Typing With Wet Claws: Conference 2017 Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. This week there is some degree of time travel going on with this blog. Because today is the first day of the conference, and Anty will be leaving the apartment very early so that she can meet Anty Melva in MA and then go to the conference together, and Anty has several writing things that need attention before then (also packing, because she, as of this writing, had not done that yet) this post is actually coming to you from…get ready for this…yesterday. Whoa. I know. I am not sure how Anty managed that, but anybody who can get a cat to blog for her, and manipulate time, has to be pretty smart.

First, as usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this week, and not as usual, she invited readers to play a game with her, instead of a regular post. Because there were some issues with the interwebs, not everybody got to see it or have a chance to play, but because Miss Ezrah is a warrior queen webmistress, now you can. It is here, and the link on the main page looks like this:


Since this is conference week, I am going to give Anty some grace and not mention that she is now even behinder in the Goodreads reading challenge.  Okay, not how much behinder, but still. Anty. Read books. Between ouchy back and post-conference exhaustion, I think she may have some time to read when she gets back from the conference. I would give her partial credit for bingeing on the whole season of Thirteen Reasons Why, but that was the TV show, not the book, so it does not count. Anty, I love you, but you need to step up the reading game. Big time.

Sometimes, when Anty is watching TV, she is actually working. That happened this week, when she got to write a timeline of the Rick and Michonne romance in The Walking Dead. I like Rick and Michonne. She likes cat statues, so I think she would like real kitties, too. Rick got her a new cat statue when she did not have her old one anymore. Maybe he would also like real kitties. That post is here, and it looks like this:


Anty likes writing this kind of timeline post, and that is a good thing, because, when she comes back from the conference, she gets to write another one, about humans on a different show. That is pretty exciting.  She also has the okay to write another post, about the books of an author she likes very, very much, and needs to finish reading one more book, so that she will have read all the books that author wrote under that name. :clears throat: Anty, do the right thing.

Well, writing has to come first, because Anty cannot sell or publish books that she has not written. That is kind of important. She has been up late at the computer the last few nights, and her back has some things to say about that, but the Beach Ball is bouncing its way to the finish line, which makes both Anty and Anty Melva very happy. Hopefully, it will make some lucky editor and/or agent very happy, as well.

With all the writing Anty has been doing, and Uncle learning, the hard way, that he was wrong about the expiration date on those sausages (he will be okay, do not worry.) things have been a little crazy around here. Landlord came by a couple of days ago, and replaced lightbulbs in almost all of the overhead fixtures. Guess which bulbs did not get replaced. If you guessed Anty’s office, you were right. Uncle and Mama both claim they did not know Anty needed new lightbulbs, but here is a clue: at nighttime, it is dark. This is okay for me, because I am a kitty, and I have built-in night vision goggles (they are pretty cool) but Anty has a bedside lamp on the desk of her hutch, which is okay for only the computer screen and desk surface, but those are not the only things Anty uses in her office. Landlord or Handyman will take care of that fixture when one of them comes over to put in the new kitchen light. I suspect Anty may want to clean things once those lights get installed. Maybe she will finally see how ugly the carpet is and want to get rid of it. A cat can dream.

Because it is conference week, Anty has something special for everybody who comes to her workshop, or is interested in blogging, but attending a different workshop (like Miss Alyssa’s) or cannot attend the conference. Miss Rhonda has made a PDF of the Power Point presentation they and Miss Corrina will use. Click on the link below, and it can be yours. You can even read it at home in your pajamas, if you are into that kind of thing.


That is about it for this week. If you are going to the conference, feel free to say hi to Anty when you see her. If you are reading this blog, then it is no big surprise that Anty loves to talk about writing and romance novels. Also notebooks and pens and tea and gummi bears and TV shows and makeup and um, yeah. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,





Why Historical Romance?

Hi. My name is Anna, and I write historical and historical-adjacent romance. We’ll get to the adjacent part in a minute. Right now, I want to focus on the big picture. Why historical romance? My first instinct is that I was hardwired that way. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to times before living memory, though I will grant that, when one is five or so, everything falls into that category, by default. As for the romance part of things, I think I was hardwired for that, as well, because my favorite stories were always the fairy tales with a romance plot to them, even long before I had any inkling that the opposite sex could be anything even remotely close to appealing. I also preferred the more arguably obscure fairy tales, like “Donkeyskin” to any of the Disney versions (Sorry, Walt) and checked out an entire spectrum of Andrew Lang’s fairy tale collections (and wee princess me is now all, “hold on, there are more beyond the color-themed books? I must have them!” because, of course, I must.)

Though I didn’t know the concept of shipping back then, (again, five) in retrospect, I shipped Greek, Roman and Norse gods and goddesses, cartoon characters, and couples in fairy tales and folklore. I’ve often wondered if my birth mother liked romance fiction, too, if, maybe, we’ve ever read and loved any of the same books. I wouldn’t be surprised. Maybe romance, and storytelling, really is in my blood. I’ve written before about how much fun it is to listen to SF/F fans and writers talk about how they fell in love with their genre of choice, hear their origin stories, as it were, and I would love to shine more light on that same experience with readers and writers of romance, particularly historical. Let’s face it, historical romance rocks.

In the same book, we get a peek into the past, the chance to step into a world that we know existed (because, duh, history; we’ve got proof) and a story literally as old as time, and we know that there’s going to be a happily ever after at the end (or a happy for now, in serialized works) but the big question is…how? We know things weren’t as easy for those in the past as they are now; indoor plumbing is a relatively recent invention, and modern medical advances keep a lot of us on the right side of the dirt. That’s not even taking into account things like the internet, gummi bears, and Sephora. I love all of those things, and I’m glad I have them in my life, but when I’m going to dive into story world, nothing is ever going to do it the way historical romance does.

Whether or not actual historical figures come into play, the historical world is critical to the historical romance. How does the time in which these lovers lived affect their falling in love, and their chances for a future together? For my money, it’s not possible to take a couple from Ancient Rome, for example, plop them down in 1901 Texas, and have their love story play out exactly the same way. It can’t. The pieces of the puzzle are completely different, and yet, the objective is the same; finding that one person with whom they want to spend the rest of their lives and then making that happen, no matter what obstacles stand in their way. I’d be hard pressed to find a type of story I find more empowering than that. I can’t even count all the possible variations of setting, era, character type, plot trope, and a million other variables, all of which can be combined in countless ways. It really never is the same story twice.

Right now, those of us in the US, and elsewhere, but I’m in the US, so that’s where I can speak with most authenticity, live in interesting times. Since current events do affect writing and reading trends, I have asked myself if we’re headed for a surge in historical romance. A break from modern life may be exactly what some of us need to restore our resources, live a few adventures and come back, entertained and empowered, to handle the business of day to day life. Which, I should mention, is exactly what the heroes and heroines of historical romances are doing. They don’t know they’re in a historical; they think they’re in a contemporary, because Restoration England, or the American Civil War, Harlem Renaissance, etc? Those are their nows. They don’t know how their current events are going to turn out, if the war is going to go their way, if life will ever be the same again after disease or disaster upsets the routine they’ve always known up to that point. What they do know, however?

They do know love. They know, by the end of the book, that, whatever life throws at them from here on out, they won’t be facing it alone. They have someone by their side who is going to take them exactly as they are, for better and for worse, and they’re going to face it together. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me, and that’s why I do what I do.

Typing With Wet Claws: Up All Night Edition

Hello, all, Skye here, for my regular Feline Friday. This picture is from yesterday’s sunbeam session, because I am spending today under the bed. Mama’s bed, to be specific, although I usually hide under Anty and Uncle’s bed when I want to be really really safe. I thought I’d change it up today.

Sometimes, when humans have a lot to do, it takes a long time. Sometimes, that means they use up all of the daytime and go into the nighttime. Those of you who know kitties know that we can be nocturmal creatures, but you may not know that sometimes, writers are, too. Sometimes, that is because they have something called deadlines. When Anty has to tell people who kissed on TV, she has to take notes while the show is on and then make sure her notes make sense, and that they are the right legnth. When she first started doing this, she would make her notes in longhand, on a legal pad, and then go into another room and put them on the computer to make them make sense. Now, she makes them right on the computer, which makes it go faster. Still, it takes a while, and, since the shows are on in the evening, that means she is working in the evening.

This week, big kissy things happened on two shows that Anty watches. Her recap of New Girl’s season finale is here, and looks like this:

I liked the part with the kitty...

I liked the part with the kitty…

I think New Girl is a very good show, because it has a kitty in it. The kitty’s name is Ferguson, and Ferguson got a present in the very last scene, which ends the season on a high note.

The Big Bang Theory does not have any kitties in it, but it has fun nerdy things, and a lot of romance, so Anty likes it. Big things happened for two couples on this season finale. Anty’s recap is here and looks like this:

Needs cats...

Needs cats…

When Anty stays up late, she ends up writing a lot, even if it is not for publication. Sometimes, she writes in books to think on paper. This week, she finished writing in two more notebooks. The small one  is by Markings, and  it lived in her computer tote.  The big one is by Picadilly, and was her purse book and then her living room book before it finally landed in the kitchen. She says nobody wants to read what is inside them, as it is mostly rambling and sometimes lists of things to do, but I am allowed to show what they look like. They look like this:

the old gaurd

the old guard

The new books look like this:

new kids on the block

new kids on the block

The small book is by Potter Style, which is new to Anty, and came in a pack of four, all themed around Jane Austen novels. Anty says this is very appropriate for a historical romance writer, although she does not write in the Regency period. Shocking, I know, but it does take all kinds. She started the small book a while ago, but stopped using it in her pen pouch shortly thereafter. It will now be her computer sleeve book. The big book comes from WalMart and has no markings whatsoever, so she thinks it was made especially for them. She is not sure what color sticky notes she wants to put in it permanently, but she carried these over from the old blue book:

temporary stickies

temporary stickies

I do not think I shared pictures of what she did to the old blue notebook, but she put old maps on the endpapers. I think that was a good idea, but she is out of old maps now, and does not know what sorts of endpapers she wants for this new book, if it needs any at all. The maps looked like this:

show me the way...

show me the way…

In addition to writing, Anty likes to read when she is awake late into the night. She finished reading Where She Went, by Gayle Forman,  early this morning. Now she is grumpy that the story is over. Anty loves second chance at love stories for star crossed lovers, when they make it work at last (oops, did I spoil it for anybody? Sorry. Forget I said that. Kitties are not reliable sources of literary criticism. Unless there are cats in the story. Then we are.)

If Anty stays up in her comfy chair, I like to curl into a ball at her feet and keep her company. It is the very least that a mews can do. Well, that and filling in when the human wants to delegate blogging. I am happy to do that, too.

Well, that is about it for this week. It is a good thing my new computer is small enough to fit under the human beds. Hm, maybe I could make my own office down here. What do you think? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Until next week, I remain very truly yours,

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

Color With All The Crayons


I’d rather pour myself into a world I love and understand
than make something up out of nothing.
–Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

This past Saturday, I took a leap. I presented a workshop on using the media we already love to create original fiction. I’ve taught this before, in a previous iteration, From Fan Fiction to Fantastic Fiction, usually as a month-long online workshop, and the one time I presented in person to another chapter. a couple of years back, I’d tried to fit the entire course into an hour. Hint: that’s not really possible. It was fun, that first presentation, because I love, love, love speaking in front of a group, especially about a topic that means a lot to me. So much fun, in fact, that I didn’t hesitate when the opportunity came up to do it again, and as long as I was doing so, why not take it one step up and gear things toward writers who already know how to write original fiction?

Not that writers of fan fiction don’t. Far from it. As I say in that class, if you’ve watched a favorite show or movie and thought “that was great, but it would be better if…” then  yes, you can come up with original ideas. From Fan Fiction to Fantastic Fiction is geared toward writers interested in moving from fan fiction to original work, and I love teaching it. I hope to teach it a lot more. Hearing students talk about loving their stories so much and being so determined to get them down that they would dismantle an entire desktop computer system, pack it into the back of their car and drive over a hundred miles to put the whole thing back together and spend the weekend writing with their collaborator, that’s a shot of adrenaline right there. Some of my previous students had asked if there was a second level to this course, some chance to do something with the tools they gained in our time together.

Until now, there wasn’t. It’s still under construction, but once that seed was planted, like the seed of a story, I couldn’t ignore it, and so, when the opportunity to present to my local chapter came up, I took it. What I found was a learning experience for me. Talking to a group that included Golden Heart winners and a RITA nominee, where several members have impressive backlists and the rest are on their way, has a different feel to it, and that’s exciting. When I gave exercises to do during the presentation, pens moved like lightning. I hated to make all that writing stop, but the results were worth it.

I loved that one member asked if they could combine characters from different sources, and another asked if they could use one canon and one original character. My answers were yes and yes. Another asked if these techniques could be used to reverse engineer an original character who wasn’t quite gelling. Yes, again. If a character isn’t coming together, have a look at characters who are like them and see if anything clicks. After the presentation, we had a lively and fascinating discussion on how the media we love inspires the story worlds we build for ourselves, and the exclamations of surprise when members found other members shared some of the same favorite media were a delight.

Today’s quote comes from the fabulous Rainbow Rowell, of whom I am a fangirl, after reading her novel, Fangirl, (and her upcoming novel, Carry On, is the fan fiction her heroine, Cath, wrote about the characters in the fictional Simon Snow fandom in Fangirl. How’s that for meta?) and jumped out at me from the start. Thing is, we can know our own original story worlds and characters that well. It’s not making something out of nothing, because it’s making something out of everything we’ve ever been, seen, done, heard, tasted, smelled, thought, dreamed, feared, wondered, suspected, etc, etc, etc, all blended in a way that is unique to the individual, and I find that fascinating.

The crayons in today’s picture, a rainbow in themselves, were on one of the tables when I arrived, and yes, I did have to play with them in my all purpose notebook. It’s like blood in the water to a shark or waving a red flag at a bull. I see the crayons, I color with the crayons, and I do notice if they are Crayola or not. Kind of like getting into a fandom. There’s looking at what’s already there, and then there’s taking something from it and making it mine.

Typing With Wet Claws: Overscheduled Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday.

First of all, thank you to those who  come back every week to read my blog. That is very encouraging to a kitty, and to Anty as well.

This has been a busy week for Anty, so if she has not gotten back to anybody, it is not personal. She has been on the glowy box a lot. I wanted to put a picture of Anty’s planning board up here, but she said it was not okay, because her notes were readable and she is not done with the book yet. Sorry.  Instead, I can share a picture of her box of Post-It notes that she uses for planning. The best part about her using Post-its on her planning board is that I get to play with her mistakes.

Anty and I both love to play with these...

Anty and I both love to play with these…

Anty really really likes planning and making lists, so she does not mind that much.  She asked me not to talk about the time she tried to get up from the computer and forgot she had her headphones on and it yanked her back down like a dog at the end of its leash. Whoops. Sorry. Can that be our secret?

What is not a secret is that Anty got to write about two of her favorite TV relationships (ohhh, that’s where the ships come in. I get it now. Humans are clever.)

She got to write about Sleepy Hollow here, and it looks like this:

Then she got to write about The Mindy Project here, and it looks like this:


I think both shows need more cats. Or any cats. I would also accept birds, mice and fish. Sleepy Hollow has a horse sometimes, but that is not the same. I do not know any horses, so it kind of freaks me out. Anty would say everything freaks me out, and she is right about that. I still think there should be more cats.

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

Tomorrow, tomorrow…

Tomorrow, Anty goes to CR-RWA to present her workshop, On Beyond Fanfic. She is excited and nervous, especially since our printer says it is jammed, but both Anty and Mama say it is not jammed and there is not any paper in it. Anty and Mama will see if the big paper store can help them get those papers printed. I call dibs on playing with any mistakes from that. Somebody will have to tear the big papers into smaller papers, though, because I am scared of big papers. I like them bite-sized.

Speaking of bite-sized,  (Anty calls that a transition; see, I am learning) Anty only minutes ago sent in her contribution to the 31 Days & 31 Ways to Jumpstart Your Life program. Do you want to know how making something out of nothing can help to make life better? Anty, Eryka and friends can help with that, and it does not cost anything. Even I like that price (money better spent on cat food, right?) You can read more about this program and find out how you can join here. If you do, let Anty (or me) know, because she would love to see some friendly virtual faces.

only for that one counter, really

only for that one counter, really

Now, for those who asked about this sign, Anty asked the barista, a very nice human named Rachel, and Rachel said the sign only means for that one counter. It is meant to be a waiting area for humans who are ordering their food and drinks to go. If other humans park there with laptops, that takes up that space. There are lots of other comfy spaces to settle. She did not say anything about Anty sitting there with a notebook, so Anty guesses that is still okay. The sign does not say “no notebooks.” Anty would not go to a place that said “no notebooks.”  Trust me, I know  her.

That about covers it for this week. Anty still has her post for Buried Under Romance to write and some pictures to take, so I have to give the computer back. Until next week, I remain, very truly yours,

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

Until next week...

Until next week…

Typing With Wet Claws: Work From Home Edition

Hello, all. Skye here for another Feline Friday.

Interesting week here as always. Anty painted her claws, Uncle got an extra night off because of the snow, and we are getting more snow this weekend. This will probably mean there could be snow days for Mama and/or Uncle, but Anty does not get snow days, because Anty works at home. This does not seem entirely fair to me, because Anty really really loves snow, but I am only a kitty and snow days are human things.

Anyway, this week, I would like to talk about what it is like to have a human who works at home. Merely because the human is in the home does not mean they are not working. While it is true that Anty likes to do laundry, she always has a notebook with her, because quiet laundromat time is good writing time. Anty says she does her best writing in longhand and can put it into the glowy box later. When she is putting things into the glowy box, and has her headphones on, that is a signal that she is At Work and Not Available. It does not always work out that way, because emergencies happen. Like feeding me. I get little bits of food throughout the day, so I  need to ask a human when I want a snack. Most of the time, that is Anty. Usually, I give her big pitiful eyes, and that will do the job. If I get between the left side of her comfy chair and the table next to it, then she knows I really , really need her.

Sometimes, she really, really needs me. That is usually when she wants to take my picture. I do not always want my picture taken. Like this time:

i1035 FW1.1

The humans all like to mess around with the fur on the top of my head (Mama calls that my hair) but I do not know why. Can any of you figure it out? Anty messed with my hair before she took this picture. I, as you may be able to tell, was not an enthusiastic participant.

Most days, Anty spends the majority of her time with a notebook or glowy box, sometimes flipping through big books to look for something she needs to know. Sometimes she talks to other writers inside the glowy box. All of those things are work, but that does not mean she does not take time to play with me. If I look really, really pitiful, she will take a break and we will play.

Me and the BEST TOY EVER

Me and the BEST TOY EVER

This week, Anty has been doing a lot of work. She got the first scene down for Her Last First Kiss, is fixing a short story she wrote a long time ago (I was not even born yet, if you can believe that) and is very happy with that. She also has a new post at Heroes and Heartbreakers, about this week’s big shippy moment on The Mindy Project (I did not see any ships in that program, but I think she means it is kissy things. Anty writes a lot about kissy things.)  Her post is here, and it looks like this:

i1035 FW1.1

That is not all, because more things are Coming Soon.


It is only eight more days before Anty goes to her CR-RWA meeting and presents her On Beyond Fanfic workshop. She is still deciding which exercises to have people do during the meeting, so if you are planning on going, it is probably a good idea to bring paper and pen. She is looking forward  to this very much, and will talk about it more next week.

It is less than a month before Anty participates in 31 Days & 31 Ways to Jumpstart Your Life. Anty is one of many people talking about ways to make life better. Her topic is creativity. I think convincing a cat to blog is pretty creative, so maybe give this thing a try. It is free and Anty would love to see you there.

Okay, Anty is looking at the clock now and telling me it is almost time to move to the coffee house and put things in the glowy box, so I guess that is about it for this week. Until next week, I remain,

Very Truly Yours,

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

Until next week...

Until next week…

Typing With Wet Claws: Post Thanksgiving Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Today’s picture is of me at the old house, because Anty’s camera batteries died yesterday right before Uncle asked Anty to take a picture of the Thanksgiving table. (That was because they died taking a picture of the snowy tree in front of our house, which Anty had a picture of already but it had a lot less snow on it and Mama wanted the really snowy picture. Mama did not know that would kill the batteries, so do not be mad at her.) I am sorry about that because there were a lot of food bowls on that table and a table full of food bowls is a beautiful thing.

Another beautiful thing is Anty’s new business cards. They came last week, and she is very happy with them. Here is one of them, used in the new notebook she is still altering.

i1035 FW1.1

Could use a frame, don’t you think?

Anty had a new post at Heroes and Heartbreakers this week. In case you missed it, you can click the link below and read it now. Anty loves to get comments and talk to readers, so feel free to chime in. Her post was on the first part of Sleepy Hollow‘s fall finale. She says it is about ships, but I watched the whole episode and there were no boats of any kind. Must be a  human thing. You can read about it here; if you know where the ships come in please let me know.:

Sleepy Hollow: Ichabbie Heart to Heart: knowledge is power

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, which means there was a lot of food everywhere. I still got my regular cat food and Uncle gave me some extra treat, so my tummy was very happy. Anty was less happy when I tried to wrap my whole body around both of her feet while she was carrying one of the platters from kitchen to dining room, but who can blame me? There was warm birdy smell and I wanted to be near her. Isn’t that a sign of devotion? I know full well I do not get people food because people eat people food and kitties eat kitty food and I am a kitty, but it was the principle of the thing.

Our family did not go Black Friday shopping, but Anty did get to spend some time this morning chasing me around the apartment, asking to see what was in my mouth, and I did not want her to see that. In case you are wondering, it was shed fur. She did not seem happy to see me eat it, but if my shed fur is that important to her, she does not have to worry. She will see it again when I am done with it. She did succeed in picking me up twice in her efforts to get the fur away from me, but I still got it down and then she had to give me food to soothe my nerves from being picked up. I like to be close to my humans, but not be picked up.

Anty says dealing with cats is good practice for dealing with characters, since we both are supposedly subject to our writer humans but end up doing our own thing anyway. I think she may be on to something there.

Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling

(the kitty, not the book.)

The Moment and The Month That Was: May 2014

Another month, another adventure begun, so let’s review the Month that was May, 2014:


Yesterday, while copying some information about the current ms into a new notebook (notebooky post coming soon) I had a Moment about the dreaded sticky part of the book that seemed like I’d need to train poodles to jump through hoops of fire to make a certain plot point make sense, and then make those same poodles balance teacups on their noses while dressed in period costume to bring a satisfactory resolution. 

Then, Micron (yes, the kind of pen is important, but pen post coming soon as well) poised over magenta line on white page, I had the Moment. What if I did B instead of A? Well, duh. That…might…work. In fact, it would give the poor (figurative) poodles a break, increase the stakes and mean I didn’t have to write the drudgey parts to explain stuff because stuff would already make sense. Well allrighty, then. Several pages of Micron-ed notes later, I left the coffee house with a springier step and I’m excited about going through the existing ms and tidying my loose ends. This will require some story surgery, yes, but it fixes what had put me off this ms when I made my first pass on it, years ago. Commence work on Pinterest board (still puny, but growing) and let’s do this thing. I’m very happy to have found the right groove for Ember and Gareth, two characters who have been more than patient with me…at least so far.

May was a pretty good month over here. I’ve started hosting Saturday discussions at the Buried Under Romance blog, which is huge fun, and May sweeps meant lots of shippy moments on TV, to blabber about at Heroes and Heartbreakers. Links below: 

Heroes and Heartbreakers

Buried Under Romance:


I’ve been lazy about keeping track of reading, which I need to remedy, but I’m thrilled to have discovered Alison DeLaine‘s  historicals, starting with A Gentleman ‘Til Midnight, and am re-listening to Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby. Third time listening to the audiobook, and I’ve read the paper copy at least twice. I don’t think it’s possible to reexperience a favorite book too many times. 


This was the month I finally gave in and started watching Mad Men. I’d resisted, because, basically, my dad had Don Draper’s job in that era, but boy is it brilliant, and boy is it gorgeous, so there will likely be more blabbering about that soon. 

Also endeavoring to rewatch How I Met Your Mother from start to 9×22, because the finale does not count. 

Okay, June, bring it on.