Common Threads at the End of the Day

It’s a Monday. I had vague plans about a topic for this blog, and then life happened, so here I am, at the end of the day, rather than the beginning of it, the vague idea long gone. I’m not surprised. It was a full weekend, and these things happen. Instead, I’ll go with the first thing that comes to mind, which is a big chunk of how I spent my Saturday.

I look forward to my monthly CR-RWA meetings. A whole afternoon, spent mingling with others of my kind (romance writers) and learning how to advance our careers, write more, write better, etc, meet with friends who do what I do, and meet new people who do what I do. Also, there are snacks. This post isn’t about the snacks.

What this post is about, is part of the workshop we had this month. The lovely and talented Marie Lark spoke about using the movies and TV we love, to pinpoint common themes in our core story, the things we come back to, time after time. Core story has been on my mind a lot lately, and a similar exercise is part of the Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys workshop I’ll be teaching in March, so this workshop had my attention on two different levels. Three, when we broke into small groups, because I love group dynamics.

Our first assignment was to list five of our very, very favorite movies and/or TV shows, the ones we watch multiple times, because we love them that much. My ears pricked, because this sounded like fun, and then I stared at the blank page in front of me, because there is one thing that always comes when I’m asked this kind of question. Throw one of these questions at me, and I immediately feel as though I’ve never met myself. It’s a big question, and “favorite,” to me, means the very top tier. Are we talking about of all time here, or right now, or is there something in the middle of those two qualifiers? I have to sift through the possibilities, weigh them against how they might be received by the small group, by the room, by…I don’t know, them.  Generic them.

What I finally wrote on the page was, in no particular order:

  • Saturday Night Fever
  • How I Met Your Mother (finale excluded)
  • Love Actually
  • The Walking Dead
  • Brideshead Revisited (1981 miniseries)

When instructions came for the next part, I felt, well, naked. The other group members were to look at the works listed and pick out commonalities. The person who wrote the list was not to contribute at this phase. Within my group, I have a slight acquaintance with one person, had met another for the first time at the start of the meeting, and the fourth, for the first time, during the exercise. So, basically, a bunch of strangers are seeing me virtually naked for the purpose of this exercise.

Two things jumped out at the group at first: ensembles, and coming to terms with a dying world. Still thinking on the ensemble part, because, when I write, I’m focused on the hero and heroine, though the supporting cast is important. The second part, though, coming to terms with a dying world, ding, ding, ding. That one, yes. A once upon a time friend once said that all of my stories are about moving on after a loss, and they are not wrong. I live for that stuff. That, and star crossed lovers, who, somehow, make it work.

I’m still looking at this list, letting it roll around in my head, and thinking of what another group member asked, about what didn’t make the list. Remains of the Day, that’s one. Book and movie, both. The first two seasons of Sleepy Hollow. Maybe it’s too soon to add Poldark to the list, because I’ve only seen the first two seasons once, still haven’t watched any of the current season, and I’ve seen more of the Outlander TV series than I’ve read the books, so do I even qualify to add that? There’s the span of the entire Degrassi franchise, all the way back to when Principal Simpson was in junior high. What about shows I love, but haven’t been back to for a while? Mad About You, Cold Case, Remington Steele, Moonlight, Lost, the first season and a half of Highlander?

Picking only five is a small sample. For those curious, an ever-growing Pinterest board of my favorite OTPs (One True Pairing) can be found here. A lot more choices there, and yet they all have something that draws me back to them, even if I stare blankly at the page for a moment when asked to pinpoint what it is. This may require further study.

What common threads do you see?

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

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Ramblings of a Fictional Magpie

First off, in case you missed it, my Frank Randall Deserved a Happy Ending post went live on Heroes and Heartbreakers yesterday. Don’t tell Skye I blabbed it before she could share the link. When I first read Outlander, I actually didn’t. I read Cross Stitch, the British version (and original title) because A) it supposedly had more historical content, and B) Claire was “nicer” to Frank. I didn’t know anything about Frank when I went into this, apart from the fact that he was Claire’s original husband, and, really, had no good options when Claire came back from the past, in love with, married to, and pregnant by another man. I’m still not sure how the legalities of a pre-existing marriage would hold when a woman finds herself two centuries in the past, as Husband #1 wouldn’t have been born yet, thus could not have married her, because he didn’t exist, but he did exist, because Claire remembers him, and is wearing his ring at the time.

All of that is largely to get me over the hump of the blank page, because I’ve been staring at it for a while now, and this entry needs to be written, so going with the “throw something at the page and see where we go from there” stage. I think the first love triangle that I was aware of was King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and Lancelot. Guinevere and Lancelot have some chemistry, and, if it weren’t for one of them being married, I could probably get behind them, but she was married, and to Arthur, and even at, hm, I want to say six, or so, I knew that something about this equation could not turn out well. Camelot came crashing down, both in folklore and the musical, which I watched on TV at the home of family friends. I didn’t entirely understand what was going on (again, six) but I was enthralled. This is probably more proof that I came out of the box, hardwired for historical romance.

I was the kid who, when given Jane and Johnny West figures for Christmas (maybe that same year? That feels about right.) did not fall in love with the mystique and adventure of the American West. Instead, I made them act out the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. My dad was big on the classics, if nobody guessed that by now. Still, I think that wasn’t entirely what he had in mind. To this day, I’m not sure if Jane and Johnny were meant to be siblings or lovers. No, scratch that. I checked. They’re married. They also apparently had four kids. My parents probably kept that information from me, to forestall requests for the kiddo figures. I also did not know about the homestead, dogs, or friend and enemy figures, to say nothing of articulated horses and a bison. A bison. Seeing as how we have a stuffed bison (cuddly toy variety, not taxidermy variety) on top of our dresser, six year old me cannot complain of a bison-less existence.

This is the part where I stare at the screen, notice I have about two hundred more words to go before I can sign off on this entry, and have no earthly idea how to tie this into anything that will make sense to anybody but me. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe every entry doesn’t have to mean something,  and I can put what’s in my head out there, for readers to take what they will. After this, I have a critique partner’s chapter to look over, and then get something together for my weekly meeting with N. What I would most like to do is snuggle into my comfy chair, with a blanket, some hot beverage (tea or cocoa, not sure which one I would want in this hypothetical circumstance) and finish reading Holding Up the Universeby Jennifer Niven, because I am still emotionally raw from blazing through her first YA novel, All The Bright Places.     What is left of my heart still wants to hang out there, hang onto that voice, and, as I did with my Best of the West figures, pick what I want from the source, and figure out how those elements would work in the world of historical romance.

I think I was hard-wired for that sort of thing, too. Meat Loaf (the singer, not the food) once said that people need to keep one thing in mind when listening to any song composed by his songwriter, Jim Steinman: that everything Steinman writes is from the same story world, and it all fits together. I think Meat called it Wonderland (not the Alice sort, IIRC) but I may be wrong on that one. Still, it stuck with me.

Maybe that’s why I go through periods when I know, without a doubt, I am in full magpie mode. I’m hungry for a certain kind of story, or setting, or character type. When magpie season hits, I have to inhale everything I can about the current fixation, process it, and trust that it’s going to come out again in my own work, in some fashion. At six, I probably did not register Romeo and Juliet’s ultimate fate, and, at more-than-six, I am not going to tell the Bard how to write, but, in a romance novel, the lovers would be alive, together, and happy about it. That’s hardwired, too, and I am fine with that.

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

 

 

 

I Will Go Down With These Ships (Non-Paranormal Edition)

Romance Appreciation/Awareness Month is drawing to a close, (but it’s always romance appreciation month as far as I’m concerned0 and National Matchmaker’s Day is tomorrow, so now it’s time for me to gush on some of my favorite regular-people ships. No ghosts, no vampires, no super powers, only flesh and blood people. Whittling this down to only a few was even harder than the previous version, and I may have to update these posts with an additional post for honorable mention, because, when one is a romance aficionado, that stuff is everywhere, and picking favorites is not as easy as it sounds. So, I am jumping in, in no particular order, with the first couples who come to mind. As before, all links go to my OTPs (One True Pairing) page on Pintrest, where you can see a more comprehensive list.

First up, Max and Kyle from Living Single. Kyle is smooth, fashionable, self-assured, very much in love with himself, and torn between corporate life and his buried musical aspirations. Max is also self-assured, brash, impulsive, a lawyer with a strong sense of ethics (even if those ethics may be particular to her; she still hews to them) and it’s pretty much hate at first sight. These two cannot stand each other, and it is very much a case of when both lady and gentleman doth protest too much, because egads, the chemistry. They fight, they love, they break up, Kyle moves an ocean away, Max totally goes off the deep end, and makes an impulsive decision to become a single mother through IVF (which is not as easy in real life as in sitcomland, but stay with us on this one.) The donor she picks, blind? One guess, romance fans, and when Kyle finds out, oh my my my. The moment when these two finally decide to go for it and admit their true feelings gives me the down-deep shivers. The only thing better than that scene is a brief cameo in another sitcom, a few years later, when we find that Max and Kyle are still happily married, with a mini-them who has the best and worst of them both in one sharply-dressed package. The rare canon HEA, with epilogue.

I could not make this post without one historical couple, and (sorry, Jamie and Claire, you’re in a time travel, so you count as paranormal) Ross and Demelza from Poldark have no competition. From the second we meet Demelza, disguised as a boy, desperate to save her dog from a dogfighting ring, and Ross steps in, the chemistry crackles. Demelza is a scrapper, who gives as good as she gets, and she and Ross do not get off to an easy start, especially as he’s still hung up on his cousin’s wife, Elizabeth. Demelza, however, isn’t going anywhere, and not only because her only alternative is to return to her truly horrible family. Their marriage starts out as convenience, but, somewhere along the way, a true, deep, and abiding love forms between these two strong-willed people, neither of whom wants to give an inch of ground. We see them go through the joy of welcoming their first child, the grief of losing her, and, my favorite scene so far, Ross racing off to drag Demelza back from her, um, freelance fishing job while she is in active labor, only to find that she saved her own self while he was on the way, daft man. They bicker, they clash, they stand by each other when the worst happens again and again and again. Though season two ended on an extremely unheroic note for Ross, these two see each other through the most destructive of storms, so I have faith they’ll get through this one as well. How? No idea, but they’ve always found a way so far.

The couple that caught me most by surprise, in all of ship-dom is Barney and Robin, from How I Met Your Mother. Finale denier for life here; I reject all of it. Barney and Robin are still out there, still together, still living awesomely ever after, until death do them part. Where to start with these two? Even though they’re in a fairly bright and bouncy sitcom, the backstories grabbed my heart and refused to let go. The always nattily dressed corporate shark, Barney, has a secret past as a chaste hippie, hopelessly devoted to the college sweetheart who broke his heart and shattered his soul? (Not to mention the troubled childhood he and his brother endured with their groupie mom and absent dads.) Robin is his best friend’s dream girl (well, off and on, for a while) and grew up with a father who insisted on raising her as the boy he’d always wanted, instead of the girl she really was, and her secret shame is a teenage popstar career that went down in flames, in an extremely public venue? I am there for that, forever and always. Watching two people who didn’t even believe in true love, marriage, or anything of real substance, slowly fumble their way to each other, through breakups, other partners, an infertility diagnosis (hers) to combine a deep, abiding friendship and powerful attraction, well, :happy sigh: That’s the stuff. I’ll take the alternate finale if I must, where it’s strongly implied that things work out at long last, but these two giving up on each other? Nope, not buying that, not even with a coupon.

When I teach my workshop, Play in Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys, one of the first exercises I give is to ask students to list their favorite shows/ships/characters, then ask the question – what do they all have in common? What’s the common thread? What do we find in each one of these cases, be the stories set in the past, present, future, or otherworldly realm? There’s a core story there. While any factors from cancellation, actors’ departure, bad writing, etc, can derail even the most outstanding TV couples, in romance novels, the HEA is a dead solid guarantee. No matter what life or the writer throws at the couple in question, by the last page, they are going to be on their own personal mountaintop, together, and happy to be there, and so are we.

What are some of your favorite ships that deserve the romance novel treatment?

I Will Go Down With These (Fictional) Ships (Paranormal Edition)

Time to blab about some of my favorite OTPS. That’s One True Pairing, for those not versed in the intricacies of fan fiction, and/or shipping.  This has nothing to do with transporting goods by water, but is fanspeak, derived from ‘relationship.’ In honor of Thursday apparently being National Matchmaker’s Day, The Happy Ever After blog asks select author who some of their fanfic couples are, which I find very interesting reading all on its own. Since I need a topic for today’s entry, I am going to hop on this particular wagon and blabber about such matters here.  Links go to my OTPs Pinterest page, for those meeting these couples for the first time.

My first ship that I remember having was Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, from the Wonder Woman TV show. I even subscribed to a fan club newsletter. We moved after I received the first issue, and the second (and subsequent) were never forwarded. Still salty about that. I remember that having to choose between an 8×10 glossy of either Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor or Diana Prince and Steve Trevor was agony for my ten year old self. I finally settled on the Wonder Woman option, but still am not sure if I made the right choice. I was always waiting for Steve to figure out Diana and Wonder Woman were the same person, or for her to make the revelation, but never could figure out how the HEA I wanted, even then, would work out, because Amazon, super hero, mortal, dude, all that sort of stuff. I’m still not sure how I would work something like that out in any of my own writing, but I did love that the heroine had two identities, and she was the strong one, and that the hero admired her for that. No, I have not yet seen the new movie version. I know what happens to Steve.  We’ll see if the sequel changes that.

I’m not sure if it’s me, if it’s the shows I watch/have watched, the whole romance writer thing, or what, but I have had a record of falling hard for TV couples that, well, don’t get the same treatment on TV that they would in a romance novel. I came to  Highlander (TV show, not movies) fandom late, as in  after the thing that already happened in season two, maybe even in season three. Whenever it was that the grieving Duncan first met his would-be second canon love interest of the series, Anne, an emergency room doctor, and I wanted to ship them. I really, really did, but it never quite took. Neither did Anne, even after Duncan basically built her a house with his own two Immortal hands, and I thought he deserved better. Which is when I finally, and do not ask me how, stumbled on the first season, and his original love interest, Tessa, a French sculptor, who owned her own blowtorch,  and the chemistry floored me. Duncan and Tessa forever, and I do mean  forever. Any detractors can shush about her being dead. It’s a fantasy show. Anything can happen. There was Fake Tessa, Alternate Universe Tessa (and even that ended badly, but I can accept the tragedy as long as it’s only alternate) so the next logical thing is somewhere, somehow, Real Tessa. Again, fantasy. Dead doesn’t count. They could figure something out.  My one and only attempt at a Regency may or may not have been inspired by their dynamic, no paranormal elements involved. I may resurrect the core of it as a Georgian. We will see.

Most recent members of this club are Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills from the dearly departed Sleepy Hollow. These two. Seriously, these two. Eighteenth century visionary and twenty first century cop may not be the most traditional couple, and sure, there was the complication of his being still technically married (even though his wife lived 200+ years in the past, buried him alive, and didn’t tell him that A) she was a witch, B) she was pregnant) that gave their explosive chemistry a wee bit of a challenge (until Ichabod had to kill wifey to save Abbie’s life.) When Abbie had to venture into Ichabod’s time to right a great wrong, and he met her there, not knowing he’d already met her in the future, oh my word, oh my word, do you know what this does to a historical romance writer? Then the show bungled the whole deal, Abbie got killed off, and all we shippers got was Ichabod placing a single kiss  on Abbie’s ghost’s hand. Her hand. Her ghost’s hand. Yeah, not good enough. I quit watching the show after that. In my mind, they beat all the monsters, and their reward is that they get to be happy. I don’t really need specifics.

Maybe falling in love with fictional couples is par for the course when one is a romance fan, and especially when one is a romance writer, which means one is actually both. As for falling for the couples that get shafted on their HEA, I’m still not sure what that says, but I do know that the urge to barrel into the story, announcing that it’s okay, because I am a romance writer, is not something I can shut off. Every couple on my OTP Pinterest board, whether canon gave them their HEA or not, has at least one part of their dynamic that goes into the idea soup, combines with something from some other couple, a bit from this book, that song, some bit of historical tid, a what-if from current events or daily life, the cover design of a new notebook, or a whiff of scent, and then, when I’m not looking, new characters are born, with new love stories they want me to tell. Who am I to argue with that?

 

 

 

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:

BURconferenceweek

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:

HandHRichonne7

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.

BloggingIsntDeadHandout

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,

skyebanner01

skyebye

 

 

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

OnBeyondFanfic

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:

Dandy

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.

OnBeyondFanfic

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…