I am delighted to welcome author and fellow notebook addict Brenda Murphy to the blog today. And after having to defend my Paperblanks addiction one too many times, I’m relieved to know that I’m not the only writer reaching for pen and paper at regular intervals. I’ll let Brenda talk in just a minute – because she has a book with her to show off, too – but one of the truths in her post chimed with me. So much so, that I’d love to highlight it, for all you struggling writers out there. When you use pen and paper, sitting down in front of a blank computer screen isn’t scary… just copy down what you already have and before you know it, you’re away…
And now, over to Brenda Murphy to discuss spiral notebooks and her latest book, Both Ends of the Whip.
In 2014 I started a blog and one of the first posts I wrote praised the merits of cheap spiral notebooks. My twins were three, and I was struggling with finding time to work on my writing projects. Fast forward to this past weekend. Not only was I going to a conference as an attendee, but this time I was also going as a published author with three books out, a fourth set for release May 7, and another book signed to contract. Five books since 2016.
Is it because of the humble spiral notebook? I’m going to say yes. Spiral notebooks gave me the freedom and privacy to not worry about my first drafts. Spiral notebooks gave me the ability to capture my thoughts in a space free of the distraction of the internet. Spiral notebooks remind me of all the spiral notebooks I have filled over my life. Spiral notebooks don’t require anything more than a pen to operate.
The conference was close enough I drove with a friend. We are noodling a joint writing project and had a six-hour car ride ahead of us to talk/plot/set deadlines, etc. I didn’t make notes on my phone, or computer, or Ipad. I grabbed a cheap spiral notebook and my favorite gel pen to take notes while she drove.
For those of us with attention issues having a place to capture your flight of ideas is essential. I don’t get distracted by parrot videos or new recipes, or saving ideas I will never use to my virtual bulletin board. Using something that does not depend on an external power source, is easily replaced and inexpensive is freeing. Spiral notebooks don’t require anything more than a pen to operate. If you are struggling with getting your ideas down and focus, try stepping back from technology.
Writing in spiral notebooks provides these benefits.
- I can capture thoughts and ideas for my work in progress and new story ideas.
- When you sit down and write you never have to fear the blank page, just open up your notebook and start transcribing.
- You don’t have to worry that your notes will be lost to a computer hard drive disaster, otherwise become unreadable, although I do advise NOT pointing a freshly fed infant at one’s spiral notebook! Don’t ask how I know this.
- A spiral notebook feels private in a way that electronic notes do not. I don’t have to worry about anyone hacking my notebook, even if someone opened it they would not be able to read my handwriting.
So am I an unrepentant Luddite? No. I love my Mac, and Scrivener is my favorite app.
Do I need a private, portable, unbreakable, cheap way to keep up with thoughts, ideas, scraps of information and whims that pass through my head on any given day? Yes. And I can buy them ten for a dollar at back-to-school sales.
Both Ends of the Whip
Octavia Vargus had everything she wanted at Rowan House, Skye’s most exclusive pleasure house, except the one thing she craved. Longing for the freedom to explore both sides of her nature, she leaves Rowan House and her mistress, for a new start in Italy with her partner Bridget Murray.
Vivian Abiola is a connection to a past Octavia would like to forget, and a love she never expected to see again. After Octavia’s past relationship with Vivian is exposed, Octavia and Bridget explore the limits of their desires with Vivian. When an arsonist threatens to destroy their vineyard, past loyalties and secrets endanger their lives, and the three women’s relationship. Their love may be the only thing that helps them survive the firestorm of doubt, intrigue, and jealousy.
Excerpt from Both Ends of the Whip by Brenda Murphy
“Vivian Abiola—” Martha inclined her head toward Octavia. “This is Octavia Vargas. She’s been my stable manager for the last eight years. I can’t say enough about her skills with horses. I think she would meet your needs.”
Octavia’s face grew warm at Martha’s praise.
“A pleasure to meet you.” Her voice was boarding schools and high tea, underlaid with old family money. She was as tall as Martha and Octavia had to look up to make eye contact. She shook hands with her. Vivian’s skin was soft but Octavia appreciated the firm way she took control, her grip sure and confident. The subservient side of her quivered at her touch.
A hint of memory tugged at Octavia. Vivian’s face was familiar. Octavia searched her memories, trying to place her. A former guest? No. Where do I know her from? The circuit? No. Where?
“And this is Bridget Murray. She’s worked as assistant head chef here and comes with Cook’s recommendation.”
Vivian shook hands with Bridget and Octavia glanced at Bridget, noting the way she lowered her gaze beneath Vivian’s cool appraising gaze. She feels it too.
“Martha has spoken highly of you both. I’m in need of a stable manager and a cook. I will match your salaries here and provide living quarters on the property. I will arrange for the proper work visa and any other immigration paperwork necessary, and pay for your relocation expenses, and travel to Franciacorta. I don’t expect an answer today but I need one by the end of the week.”
“Why come all the way here to hire us?” Bridget raised her eyebrow. “I’m sure there are stable managers and cooks in Italy.”
“I need staff I can trust.” Vivian looked between them, meeting their gazes in turn.
“I don’t want to work at another whore house.” Bridget turned to stare at Martha and met her glare with one of her own.
Octavia opened her mouth to speak and closed it when Vivian raised her hand. Those eyes. I know her. How?
“I live alone on my estate and travel frequently. I don’t desire any services beyond what is normally expected from a stable manager and a cook.” She squared her shoulders, a cool expression on her face. “If you have any other questions I will be here until Saturday. If you want to accept my offer I’ll have your contracts drawn up.” She turned and nodded at Martha and favored her with a quiet smile. “I’ll see you at dinner.” She left them, walking away as graceful and unhurried as a queen leaving court and closed the door behind her. The solid sound of the door latch clicking into place was loud in the wood-paneled room.
Martha walked to her desk and sat down. She steepled her hands and rested her elbows on the jade-green blotter set in the middle of the dark walnut desk. Bridget shifted and stood away from Octavia, her lips pursed, arms crossed in front of her chest. The tick of the mantel clock was loud in the silence that rose between the three of them. Octavia walked to stand in front of Martha’s desk.
Martha did not raise her head. “No need to thank me. I didn’t do it for you. Vivian is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Have you given any further thought about your accounts?”
Octavia sensed Bridget’s eyes on her, watching her, waiting for her. “Would you mind managing them? Until we’re settled? I’m not sure if it’s for us.”
“It is not my concern. You are free. You and your—” She glanced at Bridget. “—friend are free to do what you want. Cook has found a replacement and Rachel seems to be handling the stable. I’ll mange your accounts until you make new arrangements.”
She waved her hand, dismissing them. Bridget’s sharp snort underlined her desire to end the meeting.
About Brenda Murphy
Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys. When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot. She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted.
You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.
More from Brenda Murphy
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