I’m hosting a guest post by N.S. Wikarski, the author of archaeological thriller “The Granite Key”. The guest post is really interesting and talks about how to create a perfect work space for authors!
How to Create a Great Work Area for Inspiration (Using Feline Accessories)
“When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.” -Mark Twain
Writing, as everybody knows, is a solitary occupation. An individual sits alone in a room frowning intently at a blank screen while waiting for inspiration to strike. It stands to reason that if you can make your surroundings do the heavy lifting of inspiring you, it will cut down dramatically on the length of time you have to spend staring vacantly into space and muttering to yourself.
An inspiring work area is very much a matter of individual taste. Since I, myself, enjoy nature, I try to work in a room with a spectacular view. Eight months out of the year, I toil away in my sunroom which happily faces onto a woodsy paradise of cedar groves and cherry orchards. The other four months, when I’m forced to flee the arctic tundra that I call home, I rent a beach house on the Gulf of Mexico. My deck overlooks the ocean. As I once told a friend, “If a person can’t get inspired to write in an atmosphere like this, then that person can’t write period!”
However, I should add that these natural settings, stimulating as they are, still lack the one essential decorative element to beckon a writer’s inner muse. This decorative element is quite cheap (the cost of a can of tuna), portable (can be stuffed inside a carrier and taken anywhere) and tends to center the imagination in a way that nothing else can. I refer, of course, to Felis Catus or the not-so-humble house cat.
The affinity between cats and writers has been noted so often that it has become a cliché. I’ll rattle off a short list of authors, all of whom were uncommonly attached to their felines: Edward Gorey, T. S. Eliot, Jack Kerouac, Jean Cocteau, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Raymond Chandler, Joyce Carol Oates, Doris Lessing, Patricia Highsmith, Ray Bradbury and, of course, Ernest Hemingway. The descendants of Hemingway’s six-toed cat lounge about the grounds of his museum in Key West to this day.
Lest any dog fanciers reading this post take umbrage, don’t get me wrong. I love animals on principle and dogs make wonderful companions. However, I feel about dogs the way most grandparents feel about their grandchildren. It’s great to play with them, pet them and spoil them all day long but come night fall, I feel compelled to hand them back to their primary caregivers and say, “Take them home. I’m exhausted.”
Cats do not drain one’s energy with their hyperactivity because they have spent millennia learning how to sleep twenty hours a day without excuse or apology. In contrast, most writers with any talent suffer from fevered brains. It’s a blessing to be able to spin a story out of nothing at all but it’s also a curse when imagination kicks into hyperdrive and the inside of one’s head feels like the large Hadron collider at Cern. That’s where cats make their contribution to the creative process. It can be highly therapeutic for a mentally overstimulated author simply to watch a cat sleep. As I write this, I raise my head from the keyboard long enough to regard my feline companions draped languidly over their favorite pieces of furniture. One of them blinks at me in lazy self-possession as if to say, “Chill. It’s all good.” That single gaze imparts an immediate sense of calm. He’s right. It is.
My sympathies to any writers out there who are allergic to pet dander. You simply can’t be any good as an author without a cat in your work space.
The Granite Key
Author: Nancy Wikarski
Genre: Archaeological Thriller
THE ARKANA SERIES: Archaeological Thrillers That Defy History
Volume One – The Granite Key
“Think ‘MEDIUM meets THE LOST SYMBOL’ and it only begins to describe the pleasures of THE GRANITE KEY – 5 Stars.” (Kindle Nation)
A Wake-Up Call
In a nightmare, nineteen year old Cassie Forsythe sees her sister attacked by a man in a cowboy hat who demands something called “the key.” Her nightmare mutates into reality before the night is over. Cassie is called to identify her sister’s body–murdered exactly as her dream foretold. Cassie dismisses her vision as a fluke and fights to get on with her life. Disconnected and aimless now that her only family is gone, she drifts until the evening when she catches the man in the cowboy hat ransacking her sister’s apartment. He bolts with an odd-looking stone cylinder–the granite key. From that moment, Cassie’s normal world evaporates.
A Secret Society
She learns that her sister led a double life–retrieving artifacts for a secret organization called the Arkana. The Arkana’s leader, an elder named Faye, explains that her group performs a controversial kind of archaeology. They scour the globe for evidence of ancient pre-patriarchal civilizations in hopes of salvaging the lost history of the world. Their network of troves safeguards artifacts from highly sophisticated goddess-worshipping cultures on every continent. Cassie’s sister had the psychic ability to touch an artifact and relive its past. Cassie has now inherited this gift. Faye wants the girl to take over her sister’s role in the organization. Cassie doubts her powers but agrees. Now an insider, she is transported to the Arkana’s mysterious underground vault in the countryside outside Chicago where the group tackles the mystery of her sister’s murder.
A Dangerous Cult
The Arkana learns that the man in the cowboy hat is a hired mercenary named Leroy Hunt and that he is working for a fundamentalist religious cult known as the Blessed Nephilim. He takes his orders directly from the cult’s domineering prophet–Abraham Metcalf. The granite key which Leroy stole is inscribed with hieroglyphics revealing the location of a mythological artifact reputed to have mystical powers–the Sage Stone. Although skeptical of its legendary capabilities, the Arkana is still afraid to allow the relic to fall into the cult’s hands. Abraham’s fanatical belief in the power of the Sage Stone could be the catalyst to start a war of religious genocide.
Unlocking The Key
Before she died, Cassie’s sister took photos of the strange markings on the granite key. The Arkana decodes the hieroglyphics which point to the ancient ruins of Minoan Crete as the hiding place of the Sage Stone. Faye hastily assembles a retrieval team including Cassie, her newly-appointed bodyguard Erik, and a British researcher named Griffin. The band of treasure hunters is mismatched and wildly dysfunctional from the start. Griffin has never gone on a field mission, Erik treats his inexperienced colleagues with contempt, and Cassie second-guesses her psychic hunches. She battles to prove herself to Erik at every turn. Their internal clashes rival the bigger crisis of what to do when they come face to face with their enemies.
A Matter Of Life Or Death
Even as they rake through megalithic tombs and Minoan palaces for clues, Abraham dispatches his son Daniel and hired gun Leroy Hunt to recover the Sage Stone. The Nephilim operatives won’t hesitate to kill anyone standing in their way. Will Cassie and her teammates avert global disaster or find themselves casualties of Abraham’s mania to exterminate the world of unbelievers? The Granite Key holds the answer.
Nancy Wikarski is a fugitive from academia. After earning her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, she became a computer consultant and then turned to mystery and historical fiction writing. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Society Of Midland Authors, and has served as vice president of Sisters In Crime – Twin Cities and on the programming board of the Chicago chapter. Her short stories have appeared in Futures Magazine and DIME Anthology, while her book reviews have been featured in Murder: Past Tense and Deadly Pleasures.
She has written the Gilded Age Chicago History Mysteries series set in 1890s Chicago. Titles include The Fall Of White City (2002) and Shrouded In Thought (2005). The series has received People’s Choice Award nominations for Best First Novel and Best Historical as well as a Lovey Award for Best Traditional Amateur Sleuth.
She is currently writing the seven book Arkana Archaeology Thriller Mystery series. Titles include The Granite Key (2011), The Mountain Mother Cipher (2011), and The Dragon’s Wing Enigma (2012). The fourth volume in the series, The Riddle Of The Diamond Dove, is scheduled for publication in December of 2013. Ms. Wikarski’s work on the Arkana books has prompted Kindle Nation to call her one of its favorite authors.
Purchase Link – Amazon (for US store) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004NIFTI8
Facebook public page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/N-S-Wikarski/111546722263900