Typing With Wet Paws: Workshop Prep Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. The main focus this week is Aunt Anna getting ready for her workshop that is tomorrow. If you are curious about this or wish you could be there, guess what, you can. There is a link to learn more about attending as a guest, orrrrr you can get personal attention for the entire course at her Patreon, on the Play In Your Own Sandbox tier.

greatest hits picture of me, because Aunt Anna is wrangling with WordPress about pictures

Things are doing pretty well around here. The windows are open sometimes, and I can smell wonderful things. Getting into the window is tricky, as Aunt Anna has moved some stuff around, and they are bringing furniture in here. Aunt Anna is making what she calls a rustic bookcase from wooden crates. I think that I could probably make good use of those as scratchy things, but we will see about that.

Aunt Anna says people may want to pardon the dust on her Patreon, as she is making some changes, as things like pick a blog or video topic aren’t up yet, but you definitely can ask.

Okay. Reading challenge on Goodreads is pretty much holding steady, but that doesn’t mean Aunt Anna went without consuming any stories. This past week was for binge watching three shows on Amazon Prime, The Wilds, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Thirteen. She recommends the first two, with some reservatins on the first one, and needs to rewatch the second one if she wants to truly form an opinion on it, but it’s great for background voices while playing Sims.

Aunt Anna really likes Sims

Aunt Anna has been having a great time putting Sims 4 on her new laptop. It reminds her of when she was a people kitten, and her teacher, in an open classroom, noticed that Aunt Anna did a lot better on days when people kittens were allowed to bring their own toys for free play time. Aunt Anna brought Barbies on thoe days. Can we spot the future writer here? I would have brought Mousie, or maybe a jingle ball.

This week is also when Aunt Anna takes part in a Reclaim Your Dreams workshop with Eryka Peskin. In case you are wondering what that means, you can find out more about it and even register for a virtual retreat if that sounds like your thing, here. This is not a sponsored post; Aunt Anna finds she gets a lot out of Eryka’s workshops and even sometimes coaching.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

Of course the most important thing this coming week is the writing. Even though Aunt Anna usually gets her superpowers back in fall, they seem to have been on backorder this year, which is completely understandable. She feels a lot more in her groove these days, which is due to a lot of things. Faith, modern medicine, family, friends, a computer that actually works, reliable housing, me. You know, the important stuff. It’s an interesting phase to watch, and from what I hear, thisis how writers get books. Me, I just sit on them. So it’s win-win.

Headbonks!

still working on the signoff picture thingamaboodle

Springing Forward

Spring is not usually my favorite season. It still isn’t, but a new season is a good time for a new start, and, after seven of the craziest, weirdest, hardest months I have ever had, it looks like the light at the end of the tunnel may not be a train. Not that there aren’t still question marks, because there certainly are, but fewer ellipses (… -= those things) so I am going to count that as good. I have every faith that we may soon be nearing the end of our vagabond days, and I am very much ready for it.

On the fifth of March, we have been officially between apartments for seven months. Longer than I had thought or expected, but also, we are, as Skye would have said, badbutts, because we are still standing (cue Elton John) and, as Mr. Rogers’ mother said, looking for the helpers is always good advice. Storm is a travel kitty extraordinaire, and I have become far more adept than I ever thought in breaking down a desktop computer and reassembling it in another location, and knowing for sure and certain that longhand really is the best way for me to compose.

Writing, yes, can be done anywhere (seriously, anywhere) but the part that goes beyond composing, the transcribing, the editing, the polishing and submitting and/or planning out an indie pub (independent publishing, where the author is also the publisher) strategy, those things need a home base. It’s getting there. Before too long, there will be a new location for Stately Bowling Manor, a new office to move into, books to bust out of stuff jail (aka storage) and set into place. Time to know and declare that the new normal is now within reach. Not here yet, but within reach.

Which comes to the often sticky part of writing, finishing. When I first started writing romance, a starry-eyed seventeen-year-old with an electronic typewriter and a dream, of course I could finish a book. A lot of books. Now, I could be the parent of a seventeen-year-old, with some wiggle room. (I am not. Real Life Romance Hero and I decided early on that all of our kids will have four legs and fur.) Life and writing are not always that easy. That girl with the stars in her eyes and correction ribbon on her fingers had read once that Valerie Sherwood wrote twenty pages at a session, so okay, that’s a normal pace. The more seasoned writer now also remembers that Valerie Sherwood also said that any writer who says they write thus and so every day is lying.

There are days when the words, when the story, don’t come, and life has proven that, in heaps. There are also days when they do, and those are the days that I want to nourish. This past weekend, spent at Chez Grandmere, I took an outdated planner I inherited from Housemate, and ripped out the guts but for the monthly dividers (setting aside the unused guts to repurpose as plotting charts) and cutting down plain white office labels to cover the names of the months, and now it’s my general writing :salute: notebook/planner.

Writing each area of focus on each label – historical romance, contemporary romance, blogging, Buried Under Romance, Patreon, even “paper” (one can never have enough filler paper) — felt…good. Right. A few weeks ago, I posted on Facebook that I had a finger hovering over a stock image on a cover art website, because the couple in it? Could very well portray John and Aline from A Heart Most Errant. My first thought when I figured out what I was thinking was, “Anna, what are you thinking?” because, well, vagabond days. Vagabond months. Independent publishing isn’t cheap. I have never done it before.

Hm, though, but have I? In the intro to my “Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys” workshop, I mention that I spent well over a decade amongst Klingons, Newcomers, Immortals and others, not only writing for fanzines, but also, in time, publishing my own. I didn’t know what I was doing back then, either, when I started on that (huge props to my friend, the awesomely talented E. Catherine Tobler, who did a lot of very patient hand holding and talking me down from ledges of various heights) journey, so, maybe…cannonball? I don’t know.

What I do know is a page a day is a book in a year. I know I don’t have to reach every reader (and can’t, and shouldn’t) but only my readers, who are going to respond with, “please, miss, may we have some more?” The answer I want to give is “yes, of course, here you go.” I know I am too fond of italics and need to brush up on my comma use (thankfully, my contemporary cohort, Melva Michealian, has a PhD in English, so odds are I am going to catch on sooner rather than later.) There comes a time, and I think this is it, as my finger hovers over cover stock, and I have sussed out to get myself as bottom of the line webcam, because starting somewhere is better than not starting at all.

Which all feels pretty on-brand for spring. New life. Things blooming. Baby ducks. Baby ducks make everything better, and if we end up somewhere near Washington Park once more, there will be baby duck pictures aplenty. Even if not, there will be stories. That’s what I do. That’s who I am.

see you next time

Cautiously Optimistic

Today is a very Monday-y Tuesday, but that has ceased to phase me. Internet may be spotty this week, but blogging feels normal, so I want to get an entry up on as regular a schedule as possible. The offline times are good for writing longhand, so I am not complaining at all. As much as I love winter, this has been a tough one, and I will not be that sorry to see it go. I am ready for a new season.

The title of today’s post comes from a discussion Real Life Romance Hero and I had earlier this week. We are pretty sure that the light at the end of the tunnel is not, this time, a train, so we are moving in that direction. That also means that the Patreon will indeed be a go, and, for the first time, setting up tiers doesn’t seem as scary as it once did.

This past weekend, I presented Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys, at Capitol Region Romance writers. I learned a couple of things. First, I really do need to use visual aids, for myself as well as the people taking the workshop. A dry erase board usually does the trick, and I probably should learn PowerPoint. I will add that to my list. The second thing I learned is that, when visually impaired, and knowing darned well one needs high contrast, do not attempt to work, in front of a group, from handwritten notes, if the only inks available are pink and turquoise.

Even so, I crazy love this workshop, and the CRRWA chapter, and I came away from the experience remembering how much I really do love writing romance. When I got home, a chapter was waiting for me from my contemporary collaborator, Melva, which has me excited to work on Drama King. I also need kick in the behind to get Her Last First Kiss back in action, because those pirate books are chomping at the bit. That’s part of what I’m taking care of this week.

I know how to do this. I know how to write books. I know how to write good books. This is the thing I wanted to do more than anything else in the world for as long as I can remember. It’s easy, though, to lose sight of that when life gets crazy, and boy howdy, has it ever this past year and change. I am hanging onto the “change” part. I have mad, mad, mad respect for the productivity of authors like Sandra Sookoo and Kathryn LeVeque, the staying power of Cynthia Wright and Kimberly Cates, and yes, there is most certainly a seat at that table for me. It comes by putting butt in chair (or passenger seat) and pen to paper and telling those stores. Dump from brain to page, rough and raw, and make it pretty later.

Right now, I am tired and stressed and hopeful, and very much in love with my chosen genre. I have added an ebook edition of the material for PIYOSKATT (pee-yose-cat? Pie-yose-cat?) as a Patreon perk for a middle tier, because now, it feels like a reachable goal, and actually kind of fun. Small online class offerings may also be in the offing, because I also crazy love teaching workshops, both on my own and with other talented author type people. It’s a good place to be.

see you next time

Typing With Wet Paws: Happy Valentine Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and it’s Valentine’s Day. Aunt Anna is cramming for her workshop tomorrow, at Capitol Region Romance Writers, but only to a certain point, because there comes a time it is possible to overprepare, and it’s really better to shut that stuff down and play Sims. Better yet, play Mousie, with me. I have a signature move. It involves hiding under the bed, where the blanket hangs down, then when Mousie goes by, I pounce. Works every time.

Buried Under Romance has been on a little vacation, but Aunt Anna is back on the job, and there will be new content up ASAP. Since I already put the Goodreads update in my last post, there isn’t that much to update on that front, and I can’t recap her workshop until she gives it, so that does leave me with a certain amount of wiggle room. I am exceptionally good at wiggling.

Since Aunt Anna is all about the workshop for right now, maybe I will stick with that for a while. She’s not doing visual aids this time around, because we are still on the vsgabond track, and because she isn’t doing any exercises that require visual aids, but she is hoping to put some sipplemental material on either the chapter website, or her own. She is strongly thinking of turning the material for her online workshop into an ebook for her Patreon patrons, and, for that, she’s goling to need pictures that are not copyrighted (well, not to anybody who is not her) so she will need to take new ones. It is a tough job, but I may volunteer to be her model. What *isn’t* better with a beautiful calico girl? I mean, look at me. I’m stunning.

will work for tuna

One thing Aunt Anna likes to do at the start of this workshop is that it is *not* a workshop on how to write fan fiction. That might be a fun workshop to look into another time, but if she had to say only one things about that, it would be, “have fun.” Also make sure the characters are in characters. Okay, that is two things, but it is not this workshop.

What this workshop is, is a way to use the media a human already loves, to amplify their individual voice and abilities. Voice is how readers can tell who wrote the story. No two writers will write the same story the same way. Aunt Anna thinks that is pretty exciting. This is part of why the romance level is such a wide and varied place. It still has a way to go, but Aunt Anna is adamant that writers who follow their own hearts put the very best passion into their work, and readers can definitely tell.

How does a human find that voice? Aunt Anna said I can’t give away her secrets, but she did say I could share a link to a bunch of songs Spotify says she really, really likes. Can you see any common threads (apart from the holiday music thing, but that too) in this playlist here? https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1EpQ64htXwwvLs?si=aTSPRkcAQ0G3rATUOit9TQ

Huh. I thought that was a link. Hm. Hard to type with paws sometimes. If you copy and paste that link, it will work. Aunt Anna will try and fix the link once she comes up for air. We will see how that goes, but I will remind her. I do that by putting my paws on her leg while she is at work, and look soulfully into her eyes until she gets the idea. Usually this works when it is dinner time, but also when it is time for her to go to bed, but I think it will work in this case as well.

That’s about it for now, and my sunbeam is hitting the exact spot for premium nappage, so I am going to wrap this here and let Aunt Anna get back to business. Hope you are all having a good Valentine’s Day.

Headbonks!