Thursday, April 3, 2014

Where The Magic Happens

Ever wonder where authors write their books?  Author J.C. McKenzie of Shift Happens (don't you just love that title?) shares her writing process, along with a few great pics of her writing space.  I must admit, I'm in love with the idea of her mug warmer ... I desperately need one of those as I'm always drinking cold coffee!

Welcome J.C.!

First I’d like to thank Rae Rivers for hosting me on her blog today! I’m very excited to be here and hope you enjoy learning about my writing space.

Now, about that writing habitat. Some writers are strangely protective of their writing space. Mine is fairly new, so that sense of dragon-esque protection for my “hoard” hasn’t kicked in yet, and I’m not sure it ever will. My writing, as a principle, is very portable. I’ve written in many different environments—the back porch of my parents place on the island, the beaches of New Zealand, various ferries and planes, the Starbucks down the road from our last place, and now, an office/spare bedroom in our home in Saskatchewan. I’ve written in notebooks, on scraps of paper, napkins, desktop computers, laptops, netbooks, and the backs of receipts. Now that I’m dedicating more time and energy to my writing, I’m a little more set up.

The pictures of my writing space were taken at night, but during the day, streams of Prairie sunlight flood the small room. When I’m stuck, I get to look up and see pictures of my two favorite people—my husband and my son. My cute IKEA secretary desk also hosts my HP G62 laptop, which I received free as a promotional deal from a telephone company. The computer’s on its last leg, so I’m regularly e-mailing myself copies as a backup system, just in case it all goes to hell. The board you see above the desk is my most recent purchase and I LOVE IT! Martha Stewart Home Office. That woman is a genius. I think my husband might ban me from Staples, because I want to keep adding to it, despite not needing anything else. We got the Vancouver calendar (on the left) in the mail for free from a realtor right before we made our big move from the West Coast of Canada to the Prairies. The pictures make me happy and homesick at the same time, but that turmoil of emotion is rather conducive to my writing process. Go figure!

To me, the space isn't nearly as important as the mind-set. Relaxation and the support of my loved ones is key for me. My family and friends are awesome, and I can’t say enough good things about them. For the relaxation piece, I’m almost always drinking coffee. Just the smell of it puts me at ease and I often don’t finish every cup I pour. (Side note: today, my husband bought me a mug warmer because he’s tired of finding half-finished cups in the office and around the house. What a keeper!) There’s also music playing. I find I’m most productive when listening to Blues, Jazz or Classical, which is funny, because that’s not what I crank when I’m alone in the car! 

My writing time is limited to when my son sleeps, so I get short bursts here and there—mainly nap time and bedtime. I tend to write 500-1000 words per day in about a 1-3 hour period that’s usually not consecutive! Thank goodness no one reads those first drafts, because they tend to be a bit disjointed, and if I’m honest, fairly crappy. I polish the manuscript (MS) and exchange pieces of it with a few carefully selected and trusted critique partners. After listening to their advice, I smooth the MS over again, and then send it to trusted friends, family and lovers of the genre to read and ask them to give me their thoughts (i.e. beta readers). After I've taken in their comments, added a bit more spit and polish, the manuscript is submitted to the publisher. 

All that magic happens here—on a cheap, dented desk, with a free, fairly dilapidated computer. If you’re a writer, what does your writing space look like? If you’re a reader, where do you like to read? 

 Happy writing and reading!

J.C. McKenzie

About the Author:

Born and raised on the Haida Gwaii, off the West Coast of Canada, J.C. McKenzie grew up in a pristine wilderness that inspired her to dream. She writes Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

13 comments:

  1. J.C., Like you I'm most productive when I listen to music. The genre depends on what I'm writing at the time. A book about Sherwood Forest requires Steeleye Span (English folk-rock) while a Celtic epic gets the ancient harp music going. One thing I've learned -- something in the time signatures equals productivity, especially when I'm editing. Then it's Jethro Tull all the way! Can't wait to read Shift Happens!

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    1. I often use music too - to increase the "mood" of my writing scenes and to drown out other noises around me that are far too distracting! Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Love it Laura! It's neat that your different books get different tubes. Now I'm wondering where you get your ancient harp and English folk rock music from. Just a search on iTunes? I'm totally trying that out later!

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  2. Thanks again for hosting me Rae. I highly recommend the mug warmer. It's an awesome addition to my writing space!

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    1. It's definitely on my shopping list! I'm forever making coffee but it's cold by the time I remember to drink it. Thanks for sharing, J.C.

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    2. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I do mine!

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  3. J. C. - What a great space. And tell your husband you really need brightly colored post-it notes. You need some color.

    Happy Writing.

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    1. Post it notes are wonderful inventions, love them! Thanks for saying hi, Beth!

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    2. I totally agree!!! It's on the list! Thanks for stopping by :-)

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  4. Love hearing about your process, JC. My writing space starts off neat with my surroundings tidy, but before I know it paper and books stick out everywhere. And I had to smile at your coffee cups--I'm bad about that too. That coffee cup warmer sounds like a good idea. I'll have to look into that. Best of luck with your book! Barb Bettis

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    1. Hi, Barb. I can so relate to this - I can never seem to keep my writing space tidy once I start writing. It also doesn't help that I have small kiddies who love to work around me too! Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Ok, I have to come clean about something. I *may* have tidied up a bit (a lot) before taking the pictures! And there's a whole mess around the corner that thankfully is not in the shot. I usually clean up every night, but by dinner time the next day, it's a complete disaster again! Glad to hear I'm not the only one!

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  5. Thanks again for hosting me on your blog, Rae! It was such a great experience and I really appreciate the exposure!

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