Guest Post & Giveaway: Liza Gyllenhaal’s Move to Rural Inspiration

Today’s guest is Liza Gyllenhaal, author of So Near, and she’s going to share with us her writing space.

But first, let’s take a look at her book.  According to Amazon.com’s synopsis, “In the aftermath of a devastating loss, Cal and Jenny Horigan’s marriage is unraveling.  Both are plagued by guilt, unable to seek comfort from one another.  Burdened by remorse, they begin to lose sight of the love that once anchored them-together with their sense of right and wrong.  As the Horigans try different ways to deal with their pain, a new acquaintance seems to offer the support they desperately need-though at times they are unsure whether his guidance is leading them back to each other or further apart.”

Look at that cover, those big flowers are just so eye-catching and remind me of spring and renewal.  Let’s hope the same renewal can happen for Gyllenhaal’s characters, which you can find out if you win the giveaway. 

For some reviews of So Near, please check out Life in the Thumb and 5 Minutes for Books.

Without further ado, please welcome Liza Gyllenhaal:

Where Liza works in the winter

During the years I worked in advertising in New York City, I would try to fit in an hour or two of writing every morning in my cramped apartment. I used to dream of one day having my own writing studio. If Henry James thought “summer afternoon” were the two most beautiful words in the English language, I began to feel that “writing studio” took a close second. I imagined it in the woods somewhere with a fireplace or wood-burning stove — rustic and musty and so quiet you could hear the mice scrabbling around in the walls.

Writing studio in the Berkshires

Fifteen years ago, I was able to sell my advertising agency and buy my dream — a place in the country — or, more specifically, the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. It included a small farmhouse and an old horse stable which became my “writing studio.” It still has the old iron stall feeders and leather harnesses on the walls. It remains permeated by a wonderful smell of animal and old hay. It’s where I wrote most of my first novel Local Knowledge and my just published new novel called So Near — both set in the Berkshire area.

Liza inside the studio — on the laptop

I wake up early and reread and rewrite on my laptop in the house, but in the afternoon I go out to the studio, bolt the door, and start the hard work of writing the next new word, sentence, paragraph, chapter. In the winter I have a fire going in the Jotul stove, in the summer I have all the windows open and can hear the seasonal brook and birdsong. This summer, I watched a family of wild turkeys — 17 in all — parading up and down in the old paddock. Other sightings: woodchuck, coyote, fox, and early last spring, when the trees were just greening out, a big black bear. It was a breathtaking moment when this wall of darkness lumbered right past me — so close that, if the window had been open, I could have reached out and run my hand through the bear’s ink-black fur.

Thanks so much for sharing your writing space with us, Liza.

Sounds like a place I’d love to visit just for some down time and relaxation, though I do more writing in public places where there are lots of people to watch!

About the Author:

She was raised in a small town in Pennsylvania which, at the time she was growing up, was fairly rural and very lovely—much like the area of the Berkshire Hills in Massachusetts where she now live part of the time with her husband.

She studied poetry at University of Iowa Writing Workshop before moving to New York City and began a career in publishing and advertising.  She tried to continue writing poetry, but gradually moved to romance and other genres before her first novel.

In addition to writing, she works on behalf of various non-profits in New York City and the Berkshires. She also is the past chairperson of The Academy of American Poets and currently serves on its executive committee. (– excellent news to me since I just love that organization, am a card-carrying member, and blog about it all the time — funny how small the world is sometimes).

Please follow her on Twitter and Facebook, and check out her blog.

Now for the giveaway.  I have 2 copies So Near for US/Canadian readers.

1.  To Enter, leave a comment about where you do your blogging or reading and why.

2.  Facebook, Tweet, or blog about the giveaway for additional entries. (for up to 3 other entries).

3.  Follow this blog for another 2 entries. If you already follow, let me know.

Deadline for the giveaway is Sept. 30, 2011, at 11:59PM EST.


  1. I do my reading at the kitchen table or curled up on the couch…and when my foot falls asleep, I know it’s time for tea!

  2. Those hydrangeas! I wish I had some next to me right now… The question, really, has to be turned around: where don’t I read? In a dark movie theater… I read everywhere, but especially in a platform rocker that lets me look up and see the woods behind the house. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time there!

    I’m a follower….

    thanks *as always* for the giveaway!

  3. I’m a follower too.
    Tbha nks for the giveaway!

  4. The only time I blog is when we’re on a road trip.
    But I love to read, and my favorite spot is in a livingroom rocking chair. In the winter months, the fireplace is going.

  5. Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments. I write on my lap, too, and find — especially in the winter — that it acts like a kind of small, sturdy electric blanket. Of course, the reverse is true in the summer, when it feels as though you’ve got a fire going in your lap — but I think those days are behind us now. I’m looking forward to the “R” months — and lots of uninterrupted writing and reading!

  6. Patricia Boyle says

    I do my blogging on book sites and I normally read anywhere, whenever I get a free moment – like at Tim Hortons, on the train, etc. and especially in bed before I close my eyes for the night.

  7. Liza’s writing space looks so cozy and quaint. I like to do my reading someplace quiet and comfortable. That place would be my bed. I like to snuggled under the covers with a good book without any distractions. My bedroom is placed in the back of the house so very little noise gets through and there’s also a big window that filters in a lot of natural sunlight. Anywhere else, even the couch and I find I can’t get into a story and I’m constantly having to move about.

    I am a GFC follower.
    I also Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/FieryNa/status/117298357352931329

  8. This books sounds intriguing and I hope things will work out for the characters. The cover is beautiful.

    I love the look of Liza Gyllenhaal’s writing spot, it’s just beautiful and looks like a very inspiring spot for ideas. I might have some trouble looking away from the window in order to write!

    I blog at my desk because I have an old clunker of a desktop(although I think that’ll change soon fingers-crossed!)
    I do a lot of my reading in a recling position since my legs are most comfortable when stretched out in front of me…so my special chair or my bed!

    Thank you for this wonderful giveaway!
    I follow your blog via GFC


  9. i’m a follower, too 🙂

  10. i love your writing space, liza.
    thanks for the chance to read your wonderful novel.
    my favourite place to read is on my front porch 🙂

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  11. What a dream of a writing space! I so wish. Right now, I write and blog (and read) from my easy chair w/ ottoman. My laptop rests on a laptop cart. Not much privacy, that’s for sure. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment! I’m going to be getting my bedroom done soon and I will probably spend more time in there. At least, I will be able to close the door. =O)

    long time GFC follower
    tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/truebookaddict/status/116701420283109377
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michellestockardmiller/posts/159190134167494

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. rhonda lomazow says

    I read in my bedroom or family room i have comfey chairs &beautiful built in bookcases in both rooms a gift from my husband when we built our home.Your book cover is [email protected]

  13. That’s a gorgeous writing studio. I wish I was so lucky to have something like that in the middle of nowhere.

    I read on the train to keep myself from falling asleep, and I blog and write on my living room couch. So boring!

    I tweeted this giveaway and posted it in my sidebar. I’m also a follower.

  14. What a lovely retreat for her! I do my blogging from my computer in our office and I read wherever I can.

  15. I am also a follower

    [email protected]

  16. I created a little reading room for myself in a room just off my kitchen. I got a few pieces of furniture at a great price and it is my little haven. I feel as though the kids have taken over the rest of the house so it is nice to have my own space. It encourages me to read as well. Of course I would love to add this book to the list to read in there. Thanks!

    [email protected]

  17. I usually write sitting in the corner of my living room. I have a huge window that looks out on the field across the road. At this time of year I often catch glimpses of deer and geese foraging in the field. I have to say I have never seen a bear, although they have been seen in the area!

    I am a SV&W Follower. 🙂

  18. I read whenever and wherever I get the chance, but one of my favorite places to read is a quiet spot out on our local wildlife refuge. Hubby and I will take our folding chairs and find a place near one of the many small lakes, sit back and relax with our books and listen to the birds while reading the words. It’s really peaceful.

    reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

    I’ve been a GFC follower for quite some time now and always enjoy your posts.

  19. I read in a cozy den which has a comfortable loveseat and a throw which I use all year round. I am surrounded by a lovely garden. The cover is beauty and unique. I enjoyed this special feature. many thanks.

  20. Usually, I sit in the lazyboy to read or read in bed. I blog on the computer in my diningroom. We live in a small apt. Thanks for telling me to come back.

  21. I am still waiting for my dream space. I have a loft, which I had planned to use as a reading/writing space, but my kids took it over. So I do most of my writing from my desk at work, but before I actually start. I get here like at 6am and start at 7am.

    As for reading, I do most of it from the family room couch, or from my bed. If I need to escape or the reading is more demanding than I anticipated, then I will for sure head to my room.

    I follow you via Google Reader.

    bookishchatter AT gmail DOT com

  22. First of all, I love the cover of your book. The hydrangeas are just gorgeous. Sorry the marriage inside the book is not a thing of beauty like the flowers. Perhaps, the friend will bring comfort and beauty back to their world. I would love to read the book. I am realizing that marriage is complicated, goes through sudden changes, etc. Thank you for the chance to win the novel, So Near.

    teakettle58(at)yahoo(dot) com

    I do follow this blog in my Googlereader.
    Will tweet about the giveaway at topazshell5