The Legend of Rhyme series by Jaime Lee Mann Blood and Stars (Blue Moon Publishing) is exactly the kind of children's fantasy series we all longed for as kids. Packed with fairies, witches, ogres, and more, it's a rollicking adventure with strong protagonists and, at five books deep already, a rich and continued storyline to satishy the binge-iest of readers. It's even found a fan in Franklin the Turtle author Paulette Bourgeois, who called it "a wondrous world... delightful".
We're excited to welcome Jaime here today as part of our At the Desk series, where she takes us into her beautiful Prince Edward Island work space to see where the Legend of Rhyme magic happens.
She tells us why her physiotherapist might have a slightly inaccurate idea of how she works, why it's important to give the writer brain a clear sign it's time to work, and why mental space is every bit as important as physical space, all while giving us a beautiful photo tour (we're drooling over that typewriter!).
At the Desk with Jaime Lee Mann:
The best way to block my creative process is to sit me at a desk. I have a pretty purple office with slanted walls. It’s at the top of the stairs, across the hall from my bedroom. It’s a great space. It has a door, a window, and a whiteboard. There’s a desk in here, set up with a dual monitor and a comfy chair. But the writing I do at that desk is almost always work for clients. (Or when my husband and children force me into hiding.)
That’s where I sit when I’m ghostwriting, or drafting someone else’s website content. I’ll sit there when I’m working on the copyedits for one of my novels (the extra monitor comes in handy) because I have excellent focus there. Or I’ll sit there when my back hurts. (If my physiotherapist asks, I always sit there and I have perfect posture when I do. Ok?) But when I’m slogging through a first or second draft? Newp. I have a difficult time separating my writer-for-hire brain from my children’s novelist brain. So, I need to give myself some pretty strong signals that it’s time to work, and/or that it’s time to play.
When I’m working on my own writing, I gravitate towards the floor. I do not know why. Floor pillows are a must. Sometimes I’ll find my way to the couch or a chair, but most often it’s the floor. You’ll notice a brown mug on the shelf there, next to the penguin statue. That’s my favourite coffee mug. I only use it when I’m working on my books. Another signal that it’s ok for me to slip into creative mode.
The blanket under my computer was a wedding gift. It has our wedding date and our names embroidered on it.
I will get off the floor and sit at the table. If I’m in my rough draft phase, it will be with my typewriter. That’s where I pound out ideas without the distraction of the computer and les internets. And, if I’m going to be writing for an extended period of time, I’ll also set up there for the day. The majority of my book series probably was written between the table, the living room floor, and the front yard. My desk really is everywhere!
My current favourite place to be when I write (probably because it’s winter and this is a warm and cozy space), is right here. On the floor of my office, seated on pillows on this crazy colourful rug. The whole back wall, above the fireplace, is covered in my kids’ artwork. On the mantle, there’s a zany meditating skeleton. It was a Halloween decoration I bought at Homesense, but I can’t take it down. I love it. The letters on the mantle say, “Imagine.” Obviously that’s an important mantra for me! To the right of that, there’s a beautiful jellyfish-in-glass paperweight. A gift from a dear friend. There’s also a framed print of a mermaid. On the floor, on the opposite side of the fireplace from the Buddha statue, there’s a meditating frog statue.
As you can tell, I like to keep a good balance of whimsical in my décor.
My wonderful old Macbook Pro deserves a mention. No matter what “desk” I’ve been at, this trusty computer has been there for me. I’ve had it for … seven years! And I bought it secondhand! All of my novels have been written on it. Every book I’ve written has gone through this hard-working machine. I love her.
For me, writing is more about mental space than physical space. As long as I can give myself permission to take a break from my day job to run away to my fairytale land, I can (an do) write anywhere!
- Jaime Lee Man, 2018
Author of the Canadian fantasy series, The Legend of Rhyme, Jaime Lee Mann was born and raised in Prince Edward Island. The popular series include Elora of Stone, Into Coraira, Teagan of Tomorrow, Second Twin, and, most recently, Blood and Stars. Jaime Lee has worked as a copywriter, writing about many topics including interior design, ant bait, meal-planning, gluten, computer software, and Disney World. She has also ghostwritten manuscripts for all types of people with many different stories, and some of those manuscripts have gone on to become published works. When Jaime Lee isn’t writing (for herself or someone else), she can most likely be found playing Barbie with her daughters, working out at the local kettlebell studio, or in the kitchen making something delicious.