When I imagine my perfect day my mind goes to reading and writing. A scene in my mind puts me in a favorite place for both, but they're different places that offer different things.
Reading is one of those things that can be enjoyed anywhere. At the doctor's office, waiting in the car for my husband, the coffee shop. But for me, the reading experience is enhanced by my setting, so cuddled up with my cat on the couch is a perfect place for me to read. Windows let in natural light, it's fairly distraction-free, and I can sink into the pleasure of my current read.
While indoors affords me a high degree of comfort, free from insects or weather, a nature space is also a favorite place for me to sit and read. Fresh air is always welcome and since I like sunshine and cloudy days equally well, as long as the outside temperature is doable and there's no rain, I'm happy to sit in nature and enjoy a good book. That nature could be a park, a beach, or simply my backyard. Sitting in nature combines my fondness of being among trees and grass or sand and water with the experience of reading. It's a full-senses thing that refreshes and relaxes me.
But ordering coffee and pulling up a chair at a coffee shop or bookstore is equally satisfying. For me, there's a certain rich ambiance in a bookstore that can't be topped, though a library is pretty good, too. However, the background noises of coffee machines and chatter at a coffee shop warm my heart and put me in a reflective mood. I love coffee, so having access to it is not to be minimized for putting me in a state of relaxation. I can sit back and read on.
But those same background noises and qualities of ambiance inspire my muse, so a coffee shop is on my list of favorite places to take my laptop and write. It's handy to have "rewards" available, which I take advantage of. When I want to make progress on my WIP but my fears are disrupting my soul, I can distract them with promises of a blueberry muffin or cinnamon roll and coffee shop coffee. The trick is to get there, because once I'm at my computer, coffee and appeasement in hand, the fears fall away and I can get to work doing something I love. I can hunker down and write on.
As a freelance writer I typically have deadlines and I have a dedicated writing space at home. That's where I write most of the time and it's a favorite place of mine to be, for no other reason than that space is associated with writing. But I imagine other spaces; fantasize about having an office in a downtown building where I work alone or with a fellow writer, but surrounded by other types of workers in their offices. I imagine lots of creativity and energy flowing from office to office. I fantasize about a loft in my home where expansive windows look out in a serene natural view. In that loft there's a large, comfy window seat where I could spread out and read in between writing spurts. I could write and read on to my heart's desire.
I know of some writers who write in front of the television or among family goings on. Some people can read anywhere while others need a quiet place with no distractions. We're all different and have our own versions of favorite reading and writing places. What's yours?
Today, the Write Way Café welcomes Crimson Romance author Elke Feuer.
When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I don’t remember the exact moment, but I do remember getting a typewriter for my ninth birthday. I started reading romance at twelve, and wrote my first book that same year. Until recently, I wasn’t interested in writing another genre.
Why did you pick the setting you did?
When I started researching the book, I wanted to know a popular place for jazz music in the 50’s and 60’s. Chicago jumped out at me, but when I saw the beautiful buildings, including the house I imagined in the story, everything fell into place.
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people?
I made them up or rather they jumped into my brain and decided to take over.
Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Oh, a great question, but no. The characters were adamant about who they were.
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
The biggest writing block was trying to make six months pass quickly while keeping the urgency of the suspense. I made time pass in 1-3 week increments throughout the chapters by working them around scenes about the renovations or at the beginning of a scene with a big event so readers didn’t feel shorted that nothing exciting happened during the time that passed.
What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
My characters were the biggest surprise, especially the ghosts who were supposed to be part of the back story, but insisted on being included in the scenes. I was skeptical, but they were right. LOL! Even with all the edits and changes I made before and after the book went to the publishers, I still wanted to make more when I saw it in print. I read scenes and thought “Ugh, this is crap! I should have done this instead.” Thank goodness for deadlines or we’d never finish editing our books.
What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, publishing; about ghosts and restoration projects?
I learned I didn’t know anything about the publishing industry (still don’t, LOL) and that no matter how you tweak your writing process, it’s different for each book, is in fact an ongoing process. I learned what wonderful, supportive friends I have both in the writing world and my personal life. I never imagined ghosts could capture my and readers’ hearts. That people would consider my book as much a paranormal as suspense. That restoration projects are easier to write than to do in real life. Last and most important, I learned I still have a lot to learn.
What are you working on now?
My current book is called Deadly Bloodlines. It's book 1 in a 3 book series I’ve yet to name. I’m excited about this book because it’s the first one set in Grand Cayman where I live. The most surprising thing about the book so far is how much I love my villain. He’s truly devious and is speaking to me more than my other characters. Another surprise is my heroine is more flawed than any other I’ve written. This book and series is going to be my biggest writing challenge yet as it’s teetering on the edge of a thriller, a genre I never thought would appeal to me. I’m about half way through and looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead.
If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I’d love to be a fulltime writer, but I’m blessed to enjoy the job I’m in. My day job is operation/project manager which I enjoy because it’s challenging, interesting, and I love the people I work with. It’s a lot like my writing career. LOL!
About Elke: Elke lives in Grand Cayman with her husband and two kids. Reading, spending time with her family, traveling, and meeting people is her joy. Writing is her passion.
She stumbled into writing suspense, and to her surprise found she enjoyed it, along with writing about serial killers. Elke is fascinated by them, and what motivates them to kill. She writes time travel, historical, and contemporary novels to even out her dark side.
A scholarship donor posed that question at a banquet I attended recently. She pointed out that there are two parts to breathing: 1) Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Inhaling takes in oxygen that is vital for our bodies. 2) Now let it out. Exhaling releases carbon dioxide so it doesn't build up and become toxic to us. You must do both to survive.
As a borderline asthmatic, I don't take breathing for granted. Paint, perfumes, smoke, and cats are among the things that can trigger an attack, so I try to avoid those things whenever possible. It's not fun going through the motions of taking deep breaths when you can only manage to take in a little air. I know I'm not alone, but most people breathe without thinking about it. I know I do when I'm not having problems.
But do you live your life without thinking about it?
Breathe in. Living is exploring, learning, and experiencing. Take in as much as you can, and be open to new experiences.
Breathe out. Give back. Share what you've learned with others.
I try to breathe deeply of the writing life.
Networking is important. I belong to several writing groups and subscribe to too many writing loops, but I get something from all of them so I'm reluctant to give them up. I participate in my writing groups by serving as an officer and volunteering as contest coordinator. I edit a newsletter and co-host The Write Way Café blog. I support fellow authors by visiting their websites and blogs, and follow them on Facebook and Goodreads. And of course, I buy their books!
Life is a full-circle experience. Some say you get out of it what you put into it. So breathe in: What are you learning? What are you doing with your life? What do you strive for? What are your goals? What have you accomplished and what are you working on?
Now breathe out: What are you giving back? Are you sharing what you've learned and trying to help others learn? Are you setting an example for others to strive to reach their goals? Are you sharing your accomplishments and encouraging others to share theirs? What can you give that others have given you? Breathe in, breathe out. Take in all you can, and then give back so others can follow in your footsteps. Tell me what you think: Do you live your life as you breathe?