Guest Post: No Saber Tooth Tigers Allowed by Samantha Sotto

***First, I want to call attention to my poll in the left sidebar about my best of list at the end of the year.  I’m trying to gauge interest in it.  Please take a moment to weigh in.

I LOVED Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto so much, I just had to have her on the blog!  She was kind enough to stop by my review of her book, which I LOVED (OK, maybe I already said that, but if you don’t believe me, read my review; if you want other opinions, check out the TLC Book Tour stops) and friend me on Facebook, which I can now use to keep track of her latest books!

Today, she’s going to share with you her writing space, well the space she writes in since writing her first book, Before Ever After, in a coffee shop.  Enough from me, let me turn it over to Samantha.

No Saber Tooth Tigers Allowed

The oldest known cave art can be found in the Chauvet cave in France. The most common cave paintings are of large wild animals. One theory behind this theme is that it was meant to magically help increase the number of animals the cavemen hunted. Hmm…now if I could only figure out how I could make that work in writing caves. I’d probably doodle something like this:

I wrote Before Ever After at the same table at Starbucks over the course of a year. Now that I’ve started writing my second book, I’ve switched venues. (This novel is an entirely different beast from my first one. For starters, it has bigger horns – and it knows how to use them. I am presently firmly skewered onto one of them and am unable to budge from chapter twenty-two. But enough about the-novel-that-is-slurping-my-brain-out-with-a-straw. This post is about caves. And magic.)

The cavemen were on to something when they lived in caves. Caves sheltered them from the elements and made them feel safe. Inside them, they didn’t have to worry about being eaten alive or drowning in tar pits.

There are arguably less life-threatening dangers surrounding us today, but one doesn’t need the threat of a horrible death to need sanctuary. Whether it’s a quiet place to put our feet up and inhale cupcakes or a spot to hunker down with the iPad and break our Angry Birds record, we need to stake out a little corner of the Earth for ourselves, even for just a little while. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It simply has to be large enough to stretch our legs and spirits – without leaving any room for guilt. In this magical cave, for a stolen moment, it’s okay to not care about anyone but yourself.

Today, I thought it would be fun to take a field trip to my current cave. It’s perfect for hiding out from large predators, wrestling, er, writing second novels while the kiddos are in school, and exhaling. If that isn’t magical, I don’t know what is.

Thanks, Samantha, for sharing your writing space with us. I just love those shelves and all those great windows.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Author Genni Gunn’s Writing Space

Today’s guest post is from author Genni Gunn, whose latest book Solitaria is a mystery set in Italy spanning from 1926 through 2002 as the Santoro family uncovers the truth about their ancestor Vito’s death.

From the publisher about Solitaria:

When Vito Santoro’s body is inadvertently unearthed by a demolition crew in Fregene, Italy, his siblings are thrown into turmoil, having been told by their sister Piera that Vito had fled to Argentina fifty years earlier after abandoning his wife and son. Piera, the self-proclaimed matriarch, locks herself in her room, refusing to speak to anyone but her Canadian nephew, David.

Now scattered over three continents, the family members regroup in Italy to try to discover the truth. They all arrive rife with their own resentments and conflicting desires: Aldo, the successful barrister everyone leans on; Teresa, the angry, abandoned wife; Renato, who lost Teresa to his brother Vito; Mimi, the bitter, ironic baby of the family; Clarissa, the famous opera diva whose peripatetic life had her frequently leaving her son David in the care of Piera; and David who reluctantly accompanies his mother to Italy to bury his long-lost uncle.

Set against the countryside of Italy’s Adriatic coast, Solitaria is a tale of longing and family honour, told from two points of view: Piera’s and David’s. With the unravelling of their stories, we glimpse a woman’s growing awareness of her own capacity for self-delusion, and of the consequences of her actions on others, and a young man’s awakening to the depth of his roots.

Gunn was kind enough to share with us her writing space and inspiration today.  Please give her a warm welcome.

First of all, let me confess to a peripatetic nature, which shows up in all aspects of my life, including how and where I write.

For example, the writing for my latest novel, Solitaria, has spanned two continents. Set in Canada and Italy, it required a lot of research – a real bonus – into both contemporary Italy, and the Italy of the 30s and 40s where some of the novel is set. I was born in Trieste, and have many relatives in Italy, so travelling there was more than a research trip, it was a journey into my family’s past, and turned a large portion of Italy into my personal writing space.

I spent many hours writing in Rutigliano, a small town in the Puglia region of Italy, which rises amid olive groves and vineyards, a small circular town with a walled historic centre, and concentric waves of nondescript houses erected in the late 1960s. If you follow the curving one-way street on patched pavement from the town’s outskirts, you will end up in front of a gigantic archway called Porta Nuova, the “New Door” built in the eighteenth century. To the right of the portal is a small piazza with outdoor tables and chairs, where, at night, men congregate to play cards, and directly above it is the room where I spent a month each year for four years, writing and researching, and immersing myself in the world of my protagonist, Piera.

Inside, I reclined on a pink, silk, frayed chaise lounge – like an 18C heroine – typing into my laptop in English, while people I interviewed spoke about their lives and times in Italian. This, in itself, I found rather extraordinary, because it didn’t seem to require any effort. At the end of the day, my family would convene for a late supper, then I’d go back to the laptop and read my day’s work, trying to determine what I could use, and rewording what I’d typed.

And when I left to return to the airport in Rome, the writing emerged from the rhythm of trains: I scribbled in journals and typed into my laptop, the southern Italian landscape hurtling by. I have a particular love of trains, which I suspect has to do with the lulling movement, and with open-ended destinations, a continuum of departures and arrivals, which eventually always leads home.

And home is where I do many of the drafts and final editing of books. Here, my writing space is an office on the second floor. A bookcase covers one wall, and because I work in several genres at once, it is packed not only with books, but with ongoing projects, which are neatly hidden behind closed bevelled-glass doors. Across from the bookcase is my desk – a vast area which, depending on how well the writing is going, is disordered (working well) or tidy (not working well). The wall between desk and bookcase is mostly window and faces the back garden so that in times of dreamy summer reflection, I can stare out at the cluster of magenta dianthus, the pink and white foxglove, the brilliant blue puffs of the California lilac, and the coral geraniums against the green cedar hedge. It’s a lovely distraction, and writing, I find, feeds on distractions and diversions, which may well explain my love and need for movement and travel, for altering landscapes to nurture the creative in me.

Thanks, Genni, for sharing your writing space with us.  Also, check out this book trailer.

About the Author:

GENNI GUNN is a writer, musician and translator. Born in Trieste, she came to Canada when she was eleven. She has published nine books: three novels—Solitaria, Tracing Iris and Thrice Upon a Time; two short story collections—Hungers and On The Road; two poetry collections— Faceless and Mating in Captivity. As well, she has translated from Italian two collections of poems—Devour Me Too and Traveling in the Gait of a Fox by renowned Italian author, Dacia Maraini. Two of Genni’s books have been translated into Italian.

To enter the giveaway; either a hard copy of Solitaria for US/Canada or Kindle download open worldwide:

1.  Leave a comment about whether you prefer hard copy or Kindle of Solitaria and any transcontinental or mystery novels you enjoyed recently.

2.  Follow the blog for a second entry and leave a comment.

3.  Spread the word by blogging, tweeting, or Facebooking the giveaway and leaving a comment to your post for another entry.

Deadline Aug. 26, 2011, at 11:59PM EST.

Guest Post: Rich Wallace’s Writing Space

I read and reviewed Rich Wallace’s War & Watermelon yesterday on the blog. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel and the home front view of how the Vietnam War impacted families in the United States, especially among those with sons nearing draft age.

Today, I’ve got an additional treat for those of you who love a glimpse of writers’ work spaces.  Also, this presents a second chance for you to enter the giveaway if you live in the United States or Canada.  Without further ado, please welcome Rich Wallace:

I’m pretty low-tech. In fact, I just wrote my first blog post earlier this month and I just got speakers for my computer in May. That means I can listen to stuff on YouTube in my office.

My office. That’s what this is supposed to be about.

It turns out I don’t have any photos of my office. Here is one of my wife Sandra in her office, which more or less mirrors mine in the upstairs of our house. That’s Lucy with her. Lucy is the subject of that first blog post I mentioned. You could read that here.

We live in a cool college town in New Hampshire. I get a lot of ideas just walking around. I do most of my writing in my office, which is small, has some baby pictures of my boys—Jonathan and Jeremy–on the walls (they’re both in their twenties now), a painting of a giant shark Jonathan did in third grade, a trophy of Jeremy’s from sixth-grade basketball, an old Rheingold beer can in honor of my father, my grandparents’ wedding photo, a couple of bookcases (with lots of books by John Updike, E.B. White, Annie Proulx and many others), random copies of the New Yorker, a Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel alarm clock, huge clutters of papers of all sorts, a couple of hammers, a flashlight, a small pile of clothes that haven’t been worn quite enough for the laundry, last month’s edition of Rolling Stone that was devoted to Bob Dylan (they listed what they considered to be his 70 greatest songs in honor of his seventieth birthday; I made my own list of 50), my track spikes (I still compete), the massive Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, lined yellow notepads, and a whole lot of other things. You get the picture? (It would be so much easier if I actually had a picture.) My office overlooks the back yard, which has a giant river maple in the center. The yard backs into a wetlands area with a stream. The downtown is only a few minutes away by foot.

Here’s a picture of me outside our house.

My wife is also a novelist, so we spend much of every day just a few yards apart but in our own separate worlds as we write. Lucy comes up frequently to remind us that it’s time for a walk or a snack. I go out to run when I need a break. Or we walk into town and stroll the wide main street, getting a tea at one of the cool coffee shops or checking the marquee at the old theater to see what independent films are coming up. Sandra and I make our living as freelancers, which is wonderful. We work hard but have control over our schedules. The boys are launched. I have no complaints, and lots to be grateful for.

Thanks, Rich, for sharing your writing space with us.

If you would like to win a copy of War & Watermelon and live in the United States or Canada, please leave a comment on this post. For additional entries, visit my review. Deadline to enter is June 22, 2011, 11:59 PM EST.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Bruce Littlefield’s Writing Space

Normally, I’m not a children’s book reviewer, but there are those occasions when a kid’s book will grab my attention, especially if it has a good message and includes dogs.  I’m a sucker for a good dog book; must be the dog owner in me.

I recently read and reviewed Bruce Littlefield’s The Bedtime Book for Dogs, which he wasn’t kidding when he titled it because dogs do understand the book and will often beg for treats or a trip outside if you are reading it to your little one.  Wiggles and I have read this book a number of times, and she loves the colorful illustrations by Paul S. Heath.  Check out my review if you missed it.

Today, however, we have a special treat . . . a glimpse into the writing space of Bruce Littlefield:

My summer writing perch is on my front porch swing with the Esopus Creek running behind me.  Growing up in South Carolina, my grandparents had a huge southern porch.  I’d sit out there with my notebook and sip her sweet ice tea and dream up my stories. Edgewater Farm, my house in the Catskills of NY, used to be a bungalow colony (think Dirty Dancing) and I like to write here.  It’s got a lot of creative vibe.

Thanks, Bruce, for sharing your writing space with us and let’s hope it continues to inspire you.

Now for the giveaway:  I have 1 copy of the book for a US/Canada winner.

1.  Leave a comment on this post about your favorite children’s book you remember reading or that you’ve read to your child.

2.  Spread the word about the giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, etc., and leave a link for a second entry.

Deadline is June 20, 2011, 11:59PM EST

Guest Post: Inside the Writer’s Studio by Jean Kwok

Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation comes out in paperback today.  The novel chronicles the immigrant story of Kimberly Chang who comes to America from Hong Kong, China.  She must navigate between her culture and the new world she finds herself in and the struggles that occur.  If you haven’t seen this book or read this book yet, you’ll be even more swayed to do so when you read Booking Mama‘s review and if you visit Jean Kwok’s Website, you’ll find that much of the story comes from her own life.

Today, we’re going to get a glimpse of Jean’s writing space and her three cats, who seem to be her constant writing companions . . . distractions.  Without further ado, here’s a peek at her writing space:

I have a tiny pink laptop on which I do my easy, practical writing – email, Facebook posts and the like – but when the going gets tough, I bring out the big guns. Up in my writer’s studio in the attic of my house, I do all of my novel-writing on a double quad-core Mac Pro, complete with 24-inch screen and an ergonomic, split-style Kinesis keyboard.

I know, you’re thinking, “How much power do you need to run Word?” It’s true. I guess I don’t actually need an octo-core computer, but facing the blank page is intimidating. When I turn on my Mactopus, as I call her, I know I have sheer power backing me up. Then, for more holistic support, I keep a bottle of lavender room spray on my desk, which I always use to keep me focused and calm. To my left is a statue of Kuan Yin, peeking over my shoulder to help guide my process. All around the walls of my attic are bookcases, filled with books by wonderful authors like Margaret Atwood and Maxine Hong Kingston.

I have all sorts of inspirational notes stuck to the edges of my computer screen. They say things like, “I sat down here and I turned my life around.” I’d heard some author say that in an interview long ago and when I was struggling to finish my first novel, I returned to those words again and again. It’s hard for any writer to know if they’re on the right path or not. For me, it was especially difficult because I’d worked in a sweatshop as a child and lived in an unheated apartment that was not only bitterly cold in the winter but also overrun with cockroaches and rats. I wondered often if I’d made the right decision or not, choosing a profession as financially risky as being a writer.

The notes also have more practical reminders, like, “Don’t check email!” and “Do the big stuff first!” The rest of my enormous desk is piled high with books, papers and items that have to do with my next book. Right now, I’m looking at a pair of professional Latin ballroom dance shoes because my next novel is set in the ballroom dance world. Next to them is a stack of baby naming books, which I used to choose names for my characters. By the way, if you ever want to give the person you’re dating a heart attack, just start leafing through your baby name books.

Then I’ve also got a stack of photos of Chinatown factories and apartments, research for the heroine of my next book as well. I’ve also got a tape measure here because sometimes I’ll start wondering things like, “How big is a person’s head anyway and could you possibly get it stuck inside a goldfish bowl?” and then I’ll whip out my tape measure and wrap it around my head.

The entire right side of my desk is taken up by a folder system for all of my foreign book contracts and correspondence. My debut novel, Girl in Translation, is being published in 15 countries so at a glance, I can see the Italian promotional pamphlet lying on top of the Swedish book, a set of Dutch tissues with the cover of the book printed on top, a lovely note from my UK publisher sticking out from in between a few very official letters about accounting from my German publisher that I don’t understand at all. Oh, and I have three extremely furry cats who all think it’s the funniest thing in the world to lie across my keyboard while I’m trying to type.

In other words, my desk is an unholy mess, which is why I’m not submitting a photo of it for this article. However, it’s a creative mess. It has everything I need to keep writing, which is what this is all about.

Thanks, Jean, for sharing your writing space with us. Now aren’t you all wondering what the new book is about? I know I am.

Stay tuned for my review of Girl in Translation tomorrow.

Guest Post: Inside the Writer’s Studio

Today’s guest is author Midge Raymond, whose collection of short stories Forgetting English was recently released in an expanded edition.  Her stories received the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, were nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, and received an Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship.  She graciously agreed to write up a guest post about her writing space.  Please give her a warm welcome.


This is the first photo I took of my current writing space, taken on the day I moved into my house.

I took this photo because I wanted to remember what my writing studio looked like before I really got settled in. I loved the way this clean, empty space looked—yet somehow I knew it wouldn’t last.

Of course, the room didn’t have much personality before the unpacking began, but at the same time, this photo above represents my dream desk: no clutter, no bills, no cat sleeping on the keyboard. Nothing but the blank screen and an empty chair. I don’t even have books in the shelves to distract me. While this setup was a little too spare for the long term, I still hoped to keep my writing studio somewhat de-cluttered—as if it might become a mirror image of my brain: open and ready for the muse to do her work.

Here is my desk today:

The writing studio is more homey, certainly—and at least the cat is staying off my keyboard (for the moment). I have my creativity crystal, my water and my coffee, all the books and journals I could possibly need should I get writer’s block. And, as I’d envisioned, the writing studio is indeed a reflection of what’s going on in my brain, i.e., a cluttered mess, in which million things are spinning all at once. (What you may not be able to see in the photo is my to-do list, stuck underneath the coffee mug, with frantically scrawled items in various stages of completion.)

At the same time, I love my desk, and most days, I even prefer it to the lovely spare one I used to dream of. It’s the desk of a person blessed with a full life, and I can’t complain about that. The trick is to put on my writing blinders, to mentally nudge all the other stuff out of the way in order to focus on writing new work, or revising old work, or jotting down ideas that may be brought to fruition in yet another writing space somewhere else.

Or, I’ll just move everything onto the floor, out of sight, and that works even better.

Thanks, Midge, for sharing your writing space.  Please check out her Website, blog, and the Press 53 site.

About the Author:

Midge Raymond’s short-story collection, Forgetting English, received the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Her award-winning stories have appeared in TriQuarterly, American Literary Review, Indiana Review, North American Review, Bellevue Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Her work has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and received an Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, along with her husband and an opinionated orange cat.

Giveaway Details:  US/Canada residents only.

1.  Leave a comment here about why you enjoy short stories.

2.  Tweet, Facebook, blog the giveaway for a second entry.

Deadline April 25, 2011, 11:59 PM EST

Guest Post: Author Gillian Bagwell’s Writing Space

Today, I welcome author Gillian Bagwell to the blog.  She’s the author of The Darling Strumpet: A Novel of Nell Gwynn, which came out this month from Penguin Group.

The Darling Strumpet is a vivid and richly detailed historical novel that puts the reader smack in the tumultuous world of seventeenth century London. Based on the life of Nell Gwynn, who rose from the streets to become one of London’s most beloved actresses and the life-long mistress of the King, the book opens on May 29, 1660, when the exiled King Charles II rides into London on his thirtieth birthday to reclaim his throne after the death of Oliver Cromwell. Among the celebratory crowds is ten-year-old runaway Nell Gwynn, determined to create a better life for herself and to become someone to be reckoned with.” (From Gillian’s Website)

Without further ado, please welcome Gillian.

How Life Can Change a Writing Space

Gillian's Writing Corner

I have lived in small places for several years, so my writing spaces have been corners of rooms, with everything I need – computer, books, maps, pictures of the people and places I’m writing about, files – tucked around me, organized as best I can.

I began researching Nell Gwynn, the subject of my recently released first novel, The Darling Strumpet, many years ago, initially intending to write a one-woman show for myself about her, but it quickly became clear I couldn’t do her amazingly eventful life justice in such a limited format. I was focused on an acting career then, and eventually also began directing and producing theatre, founding the Pasadena Shakespeare Company and producing 37 shows over nine seasons. Nell got pushed to the side, but I never gave up on the idea of telling her story.

In January 2005, I learned that my mother, living alone in London, was terminally ill and went over to take care of her. As it turned out, I was in London for almost a year and a half, and for the first time in my adult life, I had no career demanding my attention and no creative focus, and desperately needed something to occupy my mind and anchor myself. So I decided that I would finally take up Nell again, and present her life in a way that would do it justice, as a novel.

I didn’t even have a desk in my flat there, just my laptop on the little dining table. I bought a couple of new biographies of Nell that had been published in the years since I had first become interested in her, a new copy of Liza Picard’s wonderful Restoration London, and a book called The Weekend Novelist that I had bought a couple of years earlier and grabbed on a quick trip home. And that was my office!

Snug & Charlotte

My mother died on Mother’s Day 2006 and I came home to California in June. I already had a corner of my living room set aside as my office there, with three 7-foot bookcases towering around my desk, a filing cabinet, and some file boxes. My mother’s portrait – an oil painting done by John Emmett Gerrity – hung above my desk, and underneath it was a piece of calligraphy my mother had done, which says “Io Vivo!” which means “I live!” in Italian. (My mother was half Sicilian.)

Under and around those things, I began taping up pictures of Nell Gwynn, Charles II, and other people in Nell’s life as I worked on the book. They stayed there until it was sold – along with my next book, The September Queen, which also involves Charles II, but at a much earlier age, telling the story of Jane Lane, who helped him escape after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

Then down came the pictures of Nell, and up went pictures of Jane, a younger Charles, contemporary prints and paintings depicting their wild ride, pictures of the Royal Oak at Boscobel where Charles spent a day, photos I took of the bedroom and priest hole in the manor house at Trent where Jane and Charles hid for several days, and several images I collected in my quest to learn exactly what “riding pillion” meant, and how the saddle arrangement would have looked. (It means that the lady is riding sidesaddle behind the man, who rides astride. She sits on a pad that is attached behind the saddle, with a little shelf called a planchette to support her feet. Not very comfortable, I would think!)

Charles II Christmas Ornament

Recently I’ve moved from Pasadena into a little cottage in Montrose, just a few miles up the freeway. It’s a tiny place, but I’m very happy here. It’s filled with light, and the view from my desk is of an orange tree that burst forth with a bounty of glowing fruit just as I received the first copy of The Darling Strumpet, with luscious oranges filling the foreground.

At Christmas I put up a few ornaments around the desk, including beautiful little cloth figures of Charles II and Nell Gwynn that my friend Alice in London bought at the Victoria and Albert Museum and gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.

Nell Gwynn Christmas Ornament

I’m very happy with my writing space now. I’ve got one bookcase right next to my desk, with many books I’ll need for my next project within arm’s reach, and room for some of the many more that will inevitably come. Tonight I put up a bulletin board and started tacking up pictures of the characters and events that will fill my next book. My mother’s portrait is above the sofa, facing me and just to my left, and her “Io Vivo” print is atop the windows in front of me.

I have five cats, and there’s usually at least one of them supervising my work, giving me suggestions, or at least keeping me company while I work.


I can hardly believe that I’m a published novelist, with a second book coming out in November, British editions of both books coming soon, and every indication that I will be sitting happily in my sunny corner writing for a long time to come.

Please check out more of Gillian’s writing space in this slide show:

Thanks, Gillian, for sharing your writing space with us.

About the Author:

Gillian Bagwell is the author of The Darling Strumpet, a novel based on the life of Nell Gwynn, who rose from the streets to become one of London’s most beloved actresses and the life-long mistress of King Charles II, which was released on January 4, 2011.

For further information about Gillian’s books, other articles, and blogs of her research adventures, please visit her Website.

Guest Post: Author Laura Fitzgerald’s Writing Space of Her Own

Today, I’d like to welcome Dreaming in English, which hits stores on Feb. 1, author Laura Fitzgerald.

In the sequel to Veil of Roses, “Iranian-born Tami Soroush and her American husband, Ike, face the joys and challenges of cross-cultural married love.  While Tami and Ike may be eager to begin their new life together, their families and U.S. Immigration Services challenge them at every turn.  Tami discovers that freedom is not for the meek and she will have to stand up and fight for her American dream.” (from Penguin)

Laura has agreed to share her writing space with us today, so let’s take a look inside her inspirational muse.

I have a room of my own in which to do my writing.

Let me repeat: I have a room of my own in which to do my writing!

And it’s not just a room of my own. It’s a room of my own outside my home. It’s an office — an executive suite that I rent on a month-to-month basis. My office neighbors are lawyers, union representatives, non-profit directors, and the like.

And then there’s me:  The writer. Coming to my office to write.

Tucson is hugged by mountain ranges on all sides, and my sixth-floor office has a great view of the Catalina Mountains to the north. You’d think the mountains were static and that the view would be the same day after day, but in fact, shadows play on them throughout the day. They frame crisp sunrises and watercolor sunsets and everything in between, so they change, minute by minute. I love that about them.

I haven’t always had this office, only two years. Previously, I worked from home, which meant there were innumerable ways for me to procrastinate:  I should really get a load of laundry going before I start writing. How can I write facing those dishes? Shoot, if I don’t get that movie back in the mail, we won’t have a new one to watch for this weekend. Ooh, I finally have a moment to read that book! Maybe just for fifteen minutes. . .

And don’t get me started on the Internet.

Seriously, don’t.

I got my office after being a stay-at-home mom for five-ish years, once both my kids were in school and I’d sold my first novel, Veil of Roses. That is, once writing became a career for me rather than just a hobby. It was only then that I could justify it to myself. Before that, I’d write in coffee shops or the university library, or at home before anybody else woke up. Having been a newspaper reporter for a few years, I could write just about anywhere, with any sort of distraction – except my kids. And the laundry they create. And the dishes they dirty.

And the Internet.

Once all those things came along, my ability to concentrate took a serious nosedive.

I specifically looked for an office that had no Internet connection. I have no phone in my office, either, and I often leave my cell phone in my car or at the receptionist’s desk (this because I was stupid enough to get a smart phone with . . . you guessed it . . . Internet access). At my office, my powers of concentration are about a million-fold better than anywhere else. I sit, I think, I write. There’s really not much else to do, and that’s the point.

Here’s my routine: To get to my office, I drive or bike about two miles. I take an elevator to the sixth floor, say hello to Blanca at the front desk, and then head down the hallway to my office, Suite L.

I slip my key in the lock, the door opens, and my heart calms instantly as I leave the real world behind me and step into my hundred-square-feet of writer’s heaven, which I also lovingly think of as my pretty little prison cell. I keep my desk largely clear, except for a few non-killable faux cacti and a few candles. I have a nice blue reading chair in a corner, and I face my desk so there’s nothing in front of me except for the mountains.

On the wall to my right, I have artistic prints of two things I love – a book and a cup of coffee. On my left wall, there is a print of Mark Twain with a quote by him that reads, I find that it usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech, which I like because I’m a firm believer in the power of revision.

When I walk into my office, nowhere is there evidence of technology. (My laptop is either with me in my backpack or stored inside my desk.) It’s stunning to realize the difference that makes to me. I’m alone with only my thoughts; it’s my job to draw them out and make sense of them, and then put them together in a way that I alone can — all the while feeling like I’m getting away with something pretty grand.

Please check out the slide show below for more photos of this gorgeous, serene writing space:

Thanks, Laura, for showing us such a unique writing space.  Wow, breathtaking isn’t it?

Copyright Eileen Connel

About the Author:

Laura Fitzgerald, a native of Wisconsin, lives in Arizona with her husband, who is of Iranian descent, and their two children.  Her Website, Facebook Fan page, GoodReads page, and LibraryThing page.

Guest Post: Author Ann Wertz Garvin’s Writing Space

Ann Wertz Garvin, author of On Maggie’s Watch, recently agreed to share her writing space with my readers.  But before we get to her guest post, you should check out the synopsis of her book (courtesy of Penguin):

Having survived the wrenching loss of their first baby, Maggie Finley and her husband have moved back to her small hometown in an effort to assuage their grief and start again. Now, pregnant with their second child, Maggie worries about everything around her. She decides to resurrect the town’s long-defunct Neighborhood Watch as a way to control her anxieties. While the Watch members are busy worrying about litterbugs, graffiti and neighbors not picking up after their dogs, Maggie discovers a more serious threat lurking behind the gingham curtains of a home nearby. Determined to take matters into her own hands, Maggie decides she will do whatever it takes to expel the offender from their leafy neighborhood.

Without further ado, here’s Ann with her writing space:

Writing is Messy

Writing spaces. I picture my favorite authors writing in sleek loft spaces in New York City or overlooking the ocean from a dove colored shingled cottage. Big dreamy sigh. Such is the glamorous life of an author. In the largest arrogant leap known to man I decided I could write a novel. What was I thinking? I had no loft space, no beach house, no chalet or cottage, hell no skills to speak of. I love that my writing space reflects that.

Your browser may not support display of this image.My daughters were five and seven when I started the novel in 2006. Life is/was busy; my job, family, everyone’s overwhelming needs. They take a lot of maintenance those children. Apparently you have to feed them on a regular schedule or the court gets involved (*kidding). When my office got over run I wrote on my bed, at coffee shops, airports, and in my dining room which is much tidier but can’t be shut behind a door. I do live in a 100 year old Victorian which may or may not be haunted. If it is haunted it is a very respectful ghost who sometimes tosses things off shelves. On second thought, that may be just gravity but I like to think it’s my ghost tenant who is whispering ideas into my brain and when I’m not listening helps the natural laws along and flings things to the floor.

Another place I write and please don’t tell anyone at my University. I write in committee meetings. I have a legal pad and have already carried the plot line in my head for a few days so, long hand, I write. I look terribly diligent, in my meetings. Of course, I am insubordinate –but in a nice way.

I write whenever and where ever I can. Here’s what I’ve learned. You don’t need a loft space or a fancy, organized, tidy space. You can write amidst the clutter of life. In fact, if you wait for the clutter of life to de-clutter you will never write.

Thanks, Ann, for sharing your writing space with us.  Check out a couple videos for On Maggie’s Watch.

About the Author:

Ann Wertz Garvin has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a doctorate from University of Wisconsin-Madison in Exercise Psychology. She is a professor at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater where she teaches courses on nutrition, stress management and other health topics. On Maggie’s Watch is her first novel. Ann has lived all over the country but currently resides in a small town in Wisconsin that provided the inspiration for this novel.

Guest Post: Peer Into Eve Marie Mont’s Alternate Writing Space

I’ve got a real treat for you today. Eve Marie Mont, author of Free to a Good Home — a new novel in stores today (July 6) and is available in paperback and Kindle versions — will share with us a peek into her alternate writing space.

Here’s a synopsis of her book, which the author sent along:

Noelle Ryan works as a veterinary technician at a New England animal shelter, helping pets find the perfect homes. If only it were as easy to find the same thing for herself. After discovering that she can’t have children—and watching her marriage fall apart after a shocking revelation by her husband—Noelle feels as forlorn and abandoned as the strays she rescues.

She can’t seem to get over her ex, Jay. Unfortunately, all Jay wants from her is a whopper of a favor: serving as a caretaker for his elderly mother, who still blames Noelle for the breakup. While Jay heads off to Atlanta to live the life of a bachelor, Noelle is left with only her Great Dane, Zeke, to comfort her. But when a carefree musician named Jasper gives her a second chance at life—and at love—Noelle comes to realize that home is truly where the heart is.

Please check out the contest on Eve’s website for a chance to win a book club package of eight signed copies and a Skype call-in. Also, if you’d like to read a sneak preview, click here.

OK, without further ado, let’s check out her alternate writing space; shall we?

Thank you so much to Serena for inviting me to guest post on Savvy Verse and Wit. I was reading all the wonderful posts Serena has compiled featuring authors and their writing spaces, complete with photos of finely appointed offices with antique desks and fireplaces or cozy screened-in porches with Adirondack chairs. Then I looked at the space where I do most of my writing and thought, “I can’t possibly send Serena a photo of a plaid loveseat in front of an air conditioner!” But literally, that is what my writing space looks like. Don’t get me wrong, there are some lovely features to my living room as well — the soothing lemony yellow color my husband painted it, the sun that bathes the room in late afternoon, my favorite Picasso print that hangs across from me. But it’s not a space worthy of showcasing on a blog!

So I’ll tell you a little about my alternate writing space, or more accurately, my alternate thinking space: my backyard. I don’t get much actual writing done out here because the setting is far too distracting, but I take my trusty canine companion, Maggie, and we sit by the creek in the dappled sunshine and watch the goldfinches play and the ducklings swim. The breeze rustles through the trees above, and my favorite blue heron sometimes stops by to feed on the minnows. I finally get some time away from my laptop and get back to the basics: me, a pad of paper and a pencil, and some focused daydreaming time. Maggie sits by my feet chewing on sticks, while I fill my notebook with ideas and characters and settings.

This is not to say that my writing life is all lazy afternoons by a picturesque creek with waves of inspiration washing over me. I teach high school English full-time, so much of my year is devoted to planning lessons and grading papers, and I often get very little writing — or thinking, for that matter — done at all. Another reality is that this very same creek floods nearly every time it rains, often knocking down our fence and creating a lot of headache for me and my husband. But when summer arrives and the weather is fine, this is my “go-to” writing and thinking space. When I think of all the enjoyment and inspiration to be found in my own backyard, I know I’m lucky to live where I do—plaid loveseat and ugly air conditioner included.

What is the place that inspires you most? Leave a comment below for a chance to win a free copy of Free to a Good Home.

Deadline for the U.S./Canada giveaway is July 15, 2010, at 11:59 PM

EST.  Good Luck!

About the author:

Eve Marie Mont lives with her husband, Ken, and her shelter dog, Maggie, in suburban Philadelphia, where she teaches high school English and creative writing. Free to a Good Home is her first novel. She is currently revising her second novel, a YA book inspired by Jane Eyre.

Tatjana Soli’s Writing Space

Earlier today, I reviewed The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli (check her out on Twitter), and the author was gracious enough to share a sneak peek into her writing space.  Please give her a warm welcome.

Years ago when I first decided to start writing I bought a large, rolltop style desk. It was a big purchase for me, fresh out of college, but I needed to have something that made me feel like a writer. I bought it on layaway, payments that took a year to finish. But I needed to create a physical place that I would occupy hours a day, as a writer. For me, temporary writing places — a couch, or dining room table — made it too easy to ignore writing when life got in the way.

Ten years ago when we moved into our current home, it had a perfect writing room on the second story, with large windows that looked out over the treetops to the faraway hills. A perfect writing space… except for the narrow hallway leading to it, too narrow to get my big desk through. I was heartbroken. My mom gave me two tables that she no longer wanted, and I installed these in my writing room instead — one for my computer, one for handling correspondence, bill paying, all the other stuff.

My theory is to make the room as welcoming and comfortable as possible, to trick myself into working longer hours! Above one desk, I have a painting by my husband that I love, “Tree of Life,” all greens and golds. That big mound of paper on the corner of the desk is a draft of my second novel. I feel guilty looking at it every day that I don’t get back to it. My computer desk has a stand for my handwritten first drafts. I learned long ago that buying expensive moleskin notebooks made me feel like I couldn’t make mistakes, so I have a closet of cheap notepads to write on. The shades are usually half drawn since the light is bright in this room, but I love to look out while I’m thinking. There’s a big sour cherry tree outside, and this time of year wild parrots, green with a single big red spot on their heads, descend on it, bouncing on the branches and squawking as they eat the fruit.

The desk that I imagined I needed in order to write sits dusty at the end of the hallway. I realize that one doesn’t need the perfect room, paper, or pen to be a writer, one only needs to show up and do the work. For the years it takes. But if possible, why not surround oneself with things that remind one of the important things in life, the things, hopefully, that are leading one to write in the first place?

Thanks, Tatjana, for sharing your space with us.

I know I’ve always thought about writing at a rolltop desk, but then I smartened up and realized I love to move around too much.  What do you think about Tatjana’s writing space?

Giveaway information for 1 copy (US/Canada, No P.O. Boxes):

1.  Comment on guest post about what you think about Tatjana’s writing space.

2.  Leave a comment on my review of The Lotus Eaters.

3.  Tweet, Facebook, or blog about the giveaway and leave me a link.

Deadline April 20, 2010 at 11:59PM EST


Please also remember to check out the next stops on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour at Monniblog and Ernie Wormwood.

Author Carol Snow’s Writing Space

Carol Snow‘s novel — Just Like Me, Only Better — hits stores today, April 6.  The protagonist, Veronica Czalicki, is a housewife who soon finds herself on her own when her husband leaves her for another woman — the love of his life.  She’s now a financially struggling single mother, but she has other problems too.  She just happens to look like a famous star.  Veronica receives some respite from her daily struggles when she’s asked to become the star’s double.

Check out WriteMeg!’s review.

Let’s take a look inside Carol’s writing space.  Please give her a warm welcome.

My office has pale wood floors, sage walls, and three big windows that look out to the street. It has two oak book shelves that I periodically (and futilely) attempt to organize, a comfy blue loveseat, and a really, really big oak desk.
Years, ago, when we were living in Park City, Utah, my husband found the desk through the local PennySaver. According to the seller, in the twenties the desk belonged to the President of Utah Power & Light; on the side there’s a little brass plague that says, “Property of UP&L.” As far as provenance goes, that’s not as cool as if the desk had belonged, to, say, John Steinbeck. (Granted, it’s hard to imagine Steinbeck’s desk making its way to Utah.) But I still like the sense of history. And, you know — power. (Sorry. That was uncalled for.) The desk has four very deep drawers and a file drawer. We’ve been shoving stuff into those drawers for years. I have no idea what’s in there.

I have a computer on my desk. I use it to answer emails, do research, and waste vast amounts of time. I do most of my writing on a laptop while sitting (slumping) on the comfy blue loveseat. It is terrible for my posture, and I keep thinking I should put the laptop on my desk and sit on one of those big balls that force you to sit up straight or risk falling over. Somehow, I know I’d fall over. Plus, I’d be so uncomfortable that I wouldn’t get any work done.

Mostly, though, I like sitting on the couch because one of my cats usually ends up on my lap. I like to think it’s because they love me and not because my lap is soft and the computer is warm.

Thanks, Carol, for sharing your workspace with us.

I’m not sure how she gets any work done on those adult and teen reads with those cats hanging out all over her desk.  It must be great exercise. . . for them.

The next stops on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour are Janel’s Jumble and The Betty and Boo Chronicles.  Go check them out!

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated.

© 2010, Serena Agusto-Cox of Savvy Verse & Wit. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Savvy Verse & Wit or Serena’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.