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 Jenn Lyons, author of THE CULLING FIELDS & MARDUK’S REBELLION.

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Welcome, Jenn!

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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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Author Jenn Lyons

Hey there! My name is Jenn Lyons. By night I write science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal mystery novels and by day I’m a video-game producer. I’m a bit all over the place in my books to date: my first novel, Marduk’s Rebellion, is science-fiction, and my second novel, The Culling Fields, is epic fantasy. Later this year, World Weaver press will be publishing two of my paranormal mysteries, Blood Chimera and Blood Sin. I’m currently writing the sequel to Marduk’s Rebellion, Making Shiva (no relation to the cat, I promise), which I also expect to see published later this year. After that, I’ve been told bad things will happen if I don’t finish the next book in my epic fantasy series, Demon Falls. It’s going to be a busy year!

Hidden talents? I’m also an artist. It’s not exactly hidden, but it’s certainly helped me with the covers for my self-published books.

 

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing either at my home desk or at one of several nearby coffee shops (Here’s to all the awesome folks over at La Madeleine’s!) Because I self-publish some of my books, there are a number of publishing-related tasks that I can only do at my home computer, but for the main writing push I find it’s often quite helpful to get away from home distractions. My husband and I also turned our dining room into a writer’s nook, which we can use if we want to be free from some of the standard social media pressures without actually leaving the house.

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Jenn’s Writer’s Nook

 

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

My desk is from Office Depot. As you might be able to tell from the pic, it’s also pretty beaten up (I’ve had it for well over a decade at this point.) It wasn’t terribly expensive although I believe it’s been discontinued. I also write on the dining room table in the writer’s nook, which originally came from Cost Plus World Market. One of the things that has helped me the most is developing techniques that allow me to write wherever I happen to be, so I never have to say ‘Oh, I can’t write, because [insert excuse here].’ I can write from coffee shops, looking out at the trees in my backyard, or sitting at a park.

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Jenn’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 don’t do a lot of writing with pen and paper. I need a computer, or at least a tablet and keyboard, and someplace comfortable to sit. Ideally I also need some wifi so I can access my dropbox account. I have back problems, so ergonomics is important, as is the ability to move around on a regular basis. However, my regular desk has one very adorable feature: a special space for my cat Shiva to sleep on and keep me company while I type. This is important, because if he has a place to sit near, he doesn’t try to sit in my lap. He usually doesn’t try to lick my fingers while I’m typing either. Usually.

Oh, one other special thing my home base desk has is this beautiful mechanical keyboard with blue mx switches. If you have the means, get one of these. I know they’re marketed for video game players, but they are so wonderful for hands. While it’s not an ergonomic keyboard (my dream is to one day have a keyboard with both an ergonomic design and mx switches, something that’s currently kind of insanely expensive) I type faster on this keyboard. The feedback is wonderful. It was expensive, but in my opinion, sincerely worth every penny.

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It’s a toss-up between the keyboard and the cat (who is named Shiva, by the way.)

Speaking of which, Shiva kitten (it’s been many, many years since he was this young.)

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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?

Honestly most of the things I love aren’t on my desk but inside my computer, which didn’t used to be the case. When I started this business I used to use a lot of post-it notes and all but wrote on the walls (I didn’t, but I have been tempted to paint the wall next to me with blackboard paint more than once) but I’ve noticed myself transitioning to a true paperless environment. Now I use evernote, google drive, and dropbox for notes and world building development, and seldom do my notes on a novel end up on real paper anymore. The plus side to that is I’m also never without them.

 

 

 

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

Coffee or tea, depending on my mood, and the time. In the evening, I tend to switch to water or the occasional glass of red wine. I’ve been trying to drink more water, to which I’ve been adding flavored balsamic vinegars. Is that weird? That strikes me as super weird, but I am what I am.

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By the ocean, Jenn’s favorite picture

On Writing

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

I really don’t have a single favorite author. I love so many. Shakespeare, Cooper, Asimov, Le Guin, Chandler, Zelazny, Butler — but I could go on and list 40 more names and not even begin to have a complete list. If I’m being really honest, however, not a one of them inspired me to write: I never dreamed that I could be in such august company. I was always writing short stories and pieces of fiction, fictitious journal entries for roleplaying games I was in and the like (I suppose it was a sort of fan fiction,) but it just never clicked that I should take that extra step. My ex-husband dared me to write my first book, and so I did. (Although that book was never published, and never will be. It was really terrible.)

 

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

I get up in the morning, go to work, and spend the day doing my regular job. So writing happens on the weekends or when I’m home in the evening. Dinner first, then I hit the keyboard.

 

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

I write daily (or try to) write every day and it usually ends up being about 2-3 hours, usually from 7pm to 10pm. Of course, when I don’t do this, it’s usually because of a TV show (why hello Almost Human!) or an MMO (Elder Scrolls.) On weekends it depends on how many chores I have to finish, but usually I manage around 5 hours per day. So, practically speaking, I can expect 20 hours a week of writing, editing or publishing time when I’m ‘on.’ In hard numbers, that averages between 10K to 20K words written per week (some books come along faster than others.)

 

4. Why do you write?

I have stories I need to tell. Not writing doesn’t seem to be an option. I have to tell them, and it gradually occurred to me that if telling these stories was going to be such a large part of my sense of personal happiness, it wasn’t really fair not to share that with others. I’m going to tell the stories regardless.

 

 

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

First, try to remember that all writing advice is an opinion. People will present their opinions as though they were uncontestable facts, but friends, that’s just not so. I can tell you what’s working or not working for me, but I cannot tell you what will or won’t work for you. I see a lot of people, especially older published writers, present their advice like it came straight from the Oracle at Delphi, and I have to say, take such advice with a grain of salt. There’s a lot of good opinions out there, but if something isn’t working for you, it may be you’re trying a technique that just isn’t a good fit for your personal experience. Use the scientific method: plan, test, analyze, modify. You’ll figure out what works for you if you do that.

Uh, yeah…I do use a lot of charts when I write. How did you guess?

 

Blank paper is God’s way of saying it’s not so easy to be God. – Craig Vetter

 

 

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

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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11 Responses to “Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Jenn Lyons”

  1. mooderino says:

    Love the artwork on the book cover. Oh and nice keyboard. Does the cat glow in the dark too?

    mood
    Moody Writing

  2. LOL! I love that her cat’s bed is right there. The way my desk is set up, I could do that, too.

  3. What’s a writing space without a cat, I ask you. Lonely is my answer.

    If Asimov and LeGuin are among Jenn’s inspiring writers, she has to be an excellent writer.

  4. Science fiction writer and reader – very cool!

  5. I need a writing cat. Then I’d have a great excuse for procrastinating. Maybe he’ll even brainstorm with me.

    “What do you think of my idea …?
    “Meow!”

  6. Jemi Fraser says:

    Great interview! I tend to only need my laptop as well and I love Almost Human as well – can’t wait for it to be back on :)

  7. LD Masterson says:

    No offense to all you cat people but my writing buddy is a Jack Russell terrier who sleeps in her bed next to me while I write.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Almost Human was cancelled by FOX. It’s a shame, I really enjoyed that show.

  8. Congrats to Jenn on her books. Although I use a fair amount of tools on the computer, I can’t imagine not drowning in paper. To each his own I guess. That cat is a cutie.

    • Jenn Lyons says:

      You know, that’s honestly one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. To each their own. If you need paper, you need it. Who am I to tell you to do it differently?

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