Joining us today for Creative Spaces is author (and one of my wonderful critique partners) Carrie Pearson!
Carrie is celebrating the release of her nonfiction nature picture book A Cool Summer Tail. Published by Arbordale Publishing and illustrated by Christina Wald, A Cool Summer Tail uses humor, rhyme, and compare/contrast elements to explore the amazing ways animals adapt to heat. A Cool Summer Tail is a companion to A Warm Winter Tail, which won a Gelett Burgess Award and was selected for the Great Lakes, Great Reads literacy program.
To celebrate the publication of A Cool Summer Tail, Carrie is giving away a copy and a plush animal to one lucky reader who comments either on this post or one of the following interviews from last week:
I am lucky to have an office space upstairs in my home. The view out the window is of a tall blue spruce we keep adorned with white lights all year, a wooded area, and wetlands just beyond.
I love to watch the changing seasons reflected in the hardwoods’ leaves. Birds and squirrels perform in the spruce and insects zoom past my windows throughout the day. The only disadvantage to the space is there is NO DOOR. So, I’ve learned to tune out the buzz of a busy home and/or work when it is quiet. We have three teenaged daughters so mornings are predictably quiet in the summer.
Describe a typical workday.
My best creating is in the early morning so I’m at my desk as soon as possible (6 AM to 7 AM generally). I warm up with emails related to my work as co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI-Michigan and then jump into my writing projects. By 11:00 AM, I’m antsy–as are my two labradoodles–so we are out the door for a ski, run, or hike.
Roxy and Kona outside.
If I can squeeze in a walk with them and a mountain bike ride, I’ll happily do this, too. I try to get in another couple of hours in the afternoon, but meetings, family needs, and household chores chip away at available time. I’m not great at anything requiring brain power at night so I read for my adult book club, various children’s books, and industry magazines like Publishers Weekly and School & Library Journal.
List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
1. This little question from a student that is stuck on my wall reminds me that it’s okay to mes up.
Doo you evr mes up?
2. My heated beverage holder makes my beloved morning mocha last longer.
3. My Mont Blanc pen given to me by my dad celebrates my first book and represents the support I’ve received on my journey.
Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.
I don’t have rituals per se, but I am much more efficient in a defined space with a quiet environment. I’m not a good coffee house writer 😉
What do you listen to while you work?
Smooth jazz, with no singing. When I was writing my middle grade historical, I listened to Central American-influenced music because many of the characters are Cuban-Americans and I wanted to feel their musical energy.
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
The aforementioned morning mocha (maybe that is a ritual?) and some sort of pick me up if I work in the afternoon, like a cold Diet Pepsi. I should drink water, right?
What keeps you focused while you’re working?
My own or provided deadlines. I try to work backwards from those dates on the calendar. I keep some “congratulations” trinkets around to remind me that the work is worth the payoff.
Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?
90% of the time I work on the computer as my tight neck and shoulders will attest. In fact, I’m in physical therapy right now to learn how to counteract the toll typing takes on my body. When I travel, I bring my notebook to jot down ideas or work through issues on a project.
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
I’m an outliner, for sure. I like a certain amount of order. So, for longer works, I’ll create a framework for the story and fill in the details. For shorter pieces, like picture books, I often start with a phrase and think of the storyline to go with it. Sometimes it works, many times it doesn’t!
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
I do have to share it with my family–it’s our family computer–so I have some practice with this. I try not to be too protective of the space. If I had to share during my writing time, I’d share with my co-RA, Leslie Helakoski. She’s funny, a hard worker, positive, and loves to create. We might drink too much wine, though.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
“Your actions prepare you for your destiny, so be sure they point you in the direction you desire.”