Typing With Wet Claws: The Big One-One Edition

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

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

01gamerkitty

Happy (probably) birthday to me.

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

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

BURtalkaboutsexscenes

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

GRiftheresnotomorrow

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

 

GRthetruthofrightnow

The Truth of Right Now, by Kara Lee Corthron

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

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

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

skyebye2018

 

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Blabbity Blab, Theory and Practice

Helpful hint: going out to do laundry and run errands in the freezing rain does not hasten Martian Death Cold out the door any more quickly. Even so, I think I’m going to live. Right now, I’m at my desk, the too-bright sun that comes after yesterday’s lovely greyness, poking through the slats in the blinds. Wind is whipping the branches outside. The big candle is pretty well burned down, which means it is probably time for a new big candle, or at least a nice votive or tealight. My mug is empty now, and I am debating whether it is time to put the kettle on for more tea, or to grab my water bottle.

In short, it’s a winter Monday. Outside my closed office door, there are cat and Real Life Romance Hero. On today’s schedule: this blog entry, then work on the second batch of edits/rewrites for Chasing Prince Charming. I have my weekly Skype conference with Melva tonight, and breakfast with N tomorrow, so I need to get some Her Last First Kiss in there somewhere. The temptation to burrow into a blanket nest and binge watch the remaining episodes of Les Revenants (creepy French drama, on Netflix, which I deeply love, and will probably gush about in more detail at a later date) is strong, though not as strong as the biggest lesson I took away from this past weekend’s CR-RWA meeting; treat writing like a business.

That means that writing time is writing time, and nothing else happens during that time. New rule for this week: blog entries get one hour of my writing time, maximum. This may result, at least in the near future, to an increase in free form rambling, but that kind of stuff tends to sort itself out in time, with the right amount of practice.

My original plan was to have a defined topic for this blog entry, but I got to sleep at the lovely hour of four in the morning, because Martian Death Cold does not respect circadian rhythms, and I am burning too-bright daylight here.  I am looking forward to seeing what Melva has don e on this next chunk of Chasing Prince Charming, and what notes she’s made on my segments, so I can do my share in making a good thing even better. I actually like rewriting. Sometimes, I like rewriting more than writing. There’s less pressure, and I’m not as concerned about making everything perfect, as I am when creating a first draft.

That seems somewhat backward, as the whole point of revising/rewriting is to make the writing better, but go figure. Writers are weird. Granted, we are at the part of the book where there are not a lot of changes to make, and we are likely approaching the section that is going to need the most work. Stay tuned for that one, because there will probably be much to say on that matter.  There may or may not be muffled sobbing at some point, but we have our sights set on the end of March to get the whole thing spiffed and back to the lovely people at The Wild Rose Press, and we’ll see how that goes.

For today, I have fewer than two hundred words to get to my magic seven hundred, which, thanks to some scheduling math, figured out in the margins of my notes from Saturday’s CRRWA meeting, now means at least seven hundred words in sixty minutes, tops. This is where preparation would come in super handy, So would another bag of sugar free cherry cough drops, because I recently squeezed said bag, and the cough drop count has gone down to three. I am good on tissues, though, which may come in handy if I hit on any especially emotional parts of the manuscript this afternoon. I would give it fairly high odds, because I know this story, I know Melva, and I know me. It’s pretty much a sure thing, and I am more than okay with that.

Almost to the magic seven hundred. I want to promise that Wednesday’s post will be more structured (unless anybody actually looks forward to my free-form rambles, in which case, today is your day. Break out the bubbly.) Blabbity blab, theory and practice, hey, look, there we go, enough words now. Time to open the file and see what wonders may be wrought.

TheWriterIsOut

 

 

 

White Space

This is the view from our balcony this morning:

0702snowscape

I don’t know what it is about this season that snow days and sick days tend to fall on the same day, but, as the sugarless cherry cough drops on my desk indicate, that’s what we’ve got. Domestic tornadoes are not gone, but are slowing, and coming farther apart, which does leave more wiggle room, and time, for that writing thing I have heard I do.

On Monday’s Skype session with Melva, we went over our plan to revise and resubmit Chasing Prince Charming. If things go according to plan, which they should, we should be done by the end of March. That seems both very soon and very far away. We also decided that we were having too much fun with Drama King to truly put it aside while we work on the revisions, so we will continue, albeit at a more relaxed pace, until the revisions are done.

At my Tuesday breakfast with N, we both set goals for getting our current (solo) projects in gear. For her, it’s mapping out exactly what’s needed to tie up all loose ends in her contemporary romance, and, for me, it’s getting back to serious work on Her Last First Kiss. We talked, a lot, about what it takes to bring a story from okay to special. It’s not only words on a page, though that is obviously important, but the life in the characters, so that readers care about their story, what happens to them, if they’ll get what they want. Even though we’re both writing romance, which means that yes, our lovers will absolutely end up together at the end, and be happy about it, the very best books have that moment of “oh crap, maybe they can’t.” Getting them from that point to “heck, yes, they did,” that’s the best part. That’s the goal.

With all of the above, March is going to be full, with not only a lot of writing, but my online workshop with Charter Oak Romance Writers, Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys, but Eryka Peskin’s free workshop, 31 Days and 32 Ways to Jump-start Your LifeLi’l blurb on that one, in Eryka’s own words, here:

Find out how transforming your relationship with your health, money, activism, spirituality, love, mindset and more can jumpstart your LIFE and change the world. For more info and to sign up, go to http://eepurl.com/bAQ0jf

It starts March 1st, so make sure you sign up right away!

I’m not sure yet, if the NECRWA conference is going to be possible this year, but I am (mostly) okay with that, because there’s no way to sell a book that isn’t written, and very few first drafts are ready to make the cut. This may require figuring out other ways to see my conference people, which is not a bad thing.

That’s all the future, though, and, since the snowstorm and cold have teamed up to nix plans for the afternoon and evening, what I have for the present is a large supply of tea, warm, fuzzy blankets, and a fully stocked Kindle, along with a TBR shelf that mocks me, from its space behind my office chair. Since I know me, there will also be a notebook or legal pad, and a handful of pens. The only big question I have today, is “what?”

Sick snow days are perfect fro TV/Netflix bingeing, but my search for something braimless I could background watch, and possibly nap through, led me to Les Revenants, a French drama that is, you guessed it, in French. Also, not dubbed. I do not speak French. I can pick out a few words, but that’s it. Thankfully, there are English subtitles, but that means actually looking at the screen.

Okay, there’s reading, then, and I do not lack for books, nor, specifically, historical romance books, but I want a particular sort, and I don’t feel like sifting through the TBR shelf or doing internet research. This may mean that a chunk of the day is spent curled under one of aforementioned fuzzy blankets, with aforementioned cup of tea, pen and paper within reach, and staring at Skye, the living room in general, or the insides of my eyelids. I call this white space.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is nothing. Not exactly nothing, obviously, because blanket and tea and kitty who loves playing computer games, but the hitting pause on the plan to get from here to there, and letting the brain settle. Letting it sift through all the stuff that is rolling around in there, pushed out of the way by things like trash day and rescheduling doctor appointments and crunching numbers, and what and how much to make for dinner, depending on who’s going to be home and/or awake.

White space is quiet. It’s still. It’s snow falling outside, and the voices in my head (aka characters, aka story people, aka imaginary friends, aka fill in your own term here) wandering about at will. Sometimes this focuses on the current project, but usually not. It’s touching the past and the future at once, and it may result in a few notes, or a few pages, or a few dozen pages, but that’s not a requirement. white space usually comes to a natural end, stuff sorted out, and ready (perhaps after a nap, or reading a few chapters, or watching an episode or two of subtitled TV) to take on the next adventure. Not a bad journey to take from the depths of a comfy chair.

 

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?

 

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:

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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.

ComingSoonBanner

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.

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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.