Archive for January, 2013
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.