Köld Front

Whenever Monday’s blog shows up on Wednesday, we know there is a story behind it. Saturday, I felt fine. Had a great time at Capitol Region Romance Writers. Fabulous presentation by Jeanette Grey, a pen swap, some planner chatter (no, this is not a post about planners) with like-minded souls, fun ride there and back, with N and Mr. N, lovely tea at home with Housemate, and quality time with Real Life Romance Hero.

Then I woke, around 1AM on Sunday, both nostrils doing their best Niagara Falls impressions. Not what I would have chosen, especially since I had two volunteer commitments, back to back, for Sunday. For anybody who had to deal with the spacey chick, my deepest apologies. Monday, I spent mostly sleeping, or staring at the ceiling, making a sound vaguely like a foghorn, subsisting on a diet of cherry cough drops and ginger ale. I made myself three cups of tea on Monday, and, each time, I fell asleep before I could drink said tea, waking up when it was disgustingly, un-drinkably cold.

Part of my brain urged me to seize the day. Sick in bed? Yes! The time has come! Netflix all day! Read all the books! Make art! I did none of those things. I lay there in a nest of blankets and tissues, alternating between fever and chills. Thankfully, Nurse Real Life Romance Hero was on the job, and he was a rock star. Even Sebastian pulled extra pillow duty. I made an attempt, yesterday, to rally, which can best be exemplified by mentioning that there is a small notebook of black paper, with gilded edges, around here somewhere, and I have no idea where. We live in a one bedroom apartment. There are not that many places it could be. but misplacing specialty paper is a pretty good sign it’s time to go back to bed. I slept next to a new pack of markers for two days, then did not sleep at all for two nights in a row.

Which brings us to today. I’m still not one hundred percent (that will come) but my brain circles back to Saturday’s CR-RWA meeting. The topic was goal setting for the disappointed writer, which is extremely relative to my interests. Also, I hated having to put off this week’s session with N (we had live writing scheduled!) so I was for sure not wanting to miss my Skype talk with Melva, which means I need to get my behind in gear, and cram a week’s worth of work into one day. Okay, maybe a few days’ worth and move a couple of other things into next week.

What I’ve got right now is this blog, because darned if I am going to miss a second blog this week, then I need to send the latest version of chapter four of Her Last First Kiss to Melva, then look over her latest Drama King scene, and make comments. I also have a scene for Drama King, that I had a ton of fun first-drafting, that needs some smoothing out/second drafting, and I cannot wait to get to any of the above. There is, however, the not so small matter of a cold that has taken on a life of its own. Well, his own.

We call him Köld. The umlat is important. He sounds Swedish, and looks like he plays in a death metal band. He’s a gregarious sort, making the rounds from Patient Zero (aka Real Life Romance Hero) to Housemate, and, then, when I thought I would escape this Köld front, but, alas, no. Köld will, in time, wander off to meet new friends, instead of plopping himself in my computer chair to play MMOs for entire weekends at a time. I would assume he’s playing something like Skyrim. He seems the type. When he does wander off, I will reclaim my throne, and get back to the business of romance writing.

I may even miss him when he’s gone. Not going to lie, having a handsome private nurse/personal chef, at my beck and call, is pretty awesome. He says he has to work tomorrow, so I will be in charge of my own meals. I would grumble (his roast beef melt is amazing) but I’m looking forward to Skyping with Melva, getting up to date on all things with The Wild Rose Press, and Chasing Prince Charming. There will be laundry to do, as Köld uses a lot of towels (also t-shirts and pajamas) but that means reading time, which means I get to make up for some of what I lost by sleeping next to a box of markers.

Who else has experienced a Köld front this winter? What’s your favorite sick day indulgence? Let me know in the comments: I am taking suggestions.

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Happy Almost New Year

Welp, it’s December 31st. New Year’s Eve. Crunch time for planner aficionados, like myself. The tucked-away week between Christmas and New Year’s has not felt particularly tucked away this year, as real life has butted its nose into pretty much every aspect of it, but I do not expect any less for 2018, but 2018 is almost over. 2019, we have expectations for you. Don’t be 2018, and we should be fine.

Granted, the year has not brought only bad things, as I have edits for a contracted book on my desk, one invitation already, to speak at an RWA chapter, and, this morning, I finished reading The Summer Wives, by Beatriz Williams, which reminded me not only why I love reading historical romance (though I would shelve this one as historical fiction with romantic elements) but why I love writing it, as well, and that’s appropriate for the year when I am making a concerted effort to not only flourish in my new venture of co-writing contemporary romance, with Melva Michaelian, but returning to my historical romance roots, and pumping up the volume in that department.

Since this is technically part of the tucked away week, and thus, technically a holiday, I do want to spend some of it in relax and refill mode, which does include reading, there’s also the knowledge that tomorrow begins the new year (though technically a holiday itself, but we will see how that shakes out in reality) and all the new calendars, trackers, and other related thingamaboodles. I will admit that, this year, I am overplanning.

Not, mind you, in the sense of micromanaging my own writing (though, let’s be honest, I probably will do some of that at some point) but in the sense of having a planner identity crisis. I have my calendars and some trackers set up in the traveler’s notebook I planned to use for the winter months, and I have my writing tracker binder all set up, but, this morning, when I took my 2018 inserts out of Big Pink, I didn’t want to put her away. In the spirit of “yes, and,” that’s fine. Let me find some inserts for her, and she will find a purpose along with what I’ve already planned.

Does this mean I’m going to be all over the place this year, spending more time planning than actually writing? I don’t think so. I’ll use what I end up using, and I will set aside what doesn’t work (at least at the time; it may work very well, for another purpose, later.) This is, not so oddly enough, in line with how I intend to pick my next historical romance project. Toss everything that looks appealing into the mix, stir, brainstorm, babble, see what rises to the surface, what I keep coming back to. Odds are, that will be the one.

2019 is the year of Yes, And, and it’s the year of coming back to myself, on multiple levels. It’s time to rediscover old loves, and discover new ones. It’s the year to try, fail, try, fail, and, in time, try, succeed. Maybe the tucked-away week will find itself tucked somewhere else this year, probably where I would least suspect.

What does 2019 hold for you?

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Writer Chick Smells Like Real Cat Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you, from under the as-yet undecorated Christmas tree. This week, I have news. N and Writer Chick moved their meeting, this week, not only to Friday, but to N’s house, instead of Panera. How does this affect me, you may be asking? Writer Chick came home, smelling of Real Cat. Specifically, this one:

This cat was not, as one might think, my relief. My tenure as Cat regent needs must continue for the foreseeable future. The pictured cat is one of three cats who live with N and Mr. N, but she was the only one who marked Writer Chick as her own, by means of headbutts, ankle weaves, and attempting to disappear into the black of Writer Chick’s coat. It did not work. At least there are no young pretenders for my spot under the Christmas tree. That will probably help me endure my ongoing duties. Probably.

Time for the compulsories for the week. As always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This time, she reached out to her faithful readers to end her Christmas romance drought, and they did come through. What was the recommendation and was it enough to spark Writer Chick’s interset? Find out here.

As much as the Goodreads updates have meant to me, over the last few months, those are now over. Writer Chick has not only completed the challenge, but exceeded it, with ninety-one books read to date, out of ninety. That is four books ahead of schedule, and more than a week to spare before the end of the year. Not too shabby, Writer Chick. Bring it on for 2019. If you need a reading pillow, I make a good one. If you’re intersted in getting a closer look at teh whole shebang, here it is.

Writer Chick is seriously considering upping the goal for next yaar, to ninety-five, with an eye on one hundred in the next year or two after that. We will see what happens, but she’s feeling\\ng challengey, so watch this space for future details. Her most recent review of the year is actually for a historical romance, Trapped at the Altar, by Jane Feather, which had a lot of elements that make Writer Chick do a happy reading dancce. I am not allowed to show that footage here, but I can share a link. Her most recent read is a 20th century historical YA, Lies We Tell Ourselves. She doesn’t have a review up for that one yet, but have a look at that cover.

This morning, Writer Chick, and N, and probably N’s cat (I don’t know; she looks clever, and I wasn’t there, because nobody invited me. Stuffed guys like a little change of scenery too, you know.) had people food and people beverages and had to each lay out plans for what they mean to do in the coming year. What their goals are, and how they intend to achieve them. What it all boiled down to was “pick the thing you are most excited about, do that until it’s done, and then do the next thing.”

This should hold them over through the holidays, because they will meet, next, in January. At which time Writer Chick plans to show off the writing progress tracker she designed, and made a version of, on dot grid index cards. Writer Chick is hardcore like that. She is also, as I have gathered, pretty hardcore about Christmas in general, though that has not been much in evidence until last night.

Last night, Writer Chick unboxed the Christmas tree. I, of course, immediately claimed it as my own. She says she’s going to put some ornaments on it, once Dude is available. Normally, Writer Chick likes to spread out her Christmas preparation across the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but, this time, she seems to be cramming it all into the next few days. Call it turbo-Christmas. I am not sure what turbo-Christmas entails, I am pretty sure it’s going to involve twinkly lights, and some garland. She already found where Netflix keeps the Christmas movies. Something tells me there here is no stopping her now.

Peace Out

The Year of “Yes, And….”

This post is not going to be about planning. Okay, not really. This is because I have met me, but it is also about writing.

Jack, the hero of Melva’s and my current contemporary WIP, is an actor who isn’t acting (at the moment) but still can’t turn off who he truly is. Without giving away too much, let us say that improv ensues. As Jack tells Kelly, his very much not an actress heroine, the first rule of improv is to never say “no” to your scene partner. Instead, the correct answer is, “yes, and…” Accept what your partner offers, and then add to it.

Fans of The Big Bang Theory may remember the classic episode where Penny tries to instruct Sheldon in improv (spoiler alert, it all goes horribly wrong.) Penny has set up the scene as taking place in a shoe store. Sheldon’s character enters the scene and requests frozen yogurt. In the spirit of “yes, and,” Penny’s character replies that he’s fortunate to have come to her shoe store that is also a frozen yogurt parlor. Chaos ensues from there, but you get the point. Okay, but how does this relate to writing? Glad you asked.

For some writers, including myself, the creation of a first draft is, essentially, improv. There’s a degree of flying into the mist (thanks to the late, great Jo Beverley, for that term) which is very similar from improv. I did a bunch of theater in high school and college, and if I had to go back to college, or do it over again, I would pick theater as my major. (I majored in early childhood education. It did not end well. Cas in point: I am doing this, instead.) In my very short student theater career, my favorite-est things were auditions and improv. Both have an amazing energy to them, that I palpably felt in my physical body.

It’s a difficult feeling to describe, but I recognized it, easily, when I first sat down in my Vermont College dorm room, with an electronic typewriter and a ream of typing paper (yep, that long ago) to start work on my very first historical romance novel manuscript. The resulting pages live in a storage unit now, where they cannot hurt anybody, but that feeling, of standing on the stage, facing my scene partner(s) and knowing that anything, literally anything could happen…. I want that again.

That’s why 2019 is my Year of “Yes, And….” Time to unpause, explore new things, revive old ones that have lain dormant far too long, test, and stretch (because isn’t that how muscles grow?) On Friday, N and I will brainstorm future, individual, projects. What are we each most passionate about, and how can we bring those stories to life, aka put them in the hands of readers? This is also the year where Melva and I are going to push each other, not only on our collaboration, but in our solo work as well, and maybe even beyond that.

Does this mean that every idea is going to work out? No. For every improv sketch that ends with the whole troupe and audience on the edge of losing collective bladder control and/or the ability to breathe, for laughing that hard, there is an awkward silence, a few deer in the headlight expressions, and an unspoken agreement never to speak of this again. There’s no way to tell which it’s going to be, in advance, but there’s also no way to find out except to head into the breach and take on all comers. What are you saying “yes, and….” to in the upcoming year?

Monday Morning Chaos and Order

This past weekend, we had a sick Housemate, Real Life Romance Hero adjusting to his new work schedule, and me at a point of exhaustion where most of my available hours were spent cruising YouTube, to mark videos to watch later. Needless to say, I did not meet my weekend writing goals. Sebastian didn’t have any goals, so he’s not terribly bothered about missing Friday’s post (I’ll make him make up for it later.) 

Most of the videos I flagged were on bullet journaling, so when I needed something to kickstart my brain this morning, I made some tea, and hauled out planner supplies, to move around some planner guts, so that the right guts made it into the right covers. This may have been more complicated than it sounds, but, as soon as I quit thinking about it, and let instinct lead, well, what do you know, I Have my entire sleep tracker for 2019 all set out, one notebook set aside for practical information, and another, with so far no entries, for reading and writing use. 

The reasons this book has no entries as of yet is because that’s about when my brain fizzled out, and I needed to hop in the idea generator, aka shower, before I could plop myself back at ye olde kitchen table and figure out what the tasks for the day would be. Going to bed (note, I did not say “back” to bed, because hello insomnia) and then do what needs doing. 

When asked if I am a plotter or a pantser, I usually say puzzler, because that’s how I work best. Take this thing over here, take that thing over there, which go together I don’t know how, at the moment, but I know that they do. For instance, last night, while I babbled to a captive audience of Sick Housemate (she knows where her tea comes from) about why I haven’t been able to use the planner case I’d been wanting to use, and have right the heck there, it was that I was trying to combine blush pink and berry color schemes, when I really wanted two separate books, one blush and one berry. Oh. Once that lightbulb went on, the whole process was a lot clearer, and I was able to, this morning, move the right guts into the right cover, and actually get started on filling pages. 

Savvy readers will get where I am going with this. One of the notebooks I’m setting up for the coming year is for writing related stuff. I’m not sure what, exactly. The first step is to make some lists. What are my obligations? Chasing Prince Charming, of course, and related things at The Wild Rose Press. Getting back on the horse with Her Last First Kiss, to get it from partially second-drafted, to ready to shop around, and figure out what my next historical romance will be. 

What that figuring out looks like, however, is often a mystery, until it isn’t. I need, I have found, to cannonball off the dock, break the surface of the water on my way back up, and then figure out where the heck I am and how far it is to shore. Maybe someday, I will be able to explain it better, but the best work happens when I am doing, and not thinking. That used to be a lot easier, like when I was pounding out x number of pages every day on a typewriter on a tv tray in my father’s living room, because, well, nobody had told me I couldn’t. I didn’t know any better, and so I cannonballed in, splashed around, and off I went. Many of us have heard of Beginner’s Mind, which is a very useful thing, and I would like to add to that, Beginner’s Bravado, which is something I’m actively working to cultivate in the now. Re-cultivate, I should probably say. 

Ironic, then, when I sit at my desk to work on today’s entry, and find that Pixlr Express has changed its whole method of operation, and I am, once more, flailing about in the shadows. Where are my frames? Why does the picture warp when I apply an effect? I am certain I will figure this out, soon enough, but I found it amusing. 

The end of a calendar year brings a lot of changes. It still doesn’t feel like the holidays yet around here. Our tree and ornaments are still in their boxes, I have read zero holiday romances, though I did finish a historical romance with some pivotal scenes at Christmas, and my Christmas playlist has, so far, been silent. This is not like me. I’m not worried, though. It will come around, and the writing for the year to come, will take its own shape, as long as I keep showing up and doing my part. Also, playing with pretty pens and paper doesn’t hurt. 

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Desk Tour Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff that’s fit to share (and probably some that isn’t, because that’s how I roll) We are at the end of November, staring December in the face. This is when the holiday crunch gets real. It is also when Writer Chick is more likely to break out the holiday romance collections. We will see how that goes for this year. This week, we have a tour of Writer Chick’s new desk setup for you, but before we get to that, and the important stuff (aka my stuff) let’s get the compulsories out of the way. 

This week, as usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she blabbered about finding stuff she didn’t expect in romance novels. This is not always a bad thing. You can real all about that here, and this is the picture that goes with it: 

Now, it’s time to drop in on Writer Chick’s reading progress, specifically her Goodreads challenge for this year. Too early to call it, of course, but Writer Chick is now at 94% of the way home, having read 85 out of 90 books.

For this week, her favorite read was Pulp, by Robin Talley, which is a YA contemporary/historical hybrid, with romantic elements. She is currently reading a historical romance, Trapped at the Altar, by Jane Feather. There is a picture of it, but the new WordPress editor is not as stuffed paw friendly as I would like, so click on the link to see. Writer Chick is cross because the whole bare legs thing with modern shoes is not historically accurate. Where is Cover Chick’s historical underwear? This is important. Maybe that is covered in the book. 

Writer Chick’s current read and beverage (it’s tea)

Now, on to the meat of this post, which is that Writer Chick is actually happy with her current desk setup. She gets to have the computer monitor at a comfortable eye level. Her hands are at a comfortable, natural lap level, with optional lap desk, in case she needs to break out some handwriting (or planning, there is always planning) and she can keep all of her needed pens right at hand. She is kind of surprised that she likes this setup as much as she does, because: 

A) this desk is actually a bookcase
B) it is light wood
C) it is plain/modern in design
D) Ii is actually next to the TV, in the living room

When Writer Chick is in an actual office type private room, she wants to have a computer desk, probably this one, and then a writing desk, probably the old one that she had in the last office, and one wheeled office chair that can switch between the two, at will. There is also the fact that she does not have a ton of stuff on her desktop, right now, but that may be something to save for the writing desk, in the next place. 

Top Level with monitor
Middle keyboard level, with lap destk and Cat Regent

Bottom level with pen/ mini legal pad storage

There is a high chance that Writer Chick will see, later this weekend, if the printer will fit on the lower shelf. If it doesn’t, that may be where the planners (yes, planners, plural) go, but that all remains to be seen. 

Colored pencils, for filling in daily trackers

Writer Chick may also take advantage of her and Other Chick’s shopping excursion this evening, to invest in some fairy lights and command hooks, because it would add both to the holiday mood, and garner her hipster points. There will probably be a Christmas tree added to the apartment sometime in the next seven days. Since they gave the previous tree and ornaments to another family, when they moved out of the old apartment, that means that they will have to get new ones for this year. Those might not be their forever Christmas stuff, so Christmas Tree Regent? I will investigate and keep you updated, once it arrives. 

There is also a poster that Writer Chick grabbed out of storage, of a book cover illustration, done and signed by her favorite romance cover illustrator, Elaine Duillo. Writer Chick would put this over her desk, if she had an actual office room, but it is not exactly Dude’s thing, so that may have to wait. She also wants to put a decent mat down on the poster, and probably choose a different frame. All of this means that she will, in the near future, be able to grab one of their art prints out of storage, and put that there. I suggest a portrait of a handsome stuffed ginger boy. That would inspire anybody. 

Speaking of which, some of you may have noticed that I am wearing pirate pants this week. That is because I have been paying attention to when Writer Chick visits personal style websites. Apparently, it is a thing to dress to reflect the inner self. I personally, am a real badbutt. There is another word that means the same thing as butt, but has fewer letters. I am not allowed to say it, so badbutt it is. Skull and crossbones pants say badbutt, right? Writer Chick says true class doesn’t advertise, but she’s also researching promo, soooooo….just going to leave that there, ‘kay?


Peace Out, 

Of Instagram, Identity, and Branding

This morning, when I sat at the kitchen table, to write my morning pages, there were two thoughts at the front of my brain.

Thought One: My brain is a total blank, right now. 

Thought Two: I haven’t posted much on Instagram, since Skye passed.

Needless to say, thought two pushed thought one to the back burner, which, technically, takes care of thought one, so I am one step closer to having a topic for today. It’s true that my posting has fallen off, since my mews crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and we do, one thousand percent, absolutely, plan on adding another furry family member, as soon as we can move to a pet-friendly apartment. That isn’t too-too far away, and we are all in agreement that the first thing we are going to do, as soon as we get keys, is get ourselves to a shelter and come home with a new fur baby (or two.)

In the meantime, though, there’s the rest of it. :gestures to life, in general: I am now officially one half of an author at The Wild Rose Press, and Melva and I are not only hard at work on Drama King, and already talking about what we are going to write next, once this trilogy is finished. Also, when we want to start that next project, and all the behind the scenes stuff of getting set up for our new roles as co-authors.

This also includes making sure we work, not only on our combined brand, but our individual brands, because our combined brand will combine parts of our  individual brands, but not all of them, and it will be something new, of its own, as well. At this time, both of us respond to the question of what, exactly, that brand might be, with deer in the headlight stares, and awkward silences. Can deer in the headlight stares and awkward silences be a brand? That may be worth looking into, at least as a place to start.

Where to go from there, though? That’s the question. Having Sebastian sit in as Cat Regent, until the next cat joins the family, feels right, but one stuffed cat does not a visual brand make. Which means the big question: who am I? As a writer, that is, not a person in general, which is a whole other topic. Pen geek, planner fanatic, devotee of classic historical romance, makeup lover, amateur style maven, diehard shipper (I have a fleet of them) and a lot of other things. How many of them travel over to the author side of things, and how many are best left for private life? I am still figuring that one out.

One step in that direction, is to start posting regularly on Instagram again. I miss it. I feel guilty every time I get a new follower with “Maine Coon” in the username, because A) I am very happy to see them, and B) I am currently between Maine Coons, and, well, it’s going to be a while before I can post any more MC pictures. What if people are only there for the Maine Coons, and don’t give a fig about pens and notebooks and whatever I have my tea in that day, and they all leeeeaaaavvvvvve meeeeeeeeeeeeee?

Um, wait a minute. This is getting precariously close to the way I think about historical romance, as I am getting ready for my and Melva’s contemporary debut. Okay, my contemporary debut, as Melva has co-written contemporary with another author, Lorene Morin, and this is my first professionally published outing in both contemporary romance, and co-written fiction. I’m very excited about both of those things, and yet, at the same time, I am still passionately in love with both historical romance and Maine Cons, both of which I am still moving toward getting more of, even if there isn’t a new one out, right this minute.

N and I had to take a break from our weekly breakfasts yesterday, but, when we meet next week, our focus (foci? Is it still focus, if it’s plural? I am not the half of this writing partnership with a PhD in English.) will be on getting our current manuscripts – hers in YA fantasy, and mine in historical romance- all the way to the end of their next drafts. We both need the push, and to hold each other accountable. Melva and I are also discussing accountability measures for our own solo outings. Historical romance for me, cozy romantic suspense for her; both are important, because that’s where we come from, to the place of being able to write together, and that plays directly into how Chasing Prince Charming came to be set in the world of historical romance writing and publishing.

When we discuss what we want to use as the basis of our next combined venture, it also raises the questions of what we want to write for our next individual adventures. I’ve got a few ideas stewing about; the Hogmanay story, something about selkies, a few long-dormant partial manuscripts that may, at this very moment, be clawing their way out of premature entombment/experiencing birthing pains at last/possibly both at the same time/etc.

I’m not sure how to wrap this up at the moment. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and leaning toward adding a video component to the blog/site/brand/etc, but still sorting all of that stuff out. What would you readers/fellow writers/pen fanatics/other assorted magnificent unicorn sisters and brothers of the creative realm? Drop suggestions in the comments, like and subscribe (see, I’ve been paying attention to at least that part of vlogging) and we’ll figure this out together.

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Typing With Stuffed Paws: Wolfenoot Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you on this first ever Wolfenoot morning. Even though I am a cat, and of the stuffed persuasion, I have to endorse this new holiday. I have known a lot of stuffed dogs in my time, and they deserve the honor. No, there is not currently a cat holiday, stuffed or otherwise, to my knowledge, but I’m not really bothered by that. I mean, yesterday was all about eating and sleeping, and eating foods that make you sleepy, and that’s a large part of catting, so I can appropriate that one, which, again, is very cat.

Since we are now post-Thanksgiving, in the midst of Wolfenoot, which is also Black Friday (Other Chick and Real Life Romance Hero are out holding the retail lines, so customers can get the goodest deals) while Writer Chick is pounding the keys. When you put the holiday season, a week with multiple days when it snowed, the excitement of end of year and beginning of new planner season, and a new contract, all together, Writer Chick is pretty hyped. Which means she is doing stuff. Like a lot of it.

This is, of course, going to mean that I have to do more work, updating readers on how the road to the release of Chasing Prince Charming is coming, as well as the usual stuff. This will require extra nap time. Anyway, let’s do the compulsories first. As usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, this past Saturday. This time, she had a letter to send out to authors who aren’t authoring (or aren’t authoring romance) anymore. What’s she got to say? Pop on over here and find out.

BURdearwritr

Now, it’s Goodreads update time. Writer Chick actually finished reading a book this week, and she had a lot of feelings about it. David Levithan always does that to her, and she has been pretty invested in this whole “day” series, which took a few turns she was not expecting, in this volume. Check out her blabberings here.

This book puts Writer Chick at ninety-two percent of the way to her goal of ninety books in this calendar year, with eighty-three books read out of that ninety. She is currently three books ahead of schedule, which makes her nervous, because that’s close to on track, which is close to behind. This is where it is useful to have a Cat Regent. I will have Real Life Romance Hero assist me in ensuring that Writer Chick gets enough reading time, by putting me on her, when she picks up a book. She can’t get up if there is a cat in her lap, right? Yeah, didn’t think so. You’re welcome.

Writer Chick’s current reads, for this week, are below. The light blue book, that does not photograph well, was her evening pages book, but she finished it last night. What book will she use to write her PM brain dumps? We won’t know until later tonight. This should be interesting.

112318readingthisweek

Okay, so, Chasing Prince Charming update time. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have now officially handed in the final manuscript of this particular book…which is not really what readers are going to see, some months from now. What happens next is kind of like a tennis game. Bap! Writer Chicks send book to Editor Chick. Bap! Editor Chick, after doing her thing, sends book back to Writer Chicks. Bap! Writer Chicks then do the things Editor Chick asked them to do. Bap! They send it back again. This goes on a couple more times. I am assuming they are looking at different things on each round.

Since this is the time of year when Writer Chick gets to set up new planners (yeah, plural, more than one, etc. That’s how she rolls.) it stands to reason that she’s going to make some writing planners, that she will actually use. That is the important part. Her process for getting to the finding out what works point, is pretty messy, involving a lot of trial and error, partially used notebooks that then get shoved in random places, It also involves a lot of sticky notes and index cards and You Tube videos (watching, not making, though she hasn’t ruled that out) but then…at some point, it all comes together. Usually in the middle of a big hairy mess of index cards and Spotify playlists and a Skype chat in the background.

In short, the good stuff comes when overthinking doesn’t happen. Funny how that works,. One would think that Writer Chick would have figured that out by now, but one would be wrong. That is one of the duties of a Cat Regent; to remind her of that. That will also be one of the first duties handed off to the next mews, when they are old enough. I will still hold onto the cuddling stuff, and the lap occupation during reading things, because I was literally made for that kind of thing.

Right, right, one more thing. Writer Chick wanted me to remind you that hitting the subscribe button is the best way to make sure you get every post on this blog (hers, as well as mine, even though we all know I am The Stuff. Heh. See what I did there?)  Okay, that’s really it for this week. Have a howly Wolfenoot.

Peace out,

SebastianWindowBye

 

Thankful

Here we are, the day before American Thanksgiving. Stately Bowling Manor is about as ready for the holiday as it’s going to get. This means that we have some form of the traditional foods, a table at which to eat them, and chairs in which to park our backsides, while we eat abovementioned foods, at abovementioned table. This will be a cozy holiday, with myself, Real Life Romance Hero, and, of course, Sebastian.

There’s not a lot of prep left to do, over here, which suits me fine, because, as great as Thanksgiving food is, it’s not the whole point of the day. I am thankful for my family, very much so, though the absence of a real-life fuzzy buddy does pinch. Next year, we hope to have one or two four-legged family members parked beneath the table, ready to take care of any food that may fall and/or be surreptitiously slipped to them.  Maybe we’ll station Sebastian nearby, to fill the gap.

This morning, I had my weekly breakfast with N. After the usual getting current on each other’s weeks, we turned our attention to how writing is going for each of us, and where we would like it to go. This year, I am very thankful for the fact that I am going into this holiday season, as a contracted author, once again. Complete honesty, I needed a “win,” and this definitely counts as one. The fact that I get to do it along with Melva, who has been friend and critique partner for coughty-cough years, makes it even better. Today, it means that I get to finalize (for now) a scene for Drama King, that cranks up the stakes, and leads into the next part of the book.

I am thankful that there is a next part of the book to get into, and that this is the second book in the series. I am thankful for the structure that comes not only with writing a series, with a partner, but for the structure that comes with the pre-publication process. This past week, Melva and I finalized the extra scene we needed, and the manuscript is now moving on to the next waypoint on our journey.

As I’m getting my bullet journal/traveler’s notebook ready for next year, I get to set things up for our progress along the road to release for Chasing Prince Charming. I get to set up a notebook to keep things straight with all things related to this collaboration; who’s writing what, and when it’s due, when edits are expected, what they are, and all of that good stuff. This is going to mean choosing and/or making notebook inserts, and accompanying pens, highlighters, and ephemera.

Though I won’t say I won’t be doing any shopping (especially Black Friday) for any of these items, because I have a decently robust collection of such items, I will say that I am immensely thankful for the huge boost this past year has brought me, in my love of all things pen and paper. For those who have been gently (and not so gently) suggesting I blog more about pen and paper, I will say maybe. The more I play with pens and paper, the more notebooks I fill and pens I empty, the more I want to write, and the more fun writing has become. If that means, along the way, that I pause every now and again, to pet a notebook cover, and stare off into the distance, it also means there is stuff going on in my story brain while I do so. I’ll take that.

I am thankful for my RWA family, fellow romance writers of all ilks, who have been supportive and encouraging, from the first day the new gal with the thousand-yard stare slunk into the business meeting and mumbled something about the time travel that was kicking her butt, to now friends, critique partners, and colleagues. I am thankful to be writing romance, because I get to fall in love every single day, and take a million different paths to happily ever after. Now and again, I get monies for it.

I am thankful for the writer friends I don’t get to see every day. Some, I have never seen as anything other than words on the computer screen. Still, we are family. I am thankful for the romance writers, whether or not we have ever spoken in actual conversation, written or verbally, whose books entertained and inspired me, from the day I first stole my mother’s then-new copy of The Kadin, to an overflowing TBR shelf. Those still keep me going, and are a great carrot on my stick.

I am thankful for the mistakes I have made along the way. As my mother often said, broken bones heal stronger. Would I change some of those, if I could? Probably so. Not all of them. Some. Today, after I get this blog posted, I get to have lunch with Real Life Romance Hero, and then I get to sidle into a too-small billiard room, where flirty banter pings off the walls. After that, I get to reward myself with a good cuddle under a warm, fuzzy blanket, with a good book, a cup of tea, and let a part of my brain drift toward tomorrow.

Not only the part of the day that smells like turkey gravy and hot buttered rolls, but the tomorrow that comes after that (okay, and after Black Friday) and means clearing the decks and making a new notebook for Her Last First Kiss, another for my work with Melva, and look toward the year to come. That’s the year when I will be able to measure the time since my most recently published novel, will be counted in months, not years. I am thankful for new chapters that await, on the page, and the writing life.

Also, pie.

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Desk-ish

Coughty-cough months after moving into the current apartment, and I finally have an actual desk, set up in the common room. Well, desk-ish. Technically, it is a bookcase. There are precisely zero books on it, which does not do much toward my goal of neatening the room, but for my ease of and attitude toward writing? Huge improvement.

Right now, I am perched atop the ergonomic “kneeling” chair, that I have had for hm, let’s see, basically forever. Long ago, I had visited a family friend/successful author, and she told me to sit at her desk, in her kneeling chair. I needed some instruction on how that sort of chair worked, and I was hesitant to put  my bottom there, because this was where the magic happened. This was where she sat to create the stories that enthralled me. My butt was not worthy. She insisted, though, so I parked it, and….oh. This was where the magic happens. 

Skip forward a few years, to when I worked retail and plunked down a chunk of one of my earliest checks, to get that same sort of chair. Not only was this an emotional/aspirational touchstone to abovementioned butt plunking, but my spine had a very clear memory, and extremely strong opinions about sitting in a kneeling chair. These opinions were strong enough that the whole “id doesn’t have a back, can nobody else see that?” thing faded into the background.

Of course, when I got said chair home, it was not the best of matches for the desk I used at the time, nor was it a good match for the antique secretary desk I could finally claim as my own, in our most recent apartment before this one. I went through a couple of improvised alternatives, until a lovely reader/RWA sister gifted me with a fabulous office chair with high back and comfy seat, which I fell deeply in love with, and will use again when I can get it and the secretary desk out of storage, likely in the next apartment. I didn’t know how I was going to use the kneeling chair in our current place, until another friend gifted us with a gorgeous kitchen table. (No, you do not have to give us furniture to be our friend, but we probably will not say no, either.) As we had come to the point of figuring out who would get to use the folding chair, an additional chair became a necessity.

The kneeling chair was at the front of one of the storage units, so home it came. Now, it is the most hotly sought-after chair in the apartment. Go figure. Real Life Romance Hero turns it the other way around, to watch television. He used to hate this chair, but now finds it comfortable. Housemate used to use it as a place to change footwear, but a cushion for the folding chair greatly cut down on such instances. Note that I did not say eliminated. Even Sebastian will randomly appear on seat or knee rest.

On Saturday, Housemate and I ventured into the dark wilds of the large storage unit, to retrieve winter clothing, and, hopefully, this particular bookcase. I knew exactly where I wanted the bookcase to go, and Housemate figured out how to make it fit. I surveyed the bookcase, deciding what was going to go where, and my gaze drifted to the monitor, on the coffee table, in my pillow pile corner. Hm. What if the monitor were on the top shelf, and the keyboard were on the second shelf? Third shelf would be enough space for my knees, and maybe the printer (testing that one out later) and what the heck, let’s see how that works.

As it turns out, I had the same reaction as when I plopped my butt in that long-ago other kneeling chair. Oh. This is where the magic happens. I am physically comfortable. I don’t have to strain back or eyes. I am facing the wall, so I am not distracted by anything anybody else is doing in the rest of the room. Granted, I am writing this at a time when everybody else is out of the house, so there are no interruptions. I don’t have to use headphones. I don’t have to maneuver around any other bodies in the kitchen, when I want more tea. I go through a lot of tea when I’m writing.

Also when I am not writing, but this is definitely a writing day. Melva and I have this week to get the final tweaks done to the manuscript of Chasing Prince Charming in to our editor. Our editor. I had to type that again, in bold, because it is a beautiful phrase to see, after a long spell between contracts. After that, we have a few rounds of editing, filling in art sheets, and other stuff to be done, that contracted novelists do. We also have a draft of Drama King to write, because A) it’s fun, and B) writing the next book is key to keeping this author thing going.

There’s also the whole thing about getting back in the groove with Her Last First Kiss, and keeping an eye on the next thing I want to do with historical romance. This is going to require a lot of organization and planning. Convenient, then, that organization and planning are two of my hobbies.  Okay, those and art journals, but they collide nicely, so I think I am going to be all right. I also think that, this time, computer desk and handwriting/art desk are going to be two different things. There will, in time, be a new photo for the end of blog posts, but today? Today is for actual writing work. I think that’s a pretty decent way to start a week.

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