09 June 2010

Jessa Slade visits my Realm on her FORGED OF SHADOWS blog tour

I'm very excited to welcome Jessa Slade here in my Realm. She demanded my atention with her debut Urban Fantasy SEDUCED BY SHADOWS and I immediately grabbed my chance to be a part of her FORGED OF SHADOWS blog tour. I hope you'll have a blast with her today as Jessa will talk about her writing altar...what can I say; I love to find out about the habbits of others and I love to get a "behind the scene" look *grin*  Thanks for that Jessa!

Hi, Leontine! Thanks for giving me a place to play today on my FORGED OF SHADOWS blog tour. Since you have so many great pictures on your blog (my favorites are of all your bookshelves, although the man chest isn’t bad either!) I thought I’d share some of my visual inspiration.

Ever since I started writing seriously, I’ve had a writing altar. It’s a place where I put all my treasures, my creativity prompts, my dreams, my successes, and even some of my more spectacular failures. It’s not a particularly fancy altar, just a stack of plastic trays which hold—among other things—my dictionary and thesaurus, the folder with all of my rejection letters over the years, and printed notes on my stories.

Those are the building blocks of my writing, but it’s the top shelf—the aerie—from where the inspiration takes flight. (Or plummets to its doom, but that’s only on the bad days.) Here’s a picture of the altar on my desk:


A bit chaotic looking, I know. An accurate reflection, I suppose, of my creative process. But when I pause from writing to look up, there are little details that lift my spirits.


First, in the foreground is a note card my mom sent me after I sold my first book. It’s art from Gerhard Glück, called “Feuerreifen,” which I believe translates to ‘ring of fire.’ The picture shows a snail preparing to jump through a fiery hoop. I love this picture. (Mr. Glück, if you’re out there Googling yourself, please email me. I’d love to link to your website, if you have one.) The snail’s shell is festively painted in stars though there’s hardly anybody in the audience. I imagine most of them have gone home since it’s very late. From the smoke coming up, it appears the ring has been on fire quite some time while we wait for the snail to make her move.

It’s a perfect, if not particularly subtextual, representation of my path to publication.


Next to the card is a Chinese chop. Chops are engraved seals. I got mine while on a family trip to China. The artist didn’t want to sell this one because it is broken, sheared right through the middle of the marble. But the foo dog lions are so delicately carved. The poorly glued base reminds me that perfection isn’t necessary. It’s what you build out of your weaknesses and failings that matters. The seal on the bottom reads “Tell good tales.” A friend gave me the adventurine bracelet wrapped around the chop. Adventurine is allegedly a good luck stone that clears the heart chakra and improves creativity. Definitely need that on a romance writer’s altar!
 
 
At the back of the altar, I keep an American Beauty rose dipped in 24-karat gold I won in a writing contest. I usually did poorly in writing contests because for every two judges that loved my writing, the third judge hated me. So I rarely finaled and never won. Until the 2007 Golden Rose writing contest. Not only did I win, but the final round judge—an editor—wanted to see the whole story. And eventually, she bought SEDUCED BY SHADOWS, the first book in my Marked Souls series. The rose reminds me of the Gertrude Stein quote: “Rose is a rose” etc. It reminds me to be just the thing I am, a writer, that’s all. Well, the dipped in gold part is kind of pretentious, but that’s me too!
 

In the very back of the altar, almost wallpaper, is the collage of my work in progress. This one is for FORGED OF SHADOWS, my current release and book 2 of the Marked Souls. I always thought collaging was silly—until I tried it! Now I love to go through trashy, bright and glossy magazines (with scratch and sniff perfume strips!) and find words and images to represent my story. It helps me hold the whole story in my head at once, which can get tricky over 100,000 words. When I start to falter, I can just look up and get a burst of color, texture, key words, and power words. Then back to the computer.


Lastly, on the first shelf down from the top shelf, I keep a copy of my current release. A friend who saw my altar asked why the book—the real live book!—didn’t have a place of honor on the top shelf. It took me a awhile to think why. But I guess it’s because the book—as wonderful and glorious, as dream-come-true as it is—is really just the last wonderful, glorious step of a long and often inglorious journey. The altar is where I make my offering to my writing. The book is my offering to the reader.

I wonder, does anybody else keep a sacred place of sorts, a home for your dreams? Maybe it’s a notebook or scrapbook. Maybe it’s a box of precious memories or future plans. I’d love to hear how others inspire themselves. And maybe you can post a link to a photo of your place in the comments so we can share.

Thanks, Leontine, for hosting me today.  

GIVEAWAY: Let’s give away a copy of Book 1 or 2 of the Marked Souls to a random commenter. If you’re not sure which one you want, check out the opening chapters at http://jessaslade.com/  Giveaway ends June 13th 2010.

38 comments:

  1. Love the idea of the writing altar. A few of my friends in my writing group have what they call "Books of Wonder" which they put all their inspirational photos and trinkets in a scrapbook. I'm not that creative where scrapbooking is concerned, but I think I could really get into the altar. Thanks for sharing!

    Sidney

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  2. Love your idea of a writing altar, I have the first book in the series and looking forward to the next one! Enjoyed you being here today. tWarner419@aol.com

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  3. A writing altar how marvellous!!!! I think my whole living-room (it's where my pc is located at the moment) is an altar with things I love *coughs* I still have some Christmas cards out. I love to surround myself with empowering things like crystals, plants - I love the oxygen - books books and well more books ofcourse.

    But to create a small centered area of things where you can focus yourself is actually a great idea *going to ponder on creating one of my own*

    I would love to hold my hand up for the first novel in this series, you know where to find me ;-)

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  4. Not entering just stopping by ;)

    I need an alter, currently my alter is my kitchen table O_o

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  5. Sidney, I don't scrapbook either -- I would, probably, if I had the time since I LOVE scraps of paper :) -- but the 3D nature of the altar works well for me. I also collect rocks which don't fit well in scrapbooks.

    Tetewa, thanks for getting the first book! I like knowing they went to loving homes :)

    Natascha, I would take over my living room too, except certain XYs complain that not every horizontal surface is intended for books. Harumph. Crystals or jewelry like my adventurine bracelet are great because you can take your altar with you.

    Smokinhot, kitchens are funny places. They definitely have the power to become the heart of a home, the center of a party, etc. so I'm not surprised your altar has gravitated there. If only real life would organize itself more tidily to our creative lives!

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  6. http://www.gerhard-glueck.de/ :) I have done a workshop on the idea that we have altars everywhere. Thank you so much for sharing this. It's lovely to see how yours has come together.

    I think my own writing altar needs a bit of work. I'm inspired now. :) It will most definitely have my crystals and some Tarot cards.

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  7. I don't scrapbook or have an altar of any time. I'm one of those nonartistic, logical bean counters.
    Your books are going on my TBB list. It looks like a great series.

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  8. I love your writing alter. I don't have an official alter, but I'd say my whole office is dedicated to the things I love. I have most of my books, turtle figurines I collect, family pics, candles, a box with author swag I've collected over the years, my computer, my music, etc. It's the room I spend the most time in and I enjoy it.
    I haven't had a chance to start this series yet (it is on my wishlist), so I'd love to win Seduced by Shadows.

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  9. Hi Jessa!
    I've a box filled with souvenirs and important things, but I've no photo because it's stored in my locker ;) thanks for sharing your photos!!
    wish you all the best,
    Ina

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  10. Wow, that's a cool visual inspiration you have there, Jessa. I've always pictured an author's writing domain as a secret place full of magic but in the end it turns out to just be a computer and desk. However, your domain is how I imagine it so I really enjoyed learning about the why's and how's of your space.

    Congrats on your fabulous book covers, Jessa. They've been on my radar and I would love the opportunity to win one of your two releases.

    Hugs, VFG

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  11. Great post. Thanks for sharing your space with us.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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  12. Hmm I don't think I have a sacred place but I keep all things like cards and letters in my bedside drawer because they mean a lot to me.

    lilazncutie1215 @ yahoo.com

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  13. Interesting post! I don't have anything like that; something similar would be the top drawer of my desk where I keep all the important memorabilia.

    Love the Chinese chop and what it symbolises to you.

    I would love to read the first book in the series :)

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  14. Arwen, you rock! His name is spelled wrong (or maybe the phonetics were off) on the back of the card! Woo! I'd love to get a full size print of my fiery snail :)

    Barbara E., having the room be your sacred space is wonderful. Do you know what draws you to turtles? I have a fondness for them myself, along with newts and dragonflies and other pond creatures.

    Ina, my XY keeps a suitcase of his treasures. Any box or drawer or locker can serve. Thanks for the good wishes!

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  15. VampFanGirl, I know what you mean about the disappointment of the computer desk. Boooring! I'm not one of those writers who finds writing an easy task, with the words just flowing out (another HUGE disappointment!) so having a place to look up and take some inspiration is really important to me.

    Hey, donnas! Nice to "see" you here. I love talking about reading and writing, so it was fun to share this aspect with you all.

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  16. Jeanette, I keep letters too, on the bottom layer of my altar. Most of them are from my mom and dad, urging me to keep pursuing my dreams, even through all the rejections. Very VERY supportive, my family. I love them for believing, even when I didn't.

    Host, the trip to China where I got the chop was one of the most amazing experience of my life. I haven't traveled very much, so it's still a bright memory, years later. Cutie pooch, BTW :)

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  17. You should see my room there is book cases on or by evey wall of my room I'm srounded by my alter of book.I just love to read.


    sasluvbooks(at)yahoo.com

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  18. Wow! I'm really loving the writing altar! I may have to use that idea myself. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Your series sounds so good - I'd love to try the first one. Thanks for the contest!

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  19. I'd like to start with the first book of the series.

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  20. I love the writing altar! I would love the second book :)
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

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  21. I would choose book one since I haven't read them before but they sound really good!

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

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  22. I like the idea of a writing altar. I don't have much room (too many books!) but there's a leather-bound notebook which I've had for nine years now and where I write any ideas, exotic names and interesting snippets of dialogue that occur to me.

    It's nearly full now, and it's the one book in my apartment which will come with me in the case of fire or flood. In the case of famine, I will also refrain from eating it.

    I'd love to read SEDUCED BY SHADOWS! Thanks for the giveaway.

    Marian

    mdperera at hotmail dot com

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  23. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your world...I think a writing alter is a brilliant idea - sort of a platform to leap into your books whenever you need to.

    Looking forward to reading this series.

    *hugs*
    Anna
    s7anna@yahoo.ca

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  24. This is the first time I've heard of this series, so I would love to win the 1st book!

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  25. Stacey, an altar of books sounds great! Especially to an author :)

    Jacqueline, I see you're a writer too. We live so much in our heads, having an external focus can be really refreshing.

    Chey, when I was writing, I tried to make each book accessible to newcomers. But I admit, I'm a "start at the beginning" reader too :)

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  26. Throuthehaze & Ashley, if you guys were close to each other, you could each get one and swap :)

    In the case of famine, I will also refrain from eating it. Ha! Marian, you crack me up :) I love decadent notebooks. For years, I couldn't force myself to write in them because they were "too good" for me. But now I realize they aren't good for anything if they aren't filled.

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  27. Glad to have found him for you. Wish it had been in English rather than Deutsch. :) My friends call me the Google Queen.

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  28. I love your idea of a writing altar and thanks for sharing the lovely pics!

    Congrats on your book covers (they are gorgeous) and I would love to win either one since my library doesn't have a copy!

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  29. sort of a platform to leap into your books Anna, yes, exactly. In a world of many distractions (I'm looking at you, Twitter!) the altar can work almost like a hypnotic induction, a reminder "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be writing!"

    Spav, I'm glad to "meet" a new-to-me reader :)

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  30. Congratulation Jessa. It's great that you keep a writing altar. My little laptop = my writing life.

    Steamy Darcy

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  31. ParaReviews, I can't take any credit for the covers. Some talented designers (all men so far, isn't that interesting?) have been on my team. I'd love to meet them someday and find out where they get the chests ;)

    Enid, if we ever suffer the big EMP, I'm doooomed. I keep my brain in my computers. Without them, I'm a sad zombie.

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  32. I have a special spot where I keep really important things. Please enter me.
    twoofakind12@yahoo.com

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  33. Loved your post. I think it is neat you have an altar. I don't really have an organized spot for my stuff. It's kind of all over. LOL.I would love to win book 1 as I have not read this series.
    Sue B
    katsrus(at)gmail(dot)com

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  34. Great post I love seeing the things that inspire authors when they are writing it's like the behind the scenes features on dvd's lol. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  35. I'm not at all creative myself (probably why I admire those that are), so having an altar never would have occurred to me. What an interesting idea.

    I read an excerpt of Seduced by Shadows when it first came out and it definitely grabbed my attention so I'd love to win a copy of it.

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  36. I've never seen a writing altar before. I loved to read about it and enjoyed the accompanying pictures! Lovely post. :)

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  37. Wow, a writing altar, how cool does that sound? I will ahve to make myself a reading altar :-D

    Love the peacock feathers! SO exotic and beautiful!

    I love how every single small piece on your altar has a deeper meaning, a history to itself that when you look at it you see much more than the simple object, you see the message.

    What a wonderful post thank you Jessa! And thanks Leontine for being our hostess! :-)

    Would love to win Seduced by Shadows as I haven't read this series yet.

    Thank you!

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

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  38. Wow, a writing altar, how cool does that sound? I will ahve to make myself a reading altar :-D

    Love the peacock feathers! SO exotic and beautiful!

    I love how every single small piece on your altar has a deeper meaning, a history to itself that when you look at it you see much more than the simple object, you see the message.

    What a wonderful post thank you Jessa! And thanks Leontine for being our hostess! :-)

    Would love to win Seduced by Shadows as I haven't read this series yet.

    Thank you!

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

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I love to hear all your voices and opinions so thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.