Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Author's View: My Thinking Spots (Or, how I write books by staring at yesterday's leftovers) by Cheri Allan


Congratulations to Cheri on her release day! This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Cheri will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter and a $15 Amazon or B&N gift card will be awarded to another randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. Enter at the end of the post and click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My Thinking Spots
(Or, how I write books while staring at yesterday’s leftovers)


I stare out the window a lot. I was not always a day-dreamer, mind you. I was once the studious girl who avidly listened to her teachers and dutifully took pages upon pages of notes. But then I took a left turn somewhere and threw out my outlines. I was the student who always wrote first and drafted the outline after anyway. I couldn’t do it the other way around, because my best thinking comes about when I’m writing.

I’m a total pantser, which means that I start writing when I’ve got a seed of an idea, character, plot point or conflict, and I begin writing to see how it fleshes itself out. This process requires lots of revising, but also lots of thinking.

You see, as a writer, when I’m staring into space or typing out pages of drivel I know I’ll only discard later, I’m not doing nothing: I’m thinking. Thinking is hard work requiring lots of coffee and chocolate and which does not like being interrupted by hungry children or large dust bunnies. Thinking is SERIOUS BUSINESS requiring just the right environment.

So, for LUCK OF THE DRAW and my other ‘Betting on Romance’ novels, I’ve surrounded myself with scenes and settings which make me comfortable, happy and inspired. At my writing desk, I have a pastoral Vermont painting my parents picked up on a trip decades ago; a photo of my father because he was a hard worker, and I like to think I’ll be more productive with him staring at me; and a little fabric fairy my daughter made which reminds me to remember the magic. These scenes and items keep me grounded in the characters and setting of Sugar Falls, the amalgamation of the New Hampshire towns and locales I’ve known growing up. And, when my fat thesaurus can’t give me the words I seek, I can look deep into the acres of woods that surround our New Hampshire property and feel calm and quiet and clear-headed and lose myself in the scene that I’m writing. But, sometimes, sitting isn’t the answer either.

Sometimes thinking requires movement, so while my desk appears quite businesslike, I have auxiliary thinking stations: My treadmill, my laptop and bed, the kitchen… all of these are writing spaces, too, and it is not unusual for me to peruse the contents of the fridge, turn to my husband and say, “Wait! I have an idea!” which will have nothing to do with menu planning and everything to do with the perfect solution to my plotting issues.
,br> My writing space is ever changing. While writing a book, I collect assorted post-its and slips of paper with snippets of dialogue or character traits hastily jotted down. I have audio recordings of plotting sessions to listen to. I have dog beds under my desk, a cat on my lap, and, somehow, the stories evolve… with a little bit of nature, a little bit of fairy magic and large quantities of coffee. But never an outline.

What is YOUR creative passion? When or where do you find you are most creative? Share!

If only life had a refresh button...

Kate Mitchell never planned to be a 31 year-old widowed single mom, but when her soon-to-be-EX husband up and dies, her dreams of finishing college and starting over are thrown in the air like a game of 52 pick-up. When she’s given a leave of absence from work and told to “quit or recommit,” Kate retreats to idyllic Sugar Falls, New Hampshire, to figure out whether she can discover her passion and pay the bills. Cue the fresh air, summer sunshine and one sexy local contractor.

Tall, dark, and handy…

Volunteer fireman and all-around hunky guy in a toolbelt, Jim Pearson has sworn off complicated women with messy baggage. They cling to his nice-guy stability and skills with a power saw just long enough to straighten out their lives and move on… but then he meets the cute single mom staying at Grams’ lake house for the summer.

While a sizzling attraction draws them together, Jim's distrust of complicated women and Kate's incredibly complicated life threaten to pull them apart. But forces beyond their control—match-making grandmothers, the lazy backdrop of summer, and their own reckoning with the past—conspire to make them risk it all... and bet on love.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“But when I think about going back… to a job I know is safe and secure… I can’t breathe.” She felt her arms grow cold despite the sunshine. “It’s like my future is closing in and there’s no way out. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that going back would mean I’m giving up hoping for something better. And… and I can’t bring myself to give up on me quite yet.”

She stared at him in the silence that followed, her chest rising and falling, feeling brittle and defiant all at once.

But then he tugged her hand until she sat beside him on the porch steps. He blew out a breath. “No one’s asking you to give up on yourself.”

“You think I’m giving up,” she said. “But I’m not. I’m not throwing my hands up in despair. I’m not trying to quit. I’m trying to let go of the handlebars to see if I can do this without help.”

“I don’t understand what that—”

“I’m saying… I know you mean well, but you’ve got to let me figure this out on my own.”

After a long moment, he nodded. “Okay,” he said, and he turned, the corners of his eyes crinkling in that warm, lovely way that always turned Kate’s insides to jelly. “You may not believe it, but I do believe there’s something better waiting for you.”

“You’re talking to a practically unemployed widow,” she sighed. “It’d be hard not to go uphill from here.”

About the Author:
Cheri Allan lives in a charming fixer-upper in rural New Hampshire with her husband, two children, one dog, four cats and an excessive amount of optimism. She’s a firm believer in do-it-yourself, new beginnings and happily-ever-afters, so after years of wearing suits, she’s grateful to finally put her English degree to good use writing romance. When not writing, you might find her whizzing down the slopes of a nearby mountain or inadvertently killing perennials in her garden.

Cheri loves to hear from readers! E-mail her at cheri@cheriallan.com, friend her at facebook.com/cheriallanauthor, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or visit her website and blog at www.cheriallan.com. Luck of the Draw, Book 1 in the ‘Betting on Romance’ series is available now through Kobo and Smashwords. a Rafflecopter giveaway

24 comments:

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Cheri Allan said...

Thanks, Judy for having me today! I'll admit there's not a lot of thinking going on--more like lots of SQUEE-ing, because it's launch day for LUCK OF THE DRAW!

It's now available at all major e-tailers in print and e-book. Find links here: www.cheriallan.com/bookshelf/

Writing isn't my only creative passion. I also LOVE decorating and home-improvement. What's your creative passion? Anything unusual? Share!

Andra Lyn said...

I'm probably the most creative when I'm traveling. Weird I know, but there are so many people! Airports, bus stations, train stations, the metro...all these different lives intersecting. It makes me wonder and ask...What is that girl's story?

Cheri Allan said...

Andra, I know just what you mean! I LOVE to people watch. Then again, I live in a small town. We have lots of local "characters." (My husband being one of them, God love him.) LOL I'm also a reality dating show junkie, because the human dynamic is endlessly entertaining!

Jennifer Brodie said...

Congratulations on release day! Like you, I have lots of thinking spots. As long as I'm alone and there's only a background hum, I can think / daydream anywhere. I've tried writing in coffee shops, but I get too engrossed in the conversations around me to be productive. :)

Cheri Allan said...

Thank you, Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by! I did have to laugh, however, when you said you think best when there is a background hum... because my daughter had chosen that moment to "hum" a song while I was trying to type, and it was NOT conducive to thinking or creativity. I think WALLS enhance thinking spots, don't you? (And, me, too, on the coffee shops. I can't write at ALL in public places... I'm eavesdropping too much!)

susanannwall said...

I write everywhere, but lately I've been feeling like my mess of an office is a problem. Your tidy space has inspired me to actually DO something about it!

BTW, I am LOVING Luck of the Draw! Gotta love a man who strips naked under a crescent moon for a refreshing swim!

Cheri Allan said...

Susan, I have a confession: my office was a cramped mess until a couple weeks ago when I bought the desk second-hand. It's amazing what a little furniture rearranging can do for your organization!

So glad you're enjoying LUCK OF THE DRAW! I did enjoy writing that scene, too. Gotta love a man without inhibitions. ;)

Mary Ann Jock said...

Cheri,
I am so glad your book is finally out and I always love to see what other writers do with their space. I have a comfy chiar I found abandoned with a free sign on it. After a whole chiar remodel,my brain knows when I sit down it is time to work on writing! Great job!

Rita said...

I'm most creative when working in my garden. It is surprising how many items can be used as pots for plants.

Librarian Lavender said...

I loved reading about the writing process. I would really like to read the book!

I usually start writing in the morning when I'm still fresh and have the most energy. I think about stories all the time and have so many ideas I can never write about all of them.

Good luck with the book!

Cheri Allan said...

Mary Ann, there's nothing more inspiring than a good deal! LOL I, too, like to see other writers' spaces, because they are as individual as their literary voices!

Cheri Allan said...

Rita, I have the utmost respect for successful gardeners (says one who looks for the words "invasive" and "perennial" when searching for plants I'm unlikely to kill.) What are some of the 'pots' you've used? I love cheerful planters and gardens with lots of color and a little bit of disorder. To me, they seem happy and unconstrained. (Or maybe that's just lazy gardener speaking. LOL)

Cheri Allan said...

Ms. Lavender (Ooh. Sounds like a character from Clue, doesn't it?)-- I, too, get some of my best ideas in the morning... but then real life intrudes (in the guise of children and dogs) and it's usually late in the day that I have the mental space to explore those ideas. I WISH I could launch right into story-land as soon as I grabbed my morning coffee, but not for a few more years. Until then, you can preview the opening chapters of LUCK OF THE DRAW at www.cheriallan.com. Thanks for commenting, and good luck in the giveaway!

Cheri Allan said...

Ms. Lavender (Ooh. Sounds like a character from Clue, doesn't it?)-- I, too, get some of my best ideas in the morning... but then real life intrudes (in the guise of children and dogs) and it's usually late in the day that I have the mental space to explore those ideas. I WISH I could launch right into story-land as soon as I grabbed my morning coffee, but not for a few more years. Until then, you can preview the opening chapters of LUCK OF THE DRAW at www.cheriallan.com. Thanks for commenting, and good luck in the giveaway!

Serena91291 said...

I think the perfect place for me is my room. I need to be around familiar things to be comfortable and mostly in a happy mood.
Congrats on the new release and thanks for the giveaway!

Kimberly said...

I think the excerpt was great...definitely grabbed my attention.

collenga said...

Congrats on your new release! Your writing process in very interesting.

Mary Preston said...

I like my craft work & I find inspiration everywhere.

Love this pretty cover.

Cheri Allan said...

Serena, I agree that being comfortable is key to feeling you can be in that creative zone. I do a lot of writing sitting with my laptop in bed!

Cheri Allan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheri Allan said...

Kimberly, I'm glad you liked it! You can preview the opening chapters at www.cheriallan.com. Thanks for stopping by, and good luck in the giveaway!

Cheri Allan said...

Interesting writing process? You are too kind, Collenga (?) It's haphazard and random, but it's mine!

Cheri Allan said...

Mary, I'm glad you like the cover! It is definitely an inspiration on a rainy day like we're having today. LOL For me, crafting is my 'down time' unless I'm decorating... in which case I LOVE flipping through magazines and watching home shows! Thanks for commenting, and good luck in the giveaway!