Tag: hotel


Party at the Deer Path Inn

 Yesterday was book launch day or, as I prefer to call it, book birthday for Death in D Minor, the second book in the Gethsemane Brown series. Thank you to my fellow Missdemeanors for hosting a blog party. I was in meetings all day at my, to borrow a phrase, daytime situation so I appreciate their help making the day a success.
After work, I celebrated my new novel’s release at one of my favorite places, the Deer Path Inn. This historic inn opened in its current location in 1929. Architect William C. Jones of Holabird and Root fashioned it after a Tudor manor house in Chiddingstone, Kent, England so it looks as if it came straight out of an Agatha Christie mystery. When I arrived at the inn, after a hearty “Welcome back” from several staff members (yes, I visit a lot), I headed for the White Hart Pub. I started with a new (to me) cocktail called The Chancellor, a slightly sweet, completely delicious concoction of Balvenie 12yr scotch, 10yr tawny port, and campano vermouth. I followed up with the charcuterie (a French word that, a friend explains, translates to “big ole pile of cured meat”) tray and topped the evening off with coffee and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream. Then I went home and slept until around 1 a.m. when lightning flashed so close it illuminated my bedroom and thunder boomed loudly enough to shake the house. I interpreted these as a celestial fireworks show celebrating my new book instead of harbingers of the power-outing, stoplight-frying, flood-inducing storm that’s created a Chicagoland traffic nightmare this morning.

What places do you frequent that transport you into your favorite mystery? 

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A Counter-top of One's Own

        A famous quote states a woman needs a room of her own if she’s to write fiction. But does she? Many authors have written in cafes, hotels, on buses, in cars, on trains and subways. My fellow Miss Demeanors and I share our writing places. Alexia: My favorite places to write are airplanes and hotel lobby lounges.Airplanes provide some background noise, which keeps my mind from wandering, but not so much noise that I can’t concentrate. The airplane seat provides a personal space, whose borders are defined by the armrests, that most people respect and don’t intrude upon. I occasionally encounter the overly-chatty seatmate who wants to be entertained or wants an audience for their monologue but I’ve gotten pretty good at mono-syllabic answers and body language that discourages unwanted conversation. And the flight’s duration provides a built-in time limit. I write from cruising altitude to preparation for landing.Hotel lobby lounges come with comfortable chairs, food service, and plenty of opportunities for people watching/gathering source material. Paula Munier: Oooh, I need to learn how to do that. I’m gonna try it, Alexia. Mostly I just sleep on planes and trains.As for the question: When I was a young reporter with small children at home, I could work in a crowded noisy news room or a crowded noisy kitchen, no problem.But now that my children are grown, and I work from home in an often empty house, I’ve grown spoiled. I like quiet, and require it, especially for my handwritten first drafts, which I find difficult in the best of times and places.In warm weather, what I need to wrestle with words is my lucky Waterman pen and my red leather-bound journal and a seat outside down by the lake.In the winter, I retreat to my sofa in front of the roaring fireplace and look out the windows to the now frozen lake for inspiration. Cate: With two young kids and a dog at home, I have learned to write amidst chaos. But I prefer quiet spaces. I like to write in my bedroom when the kids are in school, but have also found I can be pretty productive in the car while waiting to pick them up outside a dance or music class. I tend to edit on planes. Something about being thirty thousand feet in the air makes me ruthless. Any word or thought that doesn’t immediately interest me gets cut. Tracee: I’m with Paula…. I need a lesson in writing on airplanes. I can do it, but… I tend to binge read at 30,000 feet. in everyday life, I prefer writing in a quiet place, although I tend to move around. I like to work at a desk, in a favorite chair, or outdoors on a long table on our porch in the summer. I alternate between typing and writing, so that plays a role. Edits happen on an enormous screen (at a desk!) while the rest can occur anywhere. I do have a strange preference for working in hotels. A good hotel is peaceful, with many places to write – the room, quiet places in the lobby, a breakfast room, some still have writing rooms. Terraces, porches, by the pool… the list goes on. Susan: I love to work in my office, with my dogs snoring at my feet.  When I’m feeling peaceful, my mind feels freer to wander around. But sometimes it’s fun to be in a more frenetic location. I like sitting at one of the tables at Bryant Park and feeling all the energy from the city and scribbling in my notebook… I guess I am the pack rat in this group.  I write surrounded by treasured photos, treasured books, and post-its to remind me who I’m writing about. I’m sorry to say that my entire office looks like this, and there are two cockapoos lounging in a chair to the left of the photo Robin: Anywhere, any time. As an almost-debut author I’m hungry and motivated to write whenever I have stolen moments or can create big chunks of time. An example of a stolen moment is my day job commute. I take a train or subway a couple of times a week, which are great sources of inspiration for drawing characters based on what I see & hear. When I’m home, I alternate between my office and my kitchen. I move to the kitchen when I need to stretch my legs by standing at the counter. I’m standing there right now, in fact. One of these days I’ll invest in a pneumatic desk so I can raise and lower my home office workspace. Michele: For years, I wore so many hats, I had to squeeze writing in whenever I could find time. I wrote in courtrooms, on planes and trains, in classrooms, cars. and offices. Now that my primary focus is writing, I find I still write anywhere I can and choose. I’ve discovered I love writing outdoors (why not?) on a porch, a beach or at a picnic table. I have invested in a waterproof case for my laptop. While I love having a desk to organize me, I prefer to do the physical act of writing on my lap. Why I didn’t know until recently was that lovely lap top antique desks exist, I don’t know. But I’m sure I’m going to find one. Where do you write? 

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Someone else's room

 “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” I can’t comment on Virginia Woolf’s first ingredient for a successful literary career. Having money certainly helps. I’m fortunate to have a daytime situation, to borrow a phrase, that pays my bills. The security of knowing a roof over my head doesn’t depend on the number of sellable words I produce makes it easier to me to pursue a career in fiction. I imagine being penniless and worried about basic survival would make writing difficult but I don’t know about impossible.
As far as Ms. Woolf’s second ingredient? Her essay was written before Starbucks and co-working. Nowadays it’s possible to borrow or rent space in someone else’s room to write. I often do. I find it hard to work at home. Home signals my brain it’s time to unwind and recuperate from the day’s stress. Home is my hermit cave. My place to retreat and recharge. (Yes, I’m an introvert.)
Writing fiction isn’t stressful. I love writing. But it is work, at least when you get to the point you’re writing on deadline for a publisher. Since my mind equates home with anything but work I struggle to focus on the business of writing when I’m there. Plus, my day job starts early. Getting up at oh-dark-thirty to get ready and get there makes staying awake past eight pm difficult.)
Writing away from home boosts my productivity. The fiction flows easier when I’m not surrounded by things my brain associates with downtime. I write first drafts in long hand so even without nearly ubiquitous Wi-Fi and 4G and a computer small enough to slip into a large purse, I can work almost any place. But I have preferences. I choose public places so I’m not tempted to nap. I’d rather nap than eat so I write in public places where sleep is out of the question. I need some background noise. Not enough to distract me but enough to act as white noise which keeps me from paying attention to the silence. I’ve never lived way out in the country. I’m used to the buzz of the urban environment’s hustle and bustle. Table space is preferred but I can do without. I’ve worked crouched in a corner of an airport waiting area. Electrical outlets are a plus. I do, eventually, have to type what I wrote and a laptop’s battery never lasts as long as you need it to. Access to coffee is a bonus. Not mandatory but awfully nice.
I’ve written in libraries, airports, on airplanes (a great technique for avoiding being turned into a captive audience for an overly-chatty seatmate. Just don’t make eye contact.), in bookstores, in coffee shops, on trains, in restaurants, in hotel lobbies, even in concert halls during intermission. My two favorite writing places are in Dallas, Texas. How I miss them now I no longer live in the Big D. One is the communal table in the Joule hotel’s lobby. Handcrafted from reclaimed wood, it’s a work of art surrounded by the Joule’s other contemporary art works—paintings, sculptures, video installations. Writing at the communal table is like writing in an art gallery (which I’ve done). With built-in electrical outlets, a staff who doesn’t mind if you squat, and a coffee shop a few steps away finding a seat at the table on a weekday can be a challenge. Many downtown Dallas denizens find the communal table inspiring. But on weekend mornings and late evenings the table often sits deserted, waiting for someone to use it as a creative space.
Fort Work Co-Working shares the title of favorite. I considered renting an office to write but I didn’t need an entire office to myself and it would sit empty for most of the day while I worked at my full-time job. I only needed desk space. Behold, co-working. A monthly fee purchases access to desk space whenever it’s needed, which for me meant evenings and weekends. I’d grab a space at a desk near a window (Fort Work’s desks are communal tables like at the Joule but with a more streamlined appearance. No reclaimed wood. Plenty of outlets, though.) and write, surrounded by tech startups and entrepreneurs and with easy access to coffee and energy bars.
I will continue to struggle to work at home. Going someplace else to write isn’t always practical. But whenever possible I will search out space to borrow (or rent) in someone else’s room. Especially if that room comes with coffee.

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