Office Update & New Covers

Before I get into the dirty details about my New Years resolution to keep my desk and office tidy, here’s what I’ve been doing lately.

The revised white board, 4 parts, ? stickies

++Finishing the editing on PLAN X. Good news, I am now sick of reading my novel. I got to the end of the second edit and had six post-its of threads I hadn’t tied up, questions I hadn’t answered, and confusing crap I needed to cut out. All of which I have wrangled, I think. But before I read it over again — and put in some Shakespeare quotes (it’s about a “lost” Shakespeare manuscript, among other things) — I have to get over being sick of reading it. It’s the old “fresh eyes” thing a la Proust. To go on the journey I have to wait awhile. And twiddle my thumbs. And if I’m lucky, clean my desk.

++Designing new covers and publishing new paperbacks of two Alix Thorssen novels. I love to tweak with my covers and since I hadn’t done trade paperbacks of Nordic Nights and Blue Wolf yet, it was the perfect excuse. Really exciting, to me, was that Montana artist Carol Hagan allowed me to use her piece “Blue Nightfall” for the cover of Blue Wolf. I bought one of Carol’s wolf paintings (a print of one) back in 2001 when Blue Wolf first came out. I was going to use that image, if she let me, but she encouraged me to use one of her more recent works. I’m thrilled with the way it came out, and so is Carol. Check out more of her work at her website.

On both new covers I used an image of Viking weavings across the bottom. These are so colorful, I thought they fit right in with the rest of the covers. The fiery dragon photo is from the Up Helly Aa festival in the Shetland Islands at the end of each year. It dates back to the Viking days, when like my dad said, those Scots were just shipwrecked Vikings. Nordic Nights features a winter carnival and a parade float with a Viking ship. I always loved the hardback cover of Nordic Nights, probably my favorite of all my covers but now out of print.

++One last cover re-do is for the electronic book of JUMP CUT. My nom de plume Rory Tate is all well and good but it seemed that nobody knew I was the author! Quel surprise! So I redid the e-book cover with my name bigger than that turkey Rory’s. I did my last giveaway for the Kindle Select program over President’s Day and I think between the new cover art and the old name, it did the trick. Some 9000 free downloads went out in one day. If you got a free one, don’t be shy about writing a review, will you? (Thank you so much if you already did.)

Now to the update on the office. I have been backsliding. Papers are piling up. I printed out the new copy of PLAN X and it now sits prominently on my desk with bills, disks, and junk. I had a birthday in February, like every year, but this was one of the big ones. O my! I am using it as an excuse to be a slob, as if I needed an excuse. There are piles of the new paperbacks on the floor, and also piles of Jump Cut. I don’t know where I’m going to put all these copies. There are taxes to be done, and files to be rifled through for taxes. Can I wait until after taxes? Please? All right. Time to get organized. I hear ya.

Happy tidy new year

If you’re like me, you’re sweeping up the pine needles and sweeping away the holiday decorations, and getting ready to get back to work. The holidays are so great, a time to re-connect with family and friends, to get together and remember and plan, to play silly games and give the baby raspberries, all while your mind is working on the flaws in your latest manuscript. With their flexible schedules, writers often find the holidays and other vacations as an opportunity for monkey wrenching. The relatives mix up the alone-time, even if you love every single second of it. (Tell me how that works, will ya?)

Then they go home or back to school. Time to get organized for the new year. First and foremost (because it bugs the hell out of my hubby) is that I will spend ten or fifteen minutes every day keeping my desk clean. Confession: I am a messy person. Usually I clean my desk and office when I finish a book. Also, I leave the mail on the kitchen island and catalogues all over the place. I take this messy persona as evidence that I am a creative person, and therefore don’t really care if you can’t find a paper clip or a receipt or the chair in my office.  I embrace my chaotic side but must hit it with a hammer: clean it up! File it! Throw it out! Box it up! Get it out of sight! (Maybe not exactly what my husband wants but it will suffice.)

My office is not always a mess. Here is evidence for a guest blog I recently wrote. Look at that gleaming wood! My downfall, I confess, is piles of stuff: printouts, files, notes, and other detritus. I resist putting things into file folders because I fear I will forget to do something. Hey, it’s happened. And keeping it all in your head is one of the things about being a novelist that makes you … different. You have to keep that entire story going in your head. Not word by word, but the trajectory, the back story, the goal. It’s not easy, and even with outlines, sticky notes, and bulletin boards (cue messy crap) you have to keep it all juggling. A glance at some research you printed out two months ago may trigger something that gives you a new perspective, a new idea for the project in motion. But not if you dutifully filed that printout. Hey, how many of you go through your files?

So happy tidy new year. But keep the chaos going because no matter what your spouse says, a certain amount of mess is what being a writer is all about.