Thursday, April 01, 2010


Early on in my writing, when I was submitting, someone I'd send my manuscript asked if I'd ever considered writing category romance. If you're not familiar with the genre, these are the stereotypical "romance novels", virtually synonymous with Harlequin. There are dozens of imprints with several titles in each, and they're released each month.

They're also short. I'd be passing my own halfway point, and they'd be finished. Writing short is too much of a challenge for me.When I wrote my mystery, my target was to finish in 80-90,000 words, which is what the smaller presses are looking for. It came in at over 100,000, so I had to cut. Of course, every word was brilliant, but if I was going to try to market it as my first straight mystery, I couldn't exceed the guidelines. In short, I had only so much space for my words.

Now, assuming the house we've got under contract will actually be our new home, I'll have to take another look at downsizing. But this time, it won't be words, it'll be "stuff."

Our Orlando home with its 5 bedrooms (granted, they were small), large eat-in kitchen, family room and formal dining room, which we lived in for 22 years, during which time we accumulated stuff, will be replaced with a 3 bedroom, 'great room/open kitchen' home. There's a full downstairs, which we hope to configure into at least one more bedroom and a den type room, but we're sacrificing a lot of space.

In addition to space, we're giving up walls. The main floor has an open floorplan. Everything is in one room. Furniture will break it up, but all the stuff on my cathedral-ceiling height dining room no longer has a home. Nor will a heck of a lot of the stuff hanging on the walls in Florida. I think it took the movers as long to pack the wall stuff as it did for them to pack all the rest of our things.

No real dining room (there's a space with a chandelier of sorts, which I assume is where a table would go) means all the stuff that was in my china cabinet has nowhere to live. We sold the dining room set (thank goodness) but did bring the "good stuff" that it held.

The master bath is spacious, but only if you consider the large closet as part of the room. Double sinks, big counters, and lots of drawers. But very small drawers. A standard tub/shower. No real way to expand the square footage because if you try to push a wall back, it's in the stairwell.

Since we got rid of as much stuff as possible before we moved, we're virtually starting from scratch. Our budget isn't vast, so we will have to decide which stuff is worth replacing. Definitely a bed for the master bedroom is a #1 purchase priority. Once we see how much room that leaves us for the peripheral bedroom accoutrements, such as night tables and dressers, we can move forward there.

Kitchen. We have the major appliances that come with the house, but I got rid of all my pots, pans, dishes and flatware. Quick purchase of a coffeemaker comes to mind. The setup includes a breakfast bar, so a couple of bar stools will be handy.

My office will be one of the upstairs bedrooms. I'll need a desk, because the little computer stand we bought so we could work in our rental isn't going to cut it. The third bedroom upstairs will be a guest room at least for starters. We'd like to create complete guest quarters downstairs, but we'll have to see what we can fit into the space. Will I have to give up getting a recumbent bike? That was something I enjoyed at the Y, but there's no fitness center nearby.

Bookshelves. We'll need lots of those. We're thinking about making a good portion of the downstairs into some kind of library.

Hubster will also want to get a TV and DVR fairly soon after we move in. He also needs some sort of office arrangement, although we agreed that it would be unwise for us to both work in the upstairs bedrooms. The challenge will be configuring the space so the downstairs bath which now includes a washer-dryer in an unfinished area can handle laundry as well as give access to both the new bedroom and the existing den area.

What we need is a good "editor." Someone with an eye for taking open spaces and turning them into comfortable living space. Upstairs, it's a matter of arranging furniture, if you don't count that we want to put in new flooring. Downstairs, it's a remodel job.

Other sacrifices, more on my end. Hubster has his binoculars and camera for wildlife observations, and there are lakes for fishing in the community. He's already planning his bird feeders. As a matter of fact, when I mentioned our potential new address to his sister, her immediate response was that we'd be close to the Florissant Fossil Beds. "Take pictures," she said. Hubster will be happy out there communing with nature. I'm not a big-city gal, but I'm not sure I have the same enthusiasm for spending days on end in the great outdoors.

We're going to be isolated compared with our lives to this point, so our community is downsized as well. Homes aren't within shouting distance, which was one of the hubster's main requirements. Until we move in, we won't know what kind of neighbors we'll have—whether they're the sort who like to chat over coffee or prefer to keep to themselves. We're about five miles from "downtown" Divide, which isn't bad. But there's not much there. It's more of an 'on the way to somewhere else' place.

I'll have to find out how to hook up with a writing group, and where the nearest library is. Get better organized when it comes to shopping. Be prepared to stay in when the weather and roads are bad. I'm pretty much a loner, so I don't think it'll be a tremendous sacrifice, but I do enjoy being able to talk to writers from time to time. After all, we're the only ones who understand what we do.

With writing, the big question is always, "Does it move the story forward?" I guess my question for the house will be, "Am I really going to use it?"


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

It sounds like a wonderful location for y''s just going to take some getting used to.

We also moved to a transitional style floor plan, fewer walls. You don't THINK about walls until you wonder where to put your bookcases, chairs, etc! It's really hard.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Take your time, don't rush it. Things will gravitate to their natural home. And you can always rotate what you have on your walls rather than purge things you really like.

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - definitely considering dealing with a designer of some sort who can suggest how to arrange stuff.

Jenyfer - As long as they don't want to gravitate from the downstairs to the upstairs, or vice-versa!

Debra St. John said...

I have the exact opposite problem with writing. (LOL) I tend to write short and need to expand in order to fully develop my characters and their story.

As for the house, we have a fairly large one for just the two of us, and it's crammed pretty full!

I'm sure all of your favorite things will find a home in your new house!

Terry Odell said...

Debra, yeah, it's just going to be a challenge deciding what the "real" favorites are.

Elena said...

Having never lived anywhere more than 18 months until I was in my 30's and having moved quite a bit since, may I humbly suggest you really don't decide what your "real" favorites are - they choose you as you discover the new world in which you find yourself.

Get that bed, barstools, and desk, then hit the road and find out where you are. That is the most important thing for settling in and making a place home. Your ideas and taste are going to change as you move into your new lifestyle.

Terry Odell said...

Good advice, Elena. Besides, our budget will be shot when we deal with the upgrades we want - floors, bringing the gas line into the kitchen for the rangetop (and totally if we decide to buy the combo with the gas cooktop and electric oven!) But after dealing with improvements in our first house, I've learned it's best not to do little bits and pieces when you're doing a room.

Terry Stonecrop said...

It sounds like a beautiful area! I'm sure you'll work out the details. Yes, a house editor sounds good.

My living area is open plan. It's large but I love it. It has an airy feeling. You may find, once you adjust, you like it better.

Terry Odell said...

Terry - As long as the hubster can "live" downstairs for his endeavors, the open plan should work. :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

It won't take long for you to make it home - enjoy :)

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Jemi - as long as the money doesn't run out!

Sheila Deeth said...

I love the idea of viewing the house as an editor. And the library - perfect picture.

We seemed kind of short of walls when we moved here too. All those bookshelves with nothing to lean on.

Happy days.

Terry Odell said...

Sheila - we have one heck of a lot of books too. It'll be interesting to see how we configure things.

Laurann Dohner said...

I had a friend some years ago who bought a huge loft condo. No walls. He bought inexpensive book cases, bracketed them together side by side, back to back (to make them more stable since they were free standing and we live in Southern Cal where earthquakes happen)... and sectioned off areas he wanted 'walls' for. He was a book lover and suddenly had tons of shelves on both sides that way. Something to consider. It looked amazingly good and he only spent a few hundred dollars. On the sides of them... he hung his artwork.

Terry Odell said...

Good idea, Laurann. And we most definitely need bookcases!