2020 Vision?

Yesterday, I didn’t mean to spend the entire day on Patreon work, but that’s how things worked out. I started out making a spreadsheet for my TBR for the coming year, and things kept going. One list for favorite lush historical romances, another for favorite contemporary YA, and a batch of ideas for more. I love making these sorts of lists, and I love connecting readers with favorite books in favorite historical eras, with particular themes, etc. Current plans are to make requests for such lists available on one of the tiers., If the list is for something that isn’t quite my taste, say wallpaper Regencies, I can still do some educated guessing, as in what’s popular, has received high reviews, or looks interesting in some aspect. I could pick out books all day long, seriously, and be happy to do it.

Today is the first day of my one page a day writing schedule. One page of fiction -doesn’t matter what- bare minimum. More if I can, more if I want to, but that first page, those first two hundred and fifty words, they don’t have to be perfect, don’t have to be even good, but they do have to be. That’s easy enough. I will proably lump those in with Storm’s weekly blogs, along with other progress reports. We will see how it goes, and I am more than likely going to make some sort of paper tracker because that’s how my brain goes.

Speaking of paper planners, I plan (see what I did there?) to share more about what I do with that, as well. There is a beautiful black version of Spinebreaker headed my way, to hold my everyday carry bullet-y journal-y commonplace-y notebook. Spinebreaker’s lovely pink self will hold some different inserts to help me manage the writing projects I have on tap for this year. I will figure it out as I go.

Both yesterday and today, I have been listening to YouTube videos analyzing episodes of Black Mirror. I have seen exactly one episode of that show, “San Junipero,” but I’m still getting a lot out of the commentary. My tenure at Heroes and Heartbreakers gave me the chance4 to ramble on about my favorite TV ships, and the moments that worked, as well as the ones that didn’t. I’d like to bring some of that to the blog, and/or Patreon. This amy involve another attempt at making video blogs. We will see. Some of that will depend on where we land, Stately Bowling Manor-wise, but it’s definitely on the table.

The thing that has to happen before any of this other stuff can occur, though, is the writing. The putting of the bottom in the chair and words on the page, paper or virtual, one page at a time, one after the other, on and on until Once Upon a Time reaches And They Lived Happily Ever After. It’s a new year, and there are stories to tell. There is no section on Amazon or in Barnes and Noble or any other brick and mortar store, for great three chapters or excellent outlines. Only. Full. Books.

That means moving forward, even when there’s no gaurantee that t hings are going to turn out on the page the same way they are in my head (can they ever be?) That means tapping back into the girl who set up a makeshift desk out of TV trays, and typing out stories that couldn’t possibly go anywhere on an electronic typewriter. Only, they did. Maytbe not those exact pages, but the were needed to get me one step further down the path to where I am now, and where I am going next.

For today, that’s going to mean this blog entry, one page of fiction, and probably planner therapy after. Doesn’t have to be perfect, does have to be written. That’s doable. Let’s see where it goes.

Happy New Year.

Two Hundred and Fifty

Welp. Last post of 2019. I will not be sorry to see this year in my rearview mirror. While 2019 did have some standout moments – the publication of Chasing Prince Charming, adding Storm kitty to our family, the support and love of amazing friends when real life plot twists took some crazy turns – the bar for 2020 is not on the dauntingly high side.

IRL challenges aside, there is the whole RWA debacle, about which I have a lot of feelings, and feelings about those feelings. Romance Writers of America has never been a perfect organization, but the new developments that have come fast and furious, over the holiday week, those raise a whole lot of questions. As it stands now, I am waiting for my next CR-RWA meeting so that I can learn more and be around other people who are going through the same thing, before I say much more. The fact that this is all happening at the same time we learned of the passing of one of the OG historical romance superstars, Johanna Lindsey, makes it all that much more surreal.

As the great Beverly Jenkins has said, and Nora Roberts has pointed out that the middle word in “Romance Writers of America” is “Writers,” this is a time to keep going forward. Keep writing. Keep writing romance. That seems like a good note on which to start a new year. While yes, there is still adulting to do, and we are doing that, writing has taken a back seat while dealing with IRL matters, and it’s time now, to pick it back up once again.

I have said on many occasions that I am not a word counter, and I am not. Right now, however, when I went to figure out how to get myself back in Serious Writing Mode, what came to mind was that a page a day is a book in a year. That’s something I can do whether I am at a computer keyboard or working with pen and paper only, and it’s pretty easy to measure. Get to end of page, that’s the minimum required for the day. If anything more is too much, I can kick off for the rest of the day, read, adult, stare off into the distance, whatever is needed. One page is roughly two hundred and fifty words, which is not that daunting. Even counting words, two hundred and fifty of them in one place are not really that much.

Morning pages do not count for this requirement. It has to be fiction. Morning pages are their own thing, though I can use parts of them to prime the pump for the day’s fiction. Naturally, I plan to write more than one book this year, as this is a reality for a career in commercial fiction. Baby steps, though, are always a good place to start, or re-start. Neither does any writing that is not actual fiction writing count. Pump priming, list making, that sort of thing can get me to where I can write actual fiction, but it’s only the fiction that is going to count.

This year, I want to tap back into the writer who didn’t know any better, the one who knew how to shut out everything else and throw that story onto the page with all she’s worth. Maybe even more than that. Strike the “maybe.”

There are a lot of stories ahead in 2020, to be read, to be watched, to be written, risks to take in all of those things. Writing, reading, and watching romance has been a driving force in my life since I was eleven years old and stole my first historical romance from my mother’s nightstand. I have had the wonderful experience of writing about all of that for blogs both personal and commercial, and I look forward to bringing some of that over to my Patreon-to-be, which is in itself a daunting yet exciting prospect. On the one hand, who am I to ask people to pay me to, well, be me, but on the other, this fits right into the idea that I don’t have to put the pressure on myself to appeal to everybody. Maybe doing what I do and focusing on people who like that sort of stuff is s more liberating way to go.

We’ll find out, one page at a time.

December Planner Post – Non-Planner Edition

The view from the motel lobby

Yesterday, I busted some old friends out of jail. Still dealing with adult-y things, which is progressing, and also demanded that I go to a sure-fire mood booster; stationery. Housemate and I swung by the storage unit, so I could get my Papermate Flair pens all in one place.

Pretty, but lonely. I think they need friends, aka colors I don’t have yet. Not bothered with having a few duplicates, as that means readily available backup. All the fun of pen shopping, without the sticker shock, because they are already mine. Some days, a pen lover needs a fix. Yesterday was such a day. I have not yet had a chance to actually play with these pens since their jailbreak, but they are meeting up with my planners later on, as we are now in a new month.

I also busted out Big Pink (standard size Websters Pages traveler’s notebook) and Spinebreaker (B6 size Pen + Gear traveler’s notebook) both of which I have used as planners in the past. Neither of them are planners right now. I didn’t know if I had any concrete plans (hah) when I grabbed them, but I did know I couldn’t see them and leave them there. I’m using mini and classic size Happy Planners for actual planning, but I could not in all good conscience leave the girls alone

First thing I did when I got back to the motel was to ensconce myself on the bed, and rip everything out of each cover. Everything. Every insert, every accecssory, pouch, piece of deco, etc. Everything. Doing that, one finds that one has a heck of a lot of…stuff. Stuff one may not remember what it was doing there in the first place. Clear the decks, and then start adding.

I knew right away that Spinebreaker was for the B6 notebook I received from N and Mr. N. I use that for morning pages.

The green covered insert was there when I put Spinebreaker away, and could not have gone better with the other book, so it stays. This one is dot grid, and will be used for trackers. That will probably let me play some with my Flairs, or maybe some other pens. We’ll see.

I’m liking the UK theme for the pocket deco, so we’ll see how that develops. No pen in the pen loop yet, but it will probably be a basic black ballpoint or gel pen, unless I go with a multipen, but that’s for another post.

Big pink was where I had the biggest “huh” moment, because she had been my main planner, but I am using the Happy Planners for that now, and redundant calendars make me itchy. Also, I had mis-numbered December anyway, so no calendar insert for her this time. I also have a dedicated Happy Notes set up for writing stuff, so she wasn’t going to be for that, either. :drums fingers on desk:

Since the pink elastic I had for her closure had stretched out, and my only options for replacement (on hand) were turquoise and purple, I figured this would be a great time to dive in and make her a pastel Christmas themed sort of thing. Second thought was to make her gothy. Couldn’t decide, so now she’s both.

No lined paper in this TN at all, as of this point, which surprises me, but it does give me the chance to try some different art-y journal things, the kind with paint and fancy lettering and :waves hands vaguely: special stuff that isn’t only bare bones handwriting. I have pockets filled with stencils and stickers and ephemera, a washi tape sampler, and we will see what this actually turns into, but it feels right for now.

Sometimes, when “real life” gets chaotic, a little creative chaos can help put things back into focus. Play matters. There will probably be another insert or notebook section for Sims games, as I want to plot out all of my households I want to play, and in which iteration, before I actually play them, or it gets to be too muddley. There may also be a reading schedule/tracker put in place, but we will see how that develops organically as I mess about with these girls. The process is part of the fun.

See you next time!

Typing With Wet Paws: Creativity and Cat Toys Edition

Happy Friday, Storm Troopers! It’s a beautiful grey, wet day (well, to Aunt Anna, anyway) here in NY’s capitol region, which is very good writing weather for Aunt Anna, so let’s get this blog moving, so she can have the computer to herself.

As usual, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about strategies to not only get through her reading challenge but maybe even come out ahead, Check over there tomorrow, because she’s found a couple of other ways since then. Keeping a notebook helps her with things like that, and, this week, we have a new notebook in the family. I find it especially important, because it is also partly a present for me.

Miss N, and her husband, Mr. N, picked this up for Aunt Anna, at a local art supply store, that they all love. This gift does some multitasking, because it covers Aunt Anna’s birthday, getting me, and just because. I do note the lack of calicos on the cover, but who could compete with all this, anyway? Aunt Anna will use this as her morning pages book. It is a B6 size, and has ivory lined pages, that are smooth and fountain pen-friendly.

Speaking of that reading challenge, Aunt Anna is making some progress. As of this post, she is only six books behind schedule, seventy-eight books read our of a projected ninety-five. That’s eighty-two percent of the way home, and only taking three books per week to cross the finish line for the win. Go, Aunt Anna, go.

This week was okay, writing-wise. Aunt Anna expects that next week will be better, because she is doing some research and taking a good look at what she likes to do most, what time she has, and how she can use it most efficiently. Work has begun on the big mess writing notebook. She will farm things out to individual notebooks as it makes sense, but for now, there are some recycled planner dividers that will keep the sections kind of in order until she figures things out. She will share pictures in a future post.

I think that is it for updates so far, so I can get to the most important part of today’s post, and that is the cat toys. While I do have Mousie (my forever number one best buddy toy, for always) I am also discovering many new toys. Aunt Anna, Uncle, and Aunt Linda do not always appreciate my choices. Can you guess out of the following list which ones the humans are okay with me having?

  • Uncle’s rosary
  • Uncle’s scapular (devotional kind)
  • Uncle’s collar pin (of awesomeness at his job)
  • Aunt Anna’s pens/pen caps
  • room key cards
  • takeout forks
  • Aunt Linda’s planner cover (for scratching)
  • Aunt Linda’s purse (for scratching)
  • Craft store coupon flyer (for scratching)
  • random sweatshirt string that does not come from anybody’s sweatshirt here
  • empty toilet paper roll
  • actual cat toys (jingle balls)

Aunt Anna says I am getting a real scratching pad this weekend, and there will be a carpeted cat condo when we find our new apartment, where I can scratch any part of it that I want. That sounds pretty fun. Honestly, we cats are pretty good at picking out our own toys, but humans seem to like finding manufactured things from time to time. My mom told the aunts that I do like catnip, but I haven’t had any yet while I’ve been here. I think they are saving it for the holidays.

I also get to sit on Aunt Anna’s notebooks a lot (except when she uses the book stand, which I am still forming an opinion about) especially the disc bound ones. Those babies have some comfortable paper. I can see why she likes them. I can also play with the crumpled sticky notes she discards, but I am only really interested in them the first time. After that, they’re dead to me, and I would rather get some fresh prey. Somehow, I get the feeling that, this week, there will be a lot of that.

Okay, I think that is about it for this week, so I will see you next week.

Headbonks!

Writing Notebook: Discovery Draft

In college, I studied early childhood education. The most important thing I learned in four years was that early childhood education and I were a horrible, horrible match. Hence several years in retail and family caregiving. All the while, I knew what I wanted to do with my life: write.

I had known that I wanted to write historical romance since I was eleven years old. More accurately, that was when I found out what it was called. I am pretty sure I was hardwired for this right out of the gate. I would not at all be surprised were I to find out my biological mother loved historical romance. Maybe we’d even have some of the same favorite books. I wrote my first historical romance, very much a pastiche of the author who first captured my attention in this genre, but that’s how we learn, right? By copying the masters when we first start?

When I was twenty=three, I submitted that first book, and got my first rejection. I was also dealing with some raging, undiagnosed depression and anxiety, so I didn’t notice the important bit about that rejection- the editor asked me if I had anything else. At the time, I did not, so that was the end of that, right? Wrong. Depression got much, much worse, real life sucked, and there were time that I thought I would never be able to write the stories I loved with all of my writerly heart. That’s when I discovered Star Trek: The Next Generation.

With absolutely no idea of what I was doing, I started writing first humor, then fan fiction, for a newsletter and fanzine. I wrote. A lot. I made friends, talented writers all, with whom I am still friends, and still a fan of, today. Even then, I described my fanfics as “historical romance with blinkies,” blinkies being a term for any futuristic equipment that had blinking lights.

I wrote and sold four historical romances after that, and even my first co-written contemporary, Chasing Prince Charming, is set in the world of historical romance, so do we see a trend here? What’s stayed the same all that time? Yeah.

When Melva and I meet, via Skype or Messenger, each week, we set out plans for what the next week should hold. Who’s writing what, if there’s anything we need to set up for the other, etc. We know we are heading to the end of draft one for Drama King, and getting the idea soup stock started for Queen of Hearts. We want to write a summer novella, and a trio of Christmas stories, and that’s probably a good 2020 for the two of us.

I want to get a similar plan in place for my historicals. I have been admiring prolific authors of late, many of whom are self-published/indie, and putting out the kinds of books they love the very, very best. That’s where I want to be. I don’t know, yet, if I want to self publish. Part of me thinks it would be an interesting experience, and part of me does not want to crunch any numbers in the outlay department, but there’s plenty of time to deal with that. What’s most important is that I get historical romance novels written and finished, before I can sell or publish them anywhere.

The how of that? Well, that’s where the whole discovery draft of a writing notebook comes into play. What do I need to get from where I am, to where I want to be? Flying into the mist with that one, and I look forward to sharing that process here. The first step? This is it, putting it out there. Next step? Setting up the actual notebook. Throw ink on paper and see what happens when I do.

See you next time

Planners and Plans for 2020

If anybody had asked me, even a few months ago, if I would ever want to use a disc bound system for planning and organization, I would have said a flat out no. They had disks. Which were plastic. A leading brand even had “Happy” right there in the name, and that is a lot of pressure for someone who uses planning to help deal with depression and anxiety as well as writing and the duties of a domestic warrior queen in transit. Fast forward to now, and we have the heavy lifters for the coming year:

That’s classic Happy Planner in the back, with a mini Happy Planner in front of it. Yellow paper is Happy Planner filler paper in an off-brand notebook, and gorgeous galaxy notebook is Happy Notes. The pages are pink, I’ll give it the happy for that. What happened? I got the planners as birthday presents and figured I would give them a shot.

This doesn’t mean that I am abandoning my travelers’ notebooks or ring bound planners or the hordes of hardcover, softcover, and spiral bound notebooks. It’s another tool in my kit, and I very, very much like being able to move the pages around at will, without snapping and unsnapping rings, or leaving paper debris all over whatever surface serves as my desk at the time. Our family is still vagabonding, so having something that I can tote around, dump everything in one place, and then farm out to the proper specific places/notebooks later makes a lot of sense.

Some of the plastic disks are actually pretty, and not all disks are plastic. I can get metal disks if I want (and I probably will, because I know me) and some of the plastic colors are actually pretty. There are a wide variety of covers available commercially, and some creative stuff on Etsy, plus the option to buy a DIY sleeve to fill with my own choice of images. (Yeah, every much going for that one, ASAP.) After a couple of weeks, and a lot of YouTube tutorials, I got the hang of the system, and picked up my first Happy Notes, the notebook version, no planner, just paper, and rescued an off-brand cousin from a clearance rack, which has become a catchall sort of book, with pages I can readily swap out if they belong somewhere else.

Organization helps me to thrive, and pretty organization is even better. I found a few designs of planners/notebooks/papers/accessories that are more on the sophisticated side than in-your-face bright and want-to-punch-their-face cheerful. I like to have a good idea of what I am going to be doing before I am actually doing it, which very much does affect my writing, especially going into a whole new year.

2019 saw the publication of Chasing Prince Charming, another thing that surprised me. I haven’t stopped writing historical romance just because I have a contemporary out there. One of my goals is to have a historical sale and/or release in 2020. At least one, as well as my contemporary collaborations. I also want to leave room in case something else that sounds fun presents itself, because one never knows.

In the past, my writing notebooks followed a very specific pattern:

  1. pick out color scheme
  2. choose binder, always letter size
  3. create four sections: hero, heroine, villain/antagonist, and history/research
  4. never touch it again
  5. feel guilty forever

in the one sense, it kind of worked, because a) I kept doing it, and b) usually worked out a few things while doing so, but on the other, it didn’t, because, say it with me now, I never touched them again, and felt guilty forever. This doesn’t mean that keeping notebooks doesn’t work for me (um, have you met me?) but that I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do, and what probably worked very well for somebody else, but not for me. For 2020, I plan to take a more organic approach, which is to say ease the heck up on myself and let things happen as they happen in regards to setting up my writing notebooks, and shut off the annoying troll in my head that says everything has to be perfect right out of the pen. Because it doesn’t.

What I have right now is a bunch of different colored filler paper, and a plan to swoop in on any clearance 2019 disc bound planners at the end of the year. Each project will get its own…thing. I’m not sure yet how I’m going to make the divisions. Maybe as broad as historical and contemporary at first, or for 2020 and after that. That’s one of the things I want to figure out as I go along; the right way will make itself known if I keep showing up and doing the work.

Lately, I’ve been admiring the heck out of authors like Kathryn LeVeque and Sandra Sookoo, both extremely prolific authors. I haven’t read much of either author, so far, but I can still fangirl over their business savvy, and owning their voices and diving in one hundred percent. Yes. That. The question is, how do I get from where I am, to where that sort of writer is? One day at a time, it would seem, and laying out a map so that I know, generally, where I am going, and approximately how I plan to get there.

Planners are a big hep in that. I am not big on word counts, which is how many successful and prolific authors measure output. I can see why. It’s handy. For me, pages are a better bet, so I am going to try setting a page goal first. Whether or not I translate that to words remains to be seen, but a page goal, and an aesthetically pleasing way to record it seems like a good place to start. The most important part is to get the stuff in my head down on the page, all the way to the end. After that, the possibilities are endless.

I really do need a new signoff image, but this is fun.

Typing With Wet Paws: Midnight Yowl Edition

Hi, Storm Troopers! It’s Feline Friday once more, so I am taking over Aunt Anna’s blog. I planned for that when I took over her planner. My version of helping her plan, or write, is often to lie on the paper, steal the pen, or bat it with my paw, while she is trying to write with said pen. It’s lots of fun, and I am sure has a profound effect on her productivity.

She is in hardcore planning mode right now, because this was a different kind of week. Uncle did not feel so great for a big chunk of it. He is better now, so now Aunt Anna is looking to see where she can put in some extra effort and get things back on track. I commend her for this. She is several belly rubs behind, and that cannot stand. More on that later.

First, however, I have to talk about Aunt Anna’s writing, so let’s get to that. This week, she did not get to meet with Aunt Melva, but she did get to go over a bit of a scene Aunt Melva sent her for a new thing they are playing with, outside of the Love By the Book series. Still contemporary romance, and you know Aunt Anna is going to work something historically adjacent in there somewhere. She has also been doing some longhand work on Drama King, and feeling really, really guilty about Her Last First Kiss, which means it’s getting some for-sure time this coming week. I will let her talk about that later.

As usual, Aunt Anna was at Buried Under Romance this past week. This time, she noticed a curious trend in her market research. If the picture above isn’t enough of a clue, maybe this will help. That’s right, this time, Aunt Anna is talking about Australian romance, both stories set in Australia (or New Zealand) and by Australian or NZ authors. Do you have a favorite in either category? Drop on by nd leave a comment.

How many of these can Aunt Anna get through in one weekend?

On the reading challenge front, there is actually something to report, as Aunt Anna formulates a cunning plan (she will talk about that in tomorrow’s post over at Buried Under Romance, so keep an eye open) to get up to date, and maybe even ahead, because now it is personal. As of this post, she is only seven books behind, at seventy-five books read out of ninety-five. This feels doable. It may require cutting back on Sims 4 play, but it will be worth it. Story in, story out, and all that stuff.

Happy Planner mini, horizontal layout

Speaking of plans, Aunt Anna is rather happy with the way her mini planner spread looks for next week, mostly before the pen. I helped with this one (can you tell?) and there was a minute there where we almost had an incident with stickers and my paw fur, but Aunt Anna is super fast. The spread was done without incident. We will see how that goes, when she fills it in with all of her writing stuff for the week to come.

my buddy, Mousie!

Now for the important part of this post, which is why there is a midnight yowl in the title. In case you were wondering, I was the one yowling, loud nd long. Aunt Anna was the only one (I think) who woke up, and got out of bed. She found me in the dark and asked me what was wrong. I won’t say the whole thing of what happened, but the problem was that (I am okay, don'[t worry) I wanted to play Mousie, and there were no humans up to help me with that. Intolerable! Yes, Aunt Anna did play Mousie with me, so I know that trick works, but she was not happy about it. Eh, I’m still cute. It’s all good.

Mousie is my bestest bud (besides the humans) and he was a present from my mom, so I have a little bit of her, which is nice. You can tell how much I love Mousie because I chewed off most of his face, his tail is long gone, and his string is tied around his tummy because I am a fierce hunter and catch him a lot. I mean a lot. You don’t even know how much. I do have a few balls my aunts and uncle gave me, but nobody beats Mousie.

Headbonks!

#calicolovestorm on IG

Typing With Wet Paws: Post-Book-Launch Edition

Hi, everybody, and happy November! I’m Storm, and I am not a big expert on Novembers, because this is probably only my second one, but that should make it very easy for me to have the best November yet, right? I know some cats have writers who are doing NaNoWriMo this month. It sounds very exciting. All of thst lap time, and all those warm keyboards has to be an incredible experience. I will be having some of that, as Aunt Anna and Aunt Melva are committed to getting Drama King to the end of draft one this month, and Aunt Anna wants to get a few other things under control at the same time. Maybe that’s what all those planners are for? I, of course, will be on Mews duty, to make sure she gets it all done, including taking copious breaks to pet and play with me.

mews on deck

Buried Under Romance

Aunt Anna would like to apologize for the absence of posts at Buried Under Romance this past week, but exciting new things are coming, very soon. For a while now, she has half-joked about what she would like to do if anyone ever dropped a romance magazine in her lap, and that is very close to what is going on there. There is a platform, there are some very talented reviewers and other people to make it all work, and what better time to truly kick into gear than the holiday season?

Readvember

I don’t know if Readvember is really a thing, but maybe it is, now. Aunt Anna flatly refuses to look at how far behind she is in her Goodreads challenge until she finishes reading at least one book. She would rather look at the books she is supposed to be reading instead, and maybe find a way to track reading progress that will keep her motivated. Do you know of any reading challenges that are fun? Leave as link in the comments, and Aunt Anna will give them a look.

Life After Launch

Please note that is “launch,” not “lunch.” Lunch has not happened yet as I write this, and I am more of a breakfast and dinner girl, anyway. Aunt Melva is sending Aunt Anna some more pictures from the book launch, to share with everybody The pictures look like everybody had a really fun time, and Aunt Anna says they did. Now, all of the reception leftovers are gone, except for the memories, and it is back to business on all things reading, writing, and blogging related, not necessarily in that order.

So far, Aunt Anna is planning to show what planners she is using to keep her writing stuff in line, at least for the time being, at the start of next week. I suspect she will move a lot of things around before then, but as long as she settles on something that makes sense, that is all that matters.

There has also been talk of getting a real cat bed for me, to keep next to the glowy box. Anything is a “real” cat bed, as long as there is a real cat sleeping on it, but I have heard that the motel will want their towel back when we move into our real apartment, and so it’s probably best to get something in place now, so I can know it is mine when we do pick up sticks and set down roots in a different place.

That’s about it for this week’s post. Not that much to report, it’s true, but it’s a brand new month, beginning today, and Thanksgiving month, at that. For those who are curious, yes, I will get a special dinner on Thanksgiving day, but it will be chicken, not turkey, because my mom told Aunt Anna that turkey and my tummy are Not Friends. We won’t go into how my mom found out that bit of information.

Wait. There is one other development this week, which I think needs to be included. I have a new Thing that I do. Sometimes, the humans don’t immediately stop what they are doing (including sleeping) when I ask them to play, so now, to show them I am Really Serious, I bring them my Mousie toy. I also have crinkly foil balls, which are fun, but I only ever bring them Mousie. When a cat brings you a slimy stuffed mouse, trailing a long string, it is an expression of love. There is a lot of love around here.

Okay, that’s really it. Headbonks!

short-haired calico cat, eating out of a pink bowl. Handwriting font reada "love, Storm"

This is a Planning Post About Planning Posts

Can you believe it’s almost November? Not only are we coming up on a new month, but the end of the current year and start of the next, which means the start of a new writing year, which means time to take stock of my planners, see what I have, how I want to use what, and what needs to find a different home. I am mostly talking about planners/planning, but it does apply to writing projects as well. Only so much time in the day, and finished is better than perfect.

i sm not keeping track of word count in Drama King (that’s Melva’s job) but I do know what scenes need writing in order to get to that point, and it’s pretty much the same with Her Last First Kiss. My best educated guess on how I am going to track writing on these projects is by scene, which works perfectly fine for me.

My original first draft of this post, handwritten in a mini composition book, because most of my first drafts are handwritten, was largely about how the midst of a months-long move is both not an advisable time to curate one’s planner repetoire, and turning out surprisingly well. Basicslly, where I hsbe landed on that one is that starting out minimally and then noting whst i wish I had, then filling that need, works decently in both writing and planning.

The planners in today’s deskscape are sll in current use. The Hsppy Plsnners are birthday gifts from Housemate, who has pulled me over to the Happy Plannerverse. She says thst mesns nothing, becsuse I am her planner dam, and thus anything she does in the planner world traces directly back to me. Fair enough. I had been snobbish about HP in the past, largely due to the disk binding, but I like the layouts and the artwork, and whst better way to find out if I do like the system or not than to use it.

I could say the same thing about trying contemporary romance, or submitting to e-pubs, both of which have turned out oksy, so i hsve high hopes for the new plsnners. Things will sort themselves out in time, usually when I’m not looking, rather going along, telling stories, playing with pens and paper , etc. There definitely can be more reading, especially as I craft what I am cslling my mission statement for Buried Under Romance, which may end up with a planner of its own.

All of thst is part of planning future blog posts. I do want to talk more about how I use planners as a writer, and still keep the focus on writing. We will see how this goes. Fiction writing comes first, and planning should, in theory, make that go more smoothly. In practice, well, we will see about that.

Book Launch Hangover

Book launch hangovers are most assuredly a thing, and I know, because I have one. This past Saturday,. Melva Michaelian and I had our very first event as co-authors, at the East Longmeadow Public Library. Arranged by dear friends, M.P. Barker and Carol Munro, this was top notch all the way.

look at these babies!

Seeing not one copy of a book with my and Melva’s names on it, but a whole pile, for which people I have not met before (nd some who have) hand over actual cash money and ask for authorial signatures, when I am one of the authors in question, well, that’s a Moment. There were sctual journalists present, and more pictures will be forthcoming. I didn’t get to take a lot of photos myself, sa I was doing other things, but no camera can capture all the love in that room.

Me, book, and friend, Mary, trying to hide behind book.

To say we had the best-best time would be an understatement. Room was packed, which was a delightful surprise. There were romance readers there for sure, and those new to the genre, making for an interesting mix. There were a few questions about the genre itself, about writing partnerships in particular, and, more specifically, Melva’s and mine. We’ll put a truncated version of our partnership’s origin story on melvaandanna.com soon. It’s a fun story, if s little convoluted.

Another great question came from friend and reader, Mary W, who asked Melva and I what our favorite tropes were in the romance genre. For Melva, it’s friends to lovers (which we are doing in our planned third book, Queen of Hearts) and for me, stasr-crossed lovers who make it work. Second chance at love (with sme lover) might be another aspect of it, and we have plans to address that, too.

Speaking of plans, the question about future books came up, and as of right now, Melva snd I plan to have the first draft of Drama King done by the end of November. Not NaNo in the strictest sense, but we are determined to write the End by the end of the month, so NaNoIsh? We will see. After that, there is talk of a couple of shorter pieces before we get back to Queen of Hearts, and we both need to keep space for our solo works.

I’d like to say it’s all cake from here, which is not entirely an excuse to show this gorgeous dessert (yes, the picture was edible) but we get back to the whole real business of writing thing, because the awesome days full of cake and the signing pen running out of ink, and posters of book covers and “I loved your book” and all the other great stuff? That doesn’t come without butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, or pen in hand. Day by day, word by word, flying into the mist or meticulously plotting (your mileage may vary) backspaces and deletes and all that other aggravating stuff.

Those moments aren’t alwys the most fun, but they are needed, because they build the foundation of everything else. After the event, the readers go home and dive into the books, while the authors go home, and, well, in our cases, sleep (for a month would be nice, but not at all practical) and eat and maybe read something or zone out in front of the TV for a while, then, in time, we get up and do it all over again.

too “explosive” a signoff pic?