Typing With Wet Claws: Fiction Fest Prep Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another very special Feline Friday, coming to you from Camp Grandma. This time, next week, Anty will be on her way to Connecticut Fiction Fest, where she and Anty Melva get to give their workshop, on writing through real life plot twists. Since Mama will be handing Anty off to Anty Melva, there is a good chance that Anty will get a chance to see me, on this visit. Probably on the way back, but I am not going to complain. Any visit is a good visit (except for vet visits) and, besides, she owes me a laser pointer.

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Although Sebastian has not yet updated Anty’s Coming Soon page, there is news. Both anthologies are now available for purchase.

New York’s Emerging Writers: an Anthology of Nonfiction is available here. That is where you can read Anty’s essay, “Greetings From Boxville.”

If it is fiction you are after, you can read “Ravenwood,” the first two scenes from Anty’s novel, A Heart Most Errant, is available here, in New York’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction. If you like this excerpt, and would like to read the whole book, please consider telling that to the publisher humans.

Now, on to where you can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, this week (other than here, because, well, you already know how to get here, if you are already here, so you do not need me to tell you.) As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about when reading is slow, and when it is fast. That post is here, and it looks like this:

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Speaking of reading, it is time to look at Anty’s Goodreads Challenge. It is not even September, but Anty would have to do some serious slacking to fall off course now, as she has read seventy-one books, out of her goal of ninety, which puts her at seventy-nine percent of the way to her goal, and twelve books ahead of schedule. Good job, Anty. Keep reading.

The book Anty liked best this week was The Love Slave, by Bertrice Small. Anty said I should mention that it is a very, very grownups-only book, with very mature themes, and younger readers, or gentle readers of any age, may want to read a different book. Anty’s review is here, and it looks like this:

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Some of you may have noticed that Anty did not blog on Wednesday. That is because it was too hot in NY, and she was not feeling well. It is cooler now, and she is much better, and she acknowledges that she owes you a blog entry. She is thinking of sneaking in some updates from Fiction Fest, but that will depend on the wifi connection, and whether or not she can fix her new laptop. No big surprise, because Anty has been dubbed the computer killer.

The laptop is not dead, though. It is only doing the three beeps thing, so Anty is watching some YouTube videos of how to fix the problem at home, and then she will ask Mama to borrow a baby screwdriver, and give it a go. Anty already has figured out how she will keep all of the tiny screws straight (they are not all the same size) – she will divide a piece of paper into sections, and put each screw in its proper section, that matches where it is on the actual computer. This is where it comes in handy to be a planning sort of person.

Planning also has a dark side, though. Anty found that out this week. Even when Anty does not feel well in the heat, and does not have a lot of energy, she still has enough energy to look at her notebooks. Last weekend, Anty finally got the blush stripe cover for Big Pink, that she has been drooling over (not literally; that would be gross) for a really long time, but was hesitant to move into it, because it wasn’t exactly perfect.

That, as you might imagine, was what inspired Anty to rip all of the inserts out of the old cover (that was not very old at all; she will now use it to protect trade size paperbacks when she reads away from home) and put them into the new one. Only, she did not put all of them into the new cover. That is because the hardcover Moleskine did not fit the new cover.  That was rather upsetting, because Anty liked having the hardcover Moleskine in there, but she can buy a new cahier insert, to do the same job. She needs to get more inserts anyway, since she had filled one of them.

Anty also figured out why she could not settle on how she wanted to use the inserts she had set up in Li’l Pink. That was because Li’l Pink is, well, pink, and the inserts are in shades of blue . She’d been wanting (and still wants) to move to Li’l Pink for her everyday carry, and, while the blue inserts are very pretty, they might not be the easiest to read important information on; Anty wants pink or ivory pages for that, but she wants to use the blue pages for reading and writing things.

The same company that sells Big and Li’l Pink, also has a teal (teal is a greenish-blue color, that is very pretty) cover, that is on sale at the same store where Anty got the pink covers. Her current plan is to go to the store, get the teal cover, and put the blue inserts in that one. Then, (or maybe before; I have not seen her schedule for the evening) she will either buy new inserts for Li’l Pink (Moleskine makes a pastel assortment, that Anty likes, or Kraft paper covers are good, too) or she will find a pack of three pocket sized inserts that have pink covers, that are packed away in storage.

Thankfully, Anty was pretty hardcore about labeling the boxes that came from her office, so it should not be too hard to find the box of inserts. She might even share some of them with Mama, because she has lured Mama over to the dark side, and now Mama has a notebook cover of her own. I do not have my own planner, so far, but pocket size is also kitty size, so maybe it is in my future.

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

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Pre-Fall Writing Prep

Yesterday, I was in pajamas and in bed by 6:30 PM. It was one of those days. Yes, I have been out of bed since, even though bed is also today’s command center. This morning, my Mac Book Pro started with the three beeps thing. This will either mean a trip to the Apple Store (this would be my first) or removing the back of the laptop, to fix the issue myself. I have still not decided, but I need my machine, to get some work done, and, not going to lie, having Sims on my laptop is a definite must, especially when my first ever CT Fiction Fest is now less than a month away :runs around in circles, screaming: and I am not going only as an attendee, but as a co-presenter. This won’t be my first time at the front of the room, and I will have Melva right there with me, and we’ve already gone over who is going to talk about what. We also agree that we are probably going to interrupt and talk over each other a lot ( this is extremely likely.)

Right now, Chasing Prince Charming has three pairs of professional eyes upon it, which is both exciting and scary. I’m not thinking about it too much, as there’s enough other stuff on my mind.

Preparing for Fiction Fest is one thing, of course. Melva and I know what each of us are going to do for our workshop, and I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that I will almost certainly wearing some sort of black dress, and purchasing new shoes is probably the better route than teying to find the box marked “heels” in the storage unit. I will be headed there anyway, as I need to find my traveler’s notebook inserts, which are also in there somewhere.

Either way, it’s going to be some excavation. This feels appropriate, given the recent retreat. One thing that is gauranteed from nearly a week spent with almost exclusively feline  companionship, and no interwebs, is a lot of mental excavation.

Though such time is basically made for some prime planning, one of the biggest things I discovered on retreat week was that the checklists and trackers I put together at the start of the year still work perfectly fine, for the most part, but I didn’t like them anymore. This means taling a look at what I want to do, and how I want to do it. Hence the planned storage unit excavation, in search of boxes marked “Moleskines” and “cahiers.”

The visual style changes for my notebook pages are the easy part. The scary part is the stuff that will go on them. A.k.a. writing fiction. Over the last couple of says, multiple people have brought up Her Last First Kiss. This elicited, in basically all cases, a reaction that can best be described as “eep.” Sound made by me, in case you hadn’t guessed, followed by a guilty, “I knowwwww.” Usually followed by thoughts of the wire cube where I’d stashed the printout of draft one, and the Big Daddy Precious notebook, before the move.

There was the whole moving thing, and the focus on Chasing Peince Charming and the revise/resubmit request, plus the anthology submissions, and workshops both online and on person, plus assorted medical bunny trails, Camp NaNo, two retreats, and now…it’s time, again.

When I think of returning to Ruby and Bern’s world, my mind goes to the very first scene, where a young Ruby’s life passes its first point of no return. My pulse speeds a little when I think about that. It goes next to the titular first kiss, at the worst possible time, when both Bern and Ruby become fully aware of how deep their mutual doo-doo has become, and the damage that would follow taking things any further.

That moment always gives me a satisfied sigh. It’s not a comfortable moment for either of them, by any means, but it’s one of my favorites, because it’s their point of no return, and, therefore, the book’s. In my initial notes, they both get an FML notation. Bad, bad, very bad, but oh so good at the same time. At least for me, which should, theoretically, make me want to skip to the keyboard, cackling with glee. Rubbing of hands optional.

The reality of it? We will see when I open Big Daddy Prdcious, and put pen to paper. The desktop still works perfectly fine, but I’m going to need to pick an option for fixing the Mac, as it’s about to get a lot of use. At least that’s the plan.

 

 

 

 

 

Six Days and Counting

Six days now, until move-out day, and the pressure is most assuredly upon us. We’ll be turning in our cable box, which also takes care of our internet, on Friday, so internet access may be libraries and coffee shops for a little while. I still plan to keep as closely to the regular blog schedule as possible, but if you’re following the moving saga, and don’t already follow me on Twitter, you can do that right here.

I will admit to strong feelings when it comes to taking apart my desktop and getting it ready to move to short term storage. This means the laptop will be called back to regular duty, which means tipping it back a wee bit, because the screen goes black if I hold it upright (I have no idea why this is; machine works fine, but needs to be at an angle if I want to actually see anything.) The flip side of this will be setting up my desk in its new home, and carving out my writing space once more. Until then, the world is my office.

This is one way that being a longhand-first writer comes in handy. The notebooks I use most (see picture above) will go in a special bag that will travel with me, personally, because I am not in the mood to have these notebooks go walkabout in the moving process. Entertaining as they might be to any random person who stumbles up on them and can read my handwriting, I’d rather keep them close. I can’t speak for all writers having special relationships with their tools, but, for this writer, the answer is most definitely yes.

Case in point: this weekend, I attended a leadership meeting (say what you will about an organization that allows me to lead anything) and we were all encouraged to take notes. I did not need the offered pen or paper, because I had Big Pink, and my pen case, but I did make a troubling discovery. Said discovery being the kind that trikes terror into the heart of a notebook lover. My notes filled the last pages of my Moleskine Volant, with its perforated pages. Normally, I would swap this insert for another, but (you may want to grab onto something heavy, for support) I had already packed my inserts. All. Of. Them.

Going into a move when I do not have perforated pages is not going to work, and running out to purchase another pack of inserts is not on the schedule, but packing mode has sped up the making connections part of my brain. On that same day, I also had filled the last non-perforated page in my cahier. There was an unopened hardcover Moleskine, lined, in my bookcase-made-from-milk-crates in the living room. Move cahier to Volant’s place, put hardcover where cahier used to be, all purposes fulfilled, back to alternating between calculated confidence and running around in circles, flailing arms and screaming.

More calculated competence, when it comes to packing, and, oddly enough, in writing, as I am on track with my Camp NaNo progress. If I keep up at my current rate, I may very well finish before the end of the month, with room to spare. The story problem is a smaller one (or is it?) – get heroine back with the man she loves, and send her would-have-been second husband off into the sunset, eventually to land in a companion story. We’ll see how that goes.

Novel projects are on pause (or are they?) while we’re in transition, but part of packing includes digging up bones. One of these bones comes in a navy blue binder. Said binder is not the kind with space for me to put my own cover image behind a clear film, so I had no idea what I’d find, when I opened it. What I did find yanked me firmly into novel land. In Nothing Short of Heaven, which  initial version was, itself, a NaNo project (though regular or camp version, I cannot say) is, like Her Last First Kiss, set in Georgian England, and I won’t say I forgot about Slate and Melanie (because how could I?) but seeing them again, when I didn’t expect them, well that was something else.

Slate has no sense of self, while Melanie knows exactly who she is. Her theme song is “So What,” by P!nk. Her BS meter is set to zero, which serves her well, because Slate, well, he has some baggage. This book also has probably my favorite villain I’ve written so far, who prefers the title of Master to his actual name. I’m still planning on finishing the second draft of Her Last First Kiss first, but I wouldn’t mind getting reacquainted with Slate and Melanie, at all, when I’m done with this one.

Right now, I’m doing the thing in front of me -which is, apart from my nightly Camp NaNo pages, packing- and, at the same time, keeping an eye on the end goal. New apartment. Finished draft. New release. New notebook. (Hey, small perks can have big effects.) Later today, I’ll be viewing an apartment that is not only basically across the street from our current place, but the next door neighbor would be a takeout calzone restaurant. I will count that as an amenity.

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Dialogue With a Hypothetical Bouncer

Last night, I legit finished an art journal. Granted, only the last couple of spreads are worth showing to anybody, because a big chunk of it is lettering practice, Tests of pens and stencils, ideas that did not translate well to the page, layouts for my planner that I may or may not have implemented, more pen tests, and, at last, the lightbulb moment when I finally figured out two important things at once.

First important thing: I finally, finally, finally figured out how to use Distress Inks and blenders to make the kind of backgrounds I’ve slavered over for literally years. Second important thing: this quest took me so danged long that most of my Distress Ink collection was no longer viable. As in dried out, not transmitting color anymore, pining for the fjords. All that stuff meaning those pads got a one way trip to the circular (actually rectangular, if we’re talking my specific office trash receptacle) file. Not exactly what I had planned.

Sure, there are other inks in that line, still available, probably most of the colors I had to toss, as a matter of fact, not to mention some new ones, and even a new oxide formula (don’t know exactly what that does, but if it looks pretty and grungy at the same time, I want it.) Since the mini size of these inkpads are sold in bundles, frequently at stores with pretty nifty coupons on a regular basis, it won’t cost a fortune to build up a decent palette or two. It’s the principle, though. I wanted to use those pads. I picked out those pads, those particular colors. While I can probably get mot of the same colors, they won’t be the same pads. That bugs me.

What I turned out with what I had on hand wasn’t bad. As a matter of fact, it was this:

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This is the only page I’m showing.

That’s three clinging-to-life inkpads, one homemade stencil (dress form) with one commercial stencil (damask pattern) and one commercial stamp (face.) Also ten very inky fingers, and one sense of accomplishment. This particular art journal lives in my traveler’s notebook, Big Pink, so, at some point today, I will need to slide out this insert and put in a brand spanking new one. I haven’t done that yet, but I did, finally, give myself permission to haul out a precious, hoarded item (okay, two of them, but the pens have only been here for a week or so):

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That’s a Moleskine sketchbook, with smooth, thick pages, and the thirty pack of the Stabilo fineliners. Real, grownup artist tools, and the only artist around here is :shifty eyes: me. I have vivid memories of sneaking into my father’s art studio when I was but a wee little princess, and pilfering his art supplies (pro quality is far superior to kiddo quality; I knew this even in preschool) and putting them back where I found them, because I didn’t want to get caught.  Now, the only one here to “catch” me is me.

This is the part of the post where I steer it back toward writing, because the two are so closely related they can’t get married without a papal dispensation. Impostor syndrome is real. I think Mondays are its natural habitat. What do I think I’m doing, sneaking into fictionland, to play around with characters and plots and settings, all willy-nilly, with either willful ignorance or clear disregard (maybe both) of proper practices and/or market trends? Huh? Going to need to see some ID here. RWA membership? Okay, I guess that’s something, but are you published? You are? Could’ve fooled me What books? Cute backlist, honey. Don’t you have some laundry to fold?

Well, hah. Joke’s on you, Hypothetical Bouncer, because I already folded the laundry, and put it way, so no, I do not. I’m here at this desk for the same reason I snuck into my dad’s studio about elebenty billion times. I have to. There’s no way around it. Forget “want.” We’re talking “need” here. It didn’t occur to kiddo me, that my dad was a professional, and I wasn’t, that he had over three decades of experience and education ahead of me. I didn’t care that he’d painted murals and book covers, mainly because I didn’t know that at the time. What I did know was that I loved the feel of the white paper with the black and gray markings in one corner, that he kept in the bottom drawer of the green filing cabinet. I knew I loved the smell of the markers that had not one but two tips, even if I was not supposed to smell them on purpose. I couldn’t draw a realistic face, and even my box houses with triangles for roofs left a lot to be desired, but I loved the pen in my hand and the color on the paper, and, so, I kept at it.

Which brings us to today, Monday, and me at my desk, fingers on keyboard, not one but two projects in front of me; the revise and resubmit on Chasing Prince Charming, and Her Last First Kiss. I’m not that bothered about working on Chasing Prince Charming, because A) I’m doing it along with my co-writer, Melva, and B) I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, so there’s not a lot to which I can compare this project.

Historical romance, though, hoo boy. Whole other animal. If I spin my chair around (and I can, because spinny office chairs are the best office chairs; I will fight dissenters on this one) I will see the bookshelf filled with Bertrice Small historicals, and another bookshelf with historical romance novels I intend to read, once I can get past the darned bouncer in front of that one.  Oh hey there, YA reader girl. Looking for a historical romance, are you? Yeah, I’ve seen your Goodreads. You think you can play with the big girls? Some of the books on this shelf are old enough to go to kindergarten, and you haven’t read them yet. Not going to learn much about current market trends on this shelf. You sure that’s what you want?

Something akin to, “um, yeah actually, I do,” perches on the tip of my tongue, because I do want to read those books, and I don’t like that bouncer’s tone. That’s when I take a closer look at her. She looks kind of familiar. Long, reddish brown hair, black glasses, rose gold hoop earrings, exactly like the ones in my jewelry box. Umm, wait a minute. Wonder if I could distract her with some professional quality art supplies.

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.

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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

 

The (Quasi) Bujo and Me (Sort of)

First off, I don’t technically keep a bullet journal, as per the actual system, and second, the term, “bujo,” is one of those nails on a chalkboard words for me. Third, if we’re getting into a list format, because it’s Monday and why not, what actually inspired me to get the nifty item I’ll be blabbering about today is the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, which is not what I have. My cover is by Molly and Rex, and it will probably go through some form of customization, once I can stop petting it, because this thing is soft.

I’ve joked for a long time about needing a notebook notebook, and this isn’t that, not exactly. What it is, is this:

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I’ve wanted, for a long time, some way to get all my various notebooks that leave the house with me, in one place, so, when I saw this cover, with four elastics inside, that would allow me to do exactly that, I jumped on it. I didn’t know what I was going to fill it with, at first, and what I have at present will probably change, but here’s the tour of the current arrangement:

 

Plain pages come first, for idea mapping, whiteboard or Scapple-style. This notebook is handcrafted, no marks on it, a gift from a friend, and I do not know the kitty on the cover, but kitties make everything better, so I have no complaints. Okay, one. White paper is glare-y, but this was what I had on hand for unlined pages. When this book is filled, I plan to replace it with a Moleskine Volant, because A) ivory paper, and B) perforated pages.

 

Lined pages come next, in a Moleskine cahier. I have a lot of notebooks in this size nd format, (from this maker and others) so I am well prepared for this section. The lined pages are for freewriting/brain dumps, so perforated pages are not needed (though the last…I want to say sixteen…are. These books are for me, to get the rust out of the faucet. Similar to morning pages, but at any time of the day, and more mobile.

 

Third section is a gridded page Moleskine Cahier, for checklists, goals and tracking. I’m still not sure how I’m going to organize this, but having one place to keep lists of movies to watch, art techniques to try, future character names, etc, feels very stable, so we will see how this turns out. As with the lined Cahier, last few pages are perforated, so I can use them to experiment before I do anything irreversible to the permanent pages.

 

Last segment is the Moleskine Volant, with lined pages, that has become my latest all purpose notebook. I still don’t entirely appreciate the feel of the cover, as opposed to the cardboard cover on the Cahier, but where the Volant has it over everything else is that all the pages are detachable. All. Of. Them. What is this madness? Perfect for a notebook-loving writer person who has several things going at once, likes to make notes on the go, and then wants to file them with their appropriate notebooks/files/ephemera. Make the notes, rip them out, put them where they actually belong. Genius.

This setup feels right, and it’s much easier to pick up one book and transfer it into the tote of the day, as well reference from one book to another, than search for the right book or try to remember where I put what. This doesn’t take into account my morning pages, planner, or notebooks for individual projects, but, when I need to get something down when away from home, this seems the most efficient, not to mention sanest, way, to fill that need. Plus, it’s pretty, and if it’s pretty, I’m going to want to look at it.

Still not an actual bullet journal, as there’s no key, none of the system symbols or such, but I know what’s where, I can take it all with me, and I will figure the rest out along the way. I’ll know what I need, and find a way to make that happen. I don’t know if intuitive planning is a thing, but maybe I can make it be. Having all this stuff in one place should save time that would be spent looking for what I need, and I can use that time for playing with my imaginary friends instead.

Now if only there were the same sort of cover for my actual office space….

 

Pilgrimage

Yesterday, my Beach Ball collaborator, Melva, and I made our meant-to-be-monthly pilgrimage to the NECRWA chapter meeting. The topic this month, appropriately enough for January, was beginnings. I did not take  any notes during the presentation, because I spent the entire time working on notes for the Beach Ball, in the detachable pages of my all purpose Moleskine, with my newest favorite and now indispensable tool, a mechanical pencil. Melva and I talked out a couple of scenes we didn’t fully have a handle on, on our own, but when we put our heads together, boom, there they were. So, I wrote stuff.

Melva and I agreed that we both do our best work on the Beach Ball on these drives, two hours there and two hours back. We both talk fast, ideas pinging off each other like the silver ball in a pinball machines, flashing lights and bells going off all around us. She drives. I write notes on what we create, together, transcribe them when I get home, and I send the neat, orderly pages her way.

The pages I write in the passenger seat are not neat or orderly. they are a swath of bullet points, scrawled in mechanical pencil, with smudges from erasures and the odd eraser crumb wherever it falls. I have only recently discovered the joy of mechanical pencil. When I use pencil, I can erase instead of cross out, which means I don’t have to lose any space when something better comes along. Yesterday, I ran out of lead before we ran out of road. I could go on with some other writing implement, but I couldn’t reach my tote with my seatbelt still in place.

Melva said there might be some pencils in her purse. My left hand curled nervously around the red Bic Cristal I keep in my raincoat pocket for dire emergencies such as this one. I hadn’t wanted to use ballpoint in this particular Moleskine, my first ever 8×5 Volant, moss colored cover, perforated pages, so that I could write on any project on the go, take out those pages, and transcribe/file them where they actually go, but we were on a roll, and I didn’t want to break the flow.

Thankfully, Melva was right. She did have pencils. The first, I snapped the lead three or four times, as I put pencil to paper, but then I changed to the other. Cue choir of angels. Melva informed me that said pencil was school issue (she is a college professor) and not sold to civilians. Figures. I will purchase others.

We covered a lot of ground on this trip, both literally and figuratively. We joked that we should rent an RV, drive to California, from NY, where I live, or MA, where she lives, and by the time we reach the other coast, we’ll have a first draft done. Then we’d turn around and revise on the way back. Either that, or we drive around in big circles until we have a book. What matters is that we filled  a bunch of pages on this trip. Today, those pages rest.

Today, I write on Her Last First Kiss, a scene that was not in the original draft, but makes narrative sense. Maybe more importantly than that, it will be fun. I hope it will be fun. It’s got Hero, it takes place in a sort of setting I always find fun to write, and I know N is expecting that puppy, so I had better get it written today, but that doesn’t mean there has to be pressure.

What it does mean is that I unplug, settle in with open notebook and take pencil or pen and word-doodle. No, that’s not right. Story-doodle. I’m doodling story, even though I use words to do it (using interpretive dance would require rearranging the furniture and possibly obtaining proper footwear.) I need to make a few wrong turns, double back, get the lay of the land, before I can finalize my map and then follow it to my destination. There may be a few side trips and loop-de-loops while I get my bearings, make sure this scene feels/sounds like Hero, not some random placeholder character. I definitely don’t want him sounding like Guy, who made himself very much at home in my head for most of yesterday. I think that makes my brain their time share, but I am fine with that.

 

 

 

Course Corrections

This is one of those posts I started several times, erased, started over, thought about, thought about skipping, realized I was out of writing quotes I had not used yet, muttered bad words, etc. I ingested candy corn, which I have recently discovered I do not hate, learned the hard way that the maker of said candy corn does matter (live and learn, right?) checked on under-the-weather-family member, almost tripped over Skye, almost tripped over Skye, almost tripped over Skye (cat people, you know how that goes) and finally came to the conclusion that this is One of Those Days.

We all have them. In my case, day could have gone on Schedule A or Schedule B, but life happened, and we ended up going on Schedule C, which meant no schedule, because nobody had counted on Schedule C, and I Hate Days With No Schedule. Hate, hate, double hate. Seriously bothers me to the point of irritability. Can I get a ballpark figure on when anybody wants lunch at least? Desired menu items? Give me something, people? No, nothing? Oookay. This is why I have an office (which does not, contrary to popular belief translate to “storage area.” We’re working on that.)

I work on a daily to-do list, which makes time a lot easier to manage. Days like this require course correction. Grousing about how things are not going the way I wanted them to go only takes me so far. It does not get the current ms written or the completed one edited, nor does it write blog entries. If there is one writing related thing on my list that I can control today, it is getting this blog entry written and posted. Sometimes, life is going to get chaotic, and the only sane thing to do is to call a time out. For me, that means getting away from the chaos and retreating behind office door. One of these days, I am going to have to make a new Writing Cave sign. Even on days when I’m not able to get to the keyboard, I can write in my longhand notebooks, both all purpose and for each project. Staying in touch with the stories that way and the discipline of putting pen to paper helps a lot on days like this.

Creativity starts, for me, with showing up. Butt in chair, pen on paper, and, as a former writing group facilitator often said, the process begets the product. In short, get the pen on the paper, keep it moving, and content will come. I’ve found that almost always works. Sometimes, trusting ourselves as writers is scary business, hypercritical gremlins picking at our clothes and whispering in our ears how we’re not good enough, they’ll all know we’re only faking it, don’t quit the day job, other writers do it better, and, in fact, so well that there’s no need for us. They’re wrong, of course, but we still hear them, and it’s still a big nuisance.

The notebooks in today’s picture were all purchased or received with love, and begun with good intentions, whether attached to a particular project or as an all-purpose book. Each one of them has some to several pages, but not more than 25% (math is not my strong suit, so probably an even lower number than that) filled with…something. Either I realized I was going in the wrong direction, that book wasn’t as good a fit for its intended content as I thought it was at first glance, or I flat out wasn’t feeling it anymore. In any event, there they sat, stuffed out of the way so I wouldn’t be reminded of Yet Another Failure.

Until today. There I was, at my desk, casting about for something to photograph, and there was the tiny pink Moleskine, my attempt to satisfy my longing for its full size version (and to be a handy dandy reference for one of those back burner historicals.) This led to the spiral pink notebook (similar reason) and the red-violet with the silver heart (too cool on the inside, with blank and lined pages both) and the blue deconstructed Studio Oh! book that I started using as a catchall book for Her Last First Kiss, then set aside when I found the right one. The Papaya! Art “Fearless” (hah) book that I’d forced myself to write anything in, then abandoned because that felt forced and plain and downright disheartening…you see the pattern here. I did, too, and stared down this sampling of notebooks that didn’t  (not the only ones, by any chance) and had a revelation. They weren’t ruined forever.

Nope. What are we talking here, a few pages? I love all these books. They’re pretty. Why do they have to be abandoned because I made a mistake or two in the early pages? News flash: they don’t. It’s okay to rip or cut pages out, glue them shut, staple, tape or paper clip them together if I think I might want to refer to them in the future, and start all over, fresh and brand new. I’d be thrilled if I were to receive brand new copies of these as gifts, so why not give them to myself? I can start fresh and fill them with the sort of art and writing I do now. I like that idea.

If that can be true about the physical notebooks themselves, it can also be true of the stories that go inside them. Okay, my first try at Book X didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I walked away, or it did. Maybe we decided on a mutual break, but there are still some parts, a character, an idea, a relationship, a setting, whatever, that hasn’t gone away, no matter how deeply I tried to bury it. Why not take that bit and make it into something new? What would I be losing? Nothing. What do I have to gain? Books, my friends. Big, sprawling tales of love long ago, and happily ever afters for all.

Sometimes, course corrections can take us to where we were always meant to be.

Typing With Wet Claws: Almost Anty’s Birthday Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This is a special week, so I wanted to have a special picture today. Tomorrow is Anty’s birthday. In case you are wondering how much Anty likes her birthday, it is very close to this:

Because I was born wild, with no humans around to record these sorts of things, we do not know my birthday. The shelter people said I was about ten months old when Mama and Anty brought me home, so we count ten months back from the day I was adopted and use that when a vet needs to know these things. Anty is also adopted (I do not know how people shelters work when getting human kittens to their parents) but she does know her birthday and even the time she was born. That was eight in the morning. Anty was a morning person right from the start. Her mama and papa got a phone call very soon after that, to tell them Anty was born and it was time to come get her.

The way the story is told, Anty’s mama had to go on a plane by herself because Anty came sooner than they thought she would come and Anty’s papa still had to be at work. One would think humans could be more understanding about things like that. They probably would be, now, but this was a different time. Family lore says that Anty’s mama got very worried on the plane ride back, because she fell asleep on the plane and when she woke up, she could not find Anty. At least not her face, which should have been sticking out of the blanket in which she was wrapped. Anty was all right (as you may have guessed, because she is here now) and had squiggled herself down to the very bottom of the blanket. I do not blame her. When I was first brought home, I huddled in the back of my carrier, too, and I was a big girl of ten months. Anty was only three days old and had no idea what was going on.

She likes to think she has learned a few things since then. Like how to write good stories. She did teach a cat how to blog, so that is something. Anty really likes birthdays in general. They do not always have to be hers, which is good, because birthdays are one to a human every year. She gets  equally excited about Uncle’s or Mama’s birthdays, and she even likes my adoption day (that is in December, and she says that allows her to tick “Christmas kitten” off her bucket list. I am glad I could help her with that one.) This one is hers, though, and she is glad that it happens in her favorite time of year, October. The days get shorter, nights get longer, leaves turn pretty colors and pumpkin flavored things are everywhere. It also means Halloween and Thanksgiving are coming up, and then Christmas, which is her favorite day of the whole year, even more than  her own birthday. It counts as a birthday, though, and an important one for people who believe the way our family does.

This birthday is Anty’s, however, and, for her, it is the start of a whole new year. She likes to mark the start of a new year with new notebooks. Here are two.

Future story receptacles?

Future story receptacles?

Both of these notebooks are blank right now, but they will not be that way for long. The solid blueish notebook is a Moleskine, and has a soft cover and dotted pages. That will be a new thing for Anty to try. Well, she did try dotted pages once, but the pages were a funny whitish color and hurt her eyes, so she had to give that notebook a new home. She is interested in trying the dotted pages on Moleskine paper, which is a nice, soothing ivory.

The other notebook is by Punch Studio, which makes very very pretty stationery. Anty has been accumulating a lot of Paris-themed stationery, but here is the funny thing; she does not have any Paris-set ideas right now, so she is not sure why. She knows why she collects peacock-themed stationery (they are very pretty birds and probably taste good, because they are related to turkeys. I have recently started eating turkey, in case you are wondering, but Anty collects peacock things because they are important for a future book.) but the Paris thing remains a mystery.

There are some other things in this picture, taken on the desk that Anty had wanted fro her own since she was a very young human kitten. Now it is hers, so that is another life goal reached. The stuffed bunny in the corner is Happy Bunny. He says “let’s talk about me” when Anty squeezes him. She says he is good for focus. The big square thing is a stress cube. It is good for squishing when Anty needs something to do with her hands. Sometimes that is a lot, during the part of writing when she stares at things that are not there and has to think really hard. The fact that there are sticky notes and papers around these books are proof that they are going to be written in very very soon. The solid notebook will become her all purpose computer bag book once the current one is filled. As for the pretty Paris book, she does not know. It has pretty page inside, three different designs repeating. Anty thinks this might be a good book for morning pages, as it is easier to write on pretty pages than completely blank ones. She is not sure yet, though.

What she is sure of is that it is time to read Critique Partner Vicki’s chapter, so that is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling
(the kitty, not the book)

Until next week...

Until next week…

Typing With Wet Claws: Creative Thinking Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Big week at our house, as usual, so that is no big surprise. Anty is very happy that she will be going to three RWA chapter meetings this week. Three. She has never been to that many in one week before. She went to Saratoga Romance Writers on Tuesday (you can read about that here, in case you are new or missed it.) Tomorrow is her day to go to Capitol Region Romance Writers (they are the closest to us) and on Sunday, she goes all the way back to where we used to live (the area, not the house) to go to a meeting of New England Romance Writers. She is gone all day when she goes to that one, but happy when she comes home.

Being around other writers, especially other romance writers, is very good for Anty. She comes home from those meetings all excited and wanting to write more.Sometimes, she comes back with more books. Sometimes, she comes home with snacks. That is people snacks, unfortunately, and not kitty snacks, though that is okay, because I only eat the food Mama, Anty and Uncle give me, and they never miss, so I am fine. This week, Anty came home with flowers. In case you missed them, they looked -and still look- like this.

They're baaaaack.

They’re baaaaack.

Anty getting the flowers was a good thing, because she likes flowers, and she, Uncle and Mama had wanted flowers for the front window (the one I watch birdies through) for a while now. She was happy to get these, and thinks they are very beautiful. There is only one problem, though. They make her head explode. That is very frightening for a kitty. When her head explodes, I run out of the room, because the sound is very loud. Then I come right back, because I am brave and curious. Then her head explodes again. I am exhausted from all the running. That is probably why Anty moved the flowers from the front window and into her office, where she can close the door.

There is only one problem with that. If the sneezy flowers are in the office, she can’t be, and she needs to rearrange the office because a new destktop computer is coming home in a couple of weeks (it is not new-new but it is new to Anty, so that still counts.) This means the flowers have to go, but where? At first, Uncle had a good suggestion. Anty could bring them to a friend who had to stay at the people vet for a while. Anty agreed that was a good idea, and she took the sneezy flowers all the way to the people vet, only to find that their friend’s room was…empty. A nice nurse assured Anty everything was okay and that the people vet said their friend was better and had gone home only a few minutes before. Anty took the sneezy flowers back home and told Uncle they had to think of another place.

Then Uncle had another good idea. He could take the sneezy flowers to the prayer chapel near his work. I should mention that Uncle is Catholic,which does not have anything to do with cats (I know, I was disappointed to find that out, too; it has c-a-t right in the name. That is rather misleading.) even though all the Catholic people I know personally like cats a lot. But some do not. Anyway, Anty was happy to hear the flowers could have a home in the chapel, and went off to write, When she got home, surprise – flowers. She waited for Uncle to come home and asked him why they were still there. He said he’d forgotten it was Lent, and there cannot be any decorations at that chapel during Lent. So much for that.

Anty does not want to throw out these flowers because they are not cut, but are in soil, so they are alive. She says she might take them to her CRRWA meeting tomorrow and give them to somebody there. I hope they are not allergic to flowers, too. Maybe next time, she should get catnip.

Speaking of catnip, since notebooks are like catnip to Anty, she wanted me to share her newest acquisition, her very first 5×8 hardcover Moleskine. Can you believe she went this long without one?

I think the discount helped...

I think the discount helped…

Anty has been very busy this week, not only with meetings, blog posts, and stories, but with her brand newest thing. Today is her day to talk at 31 Days and 31 Ways to Jumpstart Your Life. She is excited to talk about how being creative helps make life better. Tomorrow is the day she posts at Buried Under Romance. If you have never read her posts there, here is last week’s post, about finding new books. Here is the picture she took for this week’s post. What do you think she will talk about there?

what could this mean?

what could this mean?

Anty says this is getting long and she needs the computer back, so that is about it for this week.

Until next week...

Until next week…

Until then, I remain very truly yours,

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling
(the kitty, not the book)