Typing With Wet Paws: Mid-December Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. This is also getting ever closer to Christmas, which is probably going to be pretty exciting for me, because it’s my first proper Christmas with these guys, and everybody’s first in this apartment. The aunts went to the storage unit earlier in the week, and had second thoughts about doing the archaeology needed to get to the existing Christmas tree, since it’s in a box near the back. In other words, behind heavy stuff. Instead, they plan to buy a new one probably this weekend. Maybe a tabletop version, even though Aunt Anna has a lot of lights at the ready.

What she did pick up at the unit, though, was the rest of her pen collection (well, the most used ones, anyway) and I helped her sort through them and get them put away.

one of the many jobs of a purr-sonal assistant

There is a high possibility that I will give Aunt Anna a pen for Christmas. Last year, I gave her a lightbulb, but that’s only because we were visiting Aunt Linda’s family, and we were shut in the guest bedroom and that was the best thing I could find. Aunt Anna loved it, though, so I guess I did good anyway. There is also a possibility that I know something about where her morning pags notebook and brand new kraft paper notebook are (she is pretty sure they are together) and could surprise her when Christmas comes.

Pile of Assorted Novel Books
thanks for the picture, Pexels

Aunt Anna had a great chat with Miss Lisa over at Buried Under Romance, and they are super excited about lots of fun stuff they have planned for 2021. For now, there is the most current Saturday Discussion, and Miss Lisa’s review of the newest Christmas romance from Jenna Jaxon. Click those links if you want to take a look.

As for the whole Goodreads challenge thing. Sorry, Aunt Anna, we have to go there. It’s time. As of right now, Aunt Anna has read 77 out of ninety books, putting her seven books behind schedule if she wants to make it to her goal by the end of the year. That means she has thirteen books to go, with twenty-one days to go. Doable. There may be some fussing, because the big reader energy is still not back yet, but she has a few ideas.

  1. Move the goal post. As in get in there and change the number to something more manageable, like 80 (or even 77, where she currently is) and be done with it. There are bigger fish to fry, after all. Mmm, fiiiiiiiish.
  2. Push through, everything else be, um, danged. Get to that arbitrary number no matter the cost because there is a reputation to uphold.
  3. Audiobooks. All the time. Even when writing and stuff like that.
  4. Novellas. All the novellas. Don’t care if she wants to read them or not, they’re short.
  5. Say the fluff with it and not even try. Losing isn’t the end of the world. It’s 2020. There are naps to take.

Yeah, she’s not going to do that last one. It’s going to be one of the others. Which one would you pick if this were you in this situation? Drop your answer in the comments. I will say that she is getting more reading time since she still has to share the computer with Uncle Rheuben and that means she doesn’t get a lot of or sometimes any Sim time, so reading is more accessible. We’ll see what happens. She’s not thrilled with being this far behind after being that far ahead as she once was, but hey, it’s 2020. These things happen.

Uncle Rheuben’s desk

Before you ask, that is not a flatlay. That is just how his desk usually looks. He’s a tidy dude. There is usually a laptop there, but since it isn’t working, it’s in its box for the time being. Hopefully a short time, because computer sharing makes Aunt Anna a little loopy, if you catch my drift.

That did not, however, keep her from having a great video chat with Aunt Melva. They have set a goal to be done with the first draft of Drama King by Christmas, which is super exciting. After that, there is going to be a poopload of editing but Aunt Anna likes that part, so it’s all good.

That’s probably about it for right now. Aunt Anna wants to get to the big business at hand for her Capitol Region RWA chapter, because it’s member appreciation time, and she gets the super fun job of shaking virtual pompoms in everybody’s direction, reading off all the great things they’ve done in this sucktastick year. She normally does that in person and gets to hand out treats and presents. That’s going to be a little different when done virtually, but I bet it will still be fun, especially with a very high chance of a calico photobomb.

Headbonks!

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!

February Planner Post: Part One

Normally, I would say that Monday’s post on Tuesday was the result of some domestic tornado, but, this time, it was a planner. (Note: this is not a sponsored post. I babble because I love, that’s all.) Sunday night’s weekly Michaels stroll led to the discovery of possibly the most Anna-est personal size planner I have seen to date, on serious clearance. Meet Magnolia Jane, from Heidi Swapp (I think the planner is discontinued, but look at those gorgeous other things in the line) I tried to reason myself out of it, as I already have my Webster’s Pages planner, which was also on serious serious clearance, but I have come to recognize this as The Sign. Planners find me. I don’t fight it anymore.

Needless to say, a bunch of Monday was spent putting this beauty together, moving into her (yes, my planners have genders) and us getting to know each other. Mostly. I still have no idea what I want to do with this page, that starts off every month:

Suggestions always welcome…



The black washi tape is my addition, but, from top, left, we have a blank section, a dot grid section, and bottom left, gridded section, then the stripey section. Right now, I got nothing, but Housemate, who was actually the one to find this beauty, said it looked like my historical romances, and I have to say she is not wrong. So, home it came, and it is now my writing planner. The white Webster’s Pages is now for household use.

Bare bones, again

The washi tape is my addition (also another serous bargain; it’s from the three rolls for a dollar bin at Michaels) and I do want to find some prettier way of marking off the days than bare X marks. Possibly a good place to track progress on various projects, once I figure out a decent legend for that. I’ve found these things work best when I let them happen organically. Carry it around naked (the page, not me; it is winter in NY. I will be wearing many, many clothes) for a while and then, bloop, I’ll know what belongs where.

weekly planning spread

This section, I have mostly figured out. I clicked with this sort of weekly layout in my Dylusions agenda (repurposing as an art journal, now) but wanted some better use for the extra space, as I tend to write vertically. These are better suited to how I work, with half blank, and half gridded sections on each day.

This planner is only for writing tasks/habits, so the weekend, which is not a workweek (not to say that I won’t write on a weekend, and my CRRWA meetings are always on Saturdays) gets blocked off. I’m still figuring out what I want to use to record the daily tasks for the rest of the week. Right now, scrap paper “stickers” are fitting the bill, and the circular sticky notes are for writing related dates/appointments. Both the white circles and pink flags came with the planner kit.

UniBall Signo pens, Recollections pouch 

For this planner, I will be using the Uni Ball Signo pens in blackened colors. Very, very dark versions of red, brown, violet, blue, and green, make my heart happy. The outside pocket of the pen pouch has white, gold, and rose-gold pens, for writing on dark backgrounds, so I am set to go on that part. I have not yet figured out the highlighter situation, but probably will use Zebra Mildliners. in curated colors.

This does not by any means imply that I have the whole thing figured out, or that having certain planners or pens or ephemera will magically make me a better writer (cool if that would happen, but that’s not how it works.) For some, a plain ballpoint pen and blank white paper would work much better, and, for them, I say an enthusiastic “go for it!”

What does make me a better writer (yes, of course, writing; I’m getting to that) is that, since I’ve become involved in the planning community as a whole, I want to write more. Playing with the pretty paper and pen toys combines beautifully with wanting to play with my imaginary friends, and, if I am going to be spending hours a day staring at a page or screen, they may as well be pretty pages and screens. This may have something to do with why I like writing heroes and heroines who are creative in some way; write what you know and all that. After all, I’ve already had one hero spring to life (Bern, from Her Last First Kiss) thanks to my fountain pen obsession, and his heroine, Ruby, would be all over the whole bullet journal thing. Maybe she was actually there first, because, hey, she’s in the eighteenth century. Who knows who else may be lurking in my stationery stash?

Watch this space for part two, and a closer look on how I actually use these pretties.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Something About Voice Edition

Hey, everybody. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you on this rainy Friday. Rainy Fridays are Writer Chick’s favorite kind of Fridays. Check back when it snows, because she loves snow, but rain happens during every season, so I am going to go out on a limb and say it has an edge, for frequency alone.

Domestic tornado-y week around the apartment again, but we come to the end of the week with the same amount of humans as we started it. More importantly, the same amount of stuffed folk. Most importantly, me. Being Cat Regent is a tough job, but somebody has to do it, and, between you and me, I am far more qualified than the red teddy bear, or the super floppy zebra that can’t even stand on its own. Plus, I am a cat.

Anyway, on with the show. Last Saturday, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, as per usual. Most recently, Writer Chick wrote about the eternal appeal of fairy tales in romance. That post is here, and this is the picture that goes with it:

BURfairytales

For Writer Chick’s Goodreads update, I have to call it now: she is being a cheater cheater pumpkin pie eater (she insists that I mention that A) there is not currently any pumpkin pie in the house, B) what’s up with that? and C) she is reading as fast as she can, okay? It’s been a very stressful week, and she’ll have finished the last couple of chapters by the time anybody reads this, so lay off, Sebastian. Yes, she used my name, but not the entire name, so she is probably not too irritated. Probably because she wants to get to the end of her book.)

That out of the way, Writer Chick’s pick of the week is The Iron Duke, the first entry in Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas steampunk romance series. Writer Chick says this has exactly the right blend of history and romance, even if the history is a very different version from what happened here on really real Earth. Just go with it. She is definitely going to read more of these. If you have steampunk romance recommendations, leave them in the comments, and Writer Chick will check them out.

I think that’s everything from the agenda Writer Chick gave me, so now it’s my time to riff. Wednesday was Writer Chick’s birthday-plus-one-week, which I gather is celebrated by putting on unusual clothing and going around to neighbors’ houses, begging for dessert. This is a fitting observance, though a quiet one around ye olde homestead. Maybe next year’s celebration can swap out the desserts for office supplies, because Writer Chick would be all about that kind of reboot.

It has come to my attention that National Author Day or something, was some time in the past week. Also National Cat day, but they didn’t say stuffed cat. At least I don’t t think so. I didn’t read the fine print, but I did lie on it. It was in my sunbeam. By that, I mean real sunbeam, not the artificial sunbeam, in this week’s picture, although that is good, too.

Also in this week’s picture is the business card holder that usually sits on Writer Chick’s desk. Since Writer Chick’s desk is currently in storage, that holder thingy and the pen attached to it live on the bookcase in Writer hick and Dude’s bedroom. Writer Chick gets the bottom shelf, Dude gets the top shelf, they split the middle shelf, and I sit wherever I want.

Writer Chick is kind of pumped that she needs to order more business cards soon, because she has now given out most of the ones she had before. That means networking is going okay. She is also pretty pumped that the pen takes Pilot G-2 ink refills, because she loves those pens. Bold point preferred; she’ll be very clear about that, but she’ll take medium in a pinch, fine point if she must, but she will do so with a heavy sigh.

The plaque on the base of the holder says, “I Anna-ize,” which is there because this was a gift from a friend, who froze when thinking of what to have put on the plaque. Writer Chick’s name only occurred to her afterward, but it’s all good, because Writer Chick likes that sentiment. Putting her own stamp on the romance genre has always been important to her, so this is a good reminder to make sure that goes into every manuscript.

How does Writer Chick “Anna-ize?” That’s a very good question, and there are times when her response would probably be that she was hoping you knew. Sometimes, it’s a matter of sitting down and doing the thing. Apple trees can only grow apples, and all that

For this kind of thing, it’s really best if Writer Chick doesn’t over Anna-lyze (see what I did there?) what she’s doing, and, instead, let the characters have their head (that is an old-timey phrase, meaning to let a horse pick where it wants to go, and the rider will be all “whatever” about the whole thing) and trust that they will get her to the right place, in the end.

Since Writer Chick writes romance, that end is an ever fixed mark (Shakespeare reference, for the win) but exactly how those people get to that happily ever after, well, that’s a wild card. I can respect that. It’s going to be different for everybody, which is why romance is such an interesting genre for Writer Chick to write.

That should be about everything for “Write” (heh heh) now, so keep your eyes peeled for those stray posts Writer Chick still owes. Never know when those babies are going to pop up, but they’ll be there.

Peace and Cuddles,

SebastianWindowBye

You Asked For (Most of) It

Kitchen table seems to be my default workspace as of late, and, one week after my return from CT Fiction Fest, the normal routine is inching back into place. Since the normal routine includes candles, tea, books, pens, and paper, this is a very good thing. It also means I do the book writing thing, now equipped with my snazzy new tools gleaned from abovementioned conference.

Starting off a little differently this week, though (and not only because Monday’s entry is coming to you on Tuesday,) with answers to a few asks I’ve had in ye olde emaile inboxxe.

First, my planners. If you’re new, spoiler alert: I love planners. If you’ve been here a while, this is not news. For those who asked about my current system, I use the traveler’s notebook setup, aka one cover, holding four notebook inserts inside it.

120918websterspages

Webster’s Pages classic and pocket traveler’s notebook covers

My classic (aka A5) cover is blush stripe, and the pocket size is blush. I am very into blush pink at the moment (it will probably be a very long moment) which is why I had to have the blush pink Artist Loft dot grid journal from Michaels. This is where I make my monthly and weekly spreads. I used to make daily spreads as well, but A) that takes a while, and B) my dailies migrated to a whiteboard on the refrigerator, and seem happy there, so who am I to move them? I’m experimenting with a minimalistic style in this planner, which is new for me, but fits with the blush, so it may stick.

AugustBujo

My calendars are in Dutch, because I am learning.

Inserts for both covers are usually Moleskine cahiers or Volants, but Picadilly has some super nice A5 inserts, as well. I get both brands at Barnes and Noble. My new discovery is Yellow Paper House, on the website or Etsy, which makes gorgeous inserts with colored paper. Insert heart eyes emoji here. My favorite pens could take up another post all by themselves, but, for daily use, I like Pilot Frixion erasable pens and pastel highlighters (also erasable.) I like the clicky ones best. I am not receiving any compensation from abovementioned brands; merely fangirling over my favorites. This weekend, I plan to try my hand at making my own inserts, because A) I am a control freak, and B) I like pretty notebooks that do exactly as I want.

The next request comes from a conversation with friends, this past weekend, and the idea of top five books. This is a hard question for many readers, because how do you pick? Going with top five for right now, not of all time, and I can write more, later, in depth, about said choices, but, for today, my top five historical romance novels are:

  1. Skye O’Malley – Bertrice Small
  2. Lovesong – Valerie Sherwood
  3. Pirate in my Arms – Danelle Harmon
  4. Tyburn – Jessica Cale
  5. Wild Bells to the Wild Sky – Laurie McBain

 

Top five YA novels, right now, are:

  1. Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
  2. Every Day – David Levithan
  3. Emergency Contact – Mary H.K. Choi
  4. We Are Okay – Nina La Cour
  5. I Will Go Barefoot All Summer For You -Katie Letcher Lyle

 

I could probably break this down further, to give lists of specific kinds of historical romances, or YAs, and favorites that don’t fall into either category.  (Nick Hornby, Evelyn Waugh, and (the real) V.C. Andrews, I am looking at you.) These will probably crop up in future posts, because A) instant post topic, on days when my blogging idea bank consists of “uhhh….” B) I will get to make a separate notebook to keep track of all of these lists, and C) I honestly could blabber about my favorite books forever. Ditto on the pens and notebooks, but a gal’s got to write sometime.

I am also putting a mental sticky note on the topic of abandoned notebooks, those that I started with the best of intentions and then…umm…yeahhh…:shoves stack of notebooks under bed, with foot: Some of them come back, as with Big Daddy Precious, aka the second from the bottom in the book stack, pictured. I fell in love with this notebook on sight, needed it, longed for it, and knew that I wanted to use it for Her Last First Kiss stuff. I started at it for longer than I would care to admit, then tried a bunch of different approaches, all of which fell completely flat.

Still, I packed it in with my must-haves when we moved, and, this past week, hauled it out of its box, when N and I gave ourselves homework to get ourselves back on track with the manuscripts we loved, but had been ignoring/hiding from/procrastinating. What better book than the one I can swear is giving me the side-eye? I hadn’t noticed it at the time, but the point in this notebook where I paused writing in it? Dead middle.  Solution? One page break, new title page, begin as if this was a brand new notebook.

The one thing I have learned from these notebooks abandoned in midstream is that whatever I was using them for, and then abandoned, wasn’t the right thing. Maybe I thought it was the right thing, but it wasn’t, and that’s normal and natural, does not mean I am a failure as a writer and/or human being. All it means is that I need to turn a fresh page and try something that is not what was giving me guff. Decent advice for most things, really. I may need to make an art journal page about that.

020418deskscape2

 

 

Writer’s Bug-out Bag

This morning, I hauled a much-needed load of laundry to our regular laundromat, to find the custodian hard at work, mopping the floors, two people happily chatting in the seating area, and both change machines out of quarters. Well. Although a gentleman I do not personally know offered to take my single dollar bills “to the store” to exchange for quarters, I declined the offer, and, instead, took a few blocks’ stroll to the other laundromat.

Plusses of other laundromat: it is pink, it has an attendant, and more machines, so no waiting. Minuses of the other laundromat: it is a few blocks away, and there is always news or talk shows on the TV, but I have headphones, and an ability to tune out unwanted noises when I want to write. Laundry time makes for good writing time, but, while I am happy to haul Big Pink and my fifty-nine pen case basically across the street while simultaneously juggling a basket full of laundry, the same does not hold when I need to cross the street twice, then take a four block stroll, carrying those same items.

Recently, Real Life Romance Hero received a complimentary small, zippered bag, from an organization to which he belongs. Because he is a man of fine taste and high intelligence, he offered the bag to me first. It should be about the size of Big Pink. Did I want it? Um, yes. Smart man.

While Big Pink does indeed fit in this bag, the pen case would not, buuuut, what if I could bring my absolute essentials with me, have them live in one bag, and so all I would have to do when headed on a laundry excursion of any distance (or park, or coffee house, etc) was grab it and go? Intriguing. Combine that with the required weekly trip to Michael’s, and we have:

 

01smallbagcovers

the essentials

The purple cover is for my Kindle (pop over three hundred books in my bag when I leave the house? Don’t mind if I do.) and the red cover is a 5×8 Piccadilly Essential. Moleskine, Leuchtrumm, or other books would also work, but I wanted to finish filling this one. The gold pen case (looked rose gold in the store, which is why I picked it over the pink one, but live and learn and always look in natural light) has an elastic that goes over the book, useful since the Piccadilly’s elastic went the way of the dodo some time back.

 

01smallbaginnards.jpg

Innards

 

The paper is ivory (much, much better for my tired eyes than white) and lined, and the pen case is perfectly sized for six Stabilo fineliners, and one Frixion highlighter.

Because I prefer a visual break between brain dump sessions, or between subjects/scenes/insert own unit of demarcation here, I stuffed a small book of washi tape strips and stickers into the back pocket. The facing page has sticky notes, because a book is not truly mine until it has sticky notes sticking out of it. Slip pen case around book, toss in bag, good to go.

 

01smallbagextras.jpg

extras

The endpapers are my own addition; the book comes with plain ivory, but I couldn’t let that stand. This does not by any means take the place of Big Pink, but, if I am going to be hauling laundry for multiple blocks, or, hopefully seldom, going to the ER, especially in the wee hours, or other spontaneous trips where I want to have writing materials at hand that not only serve the function of something to write on, and something to write with, but feel like me, I’m good with this setup.

Having particular tools at hand isn’t essential, but it doesn’t hurt, either. It’s rather satisfying. If the longhand would transcribe itself, that would be even more convenient, but I am not complaining. The red book is almost full, after several attempts at prior purposes – another format of a commonplace book, my first attempt at making my own planner (it did not go well) and notes for posts for another site. This means that I get to pick out a new book to take its place when I’ve filled the last page…or maybe a not-so-new book.

I like the idea of taking those notebooks that were started, then abandoned, either excising the old, written-on pages, covering them, or merely taping them together in one big block, and giving the book new life. Perhaps it’s all part of the creative process, trying, falling, getting up again. Finding what works. Finding what doesn’t. Right now, this does, so I’m making note.

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

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:

040218artjournalbowling

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):

030218gifttoself

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

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Planapalooza Edition

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

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

 

BURComputerDog

Buried Under Romance

 

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

 

RoseGreyBooks

Rose Grey Books

 

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

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

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

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

 

ShatteredRoseReview

The Shattered Rose, by Jo Beverley

 

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

BrushTipPenTipsTombow

Tombow Brush Markers

 

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

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

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

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

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

Brush Markers and How I Use Them

Earlier this morning, a writer friend asked if I could talk about my experience with brush markers. Good thing, because I needed a topic for today’s post. Disclaimer: I still do not technically have a bullet journal, but I have written about what I have as my daily carry, here. I’ve swapped out the handmade journal (I’m keeping it for swatching new pens/inks) for an unlined Moleskine, but otherwise, the system remains the same.  I’m still incredibly new to the world of brush markers, as in it’s only been a week since I ventured into these waters, but I’m already finding them useful.

I’ve been using highlighters in my notebooks for about as long as I’ve been using notebooks, but I don’t always want the traditional highlighter colors. They can be harsh on my eyes, and, sometimes, they don’t fit the mood of the page or notebook I’m using, so I wanted to try an alternative. After a brief spin with colored pencils, I saw many of the contributors to Art Journaling magazine, and figured I’d give them a try.

First up: American Crafts Bible Journaling markers. I am Christian, but I don’t know what Bible Journaling is, besides pretty, from pictures I’ve seen, so can’t speak to that use.  My goal was to find markers I could use to take the place of eye-searing highlighters. Price point was low on these, so good place to stick a toe into the water, right? Well….

 

Book pictured is a Markings journal, with gridded pages. This is for daily tasks, and I am still figuring out the color coding I want to use. Original coding was:

  • Yellow: Problem Solving, aka anything I needed to get out of the way before I could get down to business, or could affect my ability to write that day.
  • Orange: Essentials, aka, anything with a hard deadline for that day. Blog entries, domestic responsibilities, emails to return, online critique sessions, etc.
  • PinkChasing Prince Charming related tasks; writing/editing, Skype sessions with Melva, anything that gets this book closer to a complete second draft.
  • BlueHer Last First Kiss related tasks: writing, editing, research, again, anything that gets this book closer to a completed second draft.

I waffled off and on with using green for Heroes and Heartbreakers things, and purple for well filling/self care, but they morphed into a more general “notes” section, which I don’t always use, so that may still change. In this iteration, peach is for problem solving, green for essentials, then pink and blue remain the same. These markers are very subtle, and might work better for their original purpose; I haven’t tried them that way. There is also a fine tip on these pens, as well as a brush tip, but I haven’t had use for them.

Tombow Dual Brush Markers were next, bought from open stock at a local art store. These are the ones I have heard recommended the most, and there are a lot of colors, both in open stock and prepackaged. I fell in love with the pink and the blue when I swatched them in my daily carry book, and then grabbed the tan and green to complement those.

 

The meteor-shaped black blob is a leftover from me re-inking a fountain pen. I think it adds character. These are also double-tipped markers, brush tip on one end, fine tip on the other. I don’t get a lot of use out of the fine tipped end on the lighter colors, but maybe I haven’t found the right use for them yet. Nice to have, anyway. I like the pink and the blue for my daily task book, and the tan is a nice alternative to yellow, though I may want to try a lighter green next time around. Still pretty, and the colors all have similar value, so it feels harmonious, which actually does matter for me. Will definitely try other colors, maybe in a prepackaged assortment next time. These can be a bit pricier, but, I think, worth the investment, and chain craft stores often run coupons that can make for a very nice discount.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens also have an excellent reputation.  I have one (1) black Pitt pen, for art journaling, after hearing a lot of good things about it (all true) so when I wanted to branch out into brush markers, these were a natural. I might have picked a different assortment than the basics, but the store that had the fifty percent off coupon had only basic and gray packs (I will probably get the gray pack later, because I am me.)

I love the packaging on these, and the feel of the pens in my hand. I can come closer with these to my original color coding system (I love color coding; artist’s kid, so that started at a very early age) but still not sure on the actual colors I want to use for my daily task pages. This may require more research in open stock. I do like that these pens are only brush tip, as I don’t use the fine tip on the other markers, and the wallet they come in makes for a durable carrying case. I have not used them in my task book yet, but took them out for a spin as art markers yesterday, and found them very easy to use.

Biggest difference I have found between using brush markers and highlighters, besides the degree of eye-searingness, is that I need to put down the brush marker color first, and then write on top of it, and that after it dries. That takes about ten to fifteen seconds, which isn’t all that long, so I like to do all the color first, and then list tasks.  The markers also let me doodle borders on the pages, instead of using washi tape. Using tape borders in the same place on succeeding pages means that builds up bulk on those places only, which results in sunken writing surfaces. Sunken writing surfaces are very seldom efficient, so brush markers help keep the page bulk uniform. Plain, undecorated pages make me antsy, but if I can put down even a streak of color, then that anchors my brain.

All swatches above are done on ivory paper, but I can swatch any or all of the markers on white paper, upon request. Again, I am very new to using brush markers, so tips (pun unintended, but it works) from more experienced users are welcome. Those who use brush markers in your planning, what brands/colors do you like?

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

 

If Not Now, When?

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

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

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

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

artjournalHRCH

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

artjournalstuff

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

artjournalbackground

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

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

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

AnnaSelfieComment