Thursday, July 7, 2016

Behind the Scenes

by Sparkle Abbey

Every author works differently and so we thought it might be fun to take you behind the scenes in our work space.

Most of the authors we know write on a computer. Some desktop, some laptop, some tablet. Others write long-hand on a note pad and then transcribe to the computer. That’s not for us. Though we don’t think of ourselves as fast writers, that two-step process would make us very, very s…l…o…w… and drive us crazy. So, we mostly write on a desktop or laptop. Lately we’re trying out standing while writing because we’ve heard too much sitting is not healthy.

We’ll bet you think we look better when we’re writing than we actually do. Perhaps you think we actually put on real clothes and make-up. Some days we do. And then there are other days when comfort is key. Let’s just say, in some cases we really have to think about whether it’s wise to answer the door.

Because when we’re writing we are creating an alternate world, where we work can be really important. We both have busy families and not very quiet homes so an office with a door is essential. And noise-canceling headphones are our friend.

Music can be good, but it depends on what type of scene you’re writing. Dark intense music isn’t helpful when you’re writing a light-hearted scene. Some authors create playlists for each book which sounds like fun, but for us that could easily be a distraction as we hunt to find just the right songs.

Reference books on shelves or in stacks are a part of any writer’s d├ęcor and we’re no exception. Although we have the Internet at our fingertips, there are simply times when you have to have that book in your hands. Usually it’s a well-worn favorite with highlighting and sticky notes.

We are planners which is especially important since we write the Pampered Pets series together. We get together and plot the books, but then we write them individually. So, we’ll start with a fairly detailed story grid and then we work from plot points. So our offices have white boards and post-it notes. And also pictures of places, people and pets that help to keep us grounded in the story.

We hope you enjoyed the tour. It’s what we’ve found works for us and it’s how we’ve written our most recent books, DOWNTON TABBY and RAIDERS OF THE LOST BARK. Just like the characters in our books change, the process and the environment changes a bit depending on what other craziness is going on in our lives. But for now, we like the process we’ve landed on and we hope you enjoy the stories we create.

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets--Sparkle (Mary Lee's cat) and Abbey (Anita's dog). If you want to make sure you're up on all the Sparkle Abbey news, stop by their website and sign up for updates at

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tour! I have a big bulletin board with my plot laid out for me to follow, using post-it notes like you do. It really helps me stay on track with important plot points and character arcs. Even when I get off track with new material that is organically grown from plot points, I can get back on track afterward because I have established the pathway. I do need to add some photos to the mix because so much of what I imagine is just in my head. Thanks, guys!