But I'll stick with my own desk (an antique roll-top from my parents, which I love.) (This photo isn't current, so add a layer of paperwork and some more candles in your imagination.)
Here are the blog hop questions and my responses:
1) What are you currently working on?
I'm revising my novel Rocket Man, which has been through the wringer with me over the past couple of years. I am even more in love with it than ever, though, and can't believe how well I know the main characters, Serena and Dillon, at this point. Go on, ask me anything about them. Their quirks, their bank account balances, the first foods they'll grab from the brunch buffet. (Serena stands patiently in line at the omelet bar, while Dillon's first plate overflows with bacon, scrambled eggs, potatoes, and a couple slices of meat.)
It's a contemporary romance set in my hometown of Houston, and is the first in my Roll of the Dice series. I'm also working on another contemporary romance set in the fictional small town of Honey Wine, Texas. (I try not to bounce around too much from manuscript to manuscript, but sometimes a scene pops into my head so I just have to write it down.)
2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?
With the Roll of the Dice series, I've created a small-town feel in a large city - it's a strongly interconnected, fun group of people and places that resonate with readers in the same way that small-town contemporaries do, although it takes place in the middle of the 4th largest city in the nation! I love how Serena, especially, seeks out meaningful connections and builds herself a community. I love bringing office friendships and career aspirations to my love story.
3) Why do you write what you write?
Well, first of all, I love the genre of contemporary romance. Ever since I picked up my first Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel, contemporary stories have truly spoken to me as a reader and as a writer. Still, I can't say that I put a lot of thought into it - these are just the stories that come to me. Strong, interesting women who have to fight a battle or two to get what they want - even if they don't end up wanting what they thought they did! These are the characters of my heart, and bringing them to the page is (usually) a challenge and a pleasure.
4) How does your process work?
As I said, the kernel for my stories just... comes to me. (It may be mystical, or maybe it's just the result of a complex interaction between imagination and outside influences and something I overheard and that dream that niggles at my consciousness.) (Probably the mystical thing, though.) So when I'm starting a novel, I begin with that kernel, and sit down and write the first several pages to see where it's taking me. After the initial burst, I sit back and reread and figure out the overall themes and narrative arc, listen to the characters reveal a couple of their secrets, and make notes. I use all of that to shape the kernel into an actual plot outline.
I've become, over the years, a big fan of scene plotting. Given that I'm working a full-time job, plus all that mom and wife and home and pet owner stuff, it's not always easy to just sit in front of the computer and come up with whatever words should be next in my WIP. But if I have scene notes, say, "Valentine's Day, something dumb with Joey, landlady issues" (to steal from my current outline), I can grab hold of the thread of my plot easily and get a few hundred words written without first rereading (which always turns into revising) what I'd written the day before.
I have great, smart critique partners who give me feedback on chapters as I go, which helps enormously to keep me on track with my pacing, character development, and conflict. I also have friends willing to read completed drafts and give me feedback from the reader's perspective. (If necessary, I tell them which pages to skip so they don't have to read my steamier scenes!) And my husband is a fantastic early reader and editor, as well as an enormously supportive cheerleader. So that's my 'village' and I really appreciate them all.