Take a Peek into the Workspace of a Working Author

I thought it would be fun to show all of you how exactly a writer gets their work done. I know many writers like to work at their couches, their desk at work, at a flipped entrée table while they’re commuting in to work each day – but I spend all day, every day working and writing at my desk.

Learning something about my set up might help you, as well. Between my two jobs I work 86 hours a week, and clock 8,000+ words a day. Some of them are in my novel, some are marketing and business strategy, but all of it takes a powered up mind and a maximized workflow. My workspace is one of my big partners in creating my work routine to let me be so prolific.

I’m also sharing a few links to the things I own and use everyday in my workspace. These links are affiliate links, and make me a few cents without costing you extra.

 

I just want to share some noteworthy things about my desk set up. Because I am self-employed, and because I use my home office as my real office every day, my workspace is set up to help me think and work creatively and efficiently. I don’t want something as silly as a poor workstation set up to slow down my release dates!

One thing to note is that the desk itself is set up at a yellow wall. According to some reports the idea that yellow is good for a cheerful mood may actually be quite credible, and besides that bright sunshine yellow is a great color to stick on the walls in a basements with limited natural light and only a few mini windows at the top of the walls.

The desk itself, though, is even more important to my productivity and mood. I have to do whatever I can to keep myself focused and having a good time during the 86+ hours a week I work, and my workstation is one of my biggest partners in that. (Along with a 15 minute power nap and a short morning walk. And a little stretching for 5 minutes every hour to get my blood pumping and powering up my brain!)

There are a lot of essentials I have set up on my desk. I have to be careful about what I keep on hand, because my “desk” is actually a sofa table, and it’s only about 6 inches deep of workspace. As you can see, there’s barely enough room for my keyboard to fit in front of my monitor. But that’s a bit of a good thing, partially because my “desk” was free, partially because my desk is kind of cute, and partially because it helps me keep down the clutter which is a constant struggle and other areas of my life. (This is why I will probably never show you any other space in my home, because my desk is the only organized area.)

desk setup with a black monitor and keyboard and wireless mouse centered on a black stone surface sofa table with ivory scrollwork underneath. Orange water bottle with straw and grey cap on the right of the desk, in front of bullet point goals list stuck on the yellow wall with blue dot stickers and yellow sticky notes above. On left of monitor is a headset with a mike hanging on a small silver bucket with gold handles and portable backup drive inside. In between bucket and monitor is an open paper hardbound notebook with a rose print pen case on top, and a clear office accesories tower behind that holds binder clips and staples and the like as well as pens and pencils.

Goals In Sight

As you can see on the wall in the background, I have printed out and hung up my yearly goals list. It’s not really a professional goals list, it’s more of the “my life in general goals” kind of list. It’s an excerpt from my “30 things to do before I turn 30” list, just to help me break down my decade-long goals into smaller action steps I can actually get done. My actual publishing goals, where I write down the books I want to get finished and when I want to finish them, is the first link on my toolbar in my web browser so that I can update that much more often than I update yearly goals. (That, and because I don’t like bothering with printing things too often. So I only save printing for stuff I really need the visual for, even when I’m off screens.)

Above that are my two sticky notes where I keep my rough outline of my daily schedule. my daily schedule is:

  1. Novel
  2. Blog (S)
  3. Learn
  4. Business admin-ing
  5. Personal

And then I like to break down the personal part of my schedule. this is one of the main things I do to make sure I’m building myself not just as a person trying to make an income, but also as a human trying to improve myself as a person.

  1. Japanese
  2. Harmonica
  3. Garden
  4. Sew
  5. Clean
  6. Decluttering

One of my current month’s goals is to get rid of some things I don’t need any more – I found out I still had some toys left in storage from when I was a kid – and get them into the hands of people who need or want them. Or both. Who am I to judge? But it still the last thing on the list to declutter because the other goals are supporting bigger decade-long goals, so they are the priority.

I also have two other sticky notes, each of them a reminder for a virtual meeting I have coming up next week. Since I don’t have too many meetings like this anymore, it makes sense to put reminders in a very visible place the few times I do have a meeting so I can’t forget them.

Desk Must Haves

I keep my water bottle at my desk so I can drink throughout the day and stay healthfully hydrated. It’s just plain water, but it’s in a reusable bottle so it saves tons of plastic each year, saves money, and gives me much cuter options than buying disposable water bottles.

I also have my notebook and may pen case crammed on my workspace. I like caring a paper notebook around so when I have ideas or little pull ones or pieces of writing in mind for a book I can write it down quickly and easy without the distraction of writing on my phone. I also write much faster on paper than I do on a tiny phone screen, and unlike screens I never have problems with writers block when I write on paper. I still do most of my writing for my novels using that very keyboard and monitor though, because it is much quicker to add it and revise and organize a book that is in a program like scrivener instead of in a bunch of different notebooks. It also doesn’t hurt my wrist tape in a computer, unlike the hand pains you can get after six hours of writing on paper. At least I get hand cramps writing for that long.

 

The drive I use to backup my work and archive old writing

Then I have a little bucket that holds my backup drive, which is a total must for anyone who writes books (I can guarantee every author who types their books has lost an entire finished book at least once to a crash computer losing the data, and I am no exception. Actually, I had this happened three times, which is very frustrating so I go overboard in backups now.) I also have my headsets slung on that little bucket, which is a very handy for when I’m dictating like I am doing for this post right now. I find when I switch between typing and dictating I get a new burst of inspiration and ideas, and it helps switch up which thing is sore or hurts from doing hours of work at a time.

The actual USB drive on my desk

The last thing on my desk is my small things organizer. In the top shallow dish I have a USB jump drive (source two of backing up novels in progress), lip balm, and my backup jump drive that is shaped like a bunny. And I have an assortment of pens and pencils behind that that don’t work very well. I should probably change them out for new ones. But instead I’m writing this, and I’m okay with that. in the little swing out drawers I have staples, mini stapler, eraser refills for mechanical pencils, binder clips, pushpins and thumbtacks, and an empty drawer that is supposed to have paperclips but I seem to have run out of those. Again, not going to bother refilling that for now.

Under all of that is where I have some presumably important papers. I know one of them is the service plan guarantee for my backup drive, but I have no clue what the others are, and they’re upside down so I can’t really check them without moving all my stuff. And that’s not going to happen.

My Equipment

My Computer


And in the middle of all that is my monitor, keyboard, and wireless mouse. They aren’t particularly noteworthy, except for the keyboard hot. I got that with my computer from sky Tech gaming. I think the computer, partially because it’s very pretty, partially because it was within my price range, but mostly because it works for my work. I have lots of storage space, it has enough memory to have 1 million Internet browser tabs open at once which is great for my working style, and it has basically the same specs as a business computer with some extras that make it work even better for graphics and video work. It also looks way prettier than a dumb gray business computer. I know having pretty things doesn’t seem essential, but if you are working a creative job I think if there is a choice between something boring and something that is aesthetically inspiring in some way then the choice is pretty clear. Especially when this was a little cheaper than a similar business model that didn’t have quite as many upgrade for speed and the million browser tabs. Plus I’ve grown tired of some of the bigger brand of computer manufacturers and their complete lack of customer service and longevity in their products, so is time for me personally to move on to a brands like this. After all, it makes since for an India author to support a smaller brand. And so far in my experience with this computer it’s been great!

https://i2.wp.com/www.ikea.com/PIAimages/0287229_PE423571_S5.JPG?resize=287%2C287&ssl=1
I have this in fun chartreuse, and it looks nice and the price is right- but my aching behind is not a fan

The only big downside to my workspace is that the workspace itself is so very shallow – sofa tables were not engineered to be ergonomic desks – and it’s a little uncomfy. I have enjoyed my Ikia Snille desk chair for many years, many many many years, but a $20 chair is never going to be ergonomic. A great deal, yes, but not comfy. The back is very short, which is unfortunate because I am particularly tall for a woman, and the height adjustment only goes so high. I think part of the lack of comfort is that the seat is cracked on the right side, but it wasn’t too comfy before that happened either. I have two pillows piled on the seat so it doesn’t dig into my legs as much anymore, but it still is not particularly comfy. Hopefully someday I can save up a bit of money from working as a full-time author and full-time blogger (I’m not including what I do posting on this website in that) and buy myself a good ergonomic chair. I also keep a cardigan on my chair so that when it is cold, which it always is, I can work without freezing off my fingers. I have found not freezing makes a big difference in productivity.

So there you go. That’s my total desktop and workspace tour. I hope it gives you some good insight into my work process for working at home as well as my goal setting and productivity efforts. Hopefully hearing from me can inspire you as well.

If you’d like to get a virtual tour of my digital desktop, be sure to let me know in the comments below

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Graduate Season

This weekend we celebrated a very special event.

Graduations aren’t really anyone’s favorite event in the world. There’s a lot of pomp and circumstance, which many Americans tend to dislike. Worst of all you end up spending a few hours watching person upon person walk across the stage before the person you came to see is up there for five seconds.

But still, a graduation is special. It’s a nice time to celebrate that someone put a lot of late night studying and crying over essays and working their butt off to learn something and advance in their career and life.

Grad School Graduate

The graduate (my sibling) is particularly not into graduation ceremonies, and really wanted to avoid the event, but she went on with it anyway because her parents said they’d honestly feel disappointed if she skipped out on it. So she went, even though she’d rather have done anything else.

In the case of my graduate, it was a time to celebrate pouring a few ten thousands and several hours of hair pulling and midnight studying squeezed in after being a teacher all day long into getting a graduate degree so she could continue on the path towards her goal of being a professor some day. It was a particularly noteable occasion because she finish her grad degree in one year while she was working full time with special needs students who kick and bite her, so a lot of impressive hard work and stubbornness went into this occasion.

The average grad degree takes much longer, often 3-6 years for people who are working full time. And, well, the average person doesn’t go to get a Special Ed grad degree with a focus on autism education in the first place either. But she’s been aiming to be a professor for a long time, and to be a professor of teachers for a year or two, so it’s not a surprise to any of us that she went for this. I suppose the Special Ed focus was pretty normal though, considering that her visual processing disorders and the effect it had on her education was much more severe than my own rather significant case. And, considering the grad, it’s not much of a surprise that she’d power through full time work and full time student status at once. I think the only thing that really ended up surprising anyone was that her focus was in a different branch of Special Ed than she had a personal background with, but it seems to be working well for her.

Celebration

After the ceremony, to do something the grad would actually like in celebration of the occasion, we went out to a cafe.
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It’s been raining almost constantly for the last week, I suppose because the weather forgot to do that in the Spring as is proper, so the tables outside were unusually empty.

The inside, however, was crammed full of humans. We managed to squeeze out a table, though, and sit down with out treats.

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The plate my cupcake came on seemed to be celebrating with us as well!

I had a nice mushroom quiche. Mushroom is just a favorite flavor that I never get tired of! And then I had a lovely triple lemon cupcake. I’m not so convinced the whipped cream piped on top was actually lemon flavored, it tasted more like a plain vanilla, but it was a lovely contrast to the slightly sour lemon filling and the fairly sweet lemon cake.

So that was how we celebrate a graduation! What do you do in graduate season?

 

#Blessed

light-sign-typography-lightingI’m so blessed to have you here. No, I really mean that. I’ve taken on a big new scary job- being a self employed writer and author- this year, and I couldn’t have done it without support. Just you being here on this site right here and now helps keep me going. If your adblocker is turned off I even get a few cents for each time there’s a little ad at the bottom of the page, and that helps pay the bills (I believe in full disclosure). But even if you keep blocker on and you’ve never bought a single book, having you here and reading these posts shows you believe in me, and that is definitely what keeps me going.

So thank you.

Have a happy Thanksgiving if you’re American, or a thankful normal day of the week if you live elsewhere.

Cowboy Breakfast

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My Writing Prompt: Use a Photo

I was floating through the internet on my break today and decided to check out the Library of Congress’s digital resources. It’s the biggest library in the whole world, so obviously I think every reader and author should check out their stuff, and even if you aren’t as lucky as I am to live in NoVa with a mere hour long commute at rush hour to get in to see the gorgeous buildings there are still lots of cool things available on their website that anyone with WiFi can check out anywhere in the world.

Like this photo. The site says this is Chuck Wheelock whipping up breakfast on a ranch in Nevada. The cool plot twist is that apparently this takes place in the 70’s. I’d always thought anything remotely cowboy, like the movies and the actual lifestyle, was long extinct after the last blitz of cowboys in Hollywood in the fifties.

Looking at the photo kind of inspires me. I wonder what a cowboy book written today for YA readers would look like? Would it be a Steampunk Cowboy adventure, or would young readers enjoy reading a full showdown at high noon, or would a more down to earth daily chores and ranch friendships and trials be better? I’m honestly not sure if anything remotely Western themed would sell nowadays. I know my Dad is still a big fan of the movies he watched as a youth, but everything Western has been long gone from Pop media since I was born in ’94 and I don’t know if anyone would like it. Then again, a story about the world before the internet is always interesting to read.

What do you think?

Would you read a YA Western? What would you like in such a book?

Sneak Peek

PS_ The Dragon BitesMy next book is scheduled for publishing next month. Because this is the end of October, that means there are just a few days to go. I’ve been rushing around like a crazy person trying to get the last little bits of work on this done, but soon it will all be over and the book will be shiny and perfect and ready to go out in the YA world and shock and amaze the masses. (Is that a little too optimistic? Yes, definitely. That’s okay though, you have to be super optimistic to be a writer to balance out hundreds of rejection letters and all of that fun.) The story is pretty kick ass, if I do say so myself, but don’t take my word for it. Just look at the prologue below and I think you’ll be interested too.

“Did you hear,” the whispers began. “He found her, he found her!” Some said the power was too great and they were glad when it had been lost. Others laughed and smiled and mused that it could be a good thing, a magical thing, to have it in their power once more. The chattering echoed through the corridors of the palace and but for the magical wards on the imperial wing their monarch would have long since lashed out to silence the gossips.
A young woman in leathers and scarlet tunic stood before the desk in the private office tucked away behind the minor throne room and neatly shut off all murmurs with the slam of the doors sized for creatures more massive than all the courtesan’s slight appearances belied.
“You are sure of your information,” he asked her coldly. She was sweating. Failure meant punishment. A grievous punishment, as the standard of a swift death would not be severe enough to sate the appetite of their people for such an important reunion the nation had been yearning for these many years. She nodded silently, hands tightly grasped.
“This will work for the best,” he chuckled. He sprawled back in his chair, casual and comfortable like a lounging jungle cat.
“The next step is finally here,” he mused. He moved his rook on the marble board with those slim fingers. “Check,” he grinned. The harpy next to him frowned at the board, then swiftly cut in her queen. He furrowed his brow. “That was a dirty move,” he growled in disgust. She just shrugged and smirked at him. He stroked his beard, pondering his next move.
The woman still standing at attention shuffled on her feet, and wrung her hands behind her back. Both at the desk ignored her but a cloud of smoke in the corner unfolded onto the floor like a giant paper doll and slowly moved upright. A slight breeze moved around her glimpses of a woman constantly shifted and peeked through rips in the paper that quickly healed and popped up elsewhere on the figure.
“Your majesty,” the woman bowed to the apparition.
“It is good that we can rely on the info of the Amaryllis Squad, or should I call you one of the Red Guard Assassins?”
The woman blushed. “Both are accurate statements for all of our members, your majesty.”
The monarch humphed. “You may go tell the girl in charge of finding her,” the queen said calmly. “Make sure no one alerts Him to this development.” She sighed, adding, “I dare say it was time for the next step anyways.” She shooed the girl out, though the assassin looked at the king for confirmation before bowing and leaving in a brilliant flash of light. “Such impertinence to ignore a queen, of all people,” the woman huffed.
He didn’t bother to look up from his game to answer her. “Well, m’dear, I’m afraid that’s because you are queen of a small band of your own people, whereas I am king of the whole of the Mirrorworld. You have to accept that if anyone outside your people chooses to acknowledge you it is a mere courtesy for your position and not because you have any widespread influence.” He smiled at her, though it was a diplomatic smile that never reached his eyes and something about the words were threatening and declared her status as an underling.
She looked up at him, eyes blazing. He looked back calmly. She growled, the sound coming low from her throat even as her ire fed her breeze till she rippled like the fiercest gale. He growled back, sparks and flames whirling around him as he became clawed and furred like a mammoth caricature of a lion with scales wrapping around his core and cut through his ruff like a lady’s diadem. He roared at her. She looked down then, clearly having lost a fight for dominance. These little games were common in the gold dipped walls of the capitol, though few humans had ever lived to view the sight.
“Do you think it was wise to let them play the game,” the harpy woman asked, knocking aside one of his pawns on the board. She had stayed relaxed and focused on the game through the exchange but now she looked up at him. She dismissed the still indignant queen in the corner, and in a huff she finally left so only the two players were left.
“I suppose so,” he returned. He finally moved his knight. She instantly moved her queen across the board to capture it.
“He may have preferred to be informed of the situation. He’s always had a bit of a sensitive constitution,” she added.
The king snorted. “Have you seen his labyrinth? He’s got a hobby of throwing people who annoy him in there and sneaking into the human realm and terrorizing the village folk with views of his full dragon form, he’s not a sweet little hatchling anymore.”
She just shrugged. “Everyone has to go through their pillaging and terrorizing phase, just like they have to learn to walk or to do their first color changing spell. It’s part of the growing up process. The important thing is that he might feel very upset by being kept in the dark by this, and upset princes have led to violence and even sometimes revolutions in the past. That could muck up The Plan.”
“The Plan is set in motion and won’t be so easily ruined,” he smiled.
“We’ve only set her aside for a time and set a few spells. Do you feel confident we’ve done enough so far?”
He squinted at the board. “I think we`ve spent enough time on the preliminary moves,” he added, deep in thought.
“I hope those children don`t make too much of a mess of it,” she replied. Her lips lifted in the smallest of smiles over her move.
“Don`t worry,” he laughed, slapping the table. “They`re going to make a disaster of it, and come out the better for it!” He then moved a pawn that had somehow snuck onto her side of the board. “Checkmate,” he smiled.
“Why don`t we just watch over them and be sure nothing goes to wrong,” she asked.
“A touching sentiment for your future son in law.” She blushed and admitted she was fond of the boy. He slung his arm around her shoulder, creasing the velvet robes. With the other arm he opened a curio cabinet on the wall. There were vials and odds and ends, but the star of it was a shining crystal. It had uneven jagged sides, and stood like a single crystal flame on a gold disk base. He set it on the desk then. Both of them leaned in to look. Then, a burst of light shot out of the pointed end of the crystal, straight into the air. It stopped, then expanded out, a flat plane with the images of several people scrolling across the surface. Then it stopped, focusing in on one point. There was a girl with shining hair sitting on a city bench underneath a single street light.

Soon, everything would change for her.

If you’d like you can buy your copy in advance at the always-discounted-on-my-site price and have the ebook file emailed to you the second it releases.

PS The Dragon Bites

Book one of the YA Shadeworld series featuring dragons and fey and many magical creatures. "Aeron is a troubled dragon prince. His brother is stirring up rebellion and trying to steal his throne, his MIA childhood friend has finally been found after a years long search but doesn't remember him, and being a teenager in a human school just isn't all it's cracked up to be."

$4.90

Continue reading → Sneak Peek

How to start a Youtube Channel?

pexels-photo-226243So this week- well actually this whole month if I’m being honest- I’ve been building myself up towards starting a Youtube channel. It’s a big undertaking. I feel like I can’t responsibly start a channel until I can reliably say I will be capable of releasing two videos a week (maybe eventually down the road even four videos, who knows?) and I still want to do some playing around and practicing with it before I feel ready to go public. So far my so called “practicing” has been talking to myself in front of mirrors, but every undertaking has to start somewhere, right?

I’ve been binge watching educational videos on the subject too- I figure if anyone knows how to do it, it’s actual established Youtubers. Most of them have either been a little bare bones educationally speaking and maxed out at encouraging you to “just do it” in the words of sportsy people, or have gone into the deep end of camera and lighting recommendations that add up to hundreds of dollars that have to be spent before actually making any videos at all. It’s all a little overwhelming and confusing, honestly speaking. That’s okay though because I’ve already taken the leap of committing to having a full time job as a writer before I’m making anything near full time writer income from my work, so if I have the guts to do something as crazy as that I can probably figure out how to diy a few lights and make my crummy laptop or phone camera work well enough to vlog because the one crappy ten year old digital camera I have has been missing since I last moved out of my dorm about a year ago- I won’t worry about it too much though because I’m sure it will show up again in a year or so.

In the meantime I’ll just have to pull myself together and move on from just talking to the mirror and work on talking in front of an actual camera. It’s a process, but I know it will be satisfying to share bookish things, and finding inspiration, and giving you guys a glimpse at the behind the scenes process of a full time writer.