Tag Archive for: Women Writers

Clicking Our Heels: Our Virginia Woolf Places to Write

Clicking Our Heels: Our Virginia Woolf
Places to Write
Woolf famously said women writers need a room of their own.
This month, we asked the members of The
Stiletto Gang: Where do you write? Are you happy with it? How would you change
it if you could? What do you think our answers demonstrate about each of
Aragon Fatula
: When I’m
alone in my camper, I feel like I’m in a cabin in the wilderness and I can read
or write without interruption. I should mention the camper has heat/ac, fridge,
stove, microwave, generator, and a great big queen size bed; I sleep like a log
at night. I feel like it’s my room of my own.
: Where I write
is satisfactory, but I would prefer to be in a standalone little building in
our back garden. As it is, I make do in the third bedroom in my house, and it
doubles as a guestroom, workout room, and attic. It is a mess, and I call it
the writer’s lair, to signify that it is dark and messy. Oh yes, such a mess.
Debra H. Goldstein: It
depends on what I’m writing. Although I tend to mail things from the formal

office I have upstairs (a bedroom I converted to an office when we bought this
house), I write in different rooms with show music playing in the background. The
living room is where I write if I’m looking for peace and happiness because I
like the way I pulled oranges and blues together in there.  My leather recliner in the den is perfect for
male oriented pieces because the décor is Joel’s sports memorabilia. The place
I do most of my writing though is in my father’s oversized chair, which now
resides in our master bedroom. Because my father had long legs, like I do, the
chair was designed to accommodate him. When my sister and I were young we
played our imaginary games using this chair as a covered wagon, tent base, or
as matching steeds (it has great arms).

J.M. Phillippe: I live alone
so I suppose my entire apartment is a room of my own. I don’t think I utilize
it enough or have it set up the way it should be to promote regular writing. I
wish I had space for a desk. (New York Housing is very small.) And more book
Linda Rodriguez: I’ll
be setting up my office in our new house as soon as we get everything

It will be much smaller than my old office, but I think it’s going to be more
efficient and nicer, plus it won’t share space with my spinning/weaving studio,
which will be located in another part of the house. It’s light and has a nice
storage closet, plus lots of electrical outlets. It also has a snazzy new
ceiling light and ceiling fan. It opens right out to the front door, so I could
meet with my developmental editing clients at my home if I wanted to. The big
plus is the opportunity to design it from the ground up instead of dealing with
what was already there.

Penz Sheluk
: I love my Philipsburg Blue office at home, and I love writing
while watching Lake Superior at our camp in Northern Ontario, though not so
much the space (kitchen table). If I could combine the two, that would be
amazing. Mostly I love that my Golden Retriever, Gibbs, lies by my feet
wherever I’m writing.
Mary Lee Woods:
I have recently redone my office, moving it from the basement of our house to
the second floor. We’ve repurposed a guest bedroom with a new bamboo floor,
painted the walls a soft gray, and added a few bookshelves. And a window perch
for Sparkle, my cat. Not an expensive remodel but it created a great workspace
for me. My one splurge was a stand-up desk and I love it! It easily adjusts so
that I can sit or stand and I take full advantage of that ability to move
between the two. I am happy with the office and thrilled with the desk!

Anita Carter
– I write in my office and I love it. If I could change anything, I’d like
two or three more bookshelves. Unfortunately, my office isn’t THAT big. 🙂
Dru Ann Love: I write my
musings in my living room and I wouldn’t change it as I have the space I need.
A.B. Plum: At the risk of
redundancy, I love my cluttered, book-filled office with all kinds of
memorabilia. My only lament is that it’s not big enough, but it is MINE. Being
mine matters the most.
T.K. Thorne: I would put the ocean in my yard. Otherwise,
I am happy with my porch.
Shari Randall:  I write
at my dining room table, mainly because it has big windows and is the sunniest
room in the house (my husband says I’m part cat – I follow the sun). But
because of those big windows, it’s also the most distracting room in the house
– I can’t help but keep tabs on the neighborhood. So when writing gets serious,
I go to the library and camp out in a study carrel. No distractions, but I’d
put in a big sunny window near it if I could.
Bethany Maines: I
write frequently in my office, but I’m happier if I can write on the couch or
bed.  I’m going to say that it’s because
I think better lying down, but it could just be that I’m lazy.  Either way, I would love to have some sort of
giant recliner with a suspension desk that would hold my laptop.  It would be awesome.

Editor, My Editor!

In my other life, I am an editor. Nothing so glamorous as mystery novels, I assure you—I’m a college textbook editor. I help authors craft the “story” of their book—or what will be the overall sales handle—help them lay out the organization, direct them toward what features to include and how to handle them, and give them gentle nudges towards completion of the manuscript along the way. I’m a cheerleader with a laptop and a knowledge of what sells in a particular market, say, like the book I’m working on now, the Introduction to Dinosaurs course. Not so different from what my editor does, with a difference: none of the authors with whom I work whine as much as I do.

On that we can rely, as the song goes.

My third novel, now called “Quick Study,” as opposed to “Book 3,” as it was known for most of last year, was due to my editor on December 31, 2007. As that date approached and I got wrapped up—literally—in the holiday hubbub, the ending of the novel got further and further away from my grasp. I have never missed a deadline. Never. So, I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. I wrote when the ham was in the oven on Christmas Eve, mere minutes before my loud, Irish, family descended on us. I wrote after a serious bout of the stomach flu the day after Christmas. (I won’t go into details. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty. And the kids get really, really terrified when Mommy makes scary noises.) I wrote while my kids played with their new Wii, and my husband—on holiday break from teaching—lounged downstairs, the most well-deserved session of lounging that you could imagine. (More in a future blog on why I will never be a teacher.) I wrote while the dog stared at me for hours on end as if to say, “Aren’t you done with the dang thing yet?”

It was painful.

At this point, I think it’s relevant to say that I used to be disparaging towards parents who treated pink eye like the bubonic plague. Until I got pink eye and awoke one morning only to find that I couldn’t open my eyes. And I used to scoff at writers who pronounced our profession “hard.” Until I became a writer who had deadlines. And now I have had my comeuppance.

You know what? Writing is hard. But I finished and I hit “send” on New Year’s Eve. Because I MAKE MY DEADLINES, DARN IT!

You’d think I’d be relieved. Yet, with each passing day, dread gnaws at my insides. Because, in my haste to end the novel, the best I could come with was: “And then they all died. THE END.”

That’s not really the end, but it’s pretty darn close.

So, I await my editor’s wise words, her gentle coaching, her therapeutic massaging of what I think are maybe the best 300,000 words of the lot, and not so great 102, 943 words in a four-hundred page manuscript.

And more than once while I wait, I’ll think, “they’re really not paying her enough” something I hope some of my authors say about me as I plow through pages and pages of dissertation on anything from reading skills to paleobiology.

It’s nice to dream, isn’t it?

Maggie Barbieri

Shoes Make the Writer

I promise to circle back to shoes. This is the Stiletto Gang and since we’re women and we’re mystery writers, we were impressed with our little wordplay. I know nothing about stiletto knives, but as a shoe whore I’ve got plenty to say about stiletto heels.

But first, why another blog from a bunch of mystery writers?

Here’s the down and dirty, simple truth. Why not? We’re writers. Blogging is a way of touching base with fellow mystery fans; a way of promoting our books; and it’s what we do. We write (or play free cell).

I’ve been watching a lot of political debates lately and always sympathize with the candidate who has to give the first answer. Sure you get your point out early, but you just know that the other guy (gal) has an extra few minutes to figure out something cleverer to say.

So it was probably not the smartest thing to volunteer to write the first entry for The Stiletto Gang. But then it struck me that the best way to meet the challenge is to quote somebody smarter than me: Carolyn Hart.

At the last Malice Domestic, she explained why she wrote cozy mysteries. “In my books, the good guys always win.”

It was the proverbial light bulb moment. Now I knew why I loved writing mysteries. Mini-control freak that I am, writing who-dunnits gives me the opportunity to create a universe with the outcomes I want. In the world of Mac Sullivan, Rachel Brenner, and Whiskey, the adorable and adored Irish wolfhound, the good guys always prevail.

That doesn’t mean that I want a Pollyanna solving mysteries in her spare time. Sure there are days when I want life to be simple. I want some blessings that aren’t in disguise. But I want to create complex, multi-layered characters who encounter conflict and struggle not with black-and-white issues, but with all the shades of gray that life entails.

My good guys love coconut cream pie, and have the love handles to show for it. My heroines have ex-husbands who cheated on them, and they have footprints on their backs from being doormats. They have pasts that haunt them, futures that worry them, and bills to pay. Me too. The question isn’t whether evil exists in my world. It most certainly does. It’s just that I get to thwart it, one killer at a time.

Now, a tad late in the essay, let me say welcome to The Stiletto Gang blog. We’re four writers, although two of us share a name. Evelyn David has a split personality. I’m Marian, the Northern half, and I live in New York. Rhonda, the Southern half, lives in Oklahoma. Our first mystery is Murder Off the Books (Echelon, 2007). We’re frantically finishing the sequel, Murder Takes the Cake. Check out our web site, http://www.evelyndavid.com/, and discover the intriguing secret of how our book was written.

Tomorrow you’ll meet Marilyn Meredith. Marilyn is the author of the acclaimed Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, as well as the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

Wednesdays, Maggie Barbieri, author of the Allison Bergeron series (which has taken off like gangbusters), mans the helm.

Thursdays, Rhonda Dossett, the Southern half of Evelyn David, puts pen to paper (make that fingers to keyboard, but you get the drift.)

Fridays, we’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in a guest blog.

A promise is a promise. Let me circle back to stiletto heels. I’m a writer, so let’s be real. My default writing footwear is bedroom slippers. For dress-up, I wear a pair of black suede Merrell slip-ons. When I win an Edgar, I’ll wear stiletto heels. Promise.

My wish for you all: a world where the men are good looking; the women are brilliant and beautiful; the dogs are loyal and loving … and where the good guys always win.

Evelyn David