. That floppy zebra in the other room? Squeaks like a new pair of shoes on freshly cleaned linoleum.

Another thing Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick had to talk about, was who they are, as a writer. Singular. Writer Chick writes historical romance on her own, and Other Writer Chick writes contemporary with a strong suspense element, and humor, on her own, and when the two different writers collide, it makes something entirely new. That comes with a lot of new questions.

One of those questions is about their combined author brand. Both of them had put a lot of thought into their individual author brands, condensed into catchy taglines, that let readers know what kinds of stories lie between the covers. Together, though? That’s something new, and they are working on figuring out exactly what that is. They already know they are going to need a joint website, which means they are going to need to pick out colors, motifs, a look that tells readers what they might find from this particular tag team.

That’s where I got to find out what it sounds like when two different writers make the “uhhhhh” sound at the same time.  Writer Chick made some notes, and Other Writer Chick made a suggestion that they get their individual brand statements together and see if they can combine the two. We will see how that goes. Writer Chick is going to give this another go once she has full brain back, which should be in time for their weekly Skype session, but that isn’t even their main concern.

That’s kind of evenly split between working on the expanded scene for Chasing Prince Charming, and moving along with Drama King, because they always have to keep looking at the next book, while this one is getting ever closer to publication. There’s also the matter of keeping each other accountable on their different solo projects, because if they can drag each other through one book, they can drag each other through more books.

Maybe drag isn’t the word, but you get the picture. Thankfully, Writer Chick’s penchant for planning and notebooks is super useful when it comes to keeping things like this straight. She will probably have more to say on that. As long as her notebook covers are soft, and the paper is crinkly, I’m good, and, in the end, isn’t that all that really matters?

Oh look, squirrels.

SebastianWindowBye

 

 

Love Scene Time

For the last few days, my main occupation has been putting sweaters on, and then immediately taking them off again, then falling asleep in unexpected places. This means one ting. Cold season has arrived. Add massive amounts of tea, many bottles of water, and a blanket that comes with me when I move from pillow pile to couch and back again. Not exactly the way I intended to  spend the first week after signing a new book contract, but it’ll do.

This morning, I saw this outside the window:

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first snow 11/18

Snow has always been, and will always be, my favorite weather, and the fact that, because we live in a complex now, shoveling is not on the agenda. Every car for itself when it comes to clearing off personal vehicles, but I am still counting this as a win. Skies are clear, so the dusting is all we are likely to get for today. For mid-November, I can take that. Since this is also the day when tat first glimmer of brain pierces through the cold fog, I am taking this 9these, as I mean both the snow and the glimmer of brain) as a good sign.

This means climbing back into the writing saddle. Now that contracts are signed, the clock begins ticking. Melva and I now get to figure out how we write a completed love scene, together, and we have a date when said love scene has to be done. I have never co-written a love scene before, so this is going to be a new experience. I have already accepted the fact that this is probably not going to be possible to write with my fingers splayed across my eyes, horror-movie-watching style.

Melva and I have shared a lot over the years, as critique partners, conference roomies, and friends. Put it bluntly, we are both well stocked with blackmail opportunities, but, then again, neither of us could afford said blackmail, and we each know where the bodies are buried, because we helped move them. Writing a love scene together, though? That’s new.

Not that we’re squeamish/prudish. We are both grown women, happily married, and have been reading romance for long enough to, well, know what we’re doing. Granted, my own love scenes have, to date, been of the fade to black, maybe a leetle beyond, variety. Her Last First Kiss is going to require me to follow my hero and heroine into the bedroom, because that’s a part of the character development, and part of the romance. , and not including that part of their story would feel incomplete.

When Melva and I first conceived of (pun very much intended) of the story that would ultimately become Chasing Prince Charming (spoiler: our heroine catches him) we did address the issue of love scenes. Our plan was to cross that bridge when we came to it, and do what came naturally, which we also hoped our characters would ultimately do. Isn’t that the whole idea? We had the option of telling the story in a sweet fashion, without any love scenes whatsoever, but we knew we didn’t want to go in that direction. Meg and Dominic taking the very big step of becoming physically intimate, and what led up to it, were too important to leave out of the story, and, so, love scene time. It’s Meg and Dominic’s first time, true, but it’s also Melva’s and mine.

This is also my first time writing a contemporary love scene, as well as writing with another author. Everybody involved is probably going to learn a new thing or two. Both of us agree that we want the love scene to be exactly that; it’s more about feelings than body parts, and the scene needs to move both the story and the relationship to a new level. Thankfully, since we already have the whole book written and contracted, what we have here is a matter of connecting the dots. That came out more salacious than it was intended, but that’s par for the course when Melva and I write together. There is sometimes unintentional blueness, we are scarily on the same page, and things somehow manage to fall together.

Which is pretty much how things can potentially go in a love scene, the sort where the characters take over, do their own thing, and let us write it down for them.  That kind of thing doesn’t feel scary at all. More like business as usual. It also reminds us to keep our brains open, and a notebook on hand (that notebook part may be only me, but when don’t I have a notebook at hand, anyway?) to catch ideas for the couples from  subsequent books, because they’re going to need love scenes, too, and this kind of thing is different for every couple, even if they are in the same series.

This also means that I get to start cobbling together a series bible, to keep track of whos where and doing what, mapping out romantic arcs and the like. Since stationery is one of the great loves of my life, a very close second to romance writing, this is also on my list of awesome perks of writer-hood. It will also gibe me topics for a few blog entries, which is, with the current cold-induced brain fog, a very welcome constant.

Writer friends, what’s your best tip for writing love scenes? Reader friends, what makes a good love scene for you? Stationery nerds who are only here for the deskscapes, the turquoise pen is by Jane Davenport.

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Typing With Stuffed Paws: Recently Contracted Edition

Hey. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling,  here on the windowsill, bringing you the latest edition of Typing With Stuffed Paws. There’s some stuff to talk about this week, but first, let’s get the compulsories out of the way, because it’s a cloudy Friday, and I feel a nap coming on in the very near future.

As always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance on this past Saturday. Last week, she talked about the promise of romance fiction. If you’re curious about what that ight be (besides the Happily Ever After, that is) you can read it here, and this is the picture that goes with it:

BURpromiseofromance

Next we come to the part where I usually update about Writer Chick’s Goodreads updates, but it has been a week. More on that later. Instead of saying she is cheating again on her Goodreads challenge, she would prefer if I said that she is currently reading Heart of Iron, by Ashley Poston. More details on what Writer Chick actually thought of the book, when she has actually finished reading it (she is almost there.) She picked it because she liked another book by this author, Geekerella, which is a Cinderella retelling, but modern, with teenagers, no magic, and fandom. Heart of Iron is a retelling of the whole Anastasia thing, but in space, and with romance. Writer Chick says it reads like a really good medieval romance (actually two romances) but with space and I guess robots or something, but whatever.

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Writer Chick also filled one morning pages book and started another. This one has birds on it.

Okay, I think that’ all the stuff I have to say before the big things. The first of which is that Skye came home. Well, sort of. She is the one in the box. It is kind of sad for the humans, because Skye is still on the other side of Rainbow Bridge, and also kind of nice, because there is now something to touch when they want to feel closer to her. In today’s picture, you see me trying to play nice with my sister. So far, so good. We both have exactly the same degree of interest in the green ball, so we have that going for us.

Now, we come to the next part. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick now have a book contract. I cannot guarantee that Writer Chick will not blabber about this in a video blog (we thought she forgot about those things, but she has been watching a lot of vlogs, lately, so I can promise nothing.) Chasing Prince Charming, their first co-written contemporary romance novel, is now contracted by The Wild Rose Press

Since this whole thing is super new, as in this week new, there is not a lot of information to share as of yet, like when the book will be out, so you can buy it, or what the cover art will look like (you will have to wait for the art humans at The Wild Rose Press to make it first, which means Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have to fill out some more paperwork when the publisher people send t to them) etc. If you are interested in this kind of thing, hit the subscribe button, to make sure you don’t miss any updates as they come along. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick (humans call her Melva Michaelian) worked really hard to get this book to this stage of the game, and there is still a whole lot of work left to do.

First, there was paperwork. There is always paperwork. That is one reason I am glad to be stuffed. We never have to do paperwork. Not so for writer humans. There is even math involved. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have signed their contracts, and now the fun begins. Writer Chick actually likes the process of doing edits. Other Writer Chick doesn’t like it so much, but that’s probably one of the reasons it’s good that there are two of them. Writer Chick hates tracking submissions and things like that, so this probably shakes out to about equal.

Both Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick are still writing their own, solo, novels. Historical romance for Writer Chick, and the love child of contemporary romance and cozy mystery for Other Writer chick. In case you were wondering what is at the crossroads of combining both of those above genres, Chasing Prince Charming would be it. One of the things Writer Chick has on her agenda for this upcoming week, is to look into a joint website for herself and Other Writer Chick, because that is a different writer than only Writer Chick by herself and Other Writer Chick by herself. Do not ask me to explain the specifics. I don’t know if there will be a blog, but Writer Chick is involved in this, so draw your own conclusions.

There are a lot of things to figure out when this whole kind of two-headed writer thing  gets some momentum. Writer Chick knows what she has, for aesthetic and somewhat in the neighborhood of branding and all of that good stuff, and she could probably pretty accurately put something together for Other Writer Chick, because they have been friends for basically forever, and conference buddies for almost forever, not to mention co-writers for one whole book and part of another already. (I will not mention the “what are we going to do for the next series?” conversations that I may or may not have overheard, during Skype sessions. Public Stuffed Service Announcement: we stuffed guys can hear everything you’re saying, so please keep that in mind, and yes, please turn us around if you plan to do things that cannot be unseen.) What the two of them together look/sound like, though? Yeah, that’s new.  Writer Chick is probably going to use this as an excuse to play in one of her art journals, but, to be fair, she does that with pretty much everything else, anyway. It is what it is.

That’s also about it for this week, so I am going to call it naptime.

Later days,

SebastianWindowBye

 

Days Like This

Greetings on this rainy Tuesday afternoon. Monday’s post on Tuesday isn’t  too bad, all things considered, Right now, I am ensconced in my blanket nest, in the corner of the living room, casting longing glances at a recently repurposed notebook, and thinking about tea. I am usually thinking about tea, so that is not such an unusual thing.

Skye’s ashes came home this weekend, in a lovely container, and a thoughtful card from the animal hospital. We have her on the windowsill, next to the green ball she loved to watch, and it honestly does feel like she is around-er, so I am going to call that good. Still not the same as having a cat-cat around, but still counts for the mews factor.

I have the newest episode of one of my favorite current TV shows paused, because, while I want to see what’s going on in this story world, and how the characters are handling it, I also want to listen to the silence. Silence, in this case, that consists of traffic on wet pavement (one of my three all time favorite sounds) and rain and the clickety-clack of fingers on keys.

It’s a writing kind of day (but aren’t they all, for us writers?) so it was the perfect time to get current-ish on blog entries. I had breakfast with N this morning, as usual on a Tuesday. We talked about current and future projects, and, more than once, I had to whip out a sticky note and make a few quick scribbles, because inspiration works like that. I came home, hoping to transfer sticky note scribbles into their proper notebooks, which will still happen, though I now also have two pages of notes from an impromptu Skype session with my contemporary collaborator. Collaboration works like that, sometimes. There will be some arrows drawn on my weekly schedule, to move things around, but that only means I get to play with more pens, so still a win.

Real Life Romance Hero’s work would have been outdoors today, which means surprise day off, due to the rain. I will not complain, as this means impromptu lunch date, even if I had to make the lunch, but I digress. I want the sounds of my own stories in my head right now, so the TV and even Spotify remain silent. A few strips of washi tape turned the notebook in front of me from a utilitarian object that elicited a lukewarm “meh” response, into a welcoming receptacle for some words.

In a few minutes, I will get up and make tea. I will think, as I do, of the jolt of pleasant surprise, when I saw the same model of mugs we use, as props on another TV show. I know where you shopped, Property Master. I have no idea why this pleases me as much as it does, but, today, I will take it. Later, I will vote. The poling place is so close to our apartment, here that we could walk, and we may. That depends on how heavy the rain is at that time. I have asways bene partial to rain, but my suede-ish shoes beg me to reconsider. Leopartd print rain boots are still in storage, no doubt laughing at me, because couldn’t I have seen this rainy season comin?

Maybe so, but there have been things going on, okay? Here is a tip for any new writers among us: there will always be things going on, always somebody who needs a minute, etc. I could say that we need to learn to let them roll off us like water from a duck’s back, but that’s an easy comparison, facile, even (please read that with a disdainful sniff; it conveys the proper tone that way) and Get Stuff Done. That is, usually, the plan. Theory and practice, though? Not always the same thing.

Which brings us back to today. I am here, still wearing my responsible adult going outside disguise, because I am not changing twice, today. There is only so much time I have today, before voting and other errands, and I want to make the time count. Blogging is part of that, but not all. There is also research to be done, questions to bounce off my RWA sisters and brothers, to glean wisdom from more experienced minds than mine. There are the click and the whir and the hum of my CPU, inches away from my ear,and I am reminded of why getting up for tea when I work from my blanket nest, is as important as it is. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, one of my feet is going to go to sleep, which means I will have to shake it out, pull myself to standing, walk for a bit, (definitely get that tea) and then settle down, once again, to get in some more time of playing with  my imaginary friends, before I turn my attention to things like civic duty, and ensuring that RLRH can have something more than the last sleeve of Ritz crackers, that crumble at human touch.

There are days when writing feels very far away and out of step. This is not one of those days. This is the kind of day when being a writer is the most natural thing in the world, and I will be more than a little grumbly, when it is time to power down and head outside. Until then, I can post this blog, tick that off my list, make that tea, and, if I play my cards right, spend a few minutes, warm cup in my hand, eyes closed, listening to the music of ran and road and computer hum. Ideas grow there.

Tea time.

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Typing With Stuffed Paws: Something About Voice Edition

Hey, everybody. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you on this rainy Friday. Rainy Fridays are Writer Chick’s favorite kind of Fridays. Check back when it snows, because she loves snow, but rain happens during every season, so I am going to go out on a limb and say it has an edge, for frequency alone.

Domestic tornado-y week around the apartment again, but we come to the end of the week with the same amount of humans as we started it. More importantly, the same amount of stuffed folk. Most importantly, me. Being Cat Regent is a tough job, but somebody has to do it, and, between you and me, I am far more qualified than the red teddy bear, or the super floppy zebra that can’t even stand on its own. Plus, I am a cat.

Anyway, on with the show. Last Saturday, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, as per usual. Most recently, Writer Chick wrote about the eternal appeal of fairy tales in romance. That post is here, and this is the picture that goes with it:

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For Writer Chick’s Goodreads update, I have to call it now: she is being a cheater cheater pumpkin pie eater (she insists that I mention that A) there is not currently any pumpkin pie in the house, B) what’s up with that? and C) she is reading as fast as she can, okay? It’s been a very stressful week, and she’ll have finished the last couple of chapters by the time anybody reads this, so lay off, Sebastian. Yes, she used my name, but not the entire name, so she is probably not too irritated. Probably because she wants to get to the end of her book.)

That out of the way, Writer Chick’s pick of the week is The Iron Duke, the first entry in Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas steampunk romance series. Writer Chick says this has exactly the right blend of history and romance, even if the history is a very different version from what happened here on really real Earth. Just go with it. She is definitely going to read more of these. If you have steampunk romance recommendations, leave them in the comments, and Writer Chick will check them out.

I think that’s everything from the agenda Writer Chick gave me, so now it’s my time to riff. Wednesday was Writer Chick’s birthday-plus-one-week, which I gather is celebrated by putting on unusual clothing and going around to neighbors’ houses, begging for dessert. This is a fitting observance, though a quiet one around ye olde homestead. Maybe next year’s celebration can swap out the desserts for office supplies, because Writer Chick would be all about that kind of reboot.

It has come to my attention that National Author Day or something, was some time in the past week. Also National Cat day, but they didn’t say stuffed cat. At least I don’t t think so. I didn’t read the fine print, but I did lie on it. It was in my sunbeam. By that, I mean real sunbeam, not the artificial sunbeam, in this week’s picture, although that is good, too.

Also in this week’s picture is the business card holder that usually sits on Writer Chick’s desk. Since Writer Chick’s desk is currently in storage, that holder thingy and the pen attached to it live on the bookcase in Writer hick and Dude’s bedroom. Writer Chick gets the bottom shelf, Dude gets the top shelf, they split the middle shelf, and I sit wherever I want.

Writer Chick is kind of pumped that she needs to order more business cards soon, because she has now given out most of the ones she had before. That means networking is going okay. She is also pretty pumped that the pen takes Pilot G-2 ink refills, because she loves those pens. Bold point preferred; she’ll be very clear about that, but she’ll take medium in a pinch, fine point if she must, but she will do so with a heavy sigh.

The plaque on the base of the holder says, “I Anna-ize,” which is there because this was a gift from a friend, who froze when thinking of what to have put on the plaque. Writer Chick’s name only occurred to her afterward, but it’s all good, because Writer Chick likes that sentiment. Putting her own stamp on the romance genre has always been important to her, so this is a good reminder to make sure that goes into every manuscript.

How does Writer Chick “Anna-ize?” That’s a very good question, and there are times when her response would probably be that she was hoping you knew. Sometimes, it’s a matter of sitting down and doing the thing. Apple trees can only grow apples, and all that

For this kind of thing, it’s really best if Writer Chick doesn’t over Anna-lyze (see what I did there?) what she’s doing, and, instead, let the characters have their head (that is an old-timey phrase, meaning to let a horse pick where it wants to go, and the rider will be all “whatever” about the whole thing) and trust that they will get her to the right place, in the end.

Since Writer Chick writes romance, that end is an ever fixed mark (Shakespeare reference, for the win) but exactly how those people get to that happily ever after, well, that’s a wild card. I can respect that. It’s going to be different for everybody, which is why romance is such an interesting genre for Writer Chick to write.

That should be about everything for “Write” (heh heh) now, so keep your eyes peeled for those stray posts Writer Chick still owes. Never know when those babies are going to pop up, but they’ll be there.

Peace and Cuddles,

SebastianWindowBye