Tabled

Yesterday, Real Life Romance Hero came home from his morning walk with a table. A big, round, heavy, black wooden dining room table. He did this while I was in the shower. He did not intend to obtain furniture, but, when I shut off the shower, there was the key in the lock sound, followed by the something big is coming through the door sound, and, by the time I had my robe on, and head out the door, there was the love of my life and a huge black dot.

imagine seeing this first thing in the morning

RLRH identified the dot as our new dining room table. I pointed to our existing dining room table, and asked where this new piece of furniture came into his possession. In our building, there is an area where people who no longer need large items, can put them up for adoption. Such was RLRH’s encounter of said table. He knew we didn’t need it right now, but we will want a bigger table when we move (in a few months; we are not planning to move right now-now) so he brought it home.

The first question that came to mind was, “where are we going to put this?” In our future apartment is the obvious answer, but we are in our current apartment, which already has a table, which we already love, and the only place we can possibly put it is what I will call our great room, because it is dining room, living room, my office, my studio, Housemate’s workspace, and Housemate’s bedroom. It is a very small space. We also all had places to be, so we tabled the issue (pun intended) and headed off to take on the day. Then we came home, and were faced with the reality of the big black thing that would not allow both Housemate and er parcels through the door at the same time.

Cue much rearranging of furniture. The old dining room table is now my work table, on the opposite side of the great room, directly under our window, with Tudor Rose Hart-Bowling, our as yet unnamed pepper plant (currently, I am liking “Queen Boudica,” and she is quite liking the sunlight. Lancaster has been relocated to the bedroom, where he can get his own sunlight, without his brother, and presumably, new sister, trying to choke him to death.} This also allows me to have my planners and related paraphernalia in one, permanent place, where I can see them all, all the time, as well as have plenty of room to spread out and not bump over salt shakers, bump into anybody else’s work, etc. My kneeling chair scoots from computer to work table, to dining table with ease, and it all very much does contribute to the “room of one’s own” feeling. I have not had that since we left the old apartment. Before, that, really, so this feels all that much lovelier, to have my own corner of the world.

new table, reporting for duty

Still early days yet, so i will still have to see what effect this has for my productivity, but I am optimistic. At the very least, it has worked well for today, and I think that’s a pretty good start. With the weather we’ve had here in NY for the last couple of days, it feels as though summer has plopped itself down , which makes the whole new season thing feel very, very natural.

Next up on my list is website wrangling, as in actual whole website, with hosting and all that other good stuff, for Melva’s and my work, both separately and together. There will be posts on that later, because that’s a whole new adventure. Typing With Wet Nails (and/or Stuffed Paws) will remain the same, and Melva and I are working on some fun stuff to bring our readers, and hopefully convince her readers and my readers to become our readers, the whole Melva and Anna experience.  Chasing Prince Charming creeps ever closer to release, as the final galley template is in the works, and we should learn more in about two weeks.

The best way to fill the time between now and then, is by writing. Melva and I are both looking forward to a productive season, with new and current projects, and, if the place I do that from has a view of lush greenery and a cool breeze, then so much the better.

Advertisements

The Mondayest Monday That Ever There Mondayed (Okay, not really)

Welp, it’s Monday. An extremely Monday-ish Monday, as a matter of fact. Allow me to explain. When I started off this day, I had a plan. I had a schedule. I like both of these things. By nine AM, both of them were moot. It is a full house here at Stately Bowling Manor. Both other adults are home for the day, with no plans, theoretically able to fend for themselves. THere may or may not be a pharmacy run in the afternoon, and, technically, this could be a good time to drag the bottles to recycling, which may not, at the first glance, have all that much to do with writing, ut I am determined to find a way to make that happen. A lot of us writers can’t turn that stuff off, so we have learned to live with it and steer into the skid, so to speak.

This is where being a planner person can come in handy, because the moment a domestic tornado chain blows through the combination living room/dining room/my office/Housemate’s bedroom (let us call it the Great Hall, shall we? That feels very much in keeping with all things historical romance-y, so it’s going to stay.) the instinctive response is not “aaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!” but “let me move a few things around.” Writing has to take precedence, so blog entry happens first, then I need to knock off a rough scene, because I know me, and I know that, if I don’t, I am going to be kicking myself through whatever else it is that the day might bring. This is the sort of day when the writer shoves leftovers in the general direction of all present family members, and plops themselves in front of the computer, to make the most of the time one does have.

Cryptic, I know, but my goal here is to blorch out the magic seven hundred words, move on to a scene for Drama King, and then the world of practical concerns can have some of my attention. Some of it. Only two days ago, I sat in a darkened library conference room, listening to a Damon Suede, workshop on backstory (recorded, not in person, alas. If you ever get a chance to see Damon Suede teach on anything writing related, take it. That is all.) that left me with pages full of notes, and the confidence that yes, I really am ready to start gathering questions and assorted stuff for exploring and expounding on Cornelis and Lydia’s story, whom readers can meet in “The Fox and the Lily,” in the upcoming anthology from Z Publishing. I’m still liking Plunder for the title of the full length novel, and knowing exactly what goes down with Cornelis and Lydia will lay the foundation for their daughter’s (and, ultimately grandchild’s) story.  

That’s not for today, though. Today, though my plans have been changed, there is still stuff I can do (Melva and I touch on exactly this kind of thing in our Save the Author, Save the Book workshop) so I don’t feel entirely shoved out of the way, writing-wise. Lists definitely help. I want all my tasks out where I can see them, and the week as well, so I can move things around when I need to do that. Domestic tornadoes do not mean that the things cannot get done, only that they will not get done at the time or in the way I had originally thought. This is also one of the reasons I like to have more than one project going at the same time, at different stages.

Polishing a scene into traditionally readable form may not be possible on a day like today, but can I hole up on the couch (or lock myself in the bathroom, because that, too, is a thing) and rough a scene out in longhand? I most certainly can. Sometimes, the best stuff gets born that way. Not always. It’s not a guarantee, but definitely more of a plus than a minus. When the active brain is required elsewhere, I can “look up X online” and convey information to the person who requested it, which will leave me feeling marginally accomplished enough to move on to the next task. The fact that my imaginary friends do tend to tag along on mundane errands also works in my favor. Sometimes they are helpful and sometimes they are not, but I am glad to have them, in either event.

Time to wrap this blabbery post and move on along. The sky outside is beautifully cloudy and gray, but I’m still burning daylight. TLDR takeaway from this post: if my goal is having written, then writing is the only thing that will get me there. By blabbing here, I don’t have to look at the note in my planner that oh no, I didn’t blog again on Monday, I suck, what am I even doing here, etc. Nope. Blog does not have to be perfect. Blog has to be written, and that it is, so I will count that as a success. At least that’s what I am telling myself.

Typing With Wet Nails: Sebastian Transcribes Edition

Greetings, foolish mortals. Sebastian Thunderpaws Hart-Bowling, coming at you with a special edition of Typing With Stuffed Paws. Turns out that the week of little to no energy was the opening act for the week of gross virus, which Writer Chick has been combatting by sleeping one heck of a lot, drinking lots of fluids, and, occasionally, writing longhand. Since this includes blog related stuff, I will take it upon myself as Cat Regent to make an executive decision, and transcribe the most recent pages for her. I am sure she won’t mind.

So, I have the rights back to my first and fourth historical romances. Now what? (reminder to self: change email signature) With the Awe-Struck chapter (pun intended) closed, I now have My Outcast Heart, and Orphans in the Storm back in my hands. I am not entirely sure what I want to do with them. My options, as I see them, are three:

One, I can trunk them both and never look at them again. Two, I can pitch them to one of my two (technically three) current publishers. Three, I can go indie, and publish them myself. All sides have plusses and minuses, so let’s take a look.

Option One: Trunk them. I do not like this option, because I do like these stories. My Outcast Heart, is, technically, a cranky teenager, struggling with identity issues. Orphans in the Storm isn’t quite there yet, but I could see it heading in that direction. Are there things I would like to change about both stories? Unquestioningly, yes. I also hope that I am a better writer than I was when I first wrote those stories, with more of an idea regarding what I am doing, what my historical romance brand should be (as in what do I intend for it to be) and less of a care about what other people will think about what I am doing.

Option Two: Offer to one of my current publishers; Uncial Press, The Wild Rose Press, or Z Publishing. I want to talk to other writers, including but not limited to, my RWA chapter sisters and brothers, who have been in the same situation, of having their grown story kids come back home after a long time away. I am not sure about the etiquette in this sort of situation. Right now, this is probably the option that makes the most sense, but then there is still the third option.

Option Three: going the indie route. Once again, I want to talk to other writers who have done the same thing, to learn about their experiences, get some pro tips, and very likely discover options I did not know existed. The organizing, um, exhibiting leadership qualities part of myself likes this option very much. I can design covers and formatting that ties all of my unrelated stories together under one cohesive brand. Once in place, I can happily keep the stuff coming. I very much like the idea of having a place where I can put historical romances that take a couple of risks along the way. The CFO of AnnaCorp (term for my brain I have only now formed, may regret that later) looks at me over the rims of her spectacles and says a flat “no.” That stuff is expensive. Getting to call all of the shots also means getting to pay all of the bills.

Thankfully, I don’t need to decide right the heck now. Right now, there is a lot of good stuff happening. Melva and I are on book baby watch, as we come ever closer to knowing the release date for Chasing Prince Charming. We are coming up on a big scene for Drama King (which may or  may not have resulted in me building our hero’s apartment in the Sims 4. I should also be finding out the release date for the new Z Publishing anthology, that unleashes Cornelis and Lydia on the world, and slipping back into Bern and Ruby’s world, in Her Last First Kiss, is a truly lovely way to spend my time. In the end, I figure I will approach the issue of what to do with my boomerang story kids the same way I approach a discovery. Run down the metaphorical dock, splash around and then see what direction I appear to be naturally swimming in, and head in that direction.

That’s where Writer Chick left off, so I assume that’s where she meant for the entry to end. Time for me to join her for some beauty sleep, so we’ll both be ready for tomorrow’s regular blog. As regular as a blog written by a handsome orange stuffed boy can be, that is. Whatever.

Peace Out,


On the Horizon

Happy May, my liebchens. It’s Monday’s post on Wednesday, which is also conveniently time for a new planning post, which is how I set up the picture, but then I checked my email, and…drumroll please…”The Fox and the Lily” is happening, specifically in the literary anthology of Z Publishing’s 2019 literary fiction anthology. I submitted “The Fox and the Lily” as historical fiction (spoiler: it’s a romance) with the knowledge that there might not be a historical fiction anthology, per se, and my story might end up somewhere else. Which it did.. This is the first meeting of Dutch pirate, Cornelis Van Zandt, and English lady, Lydia Stoke, and the fateful encounter that changes both of their lives forever.

Cornelis and Lydia first showed up when I started on their daughter, Tamsen’s, story, and promptly embarked upon a campaign to steal every darned scene in which at least one of them appeared. A wise writer would take this as a sign that Cornelis and Lydia’s book needs to come first, but 1) I am me, 2) I was determined to make Abandon, Tamsen’s story (also Alec, who goes from Cornelis’ protege to a man on a mission. A mission to kill Cornelis, because of really good reasons. All of this is based upon me knowing exactly when and how Alec and Tamsen fall in love. For a historical romance, that is kind of important.

Every time, though, every darned time, the one thing that shifted me from staring at the screen, making a sound that can best be approximated as “uhhhhhh,” was dipping back into Cornelis and Lydia, who are clearly playing a long game on the way to their HEA. It’s a lot of things that I super crazy love: the seventeenth century, pirates, gutsy heroine, charming hero (Cornelis is a charm bomb) and the teeny problem of Lydia being actually married to somebody else at the time when they meet. It’s not insta-love, but they do have a something that sparks, and they both want to do the right thing, but Lydia[s husband has true villain potential, and yeah, I think I am going to have to write the whole book now, which is fine by me. I kind of like Plunder, if I want to stick with one-word titles.

When I set up my current blog notebook (because there is a new line of Exceed notebooks, which I very much want to try, but can’t justify until I fill the OG version I already have, sooo….) I jotted down that, if I’m going to write two pirate books, I may as well write three pirate books, and I am super curious to see how Tamsen and Alec’s kids turn out, not to mention this will allow me to have Grandpa Cornelis and Grandma Lydia. Generational series are my very, very favorite kind, and having a trilogy follow grandparent, parent, and then child, is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. Maybe that time is now.

Okay, not now-now, but soon. Melva and I are awaiting news of the release date for Chasing Prince Charming, while we are writing our way through the first draft of Drama King, and I am working my way toward the second draft for Her Last First Kiss. Add to that the fact that I now have three, count them, three, historical romances that are complete (A Heart Most Errant still needs some editing, so two and three quarters, really) and in need of homes. This is not a place where I expected to be, but I can roll with it.

This is where being a planner could work strongly in my favor. Schedules, goals, etc, I love all of that stuff, almost as much as I love writing, and both things require me to use pens and paper, so one already gives me the tools to do the other. Right now, I am rambling, and I know I am rambling, because A) I did not sleep last night (having an air mattress pop while one is sleeping on it is exactly as fun and disorienting as it sounds) and B) I am giddy from the news that Cornelis and Lydia are about to go out into the world.

My notes had some additional rambling about my summer reading plans, but then I opened my email, so that will be another post. Stay tuned, but, for now, there is a pirate ship on the horizon, and I had best be there to meet it. Maybe June’s Camp NaNoWriMo might be fun.

It’s Monday, And I Don’t Know Where My Hero’s Bathroom Is

Welp, it’s a cloudy Monday, and I am well past the time I had set aside for blogging, so let’s jump in and blabber our way to the magic seven hundred and then call it good enough, because I have a scene from Melva to read for Drama King, which may require me to draw a floor plan of one of the locations in our small shared world. I do have a couple of pictures on Pinterest, that may be of help here, and I am strongly considering building said locale in Sims 4, but Sims 4 does not have indoor ladders (or outdoor, except for the pool variety) and it really needs a ladder, because the ladder will be important, so there’s that. In short, I am procrastinatin.

I cannot, however, procrastinate everything, especially when Sebastian dropped the (hair)ball on the weekend post (also, there were domestic tornadoes; we are in the cleanup phase now) and the first few attempts at this blog entry were veering too far into the realm of planning. That is not entirely unexpected, as I spent a good chunk of the weekend, when I was not wrangling aforementioned domestic tornadoes, carrying around Li’l Pink, the traveler’s notebook I acquired over a year ago, with inserts I acquired up to six years ago, but not writing in her.

Very long story, made very short, the pretty pastel inserts I had thought were pocket size, were actually passport size the whole darned time, which is why they never lined up with the pocket sized hardcover notebooks, which, in turn, never sat right, because they had to be on the part of the elastic where the knot is, therefore not able to sit flat. Ahem. I found this out when I decided, what the heck, I’d toss in the passport sized junk journal insertI had ordered by mistake, and what ho, it’s the same size as the others. The cover clashed with the pastel inserts, but, as it turns out, tracing paper will double for vellum, in a pinch, and literally nobody on the entire planet, who is not you, is losing any sleep over this, Anna.

Okay, fine, that is not wrong, but nattering about the inserts it took me six years to figure out what size they were did get me to about the halfway mark for a full blog entry. Once the blog entry is done, I get to turn my attention to Drama King stuff. Tomorrow should be for Her Last First Kiss. Also for hauling an old air mattress to the dumpster, but nobody wants to read a blog about that. I certainly wouldn’t want to write it. I’ll stick to writing romance novels, thanks.

Sometimes, though, writing romance novels involves things one doesn’t think it would. Like the location of bathrooms, which may, in fact, drive me to Sims 4 (for research, I tell you, purely for research) When I was but a nubile ingenue (aka high school) my drama teacher told a group of aspiring thespians that we always had to know what was on the fourth wall. That is not the audience out there, it is the wall with the TV and the china cabinet and the squeaky door to the kitchen, that always swings the wrong way. It’s the front porch, or the balcony, or, well, you get the picture. Point is, it’s fixed, it doesn’t change (in realistic works) and it affects what the actors do in relation to their environment. If it’s a plate glass window, the play is set in the middle of a Minnesota winter, and a baseball sails through that window in the middle of act two, that’s an act and a half of the actors needing to convey to the audience that they are now cold, possibly dangerously so, instead of comfortable.

When we’re talking novel writing, replace “actor” with “writer,” though the character who lives in this locale is an actor, so maybe don’t. Follow your heart. No, not right now. Get back here. I’m almost done. Having all scene partners agree on what is on that fourth wall is usually a pretty good idea, because doing otherwise can lead to chaos (or some awesome improv; I’ve seen it go both ways.) This also comes into play in writing partnerships. Since Melva and I are often eerily on the same page, pun intended, I do not foresee any huge differences, and questions of “where’s thing X?” usually get met with “well, I thought it was over in place Y,” which gets met with, “oh good, that’s where I had it.” I expect that will still be the case.

And yet (there is always an “and yet”) this should not be a big deal. Our hero’s apartment is a studio, with a loft, so there is only a limited amount of places a bathroom can be, and, thanks to my experiences with my dad’s house, I know enough about where pipes go to figure out that such things narrow the options even more, so there is not a logical reason to be putting something this easy off, Anna.

Yeah, but we’re over the halfway mark, and the hero and heroine are getting ready for :drops voice to whisper: the scene.

The scene?

You know. The hero/heroine scene.

This is a romance novel. Most of the scenes are hero/heroine scenes.

Yeah, but….

If you figure out where the bathroom is, you don’t have to carry the air mattress to the dumpster.

Ever?

Today.

Eh, good enough. I’ll get the graph paper.

What Do Planner Pages and Fiction Genres Have in Common?

Still not the actual planner post, but getting closer, and, seeing as how we are over the midway point of the month, I may let this suffice and move on along because the start of yet another new month will be here before I know it.

The fact that Wednesday’s post is the first of the week should tell you all how Monday went. Nuff said about that. Let’s move on to better stuff, and by that, I mean planners and how they relate to the writing life. Last night was a big one at Stately Bowling Manor, because I learned two very important things that have me chittering like a cat at a bird sanctuary. Thing One is that the printer is now up and running, and Thing Two is that I finally figured out the exact difference between A6 and half-letter size. For the non-planner-obsessed, this sounds like Charlie Brown Adult speech. For those more planner-obsessed than myself, this may elicit a heartfelt “duh.”

If standard letter size paper is one sheet of the stuff one puts into the printer, then it follows that half-letter is half of that (folded short end to short end, specifically) and fits quite nicely into the mini binders sold at many chain office supply and/or megastores. A5 paper is the kind commonly sold for ring bound planners. Half letter paper is generally, in my experience, sold three-hole-punched, while A5 comes most commonly punched with six holes (I have seen some punched with four holes, but very seldom, and have not actually used any of those…yet.) The two are pretty darned close in size, which leads to the impression that they are interchangeable. The embarrassingly large amount of paper in my scrap file will attest. That paper will get repurposed, because I don’t like waste, but let’s move on with this bit o’ blabber.

In a reveal that surprises no-one, I love all things planner-related, and am not (yet) independently wealthy. Also, I have what we will call strong preferences. This would intimate that making my own inserts and fillers might be a good way to both save money and expand creativity. This also is where that scrap paper comes into play, or should i say existence. After longer than I would be proud to admit, of assuming that A) A5 and half letter are totally the same size, and B) the firm conviction that I have so been punching the paper according to the manufacturer’s instructions, I also took into account C) depth perception is part of my visual impairment. Maybe I might want to actually check out the dimensions the way it makes sense to me? What could it hurt?

So, going on the pro tip on how to tell black from navy blue (hold the color in question next to something that you 100$ know is black) I took a manufactured A5 page and a manufactured half letter page, each obviously different colors, put the one I suspected was smaller (spoiler: it’s A5) in front, and tapped them on a level surface (kitchen table.) Lo and behold, there it was, a bright white strip of paper above the colored A5 sheet. Mark the difference, remove the excess, punch holes, and…wait for it…boom, they line up with the manufactured A5 paper holes. This then segued into a frenzy of paper cutting and punching, culminating in me sitting back, contented as a cat in cream, looking at my handiwork.

Goodbye, pricey inserts in two different sizes. Hello, making whatever the heck I want, whenever the heck I want it. I’m off-leash at last, no fences, baby, woo. Except for the one teeny, small, infinitesimal complication that I do not have the first idea of how to create my own insert or filler, on the computer, which does throw a bit of a spanner in the works. Not a biggie, as I will figure it out, through a process of trial and error, and picking the hive mind of the interwebs. . There have to be templates out there somewhere, and where there’s templates, there’s historicals…er, tutorials. Total typo there, but I’m going to let it stand, because I am headed in that direction anyway.

But Anna, I hear those of you who live in my head asking, what does all of this have to do with writing commercial fiction? I am glad you asked that, people who live in my head, because that is an excellent question, and one I have been asking myself, until the answer naturally surfaced. Paper size is a lot like genre, in a sense. Sure, A5 and half letter may look the same to the casual viewer, and how big a difference can it be, anyway? As a quick inspection proves, quite a bit. One thing can’t fit in a container made for the other, but when we know what size is what and where all the holes are supposed to be (get your minds out of the gutter) the whole thing goes rather smoothly, and the creative mind can flood with ideas of fun things to do in all those lovely different sizes.

Some spreads that are perfect for A5 would never work in a half letter, or vice versa. Add in personal size, which is a heck of a lot smaller, but still fun and useful, and we’re talking a whole different story. Pun intentional. THat’s only talking ringbound. If we add traveler’s notebooks into the mix (strings rather than rings) we have whole new options, and whole new requirements. Do I love notebooks in general? Yes, with a wild, burning passion. Is there one objectively best format or size? Well, best for what? I’d need to ask some questions here. It’s the same for romance fiction. I would assume every other genre as well, or there wouldn’t be a need for both high and low fantasy (to say nothing of urban) cozy vs hard-boiled mysteries, hard vs soft SFscience fiction (if I’m using a wrong term for  different types of a single a genre, please let me know) and so forth.

A composition size planner is not going to fit in a tiny evening bag, and a bound notebook is not going to allow me to move pages around with ease. Genre is kind of like that. A light, humorous romance is not going to make me weep from angst leading to the HEA, while an epic historical is not going to be the best choice for a quick read that will give a case of the giggles. To paraphrase the late, great Eugenia Price, not all writers are going to please all readers. That’s why there are so many of us. I am more than okay with that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to a chain office supply store to buy printer ink. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.


Rage Quit Your Nightmare

This post is not the planner post, either. Tangentially. Today’s picture is technically an art journal spread, but the insert is in a traveler’s notebook. Big Pink, to be exact, though I am also thinking about what I am going to name my new A6 planner, which is now the main writing notebook, also pink, and bigger than Big Pink. That’s not this post, either. Maybe that will be the planner post for April, and hopefully that will be next week.

Right now, the day is gray, not yet rainy, but hopefully soon. Rain is my second favorite weather, after snow. Even I am done with snow for the season. It can come back in late November. In the meantime, I am very happy to see rain. My goal for today is to power through the writing tasks, so that I can be ready for a 3PM library run (fingers crossed that volume 23 of Fruits Basket will have arrived) and hang out with Housemate. In the best of all possible worlds, I will also be able to get back to my art stuff, because that is where my brain is today.

Yeah, yeah, I can hear some of you saying, get to the Rage Quit Your Nightmare part. This is that. It’s also the tangentially planner related part of this post. Part of the way I learn things is to jump in with both feet, splash around, figure out what I’m doing, while I’m doing it, climb back out, make a plan, and then jump back in. This holds true for planning and art, as well as writing. It also ties into the whole branding thing from this past weekend’s CR-RWA meeting, which is still circling around in the back of my mind.

Okay. So. I want to say that it was last year that I fully embraced the whole planner/bullet journal/art journal sort of thing. I knew that I definitely wanted to do it, but how would I do it? That’s a much more complex question. The most important thing for me, in any putting ink on paper endeavor, is that it look/feel like me. Not that I am passionately dedicated to the art of self-portraiture, which I do not. More that I want what I put out to be authentic. Even, and maybe especially, the stuff that is only for myself, not outside eyes. Which, um, :points to picture above post: is not exactly pertinent here, but I’m going to roll with it.

Focus, Anna. Okay. Part of the jumping in and splashing about was grabbing inserts and such that looked even remotely interesting, while on a budget. This means getting a chance to get creative. Pick up things that could work, with a little tweaking, then put them where I think they might belong, and add stuff until it feels right. Often, when I’m doing this, that’s when the story stuff works itself out on its own, on my brain’s back burner. As with many of us, the clearance sections of stores that sell things I can use in the ink and paper arena, are my friends. Such place is where I found the insert for this picture.

I loved the color of the pages. The price was right. I did not get it, because the outside…ehhhhh, not feeling it. Still thought about the lovely pastel ombre inside pages, though, and, when it showed up in a swap with another paper obsessed friend, I figured this was a sign. I was also trying out a new size of insert, so it was a lot of new stuff all at once. There were also words where I did not necessarily need or want words to be, and the colors of covers, etc, eh, not always my thing. The “don’t quit your daydream” bit was one of those things with words where I didn’t want there to be words. I have issues with the dream/daydream terminology, so it’s not a phrase I would choose to put on something meant to inspire my own creative process.

I also didn’t want to have to slap something over it, in “Hey! I am covering something here!” fashion. Opposite action, steer into the skid. Embrace it. Draw a flowery border. Add more words. The first question that came to mind was, “what’s the opposite of that phrase?” Hence “Rage Quit Your Nightmare.”  That, I like. I like it a lot. What, exactly, does it mean to me? I would say I am still figuring that out, but I think I do have an idea on that one.

My nightmare would be not writing. Being published is great, and I hope to publish, or have published, many, many more books. At the same time, if I knew, today, that I would one hundred percent never ever get anything published, ever again, I’d still write. I would still write historical romance on my own, and I would still want to get together with Melva, to put together our two very different styles, to make something unique and fun. If the nightmare would be not-writing, then rage quitting that would be…? Writing, I imagine. Not sitting down to a duty, but remembering the love of the game.

Speaking of which, the pages are calling.

This Post Was Kidnapped by Pirates

This post is only tangentially about planners, most of that due to the cover photo for today. This post, like the short story I did get submitted to Z Publishing on time, was kidnapped by pirates. Never fear, planner devotees, that post is coming, especially since the utterly awesome presentation by Lucinda Race, at this past Saturday’s Capitol Region Romance Writers of America meeting gave me much food for thought on the matter of branding.

This time, though, it’s pirates. Yep. Pirates. See, I’d had a plan in place, to craft a lovely short bit for the anthology submission, grounded in historical fact, and even return to my beloved Colonial America setting. This involved reading up on my New York history, diving into the Quartering Acts, and crafting a hero and heroine who already had a history, so that we didn’t have to go from meet-cute (though, seriously, if I’m writing historicals on my own, it’s more like meet-angsty) to HEA in a couple of thousand words. Yeeeeah, that is not exactly what happened, which will surprise nobody.

First, I had my premise. Use the Quartering Acts to fill my innkeeper heroine’s home and business with British soldiers. Second, bring my hero, her childhood sweetheart, along, newly cashiered out, and in need of a place to hang his tricorn (that is not a euphemism, but I do write historical romance, so take it as you will).) Give him a letter of introduction from his old commanding officer, addressed to officer’s wife, only to find out that said letter is addressed to the first Mrs. Officer, (it’s a couple years old) and the woman who actually gets it is the second Mrs. Officer, now widowed, annnnd everybody can unpack their emotional baggage right over there, thanks. Only, of course, it wasn’t that easy.

My first clue should have been when my first draft started coming out like this:

Hero: I can has room, plz?
Heroine: LOLZ, no. Too many soldiers.
Hero: I used to be one. See? I have the coat and everything.
Heroine: Sry-not-sry, govt can only enforce active duty dudes. Sux2BU. Bye.
Hero: I can cook.
Heroine: Hmmm…

Yes, this is how I do things in the very beginning. It’s not pretty. Suffice it to say that A) there was nothing I could do to get this heroine to let the hero into herr house, much less life, within the short story word count, B) dude has some serious wooing to do, and C) maybe this story and the Colonial-that-wouldn’t (because hero refused to be who I wanted him to be) might be the same story. Also D, An Intolerable Affair sounds like a wonderful title to me, and the Quartering Acts were part of the Intolerable Acts, sooooo….

This still left me with the need for a short piece to submit. That’s where the pirates happened. Some years back, I finished the first draft of what would become A Heart Most Errant. That’s still looking for its forever home, but if you want to read a short excerpt, and meet John and Aline now, they are waiting for you in last year’s New York’s Emerging Writers anthology. I actually cried after getting John and Aline to their HEA, and wasn’t sure how I was going to follow that. I ended up at a table in my local Panera, and started writing down things I liked in historical romance novels, randomly about the page. I am pretty sure “pirates” was high on the list.  Specifically, that my heroine would be the pirate. Good, that was settled, but what else? What about the hero? What are some things pirates do? I put down a bunch of things, as I recall, but the one that stood out was the practice of marooning, leaving a man on a deserted island, with a small amount of food, and water, and a pistol with a single shot. Hmmm. What if the marooned man survived, got off the island and wanted to settle the score? It wouldn’t be my heroine who left our hero for dead, but her dear old dad? Reluctantly, yes.

Enter said dear old dad. I had meant Cornelis Van Zandt to be only a supporting character, but then he and Lydia kept pulling my attention from Tamsen and Alec, which I did not entirely mind, because I was still a little fuzzy on some of Tamsen and Alec’s backstory. My life exploded right about then, so Tamsen and Alec’s story, working title Abandon, got set aside, Cornelis and Lydia along with it. Until this last week. With only days before the deadline, my Colonial characters firmly in the noncompliant camp, I opened the file for Abandon.

At first, I’d thought to use a couple of scenes, of Alec’s early life, his marooning, and escape, as this submission didn’t have to be a romance, only historical, but I have met me, and yes, it did. Have to be romance, that is. That decision made, there was no other choice than the first meeting between Cornelis and Lydia. I’d written his POV already, but what about hers? That, as it turned out, was not even a problem. There she was, at the rail of the ship carrying her and her husband to their new life in Bermuda, clutching her prayer book, and hoping that the speck on the horizon was, indeed, pirates. Lydia, my dear, this is your lucky day.

It was also mine. “The Fox and the Lily” was tremendous fun to write, and I look forward to spending time with Cornelis and Lydia again, once I have Bern and Ruby, in Her Last First Kiss, firmly settled in their second draft. Whether that means they get a full story all their own, or it works into their daughter’s story, I don’t yet know. What I do know, however, is that my very favorite sort of historical romance series is the generational saga. Mother, daughter, and granddaughter sounds like a perfect heroine lineup to me. What do you think?

Chasing Prince Charming Cover Reveal, and Other Stories

Big news in Anna-land this time, Liebchens. Actually more like big newses (I know, I know, not a word) so let’s get to them.

First of all, unless we hear otherwise from our amazing editor, Melva and I are, as of yesterday, no longer galley slaves. We have turned in our final-final pass of the manuscript for Chasing Prince Charming, so, now, once again, we wait. Release date is still TBA, and you will hear it here as soon as we know.

This segues nicely into the second bit of news, which is…wait for it…drumroll, please…are you sitting down, because I highly recommend that…Chasing Prince Charming cover art is here! Thanks to the team at The Wild Rose Press, and the insanely talented Rae Monet, take a gander at the cover of Melva’s and my first jointly written contemporary romance novel:

Our babies, property of The Wild Rose Press

Aren’t they pretty? I literally gasped as soon as I saw the draft of this cover, because that’s Meg and Dominic for sure. Melva and I would know them anywhere, and the hotel bar where, well, you’ll see. Soon, my Liebchens, soon. Now that Meg and Dominic are standing on their own, ready to head out into the world, there’s a grumpy fallen star and an optimistic literary agent who need some attention, so back to work on that.

Still going to ground for the short story submission thing. More on that later, because this is writing time, but, in the meantime, I do have an update for readers who have had difficulty in locating two of my historical romances, My Outcast Heart, and Orphans in the Storm.

cover art by Tim Harrison, Jr.

Awe-Struck E-Books was the first house to send The Email, an offer to purchase my first historical romance, My Outcast Heart. Thinking of how long ago it was that Tabetha and Dalby became a permanent part of my life, astounds me. I clearly remember the moment their story was conceived (in a mobile home, no less) when Tabetha took herself off into a wintry forest in 1720 New York, and I followed her, with literally no idea where we were going to end up at the end of the trail.

cover art by Kathleen Underwood

Neither did I know, when I plunked myself down at a kitchen table not my own, on a dogsitting gig, to begin Jonnet and Simon’s story, where that journey was going to lead. This is the book I have no memory of selling. Triple caregiving duties will do that to a gal, I have found, and only caught on when my editor needed the final ms…and I did not have one, because it had slipped into the void. Cue calling in hardcopies from my critique group, which did include one Melva Michaelian, as well as M.P. Barker, and frantically putting it all together on my office floor.

Good times, all, and now, for these two books, the adventure begins again. Awe-Struck E-Books, and parent company, Mundania Press, have closed their doors, and reverted all rights to their titles, to the authors. For those having difficulty locating copies of either book, that’s why. These titles are, unfortunately currently off the market.

Not, however, gone forever, as I am putting these babies back on the market. I want to read through each book before I make any firm decisions, and indie publishing is certainly an option. There are several publishers who know what historical romance readers want, and hopefully, My Outcast Heart and Orphans in the Storm will be among that number. Watch this space for updates.

In the meantime, Queen of the Ocean, and Never Too Late, are still available from Uncial Press, at most major e-retailers.

Back to work. That short story is calling.

Going to Ground

No fooling, dearest readers, this is Monday’s blog on Monday, though it is not my monthly planner post. There are a few reasons for this.

  1. Melva and I are still galley slaves. We are getting into the home stretch, because our editor is amazing, and there is not a lot of stuff to tweak.
  2. Insomnia Weekend is not only a great name for a garage band, but an accurate description of my actual weekend.
  3. The deadline for my submission to Z Publishing’s anthology is in less than a week. :runs in circles, screaming:
  4. I want to spend my April planner post on the planner I am creating for my and Melva’s collaborations, exclusively. Making that is a reward for completing the tasks listed above. Making a video flip through, when I am done, sounds like it might be fun. We shall see.
  5. I am still getting to know my new tablet. She is red, because pink was not an option, and her name is Robin Daggers. I have not put Facebook on her yet, and I may not, period, because that feels right, for right now. My wallpaper for this new tablet is the cover for Chasing Prince Charming, which I will be able to share, soon.

Job one, though, is to Get The Books Out, so I am going to ground, as a favorite author has often said, until the galleys are done and submission is sent. This is where I’ve wanted to be, so, even though it’s a lot of work, it’s also fun. My imaginary friends are a chatty bunch, which, for a writer, is a very good thing. It’s a good thing, as well, that there are so many of them, because that means I get more stories to tell, and more stories to share with you.

Even while I’m focusing on Chasing Prince Charming and the upcoming short story, there’s still Drama King to get to the end of draft one, and there will be sections in the collaborative notebook for Queen of Hearts, and even books beyond. We didn’t plan to be thinking two books ahead, but there was an idea, which birthed an idea, which birthed an idea, and we get the chance to work in a few things from our own experiences (not in the romantic department, though this will definitely be a romance.) There will also be a section for miscellaneous ideas, where we can dump the tidbits and leave them to put themselves together.

There is also Her Last First Kiss, because historical romance is still my first love, and, of course, books beyond. Camp NaNo snuck up on me, this time, and I am slightly disappointed that I am going to have to give it a pass (see all blabber above) but maybe the next session will be the perfect time to jump on board. I want to be thinking at least one book down the road in the historical department, because knowing what comes next is super duper fun for me.

That’s one of the reasons I had been/am looking forward to maybe doing Camp NaNo this year. This is my year of Yes, And, so it’s a good time to jump into unfamiliar waters and splash around a little. I have been playing with a couple of YA ideas (still romance) and there are a bunch of historical ideas and/or characters who have been cooling their heels in the waiting room of my imagination, for years. Some of them, for double-digit years, as a matter of fact, and they are getting increasingly testy, because I am, hopefully, a better writer now, and theoretically better able to tell their stories.

Some of them, I have begun to suspect, are cooling their heels, because of my long-standing habit of stuffing (or attempting to stuff) ten pound cats into two pound bags, when either getting a ten pound bag, or putting individual two pound kittens into two pound bags, would be the better course of action.  I’d like to play around with some of that and see how I might do some things differently now than then. I am looking forward to that.

For right now, though, I need to focus on the things in front of me. One thing at a time and it all gets done. Okay, that’s the magic seven hundred (a little bit over, actually) so time to toss this up there, and get back down to business.