April 25, 2011
Guest Author - Judy Nickles
Recently, I read an article about writers who like to visit the homes of past writers—Poe, Faulkner, Hemingway, and others—with the idea of drawing inspiration from being in the place where their great literary works had come to life. Unfortunately, these giants are gone and, with them, their creative spark, like a match that burns out. Those who follow in their footsteps must coax a new flame to life.
Like most of you reading this, I’ve written in many places, some more conducive to productivity than others. I suppose it’s safe to admit now that, during long hours of boring (but required) teacher in-service, when my time would have been better spent setting up my classroom, I scribbled furiously on a yellow legal tablet. Hopefully, the droning presenters thought I was taking down every repetitive word. Not. I was sketching out characters, settings, plot ideas, and even dialogue.
Before I retired, I never had a place dedicated to writing. Now I use one of the bedrooms as a study. It has a desk, filing cabinet, a closet full of supplies, bookcases, a cd player, and a comfy recliner where I can sit with the lappy when I need a change. I love my ‘study’ as I call it. Still, I like a change of scenery and am always on the lookout for somewhere new.
Like Goldilocks, I try things out until I find what is ‘just right’. So far, I’ve tried the following:
• The public library (internet is a distraction)
• Starbucks (expensive!)
• A couple of state parks (dog likes these—she can go)
• One or two eating places with and without internet (everybody goes there with lappies)
• A lonely spot at the end of the road with lappy on steering wheel (mildly uncomfortable)
• A local scenic overlook that no one visits until I get settled in (moved the car three times last time I visited—small turn-around area)
• The eating area of a nice grocery store with deli (a radio blared from one end and a television from the other)
• Sitting out front with dog, lappy on lap (street is dead, neighbors invisible, uninspiring)
Where would I like to write?
• A villa in Greece overlooking the Aegean Sea
• An outdoor café in Paris
• A loft apartment in New York
• A beach house in Maine
• A vacation home in the outer banks of NC
• A rustic cabin deep in the woods but not too far from Sonic to go for Happy Hour
In the end, does it matter where we write, so long as we write? But it’s fun to dream, isn’t it?
I wish I could say I wrote my latest release, The Showboat Affair, floating down the Mississippi River on a real paddlewheel steamer. Alas, all I did was get the idea from a dinner cruise on ‘The Branson Belle’ in Branson, Missouri. Still, it would be nice to set up shop on the top deck and float and write and float and write and float and…
Blurb for The Showboat Affair
Despite over thirty years in a faithless marriage to wealthy investment broker Rand Kingston, Jean is shocked when he asks for a divorce. Encouraged by her former housekeeper-turned-best-friend, she determines to rediscover herself as an independent woman and move on with her life. Nick Cameron, prominent attorney and long-time widower, would like to figure in her plans. The opposition of their adult children surprises them. Then, a series of chilling near misses makes them wonder who really is determined to keep them apart—and why.
Excerpt from The Showboat Affair
Jean, still wearing her gown and robe, mixed the batter for waffles while Nick washed up in the guest bath and used one of her disposable razors and leg cream to shave. “I used my finger as a toothbrush,” he said, cozying up behind her to kiss her neck.
She shivered. “Not before breakfast.”
“And not after dinner either, apparently.” He laughed.
“You’re skating a thin line.” But she laughed, too.
He put up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “I need coffee.”
“It’s ready, and the waffle iron is hot, so you’ll have breakfast in a minute.”
The peal of the doorbell startled both of them. “This could look bad,” Nick said.
“Not if it’s Selina. Maybe it’s her. She went to look at some of those ice cream parlor tables I was telling you about last week.” Jean eyed him critically. “Button your shirt.”
“It’s pretty rumpled.”
“Button it anyway.” She brushed past him on her way to the door. “Maybe you should disappear.”
“Are you serious?”
Jean sighed. “No.” At the front door, she peered through the viewer and let out her breath in dismay. Juliana stood there, her jaw set, looking primed for battle. Jean unlocked the door and opened it. “What brings you here so early, Juliana?”
“I had some errands over this way. Aren’t you going to ask me in?”
Jean stepped back. “Yes, of course. Come in. I have a guest.”
Juliana’s eyebrows met her hairline. “A guest? I am interfering with your sleeping arrangements then.”
Jean made a quick decision not to defend herself. “Come in the kitchen. I’m making waffles.”
Nick rose hastily as the women walked in.
“You must be Nick Cameron,” Juliana snapped.
“My mother’s lover.”
“Juliana!” Jean felt the blood drain from her face. “How dare you!”
Nick’s eyes flashed, but his voice was courtroom courteous. “I spent the night on the sofa.”
“Of course, you did.”
His mouth twitched. “But if I’d spent it in your mother’s bed, it would have been her business, not yours.”
Judy Nickles is a retired teacher who has spun stories since she could hold a #2 pencil. In elementary school, when storms threatened, the teacher would send her up to the front to tell a tale, taking the other children’s minds off the weather. After retiring four years ago, she got serious about getting published. The result was three novels with The Wild Rose Press: Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?, Finding Papa’s Shining Star, and The Showboat Affair (as Gwyneth Greer). Champagne Books just contracted The Face on Miss Fanny’s Wall, a historical romantic suspense, for release in 2012. In addition to writing, Judy enjoys traveling, doing genealogical research, and spending time with her granddaughters, Hanna and Aubrey.