Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Con Where It Happens: BroadwayCon 2017

Y'all, apparently it's not normal to memorize and regurgitate lyrics to multiple musical theater songs, even ones you haven't heard in a couple of years.

Or as my friend said to me today while we were roaming the Jacob Javits Center, "You didn't even miss a beat on 'Satisfied.' How does that happen?"

2017's BroadwayCon was held at the Javits Center over this weekend and two of my friends and I went today, the last day of the convention, and had a great time.

We went dressed in pink, blue, and yellow as a nod to the Schuyler sisters from Hamilton.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March NYC 2017

Today, two friends and I arrived in Manhattan around noon, walked downtown about ten blocks, and participated in a historic day: the day of the Women's March and the various sister marches all over the world.

1st Avenue and 47th Street

The funniest thing about waiting to get into the plaza: there's a Trump Hotel on that corner!

At one point, a young girl stood at her hotel window and jumped up and down waved at the crowd. At another point, we noticed a guy hanging a sign under his apartment window and leaning out way too far to take pictures.

Guys, don't lean out of high apartment windows, please.

See the Schuyler Sisters signs? Photo credit: Nali

Once on 2nd Avenue, we turned downtown and the pace picked up a bit. Our chants began to fill the air: "My body! My choice!" (For the men in the crowd: "Her body! Her choice!"), "Tell me what democracy looks like!" "This is what democracy looks like!"

We turned onto 42nd Street and walked crosstown. The crowd thickened and slowed the closer we got to Grand Central Terminal. We saw more signs--so many signs and so creative. We were part of this mass of humanity walking through Manhattan, but the energy was really good. There weren't any crazies or rage or anger in the crowd; it was a peaceful, focused crowd.

We walked by the Chrysler Building.

At Grand Central, we looked up and saw people standing outside the terminal and we all did the same chant. It echoed as we walked under the bridge.

We got to 5th Avenue. Fifth Avenue took a good long while. The crowd was thick and there were police barricades on either side, so we were channeled onto the road. We marched closer and closer to the evil castle--Trump Tower--which looms over Fiftth Avenue.

We were stopped at 55th Street and we had to disperse either west or east, but before we left completely, the march got in a cathartic "New York hates you! New York hates you!" and "We are the popular vote!"

I've done a few protest marches, but they were back in college. I've never been in one in my hometown and definitely not in one this large. The fact that it was worldwide is astounding.

I'm seeing a bunch of pictures from all over the country, from friends who attended various marches, and on Twitter, from people posting pictures of their local gatherings.

The best thing? As far as I know, it all went off peacefully. And there was so much diversity in the crowd: plenty of men, lots of kids, different races, ages, languages, abilities, sexual orientations.

Women's March on Washington Goes Worldwide
Women's March Protests, Live Coverage
Women's March--NY Times

Monday, January 16, 2017

The First Snippet of 2017

I finished reading a Regency historical romance today by one of my favorite romance authors, Jo Beverley, who sadly died last year. It's been a while since I've read one, which is funny because that was original genesis of the whole Keegan family saga. (I really liked the book, by the way. It was romantic, gushy, uplifting, although there was a theme of death throughout, which was really poignant considering it's probably Jo Beverley's last book).

Now granted, I realize it's weird to be writing a lot of short stories based around a trunked and ripped apart novel. But one of my projects so far this year is the first draft of a Regency (well, technically, it's Georgian England) historical romance novella and it takes place in the same world with the Keegans. 

And this is my first snippet of 2017: a scene from early on in The New Bride of Banner's Edge.
Yes, guys, I already have a title #win

            Miles Keegan sat at one end of the dining table, addressing himself to his coffee and eggs, his attention divided between his breakfast and the London Times.
            "Good morning." He glanced away from the headlines about Napoleon Bonaparte being elected Emperor of the French to return the greeting to Lady Banston, his hostess. Lord Banston was at the other end of the table, a copy of the paper still unread beside him. He was engrossed reading a long letter instead.
            Lady Banston took a plate and selected her breakfast from the silver-domed dishes on the sideboard. This was a cozy domestic scene, one that they'd shared often, for the Banstons were Miles's neighbors back in their Gloucestershire village and they were happy to have him stay in their London house for a few weeks' time. Their respective children were upstairs having their breakfast while Mayfair woke up outside of Banston House after yet another night of balls, parties, and the theater. Such was the Season.
            "Darling? Whatever is the matter?" Lady Banston asked. Lord Banston was rubbing his temple.
            "This is from Stockton," Banston said, referring to his estate steward. "He regrets to say that he must visit his sister Lady Windham in Kent for a brief time for Sir Calvin Windham has died and he needs to attend the funeral. He wrote to say he's leaving Havers in charge in his absence."
            Lady Windham took a sip of tea. "Sir Calvin is dead? Why, he wasn't that much older than either of you."
            Miles nodded, then turned the page of the newspaper. He wasn't well acquainted with Sir Calvin Windham, having met him briefly a few years ago, but he knew Lady Windham. She visited Stockton nearly every summer, often bringing her daughter Laura with her. The poor woman. Losing a spouse was something all too familiar to Miles.
            "I think I saw him at Tattersall's last week," Banston said. "Stockton doesn't mention the cause of death."
            "And what, pray tell, were you doing at Tattersall's?" Lady Banston asked.
            "Looking at horses, as one does at Tatt's."
            Miles shook his head at the marital exchange. The headlines on this page varied: the battles being waged in India, the war on France, Pitt the Younger becoming Prime Minister again…
            Baronet Dies After Epsom Derby.
            He skimmed the first few lines. "Here it is," he said to his companions. "'Sir Calvin Windham, baronet of Windham Magna, Kent, was thrown with some force from his horse near Epsom on the 17th of May. His head was sorely injured and he died after a day. He is survived by his heir, his cousin Mr. James Windham of Canterbury, his mother the Dowager Lady Windham, and his wife and daughter.'"
            Lady Banston shook her head. "Oh, my goodness. Thrown from a horse. Lady Windham said he was horse-mad."
            "Then I suppose he died doing something he loved," Banston said.
            It wouldn't make anything easier for Lady Windham, however. She was a cheerful woman with a strong constitution and artistic talent, but she had shadows. Of course she did. Didn't they all, somewhere?
            "I'll write to her," Lady Banston said. "I wonder how distant a relation the heir is—well, the new baronet."
            "I ought to write her, too," Miles said. "I know all too well what being the widower is like." His wife Adele died suddenly five years ago. He'd moved on and their daughters grew everyday, but the memories of that time still hit him afresh every so often.

            He pushed his chair back. With that sad note, it was time to start his day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

25 Minutes A Day

For most of last year, I was a distracted mess--after I released "When Mary Left" (now or soon-to-be available over on your friendly neighborhood Kobo, B&N, iBooks, and Smashwords, btw), I tried to go back to the novel and couldn't. I planned a few short stories and only finished one.

Well, I was--and am--determined that this year will not the same. But I wasn't totally sure how I was going to combat Shiny Internet-itis without resorting to turning off the Internet every single time I wanted to write, which impedes valid things like quick Googling and referencing research.

And then the answer came to me via Jess, my friend and copyeditor of my two released works. She wrote a post for Blood Red Pencil: The Pomodoro Technique and Productive Writing Time. Go read it if you have a sec.

The gist is: there's a productive technique called the Pomodoro method, where you set a timer for about twenty-five minutes and then proceed to do your task in single-minded fervor. At the end of the twenty-five minutes, you take a five minute break. After your short break, set the timer again for another twenty-five.

It sounded do-able and it made sense to me---25 minutes of writing or researching or whatever, then five minutes to go do the dishes or take out the garbage or check Facebook.

In the comments to Jess's post, someone mentioned a free Pomodoro app in the App Store, which I duly downloaded and began using.

Well, it's been a week on this method and the two projects I'm alternating between, the Victorian novel and this novella-ish thing called The New Bride of Banner's Edge, are growing slowly but surely. The Victorians are a proper mess of a first draft, but it's progressing; I'm a little above 52,000 words there. The other story is moving into its next "chapter" as well.

For most of the week, I've only managed one Pomodoro--one 25 minute writing session a day, which sounds like so little, but I'm actually seeing progress. I'm excited to do my 25 minutes a day because I know that I'm getting shit done during that time and if I have the time, I'll take a 5 minute break and go for another 25 minutes.

Friday, January 6, 2017


Louis the Sun King. From Impressive Magazine.

I think I mentioned that I watched sesaon 1 of Versailles, a French-produced show (though everything's in English and most of the actors are British), not too long ago. My best friend then watched it and wanted to know if "all those people really died or not."

So here's a quick run-down of Louis XIV and some of the drama on Versailles. Spoilers below!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: January 2017

It's The Insecure Writer's Support Group time! We post every first Wednesday of the month. Check us out at the link above and on Facebook!

I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions. I think they're made to be broken and cause disappointment. But I have definite steps to world domination I want to achieve this year:

-Stay the hell off social media. Not forever, mind you, but on it less. I found that it was crowding my brain a bit too much in 2016.
-Maybe finally move this blog onto another platform? I want a more professional look. Maybe. I'll probably change my mind in about five minutes.
-Finish the Victorian novel and get started on the second draft (finishing the second draft would be nice, too, but let's not push it)
-Send "Haunted Lake" to a beta and figure out what to do with it (I'm leaning towards finding a magazine to submit to)
-Draft and finish "The New Bride of Banner's Edge," which is more Regency romance than historical fiction. I've started the first draft and I think it'll be novella length.
-Get back into the research I had done for Pearl and draft her brother Julius's story.
-Interspersed with other things as time and attention allow

As for the IWSG January question: 

What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

Erm...sometimes all of them?

I've heard and read a lot of ridiculous writing rules over the years, but I can't think of anthing specific as the one absolute one I wish I'd never heard. Once you hear something, you can't un-hear it, but it's fairly easy to tune it out when you're in the thick of writing.

Like, for example, in 2016, I wrote a 150 page long fanfiction--I wasn't worried about much beyond writing witty dialogue, shaping the characters (which was easy when you're directly writing other peoples' personalities down), and making sure it was coherent but fun because I was only sharing it with my two best friends. They've been forced to read my writing for nigh on fifteen years now. And I had a blast writing that one.

The one short story I finished during NaNo 2016, "Haunted Lake" is pretty outside of my usual writing grooves: it's short, it has limited characters, it's set in the present and the eighteenth century, and it's horror. There are ghosts and creepiness. I had a ton of fun writing it.

So I think I need to shed that college writing course skin of "write things that are more literary" and just write whatever the hell excites me.