So much about being an author is sheer wonderfulness. When I write a story, I find pieces of myself I might have orphaned without knowing it. That scene where Lady Eve and the Duke are at the back of the church, and she’s emotionally clobbering His Grace, telling him how much he means to her? Cried my little eyes out writing that, and realized that as a woman with no sons, no husband, no brothers near by, and no son in law (yet), my father is still the main man in my life, even though he hasn’t set foot in my house for decades and sometimes can’t recall what day it is.
Writing gives me gifts like that.
Writing gives me great friends, intelligent, intuitive, courageous and kind people among my READERS (THAT’S YOU), and among the other writers.
Writing allows me to make a living and yet still have great chunks of solitude–how I love that!
But there are downsides, and one of them is searching for cover art. You’d think pouring over thousands of images of “portrait attractive man,” at the stock photos sites would be like taking five consecutive meals from the dessert buffet… but try it some time. Google “stock photo images” and you’ll come up with the same three or four sites, and I vow and declare they haven’t rotated inventory under the search tags, “portrait handsome man,” for years.
I see good looking young fellows devoid of body hair–I’m not keen on this. The guys will do just fine as God made them, as far as I’m concerned. The last thing I want is for the objectification and sexualization that has plagued women for centuries to be inflicted on the guys BY THE WOMEN. I see a guy with a gorgeous smile flashing it in one image, but grabbing his parts in twelve others. Well, parts are all very interesting, but are they TWELVE TIMES more interesting than a winning smile? Than a tender gaze?
I’ve tended to save the cover stock exercise for the end of the day, when I’m finishing up the last mile or so on the tread desk. I didn’t realize how much I disliked the task until I was given a different assignment.
For upcoming refreshments to the website, I’ve been tasked with finding images of flowers that flourish in the UK. My mood at the end of these searches is completely different. Looking at lavender, lily of the valley, tulips, rhododendrons, roses (pink, white and red ones), and pansies left me feeling sweet and relaxed.
Looking at pics of carefully sculpted, hairless, handsome young fellers trying to look alluring left me tired, conflicted, and bored.
So… I’ve kept fresh flowers on my kitchen counter, and I look at them frequently. Bright colors, light scents, no fancy arrangements. I know flowers make me happy, but I hadn’t realized how happy, or how simply looking at them can turn my mood switch.
What do you keep around you that turns your mood switch? Is it visual? Is it aural? Is it a fragrance? All of the above? What do you have in your environment that you don’t enjoy and can you get rid of it?
To one commenter, I’ll send flowers!
What I want to get rid of is easy – all the clutter I’ve managed to acquire since I’ve had this house (40 years now). I’m not a pack rat (exactly) but I tend to hold on the things as long as I have room to store them in drawers, closets, attic, basement, etc. I’ve been slowly getting rid of all of that stuff. I mean really, even if I could somehow get down to a size 8 again, nobody wants to see a 70 year old woman in a sleeveless sundress (smile).
I love flowers too, but because I’ve always had cats, I can’t keep fresh ones in the house – they tend to chew on them and drag them all over the place. So I have the silk kind inside. But even looking at them makes me happy.
So if I should somehow win the flowers, I’ll have to have them sent to someone else.
I didn’t think I was a pack rat either, but I raised a kid in the house where I live now. For one person, it’s a plenty big house, and the sense of stuff accumulating got to me.
Leased a roll off dumpster, and figured, I’d NEVER fill that thing. I came close, and there’s a still a passel of crap in my summer kitchen.
Good feeling though, to purge the junk. I recommend it.
I realized about a year and a half ago — as I was rearranging my living space — that the color turquoise and all its many vibrant shades really recharged me and made me happy. So I’ve started incorporating it in many ways: in clothing finds, in a gorgeous long shawl that would look perfect with a Regency-era gown, in a homemade tablecloth, in the gradual collection of beautiful Le Creuset dishes. It has become my signature color at the farmers’ market — if I’m NOT wearing it, people don’t recognize me!
Still trying to find a fragrance that recharges me, though. I found my favorite scent my senior year in high school and splurged on a bottle that I knew would last a lifetime. (It isn’t made any more, so it was good I did!) Unfortunately, it has too many floral notes and too chemical an edge for me to wear as my body chemistry changes, so I’m trying to find or create something with a little more spice and richness to it.
I’m not sure what my color would be, but that’s a good thing to ponder. I’m probably a brown, with an emphasis on sumptuous textures instead of a vibrant color…
My scent is Opus 1870, a natural fragrance by Penhaligon that’s intended for men. I am besotted with it, though. My nose goes all swooney when I catch that first whiff.
I have several types of tea. When I need to switch gears, change my mood or relax, I brew a cup of tea. The smell is fabulous…orangey and spices. Heaven. I also have a small stash of Pepperidge Farm Cookies saved for special occasions. So tea & chocolate.
Sometimes, a new set of napkins and placemats can brighten up the kitchen table. I put out my Dedham Pottery placemats and napkins today…thinking Spring after over 2 feet of snow! 🙂
I am a saver. I have my daughters papers from first grade, magazines, dog books and recipes. A couple
of times a year, I weed through my paperwork (husband calls it clutter!) and purge. I enjoy going through my treasures but I really don’t like tossing them out. I understand the concept and abide by it…just don’t like it. 🙂
Some historian will love you for being a “saver,” and it’s odd you mention that tea. I’ve been on a Constant Comment kick lately. Orange and spices, very comforting.
I find that I enjoy smells around me. I have a wax melter that I find that I keep it on all the time. It’s fun to change out the wax to get different scents all the time. I like to give them as gifts as well because they are like having a candle burning without the flame.
Never heard of such a thing, but it sounds like a safety improvement over a candle, and fun, because you can mix up vanilla for this person, lavender for that.
I’m off to google…
I keep one thing around me to brighten my mood(and boy have I needed it lately) and that is a copy of one of your books right now on my beside is a copy my current favorite book “A Single Kiss” and within easy reaching distance is my copies of “MacGregor’s Lady” and “The Laird” for re-reads. Someone took my copy of “The Traitor” and refuses to give it back:( which means I’ be buying another copy. When I pick up your books miss Grace I am transported to another time and place. I am past the pain in my legs and the stresses of everyday life. It’s like sitting down with my best friend. It makes me happy.
Gail, thanks very much, and a replacement copy of The Traitor (ahem) is on its way to you.
I’m the same with books. I’m binging lately on early Loretta Chase. The woman is brilliant, plan and simple. She creates characters and worlds with such a strong gravitational field, she can pull me out of the worst day in five minutes flat.
Like a couple others on here the clutter really gets to me and I try to go through it but it just keeps coming back. I am really bad at shredding things and I have stacks and boxes of papers that need to be shredded. I tried keeping the shredder near where I open the mail, but it got full and then I didn’t feel like emptying it and the stacks came back. I really need to find one of those shredding events that they sometimes have where you can bring boxes of stuff to shred and it all goes into a big truck to be shredded.
Some days (well most days) I think it would be so nice to have a bulldozer come in and just take all the mess away. But with 4 boys the mess always comes back usually that same day.
As for what makes me happy. I would have to say having books around, even if they contribute to the clutter. Sometimes just seeing the cover of a favorite book brings a smile to my face. Pictures of my boys are nice to have on display as well.
In the law office, there’s stuff we really have to shred. We hold files for seven years, but then… away they go. Then there’s all the day to day stuff, and I simply bag that up. It’s amazing, how much stuff a normal life produces, much less a life with five other people. Too bad the boys can’t take on some of the shredding duty… seems simple enough?
Famous last words.
I have two pictures hanging in my bedroom, both created by my Mom. One is an oil she painted as a young mother in the 1960’s of me and my two brothers playing in the rain, wearing our bright yellow slickers and shiny black rubber boots (not sure where she found the time!) The second one is an intricate needlepoint picture of two cats in a library filled with books, done about 15 years ago.I see them every morning and smile. My Mom is turning eighty this spring, and is still always creating something- this week she is knitting small blankets out of her leftover yarn for her two kitties beds! That really makes me smile!
What a role model, and what creative force she must have. I have a painting in my office that my brother in law did, of a basket of lemons hanging in a tree. I love to look up, and see something somebody I care about made, and gave to me out of the generosity of his heart.
And I so envy anybody with visual skills. I get stick figures, the sun up in the corner, the lollipop tree.
What I don’t enjoy is the constant clutter of my home. And it’s mostly on me, not Hubby. I can’t seem to take care of it all, without something new popping up. But I’m trying!
What settles me in and around my house? Flowers, definitely–especially in the yard. The color blue. Bright artwork. Seasonal decorations (a Mardi Gras wreath currently adorns the front door.) A clean kitchen (thank you, Hubby!) Family photos. Books. Nice-smelling candles.
That clean kitchen stuff… um. Right. I’ll be back soon!
Blankets. I love being wrapped up in a blanket. You can find me in middle of August (that tender, sweet part of summer in the South where you think you moved to Hell) curled up under a blanket.
I do enjoy candles (I’m currently in love with my scented wax warmer). I have a Tobacco and Bergamont candle that I have jealously been burning slowly for years now. I’m doing my best to make it last as long as humanly possible.
Now that you mention it, I’m particular about my blankets too. I love a chilly bedroom, so I can sleep under a weight of blankets (plus one big black cat).
Bergamot and Tobacco? Must be southern.
I gaze out my kitchen window and watch the wildlife. My kitchen table is situated in front of a large window and often, I work from home on the laptop watching the world go on in my back yard.
We have a maple tree which I depend on to remind me the season–we’re in the middle of a blizzard here in the Midwest right now and it’s draped with snow. I wait for the spring greening especially this year! The high of summer brings wonderful shade—our year for the 17 year locusts really did a number on our tree but it’s back to normal now–and the fall brings “shades” of red and gold and tan. Somehow, just watching the tree from day to day soothes me when I’m stressed.
We have all sorts of bird feeders and I enjoy the constant parade of birds on their way to and from the north or south. We have lots of hummingbirds from spring to September, “Mama and Papa Duck” are due in mid March, woodpeckers, bluejays, PLENTY of cardinals all year round and finches–both in their golden glory or the gray they wear from November on and robins in spring….soon I hope!
I’m surrounded by maples. My fave is in the autumn, when they’re almost luminous with yellow. I put cat food out for the ferals and outdoor hard cases, and that attracts the birds, raccoons, possums, skunks, dogs, foxes… Quite a parade, and I love it.
I look great in vibrant colors. Jewel tones all the way for me. And black. My hair and complexion look great in it. But in my home decor, I need soft colors. Pastels. Especially green and yellow. They brighten things up while maintaining a feeling a peace. And I have to have a fresh smelling place. Citrus scents are particularly good for improving my mood. 🙂
I just looked around and there is nothing I would remove… Except maybe some cat fur. 😉
It’s that time of year. The temperatures might be awful, the wind howling, snow in the forecast for a week straight… but Petey Pumpkin, my long haired enormous back cat, is very sure spring is coming. He’s sure all over every article of clothing I own, in fact.
I would be happy to view these sculpted, hairless, handsome young fellows for you if it would help.
Knock yourself out, Suzanne. I’m so tired of iStock, Veer, and Dreamstime I could cheerfully lose their URLs. I’m also very tired of covers that turn men into meat. I don’t like it when it’s done to women, and I’m doubly impatient with it when women return the disrespect to men.
Old and cranky, that’s me.
Music can make or break my mood. I make sure I have appropriate music on when I am cooking (another thing that is uplifting most of the time for me). Like many others on this blog, the clutter around me does get on my nerves. I have recently retired and I am working on getting rid of it bit by bit. Again the right music is a help.
Music hath all manner of charms. I see some of the footage people are posting on social media from Syria, and I have to listen to the old Albinoni Adagio–grieving music. When I can’t stand that any more, it’s Dougie MacLean, who’s a fine poet in addition to being a genius with rhythm and harmony. Then some good old Vivaldi…
Much comfort there.
Hmm… before I get to your questions, I wanted to make a suggestion. My favorite cover art for romance novels was a lady named Marion Chesney. She had pencil drawings on her books. I always enjoyed them and they never went out of style. So onto your question. At the end of the day I’ll come home and watch TV. I’ll turn off the top light. The couch faces the TV. On each wall there are Christmas lights. I plug those in and light a candle on the coffee table. It helps me relax.
Oh, that sounds lovely. A personal theatre with ambient fragrance.
I’ll google your cover preference. Always looking for new ideas. Thanks!
Gorgeous and draping, soft and flowing, beautifully patterned fabric.
May i say first i know what you mean about looking at the guys pic’s! they all look about the age of my son!
One thing i would like to eliminate
in my house is clutter – old stuff i can not bring myself to get rid of but i know is just weighting down my life!
things that lift my spirits are of course Books –
old friends i reread often as well as new finds.
but for a quick lift i look at pictures of the beach !! or gardens or outdoor kitchens — not sure why those kitchens work but i do like them – but by far it is the BEACH –
Too bad we can’t organize a Clutter Club, and meet one weekend a month at a different house. I have a nice big pick up truck, and we could talk books, and listen to music, and load stuff up by the hour…
It’s a thought.
I like being surrounded by books and cats – the books outnumber the cats lol. I agree on some of the pictures of posed men – when they seem more interested in themselves and their body parts it is a turn off for me. I dislike seeing housework that I know I have to get to!
I’m not the house work type either, but I do admit, I feel better when I can live and work in a clean, pleasant space.
As best I recall.
Cats, flowers and XM Spa or Met Opera channel on 24/7. Plus light, lots of lovely North light glowing throughout my home. That combo helps keep me serene in my space, especially in the winter months when I may be right here for weeks at a time without leaving….often with my nose in a Book!
Hadn’t thought of light, but it was my Mom, who’d lived in Southern California for decades, who pointed out to me that my house has a lot more light in winter. The big maples lose their leaves and the sunlight can find the house. Then too, there’s nothing so bright as a snowy landscape under full sun.
But light… I’ll have to think about that.
I love reading your “discussion starters” – well, I love reading just about anything you write, actually – but this one really resonated with me. For years my family has heard me say, “It just makes me happy!”, when referring to a number of things that tickle my senses. In no particular order, these include: roses brought in from the garden, the sound of a running creek, the smells of crushed lavender, mint or citronella geranium, photos of family, ice-cream that’s just starting to melt, walking on the beach in the evening, super soft rugs underfoot, music that doesn’t hold back on the emotion, bird “calls” (especially storm birds or bellbirds)and one for every evening – my many coloured solar lights twinkling on in the garden after sunset. The last one is a bit of a family joke because more solar lights are always on my Christmas wish list, but why not take advantage of the year round sunshine in Australia. Oh, and reading your books – that always makes me happy!