A Look At My Writing Room

sk-on-writing

My writing room is in the basement of my house, a bedroom that belonged to my youngest daughter before she married and moved away. It’s a quiet room, unless there are people in the living room above it, like when my grandchildren visit and have the TV on. A stereo of favorite music and headphones make for a pleasant escape from the noise.

My writing room is warm and cozy, though the floor is bare and gets terribly cold during winter. My favorite books and some of my early artwork surround my writing desk, and my soft leather chair swivels enough so I can prop my feet against my desk when I’m deep in thought or taking a nap. You can usually find boxes of Girl Scouts cookies on my bookcases, along with all sorts of written notes about my books in progress.

cluttered corner

mom's corner

I have a phone in my writing room, but I keep it unplugged. It was a souvenir from France for my late mother, so it sits as decoration next to the Greek vase and trinkets I bought her while I toured the Mediterranean nearly forty years ago. Her black KJV Bible sits there too, the one she carried with her when she taught Sunday school in the 1960s and ’70s at a church that died long ago when its pastor abandoned the place for greener pastures and warmer weather.

A curtain is drawn over the only window and I keep the only door closed but never locked. My writing room is a place to write at, not hide from family and friends. But few people ever visit me when I’m there, though my wife and dad have knocked on my door many times over the years. It’s nice to have visitors when the muse has left the premises.

My writing room is my sanctuary—a near sanctum sanctorum where I go to connect to the Great Mysterious … and to create the worlds in my stories and the people who live there.

Green Crystal Stories Update [book news]

A quick news item for my readers: Today was a free day—a day off and away from my 9-to-5 job—so I spent most of it redesigning the cover of my e-book, Green Crystal Stories. I’m making changes to some of the stories that appeared in the last volume, and I’m adding new ones, including some that I co-wrote with my friend Laura Gilson-Comier, and some that she wrote alone. Our stories will feature creepy Ridgewood, and will focus on Vree Erickson and Lenny Steven, just like the earlier volume did. We plan to have the project finished by July and the new book on the e-shelves at Amazon the same month. A release with Barnes & Noble for their Nook e-reader will take place in October.

New Heroine Sketch [character development]

Vree

Yesterday I wrote about creating characters, putting them on the story stage, and watching them act. In that post, I included a sketch of my current main character, Vree Erickson. I draw with all sorts of pencils, including charcoal and chalk pencils. I like using watercolor paper to draw on because it allows me to scratch into it using knives and razor blades. This technique is great for rendering hair.

You can read about Vree in my Night of the Hellhounds e-novel (available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble).

NotH

Dealing With Characters

Vree

During a bout with the flu in January, I began constructing the story outline for Verawenda Erickson’s next story. I saw her with both new characters and old ones—the latter familiar to me. The new ones were sketches, barely walking and talking those two months ago. Some didn’t have names.

I put them together and let them play off each other, seeing their actions and reactions in my mind. Some played well together; others didn’t while I took them through the measures of acting out the story I planned for them. Some even balked at doing what I wanted them to do. Nothing tests an author’s tolerance more than stubborn characters who don’t want to go by the script.

Some characters can even take over a story and bring a book’s production to a standstill with their demands to change the script to match their desires. I’ve heard that some authors kill off these demanding types just to get the story back on track. Other authors give in and sometimes end up writing a better story than they’d planned.

There’s an adage among authors to keep the character pool to a bare minimum. This helps keep down the noise of their demands. It’s confounding trying to direct a stage of overzealous characters who’ve developed giant egos and are always interrupting production. It’s all “Me, me, me,” and “She has better dialogue than I do.” Perhaps this is why so many authors drink excessively while they write. Luckily, I’ve been able to keep away from the booze and other drugs.

Also lucky for me is having a main character who does everything I ask of her without question. Vree tackles every scene with gusto and keeps it real. She is probably the best character I’ve ever breathed life into. Characters like her are the reason for trilogies and series stories. No author ever wants to lose them. They’re the reason readers come back for more. Add a great story every time and the rest is a relationship that can last for many years.

Long live Vree and characters who make stories real.