I am lucky to have fellow writer/author and best friend, Linda, who loves road trips as much as I do. This friendship has led to numerous road trips over the last twelve years or so, giving us the opportunity to explore my new homeland and Linda’s home. We have several essential items that we pack or insist upon in our accommodation, a companionable routine for the driving and exploring, as well as the writing, editing and reading portions of our trips.
We do not ride the highways but back roads, trails and secondary highways giving us time to stop and watch wildlife, take in the scenery and explore hamlets and ghost towns. We have been inspired on multiple occasions to create but also to decompress and relax. We have encountered numerous animals, witnessed fabulous scenery and found little known corners of Alberta, Saskatoon and British Columbia.
For the driving portion of our trips, we leave early knowing we will be taking the long way to our destination. This has culminated in more hours added to a trip than maybe we should admit to! (Case in point our last ‘day road trip’ took fifteen hours.)
Our in-car essentials are:
My road trip book to write down the road numbers, towns and counties we travel through and Linda’s map book to mark out the roads we travel. A bird identification book, blankets, emergency kit, shovel, trolley, chargers, camera, sunglasses. Also a bag for trash and water bottles.
Our accommodation requirementsare:
A desk (or two) and two comfortable chairs, a nice view, and a kettle! (I need my tea). Comfortable beds, ample lighting, space to spread out our things and a good shower.
Our trip essentials are:
Lap tables, laptops, notebooks, pens, current writing projects, reading material, chargers, extension cord and power-bar (there are never enough power points), cell phones, camera, back-up drives.
Comfortable clothes (layering is essential), warm socks, jackets, walking shoes/boots, slippers. These change dependent on the time of year of course. Eye glasses and ear plugs, a bottle of wine & snacks, easy meals and tea bags (Okay I’m English teabags are a must!)
Neither of us needs noise so silence reigns unless we are discussing our day or writing projects.
Over the years our routine has evolved into a well oiled machine. We are comfortable in silence and respect each others creativity and time to just create and enjoy the wonders we encounter.
Having time to let our writing Muse gather and cultivate new ideas, allows us to start, progress, or even finish writing projects.
What road trip essentials do you need?
When was your last road trip/ Where did you go? What did you do?
As writers and authors, we all daydream of the day our novel is made into a movie. The thrill of seeing our story come to life on the big screen (or even a smaller one!) is something we all crave at one point or another. When we are writing our stories, we get images of our characters in our heads, sometimes it is actors we already know or we create an inspiration board from photos found on the internet.
Forgetting for the moment the practicalities of actually getting the actor you want – who are your chosen ones? Who is on your wish list?
I am sharing a couple here and would be interested to know if you ‘saw’ them the same way I do, when you read the books.
Without the luxury of travel during COVID, regular writing retreats have been cancelled, but it is not all bad news. We can create our own mini retreat at home. There will be some necessary arrangements to be made, which relate to your personal circumstances but it can be done. If you have a full household ask if it is possible for your partner to take your children out for an extended walk or to a play ground or even outside yard activities? Set times that you want to write without interruptions. This may be early morning or late evening, a time of day that you can set aside for writing. If staying in the home is too difficult, maybe drive to a secluded spot and write in a notebook to type up later. There is always somewhere you can find to accommodate writing time.
The length of time you have for your retreat will, of course, depend on what is possible for you. You may have two hours a day over a couple of days or a day or two. Before creating your retreat think about the following:
Why do you need a retreat? This might seem like a silly question but take the time to decide if the retreat has a direct purpose for your writing.
What is your goal? Again ask yourself, what can this retreat help you accomplish. Is it to begin or finish a project, a full edit, or a final read through?
Once you have identified these two points, you can plan by initially setting targets with measurable realistic goals, don’t overwhelm yourself. Depending on the time allotted for your retreat, create a daily writing plan. What are your objectives for each day? This can be writing or editing a certain number of pages, sequencing chapter content or revising scenes.
It is important to eliminate distractions as much as possible allowing you to concentrate. This should include switching off your cell phone, setting specific times for social media interactions, or even setting a timer!
The more you organize before hand the better your experience will be. Let’s look at some essentials.
Plan Your Retreat Time– use your preference – a simple sheet with goals for each day/hour, or a whiteboard with retreat objectives or notes in a day planner.
Tools – these can include a notebook, laptop, post-its, record cards, mood board, a print out of your manuscript, reference books or research sites bookmarked on your search engine. Everything that you need to successfully accomplish your goal.
Snacks& Water– the brain needs to be fed and watered as you delve into your project. Have plenty of water and easy nibbles handy.
Space – designate a space where you will work, where you and your tools will not be disturbed.
Rewards – how will you reward yourself for accomplishing your set goals? Decide how, it can be going for a walk, or thirty minutes on social media, or relaxing reading a book.
Remember this time is ultimately for you and your writing, a time to invest in your craft.
I’d love to hear your experiences with a home writing retreat.How did you achieve it?
. You have written several different genres. Do you decide on the genre before writing or decide which one it fits after writing?
Both! For most of my books, I knew the genre going in. The Hidden Springs series – historical western romance. The Celebration series and Seasons of Love – contemporary romance. Tempted – erotic drama. But with Finn-agled, my cozy mystery, I’d intended to write a thriller. However, the moment Finn Bartusiak took shape, I knew her antics were way too humorous for anything other than a cozy.
What draws you to the genres you write?
I wish I had an easy answer to this one. For the historical westerns, it’s because I love that time period. The other stories just came about on their own. When I wrote By Dawn’s Early Light, the first in the Celebration series, I knew it would be contemporary romance for no other reason than I needed a break from historical.
Do you plot your series’ book by book or as a series arc?
To date, book by book. Usually, the storyline in one leads me to the next. The exception to this is the thriller series I’ve planned. I can’t go into details, but as it stands now, it’ll be a trilogy with the main character’s background as the series arc. Of course, that’s what I say today. By the time I get around to writing those books, I’ll have changed my mind a dozen times.
Do you decide on a theme/topic for your series before writing book one?
Only in the most general sense. I know how the story will begin – more specifically, the opening paragraph or two, a vague sense of the plotline, and how I want it to end, although it rarely happens the way I think it will. Once my characters take hold, they author their own destinies. I’m merely their transcriptionist.
How did you come up with the idea of your side stories?
Side Stories came about after a discussion with a guest on my podcast, Word Play with Kristine Raymond. Aside from writing books, he’s also a college professor and told me that he encourages his students to explore the stories that happen off the page. Between the chapters, so to speak. I thought it was an intriguing concept and added it as a feature on my website, though, to date, I’ve only written one.
When and why did you start your The Felonious Scribe podcast?
The Felonious Scribe was a collaboration with author Dawn Hosmer, who writes the most amazing psychological thrillers! We thought it would be fun to answer questions from readers pertaining to murder, mystery, and mayhem – eh em, on the page, of course.
We recorded five episodes of the show, which can be found on YouTube, and then moved on to different projects. Dawn currently hosts a podcast called Unravel the Binding with her daughter, Jesi, while I’m working on my next book.
Who has influenced your writing the most?
This will sound like a copout answer, but every book I’ve ever read has influenced my writing in some way. How an author tells a story – their voice – is the determining factor in whether or not I choose a particular book, and I believe that has a direct bearing on how I tell my stories.
Do you have an author hero?
All those who took the chance to send their stories out into the world for readers to enjoy – and critique. Because one doesn’t happen without the other, and criticism can be soul-crushing. And, that’s what authors’ stories are, including mine. A piece of our souls.
Where is your writing space? Can you describe it?
I have one room in our house that is furbaby-free (I type sardonically while looking at the cat who jumped over the baby gate before falling asleep in my lap). It’s a combo room – part office/part library/part craft room/part whatever else I can stuff in here. Personally, I think the hubs is afraid to step foot in it which is how it became my space. Lol.
My desktop sits atop a messy desk covered with scrawled notes, pens, and notebooks. It’s a wonder I can find my keyboard.
Where can readers find your books?
Links to all of my books can be found on my website – www.kristineraymond.com. They’re available on all major platforms (and a few minor ones, as well).
Do you have a current release? Can you share what it is about?
My most recent release is Finn-agled, the first book in the Finn’s Finds cozy mystery series.
Running an antique store in the fictional seaside town of Port New, Finn Bartusiak is quite happy with how her life is going – until both a coded message and her high school crush figuratively fall into her lap on the same day. With murder, intrigue, and pierogis – what’s not to love?
This was such a fun story to write, and I’m currently working on the second in the series, Finn-icky Eaters.
Is there anything you would like your readers to know?
Thanks to my readers, both new and existing, for taking a chance on my books. I hope you enjoy them. And thanks, Mandy, for hosting me today. This has been fun!
It wasn’t until later in life that Kristine Raymond figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up, an epiphany that occurred in 2013 when she sat down and began writing her first novel. Over a dozen books in multiple genres later, there are a multitude of ideas floating around in her head thus assuring she’ll never be idle.
When a spare moment does present itself, she fills it by navigating the publishing and promotional side of the business. When not doing that, she spends time with her husband and furbabies (not necessarily in that order) at their home in south-central Kentucky, gardens, reads, or binge-watches Netflix.
Why did you make the decision to write about your life?
I decided to share my life journey so far to give hope and inspiration to others and let them know they are not alone.
What do you believe readers gain from your experience?
I believe by reading my story readers gain hope, inspiration, an honest birds eye view of New Zealand, a reminder never to give up, it makes one think and is informative, entertaining, a means to draw strength from and can even save lives.
Did you think The New Zealand Dream idea would grow into a series?
Originally I planned to release The New Zealand Dream as one book, I may still do this later. The idea of releasing the books as a series is a way for me to give my readers something to read while I am still completing the series.
How has your life experience impacted your writing?
Writing has been my therapist and brought me healing. My life experiences made me realize people need to hear my story, so many go through similar experiences isolated and alone, by sharing my story one can know they are not alone and you can heal and come through. I wanted to give readers the bare truth, no sugar coating, keeping it real and honest as this is what people need to hear, by doing my story is relatable.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
Somewhere quite, usually my lounge room or outside in amongst nature.
How do you juggle home life and writing?
When I was working as a nurse full time and bringing up two children, one with special needs. I would write in the evenings and early mornings. My health dictated I change careers, I know write fulltime, my books, short stories and my blog. I also help others to share and write their story and collaborate with other writers and authors. I am very blessed that I now have a loving husband who supports me in this.
What factors made you choose a pen name?
I chose a pen name and to use made up names for the characters and places in my book to protect myself from any law suits and respect the privacy of the characters who are real life people and some are still alive.
When writing fiction and non-fiction what differences in your demeanor occur?
When I write fiction my imagination really shines through and I can take the reader into another world. When I write non fiction I write simply and to the point as though I am sharing a lesson or revelation.
I offer one on one mentoring services where I can coach you through finishing your writing project. Sessions are done by email in hourly slots.
This is for anyone struggling with a writing project fiction or nonfiction or who would like to share their story and discover how writing can help you heal.
My name is Elise Brooke, I grew up in Hawkes Bay NZ. My parents moved to NZ from England and South Africa, to create their New Zealand Dream, this quickly turned into my New Zealand nightmare. Writing is a very powerful healing tool, sharing your story can save lives. I have written and published two autobiographies in my book series “The New Zealand Dream,” by Sheila my pen name, I wrote this book to inspire and give hope to others.
My passion is creative writing, I’ve been writing for 24 years in fiction and poetry and content. I have published many articles and guest post and conduct interviews on my website I built from scratch. I am a writing coach/mentor I mentor people who would like to write and share their own stories.