Archive for February, 2013

TWN WWW 300

 

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 Mystery Novelist Patricia Stoltey.

You can also find her blogging at patriciastoltey.blogspot.com

Welcome, Patricia!

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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?

Patricia Stoltey

 Mystery Author Patricia Stoltey

 

Thanks so much for the invitation to share my workspace story, Nutschell. It’s a lot of fun to see the range of writing areas you’ve featured here. I have a friend who does his writing on a desk attached to his treadmill. I haven’t tried that, fearing I or my laptop would crash to the floor if I got distracted.

I’m an older writer, one who didn’t get serious about churning out novels until after I retired from real world work. My biggest jobs over the years were in accounting departments of large companies (two grocery chains and an office supply corporation) and involved a lot of hours and a lot of stress. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I don’t get nervous or upset about deadlines, rejections, and reviews.

When my husband and I retired, we moved to Colorado and have been here since 1998. I can’t imagine living anywhere else now. I like it better than Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and even the South of France (although I must say the French Riviera is a very, very close second).

Most of my novels, published and unpublished, are some form of crime fiction, but I read in almost every fiction genre plus a lot of nonfiction, especially U.S. history. In my spare time (or the time I steal from writing time) I like to garden, crochet, entertain Katie Cat, and watch a little television. My newest favorite is Elementary. My secret talent is procrastination. Nobody does it better.

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

The house we bought in Northern Colorado has four bedrooms, which means my husband and I get to have our own office space. For some unknown reason, his office is way bigger than mine, but I can honestly say mine is cleaner. I did have to tidy up a bit before taking these photos, though.

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Patricia’s Workspace — can you  find Katie Cat in this photo?

 

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

 Almost everything in my office comes from Office Depot. I worked for that company and loved it, so I’m a loyal customer. My furniture arrangement is based on my need to see who’s lurking outside my office door and my need to avoid staring out the window so my neighbors don’t think I’m spying on them.

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

Hmmm. The basket I persuade my cat to sleep in so she doesn’t curl up in my lap is on my desk. On my computer table, I must have my red pens, my calendar, my special computer glasses since my trifocals drive me nuts, and my To Do List. And clutter. I’m fond of clutter.

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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 love having a room of my own, even though it’s hot in summer and cold in winter. All I need to work is a computer, something to drink, and total silence. For some reason, even though I love music, I can’t work with the radio on. Maybe that’s because I tend to sing along or even jump up from my chair and do a little boot-scooting boogie. That does tend to interrupt the creative process.

 

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

I prefer coffee in the morning (full strength, robust, dark roast). Winter afternoons I switch to hot herbal teas and in summer I drink iced sun tea made with a combination of green and herbal teas.

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 “Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.”

On Writing

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

I’m a book junkie who goes into withdrawal when I’m not squeezing in enough reading time. That makes it pretty hard to pick favorite authors or decide who has influenced my writing. I do know, however, that it was Susan Wittig Albert who first inspired me to write. I attended one of the early Magna cum Murder mystery fan conventions in Muncie, Indiana and sat down by her at the lunch table. When I finished talking to her, I thought maybe I could do this. Thanks, Susan.

 

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

My typical writing days involve a lot more blogging and social media than actual writing. I tend to take summers off and jump back into serious writing when I attend the member writers’ retreat sponsored by Northern Colorado Writers in the fall. That was the last weekend in October this year, and I added almost 14,000 words to my novel in progress. It was a great way to warm up for NaNoWriMo which I’m doing for the second time this year.

No rituals, no quirks.

 

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

I don’t write every day. I’m also easily distracted. And as I mentioned previously, I’m a first-rate procrastinator. I classify myself as a binge writer. I don’t worry about that too much, since it seems to work out for me in the long run.

 

4. Why do you write?

Is it fair to say I don’t really know? Maybe it’s because I read so much and love being lost in a make-believe world. Or possibly it’s the challenge of plotting and character development. It’s good for the aging brain (and I hate crossword puzzles with a passion). I’m never bored when I’m writing. And when I write crime fiction, I get to kill people I don’t like, something society frowns on in real life.

 

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

My best advice is to believe in yourself and trust your instincts. Listen to all constructive feedback, critique comments, and writing instructors, but don’t feel you have to do everything everyone tells you to do (unless, of course, it’s an agent or editor holding one end of your signed contract).  And don’t be afraid. Just write your heart out.

Og Mandino said, “To be always intending to make a new and better life but never to find time to set about it is as to put off eating and drinking and sleeping from one day to the next until you’re dead.”

 

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Thanks, Patricia, 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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IndieReCon

Last week I went to a FREE conference.  Without taking time off from work.  And I learned loads of helpful, awesome stuff about self-publishing.

How in the world did I manage that?

Thanks to IndieReCon and its AMAZING Founders and Organizers!

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I heard about the first ever IndieReCon from one of my bloggy friends and decided to register. I’ve been thinking about self-publishing for awhile now and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to learn more about it (and maybe a blatant sign that being an Indie might be for me).

And I’m so glad I did. I learned loads of important indie info and I now know the specific steps to take to launch an indie career.

It was the perfect conference to attend for busy, (and not so rich) writers like myself. The conference was free of charge and had a flexible schedule. The presenters uploaded posts on various Indie topics every hour, so it was easy for me to check on the website and read the posts if I had time. There were also a few online chats and video presentations which I found very useful.  And if I was super busy at work and missed out on some of the posts, I was easily able to catch up when I got home.

I learned about the pros and cons of self-publishing, and the actual costs and basics of self-publishing (pricing, distribution, formatting, ISBN’s, etc). I also learned how to create my own business plan, how to market my work, and even how to create audiobooks! 

The presenters were all big names in the Indie industry and they held nothing back when it came to sharing helpful information and experiences with the participants. I could tell that the organizers and presenters of IndieReCon wanted nothing more than to share their knowledge about self-publishing—and to encourage future indie authors like themselves.

I’d like to applaud and thank these wonderful IndieReCon Presenters for their topnotch posts:

(Presenters’ bios were taken from the indierecon.org website)

Angela Ackerman is one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.

Stacey Wallace Benefiel is the author of the Zellie Wells trilogy, the Penny Black trilogy, the Day of Sacrifice series, The Toilet Business – a collection of humorous essays, and multiple short stories.

Darcie Chan is the author of The Mill River Recluse, a self-published debut novel that has
become a word-of-mouth e-book sensation. With over 650,000 copies sold, The Mill RiverRecluse appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists for more than 28 weeks
and became a heartwarming favorite of readers across the country.

Ali Cross is the sensei of the Writer’s Dojo where she holds a black belt in awesome. She lives in Utah with her kickin’ husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, two sumo dogs and four zen turtles.

Lori Culwell is the author of five books, including her debut novel, Hollywood Car Wash, which was originally self-published and went to be bought and re-released by Simon & Schuster.

Indie author & illustrator Alicia Kat Dillman is a life long resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. Kat illustrates and designs book covers & computer game art by day and writes teen fiction by night.

Duolit is Shannon (the author) and Toni (the geek), two gals who have helped thousands of passionate indie authors publish their work and build their crazy-dedicated fan base.

Amy Edelman is a publicist and a writer.  She self-published her first book, “The Fashion Resource Directory”, back in the 80s, long before POD and Amazon and e-readers roamed the land.

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of three International bestselling novels, a community builder for the Alliance of Independent Authors, and a touchstone in the indie publishing arena.

Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, who has sold over 2 million ebooks since January 2011.

Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) is an award-winning book designer, a blogger, and the author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish. He’s been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 and writes TheBookDesigner.com, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book. Joel is also the founder of the online training course, The Self-Publishing Roadmap.

Brittany Geragotelis, a former Olympic-bound gymnast and magazine editor, is a self-professed pop culture junkie turned author. Her paranormal action book, Life’s a Witch, received 19 million reads on the writing site Wattpad, before she sold the series to Simon & Schuster.

By day, Jessie Harrell is an appellate lawyer. By night, she’s a wife, mother of two, and author/lover of all things Greek mythology. Destined is her first novel. The companion short story, Before, is free on most sites.

I’ll never give up on querying and trying to get published traditionally, but I also will definitely be working on getting my Indie career started.

And thanks to the amazing ladies behind IndieReCon, I am not only convinced me of the viability of the Indie life, I’m also armed with the knowledge I’ll need to get started on this writing career.  

A HUGE thank you to these  AWESOME Organizers of IndieReCon. I’d hug you all if I could, but for now I’ll have to content myself with sending you virtual hugs and my gratitude for your hard work.

You girls ROCK.

(The following pictures and bios were taken from indierecon.org)

 

S.R. Johannes 
Blog Twitter Facebook Goodreads

SR Johannes

S.R. Johannes is the author of Amazon bestselling Nature of Grace series (a teen wilderness thriller, Untraceable andUncontrollable) and a tween paranormal, On The Bright Side. S.R. Johannes was recently nominated in the YA category as Georgia Author of the Year. She is also the 2012 winner of the IndieReader Discovery Awards for young adult and a finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book (YA).

 

 

Ali Cross 

Ali Cross

Blog Twitter Facebook Goodreads Google+

Ali Cross is the sensei of the Writer’s Dojo where she holds a black belt in awesome. She lives in Utah with her kickin’ husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, two sumo dogs and four zen turtles.

 

 

 

 

Heather McCorkle Heather McCorkle

Blog Twitter Facebook Wattpad Goodreads

Heather is an author of young adult fantasy, in all its many sub-genres. Helping other writers and supporting fantastic authors is one of her passions. As a native Oregonian, she enjoys the outdoors almost as much as the worlds and characters she creates. You can find her on the sites listed above, or on Twitter Monday nights for the #WritersRoad chat that she co-moderates.


 

 

Laura Pauling 

Laura Pauling

Blog Twitter Facebook Goodreads

Laura Pauling writes for all ages where the real and the incredible combine in heart stopping adventures. She lives out her desire for travel and excitement in her young adult Circle of Spies Series: A Spy Like Me andHeart of an Assassin. Her middle grade How To Survive Ancient Spells and Crazy Kings is available now.

She’d say that living her life of a suburban mom/author complete with minivan carpools, soccer games, and home-baked snicker doodles are really a cover for her exciting life of secret missions and covert operations, but she’d be lying. She loves living in New England with her husband and children. She has yet to find someone who can beat her at Boggle.

 

 Cheri Lasota Cheri Lasota

Blog Twitter Facebook Goodreads Google+

Author Cheri Lasota has been a writer since she was eight. Whether poetry, short stories, screenplays and novels, she can’t get enough of tossing words together in a hopefully logical fashion. From a young age, Cheri realized she had a knack for editing as well, so she worked for three newspapers culminating in a position as editor-in-chief of her university weekly.

In 2004, she began a freelance career as a fiction editor and finally made time to finish her debut novel, a YA historical fantasy, Artemis Rising. Cheri also offers enhanced ebook design services to indie authors.

Currently, Cheri is madly working on her second YA, Echoes in the Glass, set on the Oregon Coast.
Jessie Harrell

Jessie Harrell

Blog Website Twitter Facebook

By day, Jessie Harrell is an appellate lawyer. By night, she’s a wife, mother of two, and author/lover of all things Greek mythology. She’s a native Floridian, frustrated world traveler, unrepentant dreamer, lover of acoustic music and not-so-closet geek. Destined is her first novel. The companion short story, Before, is free on most sites. Her short story I Come Bearing Souls appears in the Two and Twenty Dark Tales anthology.

 

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LEVEL UP BLOGFEST

Level Up! Blogfest

 

Last Wednesday was the official day of the LEVEL UP BLOGFEST. When I signed up, I knew it was going to coincide with my regular Wednesday Writer’s Workspace post, but I just had to join.

So I’m posting two days late. I just couldn’t pass up this cool blogfest!

The Blogfest rules are: Share your favourite game with us! It can be a video game, a board game, a party game, a card game, a childhood playground game–you name it. Let us know how it works and why you love it.

I’m not a big gamer, but I do love games. And since I can’t decide on just one favorite game, I’ve decided to share with you one for each of my favorite categories.

Video Game: SUPER MARIO BROS. (Wii)

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I’ve always loved this game since I was a kid. Never had a console myself, but I remember playing it whenever I visited a friend’s house.

Years ago, when the Wii first came out, I was thrilled to discover that they had upgraded my beloved Super Mario Brothers game and made it even better. I love how there were so many different worlds and adventures I can go on.

I got up to World 7, I think. Perhaps one day, when I have the time, I’ll finally make it to World 9.

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Party Game: WHOONU

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This is the game I break out when I’m meeting new folks or hanging out at home with friends. It’s an awesome and fun way to get to know people.  I always learn something new about my friends even if we’ve played the game a thousand times.

 

How to Play WHOONU

This game includes 300 game cards, each with a specific noun written on it. 3-6 players can play. They’re each given 4 cards to start off with, and one player is assigned to be the WHOOZIT. Everybody has to try and figure out what the Whoozit would like among the 4 cards they’re given. They place their guesses in an envelope, which they then give to the Whoozit. The Whoozit reads the cards and rates them according to what he likes most to what he likes least, assigning them a token with corresponding points (1 for least favorite and 6 for most favorite). All the players take turns being the Whoozit, and at the end of a round, the scores are tallied and the player with most points wins.

 

Childhood game: PATINTERO

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Kids playing Patintero (aka Tubigan), photo by Glennkaye

Patintero is a Filipino game, and my favorite childhood game ever. It’s an exciting game that requires, speed, agility and teamwork.

I used to play this with friends and classmates on the streets or in an empty field. We needed no equipment—only something to mark our territories with, like a piece of chalk, a large rock or any object we can find nearby. Sometimes we even use water to mark the lines.

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How to Play Patintero

The group is divided into two teams, with 5 players each. One team starts off as the guard team. They stand on the parallel water/chalk lines and their main goal is prevent the other team from crossing the line they guard. One other guard is assigned to a perpendicular line in the middle, allowing him/her to cross from top to bottom and tag the other team.

The runner team’s main goal is to cross all the lines from bottom to top, without getting tagged.

Here’s a video of some kids playing Patintero in school.

What a fun blogfest! If you’re interested in finding out other blogger’s favorite games, check out the list below:

1. Mithril Wisdom 2. Geek Banter
3. Writing Off the Edge 4. Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
5. Apathy’s Hero 6. Vive le Nerd
7. Wesley Copeland 8. Writing on the Wall
9. Left and Write 10. ROFLInitiative
11. Thardrandian Thoughts 12. Michael Pierce
13. My Baffling Brain 14. The Random Thoughts Of Chippy
15. Tyrean 16. Carl V. Anderson
17. tangent shell 18. tara tyler
19. ali cross 20. Breakthrough Blogs
21. Falling Toward Mythopoesis 22. mainewords
23. Jeremy Bates Books 24. Trisha @ WORD STUFF
25. The Written Word 26. Christine Rains
27. Callie Leuck | Write On! 28. Vanessa Morgan
29. Sydney Aaliyah Michelle 30. Writer’s Block
31. Effectively Human 32. The Writing Nut
33. Sandy Sanderellas Musings 34. Back Porchervations
35. The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective 36. The Capillary
37. Geek Twins 38. Writings, Musings and Other Such Nonsense
39. Write Here, Write Now 40. M.J Fifield @ My Pet Blog
41. Jake Versus Reality 42. Eyes 2 Page
43. The Life and Loves of Clare Dugmore 44. Grumpy Bulldog
45. Tizzy @ Creative Therapy 46. Printed Portal
47. Passing For Normal

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Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Rekha

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is the official start for Geek Banter’s LEVEL UP BLOGFEST, which I signed up for. But since I’d already scheduled my regular Wednesday Writer’s Workspace post, I’ll be posting on the Level Up Blogfest on Friday instead. 

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TWN WWW 300

 

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 Rekha, author of that fun blog A Chronicle of Dreams.

Welcome, Rekha!

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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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Surprised to see me here, join the club!

I was educated to be a lot of things, but ended up studying accountancy and have worked  in that field. Right now, I am a freelance content writer and ghost blogger. While, I am still a little fish finding its way inside the ruthless waters; I have never been happier, work wise.
I attempt all genres and lengths, but enjoy writing  short stories and flash fiction in contemporary or  urban women’s fiction and fantasy novellas with ‘wholesome’ romance thrown in. 
I love cooking and baking (when it comes to desserts and exotic dishes, mind you), photography (owning a Canon DSLR with different filter lenses is a dream), fabric and clay painting (I suck at drawing) among other stuff.
I used to sing, nowadays, it more of an off-key croak or whisper depending on the time of the day.

On Workspace

1. Where do you do most of your writing?

I write about anywhere unless I am typing on the comp. I write best in a cat like stretching pose. Go ahead, have a quiet chuckle. Most people who have seen me write like that from childhood, have raised a brow or two…

 

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

My computer table  is  from a local furniture shop, and  acts as my writing desk whenever I choose to use it. I love it messy, had to tidy it up for this post.

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Rekha’s Workspace

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

Nothing much, the Internet switched off, unless am researching. I can and do surf aimlessly for hours on end.
For work I need my Google chat to be on, most of the time.

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

Journal – jot down points or ideas or an odd poetry verse that turns up uninvited.
 iPod – listen to some songs to perk me up.
Picassa – to peek at my nephews’ pictures whenever  I am  depressed.
A quick game of Sudoku or Mahjong even Angry Birds.

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Rekha’s must haves

 

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

I love chocolates and filter coffee (Indian style), but reduced intake for health reasons. Coffee tastes like sandpaper with artificial sweeteners, so I switch to milky, sugary, spiced tea (masala chai as we call it) in the afternoons and hot chocolate on late nights. I keep wholemeal biscuits and Indian fried snacks handy.

On Writing

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

I love fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, literary and some deep romances. I love picture books and fairy/folk tales, too.
Favorites include J.R.R Tolkien,  David Eddings, Cornelia Funke, Asimov, Arthur Clarke, Robert Ludlum, Robin Cook, Clive Cussler, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Agatha Christie, P.G.Wodehouse, Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Erich Segal, Paulo Coelho, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alexandre Dumas, Leo Tolstoy, O’ Henry, Ayn Rand not to mention many Indian and Asian authors….I could go on all day.
I used to love the Hardy boys more than Nancy Drew,  Mark Twain, Alistair MacLean, Louis  L’Amour, Enid Blyton, Sidney Sheldon, Daniele Steel and Jules Verne among others. 
I have always loved books with boyish elements unless it’s women’s fiction.
I never felt inspired by anyone…on the contrary, gave up writing for two decades as I read more books and decided that I sucked as a writer.

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

I spend 8 hours on my freelance work, six days a week.
I write fiction in the evenings and late night up to to 3 a.m. when I am in the mood. Some days I get nothing more than 300 words in, and some days as much as 2000.
I perform best near midnight and beyond (having arrived into the world at 11 in the night may have something to do with being an owl).

 

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

Worst distractions – other’s books as I tend to finish them in one go (a habit I am slowly getting out of), writer advice blogs, submission pages of magazines, DeviantArt, music, online games, online tuts for website creation, Gimp and Daz Studio (a big, fat learning curve), blogging and social networking (brought it down to 50%), entertainment shows, my nephews when I am visiting them, daydreams, and sometimes sheer laziness.

 games modifiedRekha’s distraction 

 

4. Why do you write?

Younger days – to spin words and see the results.
Three years ago  – as self therapy, a need to die without that one regret at the very least. (I have a clean bill of health in case you are wondering)
It has become an addiction, a basic-bills payer and hopefully a fruitful career.
A lady can dream, can’t she?

 

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

Write what you know best. Be natural and don’t imitate others.
Read – you will even find average works penned by your favorite authors.
Learn new words and their meaning, learn or work on your hobbies.
Explore the world around you – you might just find the story to die for in a news article, a conversation, a picture or post you skimmed through.
I love this quote  –  “A room without books is like a home without a soul.’”―  Marcus Tullius Cicero
We could improvise – an ereader without ebooks is like a computer without a CPU.

 

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Thanks, Rekha, 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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Choosing a Journal Notebook

Last year I did a post on the benefits of keeping a journal, and even listed the different types of journal one can have. (You can read my post here)

As I said before, writers have much to gain from keeping a journal.  Documenting our thoughts and emotions not only helps us relieve stress—it also helps plant seeds for future stories. Aside from being a great source of story/article ideas, journals also help us improve our writing skills.

Writers have an inexplicable attraction for any kind of bound paper. If you’re a writer, you will most likely have trouble deciding on what type of notebook to get for your journal.

You might spend hours perusing the notebook aisle of your local office supplies store, and end up with a variety of them before the day is done.

Or you might just pick some random notebook up. Later on you  might discover that the particular notebook you picked just won’t cut it for the kind of journal you had in mind.

Or you might just give up choosing a notebook altogether and decide to just start journaling some other time.

I know, because I’ve done ALL that before. To help you from making the same mistakes I did, I’ve listed down some things to consider when choosing a notebook for your journal.

1. SIZE

Small pocket-sized notebooks are ideal for carrying around in your—pocket. If you want a journal that’s always within reach—for scribbling down random thoughts, scraps of inspiration or sudden story ideas, a small moleskin notebook might be perfect for you.

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A.T. CROSS SIGNATURE JOURNALS SMALL DIARY NOTEBOOK PAPER GREEN

Medium sized notebooks can easily slip into your purse or bags. Like smaller notebooks, they’re easy to carry around, but they give you a little more space to write or draw or doodle.

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Newsprint Graphique Journal

If you plan to keep your journal on your desk at home, a large notebook might be ideal.

Large notebooks are best for Art Journals, Project Journals or Novel Journals. You can purchase a sketchbook if you plan to do a lot of illustrations, or if you’re a fantasy writer and you like to draw maps of your world, or pictures of your characters and setting. Large, lined notebooks are also easier to use for freewriting/creative writing exercises. You’ll have all that space to write, and you won’t need to turn the pages often, especially when you’re following a particular storyline or train of thought.

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Eiffel Tower Spriral Notebook

2. DESIGN

Beautifully designed notebooks such as leather-bound journals or prettily decorated diaries may either inspire or intimidate you.

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Leather Bound Journal at Life’sMysticalJouney.com

I have tons of these at home, but most of them are still sitting in drawers with empty pages. I feel like I can’t use these beautiful treasures unless I have some wonderful words to write on them—or until I can finally improve my atrocious handwriting.

One day, I hope to break this crazy psychological effect, but for now, I’m content to doodle on regular, 99 cent notebooks.

Other writers, however, may not feel the same way. They may be inspired by beautiful designs and may end up writing all the time.

 

3. QUALITY & PRICE

A high quality notebook will definitely cost more than a regular lined notebook. The material and design of the cover, and the thickness and smoothness of the paper will definitely affect the way you write.

pretty notebook

If you plan to keep your journals for a long time, you might want to invest in a quality notebook.

However, if you simply want to use your journal as a way to purge random, stray thoughts before you do some actual writing, you can save some money on a cheaper notebook.

 

Some Popular Journal Options

MOLESKIN JOURNALS

These little notebooks are a little pricey, but their high quality and durability make them well worth it. Moleskin journals are easy to carry and often stay flat when they’re open –so writing on them won’t be a problem.  They are also made of thick paper, so no worries about your favorite gel pen or fountain pen bleeding through the pages.

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Moleskin Journals at moleskin.com

 

REFILLABLE NOTEBOOKS

Staples’ ARC notebooks are a revolutionary idea. You can basically customize your own journal. The ARC notebooks come in a variety of sizes and cover designs. Choose a small, medium or large sized notebook. Pick a heavy, leather-bound cover or a light plastic one in  solid colors or fancy designs.  You can even decide on the thickness of your journal thanks to the notebook rings, which come in 3 different sizes (3/4, 1 inch, 1/5 inches).

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You can even add accessories like dividers, pockets, post-its and bookmarks. The best part about the Arc system is that the pages are refillable—and movable!

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NOTEBOOKS WITH PEN HOLDERS

For maximum functionality, you can also choose a notebook with a built-in pen holder. It’ll save you from turning your bag inside out just to find a pen.

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Or you could just buy one of these Quiver Pen Leather Holders to place on your notebooks.

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Quiver Pen Leather Holder at biffybeans.com

CUTE/COOL/ PRETTY NOTEBOOKS

Cute, pretty or generally cool-looking notebooks are fun to look at.  And if they’re fun to look at, you may just want to carry them around everywhere. And if you’re carrying them around everywhere, you might as well use them and write all your pretty (or ugly) little thoughts on them.

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Well, that’s the general idea, anyway.

 

Do you, or would you ever journal? What type of notebook would you choose?

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Upcoming Movies Based on Books

I’ve been so busy since this year started, that I haven’t had the chance to watch a movie on the big screen yet.

But I have to say, I am looking forward to quite a few of them this year.

Big Books Tiny Voices, an awesome blog which I just discovered, listed 60 YA Books which are slated for  movie adaptations.

I’m eager to watch ALL of these movies, but there are some which I’m particularly excited about:

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I’m not sure when all those movies above will come out. Some are still in the first stages of development, others are already in production.

But there are YA Books turned into Films which have already finished production, and which I am dying to see on the silver screen.

Warm Bodies, based on the book by Isaac Marion, has been playing in theaters for the last few weeks, and is apparently a hoot to watch.

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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is coming out tomorrow. The trailer is spectacular, and the fact that both Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson are in the movie just adds loads more motivation for me to watch the film.

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I’ve been addicted to The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare since I started listening to the audiobooks. I was thrilled when they announced that a movie version was coming out—and this year, too!

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I’ve never read The Host by Stephanie Meyer, and World War Z by Max Brooks but the trailers look promising.

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Oz the Great and Powerful is another movie I can’t wait to watch. It stars some of my favorite actors/actresses: Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and James Franco.

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As for the following movies, I’ve been anticipating them since they released these teaser photographs:

 

ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card

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PERCY JACKSON & THE SEA OF MONSTERS by Rick Riordan

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CATCHING FIRE (Hunger Games Trilogy) by Suzanne Collins

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What movies are you looking forward to this year? Will you be watching any of these YA Book to Film Adaptations?

 

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Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Brinda Berry

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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 YA and Adult commercial author Brinda Berry.

You can learn more about Brinda and her books at brindaberry.com.

Welcome, Brinda!

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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?

BrindaBerry2

YA Author Brinda Berry

I’m a YA and adult commercial fiction writer. I live with my husband and two extremely cute and energetic cairn terriers. My brainiac son lives away from home and attends college. I work in higher education focusing on professional development and web-related projects. Hidden talent? I can give myself a mean French manicure but rarely have time for such luxuries. I also make great peanut butter fudge, but again…there is no time for that either. I spend all my free time writing novels, blog posts, or social media conversations.

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 One of Brinda’s adorable cairn terriers

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I can usually be found in my office at home. I do enjoy the occasional Starbucks writing session.

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Brinda’s workspace 

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

I have an inexpensive desk that came from a box. You know the kind—you put it together with a screwdriver and directions that are straight from Hades. My dream desk is waiting at Pottery Barn. Someday, I’ll march down to that store and bring it to my space. For now, I have to arrange everything carefully on the fake wood desk.

portable cartBrinda’s portable cart

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

I love having my iPad and laptop handy. Sometimes, I’ll use both. I have Evernote and Dropbox installed on both so it’s easy to work between the two. I always have post-it notes as well as a notepad. Crazy, I know.

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Brinda’s supplies: lots of Post its!

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

I drink lots of coffee.  If I know I’m sitting down for a lengthy writing session, I immediately make a full pot of coffee.

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On Writing

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

I have too many favorites, and my list evolves as I find new ones.  This year, my favorite YA author is John Green. I’ve been inspired by all the books that made me (1) wish to be a character, (2) learn about a new place, and (3) wonder about what the characters did AFTER.

 

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

I typically write my novels on the most on weekends. With a full-time job, I spend more time during the week on social media and blogging.  So, a typical Saturday is to wake at 5:00 am and begin writing by 6:00 am. I’ll take breaks throughout the day, but I can knock out a lot if I don’t need to leave for any reason. I’ll treat it like a day at the job.

 

3. Why do you write?

I think I write for the same reason as most writers. I have these stories in my head that I’d like to share. I’d also like to think that a reader might connect with a character or story. If it’s only entertainment, that’s fine. I love reading for the pure joy of it. On the other hand, I’d like to make a difference with a novel I write someday.

 

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

I’m a Stephen King fan, so I’ll share one of his:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
~ Stephen King

 

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Thanks, Brinda, 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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The Golden Book of 365 Stories

During the November CBW-LA critique session last year, one of our members, Michael, brought several pages of his wonderfully whimsical poems. I remarked that his work reminded me of my favorite book when I was a child.

The Golden Book of 365 Stories written by Kathryn Jackson and illustrated by Richard Scarry was a book I literally loved to death. I had gotten it as a present (can’t remember if it was a birthday or Christmas gift) when I was six.

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Back then I wasn’t much of a bookworm, but I remember being enamored by the colorful illustrations of cute characters and their various adventures. As I grew older, I began to appreciate not only the drawings, but the stories that went with it. The book had one story or poem for every day of the year.

At first, I thought I’d follow the rules and read one story a day. But as I began to develop an appreciation for words, I grew greedy and decided I’d read as much as my little mind could take. Pretty soon I had finished the whole book. But it didn’t matter, I still carried the book with me everywhere.

I always stayed my grandma during the summer months. We lived in an old provincial barrio, where cable was a luxury for the rich. My grandma always carried the only radio in the house. She listened to soaps while she worked in the garden. I was often left to my own devices, and my imagination was all I had to keep me entertained.

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The Golden Book of 365 Stories kept me more than entertained. It became my sole companion and my only escape. Every time I felt lonely or bored, I would open the book and flip to a page. I’d picture myself as one of the characters or as one of their friends. Sometimes I’d imagine what happened to the characters long after their stories had ended.

I flipped through the book so many times, that eventually, the binding came loose and some of the pages began to disappear.

The last time I held the book, the cover was limp and dirty, and the book only had half the pages left. I was thirteen at the time, and I remember feeling sad at the book’s sorry state, and regretting that I hadn’t taken better care of it.

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As I grew older, I encountered and read hundreds of new books. My favorite childhood book soon receded in my memory until a few years ago, when my love for children’s books pushed me into writing. Feeling nostalgic, I had looked everywhere for a copy of The Golden Book of 365 Stories. It had gone out of print and I couldn’t even find it online.

At last Saturday’s critique, Michael surprised me with a copy of the book. He remembered me raving about the book and decided to look for it online. He found a copy for 93 cents and bought it for me. My childhood copy had a white cover, which I remember very clearly. The book Michael gave me had a blue cover which I had never seen before. But when I opened the book, I saw Richard Scarry’s dear illustrations and Kathryn Jackson’s delightful stories. I was instantly six years old again. I would have read through the whole book again had it not been for the fact that I had to facilitate a critique session. I reluctantly put the book away.

Richard Scarry's 365 Stories

As soon as I got home however, I began leafing through the pages. I had on a goofy grin the whole time. It was like getting reacquainted with an old, beloved friend.

Incidentally, yesterday (Feb. 10th) was my Granny Mommy’s birthday. She would’ve been 92. I’ve missed her dearly for the past 10 years, and this book somehow makes me feel closer to her. I have Michael to thank for gifting me with a time machine that can instantly transport me back to happy childhood days spent in my grandmother’s house.

I’m still going to love this book to death. But this time, I’ll remember to be more gentle on the pages. I want this book to last a long, long time.

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The Emotion Thesaurus

 

 

Product Details

172 pages, Paperback

Genre: Writing Book

Published on May 6, 2012 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

ISBN-10: 1475004958

ISBN-13: 978-1475004953

 

Book Description

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each.

Using its easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them.

This writing tool encourages authors to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.

 

My Review

This book is a lifesaver, and one writing book which I can’t live without.

I’m a big fan of the “show, don’t tell” tenet of writing. So in my own manuscripts, I try to make sure that in every scene I leave it up to the reader to understand the emotions the character is feeling. I don’t tell them what the character is feeling directly, instead, I try to show the emotions of the character through her actions, thoughts and sometimes through her dialogue.

Throughout the story, my characters will go through a range of emotions, and often will experience one emotion several times. I seriously wanted to shred my first draft after reading the phrase “her eyes widened” or “he swallowed hard” or “her hands shook” over and over again. I realized that I needed fresh, new ways of showing my characters’ emotions to replace the tired, old clichés I had used.

I squealed with delight (and relief) when I discovered this book online. The book begins with a short overview of emotion and its place in writing. The authors also introduce various techniques for writing nonverbal emotion, and explain how writers can use the Emotion Thesaurus.

The Emotion Thesaurus lists 75 different emotions. The authors define the emotion and list physical signals, internal sensations and mental responses a person might have to the emotion. They also list cues of acute or long-term encounters with the emotion and cues of suppressed experience of the emotion. To top it all off, they give a writer’s tip for using that particular emotion in your work.

Authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have saved every fiction writer years of work and research by writing this book. They have saved us the trouble of having to figure out what body language, thoughts, and visceral responses our characters might have when experiencing a particular emotion.

I always keep this book handy whenever I’m deep in revisions. The Emotion Thesaurus helps me create three-dimensional, relatable characters by helping me deepen the way they express their emotions in scenes. By doing so, I also lift my prose up to a higher level.

With the Emotion Thesaurus’s help, I can replace boring lines like “she was so depressed she could barely stand and answer the phone” with stronger lines like “The circles under her eyes had grown darker. She stared out the window, ignoring the phone that had been ringing for the past half hour.”

I give this book 10 stars out of 5, and recommend all writers—new and seasoned alike–to pick up a copy. It’s sure to change the way you perceive emotions, and the elevate the way you write.

 

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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 Sci-Fi and Fantasy author Simon Kewin.

Learn more about Simon and his books by checking out his website simonkewin.co.uk.

Welcome, Simon!

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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?

Simon kewin

 Simon Kewin, Sci Fi and Fantasy author

 

Software development pays the bills. I’ve been a programmer and software designer for twenty-odd years. My plan is obviously to write fiction for a living, too …

As to genres, I mostly write fantasy and SF, but also some mainstream. And things that fall between the cracks. If I’m honest I’m wary of genres; they seem too simplistic to me. I like stories that could be fantasy and could be realism, for example, depending on your interpretation of events. But, sure, give me sword and sorcery too. I love that.

Interests? Plenty in theory. A full time job plus a young family plus the writing means I don’t have much spare time. Sound familiar? But I play the electric guitar when I can and we love to go walking in the hills. We’re lucky enough to live in a very beautiful part of the world (the Wye valley in England). We also go to the theatre and art galleries and concerts whenever we get chance. I also love computer games. When I was a boy I would play them for days on end. One day I shall do so again!

Oh, and cricket. I love cricket. Let me know if you want me to explain the rules…

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

 

I have a desk in the room I optimistically  call “the study”. Other members of my family might have different names for it. Like “playroom” for example. I can write almost anywhere really and that’s something I’ve become used to doing over the years. All I really need is my laptop or a notebook and some peace and I’m happy. This picture is of my desk in “the study”, where I guess I do most of my writing. Also the view from my window. Sometimes I think it should be more mundane and less distracting (I enclose a couple of pictures). I did a degree in literature a few years back, fitting it in and around the rest of my life. It was invaluable experience at writing to deadlines with limited time and lots of distractions. That’s something I continue to do.

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Simon’s workspace

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

My desk is just a desk, nothing special. I have a fantasy of having a writer’s retreat: a little room all of my own with an oak desk and my computer and all my books around me and a door I can shut. Maybe one day. As to arranging things, I can’t work in a mess. It’s impossible for me. I have to have a completely tidy desk before I can start work. I don’t know why. I spend a lot of time tidying my workspace rather than writing in it…

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

I’d say none. Is that odd? Apart from the lack of clutter already mentioned I just need a computer. And a cup of coffee is always good. I listen to music sometimes, once I’m into a piece and it’s flowing. But at the thinking/planning stage I tend to work in silence.

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The view from my desk in summer

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

Just the computer…

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

I like my coffee black and strong. Sometimes coke or grapefruit juice. I very rarely drink alcohol because, alas, it gives me a migraine.

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The view from my desk in winter

On Writing

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

I find this almost impossible to answer. At a pinch I might say Ursula K. Le Guin. But, really, where do you start?

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

Like many people, I don’t get that much writing time. I’ve learned over the years not to have time for quirks or rituals (apart from the tidying thing), but just to sit down and write when I can. Because it can be hard to do that, I’ve gotten into the habit of spending other parts of my day thinking about what I’m going to write when I get chance. Running through scenes and ideas in my head. I find this invaluable. When it works, I find I can just sit down and splurge out 1000 words onto the page.

 

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

Barring holidays and sickness I write every day. At least an hour but the more the better. I set myself daily word count targets and I make sure I stick to them. Distractions are too numerous to mention but I think that’s one of the great things about having limited time to write. If I had the whole day I’d spend half of it on Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest. I basically set aside all distractions and write.

 

4. Why do you write?

I don’t know. I have to. I guess my question would be, why don’t other people?

 

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

Just don’t ever give up. Write what you want and need to write. Don’t let the inevitable rejections stop you. They’re not a rejection of you, they’re just one editor’s opinion of one of the stories you wrote. Another editor – even the same editor in a different mood – might have accepted it.

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Thanks,Simon, 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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