A Day in the Writing Life of … Sandra Harris

Welcome, Sandra and thank you for sharing a day in your writing life.

In one or two sentences, please tell us what genre you write in and what made you decide that particular one is your calling.     I write science fiction romance and paranormal romance. I’ve always been interested in the ‘not quite normal’ aspect of stories. 

What time of the day do you write?      I mostly write in the morning and if I don’t have anywhere to go it’s usually in my PJs until about 12. :)  I have an office filled with all things ‘Sandy’ where I usually edit at my desk computer. Sometimes for a change of scene I take my iPad into the dining room which has a lovely view that my muse seems to like.

What’s the first think you do before you begin to write?     Actually, maybe I do have a ritual. First thing in the morning after turning on my computer I check my emails then visit the blogs of writer friends. Only then do I dive into writing.

Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work?     If I’m editing I re-read quite a bit. I often consider editing like sweeping with a broom – you usually have to go over the same thing at least twice to pick everything up. If I’m writing I read however much is necessary to pick up the thread of the story and get in the scene.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?      I’m a pantster morphing into a plotter. :) I usually edit as I go and attempt to get my draft in as good a condition as possible. Then I go back and polish, polish, polish with the help of my CP.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?     Definitely visual aids. My fabulous CP has a great collection of worthy hero material, which I find invaluable in helping me nail down his character. I love watching David Attenborough’s “The Blue Planet”, there a so many inspiring places on our little corner of the Galaxy. I also have a couple of ‘crafty’ books which I fill with flow charts so I can progress the romance in a believable way and keep track of scenes.

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc and if so do you do any exercises at your desk or between sessions?     I take time out – or I should say my dog nags me for a walk, usually early afternoon. So we head for the nearby nature reserve armed with poop bags and water and while she has a grand time following wallaby spoor, I’ll mull over my character’s next move or current problem.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?     LOL, that would be telling. :) OK, I’m game. I have two coloured glass butterflies given to me by my best friend, a pink and grey enamelled, lily shaped candle snuffer given to me by my CP and a stuffed Punxsutawney Phil (from the movie Groundhog Day) from my husband.

What is your favourite form of procrastination?      Oddly enough, I usually don’t procrastinate. If I find my mind wandering it’s probably because I’ve been sitting for too long and my brain needs some oxygen. Then I get up and do some house chore (there never seems to be a dearth of those).

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?     Save my work and close my computer.

 For more information about Sandra, please visit her website : www.sandraharrisauthor.com

Day in the Writing Life of … Helen Lacey

Today we welcome, Helen Lacey who writes contemporary romance. Her first release, Made for Marriage, was released January 2012 and hit Australian shelves in June.

What time of the day do you write?     I write anytime really. I set hubby off to work in the morning and unless I have errands, to run try to write at least four hours during the day. This time includes blogging, Twitter time etc. We’re empty nesters and since I now write full time I am pretty flexible unless I’m on deadline. I also like to write at night and usually turn in around 11.

 Where do you write?     I have my own office which has a lovely big window and I can see the Pacific Ocean and my horses – so I feel very lucky. I’ve tried writing away from my office but haven’t had much success.

 Is there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?    Nope. I’m pretty low maintenance – just need my computer and my muse usually kicks in. I like to have music playing, something quiet and unobtrusive like Songs From A Secret Garden.

What’s the first think you do before you begin to write?     I usually re-read what I wrote the day before.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?     Panster. Panster. Panster. Did I tell you I was a panster? I edit as I go, and have a couple of fabulous crit partners who keep me on track.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time?     I write every day and aim for 1k.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?     Not really. I do a basic character chart in a notebook, write a short outline for my agent (because he despairs at my panstering ways) and start at Chapter One.

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc and if so do you do any exercises at your desk or between sessions?     I tend to my horses morning and afternoon. I put tools down at 3pm and usually don’t go back to it until around 7.30 (unless TV beckons). I always feel recharged after spending time with my horses and dogs.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?  Messy or neat?   Um . . . messy. But I have a great view! And the things on my desk – I usually have a cup of green tea on the go, a notepad, my ragdoll cat Oscar and my Dogue De Bordeaux Barney are never far away.

What is your favourite form of procrastination?     Procrastination is my old foe J When it comes to getting words of the page, some days are diamonds, some days are stones – but I don’t sweat the small stuff. I try to approach my work as a writer the same way I did in my job before I started writing full time. But during those times when the words won’t come I usually head outside and spend time with my horses, or maybe watch a chick flick or read a book.

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?     Backup! And make a note in my diary of how many words I managed for the day.

Web address – www.helenlacey.com

My next Harlequin Special Edition, Marriage Under The Mistletoe, is out in the US in November 2012.

Helen, thank you so much for sharing a day in your writing life. We wish you every success with your writing and your next release.

A Day in the Writing Life of … Cathryn Hein

Today on a Day in the Writing Life we welcome, Cathryn Hein, who writes Australian romantic fiction. Over to Cathryn.

Hi everyone and thanks for hosting me on the blog today.

What time of the day do you write?     Definitely morning. I usually start around 7am and work until around 3pm, but I’m most productive first thing. Everything feels fresher in the morning.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?     I started out as a complete pantser but with each book I’ve refined the process and now plot quite a bit. I don’t plot everything out, though. I find the thrill of discovery keeps the excitement going.

Although I’ve tried to break the habit I can’t stop editing as I write. It’s as if I can’t move on until the previous chapter is as perfect as I can make it at that point in time. The upside of the system is that my first drafts are extremely clean and usually only need a light run through to fix niggly things before they’re ready to send. The downside is that it’s not a very efficient way to work. At least, it doesn’t seem to be.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?     I would be lost without my whiteboards. I have three, each with a specific purpose, but the most important is my cheat-sheet whiteboard. It has all the characters listed with a brief description of each, plus animal and place names and anything important about them. It also tends to get smothered in sticky-note edit reminders and comments.

I also have my precious ‘bibles’ which are 120 page A4-sized notebooks containing all my plot and brainstorming notes, scene drafts, research, title and character names, family trees, pictures of characters and scenery – anything and everything to do with the book. Usually by the time I finish writing I’ll have filled at least two of these.

Do you give yourself any writing rewards for achieving goals?     Not usually. Although there’s an expensive bottle of champagne sitting in my fridge ready for when I finally hit ‘send’ on my current book. I’ll have earned that!

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc and if so do you do any exercises at your desk or between sessions?     Not as much as I should and I’ve had days where I’ve paid for my laxity with severe eye and/or wrist strain. But I did recently purchase some tennis balls to bounce around while brainstorming. This may yet prove a mistake. I’m pretty uncoordinated and bound to break something.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?     A glass of water. My Macquarie dictionary. A pencil. My diary. Sticky-note pads.

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between?     In between. There are some days when it’s calm, some days when it’s chaos. The closer I am to finishing a manuscript the worse it gets.

What is your favourite form of procrastination?     Spider Solitaire! I can really zone out on that. I also like to flick through cookbooks pretending that I’m looking for dinner inspiration when really I’m just delaying knuckling down to work.

I have two ways of beating procrastination:

1/. I make lists (with wordcount at #1) and tick off jobs when they’re done. There’s something really satisfying about seeing a list with every item crossed out.

2/. Close all unnecessary programs. If I can’t see it, it can’t distract me.

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?     Backup my files to multiple locations. The idea of losing work gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Thanks for having me on A Day In The Writing Life. That was fun!

For more information about Cathryn and her books, please visit her website : http://www.cathrynhein.com/ You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

Cathryn’s latest release is Heart of the Valley. Out now from Penguin Australia.

Thank you very much for sharing a day in your writing life, Cathryn. We wish you all the best with your new release.

A Day in the Writing Life of … Louise Cusack

Welcome, Louise and thank you for participating on our blog.  Louise Cusack is an International award winning fantasy author whose best-selling Shadow through Time trilogy was selected by the Doubleday book club as their ‘Editors Choice’. 

What time of the day do you write? Are you a morning, night-owl or anytime writer?   Definitely a morning person.  I’m up at 5am most days and have a whole calm-centre thing that takes up the next couple of hours (walking the esplanade, meditating, gratitude journal) but I’m usually in front of the computer by 8am.  I use the Pomodoro Technique to ensure I get regular breaks, and I have a fetish for washing linen (it’s relaxing and I love the smell of clean washing) so that helps break up my day and provide good thinking time.  I also make a lot of vegetarian meals from scratch, which is time consuming, and I garden, so they’re all good ways to keep story unravelling in the back of my mind so it’s ready to download when my fingers hit the keyboard.

Where do you write? Do you have your own special place? Does the location vary?     I work in a study that overlooks the Coral Sea, so the soundtrack of my day is waves rolling onto volcanic rocks.  The (usually) gentle whooshing is like white-noise that mutes out everything else (lawn mowers, dogs barking, cars) and it’s also good for my vision to stop writing every ten minutes or so and relax my eyes by looking beyond my computer to the sun sparkling on the water.  I moved up the Qld coast from Brisbane last year for a sea change and haven’t regretted it once!

Are there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?   I’m a note-maker, so if anything comes up that’s not related to the manuscript, I add it to a To Do list.  That way my mind is empty of everything but story when I sit down to write.  Muse is something I can’t control, so my commitment is simply to be in front of the computer.  I don’t try to evoke anything.  I just do my half of the deal which is “showing up” and I expect/hope my muse does his/her half and inspires me.

Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work?   I tend to re-read the last couple of pages I wrote the day before, to get myself back into the viewpoint of the character I’m writing, then I just dive in.  Since I’ve been living at the beach I’ve doubled my weekly draft wordcount, and I’m pretty thrilled about that.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?    I’m a pantser, so I often start with no clue as to what I’m writing.  The last book I wrote began with a girl running into the desert and me thinking “Who are you and what are you running from?”  I had to write on to find out!  Having said that, I usually always have a natural stopping place at about 20-30,000 words, and at that point I take a breath and look at what I’ve got, identifying main characters and their goal/motivation/conflict.  I put that on file cards and keep it next to the computer so I can see it when I’m writing in their viewpoint, keeping their priorities front of mind.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time?     When I’m writing draft of a new book I try to do only that (no manuscript assessments, workshops or mentoring).  I spend between four and eight hours in front of the computer each day and am happy if I can write 10,000 good words a week.

What writing tools do you favour?      I trained myself to a computer twenty years ago when I started writing, so that comes naturally to me.  However, when I’m thinking about the ‘big picture’ of the story and putting together plot threads etc in my mind to work out what the theme might be and what else is happening in the world (that my viewpoint characters can’t show me) I do that with a notepad and pen, preferably away from where I usually work.  Maybe in a coffee shop.  My brain seems to need to switch into a different mode, and I often think of draft as bumping around a forest getting bark on my nose, then when I take out my notepad and pen I’m in a metaphoric helicopter, rising up to see the shape of the forest.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?    When I stop to assess the story at the 20-30k mark, I often search the internet for pictures of people (actors usually) who are of a similar physicality to my characters, but more importantly are photographed with a particular ‘look’ (emotion, personality trait) that encapsulates who that character is for me.  I put these into a screen saver along with any landscape visuals that seem to match the world I’ve seen while I was writing, then when I pause to think about the story I look at those pictures and it sweeps me into the mood.  I also sometimes use music, and when I was writing my first fantasy trilogy I put Edvard Greig’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” on repeat quietly behind me, so that its racing goblin beat was a constant soundtrack while I learnt how to create a fantasy world.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?

  1. A coffee cup.  Caffeine and writing are inseparable for me.
  2. My mobile phone.  It’s my diary, alarm, modem and only phone.
  3. Post It notes with inspirational thoughts on them.  The one I’m looking at now says Life is supposed to be fun!
  4. My A4 spiral notepad of whatever book/s I’m working on so I can make notes if something pops into my head.
  5. One of my backup thumbdrives.  I also have a hotmail account that I send backups to, simply to store them away from home.

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between?      While the rest of my house is neat and tidy, for some reason my desk is always a mess.  I clean it up once a week and always within hours it’s got papers spread out, post it notes hanging from the printer and a variety of charging or charged accessories and cables amid the chaos.  I have no idea why it doesn’t seem to have the same order as the rest of the house, but I suspect it’s because every book I write is a different process (and I love that) but it means I can’t get into a rhythm of ‘this sits here’ etc.  I’ve given up worrying about it.

What is your favourite form of procrastination?      As mentioned above, there are things I do that are part of my writing process (washing clothes, gardening, watering, cooking).  But if I start sleeping a lot more than usual (the odd creative nap is fine) then I know there’s something not-right.  When I’m stuck with a project or just dreading a section of it, I can get mentally tired, and often don’t realise I’m procrastinating until I’m falling into bed at 7pm and thinking, “Wait a minute, didn’t I sleep for two hours this afternoon?”  The way I fix it is to confront the problem, call in help from my crit buddy or other members of my Bianchin’s Babes writing group, and get over the hump. That’s what your writing buddies are for, so you don’t have to tackle the hard stuff alone.

www.louisecusack.com

My Shadow Through Time trilogy has just be re-released Internationally as eBooks by Pan Macmillan’s digital imprint Momentum Books.  They are:

Destiny of the Light     Daughter of the Dark     Glimmer in the Maelstrom

and they are available where all good eBooks are sold.

Great post, Louise. Thank you.

A Day in the Writing Life of …Imogene Nix

Welcome, Imogene and thank you for participating in a Day in your Writing Life.

In one or two sentences, please tell us what genre you write in and what made you decide that particular one is your calling.  I write Science Fiction Romance because it is so interesting and intriguing, together with a whole heap less rules and conventions as to dress, language and even places than most other genres and Paranormal.  Who doesn’t love a sexy hot vampire?

What time of the day do you write? Are you a morning, night-owl or anytime writer? I am a during the day writer, trying to keep semi regular 9 – 5 hours.  Not that it always pans out like that, but that is the way I have structured my time.

Where do you write? I have an office, where my desktop waits, but sometimes, if the urge takes me, I will curl up in bed with my laptop.  It really does depend on how I am feeling from time to time.  It is easier to write in my office though, as I have my resources at my fingertips.

Are there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse? When I am really into the zone, I have a range of music – Enigma, Savage Garden, Gregorian Chants (I love Masters of Chant and Era) is usually pumping through my ITunes – thank heavens I have good speakers!  But if I’m writing a challenging scene, then I like total silence.  Not a sound – except maybe the snores of my dog.

What’s the first thing you do before you begin to write? Make a cup of coffee.  Yes I know it’s addictive, but I find a coffee clears my mind before I begin.

Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work? Sometimes, I find it depends on my mood and how “into the writing from the day to day I am.  Some days the words are just there and I type as quickly as I can to get them down.  Others it is more of a struggle and I need to know what came before.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? Pantster.  I have a couple of things usually I want to achieve through the ms – but the rest?  I just let it flow.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time? I don’t have a traditional schedule.  I use Scrivener for my basic writing and like to achieve 1K a day, but sometimes that just isn’t going to happen and I let it ebb and flow as it comes.  Good days can be a couple of thousand words, bad days 20 words… Then you have those days where you do an amazing amount.  The most I have ever achieved is 13K…  But you can’t set a goal for that. 

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?  I do have inspiration pictures of my characters (good and bad) so I can refer back.  I have a blackboard with important dates and sometimes, depending on the detail required, I have printed copies of the research on hand.

Do you give yourself any writing rewards for achieving goals?  Nope.  I can’t tell you why, but that doesn’t really do it for me.  The only thing I do enjoy is once I receive my cover art we get it printed and framed for hanging on the wall in our hallway.

 Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write? My mug (hopefully full of coffee), my phone, my dog Teddy, a thesaurus and my glasses.

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between?  It’s super messy.  I hold to the tradition that a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind. :)

What is your favourite form of procrastination?  Facebook.  Those games get me all the time.  Being strong, great friends who keep pushing for “more” and sometimes, allowing yourself to goof off.  Writing should be fun, not a chore, so some days; you just need to do that.

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session? Hit Save.

Releases:  Starfire 6 June 2012  & Star of the Fleet 31 07 2012 with Secret Cravings Publishing.

www.imogenenix.com and blog http://imogenenix.blogspot.com

STARLINE Jan 2012 Ebook Aug 2012 Paperback
STAR OF ISHTAR Apr 2012 Ebook
STARFIRE Jun 2012 Ebook Oct 2012 Paperback
STAR OF THE FLEET Aug 2012 Ebook

Imogene, thank you so much for sharing your writing life and we wish you well with your new releases.

A Day in the Writing Life of … Deborah Challinor

Welcome everyone to DWL of historical writer, Deborah Challinor.

Deborah is both a writer and a historian (and also a KIWI but we wont hold that against her). She has relocated across the ditch to research and write her current series of novels set in Sydney in the late 1820s about four convict girls who are transported from England.

What time of the day do you write?     From about 9am to 6pm, usually five days a week, unless I’m behind schedule. Then I’ll work in the weekend as well. If I’m coming to the end of a book I’ll work until 8 or 9pm or later because I just can’t stop – it all gets a bit out of hand then.

Are you a morning, night-owl or anytime writer?     An anytime writer, I suspect, though I am a bit slow in the mornings.

Where do you write? Do you have your own special place? I have an office at home (spare bedroom). I only ever write there, though I ‘think’ dialogue and plot everywhere. In the shower, in the car, at the shops, all over the place, and I have a notebook in my bag for jotting down bits that might fall out of my head. There’s a notebook by my bed, too, for middle of the night ideas.

Is there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?   No. After a dozen books I’ve learnt I have to write whether I’m in the mood or not, and if I sat around waiting for my muse to turn up, I could be doing nothing for weeks. This is my job so unless I’m sick, I just do it.

What’s the first think you do before you begin to write?      Get a cup of coffee, check my emails, send some if I need to, have a look at a few loops – RWA and my group loop, Hunter Romance Writers.

Do you have a special system in place in order to begin writing or go with the flow?     When I finish work the previous day I always leave a few notes to remind me of what’s coming next in the scene/s, so I don’t have to start ‘cold’.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?      A bit of both. I do a 3-4 page outline before I start and refer to that quite a lot so I don’t get hopelessly lost, but the books in the series I’m writing at the moment are 130,000 words long, and with that many words things happen and characters appear I hadn’t even imagined at the beginning. Which, to me, is half the fun of writing.

Do you edit as you go or prefer to edit after completion of the ms?    I do a rough edit each day of the previous day’s work, and a more thorough edit of the whole ms when it’s finished. It’s never a very good one, though – I’m hopeless at editing my own work.

Are you a goal setter with your writing?     Yes, I am a goal setter. Obviously my contracts have submission dates, so I’ll choose a date well before a ms is due and set up a spreadsheet on Excel (actually my husband does that for me) that tells me how many words I need to write every day, with graphs and all sorts. Very motivating. I’ve learnt from experience that choosing an early goal date is much smarter than leaving it all until the last minute. No matter how much I’d like it not to, life always gets in the way.

What writing tools do you favour? Long hand, computer…. I use a computer. Writing longhand would drive me mental. Occasionally I’ll stick up pictures of a particular scene I’m working on, eg. the Parramatta Female Factory, or the prison deck of a convict ship, or a map of the Rocks in 1830.

Do you give yourself any writing rewards for achieving goals?     No. Royalties are always nice.

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc and if so do you do any exercises at your desk or between sessions?     Yes, I stretch and I go and look out the window at the church steeple on the hill.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?     Roget’s Thesaurus; smooth black ‘worry’ stone I found on the road; image of my cat Albert (still in NZ) on my monitors; piles of reference books and notes – character list, 1829-1830 calendar, maps, 19th century illnesses, underworld slang, etc; USB for backing up.

What is your favourite form of procrastination? Do you have any tips to beat off that old foe “procrastination”?    Checking out online shopping. Dear oh dear. I tell myself out loud that if I don’t write I won’t finish the book, and if I don’t finish the book it won’t get published, and if it isn’t published I won’t get any money. Or another contract.

Usually if I’m procrastinating it’s because what I’m writing is boring me, and if it’s boring me, it will bore readers. So when I’ve worked that out I scrap it and go in another direction. Fortunately I have a bit of experience under my belt now and I’m only talking about a few paragraphs, or a page or two at most, these days.

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?     Enter my stats into my swotty little Excel spreadsheet, then back up.

For further information, please visit Deborah’s website   www.deborahchallinor.com

Her next book, called Behind the Sun, published by HarperCollins Australia, is due out in NZ in December 2012 and in Australia in January 2013.

Thank you, Deborah, for sharing a day in your writing life and we look forward to seeing your next release.

A Day in the Writing Life of … Chris Taylor

This week we are featuring a day in the writing life of Chris Taylor who writes romantic suspense and who recently made the finals in the single title section of this year’s RWA Emerald Contest. Welcome, Chris.

What time of the day do you write?      For the last three years, I had the luxury of being a stay-at-home mum to five children. I used to write every day from 9am until about 3pm, only taking breaks for morning tea and lunch and when my three year old demanded my attention (sometimes more often than others!). This year, I returned to part time work (3 days a week) and I’m finding it hard to get back into a regular writing schedule. At the moment, I write mostly at night after the kids have gone to bed.

Where do you write? Do you have your own special place?      I have a great office with a huge screen desktop, fan, bottle of water and tube of lip gloss all within easy reach. I have a wonderful view outside my window onto the Nandewar Ranges, which is lovely.  I always take my laptop if I’m out and have it at the ready if I get a spare moment to work on my WIP. I’m very fortunate that I’m able to block out a lot of extraneous noise and distraction and just focus on my work (comes from years of living with 5 young kids!)

Is there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?     My inspiration for my characters often comes from a song. I love country music and anyone who knows anything about country music knows that the songs are usually tales of woe and bad luck – he’s lost his girl, his horse, his dog. . . you get the picture. If I’m getting nowhere with a story, I will often play the song that initially inspired me over and over and try and “become” the story the singer was aiming for.

 What’s the first think you do before you begin to write?      I like to re-read anything I’ve written the day/night before first thing the next day before I sit down to write anything new. I edit as I go although sometimes I know something’s not quite right and I just can’t find the right words. During these times, I write the passage in bold and underlined, so I can find it easily later and have another crack at it.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?      I am more of a plotter. I usually do a rough, handwritten draft before I start writing anything on the computer, just in general point form. Chapter by chapter, I set out the main points I want brought out in each chapter. This can change as I begin actually putting my draft  down in book form, but I do refer to my initial draft quite frequently and the story does tend to stay fairly true to my original draft. Occasionally my story takes a completely different turn and I then adapt my draft accordingly.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time? Are you a goal setter with your writing?     I try very hard to set writing goals every day. Before I returned to work, I had a goal of writing 3000 words a day, which I usually met. At the moment, I’m a little more relaxed and my writing output has definitely suffered. I’m determined to get back into setting a daily goal and having regular writing sessions.

What writing tools do you favour?      Apart from my very first handwritten draft which really only covers the three or four major points which will arise in each chapter, I write everything on the computer. I’m lucky to be a fairly fast typist, and couldn’t imagine writing a book longhand. I am very much in awe of any writer who can accomplish this!

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?     I do keep a timeline separate from my WIP so I keep a handle on whether it should be day or night the next day, the next week etc over the course of my story. I also do a character profile on each of the main characters before I start and this gets added to from time to time as the story develops.

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc and if so do you do any exercises at your desk or between sessions?     I have a really, really good office chair and footstool that do their best to keep my posture correct. I tend to suffer from mild carpel tunnel syndrome too, so I generally wear wrist supports if I’m going to be at my keyboard for the day. I always have a bottle of water on my desk and usually go through three or four bottles a day if I’m in the zone.

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between?      My desk is usually quite tidy. I hate working in a messy environment and I’m a very organised person. At the moment, my desk is a mess and gives me mild stress every time I sit down. I’m in the middle of preparing three quarterly BAS statements for my husband’s business and organising an overseas trip for me and my family. There are passport applications, photos, tour books and other paraphernalia spread all over the place!

What is your favourite form of procrastination? Do you have any tips to beat off that old foe “procrastination”?     Procrastination can cripple all of us. The biggest thing I try to do is visualise the scene I’m intending to write before I write it. Ie. I will think about the scene while I’m in bed or on the toilet (sorry , too much information!!) and try and get a clear picture of what is going to happen, what’s going to be said, etc. That way, when I do sit down to write it (usually the next day), the scene is already in my head – I just have to get it down. The other way I fend off procrastination is to set a daily writing goal – I know I will have to keep banging away at the keyboard until I reach it, so the longer it takes, the longer I’m in there. . .

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?   The last thing I do after any writing session is SAVE my work at least THREE times – to my desktop, a USB stick and to my online backup. Those hard-fought words are just too precious to lose.

You can read more about me and my books at my website www.christaylorauthor.com.au

 Thank you, Chris, for sharing a day in your writing life.

A Day in the Writing Life of … Sharon Sherry

Today we welcome, Sharon Sherry, who has kindly agreed to share a day in her writing life. Sharon writes in the category Sexy line and is looking forward to her trip to NYC in September where she hopes to get more great ideas for her writing.

What time of the day do you write?      Mornings now. I used to try and write at night after coming home brain dead until I read one of the RWA ladies say that if you have a busy job that requires you to think a lot, write BEFORE you go to work.

Where do you write? Do you have your own special place?      I hadn’t written for the longest time and have recently started again. I have an office that I rarely use as I often find myself sitting at the kitchen table.

 Is there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?      I think about all the wonderful women I’ve met who are successful…and want to be amongst them as a published author. To do that, one needs to actually write! And so it goes. 

What’s the first thing you do before you begin to write?      I make that heart-starting first cup of coffee. There’s no point talking to me until then.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?      I have morphed into a plantser…that’s a pantser who’s trying hard to become a plotter (they’re so much better organised). I used to edit as I went until Cath Evans got me out of the habit during an early BIAW. Now I go hell-for-leather while the muse is on my shoulder and worry about editing later.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time?      As I said, I hadn’t written much – only just returned to it in the past few months – so the schedule is simply to put something on the page.

What writing tools do you favour? Long hand, computer ….. I love the computer…and the message area on my smartphone where I put those little thoughts that occur on the bus on the way to work. A fun toy I enjoy is Write or Die (set a word goal and a time frame and go for it!). I have downloaded Scrivener but haven’t had time to learn how to use it and I don’t want to waste a day of the 30 day trial they give you.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?      I have a GMC laminated page that I’m trying to use as outlined in Deb Dixon’s GMC book… as well as an image board to keep my characters and settings firmly in mind (gotta love the McGrath home sales book…wonderful inspiration for all those mansions I like to write about).

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc and if so do you do any exercises at your desk or between sessions?      By changing my writing time to before work, it’s write, write, write, rush into the shower and get ready and get out the door. That is my exercise for the day!

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?      Different coloured fine pens for editing and doodling, a vase of glass roses from my Mum, headphones to drown out distractions, the post-it notes I use when rogue thoughts appear or a GMC needs changes, the image boards to keep my characters in my sights when my thoughts wander.

What is your favourite form of procrastination?      Procrastinate? Me? I confess that reading works by other writers (aka “research”) is my favourite. There’s that old hint (and I paraphrase) “You can fix up something you’ve written, but you can’t fix an empty page”…so I start with a mind map to get the creative juices flowing again. Sometimes a mind map takes me to some cool places.

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?     A word count and a big, fat sigh of satisfaction that I’ve done it!

I don’t have a website yet but finally have a Twitter presence “@ssherryaus” but it’s mostly about following my author friends and supporting them by re-tweets and comments. It’s good practice for the time when I’m announcing great news.

 Sherry, thank you for sharing your writing life with us.

A Day in the Writing Life of … Amanda Ashby

Today we welcome, Amanda Ashby, who writes young adult and mid-grade books about killer fairies, zombie students and troublesome djinns.

What time of the day do you write?    I write whenever I can fit it in. When my kids were babies I mainly wrote at night but now they are in school I tend to do most of my writing during the day. Except of course when I’m on deadline and then everything changes!!

 Where do you write?   I’m an orphan! I’ve never had a proper study so it’s basically me and my laptop! Most of the time I use the kitchen table but when I lived in NZ I spent a lot of time sitting on my bed because it was the sunniest spot in the house, so I guess you could say that I’m like a cat!!!!

Is there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?   Not really. My books are always on my mind so by the time I sit down to write, I normally know what I want to do. I do use playlists though, which I find really helps me capture the mood and the feel of the book.

What’s the first think you do before you begin to write?     Like most writers, I have a bad habit of checking my emails. Especially since my publisher and agent are in the US so lots of things can happen overnight (not saying that they always do, but why ruin a perfectly good excuse with the truth?!)

 Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work?     Yes, I always read over the previous day’s work and check I’m happy with it before moving on. Which of course sounds very civilized but since I do a LOT of rewriting, it often involves scraping the previous day’s work and starting again (which means I then have to try and recapture yesterday’s word count as well as the current day’s word count).

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?     I’m a panster who desperately wants to be a plotter! This means that I try very hard to be organized and figure everything out, but then my organic panster side takes over and keeps coming up with new shiny ideas. Because of this I’m always editing and redoing things and I basically HATE when people talk about fast drafting because while I’m thrilled for them that they can get through a manuscript so neatly, unfortunately that way doesn’t work for me.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time?      I aim to write 2000 words a day when I’m working on a new book and sometimes I might get that in an hour or two and other times I’m still up at midnight desperately trying to squeeze the words out so I can go to sleep!!

What writing tools do you favour? Long hand, computer …..I use both! I write directly onto my laptop but I’m a big fan of long hand and do a lot of my brainstorming and plotting by pen. Also, I’m not sure what it is but the moment I turn off my laptop I tend to get a load of new ideas, so I’m constantly writing myself notes (and I then spend far too much time trying to decipher my messy writing!!!)

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?     If it’s been invented, then there is a good chance that I’ve tried it, but unfortunately none of it has really stuck with me. However, one thing I have been using for a couple of years and I still really love is OneNote, which is in Microsoft Office. It’s just a way to easily see a lot of notes and documents at once so that’s where I keep all of my character notes and research. Plus, while I’m hopeless at doing real collages, I will often put lots of digital images there to help prompt me.

Do you give yourself any writing rewards for achieving goals?     Yes, I reward myself with the joys of housework and cooking dinner and any other task that I have been ignoring in order to get my work done. Actually, I think I might need to rethink this ritual…

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc?     I don’t tend to sit down for long periods of time because I get easily bored (and always feel the need to check the cupboard in case chocolate has magically appeared since the last time I looked). I also make sure I walk each day so that I don’t get too sedentary.

What is your favourite form of procrastination?      Pink is the New Blog is my favourite procrastination! It’s a gossip blog and I’ve been reading it for years. Anyway, normally when I have a writing break that’s the place I head to!

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?     Rip out some hair and swear that I will do a better job tomorrow!!!!!

 Thank you, Amanda, for kindly sharing a day in your writing life. Please visit, Amanda’s website for more information about her books.

http://www.amandaashby.com/

Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic book 1 Wishful Thinking ~Puffin ~June 2012

Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic book 2 Under a Spell ~Puffin ~June 2012

Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic book 3 Out of Sight ~Puffin ~ September 2012

A Day in the Writing Life of … Elise McCune

Hi Elise, and welcome.

What time of the day do you write?    I write in the morning. Sometimes I write at other times during the day if I have free time. But I am definitely an early bird and find I am more productive and creative in the morning.

Where do you write?    I have moved several times in the last few years and have always set up a special place for writing. I can  write anywhere.

What’s the first think you do before you begin to write?    I read what I have written the day before and do any obvious corrections. I find this helps me with the flow of my story. I then start to write.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?    I prefer to be a plotter/planner. Of course in saying this, the novel I am working on at the moment was planned but I did leave some things to work our “later”. Once I am writing I try to write 1000 words per day. This doesn’t always happen but I find I need a goal.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?   I haven’t in the past. But now I have purchased a board to place above my desk. I will pin up relevant photographs, floor plans of any buildings I am writing about and relevant notes about my WIP.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?   A stone that was given to me by a writing friend to encourage creativity, a pen or pencil, a notepad (the last two in case I look up something on the Internet and need to take notes), a dictionary and thesaurus.

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between?   I start off with a tidy desk but as the morning progresses it ends up rather untidy.

What is your favourite form of procrastination?    I try to avoid procrastination but it strikes us all at sometime. The best thing I have found is to be at my desk by a certain time, no matter what is waiting to be done. If I keep the morning free I can then have lunch and the afternoon is mine for whatever I need or want to do. This is easier for me than say writers with children, or jobs, or other priorities as I am retired from my day job (in a museum) and don’t have children, or school runs and holidays to contend with.

Elise’s book ‘From the Heart’ was published by Zeus Publishing and the first chapter can be read on the site in the non-fiction area.

Her self published book ‘The Mirror in the Garden’ will be available soon on Amazon. Elise has recently created her blog which is a work in progress. To follow Elise’s writing journey please visit : http://elisemccune.wordpress.com

Thank you, Elise, for sharing a day in your writing life.

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