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.)

Rumblings of a Temporal Vagabond, part one

Okay. Deep breath. This is one of those days where I stare down the packed to-do list and charge. This past weekend, I came across a post by Isobel Carr, on Risky Regencies, called “Some Possibly Unpopular Thoughts.” My ears immediately pricked. Might this post be referencing the other post, on Smart Bitches, Trashy books? Oh, yes, it did. Oh, good. After a week stuck in the house with my beloved family, a stomach bug, and back pain, I needed something to latch all my frayed nerves onto, and this has been a bee in my bonnet for some time, so here we go.

I don’t get why, with historical romance, if we’re defining it as “anything before living memory,” which, for the sake of argument, let’s say predates WWII, it can seem a Herculean effort to sell a book set outside of one particular era, in one particular locale: Regency England. Strictly technically speaking, we’re talking 1811-1820, when King George III was unfit to rule, and his son, who would eventually be known as King George IV, ruled in his stead, as Prince Regent. Regency = during the rule of a regent. Easy enough. More broadly, the term, “Regency Era,” can apply to 1795-1837, ending with the ascencion of Queen Victoria, for more of a zeitgeist approach. For the smaller definition, we are talking a span of nine years. For the larger, forty-two years. Bit more breathing room there, even room for a generation or two to pass. All well and good there, but for those of us who write (and read) stories set outside of this era, it can be rough going at times, and yeah, my dander is up on this one right now.

There’s art and there’s commerce. There’s the book of the heart and there’s the book that sells. Right now, Regency is what’s selling. Especially Regency with Dukes. I get the desire for some fantasy in historical romance (not the elves and faeries sort) but there are also the times when my blood carbonates with the need to poke at whether it is that specific historical period and that specific rank of the peerage that seems to have a stranglehold on the market at the moment (and for more than a few preceding moments.) All the why, why, whys mosh around my brainpan, because that’s what I don’t get.

Before my life took a hard turn into caregiving, and a huge shift in the family structure, I had four historical romances published. My Outcast Heart was set in 1720 New York, with a subsistence farmer heroine and a hermit hero. Never Too Late was set in 1900 England and Italy, the heroine fifty years old when she set out to reclaim the love of a lifetime. Queen of the Ocean, set in sixteenth century Cornwall, and had a Spanish hero. Orphans in the Storm was my English Civil War novel, set on the Isle of Man, and the English Court in Exile, in the Netherlands. (Hey, I had royalty in that one. Impoverished, exiled royalty, but royalty. It’s okay. The monarchy got better.) Those were all settings I loved, that came organically with the stories that I wanted to tell, the ones that were real and alive in my head. I still love them all to this day, and those years when writing was all but (and sometimes outright) impossible didn’t change my love for a variety of historical settings . Call me a temporal vagabond.

When the writing came back, and maybe even before, that had not changed. I had to set aside a time travel I dearly loved, and needed to start something new, something smaller in scope, something I knew I could get from point A to point B. Aha. Road story. I could do one of those. Then I read the then-newest issue of the dearly departed RT Book Reviews, which had two articles, one on medieval romances, and one on post-apocalyptic romances, and my writerbrain perked. Aha! Post-apocalyptic medieval! Yes! I can do that! What would seem like an apocalypse for the medieval world? Black Plague? That, I could do, so that’s what I did.

I wrote the story of a disillusioned knight errant and a woman who refused to believe the end of the world was, well, the end of the world, who offered him the one thing he couldn’t refuse (apple seeds; it works in context.) They meet early on, they’re together the whole darned time, and I literally cried when I had to say goodbye to them at the end. Then I tried to sell it. The last agent I pitched to said she loved my voice, quoted some of my own passages back to me, and said she would totally read this story for pleasure, but was not going to ask for the full, because she could not sell a medieval. Cue sad trombone slide.

This agent advised me that my options were to trunk the story for now and hold onto it until the market changes, and medieval come back into fashion, or self/indie publish. She asked what else I had, and I mentioned I was writing a Regency. Great. Send her that when it was finished. Seriously. No question about plot or characters; just send it. I wish I could say that buoyed my spirits, I ran home, finished it, sent it in, and here’s the cover reveal, but that’s not what happened.

What happened was that characters and a story I loved turned into torture, frustration, sobbing to Critique Partner Vicki, who finally smacked me upside the head with a bat’leth of four words: “you hate writing Regency.” But it had to be Regency! That’s what sells! She didn’t budge. I didn’t have Regency in me. Set the story aside, along with the time travel, until the bad juju burns off, set it in another era, and try again.

Her Last First Kiss came complete with its setting, and, when Melva and I needed a historical period for the book within a book for the Beach Ball, I suggested Georgian, because hey, I was there already, and I knew I’d be doing a lot of the historical heavy lifting on this one. Both times, the setting was organic, not even a question. I/we didn’t pick; they picked us.

Done with blog time for today, not done with the topic, so calling this part one. See you Wednesday; let’s chat in the comments. :jaunty wave:

Typing With Wet Claws: Urrrrgh Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This Feline Friday is a little bit different, because it is one of those days. Anty did not get a lot of sleep last night, so she is extra grumpy today, which is not helping the fact that this is an urrrrghy day overall. Not that she is wearing overalls. Those are not her kind of thing. They are not my kind of thing, either, because I am a kitty and am covered in fur, so I do not need clothing/ I am very, very fluffy. But this part of the post is not about me.

Normally, this is the place where I would put Anty’s latest post at Buried Under Romance, but I cannot do that this week, because the site was hacked. That is not a happy thing. I guess somebody really does not like romance novels. I do not understand why. They make Anty, and many other writers and readers, very happy. Miss Ezrah, who is the webmistress at Buried Under Romance, is working very very hard to make sure the hackers are defeated and Anty, and all the other people on that site, can post again as soon as possible. In the meantime, here is the page where you can read all of Anty’s Saturday Discussion posts so far: http://www.buriedunderromance.com/author/annab and the top of the page should look like this:

burfail

 

Please note that the picture on this screenshot is of Grumpy Cat. I did not plan it that way, although I am always happy to further the career of other cats in social media, but that is not the big thing I am here to talk about today. The big new is that it is now official, that Anty will be co-presenting the Blogging Isn’t Dead workshop, along with Corrina Lawson and Rhonda Lane, at this year’s Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference. That will be April 7th and 8th, in Burlington, MA. If you are there, Anty would love to say hello. Miss Corrina and Miss Rhonda are very nice, too, and Anty is happy to be working with them. The official roster of programs and presenters looks like this:

necrwaflyer

If you would like more information, such as how to register, so that you can go to the conference, and hear Anty, Miss Corrina, and Miss Rhonda talk about blogging in person, then you can find that information here: http://necrwa.org/blog1/conference/

Even though I write pretty much one third of Anty’s blog posts (at least at this site) for her, I will not be attending the conference, because I am a kitty, and kitties like to stay at home. I would like it if Anty stayed at home, too, so that she could feed me, but I have Uncle for that. He gives me big dinners, so that is not a hardship. I am sure Anty will give me the chance to impart some of my wisdom. At these conferences, people have come up to her and told her they like my blog. Those people have very good taste. Maybe Anty will hunt down a new paw print rubber stamp (we had one in the old country, but it got lost in the move) so that I can give autographs. My actual paws are staying at home, because they are part of me, so any such autographs would be symbolic. Maybe Anty could draw a paw print. She has been known to do that on greeting cards.

Anyway, that is the good writing news for this week. Other than that, this has been an urrrghy week. Anty is glad that she did not try to do NaNo this year, as she would be a nervous wreck by now (which is to say, more than usual) because word counts and domestic tornadoes do not generally mix well. Anty is not worried. There is a calm after every storm, and if there is one thing she has learned from al the urrrghy experiences, it is that the writing will be there. With all the notebooks Anty has going, I do not doubt that at all. Sometimes, the writing takes a little longer, and that is okay, as long as it still gets done, and Anty will make sure that it does.

This has been a day that helps Anty see how important conflict is in writing. She wanted to be well rested for all she had to do today, but she did not get a lot of sleep. Okay, Laundromat time is good for resting (but not sleep) and reading and quiet time, but even though Anty was early, it was not quiet or peaceful. Okay, she would nap when she got home. Well, that was the plan, but we also have a sleep-deprived Uncle at home, and Uncle likes to walk around a lot when he is at home. Since we have old floors, this is noisy. Anty went off to get Uncle’s pills from the pharmacy, but there was a complication there. She fixed that, then wanted to get a calm lunch at Panera, where she could write, but she forgot one important thing It is across the street from a major hospital, and it was lunch hour. Anty had to wait a long time for a table, and then it did not have an outlet for her computer. Also, the Diet Pepsi dispenser was empty and she had to settle for caffeine free. Anty could use some caffeine. Really, a lot of it. She would have ordered tea, but the sign on the hot water dispenser said it was filled at 6AM. Not helpful after noon.

All of these things are annoying, but if everything went according to plan, it would not be an interesting story of how Anty found some space to write, after all. She even has plans to Skype (still miffed that has nothing to do with Skye pee) with Miss Vicki, before diving into the afternoon errands. That all sounds very tiring, but Anty will get through it, because it is best for everyone involved if Anty makes sure she gets at least some writing time even with all the aggravation. Non-writing Anty is super cranky Anty, and nobody wants that.

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

i1035 FW1.1

Until next week…

 

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