Archive for September, 2012

Author copies!

 

Look what the courier brought me!

 

 

 

Aren’t they gorgeous?

 

I had taken delivery of five boxes of self-published titles last week, which was extremely satisfying. But in that case, I’d already seen proofs of all but one of the books. With the Montlake title, I got my first look at these puppies when I tore the box open. There’s nothing cooler! Well, apart from being presented with your actual baby. 🙂

 

Speaking of those self-published titles, here are the pics I took last week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am feeling very rich of books, if lighter of purse.

 

 

Workspace Wednesday welcomes Aithne Jaretta

 

Today I’m pleased to have Aithne Jaretta as my guest, sharing her workspace. I met Aithne through Indie Romance Ink, a terrific Yahoo Groups information exchange loop for indie authors. In a group of over 1200 people, it can be easy to be invisible, but Aithne has the kind of quirkiness I gravitate to.

 

BIO:  Once upon a time Aithne Jarretta tripped upon a ley line. Actually it had happened before, but she didn’t realize the ramifications until later. She brushed the incident aside and climbed into her car. Real life was the important factor at the moment. However, those RL moments wove into meeting new friends–the kind most people never see and definitely don’t chat much about. Those friends came with persistent voices. Eventually Aithne brought them out of the closet and politely called them Muses. They became her virtual traveling companions and still journey with her today.

 

 

Take it away, Aithne.

 

AITHNE: Thank you, Norah for inviting me to post on your blog about my writing workspace. 😉

 

First, I should mention that when I moved into this room last spring everything remained bare minimum for several months. That’s because I wanted to grow into my new workspace and let it evolve around me.

 

In the beginning I was comfortable with that. 😉 The more time that I spent here made the space mine and finally one day I brought my first extra item in and placed it on my desk.

 

 

 

 

 

The picture of my youthful mother (small frame on left) has always fascinated my heart because it was taken before her children were born. I’m the youngest of five so it was a long time after that picture was taken before I came into this world.

 

Another reason that particular picture made it here is my avid interest in the lives of mothers and daughters. You could say that my mother is a ‘plot bunny’ because I’ve used the unspoken life experiences between m & d as part of my story building.

 

If you move attention slightly to your right and notice the books under my monitor, you’ll discover two very old dictionaries and a history book by Dr. Arnold Toynbee. Perhaps all that wisdom and knowledge will seep into my computer? Lol … I can only hope. I do wonder what Dr. Toynbee, a noted historian, 1889-1975, would think about being a pedestal for a modern day computer monitor. (Less strain on the neck having it so high = better brain flow… here I come, Toynbee!)

 

Next, is the boss at my desk. My grandson Chace inspires my heart with his gentle face and sweet smile. I live far away from him and only see him once a year. I guess that’s one of the reasons I’ve surrounded myself with family items.

 

The pencil holder was my mom’s. I inherited it in 1998 and like to think it’s a one of a kind artifact. (Someday it’ll work its way into a story line.)

 

Although I’ve had these items for years, the computer monitor and my whole set up comes from my son Jeremy. It’s only recently that I learned to make a folder of my book covers, store them on Dropbox, and attach them to my monitor so that I have a slideshow of my work. It’s a cool element for those times I sit and write story ideas and lines longhand. Inspiration swishing by. (That’s my latest release on the monitor.)

 

Last but not least you can see the small paperweight on the right. It’s a heart shaped goldstone. It’s there next to my keyboard and mouse because in my current wip it plays an important magical role.

 

Speaking of magical roles…

 

 

The picture Midsummer Eve (Edward Robert Hughes) has always inspired me with its faeries and youthful redheaded girl. If this workspace was meant for an author focusing on magical and paranormal elements this image had to be added. So, I took it down from the dining room and brought it in. lol There’s still a bare wall in the other room.

 

The other gold frame is another important bit of family history. On the left is a faded picture of my Great Granny Goode and her daughter, Granny S. (Another mother & daughter connection.)

 

Somewhere in here we needed a father and daughter. Naturally, that’s my dad and I Christmas 1983.

 

The great pumpkin grins with delight. My oldest son Bryan and his wife Amanda made the pumpkin last year. Do I need to admit that it doesn’t live in storage the rest of the year? I didn’t think so.

 

I’ve saved the sewing machine for last because it’s a prime example of using what we have and writing what you know. This sewing machine (the one doing an imitation of a console table in the picture above) made an important story element come to life in Enchanted Ravensong: Charmed Evermore. When the plot line called for a special security combination several personal items came into play and the pedal that makes the machine run was the key. It was so much fun to write!

 

Having little bits of my family around me while I work gives my workspace a feeling of comfort that feeds the imagination. Since writers spend so much time in front of their computers, we should each focus on our individual things we believe are important.

 

Thank you again, Norah. Hope you have a magical week!

 

That was very cool, Aithne! Thank you!

 

If you want to learn more about Aithne, you can check her out here:

Aithne Jarretta Website

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

 

Okay, after looking at all those lovely heirlooms Aithne surrounds herself with, our contest question presented itself. Tell us what your favorite family heirloom is and you’ll be entered for a chance to win Aithne’s Enchanted Ravensong. But everyone’s a winner today, because Aithne has also made Pearl Luster, a short story in her Touch Time & Soar mini-series, free on Amazon.com for the day.

 

So let the commenting begin! What is your favorite family heirloom?

 

I think I’ve been adopted … by my cat

 

My new cat, a stray that my daughter (aptly) named Ruckus, has taken to spending time on my desk when I’m the only one in the house. Much of the time, she just lies beside my monitor, out of the way. Sort of. But when she wants attention, she moves directly in front of me. Like this:

 

 

 

Or this:

 

 

But last night, she stood on the edge of my desk, leapt her front paws onto my shoulder and rubbed her face up and down my face. She then leapt right onto my right shoulder, went around behind my neck and hopped back onto the desk from the other side. I think she was claiming me.

 

She then started rolling around on my desk – back and forth, back and forth, until the inevitable happened. And I captured it on film.

 

Ruckus falling

 

 

Sorry to have to send you to YouTube to see it. WordPress keeps telling me the file is too big to upload. And oh, how I wish I’d been filming that from another angle so I could have seen the expression on her face! A face that reminds me of Snowball II, the kitty from The Simpsons. Also Snowball V, who looked exactly like Snowball II. LOL. We’ve only had Ruckus a few weeks, but she makes me laugh every day.

 

What’s the funniest thing your cat (or dog or hamster) has ever done?

 

 

 

 

Workspace Wednesday welcomes Joyce Lamb!

 

I am delighted to have as my guest today Joyce Lamb, award-winning author of romantic suspense novels. Joyce is also the curator of USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog, which is must-read material for romance novel lovers everywhere.

 

I met Joyce at the Romance Writers of America national conference in New York City in 2011. She was celebrating after just having won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for her book True Vision. My first impression was that she was extremely quick-witted, funny, warm, grounded and interesting. She also seemed to be genuinely interested in the people around her. Of course, at the time I didn’t realize that Joyce Lamb the author was also Joyce Lamb, intrepid reporter. She comes by that interest/curiosity naturally, I guess! I’m happy to say my initial impressions of Joyce proved true, and then some!

 

With that intro, here’s Joyce.

 

 

JOYCE:  Thanks for having me, Norah! I’m thrilled to be here. : )

 

Exploring my workspaces for this post was eye-opening. I had no idea that I actually work all over the place!

 

 

The sofa is where I do a lot of my writing, but while I am indeed sitting right in front of the TV, it’s not on when I’m writing. Too distracting! Especially if a show on The Animal Planet about cute puppies or kittens comes on. Instead, I have my iPod Touch docked and cycling through four seasons’ worth of Battlestar Galactica soundtracks (the version revived in 2004, not the one from the late ’70s). Composer Bear McCreary is a master at creating tension, and the tone of the music is perfect for writing romantic suspense.

 

As you can see from the quilt draped over the back of the sofa, I’m helped along by Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. I love Tigger! The wonderful thing about Tigger …

 

 

I also have a home office, for when I’m feeling the need to behave like a professional writer. Best desk chair ever! I feel very “executive” when I’m sitting in it – just not nearly as rich. And it’s perfect for one of my kitties, Maddy, who likes to perch on the back. She’s only fallen onto the back of my neck twice.

 

 

Sitting on my desk is my pink Safe Sex Monkey. (And, yes, that is indeed a shameful plug for my books sitting right next to SSM.) The story behind SSM: Fellow writer friend Diane Amos, author of the fabulously funny Getting Personal (a $2.99 e-book!), has spent much time teasing me about the “wild monkey sex” in my books. Several years ago, she sent me the pink monkey with condom in paw as a joke (which my mother quite enjoyed when I opened the package while she was visiting). Now, SSM sits on my desk to remind me to make sure my characters always have safe sex. : )

 

 

I also have workspace at USA Today, where I work on the Happy Ever After blog devoted to all things romance novels (happyeverafter.usatoday.com). As you can tell, I have some toys on my desk – I wouldn’t be a real copy editor if I didn’t. So I enjoy my Mr. Potato Head (at right) as well as my Tickle Me Elmo key chain, which giggles REALLY loudly, much to the consternation of some of my co-workers. What you can’t see on my desk is that to the right, there’s a TV. Yes, it’s true. I have a TV on my desk at work. It’s rarely on, but it’s actually quite necessary at those times when breaking news is happening. The last time it was on was during the Super Bowl in February, because USA Today does a huge thing about the ads that play during the Big Game. So I got paid to watch TV during the Super Bowl. Kinda cool!

 

You might also think from what you can see of the background in this photo that the USA Today newsroom looks as though it was decorated by IKEA. And you would be right.

 

 

One of the favorite things on my desk at work is a book called Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog. I prop the book open to different pages, but this one here is my favorite, because it looks as though Boo is lounging on a chaise lounge in a very “come hither” pose. Very romantic! When things at work get stressful – and they do often, considering it’s the news business – I have Boo to turn to to make me smile. Boo never fails me!

 

Do you have any toys or stress relievers on your desk at home or at work?

 

A commenter here will win a signed collection of my True trilogy, which includes 2011 Daphne winner True Vision and 2012 RITA finalists True Colors and True Shot. (International commenters eligible, too!)

 

 

Thank you for that tour, Joyce. Why am I not surprised that I had a smile on my face all the way through it? Oh, and my stress reliever is a tiny bottle of essential oils (bergamot, grapefruit, orange and ginger) that I keep on my desk. When I think about it, I pop the cover off and and inhale.

 

Okay, before I turn it over to comments (and holy smokes, GREAT prize!), let me just pimp Flash Heat for you. It’s my current read on my Kindle.

 

 

You can connect with Joyce as follows:

 

Website

Facebook

Twitter

USA Today HEA Blog

USA Today HEA Twitter

 

Okay, let the commenting begin! Joyce’s question for you was, “Do you keep any toys or stress relievers on your desk at home or at work?”

 

Workspace Wednesday welcomes Bonnie Vanak

 

I am so happy to have Bonnie Vanak as my Workspace Wednesday guest today. I’ve long been a fan of Bonnie’s, and not just of her Khamsin Warriors of the Wind or her Draicon Wolves. Her work in aid of the poor in some of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere has earned my undying respect. Such work is not easy, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those people who do it. Thank you, Bonnie! And thank you for the amazing books, too!

 

With that introduction, I’ll turn you over to Bonnie.

 

 

 

BONNIE: It’s hard to write with a Shih Tzu on your lap.

 

 

As the owner of three rescue Shih Tzu dogs, I’ve learned to share my “office” while writing books. Because I work at a day job and I’m tied to a computer all day long, I prefer a laptop while writing my paranormal romance novels.

 

While my husband sits on the couch repairing model trains in his extensive collection or watching television, I write. But just because I have the laptop opened, it doesn’t mean the space is mine.

 

I’ve lost count of how many times the dogs have decided my lap is “their” space and have either walked over my computer to lick my face (Hey, pay attention to me!) or they have stubbornly climbed into my lap and refused to relinquish said space.

 

 

Prime real estate, they seem to say. We were here first. That machine must go.

 

Recently I was writing a steamy love scene for The Phantom Wolf, the next book in The Phoenix Force, a mini-series about Navy SEALS with paranormal powers. There I was, typing:

 

Kelly made a humming noise of pleasure deep in her throat and slid her hands around the thick muscles of his neck. He muttered something against her mouth and pulled her tight. She played with the fine strands of his hair, enjoying the silk slipping through her fingers… lost in the sensation of his mouth and …

 

Holly chose that moment to jump onto the couch, and park her butt firmly on the computer keyboard.  The love scene ended up looking like this:  dkfjkdjafdkajdfkdjfc.,xm vc

 

I have an office at home. It has a nice desk, a computer and it is organized and holds all my files. The dogs took that over, too. Every time I am in the office, they follow me and look up with pleading, big doggie eyes. So in order to work, I put them on the bed.

 

 

Not only do I work full-time, but my job also requires traveling to developing countries. After getting published in 2002, I learned to be flexible and make my office wherever they stamped my passport.

 

In Haiti, it was often the Hotel Montana (pictured here), where I always stayed while traveling for work. After spending a day in the field, interviewing poor people, I’d retire to the hotel and immerse myself into a world rich with Egyptian sheikhs or fierce werewolves protecting their mates.

 

 

Then came the horrific tragedy of the 2010 earthquake inHaiti, which destroyed the hotel and killed 200 guests. The months following the earthquake were spent in a frenzy of work at the day job, and trying to reconcile with the fact that the Haiti I had known was forever gone.

 

If not for a scheduling conflict, I would have been staying at the hotel during its collapse. That sobering realization changed my outlook on writing books when I travel to Haiti. Now I don’t open the laptop and become immersed in stories. There’s always a sense of tension that prohibits free-flowing creativity. I keep my shoes, clothing and emergency supplies like a flashlight and a bottle of water handy, just in case.

 

Because of the day job, the dogs and distractions, it’s nice to get out of town to focus on the book. I enjoy traveling to destinations where I can write in a mad frenzy. Just me, the laptop and my imagination.

 

My office becomes a kitchen table, a chair on a quiet porch overlooking the mountains, or the deck of a cabin in rural Tennessee.

 

Or a sofa in a ski lodge during the Christmas season (pictured here), where I wrote part of The Empath, my first paranormal romance for Harlequin. The inn became my inspiration for the lodge where Nicolas takes Maggie to join his pack.

 

 

The Covert Wolf, my new Nocturne about a Navy SEAL who is a werewolf, was partly written while renting a cabin in Colorado, immersed in how Matt and Sienna hunt for a magick orb they need to find before demons use it to destroy the world.

 

But no matter where in the world, I make my workspace, my primary office will always my home. It’s there where my husband is ready to support my writing, just as he did 12 years ago when he gave me a “magic wishing star” pendant to encourage me to follow my dream of becoming a published author. Home is where my heart is, where my imagination truly takes flight as my fingers fly over the keyboard to create worlds where brave Navy SEALS risk all for the women they love.

 

Home is my real workspace, be it the office, the couch, or the Florida room. When I travel, it’s always wonderful to return home.

 

And when I get there, I know the dogs will be waiting… to reclaim the lap again.

 

Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing your various writing spaces – and your furry “helpers” – with us!

 

In my introduction, I failed to mention Bonnie has one of the most amazing imaginations I have ever encountered. Try one of her Draicon wolves books and see if you don’t agree.

 

 

You can read more about Bonnie at her website. She’s tons of fun on her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

 

Now, it’s giveaway time! Bonnie is offering two signed copies of The Empath, the first book in her fascinating Draicon wolf series, for two lucky winners. All you need to do is comment on this post for a chance to win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workspace Wednesday welcomes Elisabeth Naughton

 

I’m loving Wednesdays more and more! Today it’s my privilege and pleasure to have as my Workspace Wednesday guest the lovely and talented Elisabeth Naughton. I’ve never met Elisabeth in person, but I’ve gotten to know her a bit from our cyber-paths crossing. Her online persona is just as warm, lovely and gracious as you might guess from her photo.

 

 

Okay, over to Elisabeth.

 

ELISABETH: I guess you could say I’m more concerned with how productive I am when I write than where I write.  Over the years I’ve discovered two things about my productivity: 1) I can’t work on a desktop. I need a laptop to be productive, and 2) I can edit just about anywhere, but when it comes to new writing, I can only be productive somewhere soft.

 

Below is a picture of my desk. Gorgeous, huh? I love it. Love how it’s built into a bay window, love the natural light from the window and the view. Unfortunately, it’s not soft. Which means I can do just about everything here—answer emails, do promo, even edit—but I can’t write here. Since I’ve developed neck issues from hunching over my laptop, my doctor (who is a D.O.) and I go around and around about this. But alas…gorgeous desk space, zero writing.

 

 

To the right is my bookshelf. Built-ins are awesome. We originally had this office designed for my hubby but I’ve since taken it over. I have lots of great places for my books, for my research materials, and plenty of storage space for all those office supplies so they’re tucked away from view. And when I’m working in here (on promo or marketing or mail-outs or emails or general office work), I’m highly productive. But again…no writing gets done here.

 

 

Where do I write then? Here, of course:

 

 

Yep, that’s my living room. I usually sit cross-legged on the couch with my laptop on my lap. Hence, the neck issues as I hunch over. If I can’t be productive in the living room, then I move here (yes, I’m nomadic):

 

 

This is my Lazy Boy recliner in our great room. I can only really work here when the house is silent, otherwise people are around me watching TV and generally just being noisy. (Notice the can of Diet Coke on the end table. Can’t write without that either.)

 

But, because I have three Gremlins (er, kids), if they’re in the house, I usually have to leave, which means searching for a coffeehouse that has…yep, you guessed it…couches or comfy chairs. Easier said than done. I think I’ve been to every coffeehouse in my area and have found only a couple spots that will work. But because I like to get up and down when writing and can’t sit for long periods of time, these aren’t always great solutions either. There’s also the issue of food. Why do coffeehouses ONLY serve pastries and coffee?

 

At the moment, I can’t wait until Panera Bread opens near my house in January. I’m hoping that will become my new office. Comfy chairs, wifi, QUIET, and yummy food. We’ll see how long it lasts.

 

If ONLY I could write at my desk!

 

Bio

A former junior high science teacher, Bestselling Author Elisabeth Naughton traded in her red pen and test tube set for a laptop and research books. She now writes sexy romantic adventures and hot paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards, including the prestigious RITA awards by Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, the Golden Leaf and the Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ballpark, or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Visit her on the web at www.ElisabethNaughton.com.

 

 

Thank you for that tour, Elisabeth. And oh my, I do love that red chair! But I totally fell in love with that desk in the bay window. I think I could make it work for me! LOL.

 

Okay, before we get to the giveaways (yes, plural!), I just want to put a plug in for Elisabeth’s wonderful books.

 

I so need to read her Eternal Guardians series from the beginning. Here’s the tagline for ENSLAVED (#5), the cover for which appears below:

 

GRYPHON—Honorable, loyal, dependable…tainted. He was the ultimate warrior before imprisonment in the Underworld changed him in ways he can’t ignore.

 

 

Prefer a Gladiator? All I had to read from the blurb for SLAVE TO PASSION (Firebrand #2) when it released last week was “Kill them all…”, and I clicked that One Click button. I have a feeling I’m going to be picturing the amazing  and much-missed Andy Whitfield as I read this one.

 

 

Okay, we promised a giveaway. Elisabeth is offering two prizes: FIRST PRIZE – an Advance Reading Copy of ENSLAVED,  which releases on November 6, 2012; and SECOND PRIZE – an ebook copy of SLAVE TO PASSION, Book 2 in Firebrand series, which is newly released.

 

For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment. Tell me what you liked best about Elisabeth’s workspace. Tell us your best advice for laptop-induced neck pain. Tell us what you love about Elisabeth and/or her stories. I will use Random.Org to generate the winners from the comments received.