Middle of the Week, End of the Day

Middle of the week, and, once again, I am making this blog entry at the end of the day instead of the beginning of it. This bothers me, but, if I’m staying with the common threads theme, so the later posting time gets reframed as in keeping with the theme.

Yesterday was critique meeting day, with N, who also attended the workshop where we had to find common threads in our favorite viewing matter. Naturally, we had to compare lists. They were different, no choices in common, though we were more or less familiar with each other’s choices, or could fill in the blanks enough to get the gist of what appealed to the individual.

What we both agreed on, though, was that we would have liked to have made longer lists. The more examples, the easier it is to spot a pattern, but five was a good number when discussing in small groups. We also discussed the criteria for giving something favorite status. Does it have to be something watched multiple times, or can we count the moment when, during a first viewing, that we know a moment on the screen (or page) has crossed the border from something we watch or read, to something that is a part of us. Sometimes, a moment is all it takes.

Two characters who wouldn’t appear to be potential romantic partners at first lock eyes in the right circumstances, maybe brush hands in the briefest of touches, and that’s it. Boom. Never saw it coming, but, now, we will go down with this ship. A car drives around a bend in the road, we see the first view of the stately manor house, and now a part of our heart will always live there, no matter what else happens, in the story, or in life. Scenes stick in our mind. Sometimes, they hang out there for a long time, waiting for other pieces of the puzzle, to join them and become something new.

Both N and I discussed keeping longer lists of these films and TV that catch our interest on that level, and how I expand the concept in my Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys workshop, to include not only visual media, but books, music, and other miscellaneous media – computer games, graphic novels, etc. On the surface, they may not seem like they have much in common, but get them all in one place, and start looking for the common threads, and, surprise, there they are. Later that same day, I chatted with another friend, H, who mentioned a new option in a favorite game. It now has an arctic survival factor. Sold. I don’t need to hear any more than that. The first novel-length fanfic I ever wrote was set on an arctic world, for the mere reason that I love snow. If I have to create an alien world, there is going to be snow on it. Everywhere on it.

I love the idea of core story, not that it’s a formula, or one author doing the same thing time and again, but that readers know what they’re getting from a particular author. Hopefully, it’s the stuff that the author loves, and, ideally, at the spin-around-in-a-field-of-daisies level. Readers can tell. Trust me on that. For me, that basically breaks down to include (but not limited to) the following:

  • full immersion historical atmosphere – this is far past long dresses on the female characters. I’m talking the era as almost a character in itself, where characters think and act like people of their time. I want to be steeped in the period, feel it in my blood, and, for the space of the story, live in that world instead of our own. I have my favorite eras, but as long as we get full immersion, I can go pretty much anywhere/when.
  • star-crossed lovers who make it work – this is my catnip. If I could only write one kind of story for the rest of my life, this would be it. Give me two lovers who belong together, but have the entire world against them (or so it seems) only to find out that the world is no match for true love. I am perfectly fine if this takes years, or, in the case of sagas, decades. Hard-earned happily ever afters are my favorites.
  • house as character – do not get me started on this one. Usually a stately English home, but there are a few on the other side of the Atlantic as well. Double points if this is in a generational saga, and we get to see the house change with the different generations of occupants. Triple points if house falls out of family’s possession, and then back in after some time away. If I ever (who are we kidding, when) I get to write a family saga, there is going to be at least one of these in there.
  • survivor characters – I like my people to go through some stuff. Their emotional baggage, more times than not, comes in coordinated ensembles and may, in fact, need a luggage cart, or small pack animal, to carry it through the whole book. Hauling around all that baggage does develop some emotional muscles.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, though that may be something to consider as I study the idea of core story. Always good to know what tools are in one’s toolbox. What’s in yours?

 

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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

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Almost Anty’s Birthday Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is now only four more days until Anty’s birthday. Anty really really really loves birthdays. They do not always have to be her own, but when they are, that is even more special. I would say shop early and beat the crowds, but there are only four days left, and stores are pretty crowded on weekends, no matter whose birthday is coming, so leaving a note in the comment section will be fine. Anty does not ask for much, really, but she does insist that there be cake. There does not have to be any candles, but even one would be a plus. Anty likes candles. The big, smelly kind that comes in jars are her favorites, but Uncle does not always like the same smells Anty likes, so she sometimes has to settle for small ones with lids, so she can sniff them when she wants a hit of whatever scent the candle is. This time of year, she likes cinnamon or clove and that kind of thing. The day after Thanksgiving, she switches to pine and/or peppermint. Fireplace smells are good all year, though. Pens and notebooks are good all year, too, as are art supplies. My birthday is probably around Valentine’s Day, according to my first vet. I like cat food, and treat. Plan accordingly.

This has been a full week for Anty, so I had best get those updates out of the way, so I will have room to talk more. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. October is when Anty talks about spooky and/or paranormal romances, and, last week, she talked about time travel romances. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURtimetravel

Even though it was not Anty’s week to recap Outlander, it was time for a new post on Heroes and Heartbreakers. Did you think Frank Randall deserved a better ending than he got on the TV show? Anty did, and you can read about some of her ideas on that in her post. It is here, and it looks like this:

HandHFrankHEA

Now it is time to look at Anty’s Goodreads challenge. So far, Anty has read seventy-two out of the ninety books for her goal this year. This puts her at eighty percent done, and she is on track. Good job, Anty. Keep going. I will not mention that all three of the books that she finished and reviewed this week were YA, not historical romance, but one of the YA books is romance, and the weekend is here, so we will see what happens. The books Anty read and reviewed this week are these:

 

 

GRAllTheBrightPlacesNiven

 

Okay, I think those are all the places where Anty wrote stuff on the interwebs this past week. She has been writing stuff here at home, too. Earlier this week, she sent Anty Melva a scene for Drama King, and Anty Melva sent another one back. That is three scenes so far, total. This book is officially underway. That is a good thing, because the publisher that said they would like to read the whole book of Chasing Prince Charming is now doing exactly that. They will probably get back to Anty Melva and Anty in about a month and a half. That is not very long to wait. Whatever the verdict is, Anty and Anty Melva are excited about making it this far with their first co=written book.

Because it is almost Anty’s birthday, that means a couple of other things are coming up as well. Those things are Halloween and NaNoWriMo. Anty loves skulls and scary things like that all year round (she wears a skeleton hand ring every day) and is excited for The Walking Dead‘s new season. We do not give out candy on Halloween, because A) we live in a neighborhood where most of the people are almost-grownups, and B) there is no antianxiety medication, for humans or kitties, that would counteract our prewar doorbell going off all night long. Still, the day after means that skull themed things will be on deep discount in stores, and that makes Anty very happy.

Anty has a love/hate relationship with NaNoWriMo. The word count thing trips her up, but she likes the camaraderie, and she would like to get farther into this new version of Her Last First Kiss, so she may see about adapting the system to her own use. She will probably not officially sign up, but it can be good, sometimes, to give oneself a push. We will see how this all works out, but suffice it to say that Anty would like to move Ruby and Ruby’s hero to their happily ever after at a quicker pace, now that she has a better handle on this part of the book. She may need a few extra loops around the lake in the park, with her playlist for this particular story on repeat. Possibly with some tea in her travel mug. It can’t hurt, and she can take movies of ducks, to show me when she gets back. I like when she makes movies of ducks and then shows them to me. I am not sure any book about humans can be as interesting as duck movies, but anything is possible.

On behalf of the family, allow me to say thank you to all who left kind words on the loss of Tuna Roll. Our time with him was short, but his legacy will be long. The next fish will have some big fins to fill. I do not know when my next fish brother will arrive, but he will carry on the thought of the day tradition, once he is here.

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

skyebyenew

see you next week

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Of Kings and Teacups

Once upon a time, a young girl stole a book from her mother’s nightstand. She read that book under the big brass bed in the guest bedroom, and knew, within pages, that she had found what she wanted to read and write for the rest of her life. That girl was me, and that book was The Kadin, by Bertrice Small. My mom found me (darned flashlight beam) and took the book back, because I was too young to read that sort of thing. Mind you, I wasn’t even anywhere near the love scenes. What grabbed me, besides the author’s voice, was the cadence of the language, the lavish description, the sense of adventure, and being inside the skin of a heroine the back cover blurb already told me was going to come out on top, no matter what happened to her.

I stole the book back, of course, and the next one, and, by the time the third book by Ms. Small came out, I had my own copy. While I do appreciate my mother’s concern for my young sensibilities (but really, she had no problem with the horror comics I also devoured, but I don’t think she actually knew what was inside them, either) there was one other unarguable truth. This kind of story, this epic love of long ago, this was mine. Maybe I didn’t fully understand what was going on, but I did understand the force of recognition that slammed into me, in those first few pages.

That feeling has become, thankfully, familiar over the years, and yet the thrill of one of those waves as it crashes over me never gets old. This weekend’s episode of Outlander, “Freedom and Whisky,” and the episode that preceded it, “Of Lost Things,” brought a huge wave of the stuff. This also reminds me that Poldark is back in business. Yes, I know, historical fiction, not historical romance, but Ross and Demelza fit the hero and heroine roles admirably, even if Ross dropped several thousand points in our esteem at the end of last season. He may want to start practicing his grovel, because getting on Demelza’s wrong side is never a good idea.

Right about now, I would love to reference an essay/blog post about teacup romances and king-slapping heroines. I want to say it was written by Ilona Andrews, but, as I’m not turning up anything on my search results, perhaps I have remembered wrong. Even so, it’s the essence that matters, not the specifics at this point. The author wrote about what she termed teacup romances, in which characters could move through the story, holding a teacup, and not spill a drop, and contrasted those with another, when a heroine rebuffed the advances of the reigning monarch with a slap. This fascinated another character, who revealed that they’d always wanted to slap a king. Big move there, and definitely not without risk.

Both types definitely have their place, but, for me, it’s going to be king-slapping, every time. I think Janet Leslie (aka Cyra Hafise) from The Kadin would find much in common with Claire and Demelza, and, maybe, if Bertrice Small were to send that manuscript to a publisher today, it might be marketed as historical fiction rather than romance. Still, take out the love story, and the book would crumble. Could any of these stories take place in any other time and place than the ones they do? Hard no, to all three, and I love that. I love the full period immersion. In Outlander, we get three periods: the eighteenth century, 1940s and 1960s, all rendered in loving detail. The past really is a whole other world, and that’s where the stories I write, by myself, take place. Even my co-written contemporary stories have a historical tinge. I’m hardwired for this kind of stuff.

That’s the bedrock. That’s what’s not going to change. That’s the sweep and the surge and the power of historical romance that I love best, and it’s what I want to put into my own work. Taking in what one wants to put out is always a good idea, not only to see what others have already done, but what I would do differently. Watching one of these shows, or reading a book with a similar tone gets my idea hamster running. I take in some of that stuff, I want to make some of that stuff. If a few teacups get broken along the way, well that’s a risk I am willing to take.

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Almost October Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. We had a very hot week here in New York’s Capitol Region, which is not what anybody wanted at this time of year. Everybody was grouchy and grumpy, except for Tuna Roll. He is a tropical fish, so he probably liked it fine. We don’t talk about things like that, so I do not know for sure, but one can assume. Even so, Anty got more done this week than she thinks she did. Since there is a bunch of it, I had better get right down to business.

First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about historical romance, contemporary romance, and everything in between. That post is here and it looks like this:

BUReverythinginbetween

Anty had a big week at Heroes and Heartbreakers, so you may want to get comfy. First, this was an odd-numbered week for Outlander, so that made it Anty’s turn to recap the episode, and what an episode. Anty loves angst, and this episode was packed full of it. That recap is here, and it looks like this:

HandHOutlander3x3recap

Right after that, because Monday is right after Sunday, Anty recapped the season premiere of The Big Bang Theory, where big things happened for not one, but two of the show’s couples. That post is here, and it looks like this:

HandHTBBT11x1recap

Because it is the end of the month, that means it is time for Heroes and Heartbreakers bloggers, including, but not limited to Anty, get to share their favorite reads of the month that has gone before. For Anty, this meant venturing into one of her favorite settings, and one of her new favorite authors. For everybody else, well, you will have to read the post. That post is here, and it looks like this:

HandHbestofseptember

This is the part of the post where I tell you how Anty is doing on her Goodreads challenge. It was close this week, but Anty is now back on track, having read sixty-six books out of her goal of ninety. That is more than two thirds of the way to finished. I knew she could do it.  Go, Anty, go.

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Here are the books Anty finished reading this week:

GRCanhamFarHorizon

The Far Horizon, by Marsha Canham

GRColeBeNotAfraid

Be Not Afraid, by Alyssa Cole

In case you cannot tell by the covers, or, in one case, lack of cover (The Far Horizon really does have a cover, but it did not show on Goodreads. It was a picture of a ship, with an overlay image of a couple. It is the first book cover on Miss Marsha’s site, which is here.) all three of the books Anty read this week were historical romance. I am especially proud of Anty for that. It has also, along with a few other developments, made her very thinky about historical romance (that is a good thing, I think) this week, and she will probably be blogging about that herself next week. She may or may not have already started down that road. I cannot tell you the whole thing (partly because Anty is still working on it) but I can give you a hint.

While Anty was looking through one of her special bookshelves, she found a couple of things from a long time ago. Like previous cat era, but it did not have anything to do with kitties. One thing was a bookmark, which one might expect to find in books, and the other was a sticky note from one of Anty’s own books. That was this note:

OitSnote

I am not sure if a cleaned up version of this note actually made it into Orphans in the Storm, but it was enough to get Anty thinking about a few things. Any is very fond of sticky notes, and, sometimes, they get stuck places she would not expect for them to be. If she spent any time looking for this note while she was actually writing the book, she was looking in the wrong place, because she only found it a couple of days ago. A little late if she wanted that bit to be in the book (if it did not get in there) but right on time for her brain to work it into another blog post.

Right now, Anty is working on three other books, at three different stages of progress, so finding a note that takes her back to a previous book was not what she had expected. Writers are like that. Show them the oddest things, and off they go, into some story world that non-writers cannot get to, even if their bowls are empty. Ahem.

Anty gets thinky like this every once in a while. It is probably part of the process of telling stories, this pausing to take a look at how things work, where she’s going and where she’s been. I do not know exactly what form that thinkiness will take, but, when it does, I will ost a link to it here. Unless it is here, in which case, it would be here already.

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This coming March, Anty will be presenting her workshop, Play in Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys, online, with Charter Oak Romance Writers. Further details TBA, but mark your calendars; March is coming, so save the date.

Now it is time for Tuna Roll’s Thought of the Day. Take it away, Tuna Roll.

0825TunaRoll

I have never found a problem that could not be solved by a good, long swim   . -Tuna Roll

Thank you, Tuna Roll. I am not sure that will work for everybody, but it is still good to know this sort of thing.

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

skyebyenew

see you next week

 

But I Don’t Feel Like Writing

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most of us have been at this point at one time or another. If you’re a writer who has never been there, wait. It’s coming. Consider it an occupational hazard. My desktop is an autumn theme, because I need the reminder of what season we’re really in, even though the weather report says we’ll be hovering around ninety degrees for most of the week. This is not my favorite weather, or my family’s favorite weather. Possible exception for Tuna Roll, since he is a tropical fish, but that’s one for, three against. We are not, however, in charge of the weather.

There’s the matter of current events, there’s anxiety, there’s the matter of not wanting to blabber my way through one more topic-less blog post and shake the generic you-can-do=it pompoms, at myself or anyone else, so I’m going with where I am right now, which is wishing Monday came with a snooze button. There’s the doubt over the Outlander recap I sent off last night. Did I forget something important? Did I get someone’s name wrong? Did I miss some essential Easter egg those who have read this far in the books will be buzzing about today, because I am farther in the TV series than the books, and, if I am farther in the TV series than the books, what am I doing writing about it, anyway? Ironically, the next thing on my list is to write another piece about Outlander. Funny how these things work.

I like lists. They give structure. I like to know where I’m going, and lists can serve as a roadmap for the day, especially on days like this one. I will now date myself and reference the Vicki Lawrence sitcom, Mama’s Family.  In one episode, Thelma, the Mama of the title, applies for a part-time job. The interviewer asks her if she knows how to answer the phone. Thelma, in a deadpan voice, says no.  When it rings at home, she runs around in circles, screaming “What’ll I do? What’ll I do?” Of course she knows how to answer the phone, which translates, in this case, to of course I know how to write, because I do. See? I’m doing it right now.

As I am going for that two hour block of the most important tasks first, that’s what has to get done, even when I don’t feel like it. That’s true for any job. Work starts at a certain time, and the worker is there, or the worker does not have a job for much longer. Since my goal is production right now, this means butt in chair, do the thing at the top of the list, cross it off, do the nest thing, cross that off, drink water, take breaks, and remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. It only has to be written.

That’s the hard thing. I want it to be perfect. I want to somehow get everything in my brain onto the page, preferably by willing it there, and have it have happened double-digit years ago. Not the most realistic desires there, especially that last one, but those are where I am today. I’m also here, at the desk, with an idea, and moving forward. A million single steps add up to arriving at one’s destination. The worst thing for me, the very, very worst, is not knowing what I’m doing. Tried pantsing, doesn’t work for me. Nor does strict plotting, though I’ve tried that, too. That leaves puzzling, which can be downright irritating for someone who likes to have a clear roadmap, but my imaginary friends are prone to taking the scenic route when I didn’t tell them they could. Ingrates.

Eventually, we’ll work it out. We always do. We kick and we fuss, sometimes them, sometimes me, sometimes all of us, and then, usually when I get up to do something else, bam, there it is.  This often works with writing my nonfiction posts as well. Not all who wander are lost and all that good stuff. It’s too hot today to make tea, so I am doing this without caffeine. The coffee house down the block has, sadly, closed, so I am now in the market for a new other place to write. This makes me grumpy, because I liked that place, but we will dub it “plot twist” and move along. Check this blog entry off the list, and move on to aforementioned Outlander piece, then transcribing handwritten pages for Her Last First Kiss. 

After that, it may be time for more handwritten pages, time to step away from the screen and the temptation of Facebook, the distraction of current events and checking the weather and checking the word counts and checking this and checking that and checking the checking and slip into the story world for a while. Time to write the story as though I were the one reading it (does that sound weird? It sounds like it should sound weird.) and watch the ink swirl onto the paper as my imaginary friends and I head off on the next adventure.

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Save the Dates Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. I tried to convince Anty to wait to take my picture until Uncle was awake, so I would be perkier, but she said something about a schedule and took my picture anyway. It is hard being a mews sometimes. I have been hard at work this week, so we had better get down to business.

Before I can talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway,) I have to tell you where on the interwebs, besides here, that you can find Anty’s writing this week.  As usual, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. Her theme for September is Back to Romance School, because it is always a good idea to brush up on the basics. (As long as that brush is not on me, I am fine with that. I am a sensitive girl, and brushing makes me licky.) What two elements does every single romance novel ever published have to have? Anty’s post covers it all. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURbacktoschool

Now that the new TV season has begun, Anty will have many more chances to write about kissy stuff on TV shows, and it all kicks off with her recap of the season three premiere of Outlander, “The Battle Joined,” at Heroes and Heartbreakers. That post is here, and it looks like this:

HandHOutlanders3e1

but what about Frank?

Next, we move on to the reading portion of the post. Anty is now one book behind in her Goodreads goal, but I am willing to cut her some slack, because it has been a very full week, and she is almost done with the latest Marsha Canham book. Anty can read Ms. Marsha’s books pretty fast, because Ms. Marsha is one of Anty’s favorite writers. The weekend is here, Anty’s Kindle is full, and I expect good things ahead. Anty is not a total slacker, as she wrote a review of the one book she did finish reading this week. That book was this one:

 

 

 

This week was a good one for Anty, because she got to add a few things to her schedule, and Anty loves putting new things on her schedule. That is why she made a new banner, so that I can add a Coming Soon section.

Here are some things Anty will be doing very soon:

Anty will also be recapping the odd-numbered episodes of Outlander all season long, while Elizabeth Poteet will recap the even-numbered episodes. On even weeks, Anty can make popcorn and watch, as a fan. That should be pretty fun, too, and, because she will not have to take notes while watching, she can have her hands free to pet me. I prefer head scritches, thank you, but chest is okay too, if she is very gentle.

Because this has been a very busy week, Anty  has pushed the date of getting A Heart Most Errant to beta readers back to September 21st, so maybe I should put that on the calendar, too. Maybe after my nap. Being a good mews takes a lot of energy. Anty would have preferred to have the book in readers’ hands already, but then she has to remind herself that A) there is no deadline on this one, and B) she would rather take the time and do it right than rush and then wish she had fixed things. I would tell her not to worry, that her beta readers will find things she can fix, but that generally does not come across as a big help.

Now that it is fall, Anty is in her groove, so keep an eye on the coming soon section to see what else she may be up to in the near future. Frankly, I am surprised that her love of planning has not carried over to the site before this, but, then again, she did not consult me on this matter. I could have told her that keeping that section up to date means that she gets to have another sort of calendar. That is my tip for this week: writers, listen to your cats more. Especially when they ask for food or head scritches.

Okay, that looks like everything on my list, so now it is time for Tuna Roll’s Thought of the Day. Take it away, Tuna Roll.

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If you find yourself swimming in circles, that will always take you home. -Tuna Roll

Thank you, Tuna Roll. That is very reassuring. That is also about it for this week, so, until next time, I remain very truly yours,

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see you next week

 

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?

Typing With Wet Claws: Come From Away Edition

 

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday.  I kind of met a puppy this week. His name is Aiden, he is a Golden Retriever, and he is my cousin, because his people parents are my Anty Mary and Uncle Brian. They all live back in the old country, but, this Sunday, they came to visit. I should probably say that I did not actually get an introduction, but I smelled him, which, for us fur people, is pretty much the same thing. I am not opposed to meeting another four-legs, but that did not happen this time. What did happen, however, was a good visit for Anty, Uncle and Mama. Anty Mary and Uncle Brian brought their human son, Andrew, who is a new grownup, and his special friend, Miss Leah. They also brought a big box of books for Anty, but more on that later.

As always, the rule here is that I have to talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week (apart from here, of course) before I can talk about anything else.

First, we have some breaking news. Anty’s post about the Shamy doings on last night’s The Big Bang Theory went live at Heroes and Heartbreakers, while I was writing this post. How is that for timely? That post is here, and it looks like this:

HandHTBBTSheldonProposes

 

That is pretty exciting, I think. What is also exciting is that Anty is at Buried Under Romance every Saturday, with a new topic about the romance reading life. This week, she talked about the pros and cons of retellings of classic stories. That post is here, and its link on the main page looks like this:

BURretelling

Speaking of reading, this is the part of the post where I see how Anty did with reading. As of today, Anty is one-third through her Goodreads challenge goal of ninety books this year, and only two books behind schedule. Good job, Anty. Here are the books Anty read this week:

Her reviews for Afterlife With Archie, and Six Earlier Days look like this:

Anty is still thinking about her review for The Whisperer War, but she has reviews for the other two, which I think is pretty good. To read the reviews, please click the links above.  I should mention that bad things happen to two doggies in Afterlife With Archie, so Anty almost did not read that, but she does like to see things that do not normally go together, put together, so she read it anyway. Now she has to hunt down further volumes, because the library does not have them.

While it is true that there are no historical romances finished this week, Anty is currently reading Follow the Heart, by Anita Mills, which is a historical romance set during the French and Indian War. Miss Anita is an author whose work Anty has liked very much in the past, and it is a standalone book, which Anty also likes. Miss Anita had, at one time, planned to write a connected book, where the man the heroine did not marry would find somebody else, and, if Miss Anita ever wants to return to historical romance writing, Anty would like to read that, but, as it stands, this book is by itself.  Anty plans to read many more of Miss Anita’s books. She has already read many, but not all of them. Goodreads gives the publication date of some titles Anty does not remember, as being in the last couple of years, so Anty may have a glimmer of hope.

The box of books Anty Mary brought also brings a similar glimmer of hope. That box is full of mostly older historical romances, the kind with a more epic feel, and use of actual history that Anty likes to put into her own work. Getting through this box will require some study time (that means reading the books that are in that box) but Anty has not taken the books out of the box yet. She wants to concentrate on reading the book she is currently reading, and I think she is doing pretty well on that front. For now, Anty likes to lift the lid on the box, look at the books and pet the spines. Right now, that is enough. Anty likes to delay gratification on things like this, so, for her, waiting is part of the fun.

I am not that great at waiting for things I want, because I am a kitty. Today, I really really really wanted to be near Anty, so, while she was not looking, I walked onto the carpet. I still did not like it, but I like being far away from Anty even less. I let her know I was not happy having my feet on the carpet, so she got up and fed me. I think I may be onto something here. So does Anty. She lay down a few sheets of paper, to make a path from the hardwood floor, across the carpet, to her chair. So far, I have only looked at it. Anty says (Sir) Ginger (she only found out he was a boy, after he learned to answer to Ginger as his name. Oops.) -he was the kitty in our family, before Olivia, who was the kitty before me- liked to walk on paper, so she thought I might like that, too. I might, but I am still figuring out what I think about having paper on the floor. I guess we both have some studying to do. Good thing we can do it together.

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

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