Thursday, November 18, 2010

Your Writing Environment

Hello everyone! I'm spending a few days in Colorado with a good friend of mine, so if you don't hear from me in a bit, that's why. Also, I've been devoting a lot of time to NaNoWriMo (which I'm now behind in again since I'm having too much fun).

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, for all of you writers out there (whether it be creative, technical, analytical, or just a paper assigned for class), have you ever paid attention to your ideal writing environment? It's different for every writer. If you find out what works best for you, it can make the writing process more enjoyable and more easily...flowable? That's right. I'm making up words.

The environment in which you write can encompass a few different things: place, music, food, time of day, etc. As far as place is considered, I generally hide away in my room, sit on my lovely padded swively chair, and my computer and I get to work. I've heard of a lot of people liking to write in cafes or coffee shops. Seems like a good place to go, but if you have trouble focusing in that sort of atmosphere, it's probably not the best choice for you.

Music is another thing that varies. The first thing that came to my mind was how Muse was on Stephanie Meyer's playlist when she was writing Twilight. When I write, I try to stay away from music with lyrics just because it can be very hard for me to control the urge to sing along. So for me, I choose to listen to movie soundtracks--and I don't mean Disney movie soundtracks either. Once again, far too distracting for me. Instead I listen to things like the Stardust soundtrack or the Robing Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack. I'll also listen to things like Enya, William Joseph, and occasionally, if I can cope with the distraction, I will listen to things like Goo Goo Dolls or whatever else I'm in the mood for. But in general, I stick with the soundtracks.

I like listening to music while I write because it seems to help me focus, especially if I've got my earbuds in. It helps me go into my own world that I'm creating and ignore the distractions around me. Some people might not like to write with music on at all, and that's fine. Just find what works best for you.

I don't pay as much attention to food or time of day. I like to have a water bottle handy, but that's about it, and I'll write pretty much any time of day. The real challenge is just getting myself to do it and not getting distracted by the internet...

Good luck discovering what works best for you. And happy writing!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Hangman's Row Enquiry: November Book Recommendation

Alas, Halloween is now officially over. Today marks the beginning of November, which means a couple of things. First, we have now entered NaNoWriMo! You better all be scribbling away! Second, the deadline for our Shakespeare Short Story Contest is drawing near. I hope you will all take some time to submit something. Third, it's time for a new book recommendation! This month's recommendation was submitted by the lovely Beth Adams. Take a look at what she's got to say.

The Hangman's Row Enquiry: A Must Read for Any Mystery Lover

The Hangman's Row Enquiry by Ann Purser is a spin off of the Lois Meade Mysteries, one of her more well known series, and it is the first book in the Ivy Beasley Mystery Series.

Ivy Beasley, a character threaded throughout the Lois Meade Mysteries, is a cantankerous spinster. She wants to be seen as a proper lady, to be in control of her world, and to be able to do things, but now she's been put into an exclusive assisted living home at the insistence of her cousin, Deirdre.

Perhaps the back of the book introduces the story best:

Ivy Beasley may have been moved to assisted living, but she has more interest in assisting her new partners in an amateur-sleuth business. She teams up with Gus, a mysterious newcomer who can't resist a little excitement even as he strives to keep his past secret, and her own cousin, a widow with time on her hands and money in her purse. Together they're determined to solve a local murder...

In one of the houses on Hangman's Row, Gus's elderly neighbor has been found with a bread knife sticking out of her chest. Local gossip has it that there was no love lost between the victim and her daughter, but Ivy and her fellow sleuths soon discover no shortage of suspects--or secrets--in the small English village of Barrington...

All of Ann Purser's books are well developed and contain engaging mysteries. In this particular book, it is a delight to be able to watch these new characters develop friendships and reveal their personalities to the reader as they join together in a common goal to find the real killer. This book is labeled a British Cozy, which makes me think of a good book to read in a cozy little corner on a rainy day whilst sipping my hot cocoa with little marshmallows in it...and maybe a side of toast!

I love this particular Ann Purser story, especially at this time of year, as it allows me to take a much needed  mental vacation in between the hectic moments in preparation for the holidays..

Although this book's plot is centered around solving a murder, there are moments of great humor and camaraderie between the characters. There's cleverness throughout the pages. You're still left wondering about certain characters, such as Gus who never has a full explanation as to why he showed up in the first place (something that will hopefully be answered in later books). But those little mysteries just make me want to jump into the next book of the series and join the characters once again in an engaging, fun, and thrilling mystery.

I love mysteries! I so enjoy the little puzzles you get to piece together along with the characters as you make your way through the story and to the end. What makes a truly enjoyable read, no matter what the genre, is that you end up with friends by the end of the book. Such is the case of The Hangman's Row Enquiry.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

Beth Adams is the mother of four fabulous children. She's been involved in her church programs, PTA, school board, band and choir, and whatever else her children decided to try out. Her father was in the navy, serving in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, while her mother was a teacher. She enjoys her life as a stay at home mom. She currently resides on the rainy side of Washington state, where we need to read a lot of books so we can escape the stormy whether and our longing for a bit of sun! Some of her favorite activities include: spending time with family, going on walks, going to the movies, and visiting with friends. She also enjoys a clean house...although she doubts she'll ever have one!

Want to write next month's recommendation?
You can be featured just like Beth! Here's how it works. Send an e-mail to with your recommendation (put it in the body of the e-mail, not as an attachment). Make sure the subject of the e-mail is something to the effect of "Book Recommendation" so I don't mistake it for junk mail. Your review should be at least a couple paragraphs long and should include a short description of the book and why you think others should read it. Then include a short biography of yourself and a picture to go along with it. If you wish to remain annonymous, that's fine as well. I need all entries by November 25th. Depending upon how many entries are received, your recommendation might not show up right away. If I decide to use yours, you will receive an e-mail telling you so. Thank you for your contributions!