TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Mina Burrows

 

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 Mina Burrows, author of that fun blog, Books for Paranormal & Mystic Minds.

Welcome, Mina!

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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?

MinaBa Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Mina Burrows

 

Mina Burrows

Hi Nutschell.  Thanks for having me.  I live in South Florida, and I am married with two kids.  I basically break myself down into three parts: family, work and writing.  Like most people, family is a huge part of my life.  I mention this because my family, for me, represents who I am as a writer and a person.  Oh and they also keep me crazy busy.  Another part of my life is that I’m a digital marketing consultant and run a small agency with a hand full of clients.  It’s hard work at times, but the flexibility to be with my family is priceless.  And finally, the third part of my life is that I’m a fictional writer.  I write mostly paranormal romance, but I’ve ventured into other genres like YA, children’s picture books and new adult.  I guess I write what I feel like.  As far as hobbies, I’m an insatiable reader and a wannabe gardener.  My hidden talent doesn’t sound like one, but it is.  The one thing I’m insanely good at is being resourceful.  It sounds crazy, but I’ve always had the ability to find incredible uses for useless things.  As much I’d loathe a post-apocalyptic world, you’d probably want someone like me in your tribe, rebel group, commune or district.  LOL!

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

This is a picture of my desk.  I run my business here as well, but when I have an hour to spare, and I’m not exhausted from my day, I write here.

MBdesk modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Mina Burrows

 

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

If you can believe, my husband who is a pack rat, picked this desk up at a garage sale.  He paid $18 bucks, and it’s a battered pottery barn desk.  Impressive, huh?  Yeah, he has all sorts of mad skills.  Anyway, as far as my work area, I try to keep it clean to help me stay organized.  The desk is covered with items I’ve accumulated from my family and kids to inspire my writing.  For example, my daughter started recently changing the monster high doll on my desk which I don’t mind.  I appreciate her creativity, and she helps me with mine. icon smile Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Mina Burrows

 

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

The most important piece thing on my desk is my laptop.  After that it’s an internet connection and then iPhone/iPad.  Technology is my lifeline, and it sucks when any of these items goes down.

 

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

My desk is near a window, and I love being able to glance outside throughout my day.  My spider-monkey action figure from Ben 10 is a must from my son.  I think I like that show more than my kids do.  My raven reminds me of Poe, who is one of my favorite authors.  I use my raven to remind me to be brave, authentic and to always strive for exceptional work.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach my raven’s expectations though.*sigh*

 

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

Coffee.  Water.  Wine.  Usually in that order and throughout the day.

On Writing

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

Jane Austen.  I picked up Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion as a random purchase decades ago not knowing a thing about the author or the book.  After that I was hooked, which goes to show you that great literature doesn’t need to be taught…it just needs to be read.  Writers like classic authors, Austen, Shelley, Stoker and Poe, and more recent traditionally published ones like Dean Koontz, Julie Garwood, Jennifer Ashley and Kresley Cole are some my favorite authors.  From a self-published perspective, I adore writers like Elizabeth Reyes and really just any indie writer has been an inspiration to me.  I read all types of books, so I come across all types of writers.  The writing journey itself is such an arduous task that I can’t help but be inspired by authors and their personal stories.

 

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

My day starts off with trying to get as much client work done as possible, so I can do my own writing.  I feel like I’m always in a hurried state to get to what I really want to be doing, which is writing and spending time with my family.

 

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, but there are days when that’s impossible.  When I do write, I do as much as possible i.e. a scene, chapter or edit on a current project until I’ve exhausted myself or until the duty of being a mom calls.  I feel like social media and blogging is a huge distraction which is why I’ve slowed down blogging and socializing online.

 

4. Why do you write?

When I first started writing, I had a story that haunted me as a kid until I wrote it down.  Once I finished writing the stories (mostly short stories) I’d put them away and forget about them.  It wasn’t until later when I wrote my first novel that I understood my real purpose.  From then on, the stories kept coming.  “Scribo ergo sum” –yeah, “I write, therefore I am?” pretty much sums it up.

 

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

Working out helps me free my mind to think about plots and it also helps with stress.  There are days why I’m my writing flows easily and others times when it’s like I’m trudging through the dessert.  I go with the flow and write when I can and pray that it doesn’t suck.  Whenever I doubt myself and think I’ll never measure up, I remember the quote by Judy Garland. “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”

Judy Garland modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Mina Burrows

 

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

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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This week the Spotlight was on Nancy Ellen Dodd and her amazing writing book, THE WRITER’S COMPASS.

If you want to know more about this book , you can read my BOOK REVIEW here.

Also, check out my fun interview with author Nancy Ellen Dodd.

To end our Spotlight Week, I’m giving away a SIGNED COPY of THE WRITER’S COMPASS.

 

The Writers Compass Spotlight Week Giveaway: THE WRITER’S COMPASS by NANCY ELLEN DODD

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 August 30, 2014.

 

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share001btn Spotlight Week Giveaway: THE WRITER’S COMPASS by NANCY ELLEN DODD

I’ve been very curious about THE WRITER’S COMPASS ever since I’d seen it on display at a local bookstore. Little did I know that a year later, the author of the said book would leave a message on my blog and give me the chance to read her book and interview her.

Of course, as soon as I saw Nancy’s message, I jumped at a chance. And ever since then, Nancy and I have been emailing back and forth. Last month, she showed us her workspace and shared writing tips on my Wednesday Writer’s Workspace series. Nancy is one of the most generous authors I’ve encountered. She graciously sent me a signed copy of her book for review, and even sent another signed copy for this spotlight week’s giveaway. She’s also agreed to do a writing workshop with my group, CBW-LA, next February!

This month, I’m so pleased to feature her and her awesome writing book on my Spotlight Week.

Without further ado, I present the ever generous Nancy Ellen Dodd!

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nancy dodd1 modified Spotlight Week Author Interview: Nancy Ellen Dodd

The Generous Nancy Ellen Dodd

 

1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourselves.

 I’ve been married three times (which I’m not proud of by the way, but you asked). I love love and romance, in fact, I was fortunate enough to officiate at a close friend’s wedding. I love watching people who are in love. However, I finally figured out that I’m no good at it and finally retired my veil.

 

2. When did you first realize your passion for writing?

 Even as a child I told myself stories and had a lot of imagination, but in junior high I wrote part of my first novel. In high school I wrote a play called “The Hero” that one of my teachers said that if I didn’t do something with it, he would. The play became a short story about Vietnam, which I temporarily sold as a kindle book. My good friend Kevin Sizemore produced is as a short film a few years ago and we updated it to Afghanistan. It won a couple of film festival awards. It can be seen here: http://www.spike.com/video-clips/j9hp28/the-hero. Every time they update their website the count starts over, but I know that tens of thousands of people have watched it from previous counts. Seeing something important enough to be produced from your early work is very gratifying.

3. If you were stranded on an island, what three books would you love to have with you?

First of all The Bible; Swiss Family Robinson (the original version by the storyteller’s son Johann David Wyss, not the one where the French writer added fantastic stories) or Robinson Crusoe, hopefully I’d get some survival tips; and probably the complete works of Sherlock Holmes to sharpen my wits.

4. What do you think makes a good story?

 I think that a good story is one where we are inspired to be better than who we have been in the past, both personally and collectively.

5. Where did you get the idea to write THE WRITER’S COMPASS?

 For decades I have been taking notes and compiling questions for writing. I created a hand-printed workbook using some of what I’d learned and sold it to local writer’s groups. It became one of the early self-published books on Amazon. Then I stopped publishing it while I was getting my university degrees in writing. I created a much broader program with the questions on about 50 5×8 cards and developed a story map. Other students in my program paid me to teach them what I was using because they could see that I had figured out some things that they hadn’t.

When an agent called me at the university on another matter, and I learned she also represented books on writing, I sent her my idea. She took it straight to Writer’s Digest and after several revisions to the proposal, they bought and published the book.

6. One of the things I really found very useful in THE WRITER’S COMPASS was the section on the Story Map and the 7-Stage Process. How did you go about developing this wonderful process for story creation?

The story map came when I was in a playwriting class in the master’s of Professional Writing program at USC. It’s like a light bulb went off. The professor was teaching the 3-act structure, which of course I’d read about many times, but watching him diagram it on the board, it occurred to me that if I could go through all of my books and notes and put all the “words” used for the elements of writing on the 3-act structure chart, I’d never missing writing important information again. I have my original diagram, which I did on PowerPoint. I quickly discovered that everyone was pretty much saying the same thing using different words and adding in their own variations of method. I then simplified the diagram and chose words that made sense to me.

When I started teaching advanced screenwriting at Pepperdine, one of my students said, “You use the same diagram that our playwriting teacher gave us.” It turned out that she graduated from the MPW program at USC and that the diagram I gave to my professor he was giving out to subsequent students. So she was also using it to teach from and had no idea she was using the diagram I developed. Of course, all of this knowledge is built on Aristotle’s dramatic principles and Freytag’s pyramid.

The 7-Stage process was all the notes and questions I had been collecting and developing over the years that I’d put on the 50 index cards, and which I had already arranged in stages for more efficient revising.

7. The Structure Chart and the Story Tracking Sheet are just two of the many useful tools you share with readers in THE WRITER’S COMPASS. Have you come across or developed new writing techniques since then that you would love to have included in the book?

Currently I am studying many of the newer methods and techniques that authors have developed over recent years to see what I can add to my knowledge and teach and lead the students to. I’m also looking at how to incorporate the hero’s journey, which is a mythic approach while my approach is based on Aristotle.

 In fact, I just taught a Webinar on “Winning Sci-Fi/Fantasy Story Structure” through The Writer’s Store and I encouraged the students to learn the hero’s journey for this because it is all about the mythic quest, which is usually basic to this genre.

8. In the book, you recommend using notebooks and index cards to keep track of story ideas. What other tools do you use aside from these? Do you also use voice recorders, or other software programs?

I sometimes use voice recorders if I’m driving, only I don’t like listening to the sound of my own voice, which I find many of us don’t, so I sometimes don’t play them back and rely on memory. If I’m on deadline, I use Word. I often use Excel to capture notes because I can use it as a database and sort my notes in various ways and can include all of my notes for everything I do and all my projects in one file. I’ve tried Access, because it is a database, but find I can’t see it all and I need to be able to lay everything out and see it.

I’m also trying something new both as a portable storyboard and to organize myself. I got the idea from Save the Cat, and Blake Snyder got it from Mike Cheda the script consultant. Use a large sketchpad, open it flat and draw 4 even lines across both sides, then use post-it notes for your ideas and you can move them around like you would index cards on a story board. I have a large monthly calendar and I’m using it to organize my “To Do’s” and the unused pages inside as a storyboard. I love the concept and it’s really helped me in organizing because the size gives me more room to organize my work. Of course, I’d read a book years ago on organization that suggested Post-It notes as a way to move to do’s around, rather than lists, but didn’t realize the problem was the size of my calendar.

9. Aside from THE WRITER’S COMPASS, you have written numerous blog posts, screenplays, plays, short stories, short films and novel-length work. Which of these genres are you most comfortable with? Which genre do you find the most challenging?

I always say that my favorite form is the one I’m currently writing in, as well as the most challenging. I love every form of writing. Right now I’m going back to finish all the novels I was waiting until I knew enough to finish. I’m also starting some new work on a new screenplay. (Shhh don’t tell my agent, he wants me to stick with finishing the novels.)

10. You are a university instructor, an editor and a writer, among other things. How do you go about juggling these different aspects of your life?

Very carefully. Refer to portable storyboard above. And juggle is the correct word. One of my daughters and my granddaughter live with me. If it weren’t for my daughter insisting on making vacation plans, I probably would work nonstop. I am constantly in pursuit of new ways to organize myself and keep myself motivated. I always look at what’s due next, but then I have to keep in mind that what’s due in a couple of weeks make take more time than I’ve allotted for it and I have to start it now. So I try to prioritize by the amount of time I need to finish a project and what is the next thing due.

I have to be careful because whenever I slow down and get bored, I start looking for new projects, then suddenly I find I have half-a-dozen things due at the same time. Yikes. But I love it. God has blessed me in so many ways and I waited so long and worked so hard to get to this point, I plan to enjoy every minute of it.

11. Tell us about your path to publication. What is the coolest thing about being a published author?

Hmmmm. I guess just being a published author is the coolest thing. Really, once you realize, “Oh, the whole world didn’t change, I still have to keep on keeping on,” then you settle down and go back to work.

Truthfully, getting published opened doors for me to have more teaching opportunities and to meet people like all of you, which I really love.

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

I try to get up around 6:00 am, write out my prayer, read from the Bible and do some devotional reading, this starts the day right and helps me set my priorities and gives me peace that God is in charge and I’m just trying to see what He wants me to do today.

After that I either write or I work on projects with impending due dates or I do the notes on my student’s work. I drink lots of hot tea and eat burnt toast during this time.

My writing rituals change and morph, the one I had a few weeks ago I’m not doing right now, maybe that’s why I’m writing less right now and finishing projects instead.

Then I get ready for work and go to the office and handle all the stuff I need to do that day. I come home around six and spend time with my family, eat dinner, and/or work on more projects.

Okay, I confess! In the evening I watch “The Young and the Restless” on my computer. I know, it’s a soap opera, but as a child we watched soap operas. We only got like three stations during the time we had to watch. So, while we were shelling black-eyed peas or snapping green beans or cracking nuts, soap operas were what was on. After decades of not watching, I was getting my car serviced and Y&R came on in the lobby and I was fascinated because it was the same actors from all those years ago. They felt like old friends. I got hooked again. Anybody got any peas I can shell?

13. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?

I love to read or mainly listen to audiobooks, watch movies, I’m a big TV buff, only we don’t have cable any more. And we like to go camping. Disneyland is one of our main play attractions—I mean so much imagination and exhilaration and childlike play.

14.  Are you currently working on any other projects?

Yes, but I don’t think your blog is that long.

Actually, I’m seriously considering teaching a Skype class. I just had a Skype meeting with some of my online students and we really liked the personal connection and I like seeing my students’ faces.

I’ve also been approached by a publisher to write a specialized book for them on storytelling, so I’m working on the proposal.

Plus I’m making notes on a magical realism series of history books for students that I’m excited about. And I have a play I’m turning into a YA novel, and the screenplay I’m storyboarding and …. well that’s enough.

15.  What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication?

 Accept where you currently are and then grow from there. You don’t have to be a genius or a literary icon. You don’t have to start out knowing everything. You can find an audience, even a small one, while you are learning.

Find out your writing triggers and use them to establish a discipline.

Read lots of different writing books and see what works for you. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work, read another one, take a different class—you’ll learn and you’ll grow and you’ll develop and you’ll find how to approach writing in a way that works for you. Not everything is right, nor is everything wrong, it just may not work for you.

You might find out that instead of writing, your passion is for editing or publishing or teaching and you might be able to help someone else. If you have a passion to write, then write.

Sometimes the writing hibernates while we are involved in the urgency of our day-to-day lives, give it a chance to come alive again. Do what you can to stimulate your imagination, then put your pen on the paper and push.

 

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Thanks, Nancy!

Come back this Friday for the final part of the Spotlight Week, where I give away a SIGNED COPY OF THE WRITER’S COMPASS

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This month’s Spotlight Week features THE WRITER’S COMPASS by author Nancy Ellen Dodd.

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The Writers Compass Spotlight Week: The Writers Compass by Nancy Ellen Dodd

224 pages, Softcover

Genre: Writing Resource

Published on June 29, 2011 by Writer’s Digest Books

ISBN-10: 1599631970

ISBN-13: 978-1599631974

 

About the Author

Nancy Ellen Dodd is a writer with many voices, a university instructor, and an editor. She received her master’s in Professional Writing (MPW, which is a multi-discipline approach to writing) from the University of Southern California with a concentration in dramatic writing/screenwriting and her MFA in playwriting at USC’s School of Theatre. Having studied writing for more than 25 years, Dodd currently teaches screenwriting at Pepperdine University for undergraduate and graduate students. Dodd has received numerous awards for her writing and studied with several successful, award-winning writers. Currently on faculty at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University, Dodd serves as academic editor of the “Graziadio Business Review.”

Check out her website at http://thewriterscompass.com and her blog at http://nancyellendodd.com

 

Back Cover Blurb

How do you tell the story you want to tell and capture your audience’s heart? Regardless of genre or format, to tell your story effectively you must first sort through all the ideas you’ve been toying with–organize them, whip them into shape, and turn them into great writing. Whether you’re writing a novel, a short story, a play, or a screenplay, the 7 stage approach of The Writer’s Compass allows you to focus on one apect of your story at a time–including forming and developing ideas, building strong structures, creating vibrant characters, and structuring scenes and transitions. The path of a writer isn’t always easy. Let The Writer’s Compass be your north star by simplifying a wealth of writing advice into easily applicable concepts that will help you improve your craft.

 

Synopsis

Map out your idea and finish your story in 7 stages!

This book will show writers how to develop their ideas into a finished novel by working through it in 7 stages, while learning how to mapping out their story’s progress and structure so they can evaluate and improve their work. It teaches writers to visualize their story’s progress with a story map that helps them see all the different components of their story, where these components are going, and, perhaps most importantly, what’s missing.

The book simplifies Aristotle’s elements of good writing (a.k.a. that each story should have a beginning, a middle and an end) into easily applicable concepts that will help writers improve their craft. The author helps readers strengthen their work by teaching them how to focus on one aspect of their story at a time, including forming stories and developing ideas, building strong structures, creating vibrant characters, and structuring scenes and transitions. Thought-provoking questions help writers more objectively assess their story’s strengths and weaknesses so they may write the story they want to tell.

 

My Review

 

The author’s diverse writing background is apparent, as THE WRITER’S COMPASS seems to have been structured to be applicable not just to novels, but to short stories, plays and screenplays as well.

Author Nancy Ellen Dodd begins with an introduction to the writing life. Novice writers will appreciate this section, as it talks about how to build a writing life—from creating one’s writing time and space, to deconstructing bad writing habits, and developing an instinct for writing organically.

Part II delves into the meat of the writing book—the Story Map and the 7 Stage Process. The 7 Stages Dodd has created are:

Stage 1: Forming Stories and Developing Ideas,

Stage 2: Building Strong Structures

Stage 3: Creating Vibrant Characters

Stage 4: Structuring Scenes, Sequences, and Transitions

Stage 5: Increasing Tension and Adjusting Pacing

Stage 6: Enriching the Language and Dialogue

Stage 7: Editing the Hard Copy and Submitting

 

Each stage addresses the story elements that tend to require the most attention in terms of story development. The idea behind the 7 Stage Process is to lessen the amount of revision time for the writers. Structure is the main driving force behind the 7 Stage Process. The three-act structure, in particular, is the foundation behind many of the tools and techniques that Dodd shares through the book.

Dodd uses the analogy of building a house to explain how the 7 stages work:

“Much like constructing a house, the 7 Stages are based on developing the story foundation, then adding the structure, the roof, the walls, the flooring, painting and designer touches, and finally moving in. Each stage adds another level of breadth and depth to the story across the entire structure chart.”

Dodd emphasizes the importance of planning a draft and gives writers a tool to help them do just that—the Story Map. The Story Map helps writers map the elements of good storytelling. Using the Story Map, writers can gain valuable insight into narrative flow, and the possible weaknesses their story might have.

Plotters or writers who like outlines, will definitely enjoy the organizing aspect of the Story Map. Pantsers, (writers who write by the seat of their pants) may also benefit from using this tool, as it will give them a general idea of how their story flows, without forcing them to come up with too many story details.

In each of the 7 Stages, Dodd discusses specific methods and lists concrete steps to achieve that particular stage’s goal. For example, the goal in stage 3 is to create vibrant characters, so Dodd explains several elements to help the writer get to know their characters better. These elements include the character’s physiology, heredity, sociology, personality and psychology. She also shares techniques for character development such as Characterization Mapping and the Character Timeline.

The thing I found most helpful about the book were the series of questions in each chapter, designed to challenge the way a writer thinks about his/her story. The questions encourage writers to think about the details, logic, structure, and development of a story. For example, questions like “What do you want to say about life? Your philosophy? The world?”, helps writers define the universal theme of their stories; while questions like, “What caused the over arching event, and what are the results, are they reasonable?”, allow the writer to think about the cause and effect factor within their scenes.

Writers who haven’t had the opportunity to attend writing classes or conferences will definitely benefit from the book’s step by step approach to story-telling. I truly enjoyed the book’s emphasis on structure and am eager to use what I’ve learned in writing my next draft.

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Christiana P. aka The Capillary

 

 

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 Christian P., author of that fun blog, The Capillary.

Welcome, Christiana!

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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?

 

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Christiana P. aka. The Capillary

My name is Christiana P. I have been involved in nursing for the last 10 years, working as a Registered Nurse for the last six in Canada and the UK. I have been recently qualified as a massage therapist and currently work as both at the moment.

I love to write urban fantasy. As much as I love world building for high fantasy, I find urban fantasy a little more relatable for people. It also allows me to bring back some magic into my characters lives who are, let’s face it, snap shots of people in my life who think fantasy and sci-fi are cop outs as far as works of fiction are concerned.

My hobby and interests are martial arts and fitness. I recently reached my first dan (first level of black belt) in Olympic Style Taekwondo, and I’m working towards my first dan in the non-Olympic style Taekwondo. In the last couple years I’ve gotten involved with competing at various levels in both styles and have had a surprising amount of success, though I wouldn’t call this a hidden talent.

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On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing at my desk. Doing “work” or studying at a desk is something I was conditioned with from a very early age. When I’m feeling rebellious I’ll move a foot over to my sofa and put my feet up.

I’d love to be one of those people who can go to a cafe or library and be productive, but it just doesnt’ work. I end up spending most of my time watching people. Which is great if you need some inspiration for a character, but productivity? Not so much.

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

My original desk was bought second hand from GumTree and fit into the corner nicely, but my legs didn’t fit under it very well so I was constantly sitting at angle. After some bargaining with my husband I agreed to go to Ikea with me to get the desk you see now (’cause you know, you never come back from Ikea only with the things on your list…).
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Setting up this work area was difficult as my husband and I had moved from a 3 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom house. I had wanted to set up my work space in the spare bedroom but we quickly agree that we would struggle to host visitors. I’ve always been able to have a space dedicated to myself for all hours of the day. So setting up my works space in the living room and having my husband in the same space ( particularly in the evenings) was an adjustment and my productivity took a massive blow for the better part of a year.

 

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

The most important thing on my desk besides the obvious computer is a notepad and pen. Even on my most productive days I can hit a road block that needs a bit of back to basics writing. The other constant companion is a mug of tea. I have a number of different mugs and teas but my favourites are lemon and ginger tea in my Tim Hortons mug.

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

I don’t have any favourite objects. My work space is a practical space: I need the space to focus and think. Not very interesting for someone who falls under the “artsy” category.

 

On Writing

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

My favourite authors are David Eddings, not because he was super original, but he took a typical story and made it memorable with his characters; Robert Jordan, for what I think is one of the most complicated and original fantasy stories; K.A. Applegate, who made YA sci-fi the coolest ever.

Funny enough, it wasn’t an author that inspired me to write, it was my group of friends in high school. It’s like we had a little writing group for a while and we spent a number of lunch hours reading each other’s WIP’s. I typically don’t become nostalgic for my teen years, but when I do, it’s those lunch hours I dream about: where else did you have a writing group that met every day (or near enough)?

 

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

0830 – Training

1030 – FREEDOM (…/studying)

1230- Lunch

1300 – Work/Studying

1700 – Supper

1900 – Training

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During my two hours of freedom I typically do my most writing, editing, brainstorming, and napping. It’s not a lot of time, and sometimes other appointments eat into that time so it’s not a regular, set time every day. When work is slow sometimes I get a chance to scribble a few ideas out.

Tea. I always need a hot cup of tea next to me when I write. Even in the heat of summer.

 

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 during my couple hours of freedom, but like I mentioned, sometimes this time get filled up with non-training, non-business related things, or I pick up a shift at the hospital. If this happens I end up having binge writing days once or twice a month where I shut the world out and crank out a few thousand words.

Worst distraction: PINTEREST. A close second is the Facebook.

I always pretend it’s for business related things, but let’s not kid ourselves.

 

4. Why do you write?

I guess the short answer would be simply to make sense of the world and how I feel about things that happen in my life.

 

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

My favourite quote is pictured “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” I love it because it applies to so many aspects of life: training, writing, studying, or even just day to day life. But on the flip side, you need to get out. 

discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Christiana P. aka The Capillary

Writing is such a solitary endeavour: you have to spend hours and hours at every stage by yourself, and in your head. Even though you have all sorts of social media platforms at your fingertips you risk becoming disconnected from the world around you. Get up, go to an exercise class, take a different route to work, enjoy being at that wedding, go on a road trip with a friend, and make time for family. Not only will it keep you grounded but it’ll spark your imagination, renew your enthusiasm, and make you appreciate your  writing dream.

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

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 Emilyann Girdner

 

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 Emilyann Girdner, author of the fantasy novel, The Labyrinth Wall Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Emilyann Girdner.

You can find Emilyann blogging at www.anythingimagined.blogspot.com

labyrinth wall modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Emilyann Girdner

The Labyrinth Wall is the tale of a young woman who discovers that although labyrinth walls confine her and her enemies try to repress her, the power of hope can set her free.

Araina’s isolated teenage life is forever altered when she witnesses a man emerge through a rippling wall into the dark labyrinth she calls home. As a result of the stranger’s arrival, Araina’s Creators have unleashed a series of magical attacks using the labyrinth against its inhabitants. Now Araina must decide if she will trust potentially deceitful allies in order to reach safety on the other side of the labyrinth wall.

Find it here: The Labyrinth Wall

 

Welcome, Emilyann!

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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?

Emily ann girdner Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Emilyann GirdnerAuthor Emilyann Girdner

I’m a Communication Specialist at organizational development firm in Florida. My primary responsibilities involve writing weekly blog content, producing graphics and monitoring social media.

As for my favorite genre, I prefer fantasy fiction (and explore many possibilities within that realm).

A hidden talent you ask? I usually have a knack for guessing movie plots long before they’re revealed. However, I feel like that’s getting rusty.

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

This is tough, because I change up my writing locations a lot. Sometimes I work on my laptop on the couch, sometimes at the kitchen table and sometimes on the desk in my room. For the sake of narrowing things down, I’ll say I work on the couch most, because that room is brighter.

emily workspace modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Emilyann Girdner

Emilyann’s Workspace

 

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

Since I work on the couch, I use the coffee table for my water or powerade zero. The coffee table was a piece from Walmart.

 

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

Well, standard on my coffee table you will find a lit candle, coasters, and a tic-tack-toe board. Beneath it are my photo albums, which are nice to have close by. But when I write, you’re likely to see my sketch book where I draw inspirations or characters. But no matter where I’m writing in the house, you’ll almost find my cat Benny beside me, and my iphone set to a Pandora station.

 

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

I like the comfort of the couch and the brightness of the room. Definitely Benny’s presence and music are musts for my writing comfort. I love to have Pandora set to the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter stations.

 

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

Ice water is a favorite, because I’ve got a terrible habit of chewing on the ice (not because the water is healthy). As I mentioned, I love Powerade Zero. Sometimes if I’m being mischievous I like to drink sweet tea.

 emily favorite picture modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Emilyann Girdner

My favorite photo: The side ponytail is my signature, I love the 80’s and this was a fun 80’s dress up night at my dorm and it brings back memories of my freshman year at college which was one of the best times in my life

On Writing

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

Terry Brooks is my favorite author. The Elf Queen of Shannara has been my favorite book since I first read it in eighth grade, which is also about the time my love of writing truly began taking hold. Over the years many encouraging people like family and teachers have inspired me to write.

 

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

It all depends on the project as far as the ritual. There is almost always some research involved no matter what to get me in the right frame of mind and get my ducks in a row. It’s funny because I asked my husband about his perspective on this question, and he said my quirk is that I don’t sleep. It’s true, when I’m done outlining and really prepared to jump into a project, I have been known to pull all-nighters. When I get in the zone, it’s hard to stop.

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Me with the very first printed proof copy of The Labyrinth Wall

 

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 write everyday between my day job and my personal projects. But that can range from thirty minutes to hours. As far as my creative projects outside of work, they usually happen in spurts. I’ll pick a period of time (say a month) and let everyone know I’m not available. During that time I write whenever I can including after work, lunch breaks and the weekend

benny modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Emilyann Girdner

My writing buddy and kitty pal, Benny

 

4. Why do you write?

I wrote everyday in high school (but it was very dark writing) so when I went to college and my outlook on life became much more optimistic, I quit writing (almost completely) for a couple years. There was a big fear that if I tried to go back to, I’d get sucked back into a dark place. But as I got close to graduating college with an Art degree, I realized there was something missing. As much as I loved the visual form, I couldn’t express and explore everything I needed to in that medium. So the summer before I graduated I tried writing again, and couldn’t stop. I wrote my first novel that summer. So to summarize the moral of the story, I write because it completes me.

 

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

It’s always odd being asked for advice, because everyday I’m learning more and still growing. That being said, there are a couple lessons from my journey that I can share.

 

These are little notes I keep around to keep me on track:

  • ·       Write because you love it, not because you want to be loved.
  • ·       If you doubt your message, others will doubt you.
  • ·       Always enjoy your creative journey, because it is yours to shape.

 

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

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 Frankie Picasso

 

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 Frankie Picasso, author of Midlife Mojo: How to get through the midlife crisis and emerge as your true self Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Frankie Picasso

midlife mojo Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Frankie Picasso

 

 

Welcome, Frankie!

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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?

momandbongo modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Frankie Picasso

 Author Frankie Picasso and Bongo

 

I am a Gemini and as such, I like to be involved in many things, with the emphasis on Many! I have worked in many different fields, everything from a Private investigator to managing a 12 X World Kickboxing Champion. I am also the first Professional female Kickboxing Promoter in the World.

Today I am an author, a Certified Metaphysical Hypnotherapist, a Master Coach Trainer and an instructor in both modalities. I also work as an Intuitive therapist, Animal communicator and Energy healer.

I am moving away from a ‘one on one’ practice to focus on reaching a larger audience.  I will always be a Coach, I believe it is in my DNA, however I am very excited to be working on a large project that is both challenging and rewarding at the same time. I have started to build  a Humanitarian Radio Station that will help people around the world in a very tangible way. I cannot say too much more about this at the moment but I am hoping to unveil The Good Radio Network to the world by my birthday in June!

image007 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Frankie Picasso

I am an Contemporary artist and an advocate for a Socially conscious planet and every piece of art I sell, ( which is featured on http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/frankie-picasso.html) helps a child receive Cleft Palate surgery through Mercy Ships Canada. For me, this is a real WIN /WIN, a 45 minute surgery that will change the life of a child forever. Once the surgery is completed, the child is able to eat and drink without any restrictions and best of all, both the child and family are no longer ostracized by their community. They are accepted back into the fold and this is a big relief for the mothers. What many people don’t know is that a child born with cleft palate is often malnourished as it is difficult for them to get nutrients from food. They find it difficult to eat and drink- both taking it in and keeping food down. I love how this ‘fix’  is so immediate.

Both of my books have been written for the self help genre, but last year I joined the NANOWRIMO movement and started to write a fictional novel during that month. It was a great start to a good story that I do intend to finish. Once completed it will be available under the paranormal romance section of Amazon. It is titled Bearly Human!

Things I love to do..-I am a drumher-(female drummer) and I love to play Funk and Soul music. I am passionate about art and love to go to small interesting galleries. I also love the movies and reading books, hanging out with dogs at the dog park and listening to my husband sing and play his guitar to me every night. I especially love to hang out with my grown kids and their partners. Those are the best nights ever. My kids are so funny and the next day, my ribs and stomach usually hurt from laughing so hard.

meandkids modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Frankie Picasso

 Frankie and her beautiful children

One hidden talent I have is animal communication. I talk to animals of all kinds. It’s like being Dr. Doolittle.:)

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I write in my office which is an open space upstairs in my log home.

 

our home modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Frankie Picasso

 Frankie’s log home

My husband purchased a very expensive and lovely desk for me from a beautiful furniture store in Kitchener. It is Mandarin style and I just fell in love with it. I have enclosed a photo of my workspace. You will notice a book shelf next to my desk. Every book in there represents an interview I had with the author over the years, through several of my previous radio shows. My desk faces a window so when I look up, I see the sky and treetops. Nature surrounds me here and I love it.

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  Frankie’s Workspace

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

I need to have pretty notebooks and a jar of pens. I don’t know why but they inspire me. I need to be surrounded by books and art and I like an esthetically pleasing workspace. However  when things get a bit messy I find it helps me to get creative. I also need it to be very quiet when I write. My most productive time is around 5 am.

 

3.  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 my HUGE computer screen, my wireless keyboard and my super comfy leather swivel chair.

 

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

In the morning it’s coffee for sure, but I like to alternate hot and cold. So Coffee, herbal tea, Sprite Zero and even water all make an appearance throughout the writing sessions.

mybike Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Frankie Picasso

 

On Writing

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

I have SO many favorite authors, it’s hard to choose just one. I tend to devour them once discovered. I love Ted Dekker, Jodi Piccoult, Elizabeth Naughton and JR Ward aka Jessica Bird.

I would say that my Mother encouraged me to write. She was a great writer and poet but it was my 8th grade Literature teacher Ms. Laughton who was the real inspiration. No one ever wrote well enough in her class to inspire a grade over a C. For some reason I took this as a personal challenge and I fought her throughout that year  for a better grade. I believed I could write and she kept after me to do better. I respected her, loved her and hated her all at the same time. I used to ask her, “Who do you want me to be,  Pearl Buck or something?. The first time I received an A in her class, I felt like I had won the lottery. Actually I felt like I was a real author because her standards were so high.

 

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

I wouldn’t say that I have any writing rituals but I do prescribe to automatic writing when I feel there is a block. I need my coffee there, the lights out and the house quiet.

 

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

I don’t write a book daily but I do write every day. It might be song lyrics or articles for several online companies like Blogsvertise or Article Marketer. I like to think  this keeps my skills sharp. I also write for Ezine Articles.

I probably only write about an hour or two daily but when I am working on a project it can be 6 hours at a time. I tend to get a lot of pain in my hips if I sit to long. That is when I call it quits for the day.

One of my biggest distractions is that I live in an open concept home. So if my husband decides to watch TV or play his guitar, I don’t have a door I can shut to filter noise. I have to do that for myself. Also Bongo my Golden Retriever will come up and start to fuss when he wants to go out and play.

 happybongo modified Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Frankie Picasso

 Bongo

 

4. Why do you write?

Writing is something that is just a part of me. It’s like breathing. I love how it feels to let my fingers fly across the keyboard and allow my thoughts to take form. I love books and it’s so cool to be a contributor as well as a reader. I like being able to help people or entertain them and writing helps give precision to my voice.

 

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

I think that it is very easy to get bogged down with  minutiae when beginning a writing project. My technique is to write everything down first and then go back to edit. One sentence can take up 4 hours sometimes. It’s difficult to write and finish that way.

When people ask for advice on how to write a self help book this is what I tell them.  It’s a pretty easy method for anyone and it doesn’t even  matter what order the chapters are written in as long as this method is adhered too. First, you make a blueprint for the book. Write down what the book is about and who the audience is or who you feel needs to read your book. This is important because when you begin to write, think about these folks and what it is you want them to know. Plus with their face in front of you when you write, it will inspire you to keep at it. It is also much easier to market your book to a specific group than to EVERYONE..

Next, make a list of all the information you want to make sure goes into the book. Organize that info into big headers that become temporary chapter names. Then for Each chapter, give 15 points that need to go into it. For every point, write 3 sentences and voila, you have a book!

 

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

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 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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