Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hostile Makeover

Searching the nether reaches of my hard drive for story snippets, I had a pretty good laugh over some truly horrible writing. And with the finish line in sight (i.e. the close of the school year), I needed a good laugh. And all that bad writing got me to thinking. Everyone's got to start somewhere, right? It's all just a gateway to something better, at least, that's the hope of every writer.

Sam James, my first attempt at humorous writing, marks the moment I first felt like a writer. The title of this post, as well as the following excerpt, is borrowed from chapter two.  Secretary Samantha, who is less than posh and poised, has her first spa day with her boss, Vanessa Sumers, who is the epitome of posh and poise.
Excerpt from Sam James

Stepping into the office, Sam’s determination dissolved. The soft cream walls, the gleaming bank of windows separating the main office from Vanessa's inner sanctum, and Sam's large, inviting desk with the comfy swivel chair, should have put her at ease.  But smack in the middle of it, like a queen bee with her drones, Ms. Sumers, in full monarch-mode, bustled about, bossing everyone to within an inch of their lives.
“You’re…early,” Sam observed.
Vanessa waved a hand dismissively. "How can we leave the company prepared for our absence if we don’t put in extra time?"
Sam cleared her throat. “About that, Vanessa—“
But naturally Vanessa wasn't listening, at least not to anything beyond the sound of her own voice.  “Our first priority is tying up the loose ends here.  It will be quite a push to be ready by next Friday, but I’m sure we can do it.”
“Friday?” Surprise and shock vied for first place in Sam's mind.  “But…but…weren’t the tickets for next month?”
“Yes,” Vanessa replied, “But I can’t give anyone the satisfaction of lording it over me when word gets out that Derick and I are through.  So, I exchanged them for an earlier date.” The forced cheeriness in her tone snagged at Sam.  Could sadness be hidden behind the cool, efficient exterior?
No way.
After a moment, Vanessa plowed on briskly. “Now, let’s see.  Schedule a spa day, if you please.  And we'll both need hair appointments."  She cast a disapproving glance at Sam's mousy brown bun.  "Contact Fran├žois so he can fit us in. Oh, and email Rebecca at Dolce.  We'll need something extra special for the cruise.”  Pausing momentarily, she noticed Sam’s unresponsiveness.  “Hello," Vanessa said, snapping her fingers in Sam's face. “Are you planning on writing this down?”
Something in her tone prompted the automatically reply, “Oh, um, of course Miss Sumers. I’ll take care of it right away.”
Vanessa, brushed off her hands, and with an expression of satisfaction, sailed off to torture some other underling.  Sam sighed as she looked down at the list: spa, hair, Dolce & Gabbana.  It sounded wonderful, but knowing Vanessa, Sam was certain she would suck all the fun out of it.

Two days later, Sam found herself rushing through downtown traffic, wedging her gray Corolla between old lady drivers in town cars and hormonal teenagers in sports cars to make her spa appointment on time.  Narrowly missing a collision with one of said teenagers, she blew out a breath of relief and reviewed the last few days.  Filled with last minute tasks and long days sequestered behind the main desk, they had dragged on and on. Vanessa had been too occupied with planning their escape to be much of an annoyance, but everyone else was so irked at being left with extra responsibilities that they were making up for it with interest.  The last 48 hours had given new meaning to the term “hostile work environment.”
With feelings of misgiving, Sam pulled into the parking lot and switched off the ignition.  The building, a brick structure featuring wide picture windows with large photos of women and men in the middle of various spa treatments, seemed harmless enough.  Sam would have given anything for a glimmer of the calm happiness splashed across the faces of those depicted on the windows.  With all she'd passed through, Sam merited a genuine spa day, but she had a feeling this one would be more taxing than relaxing.  Taking a deep breath, she stepped out of the car and pocketed her keys. A few steps and her hand was on the metal handle, steeling herself for the worst, she pushed open the glass doors, entered the uber-posh, extra white, waiting room, and was greeted the beaming face of her boss, she knew she was in it. 

Later on, still smarting from her first spa experience, she would write:
Visiting a spa should be unspeakably relaxing, an experience almost spiritual in nature.  It should never include the following:
a) Whacking the bare back and hindquarters with tree limbs (a sensation comparable to receiving “stripes” with a cat o’ nine tails)
b) Peeling skin from the skull, a.k.a.“exfoliation” completed by a sadomasochist named Bindy
c) Scouring and hacking fingernails/toenails with well-sharpened dental equipment and something akin to a belt sander
d) The application of an unholy amount of hot wax to unmentionable areas and the forcible removal of said wax along with a healthy amount of flesh,  
e) So-called “gentle” massage that requires enough oil to grease up several beach-front body builders and the brute force of a man called Brutus

Needless to say, the bulk of the weekend was required to recuperate from the deluxe treatments received on Sam’s first spa day.
* * * * *

Thanks for reading!  If you'd like to read more about sassy Samantha James or Vanessa Sumers, take a look at Dealing with Divas and Finding Myself in Literature.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Run, Forrest, RUN!

Saturday, May 17th, the Ogden Marathon (Utah's first marathon of the season) was held. Several of my friends do the whole or half-marathon every year, and honestly, I admire them. (I do it from the comfort of my bed each year, but I admire them just the same.)
I'm not much of a runner, and I will probably never become a marathoner. 5Ks, hiking, biking, walking, and swimming are more my thing.  And at this time of year, I'm facing another type of finish line anyway. See, I teach kindergarten, which means I transform Neanderthals into fully-functional first-graders. You'd think it would get easier this close to the finish line (we're into the single digits now!), but I work with the strange breed of animal called humans, who even though they know the rules and how to behave in practically any school situation, still push the envelope. At this time of year, I find myself frazzled and counting down the days more eagerly than the children.  On the up-side, I'm not alone.  This happens to not only educators, but writers, businessmen and women, and all the rest of humanity who deal with looming deadlines of one type or another.  In honor of them and the Ogden Marathon, I offer my tips for runners of all types of life's races:

Stay hydrated:  There's little worse than having nothing to give to friends, family, students, neighbors, and coworkers because you haven't taken care of your basic human needs. Drink plenty of water, or, if you prefer, down copious amounts of what my friend calls "Cocktails"--the soda of your choice with whatever cherry, berry, coconut, or lime syrup can be rounded up.  And keep the chocolate on hand, just in case.

Rest up:  Any runner will tell you that lack of rest can ruin even the best training regimen. In the middle of the push til the end, we all need to take the time to rest, relax, and do positive, happy things for ourselves. (Perhaps not in a real race...that might result in a Tortoise and the Hare scenario.)

Find your stride: There's a certain zen quality that settles over me as I fall into the right pace--not too slow, not too fast, just that sweet spot where I could run forever. Frantic emotions fall in my wake as I move forward purposefully, hitting all the checkpoints along the way.  Discovering the best circumstances in which you work--pace, time, and place--is important to creating your best product.

Breathe.  Just breathe: Yoga taught me about soul-cleansing deep breathing. Sometimes, when deadlines approach and irate bosses (or in my case, kindergartners) and everyone else's problems are piling up, the only thing we can do is stop for a moment, breathe, pull it together, and move on.

Look around: Becoming fixated on putting one foot in front of the other and seeing nothing more than the pavement under your feet can be exhausting. The road to the finish line can feel interminable, but, if we look around, beauty can always be found.  A child's laughter, a mountain vista, a compliment from a friend, a much-needed hug, all of these boost our vitality when our resources are dwindling.

The final push:  The end of any 5k is my favorite part. With the finish line in sight, I realize I've got more left in the tank than I thought, and yes, this is the moment when I become a real runner.  With all that is left, I speed toward my goal.  The exhilaration of crossing the finish line, finishing a tough project, or simply clicking after tying The End makes much of what comes before worth it.

Celebrate: Even if no one else is at the finish line to cheer you on, we need to celebrate our own successes. Moving from one drama to another without taking the time to pat yourself on the back, head out to dinner, buy the cute shoes, or drive-thru Sonic for half-price shakes after 8, will deplete your resources until you can longer keep going. My philosophy: Buy The Shoes.

Forrest Gump had a gift for expressed things simply, yet profoundly. On the topic of running, he said:
Whether it's an actual marathon, finishing out a school year, the novel you're currently writing, or a work project that has you all tangled up, I hope these tips will be of use. The biggest lie the world would have us believe is that we are alone in our struggles. Here's the truth:

We are all in this together. The sooner we learn to pull together instead of constantly competing, the stronger & healthier we will be both as a society and as individuals. 

So run the good race, my friends.  If I can keep it together in the land of out-of-control kindergartners, you can do what you need to do too. Thank you for running this crazy race with me.
* * * * *
For more inspiration on finding the environment that works for you and creating a support system, please review Butt In Chair and There Are Weirdos For Everyone.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Captain Obvious

Toppling entire scenes with a single eyeroll!
Collapsing important dialogue with an exaggerated yawn!
And obliterating everyone's best intentions (along with a healthy dose of plot) with a disapproving ahem.
(Look at him.  He doesn't even have to comment on how boring he finds all of this. So irritating.)

That's right!  He's Captain Obvious, the guy we all want to punch in the face the second he opens his big mouth. Quite frankly, he's been making writers look like idiots for years.  There's nothing worse than readers, reviewers, and editors summoning their inner Captain Obvious and permanently shelving your novel.

Since my niche is twisted fairytales--my take on stories that have been around so long we've ceased wondering where they came from--Captain Obvious could have a field day with my work. So, I'm as eager as you to discover how we get him to put a cork in it.

Make 'em Laugh:  Tickling Captain Obvious' funny bone is an excellent way to shut him up (as long as he doesn't see the jokes coming from a mile away). Laughter draws people out of their ordinary lives and dramas while simultaneously shushing their inner Captain Obvious.  A good joke, a nod to your audience, or a good ol' pratfall debilitates ill-humor as effectively as it lifts spirits.

The Element of Surprise:  Action, twists and turns, cliffhangers, and unexpected betrayal keep Captain Obvious from guessing what's coming next.  As my dad taught me at a young age, even if you think you know what's happening next, if the story's good enough, you'll keep reading to see if you're right. My dad's Dun-dun-dun! always ensured a rapt audience.

Activate the Senses:  If the writing is rich enough, if it literally pulls the reader into the author's world, Captain Obvious doesn't stand a chance.  I know this because I'm the nit-picky reader who considered sending published authors notes on improvements for subsequent printings. However, my Grammar Nazi soul shuts her cakehole when the writing is fantastic.Without making your prose so description-heavy it's in danger of drowning, titillate as many senses as possible (including memory) throughout your projects. Just as golden late afternoon light makes everything more alluring, so do scenes that draw the reader in and make them live in that moment.

Make 'em Cry:  This may seem odd given the fact that the first tip is Make 'em Laugh, but the truth is characters who struggle, fail, suffer set-backs, and deal with regret, sorrow, or doubt are more believable and lovable. If you can get Captain Obvious to emote along with your dynamic characters, you have him just where you want him, on your side.

Then, with your newly drafted manuscript and sense of empowerment, you can face Captain Obvious and proudly say:

All right, some of us, like Matt Smith, can't pull that off.  However, we can stand tall in the knowledge that we've done our best to send Captain Obvious packing.

* * * * *

For more on making 'em laugh and creating dynamic characters, revisit Plot Twist! and Tragically Flawed...or Not.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

S'more Smoochin'

As if I wasn't weird enough already...

I have an odd aversion to my own kissing scenes.  Just the thought of reading them aloud makes me want to vomit.  Or at least wince.

That said, I can't not write them.  My life is romance-free enough without allowing celibacy to enter into my fictional love life as well. So, they do indeed make it onto the page.  

Let's all be grateful I'm not doing a live reading of this section or there would be an awkward pause, a healthy amount of blushing, and possibly girlie giggling on my part. Since we're online, enjoy the smoochin'!

Excerpt from Sylvi Lockhart 

“I can’t believe we lost her,” I said, as we walked past various shops and corner cafes.  After seeing Jesse navigate city traffic in a rickety truck without losing track of his prey, I never would have imagined we’d lose a little old lady on foot.  But Old Dolly seemed to have vanished into thin air just the same.
“Maybe she jumped into a car,” I mused. Then, another thought occurred to me. “You don’t think she knew we were following her, do you?”
“No, she glanced at us once or twice, but didn’t seem alarmed.”  Jesse seemed a little disappointed, but in his usual upbeat fashion he was making the best of it.  “At least we have a lead.”
“Yeah?” I challenged, the fact that I was footsore and irritated rang in my tone.  We had followed the woman all over the neighborhood, marking her progress through shops and buildings for more than an hour, and nothing she had done seemed the slightest bit suspicious.  “Like what?”
“Aw, young padawan,” he replied pressing his palms together and bowing, “you have much to learn.”
Stopping beside a dilapidated building with a FOR SALE sign posted in a dusty window, I put my hands on my hips and gave him my best squinty-eyed glare.  I didn’t appreciate being treated like a know-nothing, especially by someone who reminded me more of Peter Pan by the minute.
“All right,” he conceded. “It was the guy she spoke to at the butcher shop, the one selling fish.”
“What is it with you and fish?” I muttered, recalling the pungent fish fillets still stowed in his truck.
“Hm?” he asked, clearly confused.
I rolled my eyes and relaxed my irritated pose.  “Go on,” I said, waving one hand.
“Stanley Banks the butcher is Stan the bookie.”
“Oh.” Light dawned.  Even I had heard of Stan.  My grandfather had mentioned him a few times.
“But it’s not enough,” he shrugged, shoving his hands into his pockets and turning back the way we’d come.  “If we’d caught her placing a bet it would be one thing, but anyone can have a friendly conversation with a bookie.  It doesn’t make you a felon.”
Falling into step beside him, I said, “There’s always tomorrow.” It was getting dark anyway, the street lit by streetlamps and the glow from store windows.  And due to my fish aversion, I was starving.
The tip-tap of heels coming down the sidewalk didn’t even register until Jesse, well-versed in covert operations, muttered, “Crap,” and backed me up against the brick building. 
“What the—” I got out before he pinned me to the wall, pressed his chest against mine, and covered my lips with his.  I was on the verge of shoving him away when I caught sight of a familiar blonde head over his shoulder.  So I closed my eyes, wrapped my arms around his torso and pulled him closer, deepening the kiss and the ruse at the same time. 
“Mmmmm…” he murmured against my mouth, his hands tangling in my hair.  Suddenly—instead of kissing so we wouldn’t be recognized by the woman we’d been following for an hour—the rest of reality faded away until nothing beyond the two of us remained, wrapped tightly in each other’s arms and fully making-out for all the world to see.  If I’d had my wits about me, I might have wondered why he didn’t taste like the fish sandwiches he’d inhaled.  As it was, I just enjoyed the feel of a man fully and truly smooching me. 
It felt unbelievable for a moment, until the thought flashed through my mind, Kevin would not approve.  As if sensing my thoughts, Jesse pulled away, blinking like someone had just turned on the lights. I let my arms fall from around him, trying not to notice that underneath that silly tee-shirt he was as nicely chiseled as Kevin had ever been.  My face grew hot. 
Obviously not feeling in the least embarassed, a slow smirk spread over Jesse’s face.  “I should have gotten a partner a long time ago,” he said.
* * * * * 
Thanks for visiting!  For more Jesse and Sylvi, check out Sarcasm & A Gun or Woman: The Most Dangerous Plaything.  Meme courtesy of Pinterest.

Truth-Telling Fiction

Many people question the value of fiction.  After all, how in the world can characters who never lived or breathed teach someone how to navigate the paths of life successfully?

Being a dreamer, I get it.  Here's my explanation:

Good fiction nestles nuggets of truth between action, romance, and heartbreak.  Driven to finish a story, we devour page after page, discovering hidden gems along the way that shine out all the brighter for being unexpected.

Fiction opens the mind to the possibility of miracles, magic, & true love.  Magic, true love, and miracles have their counterparts in real life.  If we have eyes trained to search out and recognize them, we will.

Through the eyes of fictional characters, we see the world more clearly. The reality overlaying the fiction reveals the truth of the one and the beauty in the other.  Author's paint their own beliefs into their works, spreading a vision of faith, strength, humor, and hope as easily as they can spread pessimism, hopelessness, and fear.

Gifted authors have the ability to lift souls from the depths of sorrow, ignorance, loneliness, and pain. Through the power of words, which according to Dumbledore are our most inexhaustible source of magic, we teach others about  strength, beauty, and wisdom.  Even in fiction. 

For a wonderful example of truth-telling fiction, pick up Defy by Sara B. Larson. The story of Alexa, a gifted fighter who must disguise herself as a soldier, Defy is a fantastic blend of girl power, romance, and the true meaning of beauty.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sarcasm & A Gun

The flamboyant Victor Melling sums up Sandra Bullocks' character beautifully. When the only tools in your arsenal are sarcasm and a gun, you'd better be good with both, but if so, the combination can be pretty effective.  Unless you have half a masticated cow stuck in your teeth.

Though I've never created a character as ugly-duckling-meets-Miss-America as Grace Hart, something about Sylvi Lockhart reminds me of her.  Though Sylvi's weapon of choice would neither be sarcasm nor a gun, a healthy dose of Grace's self-defense would certainly be in her arsenal, as well as the stand-for-what-you-believe-at-all-costs philosophy Hart espouses.  Sylvi's easily one of my favorite heroines, and her co-star Jesse, who wields both sarcasm and a gun with a master hand, isn't half bad either. 

And because I'm a giver, I'm sharing s'more of author Sylvi and P.I. Jesse:

Excerpt from Sylvi Lockhart

Wallowing in my bed until the stench urged neighbors to alert the authorities sounded like a good plan.  No one would be the wiser until it was too late.  And I didn’t have any cats to feed on my decomposing corpse, so at least there was that.
Now that everything had fallen apart and there was no one left to care, what was the point of carrying on?  
Bring on the cats, I thought dolefully.
Brrring!  The doorbell sounded, rousing me from my morbid fantasies.  It was probably Kevin, returning for my last shred of dignity.  Shambling down the long hallway to the door with a tattered comforter around me, I braced myself to face the man who had broken my heart.  With a lump in my throat, I eased the door open.  
“You look like crap.”  Leaning nonchalantly in the doorway, Jesse James looked me over.  
I glanced into the mirror perched on the side-table to my right.  My lusterless blonde hair, sticking up on one side, gave me a cockeyed appearance, and the make-up I’d forgotten to remove the night before ran in twin rivulets down my cheeks.  
I shrugged.  “Bad day.”
“We can turn that around,” he said, pushing his way past me into the apartment.  “S’only 11 a.m.”  He made his way to the kitchen, nosing around until he located pots and pans.  I followed in his wake, bemused.  “Do you like French toast?  Everybody likes French toast,” he asked
A feeling of irritation grew within me.  First Kevin waltzed in to ruin my life, and now Jesse, whom I barely knew, was messing with my resolve to quietly waste away.  
He met my eyes, pity curving a corner of his mouth down.  “Look, I can see you’ve had a rough night. And I feel bad for dragging you into that situation the other day.  Let me make it up to you?”
“With French toast?”  He probably just wanted to cheat me out of a free breakfast, but the look of genuine sympathy on his face made me rethink the decision to toss him out and resume wallowing.  I sighed.  
“Great!” He waved a plastic spatula in my direction, “Why don’t you clean yourself up a bit? I’ve got this.”

The aroma of bacon hit me as I stepped out of the bathroom in a clean tee-shirt and pajama pants.  I finished toweling my hair dry as I entered the kitchen.  My stomach rumbled.
“Hungry?” Jesse grinned up at me as he placed utensils on the small dining table.  Motioning me to a chair, he proceeded to pile French toast, hash browns, and crispy bacon on the plate before me.
“Whoa, cowboy,” I said, as the deluge of maple syrup he’d poured on top threatened to run onto the tabletop.
“Just tuck in there, little lady,” he said, adopting a Texas accent, and winking hugely.
Normally I would have scowled and snapped that I was nobody’s little lady, but my stomach had begun growling again, so I did as he directed.
“That’s more like it,” he said approvingly, starting in on his own plate.
A few minutes of silence followed as we enjoyed the meal.  I looked him over as I dredged my last bit of French toast through the syrup puddle.  Much like the day before, he flaunted a five-o’clock shadow, mussed-up hair, and a tee-shirt and jeans.  The only real change was today’s tee-shirt, which had a depiction of a steaming baked potato and the words drop it like it’s hot
“Feeling better?” he asked, licking syrup off his fork. It was sort of cute, in the way of messy little boys. 
I smiled across at him, admitting to myself that I did feel better.  “Thanks for breakfast.  I wouldn’t have pegged you as a guy who cooks.”
He shrugged.  “Hidden talents.” To prove the point, he piled up the dishes and stood to take them to the sink.
“You don’t have to do that,” I said, reaching to take them from him.
“I insist,” he said, sliding the plates out of reach. Before I could stop him, he rinsed them in the sink and popped them into the dishwasher.
A man who cooks and does the dishes.  Hmmm...
Jesse returned to the table, flipping his chair backwards and sitting on it with his arms propped on the back.  “Now for the real reason I came—“
“About that, how did you know where to find me in the first place?”  Now that my stomach was full and my suicidal tendencies squelched, I wondered how he came to be standing on my doorstep.  He was the type that would make a particularly determined stalker.
“P.I.” he said, spreading his arms wide.  “Mad investigative skills.”
I blinked back at him for a second.
“Though usually Google does the trick.”
I huffed out half a laugh.  “Fair enough.  You were saying?”
He didn't miss a beat. “I’m here to offer you a once in a lifetime chance, Sylvi.”
“Which is…?”  I imagined some of the things he might suggest, all of which made me rather nervous.
“I’m here to offer you a job.”  He leaning forward slightly, his eyes glinting with excitement.  “You seem to be a natural at the investigative business, and I could use someone to back me up.  Bring a bit of organization to the job.”
The numerous Happy Meal toys littering his cab and the way he’d taken after Eugene without thinking of his own safety added credence to the assertion.
“How much would it pay?” I asked hesitatingly.
His gaze shifted away.  “That’s the tricky bit, I can’t actually afford to pay you.” An apologetic expression showed on his face.  “But you’ll get plenty of field experience.”
I felt bad, but my meager savings would only cover the rent for so long.  “I’m sorry Jesse, but I’ve just lost everything. I can’t afford to work for nothing.”
“You lost everything?” He perked up.  “What happened, your ex-boyfriend steal your credit card and go on a bender?”  
“No, nothing like that.  It’s my grandfather’s estate.  I’ve been living off it since I started writing full-time, and apparently he was involved in some iffy business deals before his death.  They’ve seized everything,” I explained.
“Interesting,” he replied, rubbing his stubbled chin thoughtfully.  After a moment his eyes refocused on me, a half-grin tilting his lips.  “I’ve got a deal for you, Sylvi.  You help me out with a few cases and I’ll help you uncover the truth about your grandfather.”  He stuck out a hand.  “Deal?”
I considered for a moment.  I was jobless, working on a novel no one wanted, and painfully single.  What did I have to lose?

* * * * *

For more of Jesse and Sylvi, revisit Woman: The Most Dangerous Plaything.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Butt. In. Chair.

Plain and simple, it's the best writing advice in the world.
That being said, I struggle with maintaining the energy to teach kindergarten each day, much less getting my butt in the chair for creative projects afterward. (Typically my favorite after-hours activity is staring zombie-like into space and trying not to drool.)

Being well-acquainted with my issues, my sweet friend Jo Schneider asked me, So, when do you write? 

Now, I admire Jo.  She's phenomenal. This year, she's released two books with nary a meltdown. And she can literally write anywhere. (I've seen it firsthand and it's impressive!) But I'm not like that. Over the course of crafting Becoming Beauty (which broke me out of the Writing-is-just-my-hobby mindset), I became acquainted with my strengths and limitations where creative writing is concerned.  Beyond BUTT IN CHAIR, there are several other things I have learned which may be of use to you.

Be patient with yourself and take time to understand your process.

My process is odd, to say the least. 
First off, I conduct a random dance before settling in to write. This involves checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and playing a round of solitaire before being productive. (Well-seasoned writers:  Feel free to roll your eyes. I won't hold it against you, I promise.) 

Secondly, before I joined my writing group, I only wrote during the summer and on school breaks. Today, that's still when the bulk of the writing gets done because it's when I have enough creative braincells available.  I've had to make adjustments to keep up with my writing group, but, let's that if there are chattable individuals in the vicinity, I will be chatting them up instead of writing. This means I can't write when the writing group meets together, which mean on our write-in months, I edit instead! (I can edit with Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Glee on in the background. Just not all at the same time.)

Lastly, the whole home office scenario, no matter how well-organized and inviting, doesn't work for me. I can write in the living room, in bed, outside, or at the library, but sitting in an office chair facing the wall shuts off my creative juices.

(Side note: How cool is this? A new friend from LDS Storymakers told me that this is how she pops out a book every few months. And hey, you can order your own treadmill desk on Amazon. Who knew?)

Whether you're like me or the amazing and wondrous Jo (I think she actually has a magical cape of some sort) you have to make writing a priority and tailor your creative endeavors to your lifestyle. Though my writing process--complete with an affinity for Spider Solitaire and an abhorrence for desks--is a little strange--I've learned to hold my head up high and proclaim that it's all part of my process.  And understanding that makes me a better writer.

So class, here's your homework:
Develop your process. Find out what gets your head in the game.
Discover a time and place that work for you, even if it's somewhat--ahem--unconventional.

Please, pass along what you've learned about yourselves. I'd love to know what gets you writing.  

Also, If you'd like to learn more about the wondrous Jo Schneider, visit her website.