Five Books I Can’t Wait To Read (non-romance edition)

Putting on my reader hat for this post, as redoing a couple of my planners involved redoing my TBR lists (yes, plural,) and if you’re reading this blog, you’re a reader, a writer, orboth. In short, more books are always good. Here is a short list of five books, all outside of genre romance, that I can’t wait to get my hands on, and  why. All of these titles are either newly released or soon to be released, and I expect, when each one of them is in my posession, that I wil inhale it at a truly astounding speed. This will hopefully alleviate some of the guilt I feel at having to return multiple library books unread, because the library needs them back. That’s another post, though, and I will assuredly re-borrow those titles and read them ASAP. For now, I am looking to the horizon, which includes these tasty morsels:

When We Believed in Mermaids – Barbara O’Neal (aka Barbara Samuel, aka Lark O’Neal, aka Ruth Wind) (women’s fiction)

This one is a no-brainer, because A) I will resd anything with any of this author’s names on it, and B) I have an EARC, direct from the author, which will in  no way affect my upcoming review of this book. Really and truly, the author’s name is all it will take for my ears to perk, and the mention of mermaids (this is not a paranormal, as far as I know) also caught my attention. Sisters, secrets, New Zealand, a loved one who is not so dead after all, emotional trauma, and…yeah, I am there.

Life and Limb — Jennifer Roberson (western urban fantasy)

This may be a slightly unusual addition to this list, because I am not usually one for westerns, or urban fantasy, but this is Jennifer Roberson, author of the Tiger and Del series. Tiger and Del are one of my all time favorite couples, easily able to hold their own as romance hero and heroine, the sort who go through hell together, and still come out on top. I literally squealed when I saw that this author did, in fact, have a new book coming out, and only read the description after I had put it on my Want To Read list on Goodreads. I am more than happy to go into this new series mostly blind. I trust the author to take me somewhere good.

The Golden Hour — Beatriz Williams (historical fiction/historical women’s fiction)

There is most certainly a trend here, because Beatriz Williams (aka Juliana Gray,) is another upon whose books I will pounce like a cat on a red dot, without knowing squat doodle about the plot. For this one, we get Nassau (Bahamas) during WWII, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, a recently widowed magazine writer heroine, a mysterious scientist hero with secrets of her own, and oh, who cares what else? Beatriz Williams. Take. My. Money.

State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts — Nick Hornby (general fiction/ Lad lit)

A story I have not yet read, from the master of the TEA? That’s Tolerably Ever After, not the beverage, tea, or the meal, tea, though the author is likely familiar with both, as he’s British. How do I love Nick Hornby? Let me count the ways: About a Boy; Juliet, Naked; A Long Way Down; Slam. Brooklyn, and An Education, if we want to talk screenplays, and I even read, and was profoundly affected, in a good way, by a short story called “Nipple Jesus” (trust me, it was not salacious or disrespectful, in any way.) This is another one where I knew I wanted to read it before I knew the premise (still really don’t, and, again, I am perfectly content to go into this one blind)  because life in Hornby land generally seems to go my way.

Comics Will Break Your Heart — Faith Erin Hicks (YA)

This is another easy one, because I am completely helpless in the facce of YA that has any trace of geekery about it. Fangirl, Scarelt Epstein Hates It Here; Geekerella; Eliza and Her Monsters; Radio Silence, and more. I could read those forever and never get tired of them. There is a central romance in this story, so it kind of counts as romance, but what drew me was the comics aspect. Our heroine’s family would have been sitting pretty financially, if their grandfather hadn’t sold his interest in what’s now a mega comics franchise, for a pittance, way back when, so of course our hero has to be the scion of the family that now owns that share. Stop there, tell me no more, the library gets this book back when I’m done with it, but then I’m buying my own, because dang, I love this kind of stuff, though all that I have read so far has been from the library. I need some geeky YA keepers of my own. Never know when I want to pet some of them. Comes with the territory.

For those surprsed that there are no genre romance books on this list, that is a separate list, coming soon. Possibly more than one list, because romance is indeed a wide umbrella. With that, I am off to the library. What’s on top of your TBR pile?


If I List Them, Will They Come?

I’ve been thinking a lot about reading goals. This may be, in part (large part) due to the fact that I have a new printable reading tracker, which means I do not have to draw a rough facsimile of a bookshelf in my big writing planner. The rest of the parts are my mounding TBR list, my mounding reader guilt, and the happily increasing amount of friends’ books I would like to read, even though the number of hours in the day does not change. Still twenty-four, for those who are curious. Planning is part of my process, in reading as well as writing, and it generally takes me to the place I meant to go, even if I had left the metaphorical house on an aimless ramble.

Those rambles do tend to have a purpose, which fits into my being firmly in the puzzler camp when it comes to plotter vs pantser. I can’t pick one. It’s both. Jump in, splash around, and the way will become clear. This is why, when I go to the library, with a notion to find some nonfiction, I do not go to the computer (I will always want to type “card catalog” in this circumstance) or even pay that much attention to the Dewey Decimal system. Nope, I’ll wander the stacks, peep at the books on the end of the nearest shelf, see how close to or far from the topic I want -let’s say writing- and proceed accordingly. Languages? Oh good, English is a language. I write in English. Dum de dum dum dum, poetry, getting closer, oh look, plays, annnnd here we are.

My big writing goal, right now, is to read more romance, specifically historical romance. I have a good balance of historical romance, contemporary YA, and graphic novels, waiting on my TBR shelf (in this apartment, it really is only one shelf, and the vast majority of that from the library system) and I really do want to read every single book I have borrowed, and more hot on their tails, so time to put on the big girl panties, pour a seasonally appropriate beverage, and get down to business.

I don’t want to be one of those writers who doesn’t or can’t read in the genre they’re writing, while they’re writing it, and, before, that had not been the case. If that’s changed, I suppose I will adapt, but I would prefer not to have to make that adjustment. I also don’t want to be the person who buys and/or borrows books, and then doesn’t read them, the size of the TBR piles (plural) topped only by the crushing reader guilt. Maybe that would squash everything to the same base level, in order to begin all over again? I don’t know. Maybe that’s how it works, or maybe it isn’t.

As often happens with other things in my life, what usually puts things in perspective is to make lists, and so that is what I am doing. A lot of lists, as a matter of fact, and I am very sure I am not done with said list-making. What kinds of historical romances do I like the most? What are the books that have worked the best for me? Why? What books haven’t? What are keywords that will ensure I pick up a historical romance, knowing nothing else about the book, and, the flip side, what keywords will ensure that I put that book right back where I found it, because one reader’s “meh” is another’s “woohoo!” (Sims players, I know what I said.)  Lists of questions, as well, like “how can I find books I am not currently finding?”

That’s a big one. I am fairly certain I am at least part unicorn, because I tend to have a good deal of what I will term niche loves. While I love historical romance as a whole, I get especially excited to see books set anywhere between the end of the Wars of the Roses and the end of the American Revolution. Medievals get a close second, and an honorable mention goes to the Edwardian era, on either side of the Atlantic. My ears will always perk at the mention of Australia (Candace Proctor, I have left a light on for you) or heroine disguised as male, no matter the historical period. Show me the words, “epic,” or “saga,” in the blurb, and I most definitely want to read further. I love me some angst, fairy tale retellings are wonderful, houses/locales that are almost characters in their own rights, alpha heroines are the best, and my favorite sort of series is generational. I am sure this will all end up in some sort of chart in the near future, and I will probably share it here, when it does.

Listing books I want to read, or to re-read, or to finally read, is the fun part. Narrowing it down to what I want to read right now is tougher, and toughest of all is finding the times when I can read the books I want to read, the way I want to read them. Again, same amount of numbers in the day no matter what I read, and the thought of reading fewer books of any type, to make room for another sort of book, again, no matter the type, pains me. Even so, it comes down to the whole “how bad do you want it?” question. In this case, quite a lot.

That means it’s worth the effort, and time to do thing X can be found by not doing thing Y. I already watch a lot less TV than I used to, especially when I was recapping. In fact, I don’t even know how to turn on our TV. I do have Netflix and Hulu, and do have to-watch lists for both, but it’s time to get back into the reading habit. Time to reclaim the pleasure and ritual of reading historical romance, ensuring that I block out the time I need to sink into the immersive world that I love the very best. Talking about something is always a huge incentive for me to actually do that thing, so I will probably be talking more about reading historical romance here. Hm. I’d probably better start making some lists.

What Do Planner Pages and Fiction Genres Have in Common?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe new candles are the key to posting more pictures…

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

Peace out,

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Big Stuff is Coming Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you, with all the stuff from the week that was. Okay, couple of weeks. For those who are interested in why there was no post last week, it was naptime. Yes, all week. We handsome stuffed orange boys need our beauty sleep. Takes a lot of that stuff to look this good.

Anyway, Writer Chick wants me to make a couple of announcements. First, there is a new Kindle Fire on the way to her, so she will once again have a mobile device. This means she will be able to post to Instagram once more, as well as a few other things that are easier on a mobile device, like Skype with Other Writer Chick, and, most importantly, she can take more pictures of me. That’s important stuff.

The second thing is that Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick are happy to announce that they have a final cover for Chasing Prince Charming, and they will reveal it very soon, once they have properly sized images. Fair warning, she is going to post that baby everywhere. There is no cat in this picture, stuffed or otherwise, but there are shoes (and oh what shoes) and, if you ask, Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick can tell you the real life place that inspired the place where Meg and Dominic first meet and where they probably should consider as a place to take their joint author photo. The fact that they do not currently have a joint author photo kind of baffles them both, but that’s how it goes.

Writer Chick is also chipping at that reading debt for her Goodreads reading challenge, and will pick up on that when she is back on track. Since she has found that the main library in this city carries the entire Fruits Basket series, and its sequel, Fruits Basket Another, (sic) and she tears through those pretty darned quickly, so odds are that she might be back on track, if not ahead, fairly soon, possibly by the end of the weekend. There is a librarian there, who really knows her manga, so if Writer Chick can find any more mangas she likes as much as she likes this one, then numbers may end up escalating rather quickly. We shall see how that goes. Writer Chick also picked up some historical romances she has wanted to read for a while, which also may work in the favor of deeper and more frequent reading updates.

In very regular news, Writer Chick was, as always, at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday. This time, she talked about tales from the UBS (that’s used bookstore.) If you’re interested in finding out more about that, the link in the caption will take you there, so there you go.

Points for having a cat in the cover image for this post. Not stuffed, but y’know what? Close enough. A cat’s a cat for all of that, or some such tosh. Whatever.

Writer Chick is pretty focused on the whole galley thing, because, once this galley stuff is done, then she and Other Writer Chick are that much closer to finding out full details on when, exactly, Chasing Prince Charming will be out, and when/how you can catch him. Er, it. Either way, keep your eyes peeled, and you will soon see some exciting stuff.

Right now, it’s rainy, which makes Writer Chick very happy, and it’s the night when she and Other Chick head out to wreak havoc on the nearby art and craft stores. By wreak havoc, I mean they take a really long time walking through the aisles, and maybe buying a couple of things. Dude has been tasked with staying home and alert when Writer Chick goes out, so that there is not a repeat of the Christmas Present Debacle, where Writer Chick and Other Chick had to go hunting for some obscure facility where undelivered packages go. Writer Chick’s luck, this package should show about five minutes after Writer Chick jets for a couple of hours, but then it will be there when she gets back.

So yeah, that’s basically all the stuff worth sharing this week. Keep checking for the cover reveal, and brand new pictures of yours truly. Can’t ever have enough of those.

Peace out,

Typing With Stuffed Paws: First February Friday Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff from the week that was. This week brought yet another blizzard (winter in New York, and there’s snow? What a surprise.) as well as a big freeze, which meant lots of cancelled plans, so all the humans could stay inside and be warm. If some of that warmth included snuggling a handsome orange stuffed boy, for added coziness, well, I am not going to argue with that.

Anyway, January is now in the rearview mirror, and February has begun. Apparently, that is the month when people who don’t normally read romance novels maybe might try one, because it is human love month, or something like that. Whatever. Writer Chick likes this because it is a time when the romance genre can welcome new readers, and if some of those new readers want to buy some of her books, well, she is not going to complain about that. If you are interested in reading some of Writer Chick’s books, this is her Goodreads shelf of books that she has written, or in which her writing appears. As soon as The Wild Rose Press gives her and Other Writer Chick a release date for their first book written together, Chasing Prince Charming, she will put that up there, as well.

If you can’t wait that long, and would like to read Writer Chick’s brain blabbers about reading romance, head on over to Buried Under Romance, for her weekly discussion post. This past week, she talked about the occupational hazard of starting to read just one more chapter before bed, only to have the orange thing in the sky ruin that plan.

Back to Goodreads for a minute, to check in on Writer Chick’s reading challenge. This year, her goal is to read ninety-five books. So far, as we head into the second month of the year, she is thirteen percent of the way there, with twelve books read, and three more in various stages of reading. Please note that this list includes two historical romance novels, and a historical/time travel novel with romantic elements. Writer Chick is on task this month. She will be back on writing reviews next month, but she is definitely reading.

She is also writing. This week, she sent off chapter six of Her Last First Kiss’s second draft, and is charging ahead on that front, while writing the next scene for Drama King. She and Other Writer Chick are both keeping an eye on their e-mail inboxes, because, once the second round of edits on Chasing Prince Charming hit their desks, they are going to tear into those edits like a pack of Rottweilers on an unattended steak buffet. One would think that this would not be the best time for Writer Chick to be nosing around for tabletop RPG (role playing game) groups, but I can’t tell Writer Chick anything when it comes to this kind of thing, and H is really good at getting Writer Chick into questionable pastimes. At least the local bookstore where she might make such inquiries and/or purchase equipment, has a resident feline. I am 51% sure this is at least partly an excuse to get in a cat-petting fix. She may or may not have cat treats in her pockets. Not accusing, just pointing out the possibility.

Speaking of which, if you are interested in talking about historical romance novels, and/or can’t get enough Writer Chick, she has a Facebook group, The Lion and Thistle. It’s been kind of quiet there lately, but you’ll always get notices on her (or my) blogs, and talk about favorite tropes, settings, authors, and all of that stuff.

Here’s where the audience participation part of the whole thing comes into play. Last night, Writer Chick had the idea to make a bingo card of some of her reading goals, to read different types of historical romance, this year. Because Writer Chick is all about the bujo, she wanted to see if she could find a printable, customizable bingo card, that was also pretty. Well, she did, and entering a few of the first things that came to mind yielded this:

Writer Chick is already ticking off boxes, including the obvious Free Space, and is codifying rules if anybody else would like to play. If this version works, she already has notes on what she could put in the boxes for future iterations. That’s another reason to hop on over to The Lion and Thistle. There may or may not be prizes involved. I can state for the record that any such prizes do not include one particular handsome, stuffed, orange boy, (can’t have everything – or everybody, for that matter) but pens and notebooks and maybe even book-books and related items might be in that mix somewhere.

Yesterday, Writer Chick met with N, for the talk and writing session they usually have on Tuesdays. They both brought their AlphaSmarts, and kept pounding keys until Mr. N showed up, to collect them. Last night, Writer Chick plugged the AlphaSmart into her computer, so she could transfer the writing she did on that device, to a Word document, and all I am going to say is that there were a lot more words on that document than she would have guessed. Apparently, writing across from another human being, who is also writing, is an incentive for Writer Chick. Good thing she’s slated to do it again on Tuesday.

That about covers this week, and there is a suspicious bird hopping around on one of the big snow piles outside, so I’m going to go check on that. Peace out.

The Myriad Inspirations of a Snowbound Magpie

Monday’s post on Wednesday means it already comes with a story behind it. Throw in a snowstorm, some happy mail, The Oven That Would Not Cook, and a bunny trail into the world of tabletop gaming, and here we are.

Monday afternoon, Housemate and I headed to the big storage unit, to retrieve some desired office supplies, aka my favorite fineliners and my washi tape collection, version 1.0. Housemate had her own interest in this, as, over the weekend, I lured her over to the dark side of becoming a planner person. Of course this means she needs washi. The trip was a washout, though, as the boxes I needed weren’t immediately accessible, so this is going to be a job for an uncommitted Saturday morning. Library trip that was meant to make up for the storage unit fail, was similarly unsuccessful, but there was a good sized box of happy mail waiting for me, when I got home.

C, a friend I met through an online group for stationery aficionados, is from Louisiana and sent me a box of Mardi Gras, to help survive the polar vortex. That is quality friendship, right there. Housemate and Real Life Romance Hero are helping me pick out items to include in a box of Upstate New York, to send her in return. This box brought a lot of memories, all of them good. I have never been to New Orleans, or experienced Mardi Gras, (apart from something we will call The Mardi Gras Coin Incident, wherein a certain retail management team may have wanted to rethink their kids’ program for this particular holiday) in the really real world, but, back in the days of the first fandom I ever dove into, well, a few key characters certainly did.

Among the beads and the coins, and the mask and fleur de lis ornaments (you know what they say, being given three items on a certain theme means one collects them now. Guess this means I now collect masks and fleur de lis, and I am okay with that) and special Cajun flavored potato chips (they were delicious) was this fine fellow.

say hello to my little friend

His name is Iko (full name Iko Iko, naturally) and, while my original plan was for him to reside on my desk, RLRH had other ideas. Iko now resides in our room. This does not surprise me, and it does give a measure of job security, not only to Sebastian, but to Bo Bison, who lives on top of the printer, and the as yet unnamed Christmas bear who is sitting unobtrusively in the corner of the keyboard shelf, not imposing on anyone.

This is also the week where I finally carved out time (thanks, insomnia) to watch The Swimmer, which I have been wanting to see ever since a friend mentioned it, months ago. It was surreal and gorgeous and tragic and I want to dissect it. Last night was also when I could no longer resist H’s persuasion (aka relentless spamming of lore and links, not at all a complaint) and fell down a rabbit hole. That rabbit hole, aka the Critical Role webseries, in which a group of professional voice actors improv their way through a tabletop roleplaying game, may or may not be swallowing me whole, even though I have not yet seen my first full episode. Yet. I have, however, scoured the web for blush pink dice that still have some badassery about them, and whether there might be any places for a curious beginner to suss out things in person. I may or may not have bookmarked a few sites to learn more about the character creation process, because that is germane to the work we writers do on a daily basis, so I’d still be working, right?

This has also been the week when my grumbling about how my daily agenda traveler’s notebook insert will only last me one more month, and I will need to purchase another (but where?) unless I want to use the format of the one I currently have as a template and make my own, because that is totally allowable, and there are no gatekeepers on this sort of thing. Worst case scenario all I do is save myself a few pennies, by using what I have on hand. Best case, well, there’s no ceiling, now, is there?

All of this, combined with my pre-bed devourings of historical romance, once again, leads to one inevitable conclusion. I am, once again, in the magpie stage, grabbing shiny things to toss into my hoard, while moving along with getting Chasing Prince Charming through the next round of edits, second drafting Her Last First Kiss, and first drafting Drama King. This is not the time I would have picked for the magpie stage to hit, but, then again, that’s not how it works. I don’t get to pick. Maybe others do, but, if I had the chance to pick that option, I’d have to turn it down. I like the surprise of “oh, it’s happening,” that pops in at random intervals.

This time, I have learned. Last night, while Skyping with H, and pulling the trigger on my first Critical Role episode, I hit pause. I had to grab a notebook and mechanical pencil, because we magpies need a safe space to stash our shinines. (Accidental alliteration thrown in for no extra fee) Other things tumbled in, the laundry room reading session where I ignored a Kindle full of TBRs, to reread one of my own old documents, the latest feedback on the current HLFK chapter, and the signpoints up ahead that Melva and I need to hit for Drama King where it needs to be, when those two crazy kids finally figure out that they’re perfect for each other.

Sometimes, it does feel like juggling a lot of chainsaws at one time, but this kind of thing is an occupational hazard. What unexpected sources of inspiration are seeking you out this week?

Typing With Stuffed Paws: About Last Week Edition

Greetings, Foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with all the stuff from the week that was. Week and a half in this case, because sick days and snow days can do a number on the ol’ blogging schedule. Thankfully, Writer Chick is mostly recovered, and the snow is pretty much just sitting there, so things are on their way back to normal, or as normal as things get around here.

Speaking of which, let’s dive right in. As per usual, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance this past weekend, with a timely topic. What exactly does she mean when she says these books are sick? Click the link in the caption, or right here, if you want to find out.

These Books Are Sick

Hopping over to Writer Chick’s Goodreads challenge, which is off to a fine start. As of today, Writer Chick has read eleven out of ninety-five books for the year, which puts her at twelve percent of her way to her goal, and we are not even out of January yet. This puts Writer Chick already five books ahead of schedule. Has she started off the year the way she means to go on? Stick around and find out.

This brings us to the writing portion of this blog, and Writer Chick has been doing pretty well for herself, sick days and snow days notwithstanding. Yesterday was a rain day, which is second only to snow, and a Skype session with Other Writer Chick. This is where they crunched some numbers, and found out that they are now 33% of the way through their first draft of Drama King. This, again, means it is time to crank up the stakes, which, for these two, involves a lot of evil cackling, and, for Writer Chick, making a lot of freeform notes while they brainstorm. Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick are now waiting for the second round of edits to land on their desks. They plan to tackle that as soon as it does, and do that right. Writer Chick actually loves this part of the process, and Other Writer Chick is very glad that Writer Chick does.

Yesterday, Writer Chick sent off the fifth chapter of Her Last First Kiss to Other Writer Chick, whose comments make Writer Chick eager to keep going forward. Writer Chick is rather appalled at the sheer number of missing, extraneous, or misplaced commas, but good catch on Other Writer Chick finding them. This is one of the perils and pitfalls of having a critique partner who has a PhD in English. It is kind of like having a human grammar check, which is not a bad thing to have around, at all. Other Writer Chick has also said some super encouraging things about voice and detail, and those things make Writer Chick very, very happy.

Currently, Writer Chick is reading yet another installment of Fruits Basket. At this point, I am concerned about what’s going to happen once she is done with this series, because there are about twelve collectors’ editions, and she is now on volume number nine. This means she is in the home stretch, where things are getting super emotional. That is exactly how Writer Chick likes things, so that’s a check in the plus column. The question is, what is she going to read when she is done with these books? Please, for my sake, if you have highly angsty romance, with HEA ending, leave it in the comments. Writer Chick squeezes really hard when she is in the throes of a book hangover. That’s the downside of reading a series Writer Chick likes that much, but the upside, and the interesting side, is that, even though these books are set in pretty much modern day (maybe a decade or two back) Japan, and people do tend to turn into animals now and again (yes, there is someone who turns into a handsome orange boy, and he is one of the main guys, so that is a very big plus, if you ask me) but, as Writer Chick said, at length, to H, in one of their chats, these books have a lot of the flavor of Writer Chick’s favoritest historical romances. Writer Chick may explain that later.

This Kindle is full of Elizabeth Hoyt

What i can tell you is that she dove directly into a lot of Elizabeth Hoyt historicals, all set in the Georgian era, which may be part of what is fueling the fire for working on Her Last First Kiss. Right now, Writer Chick is on the hunt for Ms. Hoyt’s newest, Not the Duke’s Darling, which is the start of a new series, reading the last book in the Maiden Lane series, and has the first book in yet another series, in audio, for listening while she is doing other things. Is that a lot of books? Yes. Is that a sufficient amount of books? No.

It is, however, a sufficient amount of blogging for today. The sunbeam is moving, and I must follow. See you next time.

Peace out,

Typing With Stuffed Paws: Marathon Weekend Edition

Greetings, Foolish Mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you with all the stuff on the week that was. 2019 is in full swing, and Writer Chick is meeting it head-on, because all of her mucking about with various notebooks seems to be paying off, but more on that later. For now, it’s time to dive into the compulsories and getting those out of the way.

May the reading odds be ever in your favor…

First, as always, Writer Chick was at Buried Under Romance, on this past Saturday. This time, she’s all about the reading games many people play at this time of year. The link in the caption above will take you there, or, if you’re lazy like me, this works, too.

Currently reading

The library wanted their copy of Heartless, by Mary Balogh, back, so Writer Chick is now re-reading that book on her Kindle (which, by the way, she needs to charge, so, Writer Chick, do the right thing.) She is now on Fruits Basket collectors’ edition number five, and needs to send volumes three through five, back to H, so H can send her the next batch. Writer Chick is also planning to put an extra book in her package to H, that being a book that she thinks H will like. Right now, she is thinking maybe Wideacre, by Phillipa Gregory.

Writer Chick is charging into 2019 with her Goodreads challenge, going into the second week with four books read, out of ninety-five, which puts her two books ahead of schedule. The Fruits Basket collections are big, but they read quickly, so this is plumping her reading tracker in the page count department, as well. This brings her to four percent of the annual goal. Going into the new year, already two books ahead, is probably a smart move, because the marathon weekend is upon us, and reading for marathon weekends gets iffy.

Tomorrow is Writer Chick’s Capitol Region Romance Writers meeting. On Sunday, she is volunteering twice, Since Writer Chick is an extrovert, this triple infusion of PEOPLEis a very, very good thing, and she will be full of energy to tackle the writing week ahead. She will also have some free space in her stationery storage, because she is doing a small cull of pens, notebooks, etc, that would be happier in new homes. I can’t promise she won’t come home with new stuff, if anybody else has the same idea.

It’s focus time

Another part of the reason Writer Chick is focusing well these days is that she has started a writing-only planner, with no other sutff allowed. More on that in the first Monday in February. There is also a bigger writing notebook, that is broken into sections, so Writer Chick can do a brain dump of what she’s going to write, before she writes it. After that, it’s a matter of following the map, plus she got to play with paper and pen, so that’s a plus. She also now keeps a written record of what she has blogged about, and when, which includes posts by yours truly.

No word count trackers as of yet, but, so far, setting task goals is turning out to work super well. The first round of edits on Chasing Prince Charming are on their way back to Editor Chick, and reading Other Writer Chick’s comments on the second chapter of Her Last First Kiss, is Writer Chick’s reward for helping me with this post. Though, let’s be real, quality time wiht me is reward enough, amirite?

Suffice it to say that the historical romance vibe is back, due to a few factors:

  1. Chasing Princ Charing.  Even though this is contemporary romance, it’s set in the world of historical romance, with a hero who is madly in love with the genre. Writer Chick also gets to write with Other Writer Chick, so this is double fun.
  2. Her Last First Kiss. This book is once again in motion. Talking about it builds momentum, which means Writer Chick wants to spend more time with it, so getting through draft two is actually fun.
  3. Proper reading and viewing diet. See the currently reading section above. Even though Fruits Basket is not historical, H assures Writer Chick that it is, at its heart, romance, and there are plenty of romances in it, so Writer Chick is well fed, there. Ditto on the romantic elements in Time and Agin, H assures her, and the old New York setting does not hurt one bit, either. Then there’s Heartless, which is most assuredly historical romance, in the Georgian era, and by Mary Balogh, who always delivers the emotional goods.
  4. Art. Since Writer Chick received some super fun art gifts for Christmas, she is making it a point to do more art herself, and show that art to other people. This will mostly be taking place on Instagram, so follow her there, if you want to see that kind of thing. Also tell her you want to see more pictures of a handsome orange badbutt fella.

That’s about it for this week. Writer Chick wants to get to those HLFK comments, so time for me to find a sunbeam. See you next week.

Peacce out.

Typing With Stuffed Paws: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Planning Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling coming at you with all the stuff on the week that was. I wanted to call this edition “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Sebastian,” but Writer Chick says this blog is about her writing, not my handsome self. Go figure. 

Anyway, best to get the compulsories out of the way first, so let’s get to it. As always, Writer Chick babbles on about something, over at Buried Under Romance, every Saturday, and this one is no exception. Last week, she talked about when a reading slump really isn’t one. What’s that all about? Hop on over here, and find out.

Who can say no to that face?

This leads directly into our other update, that of Writer Chick’s Goodreads challenge. Getting down to the wire now, and looks like she might actually make it. As of this writing, she has read eighty-six books out of ninety, which puts her at ninety-six percent of the way there. Four more books, three more weeks; will she make it? 

Writer’s favorite read this week was a surprise. It was also How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff.

Writer Chick says the S mug in this week’s book picture is for Skye, but Sebastian also starts with S, so I’m claiming it. Not right now. Right now, it’s full of tea. The box of lights is mostly there to block out the view of what’s behind the box of lights and the mug, but it’s also a sign that we are moving into a different time of year, and that would be Christmas. Writer Chick loves Christmas. I’m okay with it. For all I know, I was a Christmas present (the exact circumstances of me ending up with this bunch are a little fuzzy. Heh. Fuzzy. Classic Sebastian.) and a first Christmas in a new place is definitely important.

None of the decorations are up yet, but there is a tree, and there are ornaments. I have heard it is traditional to gift the family cat with their own presents on Christmas, and I am going to assume that extends to Cats Regent. It better. 

current and future planners, covers

I am going to go out on a (Christmas tree) limb here, and assume, also, that Writer Chick will be receiving planner and/or art journal stuff for Christmas. She is definitely going to use the tucked-away week between Christmas and New Year’s, to get her 2019 planning stuff in order. This includes moving essential stuff from the stripey planner, to the big eyes planner, as well as starting a separate planner that is only for writing. Possibly one for her co-written contemporaries with Melva Michaelian, and then another for her solo historical romances. These are the everyday planners, in which she will be planning how she plans the new year. 

Current and new planners, guts

Blah blah, different sizes, blah blah, aesthetics, blah blah, DIY, etc. Whatever. She went over the specifics, but I wasn’t listening. Long story short, do what works. Even if it looks weird. Maybe especially if it looks weird. There will be more updates on where Writer Chick is, in her ongoing WIPs, as soon as she figures out how to measure that progress, and updating the Coming Soon section would not be a horrible thing, just saying. 

So, yeah, that’s basically what’s going on here at Stately Bowling Manor. Waiting on confirmation, but looks like Writer Chick and Other Writer Chick have cleared a milestone in their draft of Drama King, and are already talking about what they want to do for their combined author website (this one is staying right where it is) so there will be updates on that as they come along. 

Peace out,