Typing With Wet Nails: I Can’t Eat My Brother Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is nice and rainy here in New York’s Capitol Region today, which makes Anty very happy. Uncle is home this morning, because he works in the evening today, and that makes me very happy, because he will be home during the day. Uncle did not feel very well on his birthday, so we are doing some of the celebrating this week, instead. that includes a new addition to the family.

Normally, Anty makes me wait until I have talked about her writing before I can talk about anything else, which is usually also her writing (go figure) but, because of Uncle’s birthday, she will make an exception. As a kitty, I like my world to stay The Same, but, this week, it will be Not The Same. On Sunday, this thing appeared on Uncle’s desk:

 

fishbowl

Vacancy

 

It would seem I am getting a brother, and this bowl is where he will live. My brother will not be a kitty (at least not this time; the kitty brother will happen later) This time, he will be a fish. I have been told, in no uncertain terms, that he will be family, not food. Uncle still needs to go pick him out from the fish place, so I do not have any pictures of him yet. Anty said I cannot post any pictures of my new brother that involve things like garlic butter, lemon wedges, or side dishes. I am still not sure how I feel about this.

Anty says no more talking until I tell people where they can find her writing on the interweb this week, besides here, so I had better get to that. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, where she talked about the many things to celebrate about romance fiction. I celebrate the romance novels that have cats in them, and have good things  happen to those cats. Drop by Anty’s post and tell her what you celebrate when you think about romance novels. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURcelebrateromance

 

Next, we move on to Anty’s Goodreads activity.  Anty is on track with her Goodreads challenge for the third week in a row, having read fifty-six of the ninety books she would like to read this year. Go, Anty. If you want to follow Anty’s reading, or see the books that she wrote, Goodreads is a great place to do that. This week, Anty finished reading two books. One is a debut YA novel, and the other one is a standalone historical romance by the author who got Anty into historical romance in the first place. It is also set in the Georgian era, which is Anty’s special area of interest right now. Read her reviews here:

 

GRoneofusislying

One of Us Is Lying, by Karen M. McManus

 

As you may have noticed, somebody in this house has found Pixlr. I will not say who. There is extra treat in it for me if I remain quiet. Anty thinks this will make creating teasers for her backlist and upcoming books a lot more interesting. Anty likes to play around with that sort of thing. Consider this your warning. Pictures are coming.

Speaking of which, Anty was finally able to wrestle her deskscape from Wednesday out of Google Photos, so she asked me to share it with you here.

01Dutchplanner

She is now at the end of the first week of having her planner in Dutch, and she likes it a lot. Anty likes knowing what she is going to do, and when she is going to do it, so breaking her days down by hour helps her make better use of her time. I am very pleased that she does schedule my meals and treats. She knows what is important. She has also taken the kneeling chair out of her office, so there is now more room on the hardwood for me, and I can get even closer to her chair, which she is in a lot these days.

There were some big domestic tornadoes this week, but Anty has found that one thing anchors her very well, even when the tornadoes are big ones, and that is writing. Reading, too, but especially writing. Right now, she and Anty Melva are making one last pass on the Chasing Prince Charming manuscript, and then it will be time to send it out on its rounds of editors and agents, to see if anybody might like to take a look. Anty is hard at work on the second draft of Her Last First Kiss, as well as beta reading for another author. She only has a little more work to do on A Heart Most Errant before she needs to decide what she wants to do with that story next. She is still thinking about what she would like to do for her next historical. I think it should be a book with lots of cats in it. Big, fuzzy cats. Swimmy brothers optional.

That is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebyenew

My Planner Speaks Dutch Now

My planner speaks Dutch now. Days of the week? All in Dutch. Months? Yep, those will be in Dutch for the remainder of the year, as well.  There are a few reasons for this. One is that I’m picking up some of the language anyway, from a friend who is, herself, Dutch. Another is that I’ve had a storyline bopping around in my head for a couple of decades now, with a Dutch hero. If it hasn’t gone away by now, it’s not going to, so my best bet is to steer into that particular skid (at the appropriate time; right now, Her Last First Kiss  is my historical baby.) Another reason is that translating names of the days and months from Dutch, into English, is one more thinky thing for my brain to do every day. Call it mental exercise.  The more I make my brain work, the better it works. The other reason, though? That one tracks with romance appreciation month. It’s the heroes.

Couple things first. This is not the deskscape I took to go along with today’s blog post. That one had a finished page, with a grayscale-plus-one-color color scheme, all numbers neatly stenciled, etc, everything in place.  I composed the shot, tried out a new photo editor, because I’m still finding the ideal tool for that, and checked my Google Photos app on my phone. Yep, picture is there. Great. Check Google Photos on my desktop, and nope. Already done some juggling with my schedule today, so time to get creative. Nab a shot I took to share with a group on Facebook, edit that puppy, and on we go. So, that’s where this comes from, and, even though it’s not what I had planned, it’s good enough.

So, back to those romance heroes. I’m not talking about the oh-isn’t-he-handsome angle on this one, though yes, some of these fictional gents are rather easy on the eyes.  Romance heroes, like romance heroines, come in many different flavors, shapes, sizes, hues, fitness levels, etc. For me, the main pull of the romance genre is the heroines – strong women who don’t let life knock them down, or, if it does, they don’t stay down for long- if there weren’t heroes in these books, then I’d be talking about the power of women’s fiction rather than romance. There is also female/female romance, with which I am not as familiar, so I will leave that to those better versed.

Today, it’s all about the boys. Men, really. Apart from YA romances, of which there are some wonderful examples,  the heroes in romance are men. They can be younger men or older men, richer men or poorer men, fit as a professional athlete, or live with a physical challenge (or both) or anywhere along the spectrum on any of the above and more, but it’s not the physicality of the gents that matters in romance fiction. It’s the heart. Romance heroes do not complete the heroine. Let’s get that out of the way. At least in my books, they don’t. They complement the heroines. Compliment them, yes, because, at least by the end of the book, they have learned how to communicate with the women they love (and hopefully the rest of the people around them, no matter how taciturn they may appear on the first page) and are able to articulate what they admire about their ladyloves, (or the other gent, in m/m romance) but complement them, as in they fit well together. Together, they become greater than the sum of their parts.

Often, the hero is the one who sees a part of the heroine others have overlooked, and, once he’s seen it, he can’t unsee it, no matter how hard he tries. The handsome hero who looks at a supposedly “plain” heroine and doesn’t see the mouse everybody else claims the heroine is, but rather can’t believe nobody else is bowled over by the way she lights the whole world when she smiles, for example, is a popular example of that. Maybe it’s the way the heroine is whip-smart and could teach him a thing or two about math or ancient history, when her family is sure all she has to recommend her is a pretty face or ample bosom. Maybe it’s something else, but that moment when, for whatever reason, the heroine gets stuck under the hero’s skin is one of my favorites, both to read and to write.  He might think he has life all figured out, or have no idea what he’s doing, but once she’s entered his world, nothing is ever going to be the same, and he is more adrift than he’s ever been in his life, because this woman has shaken his foundation.

As with heroines, the heroes have their own arcs. Hero wants something at the beginning of the book, that he either gets, or accepts that he will never get, at the end, and it’s that journey that fascinates me. For both of them, really, both individually and together, but I have an advantage when it comes to the heroines. I am a woman, so I know what it’s like to be a woman, have a woman’s body and woman’s emotions. While I do  have a Hero Consultant in Real Life Romance Hero, he’s only been on this earth the same amount of time as I have, so when I want to dive deeper into how an eighteenth century hero might react to certain situations, I have some research to do.

That’s where the heroes who have gone before come into play. I’ve been reading romance, mostly historical, since I was eleven years old. If we count fairy tales with romantic elements, then for a lot longer than that. Suffice it to say I’ve read a lot of heroes in that time, and each one of them has left his mark on the heroes I write. I like to picture a bunch of them gathered around a table in some old timey tavern, lit by lantern light, trading war stories about the horrible things their authors, myself included, have made them do, and admitting that the reward, the love and support of their heroines, made it all worth the trip. I also imagine them welcoming new heroes, offering advice to the young upstarts. Remembering when they, too, were first drafts, and how much things have changed since then.

Um, Anna, the Dutch thing? Yeah, got away from that a little, but it was a romance novel, Bold, Breathless Love, by Valerie Sherwood, that made me fall in love with all things Dutch. Ruprecht Van Ryker, you are forever my book boyfriend. Some guys make that kind of impression.

Pirate Queens and Clan Chiefs

When I think about the power of romance, the first thing that comes to mind is the bathroom at my dad’s house, when I was a teen and young adult. Those were not easy years, but I knew that, no matter what else was going on, I had an ace in the hole, namely the romance novels I hid in the cabinet under the sink. Only one at a time, and, to the best of my recollection, I only read those books in that bathroom. Usually with the seat of the porcelain throne closed, or seated on the edge of the tub. I read The Spanish Rose, by Shirlee Busbee, and The Outlaw Hearts, by Rebecca Brandewyne. I know there were others, but I remember those two in particular, because they were the first books to live under that sink, and, when I needed a good place to go, there they were, ready to take me back in time and into vibrantly told stories.

Obviously, I did not stay in that bathroom, or that house, forever, and, since there is only so much time one can spend in a bathroom without arousing suspicion, I had to read those books in short, fervent bursts, before stashing them back behind cans of scrubbing bubbles and other accoutrements of bathroom sanitation. I didn’t always want to unlock the door and come out, but, when I did, I carried with me the inspiration of the heroines of the books I loved, their determination to never bow to the obstacles life threw their way, but keep pressing on, knowing the reward would be there, on the other side of their troubles.

My favorite heroines, then and now, are the ones who have been through some stuff. You know the kind. Sold to a first husband literally old enough to be their grandfather, because that was a good step into society for the family. The kinds of heroines who find themselves stranded on the road west with a fully stocked wagon, but no horses, and figure they better get on with getting those horses, even if they do have to take the dude who comes with them. Pirate queens and clan chiefs. Countesses in their own rights. Plucky actresses who work what their mamas gave them, now that the new king is letting women on the stage. Bondservants or enslaved women who may be going through hell, but, hang the consequences, they keep on going. Highwaywomen and pickpockets, grande dames and gamines, even a princess or two. Not the Disney kind, who gets dressed with the help of small woodland creatures, but the badass kind, who woman up and do what has to be done, to take care of those who depend on them.

The princesses I liked, back to when I was but a wee little princess myself, were not the ones who waited in a tower for somebody to get them out (though I did and do like Rapunzel; no matter what else, the gal has a-ma-zing hair.) but take a look at the battle before them and either strap on a sword and ride out with their soldiers, or get themselves up to that high tower and direct the pouring of pitch on the invading forces. I vividly remember reading one Catherine Coulter medieval where the heroine broke a siege on her castle by having her men bring the one sow the castle had left, all the way up to the tower, where the wind could carry her scent to the enemy troops, who had brought a bunch of male boars with them. Said sow was in season, and her scent proved, hmm, shall we say irresistible, to the boy boars. I have never, personally, been in a military encampment suddenly besieged with hormone-crazed creatures with large, curving tusks, but, from that description, I know it’s an experience I don’t want in real life. In romance novels, though? Heck yeah. Bring it on.

Those were the heroines I hung out with in that long-ago bathroom, and, I hope, the ones who hang out with me now in my office, as I write their stories. If they find their way underneath someone else’s bathroom sink one day (apart from propping up a wonky support, but hey, I’ll take that, too. Still counts.) then I will consider the job well done.

I don’t consider reading, especially romance, an escape. I consider it respite. I consider it restoration, renewal, fuel and fortification. I consider it food in my belly and shoes on my feet. In romance novels, things are going to get bad. Of course they are. Fiction eats conflict for breakfast, because that’s the big question; how are the characters going to get out of this predicament? Nevertheless, our heroines persist, and so do the heroes who love them. In romance, the woman always wins, and her beloved wins, too, as does the writer, even if the process of getting the two lovers from once upon a time to happily ever after does sometimes (okay, a lot of times) feel like herding cats. There’s nothing like typing The End, and sitting back in the chair with a satisfied sigh, because it’s HEA for those two now, and, soon, for the reader.

As for the writer, well, it’s different there. The writer may take a break, may devour a whole stack of other writers’ work, but, soon enough, the voices will start again, other invitations to other adventures, other heroines who don’t take no for an answer, and on it goes, once again.

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Uncle’s Birthday Week Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. I am wearing a sparkly crown today (it is really one of Anty’s bracelets, and it had an accident a little while after this picture was taken (it was not my fault, as Anty and her bracelet were not at home when it happened, but I still count it as payback) because this is a special week. It is Uncle’s birthday week. I do not like having things on my head, but if it is for Uncle, I can do it. I love him and he is my favorite. That is partly because he does not put things on my head, but mostly because he is Uncle.

Even though it is a very special week, Anty is a stickler for the rule that I have to talk about her writing first before I can talk about…well, her writing. This week, as always, she is at Buried Under Romance. This time, she talks about the need for and merits of book therapy. You can find that post here, and it looks like this:

BURstressreading

While I do not think Anty mentioned cats in her post, by the image, it looks like a most delicious read. Drop by and see for yourself.

Now it is time to talk about Anty’s activity on Goodreads. As of today, she is on track for the second week in a row. Her Goodreads challenge, this week, looks like this:

GRchallenge081017

 

Looking good, Anty. Keep at it. You got this. The books Anty read this week were:

and

Anty got The Reason You’re Alive without even seeing anything other than Mr. Matthew’s name on the front. That should tell you how much Anty likes his books. She also likes Miss Anita’s books so much that she got Comanche Rose along with Comanche Moon, which comes before it, without even knowing anything about the stories. Anty likes to take that kind of risk with her favorite authors. She knows they will deliver, and she hopes to do the same in the books she writes, as well.

This week, Anty also has a post at Heroes and Heartbreakers. Big surprise, it is about historical romance novels. In this particular case, romance novels set in the Victorian era. Several of Anty’s friends asked Anty for recommendations on some good romances set in this era, and she thought other people might like to know which ones Anty likes best, too. There are a lot of other good ones, but Anty wanted to focus on titles that are newer. If you would like more recommendations, of older books in this setting, or books in a different setting,  please leave a note in the comments section and Anty will be right on it. That post is here, and it looks like this:

 

HeroesAndHeartbreakersVictorians

Normally, this is where Anty would put her video blog, but it has been a crazy week here, with lots of domestic tornadoes, so she did not get time to make one. That is okay, though. She can make another one later in the week, and it gives me more time to talk to you here. I would say we all win on that account. Anty’s trackers are more interesting to Anty than to anybody else, but they do seem to do a better job of keeping her on track of things than the previous system (which was really not much of one at all) so I guess it is a good thing. Playing with markers and paper makes her happy, and it makes me happy, because I can sit near her and stare at her while she does it.

Most of the time, I like to hang out with Anty while she writes. She usually has music on while she is writing, and I like it when she plays the soft music. I also like 80s tunes, which she plays while working on Chasing Prince Charming. I do not like loud music, though. I will run away if she plays loud music. Even when she does not play any music, I like to listen to the sounds she makes while she makes the keyboard go clickety clack, or when she scratches her pen against paper. When she is working with pen and paper, she will sometimes tear out paper and wad it into a ball and throw it at me. I used to play with those paper balls, but I figured out they are not actually alive. Where is the challenge in that? Not much, if you ask me. I am asking for a toy that moves for Christmas. A toy that moves all the time, I mean, not one that only moves on Christmas. That would not be much more fun than paper balls that do not move at all.

But I digress. This whole no video blog thing is throwing me off. Hopefully, Anty will be more on the ball next week. What I meant to say was that usually, I like to hang out with Anty when she writes, because she is very interesting. That all goes out the window when Uncle comes home or gets up in the morning. He is my favorite, so I will pick him every time. Here is a picture of me, right after I heard Uncle’s wake up cough come from the bedroom one morning:

SkyeOMalleyCatlooksforuncle

He’s coming out annnnny minute now.

 

I have even been known to walk away from Anty or Mama petting me if I hear Uncle is on his way. He is my favorite, so I am very excited to celebrate his birthday this week. Anty and Mama are getting him presents and cake, but I think he will like the floofs I leave for him, too. He is very lucky his birthday comes at the same time as my shed.

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

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skyebyefancy

Until next week…

Marrow and Bone

When I was but a wee little princess, my father built me two bookcases. My parents filled them, first with picture books, and friends and family members added to the collection as I grew. I remember sobbing inconsolably when I pieced together that Morte de Arthur meant that King Arthur was actually dying and not living happily ever after with Queen Guinevere. The whole Lancelot thing went over my head at that tender age, and I still have mixed feelings about the whole triangle. Maybe I’ll explore a similar dynamic in some future novel of my own, someday. I did not take the fall of Camelot well, either, despite my father’s attempts to explain how noble and tragic it all was.

Fast forward a few decades, and those very same bookcases now live in my office, and they are stuffed with romance novels. The top case (one stacks on the other) holds my Bertrice Small collection, while the other holds various keepers, and books on writing, some of them (my favorites) specifically on the writing of romance. I have two copies of How to Write a Romance and Get it Published, by Kathryn Falk, the brains behind RT Book Reviews, and they are both tattered. Granted, a lot of the information is obsolete now, with the e-publishing revolution, the advent of independent publishing, and whole subgenres have come and gone since the first edition first hit the stands, but I still treasure those books, and still refer to them, because the most important part of each entry has no expiration date.

The inspiration I get from reading the words of those who have gone before, some of whom are now retired, some now gone to the great library in the sky, some of whom are still with us now, still bringing their A game, book after book, is new every time I dip into that particular well. It’s there, too, when I dive into the books that gave me my love of historical romance; big, epic stories of love that could conquer impossible odds – and always, always did. Always will, as a matter of fact. That’s not a cliché. That’s the foundation of the genre. No matter what else happens, or doesn’t happen, by the end, our two lovers will be together, and happy about it.

That’s the skeleton of the genre. With that in place, we can hang anything on that framework. Once I took my first step into the genre proper, I read love stories that took place in medieval times, the Gilded Age, and everything in between. Heroes and heroines were titled nobility, gentry, dirt-poor, outcasts and pirates, bondservants and performers, and a thousand other variations. Through the pages of books, found in used bookstores, flea markets, libraries, and the then-king of chain bookstores, Waldenbooks, I fell in love a million times over. I knew, not hoped, knew that I had to tell stories of my own, in that same vein.

I can’t say it was a choice. More like I came pre-programmed for romance fiction. I don’t know if my biological mother read romance, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she did. My real mother did, mostly from paper sacks filled with big, thick, glossy historical romances that came with my Aunt Lucy, every time she visited. My job was to take the bag of books to the laundry room, de-bag them, and put them where Mom wanted. I wasn’t allowed to read them, a rule I did not, at the time, think to question, apart from stealing the Small titles, which did not come from Aunt Lucy, but I did study each cover, read the back blurbs, breathe them deep into the very marrow of my bones. Yes. This.

I assigned my own characters to the people on the covers, made up my own stories to go along with them. It didn’t occur to me to write those down, not then, but I would turn them over in my head for days or weeks, paint pictures in my mind, and feel the stories as vibrantly as I did what is generally called real life. When real life got stinky, I went to that story place more, not as an escape -I always had to come back, after all- but as a respite, a place to go and remind myself that things get better after they get worse. That’s what the heroines in the books, both real and imaginary always did. They kept going. They fell down, they got back up. They fell down again, got back up again, and became all the stronger for it. In the end, they got all they ever wanted, and more. They got a hero who loved them exactly the way they were, who always had their backs and knew they could count on the same thing in return. Sometimes, back then, if there was a connected book, it could be the child of the first couple, all grown up, and ready for their own adventure. I loved that kind of thing. Still do. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write one of those, myself, too. If there’s one thing romance fiction teaches us is that, with love, all things are possible.

When I look a little ways down the road, and think about what to write next, after the current WIPs are out in the world, I’m not worried. I have the core of my stories already in my marrow and bones; two imperfect people will find their broken edges fit into a cohesive whole, and the love they share means that nothing life throws at them even stands a chance. I think that’s a pretty good place to start.

Air in My Lungs and Blood in My Veins

So, apparently, August is Romance Appreciation Month. I did not know that was a thing. I probably should, because I write romance, and I write about romance, and, when I’m not doing any of those things, I am probably reading romance, but, until now, that has not penetrated my brain. I do follow Read a Romance Month, and eagerly looked forward to the onslaught of essays sharing the love of my favorite genre in all its forms, but it wasn’t until today, when, coincidentally, I needed a blog topic, so good timing.

That book in today’s deskscape is the actual copy of The Kadin, by Bertrice Small, that I stole from my mother’s nightstand and sneak-read under the brass bed in the guest bedroom. Only a few pages into that book, at the tender age of eleven, I knew I had found what I wanted to read and write for the rest of my life. By the time my mother found her book missing and followed the flashlight beam, I knew squat doodle about the romance genre. I could kick myself now, for not picking up those early copies of a magazine then called Romantic Times, which, soon after, alternated with Rave Reviews, which covered all genres, with a smaller romance section than Romantic Times. but, then again, I was young, my allowance may not have covered the expense, and my parents probably would have had something to say on the matter. Also the whole not knowing romance novels were really a thing, thing,. but I digress. I stole the next Small book from that same nightstand (by now, my mom was on to my larcenous ways) and, by the time Adora came out, I received my own copy as a gift, because everybody involved knew I was going to read it anyway.

It wasn’t until I attended a summer program for young creative people, at Wesleyan University, that I purchashed my first non-Small historical romance. By this time, I knew that romance was indeed a thing, and had a handle on some of the differences. All Harlequin books were romance novels, but not all romance novels were Harlequins, and jokes about not letting Harlequin get me did not sit well, even if they were meant to amuse. Hmm, let’s see, published by one of the biggest publishers on the planet, in the most popular genre of all genre fiction? Yeah, I can see what a horrible fate that would be. At the time, Harlequin meant exclusively contemporary category (how times have changed) so the odds weren’t high that I would have what they wanted, but none of that did anything to quell the absolute assurance that writing historical romance was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

Did I know what period? Eh, not really. The historical I started writing at seventeen could best be described as nebulous Tudoresque, and, when I first put fingers to typewriter keys, I wasn’t sure what era I wanted to write, so I remained purposely vague as to the actual setting, a remote estate far, far, far away from anything. The pages from that book now reside in a storage unit where they can’t hurt anybody, and, as I work on the second draft of Her Last First Kiss, I have not only a calendar covering the dates of the story, but researched the phase of the moon for the night when Ruby and her Hero have their titular first kiss, because I needed to know exactly how much of him she’d be able to see (spoiler: not much.) Between the minute my mom busted me under the guest room bed and this morning, when my Kindle saw me through wash and dry cycles at the laundromat, I have read a lot of romance novels. No, I am not going to try to count them.

I have had four of my own published and hope to add to that number in the very near future. When I first knew I wanted to be a writer (or was a writer, depending on how one measures these things) I thought that mystery and hard science fiction were the only options, but I couldn’t connect with either, no matter how hard I tried. Romance, though? That was, and is, air in my lungs and blood in my veins. I am sure there are mystery writers who feel the same way about their genre, and I know there are SF writers who feel the same about theirs. Truly, I hope every writer finds their home and lives in it.

For me, that is romance. One dearly beloved aunt always expected I would grow out of my desire to write romance, which I announced proudly in my early teens. If that hasn’t happened yet, I don’t think it’s going to, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Taking two characters, each with their own wounds, baggage, and inner demons, through the trials of life, until they can make a life together, and, together, taking on all comers – that’s my catnip. That’s my jam. That’s air in my lungs and blood in my veins. I can’t not write romance, and believe me, I’ve tried. I tried when I thought my options were limited. I tried when people in my life had strong opinions in other directions. I tried when I thought I couldn’t write, or shouldn’t write, or had lost the right to write, and failed miserably in all such attempts, because the power of love, and the power of romance fiction, really is that strong.

I love that there is a romance appreciation month, because it celebrates the awesome power of romance for the reader and writer alike, and because it gives me a focus for my blog entries over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Welcome, August Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. I am coming to you from my sunbeam. It is my favorite morning place, so I did not mind too much when Anty wanted to take my picture there. I can pose nicely when I have a good reason. Sunbeams are good reasons. In the cold weather, this also puts me in front of Heater. I love Heater. August is the best month because it is Uncle’s birthday month. Uncle is my favorite, and I love him. Anty is okay, too. She feeds me and pets me and lets me write this blog, as long as I talk about where to find her writing, first. I had better get to it.

As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this week, with her Saturday Discussion post. This week, she talked about some of the various means readers use to keep track of books they have read, and books they would like to read. She even shared pictures of some of her own records, so if you are interested in that sort of thing, you can find that post here, and it looks like this:

BURkeeptrack

Now it is time to talk about Anty’s reading. As of this morning, she was on track with her Goodreads challenge, so she was technically current when I started working on this blog. She had to do house things, though (including feeding me, which is a very good cause) and then it rolled over into one book behind. As a cat, I know a few things about rolling over, and will give her credit for being current, but it wouldn’t hurt to read a little faster during the week. So far, Anty has read fifty-two out of the ninety books she wants to read this year. I would say that is pretty decent progress. Go, Anty.

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Since it is the first Friday of the month, it is time for me to report on Anty’s historical romance reading challenge. This week, she finished reading five books, and four of those were historical romance. That is how to do it. (I would fistbump Anty here, but I do not have fists. I have paws. It does not work the same way with paws. I will ask Uncle or Mama to do it for me.) This brings Anty’s total for the year up to twenty-six historical romance novels read. That is pretty good, all things considered. Keep going, Anty.

The books Anty reviewed on Goodreads this week are:

 

 

 

 

As you might guess, Autopsy of America is not a historical romance novel, or even fiction, but pictures of abandoned places across the United States. Anty loves pictures of abandoned places, and when they are artistic, that is even better. Some people think this makes Anty a little strange, but Anty is already strange; she is a writer. She likes Mr. Seph’s photographs very much, and they kind of play into something else she has added to her work this week.

This week, we had many domestic tornadoes. During one of them, Anty needed some distraction. Since writing and reading are her best distractions, she dug out an old manuscript from her archives, one that is set a very long time ago, in England, after the Black Plague wiped out a very big part of Europe. That includes England, because this was a long time before Brexit. It was also a long time before the European Union, but I am a kitty, not a political historian. Anty figured it would not take too much work to get that book ready to send to a potential publisher, so she is working on that as well, now.

She gave it a different name, A Heart Most Errant, instead of Ravenwood, so that it would be a new thing in her brain, and, so far, that seems to work. It is a new thing and at the same time, the same book she already wrote. This time, she is looking at it without overthinking, and it is not the only fish in the pond, as it were. Personally, I think a pond with only three fish in it is not a very good pond. I do not remember how many fish are in my fish movie. I think I need to watch it again to count, but I know there were more than three. Maybe this time, I can catch the orange fish. He is a tricky one. He looks like he is swimming out of the tablet, but he never does.

Huh? Oh, right. Anty’s books. Hmph. Anty likes having a lot of things going on at once, so I do not think she will mind having three projects at different stages at the same time.  This also helps her not fixate on a particular manuscript being The One, and if it does not sell, she has wasted a year and change of her life, and is doomed forever. At least that is what the Hypercritical Gremlins used to try to tell her. They have been very quiet lately.

Now it is time to let Anty talk, although I do not know why that is a big thing. Anty always talks, and this is her blog anyway, but here we go:

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

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Not at Nationals Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. The weather has been much better for Anty this week. I am not that pleased with all the rain we got, which means I spent more time than I would have liked, hunkered down in a safe place. I am also not that pleased with Anty moving things around in the apartment. She calls it decluttering. I call it unnecessary. I knew where everything was, and now she is moving things. I suppose there is an upside, in that there are now more places for me to hunker. If this is the way the weather is going to go, I think I will need them.

As always, I am not allowed to talk about anything else, until I talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interweb, other than here. This may not come as a surprise, but Anty is always at Buried Under Romance every Saturday. This week, she talks about fan clubs amongst romance readers. Do you talk books with anyone? Would you like to talk books with Anty? (Seriously, Anty will talk romance novels with pretty much anybody, so your chances are good, just saying. ) That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURfanclub

Anty has some umbrage with her Goodreads reading challenge this week. She has been doing rather a lot of reading, but not all of it is actual published books, so, while her reading tracker is filling with a lot of colored squares (she will show you in her video) that does not always carry over into the Goodreads count. It is the weekend, though, and one of the books Anty is currently reading is a novella, so maybe this will be the weekend she gets back on track. We can hope. I say less decluttering and more reading.

One actual published book that Anty finished reading this week fits into her plans for world domination. Okay, historical romance domination. By that, I mean her plan (she will tell you more in her video) to find out what sorts of linked romance novels work best for her. Because she had a serious Poldark hangover, she wanted something set in the eighteenth century, with the same historical flavor. She asked friends on one of her Facebook groups, of people who also love historical romance, and someone suggested Gather the Stars, by Kimberly Cates.  Anty read that book when it first came out, and remembered liking it a lot. She likes everything she has read of Miss Kimberly’s (who is also Ella March Chase, but Anty has not read any of the books written as Miss Ella. Yet.)  Anty’s review of Gather the Stars is here, and it looks like this:

GRgatherthestars

Anty plans to read more of Miss Kimberly’s books soon (and re-read, in several cases.) That plan gave her an idea. Since Anty wanted to make sure she got all the books Miss Kimberley wrote that belong together, she wanted to write that in a special book, so she would not lose the list. Then she added more books that belong together, by other authors. Now she has a special notebook dedicated only to that. She will probably make another book for only books that are not connected to anything else, but she is working on this one for now.

Writing-wise, this has been a good week for Anty. She will tell you more in her video, but I can tell you that, on Monday night, she meant to finish early, but then she hit her stride and did not want to stop. So, she did not stop. Then she noticed that it was three in the morning. and she had to meet Miss N for their critique meeting shortly after seven. She regrets nothing, especially since Miss N gave some very good feedback. Anty took a nice long nap after she got back, and I helped. by napping near her. Cat naps are always better with actual cats napping. Especially when I am the cat. I am very good at napping. I would sleep on the bed with Anty and Uncle (because Uncle is my favorite) if I could jump or climb, but that is okay. I sleep under their bed sometimes. That is good enough.

Anty is a little grumpy that she is not at RWA Nationals this year, but she can still get a few tastes of the experience through social media. She is glad, though, that she did not have to leave me for a whole week. She hates leaving me when she travels, which is not all that often, but I would hate going along even more. I did not see anything about a track for cats at Nationals, which is kind of an oversight, because a lot of writers have cats. The only thing would be getting the cats to the actual conference. We generally like to stay home. Not so for Anty. If she does not get out, among other humans, she gets a little antsy. Okay, more than a little antsy. Anty is an extrovert, which means that she spends her energy when she is alone, and needs to be around other humans to get more energy. Being in a hotel full of humans who love to read and write romance novels, like Anty does, is pretty much extroverted writer Christmas. Anty is not worried, though. Her local RWA chapter meeting is only a couple of weeks away, and she can talk to chapter members who did go, including Kari W. Cole, who won a very special award, the Golden Heart. Congratulations, Miss Kari.

Now it is time for Anty’s video.

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

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

Typing With Wet Claws: Refining Focus Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. There is big news this week, and it is about me. I will get right to it, because it is important. I am in shed. That means I am getting rid of my summer coat, so my winter coat can come in. Fair warning for those readers who are new to this blog: I will get super fuzzy in the winter. I am already super fuzzy all the time, because I am a Maine Coon mix, but, in winter, I get even fuzzier.  Anty has to bribe me with food to let her brush me, because I am a very sensitive kitty, so brushing is not always my favorite thing, but I like food more than I dislike brushing. Anty is smart. She says it is so that I will not eat the fur I shed, but she does not have to worry. If she likes the fur I eat so much, it is not a big problem if I do eat it. She will see it again. That is kind of how cats work. It is also how hairballs work. Hm. I do not like the hairball medicine I will get if I have too many hairballs, so maybe brushing is okay.

The way this blog works, if you are new (and even if you are not) is that I have to talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interwebs (besides here) every week before I am allowed to talk about other things, which are usually about Anty’s writing anyway. This week, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance. This time, she talks about playing a game called Never Have I Ever. I do not think it would be fair for me to play, since I am a kitty, and have not ever read any books, unless being in the same room when Anty listened to an audiobook counts. That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

BURneverhaveiever

Next, we come to Anty’s activity on Goodreads. Right now, her reading challenge looks like this:

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I may need to check with Anty to see if this is correct. She may not have updated everything with the hot weather this week, but that is okay. Reading is a very forgiving thing, and books will always still be there. Anty did read a novel about almost-grownups (or very new grownups; it is hard to tell with humans, sometimes) and it is called Lovely, Dark and Deep. No cats in it, but it is set in Maine, which is where Maine Coon cats come from (the breed, I mean, not me, specifically. I was born in Massachusetts.) Her review of that book is here, and it looks like this:

GRLovelyDarkAndDeep

Anty thinks the cover is very pretty.

 

Other than me being in shed, another sign of autumn coming (it is almost August, after all. Uncle’s birthday is in August, which makes it a very good month.) is that back to school supplies are everywhere. I do not mean only in Anty’s office, which is true (it is always true; Anty is kind of nuts about notebooks) Autumn means that Anty will get her super powers back, but they did not really go away this year. That is kind of new.

Part of that, I think, is that Anty has been taking a critical look at exactly what she wants to do, and set specific goals. Meeting with Miss N every week, to get feedback on Her Last First Kiss (as well as give Miss N feedback on her book) keeps Anty accountable, as does talking over Skype with Anty Melva about their book. Anty does very well with goals and accountability, so those are going to stay. She is still looking for a critique/brainstorming partner and/or writing friend, whose focus is historical romance, so putting that out there. Payment is you get to talk to Anty and possibly get extra pictures of me.

I will let Anty tell you how she is refining focus in her reading, which can help refine the focus in her writing. I think it is interesting how those two things feed each other.

 

In case you are wondering, her shirt says “Lovers Gonna Love.” I find this very interesting, not only because it is an appropriate shirt for a romance writer, but because “gonna” is probably Anty’s number two pet peeve in general speech. It is not actually a word, but two words, “going to,” mushed together. In case you are wondering, her number one pet peeve in general speech is “just.” It can usually be taken out wit no change to meaning, unless it is used as an adjective, as in “the court’s decision was just.”

Knowing Anty, she is probably going to make a to-be-read list to keep in her planner, and she will probably want to show that list, because she is probably going to make it pretty, or at least interesting, visually. Anty is kind of into this making pretty notebook pages thing, which I guess is for the greater good, if it helps her brain stay more organized and focused. I, personally, like the way the markers smell when she takes the caps off, so I am not going to question her motives. Maybe this desire to make pretty pages will make her want to learn how to draw cats. One cat in particular. I will give you one guess as to which cat that might be. (Hint: it would be me.)

That is about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,
skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: On Top of The Milk Crate Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This has been an interesting week in our home, but then again, I think every week is interesting. Either I really do have an interesting family, or I am very easily impressed. I am not sure which, maybe both. Before I am allowed to talk about anything else, though, I have to talk about where you can read Anty’s writing on the interwebs, besides here, so let’s get to that.

First, as always, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about the importance of friendship in romance fiction. That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

BURfriends

Please pardon the awkward cropping. These things are hard when one has special paws.

 

This brings us to Anty’s Goodreads activity. Anty will tell you more about her reading habits in the video below, but I am happy to report that her reading challenge progress now looks like this:

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Anty is now 51% of the way through her goal of 90 books read in 2017, and she is now only one book behind schedule. Considering that this is the weekend, I have every faith that she can not only get back on track, but maybe even pull ahead. That would be very exciting. This week, the books she read were these:

 

Click on the links below each picture, to read Anty’s reviews of these books. In case you are counting, that is one historical romance this week, and one contemporary inspirational category romance. I should point out that, even though “category,” has the word, “cat,” in it, there are no cats in this book. I may have to have Anty talk to Miss Jean about that, because they are in the same RWA chapter. Can a book without cats truly be all that inspiring? Maybe there are cats in other books by this author.  I will give Miss Jean the benefit of the doubt. She does have a lot of books, so odds are that there should be a cat in one of them. I suppose we will see.

This week, Anty had a surprise during her Monday marathon session for her work on Her Last First Kiss. The actual second-drafting went pretty well, but Anty learned an important lesson about how to get through hot, muggy days and nights. She found out, the hard way, that it is indeed possible to drink too much water at one time, because it makes humans sick, which does not help with the writing process. I think this may have something to do with her drinking water out of a travel mug and not out of a bowl. I have never had too much water at one time, and I always drink out of a bowl. Just putting it out there.

Needless to say, this has given Anty serious thoughts about how she can best avoid the need for these Monday marathons. The obvious answer is to do more of the work over the course of the week, so she does not have to cram it all into one day. That makes a lot more sense, and it also involves her keeping better track of how she uses her time. Anty believes that we can always find the time to do what matters most, and in her case, that is writing. I suspect this may affect my routine somewhat, but I am willing to take one for the team if it makes for a happier Anty, and as long as it does not affect my treat schedule. Anty and Uncle know that I always know when it is twelve noon and ten at night. I find time for what is most important to me, too.

Today is cool, gray and rainy, (well, rainy off and on. Right now, birds are chirping.) which is Anty’s favorite summer weather, which generally means good things for her writing. That may not always show on the writing tracker, because, well, Anty does not like this particular writing tracker. I will let her tell you about that, and how her writing has gone this week:

Thank you, Anty. That was very interesting. I will not tell the people how many takes it took for you to get that video made, or the backup video you made on your phone, but I will keep it safe, in case of emergencies, like me needing more treats. What I will tell them is that Mama had a very good suggestion, that Anty should prop her laptop on top of a milk crate, instead of the makeup case and all of those books. As it happens, Uncle gave Anty a fancy wire milk crate for Christmas (it did not have milk in it, unfortunately, but it did have other things. Uncle is not a monster.) and, while she is still figuring out what she wants to do with it for real, it works very well as a booster for the laptop. She still has to use the binder to correct the angle for the screen, but this is a lot easier than the other way, so there may be more videos.

I should note that Anty has not been getting out of the house as much as she would like, and so she  may be going a little loopy with the whole needing people thing. Having an extroverted writer does present some challenges for even the most dedicated of mews, but the internet is a big help.

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

skyebanner01

skyebyefancy

Until next week…