Typing With Wet Claws: Unauthorized Entry Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday.  First of all, I would like to point out that Anty is really, really, really good at killing earbuds. Actually, before that, I would like to mention that it was awesome having Uncle home extra this week, because he is my favorite, and that meant that he could spend extra time with me. That means that Anty had more time to work in her office, and also to find more writing time at Panera, after her meeting with Miss N.  That was not my favorite day, even if Uncle was home at the time. I will explain about that later.

First, before I can talk about anything else, I have to talk about what Anty wrote this week, and where you can find her writing on the interwebs, other than here. Like every week, Anty was at Buried Under Romance, and, this week, she invited readers to talk about the many first times every romance reader will experience. That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

BUR1stTime

If you are following Anty’s reading challenge on Goodreads, it is here, and she is doing better this week.  She is now only eight books behind, and has a plan on how she will take care of the rest of the deficit. That will involve setting aside time for reading every day, and making sure she does not read too much of the same thing, too close together. She may even toss in some rereads, because those can go a lot faster. The books she read this week are:  Up All Night, by Laura Geringer, et al, (that is a fancy human phrase that means “and others”;) Mischief and Mistletoe, by Mary Jo Putney, et al; and Unfriended, by Rachel Vail.  Click on the links to read the reviews, which, all together, look like this:

 

I am working on my graphic design skills, which is not always easy because I have paws, not hands, and special paws, at that, but I do what I can. Anty has also been doing what she could this week, which involves helping Anty Melva get their two requests for partial manuscripts off to the publishing humans who asked for them. They got the first one off, and now it is time to get the second, larger, one ready to go. That takes some time, and so does getting ready for the next book, especially when she also needs to keep focused on Her Last First Kiss. Anty says she has exactly the same number of hours in a day as people who are very successful in her field (and others) and, as far as she knows, none of them have cats writing one third of their personal (or purr-sonal, I would say, but I do not purr; I never have, as far as any humans know. Do not be concerned, I am a very happy kitty, but I am quiet about it. Only about that, though, because I talk a lot.) blogs. If they can get all of their stuff done, so can she.

Part of that is finding the hidden pockets of time where she can both write and do the things that fill her creative well so that she can write. This past week, that meant that she stayed extra time at Panera, while the new stove was delivered. If you did not read her entry on Wednesday (it is here) the stove looks like this:

STOVE

 

Our landlord, Mr. D, likes to take very good care of us, and he bought us a new stove, which makes all the humans happy. It got delivered on Tuesday, which did not make me happy, because that meant that strange humans had to come into the house, take the old stove away, and then bring in the new one, and make sure it did not kill us all (it is gas.) Uncle stayed home that day, so that he could oversee the whole stove thing, and so that Anty could have some extra writing time after her meeting with Miss N. He put me in Mama’s room, where my things are, so that I would stay safe. He let Anty know when all the strange humans had left, so she could come home and be with us. She asked how I was doing (because she knows what is important) and Uncle said I was super scared, but okay because I stayed in Mama’s room.

I will be put in Mama’s room again in the next week or two, when the strange humans do the whole thing all over again, with the refrigerator. Do not worry, my cat food does not go in the refrigerator, so it will not be affected. I still do not like all the strange humans and bangy sounds and taking appliances that have been here ever since we moved in away, and replacing them with new things (if you do not know many cats, we do not like change very much) but I will be okay. Maybe Anty or Uncle can ask some of the strange humans to take away Anty’s office carpet (but not replace it with anything; I want it to be regular wood floor) so that I can sit reallyreallyreally close to Anty and give her extra inspiration and encouragement. I think that could only help. It is my duty as a mews.

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

skyebanner01skyebye

Write Like a Stove

Not feeling the blogging thing today, and that’s okay.  Writing, yes, but not blogging. I have my daily task list all planned out, but when I come to “write blog,” there’s a blank. Which is fine. White space and all that. Part of the reason I blog is to clear out the gunk from my brain so that I can be primed and ready for the good stuff, which, from my perspective is writing fiction. The same could be said for morning pages, but the difference here is that morning pages are private, and blogging is…not. It’s the opposite of private. It’s splashed onto the screen with the explicit purpose of being read (passive tense, ooh, dangerous) by others. Commercial fiction, which is what I write (subset: romance, sub-subsets: historical romance (on my own) and contemporary romance (with writing partner, Melva)) is also meant for public consumption, and, when we add the extra factor of a reader or readers, that also brings in the knowledge of the potential reader or readers.

I do a lot better when I have a topic planned out ahead of time. This time, I don’t, so what you get instead is the first thing my brain can latch onto, which is…the stove.

 

STOVE

that would be this stove

 

This post is not about cooking. We did get a new stove yesterday, the delivery window starting after I had left the house for critique session with N. Real Life Romance Hero had the day off, and earned extra hero points for supervising the removal of the old stove (which Landlord and I delicately referred to as “vintage.”) and installation of the new one. Since strange people moving appliances around is not an environment especially conducive to writerly  concentration, Real Life Romance Hero and I agreed I would remain at Panera, post-critique-session, and get some work done.

Aha. Here we go. Connection time. One of the things I like about keeping some of the notebooks that I do, is that it makes the spotting of patterns easier. Since one of the patterns I’d noticed of late is that, when I try to cram all the work on Her Last First Kiss into Monday, because Tuesday is critique day, I feel rushed and crowded. Feeling rushed and crowded also makes me feel pressured, and I focus on the number of pages I’m putting out, rather than making the story the best it can possibly be. So, clearly, that is not a good thing to have going on, on a regular basis. N and I both agreed that we wanted to bring more pages to our critique session each week, which means I need to find more time to devote to that book. Where to find that?

As it turns out, right there. Since I needed to stay out of the house while the stove was installed, I had extra time in Panera, bottomless iced tea (my second of the day, as I’d accidentally knocked the first one into the trash; could not have planned that if I tried.) and my writerbrain already riding on N’s comments, as well as the energy of being with another writer in person. I don’t have any blogs due on Tuesdays. Double aha. Since N and I had discussed a new scene needed to break up a big block of Hero scenes, I wanted to strike while the iron was hot, and that worked out pretty darned well. A week is a lot more comfortable lead time than a day, so this is probably going to become a regular feature. The sooner N and I get to The End of our drafts, the closer our respective imaginary friends are to getting out into the world and into the hands of readers.

Right now, I’m looking at my task list for the day, and feeling that rushed and crowded thing again, and that tells me I need to recalibrate. The same as the stove only has four burners (plus oven and warming tray) my brain has space for front burner tasks and back burner tasks.  Back burner does not mean “never,” and trying to put all the pans on the front burners at the same time is going to result in dishes nobody is going to want to eat. In fact, the results may not even be fit for consumption, but, putting each thing in its proper place and time, well, we can get a banquet out of that.

Which all brings us to over the magic seven hundred, so that’s it for today. I am off to play with my imaginary friends.

 

 

Reconnections

It’s Monday. The conference is over. Easter is past. There are buds on the trees, and a good chance that I may witness some sweet sweet waterfowl loving on my walk through the park tomorrow, en route to or returning from my critique session with N.  My back no longer hurts, and the weather, at least for today, is not trying to kill me. Sometime this week, or possibly next, Landlord will install our new stove and refrigerator. Melva and I have two requests to see partials of Chasing Prints Charming, and are ready for prewriting on Drama King. Today, after this blog entry (presuming we do not get surprise appliance installation) I go back to work on Her Last First Kiss. There are some Heroes and Heartbreakers posts waiting as patiently as they can in my brain,  and, with the scent of soon-coming season finales in the air, there will be more to join them soon.  It’s definitely spring, and definitely time to make sure I have a solid plan on how to get all of this done.

The fact that this new week means I am now ten books behind in my Goodreads challenge does not sit well with me, nor does the fact that I realized, well into the weekend, why I’ve had such a hard time making my way through a historical Christmas anthology, which I’d picked up specifically to take a chunk out of that reading debt. I love Christmas anthologies, and, usually, I can suck those down like ice-cold tea on a hot summer day. (Seriously, I can read Christmas stories any time of year, so writing one would be an interesting new experience, but that’s a someday project, not for today.) This time? Not so much. What started out fun turned into a slog, and I didn’t know why.

 

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Portrait of the blogger as a confused reader.

 

It wasn’t because the writing was bad, because it wasn’t. I liked what I was reading, found at least one new to me author whose work I would like to explore further, and bounced in my seat several times, because a new book by one of the authors I already follow is only a few months away. After a weekend where I carved out time to reconnect with my art journal stuff (and found, in the process, that some of my most-loved resources had expired of old age while I was away; there’s probably a whole other blog in that, so I’ll save that for later) and a heart to heart with a writer friend, over an entirely unrelated topic, the answer came to me. Nineteenth century overload. My last read, Judith Ivory’s Untie My Heart, was Victorian. The anthology is (I have one story left to read before I can call it read) all Regency. The book I’d read before that? Regency. Before that? Edwardian. Okay, that’s slightly over the line into the twentieth century, but still, I’m seeing a pattern, so, when I move this anthology into the “read” category, I need to read something else.

Maybe I’ll read a YA next, to cleanse my palate, but, after that, I need to follow my heart, preferably to the eighteenth century, as that’s where Hero and Heroine live, and the commute would be short. Right about now, I could use a short commute. The good thing about going to a conference is that I return all pumped full of I Can Do This. The scary thing about coming back from a conference is that I need to turn that I Can Do This into I Am Doing This. That can be a daunting prospect, because this is the part that nobody else can do for me. When Melva and I work on our joint projects, the work divides itself according to who’s better at what; for us, that works. When I’m working on a solo manuscript, then it’s all me.

I am the way Hero and Heroine get out of my head and onto the page. N is my first reader for Her Last First Kiss, the first chance I get to know if I have put the right words in the right order so that other people can watch the movie that’s playing in my head. To make sure I have what I need to do that, I need to make sure my creative well is filled. Which is where things like playing with paint and ink and paper come into play; I can’t write an artist Hero if I’m not making art myself. Which is one of the reasons I’ve been peeping this undated art journal planner, ever since I saw an ad for it in my favorite art magazine. I do have a planner already, and I use it and I love it, but I want to play with this one, so it may yet happen.

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my two favorite historical romance novels

In the meantime, there is work and there is well-filling. Last week, I asked Facebook readers/writers who love historical romance to tell me what books made them fall in love with the genre. Some of the titles given were books I have known and read and loved, myself, and some were new adventures yet to be read. All of the answers were filled with what I was looking for when I asked that question. The connection, the spark, the recognition of “yes, that’s mine,” the seed that burrows deep into the soil of the writerbrain (or readerbrain, for that matter,) sprouts and blooms and explodes all over like cherry blossom season on steroids. That stuff goes a long way.

Typing With Wet Claws: Back to Business Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is now one week after the start of NECRWA 2017, conference hangover mostly worn off,  but inspiration still in full force. That is how it works with Anty and conferences. Her back is feeling better, which means that she can bend more easily, to feed and pet me, and also sit in her office chair without pain. These are all good things, because going to conferences and being with other people who love to do what she loves to do gives Anty a big burst of wanting to do writing stuff. It has not yet inspired her to get rid of the office carpet, but I think that a workshop on how to make a writer’s office pet-friendly would be an interesting topic for next year’s conference. In the meantime, I have found a way to curl up on the small sliver of hardwood so that only my fuzzy parts are on the (ugh) carpet, and my feet are on the hardwood. That is an okay way to be in Anty’s office with her, but I still want the carpet gone. We will work on that one.

Before I am allowed to talk about anything else, I need to talk about where you can read Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week, apart from here. First, as always, she was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday, and will be there again tomorrow. Her most recent post asks readers to share what they think makes for a good series. That post can be found here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

grgoodseries

 

This week, Anty actually finished reading a book. That is progress. Her review of Untie My Heart, by Judith Ivory is here, and it looks like this:

 

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There are sheep and horses in this book, but no cats.

In case you were wondering, finishing that book means that Anty is now only nine books behind in her Goodreads challenge. Still single digits, so go, Anty. If you are interested in following her challenge, it is here, and it currently looks like this:

GRreadingchallenge041417

We will see how she does in the coming week. Since she will spend part of today planning for next week, I hope she will put some reading time in there, so that she does not get to the end of the day and then find that she is too tired. That happens far too often for her liking, but I have my treat by then, so it does not affect me very much.

Thank you to those who asked if there was a Feline Friday last week. There was, but I made a mistake. I meant to schedule the post to go up on its regular Friday time, but it is very difficult to hit the schedule button on WordPress, when one has paws (special paws, at that) instead of hands, and I posted it on Thursday, by accident. If you did not see it, that is probably why, and I am very sorry. That post is here, and my picture on that post looks like this:

 

SkyeOMalleyCat040717

Me, from last week.

Okay, I think that is everything about that.  Time to move on to the meat of the post, which I hope is tuna. I really like tuna. Beef is also good, and I can appreciate turkey in gravy, but I do not get food with gravy very often. I do not think that is the kind of “meat” Anty means, which disappoints me. Did I mention that I really like tuna?

Now that Anty is back from the conference, she has some new perspective on writing and writing related things. First, she and Anty Melva need to get their material together for the two requests to see more of Chasing Prints Charming. When an editor or agent wants to see part (or all) of a manuscript at a pitch session, it is smart for the writer (or writers) to get that out as soon as possible, so that the editor or agent remembers who they are and what they liked about the book, because they will have seen many more writers and many  more books between the time they heard the pitch and the time they get that material. So, Anty and Anty Melva want to get a move on with that.

The other big thing for Anty is reconnecting with Her Last First Kiss. Since she and Anty Melva spent a lot of the conference talking about Chasing Prints Charming, and getting ready for the next book, which they will call Drama King, Anty needs to get her mind back in the eighteenth century so that she can get Hero and Heroine’s story all the way through the second draft. Right now, she is still working out how she is going to manage that balancing act. I do not think it can be easy to be a writer and a half (because Anty Melva is the other half of that partnership) but I am sure that Anty will find a way. Maybe reading more historical romance will help. I think that it might. I will do my duty as a mews and sit very, very close to Anty while she does, for extra inspiration.

That is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebanner01skyebye

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Conference Recap, Part One

NECRWA 2017 is but a memory now, and I am already pumped for next year’s adventure. Melva and I arrived late on Friday, so we can’t speak to the hors d’oeuvre hour, but the author signing was tremendous fun, and I did get to speak to Alyssa Cole, buy a copy of An Extraordinary Union, as well as discuss diverse historical romance for a few minutes. Still salty I wasn’t able to make her workshop, but not to worry, she and co-presenter, Amara Royce, whose books are also going on my TBR list, will have the PDF available on their websites. I will be watching those like a waiting room full of hunting falcons watched the squashed hamster Joanna Bourne brought to the vet (don’t worry, hamster was okay, but that’s another story.) There’s so much more history besides only the Regency, that when I find kindred spirits on this, I latch on like a barnacle. Hopefully a productive barnacle, because this conference got me inspired to fill some pages and empty some pens/wear down some leads.

Even though arriving after the foodstuffs meant I didn’t get to attend any of the Friday workshops (though I did get a second shot at hearing Damon Suede on Saturday, and yes, he really is that amazing a presenter) I still got a thrill as soon as I checked in. See that nifty ribbon beneath my nametag? It is official, I have really and truly presented at a regional RWA conference, and there I am in the author directory. That went a long way to make up for not being able to hang out in either the readers’ salon, Hamilton sing-a-long, or even the lobby to gab with conference people. My back insisted on going upstairs to rest after the basket raffle.

Melva dubbed the walk from the elevator to our room “The Blue Mile.” Door at the end of the hallway was not our room, but the stairs. With my back, stairs were not an option. Our room was around the corner from that.  Real Life Romance Hero had suggested I ask the front desk to bring up a banquet chair, in case the desk chair was too soft (it was) so I had a nice, firm chair to park myself for the obligatory swag shot. No, the postcard front and center is not Sleepy Hollow fan art, but goes along with my signed copy of A  Extraordinary Union.  Still super pretty, and I can’t wait to dig into the story.

 

Swag2017

Swag for days…

One of my favorite parts of any conference is getting to connect with other romance writer friends, especially those, like my Last Call Girls (more on them later) whom I only get to see at the annual conference. It’s big, it’s loud, there is a good deal of shouting across tables, and, even when there aren’t any workshops going on, hanging around the hallways or lobby, in small knots, getting current on who’s writing what (Melva and I do indeed have a draft of the Beach Ball, now known as Chasing Prints Charming (sic)) meet new friends and meld social circles by introducing new friends with those we’ve known for basically forever.

I’d like to say I got a good night’s sleep, but a combination of back pain, end-of-book endorphins, and excitement over the day ahead meant I lay in a very lovely bed, my brain whirling with books and stories and writers and workshops and pitch sessions (I had one scheduled, Melva had two) and what on earth we were going to do for breakfast, since we were on our own for that this year. There was a certain amount of little-kid-on-Christmas-Eve feeling, because I was only one sleep (or in my case, lack of sleep) away from my first time co-presenting on a topic I love, with awesome co-presenters whom I also love. One lack of sleep away from my first pitch in the last few years, for the first complete book I’ve ever co-written. One lack of sleep away from brainstorming the next book with that same co-writer, because that was the most natural step after writing “The End” on the first one. Slight twinges of guilt from Hero and Heroine, but an assurance I’d be back to them, after shaking conference hangover, quieted those in due time.

AnnaSelfieFridayThere’s a lot to be said for the work  our brains do when we have nights where we don’t sleep, and when that brain belongs to a writer who has arrived at a conference, there is a lot of that sort of work. Have I done the right writerly things this past year? I’ve written The End on two manuscripts. I am now seven chapters into the second draft of Her Last First Kiss. Chasing Prints Charming has a complete first draft, and already two requests for partials. There’s a presenter ribbon on my name tag, and, somewhere in that same hotel, there were people who had already decided they were going to choose that workshop over all the others offered at the same time. There’s some responsibility with that, because those other workshops were good ones (and yes, I did make a quick peek in the room where a certain other workshop would be presented, on my way to the bathroom immediately prior to showtime.

Not a lot of conference talk in this entry, I know, but it’s all part of the conference experience. Actual workshop and pitch stuff in our next entry. See you Wednesday.

AnnaSelfieComment

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Conference 2017 Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This week there is some degree of time travel going on with this blog. Because today is the first day of the conference, and Anty will be leaving the apartment very early so that she can meet Anty Melva in MA and then go to the conference together, and Anty has several writing things that need attention before then (also packing, because she, as of this writing, had not done that yet) this post is actually coming to you from…get ready for this…yesterday. Whoa. I know. I am not sure how Anty managed that, but anybody who can get a cat to blog for her, and manipulate time, has to be pretty smart.

First, as usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this week, and not as usual, she invited readers to play a game with her, instead of a regular post. Because there were some issues with the interwebs, not everybody got to see it or have a chance to play, but because Miss Ezrah is a warrior queen webmistress, now you can. It is here, and the link on the main page looks like this:

BURconferenceweek

Since this is conference week, I am going to give Anty some grace and not mention that she is now even behinder in the Goodreads reading challenge.  Okay, not how much behinder, but still. Anty. Read books. Between ouchy back and post-conference exhaustion, I think she may have some time to read when she gets back from the conference. I would give her partial credit for bingeing on the whole season of Thirteen Reasons Why, but that was the TV show, not the book, so it does not count. Anty, I love you, but you need to step up the reading game. Big time.

Sometimes, when Anty is watching TV, she is actually working. That happened this week, when she got to write a timeline of the Rick and Michonne romance in The Walking Dead. I like Rick and Michonne. She likes cat statues, so I think she would like real kitties, too. Rick got her a new cat statue when she did not have her old one anymore. Maybe he would also like real kitties. That post is here, and it looks like this:

HandHRichonne7

Anty likes writing this kind of timeline post, and that is a good thing, because, when she comes back from the conference, she gets to write another one, about humans on a different show. That is pretty exciting.  She also has the okay to write another post, about the books of an author she likes very, very much, and needs to finish reading one more book, so that she will have read all the books that author wrote under that name. :clears throat: Anty, do the right thing.

Well, writing has to come first, because Anty cannot sell or publish books that she has not written. That is kind of important. She has been up late at the computer the last few nights, and her back has some things to say about that, but the Beach Ball is bouncing its way to the finish line, which makes both Anty and Anty Melva very happy. Hopefully, it will make some lucky editor and/or agent very happy, as well.

With all the writing Anty has been doing, and Uncle learning, the hard way, that he was wrong about the expiration date on those sausages (he will be okay, do not worry.) things have been a little crazy around here. Landlord came by a couple of days ago, and replaced lightbulbs in almost all of the overhead fixtures. Guess which bulbs did not get replaced. If you guessed Anty’s office, you were right. Uncle and Mama both claim they did not know Anty needed new lightbulbs, but here is a clue: at nighttime, it is dark. This is okay for me, because I am a kitty, and I have built-in night vision goggles (they are pretty cool) but Anty has a bedside lamp on the desk of her hutch, which is okay for only the computer screen and desk surface, but those are not the only things Anty uses in her office. Landlord or Handyman will take care of that fixture when one of them comes over to put in the new kitchen light. I suspect Anty may want to clean things once those lights get installed. Maybe she will finally see how ugly the carpet is and want to get rid of it. A cat can dream.

Because it is conference week, Anty has something special for everybody who comes to her workshop, or is interested in blogging, but attending a different workshop (like Miss Alyssa’s) or cannot attend the conference. Miss Rhonda has made a PDF of the Power Point presentation they and Miss Corrina will use. Click on the link below, and it can be yours. You can even read it at home in your pajamas, if you are into that kind of thing.

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That is about it for this week. If you are going to the conference, feel free to say hi to Anty when you see her. If you are reading this blog, then it is no big surprise that Anty loves to talk about writing and romance novels. Also notebooks and pens and tea and gummi bears and TV shows and makeup and um, yeah. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

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skyebye

 

 

If Not Now, When?

In two more days, I will be at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference.  Between now and then is laundry, packing, about elebenty bajillion emails, and some furious keyboard pounding, as the Beach Ball reaches endgame. This year, I’m pitching again, after a couple years’ break, and I am co-presenting for the first time ever. There’s no time to be nervous. There’s only time for doing what has to be done, and figuring out the time in which I can do it. This entry is getting pounded out in one go, because I have pages to fill, and there is the aforementioned laundry to be done, with the help of Housemate, because I have, according to Housemate and Real Life Romance Hero alike, sustained the most Anna-y injury ever. I hiccupped too hard, and now my back thinks it’s digging-Housemate’s-car-out-of-the-snowbank all over again. Good thing my work involves sitting in a comfy chair.

Every three months, a new issue of Art Journaling magazine comes out, and I pounce on it as soon as I possibly can. Every time, I scan it quickly, then take a longer look later, with beverage of choice, possibly a nibble or two, and drink in all the inspiration. I wish I could make pages like that. I wish I could layer colors and make backgrounds and figure out where to put stamps, and knew the best kind of white pen to write on paint or magazine images, and not look like a third grader on the first day of art class (even though pretty much every artist ever has been a third grader on the first day of art class, at some point in their creative journey.) I look through, and I want to make those pages, and I make some pages, and some of them are kind of okay, but nothing more than that.  At some point, I throw my hands in the air and wander off, leaving scraps of waxed paper and blobs of gesso in my wake.

This past weekend, while doing my regular grocery shopping, I made my ritual pass through the notebook aisle and found something I’d never seen before. Cahier style notebooks, with multicolored bright pages, plain black cardstock covers, but -BAM- color explosion inside. I am pretty sure that the package of three notebooks jumped into my cart of its own accord. This is not a bad thing. I hate blank white pages. Hate them. They’re…blank. They’re…white.  They’re…:gestures vaguely: there. Daunting. Where the heck does a person start on a plain, blank page? This is exactly why my morning pages have to be done in a pretty book, or one I make pretty with my own embellishments. I knew as soon as I saw these, I had to take a crack at using them to make those pages.

Yesterday, I needed to get out of the house, so I threw a few long-neglected supplies into a bag, grabbed my new toy and headed for the coffee house I hadn’t seen in over two weeks. No overthinkings, only making marks on the page. I’d started at home, with an ink test on the last page of one of the books, and then…I printed. I doodled. I squiggled. I made notes on things I had bought but never tried, or tried once and wandered off because it didn’t work perfectly the first time. I put in my earbuds, put on some Netflix, and I put stuff on the hot pink page.

artjournalHRCH

Here’s a better look at the supplies I used:

artjournalstuff

I didn’t use the glue stick, because I didn’t bring anything I could glue onto the page, but it’s in the bag, so it’s there when I need it. When it was time to go home, I had a couple other techniques I wanted to try. I slapped some gesso on the next spread of pages (okay, first, I slapped some matte gel medium on the inside cover first, because I didn’t read the label before I opened the jar) and then, when that dried, thought I’d have a go at another thing I’d always wanted to try, and always looks foolproof. It is not foolproof. I am referring to the green blobs in the corners.  Those green blobs were meant to be gentle washes of different shades of green. Maybe next time.

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Even so, I think I did okay. This is only two layers on one substrate. I still have stamps I’ve been too nervous to try, because they are special stamps, from a favorite creator, and I don’t know, or have forgotten what I did once know, about inking those images and getting them to do what I want. Still, the way I see it, I have two options here. I can leave the special stamps safe in their packaging, or I can rip off the cellophane, slap some ink on those suckers and see what they can do.

In that respect, it’s not all that different from writing. When I sat down with the contents of my travel pouch, and a pristine, hot pink page, with its subtle contrast of lines, I wasn’t going for perfect. Nobody ever had to see this. Nobody would ever judge this (that only applies when one does not slap it on the interwebs, btw) and my only goal was to explore and have fun doing it. I knew I would create imperfect pages, and that took all the pressure away. What did this tool do? What kind of mark does this pen make? Let’s find out. Let the movie play and slap things down on the page and drink tea, censors off.

As the first draft of the Beach Ball bounces its way to the finish line, I’m keeping that in mind, and that’s also the plan for draft two of Her Last First Kiss. Create imperfect pages, on purpose. Let the movie play.

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Priming The Pump

So, it’s Monday. The weekend was full of family and friends, lots of errands, sometimes employing not only plan B for the day, but plans C, D, and E. Par for the course around here, which all makes it not that surprising that this is the third or fourth time I’ve started writing this blog entry, because my brain is tired and I have no idea what I wanted to put here. Even my trusty “in this moment” prompt (thanks, Barbara Samuel) which I usually interpret as “right now” has failed me, and there is a part of me that would like nothing better than give a hearty “forget it” to the whole idea of writing today, and retreat to my recliner, with beverage of choice, afghan, and laptop, and binge on Elementary while I eat three flavor popcorn straight from the tin.

That’s not what I’m going to do. What I’m going to do is babble here and prime the pump, until something decent comes out, then get back in there and bounce the Beach Ball around, because forward motion gets one to one’s destination. Which means that, since my fingers are on the keys, I need to keep them going until I meet the magic seven hundred. The previous attempts had all been too hard, too forced, too think-y. When I get think-y, I know I’m off the path I need to take. Not that thinking is bad, exactly, but over-thinking, which is all too easy for me to fall into (and pretty darned difficult to get out of) that’s the stuff that can kill writing.

There is not enough caffeine in this house (even though we bought tea this weekend) to remind me where I put that Lin-Manuel Miranda quote about writing the rust out of the pup until one hits clear water, then writing down the clear water. I do remember the bit about writing without inspiration, though: throw stuff down on the page without inspiration, and then sift for nuggets. I can sift for nuggets. Hey, look at that; I’m already over halfway to the magic seven hundred words I need for this entry. The plan is, get this entry posted, flog it around the interwebs, and then I can put on my big girl pants and get cracking on some of that commercial fiction all the cool kids are doing these days. I will also put on old clothes, because I will soon have a head full of Manic Panic. That’s the hair color, not a psychological state of being.

With five days, today inclusive, until this year’s conference, this is crunch time. I’m going to need to prewrite and schedule blog entries, knuckle down and keep moving forward on both fiction projects, and do that whole packing thing. Not to mention agree on breakfast plans, because I am not going into my first time giving a workshop on an empty stomach, and definitely not without caffeine. I may pack my own Lapsang Souchong, for the benefit of the public at large.

Before I do any of that, though, I need to get this written. Maybe it sounds like a whole lot of blabbering in no particular direction, and maybe I do a lot of that, but it’s my blog and I’ll blab when I want to. The very fact that I have to do this tells me a few things:

  1. Sleep is a need, not an option. That’s in-the-bed, under-the-covers, head-on-the-pillow sleep. If it’s one of those nights when sleep flat out isn’t happening, I need to be kinder to myself the next day. Take a nap, or head to bed early that next night.
  2. Well-filling is also a need. I do not want to count the number of books I have scattered about the apartment, in various stages of being-read-ed-ness. I will, though; including electronic reading material, it’s five. Too many. Pick one, read to the end, pick another one, repeat. The reader guilt is crushing, and not good for the creative mind.
  3. Clutter has to go. Mental clutter and physical clutter. All the “I’ll get to it laters” pig pile on top of each other and crowd out the fun, playing with imaginary friends stuff, which is what I would much rather have. Since I like organizing and planning, this is actually the easiest of the three to dive in and conquer.

Allrighty, then, I think we got us some water coming out of this here pump, so I am going to leave you all here and head off with my imaginary friends. Toodles.

 

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Typing With Wet Claws: Juggling Chainsaws Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This week’s picture is from last night, when I got my farthest ever into Anty’s office without touching the hated carpet. Well, my tail did, but I am only counting paws. If Anty moved the kneeling chair and her magazine holder, I could get in even farther. I still want  her to get rid of the carpet completely, so I can sit as close to her chair as possible, but I will take this for now. I am rather proud of myself. I will never abandon my quest. A cat in every office, that’s the dream.

Anty will also never give up her quest for a career writing historical (and historical adjacent) romance. Part of that is writing the actual books. because, let’s face it, nothing can happen without that. Anty can only sell products she has, after all, so she must make them. This week, she has been doing a lot of that. Some days, it came easy, and some days, not so much, but one thing Anty needs to remember is that it will always come, even if it takes a little while. Or a long while, but that is another story. Pun intended.

As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this week, and, this week, her post on historical romance outside the Regency (yes, she is still salty about missing that workshop at next week’s conference, but she has plans to get handouts, so it is okay. Ish.) got some people talking. That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

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Anty has also written a post on Heroes and Heartbreakers, about the Bones series finale. Anty liked Booth and Bones and their love story very much, so it was sad to say goodbye to them, but happily ever afters are good things. Anty’s post about that is here, and it looks like this:

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Reading, especially reading other historical romances,  is also important. Anty could do better on that one, as she is now seven books behind in her Goodreads challenge. This does not make Anty happy, but it does make her want to dig in and read some more. Probably when the conference is over and she has come back with a whole armload of books, and is not juggling metaphorical chainsaws. Do not worry, they are only metaphorical chainsaws, not real ones. That would be very dangerous. Anty needs her hands for writing and for feeding and petting me. She has her priorities. She had better make reading one of them, because her Goodreads challenge now looks like this:

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Time for Anty to step up the whole reading thing.  Readers who have been with us a while may remember her freakout when she thought she was fifteen books behind, with the end of the year approaching. Nobody wants that to happen again. Which means life had better calm down, but I am not in control of that.

This week, Anty had too much going on, on Monday, to be ready for crit session with Miss N, so asked if Miss N could move it to Thursday, which Miss N could not, because she had another appointment, but she could do Friday (which is today.) Then, while Anty was talking with Miss H, Miss H mentioned that there would be a blizzard where Miss H lives. This was news to Anty, because Anty had not looked at the weather in a while. She looked at the weather then, and got a surprise – we would get a winter storm, too.

Miss N, and her husband, Mr. N, picked Anty up, so she would not need to walk in the slushy rain. They have three kitties of their own, so I know Anty can trust them. The critique session went very well, and Miss N suggested that she and Anty skip next Tuesday, because Anty will be too busy during the week, getting ready for the conference, to get her scene ready for critique. The conference goes late into Saturday, then there is the two hour drive to get from where the conference is, to where she will meet Mama, then two more hours to get back home. Miss N kind of has a point. Anty agreed taking that Tuesday off was a good idea. Then Miss N said maybe the next week, too, but Anty did not like that option. Two weeks away is too much, so Miss N said maybe an outline instead of a scene. Anty is still thinking about that one, but she cannot think too much about it, because there is still her Buried Under Romance post to write, and then this weekend is her last chance to get any conference related errands done.

Earlier this week, the conference people asked Anty for a bio, so that they can tell people about her. That is a new thing for Anty. Whenever she has to write a bio, she either feels like she has never met herself, or that she is not sure why other people would find her interesting.  Because having a bio for the conference people is part of Anty’s career goals, she put on her big girl panties and combined parts from two bios she does not entirely hate. The bio she sent in does include me, which I think is a very smart move. Many writer humans find cats extremely interesting, so they will probably like that.

Anty needs the computer back, so that is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

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Nobody Likes a Naked Panelist

Let me qualify that; there probably are some people who would appreciate nude presenters at a conference, but A) I’m not going to  that kind of conference, and B) most of those who will be attending the workshop I’m co-presenting would prefer said nude presenter to have body parts I do not, if nude presenters were a thing, which, to the best of my knowledge, they are not. Plus there’s the problem of chilly conference rooms, so clothing is indeed in order.

The question, then, is what sort of clothing? This year, for the first time, people will be looking specifically at me for the better part of an hour. Thankfully, I have my lovely and talented co-presenters, each with their unique personal style, to share the vision, as it were, so anybody who shows will not be looking, specifically, only at me. That takes some of the pressure off, but the fact remains that dressing for this particular conference is different from years prior. This year, I am going not only as a writer, not only to network with my peers, not only to sit across a small table from a publishing industry professional and convince them why they might like to give me and my writing partner monies for the adventures of our imaginary friends (and, if the “do you have anything else?” question comes into play, my individual imaginary friends as well) but sitting/standing/walking in front of people who have chosen to learn about blogging, over the other workshops that are being presented at the same time.

So, clothes. In some aspects, men have it easier. In a word, suits. I’m sure there are gentlemen out there (or some dapper ladies) who can school me on the complexities of suit wearing, but, in broadest terms, suit, shirt, tie, shoes, done. Basic equation, which, at eight days before conference time, has me thinking the guys might have things easier in this regard. The clock is ticking, and writing schedule and other obligations mean that shopping is not going to be a much or an option, which means I’m going to have to work out of my closet, which is, to put things bluntly, in flux.

A few years back, I culled most colors out of my closet, because it felt too jumbly, to look in there and have to think of what went with what. I’m visual. I love color theory.  That wasn’t the issue. What bothered me was that those colors didn’t feel like me, so out they went. Immediately, I felt more settled. Calmer. Me-er. What’s left now is mostly black, gray, and white, a little navy, and occasional shots of red or purple. Almost everything goes with almost everything (do not ask me to mix black and navy, because that is not going to happen.) This should make things easier.

It doesn’t always. Neutrals provide a blank canvas for accessories, which are also in flux at the moment. Most days, I wear at least one piece of jewelry with a skull on it, sometimes more. I don’t know where the skull thing started, but A) I like skulls, and B) we all have one; for me, it’s a symbol of humanity.  I also love heels. Housemate is convinced I walk better in heels, and trip more often when wearing flats. She’s not wrong. I once fell down two fights of stairs when the heel of my flats caught on the edge of a tile. This was back in college, and I landed at the feet of two nursing students, which I thought convenient. (I was fine.) I am going to take a wild guess and suspect that I am not going to want to repeat that experience. So, heels. but which heels will depend upon which actual clothing items come with me, and, as of now, I have no idea.

Writing, domestic duties, and other obligations have meant schedule hopscotch this week, which left no time for going through the closet and making a proper, informed selection. While Housemate is happy to decide what she’s going to pack about five minutes before she has to be out the door, that doesn’t work for me. I’m a planner. I want to know in advance, preferably well in advance, and, preferably, have a backup plan, in case something (like a two-staircase tumble) goes wrong with the original. This makes me itchy. It also lets me know what I need to feel confident, which, as it would turn out, is the most essential thing I can wear to a professional gathering.

At some point, something in my head will click, and I’ll know what’s for Friday day, what’s for Friday night, and what I want to be wearing from very early Saturday to very late Saturday/possibly early Sunday. What I need to keep in mind is that I know this stuff. I have two smart, entertaining, stylish women to share the spotlight, and more people are likely to look at the Power Point presentation than what the presenters are wearing. It’s a workshop, not a fashion show. What’s most important is to be confident and comfortable.

Blogging, I can do. Talking, I can do.  Telling stories, I can do. Talking about stories, I can do. Sitting up half the night in the hotel lobby, talking with other writers about what we’re writing, what we’re reading, and the workshops we’ve attended, or, this year, presented, I can definitely do.  At some point, things will click, and I’ll know what to wear, what to pack, and, in the end, what most people will take away from the presentation is the content, not the appearances of those presenting it. Thinking about it, though? That’s all part of the process.