Off-Center, Now With Fairy Lights

Photo by lilartsy on Pexels.com

Yesterday was an organization and planning day. Normally, I like to do this while it’s the weekend, preferably Sunday, but that didn’t work out, so yesterday is good enough.sk moved somewhat on its own to its current position off-center of where it used to be, now bumping against the corner of my rustic crate bookcase. It’s a lot better to have a bookcase to look at while I work , rather than a blank wall (why did I ever think that was a good idea?) The white Chirstmas lights, aka fairy lights, though, those are intentional.

I’m not sure what it is about white fairy lights, but I love them. For Christmas trees, I like colored lights, either blinking or chasing, but white lights have a certain classy factor to them, and combined with the rustic wood of the bookcase, I am definitely feeling this. Also might end up putting some of the books from my post-birthday haul there, so I can get a glimpse of where I’d like to see my name in the very near future. Or present, for a copy of Chasing Prince Charming. Because I do that, too.

53062207. sx318 sy475
See? My name. Also Melva’s.

I had snapped a shot of the current setup with the lights and all, but Amazon Photos is not cooperating, so here is Michael, one of my current Sims, who was on the screen when I took the photo

picture taken ingame, lots of ccfd, ReShade, etc

We’ll work on that later. The above screenshot is from my current Sims save, one where I wiped allll the premades and their houses, replaced with my own and painstakingly built my own world. Yes, that sounds a lot like writing. But with visuals. Plus I have to have my Sims living in houses built from real floorplans Yes, always. Except for apartments, which I can’t change, which is annoying, but fine.

I have been doing intense searches for custom content, checking decorating trends past and present, relying on color theory as only an artist’s kid can, and it has now spilled over into my actual life. Which is actually kind of fun, and conducive to writing with more comfort.

When I decorate a Sim’s environment, it matters what I choose for their “clutter” or decor, because it’s part of their story. As mine is part of mine. I do want to do an un-bagging of my birthday haul, so when I do that, I will have to do some rearranging of the bookshelves, which do not currently have actual books on them, as mine have been in storage. Probably rearrange the lights as well, and more than likely add to them, because I have met me, and those things are in stores everywhere. Also they are probably good for Real Life Romance Hero’s craving for more light in these dark months. (I, on the other hand, loooove the early nights. They are the best and fill me with joy.) More pictures coming then, which will give me more to talk aobut than mindless blabbering, but some of you are into that kind of thing, so this is your lucky day.

As it is mine, as now that I have a blog post down, I can go play Sims.

How’s your week going?

Survival Drama Binge Babble

Right now, I am sitting at my laptop with wet hair, because, somehow, in the midst of all the Monday stuff, I am coloring my hair. I don’t remember the last time. I am listening to summaries of horror movies I will never watch, on YouTube, because A) I work better when hearing human voices, ;and B) it’s pretty good at getting my brain in storytelling mode, without the risk that any of it would naturally seep into my own work. Hm. Maybe that’s why I read as my contemporary YA as I do. Hm. I’m going to put a sticky note on that.

Okay, the historicals do get kind of dark. I will admit that. It’s part of my charm. It may also be one of the reasons I have been bingeing on survival dramas on various streaming services. Bonus points if the show is not American. Subtitles are fine, as I would rather listen to the original language and read the English translation than listen to dubbed dialogue. Then again, there are some dubs that are right up there with the original language.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Currently, the show of choice is season two of Into the Night, a Belgian show where a solar event has ended most life on earth, but for a few plucky survivors (seriously, I am 100% there for a small band of plucky survivors in the midst of a disaster) who were on a hijacked airplane when it all went down. The title comes from the fact that our survivors have to fly during the sunlight hours, always away from the sun (aka into the night) so they can touch down in darkness and scramble to get any fuel they need for themselves and their plane. Sometimes they pick up stragglers along the way. Sometimes those stragglers are Not Nice People.

Case in point: touching down in an airport in Scotland to get more fuel. They have more fuel. Yay. They also have three British soldiers, some of whom can do Plane Stuff. Yay. They can come with. This will take some of the workload off Original Pilot (who only has one working hand) and Substitute Co-Pilot, who used to fly helicopters for the French military, but is new to the plane thing. Once in the air, though, one of our Plucky Survivors learns that New British Soldiers are actually war criminals, recalled for a court martial for Very Bad Crimes. Oh noes. What to do, what to do? Also, if we have a standard for them, what does that mean for Turkish Man who has a shady professional past, but is also bonding big tie with Ill Russian Boy, and IRB’s lovely young mum? Thankfully for IRB, there is a nurse on board, a home health worker who lost her own patient early on in the adventure.

When the first season ended, our Plucky Survivors have found an underground military bunker, where they can hunker. Yay. Only, they are not alone. Uh oh. A politician and soldiers are also hunkering there, but they seem friendly. Yay? Then Bad Things happen, including a fire that wipes out most of their food supply. Oh noes. Suffice it to say that I am not bored. The cast is diverse, not only from country of origin, by walk of life. Every episode, we get a glimpse at somebody’s life Before. I love that stuff, because it’s new information and gives new insight to the choices the character makes now in the worst nightmare scenario.

This is all probably going into the idea soup for my second medieval historical romance, which takes place in the wake of the plague. Other ingredients for idea soup will include medieval romances, because romance. Still backburner at this point, but it’s all part of the process.

Where am I taking this all? I write about survivors. Well, obviously, as otherwise they would be zombies, ghosts, or necrophiliacs. That Thing, though, that people hang on to in the midst of the worst, that Thing that keeps them going; I love finding out what that is for a character. For two characters. Discover the way their Things can work together, make something good even when good things are not the thickest things on the ground.

That’s where the start of this week finds me. How are you doing?

Asking the Right What Ifs

On Wednesday, it will be September. In our family, that means the unofficial start of autumn, and maybe more importantly, the return of my superpowers. It’s also the time for the seasonal turnover of planners, which took up a lovely portion of my Sunday afternoon. I love that ritual, of curating my planning supplies, moving from summer vibes (as much as I do, which isn’t much, as it’s not my favorite season) and into my natural environment. Bring on cool days, warm afghans, hot tea, big books, and all that good stuff.

In a writing perspective, that includes writing those books as well. Another part of the afternoon was me going over my edits letter from Safeword Author Services, which I cannot recommend highly enough for any author looking to hire an editor. Awesome encouragement, excellent insight, and I actually agree with the changes my editor proposed…so why haven’t I made them since February? That’s kind of a while.

First, let me introduce you to my non-besties, Anxiety and Depression, and the common author challenge of mind numbing terror when it comes to working on some of the tough stuff. But is it really? Sometimes, it’s as easy as asking the right questions. When I set up my writing notebook for historicals, I made sections for A Heart Most Errant, and Her Last First Kiss, with another for general tips and ideas for future project. For AHME, the first thing in there is the editorial letter. I read it through, then highlighted the areas I needed to address, color coded for hero (blue) heroine (pink) and general writing (green.) If I had a villain POV, which this book does not, then that would get a yellow highlight, because yellow is my least favorite color.

When I have Character A flip flopping from X to Not X a couple times throughout the story, making that decision for them wasn’t going to do. Instead, I turned to a fresh page and asked myself, “How does Character A feel about X, really?” Pros. Cons. Why they can hold both beliefs at once. Both hero and heroine in this book are trauma survivors (which is probably true for most of my characters in any story) so that is going to play into how they react to things, even good things. There’s also whether Character B would really focus on Y at a given moment. If they don’t focus on Y, then what would catch their attention instead? What would be more important? How does Not-Y fill a more urgent need than Y?

The only way to find that out, for me, is to do what I did when I wrote the beginning of My Outcast Heart, my first published historical romance (out of print right now; stay tuned for reissue talk) — follow my character as they run off on their own and write down what they do. It’s not entirely pantsing, as I can tell them “okay, here’s what has to happen next,” but usually, they figure out how they are going to that on their own, in their own particular way. It’s also not always in order. When I wrote Orphans in the Storm, my fourth historical (also out of print right now) I wrote both ends against the middle. I knew how it started, I knew how it ended, but connecting those two?

That was a matter of connecting “what happened after that?” with “what happened before that?” Repeat until the two ends meet. (I do not recommend the other notable thing about this manuscript, which was losing the whole file, after I had already sold it, but if you do, be sure to have an awesome critique group with hardcopies.) In this case, it’s translating to “okay, if X didn’t work, what could be Y?” Not what is, necessarily, but what could be? In the words of an online writer friend, “it’s just riffing.” Have fun. Chuck some ink on that paper and see what transpires. For my money (and that which I hope comes from it) it’s well worth the trip.

How are you getting ready for September?

Mid-August Recalibration

Welp, we are now officially past the halfway mark for August. Shelves are stocked with back to school supplies, which is pure heaven for us stationery aficionados. The fact that loving stationery and being a writer are not mutually exclusive makes this an especially delightful time of year. Well, ecept for the heat. It’s been brutal here in NY for the last while, and temperatures that are in the range of “do not kill the heat-sensitive” are extremely welcome.

August has not been the best month for productivity. Insomnia has been raging, with seven sleepless nights out of the first fourteen. My local RWA chapter voted this week to dissolve. That hit me hard. Harder, even than I would expect. It’s not entirely gone-gone, as there will be some sort of non-affiliated group, though not under the auspices of Romance Writers of America. I’m not sure what the future of the national organization will be, and that’s another big sad. I’m not even over the loss of Romantic Times magazine (the OG RT, not the RT Book Reviews it was at the end.) The thought that the organization that was The Thing back when I was but a wee princess could be floundering into nothingness sticks. A lot.

Melva and I also recieved news about our current submission that was less than we had expected. That doesn’t at all mean that nothing will happen with Drama King. On the contrary, we are meeting tonight to discuss our options. Whatever we choose, I am sure it will make Jack and Kelly’s book an even beteter one. I won’t say more until we have had a chance to talk between ourselves, but we are writers, and writers write.

Photo by lilartsy on Pexels.com

The same applies to historical romance. The best way to feel connected to it is to, well, connect with it. Read lots, and of the sort I want to produce, and then proceed to write horrible first drafts. Then turn those into slightly better second drafts.

There is still the part of me who set up a TV tray in my dad’s living room, propped an electronic typewirter (yes, that long ago) popping the soundtrack from Camelot on his hi-fi, and confidently pounding my way through a set number of pages, because that’s what one of my favorite writers of historical romance did. Easy peasy.

Only not. Part of me wants to stamp my foot and grumble about being here again, not exactly at the start of the road, but boy does it feel like it at times. There is only one way around that, and that’s to wite. Keep writing. Then write some more. Then more than that. Write pages that are steaming piles of poo, because piles of poo can be shaped, but blank pages can’t. For the extroverted writers like moiself, (yes, I know that’s not a word) staring, hands on hips, at the place where my RWA chapter used to be (well, on Zoom now) and tapping foot, this means going back out there into the wilds of other writerdom. Critique group/partner applications are now open. Must love historical romance, grit over fluff, and have a taste for the epic. I’m serious. Talking and thinking happen at the same time with this gal, and talking with other writers of historical romance is now a priority. We will see how that goes.

Well, then. This is the pat of the post where I sum things up in some sort of order and/or sense, but I have to be honest; I am thinking about how many episodes of The Walking Dead I can get in before conference time. I am about three episodes from the end of Season Ten. After that, I can go back to where I left off with Fear The Walking Dead, which isn’t the same, but close enough to scratch the itch. Maybe I can call it research for the post-plague medieval world of A Heart Most Errant. Yeah, we’lll go with that.

The Sims, Romance Writing, and Stream of Consciousness

Very quick stream of consciousness post today, since I am most assuredly in the zone for working on Queen of Hearts today. If all goes right, I can have a rough version of the next scene for my weekly conference with Melva. We agreed that this book is going to go a lot quicker than Drama King did, and I want to make sure it does.

Fourth of July was pretty quiet around here. As in I did a lot of napping, and I regret nothing. We cannot see the fireworks from this apartment, but we certainly heard them. This year, hearing them was enough, as I had my eyeballs pinned to my current Sims 4 save. I’m giving the Legacy Challenge a shot. Not doing any scoring whatsoever, as I am not in this for the math, but the basic idea is to start with a single Sim, on a big, empty lot, with very little money, and then use them to build a dynasty that lasts ten generations. I am on the fourth generation now, and having a lot of fun with it.

Fiona and Osvaldo, generation four

There are lots of variations on this legacy. I decided from the start that I wanted this to be a matriarchy, as in everything goes through the maternal line, aka firstborn girl inherits. If there are no girls in a generation, then the firstborn male may hold the spot for his firstborn daughter. Pictured above are my current generation, the lovely Fiona and her (townie) husband, Osvaldo. They currently have one daughter, Alexa who is child age, and fingers crossed she makes it through, because Osvaldo has the “hates children” trait, but he was frequently the one to autonomsously tend Alexa when she was a baby, so maybe he’s a masochist? Anyway, Fiona is going to university for her art degree, so Osvaldo can stay home to tend Alexa and their vast garden.

What does all of this have to do with writing? On the surface, not much. A little deeper, quite a bit. Generational sagas have always been my favorite sort of linked stories/series, especially in historical romance, where we can see the legacy of love build from the first two progenitors, and see how the family progresses thrugh years, decades, even centuries. Follow one family from medieval times to the turn of the 20th century? Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss. With a gauranteed happily ever after for each individual couple in every story, the sort of HEA that only gets HEA-ier as the young lovers become parents, then in-laws, then grandparents.

This does bring in the issue of character death, since our medieval progenitors are not going to be alive in the Belle Epoque. I’m actually okay with that, as my taste in historical romance hews more to the dramatic than rom-com. In a more lighthearted series, death of a main character (after many years) would seem out of place to a lot of readers, and many lighthearted series tend to focus on one generation at a time, so maybe it doesn’t come up all that much? I have seen the demise of older heroes and heroines done well, and done poorly, but it’s part of life, and those generationgs outside of the current characters’ living memory can take on a legendary tone, so that is actually a plus in my book.

Ah. Aha. Wait. I found a connection. Heather, the heroine of Queen of Hearts, lives in the shadow of her mother’s reputation. Jessica Stewart was a legendary author of epic historical romance, and Heather now has the responsibility of running the publishing house her mother started. Heather is not a writer, but she’s passionate about the historical romance genre, its books, its writers, its readers, its, well, history. She’s trying to figure out where she fits into all of that, while raising a precocious six-year-old on her own, and very gingerly sticking her toe in the dating waters after a painful divorce. For those who love a genuinely good hero, have no fear, her best friend, Rob very much fits the bill. He’s very different from Dominic from Chasing Prince Charming, or Jack from Drama King, which is exactly how I want it to be. The historical heroes, as well, are a whole other story, pun intended.

Okay back to writing I go. Cover me, I’m going in.

Typing With Wet Paws: Dog, I Mean, Cat Days of Summer Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. Pretty quiet week this week, but not a boring one. On Monday, Aunt Anna and Aunt Melva hashed out the basics of the outline for Queen of Hearts, and they are also shooting some questions back and forth. Co-written book number three is officially ON. Secondary characters are getting names (or telling them to the aunts, as it often works) and while there may not be a cat in this book (though the one from Drama King might make a cameo; no promises) ther is probably going to be a d-o-g. I don’t know how I feel about dogs. I haven’t met any that I remember, unless it was when I was really little. My first mom said I came from a house with “a lot of cats,” but she didn’t say anything about dogs.

greatest hits picture of me, because quiet week and all that.

Anyway, there’s prep for July historical writing, and that includes moving the office area in the bedroom from where it is right now to the other side of the bedroom (the bedroom is pretty big) so that Aunt Anna can get near the window, and have more desk room, since Uncle Rheuben claimed the new desk they got recently. I am all for this, because if there is a desk near that window, then I can use athat desk to get into that window. I love sitting in windows.

Wait. I may have misspoken about the dog thing. We have a neighbor who has a puppy who is almost a grownup, but still has a lot of wiggle in her. We haven’t met in person, but I know her when I see/smell her from through the window screen. Her humans walk her in front of our building a lot. She seems okay, but I’ve got my eye on her. The other dogs around, I only have my ears on, because I have only heard them. Also smelled. There are two other units inour building, and the people who live there come on the weekends mostly. When they come, they bring their dogs. I have not met them, but it’s more than one dog in each apartment, I think. They bark a lot when my humans go into the hall and stairway. We’ve been here almost a year now, and still it’s a big surprise every time. Go figure.

So. Aunt Anna. She’s not sure what she’s doing for the Historical Romance Readathon, exactly, but she knows she wants to do something with it. Here’s the bingo card:

The thing that Aunt Anna has about this is that iit does look fun, but she’d already decided that she wants to A) finish the half-read books she’d had languishing on her Kindle forever, and B) devour some of the old school stuff on Kindle Unlimited that she’s always wanted to read. First up is the entire Marsha Canham canon. Maybe she can make that work for the readathon anyway. If you want more information on the readathon, check the link above, and also on Laceybooklovers and RemarkablyLisa. Aunt Anna will probably talk more about this on Anna Log later, but for now, the plans are nebulous. Still counts as a plan, though, which makes her happy.

I, of course, will be closely supervising, as always.

Headbonks!

Talking ‘Bout My Genre-ration

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

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

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

Image by Sandra Schwab

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

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan as We Go January

Hey. Hi. Hello there. Here we are in the second week of January, first full week, and for those of us who are into the whole planning thing, this is the big show. This is where the rubber meets the road, or rubber cement meets the paper. At the very least, where the pen meets the paper. While some aspects of planning tick all the tried and true boxes, this year, there is also some uncharted territory.

Last year, I waffled between ring binders and traveler’s notebooks (rings vs strings, the eternal struggle) and was admittedly snobby about discbound systems, including but not limited to Happy Planner. This year? I am actively designing my own discbound planner. Probably printables at first, because manufacturing these things is far outside my pay grade at the moment, but the fact that I am researching tools and costs and components, that’s a very new thing.

That kind of makes sense, because this year is full of a lot of new things, so doing new things the old way is probably not the wisest approach. I have one notebook for current projects that are active: my contemporary romances with Melva Michaelian, my historical romances on my own, and the uncharted (for me) wilds of starting a Patreon. How much time do I have, how can I best spend it, and what has the chance of being a decent return? Since my chosen field is that of commercial fiction, there is a real chance that the right answer is “ahaha, none of it,” but it could also be “never try, never know,” and that’s the view I naturally take.

2019 was, in many ways, a dumpster fire. That’s in the past. 2020 is only six days in, and the better I plan, and carry out those plans, the better I feel. It’s not so much finding a system that works for me so much as creating it as I go. That means paying attention wo what comes naturally versus giving myself headaches trying to shove myself into some sort of box that I think I’m supposed to do. Beginner’s mind is essential in endeavors like this.

What seems to be working best for me when I start a new notebook or planner, is to carry the thing around, empty, for a few days, and then take note of what I wish it had inside it. Using a system that I have never used before, aka discbound, fits well with that mindset, at least for me. I love that the pages aren’t stuck in place, and if I want to move something to a different section, or a different book, I can do that, no problem.

Yesterday, Housemate came to the conclusion that she is a mini size Happy Planner person, and gave me her classic size planner from last year, mostly unused, and the classic size Happy Notes (same system, notebook paper instead of planner paper.) I sat there, looking at them for a minute, with a little bit of a Christmas Morning feeling (what planner geek doesn’t want this sort of thing dropped in their lap?) before I started to think about possibilities.

What was I going to do with a notebook that has twelve sections? Well, take the old planner pages out, obviously (and set them aside because there is this cool tutorial by Sarra Canon) and then stare at the empty tabs and think about what I want to have in there. At the moment, I’m thinking it could be a catchall for future projects that are still in the idea stage, where I can put notes, pictures, etc, as they come to me, and then they’ll be there when it’s time to actually start the writing.

That’s the thing that’s newest about how I want to approach writing this year. It’s time to Get Stuff Done, push past the Hypercritical Gremlins as best I can and remember what it felt like to throw the movies in my head onto the page, without paying attention to what could go wrong. That’s still kind of scary, but it’s scarier to think of never getting the stories and characters who are as real to me as people I can see and hear and touch, and introducing them to readers.

Since I do well with this kind of structure, my plan (hah) is to focus on one slot per month to give a closer look into what I’m doing, planning/notebook-wise. Some of that may end up on Patreon, and we’ll figure out what works, together. One area I’m keeping in focus for this early stage is to record the ideas that I’ve been carrying around for a while, that I would like to see all the way through. Something tells me I may surprise myself along the way.

How about you? What systems do you use for reading or writing? Pull up a chair in the comments, and share.

Typing With Wet Paws: Post-Book-Launch Edition

Hi, everybody, and happy November! I’m Storm, and I am not a big expert on Novembers, because this is probably only my second one, but that should make it very easy for me to have the best November yet, right? I know some cats have writers who are doing NaNoWriMo this month. It sounds very exciting. All of thst lap time, and all those warm keyboards has to be an incredible experience. I will be having some of that, as Aunt Anna and Aunt Melva are committed to getting Drama King to the end of draft one this month, and Aunt Anna wants to get a few other things under control at the same time. Maybe that’s what all those planners are for? I, of course, will be on Mews duty, to make sure she gets it all done, including taking copious breaks to pet and play with me.

mews on deck

Buried Under Romance

Aunt Anna would like to apologize for the absence of posts at Buried Under Romance this past week, but exciting new things are coming, very soon. For a while now, she has half-joked about what she would like to do if anyone ever dropped a romance magazine in her lap, and that is very close to what is going on there. There is a platform, there are some very talented reviewers and other people to make it all work, and what better time to truly kick into gear than the holiday season?

Readvember

I don’t know if Readvember is really a thing, but maybe it is, now. Aunt Anna flatly refuses to look at how far behind she is in her Goodreads challenge until she finishes reading at least one book. She would rather look at the books she is supposed to be reading instead, and maybe find a way to track reading progress that will keep her motivated. Do you know of any reading challenges that are fun? Leave as link in the comments, and Aunt Anna will give them a look.

Life After Launch

Please note that is “launch,” not “lunch.” Lunch has not happened yet as I write this, and I am more of a breakfast and dinner girl, anyway. Aunt Melva is sending Aunt Anna some more pictures from the book launch, to share with everybody The pictures look like everybody had a really fun time, and Aunt Anna says they did. Now, all of the reception leftovers are gone, except for the memories, and it is back to business on all things reading, writing, and blogging related, not necessarily in that order.

So far, Aunt Anna is planning to show what planners she is using to keep her writing stuff in line, at least for the time being, at the start of next week. I suspect she will move a lot of things around before then, but as long as she settles on something that makes sense, that is all that matters.

There has also been talk of getting a real cat bed for me, to keep next to the glowy box. Anything is a “real” cat bed, as long as there is a real cat sleeping on it, but I have heard that the motel will want their towel back when we move into our real apartment, and so it’s probably best to get something in place now, so I can know it is mine when we do pick up sticks and set down roots in a different place.

That’s about it for this week’s post. Not that much to report, it’s true, but it’s a brand new month, beginning today, and Thanksgiving month, at that. For those who are curious, yes, I will get a special dinner on Thanksgiving day, but it will be chicken, not turkey, because my mom told Aunt Anna that turkey and my tummy are Not Friends. We won’t go into how my mom found out that bit of information.

Wait. There is one other development this week, which I think needs to be included. I have a new Thing that I do. Sometimes, the humans don’t immediately stop what they are doing (including sleeping) when I ask them to play, so now, to show them I am Really Serious, I bring them my Mousie toy. I also have crinkly foil balls, which are fun, but I only ever bring them Mousie. When a cat brings you a slimy stuffed mouse, trailing a long string, it is an expression of love. There is a lot of love around here.

Okay, that’s really it. Headbonks!

short-haired calico cat, eating out of a pink bowl. Handwriting font reada "love, Storm"

Happy Book Birthday, Chasing Prince Charming!

Today’s the day!

For everybody who has been Chasing Prince Charming, today is the day to catch him. Meg and Dominic have been let loose on the world, and, for the first time, people neither Melva nor I know (and some whom we do) get the chance to read the story of a fallen chick-lit author, determined to revive her career, the history professor turned romance publisher who beckons her out of her comfort zone in more ways than one, and their path through the writing process to their very own happily ever after.

Watch this space and melvaandanna.com (one word, all lowercase) for news on our upcoming author visit to Buried Under Romance. Melva and I will be having our regularly scheduled Skype chat, to celebrate, and work on our assignments for the next phase of Drama King. The best way I can think of to celebrate this achievement, of my first release in mumblecough years, is more writing. There were times, a lot of them, when anxiety and depression, and domestic tornadoes had me looking at what ws behind me, writingwise, to the point where I actually cried when Facebook thought I would like to remember when I had sold my last book.

There have been three anthologies since then, the invitation to the first two of them landing in my inbox the day after we moved out of our old apartment, and now a new chapter has begun. I don’t think I would have written contemporary romance on my own (jury is till out on the time travel, which is still on the back burner, until I figure out what the fluff is at the heart of that one, which may be more than one, thanks to my natural tendency to stuff ten pound cats into two pound bags) but as soon as Melva and I sat in that hallway outside the ballroom for a conference breakfast, and tossed around ideas until we landed on a simultaneous “we should write that,” it’s been a very natural thing to add to my usual bag of tricks, or, more accurately, binder of tricks.

my Love by the Book binder

My other great passion besides romance fiction is the whole world of planners and notebooks, but as I have said here before, all of my previous attempts have been the way I thought a writer’s notebook should be set up: always a three ring binder, always letter size, always with the same amount of sections that the package of dividers I bought had. Which never, ever worked. So, earlier this week, with the knowledge that the first book would be out to-freaking-day, and it says “book one in the Love By the Book series” right there on the cover, that people can actually buy, that is in peoples’ Kindles right the heck now (a huge thank you to those who have confirmed it’s on their devices) then I better make sure I do my part in getting book two to The End. Which meant a binder, which meant my kind of binder. (A5, I am making my own dividers, and applying tabs as needed.)

WIP binders

The binder with the white background is for my contemporaries with Melva, and the solid blush pink is for my historical solo romances. They both feel like home. I have three historical pieces, one novella and two novels, that are in need of (new) homes, and I need a place where I can comfortably settle in and get Her Last First Kiss to The End of draft two.

Her Last First Kiss binder

These notebooks feel like home, and these novels feel like home. This morning, I researched UK to US work visas, because the hero of Drama King has one, and part of Sunday pinning eighteenth century aesthetic images, for use in my Her Last First Kiss binder, to bring Bern and Ruby’s world into visual form. It works. Show up, put pen to paper, tell the story. As hard and as easy as that.

So, that’s my rambling for the day. Chasing Prince Charming is out. Meg and Dominic are ready to meet their readers. It’s a love story, of second chances and new beginnings, and digging down deep to find that, when we have to, we really, really can Do the Thing.

Happy reading!