Creative Space: Creating a Workspace that Inspires

I’m delighted to have guest blogger, Cadence Blue, on my blog today.  Cadence and I connected when I was first venturing into the world of social media. I found her be delightful, friendly, and artistically-gifted. She loves writing, video production and grahic design work. And, hey, we share a love of cats. Need I say more? :D

Given how passionate Cadence is about writing and the creative arts, I asked if she’d be willing to write a post for my blog. She came up with a wonderful topic that’s going to have you redesigning a haven for your creative pursuits. Please welcome Cadence!

~ooOOoo~

Creative Space: Creating a Workspace that Inspires
by Cadence Blue

Are you a writer, a reader, a vidder, a graphic artist? Regardless of what moves you artistically, you need a workspace that is comfortable as well as functional—a place that coaxes the seeds of inspiration to grow and bloom into the full flower of your creativity.

Your workstation—your creative space—is your sanctuary. If you haven’t thought about making your workspace a place that will inspire you to do grand things then now is the perfect time!

Your office workstation is designed to be efficient, your dining room, inviting, and your bedroom, relaxing. It makes sense that the place where you go to write about (or read about) another time, place or world should be appointed accordingly.

The first thing I do is to keep my space clean. Dust is not my friend. Clutter is the next thing I erase. I can’t organize my thoughts if I look around and see that my things are disorganized.

Now that my space is clean and ordered I focus on my surroundings. I like to appeal to all five of my senses.

Color: Some artistic people are at their most creative when they feel energized. Others need to be relaxed before their creative juices flow. Whichever category you’re in, choose a color palette that puts you in the mood. This can be anything from painting the walls to hanging pictures and posters, or, art with motivational or inspirational quotes. Your sight is a dominant sense. Appeal to it with beautiful things.

Scent: A particular scent can take us back in time and stir memories. Don’t ignore your sense of smell at your workstation. I love the smell of brewing coffee on a cold winter’s day, or citrus in the summer. A few candles can make your space inviting. Last year I discovered flameless candles. They smell amazing and you can choose a wax warmer that matches your decorating style. If you like heavier, richer smells, incense is a great option.  

Sound: Don’t neglect what you hear. Keep music on hand that speaks to your emotions. Epic film scores can help you write your epic adventure novel. Remember that movie that made you cry? Sad music is great for writing those emotionally charged scenes.

If I am writing I listen to movie scores and New Age music because lyrics distract me. If I am making a video or working on graphic design I like music with energy, like pop and rock.

Another incredibly relaxing sound is water. My fountain is trickling near me as I write this. You can get them in the garden department of stores in the spring, or online all year round.

Taste: Nothing puts me in a creative mood like a piping hot cup of green tea or a cup of flavorful coffee. Whatever you like, keep it within easy reach. You don’t want to have to make a trip to the fridge when you’re in “The Zone”.

Touch: For me this usually means a cat on my desk to pet. Seriously, make sure you have a comfortable place to sit. Plush throw pillows on your sofa cuddle your body while you’re working at your laptop or reading. If you’re working at your desktop PC, invest in a good executive chair. Sitting in a chair that makes your back and hips ache is not conducive to being creative.

I hope these suggestions will help you design the best creative space for whatever you are creating, or simply enjoying.

I am curious: how do you set up your creative space? Please share your tips on designing the perfect place where the seeds of your inspiration grow and flourish.

I would like to thank Mae for hosting my ramblings today!

BIO: Cadence Blue has been entertaining family and friends with her writing for many years. Circumstances beyond her control caused her to step back from the art form for a time and she is just now making a tentative comeback as an aspiring indie author. When not writing she enjoys doing graphic design and video editing.

Cadence is married and is both mother and play companion to her four black cats, who demand much of her time and energy.

Connect with Cadence at the following haunts:
Facebook
Cadence Blue’s Fan Videos
Email Cadence: SweetCadenceBlue@aol.com

Mae Clair: What does Autumn Taste Like?

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts but, in the spirit of autumn’s arrival, I thought I’d engage in a short creativity exercise and invite you to do the same.

Want to give it a try?  All you have to do is match the sense (sight, taste, smell, touch, sound) to the season, connecting a concrete impression with the abstract. Sound confusing? Nah! ‘Tis simple. Check it out:

What does autumn look like?
Fat orange pumpkins and floppy scarecrows reclining on front porches

What does autumn taste like?
Apple cider

What does autumn smell like?
Wood-smoke rising from a hearth

What does autumn feel like?
The touch of frost on a brisk morning

What does autumn sound like?
Dried leaves crunching underfoot

How about it? What are your impressions of this vibrantly colorful season?

Even if you only try one or two, take a moment to engage your senses and your creative muse. I’d love to read what you come up with!

Mae Clair: A Lifetime’s Journey

I recently discovered Google Alerts. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a pretty cool system that allows you to type in a string or reference phrase. Any time those words appear in web content you receive an email alert. Because I’m anxious to learn when WEATHERING ROCK is going to appear on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and a few other sites, I set up alerts for the book title plus Mae Clair.

Yesterday I received a death notice for Ola Mae Clair. At first I had that sad creepy sensation that always overcomes me when I learn of someone’s passing. Then I started thinking about Ola’s life. She was 93 when she died. Can you imagine the sweeping changes she saw in her lifetime?

In 1919 when Ola was born, Woodrow Wilson was president, prohibition was one year away and the jazz age was just beginning. Ten years later, the Great Depression turned life on end and sent the country into a plummeting downward spiral.  By 1941, she would have had to face the horror of Pearl Harbor and the long dark hours of WWII.

By 1950, life had settled into recovery and production. In 1968, the Summer of Love, a 49 year old Ola might have looked askance at the events taking place in Haight Ashbury, California, and been grieved by the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement; the tragedy of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination.

She would have seen the introduction of the floppy disk in the 1970s, the premiere of M*A*S*H, Patty Hearst’s kidnapping , disco, pet rocks and platform shoes. By 1989, a 70 year old Ola would have witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the passing of Lucille Ball, the birth of moonwalking and parachute pants—a far cry from the homespun clothing of 1919.

The 1990s brought the horrific standoff in Waco, Texas, the birth of the World Wide Web going public, Oprah Winfrey’s book club and Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls. In 1999 we hit the staggering turn of a century. Remember Y2K? My husband and I started a new tradition—lobster tail for New Year’s Eve dinner. It’s something we’ve kept up every year since.  I wonder what Ola did. She would have been 80 years old.

The last decade brought the tragedy of 9/11, ipods, Geocaching and speed dating. I wonder what Ola would have thought of the latter. All in all, I like to think she had an amazing life and a happy one. Certainly it was a long one. It makes me realize I have so much learning and growing yet to do…including this new venture of writing!

Be at peace, Ola. You have a new journey ahead of you and I’m sure you won’t walk it alone.

Who is John Lehman?

I wish I knew. I think about him sometimes and wonder what he was like.  I know he lived in 1823 but I have no idea how old he was that year.  How do I know John?  He left a message for me, which I discovered 188 years later.

If you didn’t know, my day job is real estate marketing. That means I get to visit a variety of homes. Over the years, I’ve toured an equine surgery center, several B&B’s, multiple million dollar+ homes and a string of historic properties among others.  Old homes are my favorite.  They resonate with the echoes of yesteryear and the lifeblood of faded memories. “Weathering Rock,” the title of my time-travel/paranormal romance coming in October, refers to a fictitious home built in 1832 that is central to the story.

But let me jump back to John Lehman. Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting a property built in 1783. Think about that. It was the year the American Revolution ended. Am I the only one who finds that mind-boggling? To think of the people who walked through the halls of that home…the joys and concerns they must have had as our newly forged nation took its first tenative steps.

I fell in love with the property. Chestnut plank floors, massive moldings, a center hall with turned staircase, multiple fireplaces and four bedrooms each with its own “keeping cupboard.” That was where Mr. Lehman left his mark–in the rear bedroom on the inside of a cupboard door. He burned his name into the wood, along with the date “John Lehman, 1823.” Surely, he couldn’t have known I’d stumble upon it 188 years later, but it gave me chills.

Was he a young man, just starting out with a wife and family, anxious to embrace life in a nation that had proved iself 40 years after winning a revolution?  Or was he older, reaching the sunset of his life, wanting to leave his mark before he passed from this world?

He made sure he did. I think about him. And I’m sure every homeowner who has ever lived in that historic 18th century property has thought about him too. It was his home and he made sure we knew it. Some of that property went into Weathering Rock when I created it, along with bits and pieces of most of the historical estates I’ve toured. They all left a mark on me in one way or another, each teeming with the phantoms of forgotten years.

Do old homes inspire you?  Are there any you’ve toured, lived in, or visited that stand out in your mind?  I’d love to know about them! Aside from a professional interest, I have a passion for old properties.

Weather ‘Tis Better

I’m a geeky girl about a lot of things, and weather is one of them. We’re a month away from summer which is prime thunderstorm season.  I love the change in the atmosphere right before a storm when the sky grows black, the wind blows through like an angry zephyr, and the leaves bend belly-up to the heavens.  

A few weeks ago I was visiting my mother when she mentioned how much electrical storms frighten her. Then she casually told me when I was a child, I used to sit on the front porch with my father to watch as storms rolled in.

I did?

Oh yes, she assured me.  The rest of the family would be tucked safely inside the house, but my father would take me outside until the weather grew too severe to linger.  I’d forgotten how much he loved that, and was saddened to realize it had slipped from my memory. It all came tumbling back in a rush like someone flipping a light switch. The sprawling front porch, sitting side by side, listening to the thunder, watching the lightning. How bizarre this should be a father/daughter bonding element, but he loved storms and taught me to appreciate them (with a healthy dose of respect for the danger).

Today, weather patterns have grown erratic, often becoming violent.  Tornados were a rare occurrence in my area when I was a kid. Now they spin closer each summer. I’ve even been caught on the fringe of one and don’t think I will ever forget the way the sky looked at that moment, or the unnerving blackness that followed. I know many of you have experienced tornadoes and other weather events first hand.

Do changes in the weather influence the way you write or feel?  I often find myself moved to bursts of creativity during those transition periods.

As we head into storm season, stay safe everyone!

Conversation Starter

When I sat down to write Weathering Rock, (coming in October from Lyrical Press) I had to decide what time period to use for the setting.  I’d already decided on a time-travel with paranormal elements, and knew I wanted to reference the Civil War era. After that, it was a matter of deciding who would do the traveling (hero or heroine) and whether they would go forward or backward in time.

I eventually settled on the novel’s hero, Caleb DeCardian, hurtling him from 1863 into the present. Using a character who lived when the nation was divided, fought the Battle of Gettysburg, and helped put down the New York City Draft Riots, allowed me to sprinkle historical references throughout the book. Today, that has me thinking.

If you could go backward in time and have a conversation with someone famous from history, who would it be and why?

I’m torn on this. Part of me would say Robert F. Kennedy because I admire him and was far too young to remember anything about him. Another part would like to sit down with George Armstrong Custer and say “What were you thinking?!?” Still another is enraptured by the thought of  the Sons of Liberty discussing independence. I’d talk to any one of them! Then there’s Doc Holliday, and . . . can you tell I like history? :)

Okay, I’ll stop now and go with RFK.  How about you?  Who inspires you?  Who would you love to have a chat-fest with if you could turn back the pages of time?

A Helicopter, Robber and a Moonlight Swim

A number of years ago I had to attend a 3-day business conference in Phoenix for my employer. Since I’d never been to Arizona, my husband came along, we tacked on a few extra days, and made it into a vacation.

I fell in love with the Sedona area, ate rattlesnake and Indian fry bread, saw my first professional hoop dance, and came home with one very cool kachina doll. But my most vivid memory of Phoenix? You guessed it . . . a helicopter, robber, and a moonlight swim.

I can’t remember the name of our resort, but it was divided into groupings of two-story buildings with eight suites in each. The buildings were sprawled over acres of ground, each building with a private pool. Nice, right?

I thought so too until the helicopter showed up.

Late one night, hubby and I decided to take a dip in the pool (yes, we had our clothes on, thank God!). There we were, enjoying a moonlight swim when a helicopter nailed us in the beam of a high-intensity spotlight. I felt like a fugitive on America’s most wanted! Helicopter-1; romantic moonlight swim-0. Talk about killing the mood!

After it took off, we went back to our suite and my husband stepped onto the balcony to nose around. He saw a cop snooping below and asked what the problem was. Apparently someone had held up a Quickie-Mart and been chased to the area. Given the helicopter, I think the guy was probably armed and the hold-up ugly. The cop didn’t share details, but advised we stay inside. Of course, my writer’s imagination kicked into overdrive.

We’d been oblivious to the danger when in the pool, enjoying the moment, unaware of our surroundings. What if the robber had been lurking in the darkness with a gun?

So, why am I thinking of this now? Because events, no matter how random or long ago, are worth tucking into the idea book you carry in your head. I’m not sure that moonlight swim will ever make it into one of my novels, but I’m going to hang onto the memory. It freaked me out when it happened but, hey, how many people can say they were caught up in the middle of a manhunt?

How about you?  Are you one for collecting ideas and nuturing them indefinitely?

Oh, and by the way, should you ever make it to Phoenix I highly recommend the rattlesnake at Rustler’s Rooste. It really does taste like chicken!