Welcome to IN,
and my column, Pen In Hand.
Since we are going to be spending some time together here each month, I
thought it only fair to let you know what you will be letting yourselves in for
if you choose to keep reading this column.
I'll start by telling you a little about myself, but I promise to keep it
short. I'm a small-town girl who had one big dream: to be a published author.
The road between there and here was paved with a lot of things, including
frustrations, detours, rejections and occasional bouts of writer's block. But it
also had many rewards.
Sometimes providence intervenes in our lives and throws us a bone. That
happened to me when a "too good not to write about" event took place in my
church having to do with the minister, three women and charges of sexual
harassment. The Ladies' Home Journal bought the article and I was off and
Then I discovered something quite startling: one published article does not a
career make. I had to continue to produce.
Eventually I landed a job as a newspaper reporter and found out that writing
is not only rewarding, it is very hard work. But that job gave me the confidence
to continue submitting freelance work to book publishers and magazines.
I write cozy mysteries. My idol was Agatha Christie. My first cozy, Murder at
the Ice Cream Parlor, was inspired by a true murder in my hometown. I'm also the
author of a true crime book, A Picture Perfect Kid, which is about the murder of
my former boss by her 16-year-old grandson.
By now, I'm sure you've caught the theme running throughout this little bio.
Events that can inspire a story happen around us every day. As writers we need
to be in tune with them and take advantage of opportunities when they present
In the coming months I'd like to share with you some insights, experiences,
and even some advice. After all, I'd like to think I've learned something in the
25-plus years I've spent pounding out stories and articles, first on an old IBM
Selectric, then a word processor and finally on my trusty PC.
So what exactly will we discuss here? How about we start at the beginning:
organizing your office. After all, if you're going to work at home you'll need
to have an area that is used just for that. I've tried writing at the kitchen
table (in the very early days) and believe me, it just doesn't work.
Eons ago, I lived in an apartment where I had only one bedroom for my own
use. In order to write there I put up a card table and bought a used bookcase
and a two-drawer file cabinet. That was my first "home office."
The important thing is to have that space that is yours, where you can go and
not be interrupted.
Ray Bradbury liked to surround himself with unusual items, things he'd picked
up in his travels, objects of interest. He said he never knew what might inspire
I've done the same thing with my home office. It's a haven of sorts. A place
where I have family pictures on the walls, memorabilia on my desk, certificates
of accomplishment (such as they are) displayed, some of my published items in
frames, souvenirs sitting around, and so on. I can go in there and feel
completely at ease surrounded by memories that represent happy, positive times
in my life.
Right now, sitting on the top shelf of my computer workstation is a blue vase
with six feathers in it. Five red, one blue. I've picked up these feathers in
quirky little shops at various times as I've been out and about. They have
absolute no significance other than the fact that I like feathers and they
caught my eye.
The point I'm making here is, when you create your work area, or office, make
it an extension of yourself, make it a place where creativity can flourish.
Now the most important thing. Whatever you do, no matter how many rejections
or acceptances you get, no matter how many frustrations come along, don't ever
forget the reason why you first sat down, took pen in hand, and began to write.
Remember the joy it brings into your life.
Next time, we'll discuss writers' conferences and workshops and how to choose
the ones that are right for you as well as how you can get the most out of the
ones you do decide to attend.
Until then, keep writing!
Author Carol Guy is a 2004 EPPIE
Award finalist for the mystery novel A Picture Perfect Kid,
available from Zumaya Publications www.zumayapublications.com
and Murder at the Ice Cream Parlor, available from Treble Heart
Books www.trebleheartbooks.com You can
find her web site at: http://www.geocities.com/cguy1943/carolguy.html