Typing With Wet Claws: Off The Grid Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another very special Feline Friday, coming to you from Camp Grandma. This is a special post, because it is a special day, and that special day is because Anty is getting ready to come and spend most of the next week with me. Because Camp Grandma does not have interwebs, apart from the remote connection, Anty will be off the grid (and on the floor, with me, because I am a floor girl) and therefore will not be posting on Monday. She has mentioned some vague ideas of writing a post on Monday anyway, and seeing if she can upload it when Anty Melva comes to camp to take Anty to lunch (I will stay in my bunk and have fish jelly, because that is the best lunch ever. Except for peanut butter, and I already know Anty put peanut butter on the grocery list) but Anty said not to make any promises, but she is keeping a retreat diary and will share some of that when she can.

The day that Anty goes back to Right-Now Apartment is also a very special day, because that day is also Uncle’s birthday, aka the best day ever. I do not know what Anty is getting Uncle for a present, but I already know what I am giving him. I think he would like a shed whisker, maybe a claw, or a glop of early fall shed fur. What do you think? Maybe I will give him all three. Anty will take pictures of me, but nothing beats the real thing, amirite? All three it is. Probably. We may have to see what happens on the laser pointer front first. Worst case scenario, the ghost cats have mentioned something about a flashlight that is rumored to be almost as good as a laser pointer, but only at night.

Being off the grid until Uncle’s Birthday will not affect Anty posting on Buried Under Romance on Saturday, because she knows how to travel through time, and already set up that post. I do not know how she does it. Probably something related to planning, because she has been doing a lot of planning lately. Like, a lot, but that is a whole other post. Her most recent Saturday Discussion post is here, and it looks like this:

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Um, no, actually, that is the picture that goes with Anty’s next post for Buried Under Romance, but I will leave it there, because Anty has a very strict schedule for today, and the “help Skye with her blog post” section is a lot smaller than I would normally like, but I do get Anty 24/7, apart from her lunch with Anty Melva, and possibly a walk to the post office (that would be Anty walking to the post office, not me, because I am an inside girl. I spent the first six months of my life outside, because I was born wild. Trust me, it was not that great. Inside only for me from now on, thankyouplease.)

When it comes to Anty’s Goodreads Challenge, this entry will be very brief. Thanks to Anty’s new discovery of Book Tubers, she has been adding a lot of books to her To Be Read lists. As of today, she is ten books ahead of schedule, having read sixty-four out of ninety books, which puts her at seventy-one percent of the way to her goal. Since Anty has a fully charged Kindle, and a whole bag filled only with books, I think it is safe to say that she is going to be reading a lot during this retreat. Sometimes, she does read out loud to me, which I very much appreciate. If there is a kitty in the book she reads aloud, she does do the kitty voice. She has a funny accent, but she does okay.

Another thing Anty does okay, and would like to do okay-er is art. I like watching Anty do arty things, because it is very interesting. Her hands move a lot, she usually has music playing, and, sometimes, her supplies have interesting smells. Some kitties like to help their humans by batting the supplies around, but I do not do that. I sit nearby and observe, because I am a good girl. Anty and I have some of our best talks that way. Often, when I help Anty do arty things, that lets the story part of her brain free-float, and then some of her writing problems work themselves out, on their own. Bloop, all solved. Anty is very much looking forward to that part of the retreat. Maybe I can sneak some peanut butter, if she is absorbed enough in arty things while her rice cake is left unattended.

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Anty has not made any art here yet. These books and pocket are made by Dyan Reavely

I am not sure if Anty is bringing that particular art book with her (it is very cool, though, and she looks forward to playing with it) because she has a theory that keeping the supplies on hand to a carefully curated minimum will encourage her to use them in more ways, but I figured this post could use another picture, and she had that one hanging around, so that’s what you get.

Anty is also bringing a bunch of movies, that we can watch together. It is very thoughtful of her to have a laptop that plays movies, because Grandma keeps her TV in Big Carpet Room, in which I am not allowed. I like watching TV with my humans, but Big Carpet Room is a no-kitty zone. That is because of what Michelangelo, one of the ghost cats did (back when he was a non-ghost cat) and Grandma has concerns that it will give me ideas. I cannot say exactly what it was, but I strongly believe it has to do with, um, stuff. Grandma has me 100% on my stuff habits, and she is not taking any chances. Grandma’s house, Grandma’s rules, so Anty and I will have movie dates in my room.

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

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

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The Daily Thunderstorm

Welcome to the daily thunderstorm. Such is August in New York’s Capitol Region. I don’t mind it. Actually, the booms and flashes and wet stuff are my favorite part of a summer day, apart from the part where day turns into night. Night, as it were, is not far off, or at least the part of the day where I have uninterrupted writing time. Which, technically, never happened, as I am not alone at home today, with Real Life Romance Hero in residence. Housemate will be home within the half hour, so, realistically, this is probably going to get posted tomorrow, rather than today, because that’s the way things go. It probably doesn’t help that, because I am still figuring out the Mac, which will probably include a Safari upgrade, I am relying on YouTube for my musical accompaniment, and, well, how can I possibly listen to Mykal Kilgore sing Drew Gasparini’s “I Loved You Too Much” without actually watching the video? I’m only human. Or Mykal Kilgore singing “Disaster,” also by Drew Gasparini. Okay, fine, any video that has both names in it is one I really should not be playing when I am meant to be writing.

There are different types of writing. Blogging, I can do with family mucking about. Usually. There are always exceptions. Some things, I can do in bits and snatches, propped on a pile of pillows at the end of an air mattress (non-leaky variety) with the Mac on my lap desk, and legs contorted in what is probably not a real yoga position (writer pose? is that a thing?) Other things require complete silence and solitude (though true fact, for me, that’s not a lot) and yet others need to be where I am alone among people. This is one of the reasons there is part of my brain devoted to figuring out what bus route will drop my at my favorite coffee house, because I miss that place, and the atmosphere, but writing is one of those things that can be done in an endless variety of places.

For now, I’ll go with the sound of the actual thunderstorm as my background music. We’re close enough to the road that I can hear one of my top three sounds of all time, cars driving on wet asphalt. (The others, in case anybody was wondering, are RLRH snoring, and Skye crunching her treat) Part of my brain is working on my Drama King assignment for the week, as Melva and I will have our weekly meeting in person, as part of my retreat. Blabbering here actually lets another part of my brain work on other things (aka fiction writing) on the back burner, and a lot of issues sort themselves out that way, so I won’t complain about that, either.

Preparations for said upcoming retreat are underway, which is, in itself, part of said retreat. Once I decide what’s coming with me, (and after I do laundry, because clothes covered in dry sweat are not conducive to either rest or creativity) that’s committing to what I’ll have on hand for the time that I’m away. As with the last retreat, there will be no internet. This is not as scary as it was the first time, especially, since I remind myself that I spent the majority of my life, at least half of it, in a time when the internet did not even exist, so it’s a pretty good shot that I will be able o survive. Not so sure about my Sims Free Play Sims, but not going to give that too much emotional energy.

This will be the first trip with the Mac, and I’m looking forward to that. Skye is still the main draw, of course, but picking out the right books, the right DVDs (I figure a couple of movies, and one season of a TV series should do me fine) – those are important. What I bring is what I’ve got, and I need to have a plan in mind. Four books seems about right (plus Kindle and charger, because one never knows) and morning and evening pages books. There are two pocket size inserts for Li’l Pink, headed my way. They should arrive by Friday, which is perfect, because we should be hitting the road Saturday morning, and having a whole weekend to set up a pocket sized planner, which includes but is not limited to copying vital information from Big to Li’l Pink, that’s about as good as it gets for planning. Which definitely means I need to make sure I bring the right planning supplies, or I will be kicking myself for the entire retreat.

Well, not the entire retreat. There will be Skye, and there will be Melva, and there will be a decent sized TV, with nobody to fight me for the remote. There will be books and my shiny new computer, and all my imaginary friends, and a fully stocked kitchen, and maybe, possibly, there will be thunderstorms. If not, There’s always downloaded ambient sound.

 

 

 

It Only Has To Be Written

Old school workspace picture for today, because A) it’s hot and muggy, and B) I am too lazy to get up and retrieve my phone from the bedroom, also C) I have no idea if it will actually take a charge, and I would rather live in blissful ignorance on this matter, for a while longer. Technology, often, is not my friend, which is a funny thing to say when typing this blog entry on a new-to–me Mac, but this blog is a place for honesty, so that’s what you get.

Right off the bat, the fact that Monday’s blog is appearing on Tuesday is probably an indication of how this week is going, but I figure I can deal. The week will end in my second off the grid retreat, including some up close and purr-sonal time with my fuzzy mews, lunch with co-writer, Melva, to talk about the next steps for Drama King, our sophomore effort, and, possibly most importantly, uninterrupted reading and/or writing time.

Yes, I am bringing the Mac. No, he does not have a name yet (yes, my electronics have genders, and yes, I am sure) but he is a boy. I do have a favorite contender for the name, but still keeping it quiet for a while. There will most likely, in the not too distant future, skins, and a case, and at the very least, a pretty keyboard cover. I want to bring this laptop into my family the right way. Still looking at options, so updates and pictures when things are settled.

Settled is a funny word to use right about now, as not a lot in several areas of life is actually settled. We are still crunching numbers about Forever Apartment, and my office, right now, is a leaky air mattress on the living room floor, as the folding chair and tv tray arrangement meant either happy eyeballs and grouchy back, or grouchy eyeballs and happy back. Since writers generally fare better with as few grumpy body parts as possible, a decent laptop, air mattress, and armrest pillow, seem to be the best solution for the time being. I am hoping that the end of this week will not include a casualty report for the miniature rose plants, but not ruling it out. This is my first time with roses, so some casualties are to be expected.

This would normally be a good place to say “it’s like that with writing,” only this isn’t my first time with writing. Not every project is going to pan out. That’s truth. Unpleasant, but truth. Yet, at the same time, the rest of the month will see two anthology submissions published, so there’s that to anticipate, I am going on retreat, which nets me not only time alone with my mews, but an environment free of distraction, and this morning brought a gracious invitation to speak again at the first RWA chapter I ever joined, which felt very much like an affirmation. They asked me back. I’m doing something right.

One month from now, I will be packing to go to Connecticut Fiction Fest, which deposits me in a hotel full of other writers, both romance and otherwise, for three days of full immersion networking, workshops, one of which I am co=presenting, and Chasing Prince Charming will hopefully get some love from the critique appointment Melva made. The manuscript is once again making he rounds of editors and agents, so we will see what transpires with the new and improved version, as we move on to Drama King.

This week, my library haul found a new home, in the top shelf of the rolling cart in the kitchen, and I noticed that, for the first time in a while, my historical romance titles outnumber the YAs. It’s tight, but historical romance is winning, and that, also, is encouraging. One thing I never thought would happen would be that I’d feel resistance to reading my favorite genre, but life is funny like that. Depression is part of it, the losing interest in things one normally likes, and there are times when a book looks so…big…that even the thought of embarking on that many pages makes me tired. Yes, I know, some YAs have more pages than some historical romances, but right now, I’m finding most historicals are part of series, and the mere thought of having to read three, four, five, or more books, before I can get to the new one that’s caught my eye (yes, I do have to read series in order; I’ve tried otherwise, and I don’t like it) is likely to go into the “too much trouble” file, and I’m probably missing out on some really good reads. At least for now. YAs, at least the ones I’ve been reading, are more likely to be standalone, and, at present, a story that’s complete in itself if what works for me.

So, why did the scale tip on this week’s library run? I can’t say There will probably  be another post on this, later, and maybe a book haul video, so I can share my choices with you. Maybe there’s a pattern I’m not seeing. I know that writing goes better when I’m doing certain things, and one of those is reading books that have me sorry to put them down, and eager to open them at the next opportunity.

For now, though, it’s writing time. Outside my window, there is a delicious thunderstorm, and my reward for writing-anything; it doesn’t have to be perfect, or even usable, it only has to be written- is putting my Sims games on the Mac, followed by, quite possibly a cup of tea, and a good book. Thankfully, I am bribable that way.

 

Return of the Video Blog?

The fact that the first blog of the week is up on Wednesday should be some indicator of how the week is going over here. That picture up there? :points to featured image: Also an indicator, because the picture I did take of my workspace for the day (lan desk, on top of the air mattress, Big Pink, blush planner, and Typhoo tea in my A mug) is not showing in Google Photos. I am going to guess that not getting any sleep until six in the morning has something to do with this fact. I also suspect that said sleep only lasting three hours has something else to do with the issues at hand.

Suffice it to say I am more than a bit pushy, which may actually be a good way o go into a writing day. So far, I’ve busted open some scented pens and made some longhand notes on Drama King. Melva and I agreed to take two weeks off (this being the second) before we came back to Drama King, but Jack is a hard hero to shut up, especially when he’s been waiting totally not at all patiently, for attention.

Right now, what I want most is a nap, That will probably happen, at some point, but it’s the start of a new month, the home stretch of summer, time to fill the well and gather speed for the surge of my super powers that return in autumn. It’s off and on raining, though ambient rain sounds on my computer means rain all the time. I like rain. Rain makes me think, and thinking is good when it comes time to do actual writing. Which is big surprise, now. First order of business, blog entry (I’ll make up Monday’s entry, later.) No time to overthink that kind of thing today, so I will go with what’s been on my mind.

For the last couple of nights, I’ve meant to navigate to Netflix or Hulu, but found myself, instead, on YouTube, watching book related videos, mostly reviews or recommendations. I’d first stumbled upon these videos when I was flat out too tired to read, but still wanted to be around historical romance,  and started gobbling them like popcorn. Get me talking about the historical romances I love, and we are going to be there a while. Some of the posts are focused on what the reader doesn’t like, and, for the most part, it’s done without malice, that X didn’t work for that individual, why, and that others’ experience may be different. Also, for the most part, the historical romances touched upon are A) of recent publication, and B) the words, “fluff,” or “fluffy” get tossed around a lot, and I love how much these readers love what they love.

That’s how I feel about a lot of older, or lesser known, or gritty, or angsty, etc, historical romance, and I do miss blabbering about books I love at Heroes and Heartbreakers, so maybe this is a good time to start doing that for myself? Maybe it is. Still thinking about that one, because video blogs take time, and writing new fiction does have to come first. Even though my current pleasure reading has skewed heavily, lately, to realistic YA, my home is still historical romance, and I’m hungry for more time with it.

There are logistics to that. The Hypercritical Gremlins (it’s harder for them to get to the apartment, because we live in a secure building and there’s no way I’m buzzing them up from the entryway) needle that nobody wants to hear me blabber about books, even though I literally did that for monies for several years, so there, Hypercritical Gremlins. You guys can shush. It might, at times, be a distraction, but then again, time spent examining what I love and why I love it, is a great way to stay in touch with the reasons I do this whole fiction writing thing, in the first place.

Yesterday, I sat in a Dunkin Donuts with SueAnn Porter, over beverages and bagels, and had a marvelous discussion about works in progress, and the importance of historical fiction/romance, and…:happy sigh.: Yeah. That. There is nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing, like sinking into another time and place, where two people have to be together, but can’t…until they find a way to make it work. I live for that stuff. Fluff is often a hard sell for me (though there is some great fluff out there, for sure) but when a love story  can hit me hard in the gut, make me cry, and then pull through with the happily ever after, after all (happily ever after all?) there really is nothing better. That’s what I want to provide for my readers.

Maybe this is an additional way to do that. Maybe it’s not. What I do know is that blabbering about things I love is fun, so odds are that I am probably going to give it a shot in the not too distant future. My retreat with Skye is coming up in under two weeks, so I will have laptop, cat, and all the time in the world. Might have to give it a go. What kinds of books would you like to hear/see me blabber about? Drop suggestions in the comments, and I may give it a go.

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Coming Up Roses Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. I have some big mews…uh, that is news…to share with you this week. First, Any has had her essay, “Greetings From Boxvile,” accepted for publication in the New York’s Emerging Writers nonfiction anthology. If you can count (and you probably can,) that means Any will have two short pieces, coming out in anthologies, very soon. Stay tuna, um, I mean tuned, for further details. Tuna wouldn’t hurt, either. Just saying.

The other bit of news is that Any will be having another retreat with me, in August. We are both looking forward to that, very much. There has been talk of.a laser pointer. This intrigues me. Anty will spend some of the time resting, some of the time writing, and some of the time playing with me. That last one is probably where the laser pointer would come into play. I am told there will be more peanut butter, (yay) but that it is a people food (boo.) Anty Kara, who helps a lot of kitties, and is very smart, says that I can safely have a pinky-nail sized bit of the organic peanut butter Anty likes, but I cannot have any peanut butter that has xylitol in it. I do not know what xylitol is, so maybe I Had better stick to cat food, just to be safe. I am very big on staying safe.

I am also very big on following the rules for blogging here, so that I may keep that privilege (Anty, as you might imagine, is the most dominant on that matter) which means that I had better get down to business and tell you where to find Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week. There is a little problem here, and I will tell you what that problem is. That problem is that I do not yet know how to work the new computer, and so I cannot copy and paste the link to Anty’s Buried Under Romance post, or its picture. I am very sorry about that, but when you put together new technology, special paws, and a remote connection, there is going to be a learning curve.

What I can do for you is this. Bookmarking http://www.buriedunderromance.com will make sure that you can always find Anty’s posts there, and read a lot of great book reviews and interviews, as well. That is a pretty sweet deal. I highly recommend it. Anyway, Anty’s post this past week was about romance novels in disguise. That is not about people in romance novels, who wear disguises, (though Anty likes those quite a lot, but that is another post) but it is about books that do not say they are romance novels, but totally are. Outlander, Anty is looking at you.

Did you figure out that the same thing applies to the links to Anty’s Goodreads challenge? You are very smart. Also, Sebastian is kind of useless as a statistician, but he is very good at cuddling, and I do not like cuddles from anybody (well, Uncle, in extenuating circumstances. He is my favorite, and I love him the most.)  I can let him slide a little. According to current count, Anty has read sixty books out of the ninety that are her goal for 2018, which puts her at sixty-seven percent of the way home, and nine books ahead of schedule. That is not too shabby, though I would be remiss if I did not point out that she needs to step it up with the historical romance reading, already.

The book Anty liked most this week was a YA novel, called Munmum, by Jesse Andrews. Anty has already read two other books by Mr. Jesse, Haters and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which she loved, so she was pretty sure she would like this one, too, even though it is what the humans call magical realism. I think that is what humans call it, when it is like our regular world, but with one thing different. That thing, in this case, is that humans are bigger or smaller, according to how much money (or munmun) they have. The little poor people are very small, like rat sized, and so are in danger of dire peril in the form of cats. Also other things, but I can only speak for cats, as I am one. Not all cats are as bloodthirsty as the cats in this book.  The ones that are, are only doing their jobs.

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Another new development is that Anty (and Uncle and Mama, but we all know who’s taking care of these things) now has roses. When Anty and Mama went to buy flowers for Miss H, they did not find any that Miss H would like, but Anty did fall in love with three miniatures rose bushes, so now they live on the windowsill in For-Now Apartment. Their names are York (white roses,) Lancaster (red roses,) and Tudor (red-and-white roses.) They look like this:

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Tudor, Lancaster, and York

If they are not in order, that is because Anty moves them around. Lancaster was hogging all the sun, which is why he was, at the time Anty started rearranging them, the biggest. Anty thinks everybody should get a shot at the good sunlight. Today, it is raining, so they are all out of luck, but that is the plan. For those who are worried about how the roses and I will get along, please do not. I am a floor girl and they are window guys (girls? How do you tell? Or does it no matter?) so we will probably never be on the same level.

I would say something about how rotating the roses compares to Anty working on different projects, in turn, but We are burning daylight, and Anty is making move it along motions, so I guess that means that is about it for this week. More announcements, concerning the anthologies, CT Fiction Fest, and Chasing Prince Charming, still to come. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

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Where on earth is my signify picture on this thing?

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

Rambling, Beneath The Roses

Welp, one day behind on the blogging thing, the photo editor I usually use is giving me guff (but on multiple machines, so it’s probably them and not me) and the picture I thought I was going to use for a different sort of header, I did not actually take as a photo, but sent as a direct message to a friend. It’s that kind of day. Right now, I am in my newest writing nook, which probably will not be permanent but it sure is comfy.

There is now a full sized air mattress taking up most of the living room. I have an armrest pillow in place, and the head of the mattress is flush with the wall, so I do have back support. The new futon/bed is in the bedroom, which feels kind of inside-out-y, but I’m going to roll with it. My house, my rules right? The mattress is also directly below the three rosebush plants (mini variety,) York, Tudor, and Lancaster, (white, red and white, and red, respectively) that captured my heart on Saturday morning. Appropriate plant life for a historical romance writer, if there ever was such a thing.

The weather is pretty darned decent (by my standards) today. Light rain, off and on, temperate enough that I can actually cover my flesh without feeling smothered, and, maybe most important of all, cool enough for tea. A sign of autumn to come? I sure hope it is, because I am pretty much (i.e. totally) done with summer. Seeing as how we’re at the end of July, that is not surprising. There is a lot on my mind, these days, so I’m going to put a bunch of it here, and get along with my day.

First off, I have a new item to add to the Coming Soon page. My essay, “Greetings From Boxville,” will appear in the New York’s Emerging Writers nonfiction anthology, from Z Publishing. I angsted a lot about that essay, then finally wrote what basically amounts to a blog entry, and sent that sucker on its way. This may be something to remember; when in doubt, do what comes naturally.

There is Chasing Prince Charming news. Melva and I agreed, on Monday, that we are done-done with this draft, and it is going back out into the wide world at the end of the week. Eep. Been a while since this kind of thing has happened, but it’s exciting, too, this regaining of the metaphorical stride. Melva and I are taking two weeks off to work on individual projects, and write down notes on Drama King, then come back together and get that story back in gear. This time, we know how we write a book together, along with each other’s strengths and not-so-strengths, and the story world is no longer uncharted territory.

Sleep has been, for the past couple of weeks, to use a technical term, poopy. Last night was my first good, full, night’s sleep in a while, and I appreciate the heck out of that. I could use a few more nights like that, aka all of them. Cooler temperatures help, but the fact that I could get up this morning and make tea, without feeling as though I had to drag my own corpse from wherever I was when I figured sleep was not going to happen, so may as well have caffiene, followed by midmorning crash, is enough to put a bounce in my step. Hence the actual blogging.

When I am done with this, there will be fiction writing, which, right now, feels like a rare treat. I had hoped to use July to outline the selkie story, but that’s not what happened, though I still want that story to happen, as well as A Moment Past Midnight. Not sure, right now, I I want to target one of those for November and NaNo, wait until Her Last First Kiss is at the end of its second draft. I’ll figure it out.

Sometimes, a change of perspective can be a good thing. There’s probably something to be said for being closer to the ground when I write, these days. The desk I’ve loved as long as I can remember, with accompanying office chair, is still in storage, and looks like they will remain there until we move to the next place, so finding where my writing space is, in this apartment, is of paramount importance. A lot of us writers are going to have a lot of different writing places in our lives. Yesterday, Housemate asked me if I missed Old Apartment. I said no. I miss having Skye home from camp, and I miss going to my favorite coffee house to write (which I can still do; it’s only a bus ride away) whenever I wanted it, but it was time to make a change.

Sometimes, it’s like that with writing. There are times to strike out and try something new, and then there are times when the best thing to do is go home. Sometimes, those two things can happen at the same time. Funny how that works. I love it when things that shouldn’t fit together, do, and in the very best of ways. Is this a new season of that starting? Hope so.

New Kid In Town

Some things escalate quickly. At some point last week, I was doing my normal chat thing with H, who mentioned she was getting new furniture. This meant the old furniture, still in good condition, had to go somewhere, and it was free for the taking. A quick consult with the rest of the family, and Google Maps, and Saturday turned into Road Trip Day, as we crossed three states, to bring home two coffee tables, a kitchen table, one floor lamp, and the big surprise, a laptop.

Well then. Game changer. My back and eyeballs both thank H, profusely, and fears that meeting in person would be one of those things where chatting with an internet buddy doesn’t translate so well into face to face in the really real world. That did not happen in this case. Two meals, a walking tour of H’s lovely town, and one glass of homemade strawberry mint lemonade later, we loaded up Housemate’s car, plans for future visits, both ways, bandied about, and headed for home.

The day after was pretty much useless, because we were all tired puppies, and generally lazed about, tossed a frozen pizza in the oven, and made some attempts at computer games. Mine were on my existing desktop, because A) that’s where my saves were, B) I didn’t have to move from my comfy corner, and C) the same “this person I have been chatting with daily, for a year and a half, will obviously hate me, within five minutes of meeting in real life” (again, this did not happen) nervousness shows up when one is gifted a pretty darned nice computer. Forget stomach butterflies. This is stomach vampire bats.

Which is why I pushed myself (distinctly hearing H’s voice in my head, instructing. me to do so) and opened the darned thing. I found what looked like the closest thing to Word (once again, my first Mac, so whole new language going on there) and put fingers to keys. There was some uninteresting blabbering as I threw random words onto the blank white screen, and then two very important words appeared. What if, when I wiped this computer, and made it mine, I made it a writing only computer? No distractions. I do not count Sims 4 as a distraction, because it’s a great way to let actual, for-monies, stories do their thing on the back burner, while I play with my pixel people. I have other devices that can handle everyday things, so this one…this one can be where my imaginary friends come and do their thing.

I blinked at the screen for a moment, because that felt…sneaky. No bells and whistles, only fiction and blogs (and Sims, let’s be real.) What if this is part of life taking a new turn, this time, in a good direction. So far, so good, two days into this whole Mac thing. I don’t think I’ve launched missiles at Norway, or shut down the power grid, at least not yet. So far, it’s basically what I do on any other computer, with the addition of a blessedly empty document folder. Keeping things streamlined and classy; I think I could get used to that.

In a way, it’s fitting to add a new device to the family right about now. The new planner is also going the streamlined and classy route, so this makes sense. Writing planner, writing outer; it’s a natural pairing. Trio, really, because by themselves planner and keyboard are only objects. It’s when the human element comes into play, when I carve out the time for writing (and having deadlines written down is a huge, huge help in not-losing things in all the mind-clutter) and then saying a firm “no” to everything that is not writing, for that time, that’s when the magic happens.

Is a new computer going to be a magic wand that suddenly makes everything better? No, but my. back and my eyes are sure happy, and the chance to start fresh, on a machine that has seen no miscarried stories (of mine; H may tell a different tale, pun intended) is …”nice” doesn’t feel like the right word to use here. Too pat. Too expected. More like it’s one of the pieces of the puzzle, clicking into place. As my favorite Dutch proverb has been saying for hundreds of years, “pray to God, and row to shore.”

 

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Remote Planning Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. The humans have been talking more about moving things, so I take this as an encouraging sign. I like Grandma fine, but we cats are creatures of habit, an my people are Anty, Uncle, and Mama. That is how it works. I am a very social girl, and Grandma has things to do, so I am not able to follow her everywhere, as I would like. While that does give me more time for remote-accessing my mews duties, it is still nice to have somebody to talk to me and tell me I am pretty. I mean, Grandma does, but not all day.

Anyway, before I talk about anything else, I first have to talk about where to find Anty’s writings on the interwebs. As always, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. That post is full of drama. Exhaustion. A traffic stop. Romance novels. You know you want to read it. Well, you can. It is here, and looks like this:

Um. Well. There is actually no featured picture there. That is unlike Anty. The only possible explanation is that Anty delegated that task to Sebastian, who napped through the whole thing. My utmost apologies. Anty will be more on her game next week. Sebastian may want to step things up before his performance review.

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I will give him this much: his window game is unbeatable. As for keeping track of Anty’s Goodreads reading challenge, eh, not so much. Anty is holding steady, though, at ten books ahead of schedule, so that is pretty good. Anty’s favorite book she read this past week is You Know Where to Find Me, by Rachel Cohn. Anty has read books where Miss Rachel collaborated with one of Anty’s all time favorite authors, David Levithan, but she had never read a book by Miss Rachel alone, without Mr. David. This was her week to fix that. How did that turn out? Her review is here, and it looks like this:

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Most of Anty’s writing time this past week has been focused on Chasing Prince Charming. Anty Melva loved Anty’s scene, Anty loved Anty Melva’s editing, and they both agreed the book needed one more scene from Anty. Anty has written two drafts in longhand, and will be transcribing that second draft today, so that it can be really done-done, and then Anty Melva can start sending it out again. Then they go back to work on Drama King, which will probably go much faster, because now they know how they write a book together, and do not have to figure it out so much. Also, there is a cat in that book, which automatically makes it better. I will, of course, be on hand to serve as feline consultant.

This week Anty started a new planner for her writing, and, so far, it is going pretty good. She is still working out exactly what will go in it, and how she wants to track progress on specific projects (also, whether or not she wants to NaNo in November) but having things in one place, where she can see them, is a big help.

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Anty will share more pictures as things progress. Right now, she has her Tuesday breakfasts with Miss N already blocked out, and the days that she (and I) blog, so that we do not miss any. Writing blogs in advance takes way from the “aaaaah, time to post, and I have no ideas” factor, by a lot. Anty was also able to block out the right number of days for the Connecticut Fiction Fest conference, which are not two, but three.

This is a good thing, because spending three days in a hotel full of writers is better than two days. With the information in place this far ahead, Anty can plan what she wants to bring with her, and make checklists. Anty loves checklists. The conference humans are very thoughtful, and are letting the writers hunt for their own dinners at this conference, so Anty may want to scope out the hunting grounds ahead of time, or bring food that she and Anty Melva (and any friends who wander by, potentially) can have in their room. I am a big fan of eating in one’s room. I do it, even at camp.  It’s pretty great.

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

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A Tale of Three Notebooks

This post is totally about stationery, and it is also totally about writing.  This past weekend, I picked up three notebooks, all dedicated to writing. Here’s the family photo, all three in one place:

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We’ll start with the unicorn. The morning pages book I started on my friend, EC’s floor, is now full. Three pages, as soon as possible after waking, every day, no exceptions. Whatever is in my head goes onto the page. That’s the rule. Julia Cameron, who first came up with the idea of this discipline might quibble with my version, because my pages are not the exact size specified; for me, it’s all about the pretty paper. If it’s pretty, I’ll want to write on it. That’s how I roll. Seriously, who could resist these inside pages?

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Gorgeous, right? Kind of like a sunrise, if one is so visually inclined. I also love that, unlike my usual choices, this book is wire bound, which means I can fold the cover back and always deal with only one page at a time. I could get used to that.

A more recent addition to my notebook arsenal is the bookend (pun intended) to the morning pages, which I call evening pages. For this one, blame Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose good morning and good night tweets popped up in my head, late one stressy night, when I desperately needed both sleep and reassurance. Evening pages are my pep talks to myself, a quick rundown of the good points of the day, and encouragement for the day to come. I started writing those in a pocket sized hardcover book, that I thought was going to be part of Li’l Pink’s arsenal, but, when I got the new book for morning pages, it felt right to get one for evening pages, as well. Also, the blue book, which I always read as “Trust Your Butt,” was on ridiculously low clearance, so I could not leave it there. No inside pages picture, because these inside pages are plain, lined, white. Nothing to see here. I actually like the idea of very plain pages to close out the day; it feels restful, so I’m going with it.

The newest member of the Pink family does not have a name yet (suggestions welcome, in the comment section) but she is replacing the orange planner, who is taking early retirement. This orange planner and I have been through a lot together. I felt pangs as I put him in his box while packing the old apartment, and was impatient to get him back when we did land in For-Now apartment. Trouble is, dude has, how shall I put this delicately, bad juju. It’s time for a fresh start.

This new, pink, planner has white pages, unusual for me, because I usually require ivory or colored, but, this time, I like the difference. Also different is the fact that the tools I wanted to use for this planner were clear from the first; I’m going minimal. Black pen, one set of pastel highlighters, only a dash of a single color per page. Very much not me, and, yet, very much me, at the same time.

The biggest difference, and by this I mean biggest, biggest, can I really pull this off, difference, is that this planner is focused, not on domestic duties, moving, or other domestic concerns, but writing. Sure, some non-writing appointments will be in there, but mainly as a way to remind me that I have to put the writing time in elsewhere. It’s a new approach for me, and somewhat scary, but exciting, too.

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Future Log Pages

The first thing I put in the book was a quick calendar for the rest of the year. No spaces to write things down, just numbers in a square, so that I know what day of the week goes with what day of the month. Next is the future log section, a rundown of dates that are already spoken for, on a regular basis: weekly breakfasts with N, blog posts for this blog, and for Buried Under Romance. Plenty of space to add in other things as they arise. Since we’re coasting into the end of July, I don’t have July things on there, like Skype sessions with Melva (but will be including those, going forward) and the upcoming release of the New York’s Emerging Writers fiction anthology, but, putting it out there, Connecticut Fiction Fest is but a handful of heartbeats away. Definitely time to get my ducks in a row, for that particular pond. I have seen Melva’s PouwerPoint, and it is magnificent.

This week, she and I are putting our final-final-final touches on Chasing Prince Charming, and then back out it goes, in search of a good home. When that happens, we are taking a short break for Melva to focus on her super fun humorous nonfiction, and me to focus on Her Last First Kiss. I already hear N’s voice in my head, reminding me to set a target date for the completion of draft two, and potential markets for same. September brings Fiction Fest, and then, whammo- bammo, it’s October, season of my birthday, Halloween, the clocks rolling back to my beloved early sunsets, and then the holiday season will be upon us.

Said holiday season includes November, which has not only Thanksgiving, but regular National Novel Writing Month, and I need to start preparations now, if I want to participate. At this point, I don’t know. Is that the selkie story’s time, or do I want to have A Moment Past Midnight ready for actual Hogmanay? (That would involve me closing a few plot holes, but nothing a couple of good brainstorming sessions wouldn’t handle. Takers, pop your contact info in comments, and I will return the favor. )

It’s not possible to plan for every aspect of the writing life, but, for me, a fresh start, clear expectations, and a calendar are big steps in the right direction. Not sure yet how I am going to track progress, but I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

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Fifty Shades of Blush

Disclaimer I: this post has nothing to do with the E. L. James book, or the movie adaptation. It does have an awful lot to do with stationery.

Disclaimer 2: The fact that my current desktop background is a picture of my old desk , which is still in storage, with a notebook on it, that is also still in storage, probably says something, but I am not probing into that right now.

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Left to right: Li’l Pink, Big Pink, Artist Loft dot grid notebook, powder blue Artist Loft softcover notebook that says “Trust Your Gut,” but I will never not-read as “Trust Your Butt,” brand new traveler’s notebook with four inserts strictly for art, current paperback read, undercover. Pun intended. Front row: skull and crossbones mug, possibly the most me mug I have ever seen, at least so far.

With the lone outlier of the powder blue (but look at it, isn’t it gorgeous?) we can see that my color choices fall into two distinct camps. Black, and blush pink, in that order, will catch my eye every time. If I remove the buffer of the blue notebook, my hope is that the pink and black traveler’s notebooks will have pastel goth babies, because that would be gorgeous.

Since my first (which is also my current) evening pages book is the hardcover pocket sized notebook in Li’l Pink will be succeeded by the Trust Your Butt book (it goes beautifully with the pastel rainbow unicorn book that will succeed my current morning pages book, but that’s another post, because I am on a time crunch, and forgot to take pictures.

I’d originally wanted the pink Artist Loft book to succeed the evening pages book, because soft, powdery blush pink is classy and calm, and smells like baby powder, but it only comes, as far as I can tell, in dot grid

Well, huh. What to do, what to do? Besides get the Trust Your Butt book, that is. The last few months have been a wild ride, and my current planner, which I was excited to have when I started it, now carries a lot of, hmm, how shall we say, bad juju. While I still stood in the store, turning the pink book over in my hands, thinking of how well it fits with Big and Li’l Pink, the flicker of an idea came to me. Why not start a new planner? Clean slate, try a totally different format, dip a toe into uncharted waters.

I didn’t intend for that to tie into the selkie story, but I’ll take it. That’s another tie to something I’ve loved longer than I can remember, and, yet, something I haven’t done yet. I like that sort of balance. What if I started the new planner with the writing stuff right up front, instead of buried in the middle, after the “important” stuff? What if this planner was only for the writing?

In a way, it’s wandering around the woods at night, with buckets on my feet and oven mitts on my hand once again, but I don’t hate that kind of thing. It’s more of a fun thing, picking up the scent and following it where it leads. Where I hope it leads is to that place where instinct kicks in and I don’t have to think about what I’m doing.

Right now, my big task for the day is to get that last scene for Chasing Prince Charming polished, and lob it Melva’s way, hopefully before our Skype chat, where we get all our CPC ducks in a row. I’m at the stage where I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to when we can turn our collective attention back to Drama King, and I have space for Her Last First Kiss once again.

What does all of this have to do with a particular shade of notebook cover, which is not even my favorite-favorite? (Still number two, though; that counts for something.) Darned if I know, but I do remember my very first dance class (to be fair, I was so little that it might even have been a movement class) and the teacher (she was a smart one) color coded the kiddos as soon as we showed up for the first session. Different color leotard for everybody, and pale pink tights for all. My assigned color? Black. Maybe she knew something. Exactly what that might have been, I am not sure, but the black and blush pink seems to have stuck, and I am more than fine with that.

That’s the magic seven hundred (and change) so off I go, to put CPC’s hero through the wringer. :evil laughter trails: