A Peek at the Creative Space of Lynne Marie

Today we’re taking a peek inside the workspace of my friend Lynne Marie. Lynne’s picture book debut, Hedgehog’s Goes to Kindergarten, was recently published. Here’s a brief summary of the book:

“It’s the first day of kindergarten and little hedgehog Spike is afraid to ride the big bus alone. He needs a buddy to make the ride a bit less scary.

But no one wants to sit next to Spike’s sharp quills on the bumpy bus ride.  Will he ever find someone to share his seat?” 


Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten is available through Scholastic Book Clubs as a book or a book and CD package or you can contact Lynne Marie at WriteSpike@gmail.com for information on ordering a personalized copy. (You can also write to Lynne at that email if you’d like to be on her mailing list for contests, blog updates, and other fun news). To learn more about the book visit www.HedgehogGoestoKindergarten.blogspot.com. You can also visit Lynne’s blog, My Word Playground, where she features a variety of writers and illustrators and shares a lot of great writing and illustrating tips.

Describe your workspace. 

I would  characterize my workspace much like the personality trait of a Pisces (which I am)–chaotic order. Which means, basically, that it is full of organized clutter! You’ll find photos, mementos, arts and crafts, various pieces from my rabbit, hedgehogs, Titanic-related and book collections, as well as so many things I love and find inspiring. I create my own creative cocoon. I would also describe it as moody, but not in a bad way. I say that because depending on the current theme of my writing or my life, it may be filled with different kinds of things. For example, when I am writing about hedgehogs, my hedgehog things and pictures will be predominantly displayed. As I look about I can see I definitely am visually inspired. I never even realized it, but just now as I am taking pictures, I think that a little gift from my best friend Connie (coupled with the fact that I actually owned hedgehogs) was part of the inspiration for Spike and Mama Hedgehog.

Pictured: Connie Mustang, Megan Atwood, Lynne Marie, Linda Joy Singleton and Verla Kay at SCBWI LA Conference, 2003

Describe a typical workday.

For me, a typical workday begins when my daughter crawls into my bed and wakes me up at 6:30 AM! From that time until 9:00 most of my morning is spent making her breakfast, packing her lunch, getting her dressed and off to school. At 9:00 AM I sit down with the daily goals I penned out the night before, and I get to them! My time is usually divided between reading e-mails, writing, and critiquing. And of course, there are the days that life gets in the way.

List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful. 

I have so many favorite things that it is really hard to choose. But one is definitely office artwork: my framed IBBY Congress 2004 poster and my signed Scatterbrain Sam poster, both of which I got while at the Highlights Foundation Writer’s Workshop at Chautauqua in 2002 and 2003. I absolutely love the illustrations of animals (my favorite) in both of them, and such wonderful Chautauqua memories are connected to them.

Another piece would be my collectible Barbie “Rose” doll from the Titanic movie (one of my favorite movies of all time along with Gone With the Wind, Braveheart, and Pearl Harbor). Long before the movie came out I became affected/intrigued by this tragedy and have read everything on it. I’ve even traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia; Cobh, Ireland; Fall River, Massachusetts; and many other places to view Titanic-related places and artifacts. So when James Cameron’s film came out, I was glad that Titanic’s story was made accessible to those who are not interested in “straight history.”

My picture book and novel collection is very dear to me because almost every single one on my bookshelf is signed to me, my son Kevin or Kayla by the author and has a memory attached to it – a name, a place and a face.

Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.

Getting my morning coffee is a definite ritual, and cleaning off my desk and making it neat before I begin would be two that I can think of. Also, making lists!

What do you listen to while you work? 

I love many kinds of music and listen while I’m checking e-mail or doing busy work. When I’m writing however, I need quiet, or something like Yanni or Enya, or the Titanic or Braveheart soundtracks. Once in a while, I’ll listen to something from my huge collection of Broadway musical soundtracks. Heathcliff, a little-known British play, is a favorite and my all-time favorite is Frank Wildhorn’s The Scarlet Pimpernel.

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Most definitely flavored gourmet coffee in the mornings, fruit-flavored water during the daytime and flavored caffeine-free teas at night. I love any and all flavored coffees with mint being a favorite, and exotic flavored teas like grapefruit, pomegranate, and pear, as well as orange and apple/cinnamon. For a snack, I like to nosh on pecans, pineapple chunks, or apple slices with peanut butter.

What keeps you focused while you’re working? 

First and foremost, not picking up the telephone when it rings. Also, quiet. Sometimes, I need to go into that “creative coma” and let my story play out in my head so that I can work it out and then transfer it on to the page.

Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way? 

I love the computer but do not fare well on a laptop. I have a wonderful little Fujitsu, but I really like being at home in my office, where I am in my comfort zone with my big desktop keyboard. I ALWAYS have a composition notebook with me for notes. I am always jotting down notes, thoughts and ideas, especially when I travel or go to conferences. Every time I have gone to a foreign country, I have filled an entire notebook with details that I can use to remember my trip, or for a story or article.

Here’s a picture of one shelf of my notebook collection–you can see some look like they’ve been through the war, LOL

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique? 

I can’t say that any story idea was every truly born the same way. Sometimes an idea just hatches, sometimes I have to plant a seed. Other times, I catch a glimpse and must go for a walk or do busy work like housecleaning to see it clearly. Even other times, I have to read a book or watch a movie and think about anything but an idea, and it just comes to the surface while I am not looking for it. I am also a big fan of picture book writing weeks, marathons, and the like.

But once the idea is conceived, I do try and hang it over a story skeleton to make certain that important structural elements are included. After that part of the process, I may change the story a lot or a little, but I know that it has a sound foundation underneath to build upon.

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

I actually share my workspace with my daughter. I love having her in my little corner of the world. It can, at times be very distracting, too, but I guess that’s the price I have to pay for inspiration.

Aside from her, I would love to share it with my best friend, Connie. She’s also a writer and we make a good team.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

“Keep your eye on the goal and not the obstacle.” I think that piece of advice has gotten me through the roughest parts of my life, and the biggest problems and distractions I have faced. 

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5 Responses to “A Peek at the Creative Space of Lynne Marie”

  1. Jenn (From the Mixed-Up Files)

    Pen and Ink–I wondered the same thing! Even on my most put-together days I don't think I look half as stylish as Lynne. Beautiful, stylish, fabulous office, doting mom, and a talented writer–Lynne is an impressive person in my book.

  2. Linda Ravin Lodding

    Love that your bookshelf is bulging under the weight of all those delicious picture books! And now I can picture where you sit when you so thoroughly and expertly critique my pb drafts:)

  3. Lori Mortensen

    Hi Lynne,

    Love your office. So many lovely details. Wish we lived closer! (I could visit you, you could visit me!)