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 J.Lenni Dorner, author of that fun blog What Are They.
Welcome J. Lenni!
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?
I write. Hmm, that seems like a short answer. Let me try again.
I weave fantasy with lore to unhinge your mind.
I offer the service of entertaining and engaging words which have been recorded in order to honor my Lenni Lenape ancestors who were known for using words woven into stories to enlighten rival nations in the hope that common bonds would be embraced, thereby creating a platform for peace.
What genre do you love to write?
I love to cross genre lines! My teen years were spent mostly writing romantic horror.
Did that get your attention? Or are you like some of my fans that were already in love with characters like Freddy Krueger? Maybe you wondered why no one dove a little deeper into the obvious romantic, but seriously conflicted and slightly incestual, feelings that Mike Meyers had for Laurie. My works were a bit closer to Natural Born Killers, but still, hopefully you get the idea.
I moved on to poetry and essays in college. Under another name, a majority of these works were published in anthologies or papers. (The most notable of those publications being the Philadelphia Inquirer.)
My current series is “new adult” (which is the genre with the 20-somethings as the target audience). Book One, Fractions of Existence, is considered Urban Fantasy. Book Four of the series… well maybe they’ll start a new genre just for me! Ha ha. When the Existence Series ends it will loop off to my other series, which is more traditional fantasy (dragons, elves, goblins, etc).
What are some of your hobbies or interests?
- I like to dance. Unfortunately, I was not graced with the dance gene.
- I am a foodie. I should have a hobby or interest in working-out to go along with being a foodie, but alas…
- I love to read. I have a very bad habit of forgetting to update my Goodreads account after I finish reading a book. (“Oh I’ll do that, and write a review. Right after I finish this.”) I always feel incredibly guilty when I haven’t gotten around to those yet! It is very important to me to support my fellow writer.
- I have an interest in photography, especially of scenic views. This is not on a professional level by any means. I also love pictures taken from odd angles.
- I had an interest in scrapbooking. It fell off once I saw what real scrapbookers did. Wow! I am not sure I have the time or space for that, but I really love the look.
- I am interested in cars that are loud and fast.
- Is watching Netflix a hobby? When I watch something I imagine what the script looked like. I enjoy writing scripts, but I don’t have the temperament to put up with Hollywood. (“That’s great! I love what you did here. Just need to change from page 2 to 53 of your 54 page script. Small thing really. Oh, and we are switching genres. And it will air on Tuesday for the first three weeks, then Saturday for the next two, and then Tuesday again, then Sunday. After that we will cancel it for low ratings.”)
- I enjoy spelunking.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I can not answer this question based on the fact that it would no longer be hidden if you knew about it. Ha ha. Alright, I can not answer based on the fact that it would change the maturity rating of this blog. LOL! Okay, okay… I have a talent for using yo-yos.
1. Where do you do most of your writing?
I do most of my writing in my head. Seriously, my characters try to make me stop sleeping by jumping into my dreams. You’ve heard the expression “photo bomb”? I get “dream bombed” by them. I’d probably mind more if they didn’t entertain me so much.
How the writing gets from inside my head to the page is probably the aim of this question. The headboard of my bed has a notebook which is for the chicken scratch I write in the dark with a gel pen. If I can manage to keep both eyes open, my mobile phone is right there as well. I text my email account with words, some of which are intelligible, and then go back to sleep. When I wake up, the notes go into a folder with labels for which story they belong to. Microsoft word gets opened. Notepad gets opened. And I sit here at this desk and create magic. Unless I’m editing, which is a cross between tweaking the magic so it is more powerful and having a dragon slowly devour me alive.
Some days I can not be at home with my computer. That is why I love the program on my phone! I can pull my files from my cloud and open them with a program that does not mess up my formatting! Yay. Next up I hope to find a text-to-speech program that will read my document without that bizarre robotic voice which distracts me. Is there a “James Earl Jones reads your documents” app?
2. Where did you get your desk? How did you go about arranging your work area?
I walked into the forest the day after a storm. There, in a burnt section of grass, was a very old tree which now lay on its side. The cut had been cleanly made by the lumberjack known as lighting. Sad to see this once mighty forest soldier fallen, I decided to save it from the slow decay that this new phase, this death, would offer it. Using my axe I chopped the trunk into pieces which could be hauled away without disrupting the peace of this sanctuary. I spent long hours for the next month carving and crafting, listening to the wood, until at last the new function of the tree came into being. There it stood- my mighty desk- a gift from nature.
Sorry, sorry, sorry… that was all made up. Bummer, I know. But that story was way better than the reality, which is that this desk was on sale at Staples. I do actually have some wood working talents, but the largest thing I ever created was a clock. A very nice clock, mind you, but still. I am related to someone who could turn a tree into a desk. He built a tractor out of wood. I think that’s pretty interesting. He has a full time job at a machine shop now though, so he doesn’t exactly have time to go into the forest and find a down tree with which to build me a desk.
How did I arrange my work area? Umm… the fairies came over and moved stuff around until the liked it. I wish I had some great feng shui answer to this question. I also wish that Mr. Monk from the now-cancelled tv show Monk would come over and clean my workspace for me. No wait, he would only let me keep 10 pens.
J. Lenni’s Workspace
3. What are some important things on your desk? Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?
The sticky notes on my desk are very important. When I get overwhelmed by how much I need to get done, I make the sticky note become my personal assistant in charge of keeping track. As a bonus, when the list is all crossed off, I run the sticky side of the note between the keys of my keyboard. Goodbye last particles of dust!
I have a few motivational pictures, quotes, and fortunes from cookies that remind me to never give up and never surrender. (Or was that the Avengers? Ha ha.) Disappointed in the lack of pocket calendars for writers, I made my own this year. Cardstock, photoshop, and six hours later the magic happened.
(The fantasy hop shown on the 27 has sadly been cancelled.)
I need, or prefer to have, a dictionary around me when I work. Physical or online ones will do. I know that it is said that this can interrupt the writing flow, but that wavy red line under a word causes me to fixate and question everything. It is much more productive for me, personally, to find the correct spelling.
4. What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?
What I love most about my workspace is when people respect it and me by not interrupting. More than 60 words per minute being pounded out on the keys means that it is time to leave J alone! Casual typing and mostly mouse clicks- I’m probably on the web, so it’s alright. Fingers drumming on keys without any actual typing means that there is a thought stuck in my head — interrupting at that moment is as wise as jumping in to the shark tank during feeding time with bleeding animal parts tied to your limbs.
My newest favorite object on my desk is the carved wood native with the bear that I received as a gift early in May. ((See picture above.)) It reminds me not to let my people down or the bear will eat me. If I please my ancestors, the bear will instead eat my critics.
5. What’s your writing beverage? What do you love to drink while you’re writing?
When I sit down at my desk first thing, I have a container of water. At some point I also bring a mug of coffee to the party (though some days this is switched with hot tea or warm apple cider). My current favorite coffee to drink black is GreenMountain brand Wild Mountain Blueberry. If I invite some International Delight Heath flavored creamer to the mug, the flavors of coffee I turn to are a tie between hazelnut and GreenMountain brand Lake& Lodge.
1. Who is your favorite author? Who inspired you to write?
I only get to pick one?!? Okay, I pick myself!
There are several indie and/or lesser known writers here who I could name that I adore as both authors and people. It is hard to pick favorites as many of them are friends. (There should be a word for friendship which forms online while in the newer stages. A word to describe someone who is slightly less than a friend but slightly more than acquaintance needs to exist. Social Media Buddy sounds too long.) If I were to pick only one out of that pack, and it is a tight race, I would go with Ia, author of Sydney’s Song.
This question is just as hard to answer if I may only select from well known authors. J. D. Salinger comes to mind first. Then again, no one does horror, thriller, or suspense like Stephen King. On the other hand, has J. K. Rowling not created a whole generation of people who are proud to admit that they love to read? Wait, R. L. Stein did that as well! Though in young adult horror, I lovedRichie Tankersley Cusick. If I judge based on loyal fans, Stephenie Meyer needs to be in this mix. Actually, Kevin Smith, aka Silent Bob, would also need to be on the list if loyal fans and being loyal to fans were my criteria.
The first person who inspired me to write was me. I was eight at the time, and unaware that what I was doing would shape my life. I just did it. My seventh grade English and Composition teacher was the strongest coach to have fostered my drive. Then there is a long list of college professors who adored my creative words. (Including a history professor who gave me a B+ on an essay test question which did not have the correct answer, per say, but which I was able to embellish enough that the less accurate answer I gave sounded plausible enough to make him double check the material.)
The greatest writing inspiration in my life today would be the characters in my head and the few fans who leave me happy notes. I also have a great support team in my loving spouse, my editing wiz Sandi, the missing part of my mind which is found in Lyle, the hand holding goodness of Jamie, the html lessons from Renee, the vast amount of friends and followers from Stu who makes me laugh and keeps me happy with pics of his car, Hansi who shows me how great a Twitter friend can be, and my doctor who keeps me alive and surviving.
2. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?
What is this typical of which you speak? The universe is an ever changing place. Time never stands still. Therefore no day can be typical. A more boring sounding answer would be that I sit at my keyboard and let it all pour out until my body alerts me to the fact that several hours have passed and I have yet to eat or use the bathroom. Those are good days. Editing days are pure insanity, but necessary. Here is what 24 hours could look like, and sometimes do:
My Saboteur (a creature that readers of Around the Writer’s Block by Rosanne Bane know about) leaves excrement between the keys of my keyboard. It looks a lot like dust. I can assure you by the amount of time I spend cleaning my keyboard with Lysol wipes, a mini vacuum cleaner, a small brush, a reformed paperclip, a tweezers, canned compressed air, a thumbtack, and the sticky side of used sticky notes that this stuff is indeed left by my saboteur in the hopes of distracting me. Or maybe I just have a quirk about cleaning my keyboard before and during the time that I write.
3. Do you write everyday? How many hours a day do you spend writing? What are some of your worst writing distractions?
I tried to picture a day without writing when I approached the answer to this question. Are there days where I am unable to transfer the words in my head onto a screen? Yes. Days where my characters are silent and no plot twists have entered my mind though, that only happens when I am hospitalized. Actually, that is not true. When I’m laying there in the hospital, it is the characters in my head that make the loudest demands that I keep fighting.
If we include the hours that stories form in my mind, then I am not sure that I ever stop writing. But if this question is limited only to time where words move from my mind onto a sharable form such as a screen or sheet of paper, probably about three hours a day would be devoted exclusively to writing.
Except in November, when the hours are closer to eight or nine a day. NANOWRIMO
4. Why do you write?
My answer is found on a goals photo a friend made for me which hangs on my desk:
5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us? How about a favorite writing quote?
I read an interesting tip a while back to look at each scene as if it were for a movie. Every scene shot will cost an exorbitant amount of money. ($250,000 was the example amount given.)
Is the scene worth it? If you, the writer, personally had to pay for that scene to keep it, would you?
If so, the scene stays. Move on and start over with the next scene.
If not, it needs to be cut or improved.
Are there obstructions in the scene which make it interesting?
Does the scene enrich the reader’s view of a character?
Is necessary information provided by the scene?
Does the scene more the plot forward?
Has the scene met the goal you aimed for it to achieve?
Are there sensory details to draw the reader in?
Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, J. Lenni!
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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