Archive for the ‘Workspace Wednesday’ Category
I am honored to welcome Leigh Michaels on this edition of Workspace Wednesday. Leigh is the best-selling author of more than 100 books, including historical romance, contemporary romance, non-fiction about writing, and local history. A fellow Montlake Romance author, her new Montlake release is The Birthday Scandal, a historical set in the Regency period and featuring the intertwining romances of two sisters and a brother. She’s also just released a self-published sweet contemporary romance, Return to Amberley.
Take it away, Leigh!
LEIGH: Thank you for inviting me to Workplace Wednesday, Norah. I’ve enjoyed (and envied) seeing all the various offices, and the photos have given me all kinds of ideas for whenever I get around to working on mine again. My working space has gone through a whole lot of changes in the 29 years since I was first published, so I’ve had a bit of a trip down memory lane!
In 1988, my office was located in the smallest bedroom of our American Foursquare house – a space that was hardly big enough for a twin bed and a dresser. Here’s a photo I saved for nostalgia’s sake – and also to prove that yes, I really did write more than a dozen books in this room. That’s an IBM PC with a 10-megabyte hard drive and a 14-inch green-screen monitor – and believe me, that was a big step up from my first computer! Off to the right is the state-of-the-art printer which tapped out each letter with a rotating ball, just like those old electric typewriters. I’d start a chapter printing and have to leave the room because of the echo.
The photos at ceiling level are the covers of my first few Harlequin Romances and Presents, and the two shelves at the right of the photo hold what I grandly called the Collected Works – one copy of each edition.
My office was right at the top of the stairs, so all the household sounds resonated and I was much too easy to find. If I closed the door so I could concentrate, I soon ran out of oxygen.
Those are only some of the reasons that we moved into a new house not long after the photo was taken.
This is my office today.
The Collected Works (one copy of each of the editions of my 83 romance novels and 20 non-fiction books) now occupy the shelves at left – that’s 62 feet of bookshelves, if you’re counting. The framed photos have moved to the hallway which leads to my office, where they’re limited to one cover from each language – though we had to stop doing even that when we ran out of wall. A few years ago my husband and I ripped up the carpet and laid the parquet floor. (That’s the sort of job which makes you eager go to back to writing.) And as time has gone on, I’ve added the extra filing cabinets and counters so I can spread out with my various projects.
I now rely on dual 24-inch monitors and a laser printer. I think some of those same reference books are still hanging around, though.
Because I also teach (at Gotham Writers Workshop where I offer online classes in romance writing) and I edit books for our small publishing firm (PBL Limited which specializes in local history books and niche-market non-fiction), I use every inch of the practical desk space. Those piles on the counter are non-fiction book projects and source material, waiting to come together so they’re ready to publish.
Though I’ve moved on from my original publisher – as well as switching from contemporary romance to historical, and from sweet stories to spicy ones – I’m grateful to Harlequin Books for a lengthy and rewarding career. That’s why the one-of-a-kind Harlequin marionette is still a prized feature in my office. He watches over me as I work.
I haven’t included a photo of my sitting room, where I leave my laptop set up – it’s another book-lined room, and I retreat there when I need to fall into a story and not be bothered by phone calls or email. I do better at knocking out words when it’s not so easy to page back to edit and fix and continually revise – and that’s made much less tempting when I’m working on a smaller screen.
Sometimes I write in other spots – like the bay window in my living room, where I can watch the white-tailed deer and wild turkeys wandering across the acre of back yard that we refer to as The Garden of Weedin’.
Thanks go to my husband, photographer Michael W. Lemberger, for providing all the photos.
The Birthday Scandal - The wealthy Duke of Weybridge knows that everyone loves a good surprise…and a good scandal. He has bounteous amounts of both for the guests—particularly for his nieces and nephew, Emily, Isabel, and Lucien—at his extravagant seventieth birthday ball. They think his promise to improve their lives means a generous stipend. But he’s got different gifts in mind: finding them the perfect matches. His task won’t be easy, because the Arden siblings have given up on love.
Bachelor Lucien spends more time merrymaking than looking for a proper wife. His sister Emily, broken-hearted when her betrothal ended in disgrace, committed herself to an early spinsterhood. And Isabel’s marriage has been troubled from the moment it began—with a terrible betrayal on her wedding night.
Though witty and strong-willed, the siblings are no match for their uncle’s wily machinations. And as the celebration approaches, his romantic scheming ignites illicit liaisons and irresistible temptations, sparking enough rumors to keep the ton abuzz until his next birthday.
Return to Amberley - When her girlhood crush blossomed into marriage, Andie believed in a rosy future with the man of her dreams – until Todd’s betrayal sent her from the beauty of Minnesota’s winters to Atlanta to begin anew. But just a few months later, Todd walks back into Andie’s life – asking for her help. The stone quarry they jointly inherited is for sale, and a good price would secure the future for both of them, paying Andie’s tuition and buying freedom for Todd to concentrate on his sculpture. They need to sell now, but the prospective buyer believes he can pick up the quarry at a discount while Todd and Andie fight through a divorce. Todd wants Andie to rejoin him at the family home, Amberley, and put a false face on their failing marriage to convince the buyer and sell the quarry. But is Andie risking her heart if she returns to Amberley?
To learn more about Leigh, you can check her out here:
Thank you for that tour, Leigh! I loved the shot of your old office. I can remember learning to use my first computer which had a whopping 10 mg hard drive. I felt so sophisticated when I graduated to one with a 40 mg drive. LOL!
Okay, folks, Leigh has a nice giveaway for us today. She is offering an autographed copy of the ARC of The Birthday Scandal or a print copy of Return to Amberley, reader’s choice. All you need do is leave us a comment. I’m anticipating there might be a few about the 62 running feet of bookshelves. Holy cow!
I am delighted to welcome Nancy Herkness as my guest for this edition of Workspace Wednesday. Nancy is another Montlake Romance sister. She writes both contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her current Montlake Romance release Take Me Home is the first in the Whisper Horse series.
Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers and Novelists, Inc., and has won numerous awards for her work, including the Golden Leaf, the Write Touch Readers’ Award and the Aspen Gold. Nancy graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English literature and creative writing. A native of West Virginia, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and two mismatched dogs.
With that intro, I’ll turn it over to Nancy.
Norah, it’s so intriguing to get a peek into my fellow writers’ workspaces. Thanks so much for inviting me to join the fun!
I write in a garret, the room at the top of the house right under the roof. Artists are famous for starving in their garrets, but I make sure to keep plenty of chocolate stashed in mine. The nice thing about being up so high is that I have a great view from my office window: tree tops and sky and the occasional bird or two. It’s refreshing but not too distracting.
The other great thing about being up two flights of stairs is that no one interrupts me unless they REALLY want to talk to me.
For those desperate enough for my company I do offer a seat or two. Notice the pile of dog toys under the pretty chair: those are for Brodie, my Golden Retriever, who visits often. It’s rare that my Yorkie Rocky makes it all the way to the top of the house.
If you’re wondering about the funky-looking black chair, that’s for when my back starts to bother me. Balancing on the ball keeps my back muscles moving all the time. It’s good for writing marathons when a deadline looms. “Red Car Press” is the publisher name I used to self-publish my backlist titles; my wonderful husband had the snazzy sign made for me. It’s going outside my office door as soon as the painters finish in the hallway.
Along with chocolate, there are certain items I cannot survive without. This artistic (snort!) still life captures their essence.
The cloth is for cleaning my glasses which somehow get smudged during the creative process. The timer is set for 30 minutes. Depending how the writing is going, this reminds me either to: 1) focus on writing until I hear beeping; or 2) get up from the chair and move around for a few minutes to work the kinks out of my back. Some days I need Reminder 1; some days (the good ones) I need Reminder 2.
The remote control turns on the column fan (you can see it behind the ball chair in Picture 2) when a hot flash hits. Yes, it might kill me to get up and turn it on myself. The bookmark is from Michael Hauge’s amazing Story Mastery workshop; it summarizes his plotting genius on one small piece of laminated cardboard.
Next is the messy angle on my desk. As you can see by the clock on the wall, I am a New Jersey Devils fan. (The hockey lock-out has been killing me!) The hulking gray thing (to the right) with sticky notes all over it is the world’s oldest laser printer, a veritable tank that spits out pages at high speed despite its obsolescence.
Above it is my attempt at collaging, a useful creative tool. Author Jenny Crusie makes collages that are works of art. Me, I tack pictures, sayings, and artifacts up willy-nilly on the bulletin board over my desk, layering them as the book progresses until it looks like a rat’s nest.
Here’s a close-up of the “collage.” (Perhaps “mess-age” would be a better name.) This collection was for COUNTRY ROADS, the book I handed into my editor just before Christmas.
Can you tell from the collage that the hero is a sexy lawyer who rides a motorcycle and plays foosball and the heroine is an artist whose whisper horse is a scary black stallion? If so, you’re good! (In case you’re wondering why I have the cover flat for TAKE ME HOME posted so prominently, it’s to prove to myself that yes, I am capable of finishing a book on time. I tend to despair of that as my deadline nears.)
Since other folks on this blog admitted to having a “brag shelf”, I am including mine below. Between the two bridge bookends are all the editions of my books. I’ll be adding TAKE ME HOME in French and Dutch soon, my first translations. Anyone for book-signings in Paris and Amsterdam?
There’s one book there I didn’t write. It’s titled THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE: POETRY IN STEEL by Michael Aaron Rockland, a non-fiction work discussing all aspects of the famous bridge including its appearances in literature. I was tickled to find that Mr. Rockland spent nearly two pages discussing my first novel A BRIDGE TO LOVE. He makes the typical snarky comments about the romance genre but admits that I “obviously did some research” on the G.W.B. He even quotes from the climactic scene of my book which takes place on the bridge itself.
I have to share the sign on the door to my writing office because my darling daughter made it after I sold my Whisper Horse series to Montlake Romance.
She knows me so well.
True confession: After enjoying a glimpse everyone else’s fabulous offices on this blog, I’ve realized mine needs some serious revamping. So I better get to work on another book….
And please check out her current release from Montlake Romance. TAKE ME HOME, the first book in the Whisper Horse Series.
When Claire Parker left Sanctuary, West Virginia, she thought it was for good. But now she’s back, reeling from an ugly divorce. Readjusting to small-town life is harder than Claire expected, so she’s surprised, and grateful, to find companionship in Willow, an abused Thoroughbred mare. Willow is Claire’s “whisper horse,” and they share a special, rare bond. Except Willow isn’t the only one helping Claire heal; Willow’s ruggedly handsome veterinarian, Dr. Tim Arbuckle, is soothing…and secretive.
Devastated by his wife’s death, Tim thought he’d never find love again. The stoic, sexy doctor was sure he’d left his heart behind when he came to Sanctuary. But Claire stirs up emotions he thought he’d buried long ago. For the first time, the doctor can see past his grief…until Willow falls gravely ill. Tim and Claire must save Willow’s life and, surrounded by the expansive mountains of West Virginia, find a love so encompassing and intense, their lives will never be the same again.
“Like slipping into a warm bath, Herkness eases readers into her story. She’s spot-on when it comes to tugging at the heartstrings, and the vibrant setting of the West Virginia mountains is perfect for characters who will haunt readers long after the last page is turned. Animal lovers will be especially delighted.”
–Jaime A. Geraldi, RT Book Reviews
Thank you for that lovely tour, Nancy. I love your garret office!
Now on to the giveaway. Nancy is offering an autographed copy of any one of her three backlist books: A Bridge to Love, Shower of Stars, or Music of the Night, winner’s choice. All you need do for a chance to win is leave a comment for Nancy below.
And her YA/new adult paranormal historical covers are pretty awesome too!
Take it away, C.J. Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Norah. I’m a little bit embarrassed to reveal the state of my office. I considered tidying up, but then I thought it would be a misrepresentation of how I work. So here it is, warts and all: My desk is covered in notes, books, pens, photos, and general stuff. The bundle of books tied up in a red ribbon are to be posted off to the Australian Romance Readers Convention where they’ll be a lucky door prize. My white board on the wall to the right is where I write my schedule and plot books. There are also some awards on the wall and the green framed one on the desk near the lamp is the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Award which I won in 2008 for the manuscript that went on to be released as HONOR BOUND.
My office bookshelves are filled with the non-fiction books I use for research as well as family photo albums and some copies of my own books. I recently did a big clean out. I owned too many books and I knew I’d never read them again, so they had to go. I have another, smaller bookshelf out on the landing:
I like to edit on paper, not only because I catch more mistakes this way, but also because I can do it away from the desk. Most of the time I’ll sit in this chair on the landing just outside my office. The chair used to belong to my Nan who died last year aged 100, hence the old-fashioned floral covering. She sat in this chair every day in her sunroom, and it reminds me so much of her.
There you have it. The good and bad. Looking back through the Workspace Wednesday posts by other authors, I’ve decided my office needs a makeover and I’ve now got some great ideas! But I’ll keep Nan’s chair just the way it is. Thank you, C.J. Loved the tour! I also love your desk facing out the window like that. Mine faces a window, too. I’d love to know what kind of view you have from there. (And I hope it’s more remarkable than mine, which is the street and my neighbors’ houses. But I do get to see the sun set every night from my chair!) And of course, you Nan’s chair. It’s beautiful, and made even more so by the memories. To learn more about C.J., check her out here:
He’s dark and dangerous…and she can’t stay away… Seven years have passed since Rafe Fletcher fled London. Now he has returned to make amends, only to find his brother, James, bound for debtors’ prison. Unable to clear James’s debts, Rafe does the next best thing, promising to watch over his brother’s betrothed in his absence. There’s just one problem: the shy, sweet girl he once knew has grown into an alluring young woman—one who wants absolutely nothing to do with a man like him. Lizzy Croft isn’t fooled by Rafe’s dark good looks; she remembers all too well the hot-headed rogue he once was. But when Lizzy is framed for murder, she has no choice but to trust the man who once beat his brutish stepfather half to death, the man whose recent past is shrouded in mystery—the man who is slowly, inexorably winning her heart. Loving him would be the greatest risk of all…
**The 1st book in this series is FREE. Download THE MEDIUM for $0.00**
When ghosts begin to disappear from the Otherworld, Emily Chambers and her friends must hunt down those responsible before every last spirit, including Jacob Beaufort, is destroyed and Emily’s livelihood along with them. But there is one thing stopping them – Jacob’s killer. Weakened and fading fast, the ghost of Jacob Beaufort is determined to save Emily from a bleak and uncertain future. With her family facing financial ruin and the Otherworld in chaos, he knows her only hope is to wed Theo. As lives and afterlives hang in the balance, Emily is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice, or lose everything she loves. **The Emily Chambers Spirit Medium trilogy is a “new adult” series**
I am so happy to have with me today RWA Golden Heart® winner Caroline Fyffe. I first met Caroline on a indie author loop, where I was impressed by how pleasant, professional and talented she was. I was not a bit surprised when Montlake Romance acquired her wonderful historical western romances, making her a Montlake sister. Take it away, Caroline!
Hi! Happy Workspace Wednesday! Thanks, Norah, for having me here. I’m excited to share my world with you and your followers.
First, my desk, where I begin around 7 am, break for lunch and run on the treadmill, then resuming until 5 pm Don’t let the photo fool you! Usually, it’s pretty darn messy, but I did take some time today to straighten it up. What is cool, but I failed to get into the picture, is a big window in front of the desk. I have an awe-inspiring view of a forested area across the street.
Here you have Caroline’s Corner—as my husband likes to call it—where I go to read, meditate or plot. Sometimes my hubby sits here when I have something troubling me with my WIP and we brainstorm. I call him my ‘plotmeister’. He comes up with some unbelievably creative stuff and has given me several of my secondary storylines! It may look neat now, but I wished I’d opened the armoire to take a photo of the insides. It’s crammed full of writing books, craft manuals, signed novels from my author friends, whatnots and gizmos t’ boot. I love it and couldn’t live without it! It holds the mess that used to live on the floor, desktop, etc.
Some awards that keep me motivated. Whenever I’m in doubt, sure my story is the lamest thing going, I glance over at the wall to bolster my confidence.
When I need a mega dose of inspiration I try to get out and do something fun, different, challenging. Here I am with my 22-year-old son, spending the day at Natural Bridge. If you haven’t been there yet, be sure to visit sometime. It’s beautiful and looks just like the scenery in The Last of the Mohicans! (I love that movie!)
Thanks for letting me visit with you and your readers today, Norah! Love the idea of seeing authors in their workspace, as they create. Before I go, I’d like to ask a quick question. If money were no object, what is the one thing you’d most like to incorporate into your office? I’ll offer a $10 Starbucks Gift Card to one lucky commenter as a ‘Thank you’ for stopping by! For me, I’d love to have a floor to ceiling book shelf, the kind that needs a ladder to reach the top shelf!
Montana Dawn - Book One in The McCutcheon Family Series
Montana Territory, August 1883 – When Luke McCutcheon finds Faith Brown about to give birth in her rickety wagon, his first instincts are to ride for help. Instead, he stays and delivers a beautiful baby girl. Unable to leave the pretty young widow and her little son and newborn unprotected in the Montana wilderness, he brings them along on his family’s cattle drive, to the absolute delight of the other friendly cowboys.
Where the Wind Blows – A Prairie Hearts Novel
In the free and untamed Wild West, love might blossom in the most unexpected place…
When the man from the orphanage mistakes Chase Logan for Jessie Strong’s husband, the least Chase can do is help Jessie adopt the child she so desperately wants, the little girl who will be Jessie’s only family in the Wyoming wilderness. Three days are all she asks. Three days pretending to love a woman who is unlike any he has ever known…
Jessie knows it’s chivalry, plain and simple, that spurs Chase Logan to come to her rescue the day little Sarah arrives at her door. A man like him isn’t made for settling down; he is as wild as the land he roams. She should know better than to let down her guard, to allow herself to long for a family and a life with someone she hardly knows. And yet she dares to hope that maybe, just maybe, Chase Logan is the man destined to make all of her dreams come true.
Caroline can be found on the web here:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caroline.fyffe
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarolineFyffe
- Website: www.carolinefyffe.com
Thank you, Caroline! I loved the tour of your office, but I especially love the shot of you at your desk. Gorgeous! You could use that as a publicity photo!
As for your question, I’ll play – What I’d love to see in my office is an assistant. LOL!
Okay, folks, let’s hear your answer to Caroline’s question. From you comments, we will randomly choose a winner for the covered $10 Starbucks Gift Certificate.
I met Kim Law when we became sister Montlake authors. Besides being a total sweetheart, Kim is a very talented writer. A multiple Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, she won her category (contemporary series) in 2009.
Take it away, Kim!
Welcome, welcome to my lovely (messy) office. And thank you for having me on Workspace Wednesday, Norah! I LOVE seeing other people’s workspaces so I’m thrilled to hang out and show you mine. I just wish I could show you what’s in my mind for my workspace instead of what is in actuality. But alas, since I’m currently stuck with it as is, I figured you all should be too!
First, here’s a view from the door. So many of my favorite things! For example, the purple futon. I love purple. Not sure if you can tell, but the walls are a light purple, the curtains are clearly purple, so yes, the futon had to be purple, too. I sit there to write on my laptop sometimes. When I’m drafting, most of the time I do it away from the desktop, so it’s either the futon, my treadmill desk, or propped up in my bed. Those little pillows on the futon are what I use to shove behind my back to keep me sitting up straight-ish so I can actually stand upright when I get up (yes, back issues. *sigh*)
There’s also a mostly full bookshelf to the left with random piles of crap on top, the white board for brainstorming plots (LOVE!!!!) and the mini-fridge hiding in the corner. The fridge contains my…rewards, I’ll say. Mint chocolate M&M’s in the freezer area, and the occasional bottle of wine or two down below. The stuffed animals all came from the husband. The white bear when my very first story got published in a small magazine, and the kissing bears beside it…well, because they kiss. Every romance writer needs kissing bears for inspiration, right?
Next is the wall on the opposite side of the room. It currently holds the book I just turned in. I plot out my books in a similar but condensed fashion in Excel, but sometimes when I’m struggling in the middle of the story, I need to see the whole big picture, so this was created a couple weeks ago to help me figure out where I needed to weave a bit more of the threads into my story. Behind it is the closet where I’m soon going to install shelving and organized storage space. It’s going to be awesome!! It’s currently a mess. I won’t show you.
You’ll also see part of a framed poster behind the right section of the pretty sticky notes. I asked the husband to get this for me for Christmas the year I started writing. It’s a lighthouse entitled VISION, and says: We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by every passing ship. I wholeheartedly agree with this! Do not worry about everybody else, or compare yourselves to them. Figure out what you want and make your path and go get it! In front of the poster is my basket of receipts for 2012 taxes. Yeah, I’m behind in getting those organized.
Next is my desk. And no, sorry, I didn’t clean it up for this visit. This is pretty much how it typically looks when I’m writing. To the left are spreadsheets and notes on the story I’m working on (along with misc receipts my husband gave me to log yesterday), my many pads of sticky notes, and a pencil cup you can just barely see that reads “My Spreadsheets Kick Ass.” A plotter friend of mine (who totally gets my need to spreadsheet everything) got it for me. On the right is the arm band I sometimes wear for my “mouse” (i.e. tennis) elbow. And if you’ll notice my mouse, it’s on a little shelf above the keypad of my keyboard. This is much better for you elbow and shoulder than having the mouse out to the side. Trust me. Three months of physical therapy on the elbow is not fun. Also, note the monitor sitting up on that pretty round box. It was the perfect size to make the top of the monitor even with my eyes. This helps to keep from overstraining the neck. I’ve already had issues and I figure I’m going to be doing this for years to come, so I had to make some adjustments!
And finally, the messy corner. The shelves hold how-to and reference books, articles I’ve collected for ideas, and printouts and notes from workshops I’ve taken. And a shelf of wine glasses. If you were a Harlequin book club person in the mid nineties, you likely got a lot of those purple wineglasses too. Since they’re purple, they are in my room. J I also have a coffee mug on that top shelf representative of my 2009 Golden Heart group of finalists. We’re the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood. It’s the black mug with the red high-heeled shoe on it.
In the floor is an odd assorted of writing related things that need to be filed/stored somewhere, but that I just haven’t gotten around to doing yet. There’s also a really old typewriter because I think they’re cool so my mother-in-law gave that to me. Again, I haven’t found a good place for it, so it goes in the corner.
And if you want to see my treadmill desk (which is in another room), here’s a shot. I have a monitor mounted on the wall (I don’t want to strain my neck by looking down at a laptop all the time), I built a custom desk to fit across the handles, and I have a shelf on the wall to the right that holds another computer. Yes, that make three different computers that I may use at any given time to write. Also, there’s a timer to the left of my keyboard. I can’t edit very well on the treadmill, so I try to use that time only to vomit out words. The timer helps me to stay focused and do this better.
And that’s it! Hopefully within the next month or two a lot of those piles will magically disappear and the space behind those closet doors will become a personal little organized heaven.
Today I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner! Thank you all for stopping by, and thanks again for having me, Norah!
Sugar Springs is book one in my small-town contemporary series that released from Montlake on December 24th. It’s also my 2009 Golden Heart winner, so I’m really stoked to finally see this one out there!
Lee Ann London thought she’d seen the last of Cody Dalton when he hit the road years ago. Now he’s back and looking to make amends…and he just might find the family he never knew he wanted.
Caught on Camera is a sexy contemporary, and was my debut novel. Don’t you just love that cover?!?! Also note that this book is currently on sale for only $1.99 for the Kindle version!
When a beautiful videographer haunted by scandal catches the eye of a handsome and charismatic politician, she must choose between continuing to play it safe and finally taking a chance on love.
Thank you for the tour, Kim. That was awesome! Also awesome? Those covers! I especially love the Sugar Springs cover. It’s so warm and inviting. I can almost hear the crickets singing. But Caught on Camera blows me away too, in a totally different way.
By the way, congratulations on having Caught on Camera selected to be part of the 100 under $3.99 January promo at Amazon! With that special $1.99 pricing and that cover, it’s going to be FLYING off the cyber-shelves!
Before I turn it over to comments, I’ll just give you some of Kim’s coordinates, so you can get to know her a little better.
- Kim’s Website
- Kim’s Author Page on Facebook
- Kim’s Twitter
- Kim’s Author Profile on Goodreads
- Kim’s Author Page on Amazon
Okay, on to our giveaway! Comment for a chance to win Kim’s $10 Amazon gift certificate.
I’m very happy to welcome fellow-Noodler (aka RWA Golden Heart® finalist, class of 2003) Lee McKenzie. Lee is a fellow Canadian and a truly strong and fascinating woman. She lives with her artist/teacher husband on an island in the Pacific Northwest, and writes smart, wonderful, heartwarming stories for Harlequin American. Lee has lots of pictures for us, so let’s get right to it!
Thank you, Norah, for hosting me on Workspace Wednesday, and welcome everyone to my office. Yes, I tidied up for you. I always tidy up before guests arrive, and you are no exception. When I’m on deadline or busy with other things, my space tends to get a bit disorganized. Okay, a lot. But every once in a while I need to spend a day getting reorganized because the mess drives me crazy.
My office hasn’t always looked like this, but I’m too embarrassed to show the “before” photos. Trust me, though, it was bad, because five years ago I had surgery for recurrent melanoma followed by a year of chemo. Pretty much everything, including writing, was put on hold. My office became a dumping ground for all the stuff I didn’t have time and energy to deal with, and that was made worse by towering floor-to-ceiling shelves, overstuffed filing cabinets, boxes of junk and…well, I’m sure you get the picture.
Last year it was still an overwhelming mess, so I bit the bullet and hired Chaos to Calm, a home organizing company owned by sisters Jess and Jen. And let me tell you, those two gals are worth their weight in gold.
And here’s what my office looks like now.
The too-tall shelves that overwhelmed the space…and me…have been replaced by nice low ones. It turns out that I’m a piler, not a filer, but I don’t like piles so I’ve opted for labelled storage boxes instead.
Organizing my office and trying to keep it tidy lets me enjoy the things that are really special to me. My two RWA chapters authors give a silk rose every time they sell a book, and I love my bouquet! Yes, those are dinosaurs on one of the shelves, and the red Vespa in the print on the wall is just like the one the heroine in The Wedding Bargain rode.
I don’t write at this desk but I do use the computer for email, printing manuscripts, etc. This is also a handy place to keep other special mementos, like the little (now empty!) bottle of bubbly on the top shelf. I bought it the day I got “the call.”
This desk is also home to my “inspiration shelf” where I keep copies of my books and other little odds and ends that tie in to the stories I’ve written. And of course there are polka dots. I love polka dots!
My office used to be a bedroom, so I have the luxury of a generously sized storage closet. A very handy place to store office supplies and bins of author copies.
My writing corner is my favorite part of the room, and as you can see by the scratching post, I share it with my two cats. All of my writing is done on my laptop, and the armchair makes a nice cozy writing space.
My inspiration was this green Harlequin Wing Chair from McKenzie-Childs.
Sadly, it didn’t fit in my budget…and trust me, I crunched the numbers!
So I created my own.
The old wingback chair was given to me and I slip-covered it in a nice, calming sage green. The ottoman and side table were thrift-store finds, and I made the cushions (McCall’s 4410) from fabric remnants. It can’t compete with my dream chair, but it works, and at a fraction of the cost.
On the wall next to my writing chair I’ve created my own little “wall of fame.” My book covers and posters from the three years when I was a Golden Heart finalist are block-mounted, and I’ve also added the “first sale” plaques presented to me by my two RWA chapters. Yes, I know this makes me look like a total egomaniac! But I’m usually the only person who sees it, and it inspires me.
Thank you so much for stopping by to visit my workspace, which, I’m happy to say, is now a lovely place to work. I’m not sure where my other cat is, but Lucy and I hope you enjoyed the tour.
Today I’m giving away a signed copy of the first book in my Seattle-set Ready Set Sold series about three women who run a real estate business that renovates, stages and sells homes. Samantha, the company’s carpenter and all-round handywoman, is the heroine in The Christmas Secret (Harlequin American Romance, November 2011).
The Daddy Project is Kristi’s story. She’s the company’s interior decorator, and this book is on shelves now!
Claire is the company’s Realtor and her story, Daddy, Unexpectedly, is a May 2013 release and now available for pre-order.
I’m thrilled that Maggie’s Way (Harlequin Heartwarming) will also be out in May 2013.
Leave a comment to be eligible for win a copy of The Christmas Secret, a secret baby story with a twist. And for a little extra incentive, if you go to my website and sign up for my monthly eNewsletter, your name will be entered twice!
Thank you, Norah! Merry Christmas to you all, and happy reading!
Thank you, Lee! That was an awesome tour. And as always, you are an inspiration!
If you’d like to read more about Lee, she’s actually interviewed today at Get Lost in a Story.
But before you go, don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a signed copy of The Christmas Secret.
Some days, I can’t help but think I have the best job in the world, and not just because I get to make up stories! I also get to meet some very cool people. One of those awesome people is Vanessa Kelly. I got to know Vanessa when I was invited to join Rock*It Reads, of which she is a founding member. I can’t tell you how much respect and affection I have developed for her in the short time I’ve been with RIR. Take it away, Vanessa!
Hi, Norah! Thanks so much for having me on Workspace Wednesday. The first thing I did, naturally, was go on and look at some of the swell spaces you’ve highlighted. Gave me some great organizing ideas! For me, organization is critical because I work out of two offices. Most of the year I live in a condo in Ottawa with my hubby, but I’m lucky enough to spend the winter in Florida, in a bungalow on a small but very beautiful lake.
Not surprisingly, my Ottawa office is the best supplied and holds most of my books and writing resources, because that’s where I spend most of the year. Here’s a picture of the custom-designed bookcase for all my research books and materials.
The desk that you see in that photo, however, is not mine. It’s my husband Randy’s workspace. He’s my co-writer for my VK Sykes contemporary romance books. If you want to see how closely we work together, check out this picture.
That’s my desk chair on the right. Pretty darn close, I’d say! In fact, we bump into each other on a regular basis. Because we live in a condo with limited space, we had to put a lot of time into thinking about how the office would work. Now here’s a picture of my desk.
Notice the Obus form cushion on my chair—like many writers, my back can often give me problems, so a really good chair and good posture is essential. But on bad back days I usually move out to a big leather armchair in the living room. I plop my Alphasmart on my little lap desk and write away. It’s a good break from sitting at the desk and often seems to fuel my creativity. It’s amazing how changing one’s environment, even just a little bit, can help the muse break out of her box.
Here’s the final picture from my Ottawa office, showing more of our custom built cabinets and bookshelves. I’ve also got some awards posted on the wall, and you can also see that this corner is where I stack author copies, manuscripts, and other supplies I need within reach.
As you can see, my Ottawa office is pretty tight but I think it’s well designed and very functional. As much as I love spending winters in Florida, I do miss my office while we’re gone. But Florida has its compensations too, starting with this view out my back door.
The real advantage of my Florida office space is that I have more room to spread out, which is kind of funny because I don’t have nearly as much stuff here as I do in Ottawa. But it’s still a pleasure to have the extra space.
Notice the swell built-in drawers and cabinets from the previous owner of the house. That is a very handy feature for someone who has a lot of crap to organize!
Here’s a close up of my workspace.
See that white kitchen timer by my keyboard? I set that at fifteen minute intervals to remind myself to get up and walk around. Bad back, remember?
One of the things I also appreciate about my Florida office is where it’s located—the kitchen. I love being in the kitchen. It’s warm and cozy, and it only takes a second to get up and make myself a cup of tea and coffee. Of course, it also means I’m way too close to all the food and the fridge, so I have to exercise some much-needed restraint.
And, no, I’m not going to post a picture of my kitchen, because I still haven’t done the breakfast dishes!
Vanessa Kelly was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Vanessa also writes contemporary romance with her husband under the name of V.K. Sykes. You can find her on the web at www.vanessakellyauthor.com or at www.vksykes.com.
Thank you, Vanessa. That was awesome. And I’m so jealous! I’d like to try to write on that dock.
If you want to know more about Vanessa, visit her at one of these sites:
Check out her current books:
When Major Lucas Stanton inherited his earldom, he never dreamed his property would include the previous earl’s granddaughter. Phoebe Linville is a sparkling American beauty, yes, but with a talent for getting into trouble. Witness the compromising position that forced them into wedlock. Whisked away to Mistletoe Manor, his country estate, it isn’t long before she is challenging his rules—and surprising him in and out of bed…
Phoebe has no intention of bowing to Lucas’s stubbornness even though he offers all that she wants. His kisses and unexpected warmth are enticing, but Phoebe is determined to show the Earl of Merritt what real love is all about. And if that takes twelve nights of delicious seduction by a roaring fire, she’s more than willing to reveal her gifts very slowly…
Sports journalist Martha Winston loves her career, but her life goes sideways when she inherits a pro soccer team from her father. The team is almost bankrupt and on the skids, but Martha has vowed to save her beloved father’s legacy. But she needs to get a financial infusion fast, or else lose the team to the wolves baying at her door.
Former British soccer hero Tony Branch wants to add Martha’s team to his growing sports empire. But he wants it strictly on his terms—full control, not a partnership. When Martha turns him down flat, he’s determined to change her mind by any means necessary. If that includes using the sexual heat flaring between them, Tony is more than willing to play a game of seduction.
Okay, that brings us to the fun stuff – the giveaway! Leave a comment for Vanessa for a chance to win one of two prizes. She’ll be giving away a signed copy of His Mistletoe Bride to one winner, and an ebook copy of Bigger than Beckham to another.
I am so happy to have Diane Gaston as my guest today on Workspace Wednesday. Diane is a fellow Noodler, aka a member of the Wet Noodle Posse, aka the RWA Golden Heart® finalists of 2003. I met her in person for the first time in 2004 when I attended my first RWA National Conference in Dallas, Texas. The largest conference I’d attended prior to that was the New England chapter’s event. There were more romance writers in that Dallas hotel that week than live in the New Brunswick parish where I grew up. I’d just had my first novel published and met my editor for the first time. To say I was a little overwhelmed and feeling out of my depth is an understatement. Of course, Diane was incredibly kind and gracious. making me feel less conspicuously awkward. And in the intervening years since then, I’ve seen her do it countless times again, for all kinds of people, in person and in electronic forums. She is a truly lovely person. She is also an extremely talented, RITA-winning writer, and her historical romances are a very special treat.
With that introduction, I’ll turn you over to Diane.
DIANE GASTON: Before writing this, I looked back at previous Workspace Wednesday blogs. Oh dear….Just as I feared. Almost everybody showed these beautiful office spaces, perfectly organized, creatively decorated with lots of Feng Shui. This is so not my workspace.
The truth is, my workspace is wherever I want it to be.
I realized long ago that I enjoy writing the best when I am not shut away in an office. I like being in the thick of things so that I can see, hear, and respond to what is going on. It is the way I adapted so that writing did not take me away from my family, so I could always know when someone needed or wanted my attention.
Lately I’ve been writing in our den. My dh who works at home two days a week, works in the same room. That can be nice or distracting, depending on my powers of focus. The den is in the middle of everything. Anyone who comes in the house passes through the den.
I write on an MacBook Air, which I LOVE, and sit on a recliner loveseat using the foot rest as a desk sometimes. My research books sit next to me. Occasionally I also have a cat sitting next to me. Or on me. Behind me is a printer in a nook that is more “office” than den and deserves to be hidden from view.
I like writing in our den because it looks out onto our deck to the woods beyond. I live in the Washington, DC, suburbs, the epitome of suburbia, but the patch of woods behind my house gives the illusion of wilderness–except in late fall and winter when the townhouses behind peek through. There is a bird feeder on our deck that brings lots of visitors. Red cardinals. Blue Jays. Chickadees. Even woodpeckers, who peck on our chimney in the spring, sounding like machine guns. We also have squirrels, chipmunks, foxes, opossums, deer and raccoons. In suburbia.
From where I sit in the den, I also have in view my most valued writing awards. If that isn’t inspiration, I don’t know what is! From left to right is a RITA, a Golden Quill, a National Readers Choice Award. The crystal in front is my Washington Romance Writers Nancy Richards-Akers Mentoring Award, one I particularly treasure.
Hanging beneath the award shelf is an antique ink drawing I bought that I swear is Lord Byron, another treasure, another writing inspiration.
Sometimes I need a change of scenery when I write. So I move into the living room. This is perhaps my favorite room in the house. It has furniture and decor from my family and my husband’s and is filled with beautiful memories. Here’s the view from my writing chair in the living room. The figurines on each end belonged to my mother, the clock to my aunt, and the others were ones I purchased.
Besides my very comfortable working spaces in the den and living room, I also have a “Book Room.” I can’t call it an office because there is no place to work in there, but it is where I keep my ever growing collection of research books and other writing-related stuff. I have over 700 research books on the shelves and keep my backlist books in plastic bins. When I am in the throes of writing, this space looks like I belong on an episode of Hoarders.
Please believe me, the rest of my house looks adequately neat and clean. This room never gets as neat as other parts of the house, but it usually looks better. Like this.
At least you can see the carpet and I can reach my books without climbing over stuff.
The brown box on top of the plastic bins contains my latest book, Born To Scandal, in bookstores now and due to be released as an ebook December 1. Born to Scandal is my homage to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. It is the story of a governess and a lord, complete with secrets and betrayal.
Lord Brentmore–half Irish peasant, half English aristocrat–grew up under a cloud of scandal. Even money and a title aren’t enough to stay the wagging tongues of the Ton. But he’s vowed that his children will never experience the same stigma.
After the death of their infamous mother they need a reputable governess. Anna Hill is too passionate, too alluring, but she fills Brentmore Hall with light and laughter again–and its master with feelings he’d forgotten.
But a lord marrying a governess would be the biggest scandal of all!
Learn more at my website.
To celebrate the release of Born to Scandal, I’m giving away a signed copy to one lucky commenter here. Just be sure to leave your email address.
Now it’s time to ‘fess up. Do you have a room or closet that sometimes looks like you belong on Hoarders? (Or am I the only one….?)
I haven’t known Nancy Naigle long; I met her when she became a fellow Montlake Romance author. But frankly, it didn’t take long, even though the “getting to know you” stuff was all electronic. She’s very warm, funny and interesting. Just like her books! Since I’ve mentioned the Montlake connection, here’s Nancy’s current Montlake title, Sweet Tea and Secrets, which is charting very nicely in Romance > Series and Romance > Contemporary. Go, Nancy!
With that intro, here’s Nancy!
NANCY NAIGLE: Hey y’all, when Norah invited me to drop in and share my writing space I was so excited. Then, as I fell in love with each space Wednesday after Wednesday, I realized everyone else is way more organized (and neater) than I am!
I live in southern Virginia on a goat farm with my husband and two labs, so it’s probably no surprise that I write love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense.
My office is kind of like me – all over the place, and I learned a couple funny things about myself in looking at my office through these pictures. You’ll see what I mean here in a second.
For example, I never noticed until I took these pictures that it’s pretty darn clear that I’m right-handed. Notice the piles of stuff on the right end of my desk? Good thing I don’t work on a boat, I’d tip over for sure!
The dresser in the background is a white mahogany dresser that was my granddaddy’s. I couldn’t bear to part with it so I stained it to match my desk and cowboyed it up so it would fit in nicely with my décor. It’s filled with marketing stuff for my books. Giveaways, and tear sheets, you name it. And YES, that is goat hide on the bottom three drawers of that chest of drawers. I also used my dremel to carve brands into the sides of it. It was a really fun project.
I treated myself to the Pottery Barn desk six years ago and I love it today as much as the day I realized I had to have it. The huge desk top gives me lot of room for stuff, and I usually have lots of notes and lists all around me.
The funny thing is I never realized how close to the edge, even hanging off my desk, I work until I took these pictures. I guess maybe that desk isn’t quite as big as I’d really like it to be. And yes, the little stool under the desk is so my feet have somewhere to land. I’m a shorty-girl.
A cool tool: Earlier this year I discovered these adorable cherry bleachers at Levenger.com. It’s one of my favorite websites to window shop. As you can see, it gives me a chance to scribble notes on cards and pop them into the bleachers to help keep myself on track as I work on my book.
These Kathy Ireland bookshelves neatened up my act considerably earlier this year. It’s been great to have twelve running feet to store all my favorites (see Mary Alice Monroe’s book face out on the top left shelf) and craft books.
But there are some days when I really need to get down to work. When the words just aren’t coming, I swivel my office chair toward the window, kick it into recline position, and write with my laptop in my lap. Those always end up being super productive days. It must be a feng-shui thing because it doesn’t work unless I turn the chair toward the window.
The bottom line is as long as I have my laptop I can make it happen. I really like that flexibility.
I have two giveaways for readers. Just leave a comment below for a chance to win either:
- A $10 Amazon gift card; or
- A set of autographed Keeper Kase™ Cards. Don’t know what Keeper Kase™ cards are? Lordy goodness, check this out. http://www.nancynaigle.com/efans.htm
Thank you, Nancy, for that fun tour! I think you might win the prize for the most original piece of furniture with that “cowboyed up” dresser!
I also wanted to mention Nancy’s next Adams Grove Novel Out of Focus, coming in August 2013.
Okay, folks, you heard the lady. Let’s have some comments!
I am very pleased and honored to have Cynthia Eden as my Workspace Wednesday guest. Cynthia is a USA Today best-selling author of sexy paranormal romance, dark romantic suspense and young adult paranormal. (I’m trying not to go all fan-girl here, but having just finished Bleed for Me, a novella in the Loved by Gods series, it’s kinda hard!)
Take it away, Cynthia.
CYNTHIA EDEN: Happy Wednesday, everyone! And a big thanks to the wonderful Norah for having me over—I’m excited to share my workspace with you.
Some authors have truly fabulous offices. They are so well organized. So clean and perfect. Yes, ahem, I am not one of those authors. Though I did try to clean up my nook a bit for the picture. Here you go:
This is my main writing area. A computer and a view—that’s all I truly need. When I’m working on a tough scene, I’ll pause and let my gaze drift out of the window. I can get lost staring out of that window, then, when the scene clicks, my gaze snaps back to that computer, and it’s time for me to get back to work.
Do you see the lovely green decorations (AKA sticky notes) on my computer? That’s my method for keeping track of things that I MUST do—like, yesterday. Scenes that I need to add, posts that I need to write, dental appointments that I shouldn’t miss. See, I told you that I wasn’t one of those uber organized authors.
But I have my methods.
I like to keep things close by that make me smile—like Snoopy and my gargoyles.
Snoopy is a writer, too, so he understands how easy it is to get stuck in a scene… “It was a dark and stormy night…” When I look at Snoopy, he makes me smile. My gargoyles (See no evil, Hear no evil, and Speak no evil) also inspire me during the day. It’s the little things that can truly make me happy—and these guys make me feel comforted as I write.
Of course, what writing space is complete without books? And I’ve got lots of books…lots and lots of them.
My shelves overflow, but I think that’s a good thing.
I have research books, pleasure reading books, books for contests—I have all kinds of books on my shelves. You never know when you’ll need to research vampires or serial killers, so I believe in being well-stocked.
I also believe in keeping some fun adornments on my shelves. Spooky decorations aren’t just for Halloween at my house—I write about paranormal monsters and killers, so yes, those spooky decorations are on display year round.
And that’s it. My space. Where the writing magic happens (or at least—where I want that writing magic to happen!). Thank you for taking a look at my space. I hope you enjoyed the photos.
And, as a thank you for coming by, I’d like to give one commenter a $10 Amazon.com gift card. Just tell me…what books are on *your* shelves? One random commenter will be selected as the winner.
Thank you, Cynthia! I love your space, and adore that it isn’t perfectly tidy. Predictably, I love the built-in bookcase. I always love the built-in bookcase. Actually, after having seen so many romance authors’ writing caves, I’m beginning to think that the built in bookcase – preferably in white or antique white – is astonishingly universal. (Note to self: Explore significance of the prevalence of white bookcases in a future blog…)
Okay, before turning it over to comments, I wanted to share some contact information for Cynthia.
Cynthia’s Official Fan Page on Facebook
For other social media, or to check Cynthia out more closely, visit her blog.
Cynthia has a brand new book out — her first young adult paranormal. The Better to Bite is available for Kindle for the awesome price of $2.99. (Got mine.)
Adult paranormal more your thing? The newest installment in her Kensington Brava The Fallen series Angel in Chains is due out 11/27/12. Watch for it!