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 Tina Howe, author of the Sci-Fi series TELLINGS OF XUNAR-KUN.

Welcome, Tina!

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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 Tina Howe

I have multiple “jobs.” I’m a contract tech writer/web creator/voice over artist/training developer in my day job for a tech company. It’s not normally a full time job, requiring roughly half of my work week on an ongoing basis, which leaves plenty of time for my creative endeavors. The good part is that I work from home so my time is flexible.

The day job supports me in my goal to write full time. Although I’ve written two award-winning sci-fi novels in the Tellings of Xunar-kun serieshttp://www.alysabooks.com/ and Snailsworth, a slow little story children’s picture book http://snailstories.com/, and produced an 8 CD audio book of the first novel as well as an audio book of Snailsworth. I have a third book in the sci-fi series in the works. For the last few years I’ve been focusing on writing screenplays. I’ve written a rom-com, a dark comedy, and am currently finalizing a sci-fi/thriller script while earning an online screenwriting master’s certificate through Screenwriting U http://screenwritingu.com/ .

I’ve been writing creatively on and off, mostly off, since the early ‘80s until the last 10 years when I’ve been very focused on it.

I have many hobbies and interests – that’s why my office is so messy! I’m currently learning Spanish. I also do some graphic design and am designing a logo for a local event. Preparing postcards of local scenes which I will sell at the Crooked River Artisan and Antique Co-Op in Waverly, NY where I’m a member. Archiving lots of old family photos. Writing a script adaptation of a classic author’s work for a new production company. In addition, I sing in a local choral group. In the summer, garden, do lawn work, and landscape, hike, take photos, and work on the deck so I still fulfill my writing goals. I also do talks at schools about the writing life.

My son is grown and is a graphic designer who lives in Pittsburgh, so most of my “mom” chores are past. However, I am mom to two cats and two dogs who are a lot like children. I have a long-time boyfriend with whom I spend time with on weekends. We try to see a movie every weekend (and I watch Netflix at night, when my writing chores are done).

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Purrfect and Pogo

 

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Sammy

 

 

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Jaxx

 

My method of working, after I tackle my day job work, is to meet deadlines and then follow my energy. I work on what needs to be done writing-wise today and also try to see what will be needed in the next few days or weeks and work on that. My interests always pull me toward the important things and I know that one day I’ll be able to support myself with creative/screenwriting.

 

On Workspace

 

1. Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing in my office. I have two computers – one is mine and the other belongs to my day job. I can swing back and forth depending on what work I must attend to. Changing gears is something I’ve become accustomed to. When I’m screenwriting, however, I get away from the distractions in my office and work on the kitchen counter or on the deck when it’s warm.

In my office I sit on a big, silver Stayball. If I didn’t have this, I wouldn’t be able to sit as long as I do because my circulation gets cuts off sitting in an office chair (I’ve tried many different styles with the same result).

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

I bought a small office table with a keyboard drawer. I use a plastic folding table for my day job computer. They’re set up perpendicular to each other. I try to keep my day job stuff with that computer and the rest – well, you can see! I “arrange” it every few months when I no longer know what’s on the bottom of my piles. By that time that stuff’s no longer relevant anyway.

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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?

Just my laptop and its accessories.

 

 

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

I love that my workspace is a room with French doors that I can close when I leave. And it has a nice, big window, two tall bookshelves, and a loveseat. In the mid-90s I started to do free-lance communications work and was set up in my kitchen (this was in a previous home in which I didn’t have a spare room). Every time I passed the workstation it begged me to sit and work so work was always on my mind (plus I had no place to sit and eat!). It’s nice now that I can just close the doors.

Some of my favorite things in the space are two Beatles posters my son gave me, a Raiders of the Lost Ark poster, framed family photos, all of my materials from screenwriting classes, and writing reference books. On my desk are photos of my son when he was little, one of my boyfriend and me, and a paperweight one of my oldest gal-pals painted for me when we were in college.

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

I begin with black hazelnut coffee in the morning and switch to spring water when that’s gone.

 

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On Writing

 

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

Ursula K. Leguin is my favorite author and whose writings inspired me to write the first draft of my novel in 1984 (didn’t publish it until much later, however). I love not only her imagination with sci-fi; her ability to create cultures for aliens is amazing. Her father, Alfred Kroeber, was the founder of anthropology but I didn’t learn this until I had had gotten hooked on her books. I must’ve taken to them so readily because, at that time, I was a student of anthropology! I would love to adapt one of her books to a screenplay.

 

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

I begin with catching up on e-mails, Facebook writers’ groups that I’m in, LinkedIn, day job requests. I subscribe to a lot of industry new and posts so I catch up on those. By that time the coffee has kicked in. If my day job is light, I work on a script in process. Right now I’m writing a sample for a job to adapt books.

 

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

I work on my scripts every day. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of time but I do some work even if it’s 30 min. Sometimes I write for several hours, but I pretty much max out at 4 hours

 

4. Why do you write?

I have to. If I couldn’t write I would curl up and die. I’m very visual and the best way for me to express this is through writing. I also have frustrations – who doesn’t? Writing these into stories and characters is a great way to get them out of my head. All writing is about conflict in some form, so this is a perfect place to dump, while entertaining the reader, of course!

 

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

To become a writer, you have to adopt the attitude of a writer. Getting the initial idea is easy but that’s where easy ends. Writing is difficult, even painful at times. It’s especially painful to read the brilliant writing from the day before and say, “Huh?” And then rewrite it, maybe multiple times. But when you look back at what you struggled to put down on the computer screen and finally get it right, it’s like you’ve given birth, and that’s something to be proud of.

 

But you have to work really hard and stick with it. You must get outside opinions. I send my manuscripts to readers who might pick your book off a store shelf. Mostly I try to find strangers who aren’t going to lie that my work’s great just because they love me. You really need that objective opinion.

 

In screenwriting, when I think my script is ready to be seen by someone else, I hire professional consultants with good reputations because they’ll give you the real scoop and find errors before you submit them to producers. Or enter contests that offer feedback. These might not be easy fixes, but if you want to give your script a chance to sell, this is a must.

 

Do research. Writers are readers so read other authors. You can never know too much about writing, grammar, and topics that interest you in general. You need to continue to take classes. You will come to know yourself through writing, and that’s a thrill. Always continue to learn, until you’ve drawn your last breath.

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

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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One Response to “Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Tina Field Howe”

  1. Karen Lange says:

    It’s nice to meet Tina and learn more about her. Thanks, Nutschell, for introducing us! Have a great week!

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