Typing With Wet Paws: Heatwoven Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. It’s a cool and sometimes rainy day over here in New York State, which means the heat wave has broken, and Aunt Anna will be re-entering functional adult life. She’s been taking it super-easy for most of the week, staying cool and hydrated. Thankfully, I have been on the juob the entire time. Often on her, because what’s better for heat wave sluggishness than a beautiful calico girl sitting on one’s torso?

Okay, most of the time I was near her rather than actually on her, but being on our humans is one of the ways we kitties show our love, and I love Aunt Anna a LOT. Like really a lot. She’s my favorite. Uncle Rheuben and Aunt Linda are pretty good, too, but yeah. Anyway, this was not the most productive of weeks. and that is okay. Even with all the hotness and the sweating and the hydrating and stuff, she did actually get some stuff done. Here are a few of them:

Reading

Heat waves are pretty good for reading, especially when Aunt Anna can stick in some earbuds, flop in front of a fan, and have a professional voiceover person read her a story. If pressed, she is even okay on the robo-voice that comes with her Kindle’s text to speech function. Even that goes a long way. A friend, Miss Lisa, from Buried Under Romance, told Aunt Anna there is a way she can change the robo-voice if she wants to, to maybe get a male voice when she wants it, or even a British voice, male or female, but she hasn’t looked into that lately. Standard robo-voice will work quite well.

She’s even gone to the library (away from me for an Entire Hour, ahem) to get some paper books for the Historical Romance Readathon. She did pretty well on that front, and will talk more about that on Buried Under Romance. Aunt Anna likes reading challenges like this because not only is it community related, but it’s also a way to try some bokos she might not have noticed on her own.

The fact that it comes during a heat wave is a very convenient coincidence. It also does wonders for her Goodreads Reading Challenge. As of this writing, she has read 58 out of 90 books, which puts her at 64% of the way to her goal. Not bad, if I do say so myself. Keep going, Aunt Anna.

Photo by Cristian Rojas on Pexels.com

Writing

Even though Aunt Anna is only unoficcially camping this year, July is still for getting back on the historical romance hrse while discovery drafting her third book with Aunt Melva, Queen of Hearts. If that sounds like a lot of stuff to writie, that is exactly what Aunt Anna likes best. Keep her on the page, and she is a happy camper, even if she did not sign up for CampNaNo this year. She has a notebook all set up for un-bungling the second half of Her Last First Kiss, and, now that the heat has broken, she has the brainpower to complete her edits on A Heart Most Errant and move forward in that project. Soon, there willl be formatting and cover art and all that good stuff. She’ll figure out what metric she wants to use to track progress. I am betting there will be a paper notebook where she keeps track of all that. I plan to sit on it.

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Planning

This is a big week for planner enthusiasts like Aunt Anna, becasue July is the time of year when eighteen month cladendars start. When I say planners, this also includes new notebooks for special reasons, like working on her focus projects for the next few months. Writing about historical romance, Aunt Anna has found, is an essential part of writing historical romance, so she has a notebook set up for that, tracking what she likes and doesn’t like, the history of the genre, and what its future might be. Those are things she will share on Anna Log and Buried Under Romance. There is a lot going on on that front. Trust me on that. I have laid on a lot of these books, so I can vouce for them.

I think that’s about it for this week. Overall, life is pretty good, if uncomfortable for the last several days. Thankfully, we have cooler weather for the next few days, so Aunt Anna is feeling a lot more Aunt Anna-y. How is your week?

Headbonks!

Storm

Pillbugging

This post has nothing to do with actual buts, and probably very little to do with actual pills. In case you’re not familiar with what a pillbug (also called roly-poly) is, it’s this. Armadillidium Vulgare. Basically an armadillo bug that assumes pill shape when it hits a situation where the only acceptable answer is “nope.”

In our family, it’s also a code word for “I need to disengage for a bit. Please leave food at the door and back away slowly.I will emerge when I am rested.” Which is in part how I feel at the moment. Everything is fine, though we are in for a good old fashioned July heat wave, which I plan on observing by slopping in front of a box fan, continuously hydrating, and reading historical romance until I fall asleep. Though, seriously, I have found a YouTube channeo that explains the history of multilevel marketing schemes that actually seems to be perfect for knocking me right out.

This is also the time of yearr where planner aficionados like myself are giddy with joy, because the eighteen month planners are starting, so all of my planner stuff is shiny and new. New formats, new things to track. Household planner and writing planner are acgtually two separate books this time around, with NO household things in the writing planner at all, I think this is going to be a big help in focusing, especially since this is also the month for Camp NaNo.

I haven’t signed up yet, and I may not, because I am not yet sure exactly what I want to track. Maybe time spent on the project? I know I zigged where I should have zagged, and the surgery on the second half of the book is what’s needed, but does it really have to be in the middle of a heat wave? It does? Okay. I’ll deal.

It’s also the time when Melva and I are discovery drafting Queen of Hearts. We have each read each other’s first scene, and it’s meshing. I am looking forward to the rest of the journey. Same with AHME edits. Breaking it down into manageable bites, not geting ahead of myself, and, maybe most of all, knowing that it may be tougher to do in my least favorite season, but making adjustments is totally okay. Good, even.

Photo by Cristian Rojas on Pexels.com

I am excited about my writing projects, and about reading as well, as I’ve been pinpointing exactly what it is that hits my historical romance loving heart straight in the feels –female-led adventure seems to define it pretty darned well at pressent, and yes, the HEA is a must, so still romance.

It may be a little slower and less social media-y than I would normally prefer, but different seasons have different speeds, and that’s probably for a very good reason. I once talked about this sort of thing with an acquaintance, and referenced crop rotation, not sure if they would get the connection, but they had grown up as a farm kid, so it hit home. Basically, let’s say Farmer has four fields and three crops, red, yellow and blue.

Year one, they plant Red in field one, Blue in field two, and Yellow in field three. Field four? Nada. Chill, bro. Year two, Red goes in field two, Blue in field three, Yellow gets to call “first” on field four, and field one can take the season off, rest up, because next time, it’s getting Yellow, while Red goes in field two, and so on. Ebb and flow, in a way, and what’s come before norishes what comes next. I like that idea.

Talking ‘Bout My Genre-ration

Happy Wednesday, feral and domesticated cryptids. On Monday night, Melva and I hashed out a rough outline for our third co-written (or to be co-written) contemporary romance, Queen of Hearts. I don’t think I would have added contemporary romance to my repetorie on my own, but with Melva, it makes sense. It also has a tie to historical romance, because I need that. Heather, the heroine, is named for Heather, the heroine of The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, the first modern historical romance as we know it. The Heather in Queen of Hearts is an editor of historical romance, a genre she adores.

I am extremely thankful to Ms. Woodiwiss for writing the story of her heart and putting it out there in the world. I am extremely thankful to Nancy Coffey, the editor who wanted to take only one submission home with her over the weekend, and picked the biggest manuscript from the slush pile. Boom. Kicked the bedroom door (and other things) off the hinges, and things have never been the same. How many of the original Avon Ladies (having nothing to do with cosmetics, and everything to do with historical romance. One of them wasn’t even a lady. His name was Tom.)

Now that Drama King has been put on the schoolbus, as it were, and Queen of Hearts is a darling baby who sleeps through the night and wakes to the playtime that is discovery drafting, it’s time to turn attention back to my troubled teens, aka historical romances that have been on hold for far too long.

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A Heart Most Errant is soooo close to being done with the first round of edits. I started John and Aline’s story a long time ago. Not long enough that it was a contemporary when I sat down to write it, but I lived in a different state then, in a time that feels like another life. I won’t say that it doesn’t feel odd to be getting back in touch with characters that, if they were people born when I first put them to page, would be old enough to…well, let’s say cross the street by themselves. Among other things.

Image by Sandra Schwab

They are not that much older than Bern and Ruby (image by the fabulous Sandra Schwab) the hero and heroine of my Georgian romance, Her Last First Kiss, which I have missed like a deep sea diver misses air. Been a while on that one, too, but I am beyond eager to get back to it, and probably use as my focus for Camp NaNo this year. It’s one of those things where I got the whole thing outlined, then the writing-writing got to a certain point and then…stopped. I chalk it up to life being in-bloody-sane for the last few years. We’re back, now, though, and that’s what matters.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Whiiiiich brings me to the whole genre thing. I’ve been watching a lot of You Tube videos about historical romance. Like, a lot. I love watching these mostly young women getting excited about my favorite genre, and doubly excited to see them discovering classic historical writers like Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, and Johanna Lindsey. Not yet a lot of non-J-named writers, but that will come, I am sure.

It’s this development that makes me think that maybe historical romacne does have a divide that I don’t yet know how to name. Many of these videos mention prefering historical romance that is light and funny and rom-com-y, historical accuracy either not a priority or even a detriment. Can’t say I can get my head around that but if those are the books that get a reader’s motor running, read on.

The historical romances that have a permanent home in my heart are of a different ilk. Darker rather than lighter, historical versimilitude a must, big thick bug squasher books that have heft and weight. Plots where the history is a major player, as in plucking this couple from medieval France and dumping them in modern times, the old west of the US, or ancient Rome, would not work at all, because they are people of their time.

A lot of the shining stars I see in these You Tube recommendations are great at weaving the nineteenth century backdrops with keen observations on the fads and foibles of modern life. The covers of these books have what are commonly referred to as “prom dresses” on the heroines, often with titles modeled after references to popular modern works, and in very modern-looking fonts. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s its own genre, and a pretty darned popular one, so rock on and keep going. Is it my taste, though? Weeeeel….I’m okay with that.

I’m also more than okay with accepting that my personal preference is for those big thick bug squashers, whose covers have historical garb on their humans. Often standalones, and often with authors who not only didn’t stick with one family or friend group, but spread it out over several different centuries and continents. An author could come on the scen with a Victorian historical, but the next book is sixteenth century pirates, then a western, then ancient Rome, then colonial Maine, then the early days of Australian penal colonies, back up to Gilded Age New York, then the English Civil War, and….:happy sigh: I love that. I miss that. I want to do that.

Love can happen any time, any place, as an online historical romance friend often says, and I abundantly agree with that. New school or old, traditionally published or indie, series or standalone. What absolutely must, must, must be there is the love story that is intrinsically intertwined with the time in which it occurs, and bonus points to the couple coming So Close to losing it all that I forget that the HEA is a gaurantee and then, at the last second, BOOM, they make it work. They get to the top of that metaphorical mountain, not without some bumps and bruises along the way, some bittersweet losses likely, and I pump my fist in victory.

At least that’s the plan, and that’s why I am working on my Anna Log You Tube channel, to talk about some of the stuff that I love that may not be the newest kid on the block, but my word, the staying power. Which reminds me, time to get to work on that.

Last week was, in a word, disgusting. Mostly for the heat, though there are most assuredly worse ways to spend days where the temperature reaches the nineties than sprawled in front of a box fan, mainlining coconut seltzer. That’s as close to a tropical vacation as I care to get, as I am pale and heat sensitive. Big plans to plow through my mini library haul were for naught, and I made only slow progress on e-reading as well. That’s all okay, though, as Drama King is now in the hands of its potential editor, and I am currently getting ready for tonight’s video chat with Melva where we will get the ball rolling on an outline for Queen of Hearts. This also means I now have brain space to give back to historicals, whihc I have sorely missed.

None of that is news to the regular readers here, but sometimes the best way to get the ol’ brain in working gear is to write stuff one already knows. That’s not a bad thing at all. Firm footing and all that. Another thing that helps here is to get my plans down in a visually appealing manner. Here is the desk planner for the week, mostly before the pen.

This is my first ever time covering the left hand (my left) side with scrapbook paper and totally ignoring everything pre printed on the page. I have heard this is not an uncommon issue but for some reason I always thought I was “supposed to” deal with what was printed on the page, the way it was printed on the page. This is the same me who would be the first person to tell someone else to white it out, cover it, but don’t stare at the page and feel dumb becuase they’re not making it work. Ahem. Yeah.

So. Part of all that was spending a big chunk of Sunday putting together my first Frankenplanned writing notebook to see me through the stretch from July to January. I’ll share pictures and maybe a flip through later. Don’t ask me about specific goals at this point. Still working on those, and I am pretty sure I know how I want to deal with Camp Nano. Pretty sure I’m going to be in the rebel encampment for that one but very much looking forward to the cameraderie and shaking pompoms in the general direction of any potential cabinmates. Would love to end up in a cabin full of historical romance writers. That hasn’t happened yet as far as I know. Well, for me that is.

For now, I have a hot date with a cool drink and a good book before I get ready for my chat with Melva and the requisite color coded highlighters and index cards. Tonight, we lay the foundation.

Hot Takes

I don’t summer well. Regular readers know that. If you’re new, now you do, too. This is the third (I think) too hot to function day in a row. Staying cool and hydrated, hanging with my fan club (as in we have box fans) and turning my sleep/wake cycle on its head as days are more somnolent and nights are more active.

This is working out well. Yesterday, Melva and I agreed that the draft of Drama King is indeed ready for submission, and all we have to do today is write a cover letter and then off it goes. Monday means we knuckle down and outline Queen of Hearts. I love outlining, Melva, mmmm, not so much. In that Melva does not love outlining. For me, it means that I have the weekend to pick out a QoH notebook (probably from my on-hand stash) and probably set up a Scrivener theme. We will ignore the fact that this will mean angsting over whether I want to try and get Scfrivener on my cufrent laptop even though my documentation that I really do own it is in storage and not easily accessible, or get my old laptop that already has Scrivener on it fixed so that I can use it. We will see how that all goes.

It’s also time to set up my historical romance notebooks. That second half of Her Last First Kiss is gnawing at me, and I am SO CLOSE to the end of the firs round of edits on A Heart Most Errant, annnnnd there is a pirate trilogy that will not sit down and be quiet while I tend its elder siblings. Phew. Time to get a move on, which includes getting down the bones of other stuff that has been simmering for far too long, and new stuff that won’t quit coming.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Writing query letters and the like are not my favorite sorts of writing. The very first query letter I ever wrote, I scrawled something like “I really don’t write/talk like this” at the bottom. This time, though, I feel delightfully detached from that part of the process, and eh, we wrote a thing, editor said she wants to see it, boom, here it is kthanxbye. Only more professional. There’s fake dating, and a grump/sunshine relationship, independent theater, and an orange former street cat who sets the house rules.

One other thing that is striking me as a newness is that there is a definite shift in my planning/journaling practice. I did not see that coming, but when I completely claimed the kitchen table as my de facto office desk, that involved setting up an improvised bookcase from a wooden crate, and finding covers for my discbound books so I don’t look at rows and rows of discs, annnnd some things moved on their own. Not in objects relocating themselves, but Book X belongs in Y cover, and I now want to write morning pages in book A instead of book B. Also, I came to terms with the fact that I don’t like blank pages and putting some visuals on said pages is actually a big help.

Going to wrap this now so I can get the letter written and to Melva, so we can smush our individual letters together, and then flop back in front of the fan. Just me and Kindle Unlimited and a nice cold watermelon seltzer. Also frequently my feline supervisor still demanding her seat on my torso, weather be hanged.

Beware Nesting Authors

Tomorrow begins a new month, which means that part of my day today is for making sure I have my June planners (plural) are in good working order. My list for the week’s shopping includes things like an audio cable for the external speaker/microphone, and a decent reading lamp for my nightstand, lightbulb that gives off warm light essential. Once I have this post posted, I get to wrestle my dinosaur desktop to transfer some files to my laptop, and take a good long look at Scrivener and decide whether I want to purchase a new copy or look into resurrecting my HP stream laptop that has it already installed. (Resurrecting the ancient MacBook Pro is also an option, which would require buying Scrivener for Mac.) I have various electronic devices charging, including my OG (to me) Kindle-Kindle, Methos Junior (she’s a girl, though) for easy electronic reading without the temptation to constantly check social media and find the perfect background audio.

The bed has clean sheets on it, in preparation for work done in the “soft office.” This is also why I have finally accepted that I will have to A) figure out where to buy a replacement LED unit for the lamp I had by my bed, and B) how to change them, and C) buying a decent lamp with a real bulb will probably be my best course to take here. Props to the home decorating You Tube videos I have been inhaling for reminding me that lightbulbs come in different temperatures of light. The office chair search continues, as I scour FB Marketplace for a likely candidate, or can come up with a solid enough plan to justify renting a bigger vehicle to move actual furniture from storage.

Tonight, I will be racing the remaining hours on a historical romance I have on electronic loan from the library, as the historical romance reading mojo seems to be thinking about returning from its smoke break. I ripped the bandage off my Netflix block a couple nights ago, and watched all of Harlan Coben’s the Woods in one night. (Polish adaptation of an American novel) most of it with Storm sphinx-ing on top of me so that she can watch, too. Follow me for more dark European creepy drama reccommendations. I am going to be a big girl and get to my This Is Us backlog, even though I know what happens in the season finale. I do not intend to write Kate and Toby fanfiction, but I am willing to if they force my hand. Ditto Kevin and Sophie, and when are we going to get to see Rebecca and Miguel’s love story? I know he’s no Jack (who could be?) but he’s a good guy, and I am here for Rebecca having not one but two big loves in her life. Oh, and Uncle Nicky/Sally second chance, please. I think that’s all. :consults list: If they touch Beth/Randall, I riot. Oh, and that better be Malik who is Deja’s flash-forward partner.

Reading devices are loaded with next YA e-book, audiobook, and historical romance reads. Tomorrow, the libraries in our area open. One guess who is going to be there with a big tote bag.

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For clarity, I mean me, not Hillary Duff. Unless you’re in California. Then more likely her than me, but it’s a big state.

It’s the idea that counts. I have missed the library like I’d miss air if I were locked in a trunk. Tomorrow is a family day, but I have days after that blocked out on my calendar as Writing Days. Capitol W, capitol D. In boldface. Not only is there the draft to look over for Drama King (and my first ever crack at looking for sensitivity readers) but my return to A Heart Most Errant edits, and next up, a return to Her Last First Kiss, where I can make right what once went wrong.

This time, I am not overwhelmed. I am excited. My prep work for Queen of Hearts is underway. As I suspected, it would mosey on in when I was doing other things. That seems to be the way things work around here. My “A Working Day” playlist is playing (follow on Spotify if you want to know what the inside of my head sounds like.) I expect that it will grow, which is always a sign of life.

Appropriate for the start of a new month, at least for me. Regardless of what the calendar or almanac says, Memorial Day starts summer in our family. This year, though, I highly suspect that comfy apartment, shiny new laptop and a realistic writing plan will keep me well occupied for most of the season. After that, fall, and the return of my super powers, fall being my favorite season. It’s not that far away at all.

Draft Pick

In the words of the great Ricky Ricardo, the time has come. In other words, Drama King is a draft. Draft two in the vault, and now all that’s left is for me and Melva Michaelian to go over the whole thing one more time to make sure we are done for this stage, and we send it off to our editor at the Wild Rose Press. If they want it, then we’ll have at least one more go-over to make sure it’s right for this editor and this line. If that goes well, then there are still line edits, copy edits, art sheets to get information for the cover, and a bunch of other things.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

We are already started on the third book in the series, Queen of Hearts, and then we already know what our next contemporary adventure is going to be. We’ve already started laying the groundwork for that, and it looks like fun from here.

Then there’s my other life. Historical life. I have the edits for A Heart Most Errant to finish and send back to my fabulous editor at Safeword Author Services. Next floats in that parade include formatting and cover art, and then bibbity bobbity book, we’ll have a new historical romance.

There’s also getting back to know Her Last First Kiss, my much beloved, long neglected Georgian historical. I think I zigged where I should have zagged there, so time for course correction, while keeping with the marriage laws of the time. Can’t go marrying anybody you want, whenever you want. That way lays chaos. Or so the Georgians would have us believe.

Being in this writing place is a time where I wasn’t sure when or if I would be here again. Taking a couple of days to breathe feels like a good idea. Especially since today is going to be a hot one, and i do not at all summer well. Hence a date with my BFF to hang out in air conditioning. She’ll have some awesome new colored pencils and an adult coloring book. I’m not sure what I’m bringing as of yet, but she’ll be here soon, so I will probably grab one of my pen pouches and a notebook and call it good. There may be a trip to a craft store along the way to pick up anything else I might want to include. There will be brain dumping. There will be decompression. There will be cold drinks.

Wish me well.

Ripped From The Journal Pages

Yesterday was a good writing day. Like, a really good writing day. The super functional monthly view of planning my writing tasks seems to be working super well, on this second week of doing it. Okay, the edges of the pages are decorated, but every daily box is only black ballpoint bullet lists of writing stuff I want to accomplish. There’s household stuff in there, too, so for June, I will be splitting those into two different calendars. It usually stays on the kitchen table (my temporary desk) next to me, open, for easy reference, especially when new things like deadlines or interviews crop up during the day.

trust me, there is a lot more written in those boxes now

It’s also already allowing me to spot patterns. The day after my weekly chat with Melva is usually best as a lighter day. Since this week, we met on Tuesday, that means that today is a lighter day. It’s also a blog day. I can bypass the “what do I blog about” problem by noting beforehand things I find interesting and want to blabber about for an entry. Yesterday, it was this from my morning pages:

Today is a writing day!!! Not staring at a blank wall and cranking out words (Editing Anna interrupts: if that is your best way to work, this is not a drag on that. You do you. Crank on, you magnificent cryptid.) I would rather deck a sylvan glade with fairy lights and invite my imaginary friends (aka characters) to dance. The band would be Right Said Fred

and classic era Monkees

Coin flip for who headlines and who opens. I’m good either way. The dance floor lights in tune to the music, and there is a bottomless buffet off to the side, with mismatched chairs and settees arranged in conversation groups around an assortment of small tables. Besides their own songs, the bands cover “Dance With Me” as well as “Moondance” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.”

The air is not too hot and not too cold. It’s a night that could last forever, and, technically, it can. That’s one of the things I love about writing romance. Happily ever after means forever.

I’ll stop it for there, since I have been called back to the dance floor, as it were. The bands are jamming, the lights are twinkling, and the breeze feels like a kiss on my skin.

One more thing: you, yes you, are most definitely invited.

https://www.patreon.com/posts/historical-40142765check out this historical era poll on my Patreon

Kicking B*utt at Making Names?

This morning, I found an important truth about my writing process. I would rather name a dozen historical characters than one contemporary one. Please remind me of that when it is time to name the heroine from A Heart Most Wanton, which will probably come sooner than I expect, because the way I am scheduling writing times now seems to be working.

Anyway, Melva and I are working on a contemporary collection with three stories. One hers, one mine, one ours. We have the ours one all worked out, and I can’t wait to see what her story will hold, which leaves only mine. Since I have met me, I know this has to have some sort of historical connection, or it is not at all happening. Do I know what that connection is? Ehhh, maybe? Kind of? Possibly? Whyever would I know something like that? Oh look, a kitty.

Make of that distraction what you will. As of this writing, my contemporary character naming process is not all that different from my historical naming process. Since all of my reference books are still in storage :weeps softly: that means I head to the interwebs. Figure out what year the character would have been born, find a list of most popular baby names from that year for their country of origin, and then open a random number generator. Generate a few numbers, write down the names that correspond to the numbers. Re-roll if needed, if you’ve hit a name that is on your automatic “no” list, or if it won’t fit this particular character or story. I personally don’t like to have hero and heroine’s names to start with the same initial, so whichever one of them comes first, that initial is out.

Melva’s and my collaborative process is a lot different. We throw names at each other and see what sticks. Seems to be working all right so far. With Chasing Prince Charming, our base for Meg’s name was that we wanted a one-syllable name. Since we had a heroine with a one-syllable name, we wanted to contrast that with a multi-syllable name for the hero, which is how we found Dominic.

Doing it on my own is…different. The vast majority of my contemporary romance reading is YA instead of adult, so I’m not finding adult names much in the contemporaries I read. For me, naming a character is important; grabbing popular names at random and slapping them down is not going to work for me. As a matter of fact, my list of “no” names for historicals (and probably carry them over to contemporary as well) are very popular in the genre…but they don’t work for me. It is what it is. So, what does work?

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That’s a very good question. The name has to fit the character. That’s essential. Some characters do come with a name already, sit themselves down in a chair across from me, and introduce themselves. I am one hundred percent fine with that. I encourage it. I encourage it even when it involves a character telling me he doesn’t know what his name is, meaning the one given at birth. He has a thing that he’s called, sure, but it’s not his name. There is a difference. Yes, that has happened, and that’s one of the historicals I look forward to writing. Historical characters are pretty good about this sort of thing. I know where they come from, when they were born, which gives me a clear direction as to where to look for their names. Sometimes I will have to read through the entire section of possible/probable names until I find one that hits. Sometimes none of the contemporary to them (remember, historical characters don’t know they’re in a historical; they think they’re in a contemporary) and I go back an era or even more, to find a “traditional” name that may feel out of place for their time, but could well be a family name. the

With contemporary characters, of course I have an even longer span of history to work with, so it should be theoretically easier. Names I hear around me in everyday life. Names of friends, or their offspring, or even, for younger characters, their offspring’s offspring. Even so, I usually end up at “uhhhhh…..” as a starting point. Knowing the name helps me see the character in a visual sense. I don’t usually fantasy cast (and don’t get me started on the whole new barrel of worms that would be naming fantasy characters, so hats off to fantasy authors that do that every day) but I do have an image in my head. Height, frame, complexion, hair, eyes, facial features, manner of dress, etc.

Sometimes the image comes first, and the character makes me figure out their name, a la Rumplestilskin. None of my characters to date have actually been named Rumplestilskin. This is probably a good thing. Beyond the actual name, how do they feel about the name? Is that a name they like to hear? Do they feel that it fits them? Would they rather be called something else? If so, what? It’s not as simple as slapping a “hi, my name is X” (none of my characters to date have actually been named X yet, either.) on their shirt and calling it good enough.

Today is Housemate’s birthday, so it’s going to be a day of cavorting with some of her favorite activities. In the back of my mind, though, I am gestating the heroine for the “mine” story in the upcoming collection. Well, the proposal for it. Something to bring to the table when we confer. Anything can happen from there. What we call it, well, we’ll find that out.

Nightmares, Super Functional Planning, and Other Stories

This is partly Monday’s post and it partly isn’t. I’d intended to get a regulalr post up on Monday because A) that’s what Monday posts are for, and B) I like sharing my monthly planner setups (yes, plural) at the start of a new month, especially because things in general are feeling okay for the first time in a long time, and that is definitely something I want to share here. My brain, however, had other ideas. Honestly, sometimes my brain is kind of a jerk. At the very least, she gets weird homework.

All of that is a fancy way of saying that Sunday night, I had the worst nightmare I can remember having, ever, though I thankfully don’t remember much about it, and I’m okay now. Though it was not at alla fun experience, climbing out of it did have some benefits, odd as that may sound.

For a long time, pretty much as long as I have been planning, I haven’t known what all I, personally, want to do with the monthly calendar. What’s the point as long as I’m looking mostly at the weekly views? Post-nightmare doing stuff, however, means going for the low hanging fruit, and for me, that day, it was super functional planning, which meant monthly view, black ballpoint pen, put the things where I want to do them, and have a look at what spaces are avaiable for everything else.

how it started

The flower stickers came later, while I was figuring out what else I needed. Doing arty things is super good for my brain to work stuff out, so that was a good match. I listed the top writing priorities, and then got those things in first. Blank days don’t mean I have nothing planned; they mean I’m figuring out how to best use my time and will be moving tasks there from a master list. This view does include household things and important dates for other family members, so my writing planner will look a little different.

Though I do have flying into the mist as part of my writing and planning processes, on the whole, I like structure and specifics. Not “write today,” but “brainstorm Bob and Jane waiting room scene” or “revise Bob and Jane waiting room scene from rough present tense to polished past tense.” This way, the whole “ugggh, where do I begin?” stuff is out of the way at the time I plop myself in front of my notebook or keyboard, and I already know where I’m going before I set out on my journey. Bird by Bird, eat the elephant one bite at a time, and all that. Wash one dish.

Approaching things like this takes a lot of the pressure off, and reminds me that I really do love writing, particularly romance, and I have been told I am pretty okay at it. I could stand to do it more. The right process is the one that works for me, which is the one that gets me from once upon a time to they lived happily ever after. The fact that I find it a whole lot easier and more appealing if I have pretty visuals as I do it? I call that taking the scenic route.