Shannon here: Historical romance author, Mary Ellis gives a tour of her office, shares how she keeps the inspiration coming, and offers a chance to win her latest release, The Quaker and the Rebel. Comment on any post dated Jan 17 – 20 to enter the drawing (U.S. and Canada only). Deadline: Feb 1st, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Mary:
What every romance writer needs is an office that is comfortable, quiet, and well removed from the family’s television set. My writing nook also doubles as our guest room but since we have few overnight guests, I usually have the place to myself. I have a comfortable chair under a great reading light for researching, outlining and plotting. My desk sits in front of a window that overlooks woods and a secluded backyard. I stock plenty of scented candles, CD’s of easy-listening music, and Hershey kisses for when a scene deserves a special reward. The wallpaper has soft pastel flowers, while framed prints of impressionist art adorn the walls. And should I grow weary before quitting time, there’s that antique guest bed beckoning me to take a quick nap.
But all writers, no matter whether novice or sage veteran, have days when they can’t string seven words together into a concise sentence. We doubt ourselves, our mentors, the process we thought we’d perfected, even the quality of coffee beans in our cup of java. It happens to the best of us. And it will happen to all of us eventually. There is no one-size-fits-all solution since writers are as different as shades of black or navy. But I can offer a possible solution for when the words refuse to come.
First and foremost turn off and move away from your computer. How many times have we fallen asleep in easy chairs, yet we will toss and turn in bed for hours? If you get out of bed and put the TV back on, you would be asleep by the next commercial. Same is true about trying to force creativity in your office. Go outdoors and find a lawn chair or settle into a booth at the coffee shop. Consider the possibility your creative well might be dry: You need more story. This happens more often for seat-of-the-pants writers than for plotters, but even plotters can reach a lull when the romantic drama needs help from a subplot to thicken the stew. Ask yourself: What might come along to blindside your characters? What’s the worst thing they fear? Make it happen.
Often writers concoct a thrilling opening and know exactly how to bring their story to a tasty conclusion. They might even have several plot twists in mind, but in long novels, even the most devout “plotter” will run out of action scenes to keep the pace moving. You must go where it’s quiet, shut your eyes, and escape into the time and location of the story. Feel, hear, smell, taste, and wallow in your characters’ lives. Suddenly, ideas will flow faster than you can jot down on your Starbucks napkin.
Many writers take their laptops when they leave the house. As for me, I take my trusty yellow tablets to jot down the words that will flow like melted butter. Then when I come home to my comfortable guestroom/office, I can let my fingers fly over the keys. Ahhh, the creative well has been primed and life—at least for the moment—is good.
About Mary: Mary Ellis has written ten bestselling novels set in the Amish community. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Living in Harmony, book one of her last series won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction. Love Comes to Paradise won the 2013 Lime Award. An Amish Miracle, a collection of novellas, released in December from Harper Collins. She is currently working on a three-book series of historical romances set during the Civil War. The Quaker and the Rebel released January 1st. Book two, The Lady and the Officer will release this summer, both from Harvest House. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net, http://www.maryeellis.wordpress.com/, https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236
About the book – The Quaker and the Rebel:
What Happens When an Underground Railroad Conductor Falls in Love with a Man Loyal to the Confederacy?
Emily Harrison’s life has turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempts to continue her parents’ work in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm is sold in foreclosure. Now alone and without a home, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor’s family in slave-holding Virginia. Though it’s dangerous, she decides to continue her rescue efforts from there.
Alexander Hunt, the doctor’s handsome nephew, does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle’s newest employee. But he cannot take time to pursue Emily, for Alexander isn’t what he seems—rich, spoiled, and indolent. He has a secret identity. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a fearless man who fights the war from the shadows, stealing Union supplies and diverting them to the Southern cause.
The path before Alexander and Emily is complicated. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger. Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they trust God with the challenges they face to provide them with a bright future?
Come back Jan 20th for Mary’s excerpt!