In the hilarious movie WONDER BOYS, Michael Douglas plays a professor/writer who can only write if he’s wearing a chenille robe and a winter hat. As I sat in the movie theater with my box of buttered popcorn and laughed at his character struggling with writer’s block and weird rituals, I knew it wasn’t far from the truth.

Through the years I’ve created so many rituals for myself, I could be a character on the silver screen. First of all, I can’t write if I’m facing a wall. Box me in without windows and natural light, and I won’t produce a good paragraph, let alone a novel. In all the houses I’ve lived in and all the offices I’ve used, I always, always turn my desk so I can look out the window while I type. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m inspired by blue skies and open green spaces. Maybe my mind feels as boxed in as I do without windows. Whatever the reason, I always seek the light when I write.

After I open my office curtains, I select a CD from my vast collection of music. When I’m writing I prefer music without words because I’ll sometimes get so enamored of the lyrics I want to sing along. Usually I choose Native American flutes, which provide a soothing background accompaniment to the flow of words.

Next I spritz on perfume, one of my favorite floral scents, and then I go into the kitchen to make my drink of choice, hot green tea chai. There’s something soothing about a hot drink, winter or summer. After I make the chai, I select a mug that suits my mood. Dear Dorothy, Hate Oz, Took the shoes, Find your own way home. Toto…perfect if I’m feeling whimsical. More amazing than the wonders of nature are the powers of the spirit…great if I’m feeling philosophical.

When I go into my office and set my mug of hot green tea chai on my desk on a trivet that proclaims Give your soul a bubble bath, I am ready to write. Thank goodness, my ritual works! You’ll see the results this summer with The Oleander Sisters, available for preorder now.

Do you have reading rituals? Cozy chair? Hot tea? Box of chocolates? I’d love to chat with you about them.

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  4. Elaine Hussey says:

    I am so glad you loved the Elvis books. Indeed, I can hear Fayrene telling about her “singles” shot. And yes, bassets are great dogs and quite noble. You picked a good name for your dog. Thanks for stopping by and do come again!

  5. Ellen Ripper says:

    My local library in Woodbridge, VA featured one of your Elvis books out on display last week. That is how I was introduced to that series. Fell in love with your writing!
    Checked out all 5 books they had available. Spent the entire weekend reading the first three. Reading your books is my reason/reward for getting things done.
    I tried to sign up for your email but the computers here kept blocking things.
    I wanted to tell you about an idea tht came into my head this morning while I was at the drug store. There was a sign for SHINGLES shots. Your character, I think it is Jarvetis, who gets her words mixed-I can just hear her saying she needs to get a “Singles” shot.
    Thanks for the wonderful basset books. I have owned bassets for almost 50 years. My big guy, Noble, sounds just like Elvis.

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