Typing With Wet Claws: After The Book Swap Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. The weather here in New York’s Capitol Region is crazy. Today, we have rain. Sometimes. Yesterday, we had snow. The day before that, the temperature was seventy degrees. I am very glad that I am an indoor kitty, and do not have to be outside in all of that madness. Being inside also gives me a front row seat (I guess there will only be a back row when I get a kitty brother, and he sits behind me, so for now it is an only row seat) to what Anty is doing, which is one of the reasons she lets me blog for her, once a week.

Since I am not allowed to talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway) I have to talk about where readers can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, other than here. If you are reading this, then you already know how to find here.

First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talks about the difference between a romance novel and a love story. It is a pretty important difference, so if you are not sure, this post may be helpful. It is here, and it looks like this:

BURlovestory

Next, we come to the part of the post where I tell you about Anty’s reading this week. It was a pretty full week on the domestic front, but Anty still did pretty well. The book that she read and reviewed this week, is the book that she hoped would get her back into reading historical romance again, and, guess what, it did. That review is here, and it looks like this:

Since this book is the second in a trilogy (Anty already has, and has read the first one) Anty now has to track down the third one, although it was published a while back, and so is not sold in new bookstores anymore, so she will have some looking to do. She does not mind that kind of looking very much, and it reminds her that there are still four more books by Miss Blythe, beyond that (three are related to each other, one is not related to anything) for her to read in the future. This is very encouraging.

Right now, Anty has read thirteen out of ninety books for the year, which puts her at fourteen percent of the way toward her goal. That means that she is on track, when it comes to the number of books. She still has a way to go in the historical romance department, though, as only three of those books are historical romance. I have faith in Anty, though, because now she has the scent of the genre again, and she has come back from the book swap party that she goes to every year.

Coming back from that party always gives Anty a boost. Not only does she get to see Anty Melva, her co-writer for the contemporary books, but there is a whole room with books for anybody to take,whatever they want. I should mention here that there are many different kinds of books, not only romance. This is a good thing, because the people who go to this party like a wide range of books. It also means that Anty has, if not first pick of the romance novels brought by other people, it is pretty darned close. This year, she only took home a few books, but one of those books, Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton, has Anty excited for a couple of reasons.

I do not know if there are any actual dragons in this book, but probably not. That is good, because dragons are scary. That is, I imagine they would be. I do not know any dragons. Maybe some of them are nice. Anyway, Anty wants to read this book, because it, along with other books by Miss Anya, and similar authors, paved the way for the kinds of historical romances Anty loves the very best. This book was written in 1944, which is, umm, a lot of cats ago. It also takes place in the Hudson Valley, which guess what, is an area we kind of know a few things about, so that should be interesting. I do not know if there are any cats in this book. I guess Anty will find out. If Anty likes this book, she will read other books my Miss Anya. I do not think any of them are related, so that is a plus. Anty is very big on standalone books.

That does not stop her from planning to study some favorite, connected, books, and take notes on that reading process. That is both to learn how to focus on what Anty loves best about historical romance, so she can bring it into her own writing, and to use a super cool notebook with a hipster kitty on it. Anty already shared a picture of this book, but I am sharing it again, because it has a kitty on the front.

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A stripey kitty, so it will probably remind her how much she loves me and that she should give me more treats whenever she opens it. At least that is the plan.

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

skyebye2018

 

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The Queen’s Lady, the Hipster Kitty, and Me: A Love Story

Today does not feel like a Monday. My planner says it is, so we’ll go with that and get at least seven hundred words of blabber into this text box, within the next hour, because crossing a task off my to-do list is one of the very best ways to kick off a Monday (or any other day, come to think of it.) Maybe I’m still riding on weekend fumes, because this was a pretty good weekend, especially for my focus on reconnecting with historical romance and growing the blog.

Friday nights are BFF nights, which means Housemate and I grab some sort of dinner, then trawl craft stores for geeking out over art supplies. Watercolor pencils for her (though she has yet to actually use them as watercolors) and anything bujo/art journal related for me. This week, that included picking up a copy of Artful Blogging magazine. Articles on connecting with one’s creative side and particular bloggy “voice,” be that writing or photography, resonated. I actually started petting the magazine while still in the store, so that’s a sign that the issue had to come home. This has a few different levels to it; there’s the drooling over pictures level, the taking in advice I probably already know but have made excuses not to act upon, because acting on such knowledge would be scary level, and the actually applying what I’ve learned to my actual blog level.

Saturday meant sneaking in more craft store trawling in the midst of errands (Housemate has a life goal of owning all the watercolor pencils in the world. I support her in this, because A) I want my friend to be happy, and B) I have permission to use them when she is not using them.) Saturday also meant that I got to take out the magazine and lay it on the table between us at lunch, and natter endlessly over how gorgeous the pictures are, and how I want to get to that level with my own blog, or possibly blogs, as I’ve been thinking of starting a second blog, devoted to all things pen and paper, while this one would be reserved  for writing talk. We will see how things go.

Sunday found me, along with Real Life Romance Hero, and Housemate, at our friend, M.P. Barker‘s annual book swap party. The most important thing about these parties is that the bacon-wrapped figs are mine, mine, mine. Okay, maybe that is not the most important thing, but it is a strong contender for the number two spot. They are stuffed with goat cheese, and are delicious, and I would happily pay whoever makes them, to make me a small batch. A truckload or two would do. For starters. I would say I am digressing here, but these are extremely good bacon wrapped figs. Or maybe they’re dates. I get the two confused sometimes.

Enough of that. The really important thing about this party, every year, is that it gives me a chance to reconnect with my best writing self. M.P., my contemporary co-writer, Melva Michaelian, and I spent many years’ worth of Wednesday nights, gathered around the same dining room table where, yesterday, I scarfed bacon-wrapped figs (or dates) and gabbed with Mona, a reader friend, about our shared love of reading historical romance. What we like, what we don’t, how we had each finished reading (two different) Harlequin Historical romances within the last twenty-four hours, and needed to choose our next reads pretty darned quick. This is where my love of reading and my love of planning come together and make beautiful reading plan babies.

Before the start of the new year, I made a list of books to re-read, and books to finally read, all historical romance. First up from the TFR list is The Queen’s Lady, by Barbara Kyle:

BarbaraKylethequeenslady

 

Tudor era, start of a family saga, plot that unfolds over years instead of months or weeks, and a heroine name to make me sigh with happiness. Honor Larke. Yep, I’m sold. I’m not sure why I haven’t read this before, and I’m intrigued that it was, IIRC, originally published as historical romance, though the spine on this edition classes it as historical fiction. We shall see how this goes.  After that, it’s back to the well, and a small detour from my TBRR list, as I plan to reread the entire O’Malley/Skye’s Legacy series, by Bertrice Small. That’s twelve books, with both series combined, so picking out historical romances to read is not going to be that difficult a task for me in the foreseeable future.

My heart is already going a little pitty-pat at the reading journey ahead of me, and what it’s going to do for my writing, this spring. (Can you believe it’s almost spring already? Has to be, though, as, in the next two weeks, I will be starting both a new morning pages book, and a new daily planner book.) That’s where the Hipster Kitty comes into play:

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See how perfectly he fits with the rest of my “me” stuff? I normally don’t seek out things that are yellow, or books with white pages, but this book has me completely heart-eyes over it. I already know I want to write with black pen, and use yellow highlighter, and, since I want to take notes o n my epic O’Malley re-read, well, this seems like perfect timing. There’s still a chance I might end up using a different book for that, but even if that’s what happens, this is for something special. Maybe it’s for notes on the proposed cyber-revival Melva, M.P. and I talked about, of the weekly critique/nag group meetings that got us all through multiple manuscripts.

The weekend just past was wonderful, filled with re-filling, and re-connection, bringing me to the start of a new week, with the challenge of putting all that good stuff into practice. That’s still a little scary, but scary in the good way. I did get an offer of beta-reading from my reader friend, so I have to give her something to read, don’t I? Thought so. time to make another cup of tea, and slip back in time a few centuries.

Typing With Wet Claws: The Big One-One Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Normally, Anty makes me talk about her writing before I am allowed to talk about anything else, but this is a special occasion, so she is relaxing the rules a little bit, for this post only. That is because the reason this is a special post is because Valentine’s Day, February fourteenth, which was not my day to post, was also my birthday. It was probably my birthday. I was born wild, so my first vet had to guess how old I was when I got rescued, and by that guess, I was probably born sometime around February fourteenth, so that is when the humans decided they would celebrate my birthday.

This year, I hit the big one-one. That means I am eleven years old. A Level Eleven Feline, if you count in terms of levels instead of years. I think Level Eleven Feline sounds powerful. I will go with that way of counting. Some people say being a Level Eleven Feline makes me an experienced kitty, but I do not feel that way. The humans say I am their perpetual baby, and that, I agree with. They know me best. I do not like big fusses, so my birthday was pretty quiet. I had cat food and treat (I love cat food and treat) and I got to play my mousie game (I am super good at the mousie game) Here is a picture of me playing my mousie game on Uncle’s phone. He is my favorite, and I love him the most.

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Happy (probably) birthday to me.

There has been some talk about a pet-safe laser pointer, but I will believe that when I am chasing it around the living room. Until then, that glowy box mousie better run when he sees me coming. I will catch him one day. I thought I did, once, but it was actually one of my own floofs. I think that still counts.

Now for the Anty part of this post. As usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This time, she talked about um, grown up fun times in books. I, personally, am fixed, so some of that stuff goes right over my head. Also, I am short, so most things go right over my head anyway. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURtalkaboutsexscenes

Now we come to the part of the post where I tell you about Anty’s reading progress. I am not sure I counted everything this week, with the tail end of Anty’s cold, and my (probably) birthday and all of that, but, at current count, Anty is ahead of the numbers game, with twelve books read out of ninety for the year. This week, the books that she read and reviewed were:

GRiftheresnotomorrow

If There’s No Tomorrow, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

GRthetruthofrightnow

The Truth of Right Now, by Kara Lee Corthron

As you might have guessed, both of those books fit in the YA genre.  Anty has not forgotten our talk about reading more historical romance, and she actually has a plan in place to do exactly that.  Part of that plan will involve making a tracker, so that will combine two things Anty loves very much; historical romance and bullet journaling. She is reading some historical romance novels right now, and will have reviews on those, once she is finished reading them.  There will be much more time for reading, now that Anty is done watching a French TV show, called Les Revenants. That means “the returned,” or “the ghosts,” depending on how it’s translated (probably; I do not speak French. I speak kitty.) and it is scary but not bloody. Anty loves the dark aesthetic, both in subject matter and in the amount of light used in filming. There is an American remake, that only lasted one season. Anty is kind of watching that, too, but she likes the French version better, and will probably watch that again.

Anty is paying special attention, right now, to the kinds of stories she likes to read and watch, and making notes about what it is that she likes about them. Some of this will come into play when Anty teaches her workshop with Charter Oak Romance Writers next month. Anty thinks it is very important for writer type humans to take in the kinds of stories they want to write, and to be aware of what sorts of things make them excited about putting into their own stories. This all requires very close attention for a mews, which means I had better step up my game in reminding Anty how much I hate the office carpet, and want it gone, so that I can sit right next to her chair and send love beams from the shortest possible distance. Anty says she is concerned that she might roll over my tail, because I am a ninja kitty, and do not always let her know when I am right next to her. She may have a point there. My tail is very fluffy, but I do want to be as close to Anty as possible. I may have to think about this in more detail. (So that I do not get de-tailed, in the process.)

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

skyebye2018

 

Valentine’s Day Rambles (of the writing variety)

So, it’s Valentine’s Day, which means built in blog topic for romance writers. Woo hoo.  On hour, seven hundred words, let’s go. Okay. No big plans for the day, as such. I’m writing, which is worthy of celebration, because my brain is returning from the fog of Martian Death Cold, and it’s time to write some of the rust out of the faucet, so to speak. This also means I get to spend some extra time tucked in a comfy chair (probably my office chair, which is plenty comfy and has great back support) and snuggle under a fuzzy blanket, with a cup of tea (pink skull and crossbones mug today) and the day’s soundtrack is a mixture of my Spotify daily mix and Real Life Romance Hero doing dishes on the other side of my office door. Heck yes, romance heroes wash dishes.

Okay, maybe not medieval knights or nineteenth century English noblemen. Probably not pirates, either, but, y’know, everybody does what they have to do on a pirate ship because there are only so many people to do a lot of different jobs, so maybe pirates, after all. Who can tell? Me, next time I write a pirate book? Maybe so. We will see. The point is, romance heroes do a whole lot of things. Heroines, too. That came out wrong, but I’ll let it stand, because I am in that sort of a mood.

Romance gets a lot of jabs this time of year, often from people who aren’t fans of the genre, often because they haven’t tried any recent romance fiction, or classic romance fiction, or fiction with romantic elements (though, let’s be real, that romance stuff is everywhere, and gets into many different genres, to varying degrees, but I digress.) Think pieces of this sort (of which there often does not seem to be a whole lot of thinking going on) have become commonplace enough that I can look at them, and, meh, another one of those? Okay. Whatever. What I’d really like to see is the excited discovery of a new romance reader – hey, look at all these great stories, where the focus is on the relationship and there’s history and suspense and sex and faith and it’s funny and it rips my heart out and puts it back together, and, seriously, anything can happen to these characters, as long as they end up happy and together, and, y’know what? They do. Every single time. How amazing is that?

Pretty darned, is all I’m saying. Yesterday was my weekly meeting with N, and we talked about reconnecting with what we want for our writing careers, about reconnecting with what makes a story, be it read or written, special. For me, this means a concentrated effort in reconnecting with what I love most about historical romance. If I’m going to go back to the source, the moment I fell in love with the genre, it would be when eleven-year-old me snuck a book from my mother’s nightstand, and cracked it open, by flashlight, under the brass bed in the guest bedroom. It also takes me back to countless used bookstores, where I would crawl around on the floor, inspecting the lower shelves for stories set in the sixteenth century, scanning for keywords that would catch my attention. Any mention of larger than life, or epic, or sprawling, or…:satisfied sigh:

Yeah, that. When I think of historical romance, that’s my happy place. I’m sure there’s something to be said about the role of the floor in all of this. The floor of the guest bedroom, under the big brass bed, the floors of countless bookstores, usually ending up in a tucked away corner, books spread out around me, so I could whittle down the selection to fit within the budget for that trip. To a lesser extent, there are the countless spins I made of the spinner racks in the fiction section of the library closest to my dad’s house when I was in high school, checking for fat paperbacks that meant historical romance, and the distinctive, slim spines that meant traditional Regencies, or gothics. As long as there was history, and there was romance, I was happy.

Am happy, because, decades after that first filched paperback, which now has a place of honor on the bookshelf behind me as I write, the same bookcase which once held the picture books of my preschool days, I still get that thrill. Give me two lovers who have to be together, but can’t, and I am there. If I am the one entrusted to making sure the lovers’ stars un-cross, that’s another level of fun. Frustration, sometimes, because story people can be tricky little badgers, making choices of their own, the second they hit the page. That only means they are real and alive in the sense that it becomes a collaboration between the writer and their imaginary friends. In that way, no romance writer is ever truly alone,  no matter what day it is.

Over the magic seven hundred now, and time to wrap this puppy, which can get tricky when I go on this sort of ramble. As N and I discussed, sometimes it takes a while to write the rust out of the faucet, and putting down anything is better than putting down nothing, especially when putting down anything runs smack into a wall of resistance. Even so, keep at it long enough, and the faucet runs out of rust. That’s a happy ending right there.

TheWriterIsOut

Typing With Wet Claws: Tough Fuzzy Love Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Anty is down with what the humans call Martian Death Cold, which is pretty noisy with all the coughing, and smells a lot like cherries. Cherry cough drops and cherry gelatin are big features around here right now, and Anty just finished some cherry blossom body wash. Anty also has a lipstick called Cherry Picking, but she has not been wearing much lipstick this week. That is how we know it is Martian Death Cold. I cannot get Martian Death Cold, because I am a kitty, and it is a people thing, but the one upside that I can see is that Anty gets some extra napping time, usually next to a good book.

Before I am allowed to talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway, let’s be real) I first have to tell you where you can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs. Besides here, that is, because, if you ate reading this, you are already here. As usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about the think pieces humans wo do not read romance often write about romance, this time of year. Writing about books a human does not read does not make sense to me, but then again, I am a kitty. Maybe you should read Anty’s post, instead. It is here, and it looks like this:

BURinlovewithlove

Anty would like to thank Sabrina Jeffries for recommending Anty’s post to her (Miss Sabrina’s) readers, on Facebook. Anty considers this high praise, as Miss Sabrina is a well established romance writer, who knows whereof she speaks.

Now is the part of the post where I bring you up to date on Anty’s Goodreads challenge. As of today, Anty has read ten out of ninety books for the year. This puts her at eleven percent of the way toward her goal, and one book ahead of schedule. Well done, Anty. Keep reading. Sick time is very good for reading time, and it is perfectly okay to nap in between chapters, especially when there is a fuzzy Maine Coon kitty nearby.

The books that Anty read and reviewed this week are:

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Forever, by Judy Blume

 

GRrecoveryroad

Recovery Road, by Blake Nelson

 

GRthelastforever

The Last Forever, by Deb Caletti

As you can tell, all three of those books are YA, which brings us to the meat of today’s post. (I like meat. Tuna is the best, but beef is also good, as are most kinds of birdie.) One of the most important duties of a mews is to keep their writer human on the right track. Last night, it was time for some tough, fuzzy love. Right now, Anty has one hundred YA novels logged on her current Goodreads account, and ninety-one historical romances. This does not count historical fiction with romantic elements, so the two may not be that far apart when we include the second cat-egory (sorry, I could not resist) but it is enough that I could not let it pass without addressing the issue.

While it is purr-fectly (sorry, again. That is the last one, I promise. For now.) fine for readers’ preferences to change, and that does happen, including switching genres, I did not think that was what was happening here. I have seen the way Anty looks at her TBR shelves, so we had a discussion. That discussion was about historical romance, and the point of the discussion about historical romance was that Anty needs to read more of it.

Part of the discussion was asking Anty why she has been avoiding her favorite genre lately. We kitties, especially those of us with big green kitten eyes (I am really good at big green kitten eyes. By that I mean that the eyes are green, not the kittens. Kittens should never be green. If your kitten is green, please go to the vet, or at least the groomer.) can say a lot with the right look, and we are very good listeners. I can understand Anty’s reasons, but, because it is my duty as a mews to keep Anty moving in the right direction, I could not leave it at that. Those reasons are hers to tell, and I made her write them down in a notebook, so she can refer to that the next time something like this happens.

Earlier this week, Miss N gave Anty the assignment to reconnect with historical romance. Well, Anty’s own, specifically, but reading more historical romance and remembering what it is about that genre that Anty loves enough to write her own, well, that’s important, too.  Anty agreed with me (and with Miss N) but I could still tell she was a little scared and/or confused about where to jump back into the whole pool. That is where having a mews comes in handy. At times like this, the only thing that can be done is to head straight toward the loved and scary thing and jump right into it.

For Anty, this meant taking one of those books off her TBR shelf and actually reading it. For this venture, we picked Captive of the Border Lord, by Blythe Gifford. Anty has read many of Miss Blythe’s books, and liked them a lot, so it is a very good bet that she will like this one, too. It is the second book in the Brunson Clan trilogy, and Anty has already read the first one. We tried to find a standalone book, but those are kind of rare these days, so second out of three is kind of close to that. It is also a Harlequin Historical, which means that it is not a very thick book, and Anty should be able to read it fairly quickly, without feeling intimidated by a big, thick book, with a lot of pages. For bonus points, this book is set in the sixteenth century, which is one of Anty’s very, very favorite eras for historical romance.

This goes along with the philosophy of not saving the good stuff for “someday.” Read the good stuff now. Write the good stuff now. If not now, then when? The practice begets the product. We kitties would not lie about this sort of thin.

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

skyebye2018

 

Dialogue With a Hypothetical Bouncer

Last night, I legit finished an art journal. Granted, only the last couple of spreads are worth showing to anybody, because a big chunk of it is lettering practice, Tests of pens and stencils, ideas that did not translate well to the page, layouts for my planner that I may or may not have implemented, more pen tests, and, at last, the lightbulb moment when I finally figured out two important things at once.

First important thing: I finally, finally, finally figured out how to use Distress Inks and blenders to make the kind of backgrounds I’ve slavered over for literally years. Second important thing: this quest took me so danged long that most of my Distress Ink collection was no longer viable. As in dried out, not transmitting color anymore, pining for the fjords. All that stuff meaning those pads got a one way trip to the circular (actually rectangular, if we’re talking my specific office trash receptacle) file. Not exactly what I had planned.

Sure, there are other inks in that line, still available, probably most of the colors I had to toss, as a matter of fact, not to mention some new ones, and even a new oxide formula (don’t know exactly what that does, but if it looks pretty and grungy at the same time, I want it.) Since the mini size of these inkpads are sold in bundles, frequently at stores with pretty nifty coupons on a regular basis, it won’t cost a fortune to build up a decent palette or two. It’s the principle, though. I wanted to use those pads. I picked out those pads, those particular colors. While I can probably get mot of the same colors, they won’t be the same pads. That bugs me.

What I turned out with what I had on hand wasn’t bad. As a matter of fact, it was this:

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This is the only page I’m showing.

That’s three clinging-to-life inkpads, one homemade stencil (dress form) with one commercial stencil (damask pattern) and one commercial stamp (face.) Also ten very inky fingers, and one sense of accomplishment. This particular art journal lives in my traveler’s notebook, Big Pink, so, at some point today, I will need to slide out this insert and put in a brand spanking new one. I haven’t done that yet, but I did, finally, give myself permission to haul out a precious, hoarded item (okay, two of them, but the pens have only been here for a week or so):

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That’s a Moleskine sketchbook, with smooth, thick pages, and the thirty pack of the Stabilo fineliners. Real, grownup artist tools, and the only artist around here is :shifty eyes: me. I have vivid memories of sneaking into my father’s art studio when I was but a wee little princess, and pilfering his art supplies (pro quality is far superior to kiddo quality; I knew this even in preschool) and putting them back where I found them, because I didn’t want to get caught.  Now, the only one here to “catch” me is me.

This is the part of the post where I steer it back toward writing, because the two are so closely related they can’t get married without a papal dispensation. Impostor syndrome is real. I think Mondays are its natural habitat. What do I think I’m doing, sneaking into fictionland, to play around with characters and plots and settings, all willy-nilly, with either willful ignorance or clear disregard (maybe both) of proper practices and/or market trends? Huh? Going to need to see some ID here. RWA membership? Okay, I guess that’s something, but are you published? You are? Could’ve fooled me What books? Cute backlist, honey. Don’t you have some laundry to fold?

Well, hah. Joke’s on you, Hypothetical Bouncer, because I already folded the laundry, and put it way, so no, I do not. I’m here at this desk for the same reason I snuck into my dad’s studio about elebenty billion times. I have to. There’s no way around it. Forget “want.” We’re talking “need” here. It didn’t occur to kiddo me, that my dad was a professional, and I wasn’t, that he had over three decades of experience and education ahead of me. I didn’t care that he’d painted murals and book covers, mainly because I didn’t know that at the time. What I did know was that I loved the feel of the white paper with the black and gray markings in one corner, that he kept in the bottom drawer of the green filing cabinet. I knew I loved the smell of the markers that had not one but two tips, even if I was not supposed to smell them on purpose. I couldn’t draw a realistic face, and even my box houses with triangles for roofs left a lot to be desired, but I loved the pen in my hand and the color on the paper, and, so, I kept at it.

Which brings us to today, Monday, and me at my desk, fingers on keyboard, not one but two projects in front of me; the revise and resubmit on Chasing Prince Charming, and Her Last First Kiss. I’m not that bothered about working on Chasing Prince Charming, because A) I’m doing it along with my co-writer, Melva, and B) I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, so there’s not a lot to which I can compare this project.

Historical romance, though, hoo boy. Whole other animal. If I spin my chair around (and I can, because spinny office chairs are the best office chairs; I will fight dissenters on this one) I will see the bookshelf filled with Bertrice Small historicals, and another bookshelf with historical romance novels I intend to read, once I can get past the darned bouncer in front of that one.  Oh hey there, YA reader girl. Looking for a historical romance, are you? Yeah, I’ve seen your Goodreads. You think you can play with the big girls? Some of the books on this shelf are old enough to go to kindergarten, and you haven’t read them yet. Not going to learn much about current market trends on this shelf. You sure that’s what you want?

Something akin to, “um, yeah actually, I do,” perches on the tip of my tongue, because I do want to read those books, and I don’t like that bouncer’s tone. That’s when I take a closer look at her. She looks kind of familiar. Long, reddish brown hair, black glasses, rose gold hoop earrings, exactly like the ones in my jewelry box. Umm, wait a minute. Wonder if I could distract her with some professional quality art supplies.

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

This Post is Not About Planners, I Promise

Can you believe it’s almost February? 2018 is moving at the speed of a bullet train, or perhaps the domestic tornadoes that continue to blow through our immediate vicinity. Getting lost in all of those can be easy, because, when a domestic tornado gets out to sea (does that make it a hurricane? I’m a romance writer, not a meteorologist) it does tend to develop an undertow. Easy, as well, to let the writing part of life get pulled under, in the face of all that. I’ve been there before, looking at the mouth of that now, and, y’know what? No.

Last night, after dinner (I do make an awesome baked chicken, thankyouverymuch) I lit the big candle, settled in at my desk, and got out pens, markers and ruler, to set up my planner for the coming week. No, this is not a post about planning, but I will mention that I am excited to test out my idea about how to differentiate the February part of the week from the January part of the week. Yesterday was largely a crash into much needed naps day, rousing myself to make meals before crashing down again, and then one final drag to the desk, because planning. This is still not a post about planning. Seriously, it’s not. This is a post about writing.

Umm, Anna, I hear voices saying, you just spent a whole paragraph talking about planning, while telling us you weren’t talking about planning. This is confusing. Sure is. For me, too, but I’m getting to the writing part of the post, so get cozy, because here we go. Drawing near the end of January also means drawing near the end of the writer’s workshop I’m taking, which means an extra set of morning pages (not always written in the morning; yesterday’s snuck in under the wire at around eleven PM) which are reserved for writing about writing.

Umm, Anna, the voice says again, writing about writing is kind of the whole point of your entire blog. This isn’t anything new. There is a strong suspicion that you are padding this post with unnecessary words, and will get to the magic seven hundred without getting to anything new or interesting. To that voice, I say hush. My blog, my blather, mkay? Great.

My morning pages are, usually, a very random brain dump, there to prime the pump and get things flowing. The extra morning pages are for reflecting on my own personal writing, what I want for my career, how I can get from where I am, to where I want to be. That sort of stuff. It’s rather illuminating, and I highly recommend the process. Tangentially related are explorations of my reading goals and reading habits. Reading historical romance, my chosen genre, is difficult right now, for a few reasons, though I very much want to dive into the genre I love the most. I may be returning some new releases straight back to the library, unread, and dive into some classics and books on my To Finally Read list. Realistic YA, I am inhaling like oxygen.

Will I add that to my own writing repertoire? Who knows? Right now, I’m focused on the work that is in front of me, namely Her Last First Kiss, and Drama King, as well as revising Chasing Prince Charming. There’s A Heart Most Errant waiting for its own revisions, because the book is done, okay, and halfway edited, and, seriously, it is thisclose to being ready to shop around again, or look at indie publishing. I kind of like that idea. There’s the Christmas story I’ve always wanted to write (always wanted, in the general sense; no specific idea as of yet, but stay tuned.) N mentioned, last week, that I might want to consider writing and releasing something short as soon as I can, to give the reward of seeing a new release, and, hopefully, positive reader feedback. I do feel somewhat unicorn-y, as an extroverted writer, but, hey, we are what we are, right?

That’s where this all brought me. I am a writer. Writers write. They have to do it, sometimes, in between and/or around domestic tornadoes, but there is a choice, to make writing a priority. That’s why, today, I am making that choice. Still figuring out how I want to measure things, and I will say that Camp NaNo is on the table for this year, but not a guarantee. I miss Heroes and Heartbreakers. I miss it a lot. The newsletter is still wonderful, but I miss writing my posts, and the search for more paid blogging gigs continues, because I like blogging, and, more universally, I like money. Money allows us to have fun things like pens, notebooks, food, shelter, that kind of thing.

So. Final paragraph for this entry, because my planner says I have specific amounts of time to touch particular projects today, and I’m sticking with that. So what if my wheels feel wobbly? That’s okay. I can do it, wobbly. I can do it, scared. I can do it, tired. I can do it. A bad page is better than a blank page. The more targets we shoot at, the more targets we hit. The more you do, the more you want to do. (Thanks, Mom.) Let’s go, imaginary friends, we have some tales to tell.

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: End Of January Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is the last Friday of January, which means the end of the first month of the year is almost over. Anty is getting ready by finalizing her planner color scheme (I am fairly certain this will mean pinks and reds, because Anty is a traditionalist when it comes to this sort of thing, but she will add her own edge to it, because she is still Anty.) That is important, because she uses her planner, and her big pink book (her planner is pink, too, but a different kind of pink) to plan out the writing and reading she will do in the months to come.

Before I am allowed to talk about anything else, (like the fact that I definitely need more glowy box time, that is for catching the glowy box mousie, as well as blogging) I have to tell readers where they can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week. Besides here, of course, because you are already here, so you do not need directions. As always, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talks about the first time the humans in the books have, um, grownup private time. I, personally, am fixed, so I do not think about that kind of thing a lot, but I gather it can be important in romance novels. That post is here, and it looks like this:

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Saturday Discussion: Feels Like the First Time

Now is the part of the post where I show you how Anty is doing on her Goodreads reading challenge. She is one book behind again, but it is the weekend, and she is near the end of one of the books she is reading now. That should all even out before too long. Anty has gone over her goals for the last two years, so I have faith in her. If you want to follow Anty’s reading challenge, you can do that here:

 

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Reading Challenge 2018

 

Right now, Anty is only at 20% historical romance, but it is still January, and she can read YA books really, really fast, and they are comfort reads. It has been kind of a crazy week. She is still planning on trying one book she’s always been meaning to read, and one reread every month, and both of those lists are comprised of historical romance. February will mean two books from the always wanted to read list, because sbe did not read any of those in January. I should probably say she has not read any of them yet, because we still have a few days of January left. You can do it, Anty. Read those books.

The books Anty read and reviewed this week are:

 

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The Year We Fell Apart, by Emily Martin

 

 

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Backlash, by Sarah Darer Littman

Anty should be home for a good chunk of the weekend, so she will have time to read more books, and, more importantly, give me her small glowy box so that I can play my game. The mousie game is my favorite, but I also like one with a laser pointer, and there is a movie where I can watch a squirrel through a window. I do not try to hunt that squirrel, but it is very exciting to watch him. If I am very lucky, all the humans will be home when I play, so they can all see what a good hunter I am. Those computer mousies do not stand a chance when I am on the job.

This would probably be a good place to segue (that is a fancy human word that means to do a different thing) into Anty’s writing. Empty notebooks really don’t stand a chance when Anty is on the job, either. She has a lot of notebooks. Thanks to a human named Mark Twain, who lived a very long time ago (like about a million cats ago, that is how long) writers cannot send handwritten pages to publishers (probably not to agents, either, but do not quote me on that) so Anty does, at some point, need to transcribe her handwritten pages into the glowy box, so that they can become files. This is especially important with e-books, because that is how readers read them.

Writing with pen and paper comes a lot more easily to Anty than writing new pages on the computer, even though, at first glance, writing on the computer seems more efficient. The pages would already be in the file if she wrote new pages on the computer, and she could skip the step of transcribing. She understands that, and, in theory, it does have its merits. For some writers, like Anty’s friend, Miss Vicki, writing on the computer is the only way to go. Miss Vicki does not understand Anty’s thing for paper and pen, especially when it comes to pretty paper. They have very different aesthetics, anyway, so take that into consideration.

For Anty, there is a connection that comes with the act of writing on actual paper, and watching the cursive come out the tip of her pen. Every once in a while, I have to remind her of this, especially when she gets back to writing after a domestic tornado has held her back. She thinks it will be faster, but then she forgets about the staring at the screen part, until she notices that she has been staring at the screen, or that she is on Facebook instead of actually writing. I may only be a kitty, but I do not think anybody has made a successful career in commercial fiction by reading conversations on Facebook.

That means, usually, that when Anty gets to the staring at the screen phase, it is time to shut down the computer (or give it to me, so I can catch mousies) and take out paper and pen. Anty is particularly fond of pretty legal pads, that have designs already on them. That way, the page is already not blank, and, sometimes, the pictures suggest things that might work for the particular scene. Sometimes, Anty has to do what she calls a brain dump, and write about things that are on her mind, that may be getting in the way of the story. Once she fills a few pages with that, she is usually in a better place to get on with the business of writing fiction.

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

skyebye2018

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Gamer Kitty Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Today, the weather is warm and rainy, here in New York’s Capitol Region. That is very different rom the deep freeze we have been having lately, but I will stick close to the heater anyway. One never knows.

Because the deal is that I am not allowed to talk about whatever I want to talk about (which is usually Anty’s writing, anyway, go figure) I have to talk about where readers can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs (other than here, because you are already here, if you are reading this, and I do not have to tell you how to get here, where we already are. There would be no point.)

First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. Last week, she talked about the magic of new beginnings. Those do not only happen to characters, but readers, and writers, as well. Anty loves to talk anything related to romance reading, so feel free to drop by and chat with her. That post is here, and it looks like this:

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Now that it is a whole new year, it is a whole new reading challenge for Anty at Goodreads. If you want to follow her reading progress this year, you can do that here.

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This year, Anty wants to keep the same goal as last year, ninety books. So far, she has read two books, and is right on track. Those books are:

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Beauty Like the Night, by Joanna Bourne

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Here’s Negan, by Robert Kirkman, et al

That is quite a combination, but it fits Anty. The reading year is off to a good start. Right now, Anty is reading one historical romance, one time travel romance, and one YA novel. I do not know how I want to count time travel when it comes to historicals. I may have to do some research and set a standard.

This morning, Anty and Anty Melva had their first Skype (which still does not have anything to do with Skye Pee, to my eternal displeasure) session of the new year, and they set their goals of writing one scene each during this coming week. Drama King is back on, and Chasing Prince Charming is still making the rounds. Anty and Anty Melva are also considering going indie with their jointly written books, so keep an eye on this page for new developments.

Now for the important part of this post, the part about me. As of this week, I am a gamer kitty. My favorite game so far is called Mouse Hunt, and you can see it on YouTube, here. I like other games, too, where I can chase a laser or some buggies, or a squirrel, but the mice are my favorite, because they are mice. I have done some real mouse hunting, in our old house. There are no real life mice in this house, but that is okay. I like the game.

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Anty and Uncle try to play with me, by throwing pieces of crumpled paper at me. That is really super fun, until the crumpled papers stop moving. Then I am no longer interested. Nobody wants to hunt things that are already dead. Especially not me. These games, though, those are a different story. The mice in the game keep moving. Sometimes, they tease me from the corners of the screen, and then they zip across it. That is very exciting. When I see the game mousies, I am riveted to the screen. I bap them with my paws, and try to bite them (the biting part has not worked so far, but I will keep trying.) A couple of times, I have even grabbed Anty or Uncle’s phones (they both play with me like this) and dragged them toward me, so I can get the mousies even better.

That is usually when Anty or Uncle takes the phone away from me and says that it is time for a break. I am not so sure about that, but they are the ones with opposable thumbs. That is also about the time when they give me food, so that I am not too irritated about game time being over. Come to think about it, that generally works on Anty, too, if she has to leave a writing session, especially when it takes her time to get into one. There had better be food (or at least tea) if she has to be interrupted.

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

skyebye2018

 

 

 

 

Somewhere In Between

This is a very Monday-feeling Wednesday. No need to go into details, but I know that, on the other side of this entry, there is a trip to the library, and there is nothing better than an entire building full of books (and, hopefully, series four and five of Being Human‘s UK edition; I’m watching the US version right now, and it’s good, but not the same.) I am not going to count the number of false starts I have had on today’s entry, and no idea when I am actually going to post the entry still owed from last Monday, but these things have a way of righting themselves.

Making a segue to books not writing themselves would be a natural transition, but I’m not feeling that right now. I would make tea, but there isn’t enough time for tea and putting on outside clothes and/or makeup, and making tea, even if I drank it on the fly, so the only answer is to power through, post, and then go to the library and browse some stacks. When putting out creativity gets difficult, that usually means it’s time to take something in, instead.

I’ve done a lot of putting out today, already. I wrote my regular morning pages, and then double morning pages, for the writing workshop I am taking this month. Those pages are writing about writing, and then, if I still have time left in the hour set aside for workshop stuff, then I need to keep writing, on or about my current projects. So far, this week, it’s been about, though I would prefer on, but that happens sometimes. Best thing to do in these cases is not to push things. Take a break, read a book, watch a movie, play a game, and know that the story will come back.

There’s a cycle to this sort of thing, a natural rhythm. Domestic tornadoes are still passing through, though some days are less tornado=ey than others. Some days are somewhere in between. My educated guess is that today is one of those. The fact that it is a Monday-feeling Wednesday should be an indication, and then there’s the whole write tons of morning pages about writing, and balk at the mere thought of writing a blog entry about writing about writing.

There are other things that can fit in this blog. I can write about books and writers that have influenced me and my writing, talk about writing the books/stories I’ve already written, and about the books I’m writing now. The Christmas story is happening this year, though I still have absolutely no idea of the setting or idea or characters, but I want this year to be the year I tick Christmas story off my list (or first Christmas story, I should say, because I have heard these things can be addictive) and, most importantly, getting my time and energy refocused on a career in commercial fiction (specifically romance, specifically historical romance on my own, as well as my collaborations with Melva Michaelian.)

Some days are easy, to put the pen to the page, and some are more nothing doing, put feet up, boot Netflix or Kindle, or pick up a paperback and take a sniff of that heady book smell and remind self what it is about fiction that is so great that the trip back to regular writing after (or, and sometimes especially during) a real life detour is worth the trip. Other days are in between. They involve liberal use of the backspace key, eraser, or violent striking out of words that do not look as great on the page as they did in one’s head. I think this is one of those.

I’m not complaining. These in between days mean that I am leaving the one place and moving toward the other. They mean moving forward, even when I don’t feel like it. There’s still time left in the day, and, if more writing about writing comes into my brain, I am going to honor it, get it all down, and skim it off the surface of my story brain, which I will nourish with books and streaming TV and cups of tea and an office buddy who is always ready to help:

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You got this, Anty.

This post isn’t my favorite, and it didn’t add new pages to any existing (or new) manuscript, but it still counts as writing, and that’s good enough for today.

TheWriterIsOut