Typing With Wet Paws: Workshop Prep Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. The main focus this week is Aunt Anna getting ready for her workshop that is tomorrow. If you are curious about this or wish you could be there, guess what, you can. There is a link to learn more about attending as a guest, orrrrr you can get personal attention for the entire course at her Patreon, on the Play In Your Own Sandbox tier.

greatest hits picture of me, because Aunt Anna is wrangling with WordPress about pictures

Things are doing pretty well around here. The windows are open sometimes, and I can smell wonderful things. Getting into the window is tricky, as Aunt Anna has moved some stuff around, and they are bringing furniture in here. Aunt Anna is making what she calls a rustic bookcase from wooden crates. I think that I could probably make good use of those as scratchy things, but we will see about that.

Aunt Anna says people may want to pardon the dust on her Patreon, as she is making some changes, as things like pick a blog or video topic aren’t up yet, but you definitely can ask.

Okay. Reading challenge on Goodreads is pretty much holding steady, but that doesn’t mean Aunt Anna went without consuming any stories. This past week was for binge watching three shows on Amazon Prime, The Wilds, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Thirteen. She recommends the first two, with some reservatins on the first one, and needs to rewatch the second one if she wants to truly form an opinion on it, but it’s great for background voices while playing Sims.

Aunt Anna really likes Sims

Aunt Anna has been having a great time putting Sims 4 on her new laptop. It reminds her of when she was a people kitten, and her teacher, in an open classroom, noticed that Aunt Anna did a lot better on days when people kittens were allowed to bring their own toys for free play time. Aunt Anna brought Barbies on thoe days. Can we spot the future writer here? I would have brought Mousie, or maybe a jingle ball.

This week is also when Aunt Anna takes part in a Reclaim Your Dreams workshop with Eryka Peskin. In case you are wondering what that means, you can find out more about it and even register for a virtual retreat if that sounds like your thing, here. This is not a sponsored post; Aunt Anna finds she gets a lot out of Eryka’s workshops and even sometimes coaching.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

Of course the most important thing this coming week is the writing. Even though Aunt Anna usually gets her superpowers back in fall, they seem to have been on backorder this year, which is completely understandable. She feels a lot more in her groove these days, which is due to a lot of things. Faith, modern medicine, family, friends, a computer that actually works, reliable housing, me. You know, the important stuff. It’s an interesting phase to watch, and from what I hear, thisis how writers get books. Me, I just sit on them. So it’s win-win.

Headbonks!

still working on the signoff picture thingamaboodle

Typing With Wet Paws: Happy Valentine Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and it’s Valentine’s Day. Aunt Anna is cramming for her workshop tomorrow, at Capitol Region Romance Writers, but only to a certain point, because there comes a time it is possible to overprepare, and it’s really better to shut that stuff down and play Sims. Better yet, play Mousie, with me. I have a signature move. It involves hiding under the bed, where the blanket hangs down, then when Mousie goes by, I pounce. Works every time.

Buried Under Romance has been on a little vacation, but Aunt Anna is back on the job, and there will be new content up ASAP. Since I already put the Goodreads update in my last post, there isn’t that much to update on that front, and I can’t recap her workshop until she gives it, so that does leave me with a certain amount of wiggle room. I am exceptionally good at wiggling.

Since Aunt Anna is all about the workshop for right now, maybe I will stick with that for a while. She’s not doing visual aids this time around, because we are still on the vsgabond track, and because she isn’t doing any exercises that require visual aids, but she is hoping to put some sipplemental material on either the chapter website, or her own. She is strongly thinking of turning the material for her online workshop into an ebook for her Patreon patrons, and, for that, she’s goling to need pictures that are not copyrighted (well, not to anybody who is not her) so she will need to take new ones. It is a tough job, but I may volunteer to be her model. What *isn’t* better with a beautiful calico girl? I mean, look at me. I’m stunning.

will work for tuna

One thing Aunt Anna likes to do at the start of this workshop is that it is *not* a workshop on how to write fan fiction. That might be a fun workshop to look into another time, but if she had to say only one things about that, it would be, “have fun.” Also make sure the characters are in characters. Okay, that is two things, but it is not this workshop.

What this workshop is, is a way to use the media a human already loves, to amplify their individual voice and abilities. Voice is how readers can tell who wrote the story. No two writers will write the same story the same way. Aunt Anna thinks that is pretty exciting. This is part of why the romance level is such a wide and varied place. It still has a way to go, but Aunt Anna is adamant that writers who follow their own hearts put the very best passion into their work, and readers can definitely tell.

How does a human find that voice? Aunt Anna said I can’t give away her secrets, but she did say I could share a link to a bunch of songs Spotify says she really, really likes. Can you see any common threads (apart from the holiday music thing, but that too) in this playlist here? https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1EpQ64htXwwvLs?si=aTSPRkcAQ0G3rATUOit9TQ

Huh. I thought that was a link. Hm. Hard to type with paws sometimes. If you copy and paste that link, it will work. Aunt Anna will try and fix the link once she comes up for air. We will see how that goes, but I will remind her. I do that by putting my paws on her leg while she is at work, and look soulfully into her eyes until she gets the idea. Usually this works when it is dinner time, but also when it is time for her to go to bed, but I think it will work in this case as well.

That’s about it for now, and my sunbeam is hitting the exact spot for premium nappage, so I am going to wrap this here and let Aunt Anna get back to business. Hope you are all having a good Valentine’s Day.

Headbonks!

Five of These Things

I did take a deskscape for today (okay, it was a lap deskscape) but there were technical difficulties, so let us all appreciate stock photos and photo editing software.

At any rate, I’m back. Our stay off the grid extended itself due to a couple of factors, but that’s life. Apart from the virus that converted all of my energy into super gross eye boogers, the whole thing did pretty well. I had a great working lunch with Melva Michaelian. We are oh so ready to get Jack and Kelly all the way to their HEA, so it can be Rob and Heather’s turn next, and we do know what comes after we finish this group of three.

Longhand really does work best for me, for composing/drafting, and the lack of internet distraction did allow me more time to get at least some of the ducks in a row. That does involve plotting out the bones of the gazebo story, which is taking a turn I didn’t expect (still a romance, don’t worry) and I actually have all of my pirate trilogy longhand notes in one container. ,I will do a post later, on the plotting method/template I used, and the modifications I’m making to it, but for this week, I have another focus.

Even though the whole future of RWA (Romance Writers of America) is a big question mark right now, I am super excited, and a little nervous, about the meeting of my local chapter, Capitol Region Romance Writers, because this month, I am the one presenting the program. I am honored and psyched that my fellow members not only asked me to present the workshop a few years back, but asked me to present it again.

Come to think of it, the workshop I presented back then was at a February meeting as well, so one more time, and it’s tradition. I could live with that. The chapter has changed in the intervening years, and so have I, so it stands to reason that the workshop has undergone a few changes of its own. Bob and Jane (if you’ve taken one of my workshops before, you know who they are) will be making an appearance, and there will be a few surprises as well. That’s usually what happens when we creative types dump a bunch of stuff we love in the kiddy pool of our imaginations and splash about with reckless abandon.

“Um, Anna,” I hear some of you saying, “the title mentions five things, and I don’t see any numbered lists here, just saying.” I hear you, dear readers, so I will get right to this wee listicle of five things that have made me happy recently:

1) photo editing
2) Sims (3 and 4)
3) getting back into my travelers notebooks
4) historical romance with adventure and pageantry
5) contemporary YA that makes my heart ache

To use a phrase one will hear often in my workshop, what do these things all have in common? Either with each other or as a whole. Anybody? Anybody? Beuller? The list took only a few seconds to come up with, because those things have been very near the surface over the last couple of weeks. It’s been a rough few months IRL, so that means that getting some of the good stuff is even more important, not only for creativity’s sake, but for emotional survival.

I will probably go into more detail on each item above, but for now, I’m going to be more general. I have been watching a lot of photo editing videos online, most with a very particular aesthetic. Take a look at the picture above and guess which one. The fact that I have been listening to a lot of The Smiths while I try to see if I can apply what I’ve learned to my own work probably says something.

Erik was born in-game, a while back.

Sims games are eerily similar to writing, and with custom content, I can -hey, like photo editing- make the picture on my screen look more like the picture in my head. Said picture does absolutely have a lot to do with those historical romances and YA novels that play my emotions like YoYo Ma plays the cello, and I can oh so happily spend hours getting a Sim or a house, etc, exactly right. I probably have the save with the above simulated gent in it, saved in the cloud, and if not, I have his parents; they always make gorgeous offspring.

is the return of Big Pink imminent?

Though I believe I have found planner peace with my current planner, I still very much miss Big Pink, and Li’l Pink, my travelers’ notebooks, so that probably means it’s time to get back to them. I don’t want to duplicate my7 calendar, but that only means that the next logical step is to make them something else. That, I can do. Not sure what, but I will start with my old faithful Moleskine cahiers, rather than the standard size pictured above.

That’s pretty much the gist of the workshop. Find what you love, and find a way to make it uniquely one’s own. No two combinations are ever going to be the same I find that exciting.

see you soon!

Only one month now until I present my workshop, Play In Your Own Sandbox, Keep All The Toys, at Capitol Region Romance Writers. If you’ve heard me talk, before, about From Fanfiction to Fantastic Fiction or On Beyond Fanfic, the cores of the workshops are the same. The execution, though, is constantly evolving. I love that.

This morning, I opened the file for the workshop, to nab my bio and a blurb to send to CR-RWA’s esteemed webmistress, and next thing I knew, it was a couple of hours later, and I had accidentally edited some of the chapters, and slid, when I wasn’t looking, into “could I make this into an ebook?” mode. I think I probably could, possibly with a PDF version of t he exercises. This is partly for the workshop’s participants, and partly for my own use. Probably my own use first. After that, then we’ll see. Could be a cool Patreon perk, could be an indiepub, could be a couple of other things. That’s not what’s important right now.

Right now, what’s important is the accepting and embracing of what I love, and seeing how I can take what inspires me and make it my own. There are some tropes I am always going to jump on like a starving hyena with an unattended hot dog stand. Heroines disguised as male, especially if there are seafaring adventures to be had, yep, I’ll take that. second chance at love with the same couple, especially if there has been a decent length of their intermission. Mention of Bedlam Asylum or Newgate Prison. Tudor, Stuart, Commonwealth, early Georgian, skip up to the Belle Epoque/Gilded Age era, I am in my happy place. One or both lovers with a creative talent or profession will guarantee a second look on my part, and those are all things I either have or would love to include in my own writing. Angst. I love angst. Give me all the angst, as long as there is an HEA at the end of it all.

Grit in my settings, I want that, too. Also in the people. Life isn’t easy, and a love story where the hero and heroine have to fight more than their feelings, that adds a whole other dimension for me. That’s one of the reasons I’m keeping track these days of my media habits, of specific traits of the books, TV, podcasts,. etc, I consume, of what I love and why I love it. Will that be ready to share in some form by the time of the workshop? I am not sure, but I think it could be fun.

There is a quick and dirty version of this in the workshop in its current incarnation, so the idea is not totally unrepresented. Thing is, I’m feeling the itch. I want to know why it is that I’m bingeing the Council of Geeks podcast reviewing Cowboy Bebop. I have not (yet) seen the anime, so I have no idea what the host is talking about, but I fell in love with his analyzing style on the Council of Geeks YouTube channel. Do not ask me how I found the channel, since it largely talks about fandoms of which I am not a part, but I feel welcome, and that goes a long way. It’s the excitement and unabashed delight in a story, yet still able to discuss what could have been better yet, or what could have been different.

I want to do that for the romances I write, make them accessible both for those who already love the genre and those who may be new to it, or even merely curious. Fans of SF/F franchises have an enthusiasm I would love to harness that enthusiasm and do some high powered cheerleading for all the things I love most about romance. Maybe that starts with my own stuff.

Typing With Wet Claws: Post-Fiction Fest Edition

 

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. The humans have been talking about Forever Apartment options, so I think camp will be coming to a close sooner rather than later. I think. At any rate, this time, last week, Anty was getting ready to hit the road and come see me. She had to stop at CT Fiction Fest first, of course, and give her workshop with Anty Melva. I am happy to report, though, that she did come through with the laser pointer, but more on that later.

Regular readers, you know the drill. New readers, I have to talk about where to find Anty’s writing on the interwebs (besides here, because you are here already) for the past week. Anty would like to remind readers that the best way to make sure you get every single blog entry, even if it is posted on the wrong day (Anty is only human, and Sebastian is kind of lazy) is to subscribe, here on the blog. That way, the new entries will come right to you. Also, she may or may not be thinking of posting something special when she hits the next milestone for subscribers. (Spoiler: she totally is planning exactly that.)

Okay, here we go. First of all, Anty was, as always, at Buried Under Romance on Saturday morning. This past week, she takes a look at buzzwords. This is not a post about bees, in case you were concerned about that (I was. Bees are scary.) but about words in titles that let us know what things we might find inside those books. Think dukes, scandals, Highlanders, that kind of thing. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURbuzzwords

There are no actual bees in this post.

Even though the only thing Anty read over the weekend of Fiction Fest were her own notes and some handouts, she still has a favorite book of the week, and that is Eliza and Her Monsters, by Francesca Zappia. Anty gives this book a full five stars. Her review has big spoilers, so beware of that if you want to read the review. It is a YA, and it has romance and fandom, and art and writing, and, although Anty got this copy from the library, she is 100& buying it so that she can read it again. Her review is here, and it looks like this:

GRElizandhermonsters

Seriously. Big spoiler.

If you are following Anty’s Goodreads challenge, here are the stats for this week. Anty has now read seventy-four out of ninety books, which puts her at eighty-two percent of the way to her goal, and eleven books ahead of schedule. I am going to call that well done. Keep going, Anty. Story in, story out. That is how it works.

Coming back from ta conference with a lot of new tools is how going to a conference usually works, at least for Anty. she attended a workshop on writing historical fiction/romance, presented by Melanie Meadors. Miss Melanie has some amazing fashion sense, and some very good advice on writing in other times and places, past or future. Anty took a lot of notes, in that workshop and others. I will let her talk more about that later, if she wants to share any of them.

The workshop Anty knows the most about is the one that she presented with Anty Melva, on writing through real life plot twists. Real life cooperated and threw a few plot twists Anty and Anty Melva’s way, but they made it to the hotel, and to their workshop, which, by all accounts (that they know about, at least) went very well. Some humans came up to each of them after the workshop, with follow-up questions, which made them very happy.

Another thing that made Anty and Anty Melva very happy was the professional critique Anty Melva had, on a sample from Chasing Prince Charming. Anty was not at the critique, because this was a one person at a time kind of thing, but the other humans knew that this book really has two authors. They liked the sample a lot, and had some comments on how to make it even better.

Anty and Anty Melva made good use of some pockets of times before things got started at various points through the weekend, to do some work on the next part of Drama King, and also for setting up the third book they will write together. There was even some talk about what they want to write together next, after those books are done, but that can be a topic for later.

Anty loves meeting people at conferences, best of all, and she made some new friends at this one, including another writer of historical romance. Anty has wanted a historical romance writer buddy for a long time. Maybe this is how that kind of thing happens. We will see.

No, on to the most important part of the weekend, and that is Anty’s visit to me. It was a short visit, but it still counts. I will allow that things might have been less confusing for me if there were fewer people in the room (there were three) and it was not dinnertime, but it was still a good visit. Anty spent some time grooming me (I earned my treat, let me tell you that) and then it was time for the laser pointer.

I find the laser pointer very interesting, but A) it was mealtime, and B) there were too many people watching me, so I only looked at it. I will try playing next time, when it is only me and Anty. That should be fun.

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

skyebye2018

Feeling Myself

CT Fiction Fest 2018 is now a memory. This will be a fairly quick post, as I am (mostly) unpacked, (almost) ready for laundry, and now navigating the murky waters of that space between the return from conference and what the humans call “real life.” The fact that I am writing Monday’s post on Tuesday should be a small taste of that.

Today is grayish, and quiet, with whisper of possible thunderstorms later on. I am highly in favor of all of this. My notes from the conference workshops, both the one I co-presented with Melva and the ones that I didn’t, are in my traveler’s notebook, ready for me to go over them with pastel highlighters and possibly copy to a computer file. I have notes from late night brainstorms with Melva, about the rest of our current manuscript together, setting up the third , which will follow this one, and there were even whispers of what we want to do after this three book cycle is finished.

It’s not a question of do we want to work together again, but of course we do, so we have a sticky note on top of what’s next. Stay in this story world, or start something new-new-new? Not sure yet, a we are focusing on what’s in front of us, but I am sure that, whatever it is, it will come about as organically as the  first three, and this, our first workshop. We’ve already talked some about proposing a workshop on writing together, once the first book is available to readers, and that feels right.

We also talked about our solo projects. On our own, we write very different things. Melva writes cozy romantic suspense, and nonfiction humor, while I write historical romance, and whatever these blogs are. We each floated out some tentative feelers for our future solo projects, during a late night plotting group. We went straight from the dessert buffet, to a ballroom with a circle of chairs, inhabited by people we didn’t know, but also knew they were our people, aka romance writers. There were no introductions, no small talk, just “do you have anything?” and yes, yes, we each did.

AnnaCTFF18

I think she’s plotting something…

I trotted out the bare bones of my Hogmanay story, with the not-so-dead husband, and very much alive fiancé. Nobody pointed and laughed. Nobody bodily dragged me to the door, because I was obviously Not A Real Writer. There was only the question, “who do you want her to end up with?” to which I answered, without hesitation, that it would be the husband. There was a mention that this reminded some of the gathered writers of the opening of Poldark, which A) I love, and B) had not been thinking of when I first encountered Davey, Lennox, and Gavin. Neutral intonation. No pointing. No laughing, and everybody agreed that Poldark is awesome, now back to this story. These strangers, who were also sisters (and brother) in arms asked questions, offered possibilities, and, above all, too my word as law on all things regarding this story. If I say no, then it was no. If I said yes, everybody won. In the end, someone tossed out a “what if” that made my ears perk. I’ll have to change some bits of my original concept, but this is as it ought to be. The second draft will come out better, stronger, and have the legs to carry itself all the way to The End. Which will also be a starting point to the next story.

Though I do meet, individually, with writer friends, this brainstorming session reminded me of how long it’s been since I’ve been in a group, and how much I liked it. I’ve tried a couple, since arriving in Albany (the first time, not coming home after the conference) and though I liked all the people in those groups, the fit wasn’t right. My ideal would be all romance writers, specifically historical romance, but we will see what will happen. Conferences are great for networking, and this one was no exception.

One of the things on my post-conference to-do list is to order new business cards, because A) I gave a lot of cards out during the last few days, and B) an exploding can of Diet Coke took out most of those that remained. I love the whole trading business cards part of conferences. It involves meeting people, talking about books, and stationery. What’s not to love? There’s a certain thrill that comes from handing a business card to the person one has been chatting with for the last few minutes, and their neighbor, who was not part of the conversation, asks if they can have one, too.  There are also the sticky notes I carry, for those who have run out of cards, or don’t ha them yet. I need to restock those, too, and I am happy about that.

That, however, is a job for tomorrow. Tomorrow is a good day to stick a toe back into everyday life. Tomorrow is time to resume my weekly breakfasts with N, where we can fill each other in on the separate events we attended over the weekend, and compare notes. tomorrow is a good time to go over the notes for Melva’s and my workshop, and see where I could do better on taking our own advice. Tomorrow is time to sit at the kitchen table, with pen and paper and tea, and make the empty page not be so empty anymore. I am looking forward to that.

As for today, there is this blog entry, and there is, of course, tea. There is a stack of library books to read, and there is Netflix or Hulu, if I am so inclined. There is an Irish fisherman knit afghan and dregs of a tea-scented candle, and the day-off sounds of Real Life Romance Hero puttering about in random fashion. Today is for filling the well. Tomorrow, I draw from it again.

Typing With Wet Claws: CT Fiction Fest Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another very special Typing With Wet Claws, coming to you direct from Camp Grandma. Today is a very exciting day. because today is the first day of Connecticut Fiction Fest, where Anty and Anty Melva will be presenting their workshop. Their workshop will be at ten AM on Sunday, but today is the day Anty packs her things, and hits the road. First, she and Mama will drive to where Anty Melva Lives. Then Mama will come to Camp Grandma, to spend the weekend with me, and Anty will go, with Anty Melva, to Fiction Fest. If you are going to be there, make sure to say hi. Anty loves this whole networking thing.

The other reason today is exciting is because it is the day I will get my laser pointer. I am a little worried, because this particular laser pointer is also a pen, so Anty will naturally be drawn to it (pun unintended, but it can stay) but if I have fun with it, and Anty can see that, she will probably let me have it. Probably. I like playing with people more than I like playing with toys, and this is a toy Grandma should be able to handle. Anty wants to make sure I get enough exercise, and playing is the way indoor kitties like me do that.

Because the rule here is that I cannot talk about anything else (which is usually Anty’s writing anyway) let’s get to that. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talked about the worst thing about great books. Can you guess what it is? That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURworstpartgoodbook

the struggle is real

Next, we come to Anty’s Goodreads challenge. Sebastian has spent most of the week in a sunbeam (to be honest, I probably would have done the same thing myself, so somebody still has to add a few dates and reviews, but, at current writing, Anty is now eighty percent of the way to her goal of reading ninety books this year. That means she has read seventy-two books, so far, and is eleven books ahead of schedule. Anty is a reading machine. Keep going, Anty. You’ve got this.

The favorite book that Anty read this week is A Map For Wrecked Girls. by Jessica Taylor. Anty loves desert island stories, shipwreck stories, and stories about friendship loss (and maybe healing) and this story has all of those things. Anty’s review of this book is here, and it looks like this:

GRmapforwreckedgirls

Anty knows very well that she will probably come home with a, um, boatload of books from the conference. Probably. She has never been to this conference before, so maybe they do things differently on that front. I know Anty, though. Anyway, even though Anty is headed to what is basically Writer Disneyland, where A) she will be busy talking to other writers most of the time, and B) there may very well be books that people just give her, she is still bringing her Kindle, and probably a library book as well. I know my Anty. She is not going anywhere without reading material.

Anty is also not going anywhere without her planners. That is right, I used the plural. Besides Big Pink (who has a new cover; Anty will show you that later) she is bringing Li’l Pink, who has new inserts. Those inserts do not include the insert Anty made from scratch, because there is a very good reason why making traveler’s notebook inserts by candlelight is not a thing. That reason is because candlelight, while pretty, does not allow for a clear view of the colors a human is using. That is why Anty picked paper that she thought was pink, was actually neon orange. Faded neon orange, but still orange. Orange is not the new pink.

TWWCneoninsert

Good first try, Anty. As Miss H said, when Anty mentioned wanting to try a new creative thing, “go for it. First you’ll suck, then you’ll get better.” Miss H is pretty smart. She also recommended that Anty watch a movie called Black Panther, when Anty comes home from the conference. With a title like that, I am going to assume that this movie is about cats. I could say a lot about the need for feline representation in Hollywood, but that is for another post. Maybe if they need a sequel, Brown Tabby would be a catchy title. I cannot say it rolls off my tongue, because my tongue has bristles, because I am a kitty, but I think it’s a title that would appeal to a wide audience.

Now it is time for Anty to get packing, so that is about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebye2018

 

Five Days, And Counting

Right now, I am ensconced in the latest iteration of my writing corner. With the addition of an improvised floor pillow, created from Housemate’s old comforter, the current setup is pretty darned close to a video game chair, which is not only useful for writing, but for computer gaming, as well. With yet another heat wave, with high humidity, forecast for this week, staying inside and writing is pretty much my entire week. This is a good thing.

Anything physical gets done in morning or evening. Days are for writing, which suits me fine. On Friday, I hit the road, to Connecticut Fiction Fest, riding shotgun for Melva Michaelian, aka my contemporary cohort. Things happen when we’re left alone together, unsupervised. Those things tend to be book-related, so it’s a pretty good deal. We will be taking not only our act on the road, but our dinner as well, (we have both agreed that the grilled cheese with hot peppers incident has to go in a book, someday. There is a lollipop bouquet incident, in Chasing Prince Charming, that actually did happen, aka That Year Anna Won Everything, Whether She Wanted It Or Not, and I have every reason to expect that this latest adventure is going to spawn an incident or two of its own.

With the way scheduling and transportation worked out, we will be arriving at the hotel around 7pm on Friday night, so we’ll be raring to go on Saturday, to pump us up for Sunday. Melva, a long-time educator, is a pro at public speaking, and I will talk to anybody, at any time. (I have vivid memories of my mother telling three year old me that there are restaurants that allow dancing and restaurants that do not allow dancing, and she would tell me which ones were which, but plopping myself down at stranger’s tables and introducing myself was not a very good idea. Yep, I was a unique kiddo.) With this in mind, public-speaking nerves are not really a thing (speaking for myself here) but there’s still a degree of nervousness.

As in, there will be an approximately fifty-minute span of time, where the entire population of a room will be looking, specifically, at me.  Okay, fine, Melva and me, plus the PowerPoint, plus their own feet, their notebooks or laptops, the weird stain on the carpet, possibly insides of their eyelids, whatever name the barista wrote on their coffee cup, etc. It’s not all about me, which is a good thing, but it is a topic that Melva and I both know a lot about. I find it only fitting that the conference will come after a heat wave, which means I had best take my own advice this week.

The plain truth is, that, sometimes, writing can’t happen. Hot, muggy days, when everything seems to crawl at a snail’s pace, sometimes fit into that category. Fingers crossed that this is summer’s last gasp, and not only because I am all about the pretty leaves, crisp air, and pumpkin everything. Summer is my least favorite season, and I don’t see that changing, but there is still some good to be found in those long, humid days, where there is so much moisture in the air, we start cracking jokes about having air fish.

I like taking care of the house, especially since Housemate and I liberated some items from the storage unit, this past weekend, and I can now make a few things a bit neater, a bit prettier, a bit easier to use. One of those things is my writing corner. I still miss my beloved desk, and I will admit that I did pet the drawers, when we saw them in storage, but I like this pile of cushions, and Ikea coffee table, too. It’s kind of decadent, really, being this comfortable, which can be, at times, extremely conducive to getting my imaginary friends out of my head (though, are they ever, really?) and onto the page. Sometimes, I even think that giving myself permission not to write on a hot day like today, actually makes it easier to do exactly that.

Kind of an escape hatch, really. I don’t have to use it every time, but it’s good to know it’s there. Today is hot. Today is muggy. Sleep was meh, and there are a million things to do, to get ready for the conference, not to mention the fact that this is a holiday, so who’s going to be reading blog entries, anyway? The world wouldn’t end if I posted tomorrow, instead of today, which is exactly when my brain propelled me from its spot in front of the box fan, to my cushion pile in front of the coffee table, to blabber in circles for a while.

At the end of this week, I will pack a bunch of black dresses in my rolling suitcase, sling my laptop bag over one shoulder, and pile into first Housemate’s car, and then Melva’s, to tumble out, in the darkening night, at a hotel I’ve never been to before. I have no idea what the badges look like at CTFF, but if there is some sort of presenter ribbon, I am going to be stoked. Some other signifier would be fine, too, and I have two anthology contributions that came out in the last thirty days. Not novels, no, but my stuff, in books, that people buy. Okay, then. Onward we go.

020418deskscape2

Typing With Wet Claws: Fiction Fest Prep Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another very special Feline Friday, coming to you from Camp Grandma. This time, next week, Anty will be on her way to Connecticut Fiction Fest, where she and Anty Melva get to give their workshop, on writing through real life plot twists. Since Mama will be handing Anty off to Anty Melva, there is a good chance that Anty will get a chance to see me, on this visit. Probably on the way back, but I am not going to complain. Any visit is a good visit (except for vet visits) and, besides, she owes me a laser pointer.

SebastianWindow

Although Sebastian has not yet updated Anty’s Coming Soon page, there is news. Both anthologies are now available for purchase.

New York’s Emerging Writers: an Anthology of Nonfiction is available here. That is where you can read Anty’s essay, “Greetings From Boxville.”

If it is fiction you are after, you can read “Ravenwood,” the first two scenes from Anty’s novel, A Heart Most Errant, is available here, in New York’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction. If you like this excerpt, and would like to read the whole book, please consider telling that to the publisher humans.

Now, on to where you can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, this week (other than here, because, well, you already know how to get here, if you are already here, so you do not need me to tell you.) As always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about when reading is slow, and when it is fast. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURslowslowquickquick

Speaking of reading, it is time to look at Anty’s Goodreads Challenge. It is not even September, but Anty would have to do some serious slacking to fall off course now, as she has read seventy-one books, out of her goal of ninety, which puts her at seventy-nine percent of the way to her goal, and twelve books ahead of schedule. Good job, Anty. Keep reading.

The book Anty liked best this week was The Love Slave, by Bertrice Small. Anty said I should mention that it is a very, very grownups-only book, with very mature themes, and younger readers, or gentle readers of any age, may want to read a different book. Anty’s review is here, and it looks like this:

GRsmalltheloveslave

Some of you may have noticed that Anty did not blog on Wednesday. That is because it was too hot in NY, and she was not feeling well. It is cooler now, and she is much better, and she acknowledges that she owes you a blog entry. She is thinking of sneaking in some updates from Fiction Fest, but that will depend on the wifi connection, and whether or not she can fix her new laptop. No big surprise, because Anty has been dubbed the computer killer.

The laptop is not dead, though. It is only doing the three beeps thing, so Anty is watching some YouTube videos of how to fix the problem at home, and then she will ask Mama to borrow a baby screwdriver, and give it a go. Anty already has figured out how she will keep all of the tiny screws straight (they are not all the same size) – she will divide a piece of paper into sections, and put each screw in its proper section, that matches where it is on the actual computer. This is where it comes in handy to be a planning sort of person.

Planning also has a dark side, though. Anty found that out this week. Even when Anty does not feel well in the heat, and does not have a lot of energy, she still has enough energy to look at her notebooks. Last weekend, Anty finally got the blush stripe cover for Big Pink, that she has been drooling over (not literally; that would be gross) for a really long time, but was hesitant to move into it, because it wasn’t exactly perfect.

That, as you might imagine, was what inspired Anty to rip all of the inserts out of the old cover (that was not very old at all; she will now use it to protect trade size paperbacks when she reads away from home) and put them into the new one. Only, she did not put all of them into the new cover. That is because the hardcover Moleskine did not fit the new cover.  That was rather upsetting, because Anty liked having the hardcover Moleskine in there, but she can buy a new cahier insert, to do the same job. She needs to get more inserts anyway, since she had filled one of them.

Anty also figured out why she could not settle on how she wanted to use the inserts she had set up in Li’l Pink. That was because Li’l Pink is, well, pink, and the inserts are in shades of blue . She’d been wanting (and still wants) to move to Li’l Pink for her everyday carry, and, while the blue inserts are very pretty, they might not be the easiest to read important information on; Anty wants pink or ivory pages for that, but she wants to use the blue pages for reading and writing things.

The same company that sells Big and Li’l Pink, also has a teal (teal is a greenish-blue color, that is very pretty) cover, that is on sale at the same store where Anty got the pink covers. Her current plan is to go to the store, get the teal cover, and put the blue inserts in that one. Then, (or maybe before; I have not seen her schedule for the evening) she will either buy new inserts for Li’l Pink (Moleskine makes a pastel assortment, that Anty likes, or Kraft paper covers are good, too) or she will find a pack of three pocket sized inserts that have pink covers, that are packed away in storage.

Thankfully, Anty was pretty hardcore about labeling the boxes that came from her office, so it should not be too hard to find the box of inserts. She might even share some of them with Mama, because she has lured Mama over to the dark side, and now Mama has a notebook cover of her own. I do not have my own planner, so far, but pocket size is also kitty size, so maybe it is in my future.

That is about it for this week.  Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebye2018

Running Around In Circles, Planning

Connecticut Fiction Fest is now only two weeks away.  Melva tells me our workshop is slated for 10AM on Sunday, which suits me fine. A) I am a morning person. B) This will be after breakfast, so I will be properly caffeinated. C) I may very well be hyped up to the enthusiastic anticipation level of a five-year-old at six-thirty on Christmas morning.

All of this means that it is time to crank planning for this event, into high gear. I love planning. I mean love, love, love planning. If I couldn’t be a writer, professional organizer would be a fabulous job. I have pulled friends over to the dark side, purely for the pleasure of helping them find their planner bliss and finding their own aesthetic. Note the planner case, with pen loops, and the blush pink thing I have going on.

Note, also, the kitchen table, which is new. Not new-new, but new to us, and, this morning, the difference between setting up for my Monday planning at an actual table, in an actual chair, and curled up on an air mattress, balancing stuff in my lap, is remarkable. With the heat for the next couple of days here in NY’s Capitol Region forecast in the high nineties, this means rearranging my schedule is going to be a must, so seeing what can be allocated where, for each task to be accomplished most efficiently, is key.

There’s something about getting up in front of a bunch of people, who have paid cash money to learn how to improve their writing game, who have also looked over all of the options available for that slot of time, and picked your fifty-minute chunk, over other options, ranging from presentations by other writers and/or publishing professionals, to staking out a chair in the lobby to actually write, or saying “stuff this” to the planned program, and nipping off with friends old or new, for a beverage of choice, that makes a person want to at least have the appearance of having their stuff together.

Thankfully, this year, I get to go into the event with new releases that are not old enough to go to kindergarten. My Ravenwood novel excerpt is currently available,  My nonfiction anthology piece, “Greetings from Boxville,” is available for preorder, so it does feel like there is, at last, progress. We like progress. Details are still forthcoming on my next involvement with Charter Oak Romance Writers, but it feels good to be asked back, and, also, for a writer friend I’ve previously worked with, to ask me back for more freelance work. These are all good things. Signs of life, if you will.

All of this brings me to this morning, at the kitchen table, with multiple planners open, nudging all (or at least most) of my ducks into, if not exactly a row, then a loose conglomeration, in the same geographical area. I like to know what’s going to happen, when, and who’s going to do it. That means that, this week, I get to go over my presentation with Melva, and plan out what I want to cover in the segments that are assigned to me. In reality, we’ve both going to interrupt each other a lot, and Melva will probably go unintentionally blue, at least once, at some point, but I like knowing how things are meant to go, in theory, even if practice doesn’t always follow the standard practices.

While a good deal of the planning at this stage of the game, for Fiction Fest, involves the practicalities -which route do I want to take to the venue? What am I wearing? What electronics/pens/paper have to come with?- there is also the planning for the post-conference days. Autumn is, and always has been, the season when my superpowers, usually dormant during the summer, come back, full-fledged, and ready to rumble. In my case, that means writing. If any opportunities come from meetings, planned or chance, at Fiction Fest, Melva and I will need to jump on those, because timing matters.

More than that, there is the fact that I will come back from the conference, energized, with new writer friends, maybe new ideas, and my enthusiasm and confidence cranked up a few levels. This is especially important when I look at getting back to Her Last First Kiss, and historical romance, in general. If you think this is going to mean I’ll be re=formatting the planning of how I approach this part of my writing life, you’re right. Do I have any idea what that is going to look like, in a physical sense? Not at the moment, but not the stuff I put together because that’s how it’s “supposed to” work, or because that’s what “real writers” do. The way it’s meant to be is in the best way possible for me to easily access not only the physical documents or files, but the way that makes it possible for me to connect with that special story place, the one that makes me eager to come to the page every morning, and tell these characters’ stories, the way they want them to be told.

The fact that I get to play with pretty pens and papers and assorted ephemera is only coincidental. Really.