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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Twilight Thursday

Hoarding Words
by Alayna Williams

I tend to hang on to a lot of things. Pictures. Jeans that I swear that I'll be able to get back into once I lose ten pounds. A prairie skirt that I'm convinced is going to come back in fashion.

But mostly, I hoard words. And word-related things. As a writer, I'm constantly doing research, filing ideas and images in the back of my mind. Sometimes, that manifests in the physical world. And an odd collection of things begins to grow at my desk.

First are project notebooks. I keep an old-fashioned paper notebook for each book I write. They're largely illegible, containing scribbled notes and outlines, pasted scraps of articles, and bent photos. But I know where everything is. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to see how I've progressed through the project - all my finds are marked with a date. They are, in their ways, journals.

Next is the inspiring artwork. My desk is made of an old six-panel door placed across a couple of file cabinets. I've covered the top with glass to give me a smooth writing surface and to allow me to slip treasures underneath. When I start on a new project,  I change the artwork. Nearly anything can find its way into that collection: Tarot cards, calendar pictures, magazine clippings. They may be silent, but they help inspire words in some way or other.

Finally, there's the tactile debris of the project, strewn across my desk...well, until a cat finds it and absconds with it. This collection is ever-changing. It can include anything from coins to feathers, and bits of sea glass. I now have a cluster of clear quartz perched beside my keyboard. I picked it because it reminds me of a setting in my work in progress. I find myself absently stroking it when I edit, like a spiny worry stone.

I know that I'm finishing a story when the desk is full. When I can visualize the world and characters in all their detail, just by flipping through pages or letting my fingers roam over the space.

There's a certain amount of sadness when a project is finished. I clear out the knickknacks. I take the pictures out from under the glass. I file my tattered notebook on the shelf, take out a crisp new one with unmarked pages and place it on the desk.

It's a blank slate. A new beginning. A little scary.

But then something new catches my eye.

It's an oddly-speckled rock. It looks like an egg.

I place it at the center of my desk. It's the beginning of a new hoard of words.


Alayna Williams (a.k.a. Laura Bickle) has worked in the unholy trinity of politics, criminology, and technology for several years. She lives in the Midwestern U.S. with her chief muse, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE. More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here:



The more you know about the future, the more there may be to fear.

Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around - and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn't need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way.

Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards - and Tara's increasingly ominous dreams - suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi's Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen…

ROGUE ORACLE is available now from -

and Barnes & Noble -

10 Moonbeams (comments):

Alayna Williams said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today!

J.W. Nicklaus said...

What a great idea, placing all those nuggets of inspiration under glass as part of your work area! Someday, when I find a house, I shall have to adopt your idea. I can absolutely see the value in the continual inspiration those trinkets bring. A great way to immerse yourself in the very world you are trying to recreate in words.

Kerry Schafer said...

I now have desk jealousy! What a lovely way to work, with bits of inspiration always at hand. My desk is small and cramped and always cluttered with things not related to the novel. I have begun keeping a new notebook for each project, though. It's a step.

Alayna Williams said...

J.W. and Kerry, I think that there's a lot to be said for keeping a physical reminder of the intangible work in our world. For me, if a thing occupies more physical real estate in my environment, it occupies more space in my head.

Kate Dolan said...

I love the desk idea - keeping inspiration close at hand but not cluttering up work space. I have a lot of the "debris" you artfully described but mine is not beautiful and inspirational - it's distracting piles of paper scraps. I really need to clear out the junk so I can focus!

Alayna Williams said...

Kate, I long ago gave up the ideal of a perfectly sterile and clean desk. I've never had it in me!

Margay Leah Justice said...

Akayna, thanks so much for joining us today!

Margay Leah Justice said...

Akayna, thanks so much for joining us today!

V.R. Leavitt said...

Holy cow...I can so relate to word hoarding! I keep telling myself I need to stop, but it seems impossible. Glad to know I'm in good company too. :-)

Alayna Williams said...

Thanks so muhc, Margay! I had a lot of fun! :-)

V.R., word hoarding is a fabulous vice to have! ;-)