Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guest Blogger Rosemary Harris

We are so happy to have Rosemary Harris as our guest blogger today.

Rosemary was born in Brooklyn, New York, and now splits her time between Manhattan’s East Side and Fairfield County, Connecticut. After several careers in book retailing (Waldenbooks), direct marketing (Crown Publishers, American Express), and television (Disney/ABC Video, WNET, New York’s public television station), she traded in her pumps for a pair of plastic garden clogs to indulge in her favorite pastime.

During one long snowy winter when she couldn't be in her garden, a s
mall item in the New York Times about a mummified body piqued her interest. Subsequent research led her to a new passion - writing - and her research led to her first book, Pushing Up Daisies.

When she’s not writing or gardening, she tries to find ti
me for kayaking and hiking; at last count she’s visited over 70 national parks, monuments, and recreation areas, but her favorites are Yosemite and Canyonlands.

Here is Rosemary's take on having a room of one's own - wherever one happens to be. At the moment, her "office" is in a glamorous spot far away from the snow:

I have a pretty nice office. ["Editor's" note: See the fantastic photo here under "Rosemary Off Duty":
] I was a marketing consultant before I started writing mysteries so I was used to business machines and army issue file cabinets cluttering up my home before most of my writing friends. Now that I am “officially” a writer – whatever that means - I appropriated more space in my house so that I could have a quiet, peaceful setting in which to write. An inspirational setting, if you will. (Plant tongue firmly in cheek here.) That inspirational setting is now filled with a telescope, a vintage linen collection, bird and garden prints, funky lamps from the forties and fifties and stacks of mysteries purchased at the various bookstores, libraries and conventions I’ve attended. Is it any wonder my fabulous office is sometimes a little distracting?

Most of the writers I know are on a hamster-like one book a year treadmill. We write, we promote, we write. Occasionally we fritter away our time on non-essentials like friends, family, social and community obligations. Finding the time and an inspirational place to write can be challenging.

Last week, I was kayaking and camping in the Virgin Islands. I wrote in a tent on Peter Island and a shack on Jost
van Dyke. In the past I’ve written in a mud hut in central Tanzania (where my husband and I were building a library) and a tented cabin in Yosemite Valley.

It may help that my preferred method of writing is longhand, with a pencil on a yellow legal pad. That’s what I’m doing now flight’s been cancelled and I’m still on an island…it’s just not Manhattan. All around me people are drinking pina coladas and painkillers, reading The Help and perhaps wondering who the crazy lady with the pencil sharpener is. No. They’re probably not. Maybe one day one of them will read one of my books – my money is on the Joanne Fluke fan not the person reading the 800-page biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt, but
you never know. The idea of someone working on a beautiful beach like this is probably as foreign to them as…well, that chain-smoking guy in the too-small Speedo is to me.

But it is what we do. I’ve met hundreds of mystery writers in the past two years since my debut novel, Pushing Up Daisies, was released. Whether it’s the possibility of that first contract, the excitement of a new series or the potential of a breakout book, we are the hardest working group of people I’ve ever encountered. And I’ve worked in television, video and book publishing. It’s one of the things that we all have in common – other than loving Lee Child and Carolyn Hart and perhaps wanting to win an Edgar.

So whether you’re working on the umpteenth draft of your query letter or the twelfth revision of your third book, we’re all in the same boat. Right now mine’s a fiberglass kayak.


Rosemary Harris

Rosemary's latest release is The Big Dirt Nap (pb) much of which was written at Ivan’s Stress-Free Bar and Campground on Jost van Dyke (pictured above).


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for hanging out at the Inkspot today, Rosemary! Enjoy being stranded on your island. :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Rosemary Harris said...

Hi's great to have contact with the outside world! Sometimes ya really gotta love the internet.
So...what are the strangest places where you have written?

Lisa Bork said...

Wow, Rosemary, you must have amazing focus and concentration! I have to be alone in my office to write. An island with pina coladas would be much too distracting. Thanks for visiting Inkspot.

G.M. Malliet said...

Lisa - That was my reaction, too: Ivan’s Stress-Free Bar would definitely be my downfall. (Everybody else having fun while I work? Nah.)

Let me apologize to Ro here for the funky courier font her blog appears in. I will try again to get rid of it but the coding is stubborn.

Alan Orloff said...

Thanks for guest blogging today, Rosemary! It's always nice to learn how other writers "get the job done." In tents, kayaks, cabins, and at tiki bars--is there anyplace you can't write?

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thanks for visiting, Rosemary. Love your office! I'd love to write in some of those more exotic spots. How fun!

G.M. Malliet said...

(Interruption for a big round of applause for Alan for fixing the font!)

I'm like you, Rosemary, in that I prefer writing by hand. It does free up the options on where I can write. So long as there is not annoying music in the background...

Jessica Lourey said...

You are clearly a fascinating woman, Rosemary, and I look forward to checking out your books. Thanks for bringing them to my attention, Gin! They're right up my alley--gardening and murder.

Rosemary, can I ask you an off-topic question? I'm going to Zion National Park in Utah for the weekend--never been. Have you, and if so, any recommendations on what not to miss?

Jessica Lourey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth Groundwater said...

Fascinating post, Rosemary! I stopped at the US Virgin Islands during my late January Caribbean cruise. We took a ferry from St. Thomas to St. John and spent the day there. I'd love to go back for a longer time and see more of the Virgins. What Colorado parks have you been to, if any?

I went to Zion with my hubby and kids a few years back. We rented high boots and walking sticks for all of us and hiked up the Virgin River in the Narrows as far as we were comfortable going. What gorgeous views! If you go during dry season, you can get pretty far up the canyon, but it can be dangerous during the rainy season.

Jessica Lourey said...

Thanks for the tip, Beth! That sounds like great fun. I'll find out if it's rainy season when we get there...did you pack food and water, too?

Cricket McRae said...

Welcome to Inkspot, Rosemary! Sounds like you manage a terrific melding between your lifestyle and your writing. I think that's one of the joys of being in this biz. I've written in bars and planes and hotels (and on a beach last week). But more often you'd find me typing away at the kitchen counter while something bubbles on the stove, or, in the summer, laying in the hammock or sitting in the adirondack chair in the middle of my kitchen garden.

Which is not to say I don't have a perfectly nice office to hide away in, too. ; - )

Kathleen Ernst said...

I enjoyed your post, Rosemary. I try to always keep a notebook with me, because I get wriggly if I don't. And despite having a nice office as well, I flee from the phone/laundry/cat-wanting-supper a couple of times a week, too.

Rosemary Harris said...

Hi all,
Nice to see some of my pals here. Jess..thanks for the kind words! I love Zion..and in fact may be going back in May. I used to have to go to Las Vegas twice a year for work and I fell in love with Utah because that was my reward for going to Vegas! Angel's Landing is my favorite hike in Zion. We stayed at the Cliffrose Lodge and thought that was pretty nice and very reasonable.
I haven't spent much time in the Colorado parks..more in Utah, CA and MT..but love crosscountry skiing in Winter Park, and driving from Denver to Grand Junction to Moab. Got any CO tips for us, Beth?

Meredith Cole said...

I am lucky enough to have seen Rosemary's writing room--and it is totally gorgeous. I'm so glad it inspires so many great books!

I think I would definitely get a bit, er, distracted on that beach, though. Cocktails, anyone?

Rosemary Harris said...

Hey Meredith...were you snowed in in C'ville? Can't be easy top write with a toddler in the house! How do you gals with kids do it?

G.M. Malliet said...

The secret is board games and duct tape, right, Meredith?