Saturday, August 15, 2009

Have laptop will travel...

Welcome to guest blogger Ann Parker. Ann writes the award-winning Silver Rush historical mystery series, set in the 1880s silver mining town of Leadville, Colorado (publisher: Poisoned Pen Press). The series was picked as a "Booksellers Favorite" by the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association. The first in the series, Silver Lies, won the Willa Award for Historical Fiction and the Colorado Gold Award. The second, Iron Ties, won the Colorado Book Award; Leaden Skies (yes, the titles all rhyme) was released July 2009.

Ann earned degrees in Physics and English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, before falling into a career as a science writer nearly 30 years ago. These days, she slings corporate, science, and technical verbiage for a living during the day and writes fiction at night.

Thank you, 7 Criminal Minds, for allowing me to "stake a claim" on your blog for the day!

As for where I write ... I write wherever and whenever I can. I go about armed with the "old technology" of paper notebook and pen, and usually travel about with my trusty laptop as well. (I'm enviously eyeing the compact "computer notebooks" but waiting to see if prices will fall). Fortified by these "weapons of mass creation," I can pretty much write whenever the mood strikes (and/or when deadlines loom).

My favorite places to write, however, depend on where I am in the writing process itself. For the initial musing/brainstorming of a book, I find ideas popping up at odd and sometimes inconvenient times (while driving, in the middle of client meetings, grocery shopping), so paper and pen are handy (and sticky notes. Forgot to mention those.).

Once I move into the drafting frontier for "Chapter 1 and Beyond," I prefer to stick close to home, close to all of my reference books, maps, printouts, etc. This means I can mostly be found hunkering down in my extremely messy home office. (The photo to the left actually shows my home office in a neatened-up, previous incarnation ... imagine a whole lot more bookcases, paper strewn about, books out of shelves and in piles, and an updated desktop system). I've also been known to take over the guest rooms of friends (i.e., author Camille Minichino/Margaret Grace) when faced with the crunch of finishing a first draft.

Editing, however, is a different story. When I'm editing—whether individual chapters or the book as a whole—I find it best to "Exit, stage left." (Those of who who remember Rocky and Bullwinkle might remember this phrase.) My favorite places to edit individual chapters include places that offer high-octane caffeine, such as my local Peet's and Panama Red coffee houses.

Probably my all-time favorite location for editing the reams-of-paper-in-a-binder that constitute "the whole damn thing" (as I'm wont to call my completed drafts) are libraries. I've edited my books in the Santa Fe Public Library in New Mexico, Livermore Public Library in California, Lake County Public Library (in Leadville, Colorado... yay!), and others that don't pop to mind right now. I think the appeal of these places is that 1) I'm removed from home distractions and 2) I'm "surrounded but separate" from other people, which seems to help me focus on the task at hand.

Ann's website is http://www.annparker.net






11 comments:

Liberty Speidel said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only writer who writes in random places.... I've been known to write in the front seat of my car over my lunch hour (with my laptop), as well as on our boat while hubby fishes (sans laptop--I'm afraid that pricey piece of equipment could fall into the murky depths!)


Thanks for the post... And, your office is MUCH cleaner than mine!!!

Camille Minichino said...

Some of my best writing days are when comes to visit with her flash drive and bags of chocolate!

Nice post, Ann, and congratulations on the attention your great Leaden Skies is getting!

I'm honored that I saw it in process!

Camille Minichino said...

Of course, since I'm not as good an editor as Ann, I left out a couple of words in post above.

Hopefully, you filled them in!

Jen said...

Hi Ann, nice to have you join this awesome crew on Criminal Minds! I have to echo Liberty...my office is also a mess. Which is incredibly ironic because I'm obsessively organized...I can set up systems like nobody's business. But the cleaning part, I've never been able to have as much love for! LOL

Shane Gericke said...

Nice to have you with us, Ann. I know what you mean about wanting energy around when you edit. I do the same thing--I'm happiest when editing printouts as a coffeehouse, or somesuch kind of place.

Neil Plakcy said...

My favorite place to write is Starbucks; something about my brain recognizes that I am there to get to work, no fooling around, and I dive into writing, editing, etc.

Like Ann, I carry a pen and paper with me. My wallet has a compartment for index cards and a pen holder, which is very handy when the muse visits at inopportune moments.

Cathy said...

While I've also written in a variety of places including my car (waiting outside my daughter's first job or during lunch hours), in the car and in airports, my favorite place is on my screened in porch in the summer, feeling the breeze and watching the himmingbirds.

Gwyn Ramsey said...

Hi Ann,


Love to write in my office surrounded by my books, files, equipment, and my things. It's a hideaway from the rest of the house. I do my writing from 9pm to 2am because there are no disturbances like phone calls, visitors, questions from hubby. It's my time, my place, my world.

I do take notes when I wake during the night. My nightstand has paper and pen ready for any fantastic spontaneous word or idea. If I don't write it down right then and there, by morning . . . Poof, it's gone. Senior moment sets in.

Gwyn Ramsey
http://gwynramsey.blogspot.com

Ann Parker said...

Hello all...
Wow! It's fun to hear where everyone does their writing/editing...
And thank you to 7 Criminal Minds (particularly Sophie) for the invitation to participate!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Anne,

I carry a notebook and pen with me at all times. I never know when an idea or character will spring into my mind. But I spend the greater part of my writing at my desk in the loft where I can look out at the Cascade Mountain range. Or like now when my husband is driving from our property in Princeton, I have the laptop on my lap and either writing or editing or commenting on blogs. ;) And if I'm in Princeton I'm in a 10x16 cabin using a card table and a plastic patio chair for my desk. I write anywhere I can find a spare moment and with either my laptop or a notebook and pen.

Interesting post.

Lori Orser said...

When I lived in Dayton, NV, I wrote most of the first draft of my first novel in the City Cafe and Bakery, between their breakfast and lunch hour. Now, writing non-fiction, my dining room table has become my office and is covered with piles of research, which I take, one pile at a time, to my couch where I write one piece. Putting it into the computer in my editor's bizarre format is the first edit. Next edit is done at Starbuck's here in Bismarck, or at the public library. I carry not just pen and paper, but also a digital voice recorder, so if I need to get things down faster than I can write them, or if I'm driving, I won't lose thoughts. I also keep it beside my bed at night. I won't even show my office. I do have a system, but it's invisible to everyone but me!