TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Viva Barkowski

 

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Viva Barkowski, author of A TWIST OF HATE, slated for release in 2015.

Welcome, Viva!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

 

WW Author Pic Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Viva Barkowski

Author Viva Bartowski

 

Although a native Californian, I currently live in New England where I work full-time as a writer/editor. I have several published short stories, and my novel, A TWIST OF HATE, will be released in June 2015 by Gale Cengage/Five Star.

I write psychological thrillers. Unlike “big” thrillers, a psychological thriller delivers the excitement via the emotional states and psyches of the characters rather than action.

Oh, and if I have a hidden talent, it’s so hidden even I don’t know about it.

 

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I always write at my desk, although as I mentioned, I edit on the move. Give me a clipboard and a red pen, and I’m good to go.

 WW Workspace 1 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Viva Barkowski

 

What you can’t see in photo 1 is that my office space is in my kitchen. So here’s another:

WW Workspace 2 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Viva Barkowski

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

The desk was a gift. At the time, I was disappointed because it was so very small, but now that I live in 530 sq/ft, I appreciate the size. My workspace is relatively Spartan. I don’t have enough room for clutter, so arranging the space wasn’t an option. Things fit where they fit.

Writing is editing, and I usually edit on hardcopy with a red pen rather than at the computer. Sometimes I edit first thing in the morning while I’m still in bed—I call this BEDiting.  Other times I settle on the chaise in my miniscule living room where I can see out to the garden. Because I live right off the harbor, my favorite place to edit is sitting at the water’s edge—weather permitting. Following are a couple photos of my favorite editing spots:

WW EditingSpotHarbor Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Viva Barkowski

 

 

 

WW EditingSpotChaise Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Viva Barkowski

 

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

A notepad, a copyholder, and near my desk, an Ikea Samtid lamp. I owned five Samtids before I moved but was only able to bring two with me. I also keep three crystals tucked under my monitor. One was a gift from my best friend. The other two were given to me by Salem witches. Since my current WIP is about a Salem witch, I keep them nearby for luck

The chest of drawers I use as a storage cabinet. It sits to the right of my desk and holds both my printers. It’s a cheapie my parents bought secondhand a zillion years ago for my older brothers’ bedroom. I don’t remember what color it was at the time. When my brothers moved out, I inherited their room and furniture. I painted the chest pink and white and stuck purple flower decals all over it. In my teens, I painted it a more subtle cream and brown and changed out the painted wooden knobs for white and gold. Fast-forward ten years to my first house. I stripped the paint, stained the chest bleached pearl, added new knobs, and stuck it in my Southwest-inspired guestroom. The chest journeyed with me unchanged to several states and multiple houses—until I moved to Atlanta and decided to use it for office supplies. I painted the chest black and replaced the knobs with brushed stainless drawer pulls. I’m not a hoarder, so this chest is one of very few items I have left from childhood. It holds many memories along with a truckload of office supplies.

 

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

Since my desk is in the kitchen, I can wheel my chair to the refrigerator and retrieve a beverage without ever having to stand. I mean, seriously, how cool is that?

 

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

Water. Either filtered plain water or Sparkling Ice spring water. I don’t drink coffee, and while I do drink alcohol, I don’t drink while I’m writing. I’ve tried Hemingway’s “write drunk, edit sober.” Doesn’t work for me, although there are days I wish it did.

 WW FavoritePic Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Viva Barkowski

With my pup, d’Artagnan—better known as d’Arty

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I read widely and admire many authors, it’s impossible to name just one. As far as inspiration, I think Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine (excluding her Wexford novels) were most instrumental in nudging me toward psychological thrillers. I may be atypical in that most of my favorite writers don’t write my genre.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

No rituals, but I prefer editing during the day and writing at night—usually between 9 pm and 4 am. I got in the habit of writing during the wee hours back when seemingly everyone in my coastal California subdivision decided to replace their siding the same year. The pounding nearly drove me crazy. I discovered that I loved writing in the absolute quiet with everyone around me asleep. I often get up early and edit, then take a nap in the afternoon so I can stay awake at night and write.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I write OR edit everyday, and while I try to put in a minimum of three hours, it’s usually eight to ten with three hours of output. *laughing* Email and Facebook are my biggest distractions.

 

4. Why do you write?

I’ve always written. And while I am free to choose whether to seek publication or to write for myself, I can’t choose NOT to write. Writing is part of who I am.

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

Decide what you want from writing. If your primary goal is to be published, I don’t care what anyone tells you, it’s not all about the writing. Don’t let others make you feel guilty about writing for the market. That said, if you do choose this path, be savvy and do your research first. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be published, be proud of your goal.

 If, on the other hand, you’re like me, and you write because you want to express feelings, emotion, and themes through story, and publication is important, but not at the expense of telling yourstory, then write what you feel. Write what only you can write. Writing is your art. Don’t forfeit your one chance to tell the story that only you can tell.

 

My favorite quote would is considered blasphemy by most writers, and I have no idea who actually said it, but here it is: “Write like no one is reading.”

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Viva!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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Aaron Paul Lazar Q & A with Author Aaron Paul Lazar by Francine Silverman

 

Aaron Paul Lazar wasn’t always a mystery writer. It wasn’t until eight members of his family and friends died within five years that the urge to write became overwhelming. “When my father died, I lost it,” he says. “I needed an outlet, and writing provided the kind of solace I couldn’t find elsewhere.”

Aaron lives in the Genesee Valley in Upstate New York and works at KB America, in Rochester NY as an applications engineer and quality manager.

http://www.lazarbooks.com

 

http://www.murderby4.blogspot.com

 

 

http:www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Q. Were you a writer before? Why mysteries?

Fran, I’ve always loved to write. But it wasn’t until my father died that I felt the need to do something creative to help with the pain of the loss as well as to honor him. I began writing in 1997, then stopped for a bit, then picked it up again in 2001. My first of 22 books was published in 2004, and I’ve been on a roll ever since! I’ve transitioned from mysteries to romance to thrillers – and have two new books coming out in the next month. The first is The Liar’s Gallery – book #7 in LeGarde Mysteries (you can read these books in any order, btw!) and the second is Devil’s Lake, a romantic thriller.

 

The Liars Gallery E Book Cover modified Q & A with Author Aaron Paul Lazar by Francine Silverman

 

1 Devils Lake 3D Image of Book Cover modified Q & A with Author Aaron Paul Lazar by Francine Silverman

 

 

Q. What are the commonalities between engineering and writing?

 At first thought, you might imagine that there could be NO connection between engineering and writing. After all, electrophotographic engineering involves the science behind the digital presses, the physics behind the toner, developer, imaging cylinders, and the hardware that delivers the print when you send the job. One might be hard put to understand how such work – data, science, formulas, and hardware – could be even remotely related to writing. When I’m on a project, whether it’s the development of a new toner to meet incredibly stringent standards, or whether it’s solving a problem in a complex system, there’s always a mystery to needs to be solved. It’s that challenge, that incredibly exciting contest that gets my blood pumping.

And of course, no matter what one’s profession, there’s always the human drama that occurs in real life to stimulate a writer’s emotions and imagination. My colleagues have experienced appalling trials, and these traumas spark fears.

What would I do if I lost any of my grandchildren? How would I deal with the sudden death of my wife? What if I experienced a life changing heart attack? How would I handle it if one of my daughters was being abused, or was in danger? Those are the fibers that make up the cloth of everyday life. As in news stories, they generate a germ of an idea that may blossom and grow into a storyline or an entire book Most of the themes I’ve used had come from my own life, but the influences of those around me cannot be denied.

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Q. You don’t seem to have any problem coming up with ideas. You’ve said: “It seems as though every image ever impressed upon my brain finds its way into my work,” says the author. “Whether it’s the light dancing through stained-glass windows in a Parisian chapel, curly slate-green lichen covering a boulder at the edge of a pond in Maine, or hoarfrost dangling from a cherry tree branch in mid-winter, these images burrow into my memory cells. In time they bubble back, persistently itching, until they are poured out on the page.”

You got the idea for the Moore Mysteries, otherwise known as the green marble mysteries after finding a green cat’s eye marble while gardening.  

But how did you come up with the idea for your first series – Gus LeGarde Mysteries? 

 

Although I always loved mysteries, thanks to the books my parents introduced me to over the years, this specific series was borne of loss.

There were eight of them. Eight family members and friends who died in five short years.

I was a neophyte in this death thing, having been blessed with a life yet untainted by such losses.  My grandmother died when I was forty-three. It crushed me. I’d always dealt with death from afar. It had been a real possibility to face some day – in the distant future. Easy to put off. Impossible to imagine. When it happened, the shock of facing it head on was overwhelming.

Guilt clobbered me. I should have visited more. Called more. Written more.

But the three baby daughters we’d had in two years had consumed every ounce of our energy. We’d fallen into bed each night exhausted and awakened tired, yet happy, each morning. The thought of a ten-hour trip home seemed insurmountable with three little ones in car seats and diapers. So we delayed visits home for too long.

The next death came in a single, whooshing blow. My colleague at work, with whom I’d shared an office for eight years, suddenly died of a heart attack. Next came my father-in-law, my grandfather, and so on. I struggled to make sense of it. People were disappearing rapidly.

The unthinkable happened in 1997. My father was diagnosed with cancer in the same month that his mother died of Alzheimer’s Disease.

We had a summer of hope, but the disease hit again, and he was gone. Gone for good. Gone for real. In six short months, he was diagnosed, treated, and then he vanished.

Completely shattered, I walked a lot, trudging through the autumn woods as the crispy leaves eddied around my feet. I heard his voice whisper in the breeze, imagining words that weren’t there.

The need to write was insistent. Urgent.

I’d return to my office and madly type poems full of gaudy words that painted my grief. Each time I walked and mourned, I’d return home and write. Again. And again. And again.

Getting the words on paper was immensely comforting. Although I’d always known I would write a mystery series someday, I thought it would be when the kids were grown and I’d retired.

Then it hit me. I’d write a book and model the protagonist after Dad. It would be a tribute to him, a testimony to his life.

I began to write Double Forté.  My hero was a music professor, like Dad. He gardened with a passion, like Dad. He embraced the arts, like Dad. And he assiduously tended to his musical spirit, like Dad. He played Chopin etudes with wild abandon to clear his mind and feed his soul. And he cooked magnificent feasts for his family from his gardens that burgeoned with exotic vegetables.

 DoubleForte2 23jan12 sm front modified Q & A with Author Aaron Paul Lazar by Francine Silverman

 

As the book began to take shape, so did the characters. Gus LeGarde’s secretary, Maddy, became the reincarnation of my Grandma Lena. Oscar and Millie Stone were near replicas of my maternal grandparents. I found consolation in the creation of scenes, as if I’d found a way to “visit” with them. And as the process of writing one book became easier, the next, and the next, and the next flowed effortlessly from my fingertips until I stopped to breathe. I written twenty-two books in 13 years. And the pattern continues. I’ve written ten books in this series. Here is a complete list. A few books are yet to be released, but they’ll all be out by end of this year.

 

LEGARDE MYSTERIES – in order of chronology

TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON

DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU

SPIRIT ME AWAY

DOUBLE FORTÉ

UPSTAGED

MAZURKA

FIRESONG

THE LIAR’S GALLERY (COMING IN 2014)

UNDER THE ICE (COMING IN 2014)

LADY BLUES

 

Q. Why have reviewers dubbed your books as “literary mysteries?”

I think it’s because there is much more than the element of mystery in each story. There’s love, love lost, unrequited love, and more. There’s living in the country, from gardening to walking in the woods to riding horses. There’s a complex level of plot and details to accompany it. And although the writing is usually simple and easy to get down, there is also a bit of poetry infused within the pages. That’s my guess, anyway!

 

Q. One of your talking points is selling books in wineries. Did you think that wine enthusiasts are mystery readers?

 Wine enthusiasts seem to love all genres of books, but mystery is a very popular category. I love selling at the wineries because folks who come on the tours are almost always jovial, expecting a great day, full of good humor (or wine), and flush with cash. I’m also the only one there with books to peddle, so it’s much better than being in a books store, to tell the truth!

 

Q. How do you market your books? Do your books sell best in the Genesee Valley?

I do my very best these days with eBooks and audio books, although my local sales tend to be print books. I use emailer promotions like Kindle Books & Tips, BookBub, Book Gorilla, BookSends, etc. and find them the most effective.

 

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Aaron was interviewed by Francine Silverman, editor of Book Promotion Newsletter, an on-line publicist, compiler of 16 ebooks of talk radio shows and host of a weekly radio show, Fraternizing with Fran – where interesting people come to chat.
http://www.talkradioadvocate.com and http://talkradioadvocate.blogspot.com

 

 

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June Spotlight Week Giveaway Winner

Happy Monday everyone!

This past June, the spotlight was on YA Author Cynthia Hand and her amazing paranormal romance series UNEARTHLY. Due to the craziness of these past few weeks, it slipped my mind that I hadn’t yet announce the winner of my  Spotlight Week giveaway.

Congrats to CARINA OLSEN for winning a signed copy of BOUNDLESS!

boundless modified June Spotlight Week Giveaway Winner

 

I’ll email you in a few minutes to give you instructions on how to claim your prize.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish everyone a happy, productive week!

 

 

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G LLoyd Helm Q & A with Author G.Lloyd Helm by Francine Silverman

 

G. Lloyd Helm is a philosopher, poet, novelist and short story writer whose short storyA Tale of Segovia’s Guitarwas awarded first place in 2006 by the Antelope Valley Literary Coalition.

http://www.everydayfiction.com/tender-by-g-lloyd-helm/

OtherDoors Q & A with Author G.Lloyd Helm by Francine Silverman

Q & A with Author G. Lloyd Helm

by Book Promotions Newsletter Editor Francine Silverman

 

Q. Aside from the above, you write political columns, novels that have ranged from science fiction to anti-war fantasy to history and philosophy. You also wrote a literary romance, memoirs, cover religion in Design (PublishAmerica 2006), and produced an anthology made up of short stories, poems and essays by past and present residents of Antelope Valley, California. I read your novel, Other Doors, a fantasy of good and evil, and it was a real page turner. That book, I would guess, covered fantasy, philosophy and history. Needless to say, you are hard to categorize!

Glad you liked Other Doors.  I am very proud of that little book. It came out in 1997 and since its publication my little book about peace has gone to every war zone in the world. That’s because, being retired military, I sold hundreds of them on military bases.  I know for sure that there are at least two of them in Afghanistan right now because I sold them to a couple of Marines who were on their way there.

You wrote that you spend weekends at craft fairs and art shows, selling your books.

 

Q. Do you take a table every weekend or walk around peddling your wares?

Yes. I take a table/space and set up my book store.  I have a table and display racks for my books and those of others I also sell. I keep my whole store in my little silver bullet car and can set up at a moment’s notice.

 

Q. Given all the different fields you cover, how else do you market your books?

I also market on line and via mail. But mostly I am just always on about my books. So much so that I sometimes see people cringe when I walk up.

 

Q.Other Doors has been banned by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and your literary romance, Sometimes in Dreams has been removed from Federal prison libraries. Why?

That whole thing has been a goat rope from the beginning. At one point the prison authorities decided that all fantasy books should be pulled from the shelves, so it wasn’t just me.  It was some Psychologist’s idea that reading such books made the prisoners live in fantasy rather than reality, which is BS as far as I’m concerned. They pulled Sometimes in Dreams along with any other “romance” that had any sexual content. Same reasoning as with the fantasy novels and just as stupid.

 

Q. You live in northern Los Angeles County in the Antelope Valley. How large is the area of some 475,000 residents? There are so many writers within its bounds, that your small publishing company, Mouseprints Publishing, has produced anthologies of works by residents for nine years?

Antelope Valley, as we defined it for the sake of the Anthologies, is quite large. I can’t even guess how many square miles, but many. It took in everywhere from Barstow to Frazier Park (east to west) and Acton to Ridge Crest (north to south)

There are lots of writers up in this area. I tell people that between Lancaster and Tehachapi we are about the third largest literary arts community in the country. We get lots of people up from LA/Hollywood who like to live in the desert.  The Anthologies never lacked submissions. Our last one, “9” had 285 author submissions and some of those were multiple so we had to comb pretty hard to get the number down to the usual 20-25 authors.  We grew every year and got better every year. The first year the book was so crude it didn’t even have page numbers. The last two,Darkness Visible, and “9” were both up for international small press prizes.

Mouse Prints has also published several things besides my first novel and the AV anthologies, the main one being a beautiful compact guide book for a local Indian Museum—that one had eighty-eight color pictures in it which was a new experience.

All these, the anthologies, the guide book, all five of my books are available autographed from me via e mail at mouseprint@earthlink.net.  Or electronically fromwww.roguephoenixpress.com

 

Q. Despite your prolific output, in order to make a living you have held a variety of jobs, such as ditch digger, brick layer, carpenter, cabbie, cook and clerk.

 Do your fellow workers know you are a writer and have you ever sold any of your books to any of them?

You left out a bunch such as a US Post Office Dock Walloper, Stage Actor, and Musician. I could go on and on. And yeah, I was never shy about being a ne’er-do-well scribbler. Sold quite a few books to quite a few people with whom I worked. But truth be told I could never have kept writing without the support of my wife Michele. She has been my patron since the beginning. I tell people that my epitaph will read “He married well” and I am only half joking. Without Michele I don’t know where I would be.

Q. Tell us about your new novel, which is more literary than the others.

My new novel is more straight ahead literary than anything I have written so far. Sometimes in Dreams was more literary and it has been compared with a Hemingway novel Across the River and into the Trees. Wasn’t one of his best but hey, someone compared me with Hemingway. I said all that to say this, my new novel Serpents and Doves, of which I just finished the rough, is Hemingway-esque in style in that it has a lot of dialogue and details real world situations. Serpents and Doves is a novel of the mid-1960’s. It is about a young man who has been fairly sheltered all his life suddenly being tossed into a world he didn’t really know existed. He goes to college thereby avoiding the draft, and finds himself enmeshed in the civil rights struggle, church struggles, homosexuality struggles and even the pre-six day war Arab–Israeli struggle.  It is fiction, but it connects with my own life in many ways. I am hoping to have it tightened up and out for sale within the next year.

 

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Gary was interviewed by Francine Silverman, editor of Book Promotion Newsletter,
an on-line publicist, compiler of 16 ebooks of talk radio shows and host of a weekly
radio show, Fraternizing with Fran – where interesting people come to chat.
http://www.talkradioadvocate.com and http://talkradioadvocate.blogspot.com

 

 

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Nancy Ellen Dodd, author of THE WRITER’S COMPASS.

The Writers Compass Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

Welcome, Nancy!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

Nancy Dodd modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

Author Nancy Ellen Dodd

My day job is academic editor of a peer-reviewed online journal at the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University. As one professor told her students, I’m the one who edits the faculty. I also teach advanced screenwriting at Pepperdine in the Spring.

I’ve been trained in most forms of writing–novels, screenplays, plays, short stories, etc.–except poetry, but I dabble with writing poems anyway. My favorite form and genre is whatever I’m writing in at the time I’m asked. I’m currently finishing the final edits on a YA/Crossover novel that I started as a short story 22 years ago.

Other than writing, I love reading or listening to audiobooks, watching movies or good TV, camping near the ocean or up in Yosemite near a stream. I also enjoy various forms of sewing, knitting, crocheting. A few years ago I had breast cancer and knitted something like 5 sweaters while I was recovering. Something I especially enjoy, but rarely do, is making wedding veils.

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I used to write in my bed, after all in bed is where dreams happen. I have a very large bed and I could spread materials out. I don’t write in bed as often now because I have a better space.

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My desk is a large dining room table that was my mother’s. For years it was taken apart and sitting in the garage. I dreamed of one day having a place to set it up and use it as my writing space. When we moved, I discovered I had enough room to set it up in my bedroom. I took it from storage and set it up by myself, which was quite a feat. It has 3 additional leaves I don’t have room to add. The table is under a large window that looks out to our community condo courtyard and then beyond to the homes and trees on the hills of our neighborhood.

work space modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

Nancy’s Workspace

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

I’m embarrassed to stay stacks and stacks of clutter and papers and receipts, which need to be filed or trashed are hidden behind a very large monitor, plus a printer and miscellaneous other items.

Clara modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

Clara nutcracker

I have several bookcases in my room. I also love nutcrackers and I have a Clara nutcracker under a picture that says “Dream” and I have a 5-foot nutcracker in my room that she is dreaming about.

5 foot nutcracker modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

5-Foot Tall Nutcracker

I have a whole collection of nutcrackers I put out at Christmas with some inexpensive trains my granddaughter and I love to run. I also have a collection of fairy tale books and other books I find inspiring, lots of music on CDs and cassettes and of course a huge selection of my devotional books. Also important to me are my “story boxes,” which are colorful boxes I keep all the materials relating to a specific story inside.

 

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

Most of my favorite objects are on the bookshelves behind me or scattered through the room.

behind desk modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

In my workspace I have a blue enamel tin cup, like one you might use while camping, that a former writer’s group member bought me that he identified with in a story I wrote as a TV pilot. I also have other items from various productions or that friends have given me related to my writing.

objects modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

My favorite drink is freshly brewed hot tea, especially lapsang souchong, but a good cup of Earl Gray or Lady Earl Gray or…

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

There are so many authors I like in many different genres. I really enjoy Lee Child, J.R.R. Tolkien, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Dashiell Hammett, Clive Cussler, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, and many others.

I don’t know who inspired me to write. I’ve always told stories to myself and at one point I started writing them down.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

For a long time I have had a devotional with a prayer time and Bible or inspirational reading time before I write. Then I try to write for a couple of hours before I get up and go to work. I learned some time ago that it was easy to allow other things to interrupt my creative time and if they did, then my writing time for the day would be gone.

I recently realized I had a new ritual, which has to do with digitizing my audiobooks from cassettes so I can listen to them again. I set up the audio editor and push the play buttons and then save the file and turn the cassette over and repeat. I didn’t realize this was a ritual until one day when I started to write I automatically turned around to setup the tape player first. It was like I had to do that to start.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I try to write everyday. When I’m at the end of the project I might write several hours a day. My daughter and 7-year-old granddaughter live with me and when I am at a part where I need several uninterrupted hours, they will take a trip somewhere so I can have privacy.

My biggest distractions currently are checking email, or rankings, looking at the newest deal on audible.com, and of course my kids calling me or my granddaughter coming in to ask me a question.

Another distraction is that I develop and teach online courses and I give a number of workshops to writer’s groups and at conferences, so sometimes my writing time is the only time I have to prepare or give notes to my students.

 

4. Why do you write?

I try at least once a year to give up writing, but I always go back to it. Although I’ve written off and on for decades, in May 1998 I started praying that God would help me to take the steps to lead me to fulfill my purpose in life. Two weeks later I was given a ticket to go to a writer’s conference in Mendocino that I otherwise would not have been able to afford. At that conference I went to two workshops given by a screenwriter who taught at USC. I told him I wanted to learn from him. He told me I would need to be at USC in the master’s of Professional Writing Program and to let him know if I wanted to go. At the time, I didn’t even have my bachelor’s degree. Through a series of events, a few months later I found myself finishing my bachelor’s at Cal-State, Bakersfield, during the same semester I was starting my master’s degree at USC in Los Angeles. While at USC I also earned an MFA in playwriting. Since then I’ve come to believe that in part, God’s plan for me is to teach and to write, both of which I love doing.

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

I tell my students that the most important thing to know about writing is to never let anyone talk you into cutting what your gut tells you to keep–until you know why you wrote it. Sometimes it is the most important part of your story and without it you don’t want to keep writing that story. You have to dig deeper and become naked on the page until you figure out why you wrote that bit or scene and how to show it. Sometimes it leads to some of the best writing in your story.

For example, the YA I’m finishing I thought I’d completed 6 months ago. When I gave it to other writers to read, I got very different opinions. One of them suggested major cuts. After I got up from my pity party, I went back to the method I teach in my book, The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages, to create a new story map to look at my story again. What I learned was that I started the story in the wrong place and from the wrong POV. I cut 220 pages and then cherry-picked the parts I wanted to keep. I totally reorganized the content and retold it in multiple POVs. One of the people who wanted me to cut so much just told me how much better it was and that she was glad I’d cut certain things, it made her like the main character so much more. She was very surprised to learn I hadn’t cut those sections at all, I told the same story in a different order and multiple POVs, which had totally changed her perception of the story.

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Nancy!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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A New Chapter in My Life

I hope you all had a marvelous Independence Day weekend!

I spent most of last week doing chores, and catching up on my chapters and other writing group activities. I also managed to squeeze in some time to hang out with family and friends.  I’m trying to make sure I get a lot of personal stuff done so I can give my new job the utmost attention.

After almost nine years of working at the same company, doing the same job day after day, I am more than ready to turn the page and start a new chapter in my life.

And I can already tell it’s going to be a great new chapter! Why? Because my job has to do with my two greatest passions—writing and teaching/learning.

Tomorrow I start at my new job at UCLA Extension’s Writers Program. As its Online Creative Writing and Events Rep, I’ll be in charge of planning the program’s online offerings and organizing its writing events. These are two of my favorite activities—and I would do this for free. But now, I’ll get paid to actually pursue these passions. I am super thrilled to be working there and I can’t wait to dive in.

A new job means a new schedule and a new way of doing things. While I’m trying to figure out how things work, I’m pretty sure some things will get set aside—my writing and this blog, for starters. My Wednesday Writer’s Workspace posts will always be there, as will my guest postings, but I might miss a few days here and there. But I will try my best not to. Once I find the rhythm of this new chapter of my life, I’m sure I’ll find a better way to juggle all the roles I play. In the meantime, I apologize for my inconsistent postings.

I hope you all are doing great. I’ll try to drop by every now and then to see how you all are. But even if you don’t see me, rest assured all you bloggy friends are in my thoughts and prayers!

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

 

 

through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Allison, author of that fun blog Geek Banter.

Welcome, Allison!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

alli modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

 

Allison

I’m a Canadian, a Christian, and a huge geek. I love all things sci-fi and fantasy, video games, board games, movies, TV shows, and books. I’m a graphic designer by day and a writer by night (which is a little unfortunate for my writing because my brain’s creativity peaks in the morning and early afternoon).

I love writing sci-fi and fantasy. For work, I’ve also written news stories and done copywriting. Other hobbies of mine include painting, snowboarding, and the occasional putting on face paint and airsoft gear to run around the forest playing capture the flag (actually I’ve only done that a couple times, but it’s pretty fun).

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I either do it at my computer desk on my desktop or in my living room on my laptop. If I’m story writing, I do it on Scrivener, because that program is awesome.

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

No unique history for my desk… I picked it up at Canadian Tire! I needed something small to fit into the tiny bedroom I had at the time, and it was just right. Now I have a separate room for an office in my house, and it’s nice to have that space.

 

desk modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

Allison’s Workspace

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work? What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I usually always have a notebook and pen in front of me to scribble ideas down in (or to look at my previous scribbles), and a cup with pens and highlighters nearby. I also have an awesome Portal picture hanging on the wall that I got at a con framed and signed by the artist. And sometimes Commander Shepherd sits on my desk and makes sure I get my work done.

 

4. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

I often just forget to drink water and get dehydrated, so I try to keep water around. And I enjoy the occasional cup of tea.

 IMG 2636 copy modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

 

 

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

Aaaghh just one? I’ve gotta list a few: J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Diana Wynne Jones, Veronica Roth, Robert Jordan, Orson Scott Card. They’ve all been inspirations.

None of my family or close friends are passionate about writing so I feel like I’ve had to forge ahead on my own most of the time, but I’ve really appreciated my dad especially just for encouraging me. He’s always been excited that I love to write and enjoys brainstorming ideas and plots with me.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

Step 1: Procrastinate.

Step 2: Force myself to sit down at my computer.

Step 3: Feel intimidated and like I won’t be able to come up with anything good, even though I always manage to get words down on the page once I start and I KNOW this.

Step 4: Get words down on the page.

Step 5: Keep writing, whether I think it is good or garbage.

Step 6: Let myself feel accomplished, whether I’ve written 100 or 1000 words during my writing session; every word counts and is part of the process.

Step 7: Repeat from Step 1 for next writing session.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I try to write every day, though lately the writing has not been on my novel in progress and has been for my second job, which is copywriting for a geeky website. I am also currently working on a graphic novel with a friend who’s an artist, which I’m pretty excited about!

 

4. Why do you write?

I’ve always liked writing and stories, ever since I can remember. There’s just something about creating worlds and characters that is so much fun!

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

“When in doubt, blow something up.” I do not recommend applying this advice to your life, just to writing icon wink Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Allison

Thanks for having me, Nutschell!

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Allison!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Trisha F, author of that fun blog Word + Stuff.

Welcome, Trisha!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

ww trishaprofile Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

 

Trisha F.

I’m a 33 year old librarian living in Western Australia (on the coast, yay!).

I have written novels (or parts of novels) in various genres so far: contemporary, paranormal, sci-fi, sci-fantasy, and fantasy. Some are a bit hard to classify … which is why I have difficulty writing queries/blurbs.

Other hobbies and interests include writing music, and playing it (guitar/singing). I also love reading (duh!), and drawing/painting/etc. As for hidden talents, I don’t think there are any that I’ve kept hidden knowingly. At least not from the blogging world …

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I write at my “terminal” which is a stand-up terminal. I write on my laptop using Scrivener.

ww writingspace modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.Trisha’s Workspace

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

I don’t have a desk, but that’s okay – I have read in a few places that standing up instead of sitting at a computer is a lot better for your health. I do sort of miss having a bigger work area, but space is of the essence in my 1-bedroom villa. icon smile Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

I don’t really need anything around me when I work, except water! Must have water! I usually save the snacking for when I’m watching DVDs.

ww scribbles modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

 

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

What I love most about my workspace is that my laptop is here – I really love my little laptop

 ww laptopscrivener modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I can’t really say I have a fave author. I grew up probably loving Robert Jordan and Terry Brooks the most (epic fantasy was a staple in my reading diet – along with Dean Koontz’s horror. Epic fantasy was also the genre I wrote in for my first lengthy work). But nowadays my reading diet is highly varied, and I have many faves.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

Since I work full time as a librarian, I don’t usually get to write during the day, except on weekends. But generally I don’t have any rituals or quirks, or at least I don’t think I do. A lot of the time I am weirder when NOT writing – like I’m talking out loud as if I’m one of my characters, figuring out ideas for dialogue. But when I start writing, I am basically a typing machine who spews out words at a rate of knots.

ww trisha modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I do TRY to work on my writing every day, but lately I have failed pretty epically in this regard. I don’t really have any good excuses, except that right now I am fostering a bunch of kittens, and taking care of them seems to drain me. Plus, two nights a week I do a fitness class after work so I get home pretty late. The biggest hurdle I face right now is trying to edit a novel that needs an immense amount of work. It’s hard to keep myself motivated.

ww writingontable modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Trisha F.

4. Why do you write?

I write because I love it. It’s sort of a compulsion. I feel that I’m a very inspired person, and ideas are constantly striking me and demanding to be written. I love getting into the heads of my characters and putting them through horrible traumas, so they can emerge triumphant at the end (assuming they’re still alive!). Gee, I’m nice aren’t I?

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

My go-to writing tip is to just write. Sounds obvious, I know, but it is the thing that works best for me. My problem is never trying to find something to write, but rather I am struggling at the editing end of matters. So in terms of writing, JUST WRITE!! Don’t worry about whether it’s crap or not – just write it, and worry about the level of crapness later.

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Trisha!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

 

 

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Giveaway Winner and an Announcement

First, I’d like to announce the winner of my May Spotlight Week Giveaway Contest

Congratulations, Lee ! You win a kindle copy of THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, the first book in Mary E. Pearson’s Jenna Fox Trilogy.

 Giveaway Winner and an Announcement

 

I’ll be emailing you soon with details on how to claim your prize.

Second, I’d like to invite you all to sign up for this month’s Spotlight Week Giveaway. I’m giving away a SIGNED copy of Cynthia Hand’s BOUNDLESS, the third book in her UNEARTHLY SERIES.

boundless modified Giveaway Winner and an Announcement

For details on how to get your hands on this copy, click on this link.

Third and last, I’d like to share some joyful news. 

The past weeks have been pretty hectic because on top of my own writing, blogging and personal schedule, I’ve actually been focused on applying for a dream job at UCLA Extension.

After two interviews and three weeks of nail-biting and enduring the agony of waiting. I finally got the call I was praying and hoping and wishing for.

I got my dream job!

This July, I’ll be starting my new job with the UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) Extension Writers’ Program. And I’ll be doing something I truly enjoy doing. As their Online Creative Writing & Events Rep, I’ll be helping with planning their online courses and organizing all their amazing writing events, such as the Writers’ Faire and the Publication Party. I am giddy with excitement and I thank the stars every day that I got this opportunity.

There’s a lot of work ahead of me, with transitions, endings and beginnings, so forgive me if my blog becomes even more sporadic in posts. I’m looking forward to my new work. More than anything I’m just really, really happy to have job that allows me to work on my two biggest passions: writing and teaching.

I wish you all a very happy week! May you also have much to look forward to.

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Spotlight Week Giveaway

This week the Spotlight was on Cynthia Hand and her exciting Young Adult Paranormal series UNEARTHLY.

If you want to know more about the UNEARTHLY series you can read my BOOK REVIEW .

Also, check out my fun interview with author Cynthia Hand.

To end our Spotlight Week, I’m giving away a SIGNED COPY of BOUNDLESS, the third book in the UNEARTHLY SERIES.

To enter the contest, tell me  why you’d like to win the book

I’ll put all your names in my magical drawing box and pick the winner.

I love encouraging people to unleash their imaginative and creative sides, so the more creative your answers are, the more chances you have of winning. If your comment/answer tickles my fancy, I’ll add another slip of paper (or two) with your name on it to my drawing box.

Also, if you tweet about this giveaway, or share it on Facebook, I’ll add more 2 slips of papers with your name on it.
AND if you FOLLOW ME on Linky OR on Facebook’s networked blogs, I’ll add 6 more entries with your name into the drawing bowl.

The contest is international and will run until June 30, 2014.

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