Archive for November, 2012

A Few Updates

It’s the end of November, you guys! One more month until this year ends and the whole cycle begins again.

It’s the last day of my monthly Giveaway today, so if you haven’t yet, sign up to win a SIGNED copy of YA Author Gretchen McNeil’s POSSESS here.

My life has been crazy lately, so I haven’t been able to visit your lovely blogs and leave little love notes. My best friend Yv and her husband Paul visited from Australia for two weeks. I took a few days off during Thanksgiving week to play tour guide. Too bad I had to work. I would’ve loved to take them out every day. My super friends Maiko and Lena helped take my guests around, though, and their own friends came to the rescue as well, so they were never bored during their stay.

I hadn’t seen Yv in 7 years, so we had way too much fun catching up. This meant a lot of late nights and coming into work like a zombie. It was so worth it though!

Although my guests have left, the craziness of my schedule still hasn’t ebbed. Tomorrow, December 1st, I’ll be flying off to Japan for the first time. I’m so excited, and so NOT ready! This whole week at work has been a nightmare, as I have to rush everything and finish all my month end reports in two days, instead of the usual one week.  I haven’t even packed for the trip yet—(which is saying something, since I’m usually packed for a trip a week before.)

I’ll be in Japan for 10 days soaking up the sights before I return home to tons of chores and paperwork and the usual Holiday rush.

–Which is why I’ll be taking a bloggy break this December.

I’ll announce the winner of my Possess Giveaway on December 3rd, though, so drop by to see if you’ve won.

That’s it for now. Congrats to all of you who survived Nanowrimo! See you when I get back!


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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 Miranda Hardy, author of that fun blog Miranda Hardy: Future New York Times Bestseller! 

Welcome, Miranda!


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?


Miranda Hardy

If anyone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a writer. I do, however, have another side job in which I work as a commercial credit underwriter, so basically I’m always writing one thing or another.

I write in several different genres (children’s picture book, sci-fi, fantasy, inspirational), but I’m currently working on a YA Paranormal/Horror.

As hobbies, I enjoy capturing awesome wildlife pictures and torturing my children by making them do crazy things like blow up 1,000 or so balloons in order to prank a colleagues’ workspace. I’ve also been known to do wild fun things like white water rafting and rugged hiking from time to time.

Miranda river rafting with friends

I have, on occasion, completed an acrylic painting or two…have to love Bob Ross!


On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I write in a variety of places, but I’ve written tons at my desk in my bedroom. I also write at the library on the weekends.

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

 My desk was given to me by the wonderful and talented Ainsley Shay. I put things that are important to me on the desk for inspiration.


 Miranda’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 have an accounting clock that belonged to a dear uncle of mine. I also have a very important message written out above my desk, a gift from Ainsley also. It’s a good reminder to just WRITE.

Miranda’s Accounting Clock

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

 I love that my desk is in my room, in my own space, away from the noise that occupies my house on a daily basis. I have a dictionary and thesaurus, as well as a book of 10,000 baby names…all very handy tools.

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

Tea, unsweetened iced tea.


Miranda’s inspirational board

On Writing

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

I’ve read a lot of classic’s in my youth, but I didn’t get serious about writing until after I took a literature class in college. Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” inspired me.

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

Lately, I don’t begin to write until the late evening hours during the weekday. I come home from work and seclude myself in my room. On the weekends, I stop by Starbucks on the way to the library and spend several hours in a comfortable chair by a window overlooking a large tree and pond.

Miranda’s laptop

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

I try to write every day, yes. I’ve been making a goal to write at least 1,000 words each day no matter what. The reason I go to the library on the weekend is to get away from the chores I have to do at home. When I’m home, I’m reminded of what needs to be done around the house.

 4. Why do you write?

I write to escape to another world, a world that brings a smile to my face. Besides, it’s the best way to express my craziness.

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

 “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin

“If you never give up, you never fail.” Miranda Hardy




Thanks, Miranda, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

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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Writing Tools: The Journal

Author Ron Klug says, a  journal is also a tool for self-discovery, an aid to concentration, a mirror for the soul, a place to generate and capture ideas, a safety valve for the emotions, a training ground for the writer, and a good friend and confidant. (op. cit.)

Everyone can benefit from having a journal, but writers above anyone else, gain much from keeping one. Writing, like any other skill, becomes better with practice, and journals provide writers with an opportunity to develop their skills.

More than writing practice, however, journals have other uses:

1. Journals can help a writer discover and develop his own unique voice.

Each author has a special writing style or voice that has gained them publishing success. Voice and writing style develop over time and practice, and beginning writers can gain discover their own unique way of expressing their thoughts by using a journal.


2. Journals can help generate story ideas.

Ideas come in all forms and at the oddest moments. If you’re lucky, you have a journal handy to write them all down. You may see/smell/taste/feel something that fascinates you and try to describe it in your journal. These descriptions can be the seeds of an idea for a novel or article you may someday write.


3. Journals can provide raw materials for a writer’s work.

Life is what inspires a writer’s work. You write anecdotes, memories, feelings, and even amusing overheard conversations in your journals. All of these can be used as fodder for your screenplays, novels and short stories.


4. Journals can be a great sounding board for a writer’s daily frustrations and concerns.

The path to publication is a long and difficult one, and often writers are overcome with doubt. Journals can provide you with a way to vent our frustrations and fears so you can let go of them, and keep on writing.


journals, image from

Types of Journals

Journal Writing is an art on its own, and as such, it comes in different formats. There are different types of journals that you can use to express your creativity, not only as writers, but as individuals.

You can have one journal for all of your creative projects, or for record-keeping, or you could have several journals, each for a specific topic or project.


1. Personal Journal/ Diary

The most popular use for a journal is to write your thoughts and feelings about anything and everything. In this type of journal you simply record your life experiences. You can write about specific events, or life highlights like getting married, or moving to a new place. This is a good way of remembering the milestones of your life, and also a good source of materials for your creative writing.


2. Idea Journal

This is where you would write ideas for stories, novels and articles you might write about in the future. It’s always best to keep your Idea Journals nearby where you can easily access them. After all, how many ideas have been lost because you didn’t have a small notebook while you were in the shower, or while you were out for a jog?


3. Creative Writing Journal

A Creative Writing Journal is where you would collect all of your short stories, flash fiction, and poems.


4. Freewriting Journal

Freewriting or stream of consciousness writing helps you clear your mind of cluttered thoughts and helps you tap into your creative intuition. You can set a time for ourselves, say 5 or 10 minutes, and simply write down whatever comes into your mind. You can also focus on a particular image, word, or topic  and write about that during your timed freewriting session.

You can find clever turns of phrases, profound insights and even discover your writing voice through your Freewriting Journals.


5. Reader’s Journal

Most writers are voracious readers. In your Reader’s Journal, you can write a review of a book you’ve read, jot down a particular line or dialogue that called to you,  and even make notes on a writing technique or trick that you’ve observed the author use in the book.


Painted leather journal from journey

6. Novel Journal

You can designate a journal for every novel you’re working on. There, you can write your thoughts and feelings on the story as it is developing, along with plot ideas, and possible scene resolutions.


7. Inspirational Writing Journal

This is where you collect snippets of inspiration so you can look back on them when you need encouragement. Lines from movies, quotes from books, song lyrics, poems, photos, newspaper clippings, magazine articles –anything and everything that can inspire you when your creative spark is sputtering should be posted in your Inspirational Writing Journal.


8. Dream Journal

Dream Journals give you access to your subconscious mind, where your creative aspect resides. Your dreams can provide you with a good supply of images and plots for your stories—especially if you write them down.


9. Art Journal/ Sketchbook

An Art Journal is where you could keep your sketches, drawings, and doodles. You can sketch your characters, draw the setting for your stories, and even create intricate maps for your fantasy novels here.


10. Travel Journal

Travel Journals are where you would record all the details of your travels—whether memorable or mundane. You can paste your itineraries, plane and bus tickets, receipts and pictures in your travel journals.


Map journal, image from

11. Project Journal

Project Journals are useful for keeping track of your thoughts, feelings and progress on a certain project you might be working on. If you’re working on a novel, art piece or even training for a marathon, you could write about it in your project journal.


12. Goal Journal

Similar to a project journal, a Goal Journal is where you would record your thoughts and feelings about a particular goal you wish to achieve. If you’re trying to lose weight or quit smoking, a Goal Journal is something that might help you track your progress. Once you achieve your goal, re-read all your entries and see just how far you’ve come.


13. Hobby Journal

If you have a hobby like gardening a Hobby Journal would be where you would record your hours in the garden. List down the progress of your plants, write down daily observations about the wildlife, and even descriptions of each flower/plants’ stage of growth. These descriptions might come in handy when writing a scene or poem in the future.


14. Food/Recipe Journal

If you’re a Foodie, you probably like to go out to eat at restaurants, and take pictures of all the food you eat. You can write about your new food discoveries in your Food Journal, and even paste recipes of dishes you’ve tried and loved.


15. Memory Book

This type of journal usually comes in a structured, guided format.  A Memory Book allows you to record thoughts, feelings, and details about a particular stage/ event in your life. Baby books and wedding books are an example of this type of journal.


16. Gratitude Journal

Reflecting on the good things in your life is a good exercise in positivity. In your Gratitude Journal, you can write down all the things you’re grateful for everyday.


17. Friendship Journal

This journal is typically shared with a friend. You can write letters to each other here, or share stories which you think your friend might enjoy. Friendship journals are a great way to keep in touch with long distance friends—or lovers.


18. Family Journal

Your family can use this to share thoughts about family issues, problems, or goals. Besides the usual family dinners or talks, a Family Journal is a wonderful way to keep the bond strong with each other, and to grow closer to one another.  It’s also a great way to discover things which your significant other or child is going through, which he/she might find hard to share in person.


19. Prayer Journal

When you pray, you speak to a Higher Power about problems, dreams and aspirations. You even ask questions which you know might never be answered. You can write all these down in your prayer journal. You can also write your thoughts and feelings about a particular scripture or sermon here.


20. Scrapbook

You can show your creative side and have fun recording life events in a scrapbook. Aside from writing short passages about your experience, you can also add photos, and artwork and drawings  in a scrapbook.


Moleskin journal, image from 

Traditionally, journal writing is a pen and paper activity. But you can just as easily keep an electronic journal using your computer.

There are computer programs that allow you to generate scrapbooks or memory books, if you wish—but this isn’t necessary. You can simply open up a word document for whatever type of journal you wish. You can even have a file for each type of journal you wish to have.

So do you keep a journal? If so, what kind of journal/journals do you keep?




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You’ve found a spare room in your house to use as an office.

You’ve bought a desk and chair suitable for your space.

You’ve set up your computer and printer, and other office equipment you might need.

You’ve even found a nice lamp for your desk.

Your Writing Sanctuary is ALMOST complete.

Almost? Well, yes. You’re missing one more element that’ll make your writing space truly feel YOURS: Desk accessories and Decorations.



I’ve already listed some of these items in my previous post on Office Supplies, but I’m mentioning them again, because these are supplies you’ll probably want on your desk or in your desk drawers.

A. Writing Instruments

1. Pens

2. Pencils

3. Markers

4. Highlighters

5. Colored pencils/pens

Writing instruments

B. Binding Materials

1. Paper clips

2. Stapler

3. Staple wires

4. Binder clips

5. Scotch tape

6. Glue/ Gluestick

7. Rubber bands


Binding supplies

C. Miscellaneous

1. Staple removers

2. Two-Hole punch

3. Three-hole punch

4. Scissors

5. Ruler

6. Pencil erasers

7. Correction tape

8. Mechanical Pencil lead refills

9. Sharpener

Miscellaneous office supplies



You can organize these accessories in your drawers using drawer organizers.

If your desk doesn’t have drawers, you can use desktop stations like the one below to organize your supplies.

Desk organizer, image from

Accessory trays are also useful for smaller items like paper clips, staple wires and binding clips. Cup holders are likewise available for taller items such as your writing instruments, rulers and staplers.

The wonderful thing about these accessory organizers is that you can either buy them pre-made or you can use pre-existing items around the house.

Use egg cartons and muffin pans as trays or drawer organizers. Decorate old jars, paint old cans, find a vase, mug or cup you haven’t used in ages and use these as cup holders for your pens and pencils.

Egg carton organizer from


Putting your own personal touch and flourishes in and around your work area is an important part of claiming your writing space and making it truly your own.

The more you invest in something, the more motivated you’ll be to use it. Take time to decorate your newly created writing space so that it reflects your style and personality as a writer.

If you have the time and inclination to do so, you can have fun creating your very own writing kingdom.

Decorating your writing space doesn’t have to cost money. Instead, let your creative side out and find materials around your house which you can repurpose as accessories, organizers and even furniture. 

desk organizers from old boxes/cartons, image from



Writing is a creative task, which means you’ll always be in need of inspiration. You need to surround your new writing space with things that spark your imagination or inspire you to keep on writing.

A simple way to decorate would be to simply place favorite things such as toys, trinkets or photographs around your desk or on bookshelves.

Since I love writing fantasy, I keep a lot of fantasy-based items around me as I work, such as this cute toy dragon:


Pick a theme for your writing space. Choose your décor based on your favorite writing genre. If you’re a Fantasy writer, for instance, you might spruce up your space by adding a toy wizard or knight on your desk. How about a stuffed toy dragon? Or maybe a wand you found at the flea market.

Love Steampunk? Pick out a vintage brass telescopes or compass to place on your desk or bookshelf.

Bruce Rosenbaum ModVic steampunk designs

You can also choose your theme based on a favorite book or movie.  If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll have no trouble looking for toys or decorations to put in your new writing space.

Don’t know what theme to pick? Look through the decorations you have around your house and you might begin to see a pattern. Maybe you have a lot of modern pieces or artwork  just lying around, contemporary might be your style. If you find a lot of antique pieces all over your apartment, you might begin to realize that vintage is your style.

Vintage style office, image from


You can borrow decorations you already have around the house and move it to your new writing space. You can also go to your local flea market to find some decorating inspiration—maybe a piece will call out to you.


If you can, paint your new writing space.  Use a color that will enhance your writing mood.

If you’re the type of writer who likes to listen to loud music or a TV blaring in the background, you probably need a lot of sensory input to trigger ideas and keep your mind rolling.

Brighter and warmer wall colors like yellow or light orange will help keep your mind fully awake as you write.

If you need calm and serenity when you write, go with blues or greens for your wall colors.

You can also add color to your sanctuary in other ways.  Replace that faded white curtain with a new blue one, or choose colorful decorations to spice up your work area.

Modern blue home office, image from


Hang inspiring posters, favorite artworks or photographs.  You don’t need a whole lot of frames to make your writing space more homey.  Just find the perfect one to get you in the “write” mood, and you’re set.

Use the walls to hang a cork board or white board. These are useful tools for writers. You can use them to write reminders, notes, and schedules, put up a calendar and even as a storyboard for plotting your next novel.

Chalkboard Paint may be a good alternative to a white board/bulletin board. Paint one on your office wall and put it to all sorts of creative uses.


Every writer’s work area must have at least one bookshelf.  Bookcases help keep your reference books handy.

You also need a space for your favorite books. When you’re running low on inspiration, all you need to do is pick one from your shelf and start reading.


My bookcase–full of books and small trinkets


As long as you have a sturdy desk and a comfy chair, you’re really set to go. But you’ll want some furniture to store those office supplies and other writing knick-knacks in.

You don’t have to spend money to furnish your new writing space.  You can borrow unused/underused items from around the house. There might be an extra cabinet in your living room or family room which might be better used as office storage.

You can repurpose old furniture and fix it up to match whatever décor you’ve decided to use for your writing space.  That bedroom dresser you were going to replace might just need a little face lift. You can repaint it to match your office color scheme and use it to hold paper supplies and old manuscripts.

Go through all the things in your garage or storage space, and you’re sure to find things to decorate your office with.  For example, that old hard-shell suitcase or trunk you inherited from your grandma can be used as a small table/storage for your vintage-themed office.


Vintage style office, image from


Writers are magnets for all sorts of papers and office supplies. We find paperclips on our hair, post-its on our elbows, and that missing manuscript page stuck to our shoes.

We all know how hard it is to steal time to write, and sometimes we spend precious minutes just looking for one item. To avoid these time-wasters, we should know where everything is.

How do we do that? Well, by providing a place for everything, and putting everything in its place. Organizers do exactly what their name suggests—they organize our lives.  They can also add an element of design to our writing space.

Some organizers you might consider using:

  1. Desk caddy
  2. Drawer organizer
  3. Hooks
  4. Labeled cups/jars
  5. Labeled boxes

desk caddy, image from

Again, you don’t have to spend much just to get organized. You can always go hunting in your house for items to repurpose.

Repurposed glass jars, image from

Now that you have everything you’ll ever need to begin your career as a writer, you won’t have any excuses to delay that great novel you’ve been planning to write for years.

So go on and write!



Home Office Decorating Tips


Creative Office Accessories–Desk-Accessories-for-Creative-Types

Home Office Organization Ideas


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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 Mark Koopmans,  author of that funny blog Aloha! Mark Says Hi from HI

Welcome, Mark!


Tell us a little bit about yourself.


Mark Koopmans

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, I’m a naturalized citizen since 2003. I’m also a husband, writer and stay-at-home dad to three boys under the age of six :)

Normally I post on Wednesdays, but have added a wee bit of humor Mondays and Fridays.

What do you do for a living?

See above, but I was a trainee truck driver in Ireland, a busboy in Holland, a clown in Spain, a cowboy in France, a restaurant manager in England (and that’s before I came to America…J

What are some of your hobbies or interests?

My current WIP is co-writing the memoir of Donald Braswell, an opera singer who lost his voice at the height of an amazing career.

When that’s done, I am going to tend to the patient seeds buried in my small garden of fiction.

I love to read, and always have three books “on the go.” I *heart* baseball in general and the LA Angels in particular.

 Do you have a hidden talent?

Does patience count?

Hired by several bars (in my youth!) to sing Karaoke at the end of the night, I could clear *every* punter in twenty minutes… I still do a mean “Tragedy” by The Bee Gees :)


On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I write here, at the dining room table, so I can’t get clutter-y, which is a good thing. No, it is!

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

We bought it once our third son was born… we used to have a round table for four. Now, we have a rectangle table built for six :)

Mark’s Workspace

Sit, open laptop, arrange beverage to my left, Baby Monitor to my right, and away I go… 

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

I write evenings, so after we do prayers with the older boys, my wife stays to settle them, and the Baby Monitor (yes, it is a proper noun :) and I head downstairs. 


Mark’s Baby Monitor

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

Every night it’s tidy! Apart from the BM, the only favorite thing is the remote control for the fan (this came with the house. It’s the coolest invention, evah!) 

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

Coffee in the morning/afternoon, *IF* I ever write in those hours, otherwise I’ll have a glass of wine in the evening.


Mark and his Uncle Tom, on a recent visit to Ireland

On Writing

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

Dennis Lehane (Gone, Baby Gone; Mystic River) is my favorite author. My Dutch Oma (grandmother) gave me the love of reading and later, writing.

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

Don’t laugh…I *have* to shower before I can work on WIP :)

For other stuff, I check email and visit blogs in the morning and afternoon, but as a stay-at-home Dad… Yeah, I don’t do much writing in the daylight (which is *fine*… we’re blessed with these boys and the WIP will get done… one of these days :)


Mark and his boys

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

I write Sunday to Thursday for about three or four hours – children permitting! My distractions are the three mini-monsters, but as we tried for years to have even one baby, I wouldn’t change these “distractions” for the  world :)

 4. Why do you write?

I’m like that old fable about the scorpion and the frog and the scorpion stings the frog, and when the frog asks him why, the scorpion said, “I can’t help myself. It is my nature.”

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

  • ·        Passionate about writing? Be professional, too.
  • ·        Dying to tell your tale? Be true, too.
  • ·        Facing another rejection? Be resilient, too.

 “Give us your tired draft, your poor query, your huddled ms yearning to breathe free.”

 Ok, so my made-up quote isn’t written on the Statue of Liberty, but it would be cool if it was :)


 Thanks Nutschell for such a fun interview… you think outside the box, and I truly enjoyed answering your interesting questions J



Thanks, Mark, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

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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Your writing space has taken shape. You’ve carved out a spot in your house/ apartment reserved only for writing, found the perfect desk and chair, chosen the best computer for your writing needs, and even replaced that grubby old desk lamp you used to have.

But your writing nook isn’t quite complete yet. You’ll need a few more things before you start writing your next bestseller.

Below you’ll find a list of common office equipment and supplies you might need.

Of course, you don’t have to check everything off this list before you actually start writing.

Choose the ones that are most important and focus on getting those first. (Hint: as long as you have a computer, printer, and some paper, you’re set) You can add the other ones as your career grows, or as the need arises.




This is your most important writing tool. Writing longhand and on a typewriter is fine to start with, but if getting published nowadays requires the use of a computer.

If you don’t know which one to pick, check out my article on A Writer’s Computer.

Dell Desktop, Image from


You’ll need this for printing out those drafts for revision, as well as manuscripts to submit.

There are several types of printers to choose from:

Writers like yourself would probably end up choosing between an injket/laserjet printer.

PROS *Cheaper units initially-Ink cartridges are cheaper*You can have both colored and black and white prints*Better when it comes to printing colored photos or documents- Generally smaller in size, so inkjets are perfect if you don’t have much space on your desk or in your office * In the long run, printing with toners is cheaper at 6 cents per page*Printing is fast-Better text print quality. Ink on the paper won’t run or smudge*If you print a lot of black and white documents all the time (such as manuscript drafts), laserjet printers will save you time and money
CONS * In the long run, inkjet cartridges are more expensive—running about 20 cents per page*Printing speed can be slow*Text print quality isn’t as good as  laserjet *Laserjets might be more expensive to purchase*Toners are pricier than ink cartridges, but last longer-Limited to only black & white Or colored prints (for colored laserjet printers)*Colored printing of photos isn’t as good as inkjet*Bigger than inkjet, so will take up more space


Scan pictures or articles from borrowed books/magazines for story idea inspiration, or as research materials for your book.


Because sometimes you just need copies of things. :)


For shredding copies of important documents, papers with personal information and old manuscript copies.

6. FAX

Your agent/publisher might want to send you documents or contracts via fax machine.

My Personal Experience:

I have an HP Officejet 8500 A Multi-Function printer at home. It prints, copies, scans and even faxes. Though it was pricier than the common inkjet printer (and bulkier), it still saves me time, money and office space in the long run.

HP  Officejet 8500 A Multi-Function printer, image from



1. Toner/ Ink cartridges

Best to keep a stock handy for your late night printing needs.

2. Blank CD’s/ DVD’s

Store digital copies of your research materials. Photos, documents, videos and music files for each book you’re writing can fit in one CD. You can keep these instead of actual hard copies, to reduce the clutter in your office.

3. Compressed air canisters for cleaning your keyboards/desk

 Handy for keeping dust off your desk. Specially useful for cleaning your monitor, CPU and keyboard.

Dust Off compressed air, image from



1. Copy paper

Usually cheaper than laser papers, copy paper is good for printing out those first few drafts for editing.

Hammermill Copy paper, image from

2. Laserjet printer paper

Laser papers are usually thicker and brighter than regular copy printer. Useful for printing submission copies of manuscripts to agents/editors–and better suited to your laserjet printers.

3. Legal pads/ notebooks

Writers should never be without some form of paper for note-taking or writing down ideas.

Pad papers, image from

4. Post it notes

Incredibly helpful for reminders, notes, random story ideas and even plotting.

Image from

5. Letterhead/ Stationery

I created my own personal letterhead using Microsoft Word, and printed it on linen paper–which is available in reams at any office supply store.  When I send off books for giveaways, I use my letterhead stationery to write a short note to the winner.

Linen paper, image from



As a writer, you’re bound (pun intended :) ) to have tons of papers. To keep them organized, you’ll need the following binding supplies:

1. Stapler & staples

2. Binding clips

3. Fasteners for filing folders

4. Puncher 

5. Glue sticks

6. Scotch tape

7. Paper Clips

8.  Comb Binding Machine & plastic binding spines **

**My Personal Experience:

Before I begin revising, I  read my manuscript from beginning to end and make notes. I like to bind the pages so they never get out of order.  In order to make my story better, I need to view it with a reader’s discerning eyes.  Having bound pages helps me replicate the experience of reading an actual book and allows me to settle into the mindset of a reader.

The Fellowes Comb Binding Machine was a great investment. I use it to bind every manuscript draft I finish.

Fellowes Comb Binding Machine



1. Manila folders

Useful not only for filing your bills and statements, but also for filing those critique notes and research materials for your book.

2. Hanging file folders with plastic tabs

To keep your file folders tidy inside your filing cabinet/drawer.

3. Labeling Machine

If you’re obsessive about being organized (like I am), you’ll find so many uses for a labeler.


Brother PT Touch Label Maker, image from

4. Ring Binders

If you like to keep old manuscripts drafts around for future reference, or simply because you can’t seem to part with them, you can use ring binders to keep them organized on your shelves.

You can also use ring binders to organize all your research for each book you’re working on.

3 Ring binders from

5. Index Dividers

Index dividers aid you in organizing files within your ring binders. You can buy them pre-made if you’re organizing by month, alphabet, or number. You can also buy blank ones and customize them to suit your needs.

If you write lots of short stories or picture books,  for example, you can use index dividers to file them either by month, genre, or topic in your ring binders.

 Avery Insertable Index Tabs, image from


Envelopes, labels and postage come in handy for bloggers who have book giveaways and authors who send out copies of their books to bloggers for reviewers.

1. Legal envelopes

Some agents still require snail mail for queries.

2. Padded envelopes

For sending those books/book giveaways.

3. Manila envelopes

These also come in handy not just for mailing, but for filing away story ideas.

4. Shipping labels

Shipping labels usually come in a standard 2 x 4 size. I use these not only for shipping, but also for labeling the cover of my file folders.

5. Mailing labels

Mailing labels are smaller versions of shipping labels (1 x 2 5/8 inches) and can be used not just for printing out addresses, but also for labeling your files.

I use these nifty things to label the tabs of my file folders.



1. Desk calendar/Planners

You can always use google calendar or to keep track of your writing schedule, but a desk calendar can be useful if you just want to check your schedule without having to switch on your computer.

2. White board/ Cork Board

For brainstorming story ideas, writing reminders and notes

Along with post it notes, you can also use these boards to plot your storylines, as shown in Rachel Vincent’s Plotting 101 guest post on Christy L. Parks’ blog.

Whiteboard+Post it = Plotting heaven, image from 

3. Rolodex or business card holders

For keeping track of your writing/business contacts.



Here are some items to keep your office neat and organized:

*All images from

 1. Magazine Racks/ Wall pockets 

I subscribe to three different writing magazines. I sort them into magazine racks like the one below. It’s certainly better than stacking them up in piles on the floor and tripping over them eventually.


2.  Storage boxes

The Container Store, Ikea, Target and other department stores sell storage boxes that come in all shapes and sizes. I use these to organize my pens, markers, and other desk accessories.

Sometimes I use them for gathering story ideas. When I find an interesting picture/article in a magazine or newspaper, I drop it into my storage box of story ideas.

3. Drawer organizers

Rummaging around in your drawers for a paperclip or a pen can be time-consuming at best, frustrating at worst. Drawer organizers like the one below can help save your time and sanity.

4. Paper tray

I use a stackable paper tray like the one below to organize all the different kinds of papers I use for printing: copy paper, colored paper, photo paper, etc.

5. Waste basket/ Recycling basket

I actually have two baskets in my home office: one for waste, and one for recyclables.  

6. Cable organizers to keep those desktop wires in check

If you have a desktop in your writing space, you probably also have tons of snake-like cables slithering all over your desks.

Cable drops, cable clips or cable ties all help keep your cord problems down.

Cable drop

Cable ties


What other office equipment or supplies can you think to add to this list?


Check out the previous posts in this Setting up Shop Series:

1. Part 1 –  A Writer’s Space

2. Part 2 – A Writer’s Desk

3. Part 3 – A Writer’s Chair

4. Part 4 – A Writer’s Computer

5. Part 5 – A Writer’s Office Lighting


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Check out the previous posts in this Setting up Shop Series:

1. Part 1 –  A Writer’s Space

2. Part 2 – A Writer’s Desk

3. Part 3 – A Writer’s Chair

4. Part 4 – A Writer’s Computer


Now that you’ve chosen your desk, chair and computer, it’s time to consider another important element of your writing space: lighting.

Here are some things to consider when choosing the perfect lighting for your writing space.

Three Basic Types of Lighting

According to the American Lighting Association, there are three basic types of lighting that work together in your home:

1. Ambient or General Lighting provides overall illumination, allowing you to move about your room safely. You can achieve ambient lighting through ceiling or wall-mounted light fixtures, recessed lighting or even track lights.

2. Task Lighting is lighting for specific tasks like reading, writing, working on hobbies and so on.

This is probably the type of lighting we writers use the most often. Portable floor lamps, desk lamps pendant lighting, recessed and track lighting all provide task lighting.

3. Accent Lighting creates visual interest and adds drama to the room. We can use wall-mounted picture lights, recessed and track lighting to highlight a favorite sculpture, painting, or display.

If we have a favorite photograph, trophy, or trinket that we like to look at while we’re writing, or that inspires us, we can use accent lighting to make them the focal point of our writing space.

Steampunk lamp by Frank Buchwald, image from

Types of Lighting

1. Incandescent – Incandescent light bulbs are the most common type of lighting in homes, probably because they’re the cheapest. They light up instantly and with their yellow glow, can instantly warm up a room. However, this type of lighting is the least energy-efficient.

2. Fluorescent – Fluorescent lights are the second most commonly used home lighting. They are more energy efficient compared, and their low brightness and bluish tone creates less direct glare than standard incandescent bulbs.

3. Outdoor Solar – Used for backyards and gardens, outdoor solar lights use solar cells that convert sunlight to electricity. We can’t really use this for the office, but we can use it for outdoor writing areas.

4. Light-emitting diode (LED)

LED’s are apparently the size of a fleck of pepper, and emit very little heat compared to incandescent bulbs or CFL’s. A mix of red, green and blue LED’s is used to make white light. LED’s are primarily used for recessed downlights and task lighting, because they emit light in a specific direction, and reduces the need for reflectors and diffusers that can trap light.

Toby Fraley’s Robot Sculpture Lamp, image from

Tips for a Balanced Office Lighting

Lux Lighting Design Consultant Doreen LeMay Madden says that working in a space with one type of lighting will cause us eye fatigue and strain. Our eyes are naturally attracted to the brightest area in the room, so if everything is lit uniformly, it’ll spend much time constantly shifting and looking for the brightest spot.

So whether your writing space is small or large, it should contain a mix of ambient, task and accent lighting to achieve balance.

1. Use Natural Light

Ideally, our writing space would have large windows, or at least some windows that let in some natural light. Natural light is easiest on our eyes and can easily be controlled using blinds or curtains.

2. Layer Your Lighting

We can use incandescent lights to create ambient or general lighting, and to cast our writing space in a warm, relaxing glow. For task lighting, we could use a fluorescent/ halogen/LED desk lamp.

The brightest light should be focused on whatever task you’re doing. When writing, your desk lamps should be aimed at your hands.

3. Choose the proper location for your desk.

Contrary to popular belief, placing your desk directly in front of a window or with a  window behind your back might not be the best location. It would be more optimal to place your desk, so that the windows are beside it.

But if you’re like me, and looking outside eases your sanity when you’re writing, you can still place your desk in front of a window—as long as you have shutters, blinds or shades to control the amount of light coming in.

Also, avoid direct overhead lighting.

4. Your computer screen has to be well lit.

As a writer, you’re bound to spend an awful lot of time staring at your computer. Staring in your monitors, while sitting in the dark is particularly damaging to your eyes. Use a desk lamp or add a light fixture behind the monitor to avoid eye strain.

 Steampunk lamp by Frank Buchwald, image from

Choosing a Desk Lamp

The most important element of our writing space is our desk, as this is where we do most of our reading, writing, and editing.

Lighting expert Doreen LeMay Madden says, “if you don’t feel good in a space, you won’t work as productively.” When choosing a desk lamp, function and style are the key elements. Your desk lamp must not only provide you with ample lighting, it must also work aesthetically with the space around you.


What size of lamp will provide you with the best lighting for your desk? Stand up lamps work well in a corner of the room to produce ambient lighting, but won’t give you the appropriate amount of light for your tasks. Desk lamps are still the best for task lighting.  Consider the amount of desk space you have when choosing the size of a desk lamp.


The style of your desk lamp must go well with the style of your writing space. Look around your office and figure out what your style is based on your furniture and décor. Are you going for a more contemporary/modern feel? Is your writing space more whimsical or colorful?


Flying saucer lamp, image from


Lava lamps may look fun, but they’re not bright enough to provide you with all the light you’ll need for writing. Find a desk lamp that won’t strain your eyes.


An adjustable light source is a big bonus. Find one that will allow you to adjust the intensity and angle of light for your activities. Madden says, “A fixture that reflects off of the ceiling back down into the space is the least glaring and the most comforting angle to the eyes. You want to create layers of light — different intensities of light at different angles.”


Banker Desk Lamp, image from

Types of Desk Lamp has a useful desk lamp guide that lists down the different types of desk lamps and the pros and cons for each.

Here’s a handy table I made based on their desk lamp guide:


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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 Karen Strong, author of that fun blog Musings of a Novelista.

Welcome, Karen!


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?


Karen Strong

Hello everyone! I currently reside inAtlanta. My day job is in software development and my team provides intelligence to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Although I do love being a techie geek, I also love to write mystery, paranormal, and speculative fiction for kids and teens. I have very limited time but some of other interests include science, astronomy, and SEC college football. My favorite hobby is shoe shopping and I have perfected walking in 4 inch stilettos. Ha, ha.


On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I have a home office where I write most of the time. But sometimes I write at the coffee house in my neighborhood.


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

When I remodeled my house, I special ordered the desk. I like that it has enough space for my printer and laying out my manuscript pages.

Karen’s desk 


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

I’m a plot chick, so I usually have outline and index cards to help me organize scenes and subplots. I sometimes have any craft books I’m reading for reference. One of my favorites is THE SYNONYM FINDER by J.I Rodale


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

I love the chair in my office. It’s one of my favorite places to curl up to write long-hand and revise scenes. Also a fabulous place to read books.

Karen’s chair 


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

 I usually drink ice water but if it’s Friday night and I’m feeling fancy, I’ll sip some Ballatore Spumante Rosso.


On Writing

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

I have so many favorites! But I would choose Scott Westerfeld for concept, Deb Caletti for characterization, Laini Taylor for description, and Suzanne Collins for plotting.


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

My day job takes up a lot of my time during the week but I try to write between 9pm and midnight. I tried writing at 6am before going to work but I’m a night owl by nature and I find some of best writing for me takes place between midnight and 2 am – but I always pay for it the next day.


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

When I have software releases scheduled for the day job, I can sometimes go several days to 2 weeks without writing because of the long hours required. Otherwise, I usually write 1-2 hours a day during the week. Most of my writing happens on the weekends. But I never write more than 4 hours at once – my mind goes blank after that.

 My Kindle is actually my biggest distraction. I have SO many books that I want to read!


4. Why do you write?

I’ve been making up stories since I was 5 years old. I couldn’t see myself not writing – it’s a part of me.


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

Writing is so unique. Techniques can vary from person to person but I do have a favorite writing quote from Joyce Carol Oates:

“The first draft may be stumbling and exhausting, but the next draft or drafts will be soaring and exhilarating. Only have faith: the first sentence can’t be written until the last sentence has been written. Only then do you know where you’ve been going, and where you’ve been. The novel is the affliction for which only the novel is the cure.”


6. Care to share a favorite picture?

 my favorite picture from my Hawaii Writing Retreat in May 2012


Thanks, Karen, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

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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Guest Post at Susan Says

Today is writer/blogger Susan Gourley’s birthday.

Happy birthday, Susan!

You might remember her from a Wednesday Writers Workspace post last October.

To return the favor, Susan has decided to feature me on her blog today!

So hop on over to Susan Says  to see what I have to say on the benefit of joining a writing group.

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Spotlight Week: Possess Giveaway

This month the spotlight was on Gretchen McNeil and her suspenseful paranormal YA book, POSSESS.

Check out my REVIEW of Possess, and my INTERVIEW with the musical Gretchen McNeil.

To cap off this spotlight week, I’m giving away a SIGNED Hardcover copy of POSSESS, plus some cool swag!

To win, just Leave a comment below and tell me why you’d like a copy of 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.

And, if you tweet about this giveaway, or share it on Facebook, I’ll add more slips of papers with your name on it.

The contest will end on November 30, 2012, Friday.

Good luck!


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