Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Writing Amid Chaos and Coffee Shops

My guest today is Christie Kelley, award winning Historical Romance author with Zebra Books. When Christie and I first spoke of visiting Over Coffee, she mentioned that she had written her lastest release, Every Time We Kiss, in a coffee shop. Being a writer myself I could appreciate the difficulty with writing to a deadline in a coffee shop, or anywhere public. I thought it a wonderful story to share with my readers.



Thank you, Sia for having me today!

I have a dear friend who tells me she writes so much better when she is out in public at a coffee shop or café. I have admitted that I never understood her reasons. The idea of being in public where people are always walking in and out, plus the conversations and the general distractions would make me crazy.
Or so I thought.

In the fall of 2007, my husband and I decided to do a major renovation to our 60’s split-level home. I don’t think we really knew what we were in for. I was just starting to write my first deadline book, Every Time We Kiss, and my husband worked from home. Within a month, we had no choice but to move into our 12x14 living room with our two boys. Suddenly, I had no place to write.

I started going to Atlanta Bread or Panera every morning once I had my youngest off to school. I quickly discovered one plus of writing in cafes: Free refills on coffee! I was in heaven.

The first few days were a little stressful. The mornings were usually quiet but then the lunch crowd would come in. Big groups and much more noise. I tried the library one day but found it was actually louder with all the little kids who didn’t know how to use their library voices. Determined to make this work and with a deadline I couldn’t miss, I went back to the cafes.

I discovered the joy of Internet radio and headphones. Thank goodness for the Internet! I would plug in a classical station (I can’t listen to music with words when writing) and start typing. The hardest part about writing in the cafes is writing a love scene. I kept feeling like people were trying to look over my shoulder, even though I knew they weren’t. But by getting into the café early, I could usually pick a seat where no one would really look at my screen.

The only other problem I found was one I couldn’t get away from: Friends. While I live in a big metropolitan area, the section I live in is very “small town.” Inevitably, I would run into someone I knew while I was writing. Most people didn’t know I was published so then they wanted to sit down and talk about it.

But in some ways, I think the experience made me a better writer. I can focus more when my son has a Nerf battle going on his room with two friends. Or when my oldest wants to come in and talk. I always stop typing for a 16-year-old boy who wants to talk to his mother.

I just finished book 3 in my Spinster Club series and that book I was able to write in my new office, which even has a door! Although, some days, I was tempted to pick up my laptop and head to the café. Maybe I just wanted the free refills.

So for the writers out there, where do you write? And for the readers, I noticed many people coming into the coffee shops with books, where is your preferred place to read?
***
Christie Kelley was born and raised in upstate New York. As a child, she always had a vivid imagination and the bad dreams that go along with it, or perhaps the dreams were caused by the five brothers and three sisters she lived with. After seventeen years working for financial institutions in software development, she took a leap of faith and started her first book. Seven years later, her first book, Every Night I'm Yours was bought by Zebra books and won the New Jersey Romance Writer's Golden Leaf Award for Best Historical.

Every Night I'm Yours: A WOMAN YEARNING FOR A TASTE OF THE FORBIDDEN; A MAN READY TO TEACH HER MUCH, MUCH MORE.

Every Time We Kiss: GUILT KEPT THEM APART PASSION BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER. WHEN DESIRE’S THIS SWEET, ONE TASTE WILL NEVER DO...

Christie now lives in Maryland with her husband and two future romance heroes. Come visit her on the web at www.christiekelley.com or http://www.romancebandits.blogspot.com/

33 comments:

Judi Fennell said...

I, too, discovered the joys of not writing at home. I had to finish a book for the Gather contest and couldn't at home - laundry, meals, someone's "looking at" their sibling, etc. For really hard-core, stream of consciousness writing, I hit Borders or my local diner (I like the diner better b/c Ash (my waiter) knows what I like, knows not to bother me and always asks how it went when I leave. And it's closer.

But I've loaded classical onto my laptop (I can't write to words either), have my special earphones and block out the world around me.

Sun Singer said...

We have a great, locally owned coffee shop with WiFi, and I've been tempted to go in there with a laptop. However, we know so many people in a small town, I'm wondering if I'd get anything done after 20-30 people come through an chat for a few minutes each.

Malcolm

Pat Bertram said...

I am impressed that you could write in a coffee shop. I need quiet when I write -- no music, no television, no background noise. Which means that I have to write late at night. Of course, then I have the additional problem of falling asleep while writing. Too bad I haven't mastered the art of automatic writing. Would be nice to wake up to find words on the page.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Judy! I'm so sorry for not being here earlier. My laptop caught a virus and I was on the phone with Dell for 2.5 hours then had to take my son to the doctors. But I'm back now!

I went back to Atlanta Bread yesterday while I was waiting for my brakes to be fixes. I honestly think I get so much more done there.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Sun, I had the same problem. Can you go to the back of the coffee shop? I found that worked for the most part. The funny thing was I tried another coffee shop in a town about 10 miles from my house. I actually saw more people I knew in that place than Atlanta Bread.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Pat, I always felt the same way. But when you are on deadline and there is no quiet, you do what you have to do. :)

netti said...

I can pretty much read anywhere *G* I have the whole *tuning people out* thing down to an art ;) Great post!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Judi, I'm thinking I need some of thoses handy-dandy earphones for my office at home. I'm thinking it would sure be a help in tuning out the extra distractions.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Malcolm, I life in a small town too and boy could I see that scenario, lolol! I've done writing in the library and it depends upon the time of day as to how much writing I can get done. Like Chritie mentioned, there are times when kids forget their "library voices", but maybe it would work better with ear phones. We have some neat little reading nooks...

Christie Kelley said...

Netti, I'm one of 9 kids so I'm pretty good at tuning things out too. But I still find it hard to tune out my kids.

Anna Campbell said...

Christie, great blog! I must say I like to write in the privacy of my own home - but that doesn't always work out, does it? Hope you're ecstatic with the renovations! See you round the lair!

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Anna, glad you found me! I'm so happy to with the renovations. I love my new house.

Diana_Duncan said...

Hey, Christie,

I can't even imagine trying to write in a coffee shop! I have the luxury of my own office, but that's only been for two years.

Before that, I wrote in a little corner of our master bedroom, which was quite challenging...especially when I was on a late-night roll and my poor dh (who has to get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning) needed to sleep.

I guess we never get too set in our ways to learn to be flexible, tho, huh? *G*

Helen Ginger said...

I don't think I could write or read in a coffee shop. I get distracted easily. But I like your idea of headphones and music with no words. That might work for me and it might teach me to be more focused.

Kenna Coltman said...

I think I would enjoy a coffe shop, but there are none her in my small town. Often, when the kids are home and need to work, I'll go to the local library. In general, it is a nice quiet place.

Glad to hear your renovations ended in an office with a door!

But it would be hard to give up those free refills;)

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Diana, I really didn't think I could I write in public. But it really can be done when there's a deadline involved. :)

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Helen, I'm not sure how I would do with reading in a coffe shop. Again, I think I could only do it with some classical music playing in my ears.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Kenna! My library is incredibly noisy and they make you go to the entry to answer your cell phone. So that just didn't work for me.

And I do miss those refills.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Helen, how nice to see you here! Love your Blog.

I'm thinking that earphones are the way. I'm such people watcher that I'm not sure I could concentrate.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Anna, thank you for stopping by.

Christie, I'm one of 9 kids too, 3 girls and the rest were boys. I tease my mom about coming from a litter of 9, lolol! And home base for my family, where ever we traveled, was Maryland. We lived in Prince Georges county predominately, although my mom was a horse trainer and we had a house in Charles county while she trained some English Hunters. I still miss Maryland Crabs. :-)

Christie Kelley said...

Sia, the 5 boys came first then 4 girls. I think my mom was holding out for a girl and got carried away. I love Maryland except the crazy spring weather. It was 75 on Sunday and 45 yesterday, back up to 70 today. But there's nothing better than walking down to the community dock and crabbing.

jrafferty said...

Christie, I've written a lot on airplanes, typically wearing either ear plugs or a headset with instrumental music. Once I get involved in the flow of writing, I can forget about the people around me.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Christie, there was me and a then 3 boys and yes, the parents were trying for another girl. then came my sis, followed by 2 boys and that was where it was to stop, lolol! Two years later, oops another girl. Parents were settling into the older kids getting married, and my mom found out another was on the way. She said she considered jumping off the roof. She was 4 months along at my middle sister's wedding. In fact, my youngest brother was born 8/83 my nephew 1/84 and my sis's son was born 4/84. So they grew up like brohters rather than uncles and nephew. Funny how life turns out.

oooo, sure torture me. All those hole in the wall restaurants serving wonderful baskets of crabs, brown paper on the tables, lots of napkins.

Evanston said...

It's funny that you should mention going to Panera to write. I seem able to immerse myself so much more deeply in reading when I'm there, book on the table and a nice bowl of soup in front of me. It's as though I've committed to the task I've come for and I won't stop to see if the mail's been delivered or if I remembered to give the cats water or to check email, etc. I never considered writing there, thinking I wouldn't get comfy enough.

Thanks for the perspective. I have something new to seriously consider.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Evanston, we even have a Panera's out here in the middle of no where, lol! I love Paneras. I read anywhere and usually do if I'm alone and eating out. I have the ability to tune out about anything but the tone your kids make when somethings wrong. Heck, that tone can wake me from a sound sleep. But now that I think of it, our Paneras has some quiet corners and since it's a college town, lots of student find a table to sit at and write or study.

aries18 said...

I write in the living room with the tv on, my husband watching or playing computer games, or alone with nothing going on at all. It's a matter for me, of focusing my attention.I've never tried to write out in public. It might be interesting to try. I'm in need of a jumpstart these days as my muse has seemingly deserted me. Perhaps a time out in a cafe will help me.

Thanks for posting this great article, Christie!

Sia, you always have very interesting guests! Thanks.

My Blog 2.0 said...

Hi Christie and Sia!

With three kids and a dog and all the noise that goes with them, I think I could read or write anywhere. I do it all the time.

I loved your blog Christie, I'll visit again soon Sia!

Dottie

other lisa said...

At home, on the couch, with a cat on my lap. I do pretty well in hotel rooms too. I used to write in coffee houses, pre-laptop days, but I haven't done that in a long time.

Magdalena Scott said...

Christie, I really enjoyed your blog. What an interesting tale. Maybe I should try writing in a busier space. ANYTHING to help me focus better would be a good thing! Thanks for the tip...

Terry said...

Christie, thanks for sharing! I really should think about doing what you're doing because writing in my basement just doesn't seem to be working for me. Maybe getting out into some hustle and bustle would get the creative juices flowing! Seems to work for you. :) I'm definitely going to go and find your book, it looks awesome. Have a wonderful day!
Terry

~Sia McKye~ said...

Wanda, give it some time, those pesky muses always seem to find their way home. How else can they get their jollies except through torturing us, lolol! There's gotta be a chain out there somewhere.

Hey it works for dogs! :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lisa, with you, anything with a cat involved is better. :-)

I find it hard to type around their furry bodies placed directly between me the keyboard and monitor. So I have a one of those cushions you can buy for hardbacked chairs near so I can move them to it and be able to work. Don't know how you and Dana do it with them draped all over your laps and arms as you try to work.

BTW, welcome home--you were missed!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Christie, I looked for Everytime We Kiss yesterday, but they haven't got them yet. I wanted to pick up both books because I love the book art and blurbs. I shot an email off to my sister Carolie because she loves Regencies and I knew she'd like these. she put them on on TBR list.

For any wondering, you can find Christie's full blurbs on her website or Romance Bandits. :-)

Christie, I loved the tale of your writing of Everytime We Kiss and having you as a guest on Over Coffee.