Every Wednesday, I feature a writer/blogger and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow bloggers/writers better through their workspace and writing habits. I also wanted my bloggy friends to share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome fellow Write On member Theresa Milstein. She’s the author of that super fun blog—Theresa’s Tales (of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts)

Welcome, Theresa!

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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?

Theresa Milstein

I’m certified in Social Studies, and looking for a teaching job. (Got one for me?) Currently, I’m a professional aide in the fifth grade and talking graduate classes for a second Master’s degree in Special Education.  I love spending time with my children and husband (no, really).  I like yoga and riding my bicycle, but don’t do either nearly enough.  I’m a fan of basketball and bad reality TV.  A perfect day would be spent reading by the water–especially salty water–with my family.  I have absolutely no hidden talents.

I write mostly YA contemporary fantasy, though I’ve dabbled in middle grade novels and adult short stories. It’s rare that I write anything without a paranormal element.  I have two short stories published: “Daisy” in 100 Stories for Queensland” and “Allured” in Fangtales.  My short story “Tiny Dancer” will appear in Tiny Dancer, coming out later this year.

On Workspace

1. Where do you do most of your writing?

Have laptop, will travel.  When I take my lunch break at work, I’m alone in the teacher’s room.  It’s not the most inspirational place, but if I stay on task, I can write about 700-800 words in 25 minutes.  When I’m home, I love writing in my living room, which is filled with sunlight and plants.  I’ll be moving in a couple of months.  Don’t know where the new space will be.

Theresa’s Workspace

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

Desk?  I use the arm of the loveseat or the top of the dining room table.  Sometimes, the laptop is just on my lap.

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

When I work at the loveseat, I have a few reference books and papers on and under the coffee table as well as in two floral boxes next to the loveseat.

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

There’s nothing better than the sun on my back, a cup of coffee at my side, and my cat Shaggy on my lap.  Bliss!

I have a tin where I keep my writing supplies next to the love seat where I work.  It has Rosie the Riveter on the Cover.  Very inspirational.

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

If I’m home during the day, I enjoy coffee.  If it’s night, I’ll have wine. But I’m usually blogging or on Facebook at that time.  Fiction writing and wine don’t mix!

On Writing

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

I saw the author Melissa Glenn Haber speak at the school where I worked.  She admitted to writing and hiding her pieces in drawers for years, which resonated with me.  While I didn’t have whole manuscripts, I’d write snippets or think of book ideas, but reminded myself I wasn’t a writer.  I thought people just knew they were writers or someone told them to write.  After Melissa’s talk, I spoke with her.  She encouraged me to contact her agent.

That night, I thought about what I wanted to write.  I admired JK Rowling and decided to write a fantasy middle grade novel.  Six weeks later, I had a very bad 65k middle grade manuscript in my hands.

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

These days, I write in short bursts and think about what I’ll write next in between.  That does NOT make me a plotter.

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

Rough drafts used to take over my life.  I’d write anytime, anywhere.  These manuscripts never took more than 8 weeks to write.  And then they’d take many, many months to fix.  The last couple of years, I’ve slowed and wind up with better drafts.Until recently, I had big dry spells.  When I belted out manuscripts, it hardly seemed to matter.  But when rough drafts began to take longer, I became concerned.  Now I’m trying to write daily.

4. Why do you write?

It will soon be my six-year anniversary since I wrote those first awful words inspired by Harry Potter.  In 2011, I had two short stories published.  I’ll have a piece of flash fiction and another short published this year.  So many years with so little validation.  Many probably think I should give up.  But at this point, I just need to write.  It’s not about fame and fortune (obviously).  It’s who I am.  I’m a writer.

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

Write often.  Get critiqued.  Dust yourself off.  Fix it.  Query.  Dust yourself off.  Query again.  Repeat the whole process.  Again and again.  You’ll improve.

“…perhaps an unwritten book is an even more powerful weapon than one which has been published. It has a way of filling the air with its menace or its promise, the sweet art of what might have been.”

– Colm Toibin

6. Would you care to share a favorite picture of yourself?

My wedding day.  One of the best moments of my life.

Theresa on her wedding day

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Thanks, Theresa, 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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81 Responses to “Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Theresa Milstein”

  1. Thanks for hosting me, Nutschell. I think the Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is a great idea. It was so sunny when I took the picture of my workspace, it was so bright and sunny that the picture came out dark!

  2. What a great interview! And I love that writing space. Mine is similar. I write on the couch with the cat either next to me or on the floor at my feet.
    Top writing tip too

  3. Ohh the wedding photos is very sweet:) Mine is my most treasured as well:)

    Can’t believe you’re able to type on the armrest of a couch.. if it was me, I’d be dropping the cup of tea, papers around me, pen and then there’s the cat who always wants to sit on my keyboard… not a pretty sight.

    • Tania, I have the coffee table to my side. Otherwise it wouldn’t work. As it is, I’ve spilled coffee and tea on variou laptops.

      Lucky for me, my cat accepts the lap over the keyboard!

  4. Sarah Fine says:

    Lovely interview! I don’t write at a desk either, Theresa. And your wedding picture is adorable.

    • Sarah, thanks. Before that, we’d been busy with greetings and pictures and toasts. That was the first moment where it was us (surrounded by a crowd). And it hit me, oh yeah, we’re finally married.

  5. Great interview. Theresa, I’m a coffee drinker too and must write in spurts here and there too. I try to write at work during my lunch break. Your word count is definitely faster than mine.

  6. Theway you used to write sounds like where I am now. Very fast first drafts that take a ‘lot’ of work. It’s good to know I can progress from this :-)

    • Sarah, I think we experiment until we find what works for us. Lately, I’ve been writing short bits closer together to make sure I don’t have droughts. But I feel like it’s making me lose pacing. I’ll see when I read it through.

  7. PK Hrezo says:

    Aw, what a sweet pic, Theresa! Always great to learn more about you. Love your positive vibe. I think we’re all dusting ourselves off together. :)

  8. I’m impressed with how much you can write in your 25 min break, Theresa! Whenever I try to work in a small amount of time, I end up fretting about how little time I have and don’t actually write anything :-)

    Nutschell – I’d love to share my writing space with you. Although it’s very similar to Theresa’s!

    • Annalisa, I have to do it or I don’t write. By the time, I get home, I’m crashed. And if I do have energy, I often spend it on school work. Who knows how much work these 200-900 spurts are going to need later. I’ll let you know.

  9. I enjoyed getting new insight into Theresa’s writing life through this interview. Wonderful job to both of you. Including photos was a great touch!

  10. Sheri Larsen says:

    Your tin is great! It was nice getting to know you better, Theresa. Sweet photo, too!!

  11. Lora says:

    You know I love getting a sneak peek of your plants! I hope they find an equally amazing spot in the new place.

    Also, I hope to see you in NYC this summer? Maybe?

  12. Southpaw says:

    Aw, sweet. Your kitty is beautiful. It was wonderful to learn more about you.

  13. Hi Theresa–I feel like I virtually know you so much better now! Good luck with the move, and I hope you find an agreeable writing space there.

  14. Hilary says:

    Hi Nutschell and Theresa .. love the thought of sun – as I too have that on my back .. Shaggy would be tipped off quite quickly, as I can’t sit still … and lots of interesting information .. typing without a desk would be terrible for me! Cheers Hilary

    • Hilary, my cat is like a dog: she likes to lick other people and she demands social time. If I have my laptop on my lap, she tries to push it off so I can make room for her. And if I say something to her, she meows back!

  15. brigid says:

    Yes, I am a bit like Theresa, have laptop, will travel…
    Such a lovely place to write, sun is always good.

  16. LGSmith says:

    Yep, another laptop writer here. No desk. I think it’s great you can kick out a novel so fast. It takes me a year minimum to write a novel. Sometimes another year to sort it all out. Maybe it’s the wine I drink while I write that slows me down. Hmmm… :)

    • LGSmith, I’m moving soon, so I’m curious where I’ll wind up writing in the new place. Glad it’s not fixed. Love laptops!

      It will still take me a year to finish and fix. I think I started working on it seriously at the end of the summer. I have about 3 chapters to go now. If I begin fixing in May, it will take at least a couple of months.

      Yes, wine drinking can slow one down. HA!

  17. Theresa, What a great look into your writing day and space. Thanks for sharing and for offering the giveaway on your blog, too.
    I really like these workspace posts, Nutschell. Helps us to get to know the writers a little more.
    That was very fun!

  18. Meredith says:

    Yay for being a nomadic laptop writer! Writing in a sun-filled room sounds pretty perfect to me. Especially with coffee. :)

  19. Shelley Sly says:

    Theresa, it’s always so nice to learn more about you. I like how your writing space isn’t a desk. I write sometimes on the arm of a couch, though most often at my kitchen table. Love your pictures, too! Thanks, Nutschell & Theresa for this interview!

  20. Lydia K says:

    What a lovely wedding picture! I love where you write, too. It’s so cozy!

  21. Karen Lange says:

    It’s great to learn more about Theresa! Loved the wedding picture, too! :)

  22. Old Kitty says:

    Hello to wonderful Theresa!Love your writing space – with obligatory gorgeous kitty Shaggy of course!! It’s probably the most comfy writerly space – you can lounge around on that seat and be extremely mobile with the laptop! Oh and play with Shaggy! Yay!! So important!!

    Thanks for hosting her lovely The Writing Nut!!! Take care
    x

  23. Theresa, you are an amazing writer. I love everything I’ve read that you’ve written. Thanks for sharing that beautiful picture of you on your wedding day. And on your education, kids are going to be lucky to get you. A teacher with two masters degrees? Wow. I’m surprised that you don’t get told you’re over-qualified.

    • Michael, you always boost my spirits, did you know that?

      Yes, I’ll probably be over qualified. There is a position called a Case Worker that’s two more classes beyond the Master’s degree. I think the extra credits would help in that situation. Hopefully I’ll get a job before then. This MA is going to take forever.

  24. Yay Theresa!!!!!!!!!! I loved reading about my pal! Hugs to you. Love that tin! And the wedding pic was wonderful. (Hubby is complaining I put the horse up instead of our wedding photo.) Ha! Beautiful pics. You are one of my most treasured cyber pals. :-)

    Smooches to you Theresa! *waving to Nut*

  25. Her wedding day – that’s really nice!

  26. Love your wedding photo and all the plants in your living room. I have no plants – husband has plants. Mine would die.

  27. Theresa, so fun to learn more about you! Give up after only writing 6 years??? Unthinkable!

  28. Great interview! I like your writing space and wish I had one like it, minus the cat (I’m allergic to cats, so it’d be hard to write if I kept sneezing all the time.). I also think that publishing four stories is a lot more than a lot of people have accomplished, so that’s definitely something to be proud of.

    • Neurotic Workaholic, thanks. I hope I keep improving so that someday soon it’s a whole novel. Next month I’m participating in a conference where I’ll have 3 agent/editor critiques on two 10-page manuscripts and 1 query critique. I’m also part of a novel academy, where two other authors will read my novel and provide feedback. There will also be published authors and an editor to guide us towards improvements. If that doesn’t help get me on the right track, I don’t know what will!

  29. It was great getting to know Theresa better. I like to write for a half hour to an hour straight, but I also find myself writing in bursts. As long as the WIP gets done.

    She has a tuxedo cat. So do I. :)

  30. It looks like a great writing space! I love it when there are living things like plants around.

    Great to learn more about you. :)

  31. Belle says:

    I think if you feel a need to write you are definitely a writer. I think you have accomplished a heck of a lot in 6 years. Loved the interview!

  32. Len Lambert says:

    I enjoyed reading this. I love the adorable photos!

  33. Nice getting to know you better, Theresa!

    I use my laptop too. Coffee is a MUST. It’s nice to have a kitty curled up next to you.

  34. Michelle DE says:

    Hello!
    Thanks for the great interview.
    I often mix a glass of wine with fiction writing… Ummm. It works for me.

  35. Michelle, HA! It works for me too, but I must confess that I make more typos.

  36. Riya says:

    Great reading more about Theresa! Thanks for the lovely photos Theresa. And for sharing. Wishing you all the best!

  37. Talli Roland says:

    What a great sneak peek into your life, Theresa! I love seeing where you work – I hear you on having the sun stream in. I love that feeling.

  38. Theresa, your story about Melissa and writing a bad MG novel is hilarious. It was great getting to know you as a writer better. : )

  39. Emily, the sad part is how proud I was of myself.

  40. So that’s where the magic happens! (Magic. Harry Potter. See what I did there?)

  41. I can relate to writing whenever you can and wherever you can – if I waited for the right time and place I’d hardly ever write.

  42. slamdunk says:

    Fun interview Theresa and Nutschell. The wedding photo looks great. I don’t think we have one of me and the Mrs. dancing since I was likely standing on her toes the entire time.

  43. Ann says:

    Great interview Theresa and Nutschell. Love the have laptop will travel. Oh to be so organised! Lovley photos!

  44. Nutschell, this was great. I really felt welcome here. Thanks you.

  45. deniz says:

    Love the wedding photo!
    Your favourite mode sounds like mine – sunshine, coffee and cats. Bliss.

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