Typing With Wet Paws: Special Tuesday Edition

Hi, Storm Troopers! Are you surprised to see me on a Tuesday? Wild, huh? I know, but it’s one of those weeks. Aunt Anna and the other humans will be off the grid for a couple of days, as we are off on another trip to Aunt Linda’s family home, so Aunt Anna asked me to fill in today, to cover yesterday and tomorrow’s post. I told her no problem. That’s why I’m here, right? Well, that and to spread magical fibers of love and joy.

Anyway, about what’s going on over here. Aunt Anna is having kind of an existential planner crisis, or, depending on the perspective, (let’s reframe!) a chance to try some new things and get even more creative. She wouldn’t let me take any pictures of her planners in progress, but trust me, there is stuff going on. Some of that will be going on while we are on adventure at Chez Grandmere (the mother of your aunt is your grandmother, right? I think that’s how it works. I am not sure about human family terms.) Aunt Anna is also planning on doing a lot of writing in longhand there, because Chez Grandmere does not, unfortunately, have interwebs. Maybe not so unfortunately if that means more writing time.

Aunt Anna has already started trying out a new to her plotting technique that she learned from a Heart Breathings tutorial. If this works, that will go a long way to solving the problem of what to do with a bunch of outdated Happy Planner pages. She has set up her spread for a story to be determined, and will give that a go during out adventure. Watch this space for the results. Normally, she doesn’t go in for charts and stuff, but when it’s time to get back on the horse (nobody told me there was a horse) trying new things is always a good idea.

This is also a good time to go through some stuff that the aunts and uncle have stored at Chez Grandmere, which may provide some interesting results. I find that rather exciting. I also find the place called “basement” very very very exciting, but I am not allowed to go down there. No idea why. Other cats used to go down there. Maybe they left some food or toys. How can I leave that unexplored? Humans. Hmph.

Huh. This doesn’t seem like a lot of news for a “special” blog, but that’s okay. Can’t all be rock stars, am I right? Except for beautiful calico girls. We are all automatically rock stars. I like to sing the song of my people at special midnight performances, and you should see the choreography that goes along with it. Truly a work of genius. We’ll be back on Friday, Saturday at the latest, and there will be better updates then. Rest assured that I will be in full mews mode, providing inspiration and encouragement.

Okay, wait. I remember. I was supposed to list some of the planner and notebook things that Aunt Anna is going to revamp over the next few weeks. Let’s see if I can find some pictures to go with them.

Granted, these are not all of them, nor does Aunt Anna expect to be able to keep all of them running for unique purposes (or the same one; boy, would that be repetitive) at the same time, and she is beginning to come around to the idea that it’s okay to move the same guts to different covers as the mood strikes. Also that there are plusses and minuses to the different sizes and formats she likes, including but not limited to:

  • discbound (Happy Planner, etc) in micro, mini, classic or big sizes
  • Traveler’s notebooks (strings) in pocket, personal, and standard sizes
  • Six ring binders in personal or A5 size
  • Three ring binders in full or half letter size
  • traditional hard or softcover notebooks, sewn, perfect, or wirebound

So yeah, that’s kind of a lot, and it does relate to writing, because that’s what she likes to do in them, so she is figuring out what format her exploration of these should take. Blogging? Vlogging? If you have a preference, leave a comment and I will make sure she gets it.

Headbonks!

Typing With Wet Paws: Family Weekend Edition

Hi, Storm Troopers! Twice in one week. I could get used to this. I’m going to be quick this week because our weekend is full of family stuff. Don’t worry, it’s good. Aunt Anna has her local RWA chapter meeting on Saturday. It will be an important meeting, with some serious stuff and some fun stuff, too. Aunt Anna loves that the membership is varied, that there really is a love story for everybody.

Talking about love stories is a pretty good segue, because that’s basically what Aunt Anna does. Buried Under Romance is sorting out a few things, moving to a new host, and getting ready to unleash some fun new stuff including but not limited to getting to know the staff and what kinds of romance novels they like and recommend. Aunt Anna is also looking for other romance authors who would like to be interviewed for the blog. because talking to writers is one of her very favorite things, especially if it pertains to the writing of romance. Also cats. Lots of writers have cats.

On to the business of Aunt Anna’s Goodreads challenge for 2020. Right now, she is two books ahead of schedule, with five books read out of ninety. This is partly due to the trick that she learned from Miss Lisa at Buried Under Romance, about making any book into an audiobook if she reads on her Kindle app, but I do have to include a cat-viat on this one. Sometimes, Aunt Anna finds the computer voice reading to her so relaxing that she falls asleep. When that happens, I curl up next to her head and purr. I think that helps. Maybe not her, but it helps something. Mostly me.

Really tiny notebook, perfect for feline use

Other than reading and writing, Aunt Anna is usually planning, and one of the things that she did this past week was to use something she has had for a very long time, but had not used for almost that long. That is the stamp that you can see above in the really tiny notebook. This reminds Aunt Anna that her goal is to remain true to her own voice and write the storts of stories she most wants to read, and leave all that marketing stuff ifor later. She is still figuring out what this tiny notebook is for, but right now it is pretty good for keeping the most important tasks for the day. I still think it is more cat sized than human sized.

Anyway, that is about it for right now. I need to herd Aunt Anna to bed because it will be an early morning and a big weekend. Stay tuned, Storm Troopers, because more news is coming.

Headbonks!

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.

December Planner Post – Non-Planner Edition

The view from the motel lobby

Yesterday, I busted some old friends out of jail. Still dealing with adult-y things, which is progressing, and also demanded that I go to a sure-fire mood booster; stationery. Housemate and I swung by the storage unit, so I could get my Papermate Flair pens all in one place.

Pretty, but lonely. I think they need friends, aka colors I don’t have yet. Not bothered with having a few duplicates, as that means readily available backup. All the fun of pen shopping, without the sticker shock, because they are already mine. Some days, a pen lover needs a fix. Yesterday was such a day. I have not yet had a chance to actually play with these pens since their jailbreak, but they are meeting up with my planners later on, as we are now in a new month.

I also busted out Big Pink (standard size Websters Pages traveler’s notebook) and Spinebreaker (B6 size Pen + Gear traveler’s notebook) both of which I have used as planners in the past. Neither of them are planners right now. I didn’t know if I had any concrete plans (hah) when I grabbed them, but I did know I couldn’t see them and leave them there. I’m using mini and classic size Happy Planners for actual planning, but I could not in all good conscience leave the girls alone

First thing I did when I got back to the motel was to ensconce myself on the bed, and rip everything out of each cover. Everything. Every insert, every accecssory, pouch, piece of deco, etc. Everything. Doing that, one finds that one has a heck of a lot of…stuff. Stuff one may not remember what it was doing there in the first place. Clear the decks, and then start adding.

I knew right away that Spinebreaker was for the B6 notebook I received from N and Mr. N. I use that for morning pages.

The green covered insert was there when I put Spinebreaker away, and could not have gone better with the other book, so it stays. This one is dot grid, and will be used for trackers. That will probably let me play some with my Flairs, or maybe some other pens. We’ll see.

I’m liking the UK theme for the pocket deco, so we’ll see how that develops. No pen in the pen loop yet, but it will probably be a basic black ballpoint or gel pen, unless I go with a multipen, but that’s for another post.

Big pink was where I had the biggest “huh” moment, because she had been my main planner, but I am using the Happy Planners for that now, and redundant calendars make me itchy. Also, I had mis-numbered December anyway, so no calendar insert for her this time. I also have a dedicated Happy Notes set up for writing stuff, so she wasn’t going to be for that, either. :drums fingers on desk:

Since the pink elastic I had for her closure had stretched out, and my only options for replacement (on hand) were turquoise and purple, I figured this would be a great time to dive in and make her a pastel Christmas themed sort of thing. Second thought was to make her gothy. Couldn’t decide, so now she’s both.

No lined paper in this TN at all, as of this point, which surprises me, but it does give me the chance to try some different art-y journal things, the kind with paint and fancy lettering and :waves hands vaguely: special stuff that isn’t only bare bones handwriting. I have pockets filled with stencils and stickers and ephemera, a washi tape sampler, and we will see what this actually turns into, but it feels right for now.

Sometimes, when “real life” gets chaotic, a little creative chaos can help put things back into focus. Play matters. There will probably be another insert or notebook section for Sims games, as I want to plot out all of my households I want to play, and in which iteration, before I actually play them, or it gets to be too muddley. There may also be a reading schedule/tracker put in place, but we will see how that develops organically as I mess about with these girls. The process is part of the fun.

See you next time!

Let’s Call It Market Research

Only me today, but Storm insisted on being in the picture. Such is life with a beautiful calico girl. She has a thing for the Happy Planner paper. If it’s open, she must sit on it. Must. Even, and perhaps especially when I am opening the planner or notebooks to do Important Writer Things.

Very important Writer Things in this case, mean taking a look into the future, and making a road map to get me from where I am, to where I want to be. Real Life Romance Hero is on the new apartment case. As much as I love the perks of motel life (and there are some, housekeeping most of all) we are all more than ready to put down roots and settle into a real home once more. That will bring regular writing with it (yes, yes, I know, that can happen any time, any place, but it’s a heck of a lot easier when some of the basic things are more reliably covered) and I would like to have an idea of how that will look.

Which is what brought me to the open notebook that Storm claimed for her own. Okay, any paper is hers, but this paper is a clear favorite, above all. The notebooks I had open today were two dedicated solely to writing life stuff. One, not pictured, is for mapping out the current historical and contemporary projects, and a place to record potential future stuff, because the day will come, probably sooner than I think, when I’m going to have to start a new document and begin writing a new book.

In today’s market, that is more likely new books, plural. Series sell. They’re not how I naturally think for my solo work, but I’ve hit a vein of “yeah, but what if I tried it anyway?” and riff on some stuff that might be interesting to try at some unspecified time in the future. There’s a freedom in that kind of thing. No commitments as of yet, current work is still on track, and these particular pages are a place to ask myself what might be fun, how I might like to stretch, or if, maybe, it’s time to let ideas that have been in my head for years or even decades (yikes!) out for a meander.

This dovetails rather nicely with my determination to come from behind on my Goodreads challenge, targeting historical romance novellas (bonus if they are Christmas related) via Kindle Unlimited (because economical measures are win) means that I get to see stories I might not have found if I didn’t have this particular goal. Time travels for instance. Not a lot on the brick and mortar shelves (at least where romance fiction is concerned, but checking on the e-book front? Alive and well, from what I can see. Not saying if this means there is life in my own personal time travel (firmly on the back burner, until I figure out how many ten pound cats I was trying to fit into that particular two pound bag.) but definitely food for thought.

I found myself wanting to make note of this book and that, scribble down names of authors who look like they might have something I’d like. I’m seeing a lot of variety there, medieval, Vikings, pirates, Highlanders, ancient world, etc, along with nineteenth century stories, looser interpretations of the series concept, including shared worlds, and…I like it. This bears some study, and some recording of the study, so expect to see some of that here in the coming weeks and months.

This exploration excites me. It’s what I’ve always loved, and it’s something new. There’s an energy there. What if, instead of thinking about perfectly polished prose and getting everything “right,” I looked at what would be fun? What would I like to do a whole lot of, and train myself to write (to completion) faster? I look forward to finding out.

See you next time!

Typing With Wet Paws: Creativity and Cat Toys Edition

Happy Friday, Storm Troopers! It’s a beautiful grey, wet day (well, to Aunt Anna, anyway) here in NY’s capitol region, which is very good writing weather for Aunt Anna, so let’s get this blog moving, so she can have the computer to herself.

As usual, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about strategies to not only get through her reading challenge but maybe even come out ahead, Check over there tomorrow, because she’s found a couple of other ways since then. Keeping a notebook helps her with things like that, and, this week, we have a new notebook in the family. I find it especially important, because it is also partly a present for me.

Miss N, and her husband, Mr. N, picked this up for Aunt Anna, at a local art supply store, that they all love. This gift does some multitasking, because it covers Aunt Anna’s birthday, getting me, and just because. I do note the lack of calicos on the cover, but who could compete with all this, anyway? Aunt Anna will use this as her morning pages book. It is a B6 size, and has ivory lined pages, that are smooth and fountain pen-friendly.

Speaking of that reading challenge, Aunt Anna is making some progress. As of this post, she is only six books behind schedule, seventy-eight books read our of a projected ninety-five. That’s eighty-two percent of the way home, and only taking three books per week to cross the finish line for the win. Go, Aunt Anna, go.

This week was okay, writing-wise. Aunt Anna expects that next week will be better, because she is doing some research and taking a good look at what she likes to do most, what time she has, and how she can use it most efficiently. Work has begun on the big mess writing notebook. She will farm things out to individual notebooks as it makes sense, but for now, there are some recycled planner dividers that will keep the sections kind of in order until she figures things out. She will share pictures in a future post.

I think that is it for updates so far, so I can get to the most important part of today’s post, and that is the cat toys. While I do have Mousie (my forever number one best buddy toy, for always) I am also discovering many new toys. Aunt Anna, Uncle, and Aunt Linda do not always appreciate my choices. Can you guess out of the following list which ones the humans are okay with me having?

  • Uncle’s rosary
  • Uncle’s scapular (devotional kind)
  • Uncle’s collar pin (of awesomeness at his job)
  • Aunt Anna’s pens/pen caps
  • room key cards
  • takeout forks
  • Aunt Linda’s planner cover (for scratching)
  • Aunt Linda’s purse (for scratching)
  • Craft store coupon flyer (for scratching)
  • random sweatshirt string that does not come from anybody’s sweatshirt here
  • empty toilet paper roll
  • actual cat toys (jingle balls)

Aunt Anna says I am getting a real scratching pad this weekend, and there will be a carpeted cat condo when we find our new apartment, where I can scratch any part of it that I want. That sounds pretty fun. Honestly, we cats are pretty good at picking out our own toys, but humans seem to like finding manufactured things from time to time. My mom told the aunts that I do like catnip, but I haven’t had any yet while I’ve been here. I think they are saving it for the holidays.

I also get to sit on Aunt Anna’s notebooks a lot (except when she uses the book stand, which I am still forming an opinion about) especially the disc bound ones. Those babies have some comfortable paper. I can see why she likes them. I can also play with the crumpled sticky notes she discards, but I am only really interested in them the first time. After that, they’re dead to me, and I would rather get some fresh prey. Somehow, I get the feeling that, this week, there will be a lot of that.

Okay, I think that is about it for this week, so I will see you next week.

Headbonks!

Writing Notebook: Discovery Draft

In college, I studied early childhood education. The most important thing I learned in four years was that early childhood education and I were a horrible, horrible match. Hence several years in retail and family caregiving. All the while, I knew what I wanted to do with my life: write.

I had known that I wanted to write historical romance since I was eleven years old. More accurately, that was when I found out what it was called. I am pretty sure I was hardwired for this right out of the gate. I would not at all be surprised were I to find out my biological mother loved historical romance. Maybe we’d even have some of the same favorite books. I wrote my first historical romance, very much a pastiche of the author who first captured my attention in this genre, but that’s how we learn, right? By copying the masters when we first start?

When I was twenty=three, I submitted that first book, and got my first rejection. I was also dealing with some raging, undiagnosed depression and anxiety, so I didn’t notice the important bit about that rejection- the editor asked me if I had anything else. At the time, I did not, so that was the end of that, right? Wrong. Depression got much, much worse, real life sucked, and there were time that I thought I would never be able to write the stories I loved with all of my writerly heart. That’s when I discovered Star Trek: The Next Generation.

With absolutely no idea of what I was doing, I started writing first humor, then fan fiction, for a newsletter and fanzine. I wrote. A lot. I made friends, talented writers all, with whom I am still friends, and still a fan of, today. Even then, I described my fanfics as “historical romance with blinkies,” blinkies being a term for any futuristic equipment that had blinking lights.

I wrote and sold four historical romances after that, and even my first co-written contemporary, Chasing Prince Charming, is set in the world of historical romance, so do we see a trend here? What’s stayed the same all that time? Yeah.

When Melva and I meet, via Skype or Messenger, each week, we set out plans for what the next week should hold. Who’s writing what, if there’s anything we need to set up for the other, etc. We know we are heading to the end of draft one for Drama King, and getting the idea soup stock started for Queen of Hearts. We want to write a summer novella, and a trio of Christmas stories, and that’s probably a good 2020 for the two of us.

I want to get a similar plan in place for my historicals. I have been admiring prolific authors of late, many of whom are self-published/indie, and putting out the kinds of books they love the very, very best. That’s where I want to be. I don’t know, yet, if I want to self publish. Part of me thinks it would be an interesting experience, and part of me does not want to crunch any numbers in the outlay department, but there’s plenty of time to deal with that. What’s most important is that I get historical romance novels written and finished, before I can sell or publish them anywhere.

The how of that? Well, that’s where the whole discovery draft of a writing notebook comes into play. What do I need to get from where I am, to where I want to be? Flying into the mist with that one, and I look forward to sharing that process here. The first step? This is it, putting it out there. Next step? Setting up the actual notebook. Throw ink on paper and see what happens when I do.

See you next time

Of Human Vagabondage

Week two of Vagabond 2019 is going well, all things considered. Still enjoying motel living -not sarcastically; this place is nice, and it’s actually a relief to have a breather while we search for the next location of Stately Bowling Manor. Real Life Romance Hero and Housemate are off to their jobs, and I am back at mine.

I haven’t been getting a lot of reading or viewing done, though that should be picking up in the next few days. I am three or four episodes into season nine of The Walking Dead, and will likely binge So You Think You Can Dance when I am through. One show at a time seems to be what makes the most sense viewing-wise, right now. When I am through with that, I will probably be on the hunt for a great historical drama, so if you have recommendations, leave them in the comments. I have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

I also have Kindle Unlimited, which makes the fact that I am only partway through two KU books in the last two months, and I am not okay with that. I am starting an experiment where I schedule reading time, and, hopefully, that will get me back on track on that front. Planning has been a big help with all of the things that have to be done on our route to the next apartment. I have also drawn Housemate over to the planner side, and I am a proud planner mum, watching her find her own system and style, while refining my own.

Which brings us to writing. When we were packing and hauling stuff to storage, my original plan was to put my writing notebooks in storage, and write everything in one composition book, then transcribe when we land. That lasted as long as the ride to the storage unit. I couldn’t do it. They stay with me, because longhand first is how I work best, and I am, as I go, finding what each individual binder needs, and what gets me to where I want to be – The End of each individual draft. I do have my desktop set up in our room, and I like that bit of home, that space that is all mine. I also like that the hours when the rest of my family is out of the room are my one shot at getting any work done without interruption, short of parking myself in the lobby and getting in some longhand time.

Yesterday was laundry and errands, but today is blocked off as a writing day. I find that exciting.

Talk to you soon!

Typing With Wet Hooves: Pre-Release Weekend Edition

Hi, everybody. Bo Bison here, subbing for my good buddy, Sebastian, once again. As the fight against the fleas continues, Sebastian is due for a thorough vacuuming, so I, who am flea-free, will be filling in until he is cleared to resume his usual duties. Didn’t want anyone to think I was horning in on him, heh, heh.

Only three more days now…

Okay, the big news about all things Anna is that this is the last weekend before Chasing Prince Charming, the first book in the Love By The Book series, written with Melva Michaelian, through The Wild Rose Press, will be released. That’s very exciting news, and there is a lot to do in preparation for that. If you have already subscribed to the new melvaandanna.com site, then you can watch the countdown to the big day.

The big day also includes an author visit to Buried Under Romance, and wouldn’t you know, Anna is the one who gets to be in charge of that one, so she and Melva have some fancy footwork to do. Thankfully, they’re pretty good at that sort of thing, and whatever form it takes, it’s bound to be a good time.

Speaking of Buried Under Romance, click that caption in the picture above, if you want to read about some of Anna’s picks for what iconic historical romance families might be in line to catch the Bridgerton bouquet, if the upcoming Netflix series is a success. There’s a new topic every Saturday, so if you would like to join the discussion, or just listen to Anna ramble, please consider subscribing there as well, and suggestions for topics are always welcome. Who knows, you might see your idea as topic of the week.

Moving on to Goodreads, Anna is holding steady at six books ahead of schedule, with sixty-three books read out of her goal of ninety=five, putting her at sixty-six percent of the way toward her goal. Not too shabby, considering it’s been a domestic tornado-y week. That kind of week is exactly why being a few books ahead of schedule can be a good thing. With Kindle Unlimited, and Overdrive, and that nifty trick Lisa at Buried Under Romance showed Anna, to turn any book into an audio book, if it has text to speech capability, I think Anna will be pulling even further ahead.

What follows One Book July?

On the planning front, now that One Book July, which Anna actually liked a lot more than she thought she would, is over, what comes next? Apparently, there is also an All The Books August, where the goal is to use all of one’s planners/notebooks, which is an idea Anna loves, but seeing as how we’re almost half of the way through August already, Maybe she can make Some of the Books September be a thing. In the meantime, here is a sneak peek at the traveler’s notebook Anna plans to move into for the fall season, at the start of September:

Pen + Gear personal size traveler’s notebook

While Anna is all about the blush pink for spring and summer, autumn requires richer hues, so be prepared for a tour of her autumn lineup, coming to a blog post near you, in the very near future. Anna is also well on her way to moving into a project notebook for Her Last First Kiss, which she will actually use. Normally, her story binder setup goes something like:

  1. acquire three ring binder
  2. make sections for hero, heroine, villain, plot, and misc
  3. invest strongly in an aesthetic that is admittedly cohesive
  4. never touch that binder again

Could it be that story notebook peace can be found in a six ring binder? Keep eyes peeled, to find out. On that note, I am going to head on out, because it’s lunchtime, and I have a hankering for some buffalo wings. Don’t worry, they are not made with real buffalo. Actually, we buffaloes are vegetarians, so I’m mostly there for the carrots and celery.

I Will Call Her “Spinebreaker”

Greatest hits picture for today’s header because we are burning daylight, this is Monday’s and Wednesday’s post, and there are a few things to cover. We are now less than one week away from the release of Chasing Prince Charming, my first contemporary romance, my first book written with longtime friend and critique partner, Melva Michaelian. We can’t say “someday” anymore. We can’t say “next year,” or “hopefuly” or even count the months or weeks, because that baby will be here Monday. Eep.

Houston, we have a website!

melvaandanna.com

In addition to the book baby, we are also proud to announce a website baby. Early days yet at melvaandanna.com, but we now have a website. Hop on by, follow us if you are so inclined, and watch us grow. Let us know what kind of content you’d like to see on an author website. Since the webmistress is me, there may be (aka will be) a learning curve, but this is the place where news about future books we write together, and the workshops we teach, in person or online, as well as other hopefully fun stuff in the very near future.

Melva and I are closing in on the home stretch of Drama King, the second book in the Love By The Book series, and I have, as of Monday, started an official notebook section for the third book, Queen of Hearts, so that will be next up for this partnership. After that? We’ve got a few ideas.

August Planner Post

One Book July is now past, and time is coming soon to start setting up my everyday carry (EDC) planners/notebooks/binders for autumn, which has a completely different vibe than spring and summer. This is where Spinebreaker comes into play.

When I first started this whole planner thing, I was pretty dedicated to the cahier size and pooh-pooh’d everything else, but then I started watching planner videos and joined FB groups and a ;whole new world opened. I did not have to be locked into One True Planner, forever and ever, eternity and beyond. That took some getting used to, the same as thinking I could only write one genre, or one way, yappity yap and all that.

Now? Well, now, I’m all about exploring. I had seen mentions of the B6 size in multiple groups, and in multiple videos, and then there was one, right where I get my groceries, in blush pink, and under eight dollars. Yeah. So, that happened. Meet Spinebreaker:

Hi, Spinebreaker!

Why Spinebreaker? I’m glad you asked. I don’t remember if it was in a Facebook group or a YouTube video where I first encountered this, but what I do remember is that the narrator, an artist, knew, in art school, who was going to do well in the class. On the first day, the professor passed out bound, blank sketchbooks. The nice kind. The narrator recounted how they stared at the perfect untouched purity of the sketchbook and how afraid they were that they were going to ruin it with their imperfect art. Other students immediately picked up the books, broke the spines, opened the book to several different pages, wrote their names in the front, and put marks on pages, be they first, last, or random, while the narrator was still staring at the blank perfection and dreading being the source of its ruin.

This resonated with me, a lot. I am very guilty of staring at pages, paper or electronic, fixed on the blankness and the preciousness of the unblemished page…but, as Pable Picasso said, all creation begins with destruction (of the blank page or canvas.) I am not a Picasso fan, myself, but “Picasso in a CafĂ©,” a song by one of my favorite composers, Brian Lowdermilk, is a favorite of mine (gentle readers who prefer not to hear strong language, take my word for it; otherwise, click the link) especially since I followed a series of videos he make, chronicling some big changes in his life and creativity, after a creative disappointment. He and his wife, Anna Levinger, who contributed the portion of the song with the strong language, took a gap year and traveled, exploring the world, as well as creativity, etc.

No gap years here, but learning to create again after a big shift, that I know. I know the feeling of the wandering in the wilderness, and the combination of strangeness and coming home, to come out of it in a different place than one went in; new genres, not instead of, but along with, expanding the sizes and purposes of binders and notebook covers I use. Mushing all of that with the story I wish I had written down so that I could attribute it properly, I like the idea of being a spinebreaker. That’s why, earlier this week, I made myself slip some inexpensive inserts into that pristine new B6 cover, and start swatching watercolors on the first few pages. There. Not blank anymore. Does that make it easier? For me, actually, yes.

Those blank pages are powerful. Sometimes, too much so. That’s why melvaandanna.com (all one word, all lowercase, tell your friends) is up in its tiny, imperfect, baby steps glory. We don’t serve the website. It serves us. That perspective may not be true for everybody, for us, this is just right.