Reverse Hibernation (aka My Summer Happy Place)

I am not a summer person. Not even close. Not even a little. I am sun and heat-sensitive, so, on weeks like this, when all of the daytime temperatures are in the nineties, a form of summer hibernation makes a whole lot of sense. Reverse hibernation, as I call it, works very well with the nocturnal phase of summer, when I am more active at night, sleepier in the daytime, which actually is a good thing, because summer usually sees me sadder, less energetic, and all-around-itchy.

Yesterday, I found my happy place, at least where writing during the summer is concerned. My worktable, once my dining room table, faces the living room window, open now, with a view of my houseplants, trees outside, and my beloved notebooks, pens, and a big jar of washi (decorative tape) in shades of pink. There will be a cool drink at my left hand, possibly a salty snack at my right, and a cookbook holder (vintage) holds my tablet. The box fan whirs, cool air on my bare legs. The whir of the fan may be the only sound, as I put pen to paper, or I may have my tablet tuned to music, podcast, or ambient sounds. My favorites in that department tend to be nature sounds, or atmospheric, like “coffee house on a rainy day,” with my all time favorite being a combination of rain, fireplace, and purring cat. One day, I hope that will be the actual sounds in my actual environment, but, for now, that reasonable facsimile will do.

Back to yesterday. I had a scene due for Drama King, and my Camp NaNo work to do, blog entry shoved off until today, because fiction has to come first, and I didn’t so much think about this new sort of work environment; it happened, all on its own. I opened my Drama King notebook, no need for headphones, as I had the apartment to myself, and off I went, the scene spilling out onto the page. After that, I didn’t want to go right back to the computer, and my Alphasmart was right there, so, once again, the bloop effect comes into play.

The writing flowed, the transcription flowed, and the touch of a button moved the transcribed pages from Alphasmart to word processing program. From there, it was a quick spellcheck, a change of formatting, and, once again, bloop, over to Melva, for her approval, in more than enough time for our weekly chat.

This is not a magic switch, by any means, but there is something special about having a creative space that is mine, where writing can be not in the same place where I watch You Tube and answer emails. It’s writing, not typing (sorry, Dad) and, for me, that makes a difference. This feels natural. This feels right. I can get to the end of a writing day, feeling satisfied instead of drained, and I look forward to settling in for the next session, pen to paper first

This kind of thing is organic for me. I have to splash around in the shallows until I start swimming, and then, after that, its’ all potatoes. (Family term, meaning “everything will be easier after X.”) I get to the end of my list, and then it’s time to take a break, most likely to watch aforementioned You Tube videos, mostly about traveler’s notebooks and/or bullet journaling. Sometimes I watch Book Tube videos, which makes me think about how fun it is to make video blogs, and that may happen, but, for now, it’s fiction first. After that? A long summer’s nap sounds lovely.

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One Week Into One Book July

This is the closest I am going to get, this Monday, to having all of my ducks in a row. This weekend just past was a weekend of three (count them, three) flea bombs, over the course of two days. Judging from the peaceful night’s sleep we all had, presumably free of microscopic vampire bugs, that should mean a peaceful Monday morning, but au contraire, it meant a Monday morning of shaking out bedding, moving things back where they go, rescuing things-that-touch-food from their cabinet bunkers, and hauling trash and recyclables to the refuse room down the hall. (For new readers, we live in an apartment building, and this is a magic place where gallant maintenance workers whisk away our rubbish on a daily basis, not that we have a room full of trash in a private residence. Nobody wants that.)

Okay. Focus, Anna. While work continues on Camp NaNo and Plunder, with notes on researching Catholicism in the Caribbean, in the late seventeenth century (yes, that is important for the romance, Karen. (Metaphorical vernacular “Karen,” not any specific person named Karen, even if she does want to see the manager.) because a certain part of the story will be a whole lot easier for me, if not my characters, if I can plop a fictional convent where I want to plop a fictional convent. So far, the answer should be yes, especially in non-British-held islands, and my hero is Dutch, sooooooo……

:deep breath: What was that I said about focus? Right. Okay. One Book July, as it applies to planning, has no official rules, but the commonly accepted guidelines are to use one planner/bullet journal for everything during the month of July. Some participants add other challenges, like using only one pen. That one, I would normally have a hard time doing, but that pen in the picture below? I get two of them for about seventy cents, and they are comparable to Pilot G2s, so yeah, this is the pen I am using as everyday carry for this month.

Webster’s Pages, pocket size, blush cover

Please note, (pun unintended) that I have fallen in love with that flower-crowned vixen (saving that line for a future hero’s lexicon) and, when I fill the insert she graces, I am taking the cover off and putting it on the next one. I know a good thing when I see it. That particular insert comes from a national chain craft store, in packs of three, for about two dollars (less, if there is a sale) and I am already stockpiling them, because, although I was hesitant about A) passport size, which is even smaller than pocket, and B) white pages, when I strongly prefer ivory, these guys are absolute perfection for my daily pages. Bullet point tasks on the right hand side of the spread (please insert my mother’s voice here, clarifying that it is my right, not the viewer’s right. Thanks, Mom.) and then the left/facing side is for notes.

I didn’t mean to set up my daily insert like that. It happened, on its own, as did finding the perfect balance for Li’l Pink (yes, I name my planners, and yes, they have genders) is three passport size inserts, and then I don’t know how to count the pocket sized inserts, because we have some buddy bands in there, and printables and covers I ripped off and covers I made, and it works, okay, does it really need a label, Karen? Ooh, labels.

My name is Anna, and I am a notebook addict.

Even though it is One Book July, it is also the time when I finally caved in to my curiosity about the B6 size of insert/notebook, above. Same company that makes the fox insert (ooh, do they make a B6 version of the fox? Now I have to go in search of; if I don’t return, I love you all.) makes B6 inserts, same paper -plus lined, plus graph (which I did not get, but will, this weekend) – and they were on sale for a mere dollar apiece, so of course I had to indulge, and, well, I love them.

I do not, however, own a B6 traveler’s notebook, so now I will need to start looking in that direction, but, in the meantime, these inserts are looking happy enough in my spare regular size Webster’s Pages, that I was wondering how I was going to use, so that will work out fine until I can settle the cover issue. I didn’t even have to think about what I’m going to use these inserts for, because they presented themselves. I now do have a notebook-notebook, to keep track of all things stationery (if anyone is taking bets on when that would finally happen, whoever had July 5th, 2019, gets the prize.) There will be another insert for household information, one for sketches/doodles/etc, and one for random brain dumps. I know exactly what pens I want to use with it, and it’s rather satisfying to have a whole endeavor land in my lap like that, a single bloop, and there it is.

Writing is like that, sometimes, and when it is, it is wonderful. More often, it’s like that pocket notebook that is my everyday carry/my one book for July. Trial and error. Will this work? No? Well how about that? Oh no, that’s worse. Rip that out, hide the evidence, try this weird thing because why the heck not? Well, look at that. That actually works. Okay, then. Onward we go.

No deep wisdom on writing today, Karen (or is there?) but I do learn a lot, about myself, about visual arts, about creativity in general, and other things, from my notebook adventures, which is why I do see them as part of the writing process.

Oh wait, there is one practical tip. If you see an oddly placed sticker in my July planner pages, there is probably the evidence of a dead bug under it. This gal does not tear out pages from a sewn binding. I’m not a monster. (usually)

Summer Thoughts

Monday’s post on Tuesday again, and I am okay with that. Yesterday was spent writing on Drama King, then my weekly Skype session with Melva Michaelian. My weekly breakfast with N is on Thursday this week, so the morning was found time to knuckle down and write…until I got a message from Sue Ann Porter, telling me she was five minutes away, and did I want to hang out? Umm, yes. We hadn’t had a chance to be face to face since January, so, around my kitchen table, and seasonally appropriate beverages, we got current.

We talked writing, and books. I cracked open Goodreads to recommend Panic by Lauren Oliver, and my heart swelled when Sue Ann told me how much she loved My Outcast Heart, and would love to see it as a Hallmark-ish movie. That would be fun. Right now, I’m focusing on getting it a new home in book form, which still needs to take a number.

We were joined, after a short while, by Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, Cat Regent and discussed having Sebastian join us for a proposed vlog about our shared appreciation of Poldark. I need to get current, because life last summer was kind of hectic, but, this year, it looks smoother. We discussed how much we like the verisimilitude of the historical atmosphere of the story world, and how we both like our historical romances to have a strong historical influence along with the romance, what makes a good romance novel, and what it takes to get a reader to want to come along for the ride, in any genre of fiction.

There was also a surprise visit by a local candidate, friendly and charismatic, encouraging voters to get to the polls. All too soon, Sue Ann and I both had to go back to life as planed, but I told her this was exactly the kind of summer I want to have. Filled with writing, and reading, and hanging out with good friends, coming away from the visit, not stressed over work time that was missed, but energized to get back to it, refreshed and refueled. I could get used to that kind of thing.

Cusp

Around our apartment, there are various deposits of crumpled black socks. These are mine. I will not take pictures of them (nobody wants to see that) but I do have a habit of toeing my socks off, forgetting that there were socks in the first place, and going about the rest of my day, often with the aid of the herds of flip flops that also seem to roam at will throughout Stately Bowling Manor. I do not know how this first came to be, but I do know that, by this age, that is probably going to be how things are from here on out. Future apologies to whomever gets the pleasure of dealing with me in my golden years.

This is not a post about my footwear. This is a post that I am writing before I get the laundry into the basket, and hauled down to the laundry room. Hence the collection of sock piles, and my eternal gratitude to the day I made the executive decision that my socks would only be black, even in summer. This ensures that they all match. This may be balanced out by Real Life Romance Hero’s predeliction for novelty socks, but he wears them well. This post is actually about writing.

This week, I accidentally acquired a new project, with a great team of smart, creative, like-minded women. This project will be work, yes, and it will also be fun, the fun part being the part that got me to yes. More on that in future posts. This is also the week that Housemate is out of state for over a full week, RLRH is doing some cool stuff, including making awesome quesadillas, and my planning system is getting one heck of a workout. Not that I mind, exactly, because I would much rather have too much to do than too little, and the act of organizing stuff makes me want to do more stuff, so I am calling it all good.

Yesterday was one for the books. Pun intended. A two hour (maybe more?) chat via messenger for new venture dovetailed with a domestic tornado chain, now past, which involved a stress bomb (now diffused) and an anxiety attack for me (fine now) and the whole thing reminds me of when I was but a wee princess, and my mother would bundle me in seasonally appropriate garments on the first day of blue sky, and go out to see what things looked like after the storm. This post is kind of like that.

Several times this week and I am probably not done yet, I have used the phrase, “I am an author, first,” and I am probably not done saying it yet. I can do other things, but writing my own fiction does, and has to, come first. When asked what two words I would say to my younger self, my answer is always the same. Keep writing. Whether the younger self in question is six, twelve, twenty-three, forty-five, or whatever, my answer is always the same. Keep writing. To elaborate, tell the story until it’s told. If I can tell her a couple more things, a recent addition is to do one thing at a time, give it full attention, and then move on to the next. Scheduling is great for this, and it comes with lots of pretty planning toys.

Follow the love, that’s another good one. For me, romance fiction is a big, big love, so aiming my time and talents in that general direction is going to work for the common good. This means writing it, reading it, spreading the love of it. I am totally up for all of that, and managing my time and energy so that the best of me goes to the best of that. Keeping my blogging schedule and focus is a big part of that. Which is why you’re getting this before I head off to play with my imaginary friends. Good stuff is coming, and clean socks, I hope, will be part of that.

Tabled

Yesterday, Real Life Romance Hero came home from his morning walk with a table. A big, round, heavy, black wooden dining room table. He did this while I was in the shower. He did not intend to obtain furniture, but, when I shut off the shower, there was the key in the lock sound, followed by the something big is coming through the door sound, and, by the time I had my robe on, and head out the door, there was the love of my life and a huge black dot.

imagine seeing this first thing in the morning

RLRH identified the dot as our new dining room table. I pointed to our existing dining room table, and asked where this new piece of furniture came into his possession. In our building, there is an area where people who no longer need large items, can put them up for adoption. Such was RLRH’s encounter of said table. He knew we didn’t need it right now, but we will want a bigger table when we move (in a few months; we are not planning to move right now-now) so he brought it home.

The first question that came to mind was, “where are we going to put this?” In our future apartment is the obvious answer, but we are in our current apartment, which already has a table, which we already love, and the only place we can possibly put it is what I will call our great room, because it is dining room, living room, my office, my studio, Housemate’s workspace, and Housemate’s bedroom. It is a very small space. We also all had places to be, so we tabled the issue (pun intended) and headed off to take on the day. Then we came home, and were faced with the reality of the big black thing that would not allow both Housemate and er parcels through the door at the same time.

Cue much rearranging of furniture. The old dining room table is now my work table, on the opposite side of the great room, directly under our window, with Tudor Rose Hart-Bowling, our as yet unnamed pepper plant (currently, I am liking “Queen Boudica,” and she is quite liking the sunlight. Lancaster has been relocated to the bedroom, where he can get his own sunlight, without his brother, and presumably, new sister, trying to choke him to death.} This also allows me to have my planners and related paraphernalia in one, permanent place, where I can see them all, all the time, as well as have plenty of room to spread out and not bump over salt shakers, bump into anybody else’s work, etc. My kneeling chair scoots from computer to work table, to dining table with ease, and it all very much does contribute to the “room of one’s own” feeling. I have not had that since we left the old apartment. Before, that, really, so this feels all that much lovelier, to have my own corner of the world.

new table, reporting for duty

Still early days yet, so i will still have to see what effect this has for my productivity, but I am optimistic. At the very least, it has worked well for today, and I think that’s a pretty good start. With the weather we’ve had here in NY for the last couple of days, it feels as though summer has plopped itself down , which makes the whole new season thing feel very, very natural.

Next up on my list is website wrangling, as in actual whole website, with hosting and all that other good stuff, for Melva’s and my work, both separately and together. There will be posts on that later, because that’s a whole new adventure. Typing With Wet Nails (and/or Stuffed Paws) will remain the same, and Melva and I are working on some fun stuff to bring our readers, and hopefully convince her readers and my readers to become our readers, the whole Melva and Anna experience.  Chasing Prince Charming creeps ever closer to release, as the final galley template is in the works, and we should learn more in about two weeks.

The best way to fill the time between now and then, is by writing. Melva and I are both looking forward to a productive season, with new and current projects, and, if the place I do that from has a view of lush greenery and a cool breeze, then so much the better.

The Mondayest Monday That Ever There Mondayed (Okay, not really)

Welp, it’s Monday. An extremely Monday-ish Monday, as a matter of fact. Allow me to explain. When I started off this day, I had a plan. I had a schedule. I like both of these things. By nine AM, both of them were moot. It is a full house here at Stately Bowling Manor. Both other adults are home for the day, with no plans, theoretically able to fend for themselves. THere may or may not be a pharmacy run in the afternoon, and, technically, this could be a good time to drag the bottles to recycling, which may not, at the first glance, have all that much to do with writing, ut I am determined to find a way to make that happen. A lot of us writers can’t turn that stuff off, so we have learned to live with it and steer into the skid, so to speak.

This is where being a planner person can come in handy, because the moment a domestic tornado chain blows through the combination living room/dining room/my office/Housemate’s bedroom (let us call it the Great Hall, shall we? That feels very much in keeping with all things historical romance-y, so it’s going to stay.) the instinctive response is not “aaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!” but “let me move a few things around.” Writing has to take precedence, so blog entry happens first, then I need to knock off a rough scene, because I know me, and I know that, if I don’t, I am going to be kicking myself through whatever else it is that the day might bring. This is the sort of day when the writer shoves leftovers in the general direction of all present family members, and plops themselves in front of the computer, to make the most of the time one does have.

Cryptic, I know, but my goal here is to blorch out the magic seven hundred words, move on to a scene for Drama King, and then the world of practical concerns can have some of my attention. Some of it. Only two days ago, I sat in a darkened library conference room, listening to a Damon Suede, workshop on backstory (recorded, not in person, alas. If you ever get a chance to see Damon Suede teach on anything writing related, take it. That is all.) that left me with pages full of notes, and the confidence that yes, I really am ready to start gathering questions and assorted stuff for exploring and expounding on Cornelis and Lydia’s story, whom readers can meet in “The Fox and the Lily,” in the upcoming anthology from Z Publishing. I’m still liking Plunder for the title of the full length novel, and knowing exactly what goes down with Cornelis and Lydia will lay the foundation for their daughter’s (and, ultimately grandchild’s) story.  

That’s not for today, though. Today, though my plans have been changed, there is still stuff I can do (Melva and I touch on exactly this kind of thing in our Save the Author, Save the Book workshop) so I don’t feel entirely shoved out of the way, writing-wise. Lists definitely help. I want all my tasks out where I can see them, and the week as well, so I can move things around when I need to do that. Domestic tornadoes do not mean that the things cannot get done, only that they will not get done at the time or in the way I had originally thought. This is also one of the reasons I like to have more than one project going at the same time, at different stages.

Polishing a scene into traditionally readable form may not be possible on a day like today, but can I hole up on the couch (or lock myself in the bathroom, because that, too, is a thing) and rough a scene out in longhand? I most certainly can. Sometimes, the best stuff gets born that way. Not always. It’s not a guarantee, but definitely more of a plus than a minus. When the active brain is required elsewhere, I can “look up X online” and convey information to the person who requested it, which will leave me feeling marginally accomplished enough to move on to the next task. The fact that my imaginary friends do tend to tag along on mundane errands also works in my favor. Sometimes they are helpful and sometimes they are not, but I am glad to have them, in either event.

Time to wrap this blabbery post and move on along. The sky outside is beautifully cloudy and gray, but I’m still burning daylight. TLDR takeaway from this post: if my goal is having written, then writing is the only thing that will get me there. By blabbing here, I don’t have to look at the note in my planner that oh no, I didn’t blog again on Monday, I suck, what am I even doing here, etc. Nope. Blog does not have to be perfect. Blog has to be written, and that it is, so I will count that as a success. At least that’s what I am telling myself.

It’s Monday, And I Don’t Know Where My Hero’s Bathroom Is

Welp, it’s a cloudy Monday, and I am well past the time I had set aside for blogging, so let’s jump in and blabber our way to the magic seven hundred and then call it good enough, because I have a scene from Melva to read for Drama King, which may require me to draw a floor plan of one of the locations in our small shared world. I do have a couple of pictures on Pinterest, that may be of help here, and I am strongly considering building said locale in Sims 4, but Sims 4 does not have indoor ladders (or outdoor, except for the pool variety) and it really needs a ladder, because the ladder will be important, so there’s that. In short, I am procrastinatin.

I cannot, however, procrastinate everything, especially when Sebastian dropped the (hair)ball on the weekend post (also, there were domestic tornadoes; we are in the cleanup phase now) and the first few attempts at this blog entry were veering too far into the realm of planning. That is not entirely unexpected, as I spent a good chunk of the weekend, when I was not wrangling aforementioned domestic tornadoes, carrying around Li’l Pink, the traveler’s notebook I acquired over a year ago, with inserts I acquired up to six years ago, but not writing in her.

Very long story, made very short, the pretty pastel inserts I had thought were pocket size, were actually passport size the whole darned time, which is why they never lined up with the pocket sized hardcover notebooks, which, in turn, never sat right, because they had to be on the part of the elastic where the knot is, therefore not able to sit flat. Ahem. I found this out when I decided, what the heck, I’d toss in the passport sized junk journal insertI had ordered by mistake, and what ho, it’s the same size as the others. The cover clashed with the pastel inserts, but, as it turns out, tracing paper will double for vellum, in a pinch, and literally nobody on the entire planet, who is not you, is losing any sleep over this, Anna.

Okay, fine, that is not wrong, but nattering about the inserts it took me six years to figure out what size they were did get me to about the halfway mark for a full blog entry. Once the blog entry is done, I get to turn my attention to Drama King stuff. Tomorrow should be for Her Last First Kiss. Also for hauling an old air mattress to the dumpster, but nobody wants to read a blog about that. I certainly wouldn’t want to write it. I’ll stick to writing romance novels, thanks.

Sometimes, though, writing romance novels involves things one doesn’t think it would. Like the location of bathrooms, which may, in fact, drive me to Sims 4 (for research, I tell you, purely for research) When I was but a nubile ingenue (aka high school) my drama teacher told a group of aspiring thespians that we always had to know what was on the fourth wall. That is not the audience out there, it is the wall with the TV and the china cabinet and the squeaky door to the kitchen, that always swings the wrong way. It’s the front porch, or the balcony, or, well, you get the picture. Point is, it’s fixed, it doesn’t change (in realistic works) and it affects what the actors do in relation to their environment. If it’s a plate glass window, the play is set in the middle of a Minnesota winter, and a baseball sails through that window in the middle of act two, that’s an act and a half of the actors needing to convey to the audience that they are now cold, possibly dangerously so, instead of comfortable.

When we’re talking novel writing, replace “actor” with “writer,” though the character who lives in this locale is an actor, so maybe don’t. Follow your heart. No, not right now. Get back here. I’m almost done. Having all scene partners agree on what is on that fourth wall is usually a pretty good idea, because doing otherwise can lead to chaos (or some awesome improv; I’ve seen it go both ways.) This also comes into play in writing partnerships. Since Melva and I are often eerily on the same page, pun intended, I do not foresee any huge differences, and questions of “where’s thing X?” usually get met with “well, I thought it was over in place Y,” which gets met with, “oh good, that’s where I had it.” I expect that will still be the case.

And yet (there is always an “and yet”) this should not be a big deal. Our hero’s apartment is a studio, with a loft, so there is only a limited amount of places a bathroom can be, and, thanks to my experiences with my dad’s house, I know enough about where pipes go to figure out that such things narrow the options even more, so there is not a logical reason to be putting something this easy off, Anna.

Yeah, but we’re over the halfway mark, and the hero and heroine are getting ready for :drops voice to whisper: the scene.

The scene?

You know. The hero/heroine scene.

This is a romance novel. Most of the scenes are hero/heroine scenes.

Yeah, but….

If you figure out where the bathroom is, you don’t have to carry the air mattress to the dumpster.

Ever?

Today.

Eh, good enough. I’ll get the graph paper.

What Do Planner Pages and Fiction Genres Have in Common?

Still not the actual planner post, but getting closer, and, seeing as how we are over the midway point of the month, I may let this suffice and move on along because the start of yet another new month will be here before I know it.

The fact that Wednesday’s post is the first of the week should tell you all how Monday went. Nuff said about that. Let’s move on to better stuff, and by that, I mean planners and how they relate to the writing life. Last night was a big one at Stately Bowling Manor, because I learned two very important things that have me chittering like a cat at a bird sanctuary. Thing One is that the printer is now up and running, and Thing Two is that I finally figured out the exact difference between A6 and half-letter size. For the non-planner-obsessed, this sounds like Charlie Brown Adult speech. For those more planner-obsessed than myself, this may elicit a heartfelt “duh.”

If standard letter size paper is one sheet of the stuff one puts into the printer, then it follows that half-letter is half of that (folded short end to short end, specifically) and fits quite nicely into the mini binders sold at many chain office supply and/or megastores. A5 paper is the kind commonly sold for ring bound planners. Half letter paper is generally, in my experience, sold three-hole-punched, while A5 comes most commonly punched with six holes (I have seen some punched with four holes, but very seldom, and have not actually used any of those…yet.) The two are pretty darned close in size, which leads to the impression that they are interchangeable. The embarrassingly large amount of paper in my scrap file will attest. That paper will get repurposed, because I don’t like waste, but let’s move on with this bit o’ blabber.

In a reveal that surprises no-one, I love all things planner-related, and am not (yet) independently wealthy. Also, I have what we will call strong preferences. This would intimate that making my own inserts and fillers might be a good way to both save money and expand creativity. This also is where that scrap paper comes into play, or should i say existence. After longer than I would be proud to admit, of assuming that A) A5 and half letter are totally the same size, and B) the firm conviction that I have so been punching the paper according to the manufacturer’s instructions, I also took into account C) depth perception is part of my visual impairment. Maybe I might want to actually check out the dimensions the way it makes sense to me? What could it hurt?

So, going on the pro tip on how to tell black from navy blue (hold the color in question next to something that you 100$ know is black) I took a manufactured A5 page and a manufactured half letter page, each obviously different colors, put the one I suspected was smaller (spoiler: it’s A5) in front, and tapped them on a level surface (kitchen table.) Lo and behold, there it was, a bright white strip of paper above the colored A5 sheet. Mark the difference, remove the excess, punch holes, and…wait for it…boom, they line up with the manufactured A5 paper holes. This then segued into a frenzy of paper cutting and punching, culminating in me sitting back, contented as a cat in cream, looking at my handiwork.

Goodbye, pricey inserts in two different sizes. Hello, making whatever the heck I want, whenever the heck I want it. I’m off-leash at last, no fences, baby, woo. Except for the one teeny, small, infinitesimal complication that I do not have the first idea of how to create my own insert or filler, on the computer, which does throw a bit of a spanner in the works. Not a biggie, as I will figure it out, through a process of trial and error, and picking the hive mind of the interwebs. . There have to be templates out there somewhere, and where there’s templates, there’s historicals…er, tutorials. Total typo there, but I’m going to let it stand, because I am headed in that direction anyway.

But Anna, I hear those of you who live in my head asking, what does all of this have to do with writing commercial fiction? I am glad you asked that, people who live in my head, because that is an excellent question, and one I have been asking myself, until the answer naturally surfaced. Paper size is a lot like genre, in a sense. Sure, A5 and half letter may look the same to the casual viewer, and how big a difference can it be, anyway? As a quick inspection proves, quite a bit. One thing can’t fit in a container made for the other, but when we know what size is what and where all the holes are supposed to be (get your minds out of the gutter) the whole thing goes rather smoothly, and the creative mind can flood with ideas of fun things to do in all those lovely different sizes.

Some spreads that are perfect for A5 would never work in a half letter, or vice versa. Add in personal size, which is a heck of a lot smaller, but still fun and useful, and we’re talking a whole different story. Pun intentional. THat’s only talking ringbound. If we add traveler’s notebooks into the mix (strings rather than rings) we have whole new options, and whole new requirements. Do I love notebooks in general? Yes, with a wild, burning passion. Is there one objectively best format or size? Well, best for what? I’d need to ask some questions here. It’s the same for romance fiction. I would assume every other genre as well, or there wouldn’t be a need for both high and low fantasy (to say nothing of urban) cozy vs hard-boiled mysteries, hard vs soft SFscience fiction (if I’m using a wrong term for  different types of a single a genre, please let me know) and so forth.

A composition size planner is not going to fit in a tiny evening bag, and a bound notebook is not going to allow me to move pages around with ease. Genre is kind of like that. A light, humorous romance is not going to make me weep from angst leading to the HEA, while an epic historical is not going to be the best choice for a quick read that will give a case of the giggles. To paraphrase the late, great Eugenia Price, not all writers are going to please all readers. That’s why there are so many of us. I am more than okay with that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to a chain office supply store to buy printer ink. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.


Typing With Stuffed Paws: The (Stuffed) Cat Came Back Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff for the past, uh, while. Now that Writer Chick is no longer a galley slave, and has met her deadline, that gives her more time for other things, like checking to make sure I’m doing my share around here. Eh. I had a good run, and by run, I mean napping through the last couple of Fridays. Anyway, Dude is home today, he’s warm, and pretty good at napping, hi own self, so I think you know where this is going. Catnaps are always best when taken with actual cats, amirite?

Anyway, to speed us in that direction, let’s get down to business. First, as always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday, and she wants your recommendations of books that might whet her reading appetite. Click here, or the caption below, if you think you might be able to help, or if you like hearing her ramble or whatever. Click for no reason, if you want. I’m not the boss of you.

As for what Writer Chick is reading, she’s working on getting back into the swing of the whole Goodreads challenge deal. Right now, she’s only three books behind, at twenty-three out of ninety-five books, which puts her at twenty-four percent of the way to her goal. Adequate progress, but y’know, weekend, TBR, all that stuff. Make it happen, Writer Chick.

Writer Chick has made some noise about making a list of library books, to keep in one of her planners, to get around the whole thing of figuring out she has to give back a bunch of books she didn’t get a chance to read, and can’t renew them, because they were renewed already, and Dude may or may not be teasing her about what he calls the “mini rage.” Lists and goals and stuff make her happy anyway. There could possibly be stickers involved. As long as the stickers don’t come in contact with my fur, then I don’t have a problem. If they do, well, let’s say that Writer Chick might get a chance to find out why my middle name is Thunderpaws. That’s all I’m saying.

Maybe new candles are the key to posting more pictures…

There’s also the whole Instagram thing. Seriously slacking on that one, Writer Chick. There may need to be some sort of Instagram progress chart to keep her going on this one. One the one paw, I am an excellent model, because, in addition to being handsome and orange, I am awesome at posing. By posing, I mean sitting still. Unlike poo cats, I do not walk off in the middle of the shoot, and, really, she should be taking advantage of that. There has been some buzz about taking me out on location shoots. Props may be involved. Not sure how I feel about this, but Writer Chick tells me it’s part of the whole Cat Regent thing, so I suppose I can go along until they find a suitable poo cat.

Peace out,

Technology Is Not My Friend

Last night, the battery in my phone died. This phone has been through harsher things that sitting in the charger. This is the phone where Skye became a gamer kitty, the phone that helped me set a goal of hitting one thousand Instagram posts (yeah, that one’s on hold) and hung out with me during long stretches of insomnia. It’s the phone with all those pictures of Skye on it(but yay Google Photos, for having it all.) This was also the phone I was counting on for some casual scrolling and possibly Kindle app reading before bed, so its ultimate fading to black was not what I had in mind. Time to call in reinforcements.

Those who have known me for a while, also know my history with electronics, which may point in the direction of this piece is going. I first retrieved my old PC laptop, the pink one I still love, and, someday, plan to find if there is a way to make it work without having the screen at an angle that is best described with this symbol: <

she does not display this much screen when open this far, these days

That is the angle at which I have to have the screen, if I want to be able to see it, not complete blackness. I already have the phone for that. The MacBook Pro will probably be fine after I take care of that three beep thing, which should be an easy fix, but not very helpful in the middle of the night, when I want to do some casual scrolling to wind down. Next solution was to boot my elderly tablet, which spent most of its time reminding me that it’s been a while since I turned it on, and that I have changed several passwords in the interim. Also that Google app is not responding. Google app is not responding. Google app is not responding. Etc. At least Spotify worked, so that was a happy ending in the short term.

As soon as I can stop the triple beep, this baby is back in business

The longer term solution will likely be an easy one, as well. Easy fixes for the laptop issue, acquire new phone, and then comes the phase of the process that I actually consider fun. What is the aesthetic of this new device going to be? We’re talking wallpapers, screensavers, possibly themes, if I want to go whole hog on this kind of thing, There’s arranging all my must-haves, like Spotify, my photo apps, Sims FreePlay (why did you have to die in the middle of the chocolatier quest, phone? Do you not understand the depth of my desire for that gingerbread house furniture? Have you learned nothing from the fact that my ice house has no kitchen or bathroom because those items are now locked until the next ice quest comes around again? I have staying power. I can wait, but not if all my Sims die because I can’t get to them.) and Netflix.

Hot pink bag in the bottom left corner holds my tablet. Purple case holds my Kindle, which is fine.

I will qualify this by saying that A) Netflix is still Mehflix (this is totally me, not them) and B) I can access Netflix on other devices, most notably the desktop on which I currently write, but this is the principle of the thing. I cannot take the desktop to the comfy end of the couch, and I definitely can’t tuck it in my planner and take it out into the wide, wild world. Or laundry room, because there’s that, too.

Umm, Anna, I hear a voice saying, isn’t this a good time to table the electronics thing and focus on reading paper books, and/or doing art in the un-phonable time? You don’t even like using the phone as a phone, so, y’know…not seeing the giant problem here. That voice, by the way, is probably me. I have a love/hate relationship with electronics, and I probably always will. I got dragged kicking and screaming to my first ever computer, and now I can’t imagine writing without one, even if I do usually (read: almost always) compose in longhand first. Skype allows me to collaborate with Melva, face to face, when two hundred miles apart, and Skype on the phone means I can go into the only room in our apartment where I can shut the door and not have to work around another human, while Skyping: the bathroom.

Since this is a need, we’ll be taking care of it soon, and, before long, I will be introducing the new electronic device, and/or reintroducing the restored one. This is not a question, but a fact. In the meantime, I have galleys to scour, and there is still the tick tick tick of the clock counting down to the Z Publishing anthology deadline. I am pretty comfortable with that.

TLDR version of this whole thing: Phone died. I wanted to kvetch. I have kvetched. Back to the galleys I go. (Also, if I don’t respond to messages right away, refer to whole phone thing above.)