Where Do You Write?

What I discovered about myself when I got my very first laptop almost 2 years ago, is that I'm a rabbit at heart and prefer to hole into little cubbies. Despite my new ability to venture away from the desktop and out of the confinement of the small office, I've landed in the even smaller butler's pantry as my primary writing space.

It's a narrow galley between the kitchen and the dining room w/ a pantry closet on one side and this small counter on the other.  I just couldn't focus in wide open spaces---far too many distractions.  So this is where I go when I need to get 'er done.  And yet, I'm still in the middle of the house and able to keep my mom-dar on. ;)

Yes, that's a wine fridge on the right---what's your point?  The beauty is that when company is coming, I can easily whisk away the office supplies (including the pens, etc. in the coffee cups) and *bam* it becomes a beverage oasis.  The guests leave, and *bam* it's back to my "office."

And when my attention deficit requires a change of scenery, I've got a couple other favorite spots.  To the left is the nook in my bedroom where I make the laptop earn it's name.  And when the temperatures warm up and the leaves sprout to form a little den, I spend long nights out on my screen porch.

So where do you like to write and why?  Join the Meet an Author Monday blog hop (hop on below or at Cali Cheer Mom's blog) and tell us all about it.

Aaaand...the Omnific Publishing
Lookin' for Love Webhunt starts tomorrow!  
 Find the “hidden” candy hearts at nine author websites and be entered to win FREE eBooks. 



Meet Jessica McQuinn

Last year, Jessica McQuinn graciously granted me an interview on the release day of her latest novel, Indivisible, an emotional tale of love and survival in a military family. Jessica McQuinn is also the co-author of Passion Fish. Both Indivisible and Passion Fish are part of Omnific Publishin's Freedom Sale through July 31, 2012 at only $2.99 each.

Even though Indivisible deals with some pretty weighty issues, McQuinn's vibrant personality shows through in her writing to make the book a fun as well as an insightful read.     

For more on the military aspects of Indivisible, read the Coffee Time Romance interview.

1. The military plays a strong role in Indivisible, so the story obviously had to be set near a military base, but how did you decide on San Diego as the setting for Indivisible?

Well, since Gideon is a SEAL, the options were limited. While at any given time, a SEAL team can be anywhere, there are only a few actual bases that they call "home." One of those is the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California. I know, but why San Diego? Well, Coronado is near San Diego (just over the bridge) and is a beautiful place.

My husband and I lived in the San Diego area the first year we were married, and I loved it. One of my biggest regrets in life is moving from San Diego. So, when I had the idea for this story, I knew that it would be San Diego and not the east coast that I would write about. Besides having more than a few military bases, there are also several major universities there, which was important for Charlie, Tyson, and Paige, too!

On a side note...I just booked our family vacation to San Diego in June! I am totally going to make husband and the kids do an Indivisible tour! I've already started with suggesting one of the water tours they have that takes you right by the SEAL training base, and we have to see Horton Plaza! Of course husband is none the wiser and thinks that I just want the kids to experience all of San Diego!

2. One of my favorite things about this story was the way no character got a free pass—each of them messed up in some way and you called them out on it. Did you determine the flaws of each character and the mistakes each would make before the story began, or did some of them develop while you wrote?

The only thing that I knew for sure was the one key scene in the book. I wrote the turning point first, and actually built around that. I don't write with an outline. I know that sounds crazy, especially when, like in Indivisible, there are two stories happening at the same time and both depend on what is ocurring in the other.

Now, this is going to sound a little on the insane side, but when I write, the characters are actually alive for me. They tell me how things are going to play out, and I know that if I'm having a hard time getting something on paper exactly the way that I want it, it's because the characters don't agree with it. Often, in those cases, I can find another path to go down, and when I find the right one it is a smooth journey. Although, I think  "hearing" my characters tell me the story made it hard on my editors when they wanted me to change something...Gideon just didn't want his voice to be lost!

Honestly, Tyson's roll in this story was never planned to be what it was. That happened simply as I got to that part of the story and it laid itself out that way for me. Turns out that it's a main theme of the entire story! Who knew?

3. You’ve put together a cast of strong personalities and set them up with some great dialogue that made me laugh out loud many times. Which character was the most fun for you to write? And if you had to pick one character to go to lunch with, who would it be?

Ohhh, I think the most fun to write was Gideon. I love his wit and how strong he is, but then also getting to see that vulnerable side of him (one I think all men have and rarely show to anyone but their spouse) was a lot of fun. Gideon is made to be a protector, and when for the first time he has to protect his country instead of his wife, that changes him, and writing that change was a new experience for me. (Not to mention that I have a certain picture of what Gideon looks like in my head - or who he looks like - so having that in my head the whole time was kind of nice).

Who would I have lunch with? I would say Evelyn, because she is such a great mom, and while she wants to hold onto her sons, she still wants to let them go. My daughter just turned eight, and while I know I don't have to let her go yet, I know someday I will have to and would love to be able to talk to Evelyn about how to prepare for that. Oh, wait, I can have lunch with Evelyn, because she's my own mom! I modeled her character after my mom and the things that she told me once I became a parent. I'm my mom's only child who is out in the world raising a family (my brother is severely mentally handicapped and lives in a group home where he gets the medical attention he needs), and so letting me go at 21 was probably one of the hardest things my mom has ever had to do. To this day she still tells me to "be good" when I leave her house, but she also doesn't tell me what I'm doing wrong in raising my own kids. So Evelyn's journey and demeanor in Indivisible is really based on my mom.

4. After readers have turned the final page, which of the story’s themes is the one you hope sticks with them the most?

Jeez...ask me the hard questions!

I think for me I hope what people remember most is that communication is the most important thing in ANY relationship. If you can't communicate then you can't move forward. In Indivisible, as you read, you just kind of shake your head at everyone and want to scream at them to talk to each other. So by the end, when everyone finally starts to open up, they get stronger and can move on with life, changed though it is.

Charlie's growth and discovery of herself is important for me too. I think that if you've never had to be on your own, which Charlie hasn't had to do because she had her brother, or roommates or Gideon to rely on, then doing it for the first time is hard. And Charlie's time is even more difficult, and for her to finally find her strength after everything is amazing.

5. If you had to choose one song that captures the essence of Indivisible, what would it be?

This is going to sound crazy, because I know that with all the technology we have now I'm supposed to have a playlist that either goes with the book or that I listened to while writing, but I'm not a "music person." I know...WHAT?? Don't get me wrong, I have an iPod and I listen to music when I clean house or when I'm in the car, but other than that, I don't listen to a lot of music. And the music on my iPod is all 80s music! (I know that you will appreciate that Nicki!)

If I had to pick one song, and no surprise here - it's an 80s megahit, it would be Berlin's "Take My Breath Away." Not only do the lyrics perfectly describe everything that happens in the story from Gideon and Charlie's first meeting to the end of the story, but when you hear it, you automatically think of Maverick and Goose and the women they love in Top Gun.

Thanks Jessica!


Top 10 Music Countdown

Because of the maximum fabulosity of my Top Ten Countdown (bloghop hosted by Alex J. Cavenaugh), I've created a Top 10 You Tube playlist for your enjoyment. I had two main criteria for my selections:

* The songs had to be by bands/performers that have a whole stable of great songs.  No one-hit-wonders here.  So each song on the list represents one of my personal favorite bands/performers.

The songs have to be timeless.  When I listen to them years later, I have to love them not because of whatever memory they dredge up, but because they still rock.  And so, the order here was simply decided by how much time they've been tested for...i.e. in order of release date, starting w/ the most recent.

**Please note, if asked again tomorrow,
I reserve the right to completely change this list ;)**

10  "Just Breathe" Pearl Jam

9 "I'm Shipping up to Boston" Dropkick Murphys

8 "Pretty Vegas" INXS
(I feel like a traitor choosing a song post Michael Hutchence, but the new guy very much has his sound...and he can totally pull off guyliner...hummina hummina)

7 "Sway" Michael Bublé
(Yeah, yeah, I know---the song goes back to Dean Martin and beyond, but Bublé-boy is the reason it made my list)

6 "Can't Stop" Red Hot Chili Peppers

5 "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Nirvana

4 "Just Like Heaven" The Cure

3 "And She Was" Talking Heads

2 "Just Can't Get Enough" Depeche Mode

My number one song was soooo hard to select because I have many favourites by this band, but here is my #1 choice du jour:
1 "Embarrassment" Madness

So how did I do?  
Any overlap in our musical tastes?


A Stylish Smile

 I'm no Carey Grant, but that didn't stop Kelly Dexter, Jennifer Lane, and Celery Tree from granting me with the Stylish Blogger Award and Lisa Galek from giving me the Making Smiles on Faces Award!  Thank you, ladies.  You certainly did make me smile---in a very stylish way, of course.  To accept these awards I am to reveal seven facts about myself and then pass along the awards to others, so here goes.

Seven things about moi:

1.  I'm not the least bit sorry for the wretched pun I made above.

2.  I'm deadset against cosmetic surgery.

3. Yet I slather myself in no less than five different anti-aging ointments and lotions every single day.

4. I often wonder---on principle, is there really any difference between 2 & 3?

5. I keep volunteering for sh!t I don't have time to do.

6. On February 1, I'm going to London to visit my sister!

7.  Did you hear me?  I'M GOING TO LONDON to visit my SISTER in less than two weeks!!!

And now to pass on those awards...

The Making Smiles on Faces Award, I pass along to:
Kelly Dexter at Nerdville Rhapsody
Jennifer Lane at Jennifer Lane Books
L.A. DeVaul and KarenG at Celery Tree
Kelsey Ketch at Ketch Tavern
Katie Anderson at Katie Anderson Writer
Kittie Howard at The Block

And the Stylish Blogger Award goes to:
Lisa Galek at Read. Write. Repeat
C. K. Wagner at The Fallen Monkey
Michael at In Time...
Sondrae Bennett at Sondrae's Corner



How Do You FEEL About Emoticons?

I've been wanting to post about this for a long time, but finally got motivated by one of Lisa Galek's new year's resolutions at her blog Read, Write, Repeat.  By her own assessment, she's gone over the edge and has resolved to curb her emoticon abuse in the new year.  We discussed it further and agree that emoticons in moderation aren't bad, but we worry that we've become too dependent on them. Hey, why does it sound like I'm talking about an addiction?  Oh, maybe I am... 

Hi.  My name is Nicki Elson and I'm an emotiaholic.  Which is extremely ironic because I used to be an emoti-snob.  I refused to use them.  I said, "I'm a writer. I shall use only words to express my meaning."  But then, as I became more active in the world of on-line writing, my e-communications through reviews, responses to reviews, private messages, e-mails, etc. increased, and I found a quick-fix to let the person on the other end know I was just joking was to tack on a :) or more often ;) and before I knew it, I was leaving ;Ps all over the place!  :O!

So, yeah, I think I became a bit too reliant and have tried to pull back.  It's a good exercise for any writer to express themselves fully in words.  But I'm not going cold turkey.  For one thing, the time savings from using an occasional emoticon in e-communications leaves more time for serious writing. Also, they're fun!  And for friends I may never meet in person, it adds a little "face time" to our relationship---social emotiing, if you will.  

Even though I'm comfortable with my current emoti-use, a new concern has crept up since I've entered the blog world.  Most people I correspond with here are writers, so I wonder---do I detract from my writerliness by using emoticons regularly in my comments, and occasionally in my posts? Does it make you think less of me (or anyone else who does it) as a writer?  Or do you like the emotis and feel it adds to the sociability here?
Ponder this and other autherly questions and insights at the Meet an Author Monday blog hop hosted by CaliCheerMom.  Don't forget, in two weeks---on January 31---everyone joining the hop will post on:
 Where You Write 
We want to see pictures of where you write and hear why you like to write there!


A Cozy Neighborhood Bookstore On-line -- That's Celery Tree!

If you know Karen G, then you know Celery Tree. But just in case you haven't had the pleasure, let me introduce you to this exciting new website for writers and readers.  It's set to launch very, very soon.  The brains behind the concept can explain it better than me, so I've put together excerpts from the Celery Tree blog (along with links to the full posts) to help me out:

The book world needs a vehicle to help overlooked but talented authors get discovered. The real judge of a book's worth should be made by the readers, not by the marketing dollars behind it. But how can readers find those books that don't have the big bucks behind them?

That's where celerytree.com comes in. It's like a cozy neighborhood bookstore where you can feel comfortable browsing for hours and discover some hidden gems of your own.
Read full post.

* * *

Authors helping authors, in an environment of books, blogs and reader reviews--similar to Goodreads but without the annoying side ads. The only ads on celerytree.com will consist of our members' book covers posted in strategic locations. Read full post.

Cozy neighborhood bookstore was all I had to hear---I'm in!  Celery Tree is still accepting authors and would love to have you join before launch, so if you have a book to sell, here's information on how it works for authors.


Does Size Matter?

We can say it doesn't, but we all know it does.  So tell me---exactly how big do you like 'em?

This'd probably be a good time to tell you that I'm talking about chapter size.  One thing I've learned through writing and editing is that there are often multiple potential chapter breaks.  Sometimes an obvious stopping point screams out, but what to do when that doesn't happen?

 Should word count be considered?

For example, I've finally gotten back to my WIP and hammered out at least the beginning of a first chapter. I've reached a point where I could end the chapter...or I could keep going.  Either way it'll work just fine from a story perspective. As it stands right now, I'm at 2055 words, roughly 8 pages in print.  That strikes me as rather too short.  Is it?  Or is short a good thing? And do I need to aim for consistent chapter length throughout the story (I typically try to)? Or is content all that matters and I should stop asking these questions?

A little help, please: 

1. As a reader, would you say you generally prefer long or short chapters (how do you define long & short)?

2. What's too long?  What's too short?

3. Do you prefer chapter length to be consistent throughout a novel, or do you like to mix it up, or do you not really notice.

4. Does your chapter length preference differ depending on the media on which you're reading: hard copy; computer; e-reader?      

Thanks for your input.  And now, on to Meet an Author Monday.  We're doing something new for the new year!

On the last Monday of each month, authors on the hop are asked to feature a post on a unified topic. This month's topic is:

Where You Write

So sign up for the hop on January 31 and post a picture of where you write. Tell us how you started writing there, why you like writing there, etc. etc. We want to know all about where the magic happens!


A Spunky Book Trailer Contest and a Rockin' Blogfest

Guess what - the Three Daves trailer made it to the second round in Spunk on a Stick's Book Trailer Contest! Thank you L. Diane Wolfe for hosting the contest, and thank you Alex. J. Cavanaugh for tipping me off about it. It's a shame he and I now have to be mortal enemies until January 9 when the contest ends...  By the way, the grand prize is a set of Diane's YA The Circle of Friends series of books donated to the library of the winner's choice.  Pretty cool, huh?

And I have some more thanks to hand out.  Thank you Barb Hallworth (bworthit@hotmail.com), the creative genius who put the Three Daves trailer all together.  And thank you Intervox, the band that composed and performed the awesome song "One Fine Day" that sets the tone (follow them on Twitter @intervoxmusic).  Here, lets have a look at what their imagination and talent hath wrought:


And finally, THANK YOU to all of you who voted me through!  If you'd like to see the top seven trailers and vote for your favorite, stop by Diane's blog

And now about that Blogfest---Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting a blowout of a blogfest on January 24 and already has over 50 bloggers signed up!  Come join us.  All you have to do is countdown your Top Ten Songs of all time!  (Yeah, yeah, I know---all time, not just 80s *hmphf*). 


Barbie's 80s Dreamhouse

I've received another entry in the 80s Junk in a Box Competition!  This is a splendid 80s diroama from two young gals who weren't even born until the mid-90s.  But they got in the spirit and when they came to me for guidance,  I explained that if it's bright and slightly obnoxious---it's 80s!  So here's what they came up with:
Note the Pac-Man backdrop and the Rubik's Cube flooring.
Nice job, ladies. The entrants don't have a website or blog, so I've linked their image on the sidebar to a related You Tube video one of the girls made with her cousins...it's got a slightly darker theme than the diorama: Barbie's Bloody Dreamhouse

You've got until January 31 to get your 80s junk in a box!  Please send photos to: elson.nicki@gmail.com. You will make my day---who am I kidding, my entire month!---if you do. :D  The prizes are a One Hit Wonders of the 80s CD, a signed copy of Three Daves, and your book or blog or whatever you want featured in a post.

The Three Daves video trailer is in a trailer contest over at Spunk On a Stick's Blog.  Your vote could help it advance to the next round...just sayin'. 
While you're here, hop aboard the Meet an Author Monday blog hop!  It's a great way to connect with other writers and network in the publishing industry. All of these authors love to chat, so please leave a comment wherever you visit. 

If you have a book out or a story under contract, please hop on.