Typing With Wet Claws: Not at Nationals Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. The weather has been much better for Anty this week. I am not that pleased with all the rain we got, which means I spent more time than I would have liked, hunkered down in a safe place. I am also not that pleased with Anty moving things around in the apartment. She calls it decluttering. I call it unnecessary. I knew where everything was, and now she is moving things. I suppose there is an upside, in that there are now more places for me to hunker. If this is the way the weather is going to go, I think I will need them.

As always, I am not allowed to talk about anything else, until I talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interweb, other than here. This may not come as a surprise, but Anty is always at Buried Under Romance every Saturday. This week, she talks about fan clubs amongst romance readers. Do you talk books with anyone? Would you like to talk books with Anty? (Seriously, Anty will talk romance novels with pretty much anybody, so your chances are good, just saying. ) That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURfanclub

Anty has some umbrage with her Goodreads reading challenge this week. She has been doing rather a lot of reading, but not all of it is actual published books, so, while her reading tracker is filling with a lot of colored squares (she will show you in her video) that does not always carry over into the Goodreads count. It is the weekend, though, and one of the books Anty is currently reading is a novella, so maybe this will be the weekend she gets back on track. We can hope. I say less decluttering and more reading.

One actual published book that Anty finished reading this week fits into her plans for world domination. Okay, historical romance domination. By that, I mean her plan (she will tell you more in her video) to find out what sorts of linked romance novels work best for her. Because she had a serious Poldark hangover, she wanted something set in the eighteenth century, with the same historical flavor. She asked friends on one of her Facebook groups, of people who also love historical romance, and someone suggested Gather the Stars, by Kimberly Cates.  Anty read that book when it first came out, and remembered liking it a lot. She likes everything she has read of Miss Kimberly’s (who is also Ella March Chase, but Anty has not read any of the books written as Miss Ella. Yet.)  Anty’s review of Gather the Stars is here, and it looks like this:

GRgatherthestars

Anty plans to read more of Miss Kimberly’s books soon (and re-read, in several cases.) That plan gave her an idea. Since Anty wanted to make sure she got all the books Miss Kimberley wrote that belong together, she wanted to write that in a special book, so she would not lose the list. Then she added more books that belong together, by other authors. Now she has a special notebook dedicated only to that. She will probably make another book for only books that are not connected to anything else, but she is working on this one for now.

Writing-wise, this has been a good week for Anty. She will tell you more in her video, but I can tell you that, on Monday night, she meant to finish early, but then she hit her stride and did not want to stop. So, she did not stop. Then she noticed that it was three in the morning. and she had to meet Miss N for their critique meeting shortly after seven. She regrets nothing, especially since Miss N gave some very good feedback. Anty took a nice long nap after she got back, and I helped. by napping near her. Cat naps are always better with actual cats napping. Especially when I am the cat. I am very good at napping. I would sleep on the bed with Anty and Uncle (because Uncle is my favorite) if I could jump or climb, but that is okay. I sleep under their bed sometimes. That is good enough.

Anty is a little grumpy that she is not at RWA Nationals this year, but she can still get a few tastes of the experience through social media. She is glad, though, that she did not have to leave me for a whole week. She hates leaving me when she travels, which is not all that often, but I would hate going along even more. I did not see anything about a track for cats at Nationals, which is kind of an oversight, because a lot of writers have cats. The only thing would be getting the cats to the actual conference. We generally like to stay home. Not so for Anty. If she does not get out, among other humans, she gets a little antsy. Okay, more than a little antsy. Anty is an extrovert, which means that she spends her energy when she is alone, and needs to be around other humans to get more energy. Being in a hotel full of humans who love to read and write romance novels, like Anty does, is pretty much extroverted writer Christmas. Anty is not worried, though. Her local RWA chapter meeting is only a couple of weeks away, and she can talk to chapter members who did go, including Kari W. Cole, who won a very special award, the Golden Heart. Congratulations, Miss Kari.

Now it is time for Anty’s video.

That is about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

Not At Nationals (Again)

Some days, a writer needs a cat on her desktop. Since my actual cat, Skye, is a floor girl, I will have to make do with having her as my desktop image. It’s that time of year again, meaning that it is time for Romance Writers of America’s annual national conference, and, once again, I am not there. Conferences are like Christmas for the extroverted writer, and the RWA national conference is the great grandmamma of them all for us romancey types, so yes, part of me is going to grumble when I see pictures of friends at the conference, dropping tidbits about workshops and networking and parties and mountains of giveaway swag.  This doesn’t even take into account the issue of conference outfits and/or shoes, or the magic that happens when one winds up at a dinner table with a bunch of complete strangers, not knowing that they are in the presence of soon to be lifelong friends. Last Call Girls, I am looking at you.

So yeah, part of me is peeved. Maybe next year. Whole year to plan/save, and who knows, I might have something new to flog in 2018 (how did next year get to be 2018 already? :sobs softly:) and I’m doing what I can to move in that direction, so no use dwelling on what I’m not experiencing. Right now, I’m working on two books that I absolutely love, I am getting my ducks in order to have some fun new posts on Heroes and Heartbreakers in the near future, and I’m finding new ways to plan and organize so that I don’t fall into the trap of chaos and paralysis that comes from not knowing what to do next. I really, really, really do not like not knowing what to do next, hence all the focus on planning lately. I assume that, at some point, I will taper off, but for now, you get things like random pictures of my daily carry.

 

DailyCarry071917

Packed to stay home. Yes, this was taken at the laundromat.

 

If  RWA attendees can post pictures of their week, I can post pictures of mine. Above is my daily carry. From the top, the gray thing is my current favorite bag, because it goes with literally everything. Top hot pink thing is my makeup case. Purple thing is my Kindle. Next row, blush pink still-not-calling-it-a-bullet-journal-because-I-am-stubborn notebook, black pouch full of ballpoints, even though I am pretty much over ballpoints (but they still have ink in them; I cannot waste ink,) black wallet (needs more green things in it, hence motivation to write more) and hot pink bag that actually came with my tablet (not pictured, as it lives in my nightstand) but does not fit my tablet, so it holds my phone when I take said item on the road.

This is an extremely stripped down version of what I used to carry, and I am surprised how much I like it. I once won a “mom purse” contest (it broke out spontaneously on a ferry headed for Long Island, when a bunch of romance writers got antsy) over a mother of five and two grandmothers. I will allow you to imagine the criteria for yourself, but suffice it to say that this is a big change. Will it stick? I hope so, because I like having everything I need, close at hand, easily portable, and not all jumbled together.

Is it an indicator of how the writing life is going? Again, I hope so. The flip side of hating not knowing what I’m doing is…knowing what I’m doing. Organization and planning helps a lot with that, as does talking with writer friends who get me and get the stories I tell, at whatever phase of the journey. Having pretty stuff means I’ll want to look at it more, and, as N and I have discussed at length, there is a connection she and I both get when we turn off the computer and hunker down away from electronics, with pen and paper, and our story people get chatty. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t still feel like I’m fumbling around in the woods, with a bucket on my head and oven mitts on my hands (not feeling the rotten logs on my feet, so I’ve got that going for me) at times, but those times are fewer and farther between. I’m going to call that a good thing.

While I am going to miss the workshops presented at Nationals, it’s the people that would have me most excited. In person time with social media contacts would be fun, and getting to actually meet writers whose work I have admired for, in some cases, decades, would be amazing, but, if I were in attendance this year, I would have one goal that would outrank the others. Since I have never been to Nationals, I have no idea if it is socially acceptable to station oneself in the lobby, holding a large poster board with “Historical Romance BFF/Critique/Brainstorm Partner Wanted: Apply Below,” but I am pretty sure that, with number and variety of people who go to these sorts of things, I would probably get a few takers. Or one. I would take one.  A gal can feel a little unicorn-y from time to time, with this sort of thing, but it’s only a matter of looking, when romance writers congregate in large numbers, before one finds other with the same favorite flavor, no matter what that flavor may be.

So, this year, I’m not there. Too soon to call it on next year, or beyond, but what I can do is keep on eye on social media for vicarious conference hits, and the other eye on my own paper, as I move my current WIPs toward the finish line of their respective drafts. Potential historical romance buddies, you know where to find me; I’ll be here all week.

TheWriterIsOut

Planning for Motivation

Today, I have the brain of an unmotivated squirrel. Outside, the weather is wonderfully cool, after a solid week of humid high eighties and even nineties. I am on my third mug of tea, rather than sitting on an ice pack and alternating water with sports drinks. We have off and on rain, which means I get one of my all time favorite sounds, car tires on wet asphalt, outside my office window. My most natural desires at the moment are: A) take a nap, B) scroll mindlessly through Facebook, C) Netflix all day, and D) probably should do something about getting some pages for tomorrow’s critique session, but :points to A, B, and C.: See the problem here?

We’re verging on midday, when I want to be several pages into the day’s work, but I’m writing this blog entry, which is close enough. Once I get going, I’ll want to keep at it.  It’s the getting started today that’s getting me. Today, I started the first full week of spreads in my new daily pages book, this time a dot grid, soft covered Moleskine. The format works well for me, but the visual part of my brain says it still needs more pretties.

Bujodailytasksmoleskine

Copied from my own Instagram, because I am that unmotivated today.

 

Right now, I have my Go To Work playlist on the earbuds, and my brain answers each song with a resounding “meh.” This is not an auspicious start to the day. I mean, seriously, nothing. Nada, zip, zilch, empty, dry barren plain, which is not at all the plan. I worked on that plan yesterday afternoon, at my desk, with pencil and ruler and markers and fancy seltzer with pink polka dot straw for added snazz. Planning has become an important part of my Sunday afternoon, and it should be part of getting my brain into work gear, because these books are not going to write their own second drafts, especially when said second drafts veer off into uncharted territory.

Aha. Uncharted. See? I knew that, if I kept with this, I would find the source of the meh. Last week, N pointed out areas where I could crank up the volume on the emotional connection for a certain scene, and I know that I’m not going to be able to go further into what happens next, without feeling like I’ve been dropped off a ship in the middle of the ocean, with naught but the Styrofoam donut shaped floaty of my kindergarten days to keep my head above the proverbial  water.  I don’t like that feeling.

What I do like is knowing what I’m doing, so, after I babble my way to the magic seven hundred and get this posted, I will step away from the computer, grab my pages from last week, with N’s notes, and then mark said pages further, note where I can cut, what needs plumping, etc. Then I take notebook and trusty green pen and sketch out what I’d like to see in this scene if somebody else were writing it.  I have no idea if this is going to end up being another marathon day, or if I will pull it off in spurts, but I do have the rain outside my window, so that’s a point in the day’s favor,

I’ve been writing a lot about planning on this blog, because planning is fun for me, and an instant way to raise my interest. Maybe I can add an E) to the things my squirrel brain would like to do today, which would be aimlessly play with notebooks and things that make marks in notebooks, possibly combined with aforementioned Netflix, but, as fun as that would be, and relaxing, and possibly even good for unsticking some of those cranky gears, it’s not going to get pages written.

This means that, if I’m not motivated (and I’m not, at the time of this writing,) I need to get motivated.  Since I want this draft done and the book in the hands of readers, instead of lingering in my hard drive, that means I’m going to have to keep moving forward. Make a list of the things that need to be fixed, and then fix them. Somewhere along the way, inspiration will show up, and my mood will improve.

Right now, I’m edging out of the meh. I have Skye in my doorway. My toes are tapping, because I’ve hit the Right Said Fred part of my playlist. Soon, it will be time for lunch, when I can indulge myself in a short break for Netflix or Sims, or, even better, a chapter of a historical romance novel, to remind myself what it is I love the best about what I’m doing in this whole writing novels thing.  Then it’s a once-over of pages and the notes I made on the last few pages of my old daily tasks book (because what else am I going to do with pages that would otherwise sit there?) that turned out part doodle, part checklist, part what-mark-does-this-mark-making-thing-make. I’ll take that.

TheWriterIsOut

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Refining Focus Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. There is big news this week, and it is about me. I will get right to it, because it is important. I am in shed. That means I am getting rid of my summer coat, so my winter coat can come in. Fair warning for those readers who are new to this blog: I will get super fuzzy in the winter. I am already super fuzzy all the time, because I am a Maine Coon mix, but, in winter, I get even fuzzier.  Anty has to bribe me with food to let her brush me, because I am a very sensitive kitty, so brushing is not always my favorite thing, but I like food more than I dislike brushing. Anty is smart. She says it is so that I will not eat the fur I shed, but she does not have to worry. If she likes the fur I eat so much, it is not a big problem if I do eat it. She will see it again. That is kind of how cats work. It is also how hairballs work. Hm. I do not like the hairball medicine I will get if I have too many hairballs, so maybe brushing is okay.

The way this blog works, if you are new (and even if you are not) is that I have to talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interwebs (besides here) every week before I am allowed to talk about other things, which are usually about Anty’s writing anyway. This week, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance. This time, she talks about playing a game called Never Have I Ever. I do not think it would be fair for me to play, since I am a kitty, and have not ever read any books, unless being in the same room when Anty listened to an audiobook counts. That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

BURneverhaveiever

Next, we come to Anty’s activity on Goodreads. Right now, her reading challenge looks like this:

GR072117

I may need to check with Anty to see if this is correct. She may not have updated everything with the hot weather this week, but that is okay. Reading is a very forgiving thing, and books will always still be there. Anty did read a novel about almost-grownups (or very new grownups; it is hard to tell with humans, sometimes) and it is called Lovely, Dark and Deep. No cats in it, but it is set in Maine, which is where Maine Coon cats come from (the breed, I mean, not me, specifically. I was born in Massachusetts.) Her review of that book is here, and it looks like this:

GRLovelyDarkAndDeep

Anty thinks the cover is very pretty.

 

Other than me being in shed, another sign of autumn coming (it is almost August, after all. Uncle’s birthday is in August, which makes it a very good month.) is that back to school supplies are everywhere. I do not mean only in Anty’s office, which is true (it is always true; Anty is kind of nuts about notebooks) Autumn means that Anty will get her super powers back, but they did not really go away this year. That is kind of new.

Part of that, I think, is that Anty has been taking a critical look at exactly what she wants to do, and set specific goals. Meeting with Miss N every week, to get feedback on Her Last First Kiss (as well as give Miss N feedback on her book) keeps Anty accountable, as does talking over Skype with Anty Melva about their book. Anty does very well with goals and accountability, so those are going to stay. She is still looking for a critique/brainstorming partner and/or writing friend, whose focus is historical romance, so putting that out there. Payment is you get to talk to Anty and possibly get extra pictures of me.

I will let Anty tell you how she is refining focus in her reading, which can help refine the focus in her writing. I think it is interesting how those two things feed each other.

 

In case you are wondering, her shirt says “Lovers Gonna Love.” I find this very interesting, not only because it is an appropriate shirt for a romance writer, but because “gonna” is probably Anty’s number two pet peeve in general speech. It is not actually a word, but two words, “going to,” mushed together. In case you are wondering, her number one pet peeve in general speech is “just.” It can usually be taken out wit no change to meaning, unless it is used as an adjective, as in “the court’s decision was just.”

Knowing Anty, she is probably going to make a to-be-read list to keep in her planner, and she will probably want to show that list, because she is probably going to make it pretty, or at least interesting, visually. Anty is kind of into this making pretty notebook pages thing, which I guess is for the greater good, if it helps her brain stay more organized and focused. I, personally, like the way the markers smell when she takes the caps off, so I am not going to question her motives. Maybe this desire to make pretty pages will make her want to learn how to draw cats. One cat in particular. I will give you one guess as to which cat that might be. (Hint: it would be me.)

That is about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,
skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

 

 

On the Stepping Up of Game

Summer has definitely settled upon New York’s Capitol Region, and I’m feeling it. Not my favorite time of year, by any means. There are now two fans in my office: the big ceiling fan, and the small fan I repurposed from another room, and that makes a world of difference. In protest, my office chair has added “amusement park ride” to its job description, as I have somehow unlocked the mechanism that keeps the seat at its optimum level, and am now prone to sudden drops in altitude at unexpected moments. For this one, I am calling in reinforcements, aka Housemate and/or Real Life Romance Hero, who are better at figuring out mechanical things than I am.

This week, I am not slumped in front of a box fan, in full slug mode, because I would honestly rather be writing. Monday was not a marathon, and half of the pages I brought to critique session with N were printed on pink paper instead of white, my reminder that these are notes/outline only,  not what is going in the actual chapter. I will admit to some part of my brain making grabby hands at those pages and vowing I could fix them in only a couple more hours. Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Nice try, brain. I filed the pink pages under “good enough” and actually slept.

There are words a writer doesn’t want to hear in a critique session. Pointing and laughing (unless the pages submitted are comedy, then, in that case, pointing and laughing would be the desired outcome) do not count as words. “It’s okay,” however, do count as words. “It’s okay” is obviously better than “this is utter dreck, and you should give up writing,” but they still aren’t the best case scenario. They are, however, a starting place, and the right critique partner can do a lot with them, as in point the writer in the right direction. More over here, this part was the writer talking to themselves, move this thing where the other thing was, and go deeper in to Character X’s reaction to Character Y, instead of giving readers only a taste. Give Character X some sympathy to Character Y, because they are going to want to lock lips with them in a few pages, and right now, they sound like they don’t like the other person much.

Okay, that gives me some direction. Later today, I will plop my overheated self next to the box fan next to my comfy chair, not in slug mode, but with Big Daddy Precious notebook open in my lap, green Marvy Le Pen pen in hand (because it was the favorite pen of the writer who got me into historical romance in the first place) and, quite possibly, some DVR’d TV shows playing, if I don’t have my earbuds in and my playlist for Her Last First Kiss. I will kind of sort of halfway background watch the show, but my actual brain will be back in 1784, and the story will find its way from brain to page. I’ll transcribe later, fit it in with what I already have, or substitute, if this goes in a different direction. Second drafting can get into uncharted territory on occasion, and this is one of those occasions. Which is fine.

At the same time, I have a voracious appetite for planning and organizing. What other habits can I track? How can I use my planner/my office/my time more efficiently? How can I make my planner spreads prettier? How many new art techniques can I cram into my brain, because, right now, my brain is hungry for this kind of stuff. Famished, the same way it’s been sorting my TBR pile in order of how much I want to read certain types of books. Give me more of this, a grace note of that, pile all of that other thing on the plate, as high as it will go, because this hungry brain needs it.

I am taking this as a good sign, this overall desire to step up my personal game, and follow that hunger. The more I take in, the more I want to put out. This probably falls under my mother’s “the more you do, the more you’ll want to do” maxim, and she would probably not tell me she told me so, but she’d think it, and that would be okay. Right now, I’m not looking at the big picture. Not thinking about where this book is going to go when this draft is done, not thinking about marketing or future books or anything other than this scene, this chapter, applying the notes I got on my good-enough pages, after a decent night’s sleep, and, after that, we look at what work needs to be done on the next section.  Summer is still out there, but it’s not my main focus.

Instead, the focus is on my current assignment. Everything else can go grab a popsicle and a paperback and wait its turn, because that turn will come. Right now, I have two people and one moment of vulnerability that requires my full attention, so that’s where it’s going to go.

Sprints vs. Marathons

It’s Monday once again, but not, this time, a marathon. Nope, done with those, after last week’s events, so if I’m not doing that, then that means I have to do something else. Easy logic. Thankfully, the weather forecast has flipped from its previous brutal high eighties all the time forecast, to a more moderate lower to mid eighties deal. That, I can handle more easily. I’m stocked with sports drinks as well as water, planning smaller, more frequent, lighter meals, there’s a second fan in my office, aimed at my feet, and a new ice pack at the base of my spine. Quite comfy, really, which means there’s only one thing I need to get the second draft of this chapter done, which would be…the first draft of this chapter.

There is one, I should mention, but it’s short, and, now that I know more about Ruby, her Hero, and their story, these scenes are going to require something more. I don’t mind that; it means that the story is real and alive, and it’s going places. That’s all good stuff.  What is not so good is the old  “oh crap, what am I doing, I was supposed to work this all out over the weekend and now it’s Monday” feeling. Which would normally turn into “welp, guess it’s an uber-marathon in that case. Put the previous versio aside, start from scratch, keep pushpushpushpushing no matter what, even if it takes all night.” Which, after last week, no. Not doing that.

Which means new approach needed. Long term solution, better time management, enforcing boundaries, and keeping track of what environmental factors are in place on especially successful/productive days. Looking back at the time, a few weeks ago, when I shot far past my page count, the habit that sticks out to me most is that I took short, frequent breaks. So, this time, sprints instead of a marathon. Marathons are necessary sometimes, and there are days when I don’t want to stop and would happily chug on long into the night, and into the wee hours, but that’s the difference, and it’s an important one.

This past week, I got current on season two of Poldark, and I have a lot of feelings about that. Mostly, impatience, because I want season three to begin now, thankyouverymuch, but also anger at Ross, and the very firm decision that, if things come to that (no spoilers, please) I am firmly on Team Demelza about the thing Ross did at the end of Season Two. There will always be a part of me that will forever blink at the screen in disbelief. but A) Poldark is not a romance novel, B) the story isn’t over yet, and C) while I hated what happened, I loved being surprised.

Though I’m currently reading a YA that has my attention, Poldark gave me a thirst for historical romance with the same flavor. That sort of story that could not possibly take place in any other place or time, or with any other people. It’s not comfortable, and bad things most assuredly do happen to good people, but that’s what makes it interesting. Doesn’t hurt that the story takes place in the same era as Her Last First Kiss, so, in a way, it was pretty darned close to a trip back into HLFK world. I love to drink in the use of light, the subtle differences in clothing, not only between classes, but the more traditional styles and those more fashion-forward. The social interactions, how characters behave differently among their intimates from how they behave to newly met acquaintances, the modes of transportation, the way they use their leisure time, family celebrations both big and small.  That’s what I want to see in a historical romance, both those I read, and those I write.

Which brings me around to the sprints vs. marathons thing.  Rather than have a “must get at least x amount of pages ready,” focus on this scene. Take the time to feel the temperature, not in my room, but the room (or outdoor location) where my characters experience their “now.”  What can they see, hear, smell, feel, taste? How do they move through the space? I connect best when I write longhand, so this translates well to the non=marathon way of tackling a bigger section at once; break it down into smaller bites. Write longhand, away from the desk, break, transcribe and tweak, break, next bit, bit after that, and so on.

Is this going to be a foolproof technique that will work forever and ever and ever? I have no idea, but I don’t expect every book or every day to be exactly the same, so I expect variations. I expect interruptions. I expect some therapeutic housework, to sort out whatever it is on the back burner of my brain, and know that these things have a way of working themselves out. I know where my characters are going, and I know where they came from, and, since we’ve been through the initial draft with each other already, we’re going to figure out this slight detour. Not because pages are due for critique meeting, but because it’s fun.

The writer of commercial fiction, by and large, are in a funny place. We know what readers of our genres want from a story, we know what we, personally want to read in such a story, so writing the story we want to read should be a blast (and often, it is) but then the market has its requirements, and there are production schedules, and and and…. Which is why there are headphones and playlists, and a list of rewards I get for completing, not onebigmonsterthatMUSTBEFINISHED by a certain time ORIANDTHEBOOKWILLBOTHBEDOOMED, but a collection of shorter bursts. In eighteenth century terms, a turn around the garden. (Spoiler: nobody takes any turns around any gardens in this book. Maybe next time.)

Right now, I can cross “blog entry” off my list, and then I get to noodle with my art journal for a few minutes, then take one of those turns about the garden. If that means I end up taking something rougher than I like to critique meeting, that’s fine. Still counts. The same amount of ground gets covered either way.

 

Typing With Wet Claws: On Top of The Milk Crate Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This has been an interesting week in our home, but then again, I think every week is interesting. Either I really do have an interesting family, or I am very easily impressed. I am not sure which, maybe both. Before I am allowed to talk about anything else, though, I have to talk about where you can read Anty’s writing on the interwebs, besides here, so let’s get to that.

First, as always, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about the importance of friendship in romance fiction. That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

BURfriends

Please pardon the awkward cropping. These things are hard when one has special paws.

 

This brings us to Anty’s Goodreads activity. Anty will tell you more about her reading habits in the video below, but I am happy to report that her reading challenge progress now looks like this:

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Anty is now 51% of the way through her goal of 90 books read in 2017, and she is now only one book behind schedule. Considering that this is the weekend, I have every faith that she can not only get back on track, but maybe even pull ahead. That would be very exciting. This week, the books she read were these:

 

Click on the links below each picture, to read Anty’s reviews of these books. In case you are counting, that is one historical romance this week, and one contemporary inspirational category romance. I should point out that, even though “category,” has the word, “cat,” in it, there are no cats in this book. I may have to have Anty talk to Miss Jean about that, because they are in the same RWA chapter. Can a book without cats truly be all that inspiring? Maybe there are cats in other books by this author.  I will give Miss Jean the benefit of the doubt. She does have a lot of books, so odds are that there should be a cat in one of them. I suppose we will see.

This week, Anty had a surprise during her Monday marathon session for her work on Her Last First Kiss. The actual second-drafting went pretty well, but Anty learned an important lesson about how to get through hot, muggy days and nights. She found out, the hard way, that it is indeed possible to drink too much water at one time, because it makes humans sick, which does not help with the writing process. I think this may have something to do with her drinking water out of a travel mug and not out of a bowl. I have never had too much water at one time, and I always drink out of a bowl. Just putting it out there.

Needless to say, this has given Anty serious thoughts about how she can best avoid the need for these Monday marathons. The obvious answer is to do more of the work over the course of the week, so she does not have to cram it all into one day. That makes a lot more sense, and it also involves her keeping better track of how she uses her time. Anty believes that we can always find the time to do what matters most, and in her case, that is writing. I suspect this may affect my routine somewhat, but I am willing to take one for the team if it makes for a happier Anty, and as long as it does not affect my treat schedule. Anty and Uncle know that I always know when it is twelve noon and ten at night. I find time for what is most important to me, too.

Today is cool, gray and rainy, (well, rainy off and on. Right now, birds are chirping.) which is Anty’s favorite summer weather, which generally means good things for her writing. That may not always show on the writing tracker, because, well, Anty does not like this particular writing tracker. I will let her tell you about that, and how her writing has gone this week:

Thank you, Anty. That was very interesting. I will not tell the people how many takes it took for you to get that video made, or the backup video you made on your phone, but I will keep it safe, in case of emergencies, like me needing more treats. What I will tell them is that Mama had a very good suggestion, that Anty should prop her laptop on top of a milk crate, instead of the makeup case and all of those books. As it happens, Uncle gave Anty a fancy wire milk crate for Christmas (it did not have milk in it, unfortunately, but it did have other things. Uncle is not a monster.) and, while she is still figuring out what she wants to do with it for real, it works very well as a booster for the laptop. She still has to use the binder to correct the angle for the screen, but this is a lot easier than the other way, so there may be more videos.

I should note that Anty has not been getting out of the house as much as she would like, and so she  may be going a little loopy with the whole needing people thing. Having an extroverted writer does present some challenges for even the most dedicated of mews, but the internet is a big help.

That is about it for now, so, until next week, I remain very truly yours,

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Cheaty Cheaty Cheat Cheat Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. I have mostly recovered from the Festival of Explosives (the humans call it Fourth of July) but I do not know if I can say the same things about the humans. Having a weekend, then a Monday, then a holiday, then Wednesday acting like a Monday, followed by Thursday where Tuesday usually goes, has Anty off balance. Some might argue she is already off balance, but I mean more than usual. I will talk more about that in a minute, but first I have to talk about where you can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week, apart from here. I will give you a hint: it is an unusual week when I get right to that stuff in the first paragraph, but more on that kind of thing later.

First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this week, and this time, she talked about how romance novels can be fluffy or gritty or any point in between. This is not, to my disappointment, about the amount of cats found in books. I think she should write about that, one of these days. This is not that. This is about the tone of books. That post can be found here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

BURwhynothaveboth

Warning: does not contain actual fluff. 

Since this is the start of a whole new month, it is time to check in and see how Anty is doing on the historical romance challenge. Let’s have a look at that, shall we?

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We are burning daylight here, if we want to get this blog up before Anty has to go out of the house again, so I will not search for the historical romance challenge graphic. Cat’s prerogative.  So far, in 2017, Anty has read almost 44 books (she is within 25 pages of finishing her current read, so I will give it to her) and 21 of those have been historical romance. 22 and 1/3, if we add in historical fiction with romantic elements. I am feeling generous today, because Uncle is home today and that makes me happy. So, basically, 50% of Anty’s reading this year has been historical romance, which is the goal, so well done, Anty. Keep at it. She is still three books behind schedule, soon to be two, because, again, fewer than 25 pages to the end of the book counts. This is acceptable. Toss in a couple of novellas or graphic novels, and boom, back on track. Make it happen.

Here are the books Anty read this past week. Click on the link below the pictures if you want to learn more about them.

 

The book Anty will be finished reading in literally minutes after this entry is posted is Ripe For Seduction, by Isobel Carr.  It is a historical romance, set in Georgian England, which is very relevant to Anty’s interests, and it looks like all the heroes are second, or at least younger, sons, which is also relevant to Anty’s interests, because Hero in Her Last First Kiss is himself a second son, in Georgian England. Anty thought this was the second book in the series, when she got it out of the library, and figured she would be fine, because she had already read the first book, but then she went on Goodreads to add it, and found out she was wrong. It is really the third, and now she has to go get the second, because reading out of order bothers her. As Uncle says, that really frosts her cookies.

Anty has been doing a lot of writing on both Her Last First Kiss and Chasing Prince Charming, so she does need to refill her well at the end of the day. This blog entry is coming later than usual, because Anty had a Skype meeting with Anty Melva, to talk about Chasing Prince Charming, and then had lunch with Anty SueAnn, where they talked about writing and blogging, and, thankfully, pets. Funny story, but Anty SueAnn’s doggie, Bailey, and I are on opposite sides of the smooth vs not smooth floor issue. He prefers carpets to tile/wood/linoleum, whereas I am the exact opposite. Must be a dog thing. I will not pretend I understand, but I accept that is the way he feels.

To be able to talk with Anty Melva, Anty had to do a bit of fancy footwork, to raise her laptop to the right level for video chat. Anty’s laptop works fine, but the screen will go black if opened at a 90 degree angle, so here is what Anty had to do:

LaptopTower

Laptop supported by: makeup case, three novels, binder, and reference book under the writing surface.

Anty noticed that this is the same height as her desktop monitor, so she will be looking into getting an external webcam, so she does not have to do that again. That also means that she can get back to making video blogs again, like this one:

If you would like to know when Anty has a new video blog up, you can subscribe to her YouTube channel here. She hopes to get at least one video blog per week, so please stay tuned.  She did make a very short film starring me, this morning, which you can find on her Instagram. If there is anything you would like to ask Anty, that she can answer in a video blog, please let her know in the comments, or send her an email, using the handy form below:

That is about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

Habit Tracking, in Theory and Practice

Happy belated Canada Day to all who celebrate(d.) For those of us south of the US/Canada border, the big summer holiday is tomorrow, July fourth. I, personally, will observe the holiday by changing my desktop wallpaper to something more appropriate (but the maple leaf flag is pretty, and there is a Canadian connection in Her Last First Kiss, so it really is work related,) listening to selections from Hamilton, and getting a flame grilled burger in my stomach by whatever means necessary. Some things are non-negotiable, and that is one of them.

I am not a summer person. I never have been. When I got heat stroke at 22, that sealed it. This fair-skinned, heat-sensitive body does not do summer.  Give me some ice water, a nearby fan, and an ice pack when needed, and wake me in September.  I’ll be fine, really. I have books and notebooks and pen and paper.  Depending on what day it is, I am actually in March of 1784, (okay, verging on April by this point, because I am now thisclose to the halfway mark on draft two of Her Last First Kiss) or in, well, spring again, in the eternal now, in Chasing Prince Charming. Kind of easy to forget what’s going on outside the office when I am elbow deep in one book or another.

Because I did not write “take picture of writing tracker” on my daily task list, I did not get a picture of my writing tracker in my daily carry notebook, but Banastre Lobster did help me get a better shot of my reading tracker.  I’m kind of proud of this one.

 

ReadingTrackerBanastre

reading tracker, with lobster

 

Three days into July, and how am I doing on the reading front, now that I have a tracker? Let’s take a look:

July1st3days
on track so far

 

Knowing that I get to color a teeny tiny square if I read 25 more pages actually does seem to be working.  I always think I can draw a straight line on graph paper without a ruler, but then I try actually doing it, and remember I can’t, so that is why I have multiple rulers on my desk. The other months look a lot neater, and I look forward to turning them into colorful checkerboards, when their turn comes. For right now, though, I’m keeping my eyes on the day at hand. If, okay, when, I read more, that can carry over into tomorrow’s tally, because there are going to be days when I don’t get even 25 pages read, and I want to color all of those squares. Do not ask me why this is the motivation that works; it is, and that’s enough.

Since I now have a reading tracker, it made sense to make a writing tracker, but I can’t do it exactly the same way.  Story time:  one of the RWA chapters proposed having members report their monthly word count on the chapter loop. Many members thought this was a great idea. One other member and I, however, sat there, consumed by immediate panic. Cue Hypercritical Gremlins. Our then-president was quick to assure us that participation was voluntary, not mandatory, but it took a while for pulses to stop racing and the walls to stop closing in around us two unicorns. Word count doesn’t work for every writer. The key to tracking my writing, then, lies in finding out what does.

So far, the plan is to proceed as normal for the next three weeks, and then look back at what I did, then figure out how I did it.  How much did I produce, and what were the conditions around that? What prep work did I do on the days when I produced more, and what were mitigating factors on the days I produced less? I will probably count pages instead of words, because that’s how my brain works, and, by the end of the three weeks, I will probably have something that looks neater (and probably prettier) than this, but it’s a good place to start:

 

WritingTracker1stTry

1st try at writing tracker, with lobster

 

 

Is this going to have any effect on my productivity? I have no idea, but if all this experiment does is rule out this method of tracking, it’s still time more spent. Here’s the deal: I want to get more books written and out there, in the hands of readers. That means I have to produce more books, and get them out there, into the hands of readers. After far too long a time without a new release, and having two second drafts going at one time, (a third waiting sometimes patiently, sometimes not, if I count the medieval novella, which I usually do) this means that, theoretically, I could have three new titles on their way to readers next year. That’s pretty exciting.

Although six-year-old me would undoubtedly scream and kick the back of the Rambler my mom drove my protesting self to first grade in, on a day when I’d tried my best to convince her to let me stay home, her voice remains clear in my head: the more you do, the more you’ll want to do. If that means I get to uncap a brush pen and fill in another tiny square on a piece of graph paper, I am there, baby.

This also has a connection to Her Last First Kiss.  Ruby also keeps meticulous records that relate to her work and her interests, so I think she’d approve of me charting her and her Hero’s progress this way. Dominic, the hero of Chasing Prince Charming, also keeps a notebook close at hand, and makes use of it a few times during the course of the book, and his heroine, Meg, is a writer with a goal of restarting her own career, so I feel close to them when I’m planning and tracking, too.  If this method of tracking doesn’t work, then I’ll try something else, but the destination remains the same: get both books to The End of draft two, and embark on the next great adventure.

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Planapalooza Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is a gray and sometimes rainy day here in New York’s Capitol Region, which is the best kind of summer weather for Anty.  There are still a few domestic tornadoes to wrangle, but Anty is making use of planning and organization to take care of most of them. I will get to that later.

First, as always, before I can talk about anything else (which is usually related to Anty’s writing, anyway) I need to talk about where you can find her writing on the interweb, besides here.  As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this week. This time, she talked about author websites. Do you like to visit author websites? Have a favorite? Have different expectations for websites from veteran and debut authors? That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

 

BURComputerDog

Buried Under Romance

 

This week, Anty was very excited when one of her favorite bloggers, Rose Grey, blogged about her. Well, one of her blog entries, but that is basically the same thing. Some readers may remember that Anty blogged about one of Miss Rose’s entries, about writing rituals, a few weeks ago, which made Miss Rose very happy. Anty’s post on that is here.  Imagine Anty’s surprise when she got a private message from Miss Rose, telling Anty that Miss Rose had returned the favor. Miss Rose mentioned Anty’s post on brush pens and planning. That post is here, and it looks like this:

 

RoseGreyBooks

Rose Grey Books

 

Now it is time to look at Anty’s Goodreads Challenge. If you would like to follow that, you can do so here. Anty said some grownup-only words when she saw that, although she had read another book this week, she was now three books behind schedule. Anty does not consider this acceptable. At first, she thought she could cram in a few rereads and get back on track before this post, but that was not realistic, so she turned to her planner. She does not have the tracking system ironed out yet, but here is what she came up with for a manageable reading plan:

  • She wants to read more books. (this is too vague, so she made it more specific.)
  • She wants to read two books per week. 
  • Assume that each book has an average of 350 pages. 
  • Each week has 7 days.
  • 700 pages, divided by 7 days, means Anty needs to read 100 pages per day. 
  • This can be broken down into 4 sessions of 25 pages each. 

That feels a lot more specific than “read more books,” and Anty can zip through twenty-five pages, easy. She plans to record this for a month and see how the plan works. If it works well, she will continue it for two more months. If that works, then it becomes part of the regular routine.  So far, it seems to be working pretty well, but she only devised that plan yesterday, so it needs more time before anyone can make that call.

Anty’s review of the book she did read, The Shattered Rose, by Jo Beverley, is here, and it looks like this:

 

ShatteredRoseReview

The Shattered Rose, by Jo Beverley

 

This week, we have a special request. Anty Sue Ann, who readers might know as blogger/author, Sue Ann Porter, read Anty’s post on brush tip markers, and asked what the tips of those markers looked like. I am not purr-sonally  allowed to touch Anty’s art or planning supplies, but I can share a picture.  The tip of a brush marker looks like a pointy paintbrush, as you can see here:

BrushTipPenTipsTombow

Tombow Brush Markers

 

Okay, I think that is it for updates. This has been a week of domestic tornadoes, for Anty and also for those around her. Both Anty Melva and Miss N had changes in their schedule this past week, which means that there needed to be changes to the regular schedule, because regularly scheduled meetings would not work. They are still figuring that out. This coming week has a holiday in it (I do not like Fourth of July at night; it is too loud, but Anty and Uncle like to watch the fireworks from the balcony. I hide until it is over. Fireworks cannot find me, if I am under the bed.)

To figure out the best time to plan the times to meet again, after disruption in the routine, Anty needs to look, not only at her calendar, as well as Miss N’s, and Anty Melva’s, but at the time it will take to deal with domestic tornadoes, and time to rest and refill the creative well. As usual for Anty, this will mean getting out pen and paper and putting all the information where she can see it in one place. Then, she will be able to make good decisions about how to best use her time.

Even when life gets interesting, writing is still Anty’s happy place, and that makes it very easy to focus. Her goal is to get both Her Last First Kiss and Chasing Prince Charming into the hands of readers, whether that mean traditional or independent publishing. She is still looking at what needs to be done with the book that is currently called Ravenwood (that is her postapocalyptic medieval romance novella) to get it ready to find its way to readers, so that is going to mean more work, but that is the kind of work she does not mind one bit.

That is about it for now, so, until next week, I remain very truly yours,

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…