Writing Talismans, plus #Giveaway

News Flash: The giveaway winners, selected by random.org, are KC Kendler, Sara Hyman, and Marjimmanor. Congratulations, all. Please check your email!

Edith/Maddie writing from north of Boston on the brink of true summer.

When Julie prompted us to write about good luck charms last week, I was thinking I didn’t have any when I wrote my answer. But after she and Barb mentioned comfort items they have around the house, I took a close look at my office. I spend so much time here – every morning, all morning, in fact – you’d think I would have noticed.

Now I have, and today I present you a number of the small talismans in my work space that bring me joy, comfort, and inspiration. Read to the end for a giveaway!

First, here’s what you see when you’re outside the door to my office. Not being disturbed is a very important talisman!

Next is the tiny dinosaur I found on one of my plotting walks. She keeps track of my daily to-do list and makes me smile.

In the window to the right is Princess Yenenga, the fabled and brave founder of Burkina Faso in West Africa, where I lived for a year, plus the tiny Buddha my sister gave me, a wee Japanese bowl from fan Vida Antolin-Jenkins now filled with hand-therapy beads, and a mini vase, all in front of the lovely clock I received as a gift after my two years as President of Sisters in Crime New England.

I also have a wine glass that I’ve only ever sipped wine from once. With a raven on one side and a quote from Poe about writing on the other, I don’t want to break it!

“Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore.”

In the next window is a lovely glass bird, a gift from Jennifer, my best friend of forty-five years.

The last window holds my writing power items – two tiaras next to the writer’s beret my 95-year-old author-uncle Richard Reinhardt recently sent me. When I need some extra push at my desk, I slip one of those onto my head and remind myself I am a professional writer (and also the queen of my domain). Oh, plus some Mardi Gras beads and the fabulous stand-in teapot the Wickeds sent me after my Agatha Award win in 2020.

Next we have the actual Agatha teapot I brought home (along with COVID) in April, surrounded by a few toys that bring me joy: a tiny jeep, an anteater mascot from my college alma mater, and a wind-up scorpion to honor my sun (and rising) sign of Scorpio. Family pictures, a bigger Buddha, and a historical map of my town are the backdrop (with primarily Wicked Authors’ books on the shelves below).

The radiator, which never comes on, holds a collection of animals. My childhood stuffed dalmation, Topsy; a Dammit Doll for whacking on things when frustration mounts; a New England Crime Bake knitted lobster; and a stuffed dog wearing a Crime Bake hat in front of a few framed award certificates.

What else do I have in my office? Let me show you the grittier side: the standing laptop, whiteboard, long-term book calendar and month-by-month paper calendar, list of short stories submitted (and resubmitted elsewhere, often with success), tally sheet of books finished and books published, and so on. Not exactly talismans, except for the “Muse Most of Us Really Need,” but these are my tools of the trade.

Keen-eyed readers will note one item I’ll need to erase once this post is published!

In the last couple of months I’ve acquired a new talisman in the form of our gentle adopted cat Martin. He loves keeping me company on this vegetable cloth (to protect the futon behind it, which doubles as a guest bed), and I love knowing he’s there while I write. So far he hasn’t provided any new plot ideas, but he is the model for one of the two cats my new California protagonist Cece Barton has at home.

And here we have the upholstered rocker that belonged to my grandfather, Allan Maxwell, Sr., then my mother, and now me. It’s a perfect size for a short-legged person and is where I take my pen and notebook to brainstorm when I’m in need of new ideas.

My mom made the small quilted piece over the top, my son Allan the pillow on the left, and a good friend the pillow on the right.

And that brings us to the giveaway! I have a stack of advance copies of Murder in a Cape Cottage, Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #4, and I need them in the hands of readers, not on the seat of my rocker.

Readers: Where do you find inspiration or comfort? Any questions about what you’ve seen? I’ll give away three ARCs of the September book.

109 Thoughts

  1. I am disabled due to an accident and I often lay down on our king sized bed with a heating pad and a book. Our 3 cats or at least one join me and usually curl up next to me and that is very comforting. I have my 2 bookcases in the bedroom that my husband built for me and on top of one of them I made a small memorial for my Dad. I’ll look up there and think about him and the good times. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  2. Fun office, Edith! My inspiration comes while walking Rango, my rescue CHUG (Chihuahua and pug mix).

  3. You inspire me, my friend! Your imagination, dedication and loving heart fill your books and your life.

  4. What a lovely description (and so honored to be “mentioned in dispatches”)! It speaks volumes of how you connect to people.

  5. My inspiration is simply being alive. I have a heart condition that has left me dependent on a pacemaker, if I had lived in the not-that-long-ago past, I could be dead

  6. Edith, I’ve always meant to ask you…why a standing desk as opposed to sitting in “comfort” as you write?

    As for talismans, I don’t have any particular ones for when I’m writing my reviews. As long as I have access to the Net and the physical item on hand to refer to, that’s all I need for producing what I hope is a halfway decent review.

    Comfort? Well, simply being at home when I write is a source of comfort. Surrounded by all my stuff where I can just tune out the rest of the world to whatever varying degree I want is enough for me.

    1. Thanks, Jay. I stand to write because it’s better for my back, hips, and my overall health. I move around more, and I stand on a cushioned mat, so it’s not as hard on knees and feet.

  7. I love all your little memories and mementos!! So cozy! And that kitty looks very comfortable. I also have little memories here and there, mostly things my kids made or found for me.

  8. I loved seeing your talismans. I wear some of mine on a chain around my neck, but others which inspire poems are the few things I have from my family. I would love to receive one of the ARCs of your new book!

    1. Such neat talismans, and each with a story of their own!
      My inspiration usually strikes at an inconvenient time- in the shower, at work, the middle of the night… Last time I was reading a book about a completely unrelated subject.

    2. Such neat talismans, and each with a story of their own!
      My inspiration usually strikes at an inconvenient time- in the shower, at work, the middle of the night… Last time I was reading a book about a completely unrelated subject.

  9. After losing our Sadie suddenly in January, I now find comfort in our two little girls that are now 5 months. It’s the 3 am hold need my mommy time and sleeping together in the recliner that is so worth all the work.

  10. Thank you for sharing this, I love your Tea pot! I find comfort in my husband and my fur baby Corky! ( He is a chiweenie).

  11. Love all your “good luck” charms. Did I spy some Leslie Meir books on your bookshelf? I enjoy reading her also. I would have to say my comfort spot is my back deck. I sit out there with the pups and cat and read. ( when it’s not 1000 degrees out like it is now! lol

  12. Love your “good luck” charms. Did I see some Leslie Meir books on that shelf? I enjoy reading her also. My comfort spot is my deck. I sit out there with the pups and cat and read. When the weather isn’t 1000 degrees like it is now!

    1. Oops, I posted twice. The first one didn’t show up right away and I thought it got lost. lol

  13. I don’t have an office, but I do have a custom-made desk in the corner of our sunroom. On it are a chipped Marvin the Martian mug (now being used to hold pens because of the chip) given to me by a co-worker as a going away present in 1998, a mini-figurine of Martin, and a stuffed sloth I’ve named Sherman (he is supposedly one of those microwaveable heating pads, but I’d never do that to him). Koda is usually curled up nearby.

  14. My comfort lies just outside our wall of floor to ceiling windows. My yard is surrounded by woods and reflects the mood of the day. Deer and turkey visit outside and my dog and cat inside. We all ignore the geese.

  15. I moved from a small house to a small apartment just as the pandemic hit. Because I had to downsize dramatically, everything in my apartment is very important and inspirational to me, especially my quilts, many hung or draped over the bed or furniture, 14 very full bookcases and many, many pictures of family, friends and my travels!

  16. My place of inspiration is our front porch. Little did I know when we built our dream home five years ago how important my request for a front porch was going to be. I wanted a porch that was wide enough to be used even when it was raining, long enough to not feel closed in and with fans so even the summer heat couldn’t drive me off of it. Hubby saw that all my requests were applied to the finished product making it a place we both love to spend time. During the winter months, when the trees are bare of their leaves, we can see the Ozark Mountains. When the trees are full of green leaves, they supply not only shade for us, but resting places for all of our bird visitors. The persimmon and walnut trees furnish food for the critters like the squirrels and the deer who are usually in the yard somewhere. We live outside the city limits and no immediate neighbors so it’s quiet and peaceful on our porch making it great place to enjoy nature, read a book or enjoy the company of those that love to sit with us. It’s my place to get away from the dreaded to do lists, household chores and the sound of the TV. It’s my place to relax, recharge and see what’s really important in life. It is definitely the best part of our dream home and best decision ever to make sure we had it.

    “Murder in a Cape Cottage” is most definitely on my TBR list and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review it. Shared and hoping to be one of the very fortunate ones selected. Thank you for the chance!

    May today be the first day of an exceptional week! Remember to take time to sit on the porch!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  17. Thank you for sharing this! I thought I was being childish or too sentimental (I have many serious friends) but I do have talismans/comfort/inspiration items as well!
    1. A tiny Snoopy and his typewriter sitting on his red doghouse. (I love to write)
    2. A letter K figurine from Mary Engelbreit’s store bought many years ago, in bright yellow with a kitten, keys, knitting needles (and a ball of yarn). (I love words)
    3. A Beanie Baby Secretariat (the racing horse) which I bought at a card store some years ago (My Dad loved horses. He took me to Santa Anita racecourse to see the races, and we saw the famous jockey Willie Shoemaker)
    4. A corn husk doll in a cream print lace edged skirt holding a tiny basket of peach flowers. (The gift from a friend just over 30 years ago when I lived in London)
    5. A set of very small Japanese bowls with pastel flowers design around the rims. (A gift from my Mom who loved Japanese porcelain – we lived in Japan when I was a toddler).
    6. A set of demitasse silver spoons with each handle showing a different aspect of Argentine gaucho culture (a gift from my sister).
    7. A couple of beautiful coffee table books, one on Tango, the other of aerial photos of Argentina, by photographer Aldo Sessa. (A gift from my brother).
    And other items as well! Reminders of family and friends, and of interesting things!

  18. How wonderful to be allowed into your office and see where you get inspired, and what helps you create! Like you, I have my office to get inspired. There I have little trinkets from my lifetime of travels (just those who have survived 3 downsizings), walls of books, a beautiful view of my courtyard and nature beyond, with a copper water fountain plus bird songs as a soundtrack…I also have an award: “Champion of Opera” from the San Diego Opera, where I was honored to be a board member. I also have a rain stick from northern Chile. It is filled with seeds, so when I turn it over, it starts making very soothing sounds like rain…then I get to work… Thanks for sharing your brilliant writing talents with us eager readers Maddie!!! Luis at ole dot travel

  19. I find so much comfort (especially when confined to the couch) in looking out our home’s windows onto our older neighborhood with mature trees and gardens. Thank you for sharing your delightfully special writing “comforts” and your office.

  20. I find inspiration all around me—life experiences, past work places, reading books, television, the internet/computer, my pets, out in the woods and country & especially my imagination.
    You have all kinds of things and awards–good for you. I especially like the one laying on the couch. Such a pretty cat.
    Would love to read & review a print book.
    Hope I Win

  21. I find comfort in walks, reading , & family & friends. Nature is such a calming influence on me.

  22. I especially love the little dinosaur who keeps track of your daily To Do list. She is so CUTE! As a child, did you collect dinosaurs? I did, and I also had a collection of horse statutes that I played with for many, many days. I still have two of those horse statutes in my home today. The big one is named Bronco, and the little guy is Buckie.

  23. I love your Dammit Doll! I have one as well and have thrown it a few times. Hahahahaha

    I find inspiration in music and writing. I have been journaling for years now. I started journaling with my therapist, back in the 90’s to help with the abuse and trauma I was going through from my ex husband.

    Thankfully I have forgiven him but I will never forget. I am stronger now (mentally) and have moved on, however journaling stuck with me and I find it therapeutic and inspiring.

    As for my music Tori Amos is my #1 go to artist, however I recently discovered Why Mona and her voice is so beautiful and powerful.

    Thank you for this opportunity and for letting me blabber on to you. I would be honored to read an advanced copy of your book.

  24. What a lovely visit to your office. I don’t have a particular talisman in mine, but I am thankful when I can get it organized! If anything, I might be inclined to think it is the fact that I actually have paper and pen to take anywhere!

  25. Thanks for the tour of your lovely office, Edith. My office is really a museum of my travels over many years and is my sanctuary. It is filled with wonderful memories. I wouldn’t know where to begin listing them. But it makes me happy just thinking of them. And they all inspire me to keep being adventurous.

  26. Hi, I enjoyed reading your post, thank you. I love to sit outside on our backyard patio swing when it is nice outside. Have a great week and stay safe. I love all of your precious items that all have special meaninging and memories. Thank you for the chance.

  27. I find inspiration and comfort in reading, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.

  28. I find inspiration hanging out with my friends. Also, sometimes the places I visit too.

  29. Thank you Edith for sharing your writing world. You are so gracious to allow us in.

    My Inspiration – my family, early mornings, quietude, watching dawn break, health care providers, and a wonderful writing community with authors like you.

    My Comfort- my family, living rurally, very close to nature, prayer and music, my writings, my garden beds, with plantings from loved ones, still with me and those who have gone on before me.

    Enjoy this beautiful late spring NE day. Peace.

  30. I enjoy seeing your treasures. I get comfort from my Siamese kitty on my lap with a good cozy mystery. Also a wonderful husband who makes me laugh. Would love a copy of your book.

  31. I loved reading about all the various talismans in your writing room. I love the glass bird!

    I find inspiration from walking in the woods or on the beach. Solitude is my friend. I find it from looking at pictures of artwork, specifically at colors -combinations, unexpected pairings, translucency and opacity, etc for my glass art.

  32. Such lovely inspiration surrounding you! I believe it was you who gave me the idea of putting fun stuff on the windowsills . . . mine now have a VW bug with passengers that move in the sunlight, a cow jumping over the moon (with only one wing), and a big Costco run bottle with shells and colored glass (far from full). I once said I don’t use props when storytelling, and then took a look at my storytelling bag and knew that was a lie, and I had an assortment of visuals when teaching also, including a Black Veil for “The Minister’s B.V.” Now I have many frogs, and since the winter Prince showed up inside in December and stayed until spring, friends keep giving me more, a happy froggy convention. I look forward to sitting on my own short-person rocking chair to read your newest. Hugs <3

  33. When I light my St. Jude candle nightly and pray for friends. I add many new people that have illnesses nightly, but I also thank St. Jude and God for keeping us safe and listening to me. That offers lots of consolation. Inspiration comes in looking at my precious dog, my wonderful Hubby Dearest and some things that I have collected.

  34. Love your things! I do find comfort (aka happy place!) in our small local library, but it is more a feeling, as I don’t really read there. I guess a talisman would be the water I like to have nearby when reading at home, in one of two old Tupperware tumblers!

  35. My cats, Hamilton and Jefferson make my house cozy. I also have some memories from trips that make me happy, like a small black rhino we saw as a baby at a zoo in Michigan and a drawing of a giraffe 🦒 that reminds me of the giraffes 🦒 we fed in Columbus Ohio.

  36. I find inspiration and comfort in nature. I am disabled. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. We feed the outdoor stray cats and kittens. It is so comforting to have them come up the wheelchair ramp to eat. Some of them stand on their hind legs and look in the back door. It always brings a smile. We currently have two black kittens who have just been weand in the last couple of weeks. They are so fun to watch plan. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  37. Thanks for sharing your talismans! So neat. I find comfort in taking my dog on daily walks! Exercise for the both of us!

    Thanks so much for the chance!

  38. I find my inspiration from my son who has Autism. Although the simplest things can be challenge he has faced them and continues to grow. He is now 34, 6’3″ and 265 lbs. but still struggles with controlling his temperament when his two favorite things, the computer and the television, go down If the electric starts to flicker he thinks going to a motel will solve the problem. lol! He is very fortunate to have an older sister who has helped him to succeed in so much..

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