Typing With Wet Paws: I Feel a Draft Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. The draft I am talking about here is not coming through any doors or windows (our building is very well insulated, which is very much appreciated) but drafts coming from Aunt Anna. By this I mean of the booik variety, of course.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com
(not Aunt Anna)

Drama King

As you may have read in Aunt Anna’s blog, Drama King is now officially a draft. Aunt Anna is a little dazed over that because, well, 2020 was horrible. Now it’s time for the editing phase, which Aunt Anna actually likes. Strange, I know. It also means time for a new notebook setup for laying the groundwork for Queen of Hearts. Oh what hardship. (I am being sarcastic here.) There will probably be new pens and highlighters, too, or, more likely, appropriating some that Aunt Anna already has. One of the really fun things Aunt Anna is looking forward to is getting together things that remind her of the character she will be writing for Queen of Hearts, which, this time, will be the heroine. She really loves the heroes Aunt Melva writes, so this is going to be fun.

It also serves as a nice balance to the much more technical work of the editing process, filing in holes, smoothing out transitions, making sure that the best character (a cat!) has enough scenes and all that kind of stuff.

A Heart Most Errant is now in the hands of an actual editor, and in about two weeks, it will be back in Aunt Aunna’s hands. That means she will have some more tinkering to do, but there will also be formatting and cover art, which sounds an awful lot like…a real book. The kind that can be sold directly to readers, if you’re into that sort of thing.

This means that she needs to start thinking, now, about connected books, which is not normally a thing she does, but the market is what the market is. Trying new stuff is fun, and the idea of writing more books in that setting means that A) she has a really good excuse to read more medieval romances, and B) get back on track with The Walking Dead, because the whole concept of this story world is “post-apocalyptic medieval.” It takes place after the Bubonic Plague whomped out basically half of Europe. This is either incredibly good timing for this sort of story or incredibly bad timing. Aunt Anna figures it will all work out in the end, and she’s happy to be writing historical romance, period, so on with the show.

Reading

First, the good stuff. (well, Aunt Anna says all reading is the good stuff) Aunt Anna is currently one book ahead of her Goodreads Reading Challenge, with six books read out of her goal of ninety. That puts her at seven percent of the way home.

The thing that gives her pause (as opposed to paws; I provide the paws around here) is that all six of those books are YA (or NA) – two romances and four scary books. With all of them, she has, at one point or another, or multiple points throughout, wondered how that sort of thing would work in a historical romance. Maybe this counts as some sort of research? This can be mildly concerning when one remembers this was also the week of…

Historical Romance Readathon

Yeeeeaaaah. Aunt Anna did not do great here. Not going to hold it against her, though, because A) this has been a rough week with raging insomnia, and B) that kind of led into feeling pressure-y about hewing to her readathon plan, so she is going to call this a deferred readathon and still do it this week, although albeit unofficially. That’s how she rolls.

All is not lost, though, because Aunt Anna acquired a super neat thing this week: a weighted blanket. That means that it’s a blanket, filled with lots and lots and lots of tiny glass beads. The weight is often very good for people who have anxiety (which Aunt Anna does) and make it easier for them to sleep. This one, I am happy to report, works. I even tried it myself.

Hooman tested, kitty approved

Also, Aunt Anna has another anthology ready for weekend reading, Regency in Color (vol 1!) which has a story from Jessica Cale, who is one of Aunt Anna’s favorite historical romance authors. This bodes extremely well. She can confirm that reading historical romance under a weighted blanket, with a hot cup of cinnamon tea, and a beautiful, purring calico girl makes for a super duper cozy time. Aunt Anna is very much into this sort of thing. Possibly with extra pillows and a scented candle set well away from any place aforementioned calico girl can get to it. I am never ever ever left unsupervised around candles.

Okay, I think that’s about it. That weighted blanket is super snuggly, and I have a lot of napping to do, if I am going to be any sort of purr-sonal assitant. What’s on tap for your weekend?

Headbonks!

Good Question, YA Novel

Not sure what it was about yesterday, but I ticked three, count them three books off my Goodreads challenge backlog. Okay, two of them, I had started earlier, and one of them was a forty minute audiobook prequel to a new series, but it still counts. Two of the books were historical romance, one paranormal, one not, and the other one was a YA romance, the latest installment in my favorite YA Christmas romance series. I will admit that is a pretty much niche market, but stay with me here, I’m going somewhere.

Disclaimer: I highly, highly, highly recommend the Dash and Lily series, but do not start with Mind the Gap. Get in on the ground floor, with Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. There’s a smart, grumpy YA hero, Dash, who is full of the bah humbug, and Lily, our spunky YA heroine, lives for Christmas and dogs and family ties. There’s a red Moleskine notebook, a clandestine correspondence, an underground Jewish rave, a madcap tour of NYC, all the holiday feels, and every bookworm’s fantasy of being locked in a bookstore overnight. Oh, and true love. Also, the cover looks like this:

When I first met Dash and Lily, their first book was a standalone, and I didn’t think it needed any more installments. (I stan standalones, but that’s another post) but Twelve Days of Dash and Lily won me over, when Christmas-loving Lily loses the joy of the season, and it’s up to Dash to bring back her sparkle.

Okay, so the question. First, a little backstory. I am not going to retell any of the books, because read them, read them, read them, read them, read them. I will, however, say that if there is one city that rivals a perfect location for Christmas magic than NYC, it’s London. Congratulations to Ms. Cohn and Mr. Levithan for knowing the one thing that would entice me. (The only city that could top that would be Jerusalem, but this isn’t that kind of book.) Dash is at the wrong university, Lily is finding that maybe she doesn’t want her gap year to close, and they aren’t kids anymore, but young adults (new adults?) so questions of The Future are now coming into play, and mommy and daddy can’t help them now.

There are older relatives, of course, and one of them actually does ask one really good question of both Dash and Lily, which applies to them both as individuals finding their own ways, and as a couple. What is the question? It’s an easy and profound one:

Don’t think about it, the relative urges Dash and Lily. Just answer. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Lily comes up right away with “dogs,” and for Dash, it’s “books.” For Anna (no, there is no Anna in this book. Okay, there is one, but she’s been super dead for a super long time, and she is only mentioned once. It’s me. I am the Anna. I will be surprised if you did not get that already.) there was similarly no hesitation. Romance novels. I love romance novels. I have ever since I stole my very first historical romance novel from my mother’s nightstand when I was a very precocious eleven. I knew then and there that I had found what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and usually, I follow that with “so far, so good,” but, eh, 2020.

To recap for the new followers (hi, and thanks for following. We are thrilled to have you. “We” is me and Storm kitty. Plus my imaginary friends, um, I mean characters.) 2020 was full of anxiety, depression, homelessness, and assorted other non-delights. I told Real Life Romance Hero that I am staying up on New Year’s Eve because I want to watch 2020 die.

Things are better now. We have a gorgeous, cozy apartment that gives me historical romance cred because it started out life as part of a carriage house in the nineteenth century. It has the pink fifties bathroom of my dreams, updated exactly enough to straddle retro and timeless modern classiness. I have an awesome calico kitty who is my mews and purr-sonal asisstant, I am married to the love of my life, and our best friend is our housemate. All of this provides a really good foundation to transition out of survival mode and into who I want to be now.

Which brings us to Dash and Lily’s question. What do I love? Romance novels. I love the happily ever afters, I love the history (even my co-written contemporaries have historical touches here and there.) I love the character journeys, and the whole complicated dance from strangers to you and no other-ness. :happy sigh: I love reading these books and I love writing these books and I love talking about these books. I love the authors and the covers and the readers and the history of romance fiction and the swag and the community and…yeah. If I ever got locked in a bookstore overnight, I would like it to be The Ripped Bodice, the first big time all-romance bookstore because trust me, I would not mind one iota. Second choice is a good old fashioned UBS (used book store) that is romance friendly, with a substantial stock of pre-1996 titles.

Even though I have read voraciously in above niche, I still haven’t read exhaustively, so there are still many adventures ahead. As well, of course, as all of the fabulous new books coming out literally every month, people. Every. Month. Plus my own stories, historical and contemporary and who knows what else? One thing I can tell you, though: they’ll be romance.

Hi. I’m Anna. I write romance novels and about romance novels. I also love stationery. Come to my place, that’s what you get. Welcome. Now sit right next to me and tell me all your favorites.

YA Recommendations for Pride, pt 2

When I first thought about posting a list of YA recommendations with LGBT themes, I thought it was going to be easy to pick a few favorites, but I was wrong. Love, loss, angst, healing, friendship, and growing up and into oneself are universal, and as with many genres, there are flat out too many excellent voices to pick only a few, and I want to know the stories of people whose experiences are different from mine, so here are five more examples of the stories that have stuck with me the most. gain, no particular order, and all are, as far as I know, own voices stories, and standalones.

Deposing Nathan, Zack Smedley: This book, oh man, all the love. Told in non-linear fashion, we learn how it was that Nate and his best friend, Cam, came not only to blows, but a near-fatal scuffle that now has the legal system involved. The added bonus here is that Nate is equally rooted in his orientation, and his Christian faith, truly desiring to reconcile both truths about himself and live his most honest life. Gripping, raw, and real, this is a five star read for me, and I will pick up Zack Smedley’s next book by only his name on the cover. I’m sold.

I Wish You All the Best, Mason Deaver: When Ben DeBacker comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they toss him out of the house without even shoes on their feet. Where can they possibly go while processing such betrayal? To the only person who can understand, their estranged older sister, Hannah, who immediately comes to get Ben and brings them to live with her and her husband, Thomas, a teacher at the school Ben will attend for the next year. Hannah and Thomas don’t have all the answers, but they want to ask the right questions, and guide Ben as Ben charts his own path in life, art, and love.

If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo: Meredith Russo is another writer whose books I will pick up by name alone. In her debut novel, Ms. Russo hits the sweet spot of heartbreaking and heartwarming, as we journey with Amanda, a trans girl looking for a fresh start in a new school. She is strongly attracted to classmate Grant, but unsure of how much to share about her past. She also has some ups and downs reconnecting with her divorced father, with whom she now lives.

Symptoms of Being Human, Jeff Garvin: In Riley Cavanaugh’s own words, “The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?” This is how Riley starts the anonymous blog on the advice of their therapist. Riley, a genderfluid teen, has a voice, but how to use it, when they are settling into a new school, their conservative congressman father is running for reelection, and everybody has expectations of who Riley is or should be. The blog takes off, creating a community, but when Riley’s identity is leaked, that’s when Riley has to decide who they are and what their future will be.

Annie on My Mind, Nancy Garden:

There is a lot to love about this book. Not only is it a seminal work of contemporary YA, one of the first with LGBT themes (and certainly with a happy ending)but the author’s voice is so lyrical that it’s almost like music. Not a lot is actually shown of Annie’s musical talent, but it’s infused through the story, told entirely from Liza’s point of view. Two teenage girls, from two different worlds, who find love in each other, the story of their growing relationship interspersed with a letter Liza may or may not send to her estranged beloved, Annie, grabs readers by the heart and doesn’t let go.

Annie, it’s raining. From those three words, the first three that came to the author when she began putting Annie and LIza’s story to paper, I knew this story had me. The scene, early on, where Liza first encounters the enchanting Annie, in a museum, on a rainy November afternoon, instantly earned a place as one of my all time favorites.

It’s not easy to be two young women in love in the late 1970s/early 80s (the book was published in 1982) and both Annie and Liza learn this firsthand, but that’s part of the magic of growing up, getting through the things we think will break us, and learning who our people, family, and chosen family, truly are.

I had a lot of fun coming up with these lists, so will probably be adding more recommendations, both YA and historical romance, maybe a few other things, in future posts. If there’s a topic or trope you’d like to see me cover, drop it in the comments, and I will see what I can do. If you’d like to follow me on Goodreads, to keep up with what I’m reading as well as new releases, I would love to be Goodreads friends, which can happen right here.

YA Book Recommendations for Pride Month, pt 1

After historical romance, my next favorite subgenre of fiction is Young Adult (YA.) It’s still not a genre in which I write (I hear a dear aunt’s voice in my head now, saying “never say never.”) but one in which I know I am going to find a lot of love, familial, platonic and romantic.

It’s also a genre that is wonderfully diverse, which I love. Here are, in no particular order, five recommendations for YA novels with LGBT+ protagonists. As far as I know, all are own voices stories.

1) All the Bad Apples, Moira Fowley-Doyle: We first meet narrator, Deena, after the funeral of her free-spirited and much older sister, at which there was no body. Deena’s family is believed to be cursed, that something horrible will happen on a girl’s seventeenth birthday, that would follow her the rest of her life. Prepare to be swept away by Fowley-Doyle’s compelling voice, and live with the characters as multiple generations of Deena’s family deal with their own curses and choose their own futures. Oh, and Deena likes girls.

2) Let’s Talk About Love, Claire Kann: Alice has her whole summer planned out, but when she comes out to her girlfriend as asexual, that’s only the first of the big changes in Alice’s life. That relationship is over, but life isn’t, and not wanting sex doesn’t mean not wanting love. What better time than a job at the library to keep Alice’s mind on the right track? Well, apart from co-worker Takumi, who very much reminds Alice how nice romance can be. Will he still be into her if he knows the whole truth about what she wants? (spoiler: he is)

3) Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan: modern teenage boyfriends Harry and Craig participate in a kiss-a-thon to set a world record, but the focus is not entirely on them. Narrated by a Greek Chorus of gay men who died in the AIDS epidemic, we also see how the boys’ lives affect other teens, their own families, and the reader’s own heart.

4) History is All You Left Me, Adam Silvera: Oh my heart. Adam Silvera has ripped it out, stomped it flat, put it back in, and made it somehow, if not stronger, more resilient. Here’s how: teenage Griffin was in love with his ex-boyfriend, Theo, even though they broke up so Theo could go to college on the opposite coast. Neither of them counted on Theo falling in love with Jackson. Or Theo dying, in front of Jackson, who has come to NY for the funeral. Who are the only two people who get what it was like to be in love with Theo even though he’s gone? Yeeep. This is raw, beautiful honest grief, with healing and growing up.

5) Pulp, Robin Talley: I said this list was in no particular order (and I am starting to wish I had made this a top ten, but that’s what other posts are form, hm?) but I am going to give this one the title of favorite, because while I don’t know what it’s like to be LGBT in any decade, I do know what it’s like to have the discovery of a genre of fiction change one’s entire life. For me, it was historical romance. For Janet Jones in 1955, and Abby Zimet sixty-two years later, it was lesbian pulp fiction. Ms. Talley is a master at writing twentieth century historical fiction, fully inhabiting both timelines, as Abby delves into what really happened to the mysterious ‘Marian Love” who wrote only one book and then disappeared.

All of these books are standalones, another thing I love about YA, so there is no need to read other books by any of these authors, before diving into these, but oh how quickly those TBRs will grow.

Five Books I Can’t Wait To Read (non-romance edition)

Putting on my reader hat for this post, as redoing a couple of my planners involved redoing my TBR lists (yes, plural,) and if you’re reading this blog, you’re a reader, a writer, orboth. In short, more books are always good. Here is a short list of five books, all outside of genre romance, that I can’t wait to get my hands on, and  why. All of these titles are either newly released or soon to be released, and I expect, when each one of them is in my posession, that I wil inhale it at a truly astounding speed. This will hopefully alleviate some of the guilt I feel at having to return multiple library books unread, because the library needs them back. That’s another post, though, and I will assuredly re-borrow those titles and read them ASAP. For now, I am looking to the horizon, which includes these tasty morsels:

When We Believed in Mermaids – Barbara O’Neal (aka Barbara Samuel, aka Lark O’Neal, aka Ruth Wind) (women’s fiction)

This one is a no-brainer, because A) I will resd anything with any of this author’s names on it, and B) I have an EARC, direct from the author, which will in  no way affect my upcoming review of this book. Really and truly, the author’s name is all it will take for my ears to perk, and the mention of mermaids (this is not a paranormal, as far as I know) also caught my attention. Sisters, secrets, New Zealand, a loved one who is not so dead after all, emotional trauma, and…yeah, I am there.

Life and Limb — Jennifer Roberson (western urban fantasy)

This may be a slightly unusual addition to this list, because I am not usually one for westerns, or urban fantasy, but this is Jennifer Roberson, author of the Tiger and Del series. Tiger and Del are one of my all time favorite couples, easily able to hold their own as romance hero and heroine, the sort who go through hell together, and still come out on top. I literally squealed when I saw that this author did, in fact, have a new book coming out, and only read the description after I had put it on my Want To Read list on Goodreads. I am more than happy to go into this new series mostly blind. I trust the author to take me somewhere good.

The Golden Hour — Beatriz Williams (historical fiction/historical women’s fiction)

There is most certainly a trend here, because Beatriz Williams (aka Juliana Gray,) is another upon whose books I will pounce like a cat on a red dot, without knowing squat doodle about the plot. For this one, we get Nassau (Bahamas) during WWII, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, a recently widowed magazine writer heroine, a mysterious scientist hero with secrets of her own, and oh, who cares what else? Beatriz Williams. Take. My. Money.

State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts — Nick Hornby (general fiction/ Lad lit)

A story I have not yet read, from the master of the TEA? That’s Tolerably Ever After, not the beverage, tea, or the meal, tea, though the author is likely familiar with both, as he’s British. How do I love Nick Hornby? Let me count the ways: About a Boy; Juliet, Naked; A Long Way Down; Slam. Brooklyn, and An Education, if we want to talk screenplays, and I even read, and was profoundly affected, in a good way, by a short story called “Nipple Jesus” (trust me, it was not salacious or disrespectful, in any way.) This is another one where I knew I wanted to read it before I knew the premise (still really don’t, and, again, I am perfectly content to go into this one blind)  because life in Hornby land generally seems to go my way.

Comics Will Break Your Heart — Faith Erin Hicks (YA)

This is another easy one, because I am completely helpless in the facce of YA that has any trace of geekery about it. Fangirl, Scarelt Epstein Hates It Here; Geekerella; Eliza and Her Monsters; Radio Silence, and more. I could read those forever and never get tired of them. There is a central romance in this story, so it kind of counts as romance, but what drew me was the comics aspect. Our heroine’s family would have been sitting pretty financially, if their grandfather hadn’t sold his interest in what’s now a mega comics franchise, for a pittance, way back when, so of course our hero has to be the scion of the family that now owns that share. Stop there, tell me no more, the library gets this book back when I’m done with it, but then I’m buying my own, because dang, I love this kind of stuff, though all that I have read so far has been from the library. I need some geeky YA keepers of my own. Never know when I want to pet some of them. Comes with the territory.

For those surprsed that there are no genre romance books on this list, that is a separate list, coming soon. Possibly more than one list, because romance is indeed a wide umbrella. With that, I am off to the library. What’s on top of your TBR pile?

You Asked For (Most of) It

Kitchen table seems to be my default workspace as of late, and, one week after my return from CT Fiction Fest, the normal routine is inching back into place. Since the normal routine includes candles, tea, books, pens, and paper, this is a very good thing. It also means I do the book writing thing, now equipped with my snazzy new tools gleaned from abovementioned conference.

Starting off a little differently this week, though (and not only because Monday’s entry is coming to you on Tuesday,) with answers to a few asks I’ve had in ye olde emaile inboxxe.

First, my planners. If you’re new, spoiler alert: I love planners. If you’ve been here a while, this is not news. For those who asked about my current system, I use the traveler’s notebook setup, aka one cover, holding four notebook inserts inside it.

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Webster’s Pages classic and pocket traveler’s notebook covers

My classic (aka A5) cover is blush stripe, and the pocket size is blush. I am very into blush pink at the moment (it will probably be a very long moment) which is why I had to have the blush pink Artist Loft dot grid journal from Michaels. This is where I make my monthly and weekly spreads. I used to make daily spreads as well, but A) that takes a while, and B) my dailies migrated to a whiteboard on the refrigerator, and seem happy there, so who am I to move them? I’m experimenting with a minimalistic style in this planner, which is new for me, but fits with the blush, so it may stick.

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My calendars are in Dutch, because I am learning.

Inserts for both covers are usually Moleskine cahiers or Volants, but Picadilly has some super nice A5 inserts, as well. I get both brands at Barnes and Noble. My new discovery is Yellow Paper House, on the website or Etsy, which makes gorgeous inserts with colored paper. Insert heart eyes emoji here. My favorite pens could take up another post all by themselves, but, for daily use, I like Pilot Frixion erasable pens and pastel highlighters (also erasable.) I like the clicky ones best. I am not receiving any compensation from abovementioned brands; merely fangirling over my favorites. This weekend, I plan to try my hand at making my own inserts, because A) I am a control freak, and B) I like pretty notebooks that do exactly as I want.

The next request comes from a conversation with friends, this past weekend, and the idea of top five books. This is a hard question for many readers, because how do you pick? Going with top five for right now, not of all time, and I can write more, later, in depth, about said choices, but, for today, my top five historical romance novels are:

  1. Skye O’Malley – Bertrice Small
  2. Lovesong – Valerie Sherwood
  3. Pirate in my Arms – Danelle Harmon
  4. Tyburn – Jessica Cale
  5. Wild Bells to the Wild Sky – Laurie McBain

 

Top five YA novels, right now, are:

  1. Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
  2. Every Day – David Levithan
  3. Emergency Contact – Mary H.K. Choi
  4. We Are Okay – Nina La Cour
  5. I Will Go Barefoot All Summer For You -Katie Letcher Lyle

 

I could probably break this down further, to give lists of specific kinds of historical romances, or YAs, and favorites that don’t fall into either category.  (Nick Hornby, Evelyn Waugh, and (the real) V.C. Andrews, I am looking at you.) These will probably crop up in future posts, because A) instant post topic, on days when my blogging idea bank consists of “uhhh….” B) I will get to make a separate notebook to keep track of all of these lists, and C) I honestly could blabber about my favorite books forever. Ditto on the pens and notebooks, but a gal’s got to write sometime.

I am also putting a mental sticky note on the topic of abandoned notebooks, those that I started with the best of intentions and then…umm…yeahhh…:shoves stack of notebooks under bed, with foot: Some of them come back, as with Big Daddy Precious, aka the second from the bottom in the book stack, pictured. I fell in love with this notebook on sight, needed it, longed for it, and knew that I wanted to use it for Her Last First Kiss stuff. I started at it for longer than I would care to admit, then tried a bunch of different approaches, all of which fell completely flat.

Still, I packed it in with my must-haves when we moved, and, this past week, hauled it out of its box, when N and I gave ourselves homework to get ourselves back on track with the manuscripts we loved, but had been ignoring/hiding from/procrastinating. What better book than the one I can swear is giving me the side-eye? I hadn’t noticed it at the time, but the point in this notebook where I paused writing in it? Dead middle.  Solution? One page break, new title page, begin as if this was a brand new notebook.

The one thing I have learned from these notebooks abandoned in midstream is that whatever I was using them for, and then abandoned, wasn’t the right thing. Maybe I thought it was the right thing, but it wasn’t, and that’s normal and natural, does not mean I am a failure as a writer and/or human being. All it means is that I need to turn a fresh page and try something that is not what was giving me guff. Decent advice for most things, really. I may need to make an art journal page about that.

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Typing With Wet Claws: Heat Wave Has Broken Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday, straight from Camp Grandma. This past week was a hot one, even for those of us without built-in fur coats. For humans like Anty and Uncle, both who are extra-sensitive to the heat (Anty more than Uncle, but it’s not a contest,) that makes getting things done extra challenging, so this will be another different sort of post. Weather permitting, things should be back to normal (or as normal as they get around here) by next week.

One thing that has not changed is that I have to talk about Anty’s writing first, before I am allowed to talk about anything else. To be fair, that anything else is usually Anty’s writing anyway (that is what a mews does) but it is my job to tell people where they can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, besides here. As usual, Anty was at Buried Under Romance this past Saturday. That post is here, and it looks like this:

Huh. My apologies. We are having some technical difficulties with the remote connection today. I love Grandma, but she is not that great as an IT person, so you will have to click on the link above to see what Anty’s post looks like. Anty is also under a time crunch today, so I am going to charge through the rest of this post. It is summer vacation, after all.

What did not take a vacation is Anty’s Goodreads challenge. Anty has been crushing this challenge. That is partly because she did not have a lot of energy during the heat wave, and reading was, on some days, all she could handle. That is not a bad way to pass a hot day, plopped in front of the fan, with a cold sport drink, and a few good books. Sebastian is still crunching the numbers (he is kind of lazy) but, at current count, Anty has read fifty-five out of ninety books, putting her at sixty-one percent of the way to her goal. That is impressive.

Since Sebastian is still crunching the numbers (or kibble; probably kibble. I know what kibble sounds like) I will put one picture here, of one of the books Anty most especially liked this week:

Normal book review pictures and lists should return next week. Suffice it to say that Anty is doing a lot of reading, and Is very eager to talk about that reading. If you want to follow her on Goodreads, you can do that here.

Now that the heat wave is over (Sebastian tells me that there was a BIG thunderstorm yesterday, which scared the heat away) Anty is also ready to do a whole lot of writing. She is mostly over her angst regarding t he selkie naming issue, and working on the outline. This did not turn out to be a Camp NaNo month after all, but that is okay; there is still a lot of work for Anty to do.  Especially so, since she did not get a lot done during the heat wave. I do not blame her on that one, honestly.

Anyway, Anty is excited to have a few writing balls to juggle, and it is only two more months until CT Fiction Fest. If you are going to be there, so is Anty, so find her and say hello. I can see Anty making “move it along” motions over the interface, so I will type faster. That is not the easiest thing in the world, with special paws, I should mention. I should also mention that I know Anty petted other cats last week, and that she is going to see those other cats again tomorrow. Cats always know. That is okay, though, because, yesterday, the humans had a meeting about when we can expect to move to Forever Apartment, and they think we can probably do that by September. That is when Anty’s super powers come back, so I think that would be perfect timing. Until then, I will take best advantage of Grandma Rules, while here at camp. (#peanutbutterisdelicious)

This week, Anty will be going over the last edits of the revised edition of Chasing Prince Charming, working on the outline of the selkie story, and getting all her Her Last First Kiss ducks in a row. This book does not, as far as I know, contain any actual ducks, but please do not hold that against Anty. Anything can happen in a second draft.

Speaking of which, Anty also did something this week, that she has not done for a while. She okayed a proof for a new release. Anty did not write the whole book for this one; it is an anthology, but she is still excited to be able to share her part. If you have been curious about Anty’s peostapocalyptic medieval, A Heart Most Errant, you will be in luck, because her contribution to this anthology is an excerpt from that. Here is a fun fact: Anty meant to change the name of the town the heroine wants to find, but she (Anty, not the heroine) had not found a better name by the time of the submission deadline, so the town is still Ravenwood, which is also the title of the excerpt. I should probably mention that Anty only now realized that the name of the town does not actually appear in the scenes of the excerpt, but too late to fix that now.

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

skyebye2018

 

 

 

Typing With Wet Claws: End Of January Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. It is the last Friday of January, which means the end of the first month of the year is almost over. Anty is getting ready by finalizing her planner color scheme (I am fairly certain this will mean pinks and reds, because Anty is a traditionalist when it comes to this sort of thing, but she will add her own edge to it, because she is still Anty.) That is important, because she uses her planner, and her big pink book (her planner is pink, too, but a different kind of pink) to plan out the writing and reading she will do in the months to come.

Before I am allowed to talk about anything else, (like the fact that I definitely need more glowy box time, that is for catching the glowy box mousie, as well as blogging) I have to tell readers where they can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs this week. Besides here, of course, because you are already here, so you do not need directions. As always, she was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday. This week, she talks about the first time the humans in the books have, um, grownup private time. I, personally, am fixed, so I do not think about that kind of thing a lot, but I gather it can be important in romance novels. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURfeelslikethefirsttime

Saturday Discussion: Feels Like the First Time

Now is the part of the post where I show you how Anty is doing on her Goodreads reading challenge. She is one book behind again, but it is the weekend, and she is near the end of one of the books she is reading now. That should all even out before too long. Anty has gone over her goals for the last two years, so I have faith in her. If you want to follow Anty’s reading challenge, you can do that here:

 

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Reading Challenge 2018

 

Right now, Anty is only at 20% historical romance, but it is still January, and she can read YA books really, really fast, and they are comfort reads. It has been kind of a crazy week. She is still planning on trying one book she’s always been meaning to read, and one reread every month, and both of those lists are comprised of historical romance. February will mean two books from the always wanted to read list, because sbe did not read any of those in January. I should probably say she has not read any of them yet, because we still have a few days of January left. You can do it, Anty. Read those books.

The books Anty read and reviewed this week are:

 

GRtheyearwefellapart

The Year We Fell Apart, by Emily Martin

 

 

GRBacklash

Backlash, by Sarah Darer Littman

Anty should be home for a good chunk of the weekend, so she will have time to read more books, and, more importantly, give me her small glowy box so that I can play my game. The mousie game is my favorite, but I also like one with a laser pointer, and there is a movie where I can watch a squirrel through a window. I do not try to hunt that squirrel, but it is very exciting to watch him. If I am very lucky, all the humans will be home when I play, so they can all see what a good hunter I am. Those computer mousies do not stand a chance when I am on the job.

This would probably be a good place to segue (that is a fancy human word that means to do a different thing) into Anty’s writing. Empty notebooks really don’t stand a chance when Anty is on the job, either. She has a lot of notebooks. Thanks to a human named Mark Twain, who lived a very long time ago (like about a million cats ago, that is how long) writers cannot send handwritten pages to publishers (probably not to agents, either, but do not quote me on that) so Anty does, at some point, need to transcribe her handwritten pages into the glowy box, so that they can become files. This is especially important with e-books, because that is how readers read them.

Writing with pen and paper comes a lot more easily to Anty than writing new pages on the computer, even though, at first glance, writing on the computer seems more efficient. The pages would already be in the file if she wrote new pages on the computer, and she could skip the step of transcribing. She understands that, and, in theory, it does have its merits. For some writers, like Anty’s friend, Miss Vicki, writing on the computer is the only way to go. Miss Vicki does not understand Anty’s thing for paper and pen, especially when it comes to pretty paper. They have very different aesthetics, anyway, so take that into consideration.

For Anty, there is a connection that comes with the act of writing on actual paper, and watching the cursive come out the tip of her pen. Every once in a while, I have to remind her of this, especially when she gets back to writing after a domestic tornado has held her back. She thinks it will be faster, but then she forgets about the staring at the screen part, until she notices that she has been staring at the screen, or that she is on Facebook instead of actually writing. I may only be a kitty, but I do not think anybody has made a successful career in commercial fiction by reading conversations on Facebook.

That means, usually, that when Anty gets to the staring at the screen phase, it is time to shut down the computer (or give it to me, so I can catch mousies) and take out paper and pen. Anty is particularly fond of pretty legal pads, that have designs already on them. That way, the page is already not blank, and, sometimes, the pictures suggest things that might work for the particular scene. Sometimes, Anty has to do what she calls a brain dump, and write about things that are on her mind, that may be getting in the way of the story. Once she fills a few pages with that, she is usually in a better place to get on with the business of writing fiction.

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

skyebye2018

 

Typing With Wet Claws: Uncle Smells Like Vet Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for the first Feline Friday of 2018. It is very cold here, in New York’s capitol region. Yesterday, we got a lot of snow, so much that Anty and the writer friend she was supposed to meet for lunch had to move that meeting for next week, because the humans had to stay home and stay safe. Tomorrow will be very, very cold, so Anty and Mama plan on staying put (Uncle will probably have to go to work) with blankets and hot drinks, and, hopefully, some books, but that is not the most important thing I want to talk about this week.

Normally, I have to talk about Anty’s writing first, but this week is an exception. This week, Uncle got very sick, and Anty had to call special humans to come and help him get to the Right Now People Vet. Anty put me in Mama’s room, with two bowls of water, before they came, so that I would not get in anybody’s way, or get too scared. I could still hear things, though, and Uncle smelled very sick. It took seven humans and a special chair to get Uncle into the carrier, and then to the Right Now People Vet. They kept Uncle there for two nights, to make sure that he was really okay. They did a good job, because, yesterday, Uncle came home. He did not smell sick anymore, but he did smell like vet.

I do not like the smell of vet, and that includes people vet, but I do like the smell of Uncle. He came home yesterday morning, in the middle of all the snow. I had been curled up in front of Heater, and then I heard a human at the door. Then the door opened, and it was Uncle. I ran to him, at top speed. He is my favorite, and I love him the most. I was not happy while he was gone. Today, I went to Anty and cried, when Uncle stepped outside for a minute. Then he came back and fed me, and I was happy again. I let him know I do not like closed doors, because I need to be sure that he is okay and that he is still here. I even let Anty know that I do not like her and Uncle being at different ends of the apartment, because I want to see both of them at the same time. I will calm down pretty soon, but, right now, I want to keep making sure.

It is kind of like that with Anty and writing. I am going to save the real start of the year post for next week, because Anty’s attentions have been mostly elsewhere this week. She did post at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, taking a look back and a look forward, at the same time. That post is here, and it looks like this:

BURhappynewyear

Normally, this is the place where I bring you up to date on Anty’s Goodreads reading challenge, but this has been a special week, so I will stat off the 2018 reports next week. Anty only got a little bit of reading time this week, and she ended up DNF-ing two different books. DNF, in the reading world, means did not finish. Anty does not like to do this to book, but, this week, that was the right thing to do. Anty does not want to say which books they were, but both of them were anthologies. One was historical romance, and the other was YA. Maybe Anty will try them again, later. Right now, she is reading the new version of a favorite classic historical romance, and that will probably be her first review of the new year.

All told, Anty read ninety-nine books in 2017. Because of all the commotion this week, I did not get an exact percentage of historical romances in Anty’s reading this year, but if Anty did not make her goal of fifty percent, she came close. If I count the historical fiction with strong romantic elements, I think she probably did, but it was close. Part of that is because Anty found a lot of new authors in YA fiction this year.

For this coming year, she will still be reading a lot of YA, but she also wants to tighten her focus on historical romance, and, specifically, the kinds of historical romance that remind her why she is in this writing business in the first place. Because Anty’s second love, after writing, is planning and organizing, she came up with the perfect tool:

bujpreadomggpa;s2018

 

The TBRR stands for To Be Re-Read, and that means reading books that she has already read, that made a special impact on Anty, with an eye to taking note of what, exactly, made that impression, and how it did that. The TFR should probably be TBFR, which stands for To Be Finally Read (or To Finally Read, either way.) Those are books Anty has always meant to read, but never got around to reading before now. There are twelve in each list, one for each month in the new year. The plan is that, when Anty hits a lull, or she does not k now what she wants to read, she can pick one book from these lists, and, by the end of the year, have them all completed. Since that would be twenty-four books, that would also make a nice dent in her goal of ninety books (she is keeping the same goal for this coming year) in 2018.

Mrandmrsgothyclaus2017

Happy Holidays, from Mr. and Mrs. Gothy Claus.

Now, back to writing, because that is the bigger focus. When Anty and Mama came home from the people vet, where Uncle had to stay, Anty immediately put on some special gloves and took a trash bag and collected things that the Right Now People Vet Helpers had left behind. There were wrappers from things they had to unwrap, to help Uncle, and some other things that do not make good kitty toys. Getting those things out of the way was part of getting everything back to normal, so that we could all do what we needed. It is kind of the same thing with writing. Once a crisis is past, it is time to pick up the debris, and get back to business. I think that is a good way to start the new year.

That is about it for this week, but there is a whole year of Feline Fridays ahead. Let’s make it a good one. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

skyebyenew

see you next week

 

Typing With Wet Claws: The Heat is (Back) On Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Feline Friday. Yesterday was not my favorite day, but it ended well. I do not know entirely what went on between the first doorbell and the heat going back on, because I was under the bed for most of it, but I will get to that later. The important thing is that the heat is back on in the apartment, and it is very nice. I do not know how I am going to break it to the space heater that I love the regular radiators now that they work again, but maybe we can still be cuddle buddies, unless the humans do not use it any more, and give it back to Landlord.

Anyway, before I can get into any more details about that adventure, I have to talk about where you can find Anty’s writing on the interwebs, apart from here. If you are reading this blog, then you already know Anty writes here. First, as always, Anty was at Buried Under Romance on Saturday, talking about a subject near to my heart (and stomach): food. Even though fictional food is not “real,” that does not mean we cannot partake in it. That post is here and it looks like this:

BURfictionalfood

Even though we had a very big week in the domestic tornado department, Anty was not a slacker this time, when it came to reading. As of today, which is the first of December, she is ninety-six percent of the way to her goal of reading ninety books in this calendar year. She has read eighty-six books out of that ninety, and is currently four books ahead of schedule. Go, Anty, go. She finished reading, and reviewed, three books this week, and here they are:

 

 

 

Because this is the first of the month, this is also where we do a tally of how many historical romance novels Anty has read this month. Anty thinks I cannot see her, when she hides behind her splayed fingers, but I can. Anty has been on a YA binge for quite some time now, and needs to tuck in with some historical romance novels, if she wants to bring those numbers up to an acceptable level.

hr-challenge-2016-badge

Anty’s goal was to read at least 50% historical romances this year. With thirty-nine out of eighty-six books counting as historical romance. she is close. If I count historical fiction with romantic elements, that number goes up to forty-three out of ninety, which is almost there. Almost all of the YA books Anty has read so far are either romances, or have romantic elements, but they are not historical. She does usually ask herself how something in the YA books would work in a historical romance, so she is getting historical romance inspiration, but I cannot count YA books as historical romance novels, because they are not historical, even if they are romances.

Okay, I think that is everything on that list so far. Anty also wants me to mention that, yesterday, in the midst of all the commotion, she still managed to set up the first week in her new planner. Anty loves working with her planner things. Here is what her weekly spread looks like, before she puts any information in it:

PlannerWeekly011217

Anty almost went with a more Christmassy color palette, but would have had to mix marker brands, and that is a no.

Yesterday morning, Anty was not even done getting ready for the day when the doorbell rang. For new readers, our house is very old, and the doorbell is very loud. It makes the whole house vibrate. I ran under one of the beds, while Anty went downstairs to see who it was. This was a good visitor, because it was Landlord. He wanted to let Anty and Uncle know that the workers were here, to put in the new boiler. He also needed Anty to unlock the back door, so that the workers could come upstairs and do some of the work.

Well. I did not like this at all. Not only were there multiple strange humans in my home (and some of them were very tall) but they had to open the radiators. This meant taking the radiator covers off, which meant taking off things like the window seat and all the decorations on the radiator covers in the dining room and Uncle’s office. This also meant that furniture like Mama’s chair had to be moved into the middle of the living room. My house does not look like my house right now, and I am not okay with that. I am sticking close to Anty and Uncle until they put things back the way they belong.

Anty says this might be a good chance to move some of the furniture around even more. I think the cold may have gotten to her. We kitties like things to be The Same. Moved-around furniture and changed decorations are not The Same. Anty says that sometimes, new ways of doing things are better. I am not too sure of that. Granted, the new boiler is nice, but did they have to move the furniture? Next thing you know, they’ll be talking about different furniture, and then who knows what else? There is a lot to be said for consistency and tradition.

Since it is now December, and the new boiler is installed, Anty will probably be putting up the Christmas decorations soon. I will not mind that too much, because I like to look at the lights, and the shiny ornaments. I do not touch them, because I am a floor girl, and I am also well behaved. Also modest. I am not sure exactly what the living room will look like when the humans are done with it, but it will, no matter what, turn into a cozy spot for Anty to bump that historical romance number as she reads in her comfy chair. See what I did there, tying back in to the reading thing? Maybe some of the Christmas romance anthologies and novellas will inspire Anty to read more in that genre.

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

skyebyenew

see you next week